An Uninvited Guest Part 1
The doors of the elevator slides open to reveal Cherry standing inside. Her feet could only carry her two steps out of the elevator before she got nailed to the ground as she caught sight of her husband standing outside the apartment complex, under the awning, waiting for her while watching something on his phone with a bored expression as his back was perched against the wall and his legs crossed over the ankles.
The sound of the closing doors of the elevator as it went to a different floor went unnoticed by Cherry, who was awestruck by her husband’s appearance. His chestnut hair parted on the side and the fringes that normally lived on his forehead were slicked back. He wore a black turtleneck sweater with a long maroon cloak over it that almost touched the ground, complementing the jeans and black shoes.
As if sensing her presence Brandon’s eyes shifted from his phone to her absentminded expression and his face cracked into a smile that caused Cherry’s heart to skip a beat before diverting her gaze to the ground feeling the heat rushing into her cheeks as she was sure that Brandon caught her staring at him like a brainless zombie. But how was it her fault that her husband’s looks were like a fine wine, getting her drunk and have her lose her sense of focus?
Shaking her head briefly to escape from her trance, she made her way to Brandon. Once she made it past the automatic doors and as if the few steps of distance between them agitated him, Brandon reached his hand out to wrap it around her waist, flushing Cherry against his side. Her skirt alongside her hair fluttered back in the wind from the impatient pull that brought astonishment in the hazel brown eyes.
“Hey you.” Brandon said with a grin before bending down to place a chaste kiss on his wife’s cheek. “How was it? Did you enjoy your time with our crazed friend?”
The corners of Cherry’s lips pulled up, her eyes rolling as she nudged her elbow in Brandon’s side. “Stop teasing April so much. A bit more and you’ll taste the anger of a pregnant woman.”
“I would like to see if her hands could even reach my face.” He chuckled low at the thought of April’s small stature. “But nothing happened?”
“No, we had fun watching some drama while stuffing our faces with junk food.”
“Really? It sounded like there was something going on. I mean, she needed to see you so urgently that she had to interrupt our day.” Brandon commented with one of his brows arched.
Cherry sighed. “She was anxious at the thought of becoming a mom. Every person who becomes a parent for the first time carries some worries, even I, but in April’s case its worse knowing her past.” Cherry’s eyes lowered down, feeling sad for her dear friend, wishing that she could lessen the burden that those small shoulders carried.
“That’s it? How bloody annoying.”
Huh? Her eyes snapped up to look at her husband smiling down at her with his eyes closed shaped like crescent moon. The words that she just heard were mumbled and the boisterous wind that flew past them turned it further in a whisper. Her dark brows scrunched together as she stared hard at her husband. Noticing the pensive look that his wife gave him, Brandon tilted his head to the side and with a faint smile asked,
“What’s wrong, love?”
She shook her head reluctantly. Did she imagine it? She thought to herself. Honey molten eyes wandered from her face to her body, inspecting every inch, searching for something that was not supposed to be on her body.
While his eyes were still roaming over her body, he kept the conversation going. “Was April’s husband there too?”
“No, he left for work. Why?”
Brandon hummed thoughtfully. He didn’t touch her. That’s good; he thought after making sure that there were no bruises on her body and moved his eyes to capture the soft brown globes that reflected his face innocently. “Just curious. Shall we go? Our reservation is at seven.”
Hand still clasped around her waist, she got guided to the car that was parked on the side. Brandon opened the passenger seat, but before stepping in, she faced him. “Am I dressed properly for the place that we are going to?” She inquired, holding the side of her floral skirt as she twirled in place.
“You’re gorgeous.” Came the immediate reply of her husband, who took his time to drink in her appearance, admiring the woman that was his.
His response sounded like a premeditated answer, and Cherry subtly narrowed her gaze at him. “You always say that when we go somewhere, but in the end I look like garbage stepping in those places. Please be honest this time.”
Deep lines appeared between Brandon’s brows on hearing his honesty being questioned. “But I am being honest. I always have been honest with you, love.”
Even if the woman before him made holes in a garbage bag and wore it as a dress, she would still be stunning in his eyes, like the burning sun that never loses its intense glow no matter what season it is. Brandon even thought that his wife looked too beautiful. So much so that some vermin would start crawling towards her, which brought some concerns to him. He was not so worried about those idiots trying to approach Cherry. He was worried that their sudden future disappearances would stir up the society and would take away the remaining free time with his adorable wife as he would need to cover his tracks.
“Always?” The careful voice of his wife, together with a small tug at his sleeve, pulled him back to the present to gaze down at her oak-brown eyes. Brandon scowled, noticing the turmoil swirling in Cherry’s eyes, and before he could voice his concern, she reiterated,
“You always tell me the truth?” Her voice was laden with the need to hear the confirmation from her husband’s mouth and her fingers curled tighter in the soft material of Brandon’s sleeve. Today may not have been eventful for the body, but had been taxing the mind with things that Cherry kept unwittingly pushing away in the back of her mind for the sake of her marriage. She just wishes that Brandon would ease the anxiety within her. If he just says that he doesn’t withhold any secrets from her, then her mind could be at ease.
There was a beat of silence between them where only the sound of cars passing by could be heard before Brandon raised his hand to caress Cherry’s cheek, his face marred with worry lines as he looked at her.
“Did something happen today?”
Though she could hear the sincerity of concern in her husband’s voice, her heart slipped through her ribcage, her face crestfallen, not able to hear the words that she wanted to hear.
She parted her lips, about to say something, only to close them again, biting down on her bottom lip as she shook her head at Brandon’s question. “No, sorry, it was nothing. Let’s go before it gets too late.” She tried to muster a smile, but it only came out wry and awkward. Bunching up her skirt, she took a place in the passenger seat.
The side of her face was burning from the intense stare given by her husband, who still kept the door to the passenger seat open. Was she too awkward? Cherry questioned herself. With hampering movements, she turned her head to the side to look at Mark.
“Is there… something wrong?” She questioned him and the frown on his face morphed back into a smile and he bended over, grabbing the seatbelt to put it around Cherry.
Straining his back, he spoke, “You didn’t put on your seat belt.” And he closed the door, missing the relief sigh that escaped Cherry’s lips. Walking around the car, Brandon’s smile fell off and his expression darkened, but when he sat down in the driver’s seat, the smile was back on. The man was like a light switch, changing his facial expression in the blink of an eye to keep his wife oblivious to the dark thoughts roaming in his head.
Arriving at the restaurant, Cherry’s jaw went slack and when Brandon guide her inside the place where they got welcomed by the host who showed them to their beautiful, adorned table next to the window her eyes grew in size. The restaurant was intimate and elegant; a dimly lit space filled with two-seater tables, a piano bar, and an entire wall filled with picture frames of celebrity who visited the place, leaving behind their signatures on it.
When one server came to their table to hand over the menu and Cherry opened it to steal a peek at it, her eyes were about to jump out of their sockets.
“Honey, I don’t think that we can afford any of this stuff.” Cherry whispered in a low voice, masking the side of her face with the menu card so that the workers wouldn’t hear about the condition of their wallet and kick them out.
Brandon glanced at the menu and ordered for now water for them both or at least that was what Cherry assumed it was when Brandon asked for some Adam’s ale to gain some time to skim over the food choices.
As the server left to bring them the extravagant water, Brandon shifted his gaze to Cherry, sending her an assuring smile.
“Don’t worry about it, love, just order what you like. I’ll pay for it.”
“Brandon, there’s no way that you could pay for this! Even the water here cost more than our weekly groceries spending!”
Brandon chuckled, but Cherry found nothing comical about the situation where they may need to dine and dash. “It’s fine, love. I received a pleasant bonus from work. Don’t be afraid and order what you like.”
Their server came back with a tray where their glasses of water were situated. Placing them down in front of them, Cherry eyed the sparkling water warily before shifting her gaze back to the price of the water on the menu, her heartbeat increasing, seeing the extra zero.
Was it really okay? She wondered to herself. “You know I would be fine with just lazing around on the couch with you while watching some stupid series.”
“I know, but I also know that I have been neglecting you too much lately and I want to make it up to you. So what do you want? Or should I choose for you? A fair warning- I will choose the most expensive one.” The corner of Brandon’s lips pulled into a lopsided grin, mischievousness twinkling in his deep beer eyes.
This man. Cherry exasperated internally, shaking her head as she picked up the menu, eyeing the dishes that seemed appetizing. “Don’t.” She grumbled. “Do you want me to give birth early?”
At her comment, Brandon let out a laugh that made the corner of his eyes crinkle. Hearing Brandon laugh tingled Cherry’s heart and she covered half her face with the menu card. Her lips twitched in a slow smile and she concluded it wouldn’t be bad to enjoy this experience for one night.
They both decided on what they wanted. The server subtly bowed their head and took their menu cards to pass their wishes on to the chef. As they waited for their food to arrive, Brandon and Cherry indulged themselves in each other presences as they chattered away the events of their days. Cherry did mostly the prattle while Brandon rested his chin on his hand, reveling in his wife’s animated expressions that brought unconsciously a loving smile on his face as if he got bewitched.
But that serene moment got interrupted by an ominous voice.
“What are the odds of meeting you here, Mr. Graywood?”
An old man with streaks of white in his black hair that was confined in a low ponytail, who Cherry had never seen before, stood next to their table peering down at her husband, cheerfully surprised. He wore a bright red suit and black tinted sunglasses that rested on the bridge of his nose. The old man pushed the sunglasses up to rest on his head, revealing the pale blue eyes that twinkled with mirth.
“Indeed, what are the odds of meeting you here, Mr. Colburn?”