"Well, it looks like our flight is on time."
Sylva glanced up at the big departures board, letting out a sigh. "That's
a good start, I guess."
"Let's hope it stays that way." Logan nodded his sandy head, casting her
an amused grin. "I don't think I've seen you this wound up before. Making
an impression in NY means something to you, doesn't it?"
"I guess so." Sylva shrugged. "I'm not going to mess Annie around, Logan.
But I want her to think I'm doing okay for myself here socially as well as
"That seems kinda odd to me." Logan settled himself in a seat, rummaging
in his hand luggage for his wallet. "And I'm not arguing about a free vacation,
Syl, but surely if she's your sister she's first off not going to be easily
fooled, and secondly, even if she is fooled, why do you have to impress
"I told you. It's not just about her. It's about Sammi too." Sylva grimaced.
"Ah yeah. The demon cousin." Logan's eyes twinkled with amusement. "Though
what, exactly, she's done that's so bad is beyond me."
"I don't expect you to understand. It's not a level men operate on." Sylva
looked pensive. "But we've never really gotten along. When Mom and Dad split
up, that was the first time we really spoke civilly to each other. I guess
it broke down the defences a bit and we've had an uneasy friendship since
then. But it's gone all awry again, since Jerrica died and Sammi's group
began working at Starlight Music. I didn't expect it to be that way but she
came to see us demanding...well, something that we have, and she didn't like
no for an answer. Then my car disappeared and though I guess it probably
wasn't Sammi, I did honestly think it might've been her. She's had drink
problems in the past and she's done it before, with one of her bandmates'
cars. We were never really on great terms. It didn't take much for things
to slip backwards."
"But why the argument in the first place?" Logan frowned. "Okay, so she
had a drink problem, but you don't seem like the type to bear a grudge against
someone else's problems. And you said that was in the past...what am I missing?"
"Sammi's drinking is nothing to do with why we don't get along." Sylva
dismissed this with a wave of her hand. "Totally unrelated, actually. We
started hating each other when we were seven."
She looked rueful.
"No, I'll be honest. I began it...I began hating her when we were seven.
We went to England for her eighth birthday and I got jealous of the time
Mom was spending with her. Part of it was that the trip was out of the blue
- Mom's said since that she and Dad had had a bad fight not long before,
and that was why we went, but at the time it seemed like we were going on
some random trip abroad to stay with family."
"I guess there was nothing in it, really, but Mom has always been really
important to Annie and I. Looking back on it, I spose I was insecure that
she liked Sammi better than she liked me. It's crazy, but that was how it
began. See, when Annie and I were almost three, Mom had another baby, but
he was still-born and it threw her into a depression. We didn't see her,
not really, for a while after it happened. When we did see her, she was upset
or distant or crying. No kid likes to see that, which is probably why it
sticks in my memory. But for a while both Anna and I felt like someone had
taken our mother away from us. I think I thought the same way with Sammi,
when she was so keen on Mom's music."
"Kid logic, huh?" Logan looked thoughtful. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah." She agreed. "I lost my temper, I wrecked some of Sammi's things
and well, there was a nasty fight at the party, involving a mess with cake
and all kinds of things. Mom was furious with me, Anna was shocked and frightened
because Mom never yelled...and Sammi was upset. I don't think she ever forgave
"Well, you're grown ups. Can't you talk about it? If you've been at peace
before, why not again?"
"Because she wants something I'm not going to give her." Sylva said simply.
"It's not hers and she shouldn't have it."
"Nothing you need to know about." Sylva sat back in her chair. "It's to
do with the music industry and Jewel's production and it's on a need to
"And I obviously don't." Logan chuckled. "Okay, Syl, fair enough."
He cast another glance up at the monitor, then, "Mind if I go get a soda?
I'm parched and I know what they serve on these internal flights."
"Sure, be my guest." Sylva nodded. "Hey, do me a favour and get me a cola
too? It's hot and I'm kinda thirsty too."
She reached in her pocket for some change, handing it to him. "Thanks."
"I love how you waited for me to say yes." Logan teased, nonetheless taking
the money. "Okay. Don't go anywhere - I'll be right back."
"I don't plan on moving till boarding." Sylva told him. She winked. "And
your gentlemanly behaviour is much appreciated."
"Yeah, for sure it is." Logan grimaced at her. Then he was gone across
the lounge, and Sylva reached for her own bag, hunting for her magazine.
"Don't tell me you're catching this flight too."
A familiar voice made her pause and she glanced up, meeting her cousin's
troubled gaze. She frowned.
"Is it not still a free country?" She responded quietly. "I thought I
was allowed to get on whatever damn plane I wanted."
"I might have known that there was a reason this one had so many free
seats." Sammi groaned. "Great. What a brilliant start. Anna's wedding gets
more and more fun by the second."
"So don't come." Sylva said flatly. "I don't care if you don't."
"You might not. Anna does." Sammi returned pointedly. "She's not unreasonable
and full of herself - and she and I spoke on the phone only last week about
"Is Aunt Aja going?" Sylva glanced across the airport, and Sammi snorted.
"I don't always fly with my Mummy holding my hand." She snapped. "Yes,
she's going, but not yet. She's working."
"No need to bite my head off. I was trying to be civil."
"Well, don't." Sammi shook her head. "I'd rather take it from you as it
is - that way we all know how we stand."
"Just don't sit near me on the plane, all right?" Sylva returned. "I have
company and I don't want you cramping my style."
"Like I'd spend eight hours on a plane with you by choice." Sammi was
scathing. "And what do you mean, company?"
"I'm taking a date. Do you remember what that's like?"
Once the words were out of her mouth, Sylva wished she could take them
back, for a brief look of hurt and pain flashed across her cousin's features.
Then her eyes hardened, and she shrugged.
"Your kind of man isn't worth anything to me." She muttered. "And I don't
need a guy on my arm to impress anyone in New York. I'm going to my cousin's
wedding to support her, not to try and upstage her. But then you've always
tried to stamp all over Anna's life and personality, so why should this time
be any different? Beautiful, popular Sylvina, coming to be the centre of
attention as ever."
"That's not true." She began, but Sammi shrugged.
"So, deny it to yourself." She said simply. "Deny it to me. It doesn't
make it any less true. You treat Anna like she's your second-best enough
of the time - expecting her to come live in LA just so you can see her, and
everything else. Doesn't it ever get boring, being so totally egocentric?"
"I never asked Anna to come live in LA - and that's not your business
anyhow!" Sylva flared up. "She's marrying this guy, she's settling in New
York and I'm happy for her. All right? Nothing me me me about that! I love
my sister and I want her to be happy. That's all!"
"Anna mentioned to me that she felt a little bad, settling so far away
from you here." Sammi examined her nails. "That she thought you'd wanted
her closer, but things hadn't worked out that way. Know what that sounds
like to me?"
"Sammi, you don't have a sister." Sylva's voice shook. "So don't pretend
to tell me what that's all about, okay? And Anna's not just my sister
- we're twins. Twins are part of each other in more ways than just sharing
parents. Don't try and think you know anything about how it works. I don't
expect Anna to come running after me any more than she expects me to come
running after her. We're different people and we have different lives.
America's a damn big country and I miss her, that's all. If you had a sister
- or a heart - you might get it. But you've spent way too long with Jesta
since you came off the drink and honestly, it doesn't suit you. If you're
just going to be abusive, go away. I don't want to speak to you, anyhow...and
I refuse to let you ruin Anna's wedding for her."
"I would think that you turning up with all your usual flair and whirlwind
flirting will be enough to do that." Sammi said coldly. "But I'm done talking
to you anyway. I'll see you in New York. Unfortunately."
With that she turned on her heel, stalking across the departures lounge
towards the airport shops and Sylva buried her head in her hands, rubbing
"That girl is gonna drive me nuts." She muttered.
"Talking to yourself is a sign of madness." Logan's voice made her start
and she looked up to see him holding out a can of cola. "And caffeine probably
doesn't help insanity - should I take this back?"
"Shut up. I need the hit." Sylva took the can from him, flipping it open
and taking a sip. "Thanks, Logan."
"No, nothing. Nothing except the fact my bitch cousin is taking this flight
too." Sylva's voice shook and Logan frowned.
"Did she say something that upset you?"
"These days pretty much everything she says upsets me." Sylva glanced
at the floor. "She said some things about Anna and I and...well...they hurt
because part of me doesn't know if they're true or not."
"Things? What kind of things?"
"It doesn't matter. You don't know Anna so you can't judge."
"I will, though." Logan slipped a playful arm around her shoulders. "And
hey, you shouldn't keep secrets from your boyfriend."
"Shut up." Sylva swiped at his chest, but a slight smile touched her lips.
"Stop teasing me."
"Well, it made you smile." Logan shrugged, flipping open his own soda.
"So it worked. Now tell me - what did Sammi say?"
"Only that I treated Anna like second best and I always basically expect
her to do things my way." Sylva sighed. "And in some ways, Logan, it has
been like that. I mean she was so shy when we were kids and I had to take
the lead. But I'm not totally selfish. I mean, I do want the best for Anna.
She is my best friend and..."
"And there you go, then." Logan said with a grin. "You want her to be
happy. So Sammi's wrong. End of problem."
"That simple, huh?" Sylva looked startled. Logan nodded.
"We all do strange things as kids." He said philosophically. "My brother
went through a phase of going out of the front door backwards - or not at
all, when we were going to catch the school bus. And he used to run down
the street from the park to our block with shorts on his head quite often,
Sylva, who had been taking a sip of her drink, choked at this, sending
"That's not for real!" She exclaimed. Logan spread his hands.
"My brother's an interesting man." He said with a grin. "That's probably
why he ended up in the military! But you see my point. You looked after
Anna when she couldn't always look after herself. Right?"
"I suppose so." Sylva was pensive. "I did take on anyone who picked on
her. Most people had the message by the time we got to High School. She hung
out with the nerdy kids a lot, but because she was my sister, noone messed
"Well, there you go, then." Logan squeezed her shoulders playfully. "You
looked out for her. You didn't boss her. And now you're grown ups. She's
getting married. You're going to be her maid of honour and you want her to
be happy. I don't think you have anything to worry about. And if Anna didn't
think the world of you, Syl, she wouldn't have asked you to be her
maid of honour. She could have asked one of her friends instead. Nor would
she have asked you to come stop at her and the guy's little lovenest so close
to their wedding - everyone else is in a hotel, including your Mom, didn't
"That's true." Sylva acknowledged. "Though I think Mom did it by choice.
I don't think she wanted to impose. Anna did insist I stopped at hers and
John's, though. I guess you're right and it's just Sammi being a pain."
"Well, ignore her." Logan told her. "It's not worth the hassle. Maybe
you wrecked a birthday party with fighting once, but don't wreck your sister's
wedding with it, huh? Not cool."
"I wasn't going to wreck anything." Sylva shook her head. "Ann is too
important to me for that."
She pursed her lips, eying him for a moment. Then,
"We oughta discuss how we're gonna handle this whole thing, you know,
before we hit the city." She added.
"What whole thing?" Logan looked confused. "Getting onto an airplane?
I've done that before, you know."
"No, you doof." Sylva rolled her eyes. "The...you know. The boyfriend
and girlfriend thing."
"Ah." Logan's eyes twinkled. "Well, you know what? I've done that before
too." He grinned, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. "I think I can
manage. It's a bit of a no-brainer."
"Stop messing around!" Sylva pushed him away. "I'm serious, Logan. This
is important to me, and I want to know we're on the same wavelength. We
gotta have some things straight before we get there, in case we're asked
questions and we wind up giving different answers."
"Questions?" Logan raised an eyebrow. "Are we going to a wedding or the
"It never hurts to be prepared." Sylva told him firmly. "Now. Where did
"Oh, that's easy." Logan grinned. "Here. LAX, when you met me for Aaron's
wedding. We don't have to lie about that."
He slipped a lazy arm around her shoulders. "Look, Syl, relax. It'll be
fine and noone is going to give us the third degree on our relationship.
We're adults and more people will be looking at the bride and groom, anyhow.
You know what I mean?"
"Yes, I do." Sylva nodded. She sighed. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm just wound
"Well, don't be." Logan winked at her. "I've dated my share of pretty
girls, and I know how it's done."
He waggled his eyebrows at her, then, "Of course, if you weren't staying
at the bridal home, people might wonder why we didn't have a hotel room
"You are cocky as hell, anyone tell you that?" Sylva put her hands on
her hips. Logan nodded.
"Yeah, you." He agreed. "Aw, lighten up. I promise to be the perfect gentleman
and the ideal escort in New York. It will all be fine, and your sister will
have a beautiful wedding. Then we'll go back to LA and it'll be business
as normal, right?"
"Yes." Sylva sat back in her seat, nodding her head. "Exactly."
"Then see? I already know the rules." Logan laughed. "And I think we're
being called for boarding."
He pointed up to the monitor over one of the gates, which was flashing.
"So grab your bag and finish your soda. We have a plane to catch!"
It was late in the afternoon by the time the plane touched down in New
York and, stiff and tired, Sylva and Logan gathered their belongings together,
heading out into the arrivals lounge in search of a taxi. As they did so,
however, someone called Sylva's name and they turned, seeing Mary waiting
for them. She cast her elder daughter a grin, greeting her with a hug.
"Well, you made it off the plane in one piece." She said warmly. "Anna
wanted me to come pick you up - you know how she is about planes, and she's
been far too swamped else she'd have liked to have done it herself. But I
was at a loose end and didn't mind, so here I am. Good trip?"
"It was all right." Sylva returned the hug. "You know planes. Food sucked,
but it could've been worse."
"We just missed an electrical storm over Cleveland." Logan added in good-humouredly.
"We could see the lightning from the plane."
"It's been raining like mad here, too." Mary admitted. "Though today it
She cast Logan an interested look. "Hello, Logan. Anna didn't mention
I'd be meeting you as well."
"Didn't she?" Logan glanced at Sylva, then shrugged. "Then I guess I'll
be the surprise act."
"It was all kinda rushed." Sylva looked uncomfortable. "I did tell Anna
I was bringing someone and that he had his hotel reservations sorted out
- I sent her an email two days ago. But if she's been busy, she probably
forgot to mention it."
"I don't think she's been near her email since I got here." Mary rolled
her eyes. "She's trying to finish off a project for work at the same time
as organise a wedding...and she doesn't like to delegate."
She cast a glance across the airport. "Did Sammi catch this flight, Sylvie?
Annie thought that she was planning to, and I said I might as well pick the
both of you up while I was here."
"I don't know." Sylva bit her lip, turning to scour the lounge. "I don't
"I thought you spoke to her at LAX?" Logan looked confused. Sylva hesitated
for a moment, then shrugged.
"I did." She agreed slowly. "But she seemed majorly ticked at the idea
of catching a flight with me. She said she wouldn't spend eight hours on
a plane with me by choice, so I...I guess maybe she decided to take a later
one out. I don't see her here now."
"Well, nor do I." Mary frowned. "But I thought Sammi was pretty reliable
on these kinds of things."
"Mom, you know Sam and I haven't been getting along." Sylva responded.
"And she's been more prickly since she took up friends with that Jesta girl.
Who knows what she's thinking? She mightn't be on the alcohol any more but
I swear she's not quite normal."
"There's to be no catfighting at this wedding, my girl. You understand
me?" Mary raised an eyebrow and Sylva sighed.
"I already got told that by Logan here." She said wearily. "I am a grown
up, Mom, and you're embarrassing me in front of my..."
She faltered, casting Logan a sidelong glance. Logan winked at her.
"Date?" He offered innocently. Mary pursed her lips.
"Date, huh?" She asked. Sylva blushed furiously, digging an elbow into
"Stop it." She hissed. "You said you'd behave!"
"What?" Logan pretended not to understand. "You told me..."
"Oh, just shut up." Sylva rolled her eyes. Mary watched the exchange with
"You know, Sylvie, Anna won't think any the less of you for being single
at her wedding." She said mildly.
It was impossible for Sylva to go any redder, but Logan laughed.
"It's all right, Mrs Martescu. I think it's kinda fun to play around for
a bit." He said. "And it's not really for Anna's benefit. Syl just didn't
want to come alone, and well, I agreed to come for the ride."
"I see." Mary's blue eyes became thoughtful.
"Mom, you won't blow it for me, will you?" Sylva asked beseechingly. "I
mean, you're the only one at the wedding who's already met Logan and, you
know, knows he and I aren't really dating. You won't embarrass me, will
you? I know it's dumb but it's important to me!"
"Sylvie, when have I ever embarrassed you?" Mary laughed. "Noone will
hear anything about it from me. You're a grown up and you make your own choices.
I just don't think it's necessary, that's all."
She smiled at Logan.
"Well, since Sammi doesn't seem to be here, I guess we should go." She
observed. "Logan, which hotel are you at? I'll drop you off before I take
Sylvie to Anna's."
"The Rooster. And thanks, Mrs Martescu." Logan grinned. "I appreciate
"No problem." Mary's eyes twinkled. She shot her daughter a glance, then,
"Anything for my girl's boyfriend."
"Mom!" Sylva exclaimed. Mary chuckled.
"Come on with you." She said playfully. "I'm only teasing."
As they made their way towards the big double doors, Sylva cast a glance
over her shoulder, seeing her cousin just emerging from baggage claim. She
bit her lip, then turned her back, hoping Sammi hadn't seen them.
"Sylvie, are you okay?" As they reached the car, Mary paused, eying her
daughter in some concern. "You do know I was only playing with you back
"Huh?" Sylva jerked to attention, then she blushed again. "Oh. Yeah,
Mom, I'm sorry. I'm off with the fairies. I think it was the long flight
- I know it's only across America but I'm kinda lagged. Must be all the excitement."
"Well, Anna will be glad to see you." Mary unlocked the trunk of her car,
and Logan carefully stowed the cases inside. "I think she was hoping you'd
fly in with me, but of course with your work and everything you couldn't
leave LA till now."
She grinned. "She misses you."
"I miss her too." Sylva's blue eyes softened. "And I'm sorry I couldn't
come with you, Mom. I feel like a lousy maid of honour, leaving the bride
to do so much of her own organisation."
"I think Annie prefers it that way, even if it means she's taking on
too much." Mary looked thoughtful. "I'm trying to decide which of her parents
she inherited that from - I think she must have gotten a double dose."
"I guess she did." Sylva grinned. She slipped into the front seat, as
Logan climbed into the back, shutting the door behind him. "But that's cool,
Mom. I don't think I got any of that gene."
"Your father always used to say you split the family traits down the middle,
you two." Mary nodded. She cast Logan a smile in the driver's mirror. "Logan,
my girls could not be more different."
"So I understand." Logan grinned back. "Though how that works with identical
twins, I don't know."
"We look the same. We don't think it." Sylva dimpled. "As you'll realise
the moment you meet Annie. She's the hard worker. The grafter. She puts
in the time and the effort and does it that way. Me, I'm the social animal.
I like to meet people and go places and do stuff - but I don't like to sit
and work at it if there's another way around it. Anna is smart - really smart...but
shy. And I've never been shy in my life, but I'm sure no academic. It's
like Mom said - we split the genes."
"You were always a lot smarter than the work you put in in school." Mary
observed absently, putting the car in gear and pulling out of the car park.
Sylva quelled a moment of guilt at abandoning Sammi, shaking her head.
"So you and Dad used to say, but Mom, I had to have a social life. School
would've burned without it. And Annie never let me fail a class. We did okay."
"Sounds kinda cool, having a twin." He mused. "I'm looking forward to
He paused, then, "Is your Dad coming to this shindig?"
"Mom?" Sylva cast her mother a questioning look. Mary sighed, then nodded
"Yes, of course he is." She agreed. "What else would you expect, Sylvie?
His daughter's wedding is a big deal - just as much as it is to you or I.
In fact he's already in New York. He was tying up business and he's stopping
here till after the wedding."
"Are you okay with that?" Sylva asked gently. Mary shrugged.
"We're adults." She said simply. "And it was a while ago now. Yes, I'm
fine with it, Sylvie. I'd prefer it if he hadn't booked into the same hotel
as me...but that was by chance and I can live with it. It's a big hotel and
we don't see each other that much, really."
"The same hotel?" Sylva's eyes became big. "No way!"
"Well, it seems we think alike." Mary looked rueful. "Which is a first,
in a way. But it's all right. He'll want to see you too, you know. I know
you've made up your fight since the divorce, via phone and email, but you've
not really spoken to him face to face."
"No, but I'd like to." Sylva admitted. "If there's time. Just, you know,
to finally put it all behind us."
She stretched, stifling a yawn. "Man, I'm stiff."
"Well, we're not far now." Mary assured her. "Logan, your hotel is just
down this street, and then Sylvie, we'll be at Annie's...and the wedding
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