TWENTY-TWO – THE REAL COUPLE
Anderson pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket, eyeing the place with a suspicious look on his face. After turning off the engine and stepping out of the car, he was not so sure he wanted to be here.
There were many people around, especially women and children. Some were going in with their handbags while others were exiting with full plastic bags together with their handbags.
“You have never been to a supermarket before, right?” Sydney spoke while getting out of the car. She moved to stand beside him, holding her purse in place.
He crossed his arms and shook his head, saying grumpily. “No.”
“Then I assure you, you’ll love it.” Sydney smiled and laced her hand with his. At that moment, she noted how small her hand looked in his. His hand was even large and rough against her smooth, slim hand. She tried not to focus on the feeling creeping in her stomach and pulled him with her.
“Come on, let’s go inside.” Anderson dragged his feet, allowing her to take control. “Here.” Sydney pointed to a shopping cart and he groaned before taking the handle and pulling one out from the bunch.
“Okay, here’s a list of everything we will need.” Sydney removed a paper from her jeans pocket and handed it to him. “Feel free to make omissions or even add something if you want.”
Anderson glanced through the list, asking himself what she needed all these for. There were like over fifty items. It was not as if he cannot pay for all this, he could, but he was worried it would go to waste because he did not eat at home.
Sydney moved and he pushed the cart behind her. They moved from one aisle to the other. She picked out the things on her list and then crossed them out. He watched her every move and noticed that she seemed to know what she was doing. Every once in a while she looked back at him, flashing him a dazzling smile and making his heart flutter.
By the time they got home from the shopping mart, the sun was high up in the sky and their hands exhausted from carrying so many shopping bags. Anderson collapsed on a chair around the dining table, breathing heavily and turning up the air condition.
“I am never going shopping ever again.”
Sydney laughed from the fridge and he frowned. How could she laugh at something he spoke with, with all seriousness? He folded both hands on the dining table and stared at her. All of a sudden, the image of her from last night came to his mind.
“I used to say the same thing when I started shopping with my mother.” Sydney turned away from the fridge with two cups of ice cream in her hands. “But do you know what my mother always used to cheer me up afterwards, _ ice cream.” She smiled, raising the cups to her cheeks.
“Ice cream, really?” He asked.
“Trust me; ice cream is the best stress reliever.” She was now standing before him, handing him a cup of frozen chocolate ice cream.
Anderson looked into the cup and raised a brow. “When you are sweaty and your body is all warm from walking around, ice cream will cool you down within seconds. Try it.” He glanced at her and saw her fetching a spoon into her mouth. She closed her eyes and moaned as it melted on her tongue, slowly slipping down her throat, cooling it as it went.
He was entranced, watching her every move. She sat in the chair next to his and fetched another spoon. When she moaned this time, he could not help but comment on the melodious tone. “Well, that’s arousing.”
Sydney glanced at him, with the spoon dangling from one corner of her mouth. Their gazes locked and he smiled, while scooping ice cream. His lips pressed around the spoon and he pulled it out slowly, taking the cold chocolate into his mouth. As soon as it touched his tongue, he understood why she had moaned. The taste was exquisite and as she mentioned, it cooled him down.
“Wow!” He exclaimed. “This is really good.”
“I know.” Sydney went back to eating hers.
“I have never tasted ice cream before.” He said and she glanced at him, chuckling.
“You are kidding, right?”
“No,” his gaze fell to the cup. “I never got the chance to eat ice cream before.”
“Not even as a child?”
He shook his head, not wanting to meet her gaze. He did not do many things other children did, in his childhood and if he were to say all of them, she would pity him. Anyway, they were things of the past. Shaking his head, he continued eating ice cream.
All of a sudden, the telephone started ringing. Sydney, who was closer to it, moved to answer the call. “Hello.”
“Is it true that you and Mr. Niles went shopping today?” The voice that spoke was fast, demanding and somewhat rude.
With a confused expression, she replied. “Yes.”
“Did he carry the shopping bags with you?”
“Yes, but who is this?” She asked.
“A reporter from Metro News.” At his reply, the other telephone in the kitchen started ringing. The one in the living room followed suit and then the other telephones in other parts of the house started ringing simultaneously.
Sydney stood, eyes flared, with the telephone between her hands, staring at Anderson, who shot out of his chair in alarm. He run to answer the one in the living room and that was when they heard cars entering the compound.
She left the phone on the dining table and went to open the door. There, she saw vans from news stations, pulling up at the front door. Reporters and cameramen rushed out and ran towards her, speaking at the same time.
Before she knew it, there were hundreds of cameras and microphones filling her face. The flashes were blinding her and she stood frozen to the spot. She was an actress, yes, and has been in front of a camera before, but this was staggering.
“How is your relationship with Mr. Niles?”
“Are you living together?”
“Did you two go shopping today?”
“When is the wedding?”
“Is it coming soon?”
These were the few questions she managed to pick up from the sea of questions thrown at her. Before she could speak, a hand grabbed her arm and pulled her inside the house. The door closed in her face before Anderson turned her to face him. There was something like anger in his eyes, as he spoke.
“You see what acting like a real couple brings?” She blinked, as she was still too stunned to speak. “Come,” he locked the door and led her to the living room. “I am calling the police.” He said and took a phone.
The doorbell kept on ringing and the knocks on the door did not cease. Within minutes, they heard sirens. There was rustling and bustling and then a voice of a police officer asked them to open their door.
Anderson took Sydney’s hand and together they walked out of the house. It was something like a movie, where the man and woman are escaping the press together. Police officers were on either side of them, pushing back the noisy and forceful reporters who were spitting out questions, while they walked in a small space between the ruckuses.
Anderson threw a protective arm around Sydney, bringing her close to his chest. She could smell his intoxicating cologne and feel his firm muscles against her body. It was a long and slow walk from the front door, but they soon made it to the limousine that was waiting at the end of the line.
Anderson helped her inside and then went in after her. The door shut behind him and the glasses rolled up. The car started to move and the reporters chased it. Subconsciously, they entwined their fingers and watched as the car left the mansion. What they thought would end with them leaving, was just beginning.
Paparazzi on motorbikes followed the car into the city. After thirty minutes on the road, they lost a few of them. The limo came to a stop and the door opened. They stepped out, still holding hands and then got into another car, without wasting time.
They travel led for a long time, Sydney loosing focus on exactly where they were going. Fatigue sank in and her eyelids grew heavy. The last thing she remembered was falling asleep in Anderson’s arms.
“Who is she?” A small voice asked, curiously.
“I do not know Miss.” Another voice replied. However, this one was more mature than the first.
“Oh heavens, she is gorgeous!” The first one exclaimed.
Sydney, who was starting to regain consciousness, could hear the conversation going on around her.
“Miss, shh. You will wake her with your noise.” The second warned.
Sydney rolled on her left hand side and heard hurrying feet. The sound of a door opening, reached her ears and then the sound of the feet became distance. She opened her eyes and found herself staring at a bedside lamp.
“Oh, I am sorry. Did we wake you?” The same mature voice asked and she sat up. Sydney saw a woman, probably in her fifties, dressed in a uniform, with a basket in her hand, looking at her with a sweet smile.
She glanced round the room, looking for Anderson. When he was not in sight, she became worried. Who was this woman, and who else had just been speaking a while ago? Where was she? Moreover, where was Anderson?
“I am Fatima and you are at the Alistair residence in Boti. Earlier this evening, Mr. Niles arrived with you in a car and I hear you two will be leaving with us for a number of days.” She explained and Sydney made a face. “I can get Mr. Niles for you if you desire?”
She nodded and then Fatima walked out of the room. As soon as the door closed, Sydney hurried out of bed and run to the window. When she parted the curtain, she saw that it was night. The moon stood out beautifully, among the millions of stars in the sky. Thanks to the bright lights around, she made out a vast green yard and a beautiful compound.
Turning around, she glanced round the room. The decor was an exquisite, white and blue, with a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The room was large, spacious and very beautiful. She was still at the window, admiring it when the door opened.
Anderson walked in. “It’s good that you’re awake.” He said, stuffing his hands inside his pockets.
Sydney was tongue tied, surprised and stared in awe at the man before her. She never imagined that he would wear clothing of a different color. It was the first time she saw him in something that was not black and it was striking. He looked strikingly handsome, in the white shirt and multicolored trousers.
“What? Is there something on my shirt?” Anderson asked, glancing down at himself after noticing how she stared at him.
Sydney snapped out of her trance. “No,” she said. “You just look…” she paused as his gaze met hers. “… different.”
“I know right?” He said, while stepping further into the room. “All these colors make me look weird.” He went to dresser and looked into the mirror, checking himself. “I wanted something black, but apparently, everyone is allergic to black in this house.”
“No, you do not look weird.” She said, meeting him at the dresser. “You still look the same.” Their gazes met in the mirror and a tingle run down her spine.
He turned, facing her. “How same?” He asked.
Sydney refused to look at him, as she replied. “As handsome as ever.”