Thicker Than Water
Chapter Nineteen
Settling Up

 Half past twelve.
Logan glanced once more at his cellphone, then tossed it down onto his bedcover with a sigh. He had tried to call Sylva's number three times, but since stalking out of the hotel room earlier that morning she had switched her phone off, making it impossible for him to contact her.
Sinking down onto the end of the bed, he ran his fingers through his thick sandy hair, running over in his mind what he could remember of the night's events.
"I will never understand women." he decided at length, flopping back onto his covers. "She came on to me. And yes, we were drunk, and it was silly...but it was just an accident. It's not like I set out my stall to come to New York and seduce her when she wasn't looking."
A knock at the door startled him and, half hoping it was his missing friend he got to his feet, slipping back the lock and pulling open the door. He cast a glance at the person on the other side, then sighed.
"Anna." He said slowly. "What's up?"
"For someone who's known me a week, you're pretty sure which twin is at the door." Anna observed quietly. "Can I come in, Logan?"
"Yes, for all the good you'll do." Logan obediently kicked back the door, allowing the younger twin into the hotel room. "Though won't your husband freak out if you're in some other guy's hotel room?"
"My husband is convinced your Sylvie's boyfriend." Anna shrugged. "You don't seem that happy to see me - is this a bad time?"
"I'm sorry." Logan looked sheepish. "I was kinda hoping you were Syl. We had...well...a fight this morning."
"Yes, I know." Anna smoothed out the bedcover, sitting down. "That's why I'm here, actually."
She eyed him curiously.
"So how do you know I'm Anna and not Sylvie? You know she was running an errand for me this morning. And I'm not wearing my rings today, either. How can you tell?"
"I dunno." Logan shrugged his shoulders. "But I am right, right? You are Anna."
"Yes, I am." Anna agreed. She pursed her lips, eying him thoughtfully for a moment. "You know, my sister is pretty upset."
"Yes, I got that." Logan glanced at his hands. "She yelled at me pretty badly. Did she tell you what happened?"
"Twins don't tend to keep secrets from each other. Not ones like this." Anna shrugged her shoulders. "So of course she did."
"And you came here what?" Logan frowned. "To ask for my side of things? I don't get it."
"Well, I know Sylvie better than anyone." Anna said softly. "And I know why she was freaked out with you this morning. I understand how she felt - but she needs to talk that out with you - not me. I'm just here to ask you, well, not to take it to heart. I think..."
She faltered, then,
"It's hard to tell because I've been away from her for so long and I barely know you." She admitted. "But I think Sylvie likes you more than she's let on to anyone."
"Really?" Logan stared. "And you think screaming at me and stalking out of the hotel room this morning were signs of affection?"
"No, but if I got plastered and woke up in someone else's hotel room, I'd be a bit shaken up, too." Anna said reasonably. "My sister's not a slut and even if she is the life and soul of most parties, she's not like that. Besides, she's not that hungover this morning. If she was, she'd not even be awake yet, and she'd probably look like the walking dead when she did wake up. I've seen her after a night on the town before. So she can't have had enough to drink that she lost all her self control. I think that's what bothers her most. She knows she did this thing, but she's not sure why and it's freaked her out. And you're not quite an innocent bystander, but you have been on the receiving end."
"I'm not sure if I follow what you're telling me."
"I'm just asking you to give her a little time and a chance to calm down." Anna responded. "When we were in High School, she dated every available class sweetheart but she was never really emotionally attached to any of them. She didn't respect them, they were just trophies in her Miss Popularity reign. She was always prom queen, head cheerleader in senior year, chosen to speak at our graduation...all of those things. Sylvie was the centre of everything, but even when some of her friends got into long term dating, she wasn't really up for it. She was waiting for someone to come along who was different - or special. Someone she really felt a connection with."
"And you think that's me?"
"I don't know." Anna admitted. "But she thinks a lot of you. You're a friend she values and maybe she's scared to take it any further than that, because she's never had that many genuine male friends. They've always wanted her to put out, and she's not that kind of girl. Then last night happened..."
"And she's worried maybe I've become one of those guys without realising it?" Logan asked. Anna nodded.
"Maybe." She agreed. "It wouldn't matter if she didn't have feelings for you. But I'm certain that she does."
"Has she told you so?"
"No. But twins have this intuition. We know stuff." Anna grinned. "And I'm pretty sure of this."
She paused, eying him.
"I think you care about her too, more than the just friends label." She added.
"Anna, I was drunk last night. That doesn't mean a damn thing."
"No, but you know I'm Anna, and not Sylvie." Anna shrugged. "And the thing is, Logan, most everyone can't tell us apart. But you know, John can. He says it's because he knows the woman he's in love with, and even if Sylvie looks like me, he'd know she wasn't me. I think that's how you know us apart. Sylvie and you have chemistry. You and I...we're strangers. And you can tell."
Logan stared at his companion for a moment. Then he shrugged his shoulders.
"Sylva is a really complicated thing in my head right at the moment." He admitted. "To tell you the truth, Anna, when I met her before Aaron got hitched, I was attracted to her. I'd been in a big deal relationship that had broken down and I'd not been interested in chicks for a while, but I liked Syl. Then we became friends and I didn't really think of anything else. It was just nice to be friends with someone who I had so much in common with...without the hassle and stress of a relationship. The last few months with Jenna were hell on earth, we were always fighting and then she took off with someone else. I guess I didn't want a repeat."
"From what I know of Sylvie's love life recently, things haven't been much easier for her." Anna looked pensive. "She fell pretty hard for a guy who didn't want her back and I know it took a while for her to get over it. They were friends and her crush on him was one of the reasons they didn't speak for a long while. It hurt her and I bet she sees this going the same way."
Logan fell silent, digesting this. Then he nodded.
"She's mentioned Jack." He admitted. "I guess that's the dude you mean."
"Yes." Anna spread her hands.
"I'm not gonna try and tell you what you should or shouldn't do." She added. "Except to ask you not to be hurt or mad by the way Sylvie reacted to you this morning. If it's nothing other than a really good friendship, it's not worth losing and I'd hate it to be my wedding that was a part of that. And if it's more..." Her eyes sparkled with mischief. "Take it from a married woman that sometimes it's worth taking a gamble or two."
She glanced at her watch.
"And I have to run. I have to get my rings off Sylvie and finish packing for the flight...the less I have to think about getting on that plane the better, so I'll get out of your way."
"Okay." Logan pursed his lips, then, "But I'm kinda glad you came, you know. It's helped me make up my mind what I should do."
"I hope that's a good thing." Anna dimpled, getting to her feet. "But I've interfered enough and that's usually Syl's I'm going to leave before I do any more meddling!"
 With that she was gone and Logan moved to the window, watching until he saw the younger twin leave the hotel parking lot. Then, certain he was alone he grabbed his jacket off the chair, slipping it over his shoulders and reaching for his shoes. Locking his hotel room behind him, he made his way down to the lobby, handing his key in at reception and stepping out into the city air.
"Syl didn't say what errand she was running for her sister this morning, but she did mention calling by a drugstore on her way there or back, so it must be in the city somewhere." he mused. "And I've really nothing better to do than walk around and work out what I'm going to say. After all, if I stay in that room trying to call her any longer, I'm going to go nuts. If I haven't found her in an hour or two I'll go crash Anna's and make her have it out with me. But if Anna is right, and she does have feelings for me...well, maybe it's something we need to talk about."
He made his way slowly onto the main street, scanning the faces of the passers-by for his friend but none of the faces seemed familiar. People greeted each other and taxi-cabs screeched around corners, but despite it all he felt isolated.
"I came to this city pretending to be Syl's boyfriend." He mused. "Now what do I want? That? Or to go back to being friends? Whichever it is, I don't want us to stay fighting."
Lost in his thoughts, he almost ran straight into another pedestrian and, as he registered her appearance, he let out an exclamation.
Sylva stared at him, obviously discomfitted.
"Logan." She began, then, "What are you doing?"
"Looking for you, actually." Logan shrugged his shoulders. "You?"
"Finishing Anna's errand." Sylva responded. "And returning her wedding and engagement ring. Why were you looking for me?"
"Because I upset you this morning, and though I don't quite know how or why, I wanted to say sorry. Again. Now you'd had some time to, well, cool off."
Sylva eyed him for a moment, then she frowned.
"I'm sorry too." She admitted. "But last night shouldn't have happened. It was a dumb thing...a really dumb thing."
"It was." Logan agreed slowly. "But honestly, I don't know that I regret it happened."
"You don't?" Sylva's eyes became big. "What in hell do you mean?"
"This isn't exactly the best place for a private chat, is it?" Logan raised an eyebrow, glancing around him. "Even if you are dolled up like...well, like Anna, I'd rather the world didn't hear us thrash this out. You're in the public eye and it wouldn't be good for either of us."
"That I agree with." Sylva sighed, glancing down at herself. "I hate Anna's clothes."
She frowned.
"Hey, how did you know I wasn't Anna?"
"Anna doesn't look at me like a rabbit trapped in headlights." Logan said ruefully. Sylva reddened.
"I'm sorry." She repeated. "I just...I'm kinda...shook up."
"Well, I'm sick to death of my hotel room, and I'm sure you'd rather not trot back there right now, so I vote we go find that tree in Central Park and talk there." Logan suggested. "It's pretty secluded and probably as private as you can get in this crazy city."
"All right." Sylva's eyes flickered with relief. "I guess we do need to talk. I know I treated you pretty badly this morning. It was just...just the shock."
Logan did not reply, instead leading the way through the busy crowds to the park. Once he had located the tree beneath which he had found his friend in tears, he sat down, indicating for her to do the same. Sylva hesitated, and then followed suit, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them protectively. Logan eyed her defensive posture and sighed.
"I'm not going to hurt you." He said softly. "That's the last thing on my mind."
"I know that." Sylva admitted. "Last night wasn't...well, I mean, I didn't not want to do it. I drank too much and I forgot where I was, but you didn't force it on me. I remember enough now to know I did kiss you...but I don't know why I did. I remember I was babbling...I do that when I'm drunk. Next thing I know..." She shrugged. "I guess I brought it on myself."
"I don't speak girl very well." Logan admitted. "And you know, when a girl kisses you and then talks about going back to your hotel room for some peace and quiet, I actually interpret it to mean that. When she starts coming on to me there too...hell, what does that mean? Stop? Carry on? Because I'm confused beyond confused, if I'm honest. Even your sister hasn't clarified that for me."
"Anna?" Sylva stared. "What has she to do with anything?"
"She came to talk to me this morning, to tell me not to be too upset with you." Logan pursed his lips. Sylva coloured again.
"Oh God. She shouldn'tve done that. It's not like her."
"No, she said it was more like something you'd do." Logan nodded. "But she said that you were mixed up. And that she didn't think you were all that drunk last night. Not really out of your mind smashed. She thinks you have feelings for me, and that's why it happened. The drink just loosened you up - is that true?"
It was impossible for Sylva to go any redder, and she buried her head in her hands.
"I'm so going to kill her." She muttered. "What else did she say?"
"Not much." Logan paused, then, "Except that she was surprised that I knew it was her, and not you."
"Well, we dress differently." Sylva frowned. Then she glanced down at herself. "Then again, I look like Anna right now. Why did you really know to call me Syl? You said my name before I even registered you were there, so it can't just be the way I stared at you."
"I've a fifty percent chance of being right, and I'd already spoken to Anna this morning." Logan responded. He smiled sheepishly. "Your sister thinks there's another reason, though. She thinks it's because we have a chemistry and I have feelings for you, too."
Surprise flooded Sylva's expression.
"And do you?"
"I honestly don't know anything right at the moment." Logan admitted. "But maybe it's something we need to look at. I mean, thinking about it...about things...Syl, we've been playing at being boyfriend and girlfriend just for fun, but you were right about something. Just friends don't sleep together on a whim. And you were jealous of me talking to Sammi - why would you be, if we were just friends?"
"I don't like Sammi." Sylva fidgeted uncomfortably. "And she tries things. Besides, I thought you liked her."
"She's a nice person." Logan nodded. "But I'm not into her, Syl. Not in that way."
"So you're telling me I slept with you because I have a secret fantasy about you and that's why I really dragged you to New York?"
"No, I'm not quite that arrogant." Logan shook his head. "But I do know that when I got to LA I was checking you out big time. I even told Aaron that if you were available, I might well be in the market."
"So what changed?"
"We became friends and I liked how close we were without the pressure." Logan shrugged. "Relationships are tough and they take it out of you. We didn't have that, and I liked it."
"And now the hassle's right there, isn't it?" Sylva sighed, toying idly with the grass beneath her fingers. "Listen, Logan...there's something else. Something you don't know."
"Is this about the visit to the drugstore you were going to make this morning?" Logan looked anxious. "Because I am sorry for that part of it, Syl."
"No, I did that, don't worry about it." Sylva shook her head. "I'll do a test when we're back in LA but I don't expect anything to come from it. No, it's something else."
"Can you tell me what?"
"If I do, you have to promise not to laugh or freak out." Sylva dropped her gaze. "And definitely never tell anyone."
"Okay...I guess I can do that."
"Last night..." Sylva faltered, then, "It was my first time, Logan."
"First one night stand?"
"No. First time. know. Ever."
Logan's jaw dropped, and for a full minute he just stared at his friend in disbelief. Sylva buried her head in her hands again.
"Don't." She begged. "You promised not to freak out."
"I'm not freaking out." With some effort Logan got to grips with his composure. "Just...sheesh, Syl, I'm sorry. Really sorry. I didn't realise it was such a...I mean that you were...I didn't have a clue. And it makes a lot more sense now, this morning. I...Hell, I don't know what to say."
"You don't need to say anything." Sylva raised her blue eyes to his concerned ones. "It's not like I haven't been asked. But I guess I'm a romantic and my mother always taught me you should only give...give that to someone you loved. I...the first time I was in love was with Jack and he was totally never into me. So..."
She shrugged.
"Here we are." She concluded. "And...I never thought I'd be, well, drunk when I did it. Let alone with someone I wasn't even really dating."
Logan slipped an arm around her shoulders, and she did not resist his embrace.
"Listen to me." He murmured. "You don't have to explain yourself to me. It's your call. I'm just sorry I was the dumb oaf who got in the way."
"You're not that dumb." A slight smile touched Sylva's lips. "I don't really know how I feel at the moment, Logan. But when I was out in the city, sorting out Anna's thing, I guess I also realised that fighting with you wasn't a good thing. It upset me almost as much as, well, what happened. We've known each other a few months but I feel like we've always known each other. And when I couldn't go to anyone else, you came here and rescued me...right here under this tree."
She glanced up at the branches. "I really would hate going back to LA with us not speaking and stuff."
She sighed.
"But then again, you're right. Relationships are a big deal and I've never really had one. Not a proper one, anyway. And I suppose I don't know how to begin one. I don't even know how to tell if there's anything to begin."
"Well, here's what I suggest." Logan leant up against the trunk of the tree. "I suggest we fly back to Los Angeles and we see how things turn out. I could take you to dinner and we could try a proper date thing - see if there's anything there to follow up. What do you think?"
"I think that'd be okay." Sylva dimpled. "Thank you for not being mad at me. I mean, after this morning, I would have understood if you thought me some mental case."
"No more than I already do." Logan laughed. "But whether we're really good friends, Syl, or something else - I want to make sure we still hang out and have fun. Okay?"
"Sure. I want that too." Sylva nodded decidedly. "But...but no more of the last night kind of fun until, well...until I know my own mind a little better."
"Promise." Logan stood, pulling her to her feet. "For now, though, I'm starving and I need my lunch. You hungry?"
"No, I'm still suffering from last night." Sylva grinned. "But I'll come for the company. After all, I brought you to New York so we'd hang out, right?"
"You did." Logan agreed. "And we only have a day or so of it I vote we make the most of it while we can!"


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