Thicker Than Water
Chapter Seventeen
Crossing The Line

From somewhere in her comfortable sleep-world, Sylva became aware of a bright light shining on her face and, with a mutter, she turned over onto her other side, snuggling down more comfortably into the pillow. The sunlight continued to dance across the bedroom, however, and from outside on the street came the sound of a child's excited screams, followed by the bark of a dog. With a groan, she opened her eyes, dragging herself into a more upright position as she scanned the floor for her slippers.
"It's gotta be practically dawn." She muttered, rubbing at her eyes sleepily as she did so. "Who lets their kids out at this time? Where's the damn clock...and what did I do with those slippers!"
She pushed back the duvet, rolling her legs over the side of the bed in order to climb out but, as she did so, she registered what she was wearing. A frown touched her face as she ran her fingers over the unfamiliar white teeshirt, the smiling face of a university mascot staring back up at her.
"What the hell?" She murmured. "Where did this come from? I..."
She faltered in mid-sentence, as she caught sight of the pretty floral print on the bedcovers and her hand flew to her mouth.
"Where the hell am I?" She whispered, staring around the bedroom with new, frightened eyes. "Where am I and how did I get here? This isn't Anna's place!"
A voice came from the doorway and she swung around, letting out a shriek.
"Logan!" She exclaimed, grasping for the duvet and pulling it up to her chin. "What are you...what am I...where..?"
"Wow, you're together first thing in the morning."
Logan leant up against the doorpost, eying her with a mixture of amusement and apprehension. It was at that point that Sylva realised he was still damp from the shower, a white hotel towel wrapped around his waist and she let out another shriek.
"Oh my God." She swallowed hard. "Logan...tell me we didn't...this is your hotel room!"
"Well, I would've thought that was a no-brainer, since you came here the other day." Logan nodded his head, grabbing another towel up off the end of the bed and towelling his thick sandy hair dry. "And considering you're wearing my college shirt...that would also be another no brainer."
He offered her a sheepish smile.
"Guess we had a couple too many drinks last night, huh?"
"A couple too many...?" Sylva stared at him. Logan spread his hands.
"I'm sorry." He admitted. "I know I said I'd be the perfect date, but this wasn't quite what I had in mind."
"We...we actually did it?" Sylva's face drained of colour as he nodded. "I mean...all of it? I mean...all the way?"
"Don't you remember?" Logan's brow creased in confusion. "I didn't think you were that drunk...I mean you were a bit tipsy, but...hell, so was I."
Sylva muttered a curse.
"How could you let me do something like this!" She exclaimed, rounding on him. "How could you bring me here drunk and take advantage of me? I thought you were my friend!"
"Hey, I didn't do any advantage-taking, Syl!" Logan raised his hands in mock-surrender. "This was a team effort. And you made the first pass, so don't come the innocent with me now. You were the one who kissed me first."
"I did?" Sylva was becoming agitated. "I don't remember. But why...? And even if I did....Logan, that's not an invite to sleep with me!"
"I'm sorry!" Logan shot back. "But you didn't seem to be making any arguments about it at the time!"
"I was drunk!" Sylva snapped. "I was drunk, that's all! People do strange things when they're drunk and it was my sister's wedding reception - it was all...I don't know. I don't really remember, to be honest. But hell, how much did I drink last night? It must've been one hell of a lot, because otherwise I know exactly where I'd be right now!"
"So it takes a lot of alcohol before you'd even think about sleeping with me?" Logan raised an eyebrow. "That's nice to know."
"We're supposed to be friends, Logan!" Sylva banged a hand down on the matress to emphasise her point. "Platonic! Friends don't sleep with other friends when they're drunk!"
"Look, Syl, I said I was sorry." Logan sighed. "And I mean it. I am sorry. But I was drunk too, you know, and I didn't expect it to happen either. We were neither of us thinking clearly at the time. It wasn't your fault or mine. It just happened."
"Things like this don't just happen." Sylva drew the duvet more tightly around her body, glaring at him.
"Well, this time it did." Logan said levelly. "And obviously it was a bigger deal mistake to you than it was to me - I guess you have your public image to consider and all that. It's cool, Syl, I'm not gonna blab all over some press rag that we got it on here last night. I'm not that kind of a guy."
"Oh, you don't understand." There were tears in Sylva's eyes. "You don't have a's not that."
"Then what is it?"
Logan came to sit on the bed, but Sylva edged away from him.
"Don't touch me." She whispered. "Don't even come near me. You've done enough to me already."
"God, Syl, quit it with the melodrama!" Logan was starting to get angry himself now. "So we slept together. Big deal. Like I said, it happens. We're adults. We're close. We had too much alcohol and we got stupid. But it's no big deal - why are you making it into one? You haven't been raped, or abducted, or...or any of those things. You let your guard down - is that such a bad thing? Everyone makes mistakes."
Sylva buried her head in her arms.
"Not me." She muttered, her voice muffled. "I don't make this mistake."
"Syl, don't be mad at me." Logan put a hesitant hand on her shoulder, and despite herself, she did not shake it off. "If I crossed the line then I'm sorry. But I wasn't thinking so clearly last night either, and when a girl comes on to me like you did, well...I'm not going to say no."
"I really came on to you?" Sylva raised doubtful eyes to her companion's. Logan nodded.
"As far as I remember." He agreed. "My memory's patchy too, though the shower's woken me up a bit and I can remember more now than I could before."
A smile touched his lips.
"If it's any comfort, nothing I remember was that tragic."
Sylva took a deep breath.
"I don't care if it was or it wasn't." She murmured. "I shouldn't have...we shouldn't have. It was wrong."
"Well, it wasn't the smartest thing we've done since we became friends, but hell, I can live with it." Logan said gently. "You've nothing to be ashamed of. Really."
"You do know that I'm not taking any pill, Logan." Sylva's voice shook as she met his gaze. "I never have. Unless we were really responsible while we were getting crazy-assed drunk and ripping each other's clothes off, this could be a way bigger deal than you think it could. I'm not protected."
Logan blanched.
"I didn't think." He admitted. "Is that why you're freaking out at me? You're afraid you might get pregnant?"
"Maybe." Sylva dropped her gaze. "It's not something I've ever had to worry about before, so I don't know."
Logan swore, then,
"I'd really rather not become a Dad after a drunken one night stand." He admitted.
"You think I want it either?" Sylva demanded. "No way. This should never have happened - there's just no way."
"Isn't there like, a pill you can take now or something? To...well...stop it?"
"Probably, but I shouldn't have to." Sylva ran her fingers through her tousled curls. She glanced at Logan, and the tears began to fall. "I shouldn't have to."
Logan bit his lip.
"I'm sorry." He repeated. "I guess it's a dumb guy thing not to think about stuff like that when we've a really hot chick on offer."
Sylva winced.
"Do you have to?" She begged. "I'm having enough trouble with this as it is!"
Logan eyed her for a moment. Then, very awkwardly, he put his arm around her shoulders.
"Look." He said quietly. "I did this as much as you did. Do you want me something?"
"Didn't you do enough?" Sylva asked. "Logan, it's fine. I'll go to the drugstore. I'll get a pill. I'll pretend I'm Anna - noone will care that she's buying stuff like that, since she's just got married and all. No problem. I'll see to it. I have to run an errand for her today, anyhow. It's important."
"So...are we okay?"
"I don't know about you. It's gonna be a while before I'm okay." Sylva said flatly. "Will you do me a favour?"
"Don't talk to me right now. Just...just help me find my clothes and my jacket and then...and then let me shower and dress." Sylva interrupted him, holding up her hand. "And put something else on, for God's sake!"
"Fine." Logan gave up, getting to his feet and surveying the room. "I think your dress is under the end of the duvet - and that looks like one of your sandals by the door."
"Pray to God Sadie never finds out where her dress ended up." Sylva scrambled out of bed, grabbing up the dress and hunting around the floor for the rest of her belongings. "She's sweet as pie as a rule, but I had to beg her just to let me borrow it. She'd kill the both of us if she knew."
"Syl, will you calm down." Logan begged. "I obviously have upset you in a way that's only comprehensible on a female frequency, but whatever it is, I'm sorry. Will you at least cool down and stop acting like a squirrel hunting nuts around my room?"
"No." Sylva made no attempt to stop what she was doing. "I told you. I'm gonna shower and dress and then, when I come out of the en suite, you are so going to be more clothed than you are now, or God help me I'll scream again and everyone will hear it."
Logan eyed her for a moment. Then he sighed.
"Whatever." He said, resigned. "Go. Get dressed."
Sylva did not respond. Instead she located the rest of her clothing in silence, heading into the en suite and banging the door shut. As she slid the lock across, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. Crossing the floor, she turned on the tap, splashing cold water on her face.
"How in hell could I?" She whispered. "And why? What kind of a girl gets drunk and sleeps with a guy after her sister's reception?"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

"So, here you are."
Copper glanced up from the piles of manuscript paper that surrounded her, casting her companion a wary, apprehensive look. "Two days and you've not been near me. What's the matter, rich girl? Hate having your genes tainted by the likes of me?"
"You haven't exactly come looking for me either." Copper set down the sheet of paper she had been half-heartedly looking over, a frown touching her lips. "And as for being here, this is where I work. It doesn't take a lot of brain power to deduce that."
"Well, obviously you think me an idiot as well as a whore and a bitch." Jesta seemed unconcerned. "And as for not looking for you, I've been busy. I've been trying to work out if this is some mad scheme of yours, or if this is all for real. Because if it is, Copper, you ain't getting shot of me so easily. I'm owed money...and plenty of it. So you better take that into your pretty little head."
"I spoke to my mother last night." Copper said quietly, folding her hands in her lap. "She told me that it's true. That Papa had a daughter called Jessica before they were married, and that her mother was an English air hostess called Natalie. It's all true. That...that makes you and I sisters."
"I don't care about sisters." Jesta shrugged her shoulders. "And from the way you look at me, Copper, you don't really want me around either. So let's cut the crap, huh? This Esteban guy you're so fond of was a rich bloke in the public eye, and your mother's a highly successful actress. How much do you suppose she'd pay to keep this a secret? Preserve her husband's reputation and all that?"
"Mama won't be blackmailed. Not even by you." Copper's dark eyes flashed indignantly. "So don't even think it!"
"It worked very well with you, and gave me information I didn't even anticipate." Jesta shrugged lazily. "I might as well see if your mother'd go for it too. I mean, this is a juicy scandal. And if I don't get my money one way..."
"Mama wants to meet you." Copper interrupted.
"What?" Jesta stopped dead, staring. "She wants to what? Why in hell?"
"Apparently she made Papa a promise." Copper sighed, rubbing her temples. "And she wants to see it through. She wants you to come to Detroit with me to see her."
"And why am I going to do that?" Jesta snorted. "In case it escaped your notice, I have a lot of work stuff to do as well as all of this. I'm flying back to England at the weekend to do some shows and then I'm gonna be working my butt off recording and stuff. I'm not at her beck and call."
"She said Papa left you money in his will." Copper said softly. "And she's the only one who can give you access to it. All the paperwork and everything is in Detroit. It's your call. You don't have to go...but if you're so damn obsessed with getting money out of my family, you're gonna have to."
Jesta paused for a moment, then she muttered a curse.
"Fine." She said at length. "Fine. But we'll go when I'm ready, not when you tell me, all right? I'm not under orders from any Santiago, and especially not you!"
"That suits me." Copper shrugged. "I'm not in any hurry to take you into my Mama's house and risk you upsetting her with your big mouth, so take your time about it."
"So long as I get what I want, there'll be no upsetting." Jesta's tone carried an edge to it. Copper spread her hands.
"All right." She agreed. "Then when you're ready, you know where to find me."
"Fine." Jesta glowered. "I'll be in touch."
With that she turned on her heel, disappearing back into the corridor, and Copper buried her head in her hands, letting her breath out in a rush.
"Later rather than sooner." She muttered. "Papa, why did you have to do this to me? And lie about it, too? Even if you thought it was the best thing - you couldn't know that it would be like this. And now Aaron's right - I have to do this, even if it's just for your sake. I just wish you'd told me the truth before you died. I'm not dealing with it all so well."
"Talking to yourself is a sign of madness, you know."
Nancy's voice from the doorway startled her and she glanced up, biting her lip at the sight of her sister in law's questioning look. "Well? Are my scripts that terrible?"
"I haven't touched more than half of them." Copper shook her head. "I'm sorry. I'm a bit distracted."
"So I see." Nancy pursed her lips, then, "And Jesta?"
"She came out of here, as I came up the stairs." Nancy came to join her, scooping up discarded manuscripts as she did so. "Something you'd like to share with the class?"
"Something I wish had stayed long buried." Copper sighed. "Something which died with my father."
"I don't follow." Nancy frowned. "What has Jesta to do with your father?"
"Nance, right now it's hard to talk about it." Copper shook her head. "I'm still getting my head around it."
"Is she upsetting you?"
"No, it's not her. Not really." Copper responded. "It's more like...have you ever thought that you knew someone and then you found out something that made you see things completely differently?"
"Yes." Nancy looked thoughtful. "When Emily told me that Aunt Phyl was her mother, that knocked me for six. I trusted her, you see...and I never imagined she was hiding something like that from everyone. It made me see her a little differently - and realise that she wasn't as strong and as single-minded as I always thought she was. You know, I realised she could make big deal mistakes too."
She cast her companion a sidelong glance.
"So this is something you found out about your Dad, then?"
"Yes." Copper agreed. "Something I never knew before."
"And it's not a good thing?"
"It's unexpected, and I'm finding it difficult to put together." Copper admitted. "You could talk to Phyllis about Emily, but I can't go to Papa and ask for answers. He's not there to give them."
"Your mother, then?"
"I spoke to her yesterday." Copper nodded. "But it didn't help. She confirmed things and...well...I guess I realised when she did that I'd rather they'd not even come to light."
"You're not making a lot of sense. Can't you tell me any more than that?"
"I'm sorry." Copper hesitated, then, "I wasn't the first child my father had. He had a kid with another woman before Mama and he were together, and I never knew about it till now."
"That's a pretty big deal thing." Nancy let out a low whistle. "Did you talk to Aaron about this?"
"Yes." Copper agreed. "And he gave me some good advice. It's just hard, Nancy. I idolised Papa so much...I guess it isn't so different from you finding out about Phyllis's baby, is it?"
"No, except as you said, I could ask her about it." Nancy pursed her lips. "He never did anything about this kid?"
"Apparently he looked for her, and put money by for her in the will." Copper sounded bitter. "I always wondered why Mama wouldn't let me come to Papa's will reading, but I thought she was trying to protect me from more grief. I was pretty wrecked when he died. I guess not...I guess it was all about keeping this a secret. And I know he did it because he didn't want Luis, Ros and I to wonder about a sister we probably wouldn't meet, but I...I wish he'd told me. Just so I'd known he trusted me with his biggest secret, before he died."
"You feel he betrayed your trust, huh?"
"A little, perhaps."
Copper sighed.
"And now it's all flared up. Before long it'll probably be public knowledge. I don't know how I feel about that."
"Jesta? Did she find all this out?"
"In a way." Copper agreed. "Nance, don't freak out, but..."
She faltered.
"Jesta is the baby in question." She whispered. "My half sister. Jessica Talley."
Nancy's eyes became big.
"Not really?" She demanded. "Copper, are you serious?"
"No wonder you're so freaked out." Nancy shook her head slowly. "That sucks big time. What are you gonna do?"
"What else can I do?" Copper sighed. "Mama wants Jesta to go to Detroit so she can settle up the inheritance and...and when she's ready, I'm going to take her. Whatever I feel about this, Papa wanted her to have something, and she's had nothing else from him her whole life. Aaron made me see that - that however horrible it might be for me, Jesta at least deserves the chance to find out something about her father. I guess that's what we'll do. Go to Detroit, sort things out. I don't know when, yet...but sometime. And then, perhaps, I'll be more adjusted to it. Right now I'm not but...but whether he told me or not, I loved Papa like nothing else. I won't let him down. If this is what he would have wanted from me - and I think it is - then I have to see this through."
She grimaced.
"I just wish it didn't make me feel so hollow inside. And more than anything, Nancy, I wish it wasn't her!"


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