Her confidence never failed to stun him. She said things that made his heart race, and get an unfamiliar warm feeling swelling in his heart and moving to other parts of his body, in a slow, electrifying momentum. He always had this urge to take her into his arms and kiss her, whenever she speaks such surprising words.
There was silence as he stared at her. His heart was banging in his ribcage and he folded his hands into his pockets in order to stop him from doing what his mind was screaming to him to do.
Clearing his throat, he looked away from her and decided to change the topic before he gave into the crazy thought running through his mind. “Why don’t you take a shower? It’s almost time for dinner.” He said.
“Okay.” Sydney replied and moved. Glancing round the room, she asked. “Where is the bathroom?” He pointed and she went in.
When the door closed behind her, he let out a breath he did not know he was holding. His hand fell on his chest, where his heart was pounding loudly. Why does she have to say things that make him want to kiss her? He had felt the same way when she had been talking about being his future wife, earlier that morning.
Shaking his head, he tried to get thoughts of kissing her out of his mind. He should not be thinking of such things. No, he had to forget of it. Such thoughts should never cross his mind again. They were only acting and nothing would happen between them.
Turning around, he left the room. As soon as he stepped into the corridor, he saw Rose, together with Fatima, the caretaker, ascending the staircase. Rose’s cheeks went fifty shades of pink when she saw him. He could not help the smile that broke on his lips upon seeing her flushed face. She has had a crush on him for as long as he could remember. He was surprised that even after ten years she still felt the same.
“Rose,” he called, meeting them at the staircase.
“Good evening, sir.” Fatima greeted.
“Good evening.” He replied to Fatima and then moved his gaze to Rose, who stood a few meters behind Fatima, probably hiding away from him. “Rose, how was your trip to town?” He asked.
“Uh… It… it was okay.” She stuttered, her gazing at her feet.
“Did you get them?” He now asked, Fatima.
“Yes. I bet she will love the dresses Lady Willow picked out for her.” She replied, to which he nodded.
“Alright. Rose, I will see you at dinner?” The flushed young woman, nodded and then hurried away.
“Excuse me, sir.” Fatima said and then went ahead.
Anderson smiled. Rose was still the same shy and innocent girl he knew from before. She was Kathleen’s little sister, however, the sisters did not get along so well. They were two very different people. While, Kathleen had always been daddy’s girl, an extrovert and a lover of fashion and style, Rose, was mummy’s favorite, an introvert and kept everything about her life simple. No matter how different they were, he still loved both of them.
“Anderson, my boy.” It was Lady Willow, calling to him at the base of the staircase.
“Lady Willow.” He threw his arms around her, in a tight hug when he descended the stairs.
“You have grown into a fine young man.” Lady Willow cupped his face between her wrinkled palms when they separated, turning it from side to side. “And you have a beautiful woman by your side.” She added.
He quickly looked away from her piercing eyes before he told her that Sydney really was not his fiancée. “Come, dinner is ready.” She took his arm and led him to the dining area.
Time passed and it was only Anderson and Lady Willow at the dining table. They did not even take notice of how long the others were taking to come to the dining table, as they were busily catching up on passed times. It seemed like nothing could interrupt their chatters, until Sydney arrived dresses in a rosy, long sleeved sundress.
Anderson, who was telling Lady Willow how he pranked his mother, on one April fool’s day, became lost of words when he laid eyes on her. He had never seen her in a sundress. His jaw dropped and he stared in awe. Damn it, why does the dress have to fit her so perfectly and why was he thinking about kissing her again, damn it!
Sydney froze at the door when she laid eyes on Anderson. Something about the way he looked at her, made her heart race, filled her stomach with butterflies and made her cheeks flush.
“Come inside, my dear. Do not stand at the door.” Lady Willow spoke to break the silence, before she moved. “You can sit beside Anderson.”
Sydney did just that and he glanced at her. Their gazes locked before he whispered to her. “You look great in that dress.”
Anderson only realized what he said when he saw her blushing profusely. He quickly looked away, with a small smile playing on his lips. She had no idea how cute she looked when she blushes, maybe next time he would mention that.
* * * *
And the next time was the following night, when they were in a car moving around the small town of Boti and she looked as gorgeous as the previous night, in a yellow sundress. “Do you know that you look cute when you blush?”
He caught a surprised look on her face before it disappeared, leaving her cheeks flaming. She smiled, “no.”
“Okay, I am telling you.”
“And did I mention that, that dress looks great on you?” He glanced at her from the corner of his eyes and saw her smiling broadly. Her smile was beautiful, he thought. Just like her, he added and then returned his gaze to the road.
“And did you know that you look good in other colors?” Sydney asked, to which he looked down for a split second as the white shirt and blue jeans he wore today. His brows arched as he shared a differed opinion of the type of colors he was wearing. For him, black was the most beautiful color.
“Although, black brings out the color of your eyes, it does not do it as brightly as white does.” She looked at him and caught something like a blush on his cheeks.
Quickly, she looked at the road ahead of them before he caught her staring. Tonight, they were attending a festival in Boti. Lady Willow had mentioned it this morning at breakfast and described the festival as the biggest in the town. She also urged that they attend and they could not refuse.
Now there they were, driving behind a line of cars moving into the center of town. Anderson followed the crowd, but then at some point they had to park their car alongside the road because people had taken over the streets, leaving no room for vehicles to pass.
They left their car and followed the crowd. Lamps of all sizes and colors lit up the streets, folks who came out to celebrate were dressed in ripped jeans and other crazy outfits, holding flaming touches while dancing to the beats of drums.
Fire flew around everywhere and firecrackers filled the air. Sydney, who had never seen anything like it, suddenly felt scared. Quickly, she reached for Anderson’s hand and laced hers with his. As soon as their hands fitted together, he pulled her closer to his side and she gladly held onto him.
“Are you scared?” He asked over the sound of beating drums and she nodded. “Don’t worry. Just hold onto me and I will protect you.” She snuggled closer to him and he threw both of his arms around her.
A smile formed on his lips as he looked down at the woman in his arms. She was soft, small and fragile. He suddenly felt the urge to protect her, not only from the dangerous activities of the festival but also from any and everyone who would want to hurt her. He felt like he should have her by his side. He felt like she belonged by his side.
As if she sensed that he was staring, she turned and their eyes met. At that moment, he realized what all those crazy emotions he always felt when around her, actually meant. He just realized that he was falling in love with her.
“What?” She asked and he did not know what to say. “Is anything the matter?”
He wished he could tell her no, that there was nothing, but actually, there was something. He was falling in love with her! How could he? When he said himself that, no feelings should be involved. Argh, he hated himself right now and hated her more for making him develop feelings for her.
Frowning, he said coldly. “No.” Then his hold on her loosened. He would have let her go, but he was scared that she would get hurt. They continued their journey in silence. While Sydney enjoyed the festival, he was deep in thought.
What now? He asked himself. What would he do now? Cancel the contract with her and find someone else? That would be the best option, but she had already met his parents. News of their engagement and wedding is all over the media. It would be a scandal if he breaks off the engagement with her.
Sighing in frustration, he cursed himself for catching feelings. A firecracker suddenly burst close to his ear before he snapped out of his thoughts. Glancing down at his arms, he became alarmed when he saw that… Sydney was gone! His pupils dilated and his heart skipped a beat.
He looked into the crowd and did not see a yellow dress. Damn it, he lost her! “Sydney!” He called, turning around. All he saw were crowds of people moving and dancing. He pushed his way through the festivities, trying to locate her.
“Sydney!” He imagined her crouched in a corner somewhere, probably looking scared. Or maybe she was being dragged off somewhere by some man. That thought angered him. If he finds any man by her side, he would beat him to a pulp.
“Sydney my god, where are you!” There was desperation in his voice.
“Anderson!” A tiny shrill reached his ears and he froze in his steps.
“Sydney?” He asked. “Sydney!” He called, looking through the crowd.
“Anderson!” He heard the voice again, but did not know where it was coming from. Turning about, he immediately spotted a yellow dress.
Relief swept over him at the sight of her. For a moment there, he had been scared that he would never see her again. Quickly, he pushed through the crowd, moving towards her. She tried to come to him, but people were moving and shoving her aside.
“Sydney, come to me.” He yelled to her, holding out his hand. Her arms extended before her as she tried to reach him. He kept his eyes locked to hers while he moved. Every step he took brought her closer to him and his heart pounded with excitement. As soon as their fingers touched, he held on fast.
“Where did you go?” He asked, pulling her in for a tight hug.
“I don’t know how I lost you.” She said into his chest and he heaved a sigh of relief.
Pulling away, he cupped her face between his palms and gazed into her eyes. Now more than ever, he wanted to do what he had been stopping himself from doing for two days now. Slowly, his lips descended upon hers.
Sydney’s hands circled around his neck and his, held her face in place as he kissed her lips tenderly. Shutting his eyes, he allowed himself to get lost in the feeling the kiss. He brought his tongue out to sweep over her bottom lip, asking for entrance. She parted her lips and he plunged his tongue inside the depth of her mouth.
He sighed at the sweet peachy taste of her mouth and his toes curled inside his shoes. A few minutes later, he released her lips and she gasped for breath. Placing his forehead to hers, he shut his eyes and wished he did not have to do this.
“Sydney,” he breathed. “The engagement is over.”