Thicker Than Water
Chapter Eighteen

Sylva set down her hairbrush, casting her reflection in the mirror a glance. "Well, Annie? Do I look enough like you?"
"Silly question." Anna sat down on the bed next to her, casting her a grin. "You always look like me. And yes, you look fine. Thanks again for doing this, Sylvie. I owe you big time."
"No you don't." Sylva shook her head. "You should be worrying about packing your case, by the way, not panicking over whether or not your supervisor will figure out it isn't you submitting your project this morning. I didn't expect you to come back from the hotel so soon, to be honest. Didn't you trust me to doll myself up like you on my own?"
"Yes, I did, but I wanted to be sure you knew what was what with the paperwork." Anna patted the folder carefully. "It's got to go to Redford on the fourth floor, and you'll have to sign it in. Can you still imitate my signature?"
"Of course I can." Sylva snorted. "I was a champion forger in school. How many times did I do Dad's signature on a sick note or Mom's on a release form? And if you'd forgotten, I signed you up for the swim club to get you close to that guy you liked...they never questioned the signature then, did they?"
"No, they didn't." A slight smile touched Anna's lips. "I'd forgotten you did that. You used to sign me up for all kinds of things when we were in High School."

"Well, you'd not have done anything if I hadn't." Sylva shrugged her shoulders. "So don't fret it. I can pass myself off as you scarily well, even if we've lived a few years apart. Twins have a psychic bond, remember? I know you better than anyone."
"Likewise." Anna paused, then slipped an arm around her twin. "Speaking of which, something is bugging you this morning. Do you want to tell me what it is?"

"Huh?" Sylva looked startled.
"You're trying to be bouncy and cheerful and your usual self, but it's like you said." Anna shrugged. "Twins have a psychic bond. And I know something's up. Did something happen at the party last night, after John and I left? You and Sammi didn't come to blows, did you?"
"No." Sylva sighed, casting her sister a troubled look. "No, I didn't see or speak to Sammi after you left, and that's the truth. At least, I don't remember seeing her. I don't remember everything from last night yet."
"So you're hungover?"

"A little." Sylva rubbed her temples, squinting again at her reflection. "And you don't wear enough make-up to fully cover it, but it's cool. You had your reception last night - noone will be surprised if I look a bit ragged round the edges."
"That wasn't why I was asking." Anna scolded. "You seem upset - even a bit on edge. Plus..."
She ran her hand over the bedcover. "This bed hasn't been slept in. Did you lose my key?"

Sylva flushed red to the roots of her hair, shaking her head.
"No. It's in my purse." She responded. "And just because the bed is made doesn't mean it wasn't slept in. I mean, I can make beds, you know."
"Yeah, and I'm real familiar with how you do it, too." Anna looked rueful. "Before the wedding yesterday I was so nervous I went round the whole place tidying and making beds and doing anything to kill nervous energy - remember? Before the car came to take us to the church. This is still as I left it. You didn't spend the night here."

Sylva sighed, closing her eyes briefly. Then,
"No, I didn't." She admitted, her voice shaking slightly. "Annie, I got drunk and I spent the night at the hotel with Logan."
"Logan?" Anna stared. "Didn't you tell me you were just friends?"
"We are. Were. I don't know." Sylva bit her lip. "I didn't mean to do it, I swear. I just...I woke up there this morning and freaked out. I couldn't remember...but he said I came on to him, and since I got back here I've started to remember more."
She grimaced.
"Three showers and four coffees will do that to you." She added. "He's right - I did. I kissed him, and I suggested we kicked out of the party and went back to his room. I had a major stress-out when I woke up. I don't know what got into me, apart from way too much vodka and coke."
"Maybe you're not as platonic with Logan as you thought." Anna suggested gently. "I mean, drinking only loosens you up to something you want to do anyway. Maybe you've been sitting on this as friendship when it's actually something else."
"I don't know." Sylva admitted. "But whatever it is, Ann, I totally blew it by last night. Followed, of course, by this morning. I pretty much treated him like he'd raped me or something, which wasn't fair, I know. I just...I didn't know how to take it."

She swallowed hard.
"Annie, you gotta understand that this was a big deal thing." She said brokenly. "I've been drunk around guys before - even guys I thought were cute - and I've never slept with any of them. I don't understand why this was different."
"I guess you let your guard down because he was someone you trusted." Annie pursed her lips. "Was he drunk too?"
"Yes." Sylva sighed. "I guess I'm mixed up."

"Did you use protection?"
"No." Sylva shook her head. "Don't look at me like that!" As Anna raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't planning to sleep with anyone in New York and besides, I've never needed to be on the pill! Usually I have some self control and it's not like I'm in a serious relationship or anything! I'll go to the drugstore and get something to cover me on my way back from your office, don't worry. I'm not gonna have a baby out of this. But what the hell was I thinking? The only thing I can think is that I wasn't thinking at all!"

"You're getting less and less coherent." Anna hugged her sister tightly. "And I don't like you upset, Sylvie. Listen to me. Logan is your friend. When you've both calmed down you'll probably be able to talk it out. Even laugh at it. And maybe it's telling you something else about your friendship that both of you had been blocking out. It seems to me that he cares about you a lot, and you do him. Perhaps that's the real reason. Maybe you need to talk about that."
"I suppose we do." Sylva rested her head on her sister's shoulder. "It's just such a mess. I didn't imagine..."

She bit her lip.
"I didn't expect to be drunk for my first time." She said at length. "I mean, Mom always said you shouldn't give any guy that unless you knew you loved him and stuff...else you'd be wasting a part of you and you couldn't get it back. And Jack was the first guy I fell in love with...but there never was that between us. I've waited this long and now..."
She shrugged her shoulders.

"Now I don't know." She concluded.
"Oh, Sylvie." Anna squeezed her twin's hand. "I hadn't realised it was that big a thing. I mean, I knew you didn't sleep with any of those jerks in High School but I guess I didn't think about it beyond that."
"Not much I can do about it now, anyhow." Sylva sighed. "It's done."
"Well, I really think you should stop and think about why it was done." Anna said decidedly. "Because I know you, Syl, and you're impulsive and mad but you're not the kind of person who'd jump into bed with some guy she didn't like just on a whim and a few glasses of drink."
She shrugged.

"And talk to Logan. He probably deserves an explanation for why you took it so hard, don't you think?"
"Perhaps." Sylva acknowledged. "Right now, though, I'm going to your office and I'm going to take my strange mood out on Colin. Do you have a photo or something, so I know who he is?"
Anna got to her feet, scanning the bookshelf and then pulling a photo album down off the top, flicking through the pages. "Here. This is our office party last Christmas. And that," she pointed, "Is Colin."

"Nice beard." Sylva wrinkled up her nose. "Not. His eyes are really squinty, too."
She got to her feet, straightening her skirt and glancing again at her reflection.
"Right, well, I'm off to tell this guy that Martescu girls are way out of his league." She said firmly. "You said the project goes to...Redwood?"
"Redford. Floor 4." Anna responded. "Okay. Take my car - and don't crash it! My parking space is third by the railings, opposite the annexe. You know where you're going?"
"Yes." Sylva nodded. She picked up the project, glancing at it, then smiling. "I know."
"And I guess you'll need this."
Anna glanced at her wedding ring, then slid it off her finger. "He'll notice if you're not wearing it. He knows I got married yesterday - he kept making jokes about it, since it was ringed on my calendar. And my engagement ring too...if you promise you won't lose them."
"You can trust me." Sylva took the rings as if they were made of glass, carefully pushing them onto the correct finger. "Gee, I really hope it isn't bad luck, doing this."
"No, it's not bad luck." Anna shook her head. "Not when you're doing the bride a big favour. They make exceptions for identical twins bailing their sisters out."
"Well, if you say so." Sylva looked rueful. "All right. Then I'm all set. Feels so weird, having these on my finger. I'll be glad to give you them back."
"I'll be glad to get them back." Anna admitted. "Especially the wedding ring. I've not had it so long yet and well, I like seeing it there."
"I'll look after them." Sylva promised. "Don't fret. They'll be fine with me."
"All right." Anna paused, then, "Sylvie, about the other thing?"
"Talk to Logan." Anna said softly. "I mean it. The other day, when we fought, he wouldn't let me in to see you till I promised him I wasn't going to make you cry again. He cares about you a whole lot - even if it is a just friends kind of caring, you will work it out with him. I promise. It will be okay."

Sylva managed a slight smile.
"Well, I guess we'll see, won't we." She said with a shrug. "Right now, I've another guy on my mind. Colin, here I come!"
As her sister left the property, Anna moved to the window, a pensive look touching her face as she reasoned things out with herself. At length she shrugged, watching absently as Sylva put her car in gear, driving out of the forecourt. In an instant, she made up her mind.
"I owe Sylvie for what she's doing for me this morning." She decided. "That has to count for something. It wouldn't hurt, then, if I took a time out from getting my stuff together, and dropped by to see Logan. In a few days they'll both be gone and I want them to be gone as friends, at least. I can't have my sister feeling messed up because of something that happened on my wedding night, after all. It just wouldn't be right."
She headed into the hall, slipping on her sandals and grabbing her jacket from the newel post, slipping it over her shoulders. Scooping up the keys to John's car, she left the house, hoping against hope that Logan had not decided to go far from his hotel room.
"Because I need to speak to him about my sister." She said firmly. "So I'm not the only Martescu twin ending this week on a happy note!"


The building was busy with people when Sylva arrived and, remembering what Anna had said about parking, she carefully manoeuvred the small car into the right parking space, turning off the ignition and taking a deep breath. She flipped open the glove box, taking out the small dictaphone she had borrowed from her sister's room, and glancing at it before pushing the record button and sliding it into her pocket. Despite her words to Anna, the memory of the previous night's events were still buzzing around her head, teasing her and setting her on edge.
"But this isn't about him." She decided at length, picking up Anna's folder and getting out of the car. "This is about something more important - doing my twin a big favour. And if this guy's the jerk she says, its a favour I'm going to enjoy doing."
She made her way purposefully towards the entrance, pushing open the main doors and heading nonchalantly across the lobby.
"Anna!" A voice startled her and she swung around, staring at the unfamiliar face blankly.
"What are you doing here?" The woman seemed surprised. "Didn't you like, just get married or something? Aren't you on your honeymoon?"
"Obviously not, because I'm here." Sylva replied, then berated herself for the snappy response. "I mean I have a deadline - I have a project due before John and I fly out."
"You take work way too seriously sometimes." The woman looked amused. "But hey, each to their own. Redford's been foaming at the mouth at the lack of news coming out of your office anyhow. He'll probably have to put off the coronary bypass a few months more if you take it right on up to him."
"That's why I'm here." Sylva managed a patent Anna smile. "I guess I'll see you when I get back. Believe me, this one's been a pain and a half to finish - I've had my mind on other things."
"I can imagine." The woman returned the grin. "So I'll catch you later. And hey, have a blast on your honeymoon, all right?"
"Definitely." Sylva nodded her head. She watched the woman hurry across the lobby and bit her lip, shaking her head slightly.
"Not a good start." She muttered. "I should have asked Annie who a few other people were before I jumped in here. That's obviously one of her friends or something - why didn't I pay better attention to her letters?"
She shrugged, turning on her heel and making a beeline for the lift.
"Oh well. Too late now." She acknowledged, hitting the button and leaning up against the wall as she waited for the car to reach the ground floor. "And I covered. So it's okay. No problem."
"Well, good morning, Anna."
A voice came from behind her and she turned, taking in the speaker with some consternation.
"Not saying hello, now?" Colin raised an eyebrow, as the lift finally reached the ground floor, swinging back it's doors. He gestured. "Ladies first."
"Thank you." Sylva obediently stepped into the lift car, watching as he followed suit. "Fourth floor, please."
"So formal today?" Colin did as he was bidden, leaning up against the panelling. "What brings you here, anyhow? Can't you stay away from the workplace?"
He leered at her. "Something you're missing?"
"No, thank you." Sylva shook her head. "I'm quite happy, if it's all the same to you. I just have my project to give to Redford, that's all. He's been waiting for it."
"Yes, but it won't hurt if he waits a while longer." Colin moved closer. "It's not normal for a woman who's just got married to come to work the very next day, you know. Something other than that must've brought you here. Stop playing games with me, huh?"
He rested a hand on her shoulder. "You can't keep away."
Sylva eyed him coldly, deftly picking up his hand from her body and dropping it as if it was a piece of rubbish.
"My husband wouldn't like it if he knew you were hitting on me, you know." She said coolly. "So maybe you'd better drop it. He has a temper, my husband, and he's a jealous kind of man."
"What, the nerd you brought to the Faber party last Fall?" Colin snorted. "Please. He's a loser. He wouldn't know how to hit a fly - and I could take him."
"Appearances can be very deceptive." Sylva said with a shrug. "Maybe it's not him you should worry about, anyhow."
"And what are you going to do about it?" Colin grinned. "Come on, little Annie. You know that it's in your interests to keep me happy. I've been here a long time and I've got pull. Your career demands you to have a good relationship with your supervisor. Don't be a stick in the mud now."
"My name is Anna." Sylva said haughtily. " And perhaps you'd like to explain those things to my lawyer."
"Excuse me?"
"Well, since you began your pathetic little game, I've been taping our conversations." Sylva slipped her hand into her pocket, pulling out the dictaphone. "I have quite a back history, you know."
She shrugged, glancing at her nails. "One of my friends from college was a law major and she listened to it all for me. She reckons I have a really good harassment case already, so if you want to make it worse for yourself, make my day. It's not like it's my career you're going to ruin."
She shot him a glance from beneath lowered lids, noting with some satisfaction that his expression had lost some of it's conviction.
"Well?" She challenged him. "Is there anything else you'd like to say?"
She pushed the dictaphone back into her pocket. "Or are you lost for words?"
"God, Anna, can't you even take a joke?" Colin demanded. Sylva pursed her lips, then she grabbed him by his shirt collar, pushing him up against the wood of the lift.
"This isn't a joke." She said darkly. "This is sexual harassment and we both know it. It stops here and now, you understand? I don't need your pathetic attempts at a social life and I certainly don't need you groping after me whenever I'm in the office. I'm a married woman, so go chase some other girl. Am I making myself clear?"
"One more time and all my tapes will be going to the boss's office." Sylva added. "And we'll see whose career is really gonna be affected, won't we?"
At that moment the car reached the fourth floor and, as the doors slid open the Jewel released her grip on the man's shirt, casting him a pointed smile and then heading out of the lift, leaving him staring after her.
As she reached the end of the corridor, she chuckled, remembering his dumbstruck expression.
"He won't bother Annie again." She told herself decidedly. "He just needed standing up to. And if he thinks she's got something on him, he won't dare cross that line again. So that's all right. Ann and John can fly out to their honeymoon paradise tomorrow without worrying about Colin when they get back."
She paused, scanning the doors for one marked Redford. "And now I need to sign this in with...ah! Here we go!"
She knocked on the door, waiting for a voice to call her in. Then she swung it open, stepping into a spacious office. A large man in his fifties cast her a look of relief from behind a cluttered oak desk.
"Anna!" He exclaimed. "Oh, thank the lord - I thought you must've forgotten and we were going to have to scramble around tying up the loose ends of this in your absence!"
"When have I ever let this company down?" Sylva asked, setting the folder down on the desk. "It's all in there. I can't stop to discuss it because John and I are packing for our flight tomorrow, but I wanted to be sure you got it. I wanted to keep my deadline."
"Well, you've always been reliable so far." Redford admitted. "Sign it in, would you? Then I can take it up to Mr Dalian and discuss the particulars."
"Sure." Sylva took the proffered pen and sheet of paper, neatly signing Anna's signature. "There. And now I must scramble."
"You do that." Redford's eyes twinkled. "Get on with you and enjoy your honeymoon. I'll have a peaceful weekend now I know I don't have to call the clients up on Monday morning to tell them there will be a delay!"


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