“There’s, er…something you have to know before we go out.”
She looked up from putting her passport into her bag. Pushing her sunglasses further up her nose, she raised her brows.
“Most of the time, producers aren’t very well-known,” he said slowly. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the two men who’d appeared to take their bags from them.
“But there are times when – though very rare- they can be quite…well-liked.”
She drew her brows together. So what was the issue? She knew people liked his music. How else had they paid for the kitchen renovation? It certainly wasn’t through her paycheck (even if it was quite hefty for a teacher).
“Just promise me you won’t let go of my hand.”
She smiled at him. “I’m not a child.”
“I know you’re not a child. It’s more for my sake than yours.”
For the first time she noticed his hands shaking and the pallor of his face. Pulling out a handkerchief, she nudged his hat back and dried his temple. Ah, right. She’d forgotten how much he hated crowds. As he had told her once, large crowds – large, jeering crowds – had been a large part of his childhood, and obviously (understandably) had left a lasting effect on him. Loosely wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him down.
“Of course I won’t let go.”
She nodded. Of course she wouldn’t let go. She liked holding his hand. His hands were large and warm and her fingers fit perfectly in the spaces between. Reaching for him, she tightly squeezed.
“Y-yeah. Let’s just get this over with,” he mumbled.
He pulled the brim of his hat low and slipped on his sunglasses as they walked towards the waiting doors. With every step his grip seemed to grow stronger and stronger until finally, they were completely vulnerable to the public’s eye.
Taken aback, C.C. blinked behind her sunglasses as brilliant flashes of light sparked here and there amidst the teeming mass of people shrieking at them. She stepped closer to her husband, who was weakly smiling and waving, all the while rushing them to the exit.
Her heart racing, she blinked at the insane response. Why and how had he become so popular? He was no recording artist. He was the one who sat in the studio and told the instruments what sounds to make. Wasn’t this more a reaction appropriate to an international celebrity?
He ushered her quickly to the car waiting outside. With one last smile and wave, he slammed the door shut. Sliding down, he slipped his cap off. His sunglasses came off, showing her his closed eyes. She stared at him; they’d been married for what, six years now? And she still hadn’t known about this? How hard must he have worked to keep this a secret from her?
“…So how exactly did it come to be for you to have so much sway?”
“I…have no idea,” he groaned. “But I wish it had never happened.”
“So in other words, by freak accident, you’ve become a god?”
Leaning over, he draped himself all over her lap. Covering his eyes with a hand, he melodramatically whispered, “I don’t know, but I don’t care, I just want it to stop.”
“Oh, you poor baby,” she said softly. Brushing his hair from his eyes, she looked down at him. “It must be so hard, huh? Being so famous and all.”
“It’s not funny.”
“Who said I was laughing?”
He opened an eye to see her grin. He rolled over. It really actually wasn’t funny at all; the muffled screaming from outside, the camera flashes, the microphones crammed in front of his face, all of it was horrible because all of it reminded him all too unpleasantly of his childhood. And yet, as they sat together in the dark car, waiting for the hired help to finish loading the car, he couldn’t help but smile at the absurdity of it all.
“Well, it’s a good thing it’s an obscure country anyway,” she said. “Better Brunei than, say, home, right?”
He snorted. “I would hardly call Brunei obscure. They’re the fifth wealthiest nation in the world. They supply a part of the world’s oil.”
“No need to show off. I’m already in love with you, you know. You don’t have to win me over anymore.”
He flushed. Right. But he hadn’t been rattling off Brunei’s profile because he’d been trying to impress her. For the most part anyway. It wasn’t his fault their flight had been grounded in Brunei on the way back home. He didn’t control the weather; if he had, there wouldn’t have been a monsoon season to chain them to this terrible, terrible hell.
“So how long do you think we’ll be here?”
“…2 days maybe?”
“Well, at least they’re paying for the room. Where are we going again?”
“The…” He pulled out the slip of paper from his pocket. “Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, as we are very valued clients of Qantas Airways Limited.”
“So in other words, if we had flown as anything other than first class, we wouldn’t be sleeping at the Radisson.”
“I am going to hazard a yes.”
She clapped her hands together. “Then I suppose we should make the most of it, huh? Since it would be wasteful to just lie around inside all day.”
“I suppose. Though I wouldn’t object to that.”
She smiled. “I’m sure you wouldn’t. But never forget that there are times when you just can’t get everything you want. No matter how loudly they may scream your name.”
He looked up at the roof of the car. He didn’t say anything. It was just too easy. She’d probably set that one up like a trap, to wait and see if he’d take it. Bait him with fantasies of her beneath him, the feeling of her, the scent, taste, music of her.
So instead, he just nodded.
He’d see about that in precisely forty-three minutes and thirteen seconds when they’d be in the privacy of their room. But for now, he contented himself to nodding.
They would certainly see about that.