Sydney closed her eyes and hoped that everything would be a dream when she opens them. However when she did and he was still standing before her, she knew it was really happening.
“What?” She gasped, still in a daze by everything that has happened.
“The engagement is over.” He repeated, letting his hand slip away from her.
Her lips parted in shock as she stared at him. “What?” There was a hurricane of emotions swirling inside her. “What do you mean the engagement is over?” She asked, trying to comprehend it.
“That’s it. It’s over and I am not giving you an explanation.” He turned his back to her, but she angrily reached for his arm, forcing him to turn around and face her. With chest rising and falling, she stared daggers at him.
“You will explain to me what all this is!” She raised her voice, throwing her hands in the air. “I want an explanation! Why did you kiss me and then say that the engagement is off?” The festive people were so busy dancing, that they did not notice the quarrel that was about to break.
Tears started swelling in her eyes and she quickly blinked them back. When he remained silent, she let her anger take control and she pushed against his chest, screaming. “Tell me dammit!” Sydney could not believe him! How could a man kiss a woman so passionately and then follow it up with the worst news ever.
How dare he call off the engagement? They signed a contract for goodness sake and he could not possibly end it without giving her a reasonable explanation.
“We can’t continue our act anymore.” He said calmly.
“And why is that?” She asked while wondering to herself if she did something wrong? Was she not fulfilling her part of the deal? She came up with the idea of them living together and the media were eating it all up. She was doing her part and doing it well, but why? Were they not looking real enough?
“Remember what I said about feelings?” He asked to which she gulped. Her gaze fell at her feet and heart skipped a beat. Oh no, she thought, he knows. It had been two days now, since she realized that she was falling in love with him. Afraid that something like this would happen, she had tried to hide her feelings. Oh god, has he noticed it? Was it that obvious?
“Sydney I am calling off the engagement because there are feelings involved.” Her head came up, the same time a tear slipped out from the corner of her eyes. She had known this would happen if he found out what she felt. “I think…” He stuttered, looking anywhere but at her. Her heart thudded in her chest as she waited for him to gather the courage and continue.
“I think I am falling in love with you.”
“What?” Her eyes flared in shock as she stared at him. He finally looked at her and her knees almost gave up on her. In his eyes was the softest look she had ever received from him. However, he quickly covered it up with his usual neutral look. It was gone so fast that, she asked herself if she even saw it in the first place.
Sighing, he repeated himself. “I think I am falling in love with you.” Another tear rolled out of her eyes, but this time it was not from anger.
“You are falling in love with me?” She asked in disbelief, taking a step towards him, watching him intently, with heart banging against her rib-cage.
“Yes. That is why we have to stop this now.” He was about to turn and walk away as he always did, but she grabbed his hand in time to stop him.
“But why?” She asked, wanting him to explain himself further.
“Feelings should not be involved remember?” He asked, and she shook her head, wiping her face with her palms.
“And what if they are involved?”
“I am violating the rules of the contract, don’t you see?”
“If you are violating the rules by having feelings for me then so am I.” She said and a puzzled look crossed his face. Now is the time to let him know, she thought. “I think I am also falling in love with you.” It was his turn to look shocked.
Anderson stepped closer to her, hands reaching into her soft hair. While he ran his fingers through it, he asked. “What did you say?” His lips curved up into a half smile as his heart pumped haphazardly.
She repeated herself and then he smashed his lips down on hers again. That night, they kissed twice.
Sydney woke up the next morning, with vivid images of their kisses playing in her mind. Gathering the sheets against her, she cupped her cheeks that were as red as tomatoes. Her fingertips touched her lips as she smiled.
“He loves me.” She said to herself, still unable to believe it. Had they really confessed to having feelings for each other? This was all so crazy and unrealistic.
Sitting up, she glanced round the room and found it empty. He must be downstairs, she thought while getting out of bed. She was even still in the dress from last night. After they had confessed their feelings, they left the festival and came home straight. Sydney had hoped that they would talk about it, but Lady Willow had asked Anderson to look at something in the kitchen. He took so long that, she had fallen asleep.
Sydney walked out of the bedroom some time later, after taking a bath and changing clothes. She was really looking forward to seeing Anderson and hopefully, them talking about their feelings. While she was in the bathroom, she thought a lot about them. What would happen now? Would they become a couple for real? And what about the upcoming wedding, not forgetting the contract?
As she entered the dining area, she expected to see Anderson with Lady Willow as she had seen them last night, but it was only Rose at the table. The young woman smiled at her when she reached the table. “Good morning.” Sydney greeted with a sweet smile.
“Good morning. How was your night?” She asked, to which Sydney’s smile widened. She could not explain how her night was, because it was all so unbelievable to her.
“It was fine.” She replied simply and then inquired about the others. “Where is everyone?” She actually wanted to know where Anderson was, but did not want to make it so obvious.
“Ah, Grandma Willow and Anderson went into town to get some things.” Rose replied, while pushing her chair backwards and getting up. She picked her cup and plate and moved into the adjoining kitchen.
Sydney poured herself a cup of tea and sipped, while waiting for Rose to return. The humming sound of a car parking in the compound reached her ears, and she placed her cup on the table, lips curving up in a smile.
A few minutes later, footsteps entered the house and then she heard voices. They moved into the kitchen, through the other door and then she heard them speaking to Rose. Lady Willow asked first.
“You are not gone yet?”
“Where are you going?” It was Anderson this time.
“I am about leaving, and I am going to school.” Rose replied them both and then footsteps, hurried into the dining area. It was Rose. “Goodbye Sydney, I am off to school.”
“High school?” Sydney questioned to which she nodded and then rushed out. As she stared at Rose’s retreating figure, she remembered how her brother, Caleb, used to be this enthusiastic about his own education. That boy used to love school, until their mother started doing drugs and got him to do some as well. He was a very bright student and had been on scholarship. However, after high school, he stopped.
“Sydney,” Lady Willow’s throaty voice managed to bring her out of her thoughts and she glanced at the old woman standing at the door connecting the kitchen to the dining area. “Good morning.” The wrinkled skin around her face, folded as she smiled.
“Good morning Lady Willow.” She replied, looking behind the old woman, at Anderson who was unwrapping something on the kitchen island.
“How was your night?” Sydney’s gaze returned to the woman.
“It was comfortable, thank you.”
Lady Willow nodded. “I am glad. However, I would like to apologize for snatching your fiancé, last night.” Sydney shook her head. “And please forgive me; I want to keep him for the whole of today as well.”
Sydney raised her gaze and met Anderson’s. His gaze held the same soft look as last night, when he saw telling her as he felt. And just as last night, her heart thudded excitedly in her chest. She waited for him to show a sign, or signal, or even do something to assure her that last night had really happened, because she still doubted how true it was.
Unfortunately, he tore his gaze away from hers and went back to what he was doing. Her gaze fell to the table and she felt a lump building in her throat. Her heart continued to beat fast, not with excitement as earlier on, but with pain at the way he ignored her.
She became confused. Had they not confessed anything to each other last night? Had they not kissed? Oh, but they kissed all right. There was no doubt in her mind that they kissed. It was real. It felt real, at least.
“Excuse me dear.” Lady Willow moved into the kitchen.
Sydney lost appetite for the food. Glancing once more into the kitchen, she saw him speaking with Lady Willow. His gaze met hers only for a split second before he looked away again. Ouch! That hurt.
She pushed her chair back and left the table. While she made her way outside the house, she made up her mind to speak to him when he finishes Lady Willow’s tasks.
Throughout the day, Sydney felt like Anderson was ignoring her. Whenever he was alone and she came to speak to him, he would pretend to be making a call or find something else to do. At lunch, he refused to sit beside her and later when Lady Willow wanted them to go to church with her; he took a car and drove out of the house.
Anderson wanted to clear his mind. He needed to think straight. He had to think over what happened last night and he could not do that with her always around. That is why he left the house. He knew she was hurt about his behavior. He saw it in her eyes.
“What is going to happen now?” He asked himself the question that had given him insomnia last night.
They have kissed and confessed their feelings. Did that mean that they were now a couple? Will she be his girlfriend now? What will happen now? What did he want now? One thing he knew for sure was that he did not want to be in a relationship.
Argh, what to do?
Anderson drove around town, going round, repeatedly. He did not want to go home just yet, as he knew she would be waiting for him. It was almost mid-night when he got back home. He hoped she would be asleep just as last night, so that they will not have the talk tonight, because he was not ready.
Unfortunately, when he opened the door and stepped inside the dark room, he saw a figure sitting on the bed. He froze in his steps and held the door, ajar. There was no doubt that it was Sydney.
“Are you finally free to talk?” Her voice filled the whole room as she moved, getting off the bed. Her nightgown fell at her feet, as she faced him. He became dumbfounded, at the sight of her. The moonlight, which poured into the room through the parted curtains, illuminated her figure and made her look like a goddess from a Greek film. Her hair fell on her shoulders in waves of curls and her curves were painfully prominent.
“Why did you ignore me all day?” Her voice broke the spell that her body had cast on him, and he snapped back to reality.
“Uh…” he did not know what to say.
“Why do I have a feeling that you do not want to talk to me?” She approached him.
“You are wrong.” No, he was wrong. He gripped the doorknob to stop himself from walking away.
“Then tell me why you run away this evening.” She was now in front of him, gazing, into his eyes with beautiful big brown eyes.
“I did not run away.” He said.
“Then why did I feel like you did?”
“I don’t know.” He said, walking around her and moving further into the room. He moved to the closet and removed his blazer, throwing it inside. “Look Sydney, I am very exhausted and want to sleep.” He said, turning around.
He became startled when he found her standing right behind him. “Why are you pretending that last night did not happen?” She asked the question he was hoping they would avoid.
“I am not pretending.” He said, moving away from the closet.
She followed right behind him, saying. “Yes, you are. You avoided me all day and I think it’s because we kissed last night.”
He was almost at the bathroom door, when he halted. Suddenly, images of their kisses, flashed through his mind, reminding him of how soft her lips had felt against his. He had kissed many women in his lifetime, however none of their lips could compare to Sydney’s.
“Is it?” She asked.
“No.” He replied and wanted to move. However, what she asked next made him stop again.
“Is it because we confessed to having feelings for each other?”
Anderson spun around, locking gazes with her. Oh how he wished he had not spoken about his feelings last night. He regretted letting her know, because right now she would want them to be a couple, which he did not want. Yes, he was falling in love with her. However, he did not want to fall any deeper because he did not want a relationship.
“What will happen now that we have feelings for each other?”
“Nothing.” His reply stunned Sydney to silence. “Nothing will happen between us because my feelings are only temporary. I am sure I am not even in love. It might just be infatuation or lust, I do not know. I might even just be confused.”
“Just forget whatever happened last night because I have already forgotten about it. We are only together because of a contract, so let’s finish it and then go our separate ways.” With those words, he entered the bathroom and closed the door behind him.