They now sat in silence in the living room of Anderson’s black mansion, with fingers entwined. It was a very comfortable silence, which also held many unanswered questions.
“Yes?” These were the first words they spoke to each other since the passionate kiss they shared at that restaurant.
Squeezing his hands, Sydney continued. “So what happens now?” She asked to which he shrugged.
“I don’t know.” Anderson replied, while meeting her gaze. “But there’s one question I want to ask.” He paused. “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Sydney smiled before replying. “Yes.” He took her lips in a sweet kiss again. When he released them a few moments later, he placed his forehead to hers and gazed deep into her mesmerizing eyes.
“You have such alluring eyes. I get lost just staring at them.” He confessed, to which she blushed.
“And your eyes are just so captivating. I sometimes get lost in their beauty.” Anderson wrapped his arms around her and held her close to him. For the first time, in forever, he knew how it felt like to love someone and have the person reciprocate it.
“Anderson, what will happen with us now?” Sydney just asked the question he was just thinking about, but he did not have an answer to it.
“I don’t know.” Indeed, he did not know what would happen to them now. They were getting married in two weeks, according to the contract; but what about them. They have just become a couple. They knew nothing about each other. They could not possibly just get married. He had barely started getting used to the idea that he now had a girlfriend, let alone a wife!
“We are getting married in two weeks. What about that?” Sydney asked, as if reading his mind. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know.” He told her, while running his fingers through her hair. Oh how, he would have loved to say they should postpone the wedding until when both of them wants to do it. However, his father’s deadline to get married is fast approaching and he needs his inheritance.
All his life, he had not been given any responsibilities because they had always considered him as the non-serious brother. Now, he wanted to change that perception his family had of him. He needed to prove to them, especially his father, that he could be responsible. And getting his inheritance was the only way he could do that.
Sighing, he suggested the next thing that came to his mind. And after he spoke the words, he liked the idea. “Let’s forget the contract and get married for real.”
Sydney broke out of his arms, gasping. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah.” He said. “We are in love and there’s already going to be a wedding. Why not just get married.”
“But this is a contract marriage?” She said.
“We can forget it.” Anderson took her hand. “Or don’t you want to marry me?”
Sydney was stunned to silence as she asked herself if he just asked her to marry him for real. Was he out of his mind? They just became a couple less than five minutes ago, and now he wanted them to get married in two weeks?
“Anderson, are you insane?” She asked.
“Insanely in love with you, yes.” He replied and she smiled. “Come on, let’s get married.” He urged.
“But we barely know each other.” She told him.
“Okay, my name is Anderson Niles. I am twenty-seven years old. My favorite color is black. I like…”
“No, that’s not how we have to learn about each other.” Sydney interjected.
“Then how?” He inquired.
“We go on dates.” She replied.
“Then let’s.” He said. “Let’s go on dates and know each other better, and then we can get married.” His lips curved up into a big smile.
“Wait, Anderson.” She cupped his face.
“Don’t you want to marry me?” His smile disappeared.
“I don’t know. This is all too sudden.” She brushed a golden curl away from his face and traced his jawline with her thumb. “Let’s take it slow.”
“Alright.” He agreed.
Later that night, when Sydney was in bed, she made a mental pros and cons list about his proposal. In the pros section, there was a big, “yes I want to marry him”, pasted there. However, in the cons section, there were fear, doubt, social class and not forgetting the evil mother-in-law, among others. She fell asleep that night, with nothing but Anderson on her mind.
Anderson came downstairs the next morning and was not too surprised when a wonderful aroma reached his nostrils. Hurrying towards the kitchen, he saw Sydney turning pancakes on the stove. He went straight to wrap his arms around her waist and plant a kiss on her neck. He felt her shudder and then a smirk formed at the side of his mouth.
“Well good morning to you too.” She said, turning around to peck his lips.
“So what is my girlfriend slash fiancée cooking?” He asked, as she turned back around to turn off the fire.
“Just some pancakes, coffee and tea, for breakfast.” She replied while off-loading the pancakes on a plate.
Anderson took a fork and asked. “May I?” After she nodded, he went ahead to cut a piece of pancake into her mouth. He shut his eyes and moaned as different kinds of sweet flavors clashed inside his mouth, with every chew. He had never tasted anything like it before. “My God, Sydney!” He gasped. “This is amazing.”
She grinned. “Thank you.”
“Where did you learn to cook like this?” He enquired.
“My mother taught me.” Her smile soon disappeared as she suddenly remembered about her mother again. “Oh my god!” She gasped. “I am such a bad daughter.” She quickly untied the apron from her waist and threw it on the kitchen island.
Before she could move, Anderson took her arm. “What is wrong?” He asked, seeing her grim expression.
“My mother is not well and I have been away for one week. I did not call to find out how she is doing and when I returned yesterday, I did not go to see her.” She explained and then turned away, moving out of the kitchen.
“No, it’s not your fault.” He wanted to make her feel better. “You simply forgot.”
“That’s the problem. I forgot about her and she needs me.” She took her coat off the couch and before she could move, Anderson took hold of her hand.
“Don’t worry, she is in great hands.” He assured her. “The best of doctors are taking care of her.”
Sydney sighed. “You don’t understand.” Adeline was not sick. She was only suffering from addiction and needs to be transferred to a rehabilitation center. How in hell was she going to tell him that the doctor advised that her mother be transferred to a rehab center, but she does not have the money for it? What would he say to that?
“Then make me understand.” He cupped her face, while gazing into her eyes.
“Before we left, the doctor advised that my mother be transferred to a rehab center for her addiction.” She explained.
“Then why did you not say so? I would have paid for her transfer.” He said.
“But, you have already done enough for me.” She protested.
“Nonsense!” He smiled. “Your mother is my future mother-in-law and it’s my duty as her future son-in-law, to take care of her. Come, let’s eat breakfast and then go and finalize the transfer process.” He led her to the dining table.
Sydney could not help but feel more love towards Anderson for what he was doing for her. While they ate, she thought of how sweet and thoughtful he was. He was the perfect boyfriend. She made a mental note to call Hansen later on and thank him for introducing her to such a wonderful man.
“Adeline Whyte has been transferred out of this hospital.” Sydney gasped when the nurse gave them the information.
“What!” Her limbs became weak and she stumbled backwards. Luckily, Anderson was not too far behind her. He wrapped his arms around her and studied her.
“When did this happen?” He asked the nurse who replied.
Sydney’s thoughts ran wild. Who took her mother out of the hospital? Could it be Caleb? No, she shook her head. Her brother was not capable of doing that. He did not have the money or permission to. Her heart pounded in her chest as tears rushed into her eyes.
“Under whose permission did you allow a patient to be transferred out of the hospital?” Anderson asked, getting upset.
“Mrs. Mary Niles.” Sydney and Anderson exchanged shocked glances. Both of them had their reasons for reacting like that. For Anderson, he asked himself what game his mother was playing now. While Sydney, wondered why Mary was helping the person she did not like.
Before they left the hospital, they took the address of the other hospital Adeline was transferred to and headed there. They arrived at a rehabilitation center an hour later and found Adeline Whyte in no time. Sydney was more than happy to see her mother and was even happier when she saw her calm.
While Anderson went to speak with the doctor, Sydney was alone with her mother in her room. Pulling a chair close to the bed, she sat down and gazed at her mother who was covered on the bed with a blanket. “How are you doing, mother?” She asked while pushing stray hairs away from Adeline’s forehead.
Adeline glanced at her without speaking a word. Sydney took that as a good thing as her mother’s eyes held a soft look towards her. It had been a long time since she looked that way. “Don’t worry mother, you will be fine here. The nurse says you are making good progress.”
Sydney gazed into her mother’s eyes and smiled. The door suddenly opened and then Anderson entered with a doctor.
“Adeline, how are you doing?” The doctor asked to which she replied.
“I am fine.” Sydney gasped, unable to believe that her mother was speaking.
“Sydney, it’s time to leave. We are already late with our appointment with the wedding planner.” Anderson said and she nodded.
“Mother,” Sydney sighed, standing up and placing a kiss on the woman’s forehead. “I love you very much, please get well soon.” As she was pulling away, Adeline put a hand on her nape and whispered into her ears.
“Get me out of here... please.” Sydney pulled back and stared into her mother’s eyes. There, she saw tears. Adeline touched her hand and she looked down. That was when she saw red marks on her mother’s hand. Before she could speak, Anderson was taking her hand and leading her out of the room, while the doctor was pulling the blankets to cover her mother’s hand.
Sydney was numb as they sat in the limo, heading to the bridal shop. She could not shake off the feeling that her mother was suffering in there. Were they mistreating her? Why were there red marks on her hand? Did they hurt her? Or did she hurt herself?
Goose bumps rose on her skin when she thought of something. What if Mary was paying the doctors to hurt her? Was that why she brought her mother to the rehab clinic, so she would make her suffer?
“Sydney,” she felt a soft touch on her cheek and then snapped out of her trance. She noticed her surroundings and then Anderson. “What is on your mind?” He asked, while taking her hand.
“Ah, my mother…” she did not finish her statement and then he cut in.
“The doctor says she is doing fine, so do not worry.” He said, and she nodded. However, she still thought otherwise. Her mother was not fine. Although, there was a possibility that she could have hurt herself, she still had a feeling that something was wrong.
That feeling got worse, when they got to the bridal shop and she saw Mary. Her heart skipped a beat when she approached them with that fake smile plastered on her face. “You are late.” She said, giving them a scolding look.
“Please accept our apologies. However, it was not our fault. We went to the hospital to visit a patient, but it turns out that a Good Samaritan has transferred her to another hospital.” Anderson spoke, while watching his mother intently. “Care to explain… mother?”
A slow and devious smile formed on Mary’s lips as she moved cold eyes to Sydney. “Ah, I was just trying to help my future daughter-in-law.” She touched Sydney’s face and she cringed.
“Thank you, but you shouldn’t have.” Sydney said.
“Nonsense, I wanted to.” Mary said, still wearing her fake smile. “No need to feel indebted to me, okay? Now let’s get you your dream gown.” She took Sydney’s hand and led her away.
Anderson followed closely behind them, deep in thought. He did not believe his mother’s words one bit. That woman had a reason for “helping her future daughter-in-law” and it was not because she was generous. Nothing Mary Niles does is free, there is always a price and he would find out what.
“Anderson,” Mary called to him and he snapped out of his trance. “You also have to pick a suit.” She told him.
Raising his gaze, he saw a salesperson leading Sydney away to see some wedding gowns. “This way please.” He followed the other salesperson who spoke to him. They also went in the suit section.
Anderson could see all the way in the wedding gown section from where he stood and he made good use of it. His gaze followed Sydney’s every movement and he noticed that she was distracted. She did not seem to be interested in picking a gown and she nodded to everything the salesperson showed her.
He did not like the grim way she looked and he was tempted to go over and ask her why she looked down. Before he could move, the salesperson was showing him a black tuxedo and he nodded without even glancing at it. “This way to the changing room please.”
He groaned and then followed the man. Looking back at Sydney, he saw that she and the other salesperson were also walking towards the same direction he was. They met at the corridor and he took her hand, while whispering in her ear.
“What is wrong?”
She forced a smile at him and then replied. “Nothing.” The salesperson took her hand and led her into the first room and then he entered the second one.
Sydney went ahead to change into the V-neck, lace embroidery, gorgeous fit-flare-mermaid dress the salesperson gave to her. Once she was done, she was asked to stand on a platform. The salesperson went to open a set of doors and then she saw Mary standing out there.
At that same moment, another set of doors opened in front of her. She stared in awe at Anderson who was dressed in a black tuxedo, also standing on a platform, some distance away from her. She had seen and even admired him in black, but this… was… entrancing.
Sydney was not the only one in awe at him. Anderson was also stunned by her, - stunned at how the dress fitted her so wonderfully. He thought she resembled a Disney princess. Her curves were outlined in the best way and he could not help but gasp. Now, he could not wait to see her in a veil and with flowers walking down the aisle.
“So what do you think?” The wedding planner asked Mary, who was not even listening, because she was intently staring between Anderson and Sydney.
Why were they staring lovingly at each other? She asked herself. That was the moment she came to a horrible realization; are in love with each other?
No! It cannot be! She felt like screaming. No, they cannot be in love with each other. They cannot. They just cannot. She would not allow it!