Thicker Than Water
Chapter Fifteen
Wedding Day

 "Oh Annie, you look beautiful."
Sylva glanced at her sister's reflection in the makeshift mirror, then across at Anna herself, a smile on her face. "You're gonna make John forget his vows, I swear you look stunning."
"I hope so. You've spent long enough doing my makeup and my hair." Anna touched her curls self-consciously. "Do I really look all right? I'm so nervous I could scream...what if I've forgotten something?"
"You've forgotten nothing." Impulsively Sylva hugged her sister tightly. "Listen. Everything couldn't be better. You kissed and made up with John, and you're both gonna have the best day in the world. Lots of people are out there waiting for you and it's a darn cold church, so let's not keep them waiting too long, huh? Even Sammi looks presentable."
"Mom and Dad?" Anna looked apprehensive.
"I've made sure they're not gonna be sitting together." Sylva promised. "Dad said he'd be through in a minute, when we were done. He's excited to be giving you away. I almost think he forgot this part of having daughters."
"He's a lot more mellow, recently." Anna reflected.
Sylva nodded.
"I've noticed." She agreed. "It must be the blood pressure pills - but I'm glad. And Mom...well, Mom's already got the tissues out, so she's gonna be weepy. Prepare for that."
She touched the dress.
"Did Gaynor make this?"
"She did." Anna blushed. "I told her she had to - I saw the pictures of Copper's in the press and I was blown away by how good she's getting. And well, it's good luck. Something new, after all."
She turned her gaze to her reflection, touching her earrings.
"John bought me these when we got engaged." She remembered. "Sapphires. To match my eyes. They're my something blue. But...I'm not sure about the old or the borrowed. Does it matter, do you think?"
"I don't know." Sylva admitted. She hesitated, then, "But I know how to solve it. Here. Hang on a second."
She put her hands to her throat, fumbling with the clasp on her necklace. Then, with a grin, she held it out to her sister.
"You gave me this for our sixteenth birthday." She said softly. "So that makes it old...and borrowed. And it if brings you luck, Annie, I want you to wear it."
"Are you sure?" Anna's eyes softened. Sylva nodded.
"Yes." She agreed. She laughed. "I remember how much I badgered you about wanting that chain when we were in high school. It's about time you got something out of it, and I brought it with me to New York because,'s a twin thing. And this was a twin occasion."
"If you're sure."
Carefully Anna took the delicate silver necklace, fastening it around her throat. She hugged her sister tightly.
"Thanks, Syl." She murmured. "Now I've all the luck I need."
"And a damn fine groom, too." Sylva returned the hug, tears in her eyes. "I guess if there's anything identical left in us, Ann, that means there's hope for me too, huh?"
"Oh, you'll get your guy." Anna smiled, her own eyes damp. "You deserve to. And now look at us. Guess it isn't just Mom who's gonna be weepy today."
"That's why we used waterproof mascara." Sylva said wryly. "Just in case."
"Are we ready to go?" Elliot poked his head around the door of the vestry at that moment, casting his daughters a grin, then, "Annie, you look amazing."
"She does." Sylva agreed. She dimpled. "We have good genes."
"You sure do." Elliot laughed. He pushed open the door further, holding out his arm to Anna, who hesitantly took it.
"Shall we get this show on the road, then?" He asked. Anna and Sylva exchanged looks, then Anna nodded.
"Yes." She agreed. "Let's not keep them waiting any longer!"


"Come on, Mama. Pick up."
Copper cast an agitated glance down at the phone in her hand, as it slowly began to dial the number of her mother in Detroit. In the two days since Jesta's bombshell she had gone through every emotion imaginable, she reflected. Disbelief, shock, horror, anger...dismay. Unsure how to deal with it, she had pushed it out of her mind, focusing wholeheartedly on the garden and the pool, but two nights without sleep had driven her to finally do what she knew she should have done right away - contact her mother and find out what the truth was.
"But if this is news to Mama, then I don't want to hurt her." She mused. "And it might not be true, anyhow. It might just be one of Jesta's tricks. I wouldn't put it past her. Oh, but she looked so shocked...and I should have talked this out with Aaron before I barged right in on Mama and blurted things out. I'm all over the place...and I don't know who to talk to. What if it isn't true? What if it is? What if...?"
"Hola? Copper?"
Her mother's voice brought her back to reality with a bump and she bit her lip, swallowing hard.
"Hi, Mama." She said slowly, in the same pretty Spanish the Santiago family often used. "It's me."
"Is something wrong, chiquita? You sound troubled."
"Oh, I am." Copper sighed. "Mama, I have to talk to you about something. I think I'm going mad, and I don't know what is and what isn't the truth. I...I'm confused. So confused...and I don't even know if it's true or if you know anything about it. Just..."
"Copper, please! Slow down!" Carmen interrupted. "What is it? I've not heard you this agitated for...well, ever!"
"It's something about Papa." Copper swallowed again. "Something...something he might not have told us."
There was a moment of silence, then,
"Such as what, niña?"
"Such as..." Copper hesitated, then, "Mama, how many children does Papa have?"
Another protracted silence.
There was the sound of a heavy sigh, then,
"Tell me what you want to know, and I'll try and tell you what I can."
Tears touched Copper's eyes.
"So it is true?" She choked out. "Papa does have another daughter - and neither of you told us?"
"Another sigh, then,
"Yes...yes. But it's not at all the way you think."
"What do I think?" Copper demanded. "Mama, I don't think anything. I don't know anything! But Papa never lied to me...I thought he never did, anyhow. But he did - you both did. You kept this from us! We have a sister! And never said a word."
"Can I ask how you found this out?"
"Yes." Copper said bitterly. "Unlike you and Papa, I'm not keeping secrets. I found it out from her. From the baby you didn't want us to know about. Why didn't you? Was it because her mother was a jailbird? Wasn't she good enough to be included in our family? Dammit, Mama, tell me!"
Her voice rose in pitch, and she took a deep breath, trying to calm her scattered emotions.
"Jessica?" Shock filled Carmen's tones. " there? Is in Los Angeles? have met her?"
"Yes. And she's bitter as hell about a Dad who abandoned her and didn't want anything to do with her." Copper retorted. "What can I tell her? Its true!"
"Trust me, Copper...your Papa did not abandon anyone." There was pain in Carmen's voice. "He tried...we both tried very hard to find Jessica and to bring her into our home. But it wasn't possible. You must believe me on this. Papa made the decision not to tell you, or Luis and Ros...he didn't want you growing up with the pain of someone being missing. He felt it - he wanted to be a part of her life and even to the day he died, he talked about her. But he wouldn't have you put through that. We had no way of knowing if she was even still alive - I know he feared she wasn't, because of the kind of things he suspected her mother was involved in."
She sighed again, then,
"And perhaps I was wrong not to tell you after his death, but we had all lost someone so dear. It didn't seem the time. Things happened. Time passed...and here we are. But I am sorry, Copper."
"This isn't a good conversation to be having over the phone." Copper admitted, as the tears began to spill down her cheeks. "I guess I'm shook up, that's all. I'm sorry I yelled, I just...I'm so..."
"It's all right. Perhaps I deserve it." Carmen sounded sad. "But you must not think ill of your father."
"How can you be so calm about it? Knowing he had a baby with another woman?"
"It was before we met, before we married...before you were even thought of." Carmen said softly. "It was something that he never lied to me about. From the moment he got the letter from Natalie he took me into his confidence. I would have brought her into our home, Copper, and raised her with you if I had been able. Esteban wanted that so much...for all of you to grow up together."
"Mama...Natalie...was she an American?"
"No. No, I think she was British." Carmen sounded surprised. "She was an air hostess, or something. He met her on a business trip and they had a brief relationship. It ended...well, Esteban found out things about her he didn't like, and ended it. He didn't know she was pregnant till he got the letter. He managed to see the baby once, but then they disappeared. He was here, she was there...and he had no means to reach her. In the end, he gave up."
She paused, then,
"The stress told on us both." She added. "I was expecting Luis, and I was unwell. I'm sure he stopped looking because he was worried about the effect it was having on me."
Copper was silent for a moment, digesting this.
"I had to know where she was from." She murmured. "Because...because the girl...Jessica...she...she's kinda known to me. I mean, she's sometimes not been...nice. And...I wanted to be sure this wasn't a scam or anything. But you've told me more or less what she did, about her mother. So I think...I think it's for real. And now...I have to work out what to do. She wants money - she says Papa owes her it, and maybe he does. I don't know. I guess in her shoes I'd be pretty bitter. Her mother's in prison and I gathered enough to know it's happened before. I feel guilty, in a way. You know...having had Papa's time and attention. But I wish he could have told me. I really wish he had. It...makes me wonder if there is anything else I didn't know. Did I really know him, Mama?"
"Of course you did." Carmen's voice was gentle. "Of all of you, you knew him best of all. He loved you all so very much - you in particular made him so proud. You were his likeness and he adored being a father from the moment he first saw you. Everything you remember, Copper, that was real. He only kept this from you - and now you know all there is to know."
"It's going to take me a while to get my head around it." Copper admitted, reaching up to wipe away her tears. "I'd come out to Detroit, but Syl will be back in a couple of days and I won't be able to get more time off this month, even if I did tell Jetta and Phyllis why. And I don't want to do that, not really. I've not even spoken to Aaron about it. I've...well, Jessica and I have pretty much avoided each other. But I don't want to leave it like this. I will talk to Aaron, now I know what's what. And...and then work out how I can right this wrong, if I can get my thoughts straight."
"Your father left Jessica money in his will." Carmen said quietly. "If you can convince her to come to Detroit, I can give her all the paperwork she needs to claim this."
"I don't know that she'll come, Mama. She doesn't like me and I'm wary of her."
"Well, I made your Papa a promise, when he died." Carmen's voice was tinged with regret. "That if ever I found Jessica, I would make sure she had what was hers, and that she knew his side of the story. All the legalities are here in Detroit - she would have to come here to get them straightened out. And I would like to speak to her, too. I have things to say to her which have waited a long time."
Copper sighed.
"I'll try, Mama." She said at length. "I guess, for Papa's sake...I'll try and work this out. But...I need some time, right now. I need to come to terms with this stuff."
"I understand, chica. Take all the time you want."
"I guess I'll call you when I know better how I feel." Copper pursed her lips. "Bye, Mama. I...I guess we'll talk again soon."
She terminated the call, dropping the phone receiver down onto her bed and stretching out on the covers, burying her head in the pillow as her tears fell in earnest.
Confirmation had not brought closure or peace of mind, but rather the opposite, and a mix of emotions swirled around her head as she tried to put things into some kind of perspective.
A gentle hand on her shoulder made the redhead turn and at the sight of her husband she let out a cry of relief, allowing him to pull her into a more upright position. Gently he put his arm around her, and she rested her head on his shoulder.
"I'm so glad you're home." She whispered.
"So am I, but what on earth's wrong with you?" Aaron sounded anxious, gently stroking her messy auburn curls. "Copper, has something happened? Did you have a fight with someone?"
"No." Copper swallowed hard, shaking her head. "No. I....something happened a couple of days ago now and...and I guess it's finally sinking in properly. I mean, I spoke to Mama and now I know more...I feel weird, Aaron. Really, really weird."
"Can you tell me what it was that happened?"
"I want to." Slowly Copper recounted her meeting with Jesta. Aaron listened until she was done, then he hugged her tightly.
"It came as a big shock, huh?" He asked softly. Copper nodded.
"The biggest." She agreed tearfully. "Papa was my world growing up, Aaron. I never knew...I never knew there was another one before me. I thought I was his...his eldest but I wasn't and...and he never told me."
"Maybe he had his reasons."
"Mama said it was because he didn't want us to feel we were missing someone." Copper agreed. "But even though she said that, I feel hollow. I loved my Papa more than anyone...I thought I knew him. And for it to be her! Someone who hates me and everyone I work with with an unhealthy passion!"
"How is Jesta taking all this?"
"God knows. I cut out of her hotel room at the first opportunity and came here." Copper ran her fingers through tangled hair. "I got onto the garden people and made myself not think about it. I haven't spoken to her since then - not that she's looked for me, either. But I haven't slept much the last couple of nights, so I decided to call Mama and find out if it was true at all. And...and I found out more than I bargained for. Wondering about it is bad enough. To have her confirm this whole thing...I guess I feel a little betrayed. Is that crazy? I just wanted not speak to her after a while. Like I was angry but not at her, just at the whole thing."
"It doesn't sound crazy." Aaron shook his head. "I guess if I found out Dad had had another kid with someone else before Nancy and I were thought of, and he hadn't told us, I'd be angry too. But listen, Copper. Maybe he did intend to tell you about this, when you got to eighteen. He just never got to do it."
He smiled, kissing her tenderly on the cheek.
"It's a trait I see in you too, you know." He added. "Protecting those you love, even at your own expense."
"What do you mean?" Copper looked startled.
"When I first asked you to marry me, you turned me down." Aaron reminded her. "Why?"
"Because I didn't know if I'd ever be able to give you the kids you wanted." Copper flushed. "I was dumb and I should have just talked it out with you."
"Maybe...but your intentions were good." Aaron continued. "I think your Papa did the same thing. He took all the pain on himself - he thought he did the best for the rest of you. Do you see what I'm saying?"
A slight smile touched Copper's lips. "I suppose I do. I suppose when you put it that way, I do see that he wanted to protect us from hurt. And since it's probably something I inherited from him, I suppose I shouldn't call him on it."
"Well, none of us know all the right answers." Aaron's eyes twinkled.
"True." Copper sighed. "So where do I go from here?"
"What did your mother suggest?"
"That I took Jesta to Detroit." Copper glanced at her hands. "To settle the stuff Dad left her. But I don't see me convincing her to come anywhere with me. And do I even want her in my family home? This is Jesta we're talking about."
" is." Aaron looked thoughtful. "A girl who's - if what you've said is true - grown up with a mother who's used drugs and been in and out of prison all of her life. She's suffered things which you were lucky enough not to face - is it fair to keep from her what your father wanted her to have, just because you feel funny about having her in your mother's house?"
"You make me sound so selfish and shallow." Copper groaned. Aaron shook his head.
"That wasn't my intention." He assured her. "But from her point of view, you're the one who had everything. She's bound to be bitter about it. And you don't know...maybe it would be good for both of you. Plus, if Carmen wants to speak to her, what else can you do? Remember, you lost your father, but your Mom lost her soulmate when he died. She's lived alone with this for a long time, not knowing whether or not to tell you."
"You're right. Annoyingly so, but you are." Copper acknowledged. "I guess I have to broach the idea with Jesta, anyhow. If she says no, then she does. I've tried. But at least I've done that. You know, for Papa's sake I've tried."
"I'm sure that's all he'd ask of you." Aaron tucked a loose wisp of red hair behind her ear. "Do you want me to come to Detroit with you, when you go?"
"" Copper shook her head. "That'd frighten Jesta off, and it's gonna be hard enough to get her to come along. Besides, I think this might be a...well...a Santiago family thing. And not that you're not part of that family now, but...I mean..."
"It's all right. I understand." Aaron grinned. "It was just a suggestion."
"I know, and I appreciate it." Copper slipped her hand into his. "I love you, you know that? You always come in at the right time and make me feel better."
"That's my job." Aaron's eyes twinkled.
"I'm sorry...I'm crying all over you and you must be tired." Copper looked sheepish.
"Well, I'm getting hungry." Aaron admitted. "And I came home to see if you wanted to go out for lunch, but I tell you what. I'll go see what we've got in the kitchen and we'll have a nice quiet lunch here, just you and me. Okay?"
"Okay." Copper nodded. "That sounds nice."
"Do you want me to skip off work this afternoon?""" Copper looked rueful. "Your Mom would kill me if you did. Besides, you've helped already, and I probably need to take a nap this afternoon, if I can. I mean, if I'm going to work this all out, I need to be clearheaded, so it's all right. I just have to work out exactly what to say...and how."


"They make a beautiful couple, don't you think?"Sylva cast Logan a grin, as the bridal couple gathered for photographs outside the front of the church. Bedecked in rice and paper confetti, both bride and groom looked on top of the world, and a warm feeling settled in Sylva's heart.
"I just know she's gonna be so happy." She continued.
"That's the twin intuition, huh?" Logan cast her a sidelong glance. "Everything got fixed, then?"
"How do you mean?" Sylva looked confused.
"Their fight. It got resolved?"
"Yes." Sylva nodded. "I made sure of that...and I'm going to do something to help it along, too. But not today. Today I'm enjoying seeing my sister so happy. What makes her happy makes me happy, Logan. I was afraid I wouldn't be, knowing she's stopping out here for good. But the vibes are right. And she's promised to make sure she visits California more often, so it'll be all right. Even identical twins need their own lives, after all."
"Yes, they do." Logan agreed. He grinned, slipping a playful arm around her shoulders. "I'm no expert on twins, Syl, but I wouldn't have thought you two could be much more different than you are. Maybe it's for the best, that you don't live in each other's pockets. It means you can both branch out without stepping on any toes. Don't you think so?"
"I'm starting to." Sylva acknowledged. "But honestly, we didn't fight much as kids."
She dimpled.
"Maybe it was because I was a bossy bitch, and Annie didn't like tension, but it's still true."
"I don't think you're a bossy bitch." Logan assured her. "And you make a very pretty maid of honour, too."
"I'll make an even better one when I get back to Annie's and change for the reception party." Sylva's blue eyes twinkled. "Sadie leant me one of her dresses and it's really stunning. I'd forgotten all about it - but that's the thing with Sadie. She's artistic and she has that European chic about her too. Her wardrobe is always cool to raid."
"I thought Sadie was the one with the prison record." Logan looked confused. "Or is that the kind of European chic you mean?"
"Oh, that was ages ago." Sylva rolled her eyes. "Never mind what I meant. You're a guy. I'm not going to make you understand."
At that moment Sammi approached the couple and instinctively Sylva tensed. Her cousin seemed to notice the change in demeanour, and her blue eyes clouded over.
"Anna wants you for the photos." Was all she said, however. "They want to do the family of the bride."
"Spose that counts me in." Sylva said with a shrug. "Fine. Tell her I'll be right over. I just want to check my make up."
"Oh, I could've guessed that." Sammi rolled her eyes. "Prima donna to the last - spare me."
Sylva's lips thinned, but she shook her head.
"Not at Annie's wedding." She said firmly. "I'll settle with you when we get back to Los Angeles. Here isn't cool."
"Fine by me." Sammi shrugged. "I don't want to talk to you, anyway."
With that she stalked off across the gravel, and Sylva pulled her compact mirror from her pocket, carefully checking that her mascara had not smudged.
"Waterproof stuff is always the best." She said with satisfaction, snapping it shut. "I have to bail on you, Logan - shall I say meet you at the hotel? This might take a while, and I don't want you feeling like a lemon."
"Sure." Logan nodded his head. He cast a glance over towards the retreating Sammi, then,
"And don't worry." He added. "I intend to be the perfect date tonight."

By dint of her role as Maid of Honour, Sylva found that she and Logan were seperated for the reception dinner and, though he raised his hand in a wave to acknowledge her, there was no chance for conversation before the meal began. Much to her chagrin, she had observed her mischievous cousin slipping into the seat next to him, and as soon as the dinner and toasts had given way to dancing and drinks, she had slipped away from the bridal party, grabbing him by the hand and pulling him across to a quieter corner of the hall.
"And hello to you." Logan looked amused.
"You were talking to Sammi. I had to rescue you." Sylva shrugged, pausing to adjust her sandal strap. "Besides, you said you weren't going to pursue her."
"I wasn't, and nor was she." Logan said with a grin. "We were just talking - and not about you. Honestly, I don't think she's the bitch you seem to - but I was just being friendly, since we were sat near each other. That's all."
He glanced at his companion.
"You look nice, by the way."
"Nice?" Sylva raised an eyebrow. "Is that all I get? Just nice?"
"Well, I don't believe in overdoing it." Logan looked amused. "But all right. You look stunning, fabulous, amazing, spectacular...every guy's dream...that enough for you?"
"Oh, you're a creep." Sylva giggled, swiping him playfully on the arm. "But I look all right? I mean, better than nice? I know it's Anna's big day and I want her to be the star...but, well, I don't want to let the side down."
"Syl, you look beautiful." Logan told her with a smile. "And I mean that."
"So why not say it to begin with?"
"I have to fly home with you and I don't want the plane delayed because your head got wedged in the doorway."
"Aren't I, though?" Logan eyed her for a moment. Then he laughed. "Okay. So we both made it through the wedding and the dinner in one piece. Can I get you a drink?"
"You sure can." Sylva nodded her head. "Vodka and coke, please"
"I'm a Cali babe, Logan." Sylva giggled. "I have ice with everything."
Logan grinned back at her, heading up to the bar to place their orders, and Sylva settled herself in a corner seat to wait, idly watching the dancing and tapping her feet in time to the music.
"Well, that was very mature."
A voice startled her and she glanced up, meeting Sammi's angry gaze. She rolled her eyes.
"So was sitting next to my guy and chatting him up all meal." She said levelly. "Or do you think I didn't notice that?"
"Coincidence." Sammi bristled. "That's where the name labels were. I'm not as low as you."
"Meaning whatever you like." Sammi shrugged. "Not dancing? Or did Romeo leave you in the lurch?"
"No, he's getting me a drink." Sylva said sweetly. "I'd ask him to get you one too, but we both know that wouldn't be a good idea, don't we?"
"If this wasn't Anna's day, I'd slap you again." Sammi told her coldly. "Strikes me you need a lot more slaps before your ego gets down to normal proportions."
"Nothing wrong with my ego, cousin." Sylva said quietly. "It's you that's having issues starting over in a new country where my group are already the best thing going."
"Maybe that'll change." Sammi snapped. "Besides, if you didn't cheat your way up the charts with that machine, you wouldn't be anything special."
"That machine has nothing to do with our music." Sylva was stung. "And if you talk about her like that again I'll be slapping you. Synergy's not a thing, Synergy's a friend."
"Oh, I'm so sorry." Sammi's eyes narrowed. "I'd forgotten you'd lost the ability to make real friends."
"And that's why I'll never tell you anything about her." Sylva said matter-of-factly. "Because you have no idea what you're talking about."
She shrugged.
"And my date is waiting for me over there, so if you don't mind..."
She got to her feet, stalking across the floor to where Logan was waiting, two drinks clutched in his hands. As she joined him, he raised an eyebrow.
"Nice family chat, was it?" He asked lightly. Sylva rolled her eyes expressively.
"Never you mind." She said, taking her drink. "Forget about her."
"I wasn't really thinking about her." Logan spread his hands. He took a sip of his drink, glancing around the room.
"So if this is very Anna," he began slowly, "What's very you?"
"Well..." Logan gestured. "You guys are pretty opposite to each other. So where would you have your wedding reception? Or would you elope to somewhere exotic and that'd be the end of it?"
"You know, I hadn't really thought about it." Sylva looked thoughtful. "I mean, marriage isn't exactly on the cards right now."
She looked sheepish.
"I need to find a boyfriend first, rather than bullying one of my friends to play the part."
"Well, yeah, that's a given." Logan's eyes danced. "But for argument's sake, say you did."
"Why so curious?"
"I'm trying to figure out just how different you girls are." Logan spread his hands. "First a gothic church, then a hotel reception. Both nice and all, but not things I'd pick for you in a million years. Am I right?"
"I guess so." Sylva rested her chin in her hands, thinking it over. "I like...well, I guess it'd be really cool to be married on the beach. Sun, sea, sand...that might be nice. At sunset...and a seaside reception."
"Wouldn't you get your dress all sandy?" Logan raised an eyebrow.
"I could get hitched in a bikini." Sylva offered a teasing smile. "There's a stunning one in the window of this Beverly Hills store that would be just the thing."
"Married in a bikini?" Logan grinned. "Neat. Can I come?"
"Logan!" Sylva poked her tongue out at him. Logan shrugged.
"What? Sand, sea, surf and a chance to ogle the bride in her bikini? Sounds like a party to me."
"You are impossible." Sylva giggled. She took a sip of her drink. "Mm. Well. At least they serve decent drinks."
"There are a lot of people here." Logan remarked. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah. Most of them I'll never learn the names of, and three of them confused me with Anna when I got here." She said with a grimace.
"I thought you knew the guests." Logan glanced at her. "This is your sister's wedding."
"Yeah, but I don't know any of John's family, or most of their college friends." Sylva sighed. "Not that I think I've missed out on much."
"What do you mean?"
"Not much eye candy for this single girl." Sylva shrugged philosophically. "In fact, I think my sister got the best option going. Present company excepted, of course."
Logan laughed.
"I'll drink to that." He said, amused. "Hey...isn't that a Jewel song?"
"Oh God, it is." Sylva's cheeks pinkened. "I don't know whether to be happy or embarrassed to hear it."
"What's to be embarassed about?" Logan grinned. "Anna should've hired a live band. You girls, for example. Don't you think?"
"Anna's budget ran out." Sylva spread her hands.
"What? You'd have charged your own sister?"
"No, of course not, but she didn't ask us." Sylva responded. "I think she figured that I'd want to enjoy the party - which I do." She shrugged. "And honestly, much as I love Topaz and the others, this is my sister's wedding. I didn't want to be thinking of anything other than my Maid of Honour duties when I came out here, and Jewel is life-consuming when we're working a gig."
"Well, since this is your music - do you want to dance?"
"Not a hope." Sylva shook her head. "I'm going to stand here, looking classy, and finish my drink. We can dance when noone can point the finger at me. It's Annie's night, not mine, and I'm not going to give Sammi any excuse to say I'm trying to get all the attention. So we'll wait. Okay?"
"Yes boss." Logan saluted. "Whatever you say."
He leant up against the wall, scanning the dance floor.
"Well, you know more people here than me." He said at length. "Who's the dude dancing with your Mom?"
"My Uncle Craig." Sylva dimpled. "Sammi's Dad. He was an ace drummer back in the eighties."
"Is it all music with your family, then?"
"Sort of." Sylva spread her hands. "I guess it is in the blood. I mean, Mom was a Misfit, Sam's Dad played with various groups in Europe and met Aunt Aja when he was visiting over here. And Aunt Aja was a Hologram - but you know that. You've read the papers."
"Sure." Logan nodded. "No wonder you, Anna and Sammi are all wrapped up in music. It's almost genetically coded into you."
"Tell me about it." Sylva shrugged. "But that's fine. I wouldn't want to do anything else."
She finished the last of her drink, setting the glass down on the counter. "Well? I'm done and so's the song, so we can dance now...if you want to."
"I wouldn't be a very good date if I didn't dance with you at least once." Logan drained his own glass, taking her by the hand. "But don't expect too much from me. I wrecked my knee, remember - I've never danced quite right since."
"Please tell me you can dance." Sylva eyed him apprehensively.
"Yes, after a fashion, so long as you don't expect me to do anything dramatic like pick you up."
"If you did, I'd probably puke my meal all down you." Sylva said bluntly. "So that's fine by me."
"That's what I like about you." Logan looked amused. "You have such a way with words."
"Well, it's not like I'm trying to pull you." Sylva retorted. "And besides, it's true. I...hey!" As Logan dragged her into the centre of the floor. "Logan! I almost lost my sandal then!"
"Guess I'm pulling you, then." Logan chuckled. "Aw, come on, Syl. Lighten up. It's a party."
As the party carried on into the night, guests started to drift away and, as the clock in the hotel's hallway began to chime eleven, a limousine, decked in white ribbons drew up on the front forecourt. With a flurry of excitement, the bridal couple were shepherded out into the moonlit air, John slipping a hand in Anna's as they surveyed the waiting vehicle.
"I only wish we were really riding off into the sunset." Anna murmured, squeezing her husband's hand tightly. "As opposed to a hotel across the city for the night. But it's beautiful anyhow."
"And captured for eternity." Craig Phillips held up his camera, and Mary tapped her own with a grin. "Give us a smile, kids. This is for posterity."
"Sure thing, Uncle Craig." Anna dimpled. "I don't think I can stop smiling, to be honest!"
"I feel so old." Mary observed absently. "My daughter's married and heading off to the honeymoon suite of a glitzy New York hotel. I definitely need to check up on my retirement fund."
"Mom, don't be silly." Anna blushed, and John laughed.
"I'll look after her, Mary, I promise." He said warmly. "And we'll see you before we fly out on Saturday - you're not going back to LA before that?"
"No, not till Monday." Mary agreed.
"Sylvie, do you have the key for our place?" Anna cast an anxious look at her sister, who nodded, reaching clumsily into her purse for the silver key and almost sending the entire contents flying as she did so.
"Yep, it's safe and sound." She agreed, holding it up triumphantly. She shot her mother a look, then giggled. "Don't worry about me. This is your honeymoon - if I got locked out I could just go crash Mom's room at the hotel!"
"That's what she thinks." Mary raised an eyebrow at her eldest daughter. "Sylvina, you sound tipsy...and I don't let my room to drunken rock stars."
"I'm not that drunk, Mom." Sylva protested. "And besides, it's a party!"
"Goodbye, sweetie, and congratulations again." Elliot came to kiss his daughter on the cheek, then he shook his son in law's hand. "And you, John. Welcome to our family - such as it is."
"Thank you, Elliot." John's eyes twinkled. "No place I'd rather be."
"Well, we better get going, before the hotel thinks we've cancelled or something." Anna pulled her wrap more tightly around her. "Thank you, everyone, for coming and making our day so special!"
"Oh crap, I'm going to cry again." Sylva swallowed hard, as the happy couple got into the car and it slowly pulled away to much cheering and waving. "Logan, let's go inside. It's getting cold out here and I don't really want an audience."
"Come on, you sentimental sissy." Logan linked arms with her affectionately, leading her a touch unsteadily back into the warmth of the hotel bar. "Everyone else will be back in here in a minute, though. You think the party's over?"
"'s only eleven." Sylva shook her head, swallowing hard. "Okay. Okay, I'm all right now. Just a little too much alcohol and high riding emotion. It's not every day your sister gets hitched."
"I was gonna offer to get you another drink...should I not?" Logan eyed her questioningly. Sylva shrugged her shoulders.
"It's not like I'm planning on doing anything special tomorrow." She said simply. "I have an errand to run for Anna, but it won't matter if I do it in the afternoon. And it's a party...why not. I'm not that drunk. Go for it."
"Well, if you're sure." Logan shrugged, leading the way up to the bar.
"You do think they'll be happy, Logan, don't you?" Sylva eyed him doubtfully, as he ordered their drinks. He frowned, shrugging.
"Damned if I know." He admitted. "But I'd say they've as good a chance as any. They seem right together, if that's what you mean. But hell, what do I know. I was with Jenna three years and then she split with me - so I'm not the best judge."
"Me either." Sylva sighed, taking the drink and sipping it contemplatively. "You know, in High School it was so easy to get a date. Guys were always after me, and I didn't want much from them. You know? No big deal commitments or anything. Just a good time."
"In High School, isn't that what most of us wanted?" Logan asked. Sylva pursed her lips.
"Dunno." She admitted. "But I thought I was in love with all of them. Then I fell for Jack and God, nothing's been easy since then. I can't find a guy, Logan...why is that, do you think? I mean, is it just me? Or...I dunno. Am I just too busy to look?"
"I think you're drunk." Logan glanced at her, taking a sip of his own drink. Sylva shrugged.
"So what? Maybe I am a bit." She owned. "But don't you think it's weird? I mean Ann and I are identical. I can't be hideous when she's so pretty."
"You're not hideous, you idiot." Logan rolled his eyes. "I already told you you're beautiful tonight."
"I don't know." Sylva sighed. "Maybe it's an inside thing. I mean, maybe you have to be beautiful inside as well or something."
"You don't think you are?"
Logan went to set his glass down on the bar, colliding with the nearby stool and almost losing his footing as he did so. He burst out laughing.
"Geez. Guess you ain't the only one who's knocked one too many back tonight. Sorry about that."
"You're a clumsy oaf." Sylva grimaced at him. "But at least you're a good friend. I'm glad you came with me to New York. It's been fun."
"It's been interesting." Logan agreed.
"So do you think that I'm beautiful inside?" Sylva asked plaintively. "Or is it just like Sammi says - I'm ego-tripping all the time and that's why no guy wants to date me?"
"Syl, I'm sure there are a lot of guys who'd want to date you." Logan finally managed to get his glass down onto the bar. "There we go!"
"Really?" Sylva looked doubtful. "So why aren't they, then?"
"Maybe you're looking in the wrong places." Logan shrugged. "Hell, I don't know. I'm not a relationship counsellor."
"Well, you're a guy. You know how guys think." Sylva sighed. "I just wondered if I was doing anything wrong."
"I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that." Logan offered her a slightly drunken smile. Sylva frowned, then she shrugged.
"Well, then let's find out." She said simply, setting her glass down on a nearby table. Then, very decidedly, she kissed him.

Prologue: April 1st, 1997
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