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.
By Vanessa Riverton
CHAPTER 8 A VERY INTERESTING NIGHT
"Oh my God. You are an absolute wreck, Cal."
Sasha groaned in frustration as she led Caleb into the London townhouse and up the stairs directly in front of her. To make matters worse she had a whole tipsy crowd behind her - she had drunk herself but these guys were nearly in a whole other league.
Behind her Lucas, Sebastian and Kate began making their way up the stairs and to the relevant spare rooms. Sasha didn't have to worry about her parents; they were in Paris on business and weren't expected back until Saturday morning at noon - that was only seven hours away.
"Bollocks, Cal. You're a heavy bastard."
Sasha gave a little laugh as Caleb muttered the defensive response about his weight. Lucas and Sebastian appeared behind her and helped carry their muscle dense cousin up the stairs.
"He's wasted, needs a good rest." Sebastian's words were slurred but accurate; Sasha could only laugh at the irony.
After a few more minutes of help from the twins, Sasha had Caleb in one of the spare beds and tucked up; he passed out almost instantly, lost to the world of sleep.
As Sasha came out into the hallway again she saw Lucas and Sebastian there, both looking tired, but sharing the same warm looks.
"We're off to bed. Need anything else, Sash?"
Sasha shook her head, grateful that her younger cousins even cared enough to ask. As she watched the twins trail off to the bedroom they would share Sasha decided to check in on Kate and Carly. Sasha was about to make her way towards the other spare room when the door to said room opened and out came Carly. Sasha raised an eyebrow as the other girl seemingly stumbled over in the dimmed lights towards her.
"Hey, I was... was looking for the bathroom."
Carly slurred out her words before blushing deeply - clearly she was aware of her slightly drunken state and felt embarrassed about it in front of her room-mate and friend.
Sasha pointed to the end of the hall before rubbing her eyes tiredly.
"End of the hall for the bathroom. Night, Carls."
Sasha headed downstairs, intent on reaching her state of the art kitchen and pouring out a well deserved glass of water.
The night had actually been fun. She had even found out Caleb's costume idea - he was a devious bastard but she knew she could embarrass him equally this year.
At seven that night, everyone had met up - Esther, Damon, Adam, Sarah, Stacey, and Meg. The out-of-towners were staying at a hotel in central London for ease of late night transport, the majority were staying as a cluster to make it easier for the great King birthday party the next day.
Esther had Damon staying at hers, Adam was crashing with them. Sarah, Stacey, and Meg were sharing a room at the Four Seasons.
The night had started pleasantly and Sasha was surprised by the change in the demeanour of everybody at the table; this time last year no-one at that table would have been sitting there voluntarily. Sasha couldn't help but feel that she was responsible for that in the past.
They had dined at a trendy night spot just on Mayfair, had easily spent over six thousand pounds on the bill, then at Caleb's insistence had headed to Tramp, a nightclub off of Piccadilly Circus, where a VIP table had already been booked and everyone was expecting them.
Sasha had to admit she was nervous, but she had a damn fun time. There was plenty of Moet and Cristal flowing, her favourite Remy Martin as well as plenty of Bacardi and Stolichnya vodka. She had drunk enough to keep a good buzz, but not get completely blitzed.
She stood at the bar most of the night, the humidity of the dancefloor and intimacy of the table making her feel uncomfortable. By the bar she had chatted to a nice young man called Leyton who was interested in becoming a chef and was working in the bar to put himself through culinary school. Sasha had taken his number and the two had shared a great, although odd conversation about the recent economic crisis. It was midway through the conversation that a devastatingly gorgeous brunette had approached Sasha and introduced herself as Anna, a part-time model who had happened to stumble over to her.
Sasha had pegged the other girl had recognised her and saw her come-on as her intent on trying to get something out of Sasha. From a non-biased point of view, Anna was ideal for a model and Sasha would have given the headstart regardless. The old Sasha would have lead the other girl on and eventually let her down just to teach her a lesson, but the new Sasha simply gestured to Leyton for some paper and a pen, which the bartender provided quickly. Sasha wrote down the number for one of the model agencies her family ran and told her the name of the person to speak to.
Anna had looked confused, wondering why Sasha was being so kind in return for nothing. Sasha just gave a small smile.
"We all need a kickstart to get onto the right path." It was surprisingly zen for Sasha, but Anna took the number and walked off, not looking a gift horse in the mouth anymore. Sasha faced the bar and signalled for another glass of Moet, which Leyton provided immediately.
Seconds later, a warm body was pressed into Sasha's; an involuntary shudder went through the young heiress. She took in a deep breath as she felt hands lightly grip her waist.
"I told you, Anna, sometimes we just need a boost. You don't need to throw yourself at me."
"Who's Anna? That brunette?" The sound of Carly's voice startled Sasha. She turned around only to find herself face to face with the blonde. Carly's voice was inquisitive, but there was a glint in her eyes Sasha had not seen before on the blonde - it was jealousy and Sasha knew it a mile off.
Sasha looked over Carly's shoulder but saw Caleb was totally immersed in his drinking and dancing and the three skanks from the next table throwing themselves at him. He was unaware of anything other than himself.
"Carly. Hi." Sasha reached down for Carly's hands and removed them from her waist. Carly smirked knowingly at Sasha.
The drink had made the blonde brave and she was standing less than a foot away, but swaying slightly.
"You are being anti-social, Miss King."
Sasha laughed at Carly's comment.
"How so, Miss Ambrose?"
"Well, here we are, having a laugh and a giggle. And a drink. A few drinks and here you are doing your miss moody and broody routine to get girls. Not why we're here. Tut tut."
Sasha felt amused at Carly's words, usually she would have been incredulous and insulted at the presumption from someone else that her behaviour was anyone else's concern - that was the past Sasha of course.
"Well, I came to just relax and have fun. I am having fun."
Carly tutted loudly, raised her finger and shook her head.
"Nuh uh, you're not. You're being cautious. As usual. Y'know, you can have fun without getting out of control. You shouldn't always punish yourself for all your past mistakes. Now, c'mon, drink and dance. Let your hair down."
Carly left no room for Sasha to argue. Sasha barely had time to grab her glass before having Carly dragged her over to the group, where she got involved in sharing jokes and dancing for a good half hour. A certain song came on at about 2am, it was a dancehall song known as Hold You and Carly had grabbed Sasha for it. A look over revealed Caleb was drunk as hell and dancing with some random girl and Sasha was calmed for a moment.
Carly had given an innocent smile before turning and grinding into the other girl and really tempting Sasha. Sasha could feel Carly's leg against hers and more than once her hand had slid and groped her. Sasha couldn't lie, she was turned on as hell at that moment. The song ended shortly after and Sasha breathed a sigh of relief.
The heiress looked up, catching Esther and Sarah looking at her with expectant looks on their faces. Embarrassment coloured the young King woman and seconds later she disentangled herself from Carly and headed to the restrooms to freshen up.
Lucas was wasted and was hugging Sasha, saying how much he missed her, that he wished they were all kids and just got on, that there was no rivalries and nothing breaking them apart. Sasha was about to hug him and tell him it was okay when Lucas divulged Caleb's idea for the Hallowe'en party the next night.
"And I said to him, going as you is a dumb idea, but he thinks it's hilarious, Sash. I love you, Sash! I really do!" Sasha cooed and shushed her younger cousin before he got too emotional and Sasha would have to carry him out the club.
An hour later Caleb and Adam had a drinking contest, Adam was winning and Caleb called it a day, but the alcohol was already working into his system. To prevent a lecture from his parents, Sasha suggested he crash at hers. The twins then agreed, not saying why but just asking Sasha to stay at hers too.
Kate instantly jumped on and asked to stay with Lucas, and as a result Carly had come to Sasha's home too.
Sarah and Meg had stayed with the others at the club, no doubt partying until God only knows when.
Sasha filled up her second glass of water in the kitchen. She paused before reaching to the cupboard and taking out another glass and filling it up with ice cold water too.
She made her way upstairs; she paused at the guest room the girls' were staying in. She knocked gently, but no response was given. She opened the door to find only Kate snoring in the bed.
Sasha looked worried before closing the door and taking a few steps down the corridor, the bathroom where she had last seen Carly being her intended final destination.
Instead, movement inside her own bedroom caught her eye. Sasha looked at her bedroom door - it was not unusual to find it ajar, their maid having a habit of leaving the door open to let her know the room had been cleaned.
But there stood Carly in the middle of the room, staring at Sasha's wall adorned with photos and pictures of friends, family and memories.
Instead of being angry at the intrusion, Sasha entered the room with only a small inquisitive look. Carly looked back at her, skin flushed still from recent exertions at the nightclub.
"Hey, you get lost?" Carly mock glared at Sasha's question.
"No, I didn't. I couldn't resist looking to be honest." Sasha looked confused, Carly continued. "All the years I've known you, never been to your place. At school, you've never had a thing that shows who you are. The only reason I know there's someone else in the room is the clothes and the Apple charger."
Sasha gave a genuine laugh before stepping forward and handing Carly the glass of water. The blonde took it and drank half of it like she had been in the desert for five days.
"Thanks. Think I went mad on tequila tonight."
"I know that feeling." Sasha drank her own water too.
Carly looked up at Sasha's wall again, taking in the array of people. Sasha approached her bed and sat on the edge of it. She patted the space beside it and Carly took the hint, sitting down beside her. Carly pointed to a photo of Sasha and her granddad - it must have been a few years old, it looked Sasha at around ten years old. Carly had never met any of Sasha's relatives except for her mother at a school event last year. Jason King had only some stock photos released to the public, but even Sasha's friends had no idea about who he was really. Sasha looked at her granddad and then the girl in her room.
The older girl gave a laugh at the secrecy surrounding her family; she looked at the photo with warm eyes.
"My granddad. The first true King - a bad pun we know." Carly gave a smile, utterly adoring Sasha as she spoke. "Me and him are real close. My dad's his first and only son. Caleb's mum is dad's youngest sister and Luke and Seb's mum is the middle child. Did you know that?"
Carly shook her head.
"Yeah, not a lot of people do know that. Anyway, my granddad's always been in my life. Luke and Seb's mum lives in London, but she's an artist and has a lot of exhibitions most of the time. Her husband, David, is an investment banker. She's not in the family business as much, but our grandparents love her and the boys and he gives as much support to them as anyone else. Caleb's mum and dad live in France most of the time, but outside of school term, they're in London. But I can't stand them, so I only talk to them when necessary really. I love Caleb like he was my brother though. We're both only children and we used to be so protective of each other. Dunno what happened there." Carly ignored the use of past tense and just listened to Sasha. "I'm the only girl in the family now really and I know I get spoiled, but I can't help it. But the others, their parents were never absent like my own. My dad got so involved in the business that I hardly ever saw him. My mum and him were separated for a few years; it was kept quiet. I acted so emotionally retarded. I was so dumb and refused to talk to anyone about it."
Sasha paused for a moment, she didn't even tell Esther or Caleb about this. The memories came flooding back to her and the hurt she felt at her family apart at the time. She cleared her throat.
"My granddad was worried about me at the beginning, so he took me nearly everywhere with him. He always told me that what my dad was doing was the responsibility of the person the company was handed down to. That I shouldn't be angry or hate my dad, but that I should try and understand. I didn't, so for my birthday that year gramps took me to Hawaii - this photo is us there. Hawaii. I loved it. I tried to surf, but I figured out that I was not made for that sport." Sasha laughed at something, but didn't divulge further. She pointed to another photo to the side that revealed her, slightly older.
"Here's me at thirteen. Grandpa and Grandma took me to the Caribbean for the summer. All I did was tan and swim. I remember thinking it was the best thing ever. Then got back to Witterton and remembered hated being back at school." Sasha shook her head at the memory, embarrassed at how spoilt she was. She pointed to another photo of her, aged fifteen.
"I went to Tokyo with Granddad. This is just before, y'know, the drugs thing."
A silence. Carly looked over the photos and noticed that the youthful happy expression on Sasha's face was changed with that of a worried, empty expression in the later photos.
"What happened, Sasha? I know that you took drugs, but why? You have everything." Carly asked without any malice, it was just genuine curiosity.
Sasha thought back over everything, her eyes glazing over as she was immersed in her thoughts for a second. Almost as soon as she started she snapped out of it.
"I was annoyed and frustrated. I wish I could say something traumatic happened, but honestly? I was just giving in too easily for something that could have been dealt with if I just talked to someone. By the time I realised that I had got hooked, no-one told me to stop before it got serious, so I continued. Ego can make you do terrible things."
Carly turned to Sasha. Hazel met green in that moment. Carly's eyes were still a little unfocused. The blonde raised her hand and rested it on Sasha's cheek.
"What were you so frustrated about?"
"Didn't think there was anything or anyone in this world I couldn't have. Turns out there is."
Sasha looked at Carly, but her eyes were betraying her and she knew it. The looks she gave Carly and the way she was looking at her right now made Carly shudder. The blonde approached the brunette and laid a hand on her cheek gently.
"You... there is something about you. Makes me crazy."
"Carly, what are you on about? You are drunk." Sasha's eyebrows rose without thought and she tried to move her face away, but Carly reached out, seeking Sasha's cheek again.
"Tonight... seeing you talk to the girl Anna was it? Ugh. Didn't like it. And hearing all this about you. I... It makes me want to get to know you. Better than anyone. You've had everyone, Esther, Sarah. But did you even consider me?" Sasha looked away, embarrassment filling her eyes, "You... you drive me crazy. I wish you finished what you started in our dorm. You got me so turned on... more than Caleb ever has."
"You're drunk, Carly. You don't mean this." It took everything in Sasha to try and turn the blonde down. It was an unwritten rule to get with your family member's other half.
Carly snorted in annoyance.
"Pfft, like you've never said anything you didn't mean when pissed. Y'know how hard it is for me to say that I like you? It's real hard. But I do. I really like you." Carly pouted, looking downcast. Sasha leaned forward, not meaning to do anything other than grab the other girls attention.
"You like me, Carly? Really? Even though I'm fucked up and bad for you in every way?"
Carly threw her hands up in the air and growled in frustration.
"Y'know... you're so... dense! Sarah said you could be. At first I thought it was just curiosity, y'know? We all go through it. But like, no... there's always been something. This feeling didn't just appear, but it's always been there, I just had no idea what it was exactly. But y'know, I knew what it was as soon as asked me to have sex with him the first time."
Sasha was silent, for once in her life she was genuinely speechless. Oblivious, a slightly tipsy Carly continued her rant.
"First thing I thought was if I'm with Caleb, it means staying in touch with Sasha. Ain't that sad? My mum says avoid you, steer clear because she's heard all the crap you've done. But she don't know you like I do. I knew you before all that. At the end of the day I can't avoid you. It annoys me. It really annoys me seeing you talk to slutty brunettes in a club too. You think I wore a miniskirt and tube top for Caleb?"
"You didn't wear it for your boyfriend?"
"I won't let him get past a kiss the past few weeks, Sasha. You think I'd dress like this for him?"
Without warning, Carly leaned forward and planted a kiss on Sasha. It lasted one second, but to the young heiress the kiss lasted a lifetime. Soft, warm and wet, she had hardly felt the other girl's mouth, but missed the pleasure the mouth had brought her in that minute.
Sasha had smiled dreamily before seeing Carly looking starry eyed and then, without warning, lurch forward and pass out on her comfy queen sized bed.
Sasha sighed before realization hit her.
"She kissed me." Her eyes widened and she rushed from the room.
By the time Caleb had woken up and eventually stirred himself from one of the guest rooms, he could hear the sound of event staff in the home, the hustle and bustle for a King party in the making. As Caleb wandered down the stairs in his clothes from the night before, making his way towards the kitchen, he could hear distinct voices.
Everyone was sat in the kitchen chatting as he approached, including Marco and Liz, Sasha's parents. Liz was grinning and sharing a joke with Sasha while Marco was talking to some events staff on the side. Marco grinned as he saw his nephew.
"Caleb. Afternoon, sleeping beauty."
"Hmmm. Need food."
Marco pointed to the kitchen table where an array of food was placed - eggs, bacon, fruit, pancakes, pastries, tea, coffee and juice - the boy sat at the table and began piling his plate with all the food in the hopes it would stop his hangover. Looking up, Caleb saw Sasha nursing a coffee in her hands. She had showered and was dressed in her bespoke Paul Smith suit and ready for the day. As Caleb and the others ate as quiet as possible, Marco gestured to Sasha to the corridor. Sasha walked out, followed shortly by her father. Elizabeth saw, but instead turned to the group with a large smile on her face and simply offered one word - "Pancakes?"
The response she got was definitely positive.
Marco led Sasha to his office and sat down in one of his high-back chairs. Sasha mirrored his movement and waited; usually when her dad wanted to talk to her it was never about anything good. The look on his face showed her this was no exception.
"So... bringing home strays too now, huh?"
Sasha looked offended at his comment before realising the implication of the 'strays' he was inquiring about.
"Actually, the girls are just friends."
"I'm sure they are."
Irritated Sasha decided to clarify everything for her dad.
"Kate and Carly are from Witterton. Lucas and Caleb's interests." As Sasha said it she was reminded of last night with Carly and guilt overwhelmed her for a second before her father's somewhat remorseful voice cut through the air.
"I... assumed. Sorry." Sasha said nothing, the apology was better than nothing but to acknowledge it would give her father a type of control she didn't like him having over her. Marco looked uncomfortable now.
"I spoke to your Aunt Catarina, she spoke to Caleb. He's saying he didn't do it. When I contacted the garage about your car, they said that the way the drivers seat was placed it was for someone about six foot tall that was driving on impact. I'm sorry I thought it was you, Sasha."
"I don't care that you initially thought it was me, just that after I told you it wasn't me, you still refused to believe me."
Marco took in his daughter's words. He nodded but then sighed heavily, looking into his only child's eyes.
"Can you blame me? This time last year, you trashed the school minibus by driving it into a lake and swore to me it wasn't you, only to find out it was."
Sasha understood where her dad as coming from.
"That was last year when I was as high as a kite. Now I'm clean and drug-free and I'm trying to be better. I need you to believe in me to do that."
A silence passed between them. Marco rose from his seat and stretched. He rested a hand on Sasha's shoulder.
"I'm sorry. I'll try. I heard from your school that your grades are better than ever and your focus is so determined. I'm proud of you, you know. I don't say it often, but I am." Sasha raised an eyebrow disbelieving her father. He laughed at the disbelief on her face.
"I am. I know that I'm not the only one. Your grandad is eager to see you tonight. He has a gift for you."
Sasha laughed out loud.
"It's his birthday and he has a gift for me?" Marco nodded - he understood her amusement. What do you get the man that has everything?
CHAPTER 9 PARTY TO TRUTH
By the time everyone had left, gone to their respective hotels or homes and then come back to Sasha's home the party had already begun and was well underway.
The people that had arrived so far were the ones that would be leaving earlier than the rest - business associates and family friends of the Kings. There were a lot of the higher up employee's of King Media as well as some distant relatives (nieces and nephews of Grandpa King).
Sasha was talking to her father's assistant, Felipe, when her cousins and friends all arrived. Sasha laughed - friends? Never did she think she'd be able to think of Sarah as a friend really, but yet there she was waving cordially and smiling at Sasha as though they never had a bit of bad blood between them at all.
Sasha politely excused herself from Felipe and approached the younger crowd. She noticed Caleb was not with them at the moment but she was sure he was around for sure.
"Thank God you guys turned up. What took you all so long?"
Esther gestured to the entire group.
"You ever tried to get a group this big to meet at the same time in central London? The logistics are emosh, Sash." Sasha laughed before leaning in and hugging Esther. To keep up appearances, Sasha gave a handshake to Damon and Adam, a hug to Sarah, Kate, Stacey, and Meg. Sasha leaned in to give Carly a hug but the blonde stepped up, to kiss Sasha on each cheek first - there was an indecipherable look in her eyes that reminded Sasha of guilt but also that of remorse, almost as if she feared that contact would be their last.
She took in each of their costumes;
Damon was dressed with gold spray in his hair, a huge fake diamond earring in one ear, and he wore a white shirt, skinny jeans, and a mugshot plate around his neck. Next to him Esther had dyed her hair a more vibrant red for the night and had a black and white striped dress with a huge, fake bruise on her face. Sasha looked questioningly at them. Damon raised his hand and said "BITCH" while Esther pretended to cower. A moment later Esther grinned widely.
"I'm RiRi and he's Chris Brown, get it?" Sasha rolled her eyes.
She looked over at Sebastian and Stacey, they were dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine. Kate and Lucas had opted for Beauty and the Beast. Sasha smirked.
"The girls won the argument to be Disney Princesses, right?"
The boys sheepishly grinned. Meg and Adam stepped forward, they were dressed as John Travolta and Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction, shoeless and all. Sasha high fived Adam - the damn cool sonofabitch.
Sarah was dressed as a slutty cat - wordlessly she gave Sasha a shake of her head. The blonde just grinned. Finally Sasha caught Carly and saw she couldn't help but grin. There was Carly in a skin tight patent leather Batgirl outfit. It ended at her mid thigh only to be met by thigh high stiletto boots and she even wore the face mask but took it off a moment later, finding it a little uncomfortable.
"Nice outfit, Carls."
A small blush appeared over Carly's face. The entire group watched with knowing looks. Finally Carly looked over at Sasha, noting she was in a slate grey suit, with a matching tie and a crisp bright, white shirt. The look was finished with dark black and incredibly polished shoes. On closer inspection it even looked like Sasha had bound down her breasts - the girls not making their regular appearance on the evening dedicated to dressing with no dignity.
"Thanks. Who are you supposed to be?"
Esther made an amused giggle as she noticed something.
"Heh... you almost look like Caleb."
Sasha grinned widely and gave a quick look to Lucas - he went wide-eyed before giving a small smile to Sasha.
Sasha reached into her pocket to pull something out but the moment was interrupted by Caleb walking in. His usual brown, curly hair was covered with a black wig. He was dressed in skin tight jeans and had a top on with something squidgy underneath acting as two breasts. He carried a bottle of vodka and swigged from it. Sasha noticed he had a rubber band tied around his right arm and she hid her anger and annoyance at Caleb.
Carly went wide-eyed.
"Caleb! This is why you had to stay in the car a minute? What the - Oh no..."
"Hey everyone! It's me, Sasha. I came here looking to just blend in, but decided to act like a giant attention whore and - oh, my god, I hate you so much, Sash, I could just scream."
Caleb's face fell as he saw Sasha's outfit. He had a suit EXACTLY like it that he wore for a social mixer at King Media two years ago. The entire group shifted from Caleb dressed as Sasha to the real deal. Sasha merely grinned before pulling out two objects from her pocket and turning around obscuring her face. As she turned around Sebastian burst out laughing, unable to stop as Sasha put on a prosthetic nose and a pair of false teeth.
Caleb's face dropped as he knew instantly his plan had backfired.
Sasha had dressed like him just before his nose job and cosmetic dentistry.
"Hey Cal, I actually asked for your real teeth."
Caleb stared at his cousin, his eyes narrowed before moving his wig out of his face.
"I think mine's more entertaining."
Sasha thought it over for a moment before shrugging.
"Maybe, but mine's way more accurate. After all Cal, I used to shoot up my left arm. Attention to detail, man. Tsk tsk."
Caleb looked duly pissed off now. Sasha moved on to hug her two younger cousins, embracing them each lovingly. She couldn't help but notice that Caleb stiffened before deciding to ignore her and drink from his vodka bottle. Before Sasha could question him, Elizabeth appeared in front of the group.
"Do I even want to ask about you and Cal, honey?" Sasha shook her head, Liz shrugged and decided to address everyone in the room as a car could be heard pulling up the large gravel driveway.
"Okay his car just pulled up! Everyone! Remember to shout out!"
The lights in the house were dimmer and Sasha stood with her group nearest the front of the door.
Moments of tense silence passed before the door opened and two figures moved through the door.
"SURPRISE!" The entire group shouted and the delighted features of Mr. Jason King lit up. He clapped his hands together in glee and gave a grin that brightened up the party even more. Old Mr King was dressed as Marlon Brando from The Godfather.
Sasha couldn't wait any further, she approached her grandfather and engulfed him in a giant hug.
"Gramps, happy birthday!"
Jason held onto his grand-daughter for a moment, enjoying the rare moment of affection. He whispered in her ear,
"You come to me this the day of my birthday. "He laughed lightly. "After all the hubbub, you and I need to talk, missy." Looking with empathy, Sasha nodded.
She stepped back as her grandfather was soon besieged by well-wishers and party-goers eager to talk to one of the most powerful men in the world.
Sasha gave a small look to her group; a majority of them were already doing their own thing, but only Carly caught her eye and looked like she understood how much it meant to the heiress to see her grandfather.
Carly stepped forward and grabbed Sasha's hand before leading her off to the side.
"Are you okay? Do you hate me?" Confused Sasha shook her head.
"Hate you? Why would I hate you?" Upon seeing Sasha's completely clueless expression, realization dawned on Carly.
"Have you spoken to Caleb?"
Sasha shook her head, but looked around to see if anyone was watching them. Carly cursed under her breath.
"Shit. He said he would do this."
"What's going on?"
Carly looked up at Sasha, she bit her lip.
"He told me he would dress like this, but I didn't believe him. I'm sorry, if I knew he was serious I would have - "
"Carly, it's okay. You don't have to apologize for him."
"Still, he's my boyfriend..."
The words hit Sasha like a ton of bricks - it was bad enough being reminded about it from Caleb but to hear Carly say it was like being physically punched in the heart. She was about to react accordingly when she felt herself being dragged away by her mother and towards the main King family for a photo.
Sasha and her entire family had taken everything off and away that could obscure their real faces for the photo.
Jason stood in the middle with his wife Margaret beside him. Next to Jason was Marco, next to Margaret was Jennifer and in front of Jason and Margaret was Catarina. Jason gestured for Sasha to stand in front of him, and he rested his hand on her shoulder. Caleb stood in front of Margaret and in front of Jennifer stood Sebastian. Next to Marco was Elizabeth and Lucas stood in front of her to maintain symmetry. Next to Jennifer was her husband, David, and next to Catarina was her husband, Patrice.
Everyone forced their smiles like pros - a seemingly happy empire. Sasha's smile disappeared almost instantly.
Straight after, Sasha turned to leave only to find Caleb standing there. Jason saw the interference and took a step to his two eldest grandchildren.
"You hear my good news, Gramps?" Sasha remained still, Caleb continued. "She's a great girl, right, Sash?"
"Who is a great girl? Ah, this is the girlfriend that you've hidden from me?" Jason's voice was clear and Caleb turned to his grandfather, giving a radiant smile.
"Grandfather! I haven't hidden her. It's been almost a year. Have you met her yet?" Jason said nothing as his eyes darted to Sasha noting her clenched jaw. Jason then followed Caleb's gaze to the young blonde in question.
Jason's eyes widened and he was impressed; he never thought his grandson would ever get a stunner like the girl he pointed out now. Carly's hair was up in a stylish ponytail, accenting her features and her good looks while the costume she wore showed nothing but the best of her body too. He looked suitably proud of his grandson.
"Caleb, she's a keeper."
"I know, Gramps. I plan to keep it that way."
Sasha laughed out loud at it all. She had no idea that hearing those words would hurt her so much. In the pit of her stomach she felt the stirrings of jealousy once more. Carly had agreed to be with Caleb and as such meant that she was out of bounds. Sasha looked around, instantly seeking out Sarah - knowing that old feeling. She tried to fight it, but it almost overwhelmed her.
She had wanted Carly, but had missed her chance. The window of opportunity was gone now and she had never hated herself more. Carly had been the object of Sasha's affections for almost four years but Sasha had been too scared to wreck their friendship. Sasha had confided in Caleb at the time and he had no idea who Carly was. Once he saw her though, he joked he wouldn't mind a shot at her himself. But not until he hit sixteen and his parents let him get his surgery.
He had decided to get his slightly large nose fixed and he had crooked teeth that his parents always assured him would grow in. He was impatient and for his sixteenth birthday decided to get it fixed. After that every girl jumped on him, completely oblivious that his new look was not attributed to puberty but an incredibly skilled set of hands on Harley Street. Shortly after he had the courage to chase after Carly, and the rest as they say, is history.
If there is one rule that Sasha always stuck to it was this: you don't fuck about with a family member's love life. Ever.
That rule applied for Sasha now more than ever.
Jason turned to his grand-daughter and gave an understanding look before nodding his head to the side. Sasha said nothing but followed her granddad out past the hall and into her father's study.
"Are you okay, Sasha?"
A silence. Sasha stayed still, but said nothing. She just continued to frown as she had been.
"Sasha, talk to me." Jason approached his grand-daughter, concern etched across his features.
"I'm fine. Just... stressed."
Jason sat down in one of the chairs. He watched his grand-daughter with wary eyes.
"I heard about your car. Crashing it into Bianchi's restaurant. Not you, though."
Sasha snapped her eyes to her grandad; shock covering her features. Jason laughed at his grand-daughter's expression.
"You think I don't have my feelers out for every single time you're mentioned? Interesting that you manage to crash your car into half the town before you hit your own school, all that without even being behind the wheel. I know it was Caleb... so why are you covering for him?"
"You know why. If I don't start covering for him now then when it gets down to it and it's just us and you guys are long gone, I'll have to do it then anyway. I had best get used to it. Better late than never."
Jason felt bad, it was true that the Kings' were well known for covering up scandals in their own families; they had bought their way out of nearly every headline - then they bought most of the papers and news channels to make it easier.
"It's hard, but it's the way it goes. Your dad went through it and true, when his time is up, you'll be taking over King Media and babysitting everyone. I believe in you, you'll do fantastic."
Sasha said nothing, her mind still preoccupied with thoughts of Caleb and Carly. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath before looking back at her grandfather.
"Gramps, you'll always tell me the truth right?" Jason nodded. "Why don't mum and dad talk to Aleks? You know who he is."
Jason looked deep in thought before he decided on sharing the info he knew.
"From the restaurant? I don't think your parents are aware of him. He was friends of your parents, a lovely young man. He did everything for your mum and dad. I take it you met him?" Sasha nodded. "And he told you he was our godfather?" Another nod. "It was your parents' decision. They fell out a few years after you were born. You were only a toddler."
"I know they fell out. What happened? I know you know. You know everything."
Jason kept his gaze on Sasha. He clucked his tongue for a moment before he stood up and straightened out his suit.
"It's really not my place to say, but I will say this. After he told your mum and dad something they haven't spoken to him since. Take it up with your parents from there, kiddo. But your secret with Aleks is safe with me."
Sasha looked displeased with the end result of the conversation, but understood that if it was something as serious as a divulged secret, then she would follow it up with her parents another day.
Jason reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a set of keys with a noticeable Lexus insignia on it.
"This oughta cheer you up." Jason threw the keys at Sasha and she effortlessly caught them. Sasha looked at the car keys and did brighten up. Sasha was about to head out to the front to see the car when Jason placed a hand on her shoulder and escorted her from the study and through the busy house to the front. Jason leaned forward slightly and whispered into her ear.
"It's the newest model, LS 460, just for you. Sorry about the Merc. It oughta distract you from the girl though." Sasha didn't give a thing away but knew her granddad could tell there was something between her and Carly - Sasha had no real words for it but the buzz that went through her every time Carly even looked at her, it was almost like an electrical charge between them.
Sasha opened the front door, looked out on the drive and saw a driver standing beside a gorgeous metallic grey LS 460 model. Jason looked over at the driver and gave him a small nod - the guy walked away from the Lexus and headed back to the Continental Bentley where Jason's main chauffeur was, taking his seat beside him and staying quiet.
"Gramps, I can't take this."
"She's right, Dad, it's too much." Marco's voice alerted Sasha to her father's presence. Jason and Sasha turned around to find Marco looking at the Lexus with slightly disapproving eyes. Jason gave a loud laugh and put an arm around his son's shoulder and affectionately squeezed his son's arm. A small group of partygoers were gathering nearby but once they saw the car they went back inside to share the news of the new sports car on the drive.
"Ah, Marco, she could use a little something to cheer her up. Her own car taken by Caleb, among other things."
Marco looked confused at his dad's words. Sasha fought to prevent a blush from rising to her face. Jason looked at the confusion on his son's face before he realised his error and gave a slightly nervous laugh.
"Ah, I think this is a conversation for later." Jason gave a remorseful look to his grand-daughter, who gave an understanding nod. That left Sasha standing with her dad, an awkward silence fell over them.
Marco cleared his throat, Sasha looked at her father. He gave a small smile.
"It's a nice car." Sasha chuckled gently before nodding.
"Yeah, it is. I wasn't expecting it."
"I know." Another silence before Marco looked at his daughter with concerned eyes. "Are you okay, Sash?"
Any other day, Sasha was sure that she would have rolled her eyes and looked blankly at her dad before muttering a generic response. But today, probably with all the events that had occurred in the small space of time, had incited a different reaction from Sasha. She opened her mouth, then closed it, a lump formed in her throat and she coughed to try and clear it, but to no avail. Tears formed in her eyes and Sasha breathed in deep before exhaling slowly.
"Do you know what, dad? No, not really. I'm really not okay."
Sasha turned around to her father. Marco was surprised to see the wetness in her eyes and he felt an urge to hug her. So he did. Sasha was tense into the hug at first, but all the stress that had been building up felt like it had been bubbling up and the longer her dad held her the quicker the release of all her feelings were about to explode.
Marco held onto Sasha, he was immediately reminded of when she was a young girl and would get into scrapes and rush to him for a hug and a plaster and to make it all better. That was before he took over most of the duties for his dad and left pretty much all the parenting to Elizabeth.
During Sasha's rehab, Marco had gone to three sessions out of the thirty and each time he had left early, unable to share affectionate moments with his daughter - it didn't fit the image he had built up of indiscriminate ruthless businessman.
It was in this moment, hugging his daughter, that he had realised how much his daughter needed him still, that even though she had fucked up and done a lot of stupid shit she was still a young kid and needed him as he wanted to be needed by his daughter.
"I love you, Sasha. I'm sorry."
That was all it took.
Sasha's body began to shake, the tears winning the fight over her body. Marco could feel his own barriers begin to weaken. He stayed strong and held onto his little girl and waited for her to get everything out of her system as much as she could.
"Dad... I. I'm sorry, I'm wrecking grandad's party."
"Don't be silly. Your granddad's inside now, probably distracting everyone for us. What's wrong? You can tell me."
Inside, Sasha laughed at the situation. A few months ago, Sasha couldn't even tell her dad about her feelings on the weather, let alone how she felt. But she knew that for her dad to be this way with her he was trying really hard to be there for her, and to be honest, she needed it. An outlet.
"It's so stupid. And pointless. I... I have feelings for someone. But I can't have her. And I'm getting the blame for all Caleb's shit and I'm working so hard to try and get better at everything, but I don't think I can do it, I don't think anyone wants me to succeed. Maybe I don't deserve it. Everyone wants Caleb to take over, so just give it to him! He has everything else I want, so why not that too?!"
Marco made a gentle 'shush' sound. His daughter had talked at such a speedy rate and with catches in her breath that he feared anymore might cause her to start hyperventilating.
"Let's go inside, get you upstairs, and away from people, yeah?"
Sasha pulled back from her dad and shook her head, she brought her hands to her eyes and gently wiped away at her eyes and forced on a smile.
"No, that'll only bring stupid questions. I'm just gonna go inside and enjoy myself." Marco watched as his daughter began to transform herself. Marco noticed the change immediately, it reminded her of the previous year, where Sasha did what she wanted without caring about the repercussions of her actions. But it wasn't a full transformation into the old Sasha - the walls she put up to deal with people was there but not the old, no-morals Sasha.
"Sasha, let me tell you something, okay?" Sasha gave a small nod. "You can have anything you want if you work hard enough. And you are working hard. It's yours for the taking."
Sasha gave a small laugh, knowing her father's words technically were true, but as everyone knew the theoretical side of everything is always harder than the practical side to apply.
As Sasha made her way back up the stairs, Marco followed - he was genuinely worried about his daughter, but knew that there was a lot of issues they had to resolve before they had a healthy relationship and got rid of all the dysfunction in their life. They always had the love, all they needed to do was get to a level where it could shine without any of their anger for each other.
Re-entering the home, Sasha saw Caleb and Carly standing near the food table where a giant cake was being brought out for their grandfather, who was laughing cordially with some people and receiving his well-wishes.
"You know Dad, there are some things in life I just can't have. I realised that, but now I gotta learn to deal with that."
Sasha grabbed two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter and downed one with ease, placing the glass back on the tray and held the other champagne glass.
"Sash, don't drink too much."
Sasha sipped from her glass before walking over to the group of family and friends gathered around her grandfather. Marco sighed before joining them all, instantly going to Liz and finding comfort and solace in his wife. Liz held Marco's hand and looked from Marco to Sasha with inquisitive eyes. Marco forced a smile before shaking his head and speaking quietly.
"Let's just leave her for a bit, honey. Don't smother her."
Liz looked over at her only child, watching as she finished her champagne and grabbed another glass. Sasha spoke to a waiter who nodded, disappeared, then reappeared a minute later with a glass of whiskey.
"Thanks for coming, have a safe journey home. Bye bye."
Marco sighed as the last of the party guests left the house. The only people left were the King family, Kate, Stacey, Sarah, Carly, Meg, Adam, Damon, and Esther.
Marco turned to his siblings and his parents.
"The car's on their way. They should be here any minute now."
His sister, Jen, nodded. Marco noted that her husband David looked exhausted.
"Yeah, no problem, Marc. Good party."
Jason gave a wide yawn and patted his son on the shoulder.
"My driver's here, so I'll head off. I'm getting too old for all this, but I enjoyed myself tonight. It was good seeing you all."
Jason approached his son and gave him a hug. He kissed Liz on the cheek. Jason's wife followed suit. Jason gave a hug and kiss to all his kids and a handshake to his daughters' husbands. He approached Lucas and Sebastian and gave a hug and a kiss - whispering something in their ear that caused both to give a warm smile and nod at their grandfather. Jason hugged Caleb and said something in his ear too - Caleb just sulked before nodding and giving a forced smile to the old man.
As their grandmother gave the boys hugs and kisses and commented on how much they had grown, Jason approached Sasha. The young woman had been steadily drinking a lot the whole night and was quite utterly trashed, but she was remaining silent and just moody and sulking in the corner, swirling a glass of whiskey in her hand and sipping from it.
"Sasha..." He said nothing more but stared at her. Sasha locked gazes before giving a very slight nod.
Jason sighed, he knew she'd be fine, but he couldn't help but worry about her. Sasha's grandmother gave a hug and a kiss and pinched her cheeks, eliciting a small grin from Sasha before the young woman went back to nursing her drink.
"Goodnight, everybody." The grandparents gave a fond smile before they left out the door to their waiting car.
A small awkward silence fell over the group, the only sounds being that of the catering and event team cleaning up the mess left behind by the guests at the party.
The doorbell rang after a minute and Catarina and her husband Patrice stood, making their way to the door, revealing their driver. Catarina gave a tight smile before she addressed her brother.
"Our car is here. Caleb, come along."
"Coming, ma." Caleb went to grab Carly's hand, but the girl stayed still. The group noting an awkward moment to come decided to preoccupy themselves by heading over to the food table and commenting on the cake.
Caleb looked a little embarrassed at the snub and grabbed Carly's hand.
"Carly, let's go."
Carly raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Caleb, I'm not coming to your house and spending the night."
Catarina gave an impatient sigh.
"Caleb, we don't have time for this. Or you coming or not?"
Caleb's jaw clenched and he looked suitably pissed off. He ignored his mum for a moment before he looked over to their group of friends who were pretending they couldn't hear the conversation. All the adults present watched the interaction.
"Carly, if you're not coming with me, your boyfriend, where are you going to go?"
"I'll get a cab home, but I won't stay at yours, Caleb, it's not up for discussion."
Carly rolled her eyes as the gorgeous boy turned on his heel and left, a pout on his face - acting like a five year old was an art that Caleb had mastered. Carly ignored the fact he was in skinny jeans and a tee shirt, his fake Sasha boobs had been discarded somewhere and he got rid of the wig too.
The door closed and Jen gave a small laugh before shaking her head in despair and sharing a look with her brother.
"Oh God, just like his mother. What a brat."
Marco laughed out loud and nodded.
"Yeah, just hope he grows out of it."
Jen snorted before looking at Marco with a knowing look.
"Yeah 'cos Cat did." Jen turned to her boys. "Luke, Seb, do your friends need to be dropped off anywhere?" Jen definitely spoke to her boys with more fondness and love than Cat spoke to Caleb and it was evident her and David loved their kids just from the look of pride radiating from them.
The twins looked over at the group and the majority gave a nod. Kate spoke for them, her role as Lucas's girl cemented as his spokesperson.
"If it's not too much trouble, the girls here are staying at the Four Seasons, and I'm in Chelsea. Is that okay?" Jen gave a wide smile and a nod, although tired she was more than accommodating for her son's girlfriend and the other friends.
There was a knock at the door and David opened the door, smiling at the driver and passing on the details of all the stops. The driver nodded and smiled, the stops being no issue at all.
David approached Marco and shook his hand, it was clear the two had a good friendship and Marco liked David - much more than Patrice who Marco had been ignoring all night.
"Thank you again, Marco, for the wonderful night. Liz, a pleasure. We'll see you soon."
David gave a platonic kiss on the cheek to Liz before his wife followed suit as well as Jen hugging Marco. The group headed for the door, everyone saying goodbye to Marco and Liz but no-one approaching Sasha as she had been notably ignoring everyone all night. Carly was about to exit with the group, but she paused and gestured to the girls to wait for a minute in the car. Jen gave a nod.
Damon, Esther, and Adam shared a look. Damon got out his car keys and the other two nodded. Adam would get dropped off at his home by Damon before Damon stayed the night at Esther's no doubt.
Adam approached Sasha and held out his arm, his fist clenched. Sasha smiled before bumping fists and downing her whiskey.
"Princess, I'm off. Thanks for the invite. And thanks for not throwing me out Mr. King."
Marco just made a humming sound at Adam's comment and Liz gave a small chuckle, knowing there was no animosity, but a fake love-hate relationship between Marco and Adam over Sasha. Esther approached Sasha and forced a hug on the girl.
"Night. We'll do cinema or something before going back on Monday, yeah? Just hang out." Sasha just gave a nod and muttered back a 'sure'. Damon didn't approach Sasha, but just gave a wave which was returned half-heartedly.
That left three, which was Marco, Liz, Sasha, and Carly.
Marco looked at the young blonde standing in the doorway who was looking between Sasha and her parents. Liz seemed to get the message and tugged on Marco's sleeve.
"Honey, let's go make sure the caterers have everything sorted, yeah?" Marco wasted no time in following his wife away from the awkwardness.
As he left Marco realised that the blonde must have been what Sasha was talking about earlier.
Sasha finished her whiskey in one go. She looked over at Carly and gave a small smile.
"You shouldn't keep them all waiting, you know. I know Uncle David has a busy day tomorrow. He'll wanna get home and rest as soon as possible."
Carly nodded, understanding but she had to get something out of her system.
"You okay? You're wasted."
"It's cool, I'm cool. It don't matter. Whatever." Carly stepped forward, reaching out for Sasha, only to have the brunette step back.
"It does matter Sasha. I know... that you and me, we have something. I feel it, I know you do too. But don't - "
"Then why are you with him?!" Sasha couldn't help the outburst, but straight after she said it she felt two things - like a weight had been lifted and like she had left herself open, vulnerable. She felt relieved, but felt scared.
"A year. I can't just throw that away so easily. A part of me does really love him, you know?"
Sasha scoffed at what Carly said.
"Bullshit. You're just with Caleb 'cos he's a rich prettyboy and it makes you the 'it' girl. It elevates your status and you love that." Carly softened her eyes, knowing Sasha didn't mean what she said.
Sasha stepped closer, getting too close to Carly but the blonde wasn't worried. In fact that almost familiar feeling of arousal began to grow in her stomach and Carly's breath caught at the feral look in Sasha's eyes.
"Last night, you were in my room. Spent the night in my bed while I just sat there and watched you. 'Cos you kissed me. You wanted me. You said so. And after that you're still with Caleb? Like everything else is onyl real when it suits you. Nah, you're just with him 'cos it looks better than being with me, the fuck-up. I can't really blame you, but fucking hell, Carly, I thought you weren't such a coward. The worst part is now you know what you do to me. I made myself believe you were blissfully unaware, but you know. God, you always knew. That's just cruel."
Carly opened her mouth, she had always known on a level, but never had confirmation until recently. She also hadn't mentioned the kiss, but she remembered it vividly. She hadn't regretted it and was about to say so, but Sasha continued, the drink giving her courage to say things she otherwise would never say.
"You know I've never been jealous of him. Ever. Until now."
Sasha leaned forward, placing a hand on Carly's waist and planting her lips on the other girl's. Carly moaned into the kiss before Sasha pulled back - reminding herself of the golden rule: You don't fuck about with a family member's other half.
"The fuck am I doing? I'm sorry. It's the booze. You should go."
Carly just nodded, lost in a hazy world of lust and arousal as Sasha ushered her to the door. Sasha watched as Carly got into the car and disappeared with everyone else.
Sasha made her way to her room, unaware of her parents who had watched the entire thing from the hallway. Liz looked up at Marco and gave a sad sigh.
"She reminds me of Aleksander right now." Marco's jaw clenched and he looked down at his wife.
"Yes, she does."
CHAPTER 10 EXHAUSTING CONVERSATIONS
The half term was over and Sasha was back at Witterton. Since returning she had been almost militant in her school.
She was first up and ready, first to class and last to leave.
Since the party, she had been avoiding everyone but Esther and Adam, just informing them of her whereabouts and asking the two of the whereabouts of everyone else.
Since getting back to school, Sasha had endured countless questions of every girl and guy asking her if it was true Caleb and Carly were together. Sasha had just confirmed it and then gotten tired of constantly being forced to repeat something that she hoped wasn't true as much as she knew it - Caleb was indeed very serious about his latest girlfriend. Sasha could see it in the moments she happened to see the two together.
It had lead Sasha to asking Miss Williams for a separate room, which she was denied. However, Miss Williams did advise Sasha to look for an exchange if she felt so passionate about it.
Which lead Sasha to this moment, sitting in the room occupied by her best friend and Sarah. Esther and the blonde looked at Sasha with concerned look.
"You want a room swap?" Sasha nodded at Esther's question.
"I swear Caleb wanted all this in the beginning and now you're giving him what he wants? Weird." Sasha glared at Sarah for a moment.
"Yes, he did. Sorry. But I can't be in that room. Sarah, I will give you anything I have for you to swap." Sarah considered the request. She hadn't actually minded rooming with Esther, the other girl was clean, considerate, and hardly ever there truth be told. But Sarah knew that by swapping, Carly's feelings would be hurt by the action. But it would be cruel to force Sasha to stay in that room. Someone was bound to get hurt.
"Thank you. So much." Sasha looked like she had been relieved of the weight of the world, her features brightened.
"We'll do it tomorrow. She's off to town to go shopping for Christmas presents with us."
"You want me to move all the stuff on my own?"
"If you wanna do it so much, you do it solo, King." Sarah gave a challenge to Sasha, but the brunette smartly stayed quiet, silent agreeing to the condition. Esther reached forward and patted Sasha's knees.
"I'll help. Get Damon and Adam to help make it easier."
Sasha nodded in gratitude at her friend's words of help.
"All done. It didn't take as long as I thought actually." Damon seemed rather pleased that the room change had only taken an hour and a half to do. Miss Williams had given permission for the two boys to be in the girls' dorm to help Sasha's move to be done as quickly as possible.
"Yeah, but why did we have to do it so bloody early?" Adam looked as tired as he sounded and he grinned as Sasha threw a pillow at him.
"Because I have to go out in a bit and I wanted this all done before the others got back."
Sasha looked over at Adam who seemed to just yawn, but nodded, comprehending the logic behind it. Esther sat on her bed with Damon, the two seeming to enjoy just relaxing for the time being.
Adam looked like he was about to fall asleep but he managed to keep his eyes open before looking down at his watch and standing up.
"I better get going anyway. I got plans today." Sasha raised an eyebrow.
"You have plans? You never have plans, you just have drinks and sleep." Adam gave a mysterious little grin.
"Well, today I have plans." There was a silence as the three in the room looked expectantly at Adam. He gave a small smile before sighing, "I'm taking Meg out somewhere special if you must know."
It wasn't unexpected and Sasha found herself smiling for Adam. Meg was a nice girl. She was pretty, smart, had a good wit and she didn't take any shit - which would probably be a good thing. He was probably asking her to keep their relationship going through uni - a lot of couples were facing that obstacle and some found the promise coupled with a promise ring to be as good as a proposal at this age.
"Aww, everyone's pairing up and all official." As soon as Damon said it he cursed himself and looked at Sasha with apologetic eyes. "Sorry, Sasha, I didn't -"
Sasha waved off Damon's apology.
"Dude, don't apologise." She stood as well. "I had better get ready, A-D. I'll catch you later. Damon, Es, you two have a good day, yeah? See you around."
Sasha didn't wait for any response, grabbing her keys for her new Lexus and heading out to Bianchi's.
As Sasha entered Bianchi's, the restaurant wasn't too busy as it had just opened. She looked around for a familar face and was surprised to see Aleksander standing by the maitre d', greeting some VIP guests.
Aleksander saw Sasha and gestured for her to come to him.
"Whatever. I need comfort food. And a shiraz."
Aleksander nodded, before leading her into the kitchen. He threw her an apron and Sasha looked incredulously at Aleks. He gave an amused smile.
"You cut the veggies as I tell you. Leave the cooking to me." Sasha put on the apron and laughed.
"Wise choice. But letting me have a knife? I think your mind is going, Aleks."
Aleksander didn't doubt it and the two began working in surprisingly good harmony together. Sasha peeled and cut several potatoes that Aleks then sautéed, roasted, or fried.
When Sasha cut the onions, Aleks showed her a trick where you freeze the onions for five minutes, then use the sharpest knife possible as well as place the onions flat side down after cutting them in half in order to prevent tears streaming down your face the whole time.
It was about an hour into the process when Sasha looked over at Aleks, who had stopped giving orders and was in the zone.
"Can I ask you a question, Aleks?" The older gentleman nodded.
"Why aren't you married?" Aleks looked a little confused at the question before he gave an enigmatic smile and shook his head.
"That was a bit random, wasn't it?" Sasha shook her head.
"Not really. I mean here we are. You... someone that was in love with my mum, who couldn't be with her and I just wanted to know if you were married or not. If you ever got over her that is. Did you ever get over the one? The one you thought you loved?"
Aleks turned the heat low on the stove and looked at Sasha.
"You think I never got over your mum? Is that what they told you?"
Sasha shook her head.
"No, when would I have ever had a chance to ask them? All my grandpa said was that something happened and they stopped talking to you. I kinda took a wild guess to be honest."
Aleks looked over at Sasha. The young girl had stopped chopping and stared at the man beside her. Aleks looked around the room before sighing.
"Sash, sit down." Sasha looked ready to hear whatever Aleks said. She sat on her chair once more, eager for every word he said. "I was never in love with your mother. She was like my best friend, but I never had those feelings for her."
Sasha looked confused. If Aleks wasn't in love with her mother, then what the hell happened?
"I'm... a homosexual, Sasha. Everyone pretty much knows it, but I don't advertise it."
Realisation hit Sasha like a ton of bricks. She sat on her chair completely dumbfounded.
"You never loved my mum... ever. You... You were in love with my dad?" Aleksander looked a little guilty and ashamed, but he nodded, his eyes never meeting Sasha's.
"Why? He's a total cunt." Aleksander's jaw clenched.
"He might be now, but he was never that way before. Don't speak about your dad that way, young lady." Sasha had a million and one questions.
"Did you ever tell him?" Aleks nodded.
"What happened? What did he do?"
Aleksander raised an eyebrow - letting the realisation set in for Sasha herself. She made an 'O' shape with her mouth before she turned a light shade of red.
"He cut you out of his life. What did my mum do?" Aleksander relived the moment and his eyes welled with tears.
"She hugged me. Said she was sorry. That she still loved me. Then your dad hit me and told me to get out of his sight. Been that way ever since."
Sasha looked like she was about to cry for Aleks, it was so clear that he never got over her father. The way he remembered the moment was a mixture of shame and affection. So odd.
"You're still in love with him."
Aleksander said nothing, but Sasha took it as a confirmation. Aleks took a deep breath and looked back to the stove. He turned the heat up and again and continued cooking.
"It doesn't matter."
Sasha stopped her cutting and looked at Aleks - she had to know something.
"Does it ever get easier?" Aleks fought the lump rising in his throat. He shook his head.
"No. You just get better at lying about how you feel about them."
Sasha felt worse than ever. Aleksander noticed and looked at her with curiosity and concern.
The young heiress shook her head and forced a smile. She didn't wanna talk about her own shit right now. She decided if anything, she had to find a way to cope with it rather than continually talk about something that could never happen.
Even if she did decide to go after Carly, she couldn't take the hurt she knew it could cause Caleb. The disarray that would happen in the family. It wasn't worth it.
"Nah, Aleks. Just the woes of growing up that no-one ever tells you about. Speaking of, cheer me up, tell me about the time you decided to go surfing pissed in the worse weather again."
Aleks immediately began smiling, clearly a flood of memories swimming back to him.
"I remember this one time, a whole group of us went to Cornwall, rented a cottage, and decided surfing while absolutely pissed was the best thing ever."
Sasha listened attentively to every word Aleksander told her, about how much they drank, the stupid things that her dad did - she had no idea he had ever streaked, let alone on a beach, but every time she heard it she laughed hard. She laughed even harder at the antics of the story the first time she ever heard it, unaware and completely oblivious that her parents had once been her age and acted just like her and her friends.
Aleks moved from one story to the next, from the time he first ever met her mother to the first time he ever met her dad. It was the way he spoke about her dad that caught her attention now more than before.
"I had always seen Marco, but we were always in different classes and timetables. I had never really gotten to know him. I knew I liked men at that age, but it was kind of taboo to even say it. Anyway in year ten, me and your mum got changed into different forms, and we were suddenly in your dad's class. I suddenly knew what every girl at school was talking about. He walked in like he owned the place, which was kinda true, I guess. But he came in and just took control. I made the rugby team that year and me and him became friends, talking more and getting to know each other. Kinda became inseparable best friends up to no good all the time. He asked your mum out at a party and I remember that night I cried myself to sleep. I could tell the second they saw each other that that was it. They were in love."
Aleks became downcast again, cooking almost as a second nature.
"He raved about her to me, begging me to get all her details. 'Cos she didn't care if he was rich or not. He had a bit of a bad rep, but she gave him a chance and he wanted to impress her so bad. Your mum just kept telling me that she thought he was great. It was after we finished our A Levels and we would be leaving Witterton that it all came out. My parents found out about me and my dad kicked me out. Marco let me stay at his, not understanding why I was suddenly cut off. Liz came over and talked to me, wanted to know what had happened, she had heard rumours. I told her and she said I should tell all our friends and that I'd be safe. I told Marco the next day and he was fine with it. I didn't tell him I loved him though."
Sasha watched as Aleks said everything as though it was an even that had never happened to him. She recognised the style of speaking as one similar to her own. It was it easier to share your emotions when you disassociated yourself. He had never shared this much with her, their friendship being just mutual escapism in each other.
"Your mum got pregnant about a year later, your dad was so ecstatic. I was there for both of them throughout it all, they had helped me become reunited with my own family so I thought it was the least I could do you. When they had you I was the only person they asked to be in the room with them. Said without me you wouldn't be here, I was their link. They gave you my name, Sasha, and then gave me the honour of being your godparent. A few years passed when your mum and dad spoke to me. Sat me down at the house with dinner and some drinks. Most of our friends had settled down but me and he was worried about me. I was fucking about and never serious about anyone. He was worried I was being unsafe. He got me angry with his questions and in anger I kissed him. Told him I loved him. He hit me so hard. Your mum tried to hug me and get me to stay but your dad demanded I leave, so I did. I left."
Sasha was silent. She could only imagine the pain he went through, how hard it must have been for Aleks to tell her father, to be worried about the reactions of everyone in your life. He had everything taken from him and had to fight to get it all back, and then to be left without his best friends.
Sasha had remembered her grandfather's words at the Hallowe'en party almost a year before "is that supposed to be a shock, Sash?" Sasha knew what no-one else thought mattered at all to her. Her mother and father had been supportive and threatened to destroy the career of anyone that dared badmouth Sasha about her sexuality - family included. No-one had really cared but Sasha was in an age where who you slept with mattered fuck all in the UK.
For some reason, the entire evening, standing there helping Aleksander make dishes and cleaning up after him while he shared stories of Sasha's mum and dad, Sasha felt more needed and wanted than she could remember - maybe Aleksander needed her more than he let on somedays. She was glad she had come to know him.
Sasha looked at the clock on the wall and was surprised to see it was well into the evening. Aleks followed her line of sight before he sighed.
"Today's... been long. Go home. I'm not around tomorrow, me and Susan are catching up. Girls night in, so no young interruptions while we relive our glory days."
"I hope I'm not this weird when I'm your age." Aleks guffawed out loud, not even watching as Sasha took her apron off and hung it up before leaving the premises.
Sasha pulled into the school's car park at around midnight.
She had stayed in town for a bit, heading to HMV to grab some DVDs. Afterwards she walked around the high street and just took in the nice quietness of the town at night, when hardly anyone is around and it's just the architecture and atmosphere of life without any hectic drawbacks. She stopped at a drive-through and grabbed a burger and fries as well as a milkshake - she had enjoyed the little pleasures in life. She had deliberately put her phone on silent from the morning onwards, expecting a barrage of calls and texts from people from school, but she had other concerns right now.
Sasha had a lot to think about this evening. She felt like she should do something about her parents and Aleksander though, like the bad air could be resolved just by talking it out, but that would have to be a time and day that required so much thought, time, and effort on Sasha's part. Right now she couldn't focus on that, but she resolved to sort that issue out one day.
Sasha also had her own drama to think about. She had successfully evaded Carly for most of the time back to the school and the room switch now meant it would be easier for her. No more going to bed at midnight and then waking up at 5am to ensure her room-mate was asleep just so Sasha could successfully avoid her.
It was only when Sasha was entering the main building for the dorms that she saw the outline of someone standing by the entrance to the dorms. It was dark and Sasha couldn't make out who it was.
After a few more steps, Sasha was shocked to see it was her cousin, Caleb.
He saw her and unfolded the arms that were crossed against his chest. His face was unusually pensive and Sasha was worried for a moment. Sasha slowed as she approached him.
"Hey Cal, what's up?"
Caleb said nothing, was silent for a few more moments. He looked towards the entrance for the girls' dorm before looking back to Sasha.
"Come with me."
The way Caleb spoke, with just a simple demand Sasha found she couldn't resist and nodded, following her cousin into the lounge to find it was empty.
"I'm good, Cal."
Sasha complied and sat down. Caleb followed suit. He stared at his cousin for a few more moments, making her feel uneasy.
"So today... I spent three hours watching my girlfriend cry. Cry so fucking hard. And you know exactly why. What I don't understand is why you snuck around to do it?"
Sasha looked uneasy for a moment, Caleb's calm demeanour was unusual for her to see. He was always an animated character publicly, but Sasha knew this was the real Caleb deep down - calm, collected Caleb.
"I didn't mean to sneak around. I just didn't want a thousand questions. It's done now, so that's that."
Caleb nodded, digesting the information. He could understand not wanting to make an announcement about it, but there was more to it and he was determined to find out.
"Why room swap in the first place?"
Sasha hadn't expected her cousin to be so direct or for the simple question to stump her so much. She had known why she'd done it, but she didn't have a lie prepared to feed to everyone else. Caleb saw how his cousin was racking her brain for something and he was slightly amused at the process. He decided to put her out of her misery.
"Honestly Sash. Tell me, is it because you have feelings for Carly?" Sasha opened her mouth to protest, but Caleb held his hand up. "Don't tell me you don't, that would just be insulting me."
Sasha avoided looking Caleb in the eye. He gave a small, short bittersweet laugh before he stood and took calm steps over to the window looking out onto the dark green field that comprised of their school grounds.
"Remember the first time we ever saw her? You spotted her first. I didn't even notice her until a couple of years later really. The expression on your face that day - you looked like you just found the Holy Grail. I can see why, she's amazing. Really she is."
Sasha stayed still, not saying a word just letting Caleb get it all out of his system.
"You know, I love you, Sash. I know I don't really show it, but you're like a sister to me. I can't imagine not having you in my life. You've put up with me and been through so much crap with me. Every birthday and holiday we've spent together. You were my wingman back in the day too. Remember those days?"
Sasha smiled at the memories. Together they had never misbehaved, but they had been mischievous once or twice definitely. Caleb must have remembered the memories because he shared her fond smile for a second before it disappeared.
"You know when Grandad told us not to reveal which one of us was older, I was so pissed off because it was just one big secret designed to protect you. I got so pissed off that I couldn't celebrate my birthday with my friends on the actual day. That we had to share a birthday to keep it all hidden. Grandad was so paranoid we would be easy prey for the money hungry vultures. I even told him, and he told me not to argue and it was just the way it was done. Then I found out how you'd inherit everything, get majority of everything and I was so jealous, Sash. So fucking jealous. Of everything you would have."
Sasha was shocked at the admission, she had always assumed Caleb just lived the life he wanted and was perfectly content. He had shown a few times some resentment about the inheritance, but Sasha totally understood that. She stood to inherit the majority of a £19billion empire. She'd be pissed if she missed out on it because she was born a few weeks later.
"And I always thought I'd get over it. Never really did. But then Carly... puberty treated her well and I liked her. I knew you did too. Probably even loved her."
Sasha's lack of argument served as a confirmation for Caleb.
"You guys were inseparable. Besties. Until she got with me. Then she hardly sees you. That's when I thought you had lost interest. As soon as I pursued her, I saw a change in you, Sash. I didn't know what to make of it. You get fucked off your face on drugs. And I thought a part of me would actually be pleased. That you wanted something I had so bad it was driving you insane."
Sasha watched as Caleb turned back to her. He put one hand in his jeans pocket and the other he ran through his curls. He looked more tired now than Sasha had ever seen him before.
"I always thought if I ever had something that would make you jealous, I'd feel so good about it. Douchey, I know, but it's true. But I don't. I feel shitty. I don't like knowing that it's driven you to what you became. You avoid her, as a result avoid me. And when my girlfriend cried tonight, I felt real shitty. And something else I never felt before... like I'd done you wrong somehow. Because she's crying more for you tonight and it is crystal clear that she feels more for you tonight than she ever has for me the entire time we've been together. I truly do feel for her, but to know she doesn't for me? It's worse than how I felt in the beginning."
Sasha had had enough. She stood up, wanting the conversation to be over and to just go to bed and sleep - her only legal form of escapism.
"I'm going to bed."
"Sasha. If you want her, you have to make a move for her. Before we all get too involved."
"You're telling me you're not involved now?"
Caleb looked away for a moment before he shrugged and looked back to Sasha.
"I'm giving you a chance to be honest with yourself and with her. A chance to right some things."
"Thanks, but no, thanks. I don't need your handouts, Cal."
"It's not a handout, Sash. I'm giving you a second chance."
Sasha stood up and dusted herself down, her eyes meeting Caleb's for a second. Then without another word she headed up to her dorm room, intent on forgetting everything.
CHAPTER 11 CHRISTMAS, NEW YEAR, OLD LIFE
"Are you sure, Sasha?"
The brunette nodded at her father's words. He looked at his wife and shrugged. Liz looked at Sasha with a little bit of disappointment.
"Sasha, this is a huge decision. To break away and go on your own."
"I know you're probably disappointed, but I need to start fresh. It's not like I'm not guaranteed a job after school."
Liz gave her daughter an annoyed look at her smart alec comments. Liz looked to her husband.
"Marco, do you really think this is the best choice?"
Marco looked at his daughter and without hesitation nodded.
"It's her choice, I'm not going to force her to do anything else. But if she ever wants to come back to KM, she knows she can."
Liz nodded, but couldn't resist hugging her daughter and kissing her forehead.
"I love you, baby."
Sasha smiled warmly. She knew her mother meant it. Ever since Sasha had turned herself around at school her parents showed more trust and as a result were more affectionate than ever. Especially her dad, but there were still some wounds that will never heal/ At leasr she felt almost like they could function once more. She didn't know closure could feel so good.
Sasha looked over at the man she knew as her father and was once again struck by how little she had remembered of him; regardless of everything, he was her dad and he loved her. He wanted only the best for her, and like every other parent on the planet, his ideas of what was best for his daughter clashed with what Sasha thought was best for her.
All Sasha had to deal with now was how to handle the New Year; she knew exactly what was being planned by her cousin. She didn't know if she could stomach the reality, but what choice did she have now? She had passed up the out he gave her.
Carly was his now.
"I don't know if I should, Caleb."
"Consider it. Please."
Caleb's proposal of Carly spending a week in his family's home in Paris for New Year's appealed a damn lot but Carly knew the implications. In the most romantic city in the world, with one of most eligible young men in the world.
She knew what Caleb would want. It was the week before Christmas and ever since the room swap she had been almost inseparable from him, forcing herself to spend more time with him. He had changed completely and treated her like a true lady, but there had been plenty of times where they had been alone and he had explicitly told Carly of his arousal and his want and need for her. He was really pushing her more than usual.
Carly had blushed the first time and pushed away from him, leaving him strained and frustrated. After a lot of kissing one night, Carly had accidentally brushed against him, felt his hardness and almost cringed at it, but then had actually felt sorry for him - after all, she was kissing him and enjoying his feel and touch to an extent, but as soon as she felt him, she was brought back down to earth and found she was disgusted by his touch in that manner.
It annoyed her. It frustrated her. It pissed her the hell off.
She was more pissed off because she knew exactly why she felt that was.
Sasha King was pissing her off.
Ever since Sasha had switched rooms, Carly couldn't get the brunette off her mind. That day she had come back from shopping to find Sarah sitting in the room, looking casual and acting like nothing had changed. Carly had inquired about Sasha only to have the response, "you'll have to ask her." Try as hard as she did, Sasha had evaded her like a pro. Even in the class they shared, Sasha was the first one in and the last one out, talking to a teacher and keeping it as long as possible to avoid seeing Carly even once.
Carly knew Sasha didn't like her and Caleb together but it wasn't like they were getting married. Carly had no illusions about it at all - they were young and the chances of them staying together forever were almost non-existent. But in Sasha's eyes and Caleb's eyes, apparently it was the be all and end all. Carly was too torn between the two. Caleb was the choice everyone who knew her rooted her to choose. But everyone that really knew her told her Sasha was the right one.
Carly had spoken to Esther to receive no answer - the girl taking her responsibility of best friend seriously. She had given a sad look, almost as though she really did want to share the information but genuinely couldn't.
Finally Carly had been sitting in the lounge when Lucas and Sebastian joined her, waiting for Kate and Stacey. After fishing around, Carly settled on saying what if the twins fell for the same girl, the twins had simply smiled before Sebastian responded.
"Could you imagine if you wanted someone, but they chose one of your relatives? How could you ever be with that person afterwards really? No matter how much you'd ever want them you'd always think you were the second choice." Carly had been silent and Lucas decided to further make things clear.
"Sasha would have probably made a move first if she didn't think you were off limits."
"Off limits?" Lucas looked at Sebastian who after a moment gave a small nod.
"Yeah, off limits. Initially you were one of her friend's cousin, then you were her friend, so that's a no go area. Then you were Caleb's."
Her Christmas had been pleasant and she had spent a great day with her family, had seen Sarah and spent time together and gotten some really lovely gifts. From her nan she had gotten a lovely set of earrings and a necklace that belonged to her great grandmother.
Her parents had gotten her the present of a year abroad, spending months in different countries. She was expected to pass her A-Levels and she had basically been given the inside scoop that she had made it into Cambridg, her school of choice, so she had from July for one year to travel and experience life.
Caleb had bought her some new shoes, a little black Chanel dress, and some very racy lingerie (which was the only thing she had opened in private) from Victoria's Secret that he asked she wear on New Year's. And with it another little black dress from the Dior range and Kurt Geiger heels. She knew it was a combination that screamed out a certain message and she still wasn't sure if she'd wear it.
Her mother raved about how she couldn't hope for better than Caleb and what a catch he was and how she shouldn't let go of him . She had mentioned something like it briefly when she first mentioned him months ago as one of her classmates, but now her mother looked at her with starry eyes and a certain hope.
She got CDs, DVDs, vouchers, and money from various family members.
She received one present that was unnamed. It didn't arrive by post and Carly had a sneaking suspicion that Sarah had placed it there on behalf of someone else.
Upon opening it, all Carly could see was that it was purple coloured CD jewel case, containing a silver CD inside with the words "because you missed her in December".
Carly was confused, but at the time couldn't resist the urge to know what was on the CD and find out who gave it to her. She popped up to her room, ripped the CD, and synced it to her mp3 player, waiting for the right moment to listen to it in its entirety and unravel the mystery behinf the gift.
Sarah just gave a small smile to her cousin as she sat down.
As Carly was on her way to Caleb's, she was thinking back on everything and trying to make a decision. She decided that the train journey from King's Cross to Paris required a little music. She decided to put her headphones in and boot up her mp3 player.
Out of curiosity, Carly decided to play the recently added tracks which included Tracks 1 to 10 off the CD she received for Christmas. She had thought it was odd that someone sent her a mixtape in this day and age but there must be a reason.
The reason was made clear in the very first opening seconds of Track 1.
"I know you missed her at the O2 in November, so I kinda thought I'd bring her to you. Anytime you wanted." Sasha's smooth voice cut through Carly's mind and the blonde's eyes widened as the next track played.
It was Joan Armatrading herself, live, apparently just playing the music for her. She nearly squee'd and died of happiness when she heard Joan say,
"I hear you're a big fan, Carly. Merry Christmas."
Carly couldn't believe what followed. It was basically her favourite ever songs sung live on an acoustic set just for her. Carly was pretty sure she had never told Sasha her favourite songs, so Carly could only assume Sasha either had an amazing ability to guess her favourite tracks or she had been more attentive than she realised when Carly was listening to music in their shared room.
When they shared a room that was.
Carly tried to be angry once more, but the sound of Down To Zero filled her ears and Carly just instead found herself looking out the window and giving a small sad smile as she thought of the girl in question.
A few minutes passed before The Weakness In Me began, Joan's vocals were astounding as usual and Carly couldn't help but get her phone out. She wrote out a text saying thanks, but paused before sending it. Carly laughed at herself before deciding to call the young heiress she was currently thinking of.
The phone rang eleven times - Carly counted - before it was picked up. There was no sound at the other end and Carly frowned in confusion before she realised Sasha was there, just deliberately staying quiet for a moment.
"Oh, no, you don't answer me now that there are hundreds of miles separating us, huh?"
Carly could imagine Sasha shrugging at the other end of the line.
"Are you in Paris yet?"
Carly gave a little smile. Sasha sounded curious but there was just a hint of jealousy in her voice.
"Not yet. Think I'm a good hour away still. I know you're avoiding me like the plague, but I wanted to say thank you."
"Well, it was made for you, no point in me keeping it." There was a silence before Carly exploded.
"Joan Arma-fucking-trading?! How did you manage that?" Sasha chuckled gently at the other end of the line.
"Well, my parents run the label. I begged her for a favour. She obliged." Another silence. "I better go, I have - "
"No!" Carly looked around the carriage after her outburst, she had garnered a few looks that looked offended at such an uncouth display of behaviour. The blonde ignored it and concentrated on the phone in her hand. "Look, I respected you not wanting to talk to me at school, and you avoid me, fine. But you got this present to me. You made sure I had it. You want me to think of you. Why else would you give it to me?"
There was a silence on the phone before Sasha sighed loudly.
"You know why. Let's not play stupid."
"Then why do you avoid me if you feel that way about me? You know how I feel."
There was a little laugh from Sasha.
"You're on your way to spend New Year's in Paris with my cousin. You know, your boyfriend."
"Before Caleb, you could have said anything. You know I would have - "
"I'm not good enough for you Carly. To pretend otherwise... it..." Sasha sighed, "Don't think it doesn't kill me either, but I'm just not in the right place right now. I'm just not good enough for you."
Carly stared at her phone as all that could be heard from the device was a dial tone. The line had gone dead.
Ever since Carly had arrived in the city of Paris, Caleb had been unable to keep his eyes off of her. What started as a sly glance at her had now grown to a full blatant once-over.
Carly had spent the first day doing everything a tourist would do - the Louvre had been visited, the almost mandatory silly pose by the Champs d'Elys, and Caleb had taken her for a romantic dinner in the Eiffel Tower. He had hinted that she should spend the night with him, but Carly had just politely smiled and stepped away to which he had groaned and said she was a terrible tease. However, Carly knew she couldn't keep him at bay forever.
If she didn't want to do it, she knew there were certain things she could do to avoid it. For example, refusing an invite to Paris to be with her boyfriend; which would be seen as a hint to everyone and would have been a good start.
Caleb's mother had warmed to her; Carly had realised that Catarina was just like Caleb, used to getting her own way, but under all her bluster there was a heart of gold who adored everyone in her life. She just kept her guard up, reminding her a little of Sasha too.
Tonight was the New Year's party that Caleb's parents were hosting. The party was in full swing and it was midnight. Lucas and Sebastian had brought Kate and Stacey and the four were utterly adorable as they drank and just enjoyed the night together.
The girls had congregated in a corner to drink wine; all three looked fabulous. Kate was wearing a vintage Alexander McQueen dress, Stacey had snagged a Versace red dress that made her look divine, and Carly was wearing the dress Caleb brought her. She had not put on the lingerie, not feeling comfortable wearing it.
The boys were currently getting more drinks from the other table.
"Amazing party right?" Carly and Stacey nodded - it was genuinely a great party, the celebrity DJ spinning tracks was keeping in high spirits. There were a few people from the celebrity world, but after all the fan-girl moments, Carly had managed to stay calm and did some great networking - everyone had seemed to take a liking to her, but she knew it was more to do with her connection to Caleb than her personality.
"The boys are so cute. I hinted at Lucas that tonight we should do it under the stars and he went red as a tomato. Too cute." Kate gave a shy look at her boyfriend, he returned it.
Stacey giggled and looked at Sebastian, who winked back at her. Carly had a feeling Sebastian and Stacey had already been more than physical with each other tonight, but she didn't want to pry, she thought it'd put more pressure on her own relationship.
Two sets of eyes looked expectantly at the blonde anyway. Carly had to think quick, the boys were making their way back over.
"I don't kiss and tell. Sorry, girls." The two younger ladies pouted.
Caleb, Sebastian and Lucas approached the girls with a glass of champagne in each hand. Each young man handed his date the respective glass of fizz. Caleb looked down at his watch before giving a grin that showed true glee, like a little kid in a candy store.
"It's almost 2013."
Sure enough, it quietened down as the DJ pointed everyone's attention to the projection screen above him. They all watched as the clock began its one minute countdown to midnight. They all swigged their champagne as fireworks were set off and a loud cheer erupted throughout the Parisian penthouse, everyone joyously seeing in the New Year.
As soon as it had hit twelve, Carly found herself with a body full of Caleb. He had kissed her, solid, hard, and thoroughly. It had taken her by surprise but wasn't entirely unpleasant. She had almost blushed furiously at the public display of affection, but the blonde had managed to fight the blush away.
"I want you." He had whispered it, but the words were clear. He held no demand. Just said it as it was. Carly said nothing, but just nodded dumbly.
"What's the problem? You do know with the time difference you're the last conversation for me in 2012? How sad, my cousin calling me because she can't bring herself to have sex with her drop dead gorgeous boyfriend. Oh, no. I really do hope the apocalypse comes now." Carly had never appreciated Sarah's dry humour and now was no excuse.
"Sarah, please, I need advice!"
There was a silence and Sarah moved from wherever she was to a more quiet area.
"So what's the problem, exactly, I mean."
Carly had locked herself in the guest bathroom and was sitting on the toilet seat, the phone glued to her ear. She spoke at a whisper for fear of one of the Kings overhearing her.
"I... I don't know. Like a part of me wants to sleep with him. He's nice, smart, funny. A little too forward but he's a guy. But there's another part of me dreading it. I thought it was maybe virgin jitters."
Sarah took in her cousin's words and decided not to fuck about. Sarah only had fifteen minutes until it was midnight and 2013 in the UK and she kind of definitely wanted to see it in. Get to the core of the problem.
"It's not. You just don't want to sleep with him. So why are you forcing yourself to?"
"I'm not forcing anything. I told you Caleb is smart, funny, nice. He's handsome too. He's everything I should want." Another silence.
"But do you want him?"
Carly didn't answer. She closed her eyes and seemed to be thinking harder about her situation. Sarah sighed.
"I get why you said yes to going out with him. Trust me, I do. But why are you still with him if you don't have a burning desire to stay with him?"
Another silence. Carly looked down at the floor, not even able to look at her reflection.
"So I could keep everyone happy."
"Oh, Sarah, you know my mum's fucking delirious about him. She was thinking I had snagged the richest, most eligible guy in Europe. Never seen her so proud. Could you imagine the disappointment if she knew I'd rather be with his - "
Carly cut herself off before finishing the sentence. Sarah said no more, but decided to part a little bit of wisdom to her cousin.
"Look. It's not fair to you or him, but give the guy the truth at least. Or else you're just going to cement a lie. And that's a cruel thing to put him through. Make up your mind and stick to it."
Carly rejoined the party only to be told by Sebastian that Caleb had gone upstairs. He held no sign of malice or knowing, but he did speak with an indifferent tone - he was genuinely just passing on the message, but tried to forget all his feelings for both cousins; he knew Caleb sleeping with Carly would hurt Sasha more than anything although they all expected it.
Carly had walked up to Caleb's room with worry. There were butterflies in her stomach and she thought she was going to be sick. She managed to suppress the urge by counting to ten. Caleb approached her and gave a small smile, his hand reached up and cupped her face.
She only just noticed now that the lights had been dimmed and there was music playing in the background. Carly swore she could hear the dulcet tones of Lizz Wright singing Hit The Ground that in another dimension she was sure would have her almost warming up to the feeling; one of the most unintentionally sexiest and romantic songs ever in her opinion.
The music and party could still be heard outside and Caleb watched as Carly looked concerned at the door.
"No-one will come up here. Trust me."
Carly gave a small nod, not really thinking.
The sound ofruffling clothes and the sight of Caleb taking off his dress shirt to reveal him in a vest and his trousers brought everything back to her.
She found she wasn't repelled by him, but she wasn't as wildly turned on as she hoped she would be for her first time. Without warning, the blonde burst into tears. Caleb instantly went to her, concern etched over his handsome features
"Carly - " He was cut off by the tears and frantic sobbing of the blonde in his arms.
"Caleb, I'm sorry, but I can't do this. I'm so sorry, but I don't want to be with you."
"So then I was like, wow... the London Irish have officially asked me to try out for them? Talk about unexpected." Damon's eyes lit up as he spoke to Caleb - the young heir seemed impress.
"Like, we were shocked, man. Congrats." Damon gave a humble smile. Esther cuddled closer to her man and Caleb gave a sly look to Carly. She was sitting next to him and as soon as she saw the expectant look on his face she gave a small smile before holding his hand and giving it a firm squeeze. Caleb just nodded before looking away from her. Esther and Sarah were both confused by the gesture, but said nothing.
Esther, Damon, and Adam soon began a conversation with everyone in the carriage, trying to prevent any awkward silence. The entire group was under the impression that Caleb had sealed the deal with Carly as each and every time the opportunity arose he made an implicit comment. And after each time he tried to assert that knowledge, there seemed to be an awkward silence. Adam and Meg shared an understanding look before they helped start a conversation that everyone could take part in. Soon everyone was talking about school, exams, worries, music, movies, and their New Year's, in that order.
"I went to Trafalgar Square with my man here and saw it in with a whole bunch of strangers." Esther snuggled with Damon before looking over at Adam.
"My parents dragged me to some family thing in Moscow. I came back a few days later still as drunk as ever. Russians love their vodka and whiskey, you know."
The group gave a snicker, even now almost a week after New Year's Day, Adam looked hung-over as hell.
"How was Paris?" Sarah's seemingly innocent question had undertones that were not missed on anyone in the group bar the three King boys. Lucas and Sebastian gushed about the music, the people, the jokes, and stories while Caleb said nothing but kept his expression neutral.
Before Caleb could say anything, the door to the carriage was opened and everyone's attention whipped around to see Sasha standing in the doorway. She looked a little overwhelmed at everyone looking at her but soon she threw on a smile and looked for a space in the carriage. Seeing there was no space she gave another smile.
"Ah, well, I guess I'll catch you guys later."
Sebastian shook his head and shifted over, Lucas following suit and soon there was ample space for Sasha next to the twins, luckily tucked in the corner near the window. The young brunette gave a smile to her cousins, grateful, before she sat down and gave a grin to everyone - that horrible silence had returned and Sasha was unaware of the atmosphere for a moment.
Sarah looked around once more before deciding to save the brunette from everyone's stares.
"So as we were saying," everyone's eyes returned to Sarah, "Paris was good, yeah?"
Sasha's eyes met Sarah's and for a minute her smile faltered. The heiress kept her cool, however, and just looked over at her cousins and their respective girlfriends. Sebastian and Lucas gave a grin and nodded, Kate and Stacey were gushing about the food and music and the celebrities. Caleb cleared his throat, sitting diagonally from Sasha meant he had a vantage point to see his cousin's reaction.
"Paris was perfect. Loved every second of it."
Sasha watched, her grin still present, as Caleb casually draped an arm around Carly. Sasha seemed genuinely happy at the display of affection from her cousin.
"Sorry I couldn't make it. Sounds like it was crazy fun. I saw the tweet from DJ Hectic - amazing setup as usual, cuz." It was an incredibly casual and not at all malicious response, but Sasha seemed to infuriate Caleb while everyone else was amused as hell, even Carly. The blonde gave a grin to Sasha - an olive branch being offered to restore some normality. Sasha gave a quick wink, it was lost on everyone but its recipient, thank God.
"So, Princess, where did you go New Year's? You don't join the fam, you turn down my badass Moscow invite, and Esther says you were a no-show to central. So what happened?"
Sasha gave an enigmatic smile before responding equally as mysterious.
"I had some stuff I had to sort out before the New Year."
"A bit literal, don't you think?"
"You have no idea." Sasha once more gave another grin before looking towards Esther, she had a genuine twinkle in her eye and the last time Esther saw Sasha look so genuinely happy was at least a couple of years ago when she was just enjoying her childhood, just before the drugs.
"Anyway, I was thinking, guys," once again all eyes were on Sasha but the heiress was in control - the way she liked it, "tonight, we should go to dinner. Together. I mean, we have to make some of the unofficial official finally. What better way than to seal it with a fine dinner?"
There was a silence at the proposal. Adam gave Sasha a suspicious glance before he spoke up.
"Where did you have in mind?"
Once again Sasha gave a mischievous and mysterious smile.
"It's a surprise, but trust me you'll love it. Everyone's to be ready for six."
As the two private hire cars pulled into Bianchis parking lot, Caleb spoke out loud.
"Is she trying to be fucking funny?"
Sasha was behind the taxis in her Lexus. She pulled up beside the cars and got out her car, seeing the others pile out of the cars. Caleb gave an entirely unamused look to Sasha who seemingly ignored it.
They approached Bianchi's, to find the restaurant bustling and busy as ever. As Sasha approached the door with the others behind her, Aleks came to the door. He gave Sasha a decidedly pointed look before greeting the entire group.
"Ah, the finest of Witterton. Scares me that you'll all be leading the country one day." Aleksander's comment garnered him a few glares, but Sasha laughed whole heartedly.
"Ha, I wouldn't trust them with my car let alone the future of the world." Sasha's comment sliced through Caleb, but her cousin managed to uphold the facade of ignorance.
"Your table's ready for you. You know the way."
No-one had the time to question Sasha's knowledge of the restaurant's layout or her relationship with the owner. Sasha lead the group to a large table that had been comprised of a few tables put together but arranged in a way to create greater intimacy and more atmosphere.
Sasha gestured for everyone to sit. She waited until everyone else sat before she took her seat. Sasha took note of the way that Adam and Meg chose to sit together, the way Damon and Esther sat next to each other, on Meg's side - away from the others. Caleb chose the head of the table, Carly on his left side. Sarah sat on the other side of her cousin. Next to Caleb was Lucas and Kate sat next to him. Stacey sat next to Sarah, Sebastian next to his girlfriend and next to Sebastian was Beth - the only seat available now next to her and Damon. At the other end of the table.
Sasha took her seat and gave a grin.
The meal passed pleasantly - everyone joked, made pleasantries and in general got on. The food was spectacular; Aleksander came out and personally asked everyone what they thought of their meals.
The entire group gushed about the quality of the food and how much they loved his establishment.
The night was winding down when the group had finished dessert and were just indulging in some fine liquor and wine for the night. Sasha looked up, met Carly's eyes and gave a very affectionate smile. She then addressed the entire group.
"I'm glad we're all here. Just wanted to say that. But we should clear some things up before it's too late."
Sasha motioned over to Aleks who raised an eyebrow but nodded - he would be bringing over some wine and drinks shortly. Sasha had already sent an email begging him to prepare it. She had promised no vehicles flying through his window as a personal promise.
"What do you mean, Princess?"
Sasha turned to Adam, she simply looked between him then Meg's left hand where a discreet white silver ring occupied space before returning her gaze back to Adam. He gave a sheepish laugh before scratching the back of his neck nervously and nodding.
"Ah, that's what you mean. Well, it's not like we hid it. We just didn't advertise it. We're hoping after uni to stick to it and settle down." Sasha gave a nod, she then clapped loudly. She seemed genuinely happy.
"I am happy for you both. I'm just glad we got it out in the open."
Everyone looked at Sasha with skepticism, even Esther. Sarah seemed confused by Sasha's behaviour - the young heiress was acting almost far too happy. Esther had some weird feeling of how this was like the Last Supper - not saying Sasha was Jesus, but Sasha seemed to be aware of a fate that no-one else knew would occur.
"Excellent. Excellent. Now I know you're all probably sitting here wondering why I got you all here. Quite simple really. A bit sad too. I consider everyone here important to my life. My cousins, it goes without saying, we share the same blood. Esther you are my best friend. Damon you are her partner and as such you are as important to me as you are to her. Adam, you are my platonic hetero soul-mate. Stacey and Kate? Sarah and Carly? I've known you guys since first year too. We partied kinda hard in the past and you share some of my secrets, some you've never told anyone and I appreciate that. It allows me to know that with everything we've been through in the past, you are loyal. True friends. I just thought a new year, a new start. For me and all of us. I love you all. I don't always show it, but I would give my life to ensure everyone's happiness and wellbeing here,"
Caleb felt moved by Sasha's sincere words and he met Sasha's eyes - their love for family clear as day. No matter what they are always going to be family and nothing will ever change that.
"Anyway, thank you all for coming."
As Sasha watched all her friends pile into the private cars she was approached by Aleksander, who put his hand on her shoulder.
"I take it none of them have read the business section lately?"
Sasha shook her head. As the private cars headed off, she made her way to her Lexus. She opened the door, paused and turned back to Aleks.
"I wanted to do something for them before they found out. I give it another day tops."
Aleks just watched with tired eyes as Sasha started up her Lexus and made her way back to Witterton - preparing for God only knows what.
CHAPTER 12 THE TAKE OVER, THE BREAK'S OVER
As soon as Sasha entered the dining hall, she knew her cousins had heard about her latest business activity and, as a result, she was waiting for the blow-out.
Adam was now sitting with Meg and her friends including Caleb, Lucas and Sebastian, so her only retreat now was Esther who was with Damon. They were sitting at the table next to the King boys and their group however.
"Shit." Sasha swore under her breath. She turned around and headed towards Esther and Damon. Her bestie gave her a disapproving look before moving her things aside to make space for her. Sasha had no appetite right now.
"Don't you think you owe us an explanation?" Lucas's angry voice cut through the silence.
Sasha looked at her cousin, she was going to play the stupid card, but the newspaper in front of him said everything. It was unlike them to read the paper, so Sasha could only imagine that someone in the King family sent a copy of the paper over with an important note to read the business section. She looked at the paper as her picture was in the top left corner with the words "King heiress cutting out family?"
Sasha already knew what the article said. She had read it last night when it was first published in the broadsheet. A rival broadsheet she had no control in. A friend had managed to send her the copy before it was printed.
The article would have explained in great detail how Sasha had already set the wheels turning to use her inheritance to buy out her other relatives, so she totalled more than 60% shares of King Media. She was going to use her new found financial freedom to start her own media and technology empire. They all knew that Sasha wanted to start her own empre, but not at that cost. It was due to go ahead and clear on February 12th and it would make her one of the most powerful women in the world.
What wouldn't be in the paper was how Sasha had spoken in depth to her grandfather and her father about the whole arrangement. She also made the other major shareholders (her grandmother and mother) and arranged to buy out their majority of shares in King Media with their permission. Sasha had used her vast fortune to buy the slightly under value stock and in less than 2 days time she would be the single majority share and stock holder of her family business - the original plan had been for her to receive her fair share and then take over just like her dad had.
Sasha had other plans.
When she had spoken to her granddad he had explained the implications. Controlling more of the shares, she would change the destiny of her cousins. The value of the stock could go up or down. It could increase their wealth but more than likely initially stockholders would not see the troubled young woman as a viable leader for King Media and the value would plummet. Meaning her cousin's inheritance could be less than a tenth its original value.
Sasha had a plan which she had shared with her granddad and father, which gave them great faith in Sasha, her grandfather especially. There was one area the Kings had yet to conquer in media - internet and social media linked in with their existing media outlets.
Sasha told them of her plan to build up a social media empire that would only benefit them. "Once you have the majority of the people on the web on your side, you can only become more powerful. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg. Make everyone think they cannot live or function without you and you have everyone needing the Kings."
A risky move, but one that Jason King had appreciated and supported - he believed in Sasha's ability. The Kings had an appalling image in the world really and Sasha believed she could change that with her view of starting small and infiltrating.
She knew, however, her cousins would not feel the same way. And to ensure the success of her plan, she couldn't allow for anyone but the essential players to know her plans. If everyone thought she was distancing herself from her image and family it would get the new thinkers and investors on her side. It was imperative she had them on her side.
"Lucas, I know how it seems, but believe me, I - "
"Why would you do this to us?"
Caleb's voice cut through Sasha's words. The young brunette seemed exasperated and she said nothing in response to his question.
"Cal, I get that you're pissed, but trust me when I say this is for the best."
Caleb gave a snort. He shook his head.
"Oh, so you get to take billions and do what you want. And we get screwed over?" Sasha rolled her eyes.
"So it's been reduced to a couple hundred million at the moment, not such a bad inheritance to receive, Cal."
"Fuck the money. I'm talking about what you're doing to the King name. It's bad enough you steal my girlfriend from under me, but this? Do you have no shame? Or is it no pride?" That seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Sasha stood up, fire in her eyes and staring directly at Caleb - he sometimes really knew how to push her buttons.
"In a few weeks' time I will officially be taking my inheritance and my shares of King Media and starting my own media company. And you know what? No matter how much you hate it, I'm doing it anyway."
"Wow. You're screwing over everyone that easily?" Caleb's voice was now harder than before. Sasha shook her head, meeting her cousin's eyes.
"No. I've spoken to my dad and granddad, they knew why I was doing this and they approved it and passed it through the board. Now, I'm not explaining myself to you or asking your permission because I don't need to. And I'm sorry it's affecting you but it's happening." Sebastian and Lucas looked genuinely hurt.
"Taking your shares and your inheritance. Reducing ours. A little cold hearted, right, cuz?"
Sasha said nothing. Lucas continued pouting, but Sebastian met Sasha's eyes.
"Like I said, I'm not explaining myself. It's been approved by the board anyway, you can't stop it."
Sasha had lost her nerve, the public display making her feel sick to her stomach, and as a result she walked out of the hall. She just wanted to get out of everyone's sight.
There was just one thing she had forgotten that would come with that article - the knowledge that she was the eldest King child. Little did she know that inside the hall, as soon as she left that was the first thing Sarah mentioned.
"Huh, so Sasha's got more power than you three combined. That must suck."
Caleb and Lucas sent a glare Sarah's way while Sebastian continued to stare at the exit that Sasha had just gone through.
"I'll be back in a minute." Sebastian stood up, intent on finding his cousin.
It only took him a few minutes to find Sasha. She was sitting in the co-ed lounge, head in her hands and her body rigid with tension. Sebastian could tell when Sasha noticed him, her head raised a couple of inches and she seemed to be more on edge - if that was possible then Sebastian was sure he just saw it.
Sebastian sat down near his cousin and waited a few moments; he wanted to word his thoughts and feelings the correct way. It seems that Sasha had beaten him to it.
"I didn't do this to spite you. Any of you. There's a plan, but I can't tell you what it is."
Sebastian made his shock evident on his face. Sasha looked at him, her eyes and entire countenance suggesting she was tired.
"Look, granddad and my dad would never have agreed if they thought it would damage everyone, you know that. Trust me, Seb, I need you guys to just trust me."
Sebastian said nothing, but he was deep in thought, he interlaced his hands.
"You're asking a lot of me. Of us."
"We're family. Trust shouldn't have to be earned at this point."
Sebastian gave a nod - it was true. He had always trusted Sasha in his life. Totally unconditionally. This had shaken that trust but it was still there.
"Can I just ask one question? What is going on? I think we deserve to know."
Sasha contemplated his request before nodding slowly.
"I can't tell you everything but I can tell you this: it requires you guys to not know anything in order of us to really make everything come together." Upon Sebastian's confused look Sasha elaborated. "Look Seb, we both know that King Media is big, but we're not the only players in media. Newer, fresher ones are appearing and taking all the people, the news, the media, the power away from us. Granddad started it years ago, my dad's trying to keep up but there's only so much he can do. Then it'll come to me. Time to take over. And I have to be responsible. Action needs to be taken now. School's over for me, it's time for me to grow up now that my exams are over. I need to be concentrating on my own endeavours now."
Sebastian looked at Sasha like she had lost her mind.
"What the hell have you got planned?"
Sasha stood, dusting herself off.
"You'll see, Seb, you'll see."
Since Sasha only had one exam left she had been spending her time working slowly on her own ventures, focusing on small ads, music apps that integrated the vast King back catalogue of music copyright with every social media known to man but under new company names that used developer names nobody had ever heard of. It was a slow but steady process. She had already made plans to travel to New York, Barcelona, Cape Town, Sydney, and Delhi to meet the most up-and-coming young minds and that was only a part of her main plan.
The next few weeks showed the beginnings of what seemed to be a long legal battle. Almost every single person Sasha had ever met in her life received a letter from the family lawyer stating they would be taken to court for talking to any media outlet without prior written consent from Sasha and instructions on what they could or could not say.
When Sasha received all the documents back from every single person, she couldn't help but notice the way in which everyone was now treating her, like a pariah. She had texts from people that simply said "go fuck yourself you self-centred twat".
She understood why they were acting the way they were, but it had to be done for most people.
The only people she did not ask to sign were Esther, Adam, Sarah, and Carly.
A part of her knew she could implicitly trust those three. As Esther, Sarah, Adam, and Carly saw everyone else sign the documents, it was a hidden message to themselves - I'm trusting you more than the others.
Caleb had personally given Sasha her document back by throwing it in her face when she was in the dining hall. The brunette just watched with calm eyes as her cousin walked off, the entire hall's eyes on her.
It was a week after that the rumours exploded; Sasha had packed and left overnight to prevent the countless rumour mongerers at Witterton having any ammo to sue against her. Esther refused to comment on anything. As her room-mate she would have known ahead of time, but she said nothing and acted as though she had never heard the name Sasha King before.
When rumours started to spread about Carly being involved with Sasha, she said nothing but mentioned that Carly was in fact with Sasha's cousin, Caleb. The attention then shifted to the friction between Sasha and her cousins - that part was not at all fabricated. There was a definite change in the air. Such tension and animosity could not be fictionalised to that extent.
And it couldn't help but be noticed - the change in all the Kings was also due to the news. It had been a month since it first hit the papers but now it was plastered over CNN, Fox News, Sky News and BBC - it was being labelled as a betrayal by Sasha. It was being played out like she was some mastermind manipulating every person in the company. Her father and grandfather refused to comment. Only economists and analysts were commenting - yes some of the known stockholders had pulled out but they were now replaced tenfold by younger stockholders - people with more money who believed that Sasha King was going to be the kind of CEO King Media needed; young, trendy, relatable and above all - human. Her drug stint had leaked somehow and it was all over the news about how she had been through rehab and had now turned herself around.
More people than ever were Googling the company, the name and the surge was serving wonders for the company, more than anyone could ever have expected.
"In other news, brand new internet site is now in talks to be bought out by Sasha King. Although there has been no official offer made, the owners of the financially fledgling novice media site say they '"would love the hip, hype and trendy King to consider them as her first purchase"'. In Malaysia, the oil giant Petroco - "
Caleb turned the TV off and threw the remote across the room. Damon was currently in Esther's empty room and now Caleb had asked Carly to come over - with exams and revisions taking priority Miss Williams had totally relaxed the dorm rules regarding co-ed rules.
Carly watched Caleb as he breathed heavily and stood with clenched fists.
"I can't watch a single channel without hearing that goddamn name."
Carly said nothing - this wasn't new. Lately, Caleb's temper was out of control. He often shouted and screamed at the TV or computer if his cousin was mentioned and more often than not, he would drink heavily and get verbally abusive, giving Carly her cue for an exit. This was all too much drama for a girl that just wanted the best chances of being a great barrister.
"What you doing?" Caleb's voice brought Carly's attention from her book. She held it up, the name clear on the front of the book - Letts' Revision Guide for A-Level ICT. Caleb rolled his eyes at the book, immediately getting Carly's back up.
"Oh, yeah, tomorrow..." Caleb trailed off. He reached for the beer in his mini-fridge and popped the top off. Fully intent on enjoying the beverage and forgetting everything else, Caleb began knocking back the liquid. Carly went back to her book. Their exam was tomorrow; it had been delayed due to a misprint on the original test, so now she was taking advantage of the extra time to study.
"She'll be here for it then..." Caleb trailed off again, his eyes hard and angry. Carly said nothing. She had learned a while ago that mentioning Sasha's name would start him on a tirade and she wasn't in the mood to deal with his shit tonight. It seemed Caleb had other ideas.
She felt his hand rest on her knee, the stench of the beer on his breath repulsing her.
"Caleb. You okay there?" He nodded and gave a lopsided grin. He kissed her fiercely, knocking her book out of her hand and almost making her lose her balance.
Carly pushed him back and shook her head.
"Caleb? No. We talked about this. Just friends." As Carly stood and made a move to get off the bed she felt Caleb grab her wrist and shake his head.
"No... no, you don't get it..."
Carly's eyes widened in horror.
Since New Year, she couldn't bring herself to be with Caleb, not really feeling like she was into it 100% but feeling like she couldn't keep turning him down - he was so into her. She said they had to take a break but would maintain a relationship so his image wouldn't be so damaged and it would give her time to think about if she really wanted to be with him. She thought it would give him time to think too.
But here he was trying to force himself on her. It was evident by the lust in his eyes and the way he seemed to have this almost predatory grin on his face.
"You... you tease me, Carls. Not cool." Caleb's grip tightened and he forced a kiss onto Carly once more. She turned her head to the side.
"Get off me, you twat."
Caleb just snorted in answer, he pushed Carly onto the bed and pressed himself against her - she could feel his hardness and her anger and fear both blossomed almost out of control.
"Caleb, get off me! Or I swear I'll kick you in the nuts." She pushed him, but she forgot how much stronger he was. Carly tried to scream out but found her throat formed a lump; tears came to her eyes. She could hear Caleb's heavy panting as he forced a kiss on her.
"Caleb, please stop... please!" Carly managed to yell out, but he didn't even hear her. He moved his hand down to his zipper.
No, if she wanted to be intimate it would be on her terms. She would never be forced. Ever.
"Caleb... don't do this. Get off."
He snorted in response. He looked into her eyes, his were glazed over and it was no doubt the alcohol, but still he was the one doing this.
"If I was her you wouldn't be fighting me."
It was then Carly got her voice back and used all her strength to scream - he had tears in his eyes and was about to roll off her but she felt overwhelmed. She raised her knee and felt a connection with one of Caleb's softest parts. He groaned out loud in pain. Carly pushed him up, off of her.
"Get off me, you tosser!"
There was a silence, Caleb looked at her. Eyes widened, he looked down and suddenly scrambled off her. He stood up and seemed to only just realise what he was doing. Carly jumped up, watching him warily. Caleb stood still, disbelief all over his expression.
Carly wasted no time and made her way to the door. Just as she reached the door handle however, the door swung open. Lucas, Sebastian, and Sasha stood in the doorway, all wide-eyed and looked ready to pounce.
Sasha looked to Caleb, to the bed, and then to Carly.
No more was said as Carly fell into Sasha's arms and began crying.
The heiress looked at Caleb, he opened his mouth and closed it before looking away. Lucas and Sebastian looked at Caleb before back to Sasha.
"Get her out of here, Sash. We'll deal with him."
Sasha nodded. She gently took the blonde's hand and caught her eye before leading the other girl away from Caleb's room. Carly followed wordlessly, her trust implicit in her actions - she didn't even question Sasha.
It had been an hour and Sasha had sat on Sarah's bed with Sarah as they both waited for Carly to speak. She had come in, showered for half an hour, then put on her biggest jumper and tracksuit bottoms. She had sat with her legs crossed on her bed and her hands in her lap, just staring into her hands, seemingly lost.
Sasha looked over to Sarah. She didn't know what to say either. Sasha had said nothing when she entered the room with Carly. She had simply stood by and said nothing.
But now Sarah was getting worried about Carly.
"Carls, what happened?"
Carly continued to stare at her hands. She just shook her head.
Sasha1 looked at Sarah before looking away - the brunette knew what had happened, or had almost happened, but she wasn't going to say a thing without Carly's permission.
Carly looked up, her red-rimmed eyes only now just focusing on Sasha. She turned to her cousin.
"Sarah, can you give us a minute, please?" Sarah nodded, leaving the room instantly. Carly focused on Sasha once more.
"Why are you here, Sasha? I thought you left us."
"I was meeting Seb and Luke. They wanted to get Caleb, I followed them. We've made amends, we were actually walking past when they thought to knock for him. Thought we heard noise. We were about to walk off when I heard your voice."
A silence descended once more. Sasha cleared her throat.
"I... I'll go and get you some water - "
"No. Stay here."
Sasha was midway through standing. She sat back down on the bed. Carly looked up at her and she remained silent for a moment before wetting her lips and speaking.
"Aren't you worried I'll go run to the papers or something? Tell them about your cousin forcing himself on me? You didn't have me sign those forms remember."
Sasha flinched at the blonde's words.
"If you do go to the papers I probably wouldn't fight it. Did he...? I mean, are you..."
Carly rolled her eyes at the almost shy way Sasha was tiptoeing around her question.
"He'd had a drink. Was angry. Don't think he meant it. Doesn't mean I'll forgive him."
Carly seemed surprised at the brunette's response. Sasha's jaw was clenched - she had been fighting with herself since she burst into Caleb's room. She had wanted to fight her cousin and beat the shit out of him for touching Carly against her will but she had kept it cool. For Carly's sake.
"Sasha?" The heiress's attention was caught by Carly's voice.
The next day Carly, Sasha, Caleb and several others turned up for their IT exam. Straight after, Sasha had pulled Caleb aside and spoken to him. No-one knew the words exchanged but Caleb just nodded. Sasha had seemed furious and had ended it by raising her hand and leaving her index finger in the air and looking pointedly at him. Sasha's eyes darted to Carly and Caleb gave a nod, as if knowing the task he had ahead of him.
After the IT exam, Sasha also cornered two young men. They had been under the social radar, in fact so far under they were hardly on it.
Michael Vitarono and Martin Simmons - both were top of the IT class at Witteron and it was kinda hard not to notice Sasha King approaching them and talking to them, she tried to be quiet but still grabbed everyone's attention at the mere interaction. Both boys nodded before pulling out their smartphones and exchanging details. Sasha shook their hands and walked off confidently, seemingly satisfied with the exchange.
At the curious look from Carly, Sasha simply gave a smile and headed over to her. Sasha gave a genuinely bright smile.
"That's the last of my exams done. Think I passed... how'd you think you do?"
Carly shrugged, she was still shaken up from last night but she seemed to be a lot better today.
"I think I scraped a pass. I still have Law in June."
Sasha's eyes crinkled as she gave a smile, the warmth from her hazel eyes warming Carly up. Sasha's eyes almost turned to slits as Caleb approached the two, instinctively Sasha stepped in front of Carly, shielding her from Caleb. Carly's eyes turned to Caleb, caution and shame in her eyes. Caleb looked duly ashamed and disgusted with himself that he had caused such a reaction from the two.
"I just came to say I'm sorry. Carly, really, I don't know - "
"I'm going to be just over there." Sasha's voice cut through and the brunette looked at Carly conveying her message 'I am here for you'. Caleb gave a meek nod before addressing Carly again, grateful for the privacy so he could try and make amends.
"Caleb. You realise there is no way I'm ever going near you again. It's over. Simple as that." Caleb looked close to tears but he gave another nod.
"Do you think... we could be friends though?"
"I don't know."
The young heir looked like he just might burst into tears there and then but he managed to just give a small nod before looking over to his cousin; at the look Sasha decided to step in, her instinct to protect Carly new but ferociously strong.
"Let's go, Carly."
Sasha led Carly over to the parking lot and to her Lexus. She opened the door for Carly and the young woman got in. Carly looked at Sasha with curious eyes.
"Where are we going?"
"Remember those late night pig out sessions we used to have?"
Carly said nothing as Sasha said no more but just drive, stopping at Bianchis but not to take her in but to grab something - a hamper, that she placed on the backseat and drove directly back to Witterton. Sasha avoided Carly's curious gaze. The brunette took the blonde by the hand and lead her straight up to her room - there was no Sarah when they entered and Carly could only think this was orchestrated by Sasha - what other explanation would explain why Sasha didn't seem shocked by the lack of Sarah in the room.
"What is going on here?"
"We're just gonna sit here and chat. And eat. Eat good. Before I go, just one last good memory."
"This won't be the last time we see each other."
Sasha said nothing but handed smiled as she laid the blanket from the hamper on the floor, she invited Carly to join her. Sasha put her iPhone on Carly's docking station and began playing a range of music suited for their supper.
They were halfway through the brie and baguettes when Carly decided to speak.
"Why are you really doing all this, Sasha?"
"Do I need a reason?" Carly quirked an eyebrow, "Just thought you could use a little food and forgetting about last night."
Carly said nothing but bit into her freshly baked bread and just contemplated.
Sasha said no more and instead the two girls began talking about everything; about their exams, about Carly's university choices and about everything from New Years to now, catching up on everything.
Carly laughed with her whole body at the comment Sasha made regarding her mistake in her business management exam - she had written at the top of her exam the following; "I own two companies that gross over £500 million a quarter, everything I write is clearly the right answer." She had almost forgotten about last night when Sasha had said that.
"Aaaah. You are not going to get any extra marks for that."
"I know but I had to write it. How many eighteen year olds get to write that?"
There was a silence as the sentence sunk in. Carly's eyes widened and she looked back at Sasha.
"Eighteen... wait, when was your birthday? You didn't tell me."
"We kinda kept it a secret so don't worry. Protecting the fortune and all." Sasha gave a grin and Carly returned it.
"No seriously when was it? You don't need to hide it anymore Miss MoneyPants."
Sasha took a drink of wine before pretending to think and she mumbled out an answer that was February 12th. Carly looked down at her phone and saw the display read out February 12th.
"It's your 18th birthday and your spending it on the floor in a dorm? Sasha really?"
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be." A silence before Sasha sighed, "Last night, it got me thinking. I would never have done that to you and you know that. I missed my chance. I want to be there for you more than anything Carly, as your friend. I want you to know you can always depend on me."
"Why? Why so invested in me?"
"You know why. I'm going to ensure you have every chance thrown your way to be whatever you want to be."
Carly stared into Sasha's eyes, reading nothing but truth in the older girl's eyes.
"I'm still not good enough for you Carly. I don't think anyone ever will be. But I want to be the best person I can be... because you deserve someone who is at their best."
"Sasha, just spit it out. I have to hear it. I need to know, no more speculation about the maybe's and what ifs and shoulda woulda couldas."
"The truth? Okay... yeah, the truth."
Sasha took a deep breath, steeling herself for finishing her sentence, but it was cut off by the sound of banging at the door and the sound of Caleb's voice. Sasha looked incredibly pissed up. She gestured for Carly to stay on the floor. Sasha stood up.
"Caleb, what the hell are you doing here? Get out!"
Sasha opened the door to find her cousin standing there with tears in his eyes. She grabbed his shoulders.
"What is it, Caleb?"
He snivelled and hiccupped as he tried to not cough.
"Grandad... He... He... He's gone."
The boy collapsed into Sasha's arms.
CHAPTER 13 EMPATHY IS CORE, END OF AN ERA
"Thank you for coming. We appreciate it." Marco, Jen and Cat spoke with an ease that could only have been accumulated over the years. There was no other explanation for being able to keep their emotions in check at their own father's funeral.
The funeral had been a dignified, small event - the last thing Jason King would ever want would be a palava of his own death. Sasha watched as her grandmother sat down on a chaise and kept her veil covering her face, a tissue at hand for her nose. She had not said a word since his death almost a week ago.
Sasha stood with her cousins in a line, shaking the hand of several friends of Jason's as well as several important members of the King board and stockholders.
Since Caleb had told Sasha, the four Kings had left Witterton and returned to London immediately, meeting their family and helping in anyway with the arrangements. Any negativity between Sasha and her relatives was forgotten almost immediately. She entered her grandfather's room first out of the four youngsters and she went to him, his body cold and motionless.
She held his hand and kissed his forehead, the tears streaming down her face earnestly as she whispered words of regret and love to her grandfather's still body.
She could recall how when she looked at his face he had a small smile, almost as if death had brought him peace, she had been unaware of any illness but the family physician informed everyone that Jason King had been battling kidney failure the past ten years and had kept it an absolute secret from everyone - even his own wife. Sasha had cried more that day then ever before - her rock was gone and more than that the first person she ever loved unconditionally and who loved her the same was gone.
At the will reading Jason had left practically everything to her. He had given Caleb and the twins plenty of money to last them a lifetime but he had left Sasha not only the company but additional shares under ghost names he had procured over the years. He had left her properties over the world and all his stock portfolio was now in her name.
Sasha stood at the wake with tired eyes. She had cried before the funeral and chastised herself for being so weak - the guilt she had felt. She had let him down and not been there as much as she could have been and she knew it. There were plenty times she had chosen to go out and get drunk with friends or spend the evening fucking about with friends that could have been better spent with just one evening a week with Jason. He had never said a word about her lack of presence but deep down Sasha knew the reason she was so sad was not because he was dead but because she had not done as much for him while he was alive - she had not made him as proud as she could have and now she only felt stupid, worthless and full of regret. She didn't think anyone would ever know how much he had meant to her.
Everyone had made comments about how she was his favourite and she never doubted it; they had just had that special relationship. It had even created a chasm between Sasha and her grandmother during her 'crazy' years and now it was said with love and no malice. Everyone just seemed to acknowledge it. They had even said some joking comments that he had chosen her birthday to pass away on as it was his favourite day of the year.
"Sash?" Her mother's voice cut through Sasha's thoughts. The young heiress stood and looked at her mother.
"I'm going to go home mum... I'm... sorry." Liz said nothing but she pulled her daughter for a hug and held her closer than ever. She kissed her daughter's head and stroked her hair softly before releasing her.
"We understand. I would like it if you let your dad drive you home though... you are in no fit state to drive, baby."
Sasha just nodded, not in the mood to argue.
They had just left the King home that was now weirdly Sasha's and Marco was driving the Bentley silently through West London.
Marco looked tired and upset and Sasha said nothing - she had already tried to talk to her dad but it was clear he was grieving and mourning in his way. He was robotic in the way he handled the luxury car. They were only ten minutes from home so Sasha was just looking forward to getting into her bed and disappearing from the world for a bit.
"Sash... he loved you a lot, you know?" Sasha said nothing but snivelled. She nodded to acknowledge her father.
"He loved you the most. And there's no shame in admitting that. Most grandparents, their grandkids are their world... you really were for my dad. He would have moved heaven and earth for you."
Marco's hands shook as he changed gear and Sasha took note but she said nothing.
"I love you. I know you probably don't believe it but I do. And if you ever need anything. Help, just ask me. I'll be there every time."
"I know pappy. I love you too, you know. You may not believe it either. But I do."
Marco gave his daughter a small grin. The lights turned from green to red and Marco stopped, waiting patiently. He thought about how his daughter was like him - all about the family and nothing else. She had trouble showing her emotions to the people it mattered. Which reminded him of something his father mentioned to him just after New Years. Jason had asked why Sasha didn't go to Paris for the family celebrations - Marco had been in Tokyo on business, unaware. Marco was going to berate Sasha about it and how it would work when Jason had said, 'must be hard for her to be around Caleb with the girl that has stolen her heart'. Marco had been so preoccupied after with Sasha's decision to leave King Media and set up her own company to then bring back to King Media as a takeover that he had no chance to inquire further.
"Sasha, don't get angry but I want to ask how it's been going. You know, you're eighteen and soon you're gonna have everyone chasing you, people kissing your arse. Women will be throwing themselves at you. Is there anyone now?"
Sasha rolled her eyes and laughed warmly at her dad's sad attempt to be subtle. She grinned before shaking her head sadly.
"No. I'm not with anyone, dad."
"Oh, come on. No-one?" Marcos gave a teasing smile. His smile fell at the serious expression on his daughter's face.
"Dad, have you ever wanted someone and known you couldn't have them?"
Marco said nothing but was taking back to a time when he knew someone who meant a lot to him who had felt the same way. Sasha wiped at her eyes in an attempt to hide the wetness that was gathering there once more.
"It's bad enough that I know her mum doesn't like me. But to think it would put her in a position that means your family could disown you? I can't do that to her. I can't ask her to choose her family over me. I've been so terrified to tell her how I really feel. I know her so well and she knows me too. I know I'm young and love may not be everlasting at my age... but what if it is? And what if she's the one? I'm not sure I want to risk missing out on that."
Marco was taken aback by his daughter's candid explanation.
"Sash, I know how that feels, but if don't regret not telling her how you feel - "
"You know someone that regretted it though, haven't you dad?" Marco was stunned into silence, "I know Aleks. I know him damn well. The past few years I go to his restaurant in town. I trashed his restaurant and he made me work it off. I spent time with him... found out a bunch of stuff. Dad, you and him were best friends and that happened. What if I tell Carly and she does the same? She knows me like he knew you. She might reject me. I don't want to lose her in any way."
Marco said nothing. He had known Aleks opened up a restaurant but the last he had heard Aleks spent all his time at the New York branch. He was wary that Aleks' friend Susan was running Witterton but he chose to believe nothing would occur - he had not found a single link between Susan and Aleks after.
"Did Aleks tell you all that?" Sasha nodded. Marco pulled into the driveway of their home. Marco turned off the engine and faced Sasha.
"There were many reasons I chose to not speak to Aleks, they won't all make sense to you but they are my reasons. He knew I was in love with your mother. He still chose to tell me he was in love with me, at the time it seemed like he was trying to confuse me and I cut him off. It was only a few years later I realised he was just telling me to be honest with me - the way friends are supposed to be with one another. Your mother took it fine and even encouraged him to tell me, but I didn't know that at the time. I know now my reaction was over the top at the time."
Marco looked genuinely remorseful.
"Then why don't you make amends, Dad?"
"It's too late for that."
"It's never too late, Dad."
Another silence. Marco leaned in and gave Sasha a hug.
"Go rest." Marco looked at the house and gave a inquisitive look before a small grin. "And something tells me Carly won't react the same way as me."
Sasha looked confused but her dad nodded towards the house, revealing the blonde in question sitting on the stone step.
The brunette took her seatbelt off and got out the car, before she closed the door, Marco got her attention.
"We won't be home until later. Just so you know... in case."
Sasha could have sworn her dad blushed. And she swore she did not know he was capable of any other colour than his deep tan complexion.
The heiress approached Carly, who stood up looking nervous as hell, although Sasha couldn't help but notice she had dressed up a little. She was in a pressed shirt and a clearly designer bespoke skirt suit coupled with heels that accented her legs. It fit her nicely and Sasha eyed her momentarily before wordlessly walking towards the front door and opening the door.
As they entered the house, Sasha turned on the lights and then finally addressed Carly.
"Hi. Sorry I just dropped in on you. I know today was your... um, yeah, I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
Sasha was tempted to cry, but instead she shrugged. Carly looked like she was about to engulf her in a hug, but she held back.
"Want a drink? I'm gonna make a drink." Carly just gave a nod and Sasha headed over to the bar in the lounge. She fixed herself a vermouth and the same for Carly. Sasha wordlessly headed upstairs to her room, the blonde in tow.
As Sasha sat down on the sofa in her room, she stared up at the wall covered in her photos of her and her family, mainly her granddad. Carly sat next to her, looking at them again. She was reminded of the last time she was here. She blushed furiously before taking a sip of her vermouth.
Sasha also drank from her glass.
"Awful dressed up for a social visit, aren't you, Miss Ambrose?"
Carly gave a small grin at the way she addressed her.
"A little, but I just came from my interview to study law at LSE."
Sasha looked confused at her.
"I'd have thought Cambridge and Oxford were more your style."
"They are, but I'm looking at schools in London too."
Sasha took a gulp of her vermouth.
"Any reason why?"
Carly went quiet for a moment before drinking her drink. Sasha was intrigued by her hesitation and decided to tease the other girl a moment more.
"Homesick? Did Oxbridge scare widdle old Carly?" Sasha's teasing was amplified by her eyes - seeming more alive today than the past week.
"No, you meanie. I just thought I'd look at the other options for my future."
"Makes sense. LSE is third in the tables for law. Not bad choices. What other options are you looking at then?"
Sasha looked over at Carly, awaiting her answer. Instead the blonde placed her drink down on the floor and turned towards Sasha. The blonde exhaled before she shifted closer and threw one leg over Sasha, straddling her lap.
"You. I'm looking at uni's here for you."
The brunette was stupefied. She had seen Carly, but a part of her mind was sure this was just an illusion, a fantasy she was playing out in her head. That it could not be true. There's no way this girl - no, this woman, this gorgeous creature could have interest in her and want to be near her, they had talked about it for something to have come of it. No way would Carly be changing her ambition of being a Cambridge law student just to be with Sasha, not after the way she tried to distance herself.
Carly was so good, so pure hearted and Sasha was just so damaged and just no good for her. Sasha honestly believed she would not be worthy of the blonde. Her friend was just a better person and deserved so much more.
"You know what has been bothering me for ages?" Sasha shook her head, words still escaping her. "The fact we made everything so difficult. It's all lead to this moment and everyone's known it would. So why did we make it so hard?"
Carly moved some hair out of Sasha's face, leaving the other girl stunned. Hazel eyes just stared in awe.
"Caleb... You were his. I don't get involved in that. I told you. You were with him. I couldn't even think past that."
"And do you remember the last time I was in this house. You told me you felt the same thing I do. I don't care what anyone expects of me. I'm not going to be anyone's idea of Carly Ambrose but my own."
Sasha put her hands on Carly's waist and looked up into green eyes. She could hear the sincerity in the other girl's voice and knew that a part of Carly wanted her, but she was still so inadequate. Everyone in Carly's life knew it too.
"You forgetting your mum? Your parents..."
Carly gave a shrug.
"Fuck what they think."
The heiress laughed out loud before she thought it over. It was all too soon after Caleb for her liking. She didn't want Carly to be doing this just because she viewed Sasha as her knight in shining armour after the 'incident.' Sasha herself was still hazy in the mind, with her recent loss of her grandfather. The young heiress took Carly's hand and kissed it softly.
The reaction she got cemented that Carly might have not been having a hero worship moment, but it could have just been the catalyst needed to make her think she was with the wrong King.
Carly's entire body shuddered at just the touch of Sasha's lips on the back of her hand.
"Carly, if you knew the things I wanted to do to you, to have you scream my name, you would know why this is so hard for me. But I'm not going to have sex with you. I can't."
Carly's entire face fell. The brunette raised a hand and brought Carly's face to her, giving her a quick kiss and loving the freedom she felt to do that.
"I need you. But not in that way. I just... I lost someone important to me... I just want to think. You know?" Carly look flustered, but nodded. She began to make her way off of Sasha, but the heiress stopped her, once again kissing her hand.
Sasha gestured to the bed and Carly bit her lip, but nodded. Just before she moved to get off of Sasha once more, Carly leaned down and pouted. Sasha looked concerned.
"What is it?"
"Nothing... it's just... I am so turned on right now." Carly blushed and buried her face in Sasha's neck. The heiress gave a gentle laugh but she stood, picking up Carly, almost too easily and led the other woman towards her bed and laid her down. Sasha looked down at Carly before kissing the young woman's forehead.
"I'm sorry, honey, but I don't think we should think of that. We should take it slow."
Sasha got Carly a spare pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt for bed. The two talked until late at night, holding each other, exchanging almost shy pecks and kisses throughout the night, Sasha too terrified to take it any further.
It must have been almost midnight when Carly leaned in and kissed Sasha properly, the other girl just relishing the feel of those silk-like lips on her own. Sasha looked over at the blonde and thought long and hard before she spoke.
"You need to go to Cambridge. We both know you'll get in."
"What? Sasha, LSE is every bit as good."
Sasha raised an eyebrow, like she didn't know.
"Yeah, but Cambridge law... that has always been your ambition and I'm not letting you change that if you can achieve it. You'll get in, you've worked hard. It was your dream. Remember you told me?" Carly nodded and opened her mouth to defend herself, but Sasha cut her off. "No. Concentrate on yourself. If there's one thing I know it's that you won't be happy with anyone unless you're happy with yourself."
Carly looked upset, not because of Sasha's words, but because she knew the brunette heiress was right.
"And trust me, Carly, it's gonna kill me. But if you don't your parents are always going to blame someone for it. Not saying anything other than this: I won't be blamed for you not reaching your potential, but I will help you achieve it."
"Are you saying you don't want to be with me right now?"
Sasha shook her head, not willing to accept the thought of losing the blonde so quickly.
"No, I do want to be with you. But we are going to be controlled and do this right. Cambridge first. You first, then us."
The blonde gave a bright smile before deciding that she was more than willing to give the brunette another sound kiss that even escalated to some light touches on the stomach. She loved the feel of Sasha's firm body under her hands.
It was five in the morning when Liz decided to check on her daughter. To say she was surprised to see Caleb's ex-girlfriend in Sasha's bed was an understatement, but she decided to say nothing and left the girls to sleep. There was no more school now for either, only some exams in June, but Sasha took none of the summer subjects.
All they had now was time to be all they could be.
CHAPTER 14 BUSINESS AS USUAL
"... In other business news, Sasha King's FreshStart corporation has made a surprise takeover of VideoSmash, the social network media channel that is known for its subscription and download service coupled with its relationship with Facebook and Twitter - "
Sasha turned the TV off and looked out of the window of her top floor office. She had recently acquired the space through her real estate contacts and was running her company, FreshStart, from it. It had been almost four years since she had started her company and she had done nothing but improve King Media financially and ethically. They were operating a level unheard of and making more money than ever before.
So far she had employed three people personally out of her thirty strong workforce; Michael Vitarano and Michael Simmons were her IT guys. They did not disclose their wage, but word had it they could not be bought by anyone else and did not want to work for anyone else.
She had hired an American woman called Devon Montgomery who was a specialist in PR. Sasha hired her to help not only improve her company's image, but to help her give the right leads and smokescreens to other media outlets, allowing her to pursue her own interests with her competitors having little knowledge of her activity.
Sasha stared out of her window once more looking at the clock and sighing. It was only 2pm; Carly would still be in her exam. The young heiress was silent again, just brooding until she could talk to the blonde. Carly had gone to Cambridge and Sasha had been nothing but supportive for her friend through her studies.
Yes, a friend. It was complicated, but until Sasha was completely stable and secure she couldn't risk getting involved with Carly. It had been four long years. Sober years. Years with Carly almost getting involved with some other people after Sasha had foolishly given her permission to do as she pleased. Years filled with midnight phone calls stretched over thousands of miles, filled with tears and the stammering of I-love-you's and I-need-yous that lead to morning texts of I-miss-yous and I-will-be-home-soons. Once Carly was finished with school, Sasha was going to take a step in the right direction and pursue her.
She was free to now. All her previous obstacles that held her back were gone. She was clean, successful off her own merit. Caleb had gotten together with a girl after a drunken night of passion and it turns out her bitchy bluntness is exactly what Caleb's ego needed to ground him. Lucas and Kate were still together, but Sebastian and Stacey didn't work out. Sebastian was currently seeing a girl at his university who he kept referring to as "the missus".
It was time she settled down and ever since she got back from her trip yesterday it was all she thought of.
There was a knock at the door and Sasha turned to see Devon standing there, a manila folder in her hand. The American approached her and threw the folder on her desk. Devon pulled her blackberry out of her pocket and scrolled through it.
"The fund has been set up. I've sent out the information to all the colleges and sixth forms throughout the country." Sasha was creating a new incentive and rewards program for all promising students and minds across the country in all fields - up to £10million a year up for grabs to help develop ideas and careers.
"I also put out buzz words and rumours on facebook, we've created the ad for YouTube, and we're getting it on VideoSmash and UTV by the end of the week."
Sasha just nodded, looking pleased at Devon's words but saying nothing more.
"Stop being so miserable, cheer the fuck up." The American's voice cut through Sasha and she pouted before throwing a mock glare at Devon.
"You shouldn't talk to your boss that way."
"Eh, talk to my union." Devon sat down opposite Sasha before casually looking up at the clock near Sasha.
"So, heard from Carly yet? Her exam over yet? I assume that's the only reason you look like someone just kicked your puppy."
Once again Sasha threw a glare to the American - in the short few months they had known each other Sasha had appreciated the slightly older woman's candid behaviour as well as her brash and blunt way of speaking. But she did like to tease her about her and Carly, calling them nauseatingly sweet.
"Anyway, how was LA? You never share the good news with me when you should."
Sasha said nothing, but she just gave an arrogant smug grin at Devon's words. Yesterday Sasha had a 4pm drinks meeting with some important people from Silicon Valley. Sasha had secured, after extensive talks, the heads of some of the most innovative technological companies in the world to agree to a game changing idea. She had convinced them to develop an app for all the smartphones that would enable users to capture video, photos or audio, edit them professionally and upload to any of the sites Sasha now owned. It was an app to be released on all platforms simultaneously.
It could change the way software and media operated harmoniously. All for free.
Sasha was trying to give what people wanted for free and to make it more popular than ever. Devon had wondered how she would make money but Sasha had just given a grin and said, "From the other companies."
If a billion young people were using the software, then she was sure there were a good hundred companies that would be dying to advertise on her app and pay FreshStart for its space on it.
Simple. Effective. Fresh.
"Yeah, I'm gonna head home. Thank God my rack got their attention before any of my cons could. I'll email over the brief later."
"Is exhaustion and jetlag really worth coming home this early?"
Sasha said nothing but gave a wide grin - she loved this country and this city, but she had so much planned to get done before the summer was over and everyone's lives changed again into adulthood. Sasha simply grabbed her Lexus keys and headed out of the office with a wide grin.
Sasha eased her car into the drive of her London home. It had been one of the properties left to her by her grandfather. It was on the Thames, just by Waterloo and it overlooked the river, reflecting the city's vibrancy.
Sasha sighed with relief as she entered her own dwelling. Her new home was a London penthouse situated just five minutes' walk from the Southbank. She had been surprised to find it already tastefully decorated and furnished. All she needed to add was her own finishing touches - she had thrown in her TV, her photos, her own luxuries and little reminders it was her own home. The assortment of cables and wires for her various gadgets were strewn about the floor near the sofa where she spent most nights working.
She had already cemented some good memories here. Just after the news first broke about FreshStart's acquisitions of the most popular media sites, the King Media shares skyrocketed to an all new-high due to its numerous young, ambitious and faithful investors.
Caleb had turned up at her door with a white flag and brought over a bottle of wine and her favourite Chinese take-out. They had sat down and watched some of their favourite movies - mainly horror so they could make stupid commentary and comment on how they would never fall for the same crap. It had been almost a year at that time.
It was midway through the marathon that Caleb had decided to formally apologise.
"I'm an idiot. I'm sorry. Kneejerk reaction."
Sasha just shrugged.
"It's cool. You get why I couldn't tell you though?"
"In order for it to appear like you were separating from King's bad image you couldn't be seen scheming, you manipulative little bitch." Caleb's teasing voice took the edge off his words. Sasha barked out a laugh.
"Hey, I am trying to renew the King name. Not that there's anything wrong, but we haven't changed things, I had to be sneaky, but it's worked, right? You see how our net worth went through the roof?"
Caleb nodded and mock bowed to her.
"Yeah, well that's why I came. I thought you were screwing us over, kinda influenced the twins too. Sorry. But you know... business, never personal. Just figures and signatures."
Sasha began howling with laughter as her cousin tried to be serious, but it only came across as the same jackass as always to her. After she calmed down Caleb gave her a soft look.
"You and Carly, eh?"
Sasha said nothing but just gave a look to her cousin. She wasn't guilty, but she realised he might have feelings for her still. Sasha gave a small nod and Caleb took in a breath. He exhaled and patted Sasha on the back.
"Cool. You two would be good together."
"You wouldn't be pissed if we were? At the moment we're just... finding ourselves. I want to wait until I can be 100% dedicated."
"Can't say that I'm not jealous of you two. But you know, it is how it is."
Sasha took a sip of her beer, watching Caleb, waiting to see if he had any delayed reactions or if he had anymore to add. Instead he grabbed his beer and drank down half of it.
"I'm having my birthday bash at our house in Paris. You gonna be there, yeah?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Cal. Hey, can Carly come?"
"You bitch... course."
Sasha had made amends with her cousin in that moment. She had felt better with every passing moment about her life. Her years of fucking up had hindered her in the eyes of everyone but she had always had a shrewd desire to be everything her grandfather believed she could be. If he were alive now, she knew he would be proud of her. She had always wanted to do well, but until her desire for Carly she had been content to be always considered second best and to never achieve her true potential.
After her fuck up with drugs, she had been resolved to stay clean and keep a low profile, but to exceed everyone's expectations? Even she didn't think she was capable. But it turns out with the right motivation she was well onto being one of the most successful people under the age of 24 in the world.
Sasha walked over to her fridge and took out a bottle of Fiji Water, then she made her way over to her spiral staircase that lead to the mezzanine level, a corridor that lead to her luxury bathroom, her master suite, and her spare room.
Approaching the door to her bedroom, Sasha heaved a high, glad to finally be back in England and looking forward to resting.
The plan was to wait for Carly's call now that her exam was over and to talk to her; surprising her with the fact that Sasha had returned to England a day earlier. This way Sasha had plenty of time to prepare Carly's return.
Sasha had dinner planned, a plan to see all their friends in London who had finished their exams. After the summer break everyone would be heading off to their respective careers and even further education. It was unsure how often they would all see each other now, whether it would be a week or a year, it was all up in the air. And they had all gone through so much being together at school for the seven years. It may not have always gone perfect, but they were all there and at the end of it all this group had survived together at the end and had surprisingly become closer than they ever thought they would. This odd little family unit comprised of some of the most privileged individuals in Europe.
As soon as Sasha entered her room, she was hit by the fragrance of a particular brand of body spray she knew well. Simply Breathless by Victoria's Secret. Sasha had gotten to know it well on the many nights of kissing and foreplay with Carly.
It was the memories of those nights that seemed so long ago that threw Sasha for a moment; it took a full ten seconds for the brunette to register the fact that Carly was sitting on her bed - looking every bit as gorgeous as Sasha last remembered her.
"What... How did... You..." Sasha just rambled on for a few seconds. She didn't notice how Carly seemed to flush all over, nor did she notice how short of breath her girlfriend was,
Sasha stepped into the room more. She took note now of how the room appeared to be set up in a certain way. There were rose petals leading from the door to the bed. There were several candles around the room and judging from the amount of melted wax from them they had been burning for the better part of half an hour or more.
There was a metal champagne bucket with a bottle of Dom Perignon on ice by the side of the bed. Champagne flutes sat beside the bucket.
Sasha took another step towards the mahogany four poster bed that Sasha had seen in Kensington and bought it on the spot, thinking it ideal. The mattress was like sleeping on a cloud, the pillows and duvet all being of the highest quality goose down warmth quality.
On top of the bed was Carly. The blonde had recently had her hair cut, maybe a few days ago. It was cut so it highlight the curl to her hair, but also gave her a maturity; part of it was pinned up and gave Sasha a perfect view of her delicious, elegant neck.
The blonde also had light make-up on, but dark, smoky eyes that made her green eyes stand out in contrast to the darkness that surrounded them. Travelling down, Carly had no jewellery on, but she was wearing something that Sasha not only loved to see on her but something that also made the young heiress want to rip from Carly's body.
It was a black teddy, black lace French knickers, stockings, and garter and a black silk negligee over the top. A pair of black Manolo's were on her feet.
Sasha used every part of her will to restrain from taking a step forward.
The brunette had told Carly that they should take it slow when they were both ready. She didn't want Carly to feel under pressure, but she didn't want the blonde to feel confused between forever feeling grateful of being saved from Caleb and thinking she had any sexual feelings for Sasha. In case the blonde didn't, Sasha didn't want to get involved and taste the nectar if she couldn't have more of it. That pain could be worse.
Since that agreement they had never gotten serious, but constantly flirted with the possibility.
Carly had understood - in fact she had been grateful for the reprieve of being the constant centre of someone's lustful attentions. It had been fantastic and so relieving to be wanted for something other than her 'assets'.
For the first year it had been lovely. After that she had almost fucked about with some random guy at a party, but her mind had come back to her - she wanted Sasha and she wanted her more than anything else. For Sasha, it was at events where she had models, actresses and general groupies all over her that proved temptation but at the end of the day she always remembered that her heart belonged to someone else.
After spending nothing but time with Sasha and getting to know her inside out, watching Sasha be attentive by paying attention to her as a person rather than the things she liked, Carly had never known anything like it. The midnight phone calls, the texts, the gifts - they were just some of the little reminders that Sasha never forgot about her even when running a multi-billion pound empire.
The blonde had at first been a little overwhelmed at the thought of getting sexual with Sasha but after a few well-placed late night fantasies lately, it turns out her subconscious was more in favour of it than Carly had ever been aware of.
Each time that the blonde had even suggested she was ready to take it one step further Sasha would give a look as though seriously considering it before she would give a small smirk, kiss her forehead, and say, "Not yet," and continue with whatever they had been doing - dinner, watching a movie, or enjoying time at the beach.
They hadn't been saints, of course. Carly had gotten to a point where she could get the brunette to go beyond kissing on some nights, where Sasha's resolve had almost melted at Carly's words of determination, need, and want. One time before Carly had gone back to Cambridge last summer they had been at Carly's home and the blonde had been left so frustrated - Sasha's hand had roamed her breast, the brunette's mouth was on her neck. Carly's phone had started ringing, startling Sasha out of her actions and caused the brunette to blush, apologize, and swiftly leave the room and resume her busy work schedule.
It was the verbal abuse the blonde got from Sarah that gave her the push to move things on. Sarah had commented how amusing it was to see Carly sexually frustrated for once.
Carly had decided that she did love the way Sasha was so considerate, how she was constantly questioning Carly's comfort levels with their intimacy as friends or more - she loved everything she did. That's what solidified her thoughts that she had waited long enough.
Any longer and there wouldn't be a jury in the world that would convict her if she killed someone due to sexual frustration - justifiable homicide at its finest.
Carly had meant for her voice to come out low, sultry - almost like a purr. Instead it was a few octaves higher than normal and breathless.
The blonde watched as Sasha's eyes darted from her face to her body back to her face. Sasha put her hands in her pockets and scuffed her foot along the floor. After a moment, Sasha met Carly's eyes again.
"Hi, I thought you were at Cambridge. Your last exam was - "
"But you said - "
"I know what I said. I needed time to surprise you."
Carly was still posed on the bed, her entire chest heaving with anticipation and nerves.
"Surprise me? With..."
"Surprise you with me."
Sasha swallowed before she closed her eyes; Carly clarified her intentions. Sasha's mind raced with ideas and she could almost taste Carly's sweet skin already, but a part of Sasha's mind said to take it easy.
"Stop thinking and come here, Sasha."
Sasha opened her eyes only to find Carly perched at the end, on her knees, leaning forward and making a come hither motion with her index finger.
Sasha stepped forward and found herself at the end of her bed.
"Carly, don't you think this - "
The blonde sighed, looking truly annoyed. Every time she had told Sasha she was ready, the brunette had waved her off and decided that the blonde wasn't ready. They were past words now.
Carly grabbed Sasha by her shirt and pulled her closer, their lips meeting in a ferocious kiss that left both breathless after the initial contact. Sasha's eyes were open and she looked at Carly with a silent question in her eyes. The blonde grinned before biting her lip and nodding, she pulled Sasha closer once more.
"Sasha, I think I've waited long enough. Just fuck me already."
The brunette grinned ferally as she gently pushed Carly to lay down on the bed. The slight flush all over the blonde's chest excited Sasha more than she thought possible. The words had excited the brunette - had given her permission to give the blonde everything she had. Carly had given Sasha the right to love her - this is what her life was all about.
CHAPTER 15 DON'T GIVE UP ON LOVE, HAVE FAITH RESTART
"Sorry we're late."
The brunette and blonde ran to meet everyone who was currently standing outside the church in West London. Sasha's pristine suit looked as though it was fresh from the tailor's and her shirt was unbuttoned to an almost indecent level, her hair was immaculately straightened and her make-up was flawless, accentuating her now mature and beautiful features.
Beside her, Carly was in her bridesmaid's dress; a classic ivory fishtail style that came with a shawl that covered the arms but allowed you to remove it if it got too heavy. Carly's hair was up, piled in a classic bun with a side parting that brought her an elegance Carly had always been aware of but rarely had a chance to showcase. Anyway today was all about Meg and Adam.
Meg and Adam, after nine years of being a couple, were deciding to tie the knot and Meg was going to make an honest man of Adam. Adam doted completely on Meg.
Adam had decided to go into the family business of pharmaceuticals, but he was currently in charge of their humanitarian section. He not only provided free medicine and essential healthcare to poverty stricken people over the world through the companies own charitable funds, but by raising the money through sponsorships and events, celebrities endorsed his companies and he was considered a true philanthropist.
Meg had decided not to go into her family business; she had taken a year out before she had gone to Queen Mary University in London and studied medicine. She was hoping next year she would finally finish at St. Barts and she would be ready to tackle the world of general medicine; Meg felt she was contributing in that way.
Today was the first time Sasha would have seen Adam and Meg in nearly a year as everyone fom Witterton had mad, crazy schedules and they were lucky to reply to texts the same day let alone meet up once a year.
Sasha and Carly had flown in from an event in Hong Kong Sasha had held - the CEO had been invited to the launch of FreshStart's apps in Hong Kong - a huge deal to the Chinese population as it was heavily hinted the apps would be allowed in the country if successful. She had the backing of world leaders to try and make an effort to mend the delicate censorship issues within the country with the small smartphone app. It was a piece of cake for Sasha - Carly had charmed the pants of several ministers and Sasha found that a few extra million pounds helped shift the freedom of speech in China that little bit more.
Sasha and Carly received playful glares from Sarah and Kate as they led them into the church. The ceremony was due to start in fifteen minutes.
As Sasha approached the altar, Adam gave her a look before looking down at his watch.
Her suit was the female version of Adam's and she gave a remorseful smile before standing by his side. Carly disappeared with Sarah, Kate, Stacey, and Meg's younger sister, Elena.
"Princess, you cutting it a little fine, ain't ya?"
Sasha patted Adam on the back, feeling his nerves come through in the way he spoke.
It was the first time Sasha had ever seen Adam cleanly shaven and looking this handsome. His dark hair was combed back and looking smart, he had none of his almost trademark stubble. He stood straight and he was fiddling with his silver cravat and his suit. Sasha slapped at his hands.
"Calm it, AD. She loves you, she's not going anywhere."
The Bridal March began and everyone stood. They all turned to the church entrance, awaiting the bride's entrance.
When she entered, it was a moment of true beauty. Meg's father stood beside her, ready to give her away, the tears of a pride and sadness in his eyes at the same time. The bridesmaids were teary eyed too and followed their friend down the aisle - each feeling as happy for her as though it was their own wedding,
"She's so beautiful."
Adam's words came out of his mouth, but quietly, so only those around him heard the words caused by the woman mesmerising him with every step down the aisle she took. She had been his whole world at Witterton, he had pined for her and been too shy and unwilling to approach her until Sasha's friendship with Esther and Sarah meant that they hung out regularly. He felt as though it were fate and God's work that he would be blessed to find his soulmate and to be as blissful in life as he had been thus far. Meg had been the true yin to his yang, she complimented him in every way that they contrasted. He adored her and he swore to spend his life making her happy and spending every day with her.
"And everyone knows this one... Macarena!"
The DJ spoke out, every child rushing to the floor with an adult they deemed cool enough to do the dance with. Sasha sat in her seat watching as Adam danced with his young cousin, Anika, doing the Macarena with no shame as she laughed gleefully, loving the attention from her big cousin Adam.
Meg was currently standing with the rest of the girls, discussing the wedding and going over everything from fabric to the flowers and everything else wedding related.
Caleb, Lucas, and Sebastian sat with Sasha - all four of them looking relatively amused at their surroundings but at the same time looking like they belonged.
Sebastian had his eyes on Stacey from the moment he had seen her. The twin stood, he had long abandoned his rocker boy look and gone for a much more toned down albeit more alternative look. His hair was still dyed dark black and he wore a little eyeliner for effect but he was more suits and ties than NewRocks and chains.
"I'm gonna go and... yeah."
He walked over resolutely, approaching Stacey and coaxing her away from the group of girls and talking quietly. Everyone knew that they were still interested in each other, just ego and stupidity mixed with immaturity wrecked what could have been a good thing for both Seb and Stacey.
Lucas felt happy his twin was going to chase after what he wanted, even if there was no guarantee it would work. Lucas saw Kate with about six young girls all dying to dance; she gave a look to Lucas before she pointed to the dancefloor, the song had changed to YMCA. Lucas stood and obliged his girlfriend.
Caleb was staring at the group; only Carly, Sarah, and Meg remaining. He was checking someone out and Sasha could almost feel her temper raising.
"Cuz, please tell me you are not checking out my other half."
Caleb seemed to be brought out of his stupor. He looked surprised before chuckling and shaking his head.
"Nah, not her." Caleb said no more. Sasha laughed as her cousin just kept a little smirk on his face. He still looked exactly the same. Handsome bastard. The only thing that made him more attractive was his respect for women now. After Carly, he took a break from women, sought some help for his inadequacy issues and since then he had one long term relationship that ended when the other woman cheated on him. He had been devastated, but he had recovered healthily and since then had gone on casual dates, but no more crazy Caleb was present, thank God.
Sasha thought to herself that he just needed a woman that could reign him in; someone that won't take no shit, will keep him grounded and make him want to always be better. Someone like -
Her eyes widened as she realised who he was eyeing up. Sarah.
Sasha laughed to herself, Caleb looked questioningly at her but Sasha waved him off, simply stating,
"Nothing, just something I was thinking of."
Sasha stood up and made her way from her seat to the nearby door that allowed her outside. She got some fresh air into her system and stood outside, taking in the beautiful scenery of the country club where the reception was being held. As Sasha was about to light up a cigarette, she felt a tap on her shoulder, an unfamiliar face pointed to her lighter and Sasha lit the cigarette for her the stranger, the law of smokers taking effect - when someone needs a light, you provide it.
"Thanks. Don't remember me, do you?" Sasha squinted as she thought hard but she ended up shaking her head, flushing a little. The other woman waved her off and gave a small grin.
"It's okay, I was in some of Meg's classes. Didn't really talk to each other. I'm Emilia Sanchez. I know who you are."
Sasha gave a grin before taking a drag from her cigarette. Everyone knew who she was.
"It's cute, you know." Upon Sasha's confused look, Emilia smiled before elaborating. "You and your little group. I heard about Esther and Damon. Congrats - shame she can't travel but expectant mothers to be..."
Emilia trailed off before she took a drag of her cigarette. Sasha smiled warmly - her best friend was expecting her first child with Damon. She was going to be a godparent and she couldn't be prouder. Esther was due any day now and was absolutely gutted she couldn't be here today, but everyone understood. It was filmed and no doubt Esther would enjoy the DVD with her newborn and point out all the people who would be in her life, lavishing nothing but attention and gifts on the first baby in their little tight knit group being born.
"And you and Carly... wow. Not that I'm surprised to see you two together at all, but it took you two forever to get together." Sasha raised an eyebrow, unware anyone outside of their group knew of their dramas. Clearly, she was wrong. Emilia gave a friendly smile before continuing, "At school you were both so gay for each other. Seriously, if it was a subject you'd have gotten a straight up A. Everyone used to say how you both were going to fall for each other one day. Even with Caleb around, you two just had this chemistry, you know? You two look good together."
"Erm, thanks?" Sasha had no idea how to respond to that.
Emilia finished her cigarette and headed back inside without another word.
Sasha finished her cigarette too and reached into her pocket, feeling relieved when she felt the little box in her blazer. She had something she had been meaning to give Carly but had no idea when to give it, how to give it or what to say. Adam seemed to have done it with no problem, so it should be no problem for her. But she was at a loss of what to do.
It was cliché anyway.
"Penny for your thoughts."
Sasha threw the ring back into her pocket and turned, giving a grin as Carly approached her. The blonde's head was cocked to one side and she looked at Sasha with curious eyes. Carly approached the brunette and placed her hands around Sasha's neck. Sasha placed her hands on the blonde's waist.
"Just thinking. Ten years ago, none of this would have crossed my mind."
"I know, we're all grown up. God, being a teenager seems so long ago. I feel old."
"You feel old? I feel ancient. Today just makes me think. Puts everything into perspective. Is there anything I want to do before it's too late?"
Sasha's eyes were clear with her intention, Carly understood the question and she looked wide-eyed at the brunette before she gave a small smile.
"I have you. You have me, that's never going to change. Nothing left to do, babe."
"Compelling argument, councillor."
Sasha gave a grin before leaning in and giving the blonde a soft and gentle kiss.
From inside gentle guitar strings could be heard before Tracy Chapman's The Promise began playing. Carly's eyes lit up - she loved this song a lot. She tugged on Sasha's hand and the brunette gave in and followed the brunette into the hall again straight to the dancefloor where some couples were winding down and having a slow dance.
Carly and Sasha began swaying, Carly resting her head on Sasha's shoulder as the two enjoyed the song.
The brunette hummed, feeling content. She had Carly, she had her family, she had her company, she had her friends, she had her health, she had everyone she cared about. She had security, stability, love and happiness.
"Outside... were you gonna ask what I think you were gonna ask?"
Carly lifted her head and looked back at the brunette. Sasha looked around the hall, saw Adam and Meg looking perfectly happy together as they nuzzled softly to the song. Lucas and Kate were whispering sweet nothings into each other's ear as they swayed. Sebastian and Stacey were sharing a drink at the bar and flirting like mad. Caleb had approached Sarah, but she was playing hard to get, arms crossed and looking at the handsome man expectantly.
"Yeah, but things are perfect the way they are."
Carly gave a grin. Sasha was a little off but she loved that about her and she knew exactly what she meant. The blonde leaned up on her tiptoes giving her girlfriend a soft kiss.
Sasha's eyes gazed lovingly into Carly's.
Yeah, things were perfect the way they were.
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