It was getting dark.
Logan closed the hotel room curtains, pausing to cast a glance at his companion. Once back at the hotel, Sylva had broken down once more into tears until finally, exhausted, she had fallen asleep on the bed. Logan had not liked to disturb her, but even now he could see the tears on her lashes and he frowned. Although they had only been friends a short time, he felt he knew his flamboyant acquaintance well enough to know that sudden bursts of tears were not characteristic, and whatever Anna had said, it had cut deep.
"But I really don't know if there's anything I can do about it, except to let her crash the night here." He mused, rubbing his chin absently as he considered. "And that I can do. I should call down for something to eat. I'm starting to get hungry, and if she skipped lunch, she should probably eat something too."
He reached for the phone receiver, but before he could dial, there was a knock at the door. His brow creasing in confusion, Logan set down the phone, getting to his feet and crossing the room to the door, slipping back the lock as the knock came again. Pulling open the door, his eyes opened wide in surprise as he registered who it was.
"Anna!" He exclaimed, only just managing to keep his voice down. "What are you doing here?"
"Have you seen my sister?" Anna's expression was anxious. "She...we had some...we had a fight and she didn't come home. I...I don't know where she is. Nor does Mom, nor does Dad...and nor does Gaynor. You're my last hope. Have you seen her?"
Logan eyed Anna gravely. Then he stepped out into the corridor, pushing his foot into the crack between the door and the frame to prevent it locking him out. He nodded his head.
"She's here." He agreed quietly.
"She is?" Relief flooded Anna's blue eyes. "Oh! Oh, thank goodness. I had this...this mad thought she might have gone to the airport and gone back to Cali after we spoke and...well, can I talk to her?"
"I'm not sure I want you anywhere near her." Logan said frankly. Anna's eyes opened wide with surprise.
"Well, I've known Syl three months or so now." Logan folded his arms, leaning up against the door frame. "And in that time, she's told me about a thousand times how much she loves being a twin, how much you mean to her, and all of that. In that time, I've also never seen her cry. Until...until this afternoon."
He pursed his lips, as Anna flinched.
"This afternoon she's cried her heart out over your fight - and though she won't tell me what it was you said, I'm not sure I want to let her take any more of the same. You might have a lot on at the moment, but I'm not going to have you make her cry again."
"I didn't come here to fight."
Anna dropped her gaze. "I...I came to apologise. I flew off the handle outside the church, but it wasn't really fair. I guess I was frustrated and...and I felt like Sylvie didn't understand how much I had going on at the moment. A lot of things came out and, well, I regretted them as soon as they were said, but I couldn't take them back. She took off...and I couldn't find her. When she didn't come home, I was worried. I know how impulsive she can be."
Logan looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Some might say you deserve to stay worried." He said at length. Tears touched Anna's own eyes at this.
"Please, Logan, I need to speak to her." She begged. "She's my twin sister and...and I can't get married with us at odds. I just can't. Please let me in."
For a moment, Logan did not respond. Then he shrugged his shoulders, pushing open the door.
"Okay." He agreed. "But no yelling. Understood?"
"I'm not going to yell." Anna promised, stepping into the room behind him as Logan closed the door with a click. "I...is she asleep?"
"Yes. She cried herself to sleep about a half hour ago." Logan said bluntly, moving to the bed and gently shaking his friend awake. "Syl? Syl, wake up. Someone's here to see you."
"Huh?" Sylva stirred, blinking and staring up at him with confused blue eyes. "Logan? What...?"
Anna came hesitantly to the bedside and Sylva was alert in a moment, pulling herself into a sitting position and eying her sister with a mixture of hurt and apprehension. Something in the girl's expression filled Anna once more with remorse and she swallowed hard, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Hi, Sylvie." She said softly. "You didn't come back to mine tonight. I didn't know where you were."
"I didn't think I was welcome." Sylvie responded quietly. "After what you said."
"I was afraid you'd got on a plane home." Anna admitted. "And I wouldn't have blamed you. Sylvie, I was out of line. The things I said...I'm sorry. I mean, really sorry. I don't know where they came from or why I said them. I was just...everything's been so crazy and I keep hurting people I care about because of it."
Sylva bit her lip.
"I was only trying to help." She murmured. "I'm not trying to run your life for you."
"I know that." Anna made herself more comfortable, and, seeing that there were to be no fireworks, Logan scooped up his hotel room key, wisely retreating from the bedroom to let the twins talk in peace.
For a moment, there was silence. Then,
"Sammi said something similar to me, you know, before we came to New York." Sylva confessed. "That I didn't care what you wanted and that I was always grabbing the attention, as if it was all about me. When you said it too, it...it made me think. Wonder if...if she was right. If I have been that way."
"I don't think so." Anna looked thoughtful. "I mean, sometimes I have felt, well, useless and inferior when people have been raving about you - both in school and now we're out in the world on our own. You're the big star and well, I get used to being known as Sylva's sister, not as Anna Martescu. That's why these projects at work are so important to me. I want to make my own name, my way. I can't spend forever being shadowed by what you've done. But...but that isn't your fault. It's like you said. You chose your career and I've chosen mine. And I don't really resent you for it. Just sometimes I get frustrated."
"But you're the brilliant one." Sylva reached out for her sister's hand, clasping it loosely. "You always were. I wouldn't have got through High School without you, and we both know it. This is the only career I could have had, Annie. If Aunt Roxy hadn't pushed for me to come to LA and play for Jetta and Phyllis, I'd probably have been flipping burgers or something. I sure wouldn't have had the smarts to do all the things you've done."
"Besides, I guess you're not the only one feeling a little, well, threatened." She added sheepishly. "Logan...he isn't really my boyfriend, you know. We're just...really good friends. But I asked him to come to New York as my date so it didn't look like...like I was all on my own while you were getting hitched. Does that seem really dumb? Since things with Jack I've realised that I really want to find a guy like you've found John, and settle down into a proper relationship. But it never seems to happen for me. And I suppose I've been a bit jealous of that, if I'm honest. You have all of those things...and I don't have a clue how to get them."
"You didn't have to lie to me, you know." Anna told her gently. "Bringing a date or not, you still would've shone as my sister. You always have, you always will. There's something inside of you - noone will ever see you as a loser because of it."
She sighed, glancing at her hands.
"Besides, you were right about another thing." She added. "I have been pretending that everything is fine, when it's not. You know me better than anyone, so I'm not surprised you saw through things."
"I heard you and John argue over some guy called Colin." Sylva remembered. "Who is he?"
"My jerk-off supervisor at work." Anna ran her fingers through her tousled curls. "He's the bane of my life, Sylvie, and I haven't a clue what to do about it. I think that's why I blew off at you so bad. I knew that if it was you, you'd have dealt with it and there'd have been no problems. You've always been so confident that way, and I didn't have a clue how to fix things."
"Will you tell me what's happened?"
"He's been hitting on me." Anna grimaced. "It's mostly words, or a hand around my shoulder, and innuendoes and hints...but he makes me uncomfortable and to be honest, I don't like to be working late in my office if I know he's there, just in case he drops in on me and I can't get away. I told John because it was bothering me, and he didn't like it either, but he thinks I should have done something to stop it by now. He's right. I should have. I'm just scared of losing my job. He's my boss, effectively. He reports on me to Mr Dalian, who's at the top of the chain. What's more, everyone thinks Colin is a star. They're all his best friend, pretty much...they all think he rocks. Noone would believe that he'd been hitting on me, even if I did try to tell someone. Noone ever sees. It's his word against mine."
Anger flickered in Sylva's blue eyes.
"No wonder you've been so wound up." She said at length. "Oh Annie, you should have told me right away that some creep was bothering you! We could have done something about it when I first got here!"
"I didn't want to have to run to you for help." Anna looked ashamed. "I wanted to prove that I didn't need my big sister to rescue me now I was going to be a married woman...but I guess I was wrong. I guess I do need you. But I was worried you...you'd get sick of getting me out of jams, and that you'd tell me I was being dumb. I mean, I suppose I am being dumb. But I don't want to lose my job over this."
"Annie, we're twins." Sylva said matter-of-factly. "It's my job to get you out of jams, if you need me to. Just like it was yours to get me through high school. It's part of the deal."
She looked rueful.
"Honestly, too, I get kinda scared when I think you might not need me any more." She acknowledged. "You're getting married and settling in New York - and that was hard to deal with, because you're so far away. I hate that. I miss you so much, and I always kinda hoped that after college you'd come to LA and we'd be near each other again. But you love John and you're happy here - most of the time. So...so I can deal with it. I just...don't want to resign from your life completely, you know? I meant what I said earlier. That you were the person I care about most."
"I know you did." Anna hesitated, then she hugged her sister tightly. "And I'm so, so sorry for making you cry, Sylvie. I shouldn't have said half of what I did and I felt so bad when you took off. I'm sorry. Really I am. Can you forgive me?"
"You're already forgiven."
A slight smile touched Sylva's lips at this. "And I think we needed to have this talk, don't you? I mean, it has been a while since we really saw each other and talked about, well, everything. How we felt about things. I think we needed to get it out in the open. I don't want to make you feel like I'm always trying to outdo you or take all the attention, because it's not true."
"And I don't want you to feel that I don't need you, because I do." Anna squeezed her sister's hand. "Maybe you were right about something else. Maybe I am a workaholic like Dad. John's called me on it before, too. I guess I have to watch it, if I'm not going to wind up trotting down to the divorce courts in a year."
"Providing we get down the aisle, of course."
"You will." Sylva said firmly. "Listen. You need to talk to John, and explain to him properly how Colin's making you feel. Because, you know, if you don't do that, he's gonna think you like the attention and guys don't like other guys hitting on their chicks. I've learnt that."
"He does feel that way. He's told me." Anna admitted. "But I just want him to trust me."
"So you gotta understand it his way, too." Sylva spread her hands. "Think of it like this. He's met this woman who he loves like nothing else on the planet, and then, a while before he's due to marry her, he finds out someone else has been trying it on with her. This guy sees her every day at work, and though she tells him she's not interested, she's also not stopping it from happening. Of course he's gonna feel insecure about it. He needs to know that you love him and that you hate Colin's attention."
"I've tried to tell him that."
"Well, try again." Sylva shrugged. "Because John's a good guy, Annie. You don't want to lose him. Seriously, I wish I had a man half that devoted to me."
"Okay. I guess I'll try." Anna sighed. "But Colin?"
"Colin is another matter."
Sylva pursed her lips.
"Leave it to me. I'll handle him."
"You? How do you propose doing that?"
"With the oldest trick in the book, how else?" Sylva winked. "When do you submit your project?"
"Four days. The day before we fly out for the honeymoon."
"Is it done?"
"I don't know." Anna admitted. "I've not really had much luck with it of late."
"Well, if you can get it done, now we've cleared the air, hand it over to me." Sylva said slowly. "I'll take it in for you, and pretend I'm you. I'll get Colin off your case, Annie. Trust me...he'll wish he'd never been born."
"Are you sure that's wise?" Anna looked anxious. "What if he guesses?"
"Ann, there isn't anyone who can better pull off being you than me." Sylva laughed. "And he won't expect anyone except Anna Martescu to be in Anna Martescu's office. You lend me one of your suits, and show me a picture of this guy, so I know who I'm dealing with - you must have some work photos somewhere at your place? And I'll do the rest."
"You won't go too over the top?" Anna bit her lip. "I mean, I need that job."
"I won't lose you your job." Sylva promised. "Trust me. I know exactly how to handle him."
"Okay. I trust you." Anna hugged her sister again. "Thank you."
"Well, what are twins for?" Sylva asked. "Look, you trot on home and speak to John. Tell him how you've been feeling and what we're going to do to stop the problem for good. I know he'll listen, because he's crazy about you. He just wants to know once and for all that that's how you feel about him, and not someone else. That's all."
"I suppose you're right." Anna nodded. "But...you're coming home with me. Aren't you? I mean, we made up, didn't we?"
"You sure you want my intrusion?" Sylva asked. Anna nodded.
"I want you to come home." She agreed. "Besides, if Logan isn't your boyfriend, wouldn't it be awkward sharing a double bed here tonight?"
"I hadn't thought about it." She admitted. "But I suppose you have a point. All right. I'll come back to yours. Let me leave a note for him, though...so he knows it's all all right."
"Sure." Anna nodded, watching her sister scrabble in her bag for her notebook and a pen. "You know, you and he must be pretty good friends."
"I think we are." Sylva paused, considering. "He agreed to come with me, after all. And he came to my rescue this afternoon. I guess I'm realising exactly how good a friend he is. It's kinda nice."
"Well, you never know." Anna looked philosophical. "All kinds of things can come of being good friends, you know. Look at John and I. We began that way."
"What are you saying?" Sylva finished her note, folding it and looping Logan's name across the top. "That maybe there's more to Logan and me after all?"
"I didn't say that." Anna shook her head. "Just that, well, the strongest relationships grow out of friendships. And even if it's not this one, Sylvie...this is a step in the right direction. You gotta respect a guy before you can be all deep and meaningful with them - and in High School you really didn't respect many of the guys you dated. But you do respect Logan. And if you can respect him, well, who knows? Maybe one of these days you'll find out how special friendship can be."
"You sound like one of Dad's mouldy old books." Sylva laughed. "But maybe you have a point. I know my criteria for a guy has changed - in High School it was all based on how cute they are. Now I kinda want them to have a personality too. So I guess we'll see how it goes, huh? Maybe I've grown up some, after all."
"Maybe we both have." Anna winked.
"You know, when you first told me you were getting married, I was a bit afraid he was taking you away from me."
Sylva admitted as they left the hotel room, heading slowly down the main stairwell towards the lobby.
"You were?" Anna stared. Sylva nodded.
"You won't be Anna Martescu any more." She responded. "And there'll be someone else...I mean, we're twins but it'll be like there's someone else there too."
"I'll still be Anna Martescu inside." Anna slipped her arm into her sister's. "And besides, I'm going to keep that name for my writing. I've begun to build up a small reputation and I don't want to fling it into chaos by becoming Anna Wraith. Like Mom kept Martescu after the divorce, I'm keeping it for work purposes."
Her eyes sparkled.
"And John isn't afraid of flying, so I'll get him to make me fly to LA more often." She promised. "I know that my fear of airplanes is a big part of why we don't see each other so much and I'm sorry. But I'm gonna work on it. Especially since, well, I want to have a family and kids and stuff, and when that happens, it's very important to me that those kids have a good relationship with their Aunt Sylvie. Even if they live half a country away."
"What I'm saying is, we've both got seperate lives and identities, and we'll both wind up making different choices even from now. But we'll always still be twins. That can't ever change. We've always been really close and I don't want it to be otherwise."
"Me either." Sylva looked relieved. "So I'm gonna be the best maid of honour you could ever have had for your wedding. And then..."
She cracked her knuckles contemplatively.
"Then maybe I'll go pay this Colin a courtesy call."
Prologue: April 1st,
Chapter One: Sylva's Request
Chapter Two: Samantha...and Jesta
Chapter Three: Flashback - Junior High
Chapter Four: In The Big Apple
Chapter Five: Flashback - Sammi's Eighth Birthday
Chapter Six: Flight
Chapter Seven: Anna
Chapter Eight: Flashback - The Martescu Home
Chapter Nine: Old Wounds
Chapter Ten: Jesta's Clue
Chapter Eleven: In Translation
Chapter Twelve: Flashback - Thick As Blood
Chapter Thirteen: A Friend In Need
Chapter Fourteen: Anna's Secret
Chapter Fifteen: Wedding Day
Chapter Sixteen: Flashback - First Kiss
Chapter Seventeen: Crossing The Line
Chapter Eighteen: Colin
Chapter Nineteen: Settling Up