Thicker Than Water
Chapter Five:

Flashback: Sammi's Eighth Birthday

"Sylvie, what's the matter?"
The small girl of seven turned from the window of their bedroom, casting her sister a scowl.
"I don't want to be here." She muttered, stamping her foot. "She's a nasty little suck up goody goody and I hate her already. I don't see why we had to come."
"Because it's her birthday." Anna came to join her sister, taking her by the hand and leading her to the bed, sitting down on the end. "Mommy said so. I don't think she's nasty. I like her."
"Oh, I might have known you'd take sides against me." Sylvina pouted. "Mom likes her better and so do you!"
"No!" Anna's blue eyes became big with surprise and horror. "Sylvie, you're my bestest friend, you know that!"
"Really?" Sylvina looked doubtful. Anna nodded.
"Bestest bestest friend." She agreed. "Always. I just don't think Sammi is so very mean. They are letting us stay at their house and they have a pretty garden."
"So?" Sylvina folded her arms obstinately. "I don't like her, and I don't care if it is her stupid birthday. I don't know why Mommy spent all that time picking her a present - it's not like we even know her very much."
"No, but Mommy said she's our cousin." Anna said the unfamiliar word carefully. "And so we have to be nice to her."
"I don't want to." Sylvina shook her head. "She's boring. I don't see why she gets a party. We're the visitors. When we have visitors at our house, Mommy and Daddy throw parties for them."
"I know." Anna nodded. "But we have birthday parties too. You like parties, Sylvie!"
"Well, I know her party is going to be boring." Sylvina pouted. "And I wish we'd never come."
Anna eyed her sister in troubled silence. Petulant and sometimes spoiled, when Sylvina had made up her mind it was hard to change it. She had often dragged the more timid Anna into scrapes before, but despite the number of times the older twin had pulled them both into trouble, Anna adored her sister with all her heart. When Sylvie was upset, so was she. After all, she reasoned, they were twins, and twins shared stuff. Wasn't that what their Daddy kept telling them?
"Maybe we'll have cake." She suggested. "We have cake when it's our birthday. Maybe Sammi will have cake."
"You think it will be chocolate cake?" Sylvina eyed her sister thoughtfully. Anna shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know." She responded. "Maybe Mommy knows."
"Well, let's go find out." A new goal in mind, Sylvina got to her feet, grabbing her sister by the hand and pulling her out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Anna, glad she had cheered her sister up, willingly followed.
"Auntie Aja, have you seen Mommy?" Sylvina adopted her most angelic expression as they encountered their aunt in the front room, reading. Aja glanced up, smiling.
"Hi, twins." She said warmly. "Your Mom? I think she's in the garden."
"Okay. Thank you, Auntie Aja." Sylvina offered another angelic smile. "Come on, Annie!"
Aja watched the two girls skip off towards the patio doors, biting her lip.
"I hope that this fight with Elliot is a one off, and those kids aren't going to wind up having to live in two homes." She mused. "I know Mary brought them here to get them out of the crossfire, but I bet they have no idea what's going on at home. Poor kids! I hope Sammi's party lightens the mood for all of us!"
Mary was indeed in the garden, but as the twins approached, it was clear she was not alone. Sylvina stopped dead, a dark scowl crossing her face as she saw their hated cousin seated crosslegged at the former Misfit's feet, watching her with rapt attention. Mary had brought her accoustic guitar with her to England, and, fascinated by the soft, gentle music, Sammi had wandered out to see where it was coming from.
"You see, Sammi, it takes a lot of practice to be a musician." They could hear their mother saying. "And there are lots of different instruments you can play - not just the guitar. Your hands are a little small for this one!"
"I like music." That was Sammi. "Play something else, Auntie Mary!"
"Mommy, Anna and I want to talk to you."
Sylvina had had enough, and, dragging her sister with her, she marched up to them, a determined look in her eye.
"What's up, Sylvie? I was just playing for Sammi." Mary cast them a smile. "She's interested in the music - maybe she'll decide to learn something, like you two."
"She couldn't. She's not clever enough." Sylvina pouted. "We've been playing piano since we were five, so we're proper musicians. She's just an a...amateur."
Mary looked amused.
"Come on, Sylvie." She chided. "You've had a headstart, but Sammi has a good ear for music. It must be in the family." She grinned. "Maybe you and Anna can play for Auntie Aja and Uncle Craig later, huh? Annie could play that little tune she wrote."
"You can write music?" Sammi turned big eyes on the younger twin, who offered a shy smile.
"Mommy's showing me how." She said softly. "I like making music."
"I want to make music too." Sammi looked wistful. "But Mommy doesn't like it very much."
Mary looked thoughtful.
"I'm sure she'd want you to do what made you happy, child." She said at length. "Besides, it's in your blood. Your father and I are both musicians - it'd be strange for a Phillips not to be interested."
"Mommy, can't we talk to you now? Alone?" Sylvina was getting impatient.
"When I've finished playing for Sammi, I'll come into the lounge and you can tell me what's up, okay?" Mary grinned at her twins. "I want to talk to you about Sammi's party, anyway. You won't know any of the kids there, and I want you to be on your best behaviour. You can help me wrap Sammi's gift, too - if she's been a good enough girl to get one, that is!"
Sammi giggled.
"I'm always a good girl." She assured her aunt.
"I don't see why she has to have a present." Sylvina muttered. "Come on, Annie. We'll go inside. I don't want to be around her any more."
With that she flounced off, and, with a moment's hesitation, Anna followed.
Sammi stared after them.
"Sylvie doesn't like me." She murmured. Mary shook her head.
"It isn't that, I'm sure." She assured her. "She's just impatient, that's all. It'll be fine, Sammi, I promise. Now, where were we? Oh yes. The song..."
Meanwhile, however, Sylvina had headed straight up the stairs to Sammi's room, banging the door open and storming inside.
"Why are we here, Sylvie?" Anna asked from the doorway, her eyes big and anxious. "This is Sammi's room - we'll get into trouble!"
"Noone will know." Sylvina assured her. "But I'm fed up! Mommy's spent all her time since we've been here with that girl and I hate her! First she writes stupid poems and Mommy says they're good. Now she's showing her music. Music is Mommy and our special thing! Not Sammi's!"
"Sammi can share it too." Anna objected. "She's our cousin. She's part of our family."
"She's not. She's Sammi Phillips." Sylvina snapped, grabbing Sammi's notebook off the bed and pulling it open, deftly tearing out a handful of sheets. ""Mommy an' you an' Daddy an' me are Martescu. She's jus' Uncle Craig's kid, that's all. There! That's her stinky poems!"
"Sylvie, that's naughty!" Anna looked horrified. "If Mommy knew she'd yell!"
"Well, Sammi deserves it." Sylvina tossed the book down, folding her arms. "An' Mommy won't know 'less you tell tales!"
"You know I wouldn't!"
"Good." Sylvina looked satisfied. "Then that'll teach that silly baby a lesson!"


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