Sydney’s facial expression changed after he asked her that question. So that got him wondering: was she okay? Wasn’t she hungry? Why the sudden silence?
“Sydney, are you okay?” Anderson asked and then she blinked, coming out of her trance.
“Uh, I was just… surprised.” She said the same time the waiter brought them cups of latte.
“Surprised about what?”
Her eyes bore into his and then she spoke. “Isn’t it a coincidence that you have the same surname as Hansen?”
Anderson pressed his lips into a straight line. He mentally cursed himself for being so careless, but it would have come out anyway. Therefore, this was better, but how does he escape her suspicious eyes.
“Uh… yes, we have the same surname. That’s what makes us even close as friends.” He replied and she looked convinced. Quickly, he changed the topic.
Sydney did not speak while they had breakfast, but he could sense that the thought was in her mind.
Anderson took a quick glance at his watch and saw the time. It was fifteen minutes past nine. A smile formed on his lips as he looked over at the door. He was waiting for someone and speaking of the devil, she just walked in.
Mary, together with her friends entered the restaurant with chatters. They usually came here every Friday to eat and gossip. Today, Anderson wanted to give them something to gossip about. Mary would have a fit about it, but he did not give a damn if she did.
Thankfully, one of Mary’s friends noticed him and pointed. Turning, to the group, she said something and then they all glanced towards their table. He saw a frown quickly found its way onto his mother’s face as the others presumably questioned her about the young woman he was eating with.
“Oh my God, it’s your mother!” Sydney’s gasp brought his attention back to her and he saw her wide eyes. “She is looking over here!” She quickly pulled at her headband and let her hair fall over her face.
“What are you doing?” He questioned, while folding his arms. She refused to raise her head.
“I don’t want her to see me.” She replied, while trying desperately to hide her face.
Anderson bent over to table, put his finger under her chin and raised her head. “You are not to hide away from her. She is my mother and you will soon be a part of the family.” Sydney looked like a scared kitten.
He did not blame her for being scared of Mary. That woman was the devil himself. He was very sure that she would oppose this marriage and try to scare Sydney away from it. However, he was not going to let that happen. He would drive Mary crazy by marrying someone who was not super rich or of high class. This was his plan of revenge.
“Sydney,” he left her chin and her head hang low. “If you are not comfortable, then we can leave.” He said and she nodded without hesitation.
Anderson rose from the chair and she left hers quickly. He went to take her hand in his and then intertwined their fingers. He saw the look Sydney gave him when he did that. “It’s my mother and her friends. We have to make it look real.” He told her.
“Oh, right.” She mumbled.
Glancing towards the table of Mary and her friends, he noticed them staring and whispering among themselves. One particular person amongst them was burning with fury and he could not have been happier. Time to turn things up, he thought and then ran his fingers through Sydney’s hair.
Hansen had told him this morning that they had to appear as a real couple. Anderson did not know how to do that, so his brother gave him a few pointers. One, they should make a lot of physical and eye contact. Hansen also mentioned something about sweet romance, but he only remembers one thing about it. Apparently, running your fingers through your partner’s hair showed how sweet and close you two are.
“Remember, whenever we are together, we are a couple.” He told her with a little smile. Hansen also told him to play sweet and affectionate.
Anderson’s gaze trailed down her eyes to her lips and then, he suddenly remembered another thing his brother mentioned.
“You two have to kiss.” He had objected to that one because he does not intend to get that close to Sydney. She was a great person and very beautiful too, but no, he was not interested. Hansen had insisted. He said it would make their relationship believable and asked him to think about it.
Anderson did not even think about it, as he did not want to be seen kissing Sydney, but now, with the biggest gossips in town standing before him, he reconsidered it. They could transfer the news faster and further than the media ever could.
What would Sydney think or say about it, though? There was only one way to find out.
“You are a good actress aren’t you?” he asked and she nodded. “Good, then kiss me.”
Sydney was stunned for a brief moment, but then realized that her role as his fiancée had just begun. They had to look like a real couple and hence must do what couples do. Bringing her face closer to his, she kissed his cheek. After retreating from him, she wondered if she should have kissed his lips instead.
“Is that okay?”
“It’s just fine. Let’s keep it like this.” He replied and then moved.
Sydney held onto his arm as they walked. She did not glance even once at his mother’s table when she and her friends sat down, because she was terrified of her stare. That woman had a nasty temper and she did not want to see it again. That one time was enough to give her nightmares for at least a month.
Sydney prayed they leave the restaurant fast. Her eyes were on the revolving doors and her heart jumped happily with every step they took towards it. They were almost there, but then Anderson turned and took her in another direction.
What is he doing? She thought in alarm.
Oh no, she knew where they were going. He was leading her to his mother’s table. Before she could protest, they were already there. The women, seated around the soft couches, were dressed in expensive clothes and looked classy. The air around them smelled of expensive perfumes and bling.
“Anderson, what a coincidence to see you here today and who is the young lady?” One of the women asked and then Sydney gulped nervously.
“I came with my…” Anderson looked down at her before adding. “…my fiancée, to have breakfast. I guess you ladies are here for the same thing.”
The women exchanged surprised glances.
“I thought you were engaged to Kathleen Alistair. And now you are engaged to this woman?” The first woman, gasped. “What happened?”
Sydney glanced at Anderson as soon as the woman finished speaking. Did she hear right? He was once engaged.
“Yes. We broke up.” Anderson explained.
“So soon? But you were engaged just last week.”
Sydney was even more surprised. Her mind raced with many questions. Who was Anderson’s fiancée? Why did they break up? What happened to them? Then, a horrible realization hit her. Was his fiancée the beautiful woman who came to his place that morning?
Oh, dear God no! She thought. Did they break up because of her? Did his fiancée become upset because she saw her, Sydney wondering half-naked in Anderson’s clothes inside his house?
“Yes, unfortunately things didn’t go well. But I have moved on now. I have found love again and it’s for real this time.”
Sydney felt guilty. She felt horrible. She did not like this. Anderson and his fiancée broke up because of her and now he was lying to cover it up. Why did he hide it away from her? Why was he lying now?
A heated gaze landed on Sydney and she looked up to find Anderson’s mother glaring at her. Their gazes locked for a split second before Sydney looked away from her. She now understood why that woman has not stopped staring daggers at her since she entered. It was because she blamed her for her son’s break up from his fiancée.
“Wow, congratulations.” A third woman joined in. “When did this happen?” She asked.
“Last night.” Anderson replied while tenderly touching Sydney’s hand. Those gossips had their hawk eyes on the lookout for an engagement ring, but he did not give them the chance.
“Congratulations, and who is the lucky woman?” The second woman asked.
“Sydney Whyte.” Anderson replied.
“That’s great. I am very happy that you have found the right woman.” A fourth woman said, while glancing at Sydney. “There is a party tomorrow night in celebration of my son’s engagement. You should come with your fiancée as well.” She said and then Anderson nodded.
“Thank you. We will surely be there.” They exchanged a few more words before he led Sydney out of there.
She let out a sigh of relief when they went outside and fresh air blew on her face. He quickly left her hand and she placed it over her beating heart.
“Are you okay?” Anderson asked.
Sydney took a deep breath and then faced him with a frown. “Why did you not tell me that you were engaged before?”
“It’s past and gone. And I don’t want to talk about it.” He replied and Sydney shook her head.
“No, you have to talk about it.”
“It’s in the past. Let’s forget about it.”
“One week ago is not the past Anderson!” She raged.
Anderson sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. He did not think it would be such a big deal that he was engaged only a week ago to another woman. Damn, it!
“I want to know if your fiancée was the woman who came to your house that morning. Did you guys break up because of me?” Her eyes bore into his and he groaned. If not because their contract stated that there should be effective communication between them, he would not have spoken about it.
“Fine.” He said. “Yes, that woman was my fiancée?” He saw Sydney’s eyes bulge and he quickly added. “But we did not break up because of you. It was a mutual agreement.”
“No, no, no. What have I done?” Sydney started pacing around with her hands in her hair.
“You haven’t done anything.” He said. “So don’t blame or worry yourself about anything. The only think you that should be on your mind, is playing the role of my wife.”
Sydney stopped abruptly and turned around to him. Her hands fell to her sides and her expression showed shock. “I shouldn’t blame myself? How can you say that?”
Anderson sighed and slapped his palm across his face. He asked himself what he had gotten himself into. Why could she not just forget it? Was this what being in a relationship felt like? Did he have to face every argument and explain himself to her all the time? Aaagghh, he disliked it.
Why did his damn father ask him to marry? Why could he not have given him his inheritance on a silver platter like Hansen got his? Why did he want him to marry before he could get his share? All this was tiring. He had not yet gotten married and the drama was already driving him nuts.