EIGHTEEN – TALKING WITH THE PARENTS
The rain started with full force all at once without any signal whatsoever, beating against the living room’s glass window. The chilly night suddenly turned cold and the deafening silence in the room made it even worse.
Goosebumps rose all over Sydney’s arms. However, she did not feel it as her mind was far away. Her eyes locked on the dull and dark fireplace before her. By her side, was Anderson, who sat with fingers entwined. His back was straight against the leather sofa and eyes stared at the water droplets beating the glass.
Sydney drew in a long breath and finally looked away from the fireplace. Her gaze landed on her laps and she pressed her hands together. Anderson heard her shaky breath and quickly moved to unbutton his jacket.
“Here.” He said, holding out the jacket for her.
“Why did you lie to me?” She questioned, returning her gaze to the fireplace.
“Accept my apologies.” He replied and threw his jacket over her shoulders.
“You could have told me.” She said.
Nodding, Sydney drew in a long breathe. “Then I guess we are even now.” She glanced at him over her shoulder. “I am using you to get recognized and you are using me to get your inheritance.”
“Yes. I guess we are both ambitious.” His gaze met hers for a split second before he looked away again.
“Yes.” She chuckled, agreeing with him.
With eyes fixed to the window, he said. “Please do not cry over what my mother said. Besides, it is not a bad thing to be ambitious. One will not get what they want in life if they lack ambition. It’s good to know that you have it.”
Anderson glanced at her and she got her eyes on her entwined fingers. He noticed how pale they became and quickly rose to his feet. Moving to the fireplace, he lit it up. The flames flickered to life and a red glow cast on them. Sydney watched in fascination, as the flames danced on the stones.
“Excuse me. I will be back.” Anderson said before walking out of the room.
Sydney quickly slipped her hands inside the jacket and rubbed her arms to get warmth into them. She let out a shaky breath and grumbled to herself about how wearing a strapless dress had been a total fail. She picked it because she had wanted to impress her fiancé’s parents.
And what a first impression it had been!
Anderson’s mother already hated her from past meetings, so her attack on her tonight was not too much of a surprise, although her words were hurtful. Sydney was however, fine now. The one person she had wanted to leave an impression on was Mr Niles. She spent all day smiling at the mirror to get the perfect smile. She was sure that her charms were working until when Anderson’s mother ruined everything. Now, he might probably be thinking the worst of her.
Sighing, she threw her head back against the headrest and gazed up at the ceiling. A pair of sunken eyes matched to pale white skin suddenly appeared above her. Sydney’s eyes pop out of their sockets as a loud and piercing scream erupted from her throat. She rushed out of the sofa in fear that the ghost would grab, only to realize that what she thought was a ghost, was actually Mr Niles.
“Accept my apologies for startling you.” He spoke in his low and throaty voice.
Sydney managed to shake her head and tried to control her other trembling body parts. Her heart pounded in her chest and Goosebumps rose all over her body. The sight of Mr Niles was terrifying under the orange glow of the fireplace. He looked thinner and sicker while leaning most of his weight on his walking stick.
A memory of her own very sick father slipped into her mind and she quickly looked away. She could not afford to cry upon remembering her father’s ill health, while looking at another’s father.
Clearing his throat, he moved around the sofa and sat down. He placed his stick between his legs, folded his hands on top of it and placed his chin on it.
“Sit, Miss Whyte.” He said.
Sydney sat at the far end of the sofa and looked at her entwined fingers lying on her laps.
“Where did you and my son meet?” He asked.
“If my parents should ask where we met, tell them how we rehearsed it, okay?”
Anderson’s words suddenly echoed through her mind. Sighing, she bit down on her lower lip as she did not like that she was about to lie to a sick old man. “Your son and I met when...”
“Please don’t tell me the story you made up for the media and gossip hungry people. I want to hear the truth from you and not my private detective who is coming in tomorrow with information about your entire life.”
Sydney’s head snapped up as she glanced at Mr Niles. Cold sweat ran down her back and her heart pounded wildly in her rib-cage. The old man glanced at her and she thought she would pass out. His eyes pierced through hers and she got a feeling that he already knows the entire truth.
“I_I...” her voice trembled as she struggled to find the words to speak. Clearing her throat, she decided to tell him the whole truth. When she finished, her head hang low and guilt was eating her up.
“I_I am sorry, sir.” She quickly apologized.
“There’s no need to apologize.” Mr Niles said. “I am not upset. I expected him to do this.”
Sydney raised her head and gazed into the burning flames. Sweat rolled down the side of her face from her forehead and she quickly wiped it away with her palm. Her nervousness, coupled with uneasiness and guilt made her feel warm. Right now, the jacket was rather causing her unbearable heat, so she wiggled out of it.
“Actually, I’d expected him to hire one of those famous actresses, or the high class models or maybe someone of a higher class, but he picked you.”
Sydney sighed. “I am sorry that you are disappointed that the woman your son chose isn’t rich and of high class.” She bit her lip afterwards.
“There’s no need to apologize. Class and status does not matter when the woman has a great heart and good moral values.” Mr Niles’ eyes sparkled and she smiled after seeing it. Their gazes met for a split second. For that brief moment, she saw Anderson in the aging man. “I like you, Sydney. You are natural and do not put up a fake exterior. That is actually surprising since you are a professional actress.”
They chuckled together. Almost at the same time, there was a clearing of a throat. Sydney whipped her head around and noticed Anderson standing a distance away with arms crossed. He began moving towards the sofa with eyes meeting hers.
The red flames danced on his white shirt and aligned his shoulder and arm muscles popping out from the fabric. His brawny physic never looked so attractive. Her eyes look over him while she asked herself why he looked extraordinarily good-looking tonight. Had he always looked this good, or she never paid attention.
“I see you are getting along well with the old man.” Anderson’s face lifted in a smile and she felt her cheeks burn. Quickly, her gaze fell as she turned to face the fireplace again with a sheepish smile on her lips.
“I think I will take my leave now.” Mr Niles rose to his feet, balancing slightly on his walking stick.
Turning about, he faced his son. Their gazes met and held. Father and son stared in silence until Mr Niles spoke first. “I will be going to bed now.”
“Okay.” Anderson said and his father advanced out of the room. Once the old man was gone, he sat down in his spot.
“Your room is ready, so if you want to retire to bed now, I can take you there.” He said glancing at Sydney whose gaze was on the fireplace. He noticed her smile and wondered what she and the old man had discussed that made her smile this beautifully.
He relaxed against the sofa and continued to watch her. Something told him to snap her out of her thoughts, but he liked her smile too much to make it go away. In a distance, thunder clasped, startling her out of her thoughts and making her smile disappear.
“Your room is ready. Would you like to go to bed now?” He asked.
Sydney glanced at him and nodded. A cold breeze blew over them and she quickly wrapped her hands around herself.
“Here.” Anderson threw his jacket over her shoulders again and helped her get on her feet. Walking side by side, they moved from one corridor to the other around the huge Niles mansion. After what felt like an eternity for Sydney, Anderson finally stopped at a door.
“Here we are.” He said and she nodded.
“Thank you.” She held the knob and turned it. The door opened and she walked in. Before she closed the door, she whispered under her breath. “Good night.” Whether he heard it or not, she did not know.
The room was bigger than her room at Hansen’s place. Of course, the house was bigger than his, so it was not such a surprise that the rooms would be bigger. She placed Anderson’s jacket on the large bed and moved towards what she resumed to be the bathroom.
After opening the door, she realized it was a walk-in closet. Clothes hang from the inside, with shoes, bags and hats. Sydney’s eyes flared as she stared at all those designer clothes with their tags still on them. After checking the price tag of a few clothes, she realized that the money could pay her salary for many months. Moving to the drawers, she pulled it open and her jaw dropped. Pearls, gold, diamonds, you name it, the jewelry shinned as bright as Rihanna sang about it.
She brushed her fingers on them and smiled. A sudden loud laugh sent her wiping around so fast that her neck hurt. Her eyes bulged when she saw the person who disliked her in the most in the whole wide world, Mary.
“I should have known the first thing you would look at was the jewelry.” She snickered and rolled her eyes. “You are even worse than I thought.”
Sydney’s gaze locked with hers. “I thought this was the bathroom.” Her words only made Mary laugh harder.
“Well, as you can see, it isn’t.” Mary advanced towards her, with a frown. “I know women like you very well. You fool everybody with your sweet smile and good act and when you get into the family, you show your real self. The real gold digger you are.”
Sydney’s lips quivered and she tried to speak. “I am not...”
“I did not ask for your opinion.” Mary interjected. “Anyway, I have a proposal for you. You are here because my son offered you money right? Here is what I have for you. I will pay you twice of what Anderson offered.”
“No,” Mary cut in again with a chuckle. “You are an actress; I should offer you more than that. Okay, I will pay you twice the amount my son offered and make you into the famous actress you have always dreamed of.”
“What do you want in return if I say yes?”
“Do not marry my son.”