Sydney could not shake off her nerves. This was the most nervous she had ever felt. Even going for an audition did not scare her this much. She rubbed her hands together to get warmth into it, as they had become cold.
“Are you okay?” Anderson asked when the valet came for their car.
“Yes.” She replied and then cleared her throat. “Just, a little tensed.” She added honestly.
“Don’t worry.” He entwined their fingers. “Just breathe and recall everything on the script.”
The duo walked into the party and immediately caught eyes on them. Sydney held her head up high and put her game face on. Glancing around the party, she noticed how elegantly and sophisticatedly dressed the women in here were. The sparkles from their dresses made her, self-conscious of her non-sparkly dress.
Just like that, her self-confidence began to wither and her strides were not as graceful as before. She felt a little pressure on her hands and glanced at the man beside her.
“Just breathe, okay?” He told her, while brushing his thumb along her jawline. She drew in a sharp breath as an unexpected tingle run down her spine.
“Okay.” She replied.
Anderson nodded and they started to move again. The hungry gossips were waiting on them.
How did you two meet?
How we met is so cheesy, but I find it very romantic. I went to the gym one morning and after my workout, I realized my bag was missing and in its place a stranger’s bag. Yes, he mistook my bag for his.
And I thought a thief had stolen my bag and left theirs, not knowing it was the other way round.
The guests laughed with them at that tale.
“I am confused. When you two met, was he still engaged?”
Kathleen and I already separated by then. The news had not come out yet, but our relationship was over.
Sydney had almost believed him then. However, she knew better. The guests had totally bought that story, so they were okay.
“How long did you date before deciding to marry?” Sydney had been glad that question was directed to Anderson because she did not know if she could have been able to answer it.
One does not have to go out with a person a thousand times before you realize that she is the one. For me, once was enough.
The group had gone ‘aww’ after his reply. Sydney’s heart had fluttered at his words. She would have believed him if she did not know that, their relationship was an act.
Finally, after hours of mingling and talking with the guests, they managed to get away from the clutches of the gossips. Sydney could not have been happier because her feet were killing her. She could not wait to sit her butt down and take off the shoes.
In no time, they were seated at their table. Sydney finished the glass of water that was in front of her, before reaching for her shoes. Her fingers barely touched it and then, a voice was speaking to her.
“Ma’am, there’s someone waiting to see you outside.” Sydney corked her head and recognized the valet who had taken away Anderson’s car when they arrived.
“Someone? Who?” Anderson asked and he replied.
“Adeline Whyte.” He replied.
Sydney’s eyes flashed with recognition and she quickly shot up from the chair. “Do you know the person?” Anderson asked and she answered.
“Yes. It’s my mother.” She replied.
As Sydney crossed the room to go out, she wondered how her mother knew where to find her. Why does she have to show up, when she was at important places, especially today of all days? They were at an exclusive party and the press was here too. Aaargh.
Sydney burst out of the doors and looked around. She spotted her mother’s slouching figure near the flowerbeds, probably spilling her guts out. As she approached her, she hoped she was not drunk as usual.
“Mother, what are you doing here?” She asked as Adeline turned around.
“Tsk, tsk. That is not how a child greets her mother.” She said while stumbling to her feet. “You run and hug me and then say how, have you been mother? Like this.” Adeline threw her arms around Sydney and she smelled the liquor in her breath.
“You are drunk!” Sydney said, while untangling Adeline’s arms from her shoulders.
“No, I am not!” She huffed. “I need money, Sydney.”
“No. I will not give you money to go and drink.” Adeline’s eyebrows arched before she threatened. “Just give it to me while I am asking nicely.”
“No!” Sydney said sternly and then Adeline let out a long sigh.
“You stubborn child.” She yelled. “I raised you! I made you what you are today. I invested a lot of money into you. Now it is time to pay up. Give me my money now!” She demanded, while taking Sydney’s hand in a tight grip.
“Ouch, mother you are hurting me.” She wined, trying hard to break free. “I don’t have any money.”
“You silly girl. You are engaged to a billionaire’s son. You are now rich.”
“No, I am not! Please just let me go.” She begged.
“Stop acting stubborn. Give me the money before I…” Adeline raised her hand to strike her and Sydney braced herself for a slap. Right before Adeline’s hand could touch her child, someone interrupted.
“What is going on here?”
Sydney’s heart skipped a beat at the voice. She felt her mother release her hand and look up at the person, but she did not move. Closing her eyes, she prayed that her drunken mother does not cause any trouble. It would be a scandal if something goes wrong here.
Turning around, Sydney faced the mean and hard stare of Mary. Her face showed no emotion as usual. Adeline flinched beside Sydney and she was not surprised that the stern woman frightened even her mother.
“There’s nothing going on here.” Sydney replied and took her mother’s hand, trying to pull her behind her, but Adeline was frozen to the spot. Looking beside her, she saw her mother’s eyes flare with fear emanating from them. Her body began to shake violently and she fell to the ground.
“Mother!” She gasped and fell to her knees beside her. Tears rolled out of Adeline’s eyes as she shook. Sydney became afraid that her mother was having an attack, but what kind of attack. She had no idea.
“Jenny, Jenny.” Adeline repeated.
Sydney took her mother’s hand and started to rub it between her palms. Her own hands trembled and tears swelled in her eyes. She was afraid, as she had never seen her mother in such a condition.
“Mother,” she said. “What is happening to you mother?” She asked, but Adeline kept on repeating the name.
“Jenny, Jenny, Jenny.”
“Mum,” her tears rolled out of her eyes and down her cheek, falling on her mother’s dress.
Adeline raised her hand and pointed, “Jenny.” Her eyes rolled to the back of her head after that and then she lost consciousness.
As Anderson waited for Sydney to return, his mind drifted to the moment he laid eyes on her. The way her dress looked on her was simply breath taking. Sydney was an attractive woman, no doubt about that, but tonight she was just gorgeous. He did not know that sexy curves lay behind those jeans and oversized shirts she wore all the time.
All of a sudden, Hansen’s words echoed in his mind. Just fall in love and make this easy. Anderson could not help but roll his eyes. Fall in love? Ha, Hansen might be crazy to think that he would fall in love. Had his brother forgotten that feelings and commitments were too complicated for him? Those stuffs had never crossed Anderson’s mind and they never will.
“I wonder what is on your mind.” A voice whispered into his ears and he got startled. “Or should I say, who is on your mind?” Looking over his shoulder, Anderson frowned at Hansen.
“What are you doing here?” He asked.
“I am talking to my brother, what else?” Hansen pulled Sydney’s chair and sat down. Taking her glass of wine, he sipped.
“Dude, get away from here before Sydney returns.”
“Chillax.” Hansen told him.
“We don’t want her finding out that we are brothers before the wedding.”
“Ah, yes. About that… I think we should tell her. Sydney will not be happy if she finds out that we have been lying to her. Besides, she will find out one of these days. Like tomorrow, we are having dinner with the parents. Did you inform her about it?”
Anderson propped an arm on the table and then said. “About that too, can you not come for the dinner tomorrow night? Do us both this favor.”
“Why not?” Hansen asked. “Mary will not be too happy if I don’t make it and we both know it.”
Sighing, Anderson tried not to look hurt by Hansen words because what he said was the ultimate truth. Mary was his mother, but she cared more for Hansen than him. She had always favored his brother more, and it was one of the many reasons why he despised her.
When they were children, he thought his mother was just trying to make Hansen feel the love of a mother, as he did not have one. His brother was adopted, so he had no problem in sharing his mother’s love. But then, she adored him more each day, which made him upset with and jealous of his brother.
However, he realized that he did not need his mother’s love to live and hence let go of his anger. But sometimes, he feels jealous of Hansen when Mary treats him kindly. It just rips his heart apart.
“Where is Sydney, by the way?” Anderson snapped out of his trance when Hansen asked about his fiancée.
“She went out to meet her mother.” He replied while getting out of his chair. Looking towards the door, he checked to see if she was coming. “I am going outside to check on her. Be right back.” He told Hansen and moved.
Anderson left the front door and immediately spotted Sydney’s dress in the distance. As he approached her, he noticed that she was kneeling and there was an unconscious person on the floor. Sobs reached his ears before he hurried over to them. On the floor, was Sydney’s mother and Sydney was crying over her.
“What happened?” He asked.
Sydney suddenly rose to her full length and lurched herself at him, unannounced. Her arms went around his neck as she pushed her wet face into his chest. He was startled and froze for a moment as his mind registered her action.
What happened? Why was her mother on the floor? Did she call the ambulance? He wanted to ask these questions, but he did not have the strength to utter the words. He felt weak in the knees and sorry for her. He also felt his heart beat increasing and wondered.
Why was his heart beating so fast?