“Where are you going so early in the morning?” These were the words out of Anderson’s mouth when he walked into Hansen’s room and saw him dressing up.
Glancing at his brother through the mirror, Hansen replied. “I am just going out.” He replied, while buttoning up his shirt. When he was done, he turned to face Anderson that was when he saw him clearly. His eyes were dull and lost its shine. His face, pale and thinner than it usually was. In fact, he had lost weight. Sighing, Hansen felt bad for his brother. Ever since they left the hospital two weeks ago, Anderson has been living in his house. Hansen did not ask why his brother does not want to go back to his place because he knew the reason. That house held so much memories of him and Sydney and he knew he would be haunted by them if he should step foot in it. Although, Anderson did not want to admit it, Hansen knew he was not living in his house because he wanted to take care of him, as he claimed.
“Already, but you have not fully recovered yet.” Anderson said, taking a seat at the edge of the bed.
“It’s important. I have to handle this issue as soon as possible.” He said.
“Is it about work?” He asked, while rushing his fingers through his hair.
“No, it’s personal.” Hansen threw his brother a sad smile. He would have loved to tell him everything right now about the truth of his mother, the real reason why Sydney left and so on. However, he felt it was not the right time. Things had to be sorted before he could find out.
“Okay.” Anderson replied while lying back in the bed.
As Hansen reached for his car keys, he asked. “So, what will you be doing today?”
“I have an appointment at two. I think I might get this job.” Anderson replied, while Hansen nodded. He fought the urge to blurt out to him that he does not have to worry about finding a job or going broke because he was the heir to Niles Corporate. Rubbing the back of his neck, he said.
“Be right back.” Then he was out of the door.
Hansen got into his car and then started it. While he left the compound of his mansion, he thought to himself. “I am doing the right thing.” Was he? Of course, he was. He had to fix everything. He was going to… because all of this happened because of him. Anderson has suffered a lot because of him since childhood. He did not get the chance to be with his real mother, he has been mistreated for many years and about two weeks ago, he lost the love of his life. Damn it, he hated seeing his brother suffer and this past two weeks has been hell not only for Anderson, but for him too. The poor boy has been going to bars and getting drunk. More than once, Hansen was called to come and pick his completely wasted brother home. Moreover, when he was not drinking and getting super wasted, he either gets into fights or drowns himself in searching for a job.
Anderson just did not know how to handle his pain.
Turning into the small parking lot of the café, he searched the place looking for the person he was there to meet. A few meters away, he spotted her. Gosh, she looked as bad as Anderson did. Her eyes were dull and just like his brother she also lost weight. Damn these two were slowly dying without each other.
Hansen parked his car and went over to her. He frowned when he spotted her mother standing by her side. “Good morning,” he greeted. “Thank you very much for coming.” He said and then Adeline nodded.
“We are happy to be here.”
“Please, let’s proceed inside.” He took Sydney’s hand and together, they went into the café.
A waiter led them to a table and after they sat down and made their orders, Sydney began by asking. “How much do you know?”
Sighing, Hansen replied. “Pretty much everything, or…” glancing at Adeline he added coldly. “There is something my mother left out that you would like to add?”
Sydney sighed. “Okay, I am here. What is it that you wanted to talk about that you instead I come in person?” She asked, looking at Hansen who was glaring at her mother. “Sorry, my mother insisted to come.”
Tearing his gaze from Adeline, Hansen glanced at Sydney. “I want us to tell Anderson the truth…” Sydney’s eyes flared. “…together.” This time her jaw dropped.
“What? Are you crazy?” She gasped.
“No, but I want my brother to be happy. And if you left him because you were afraid he would hate you after he learns what your mother did to him, I am willing to help you get him back.” Hansen said, looking at Sydney and her surprised face. “You do want him back don’t you?”
Sydney was silent.
“Yes,” Adeline chimed in. “We have to tell him the truth. That’s why I am here.”
Hansen’s gaze darted to Adeline, who was sitting beside the still surprised and speechless Sydney. “What?”
“I want to tell the truth and I don’t care if I go to prison afterwards. My daughter’s happiness is all that’s important to me right now.”
The waiter had not yet brought what they ordered when they left the café. Hansen was behind the wheel, with Adeline sitting next to him in the passenger seat. Sydney, however, sat at the back with her heart in her throat. Her fingers were trembling and goose bumps rose all over her skin. She could not think clearly, as she sat numbly in the back feeling anxious. No. She could not do this. She could not possibly meet Anderson. No. She was not ready.
“Hansen,” her voice came out in a tiny whisper hence he did not hear her. She wanted to ask him to stop the car. She wanted to get out and take a taxi home. No, she could not meet Anderson. There was this feeling deep in her gut that he would not want to see her. She felt that he would be upset when he sees her. What if he does not listen to reason and rejects her. Oh, even the thought of it broke her heart.
“We are here.” Hansen announced and Sydney’s heart skipped a beat.
Looking out the window, she saw that they were at the Niles family mansion. Sydney sank in her seat and tried to control her heart, which was pounding in her chest. Hansen parked the car and they stepped out. The front door soon opened and Mary rushed out. A smile was on her face when she saw Hansen, but once her gaze fell on Sydney and Adeline, it disappeared. Now, standing before them, she asked.
“What… what are you doing here?” The question was directed to Adeline and Sydney.
“Today, our little secret will no longer be a secret.” Adeline replied before Hansen led them in.
Mr. Niles was in the dining room having breakfast when visitors arrived. He left his newspaper on the dining table and moved into the living room. Many questions crossed his mind… like, what was Sydney doing here? Did she not abandon his son and runaway? Why was Hansen here so early in the morning? Moreover, why did his wife look like she was about to have a stroke? Hansen stepped forward and addressed his father.
“Dad, I know what you are thinking. Why are we all here this morning? Well, we have something very important to discuss with you.”
Mr. Niles leaned against his walking stick and responded. “Okay, I am listening.”
“Not now, dad. We are waiting for Anderson.”
Sydney swallowed at the mention of his name. Oh yes, Anderson. Hansen had called him to come to their parent’s house, when they were leaving the café.
“Why? Does this thing you have to discuss concern the whole family?” Mr. Niles asked and he nodded. “Okay, let’s take our seats shall we?”
Everyone had just made themselves, comfortable on the plush sofas when a hum reached their ears. It was not long before Anderson walked in. Hansen met him in the hallway. “I am glad that you are here.” He said.
“Sure thing, but why did you insist that I come here?” Anderson asked as they proceeded to the living room.
“There’s something important we have to tell you.” Hansen replied.
“We? You and who?” Anderson stopped in his tracks when he saw Sydney. His heart contracted painfully and he absentmindedly threw his hand to his chest. The pain there had just doubled, no tripled was more like it. Blinking, he asked himself if she were actually there or his mind was making up images of her to trick him because he missed her so much.
“Anderson, come on.” Hansen called to him, but he did not move. His eyes were glued to hers. He could not believe she was sitting there. What was she doing here? He wanted to ask, but his tongue did not roll the words out. She looked sad, miserable, just like he did. He wanted to feel sorry for her, but his anger towards her did not let him.
WHAT WAS SHE DOING HERE! HOW DARE SHE SHOW UP IN HIS LIFE AGAIN AFTER SHATTERING HIM INTO PIECES! IF SHE WERE HERE TO BEG HIM TO TAKE HER BACK BECAUSE SHE HAS REALIZED THAT SHE MADE A MISTAKE LETTING HIM GO, THEN BOY WAS SHE MISTAKEN. HE WOULD NEVER TAKE HER BACK. NOT IN A MILLION YEARS, NOT AFTER WHAT SHE DID TO HIM. NEVER!
Sydney tore her gaze away from Anderson’s when he gave her a cold, hard look. Tears glistened in her eyes and she quickly blinked them back, not wanting to cry in front of everyone. The brothers sat together and then Hansen began.
“Um… dad, Anderson, Mary has something to tell you.”
The trembling Mary rose to her feet, tears pooling her eyes and fingers intertwining. “I have something to tell you Ken… and please forgive me.” A tear rolled down her cheek. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “I… I mean… Hansen is not Hannah’s son. It’s Anderson.”
Mr. Niles was about to interject when Mary asked him not to, because she was not done confessing. He returned to his seat and listened as she revealed everything.
Anderson could not believe it when Mary was done. His head was spinning, his mind, confused and his heart thudding like there was no tomorrow. He tried to comprehend it, but it was difficult. Mary was not his mother. She stole him from the arms of his real mother, Hannah, when he was just a newborn baby. Gasping in disbelief, he held his head in his hands and refused to let the tears that rushed to his eyes, fall. It could not be. He did not want to belief that Mary was that heartless and evil, but the facts were there. Adeline had pictures and she had letters. Everything was true.
Of course, it was all so clear now. He understood why Mary had always mistreated him, why she never cared about him, why she made his life a living hell. It was all because he was not her son. Hansen was. That is why she always loved him more, cared for him more and was always there for him. This time, the tears poured out without warning. He could not control himself, could not stop himself from crying. He was so lost that, he did not see his father fall beside him.
“Oh my God, Ken!” Mary gasped, kneeling before her sick husband.
“Dad!” Hansen cried, joining his mother on his knees.
“Call the ambulance.” Adeline, who was checking his pulse, said to no one in particular. Sydney quickly reached for her phone and called. After that, her gaze moved to Anderson. A lump formed in her throat as she watched him. She felt bad for him. She wanted to hold him in her arms, to comfort him. She wanted to whisper into his ears that everything would be all right, that she was here for him. Without a second thought, she went to him.
“Anderson.” She touched his arm, but he was quick to jerk it away.
Lifting his head, he gave her an icy glare while clenching his teeth. “Don’t touch me.”
Sydney flinched, not expecting him to react that way. Anderson held her gaze and rose to his feet. “Don’t touch me.” He repeated before walking out. Sydney turned and ran after him, calling his name.
“Anderson.” He kept on walking towards the front door. “Anderson, wait!” Her voice trembled as tears rushed into her eyes. “Anderson, please!”
He reached the parking lot before he stopped. Turning around, he gripped Sydney’s elbows. In a quick motion, he brought her crashing against his chest. “What!” He raged, “What is it you want to tell me?” He gritted while glaring at her.
“I am sorry.” She cried.
Anderson let her go so fast she lost her footing and stumbled backwards, almost falling. “You are sorry!” He yelled. “No, you are not!”
“I am sorry. Please forgive me.”
“What makes you think I will forgive you?” Anderson scoffed.
“I shouldn’t have…”
“I don’t want to hear it!” He cut her off. “You knew. You learnt about the truth, but you kept it from me. How could you?”
“I didn’t tell you because I knew you would be upset.”
“So you decided to break up with me, instead? Like that would not upset me. Is that it?” He paced, running fingers through his hair angrily.
“No,” Sydney sobbed. “I thought you would hate me when you found out what my mother did to you. I thought you would not want me anymore.”
Anderson halted in his steps. Turning around, he faced her. “Is that why you left? Because you thought I would hate you?” She nodded and he breathed. “Sydney,” his voice became soft as he stepped closer to her. “Why would I hate you when you did nothing wrong. What made you think I would hate you for something your mother did?”
Sydney sniffed. “I…” she did not know how to respond to that. As she stared into his loving eyes, she realized what a fool she had been. How in hell did she think that he would hate her. Oh, how foolish she had been. “I am sorry.” She choked out. “I should not have thought that you…”
“Yes, you shouldn’t have.” Anderson cut in while shaking his head. “You shouldn’t have.”
“Please forgive me.” She begged.
Anderson locked gazes with her before saying, coldly. “No.”
“Sydney stop it. I do not want to and you cannot make me forgive you.” He turned his back to her. “And don’t even think that I will take you back.” She gasped at his words, falling to her knees. “You had your chance and you threw it away.”
Sydney opened her mouth to say something, but the words did not come out. She wanted to stop him, wanted to apologize to him, wanted to make him listen to her, wanted to make him understand her, but she could not move. She seemed paralyzed as she watched his back go further and further away from her.
“Anderson,” she choked. “I am sorry.”