"That was a mind-numbingly unproductive day." Jessica Talley frowned at
her reflection in the mirror, parting her hair into two tails and then letting
it fall messily back over her shoulders. "We spent three hours at that market
hunting out the spice Aja wanted for her stupid meal...why do you let your
Mum send you on errands, anyhow? Sheesh, it's not like you're a kid these
days, Sammi. Why do you let her push you around?"
"I don't let her push me around." Samantha Phillips lounged in the doorway
of the bedroom. "She didn't ask me to go - I offered. Okay, I might not
be all into this Chinese thing Mum is so fond of, but I do love the food
and besides, she and Dad have been pretty supportive of me, considering
everything that's gone on over the past year or more. And it was nice to
take a time out. The Teenangels are still pulling themselves back to something
like normal since Mum took over Starlight Music and signed us onto the label.
We've been working so hard...I didn't mind taking a couple of hours off
to not think about music."
"That doesn't sound like you." Jesta raised an eyebrow. Her companion shrugged.
"Well, between my music and trips to the spice market, it stops me thinking
about this trip to New York looming on the horizon." She admitted, sinking
down onto her friend's bed. "My cousin's wedding is all I need after the
year we've had - forced company with Sylvie, for a start."
"Not quite my cup of tea."
"So don't go." She said lazily. "Noone said you had to."
"No, but Mum and Aunt Mary will expect me to, and Annie would be hurt if
I didn't." Sammi sighed. "It's not her I'm fighting with, after all. It's
not fair to take it out on her, just because her sister has a mouth like
the Grand Canyon."
"Well, your call." Jesta shrugged. "For myself, I'm sticking it out over
here. Those contacts that Diablo girl gave me so long ago now are exactly
what I need to create a name for myself in America, and I intend to do just
that. This is something I know I can do and I want it, too. Being a star
in Britain isn't enough any more. I want the world."
"You've always wanted the world." Sammi sat down on the end of the bed.
"But I'm glad Mum doesn't know you're here, or that I'm spending so much time
with you...especially considering her official capacity these days. Amber's
told her enough about you, and I don't think she'd approve."
"Your Mum should be damn glad you wound up with me." Jesta said acidly.
"Otherwise you might yet be stuck on the bottle."
"We won't go there." Sammi shook her head. "That's past. Let's not bring
it back up."
She lounged against the headboard, watching her friend braid her bright
coloured hair. "Didn't you have a meeting with Whatson this afternoon?"
"No." Jesta shrugged. "He thinks I do, but I told him where to go. It's
not like there's a rush to get this American drive started. I mean, no offence,
but you girls have way more to think about than what I'm doing at present,
and if you're swanning off to NYC, the Teenangels won't be on my back for
a bit. I can do this at my own pace." She grimaced. "Besides, he has some
crackbrained idea about me writing a song in Spanish, because apparently
it's the latest thing."
"Jewel released a song with Spanish lyrics, it gets out across the world
and suddenly everyone's doing it."
"Ohh. So this is why suddenly you've lost all enthusiasm for pumping out
a huge hit, huh?" Sammi pursed her lips. "I wondered where that had suddenly
come from. Though God knows what that guy is thinking, Jess. How are you
going to get away with performing in Spanish? You're about as Spanish as
paella made at an east end restaurant."
"Well, that's all you know." Jesta dropped her hairbrush back onto the
unit, turning to face her friend. "If you want to know the truth, Sammi,
another reason why I pushed Whatson to have me out here like this was because
of something I found at Mum's place. My birth certificate."
"I think I'm lost somewhere here." Sammi looked confused.
"My father is Spanish." Jesta's lip curled into a scornful smile. "Or rather,
his family is. I never knew the old bitch had kept all that stuff, and she
never told me when I was growing up, but from what I managed to gather among
her things is that he was a rich guy, too. He sent her some money - god
knows why. To keep her mouth shut, probably, about the fact I existed. I
think he's some bigshot and I could use having a bigshot for a father round
about now. If he's got as much cash as the stuff Mum had lying about suggested...I
could make some serious good money on this guy. I just have to find him."
"You're gonna blackmail your own father?" Sammi's eyes widened. Jesta snorted.
"He's not my father." She said dismissively. "You have a father. I don't.
I never even met the guy...he's just a name. Why should I feel any kind
of loyalty to him, anyway? If he had the bad taste to sleep with my mother,
he's asking for trouble. Besides, what did he ever do for me? I never saw
any of the money he sent Mum. Probably it all went on drink or drugs anyway.
It's about time he made up for that." She shrugged. "And this is too good
an opportunity to pass up. If I have a rich Dad, I want some of the profits."
"So if he's Spanish, why America?"
"He's here. His family are Spanish...but Mum had two letters from him postmarked
California." Jesta replied. "They weren't real detailed letters - I think
there were pages missing. But here seems as good a place to start, and Whatson
is keen for me to get to work on a new single, so killing two birds with
one financially beneficial stone is always fun."
She pulled a face. "Unfortunately, of course, I had to tell Whatson that
my Dad was over here in order to convince him to up sticks and leave the
British market alone for a while. I let slip that he was Spanish and he jumped
all over it, saying that it was the perfect climate to release some kind
of latin single. So here we are. He expects me to produce a song in a language
I don't speak, while I'm here to dig out my father and make some cash before
I even think about releasing an American song."
"Well, and I thought my life was complicated." Sammi said dryly. "Perhaps
being worked to the bone for a while isn't so bad. Do you need any help finding
this Dad of yours?"
"You speak Spanish?"
"Then I doubt you're gonna be much help." Jesta shrugged. "Don't worry,
I'll find him. I have his name, after all. How hard can it be?"
* * * *
* * * *
"Syl, you've been taking your room to pieces for the last hour and
Aurora Stapleton stood in the doorway of her friends bedroom, eying with
some amusement the chaos that was ensuing within. "Are you coming out of
your closet today, or do we need to change your address with our fanclub
"Hah, very funny."
Sylva emerged from her walk in wardrobe, casting the blond girl a grimace.
"I'm trying to find something for Annie's wedding, Topaz, if you must know.
I dragged poor Logan all over town today looking and still didn't find anything
that was right. I'm back at square one, and though there's some really fab
stuff in here, there's nothing that feels right for Anna's reception."
She sighed, dropping down on the bed. "I've made a real mess, haven't I?"
"Well, it does look like Hollie has been playing in your laundry again."
Topaz laughed. "What about your usual plan B?"
"Huh?" Sylva looked confused.
"Raiding everyone else's clothes." Topaz's eyes twinkled. "Or did you do
"No, I didn't." Sylva admitted. "And it did cross my mind. But I can't
think of anything any of you own that would be the right dress, either.
Plus, you and me aren't even the same size since Hollie was born, Copper's
moved out, and Nancy's wardrobe is generally too scary to go near. That
leaves Sadie and she told me if I go into her closet again without her permission,
she'd brand me. She's out, so I haven't."
She shrugged her shoulders defeatedly. "Who would've thought, with so many
clothes, that I'd still not have anything to wear?"
"Well, it looks to me like you'll have to go shopping in New York." Topaz
pulled her friend to her feet. "Want a hand putting these things away? Hollie's
already asleep, so she won't need me for a while."
"Okay." Sylva agreed. "Thanks. I'll be here all night, otherwise."
"If you ask me, Syl, it's more than just finding an outfit that's bugging
you." Topaz said speculatively, as she slipped a hanger through a blue patterned
dress. "Isn't it?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, usually you're pretty hot on the perfect outfit." Topaz said with
a shrug. "You know your style and you usually find what you're looking for."
She gestured. "Hence the mess - you have more clothes than anyone I know.
Anna's wedding is a big deal to you, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is." Sylva looked pensive. "It's like I told Logan earlier -
I don't want people looking at me and wondering why it is Annie's getting
married and I'm, well, not. Plus, my twin sister is getting married, so
it's not just any old ceremony. It's like part of me is walking down the
aisle. And...I just want it to be special."
She groaned. "I guess also, I hoped by finding the perfect outfit and trekking
across the country to look fabulous, I'd also help convince myself that
it's okay, Anna marrying John. I know she's so happy with him - Ive met
him only the one time, when I visited them, but he's so the right guy for
her in so many ways. I just...part of me doesn't want her to do this, because
it means she'll permanently be tying herself to the East Coast. Getting
her to visit is hard enough as it is and I miss her. I suppose I hoped when
she was done with school she might come and join Mom and me here."
"Obviously Anna hasn't thought the same way." Topaz said gently. "You might
be twins, Syl, but you can't always make the same decisions. Anna chose
to go to college, get her degree...and there she met John, and now she works
in New York, which is where his family is, right? She's got her future all
worked out. If it makes her happy, to stay there - can't you be happy for
"I am happy for her." Sylva glanced at her hands. "I really am. But till
she went to college and I came here, we were always together. Same homeroom
at school, even. Every grade, we went up together...even if sometimes Annie
had to sit my exams for me or help me with my assignments to make sure I
passed Math or Spanish. I love Jewel and being with you guys - but I do miss
that. And going to her wedding, well, it's like..."
She trailed off, frowning.
"I don't know."
"Like someone else is jumping into your twinship?" Topaz suggested gently.
Sylva spread her hands.
"Maybe." She acknowledged. "It's not that I'm possessive, or anything.
But...Anna needs me a lot less these days, and I kinda liked it when she
asked my advice on things. It's not that I want her to be needy or clingy
and unable to make up her own mind. I guess I'm just a bit jealous that
she's gotten so much better at it than me when it comes to the big decisions...that's
all. It so wasn't that way in school. Its odd."
"But if it was you getting married, Syl - would you expect Anna to feel
"Honestly, I don't think that she would." Sylva sighed. "I think it's just
me. Since I fell so hard for Jack, I've been all over the place with men.
I don't have those feelings for Jack any more - if I did, I couldn't still
hang out with him and Courtenay when we both have the time to do it. But
it woke me up to the fact that there's another kind of being with someone
than just the flirting and dating I did in high school. And I want that...I
just never seem to get it."
"Noone ever said that'd be easy." Topaz set the clothes aside, sitting
down on the bed and pulling her friend down beside her. "Look at me and
Cameron. Even now we're on 'just friends' terms...and that's agony for me,
I won't lie to you. But after everything, what else can we do? If it's that
or nothing, I'll take it. Being in love isn't always a good thing."
"But then I see Copper and Aaron - or Anna and John." Sylva leant up against
her friend with a sigh. "And I just want a piece of it, too."
Before Topaz could answer, the bleep of Sylva's phone made them both jump,
and Sylva ferretted around under a heap of tops and blouses, finally pulling
out the noisy item. Sending her friend a sheepish look, she hit the accept
button, putting it to her ear.
"Syl, it's Logan." The caller's voice came crackling down the line, teasing
and playful as ever. "And you are going to owe me from now till the end
of time, girl. I called my boss."
"Oh!" Sylva's eyes widened. "Does that mean...can you come?"
"I can come. But like I said, you owe me big."
"Okay, okay." Sylva replied impatiently. "But he was okay about it?"
"He said I was owed the time and when I told him my girlfriend's sister
was getting hitched, he let me have it." There was an ironic note to Logan's
voice, and despite herself, Sylva blushed.
"Don't." She retorted. "Look, I'll call you later and tell you all the
stuff you need to know, okay? Times, etc. You realise you'll need to book
into a hotel there? I mean, Anna wants me at hers, but it's not a big place
and even Mom opted to go to a hotel, to avoid a crush."
"I've been looking at places online. Where abouts is Anna? I don't want
to be too far from where you are, if it can be helped."
"West St Boulevard, between seventh and tenth." Sylva replied. "And the
rest I'll look out and give you later, if I can. My room, er, looks like a
tornado hit it."
"Still looking for the perfect outfit?"
"And failing utterly." Sylva sighed. "But something along those lines."
"Well, good luck." Logan sounded amused. "I gotta go. I'm going out tonight
with some of the guys from work, but I'll take my cell, so you can give
me the relevant data. And hey, think of it this way. You're taking one heck
of an interesting date to Anna's wedding."
"Oh, shut up." Despite herself, Sylva grinned. "Ok. Talk later. Bye, Logan."
She terminated the call, tossing the phone down onto her bed and meeting
Topaz's curious gaze with a sheepish one of her own.
"What was that about?" the singer asked. Sylva shrugged.
"Not much." She said slowly.
"Long call, for not much."
"Well..." Sylva hesitated, then, "Logan's coming to Anna's wedding with
me. As....kinda as my date."
Topaz's eyebrows shot up into her fringe.
"As your date?" She repeated. "Syl, since when?"
"Since earlier today." Sylva lowered her gaze, not wanting to meet her
friend's eyes. "When I asked him if he would."
Topaz let out a low whistle.
"I didn't realise you and he were at that stage. I thought you were just
friends." She admitted. "When did it progress to proper dating, Syl? You
usually tell me all this kind of stuff."
It was impossible for Sylva to go much redder, but she shrugged.
"It's just a date. For Anna's wedding." She said at length. "That's all.
Nothing else. There...it's not...I mean..."
"I don't think I've ever seen you go all coy on me before." Topaz looked
interested. "You must like him more than I thought."
"Topaz, stop it!" Sylva exclaimed. "Honestly, it's not at all what you
"Oh?" Topaz pursed her lips. "Well, you're being escorted to your sister's
wedding by a guy you've been hanging out with a fair bit since he moved to
LA...a guy who's pretty cute, too, by all accounts. It has all your hallmarks,
Syl. What am I supposed to think?"
"Oh, forget it." Sylva sighed. "He's coming to the wedding, that's all.
I guess I owe him a trip to New York after I dragged him shopping for hours
earlier, looking for something to wear."
"Let me get this right. This guy actually braved shopping with you?" Topaz
demanded. "He must be keen."
"I said stop it!" Sylva begged. "Look, don't tease me about Logan, okay?
I just needed a date for the wedding and he was available. It's cool to
take a guy who's a friend. Even a cute guy."
"Well, whatever you say." Topaz held up her hands in mock surrender, though
there was amusement dancing in her blue eyes. "So shall we get back to putting
your room straight, huh? After all," she winked. "We need to find the perfect
outfit to impress Logan at Anna's reception."
"If you want to find yourself eating my pillow, you're going the right
way about it." Sylva blushed again, raising her pillow as if to carry out
her threat. Topaz laughed.
"Okay, okay, I'm done." She relented. "But seriously, there's nothing wrong
with taking Logan to NY. I mean, there are much worse guys. You don't need
to get embarrassed about it."
"Well, I'd rather not discuss it." Sylva said firmly. "So let's talk about
what I'm going to wear, instead. Do you think any of these outfits are any
good on me?"
"I told you already that your taste is impeccable, Syl. And you always
look fab when we go out, whether it's publicity or leisure." Topaz shrugged.
"I think that you'd wow the whole ensemble with most of the outfits in here,
and that's the truth. And you know I'd let you go trawl through my closet,
but like you said, it's no good these days. Since I had Hollie I can't get
back to a five no matter how I try, so that's that out of the window."
She shrugged good-humouredly. "I guess she was worth it, if just to keep
you out of my clothes!"
"Charming." Sylva pouted. "I...hey, was that the door?"
She got to her feet, hurrying to the window.
"Yes! Sadie's home...and I can ask her if I can go through her stuff! She
has some really cool clothes and, come to think of it, there is this one
dress she bought the other week that'd go with the sandals I got today..."
With that she was gone, and Topaz chuckled, getting to her feet and following
at a sedate distance.
"I wonder if she's serious about Logan." She mused, heading down the stairs
to the front lounge. "She did go very red, and she did take him shopping
for this wonder dress - which was odd if she's not. And now he's going to
New York. I really wonder...does Syl like this guy more than she's been telling
any of us?"
THICKER THAN WATER
Prologue: April 1st,
Chapter One: Sylva's
Chapter Two: Samantha...and
Chapter Three: Flashback
- Junior High
Chapter Four: In The
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
Chapter Eleven: In
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