DISCLAIMER: I own the characters but not any of the songs or brands herein mentioned. Some parts are flashbacks and I didn't want to use italics but I hope it's obvious what is in the past and present. I wanna thank the Rev Klude for inspiring me with badass music that helped me do this little fun story.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Witterton Academy
By Vanessa Riverton



"Don't do anything stupid this year, Sasha. Please."

A man with raven black hair and piercing blue eyes looked into the rear-view mirror and looked at a teenage girl who was sitting nonchalantly in the back of the luxurious Bentley Continental Flying Spur – the tips of her fingers rhythmically tapped against the plush cream leather interior of the armrest she leaned lightly against, seemingly ignoring the presence of the adults in the car.

"Marco, she knows what's at stake." The auburn haired woman the man with dark hair and eyes as light as the sky, spoke out and Sasha was mesmerised as usual by her mother's soft green eyes. Sasha's mother was now looking at her husband, before she turned and settled her eyes on the young girl with her most decidedly maternal gaze.

Sasha gave her mother a grateful smile before turning back to her father, feigning indifference.

"Yeah, c'mon, Dad, haven't you ever made a mistake?" The girl brushed back a lock of dark hair much like her father's and looked out of the window, her bright green eyes taking in the sight of her boarding school once more, although she needn't have looked, She had the place memorized inside and out after spending almost seven years at the establishment.

"Just the one."

Hazel eyes locked with blue before looking away, Sasha waving away the hurtful words her father spoke to her. Sasha's mother, Elizabeth turned to her husband and looked at him with disgust;

"Marco. You had better apologize."

Marco looked contrite before turning to Sasha and opening his mouth to apologize. Sasha held up her hand, as if physically stopping her father from speaking.

"Whatever, Dad."

Marco looked around into her eyes before he cleared his throat and the younger girl looked away.

"I mean it. This is a new headmistress. She's an ex-pupil from my year, she takes no shit. She won't be as lenient with you as Mr. Lloyd was." Sasha rolled her eyes and leaned towards her mother and planted a kiss on her mother's cheek.

"See you in the half-term." Sasha opened up her car door and stepped out. She took in a deep breath of the country air and grinned. A moment passed before her father started up his engine and gunned down the long driveway, clearly eager to get out of the educational institution as soon as possible.

"It's good to be home, eh, Sash?" Sasha smirked as she heard the familiar voice of her cousin Sebastian from beside her. She turned to him and saw her two other cousins beside him – his twin Lucas and their other cousin Caleb.

Lucas and Sebastian were not identical. Lucas had shoulder length blonde hair that he pulled back into ponytail and the most mesmerising pair of ocean blue eyes you've ever seen. Sebastian dyed his hair jet black with streaks of bright red and he had it cropped; and spiked in more directions than thought possible, bringing a stark contrast to his light eyes.

Both were pretty tall and had a lean build, but then again so did Caleb. The only thing that made Caleb different was the fact that he was a modern day Adonis; curly, dark brown hair that rested to his head, giving him a carefree look, coupled with his dark brown eyes and his tanned complexion, not to mention his chiselled features and gentlemanly appearance – he was every girl's dream.

Sasha grinned widely and nodded at Sebastian - her right hand man.

"You know it cuz.. Don't think I could have survived one more day with my father. He's intent on giving me a hard time." Caleb laughed heartily before taking a look up at the school.

The Witterton Academy was located in Somerset in the South of England. Surrounded by green pastures and accompanied by beautiful weather everyday, it was one of the most sought after private schools in the country. It was renowned for only churning out the best and most innovative people in modern society.

The most notable alumni was the King family;

Sasha, Caleb, Lucas and Sebastian were third generation Kings at Witterton. Their grandparents went there when in 1957, just after it was refurbished, they did their O-levels and A-levels there and left with only the best options in life. Their grandfather met their grandmother there and they have been married ever since, giving birth some years after leaving school to a one Marco Patrick King. A year later, Mamma King popped out Jennifer and a year after that Catarina.
In 1984 aged eighteen Marco King married Elizabeth Webb, a girl on a scholarship to the school who he had fell madly in love with. Years later they had their only child Sasha, roughly around the same time Caleb was born. A year after that came along Lucas and Sebastian. Heirs to a multi-billion pound empire.

Ah, then there was the money. That was a well guarded secret of the Kings'. Who was the oldest grandchild and heir to the rumoured trust of at least £5 billion for the first grandchild to reach eighteen? Implied was control of the company, the same as Marco King when he reached eighteen. Marco now ran the day to day operations of King Media while his father Jason King enjoyed early retirement and remained as just a figurehead for the company.

Lucas and Sebastian were immediately out of the running, what with them being the year below Caleb and Sasha academically. Not that any of the grandchildren would not be well looked after. The family's joint wealth was well over £19 billion after all, it was just a rite of passage that Jason King had implemented and he demanded it be stuck to. And it was a secret that if revealed by the heir could end in their inheritance being taken from them. It encouraged secrecy and it also was meant to discourage any of the gold-digging vultures who came looking for a slice of the money.

As a result, Sasha and Caleb didn't even utter to anyone which of them was the older. No-one except family knew their birthdate. It was kept a secret by Witterton and the records were not located on file. Lucas or Sebastian would always just smile and say they had no idea; it seemed that money tended to attract only the wrong kind of people. Regardless of this secret being kept, it didn't stop the vultures coming in their numbers and throwing themselves at Caleb or Sasha.

Yes, at both of them.

It was common knowledge to their social circles that Sasha held a preference for women and the money hungry lower ranks at Witterton took this as an opportunity to try and plant themselves in her pocket.

None with success of course; she may have been lust-fuelled but she most certainly wasn't stupid. She knew that 99.9% of each girls' real intentions being getting their greedy mitts on her cash. Except for Sarah and Esther, she had fucked around a lot but really she had no time for any of the girls that came sniffing around. The only one what truly held her attention was Carly... but that was a lost cause.

Caleb used to enjoy having his way with women only to tell them to go fuck themselves but now he was in a relationship, h
He had been off the menu for a while, leaving Sasha to receive all the attention; it had overwhelmed her last year if she were honest with herself.

And now, the four Kings stood at the base of the main school entrance. Sasha and Caleb ready for the final year of their schooling before being released into the big, bad world and being left to their own devices. The sound of someone tutting loudly from behind the four caught Sasha's attention.

"Well, well, didn't think you'd be back, Sasha. Rumour was you were dead." A grin found its way to the brunette's features and she turned around and enveloped the owner of the voice in a hug, lifting the person off of the floor.

"Esther!" A petite red-head with brown eyes giggled as she was embraced by Sasha.

"Sash! Put me down!" Sasha grinned but complied and placed the girl's feet back on the floor. The two grinned at each other and Esther wrapped her arms around Sasha's neck gently.

"I'm serious, I heard some mad rumours you died in Greece and shit." Sasha smirked and pulled back from the hug and looked into Esther's brown eyes.

"Almost did. I've kicked the drugs for sure but I'm on probation. Aside from that it was nothing my dad decided he couldn't buy his way out of to get me back here." Esther rolled her eyes at Sasha before playfully hitting her in the arm.

"Seriously Sasha, no-one expects you to be here." Sasha shrugged and began making her way towards the school, her male cousins walking a way behind talking animatedly about the new intake of 'hotties' this year while all the while somehow remaining faithful boyfriends.

"Look, Es, we got a new headmistress this year, I plan on making a new start. Last year, everything I did? It was stupid but I've put it behind me. I'm staying on the relatively straight and narrow this time." Esther raised one of her finely groomed eyebrows and clucked her tongue, deciding to choose her words carefully.

"Yeah, about that new headmistress, don't fuck around with her Sash." Sasha stopped in her tracks and frowned at Esther.

"Look my only plan this year is to get through it trouble free. Trust me. I have too many people wanting to see me fail." Sasha was about to explain further when Esther interrupted, her tone compassionate.

"Please don't fuck up Sash. You're better than all the shit you've done in the past. You and I both know that."
Sasha gave a small smile and looked away sadly. She cleared her throat before looking back at Esther and embracing her in a much needed hug.

"I missed you Esther. I don't care who they got in to be the head I am laying low."

A throat was cleared behind them.

Sasha heaved a sigh before being pulled away from Esther.

"It's the new head, isn't it?" Sasha's eyes widened slightly when she saw a woman with fair blonde hair standing in front of her, dressed head to toe in a smart skirt suit coupled with two inch heels. Piercing blue eyes looked into hazel.

"Sasha King, I assume?" Sasha nodded slowly before throwing on her most charming of smiles.

"Yes. How do you do, Miss...?" The older woman chuckled gently.

"Susan Williams. The new headmistress." Sasha opened her mouth to speak but the older woman continued to talk, this time to Esther. "Esther, are you ready for the school year?" Esther shook her head fervently.

"Yes, Aunt Susan." Sasha looked incredulously between Esther and the new headmistress. Sasha saw the look out of the new headmistress's eye she was getting and instantly new the impression she had not given the best - she cursed herself for not remembering her manners and being more polite.

Miss Williams turned to Sasha and gave a small smile, it's meaning almost inexplicable; a mixture of amused, pleased and utterly arrogant.

"Sasha King. You have quite the reputation, don't you?" Sasha scoffed out loud, and instantly earned a frightened wide-eyed look from Esther who began biting her bottom lip in slight worry.

"I plan to rid myself of that reputation Miss Williams... new year, new beginnings, right?" Sasha flashed a toothy grin to Susan Williams only to receive an amused smirk in return.

"Let's hope. Until then I've got my eye on you." Without another word, the older woman walked away. Sasha narrowed her eyes and Esther let out a breath.

"Jesus, Sash, don't talk to my aunt like that!"

"I'm sorry, I thought I was being charming. My charm machine must be broken." Sasha pouted.

"Bus-ted!" Caleb's triumphant voice was sudden and loud in her ear and Sasha went thin-lipped instantly. "Ha, not even thirty yards into the school and already on the new head's shit-list! It's a record for sure." Sasha turned to Caleb and narrowed her eyes.

"Shut up, dimwit, I –" Sasha stopped speaking as a gaggle of girls walked by – five to be exact, but for all she cared, there was only one that caught her eye. Caleb enjoyed the flustered expression that his cousin had before following her line of vision, only to grin and shout out to one in particular - the same one female that had caught Sasha's eye.

Standing on the end of the line of girls was a vision. Dark blonde hair with a gentle curl cascading down a slim, lithe figure. Light creamy skin peeked out from under what little the clothes would allow any wandering eyes to see.

Never before had Sasha been so glad that the school had a uniform; the plaid skirt rested gently on the girl's mid thigh as she walked up the steps and past the King siblings and Esther. The rest of the girl's uniform was just as kind on her figure even if Sasha was cursing the uniform for hiding curves that she desperately needed to see in her appraisal of this new and utterly enticing stranger to her school.

"Carly, hey babe!" It was Caleb who spoke moments later, his voice loud and clear, though he managed to sound arrogant as usual. Carly gave a huge grin, showcasing her beautiful smile. She also sent a wave to her boyfriend before gesturing for a few more minutes with her friends - gossip and catchup being essential.

Esther looked up at the steps and looked back at Sasha before speaking at a low level.

"Still got it bad for her, huh?" A glare was earned from both Sasha and Esther just laughed out loud. "Kinda sad, Sash. She's Caleb's."

"I know."

Esther watched with sadness as Sasha's face fell at the mention of that fact. Sebastian had overheard and stood close to Sasha, nudging her elbow gently with his.

"Hey, plenty more fish in the sea." Sasha forced a smile, looking over at Caleb and Carly while at the same time pretending not to, she suddenly felt like it was too hot and she began fiddling with her shirt and ensuring her collar was not too tight.

Sasha noticed another blonde in the group of five - Sarah. Sarah was Carly's cousin and Sasha's usual requited lust buddy. Sarah was staring at Caleb with such longing that it made Sasha sad - the brunette knew she looked at Sarah's cousin in the exact same way but to see it mirrored let her know how painful it must be to see someone so hopelessly in love with your own eyes.

"C'mon Sash, cheer up, last year here and you'll be free to go philander all over the world at any time that suits you." The saucy wink that accompanied Esther's remark earned her a groan from the sulky girl beside her.

"Ha. Funny. I already promised everyone I'd behave. I need to get A's and B's in order to be left alone by my dad. I'm not looking forward to this year." Lucas, Sebastian and Caleb congregated around their cousin and consoled her with pats on the back before leading her up the stairs. Lucas smiled brightly before speaking candidly.

"It could be worse Sasha. You could still be on drugs." Four sets of eyes glared at him before looking back up at the school, each unable to take their stares away from the five girls in front of them not caring if they tripped up just because they were too stubborn to not look ahead at the sight that greeted them.

"Hey guys, how was your summer?" Carly's soft Southern accent broke through the two girls currently speaking. Five girls looked over their shoulder to find the culprits of Carly's comment.

Swooning sighs resounded from all but one - the notable Yorkshire accent spoke up - Carly's cousin Sarah.

"Need we ask, Sash. Did think you had died though. It was all over facebook. Got retweeted like a bitch too."

A Scouse accent made itself clear by a girl called Stacey.

"Hey babe." Stacey immediately went to Sebastian, putting her arms around her boyfriend's neck and giving him a deep kiss. The entire group grinned widely - the display of affection was not unusual.

Eyebrows deeply furrowed, Carly shook her head in confusion as she continued walking with her cousin and her cousin's friends.

"Hey Kate." Lucas gave a small grin to his girlfriend, who approached him and gingerly took his hand, entwining their hands as though they were still in the stages of puppy love.

As though getting her instruction in that one look another cohort known as Meg spoke, her Geordie accent softened by her tone.

"I'm gonna find Adam, all these hormones are making me miss him." Meg sent a wink over to Sasha as well who grinned knowingly. They watched as Meg went to find Adam Dmitri, her elusive boyfriend who could only be found when he wanted to be found.

"Um.. we'll catch up with you guys in the auditorium. Later." Sasha gave a curt nod and walked away, being followed by Esther. Caleb looked with knowing eyes as Sasha walked away, not even daring to look back at the couple. Sebastian watched his female cousin and knew he would catch up with her shortly, she just had to get away before Caleb was all over Carly and made them all sick to their stomach.

Carly waited with anticipation as her cousin cleared her throat, taking a moment to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

"I'm gonna go catch up with Sash. Later." Sarah took off before giving a small nod and clearing her throat.

"She okay?" Carly directed her question to Caleb. The blonde was genuinely concerned for Sasha. The first couple of years at Witterton they had been friends, but ever since Carly had become Caleb's girlfriend she couldn't help but notice that Sasha seemed to almost avoid her. Since January Carly had been with Caleb and Sasha had gone from hanging out with her constantly to only appearing at school functions where necessary. Carly had felt bad, Sasha had begun her drugs stint then and Carly felt like she had not been there as much for her friend as she could have been.

"Sasha is Sasha. Ya know? She just needs space right now." At Caleb's answer Carly opened her mouth to add but found no words came out, so instead she nodded dumbly, walking with Caleb at her side, as they entered the school's main building and before she knew it, she was in the large auditorium situated directly in front of the entrance.

On both sides of the auditorium's entrance there were two staircases, each leading to the mezzanine levels that doubled the room capacity.

Carly looked over to her cousin, only to see her having a wordless conversation with Sasha who sat as far to the back as she could with Esther on one side and Sebastian and Stacey on the other side. A few moments later, Esther's boyfriend Damon appeared. He was reasonably tall, with an athletic figure and beautiful cocoa coloured skin. His dark hair was closely shorn, giving him a more mature look. He had deep brown eyes and a warm smile. The boy plopped himself onto the chair next to Esther, his arm instantly snaking around her shoulders and giving her an affectionate kiss on the side of her head before directing his attention to the front of the auditorium.

Carly noted Sasha's smile faded. She seemed almost annoyed at being in between two such lovey dovey couples and the brunette just sat there quietly. Esther gave a small smile to Sasha before gracing the boy sitting next to her with a brighter and equally sincere grin before kissing him soundly.

Sarah gave an amused laugh to herself before facing forward. Carly looked inquisitively at Sarah but received no answer,just a small mysterious smile.

Carly sat next to Caleb, not sure what had changed so much since over the summer and in general the last year so in a fit of frustration and boredom she took in the grand architecture of the room. Ornate gold gilding surrounded arches in each corner of the room. There were no more than two hundred seats in the room, each of them spacious, comfortable and covered in a red plush material that was soft to the touch and comfortable enough that you could sit in one and feel yourself sinking away.

The room was made up of a large stage with twenty seats and a table lying across the length of the stage. Each teacher was on the stage, Mr DeLuca the business teacher, Mr Arnold the PE teacher and some others Carly knew of but never had for a teacher so never bothered to address.

Carly's eyes flitted to the woman sitting in the middle - Miss Williams. The woman's blue eyes had the same intensity as that of a hawk and as Carly noticed the woman's eyes were following only one person, similar to a predator stalking its prey.

Shifting in her seat, her head turned back slightly to follow where the woman's gaze landed. Carly was and was not surprised to find the woman was targeting Sasha.

Sitting ramrod straight in her chair, Sasha seemed to be in a world of her own as she looked straight ahead, unaware of being the subject of anyone's thoughts or stares. Sasha had changed a lot. Carly could see the tiredness in her eyes, her skin seemed tired and paler than ever before too and Sasha had found a new habit in tapping incessantly, only stopping when someone physically tapped on her hand or stopped her from the tapping. Carly wondered what Sasha had gone through to get off the drugs. The girl was out of control but now she seemed to be almost back to her old self. That couldn't have been easy - there must have been a struggle, one like no-one else in the room could imagine.

Carly moved her head a fraction and found Esther's eyes locked with her own and for a split second neither of them moved.

Then Esther raised her hand and waved, giving an amicable smile to her. Carly was about to return the smile when Sasha turned in her seat and Carly found the look almost broke her heart - the only way to describe it was the look of someone who had given up. She seemed dejected - more broken now than last year when she was addicted to every narcotic available. How was it possible that she seemed more lost now than then?!

Turning around quickly, Carly faced forward once more, her eyes trained on the stage's floor. A minute later, Carly raised her head only to find the woman with the frightening bright eyes was watching her intensely, a small smile playing on her lips.

The woman stood up and for a moment Carly's blood ran cold as she envisioned the woman calling her up to the stage and embarrassing her on-stage. She knew it wouldn't really happen but she really did have an over-active imagination.

Silence reigned over the room as the woman stood, her presence making an effect that she clearly desired as she allowed another small smile to herself, but it seemed that only Carly noticed it.

"Welcome, students," her voice was quiet but clear, her every word commanding attention, "It's good to see so many of you in high spirits. I'm sorry to have to inform you that Mr. Lloyd has left this fine establishment. I am Miss Williams, your new headmistress for the foreseeable future." Blue eyes flitted briefly over Sasha's amused face before Miss Williams continued with her welcome back to school speech.

"Well... that was interesting." Sebastian spoke first as they all stood from their seats and stretched lightly before making their way out of the auditorium. Lucas hummed in agreement as his twin spoke out, Lucas's eyes raking over the room and taking in the entire group that were now congregating - The Kings, Esther, Adam, Damon, Carly, Sarah and their three friends Stacey, Kate and Meg.

"Yeah. Seems like Miss Williams really means business. Well, it was nice knowing ya, Sash." He slung an arm around Sasha who quickly shrugged him off and gave him an eye-roll. Esther hooked her arm through Sasha's elbow and gave a small squeeze to the taller girl.

"Look Sash, my aunt may be a hard-arse but she is fair. You've done nothing worthy of punishment... yet." A quickly placed angelic smile was Esther's only reprieve from getting a punch from Sasha.

"Oooh, room assignments are up." The words were barely out of Esther's mouth before everyone huddled over to the separate lists for boys and girls room assignments for the year 12 and 13 class that would share the school's North Wing.

"There has GOT to be some mistake." Sasha whirled around and if she was surprised at Carly's presence she didn't let it show. Sasha looked to Sarah and Esther for some unheard plea for help; both stepped forward, only to see the list on the wall.

Sasha King and Carly Ambrose were room-mates.

Carly looked over at the list and looked pleased at the assignment, but then she remembered Sasha's reaction.

"Hey! What's so bad about being roomed with me, Sash?" As Carly spoke out, Caleb whipped his head around, a smile hiding his true feelings at the sudden news of the rooming assignments for the year 13 girls.

"You and her? Hell no." Sasha rolled her eyes at her cousin.

"Look, no offence, Sasha. But it's my girlfriend. I don't want her sharing with you. We all know what you're like. Can't you just share with Sarah like you usually do?" Sarah gave a trademark eye-roll as Caleb continued talking, Sasha remained still and barely moved a muscle, letting Caleb have his moment.

"Sarah, can't you swap or some – "

Sasha opened her mouth to respond but they were cut off by a quiet yet commanding voice – Miss Williams.

"Miss King, Mr King, I trust you find my rooming assignments satisfactory. They are not to be amended, understood? Unless there is an issue. Is there an issue?" Miss Williams began to disperse the group that had surrounded everyone with a commanding wave of her hand.

"It's not really an issue. It's just... the past few years Sarah and Sasha have shared, Miss Williams." Caleb gave a charming smile that was lost on Miss Williams who just stared blankly at Caleb before looking over the group concerned.

"I wasn't aware there were restrictions. I assigned rooms based on a purely random selection. Unless you have a legitimate reason for the change, it will remain."

Caleb became annoyed, his charm had worked on almost everyone in his life and he was determined it would work here.

"Thing is... My girlfriend is Carly. I kinda want her to only share with other girls that don't want other girls. Ya get me?"

Miss Williams smirked, highly amused.

"So, because of your adolescent insecurities you demand a room change? Well, Mr King, here at Witterton, I am in charge not you. Miss King, do you have any objections?"

"Miss King? Care to say anything?" Sasha gave out a sigh before shrugging and looking out of the window. Miss Williams gave a small smirk and pressed further, "Really, anything you would like to say. It won't leave this room."

Sasha gave Miss Williams a look from the corner of her eye before turning her head and facing her.

"Anything?" Miss Williams nodded at Sasha's question. Sasha looked over to Esther who gave a small, supportive smile. Sasha didn't want to admit the reason for not sharing so she gave a half-truth to save face.

"I was shocked because usually I share with Sarah. I'm used to that. I don't care who I room with, but if Caleb's that adamant I'll change." Miss Williams couldn't help but notice the defeated slump in Sasha's shoulders.

"Miss Ambrose, do you have any objections to sharing with Miss King?"

Carly said nothing, for a moment unaware that Miss Williams was even addressing her. She shook out of her stupour before she shook her head and gave a huge smile to Sasha who didn't return it.

"No, none at all."

Miss Williams held up her hand, as if presenting her argument to Caleb. Caleb looked incredulously at his cousin before muttering under his breath.

"Well, in that case, I see no reason to change the rooming assignments. Mr King, I highly recommend you keep the amateur dramatics and general teenage drama to a minimum on communal areas of the school or I will be forced to discipline you. That is all, you may all go." The entire group wasted no time at all in dispersing and escaping the possible wrath of the new headmistress.

Miss Williams looked on with concentrated eyes as she watched Sasha - she had promised a friend she would keep an eye on the young girl and that started now. Sasha seemed to lack the confidence she should have at her age and her status in society.

This was just the beginning.


Sasha didn't even bother turning around as she heard the door open, and she didn't even glance towards the doorway when she heard the door softly shut behind her.

Carly stood by the now closed door. In front of her, Sasha was unpacking her three large suitcases (they were brought up while the students were in the auditorium by the numerous custodians) into the chest of drawers and large armoire in the room. The room itself was a large and decent size – it was easily thirty feet by twenty feet and had an in-suite bathroom that would allow for the two girls to use as and when and not have to worry about anyone walking in or taking the best shower stall, etc.

"Hey." Sasha thought it was best she try to break the ice.

"Um..." Sasha resisted the urge to roll her eyes as the other girl's sentence trailed for a moment. Instead, she continued to unpack from her suitcase silently.

A soft sigh escaped Carly's lips as she sat down on her bed, revelling instantly in its softness. She ran her hand across the surface, closed her eyes and breathed in dreamily.

"Would you like the room to yourself?" Carly's eyes opened instantly and a light blush coloured her skin. She made eye contact with Sasha and felt her resolve harden again.

"What? No, don't be stupid Sash. Are we okay though? Was it true?" Sasha took in a breath before sizing up the girl before her.

Sizing her up was different to checking her out. Sasha took in the girl's body language and posture, and what she saw was boldness. This year Carly had that internal confidence that she lacked the year before; this was not going to be easy – in any way. That was all Sasha could determine. Like the temptation wasn't bad enough already.

"Was what true?" Sasha continued to unpack her things as soon as she spoke. Carly cleared her throat and tried her best to speak without her voice wavering.

"Did you nearly die?"

"People like to gossip." Sasha's comment wasn't a confirmation nor a denial.

"I didn't hear from you at all from June. I get a text from Caleb telling me he's at the hospital for you. That you relapsed. Hard. Kate got a call from Seb in tears. He thought you were dead."

Sasha stopped moving and she just took in Carly's words. She didn't remember much from her time in the A&E ward but when she woke up she had blood all over her torso that had dried in and she had been cut open and stitched up again, her mother and father had tears in their eyes and her mother was so surprised to see her daughter with her eyes open again. The doctor had said her heartbeat had stopped and she had been clinically dead for almost six minutes. Her father had demanded they continue and it had taken numerous shots of adrenaline and one of the highest voltages on the defibrillator to bring her back. She had been disorientated and it was after then she promised to cut out the drugs and turn her life around.

"Yeah. Something like that."

"Why didn't you call me? I thought we were friends." Sasha let out a loud, deep laugh before sitting down on her bed and shaking her head.

"I didn't want to see anyone. I didn't even call Esther. Don't take it personally, I just had a lot going on. Didn't even think I'd come back, but it's a condition I've made for my rehab."

"So... you do still consider me a friend? Even though you considered wanting to swap out there."

Carly smirked as she cocked her head, an action that Sasha found altogether delicious on the other girl. Sasha stood up and emptied the last of her suitcases swiftly before putting them away under her bed. She only then noticed that Carly's suitcases were still unpacked and beside her bed.

"We've been friends ever since we were eleven. But you being with Caleb... it changes dynamics, y'know."

"So...was that a roundabout way of saying yes?" Sasha rolled her eyes before standing up.

"It was a solid yes. Why the affirmation all of a sudden? Feeling as insecure as your boyfriend?" Carly gave a small laugh before shrugging her shoulders.

"I kind of like to know that someone I considered one of my closest friends isn't just treating me like a muppet. No matter what my boyfriend thinks." Sasha couldn't help laughing at the statement. Carly smiled too - the ice had been broken.

"Look, I can't blame Cal. To guys, any lesbian that shares a room with a straight girl is automatically going to be pouncing on her nonstop."

"Let his fantasies be his fantasies. The only important thing is you and me know nothing's going on. Right?"

Refreshed at Carly's attitude compared to almost everyone else in her life, Sasha couldn't help but feel the familiar pangs of attraction to the girl; ironic, considering the conversation they were having.

"Well, I'm glad you realise that, Miss Ambrose."

"Sash... we're friends. Please don't shut me out if you need me. Okay?" The dark haired girl in the room gave a nod. A comfortable silence fell on the two, Sasha looked at her watch and gave a small smile to Carly.

"I'm gonna go and try and find Seb and co. I'll see you around?"

"If our friends can stand being in the same room yeah but if not, then definitely in here." A moment passed before Carly cleared her throat, "I just realised how that sounded... you knew what I meant though right?"

Sasha nodded - the old her would've played the innuendo out and tried to test the waters at least but the new Sasha just offered reprieve and let Carly escape with minimal embarrassment.

Sasha gave a small amused smile in Carly's direction before heading off to the door and opening it. Halfway through exiting, Sasha paused and looked in Carly's direction.

"It was good talking to you, Carly. I should try and do it more often." Sasha couldn't lie, she knew she wanted to talk to her before, but the thought of public embarrassment from Caleb overrode her actions. She just thanked God this was her last year. But deep inside, a niggling thought occurred; she should have ignored her and offered just cordiality, but something deep inside the older girl wanted more than anything a chance to keep the other girl in her circle of friends. Before Carly could respond, Sasha left the room without saying another word.

"Hey, Sash, you know if my aunt catches me in the boys' dormitory she's going to have me transferred to somewhere in Switzerland." Sasha carried on walking, Esther a few steps behind.

"We're not going into their dorm. We're just getting the boys then hanging out in the co-ed lounge, I don't wanna be left alone and all sulky. I wanna be around the couples and sulky. Makes me look way more sociable." Esther said nothing but followed Sasha as she reached the dorm room entrance and opened it, wasting no time in shouting as loudly as she could;

"Seb! Meet me in the lounge in a few. Next time respond to your BBM!" Sasha turned to Esther and grinned. "Come on, let's go... Damon might be around." Esther looked guilty for a moment.

"You heard huh? He... he really loves me Sash."

"I'm happy for you both. He's a great guy."

"He doesn't want me being around you anymore."

"Oh. I mean I understand why. I was a prick and he has every right, but you are my best friend and I'm not gonna get in the way of what's good for you Esther. And Damon is very good for you." Sasha shared a genuine smile and gave Esther a truly affectionate hug before gesturing back to the lounge. Esther looked apprehensive for a moment.

"You're my best friend. I told him I'm never cutting you out." Sasha said nothing but lead her best friend to the co-ed lounge where pretty much everyone met and hung out.

"Ah, oh, no, I thought Adam might be with them." Carly's attention was caught as Meg spoke out, enquiring about her boyfriend but whenever Adam was mentioned he was usually associated with Sasha. The Geordie girl nodded her head towards the direction of the entrance. Stacey, Sarah, Carly, Meg and Kate watched as Sasha and Esther entered the room, instantly finding Damon. Esther skipped over to her boyfriend and kissed him. The couple deposited themselves on the last available sofa in the room, Sasha joining a moment later. Unfortunately they were sat opposite Carly and her friends.

Sarah nodded over to Sasha who gave a quick smile before beginning to tap on her knee impatiently.

Not twenty seconds after the girls sat down and shared a less than discreet glance over at the group of girls, the three King boys walked in and made their way over to the sofa, greeting Sasha and Esther cordially before planting themselves in armchairs near the sofa and began talking animatedly. Each boy stealing looks over to their girlfriends, wanting to not appear as desperate as they each were - each craving juts to be in some form of contact with their girlfriend.

"I can't believe she's back. Sebastian said. Well anyway, she seems different now than before." Stacey's comment was laced with a concern that had not previously been there in the years they had all known each other.

"Only time will tell with her. Feel kinda bad. Out of all of them, she's alone. Well, until Sarah keeps her company." Silence ensued Meg's playful sentence.

"Funny, Meg." Sarah rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I'm sure she has more important things to worry about this year than whether or not she's getting laid." Carly shook her head at her cousin's words - she really didn't care that much, but she hated how crude everyone made sex sound. Stacey decided to break the silence by leaning in and speaking quietly.

"Me and Seb finally did it." The girl's all began squealing and begging for details that Stacey provided while blushing; Their ski resort in the Alps, in front of the fireplace, utter romance. Stacey was and still is swooning.

"So, Stacey and Seb are official. We don't even need to ask about Luke and Kate here. So cuz, you and Caleb finally seal the deal?" Carly avoided everyone's eyes and blushed as she looked at the floor. Meg hit Sarah's arm and chastised her but Sarah simply slung her arm around Carly's shoulders and gave her cousin an affectionate kiss on the cheek.

"Carly knows I'm only joking, but it says a lot. Why with him so long if you don't love him?" Carly shrugged Sarah's arm off her.

"Sex does not equate love." Carly met her cousin's eyes evenly.

"With the right person it does." Sarah kept her expression neutral. "Just depends if you've found the right person, and if not why spend time with someone who's not the one for you?"

"I do love Caleb, Sare."

As Carly spoke out, her eyes found Caleb as he shared a private joke with his cousins and then gave a smile, showcasing his brilliant white grin with an effortless charm that just seemed to emanate from him.

Carly realised that Caleb was easily the most aesthetically pleasing. Not to say the others weren't, but each of the Kings had an undeniably unique and good look about them that made them nothing if not attractive, but there was a quality about Caleb that just made him stand out at first. Carly put it down to confidence – of course they all had confidence, but Caleb seemed to just teeter that line between cocky and confident that every woman found undeniably sexy.

Taking a look at Sasha, Carly realised it would be harder for her to make a comment on her old friend. Sasha had more feminine features that Carly, as a straight girl, could admire. One thing she could admit without a doubt was that her new room-mate had charisma and definitely had a sex appeal, but it was almost effortless. She knew that Caleb put effort into his appearance, but she knew with Sasha the girl couldn't be arsed to put effort into her looks, it brought more trouble than it was worth.

Sasha seemed to ooze sexuality without putting any thought into it. Like it really was her nature to have that way with people, to just be in the presence of others and gain their attention, for example, and to completely capture her cousins with whatever she was telling them - they were hanging onto her every word before all beginning to howl with laughter and Sasha looking suitably pleased with their reaction before smiling to herself.

Carly had to admit that all those qualities combined had interested her before whenever any human was faced with the epitome of female sexuality - like Angelina Jolie - but for sure if circumstances were different Carly was sure that there was a definite possibility that she could have been with a different King. But the world was full of what-ifs and "shoulda woulda couldas".

Watching the interaction between Sasha and Esther, the impression Carly had begun to become a little jealous; she was once that close to Sasha; so close they often gave off the air of intimacy which lead to Carly's initial pique in her curiosity. She had been blissfully unaware that their friendship sometimes gave off the air that they regularly crossed that line of impropriety before acting just as friends would - shared looks that only people that shared a true connection would ever understand.

Sasha and Carly had not shared that level of intimacy for almost a year and now Carly saw Esther and Sarah were the recipients of those looks; wordless conversations shared in just a gaze.

Carly watched as Esther waved at the group of girls again. Half-hearted waves were given back before Carly threw her gaze back to her cousin and her friends.

Barely a minute passed before Kate spoke out in her soft Chelsea tone.

"I think I'm in love with Lucas." The group were silent, it was not a surprise as they could all tell the young couple were in love, but to hear the shy couple admit it was shocking and sweet all at once.

"Okay look... last year, we just got to know each other. We are so compatible. And the ways we're not, we compliment each other. He brings out the best in me and I hope I do for him. I don't know, we get on so well." Kate finished off with a dreamy sigh before Stacey shook her head and smirked.

"You have got it bad, girly. Mmm, well, the twins have been snagged most definitely then." Stacey gave a small wink and Carly swore she heard an 'eep' come from Kate.

"Well, that's the entire clan." Sarah's eyes glazed slightly as she took in Caleb's profile, unaware that Carly saw the look. The blonde remained quiet, knowing full well Sarah had always liked Caleb but had never taken the risk. She felt bad, but when Caleb had then asked her out, she couldn't help but say yes. At first curiosity, then a genuine like for Caleb overtook and now it was just expected of her from everyone to remain with the young heir.

A moment later Damon entered the room and waved over to the Kings and Esther before making his way over to them.

"Now, that? That is one great guy. No lie."

"So true." Sarah rolled her eyes, slightly disagreeing with the statement made by Kate. Kate continued however with more news about Damon.

"Did you guys hear? The London Irish finally approached him for their first eleven squad. He's going to be like the next Jonny Wilkinson. Him and Esther are officially back together now. They're no longer in an open relationship." Carly nodded in understanding before asking one more question.

"So Sasha... her and Esther are a no-go? Whoa." The entire group took in that message and looked genuinely shocked.

Carly's face coloured scarlet as she looked over and saw that everyone on the other sofa and surrounding armchairs were staring at her. Sasha looked over at the group indifferently, before she leaned over to Sebastian and said something in his ear. He stared at Sasha evenly for a moment before shaking his head and shrugging.

A moment passed before he spoke to his twin. Lucas's face lit up and he pointed out the door and said something that the girls couldn't make out. Sasha gave a small thankful smile before standing and leaving the co-ed lounge. Her cousins, Esther and Damon continued talking as though she was never there.

"Where did she go?" Sarah gave a small look to Carly before arching one eyebrow and speaking lowly.

"You're awful interested in her, cuz." Carly rolled her eyes.

"Jesus, it was just a question. She's my friend too." Sarah sighed at her cousin's response and settled for a shrug. Meg leaned forward and gave a small understanding smile.

"She's probably off to find Adam. Partners in crime never stay far away for long."

Sasha found herself strolling a familiar ground, this time for a completely different purpose. Twelve months earlier, she would have taken this stroll to find Adam for one sole reason – to get a buzz.

But now she was walking with the intent to just find her friend and blow off some perfectly legal steam.

As she approached the cabin by the lake used by the diving team, she could make out the outline of Adam, tall but
scraggly, straight hair coming just below his ear and slightly greased. As Sasha got even closer, she could make out his clothing – it hadn't really changed in style. He still wore faded jeans with tan coloured boots, brown leather jacket with sheepskin collar and God only knows what novelty shirt he had on today.

"Sup, Princess?" His smooth accent cut through Sasha and she shook her head in amusement at his familiarity as well as the nickname he gave her.

"Not much. Guess you heard I'm on probation, right?." Adam snorted in amusement before turning to face Sasha. He had grown some stubble over the summer. It stylishly covered his chin and jawline without coming across as scruffy. His light green eyes gave an almost ethereal quality to his facial features that were accompanied by somewhat effeminate high cheekbones and a thin nose, but full lips.

A scar ran through his left eyebrow, marring his almost flawless complexion.

"I'm sorry about that by the way. I heard you were clean now, though. Congrats." Sasha shrugged and looked at the cigarette in Adam's hand, the temptation growing deep within her.

"I'm trying to stay clean. Did you know kicking heroin can be a quick process given the right techniques. I'm not fully there but I've not touched it in almost three months. I can't give up fags and booze though." Adam smirked at the mention of his cigarette and handed it over for Sasha to steal a drag from him.

"Thanks by the way." Sasha waved Adam's words off with a nonchalant hand.

"We're friends, A-D. I don't rat my friends out. Besides, you did nothing wrong. It was all me." Adam looked with somewhat widened eyes at his friend.

"Sounds like you actually regret it, Sash." Sasha looked evenly into light green eyes.

"I really do." Sasha sighed before looking over the lake of the school grounds, Adam joining in with viewing the body of water, "At the time, yeah, it was an amazing buzz and I felt invincible. But after I nearly... Jesus, I thought I was going to die. It drove everyone I cared about crazy. It was fucked up. I hurt a lot of people, still gotta make amends with Sarah properly, you know."

Adam took in a drag of his cigarette before leisurely allowing clouds of smoke to escape his mouth and nose.

"I heard you're going into the family business. It true?" Sasha gave a meek nod before Adam smiled, looking suitably impressed, "You decided to get into the media mogul business. You'll be a killer there, I just know it." Sasha rolled her eyes before smirking.

"Kind of. I told my asshole father that I was more interested in hands-on production... music, movies... that kind of thing. He said that if I prove myself this year, then he might give me an opportunity. So, I can't fuck up. If I do he'll take my trust fund and inheritance away. He really means it this time." As Sasha finished talking, Adam finished his cigarette and threw it to the ground, using his right sneaker clad foot to extinguish the flames.

"You sound all grown up, girly. I'm glad. In fact, I'm happy for you. Did you come here to tell me I shouldn't take the public snubs personally or something?" Adam's voice displayed no hurt just pure curiosity. Sasha shook her head;

"Nah, just came to see you. To let you know I don't blame you. I bought it off you knowing what it would do. Meg said you felt responsible. So don't."

"I... yeah." Adam fell silent for a moment, taking a drag from his cigarette before deciding the conversation was too grave for his liking "I miss any drama yet? I skipped the assembly. Like I need some bullshit ego boost from the teachers."

Sasha exhaled her smoke slowly as she chuckled gently.

"Same shit, man. But this new headteacher? She means business. I think one of those cruel to be kind types. Different, could be good though. Esther's aunt. Oh and Caleb threw a hissy fit 'cos I'm roomed with Carly this year." Adam nodded his head as Sasha spoke.

"Yeah, 'cos he has nothing to worry about right, Princess?" Adam smirked as Sasha hit his arm playfully.

They were both silent, just enjoying the calm weather and the sound of the cigarette crackling when they heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Sasha and Adam both drew their eyebrows together before throwing the cigarette to the floor and extinguishing it.

The footsteps slowed down before a familiar figure made itself noticed to Sasha.

"Miss King, Mr. Dimitri. I do believe this is off-limits school property. And it will remain this way for the rest of the school year." Miss Williams' eyes swept the area before she smirked. "Smoking on any school grounds is strictly prohibited. As is alcohol. Consider this an informal warning. I catch anything on school grounds again, I will punish students where appropriate."

Sasha and Adam both shut their mouths and clenched their jaws before Miss Williams.

"Get back to school Mr. Dimitri. Now. A word please, Miss King."

Adam sent an apologetic glance to Sasha before he walked away from his sanctuary and made his way over to the main campus.

Miss Williams looked over at Sasha before she crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against a nearby tree.

"Miss King, that's one incident already and it's not even the official beginning of the school year. Tell me, can I expect this all year?"

Sasha shook her head before looking out over on the pond.

"Miss King, should I be worried about you this year? Or no?"

"What do you mean? Worried? What do you think you should be so concerned about?" Miss Williams shrugged her shoulders before she cleared her throat.

"Well, personally I don't think you're a bad kid. I mean Esther is a very good judge of character and she only ever defends you. But then I hear all these other things and it makes me wonder. What are you really like? Do you really affect people so easily and care so little? Will I need to give in to the request of an electronic tag? The urine tests that the local police request for drug testing? Will I need to take away your after hours visiting rights to the town and city? Do I really need to worry for your room-mate's safety –"

"No. And how inappropriate is this? Not even in your office?" Miss Williams caught Sasha's gaze before continuing.

"It is because you are my niece's best friend that I am affording you such a luxury of an informal chat, Sasha."

"Then no, you have nothing to worry about. I'm not saying I'm perfect, I'm far from it. But I'm trying to be better. If you want me to wear a tag and piss in a cup once a week then that's fine, I got nothing to hide."

Miss Williams pushed herself off of the tree, a small smile on her lips.

"Okay. I'm glad to hear it Miss King. I'm willing to start fresh if you are. First impressions I tend to find are such poor basis for judgement on others."

"I'm glad you think so. I never really impress. At first."

Miss Williams' eyes twinkled in mirth as Sasha gave a small smile before walking away from her headmistress and beginning the trek back to school. The older woman looked over her school fondly before inhaling deeply and letting the fresh air get into her lungs.

"It's going to be quite a year for you, Sasha. You can do it."


Carly debated actually entering her bedroom. She stood with the door open and her eyes fastened on the girl sitting on her bed. Sasha had her headphones in and was facing the adjacent wall, although she was currently staring out at the window as she tapped on the edge of her computer tablet in rhythm to the music no doubt playing in her ears.

"Come on, Carly. Get a grip."

Carly stepped out from her room again and stayed out in the hallway. She took in a deep breath and then re-entered.
Sasha was on her bed, half resting against the wall. In her hands was her tablet PC and she looked to be playing a game. Hazel eyes looked up briefly before returning to her tablet.

Carly walked over to her dresser, grabbed a hairband and tied up her hair. She looked in her mirror over at the other girl. From her angle, Carly could see Sasha was playing Angry Birds - the blonde gave a little chuckle and smirked as she looked over the brunette and studied her properly for the first time.

Carly had spent the last 3 hours with Caleb, kissing him softly and gently letting him down on his requests and pleads for more. Carly had to admit that Caleb had pushed her decency levels a few times considering the fact he knew that she liked to keep the public displays to a minimum and the private displays to a minimum as she was not going to hand herself out as easily as the girls he had in the past.

Right now Carly was having trouble associating the quiet brunette playing her geeky game as the same person that had drunk half a bottle of tequila with prescription painkillers and had to be resuscitated in the hospital or else death would have been certain - Carly had coaxed out the exact details from her boyfriend.

She couldn't believe it was the same person that got so blitzed on 'shrooms she got onto the roof and set fire to the school garden, falling off the roof and miraculously surviving with only a broken ankle before driving the school minibus into the lake last year.

Sasha seemed much calmer, much more focused and overall matured than she was last year. Definitely a huge improvement in terms of behaviour, but had that been all that had changed?

A throat clearing brought Carly out of her stupor. Carly had been staring so intently she got absorbed in her own thoughts and she hadn't even noticed Sasha was staring at her, looking wary.

"You... You okay?"

Carly was shocked by the tone of voice. It was almost as if Sasha was gauging Carly and expecting to be rude. The blonde gave a beautiful smile before shaking her head.

"Yeah I'm cool. Just in Carlyworld."

Sasha said nothing but did look Carly over once more before returning to her game. Carly looked down at her watch, saw it was almost time to go to the evening meal, and started for the door before turning back and looking over at Sasha.

"You coming?"

"Huh? To what?"

"First school year dinner. Everyone has to go."

Sasha shook her head.

"Nah, I'll sit this one out. I'm not hungry. Kinda want some alone time. No offence."

Carly was about to enquire further about what she meant when it clicked into place. She didn't want to be overwhelmed by everyone else - everyone but her and Sarah were in a relationship and she felt like she was the odd one out.

"I'm sure you wouldn't be left out."

"I have been since the beginning, so..."

Nodding, Carly left without another word. Sasha looked at where the blonde was standing before putting her tablet to one side and sighing heavily.

As the students were enjoying their luxurious back to school meal, Miss Williams had her eyes focused on the hall. There were roughly 500 students in the hall but the headmistress had her eyes peeled for someone in particular.

A single look over to Esther who was sitting with Damon and the King siblings, confirmed that she was not the only person noticing Sasha's absence.

With an almost practised ease Miss Williams stood up and began to make her way to the exit.

Esther and Carly both noticed, but neither had the nerve to stand up and bring the wrath of the woman upon themselves.
After a few minutes wandering the now familiar senior dorm, Miss Williams stopped at the door of Sasha King. She knocked three times.

There was a silence before a shuffle could be heard, movement again, then finally the door opened. Sasha's eyes widened considerably before she clenched her jaw.


"It's a mandatory dinner. You understand that word, yes?"

Sasha nodded before looking to the floor in shame.

"My rehab. It's made my stomach very sensitive. I'm on Antabuse too. I... I didn't wanna go in there and vomit everywhere just in case."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"So you know I... I wasn't being rude. I know you're only giving me one chance and I don't really wanna fuck it up."

Miss Williams seemed to take in Sasha's argument before she gave a slow, small nod.

"So it has nothing to do with the fact that your scared that people might talk about you when you walk in?"

Sasha gave a little sigh before nodding and standing up. She looked over at Miss Williams with watery eyes - close to tears.

"Everyone here expects nothing of me and in my family they expect something but are sure I will fail. I have so much expectation, so much pressure, so much... so much failure is all anyone thinks I'll amount to. Like I'll never achieve anything." Sasha looked up, giving her headmistress a wide-eyed almost vacant look before looking away.

"Miss King the best thing anyone can do to all their critics and haters is to show them they're wrong. Of course that's entirely up to you. They might. They might not. Live knowing the answers to your doubts."

As Sasha King entered the dining hall, a brief silence fell on the crowd, but Sasha held her head high, walking over to the table with her family and friends and sat down quietly.

Adam and Esther shared a pleased look before Sebastian pushed forward a small plate of food.

"It's not bad cuz. Think it's supposed to be mushroom chicken bake, though I can't be 100% sure." Sasha laughed and looked on affectionately at her younger cousin.

Lucas was always one who could cheer her up even though Seb was her right hand man. Lucas had a youthful innocence about him, like he had a natural goodness about him that made Sasha want to be around him. She took the plate, stared at the mush that apparently qualified for food, then she took her cutlery and slowly began eating. Her stomach roiled throughout the meal but she managed to hold it all down with the greatest will.

Caleb looked over at Sasha and grinned.

"Stomach still a little woopsy?"

"Go fuck yourself, Caleb."

The remainder of the meal passed in a pleasant atmosphere, small talk made where necessary. Miss Williams looked thoroughly pleased at the result of Sasha sitting at the table and she seemed geuninely happy with her current situation.

Sarah looked over at Sasha, looking deep in though before returning to her meal although she was playing with her food more than anything. Carly saw the look but said nothing further.

Kate looked excitedly over to the group.

"Hey, have you guys heard about the party happening tonight?" Blank stares faced Kate and she sighed, almost feeling pained at having to explain everything. "Stone's Prep is throwing an informal party on the field behind us. Booze and bonfire. Everyone's gonna be there. You guys going?"

The girls, bar Sasha, all shared a look before grinning and looking back at Kate. "Fuck yeah."_

Carly was in her room, getting ready - against her will she was going to this party as everyone else she knew was going. Miss Williams had ended dinner with a quick mention to the party, "If you're going to the field tonight, please remember to honour your dorm-mate's sleeping patterns."

Miss Williams had given a grin and left them at that.

All Carly had left to do was her mascara. So far she had had a shower, blow dried her hair, put on her black miniskirt and her black long sleeve top that hugged her figure and left some of her toned midriff showing. She had a pair of classic yet killer black heels on too and she had done her makeup dark too to give a more alluring and sexy persona.

As Carly reached for her mascara, the sound of their bedroom door jiggling and the sound of Sasha's voice could be heard.

"Caleb, I'm really not in the mood. Don't be a prick, you know why... I'm recovering you twat. I - One minute..." Sasha finally clocked Carly and gave a pleasant smile, genuinely pleased to see the other girl.

"Sorry I didn't mean to come in here cursing like a soldier..." Sasha laughed sheepishly and scratched the back of her neck. Carly flushed a slight pink as Sasha's eyes gave her a blatant once-over.

"You okay, Sash? Seen enough?" Hand caught in the cookie jar expression - Sasha looked up, deliberately into Carly's eyes which were amused.

"Sorry, it's just that you're awful dressed up for rec time."

"Oh. I'm going to that party in the field."

"I didn't think that was your kind of thing."

Carly applied the last of her mascara and stood, suddenly annoyed by Sasha's comment.

"Well, you know me, I have my bad girl streak too."

The sentence hung in the air before Carly made her way to the door, a split second after the dorm room door closed and Sasha was alone, she brought the phone in her hand back up to her ear and grinned.

"Cal. I'm coming. Shut up. I'll see you in ten."

"Nice to see you dressed up."

Sasha glared at Caleb as she approached the boys who were all standing at the entrance to the school by the field.

Sasha had just thrown on jeans, a tight fitting henley and some comfy yet stylish Palladium boots. She topped it off with a very comfy yet stylish SuperDry jacket.

The boys were dressed in designer shirts and chinos or jeans with matching yet impractical shoes. The four began walking off into the dark, following the trail of fellow students to the huge blaze in the field not far off. Caleb pulled the bottle of Stolichnya vodka from his small courier bag and took a swig before passing it to his cousins. Lucas didn't even offer it to Sasha - a gesture appreciated by the older cousin.

"So where's Esther? You two are usually inseparable."

Sasha gave a small smile, laughing internally at the truth of the statement.

"Her and Damon are giving this a miss... catching up and taking advantage of the lax dorm room checks going on tonight."

The boys said nothing more, the message clear. Caleb shrugs and took more booze. Sasha eyed the booze but found the urge to drink was almost nonexistent at that moment - a pleasant change from her old ways.

The party was in full swing and Sasha was bored to tears. Her new resolve to not drink unless it was a true celebration was making her moody and itching to have something that would take the edge off her boredom and desire to just imbibe something - anything.

She was saved by someone calling out her name - Sasha raised a suspicious eyebrow as she saw the person in question was a wasted Caleb. Caleb was sitting with Sarah and her friends as well as the twins. The group of girls had attacked the boys as soon as Sasha had separated for a moment to go talk to her swimming competitor over at Stone - Matt Darcy.

The two had trained together the past three years and he was inquiring if she was going to swim in their final year. He had left five minutes ago as soon as his girlfriend saw them talking - possessively grabbing her man and walking off so Sasha had just sat on a nearby log and just stared off into the distance, thinking about everything and nothing all at the same time since.

With a sigh Sasha stood up from the log she had been sitting on and made her way over to the dry green area the group had taken over and made their own. As Caleb spoke, his words were slurred and he seemed happy as hell.

"Saaaaash! Have a seat. We... we were just chatting about like... a game we could play. Drinking truth or dare. 'Cos you're being a boring bitch... thought you could do with relaxing a little."

"Hahaha Caleb, you're too much!" Some random girl's laughter rang out in the group and Caleb gave a devastatingly charming smile before shrugging. Carly raised an eyebrow before rolling her eyes - Caleb would always flirt but Carly knew it couldn't stop the girls that tried to get with Caleb, even if only for one night.

"Participate you mean Cal. So you want me to sit here and join in while you all get drunk and do dumb shit?" There was a brief silence before Sasha nodded, "I'm game."

As Sasha sat down, Sarah looked at Sasha but said nothing more. Lucas looked over at Meg and spoke.

"Okay, your turn. Truth or Dare? Forfeits are drinking for ten seconds straight from any bottle, don't forget."


"Boring." Lucas gave a joking sigh before smiling good naturedly. Sebastian seemed to be in deep thought before he clicked his fingers and smirked.

"I know. Meg, have you ever fantasized about a teacher at Witterton?" Meg went a shade of red before the catcalls began. She pouted and sighed before saying, "Mr. Arnold, the swim teacher a couple of years ago. He's old and gross now but he used to be hot and kinda sexy."

"Ewwwww." The group laughed and even Sasha gave a small laugh. Meg caught her eye and the two shared a platonic moment of understanding - Meg wasn't drinking either. Sasha gave an understanding grin about her admittance - Mr Arnold was kind of hot when he first turned up. Lucas smiled and patted Meg on the back for being a good sport.

"Nice, nice. Okay. Sarah, truth or dare?" Sarah looked around the group and at her cousin who raised an eyebrow challengingly. Sarah took a deep breath and gave a smug grin.


"Ooooh, nice! What to dare..." There was a silence as the group fell silent thinking. Sasha took the moment to sneak a glance over at Carly.

Carly wasn't drunk but had enjoyed a drink and she had slightly flushed cheeks, her hair was in a sexy messy style now and she had this aura about her that Sasha hadn't realised before. A part of Sasha wondered if that's how she would look after love-making. Carly turned her head, beer bottle at her lips and locked eyes with Sasha. A moment passed before Sasha looked away, slight guilt filling her features. Carly looked away too, tucking some loose strands of hair behind her ear but for some reason she felt more like she was doing it to prevent Sasha from looking more embarrassed than she was right now.

Caleb watched the two, his smile slowly disappearing. He looked between the two room-mates before an arrogant smirk appeared on his features and he leaned forward, getting the attention of everyone.

"I got it. Sarah, I dare you... to lips with Sasha. Should be easy enough." A silence fell over the group and Sarah whipped her head to Caleb, but upon seeing his grin Sarah took it as a dare and nothing more, unaware of Caleb's intention to embarrass his cousin. Sasha shook her head and made a groaning noise.

"Hell no. I'm not doing that Caleb."

Caleb didn't even look at Sasha as he dismissed her, an action not missed by Sasha nor Lucas or Sebastian. The twins shared a worried look but said nothing more. Sarah scooted over to Sasha and rolled her eyes.

"It's just a kiss. It means nothing."

Sasha held her hands up, physically separating herself from Sarah.

"I'm not going to let you kiss me. Caleb, what the fuck man? Poor taste."

"Don't be a pussy, Sasha. It's just a kiss. Not like you two haven't done it before."

Sasha said nothing and even Sarah stilled. Sarah turned to her cousin unsure of how her cousin would react - Carly had known Sasha and Sarah had been involved, but they had never done a thing in front of anyone else. They kept everything they did secret and the only reason anyone ever knew was because Esther had walked in on them once and it had spilled out from there. Sarah opened her mouth to defend her actions but Carly gave a genuine smile and waved her hand as though it was no big deal - inside she felt the stirrings of annoyance and knew she didn't really want to see it but to make a fuss would be like admitting she was jealous; which she definitely wasn't.

"Guys, it's just a kiss. It's only a big deal if you make it a big deal."

Sarah gave a grin at that then turned to Sasha. It wasn't that Sasha didn't want to kiss Sarah - the girl was drop dead gorgeous. It was the fact this girl had been there for her and each time they had been intimate it hadn't been through any attraction but it had been through a mutual knowledge. Sarah had wanted Caleb and Sasha had wanted Carly, they had found solace in each other and used each other to fulfill a need and to facilitate a fantasy. They had found a comfort in the other. It had been intimate in that they had cried and shared their wants and desires and verbally let the other know everything there was to know.

To kiss each other in front of the people they always lusted for, it would be sacrilege to their agreement. But pretenses had to be kept up. And if there was one thing Sasha was good at, it was keeping up appearances.

Sasha saw that Carly didn't look disgusted by the thought genuinely and it made Sasha feel a little better - a part of her thought maybe Carly had said it to make it easier for the two of them and to alleviate the tension that Caleb had deliberately created. Caleb seemed to have his malicious streak in full swing and Sasha hated that; she usually suffered the full brunt of his wrath when he was in pissy-pants mode. Carly caught Sasha's eye and gave a small encouraging smile.

Tired of waiting for Sarah to make a scene, Sasha sighed, leaned forward and clamped her lips on the other girls, her tongue coming out softly and stroking the other girls. It lasted maybe ten seconds, if that. Not long but highly effective. Sasha was surprised to find when she kissed the other girl, none of the usual gamut of emotions ran through her - she felt nothing... and it felt fantastic to know there was nothing between them even now - the kiss cemented that for Sasha at least.

Sasha pulled back, opened her eyes, saw Sarah looked relieved after the kiss. Another wave of relief washed over her.

"I... Piece of cake." Sasha rolled her eyes and stood, dusting herself off of grass and caked on dirt.

"Same. Look, I'm heading back, enjoy the rest of your night, guys."

"Aww, come on Sash, don't cry. Party pooper." Caleb cackled gleefully after he spoke. Sebastian stood but Sasha held her hand up and shook her head. He stayed there; both he and Lucas knew that when Sasha said she wanted space, she really meant it, so just staying away for now was the best option.

Carly was surprised to find that she actually felt sorry for Sasha. The girl walked off with a purpose but it was clear by the tension in her shoulders that she was pissed off as hell.

Miss Williams watched with shock as Sasha trudged back to the school. It wasn't even midnight, she still had time on her official curfew. She nodded, almost impressed before talking to herself quietly.

"You have potential, Sasha."


It had been a week since the bonfire party.

Caleb had drunk so much that he had passed out in the rec room. Thank the Gods it was a Saturday so it was a free day but no-one wanted to spend it tiptoeing around the drunk lump. So room-mate Damon had woken him at about ten the next day and helped him back to the room to sleep off his hangover. Since then he had been regaling every boy with tales of how awesome he was and everything he had achieved or thought he had.

Lucas and Sebastian instantly got immersed in their studies, both having ambitions out of the family business meant they had to work even harder to stay accustomed to the life they were used to.

Sasha had been distracting herself something terrible - she had hardly slept that night of the bonfire party. When her room-mate had returned at four am, Carly had quietly managed to go to bed and not disturb Sasha at all.

Lessons had started Monday and Sasha was dedicating her time to her IT, Business Management and Music and Media classes. Luckily in all of her classes none of her family members joined her. She was left to work on her own, no distractions, until her schedule got changed on Friday and she found she was now in the same IT Class as Caleb and Carly. She shared Business Management with Sarah and had Music and Media with Meg and Carly.

It was as though the fates were laughing at her, in her opinion.

In Business Management class, Sasha was writing up the principles of ethics in the workplace using a corporation of her choice when she felt something light hit the back of her head. Turning, she looked down behind her and saw a scrunched up ball of paper on the floor. Looking around the class she saw no culprits but a part of her knew who had sent the paper missile her way - her suspicions were confirmed when she opened up the wadded up ball and saw a message written there for her from Sarah.

Looking up at the blonde in question, Sasha gave a small nod before returning her attention back to the class.

Sasha made her way to the 'R' building; a building split up into five large rooms, each dedicated to a state of the art albeit smaller space for different purposes.

There was the Relax Room, a room the majority of students frequented that had TV, digital channels as well as pool tables, foosball, vending machines, a small kitchen and lots of sofas; it's main purpose was to just hang out.

The Rec Room was solely dedicated to audio recording and editing for video and audio too. It was popular for students that wanted to make little videos for YouTube or podcasts without being confined to a dorm room.

The Royal Room was dedicated to art and culture. In here were real paintings commissioned of Royals, hence its name, that was designed to give inspiration to artists in the school to try and achieve their goal. It had easels, endless paints, charcoals, pencils and reference books inside.

The Roof was the area on the top floor which the attic had been torn down and converted into - a large multi purpose area. It was mainly used as a garden by students as well as a greenhouse and other solar based purposes including school experiments.

The particular room known as the Rain was designed for the sole purpose of solitude or as a thinking space. It was decorated in muted colours and had lots of windows and fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and spectacular campus buildings. It was in this room that Sarah had asked Sasha meet her.

The room was completely empty, which was not unusual. It was the least used room despite its size and space. A lot of students didn't like the quietness of the room, but lately Sasha was loving it.

The door opened and closed behind Sasha and Sarah stood there looking as defiant as ever.


Sasha gave a small nod in response.

"What's up?"

"I needed to talk. It's about Caleb and Carly - "

"I really don't wanna talk about them, Sare."

"No, I wanna talk about them and us. I don't think we should cut each other out. I know you said you had to. But sometimes... it can be good as a release. You need it like I do."

Sasha gave a skeptical look to Sarah before she gave a curt nod. The brunette made her way over to a nearby chaise lounge, and Sarah soon followed, sitting a few feet away and maintaining her distance.

A small silence passed between the two - Sasha gave Sarah the once-over. She had noticed some changes in the girl, she had changed a lot over the summer and Sasha was able to really notice it now. Where Sarah had had a noticeable twinkle in her eyes, now there was a guarded hardness and Sasha couldn't help but think she had contributed to the stoney exterior of the girl before her with their combined angry lust-fuelled sex. Sasha knew it had made her a little colder as a person and she had an inkling of a feeling the same had happened to Sarah.

Sasha looked away, a little bit of guilt filling her before she closed her eyes. She cleared her throat and readjusted her eyes on the blonde opposite.

"I'm sorry, Sarah. I was such a bitch to you. You didn't deserve anything that I did to you."

Sarah looked away, fighting back tears. The apology was sincere and Sarah knew that but it didn't change all the hurt that had been done.

"Sasha, it was mutual. If I got attached it was my own damage. There's nothing there now though."

Sasha nodded, understanding Sarah's need to know why she had been treated as though she was just a passing fling.

Was there a reason she had taken a liking to Sarah? She knew Sarah had a boyfriend at Stone Prep but Sasha felt the need to get involved and break them up - she had no real reason other than she wanted Sarah at the time because she couldn't have Carly. She had made her believe for almost two years what they had was love until she admitted her feelings for Carly. Sarah had told her the same about Caleb.

"I don't know if I can survive another year of seeing them, of being so close to her but I can't do a thing. I can't even have a slight buzz.. My parents will cut me off if I get into drugs again." Sasha trailed off, feeling genuinely ashamed of the words she knew were coming.

"I liked the intimacy and loved the attention we gave each other. But I loved it, not you. It's not fair to carry on doing that to you or me. When we do that it's self-destructive. I'm hurting you like I'm hurting myself when I do that." Sasha's voice wavered, the emotion hitting her, the guilt and shame filling her too.

"So you think I'm getting hurt?" Sarah's voice wavered for a moment.

Sasha nodded.

"Yeah, I do. Always known it but before, before I didn't care." Tears began to form in Sasha's face. "I didn't care about you, or anyone. Only how I felt. I didn't realize how much you actually cared. I had shit going on with my family and I let it all out on you. I am so sorry for what I did, you didn't deserve that shit... I don't blame you if - "

Sasha's words were cut off by the sound of flesh on flesh. The sharp snapping sound caused Sasha's eyes to widen and disbelief to colour her face. She looked at Sarah - a stern look covered her features and she looked pissed as hell. She had just been slapped harder then she had ever experienced before.

"Sorry, you needed something to calm you down."

Sasha reached a hand up to her face, her skin felt as though it was stinging and she flinched as she gently traced the tender skin with her fingertips. Sasha looked back at the blonde, who had risen from the chair and had a little smirk.

"What, we're okay, now you slap me?"

Sarah straightened out her clothes, her eyes caught Sasha's.

"We never were even. Look, if you need me, I'm not gonna fight you off. Sex or not, I'm here for you, okay?" Sarah began to walk towards the door. She paused before opening the door.

"I saw the look you gave Carly. It's the same one I give Caleb, but she's my cousin. Do not hurt her Sasha. I swear to God. She is my family and I will not let her get hurt." The brunette just nodded wordlessly. Sarah gave a curt nod before exiting the room.

In the Rain room, Sasha was staring out the window, contemplating everything she had told Sarah.

She had told her the truth - it was the least she could do for Sarah and she was glad it seemed to be okay with Sarah. Sasha was told by her rehab councillor that by giving people the truth they deserved, she would feel better. She was going to sue the councillor, she felt nothing but shitty. She thought disclosure would make her feel better, but apparently that wasn't the case.

The hurt in Sarah's voice as she spoke of Carly with Caleb, it was something Sasha could relate to. She believed it when Sarah said they were even now. Hopefully this would be the first step to a better cemented friendship between the two girls and less physically based.

Sasha had hurt enough people the past year. Iit was in that moment, she resolved to truly stick to her word and to better herself.

She was going to concentrate on herself.

"This year, I'm doing me."

Caleb, Lucas and Sebastian were hanging out with Damon and Adam in the common room. They were joking about and sharing dirty jokes. As soon as a swarm of girls entered the lounge, the boys perked up - the girls had just had physical education and were always looking at their unknowing sexiest after sport. All that sweating and exertion gave them a natural flush that just got every guy noticing every girl. The boys with girlfriends immediately knew the hormones were running wild and this was their best chance.

As Esther made her way over to her boyfriend, Caleb was a little confused as he noticed there was no Sasha, even though they had their disagreements they were family and loved each other deep down. Lucas and Sebatian shared his confusion. Caleb looked over at Esther who saw the confusion on his handsome face.

"Sasha's in the pool. She won't be around until dinner."

Caleb's face showed relief at the news, but then the answer actually sunk in.

"She's spending her spare time in the pool?" Esther gave a nod. Caleb seemed annoyed by the answer and he sighed heavily.

"She's been there like every fucking day the past three weeks. She's doing my head in."

Sebastian rolled his eyes before interrupting his cousin.

"Cal, she's doing her own thing. We gotta support that." Lucas noticed the tension between his brother and his cousin and interrupted, giving a grin.

"Guys, look, how about we head into town tonight? We haven't been since we got to school and it's been over a month."

Caleb seemed to think this over for a moment. As he thought about it, Carly entered the room with Sarah and her friends. A smile lit up Caleb's features.

"Hey, girls!" Seven girls whipped around to Caleb. "Fancy coming to town with us?"

The shuttle bus the school provided for trips into town was packed. The Kings sat at the back with Adam, Esther, Damon and the new additions of Sarah and her cohorts.

Esther snuggled into her boyfriend before raising an eyebrow in inquiry at Caleb. Caleb noticed and leaned forward, speaking candidly.

"Surprised you came with us what with the hate and all."

Esther glanced over at Caleb, making it seem as though it was an effort to even acknowledge Caleb although secretly both knew better than that - before the nastiness last year they had gotten on rather well.

"It's a trip to town, I wasn't gonna pass it up."

"Just weird, usually you don't come unless Sasha's here." Caleb's voice raised a notch, the slight annoyance evident in his voice. Esther rolled her eyes, Caleb always managing to vex her somehow.

"Well, if she was here, the plus side is you wouldn't be."

Caleb gave a sigh before shaking her head.

"Not that it's any of your business but me and Sasha are family. We'll always be cool with each other. Trust me on that."

All heads whipped around to Caleb but he ignored them and their questioning looks. Instead Caleb looked Carly up and down, "Anyway I got other things to deal with right now."

Esther, Sarah and Meg caught each other's eye and shared a look.

"Oh, lawdy."

"Well, that film sucked." Meg spoke out openly as they left the cinema. Adam lit up a cigarette and nodded in agreement.

"Yeah the original had that more grittier urgency to it. This was just a cash cow." Meg seemed surprise by Adam's comment, only ever knowing her boyfriend to pay attention to any film they had ever seen. And in groups, she was unaware he knew any other words besides 'dude' or 'Princess.'

Lucas was involved in a conversation with Kate and Sebastian was making pleasant small talk with Stacey - it was clear the twins were in their own world, unaware of anything other than the two girls who were their entire life.

Caleb was currently talking to Damon while Sarah, Esther and Carly were in a conversation about how crappy the film was but how good the special effects were.

"So, plans? We would go out usually, but I'm thinking not the same without Sasha." Caleb smirked at his own comment.

"I'm not bothered." Esther gave her boyfriend a reprimanding look as he spoke. Damon gave a contrite look.

"It's not the same without her, I'm glad she's so focused on her studies though. Good that she's trying to change." Carly spoke sincerely and it elicited a pleased smile from Seb and Esther, but everyone else looked completely awkward at the statement, unsure how to react.

Caleb decided to get another word in.

"When your parents own the biggest media corporation in the world, it's pretty easy to get employed in any job you want straight after regardless of your workload and curriculum. Sasha needs to be reminded of that."

Carly said nothing, but sent a reprimanding look to her boyfriend. While she thought it over, Adam leaned over and whispered into her ear.

"She's not the only one. Don't forget, you want to get into music, TV, film or media? Kings. Wanna get into the pharmaceutical, I'll give my dad a call for you. Import/export? Damon's parents can hook you up. Education - Esther's family. Meg's family got publishing and copyrighting covered. Stacey's family kinda own and run telecoms in Europe. And as you know your family got motoring covered. We got all careers covered with half the effort. Oh, how the privileged do live well."

Carly laughed out loud. Caleb saw this and got involved instantly.

"You know, like I've always said babe, if you wanna get into TV or film, come straight to me. You could definitely be one helluva successful model, if you ask me." Carly recognised the come-on instantly. She gave a polite smile but stepped back, physically distancing herself from Caleb.

"Thanks, but I'm leaning towards law." Caleb ignored the dismissal and kept up his brilliant smile.


Sarah decided to interrupt the conversation at the attention her cousin was getting and threw on a bubbly smile.

"Hey, why don't we grab some dinner?" Everyone nodded in approval. Caleb grinned as his stomach growled.

"Bianchi's is only a few streets away. I've heard it's phenomenal and I'm sure we could get in." The majority of the group agreed before following the tall handsome boy.

As Sasha entered her room, she was pleased to find no-one else was there. She had been spent the last three hours at the pool. At first she had swam laps, then she practiced dives from three metres up then when she was almost exhausted she just held her breath and sank to the bottom of the pool, enjoying the solitude, only coming up when her lungs screamed at her for reprieve.

She had taken an extra long shower alone and spent the time just thinking of the peace that swimming and diving brought her. Her muscles were tired and sore, almost a year of no training finally taking its toll on her - She had spent the last three weeks at the pool, just swimming and gliding through the water until she was almost physically exhausted and now she just wanted to collapse in a heap.

And that's exactly what she did as she entered her room. She was in her grey Nike tracksuit and black Nike trainers, but as soon as she saw her bed, she fell onto it face first and let the comfort and warmth of the bed engulf her - she was sleeping within seconds.

She didn't dream of anything, it was one of those sleeps where you are so tired your body is just desperate to recharge, not to confuse you with Freudian messages through your subconscious. A nice blank canvas was her dreamscape and she was grateful for it and for the long sleep she had earned.

Unforunately Sasha was woken up prematurely. What woke her was the incessant ringing of her mobile phone at three AM. She groaned and turned over to grab the offending device. She pressed answer and put the phone to her ear.

"Whoever this is you better have a good reason for waking me up."

"Sasha, I think you need to get to town, asap." Adam's serious voice cut through Sasha. She opened her eyes and adjusted to the darkness.

"Adam, what's up?"

"Just, we're at Bianchi's. The bar and restaurant on - "

"I know where it is. I'll be there in thirty. Stay there."

Sasha stood up, still drunk on sleep, but she took a moment to breathe and adjust. As she searched for her car keys, she couldn't help but notice that Carly wasn't back yet - a little worrying. She put her wallet in her back pocket and grabbed her keys, intent on getting there as soon as possible.

Sasha entered the student car park and spotted the Mercedes Kompressor her parents had shipped to her. She smiled and entered it immediately. She sped out of the car park without thinking further.

Sasha heard Caleb before she saw him. He was arguing outside the restaurant with a bouncer who looked like he could eat Caleb for breakfast.

"You wanker, let me back in, do you know who I am? I'm - "

"Thoroughly pissed." Sasha's voice cut Caleb off. He turned, saw his cousin and grinned. Sasha ignored him, looked at the bouncer and handed him a few fifties from her wallet.

"Sorry he's been a wanker, I'm gonna take him home." The bouncer said no more but nodded, understanding that Sasha was just there to take him away and not exacerbate the situation.

"Caleb, let's go." He dodged Sasha's attempts to grab him and he pointed back into Bianchi's.

"Carly, I ain't leaving without her." Caleb slurred and Sasha gritted her teeth. She grabbed her phone and dialled for Adam. He answered almost instantly and spoke before Sasha could even say a thing.

"I see you. I'm not letting anyone near him til he's calmed down." Sasha nodded in understanding.

"Ade, what's going on? What's happened?" There was a silence before Adam sighed.

"We were having dinner, headed down to the bar and nightclub downstairs. I don't know who he got it from, but he's on ecstasy. He took a tab in front of me. He's been acting loopy ever since. I got him outside because he was getting handsy and angry inside. And as you can see he's pissed too." Sasha nodded, finally understanding Caleb's behaviour. She looked at her cousin and gave him a stern look.

"Get in the car, Caleb." He shook his head.

"No! What you wanna take me home so you can come back and try an' fuck Carly... that it?" Caleb slurred his words but his eyes were filled with an anger she hadn't seen since... She shook her head free of those thoughts and concentrated on helping Caleb.

"Caleb, get in the car." Sasha spoke firmly but kept any anger out of her voice. Caleb shook his head petulantly.

"Not without my girl." She sighed before returning to her phone.

"Ade, he's refusing to leave without Carly. Can you make my life a little easier?"

After a few minutes of waiting and keeping her eyes on Caleb, the door to the club area opened and out came Sarah and Carly. Sasha bit her tongue, insisting on remaining well behaved. Sarah looked surprised to see her. Sasha held her hand up.

"I'm taking you guys home. The buses are long gone and this wanker won't leave without you Carls."

Sarah understood and followed Sasha without question. Carly followed and just walked towards the gorgeous black Mercedes in a stupour - she was kind of too drunk to know what was going on.

Sasha got out her phone and dialled another number.

"Seb. Use the car service in my name when you need to get back to school. Yeah, I'll deal with Caleb, you just get home safe."

Sasha hung up the phone. Caleb followed the three women to the car and as Sasha unlocked the car she looked at him and said one word.

"Shotgun." He shook his head.

"Nah I wanna sit in the back. Heh, weird seeing you be the responsible one Sash." Sasha said nothing but counted to ten in her head. Carly watched the interaction before she cleared her throat.

"I'll sit in the front. I like to control the music anyways." Sasha looked at Carly as if only just noticing her for the first time tonight. Sasha just got in the drivers seat and put on her seatbelt.

As the other two piled into the car, Sasha couldn't help but be on edge as Caleb got in and immediately was leaning over the front, his hands attempting to touch any part of her she could. Carly slapped his hands away, looking annoyed and sending apologetic glances to Sasha.

Before she drove, Sasha pulled out her phone and dialled Adam again.

"I'm gonna make another trip to get you guys, be about an hour at this rate. I told Seb to take the car service, but if you all don't fit, let me know."

"Me, Esther, and Damon could do with a lift, the cabbies all know us and refuse to pick us up and the twins are taking their girls back. Just get Caleb back for now and worry about us later." Sasha said nothing but hung up and gunned the engine.

Just ten minutes into their journey, the familiar blue lights of a police car were visible on the otherwise deserted Southern road. Sasha swore under her breath and Carly couldn't help but be worried.

Sasha pulled the car over and less than a minute later the police officer had knocked on her window and Sasha pulled the window.

Sasha started at the appearance of the other officer.

"Officer James, to what do I owe the pleasure? How are the wife and kids?"

"Funny. Nearly four am and you're driving back to Witterton at almost 80mph. I can only think old habits die hard." Sasha gave a laugh; it sounded angry, but she nodded.

"I'm sober. But this lot aren't. I'm getting them home in one piece." The Officer leaned into the car, and quirked an eyebrow. He looked Sasha over once more before pulling out his pad from his back pocket.

"Driving while drunk, serious stuff." Carly's eyes widened and Sasha just scoffed out loud.

"I'm not drunk. I'm tired, but not drunk."

"You haven't even breathalyzed or followed procedure, you - "

"Who the hell are you to question me, Miss Ambrose?" Sasha and the officer both looked over at Carly. She took a deep breath.

"I'm gonna be a law student, and I know you have a duty to perform, which you haven't. She's sober, we're drunk. Either breathalyze and have something with a shred of evidence or let us get on without harrassment. End of."

The officer bristled - he had dealt with law students and found 99% of the time they always won. He looked down at Sasha and gave a smirk.

"Lucky this time, King."

He walked away from the car and back to his own. Sasha watched in shock as the officer drove past them, she looked over to Carly and gave a grateful look.

"A law student?" Carly gave a sheepish grin.

"Well, hopefully I will be next year."

Sasha gave another smile to Carly. Caleb watched from the back. He leaned over and hit Sasha soundly on the head.

"Hey, get going loser. And stop flirting with my girlfriend, it's a lost cause." Sasha turned a bright red colour as she fumbled with the ignition and got the car moving. Carly looked back at Caleb incredulously before facing forward, ignoring everyone else in the car.

She had thought Sasha was just speaking to her, but as Caleb said that, Carly's drink addled mind had realised that this wasn't the first conversation they had had like that. She thought back to their previous intimacy and missed it deeply in that moment.

Carly sat in her room. It had been an hour since Sasha had dropped her off and the other girl hadn't returned yet. Meg had texted her thirty minutes ago to say she got in the car and shouldn't be far away.

It was about five am when the sound of an almighty crash filled the otherwise quiet night air. Carly rose from her place in bed and dashed to the window. In the dark night, nothing could be made out, but a few moments later a now familiar Mercedes screeched to a halt outside the school and out stumbled five people. Sasha got out of the passenger seat and she looked incredibly pissed off as she got out, grabbing the side of her face.

Caleb also got out of the car by the driver's side. Carly scrunched her face. Hadn't he left the car when she did? And speaking of the car, it looked like someone took a sledgehammer to the front and side. Caleb looked down at it, shrugged and was about to walk away when Esther got out the vehicle. She grabbed Damon in fright, the black boy seemed to shout in anger at Caleb before storming off. Adam just got very close to Caleb, said some choice words and walked off. Caleb turned to Sasha, but she shook her head and pointed. A moment later she walked off, her entire body tense with anger and frustration.

Carly watched in intrigue as she watched it all play out. Sasha walked around her car and could see the damage on the side of her car. She sat on the floor before she laid back on the grass, looking hopeless for all.

What the hell had happened?


"I think you all know why you are here."

Sasha was silent as Miss Williams addressed them all.

Caleb, Sasha, Adam, Damon and Esther all stood in Miss Williams office, each adopting a well worn expression feigning ignorance. They all knew why they were there though not all were sure of their complicity in the reason why.

"I've been contacted by the owner of Bianchi's. Apparently a black Mercedes crashed into a lamp-post outside his establishment before driving off into the night, the same car that crashed into a traffic light on the motorway and onto the campus gate last night. Care to explain?"

There was a silence. Everyone was shattered, it had only been three hours since they all got to bed and being summoned to the headmistress's office at 9am on a Saturday was not the ideal way to start the morning. Caleb looked straight ahead, seemingly bored. Sasha looked over at her cousin but after he said nothing Sasha shook her head in disappointment. Miss Williams sighed in resignation.

"It sounds familar territory doesn't it, Sasha?"


Miss Williams said nothing but gave a pointed look to Sasha.

"It wasn't me, Miss Williams."

Miss Williams stood, went to her window and looked down into the student parking lot.

"Your car, a black Mercedes, is trashed Sasha. Care to explain?" Sasha opened her mouth but shut it almost instantly.

"I see. Everyone but Miss King, please leave."

Without needing to be told twice, everyone left the room - leaving Sasha fuming internally as she stood in the centre of Miss Williams office.

"Officer Ron James said he stopped you last night, but he said you were sober. The four people you were bringing home weren't though. I reviewed the school cameras; you were on campus til 3am until you left in a hurry. Care to explain?"

Sasha gave a slight nod, understanding that Miss Williams was not the enemy.

"I need you to promise something," Miss Williams gave a slight nod, "You won't let anyone know what happened." Miss Williams looked confused but Sasha continued. "Look, in our family, Caleb's the golden boy and I'm the fuck up. If he manages to wreck that image then he's done for. He can't really do much outside our family, you know?"

"What happened, Miss King?"

Sasha sat down on the chair opposite Miss Williams and gave a sigh.

"They went out, the whole group of them. Caleb was completely trashed. I got in my car and picked them up. Brought them back, Caleb got out, and as I was leaving he got back in, said he needed the ride to clear his head. I believed him like a twat. I picked up Adam, Meg, Damon, and Esther - the others had gotten into a cab with the twins. Caleb's easy with booze. Gets angry real easy you know? Anyway, he got in the driver's seat, he was stronger than me and I didn't wanna argue with him when he's like that. He reversed into the pole, then sped off. When we got here he crashed into the gate. I'm sorry."

Miss Williams nodded.

"He will have to pay damages and be reported."

"No! If our parents find out it'd be worse than anything else. He can't afford to take the blame."

"But you can?" Miss Williams looked knowingly at Sasha. "I know you're the oldest, Sasha, you don't need to hide that from me. You get everything in six months when you turn eighteen. So what are you gonna do? Take the blame for him and suffer?" Sasha said nothing but Miss Williams looked at Sasha understanding.

"Does family really mean that much to you?"

Sasha gave a cold laugh before nodding..

"My grandad, he's the only one who believes in me. He doesn't judge me. He worked so hard for everything we all have. He is so proud of me regardless of my fuck-ups. He always tells me 'Sasha, ignore your dad. You will be great.' He tells me to look after the others, that family and love is all that matters, that to achieve our goals and provide for the ones we love we sacrifice everything we have and anything else we can get our hands on. He... I can't let him down."

"So you're going to take the blame? The police want you to suffer and the owner of the restaurant wants some reparations too."

"I'll deal with it. Can we keep the police out of it?"

Miss Williams hesitated before nodding.

"It'll cost you to do it that way. They want quite a bit."

"I have the money."

Miss Williams nodded again before picking up the phone and planning to make some essential phone calls. She turned to Sasha.

"Go and do something productive. I'll get you soon. The owner of the restaurant wants the money for his damage before his evening rush."

Sasha had been in the pool for the past thirty minutes and she hadn't stopped once. Her lungs were burning and a part of her hoped she would pass out any moment now. It was only when she had just turned at the deep end that she saw the outline of someone at the end.

But as she approached the shallow end of the pool, Sasha slowed down and finally stopped as she felt the cold tiled end of the pool touch her warm fingertips.

Sasha looked up and saw that the figure at the end was Miss Williams. The teacher sank to one knee and looked down at Sasha.

"Sasha, you owe me. Got it?"

Sasha instantly pulled herself out of the pool and breathed heavily as she regained her pace.

"What's going to happen?"

"Well, Mr. Bianchi knew it was Caleb and wanted to press some serious charges. He said you have his contact information."

Sasha's eyebrows raised noticeably.

"He told you that?"

"Well, me and Aleks are good friends." Sasha gave a sigh.

"I shoulda known... a conspiracy. Aleks, the dirty Russian."

Sasha laughed at the inside joke. Miss Williams snickered before she shook her head.

"No, we are keeping an eye out for you. The police however will be taking damages of £16,000 and staying quiet about it."

"I'll wire it today."

Miss Williams nodded before standing up and straightening her skirt.

"You really are taking the blame for your cousin, you know. You should let him take the blame and teach him accountability."

"Accountability? Caleb doesn't even understand responsibility, let alone that. You should punish him if you feel so strongly."

"Don't tempt me, Miss King." Miss Williams looked at Sasha, a clear message in her features.

Sasha stood up on the side of the pool and almost stumbled as she stepped forward, Miss Williams held out an arm and helped steady the poor girl against the wall.

"You've missed a few meals, I've noticed." Sasha nodded, looking sheepish as she nodded, admitting to Miss Williams her lack of nutritional intake.

"I just... I can't." Sasha got her bearings, grabbed her towel from the side and threw it around her shoulders.

"Don't wear yourself out. Okay?" Sasha nodded before stepping into the changing area of the swimming pool, insistent on showering and getting her day over and done with.

As the door to the dorm room opened, Carly rolled over in bed and watched as Sasha entered. It was just past noon and the other girl look exhausted, her hair was wet and tied back in a ponytail as it usually was after her swimming session.

Sasha looked over at Carly, said nothing then walked over to her bed and fell onto it, face first.

"You okay?" Carly's voice cut through the silence and Sasha turned her head to the side, her eyes closed.


A moment passed before Sasha rolled over, her eyes now facing the ceiling and she relaxed as her body was almost swallowed by the bed.

"Did you really crash your car into the school? And half of town?" Sasha looked over at Carly as soon as the new girl finished her question.

"My car was crashed into school, yes. And somewhere in town."

Carly took a moment to digest the information before she sat up, her body screaming in pain at her hangover and muscles being used before they were ready to be used.

"But did YOU crash the car?"

"You're gonna make one hell of a lawyer, you know that Carly?"

Carly ignored the compliment and focused on her room-mate. Sasha heaved a sigh before sitting up and looking at Carly.

The girl was gorgeous and Sasha was reminded of how she couldn't have her - Caleb wasn't hiding his attraction to her. Sarah had told her to leave the girl be. The fact she didn't even stand a chance just added to the reality - this really was a new chapter in Sasha's life.

"Yeah, let's just pretend that I'm not the best driver."

Sasha tried to laugh but Carly didn't join in. The blonde stared at Sasha in confusion - she had sat right next to the brunette the night before and had felt completely safe as Sasha had manoeuvred the sports car through the dark country road to the school. It struck her as odd that the car would have even been damaged under her control. Carly looked down at her hands and fiddled with her hand.

"Y'know, Sasha... I may be his girlfriend, but I don't approve of behaviour like that. Why are you covering for him?"

Carly watched as emotions played over Sasha's face. There was shock, sadness, then finally anger. Sasha stood up, pushed off from her bed, and walked to the door and opened it. Before she closed the door behind her, she stopped, and looked over at Carly.

"You're right. I wasn't driving last night. And you have no idea the things I have to do to keep my family's image up now."

Sasha paused, taking in Carly's expression; the other girl had an expert poker face.

"Caleb wants to know what my plans are for next year. Think he wants to think beyond our school years."

Sasha clenched her jaw, the jealousy niggling deep within her. She flexed her hand before relaxing, it took everything in her to scream out to Carly not to get involved any more with Caleb.

"Well, it's your own decision. It's got nothing to do with me."

Carly arched an eyebrow at the response. She wasn't stupid, she had seen the looks Sasha had thrown her way and Carly couldn't ignore them but the last thing she wanted to do was to ignite some argument between the cousins. She wasn't egotistical, but she wasn't stupid. If they both had an active interest in her she did not want to be involved in a drama like that, but she did have to make a choice.

"Really? It has nothing to do with you. We're roommates. I also thought we were friends. But if anything's a conflict of interest for you, I need to know."

Sasha could hear the hook - Carly was fishing for confirmation. The older girl was not going to give Carly anything, she had promised Sarah she would try to not get involved too. She had made too many promises and as much as Carly was temptation to her, Sasha didn't want to let everyone down.

"Well, it's not like I've got anything invested in you being with Caleb. So it really is up to you. No conflict for me."

Sasha couldn't take another question for fear her resolve might give in. Carly was left to process the information on her own as the sound of the door slamming shut echoed in the room.

Sasha jumped out of her cab and looked at the damage in the light of the day. It was 3pm on the Saturday and Sash could only look in pain at the sight of broken glass and a window with wooden covering in the frontage.

There was a man in his early thirties sitting out the front, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. As Sasha paid the driver and the cab left, the other man looked up and saw the other girl.

The man seemed to be transfixed by Sasha. He took in her appearance and he stood up in a rush, she had the same dark auburn almost brunette hair as her mother and he was taken back once more by the resemblance to Liz King.

Sasha hadn't noticed the other man's appraisal and instead approached him, a contrite look on her features.

"Aleks, seriously, why didn't you tell me you knew my headmistress?"

"Honestly? It wasn't relevant at the time. Now, got anything to say?"

"Sorry about what I did to your restaurant."

The man stood up and threw his cigarette to the floor before pursing his lips in agitation.

"Really? You're going to bullshit me? You're not the one that trashed my restaurant. Your cousin did. Caleb."

Sasha cleared her throat.

"I'm paying for the damage. Does it matter really?" Mr Bianchi nodded and gestured for Sasha to follow him into the main entrance of the restaurant. As Mr Bianchi led the way into the restaurant, Sasha noticed there was already a few employee's there, mainly chefs, cooks and kitchen assistants.

"The window's going to be sorted out by six. In the meantime, I want an update. Haven't heard from you since the relapse."

Mr Bianchi spoke sincerity and concern as he led her to his office.

She looked at the other man, noting his dark hair and dark eyes and couldn't help but think not for the first time that he was incredibly handsome. He had a charm about him and an authority that made Sasha instantly recognise this man as a true 'boss.' She would not fuck about with him.

"Sasha?" The young girl whipped her head around to the kitchen where the voice had originated, only to find the person talking was not addressing her at all. In fact they were addressing Aleks and it was not the first time the confusion had occurred in the restaurant. Sasha shook her head, she fell for it every time,

Miss Williams had appeared. Was this another intervention?

"Sasha?" Sasha looked to Mr Bianchi before looking back at Miss Williams and answering drolly.

"Yes?" Miss Williams looked at the floor with guilt before looking back at Sasha.

"We just wanna clear something up."

Sasha was sat in Mr Bianchi's office opposite Mr Bianchi himself. She looked at Miss Williams, who seemed a little anxious, but instead Aleks was the first to speak.

"Sasha, you know I was at school with your parents yes?" Sasha nodded, unsure where the conversation was going. "I was their friend and Miss Williams... Susan knew them too. I've shared the info about your relapse. I'm worried about you and asked her to keep an extra special eye on you."


Sasha remembered the first time she met Aleks... it was four years ago in this very room, as he explained how he knew their parents and why he was going to be there for Sasha.

"You know, I knew your mum a few years before your dad. She was a scholarship student at Witterton. Me and your dad were on the rugby team. Became drinking buddies and eventually room-mates, and then just good mates. Your mum and me we became friends - had the same interests."

Sasha looked disconcerted by the way Mr. Bianchi was now talking about the past. He looked back to Sasha and gave a small smile.

"When your mum had you she was so happy. She had always wanted to have a child. She loved you so much, but her and your dad had argued about names. He wanted to name you after his grandmother, she wanted to name you after hers, but I remember your mum and dad asked me to come in. They both had this smile on their face and said they decided on your name. That it was going to be Sasha."

Mr. Bianchi looked over at Sasha and gave a megawatt grin - his pride was palable in his presence. His smile was large and bright and made him seem years younger and much more attractive too.

"My family are Russian Italian." Sasha said nothing but immediately thought of AD; Mr Bianchi reminded her of an older version of him. "And my mama called me Aleksander from her family's side, Sasha for short. It stuck forever, but once your dad found out that name he called me it. They all used to joke it was a girl's name. Our own inside joke you see. I was honoured they gave you that name. It wasn't all they gave me though."

Sasha looked confused before narrowing her eyes, silently asking for some clarification.

"Will you just get to the point?"

Sasha's head was reeling. She hoped she had been slipped something as it would explain everything she was feeling right now. She had a feeling she knew where this was going but a part of her just remained wary and unsure.

"I'm your godfather, Sasha."

The four words hung in the air and Sasha looked at him once more before bursting out in laughter.

"Oh! Good one... good one! Are you fucking about with me? You're my godfather? My Uncle David is my only godfather.

Aleks shook his head adamantly.

"No, I am not fucking about with you. However it has been arranged you would work here to pay off a debt thanks to the damage you did in my club... so you can get to know me a little better. It's a coincidence that could work out the best for everyone involved."

"Can't I just pay you off?" Aleks shook his head at Sasha's question.

"But I'm not going to have you work in the restaurant. I want you here those hours, but I have something else in mind."

"Is it sex? 'Cos I'm not interested."

Mr Bianchi laughed heartily.

"That goes both ways. You got a good sense of humour just like your mama. No, not sex. But as your godparent, I would like to spend some time with you. I loved your parents deeply and you are the result of them. I can inform them of the damage if you'd rather. Not sure how they'd take it though."

"Won't you just take a cheque?" Mr Bianchi shook his head.

"You can't buy your way out of everything, Miss King. I think we've thrown more than enough at you. See you next Friday."

Sasha bit her lip, uncertainty playing with her before looking back to Aleksander.

"If you're really my godfather then how come I've never heard of you before?"

Aleksander seemed ashamed about sometihng, his eyes refusing to meet Sasha's as he answered her question.

"Me and your dad... we fell out."

Sasha took note of everything Mr. Bianchi was saying.

"My dad's a prick, I can imagine that happening. But do I want to know why?"

"I'd rather not say." Sasha nodded. It seemed like her dad to cut someone out of his life for even looking at him funny.

"But it's in the past. You're doing all the work to help someone else cover for their mistake. You are so much like your mother." Aleksander said the last part of his sentence with such affection that it rang alarm bells with Sasha, but she decided not to say anything. Not yet.

"Yeah, my dad wouldn't help anyone if his life depended on it." Sasha spoke angrily. Mr. Bianchi looked down at Sasha and gave a soft smile.

She noticed he had eyes similar to her own, dark and full of anguish. Mr Bianchi looked away from the intensity of Sasha's gaze.

Aleksander nodded to Miss Williams - Susan - who then gestured to the door.

"I'll drive you back later. I'll leave you two for a bit."

Aleks nodded and then leaned forward to Sasha.

"Lemme get you a drink, then you can tell me all the latest drama about you and Carly. How is that going?"

"Where to start, Aleks?"

After Aleks got them both a freshly ground espresso, Sasha began her latest dramas, explaining everything about her room share with Carly to Caleb's fuck up the night before. She also shared the latest drama surrounding her inheritance and her conditions - to which Aleks simply said, "Focus," and hit her forehead in the same style as Bruce Lee.

Sasha grinned before laughing, Aleks was her sanctuary from everything else; no judgement, only support.


The music blared into her ears as Sasha pounded the treadmill with all her energy.

She had been told during rehab that sometimes exercise can help get focus back and she had clung to that thought. She had always enjoyed sport as a child - the only time her father ever seemed to show pride - but she got tired of constantly having to work for the attention she craved from him.

She had gotten back into swimming and that had helped tone those parts of her body that the gym couldnt reach; the bits of fat and flab were now part of a toned and firm body. All she had to do was get some sun and she could possibly be happy with her body again.

It had been five days since she had last seen Aleksander; she had promised him that she would keep a clean slate this year. She told him how her father was adamant that she be removed from her inheritance if she didn't behave and for once her grandfather and his legal team reluctantly agreed to the loophole in the hope it would bring out the best in the young heiress. Apparently bringing disgrace to the family name was enough of a stipulation to guarantee good behaviour. Her mother and grandmother had fought her corner, but to no avail.

It had been playing on her mind and she had been unable to mention a thing to anyone - not to her cousins for fear word might get back to her father. If word of her friendship to Aleks got back to her father she didn't know if he would contort that into a reason to be cut out. As for anyone else at the school, only Esther and Adam could be trusted, but to be honest a part of Sasha wanted to continue to keep this silent to herself. She wasn't sure what Aleks's history with her dad was, but she didn't want to leave herself vulnerable, so for once she was playing it safe. She was going to keep him her secret and her confidante.

Her first step to adulthood.

She was so immersed in the dance music in her ears that she hadn't noticed anyone else coming into the room, so when she tripped up over her own feet and slid down the treadmill, falling to the floor didn't really come as that much of a surprise to Esther, but she couldn't help but laugh anyway.

Sasha threw a glare at her friend but unsteadily got to her feet, her recent exertion catching up with her and her legs felt like jelly.

Esther held out a hand and helped her up, controlling her laughter.

"Hey, sorry I scared the shit out of you. I was calling you for like a minute."

"It's alright." Sasha walked over to the workbench a few feet away and sat down, her body screaming out in gratitude for the break from the workout.

"You are like a ghost, you know that? All day I've been asking for you and all I got was, 'I think I saw her around here or there or somewhere.'"

Esther watched as Sasha gave a short little laugh and looked up through her sweaty bangs.

"I needed some time alone; got a lot of shit on my plate." Esther stayed quiet, knowing her friend was telling the truth.

"What's up, Esther? Something else happened?" The slight sting in Sasha's voice did not go unnoticed by Esther who gave a small smile before leaning against the treadmill's bar and raising one eyebrow.

"No. Just thought you should make it to dinner. I got a text from my aunt saying if I don't get you to eat, she's going to start closing the gym and pool."

Sasha laughed knowing Miss Williams might actually follow through with that threat. Sasha nodded and grabbed her tracksuit top. Esther looked over at her friend as she saw so much of Sasha's body was on show.

"Cover yourself and come to the dinner hall. I think everyone thinks you're a figment of our imagination."

Less than a minute later, Sasha and Esther were walking, just entering the dinner hall and the first thing Sasha saw was her cousin all over Carly.

Sasha stopped in her tracks, a scowl on her face. Esther had never seen her friend looked so pissed off.

Esther ignored the sting in Sasha's voice and replied as evenly as she could.

"Sorry, but you need to eat regularly. I know after rehab you have a sensitive stomach, but small and often rather than just once in a blue moon. You have not only my aunt but me worrying about you with the weight you've lost the past month."

Sasha gave an affectionate smile to Esther before taking a deep breath and approaching the rag tag group of teens that comprised Sasha's social circle.

The noise at dinner was always loud as Miss Williams had been shown to be quite lenient; as long as they all worked hard everyone could let loose in their free time, including meal times.

Sasha looked over only a few steps away, saw her cousins sitting with Damon, Sarah, and Carly and co but one look at Caleb's hungry eyes over Carly and Sasha knew she couldn't sit there and stay quiet let alone stomach a meal without bringing it back up.

"Es... I..." Looking over, Sasha saw Adam sitting on his own at a table in the corner. He always chose to eat away from the group as he honestly couldn't stand Damon and made no pretense of it. His food was in front of him and he seemed to be reading something over on his iPad.

"I'm gonna sit with Adam. Okay?"

Esther looked disappointed but gave an understanding nod.

If Adam was shocked at the sudden presence of a plate with ham, cheese and a garden salad being placed on his table and Sasha slipping into the seat opposite him, then the other boy didn't show it at all.

"Sup, Princess?" Adam's eyes remained on his iPad, and his fork rose to his mouth, food precariously balanced on it. He didn't take his eyes off his gadget as he ate.

"Nothing, just came to grab a bit to eat."

"Uh huh, before you pull a disappearing stunt again, Houdini?"

Sasha stabbed her fork into her salad and put a tomato in her mouth. She frowned in confusion.

"What are you on about? I'm always around."

"For classes maybe, but outside of that? Even I have trouble finding you. Clocked you're either in the pool, the gym, or the Rain. The others haven't clocked the Rain and I won't tell them, don't worry."

Sasha threw Adam a grateful look.

"I... There's a lot going on right now. I just can't afford to get distracted, you know?"

Adam looked up from his iPad, his eyes full of caring and definite empathy.

"I know, I've asked around town, made sure you haven't had any favours. Proud you've stayed clean."

Sasha said nothing but ducked her head, hiding her slight blush, unused to the genuine sincerity in his compliment.

Caleb sat with his body a little too close Carly, looking for all the world like the cat that caught the canary. Sebastian and Lucas looked with concern as they glanced over at Sasha across the hall. They turned back to Esther, who was lovingly up against Damon as the two just relaxed after eating their food.

"She didn't even want to sit with us?" Lucas sounded genuinely hurt, but Esther quickly eased his feelings with a shake of her head and explaining further.

"Honey, no, that's not it. She just..." Esther had to cover for her friend so went for a more believable route, "She had to talk to Adam... about stuff she can't talk to you about. You know?"

Understanding dawned on Lucas and he nodded.

"Oh, rehab stuff. Right, right." Esther rolled her eyes - she loved the kid but sometimes he was as dumb as a post.

Esther looked back over to Sasha and noticed the tension that now sat in her friend's shoulders. She was shaken from her thoughts by Damon who gave her a nudge followed by an understanding look.

"If you wanna go talk to her, I don't mind."

Sometimes Esther could just jump her boyfriend, he was so awesome.

"No, I'm good." Truthfully, she knew that Sasha wanted her space and she was happy to give it to her.

Kate looked over at Lucas and gave a shy smile before catching his eye; the young twin smiled handsomely.

"Um, Lucas, I was thinking maybe we could go all to the beach during half term, before winter really kicks in. We could rent a cottage for the weekend. What do you think? You guys interested?"

Lucas brightened at the mention of the beach.

"That sounds great! We should all - "

"We can't." Sebastian's voice broke through and Kate and Lucas looked disheartened, "It's our granddad's birthday that weekend. We have to attend."

Lucas made an 'O' with his mouth as he remembered. He gave a remorseful look to Kate. Caleb was stuffing his mouth with food when his eyes lit up and he began hitting Sebastian on the shoulder for his attention.

"Seb, why don't we take the girls? Grandpa said to bring anyone we like. Uncle Marco invites so many people he won't mind at all."

Sebastian looked wary at the suggestion.

"I don't know. It's granddad's birthday. A lot of people will be there."

"Dude, it's a party, a costume party to be precise. And you know they really won't mind."

At the mention of being invited to a King family birthday, especially a fancy dress party, everyone bar Esther and Damon began getting chattering, all ignoring the pleas of Sebastian, who kept trying to intervene and remind everyone that they had not been given the go-ahead yet. Caleb looked over at Esther and waved his hand dismissively.

"I'm sure Sasha will invite you Es."

"Actually, she said she wouldn't be going when I last spoke to her about it."

The King boys went silent. Lucas's eyes widened and he looked in true shock. Esther couldn't resist and started laughing hard.

"Idiots. Of course she's going. I went last year, thought I was on the VIP list now."

Caleb rolled his eyes before smirking and returning to his food, indulging in it after a long day of sport and academics.

Sarah couldn't help but notice her cousin was incredibly quiet as she sat opposite Carly.

Ever since Sarah had heard Carly talk about the pressures Caleb was giving her to have sex, Sarah was becoming more and more envious and she wished she wouldn't be jealous. She loved her cousin and only ever wanted her to be happy.

Sarah sighed and got out her phone, she fired off a quick text that read: "Dnt frown, ull get wrinkles & then i cnt b seen in public w/a hag lyk u".

Sarah placed the phone on the table.

Carly picked up her phone as it beeped. She read the message and a small smile appeared on her face, she quickly messaged back: "thort u were annoyed me. u bin avoiding me like a ninja."

Sarah's phone beeped and she read the message. She looked over at Carly, this time finding those green eyes on her. Sarah looked at her cousin and could honestly say that Carly was by far one of the most beautiful people she knew; not only in looks but in her personality and character. She was kind, caring, loyal, determined, selfless. It was no wonder Caleb wanted her. Sarah could never be angry.

"All's fair in love and war... ur lyk some badass General now Carls." Sarah smirked as she sent her message - the smirk only increased when Carly read it and almost began giggling at it. Carly had always thought Sarah had a thing for Caleb but she was glad her cousin held no ill will towards her.

Caleb looked at her, saw the smile and curiosity took over him.

"Who's texting you?"

Carly, not wanting to tell Caleb and explain why she and her cousin were texting even though they were sitting opposite each other, just shrugged and put her phone in her pocket.

"Oh no-one, just some forwarded joke from a mate." Caleb noted the evasive answer and grinned - he never could resist following it up.

"Read it out, I love a joke."

"I deleted it. Sorry." Carly shrugged before looking down at her food, knowing if anyone saw her that second they'd read her blush and ashamed look for what it was - guilt at lying.

Caleb said nothing and returned to the conversation the majority of the table were having - "Who'd you think will win X Factor?" - but instead of participating in the conversation like he really would he was looking over at his only female relative in the room - who was currently reading something from her phone.

Sasha was holding her phone in her hand in disbelief, she stood up immediately grabbing Adam's attention.

"I... I gotta go. Catch you later, man." Sasha left her half eaten meal where it was and made her way out of the hall and to somewhere with a little more privacy.

As Sasha entered the Rain room, she immediately searched her contacts and dialled the number, nervously chewing on her fingernail as she waited for a response. She stood at attention unconsciously as the phone was answered.

"Grandad? Hi, what's up?"

Sasha's eyes softened immediately.

"I'm fine, thank you... How are you? Seb told me you had a nasty cough. Well, his parents actually talk to him unlike my own. You've had your cough looked at, yes?" Sasha sighed as her grandfather spoke to her, she ran her fingers over the windowsill nearby and nodded, "I know, I'm sorry, I just worry I dunno how they are. Mum calls me, but dad's still ashamed. I know, it's just hard to move on when the past hasn't been given closure. Yeah, of course I'll try and be there Gramps."

Sasha felt the guilt gnawing at her.

"I know, I'm sorry, but I just... I don't know if I can face everyone from King Media after they all know what I did. You know I wanna be there, but like you say, when you have to save face..." There was a pause and a moment later Sasha laughed softly. "Yeah I know... crazy. The boys are looking forward to it. I got a feeling they're bringing people. Well, I'm not psychic at all. They were talking about it at dinner, even from across the hall I could hear them all yammering on about it, bringing their girlfriends and the gang in general."

Sasha sat down in the chair, her small smile faltered and she pinched the bridge of her nose, a headache forming in all too familiar places.

"No, no, granpappy, nothing like that... we just... I need some space from them you know? No, we're all good. I can't wait to see you though."

Sasha got lost in conversation with her favourite person - grateful for the reprieve of talking to people who expected something from her.

By the time Sasha realised the time and said her heartfelt goodbyes to her beloved relative, she saw it was almost time for her to get some rest. She made her way back to her dorm, artfully avoiding the common lounge, rec room, and anyone else in order to reach the destination of her room.

As Sasha opened the door, she saw it was dark inside. She turned on the light, illuminating the pitch black confines. She started as she saw Carly laying in her bed, completely awake but ready for bed.

"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you."

"I wasn't asleep, it's cool."

Sasha closed the door and headed for her dresser. She grabbed her grey cotton t-shirt for bed and her dark grey flannel pants. She paused, her eyes darting to Carly before she decided to just get changed where she was. It was too much hassle and drama and made things bigger than they had to be if she slinked off to the bathroom now.

Sasha whipped off her tracksuit and was just in her underwear in a split second. She put on her pyjamas a moment later. Satisfied with her level of comfort, she turned off the light and felt her way to her bed as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She slid into her covers, cold at first but knew in a few minutes she would be warm and toasty - she closed her eyes in preparation of the delicious sleep she longed for.

There was a silence.

Carly waited. She quirked an eyebrow before sighing in frustration.

"Are you kidding me? Really?"

Sasha opened her eyes and looked over to Carly - shock colouring her features.

"Uh... what?" Carly reached over, turned on her lamp - a soft glow of light filled the room. Sasha looked perplexed and for a moment Carly almost felt sorry for the other girl.

"You really have nothing you want to say? I thought we were gonna try to be friends. We are room-mates right?"

Sasha looked around and back at Carly. The look alone seemed to be Sasha's answer.

"I thought we were gonna be normal."

Sasha mirrored Carly and sat up in her bed, a little more comfortable than lying down and craning her neck.


"Well, yeah. Now you and me are roomies, can't we be how we were before... you know. Before me and Caleb?"

Sasha decided to give her the decency of not acting like a pillock and was honest.

"Yeah, I would love that. But we can't be how we were before."

"God, we're not getting married. He's my boyfriend for now."

Sasha gave a laugh, bemused at Carly's naivety.

"When Caleb asks you to be his girlfriend, you're his until he decides otherwise. You know that, you saw how he was with girls before."

Carly seemed to consider this before she nodded, understanding

"But he hasn't said anything like that to me. And until he does, it's on my terms. Unless I say otherwise he is just the guy I'm seeing."

Sasha laughed, amused at Carly's openness and honesty.

"Carly, you know better than that. He does not see it that way at all."

This time it was Carly's turn to be amused. She nodded before smirking.

"Then you guys really need to understand that you're not the only ones that can be in control."

Sasha outright laughed. Carly looked offended and Sasha had the decency to look contrite before resuming her snickering.

Carly took in Sasha properly for the first time in that conversation; the other girl had changed quite a bit from the first time she had ever met her. Sasha had a more gaunt look to her features, and Carly couldn't help but notice how much weight the dark haired girl had lost. The blonde also took in the tired look that surrounded her eyes; fatigue settling in noticeably. Yet even with all that, Sasha had this look of calm and contentment around her that Carly had not seen in all the time she had seen the other girl.

Sasha stopped laughing and a silence descended between the two once more.

"You look tired." Carly's eyes softened and the tone of her voice was like an embrace, which softened the blow of the words for Sasha.

"I've been focusing on myself. I need to, remember?"

Carly said nothing at Sasha's words but she vividly remembered 'I'm doing me' springing to mind.

"Good for you, but you know, you need to make sure you don't overdo it."

"Aww, I didn't know you cared."

"I do." A silence followed after Carly's sentence. Sasha felt unusually uncomfortable at the sincerity in her tone.

"Caleb's basically invited us all to your grandad's birthday Hallowee'en bash at half term by the way."

Sasha nodded.

"I know. Caleb doesn't use his inside voice. Have fun at it though, my parents always go all out to try and impress everyone." At Carly's confused look, Sasha elaborated, "My dad's the oldest so he throws the party at our home every year. It's just lots of food, booze and music. Grandad loves it only because he appreciates the gesture because everyone comes together for it. You missed it last year because he was ill. We didn't throw it. This is the first year we're allowed to invite any non-King related people not already in with our family."

"You close to your grandad? I was to mine."

Sasha said nothing. She had known from two years ago that Carly lost her granddad. Sasha was not allowed to divulge any family information, but with Carly it was a different story.

"I'm sorry about that. Sarah took it hard too, I know." Carly nodded, knowing her cousin did. "Yeah, me and my grandpa are close. My dad took over most of the duties of the company when I was about five, so my grandad was around a lot. He took me on most of my holidays and taught me most of what I know."

Carly gave a genuine smile. She could tell the love Sasha had for the man, as it was clear in her voice.

"Sounds like you just might be his favourite."

"Ha, something like that. Not like he has a choice." Sasha's eyes widened at what she said and she cursed herself for it. She could see that Carly hadn't read into it, her expression still one of compassion and understanding for the great men in their lives.

"Anyhow I best get to sleep, Carly. I got a busy day tomorrow."

"Yeah, no probs. But Sasha?"

The auburn haired girl looked into green eyes.

"What do I have to do to get us back to how we used to be?"

Sasha gave a genuine smile before she rolled over in her bed, facing the wall and embracing slumber.

"You don't have to do a thing."

Sasha wasn't quite sure how she was going to make it through the night. Her schoolday had been absolutely energy draining. She had four mock exams, teachers preparing them all for their A Levels this year as well as wanting to get as much out of the students before the half term which was still a week away.

She was pretty confident she had aced everything except IT but only time would tell. Her teachers all seemed suitably impressed with her focus and determination - Mr DeLuca, her business management teacher, in particular was awed by her efforts this year. So much that he reported her for plagiarism and teaching because he couldn't believe her essays were so exact, precise, and accurate.

Sasha was just outside her room when her phone rang; she answered it without checking the caller ID.

"Hello?" Her face fell. "Hi Dad. What? No, I'm good, just had some exams, think I did pretty well actually, I- what? How did she find out about that? Oh, Caleb told her. Really. Dad, the car didn't get trashed the way it sounds."

Sasha found her dorm room key and walked in, unaware of the bathroom door open and tap running and concentrating only on her phone call and the fact the room was empty.

"Dad, will you listen to me? I covered the costs myself. And no, I wasn't drunk. No, I wasn't high. It was an accident. Aunt Cat hasn't got a clue what happened. What happened was Caleb got drunk and took over and crashed my fucking car. I don't care if you don't believe me."

Sasha hung up and threw her phone on her bed, looking stressed as hell. She sat on her bed, and slumped, her elbows on her knees and head resting in her hands. She could feel tears threatening to fall. She fought them back.

The bathroom door slowly squeaked open and Sasha stood up, suddenly at alert. Carly stood there in a bath towel covering her otherwise nude body. Her hair was soaking wet and looked soft as hell, something Sasha longed to touch.

Even though they had been room-mates for nigh on two months this was the first time Sasha had ever seen Carly this close to naked and it instantly stirred something deep within her.

Sasha eyed Carly hungrily. It was almost as though the sight of Carly was a feast for Sasha.

"Sasha, you okay?" Carly waited for a response, but instead saw that Sasha's eyes were still fixated on her, ravishing her entire body with her hazel orbs. Carly was sure the other girl hadn't heard her.

Carly called out Sasha's name once more, and Sasha's eyes snapped up to Carly's.

Carly was taken aback by the ferocity in Sasha's eyes. It was clear Sasha had a certain thought on her mind in that moment and the thought of that brought a feeling of uncertainty to Carly, her stomach filling with butterflies and she felt light-headed in that moment.

"Sasha..." Carly trailed off once more.

Sasha stepped forward, her eyes roamed Carly once more. Sasha's head was now filled with the sight of Carly, and she could smell the jasmine she had been bathing with. She smelt so clean and so pure and Sasha closed her eyes as she inhaled the scent once more. She took a step forward and stood close to Carly, so close that it took Carly's breath away.

The blonde was stuck to the spot. She clutched the towel in her hands and in that moment she understood everything she had heard about Sasha from other girls, she understood what Sarah saw in her - about how she could seem so irresistible. She was intimidating, but so enticing and Carly couldn't find any part of her that didn't want the other girl so close.

Sasha leaned her head forward and took a deep breath, inhaling Carly once more. Sasha was just a few inches away from the other girl's lips. Her breath ghosted over Carly's mouth and Carly couldn't help the shudder that ran through her body. A small moan escaped Carly's mouth and brought Sasha back to reality.

Sasha finally opened her eyes, saw how close she was to Carly and leaned back, her eyes locking with the blonde.

Carly's face was flushed and her breaths had sped up. Sasha eyed her lips once more before looking back into green eyes.

"Carly..." The blonde nodded. "I really, really..." Sasha closed her eyes and gulped, everything came crashing down in her mind. "I really have to go. I'm sorry."

Sasha turned away and rushed over to her dresser grabbing her jeans and a shirt. She ripped her school uniform off before putting her clothes on, not once looking at Carly.

After a moment Carly got her senses back and stepped forward.

"Wait, Sasha, what just happened - "

"I have to go. Later." Sasha grabbed her phone and wallet and left the room, shutting the door behind rushed to the door, opening it, only to find Sasha jogging down the hall, getting away from her.

Carly closed the door and leaned against it, her skin starting to chill from the water cooling on her skin. She had never felt so turned on before from a look. She had never experienced that before from Caleb and it was daunting to her.

"Jesus. What was that?"


"What do you mean by you don't want to go? It's in your house."

Sebastian sounded upset as Sasha spoke to him.

The older twin had had enough of Sasha not spending time with them. He had waited outside her music and media class before cornering her and telling her they were going to spend some time together.

Sasha had no excuse. There was no swimming for her this evening as the swim team had the pool. She wasn't at Bianchi's and she had finished her last exam. There would be no homework and tomorrow they were all leaving to go to their respective homes. Sasha had caved in and the next thing she knew Sebastian had taken her to play a few games of pool.

"Purple four, top pocket." Sasha made the shot with ease and looked pleased with herself. One look at Sebastian showed the twin was not happy. Sasha sighed before standing and eyeing the pool table, trying her best to avoid looking Sebastian in the eyes.

"I don't really want to go, to be honest. I love gramps and you know that. But I can't be in the same room as all those pricks that just think I'm the same arsehole I was last year. Especially my dad."

Sebastian looked concerned although he understood. Sasha and her father had never gotten on, not in all the time Sebastian had known his cousin and his uncle.

"But grandad will be disappointed if you don't go. You know how much he loves you." Sasha gave a sigh.

"I said I didn't want to go, not that I definitely wouldn't go. And after Caleb's little stunt last year..." Sasha trailed off as she recalled Caleb's antics last year - outing her to her family and causing the young woman to cry and not know how her family would take it. Would she have been disowned and banished from everything King related? Luckily, her parents were more interested in her happiness than her sexual preference and her grandfather had simply laughed and told Caleb he had competition now. It had backfired, but the initial embarrassment had been almost unbearable.

"Anyway, Seb, it doesn't help Caleb and Carly will be thrown in my face. I managed to avoid them together most of the year."

"Well, you can soldier through it. There will be plenty of girls, Sarah, for example."

Sasha leaned down and made a shot. Her ball potted easily. Sebastian noted Sasha's tense shoulders but said nothing, allowing his cousin her privacy.

"Yeah, no. I don't want any of them causing drama in my house. Caleb's trouble and we both know it, Seb. I dread to think what he's coming as this year."

"I know he's told Lucas. I'm working on that. I just want you to know I'm here for you, though. Helps if you talk to me. I'm always here for you, cuz."

Sasha gave him a smile. She knew he spoke the truth but, Sasha didn't want to talk about her issues with her dad or her stupid rivalry with Caleb. She appreciated Seb's gesture though, so with a large grin, Sasha potted another ball before standing up and lining up for her final shot - the black ball.

"You got the address right?" Carly nodded as Caleb spoke.

"Yep and we'll be there for the party."

Caleb gave a huge smile at Carly's response and leaned in, quickly placing a kiss on Carly's lips and then snaking his hand towards her breast. The blonde stepped back, looking at him shocked but after a moment, she gave a stern look. She looked around, seeing if any of their other classmates had seen them.

"Caleb, what was that?"

"Sorry, I thought after dinner last night we were - "

"No, Caleb. You can't just do that whenever you want to."

"But we've been together for ages! Can't we even - "

"Caleb, no."

Caleb gave a smile, and held his hands up in supplication. He would bide his time until she fell for him fully.

Every single student was preparing to leave for the half term. Carly had already seen Sarah and her friends all arrive and now the Kings had arrived as well as all their other classmates.

"Hey, Sash! You getting the train home?"

Sasha looked over at Caleb and gave an eye roll before nodding.

"Seeing as how I can't drive my car anymore, yeah, I am. Thanks for telling your mum all about that by the way. Well, about some of it."

Caleb had the decency to look ashamed before grinning widely and slinging an arm over his cousin.

"We can sit next to each other on the train at least. Wanna hit up the town tonight?" Sasha shrugged her cousin's arm off her shoulder, and Caleb felt the snub. His smile fell.

"Fine, be that way." Caleb turned back to Carly to find she was staring at Sasha with worried eyes. Caleb caught her chin with his fingers and gently brought her attention back to him.

"At least we can be alone on the train." His eyes gleamed and his voice was laced with suggestion. He leaned in once more and attempted to claim another kiss, but Carly pulled back and put her finger up preventing him from achieving his goal.

"What did I just say?"

Caleb gave a grin, his confidence not at all affected by Carly's response.

"That's what I like most about you, Carly. You're not like other girls. You're a total challenge."

Carly gave a weak smile, but inside she was cringing. She could see why girls fell over themselves for Caleb. He was ridiculously good looking and rich and came from a good background. But he was too much of a party boy and he had no tact. Somewhere down the line he had clearly been told he was God's gift - he had the charm, manners and appeal that Seb, Lucas and Sasha had, but he appeared to deliberately add a sleaze that just repelled her most of the time.

Carly couldn't deny it right now, he definitely lacked the sex appeal Sasha had and that was worrying her since she had first experienced it just a couple of weeks ago and it had already rocked her way of thinking. She had always thought that the lust that had been missing from her relationship with Caleb would just kind of appear in time during their relationship.

She had agreed to go out with Caleb because he had been handsome and she thought that maybe a spark of interest would ignite between them. But nothing, nothing at all had happened yet. Not for lack of trying on Caleb's part.

They had kissed on their dates, groped in private and Carly had been convinced to give him handjobs and oral sex, but honestly she hated the whole process, finding his sexist and demeaning slurs totally boring and unnecessary and turning her off bigtime when his intention had been to increase her arousal.

But Caleb had been handsy and eager from the day he asked her out. Just weeks after they had started going out she been coaxed into sitting onto his lap only to feel his hardness digging into her backside a minute later. He leered at her suggestively, but Carly just ignored and left him blueballed to teach him a lesson. He was a little too forward and aggressive for her liking. At first it had been almost admirable but now Carly was beginning to get tired of it all.

Carly saw Sasha look over as Caleb got closer to her and attempted to sling an arm around her shoulder. Sasha's features fell, but she tried to cover it up well. Carly saw and tried to give an apologetic look, in return she received Sasha's fake smile.

That smile - it was driving Carly mad.

Ever since the 'moment,' Carly found Sasha had been acting differently. The 'moment,' as Carly called it, was the time when she had just gotten out of the bath to see a stressed out Sasha on her bed. She was about to call out to the girl to ask her if she was okay - Carly had been in the bath enjoying a relaxing soak when the other girl had been shouting on the phone - when Sasha had seen her and Carly thought she was about to be eaten on the spot.

Sasha was going to kiss her - Carly had never been so sure of something in her life. What was annoying Carly now, though, was that she wished Sasha had kissed her, or that Sasha would even talk to her about it. The King girl had been coming back to the dorm before her and pretending to be asleep, and then leaving in the morning before Carly woke up. SIt was almost as if she was avoiding talking about it with Carly. It was driving Carly nuts.

It was like an itch, and she had to scratch it. She didn't know if it was just curiosity or if it was just Sasha but she needed to get it out of her system. She had to kiss her, see what happened and deal with the aftermath. But seeing as how she was being claimed by Caleb as his, that was going to be an impossibility.

It was also becoming a regular occurrence where Carly would fall asleep, her hand inching south of her flannel pants and the thought of a certain heiress lingering on her thoughts. She would wake up, fearing Sasha had seen her but she had not. A part of Carly thought maybe this was just a phase, but what if it wasn't? What if it was just what she wanted?

Even if she did follow it through, she had that feeling return, she had no idea how Caleb would take it. No man in their right mind would ever take the fact their girlfriend might have sexual feelings for their female relative in a positive way. Hell, no man would like their girlfriend to have feelings for any relative, but a female would be a blow to the ego.

One thing Carly had gathered was that Caleb held a lot of resentment for Sasha. She had no idea why, Caleb had everything she did and he seemed to be more accepted and loved than his female cousin, but he didn't seem like the kind of person that would take an experimental kiss between Carly and Sasha easily even if Carly broke up with him, to do the right thing. He would always think Carly was his until he said otherwise - Sasha was right.

Carly shook the thought out of her head as the coach arrived to take all the students to the train station. Her hand was grabbed by Caleb as he led towards the bus, intent on taking up the back row.

Sasha had no choice about sitting in the back of the bus. Caleb was sat in the middle, Carly next to him. Lucas and Kate sat to the left and Sebastian and Stacey to the right - they were unofficially officially the three King couples of the school. Esther and Damon sat the row in the front, the two seats occupied by the loving couple. Beth was sitting next to Sarah and Meg had gotten the seat next to Adam. Sasha was sat turned to the side in her seat. She didn't pay attention to a thing anyone was saying but took all her cues to just nod and hum in agreement at all the right places.

Sasha got all the looks from Esther, Sebastian and Adam and she gave them all a reassuring smile as an answer.

Sasha looked up as she felt the coach lurch - they had arrived at the station thank God. Sasha stood up before everyone else, eager to get off.

"Calm down, cuz, we'll be in London soon, where we party best." Caleb gave Sasha a smirk, it was lost on everyone but her. Caleb was sending her a message - 'wait for that party'.

As soon as the coach doors opened Sasha had already rushed off and made her way to the train station.

The majority of students lived in the main cities, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, and Cardiff. They usually took the trains to the nearest cities and then made the relevant towns they lived in.

Sasha found on her train to London was not only her cousins but Esther, Kate and Carly. Adam lived in Cambridge and was on a different train headed for there, he'd always pop into London after his obligatory see the family trip to Ely. Damon was seeing his parents who were on business in Newcastle, or else he would be joining them on the London bound train but, he'd be meeting them up later in the week.

Sarah lived in Yorkshire so was heading back up that way. Stacey and Meg were all on different trains. The three girls like Damon, would all be coming down later in the week for the King party.

Kate had joined the Kings though as she lived in West London, much to Lucas's pleasure.

Sasha had made her way to the first carriage where no-one else was. Luckily for her it was not assigned seating. Less than a minute passed before Esther joined her in the carriage, sitting opposite Sasha. A silence fell over the two as Esther put her headphones in and booted up her mp3 player.

The train lurched into motion about half an hour later and Sasha was glad - her cousins would have given up going through every carriage looking for her and just settled, getting ready to enjoy the journey.

Esther gave a small smile to Sasha before she settled in reading a book.

Sasha put her headphones in too and started her playlist of songs, enjoying the mixture of R&B, reggae, rock, pop, classical and techno music. She closed her eyes intent on just getting a few minutes rest while on the near five hour journey.

When Sasha opened her eyes, she was surprised to find she was not alone. Not for any other reason than it was not Esther sitting opposite her but Carly instead. Sasha started and sat up straight, grabbing her headphones and pulling them out of her head.

"How long have you been there?"

Carly looked down at her watch, a small smile gracing her lips and her eyes looking at Sasha with affection.

"About fifteen minutes."

Sasha groaned, embarrassment filling her up. She looked down at her own watch and saw it was only an hour into the journey.

"Where's Esther?" Carly shrugged her shoulders.

"She went to get some food. I was just looking for something to do, I was so bored watching the guys play on their PS Vita's and seeing who was King of whatever the hell game they were playing. I needed some saving."

"I'm sure Caleb was more interested in you than the PS Vita."

Carly's lips pursed and Sasha was put on edge.

"He was, but I made it clear... that's not the fun I'm looking for on a train."

Carly said nothing more and Sasha didn't push, but she could imagine her cousin didn't take it well that Carly didn't want to be all over him at his whim and command.

Sasha rubbed her eyes before she looked at Carly. Neither said a word for a good minute. Sasha rubbed the back of her neck and laughed nervously.

"Can't imagine this is more entertaining than watching the guys battle out FIFA."

"Watching you snore was kinda amusing."

"We share a room, nothing you haven't heard before."

"Well, true, but I don't sit there and watch you sleep in our room."

Sasha gave a little smile. Another silence fell on them. Sasha fidgeted in her seat before looking back at Carly.

"Well, this is fun."

"We could make it more fun." Carly's innocent comment once again set something off inside of Sasha. The older girl closed her eyes, envisioning just how the train journey could be made more fun.

Sasha opened her eyes and once again Carly saw a hunger in them. In the blink of an eye, the look was gone replaced with shifty eyes that looked everywhere else but at Carly.

"What did you have in mind?"

Carly shrugged for a moment and Sasha laughed genuinely. Carly joined in, she didn't really have a plan, she just thought having a chat with Sasha would be good for them. She knew she had a pull to the other girl so at least if she could talk to her normally it might satiate this seemingly never-ending curiosity that was lodged inside her.

"I was thinking we could ask random questions, share silly jokes and in general have fun."

"Like when we were thirteen at the sleepover in your dorm room?" Carly laughed as Sasha brought it up.

"Yeah, we drank a bottle of wine and had the worst headache the next day. That's when we got to know each other too. I remember your favourite colour and why. You remember mine?"

Sasha seemed a little thrown by the normality of the question and she gave a warm smile.

"Red. You said it was a woman's colour."

Carly laughed, remembering how she used to love the colour red and think it was a colour for real women; sexy, passionate, vivacious. Carly affectionately recalled the colour Sasha loved;

"Purple for you. Colour of royalty. And also cadbury's chocolate, which is your favourite brand ever."

So began a conversation that spanned thirty minutes - they seemingly covered everything friends should know about one another; they reacquainted. Carly learnt Sasha's most recent favourite song was called A Million Ways To Be Cruel by OK GO. Sasha learnt that Carly's was called Weakness In Me by Joan Armatrading - Carly mentioned how Joan was performing at the O2 in November, but she was gutted she couldn't make it due to their school schedule.

Their joint favourite city was New York - Sasha's for the nightlife and Carly's for the shopping. Sasha's favourite TV show was Breaking Bad and Carly's was Game of Thrones. Carly laughed out loud as Sasha admitted she still read comics and graphic novels and was pretty sure Chris Nolan's take on Batman was the best. Carly teased her, saying she thought it was sweet Sasha still needed books with pictures to keep her interest.

Sasha pouted, but decided to sway the conversation one more time learning that Carly wanted to go to Cambridge to study law and so far she had always gotten A's. If she carried on she was guaranteed a decent chance of acceptance. Carly was surprised that Sasha was now interested in media production and wanted to make a career out of it - last time they proper chatted, Sasha had said she'd rather die than work for King Media.

Carly's eyes widened as she realised that Sasha had in fact nearly died.

Sasha had meanwhile moved onto something that was a little more familiar but altogether dangerous territory; past relationships.

Carly currently had tears in her eyes as she was remembering her last boyfriend.

"So we had been going out for like three months and I remember you told me he was a loser, so I decided maybe I would prove you wrong and that I should sleep with him right cos he'd been so sweet. He musta heard my plans, and I got to his house and he's lying on his bed with nothing but a smile and a condom. I just laughed, turned around and left!"

"No way! Hahaha, Carly that is too much. He was left high and dry? You are a cruel woman. No wonder Trey never shows his face around you anymore."

Carly gave a shrug. Sasha paused for a moment, thinking on how to word her next question.

"So you had a clueless guy that when you threw yourself at him, ran out crying. I remember David; the guy that you thought coulda been the one but cheated on you. And now you have Mister Horny Pants King. You ever think you'll seal the deal? Are you scared or something?" Sasha winced at how crude her question had come out. Carly laughed softly, understanding the query.

"No. I wanted to... I'm happy to give into it but I don't just throw myself around like some slut. I didn't mean it the way it sounded." Sasha raised her hands, waving the girls worry off.

"Don't apologise. It's cool, I won't lie. I threw myself around a little too much. We all have our regrets." Sasha's eyes softened before she looked back up into Carly's eyes. Carly leaned back into her seat, much more comfortable around Sasha than she had ever been.

"Do you really regret it? If you could go back in time, would you have not, y'know, been a giant whore." Sasha and Carly shared a laugh - both knowing that Carly meant it in a joking way.

"I would definitely have waited for someone who I thought was the one. I don't even know the name of the guy I lost it to."

Carly's eyes bugged out and Sasha couldn't help but laugh at the expression on her face.

"Yes, Carly, a guy. I was nearly fifteen, you guys were here, I went back to London for the weekend, and when you're given the gift of double D's and wads of cash, you go out and go clubbing. Went to a place in Central London and got in, went back to some guy's house, woke up in the morning. I felt so sick, I knew it had happened, evidence was everywhere. I went home. I regret it I guess I don't. Though, it cemented that I knew I liked girls."

Carly quirked an eyebrow.

"I wish you had actually told me when you knew you were gay."

"No, I needed to find out on my own," Sasha gave a laugh, "A year of thinking about women and wishing I had picked up his female friend instead of him, plus a bad experience let me know. Women, ahoy."

Carly took it all in and gave a nod of understanding.

"Guess it makes sense. I thought your first was with, y'know, Sarah."

Sasha's eyes widened and she gave a small sigh before looking up at Carly and looking like a kid caught in the middle of doing something she shouldn't be.

"I was wondering how long it'd be until you brought her up." Carly gave a small shrug and hugged her arms around herself.

"She is my cousin. I don't need to know the ins and outs but I thought you two were serious."

Sasha watched Carly for a moment torn between telling her the truth or lying outright. Sasha decided on the former.

"Me and Sarah. We are just friends. The sex was physical. We just need released sometimes and used each other."

"Like fuck buddies?"

The brunette smirked with amusement before nodding.

"Yeah, friends with benefits."

"That extend to all your friends, or is it reserved just for her?"

The question sounded genuinely curious with no hint of Carly searching for anymore. Sasha just shook her head before looking quite sad.

"No, we stopped all that. I would never be that cruel to any of my friends again. It's unfair to use one another."

Sasha paused a moment, considering this. It was true, if there was to be any friendship and it was clear Carly wanted one then she had the right to know about any bad blood between her and Sarah - the same way Sasha would demand to know about any person that had wronged her family.

"Me and Sarah, I pursued her. It started out as just some fun for us both. We just fucked really. Went out and got wasted. Got high together a bit. Then I started getting into more hard stuff and I just got out of control. I led her on to be honest with you. I played around with her emotions and then shut her out. She has every right to hate me, but she doesn't. I lucked out. Just so you know."

Carly took all of Sasha's words and mulled over them; Sarah had never told Carly anything about her and Sasha, only ever smiled and responded, "You wouldn't understand unless you experienced her."

It was only after the bonfire sometime that Sarah seemed to have loosened up a little more and she had just been cautiously watching her and Caleb instead of actively trying to deter the two from one another. It reminded Carly of something Sarah told her last year when Sasha was addicted to heroin.

"Sarah told me not to get involved with you, last year. She was worried I might be interested in you. Said I should keep my distance."

"Maybe you should have."

Carly chewed the thought over for a second before biting her lip - a gesture that drove Sasha wild and made her want to do things to Carly that would have her screaming out Sasha's name.

"Maybe I want to be close to you again."

"It could be dangerous, Carly."

Sasha took on a serious look. Carly's breath was taken away by the intensity in those hazel eyes of Sasha's, the blonde was heating up from the inside and once again found herself being enticed by the dark-haired girl. Sasha closed her eyes and shook her head, unsure where those words and those thoughts of ravishing Carly had come from. Sasha forced on a smile and forced the thoughts from her mind.

"But friends. We can be friends. Friends are good. I could do with some to be honest. I must be driving Adam and Esther up the wall."

Carly decided to let Sasha off the hook and not ask her what the hell just happened and why she passed up the chance to go further with something they both knew she wanted. Instead, Carly followed the new flow of conversation.

"Surely they're not your only friends."

"I can't count my cousins. That's just sad."

Carly laughed out loud.

"Come on, you have friends."

Sasha took a moment before shaking her head. She laughed, realising how sad it was.

"Nope. I had people that pretended they were, but after my rehab this summer I decided to get rid of them. So it's just me, my cousins, Esther and Adam. Maybe Sarah."

"And me."

A silence.

"And you. All I really need is people I can trust. I'm getting to that age anyway..." Sasha immediately cursed herself for not thinking before speaking. Carly looked confused.

"That age? What? The big 1-8?" Carly seemed amused by this and Sasha was glad to see she had gotten away with the slip-up once more.

"Yeah, old age is kicking in. Speaking of which, you're coming to Grandpa's birthday huh?" Carly nodded and Sasha grinned, almost as if enjoying a joke with herself. "Gramps is gonna love you."

"Why's that?"

"Because you give Caleb a hard time, none of his other girlfriends have ever done that. He's gonna lean in real close to Caleb, get to his ear," Sasha leaned forward, a mischievous look in her eyes, Carly mirrored her and came closer too, "and tell him, 'boy, this one, she's a keeper.'" Sasha intended for it to be a joke but she couldn't help but mean the words she did. The words hung in the air and Carly blushed a light shade of red, Sasha momentarily wondered if the blush went all over.

"And I'll say, don't worry gramps, I'm gonna keep her." Both girls whipped their head to the entry of the carriage - they had been so immersed in the conversation that neither had noticed Caleb standing at the entryway to the small compartment.

"Cal, hey." Sasha looked like she had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Caleb watched his cousin with wary eyes.

Carly gave him a small smile. He walked over and sat next to the blonde, planting himself closer to the blonde than Sasha had dared be. Sasha's eyes darted away, unable to watch him.

Caleb sat back comfortably, giving a smug grin to his cousin. Carly looked at Sasha, gave her an apologetic smile. Sasha stood up.

"I am starved, I'm gonna grab a bite to eat. Caleb, Carly, you guys need anything?" Carly didn't get a chance to answer as Caleb cut in before her.

"Nah, we're all good. We'll see you when you get back."

Sasha paused, looking at Carly for her answer. Caleb moved his head, grabbing Sasha's attention.

"Anything else, cuz, or you gonna go get that food? Take your time by the way."

Sasha stood, walked out of the compartment. Just outside the door, she bumped into Esther who was standing there. Her arms folded, her eyes concentrating on the couple in the carriage.

"Esther, you okay?"

The blonde nodded before looking at the compartment, the sight of Carly and Caleb clear.

"She's not really into him. Is she?" Sasha said nothing. Esther sighed, looking up at Sasha instead. The brunette looked over at her cousin and his girlfriend before shaking her head.

"I don't know, I hope she's not. But I'm getting mixed signals. Caleb's gonna take that as a sign of playing hard to get if she's not into him anymore. But you know I'm not going to tell him that, Es. You know how he'll take it."

"Like you're trying to steal his girl?" A silence before Sasha nodded. Esther sighed. Her phone vibrated and she read the text message she received.

"He just sent a mass message to everyone to come here and hang out. No more alone time with Carly for you." Sasha smiled at Esther's teasing tone.

"How did she find me in the first place." Esther gave a mysterious grin followed by a shrug.

"I dunno. It's almost like someone had her BB pin and messaged her telling her to come keep you company while you slept. Then whoever that person was went to get some food, taking her sweet ass time."

Sasha raised a finger, mockingly berating Esther.

"Bad girl."

Esther shrugged.

"I try."

As soon as the train pulled into Paddington, Sasha breathed a sigh of relief; by the time she had bought a sandwich and gotten back to her carriage, they had about half an hour left until they reached London. She had come back to find her previously quiet carriage now filled with all the Kings, Carly, Kate, and Esther.

The rest of the trip consisted of mindless chatter and making plans for all the London based group, although Esther sent her several BB messages that consisted of "caleb's trying way too hard" and "smile u miserable bitch" that instantly brightened Sasha's mood.

"We should all go out sometime this week. Leicester Square or Soho." Kate had suggested it and Lucas and Sebastian seemed game, eagerly talking about it. Caleb looked to Carly and whispered something in her ear, she had responded with a nod of her head followed by a fleeting look given to Sasha. Caleb smiled triumphantly before looking over to his female cousin.

"Sash you game for a night out on the town, right? Before the fancy dress party, we need to do some real partying."

Sasha thought it over for a moment - there were several excellent reasons why she couldn't go, but she couldn't help but feel she should go. She could feel Carly's eyes on her, but decided to not look and instead gave a bright smile to Caleb.

"Course. Even I have to let my hair down."

Part 2

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