The world is ready for a change. Adair Thompson has managed to push herself into the medical community; Kit Kenyan is working in the feild as a detective; Madeline Everrett, who has been pushing women's rights for years is becoming quieter as they get them; and in Parliment, Lord Raynaud is getting votes for his new plan for England. But there are subtle currents under it all. Sides are being chosen, and Adair, as the heir to a lower family, is the one who has to choice. When she finds Tristin Kenyan dying in the street and saves his life, she finds that she is being pulled towards the Kenyan side, but Raynaud wants her for his side, forcing Adair to chose a side. The problem is, she doesn't want to chose either way. Her sister, her career, her best friend, all weigh in the balance, and she can't decide with all of them there...
Adair watched her uncle pacing back and forth. Mark kept looking at the door that Kathleen would come through and muttering to himself. Adair sighed and fussed with her hair, tugging one of the curls out of her face. It fell back and she blew at it, annoyed beyond belief. Usually she had straight hair but all the bridesmaids had been forced to curl their hair, and since, supposedly, she was the maid of honor, she was forced to set the example.
"You all right Mark?" she asked, stepping slightly closer to the tall man. Mark had never gotten married, by choice he would say, but Adair had the idea that it was because he had seen what had happened to her father and didn't want to have to deal with the complications. It always made Adair said that Mark was alone so much of the time.
"Yep. I guess so." Mark sounded uneasy. He kept looking at Kathleen's door and then down the hall way. Guests weren't arriving for another hour, so Adair wasn't sure what he was doing. "It just feels weird. I'm not the eldest brother, nor am I closest to Kathleen…" he sighed and shrugged and Adair slowly began to understand.
Her own father was the eldest of the four (Persephone, Mark and Kathleen) but he was in a wheelchair, due to an accident that had rendered his legs completely useless. Persephone would sit in her seat, closed faced and quiet and Kathleen would be the one getting married. Mark was walking her down the isle since Fredrick couldn't and Adair wondered what it meant to her aunt.
Kathleen was almost twenty years younger then her father, a late child in her grandmother's forties. Kathleen had been five when Adair was born, and had ended up babysitting her too often. Adair's father acted more like a father to Kathleen then he did to Mark and Persephone, and they all babied Kathleen ridiculously. Adair wondered if this was just Mark's way of telling her that he hated to see Kathleen in white walking down the isle.
"Well, if its any comfort, you at least get to sit down during the ceremony. I have to stand up there and act all happy throughout it all." She said, teasing in an effort to lighten her uncle's mood. Mark smiled and shook his head.
"You'll do fine Adair, you were born to be the heir, and you'll do it better then anyone else." He said. A smile ghosted over her lips before she shrugged. Most people said that James, as the eldest boy in her generation should be the heir, but their grandmother had been insistent, saying that Adair be the heir because she was first born. Even if she was first born by a singular day.
"Well you'll do better then dad would anyways. He's off getting drunk because his little sister's getting married."
"He was like that when Sephie got married." Mark said fondly. "I wasn't old enough to get drunk he told me." He laughed softly. "Not that I really minded. Persephone's always been my older sister." Adair smiled slightly, thinking of her aunt. Persephone was stiff and cool towards almost everyone, including her own family. The only time that Adair had seen her aunt happy was when she was with her husband.
"Well Uncle Mark, you could get drunk now if you wanted and we could horrify Kathy by letting Peta walk her down the isle." Adair said a wicked grin on her face. Mark stifled a laugh, giving her a serious look.
"You know how much your aunt would enjoy that," he said. "Maybe I should get Petes out here and instruct her on how to give Kathy away."
"I don't want to give Kathy away." Peta said, crossing her arms and frowning darkly at them as she walked down towards them. Adair made a face at her little sister. Peta was tiny compared to anyone, but compared to her sister she either looked like a midget or Adair was a giant. She had short cropped spiky black hair, the tips a faded, dark purple, with a little round face and bright ferocious brown eye. She was wearing huge earrings that made her look even more ridiculous and had a round ball in her tongue, a ring in her lip and a sapphire colored stone in her nose. Wearing all black made her look even more like the punk she was.
"Peta," Adair said despairingly as she looked at her little sister. "You can't be wearing that."
Peta gave her sister a look of disgust. "Adair," she responded, coming to a stop beside her, "You can't be wearing that." She mocked Adair almost perfectly. Adair hit her sister lightly upside the head and Peta rolled her eyes. "What does it matter what I wear. No matter what I do turn up in, Kathy will have a problem with it."
Adair sighed. She would have forced Peta into something of hers but Adair was five feet eleven inches, almost a foot taller then her sister, and while Peta had grown a bit since she was nine, there wasn't much evidence of it.
"Peta, seriously, you can't wear that to a wedding, especially one where you are family." Mark said inspecting his niece.
"What am I supposed to do? Go ransacking Anna's closet?" Peta asked before her face went red and she pressed her lips together, ducking her head. Adair and Mark didn't meet each other's eyes for a moment before Adair said softly.
"You could… But I would ask James first." She glanced at the room where all the men were gathered. Peta was shaking her head.
"No, no. I couldn't. I'll… I'll just go back home and get something." She was backing away very quickly and Adair swallowed, feeling her nerves twitch. "Tell mum that I'll be coming in with the guests. I was just coming to ask dad something…" she was almost out of the door before she turned and darted out into the snowy white street.
There was a long pause before Adair cleared her throat. "Well," she said not looking at her uncle. "I better get in there and start the moral support thing." she said, half nervous of what Mark might say.
"Er… Yeah. I'll just go make sure your dad hasn't drunk himself onto a boat." They parted quickly, as if there was something in the air that neither wanted to admit to. And there was, there was the lingering sense that there had been a topic that should never been broached there.
Anna's death was still too close for both of them.
Kit complained the whole way there. Tristin muttered under his breath, uncomfortable in the suit he was being forced to wear. It wasn't as if he didn't wear a suit to work, it was the fact that this wasn't for work. He was going as his twin's escort to a wedding. A wedding for a Thompson or something, and since the Kenyan's were a high end family, they were required to go. Kit especially as the heir. It was so annoying and they would have to walk around and make small talk and be extremely interesting so as to keep up a good family image.
"We should be working today instead of doing something social!" Kit said, poking his arm and Tristin looked at her, rolling his eyes.
"You forget I agree with you completely Kitty." He said, using the nickname that irritated her beyond belief. As expected, Kit started to hit him. He grabbed her wrist rolling his eyes and Kit huffed, huddling closer in her jacket.
"It's an awful day for a wedding," she complained.
"You just wanted to wear your tan boots, but they're too dangerous for you to wear out here." Tristin said, gesturing to the snowy world outside their cab. It had been an unusually cold winter, with thick snow and ice. England hadn't seen such a bad winter in a long time. The trees had started turning so early…
"Well, so what if I did? I'm no a child Tristin," Kit said as they pulled to a stop outside of the chapel.
"I know you're not, but you're stupid sometimes."
"Oh thanks genius." Kit said sarcasm dripping. Tristin rolled his eyes again and helped her out of the cab. It was freezing out here, about two degrees and he was sure it would get colder as the evening progressed. At least the reception would be at the church as well.
They went up the steps and into the church quickly. Tristin was just helping Kit out of her coat when they both saw him.
It was a Ravus, that was all that mattered. The Ravuses were all tall with blonde wavy hair and green eyes. This one had a bump in his nose and glasses. They had seen him before, but where was beyond them. All that mattered was that it was a Ravus and Ravuses and Kenyan's did not get along.
Kit was looking around, scanning the crowd for any others. Unusually at social functions the hosts were smart enough to not invite both families, but if this one had been stupid enough to invite two of each there would be a fight. It wasn't even a guess, the Ravus would insult them and they would have the right to it.
As Tristin watched a tall black haired young woman hurried out of a back room and moved with more speed then he would expect over to the Ravus, looking annoyed about something. Both he and Kit were drifting closer. Perhaps it was rude to try and entice a fight, but it was so tempting and would liven up their mood so very much.
"Will, come on, you know that you shouldn't be here. We don't want any Romeos or Juliets." The woman was saying. "I'm glad you're here anyways. I was going to be awfully bored at the reception."
The Ravus—Will?—rolled his eyes. "Come on 'Dair, don't call me Will in public, people get ideas about us." He glanced around and Tristin noted his glance on them for a moment longer then everyone else. Was he implying something? And who was this woman? He was trying to figure out who this young man was anyways. The Ravuses were a huge family. Will was a common enough name in their family.
"Its Douglas's son," Kit muttered out of the corner of her mouth and Tristin blinked.
"How do you know?" he asked, frowning at the Ravus. "They all look the same."
"He's with Adair Thompson; supposedly they got back together, or something." Kit shrugged, turning to him. "Can I not like her on the principle of the matter?"
"Yes," Tristin said with a smile. "As long as I can too."
"As long as you say it's for that and not because she's so…" Kit trailed off looking at Adair. She wasn't pretty, or beautiful. She wasn't ugly though.
"Awkward, tall, thin?" Tristin supplied. Kit hit him in the stomach and he made a face at her. "Fine, I'm not allowed to say anything about her appearance. I was only mentioning." He said. They both knew that the other was joking. Kit knew that Tristin would never judge a woman by the way she looked and Tristin knew that Kit knew that so they joked about it.
"Now which one of these girls am I going to charm into my bed tonight?" Tristin asked, looking around in another one of their little games. Tristin was notoriously shy about women. He could talk to them, even flirt a little, but when it came to anything to do with a woman that wasn't talking over drinks, he tended to go all red and become a teenager again. That wasn't to say that some women didn't find it endearing and did come home with him, but it was a rare occurrence.
"That blonde over there," Kit pointed to the tall young woman who was wearing baby blue and talking to a shorter blonde woman. Tristin studied her, watched as she flicked her hair over her shoulder and arched an eyebrow at Kit.
"Easy," he said with a wink. "I'll at least get something with her tonight."
"Yeah, like a strand of her hair." Tristin shoved Kit, and she almost toppled over. Righting herself she wrinkled her nose at him and sailed over to Trevor Larson, promptly starting to make a fuss over him and making Tristin cringe.
His eyes went back to the blonde who was alone now, eyes traveling over the crowd. She was pretty, with long blonde curls and blue eyes. She wasn't painfully thin, but somewhat rounded. Kit would have said she had big boobs, but Tristin preferred saying that women had curves. It sounded better.
He started over to her, only to find someone crossing in front of him. Trying to avoid her, he managed to run into her and she tottered, grabbing his outstretched hand and righting herself. She was extremely short and dressed in an ill fitting peach gown that looked wrong on her.
"So sorry," they said in unison and the girl grinned at him, the light glinting off of a lip piercing.
"Jinx." She said lightly and Tristin stared at her. He had stopped doing jinxes when he was ten and here was this girl who looked to be fifteen jinxing him. He pressed his lips together and looked at her amused. "Fine, if you're going to play along, I need to know your name so I can break the jinx." She said. "So we'll say that you told him mind to mind and I broke it. So tell me, what is your name?"
"Tristin," Tristin said extremely amused. "What's yours?"
"Peta." The girl responded. "Why do you get to be here?" she asked, gesturing around the room with an expansive gesture.
"Because I'm escorting the Kenyan heir, why are you here? I thought they said only adults were allowed at the service."
Peta rolled her eyes. "Just because I'm five feet does not mean that I'm fifteen!" She said sharply, though she sounded almost amused that he had fallen into the trap. "I'm nineteen and Kathleen is my aunt."
"Ah, a Thompson then?" Tristin wanted to place her on a family tree, but didn't know quite how to do it. He only knew that the generation he was in only had three or four children in it.
"Indeed I am. The forgotten one because 'Dair and James get about a lot and do their own thing, and all I do is get piercing." She grinned and Tristin noted the tongue piercing.
"Which is why you look so out of place here?"
"That and I only wear black these days, which isn't a very festive color, now is it? So I had to go borrow one of my friend's dresses." She made a face. "It's a problem being short in ridiculously tall family. Adair's five eleven, mum's five eight and a half and dad's six two. Course, I wouldn't be able to borrow a dress from dad so it doesn't matter."
Tristin snickered. "Well, you might be able to borrow a skirt from him if he is Scottish." Peta smirked at him, a self satisfied look that seemed like a cat that had got the cream.
"Please, we're about as British and old blood as you can get. But you would be able to borrow a skirt from your dad wouldn't you?"
"Me? I wouldn't need to, I've got my own." Tristin said with a snicker again.
"Peta, dad wants you," Adair was suddenly beside them and Tristin blinked. There was a funny expression on Adair's face. Peta looked at her sister and for a moment Tristin wondered if they could mind read. Peta seemed to be annoyed and Adair worried and then, almost at the same moment both suddenly acquired a blank, cool expression and Peta turned to Tristin.
"It was lovely talking to you," she said, brown eyes calm as she smiled blandly up at him. She gave him a courteous nod before moving off. Tristin smiled as well but then he met Adair's intense blue gaze and the smile dropped off of his face. He stared at her before she smiled the same bland smile as her sister, but there was a difference, Adair's eyes were hard.
"Good evening Mr. Kenyan, I hope tonight will be pleasant for you."
"Ms. Thompson," Tristin replied, half surprised. Very few people knew who he was. He was, after all, the youngest boy in a family of ten. Everyone remembered Ethan, the eldest, and Kit, the youngest and the heir, but the middle children were always mixed up. Tristin wasn't sure if he liked this stiff young woman who was friends with a Ravus knowing who he was. "I'm sure it will be," they were talking so formally and a flash of annoyance crossed Adair's face. "Your sister is captivating," he said conversationally after a brief pause.
There was a subtle change in Adair towards defensive and Tristin stared at her as she almost bristled at him. "She is… delightful. If you'll excuse me, the ceremony is about to begin." She turned and walked quickly away.
Tristin watched as she went to her sister who was standing beside a man in a wheelchair. She was saying something and Peta had the attitude of someone who didn't care what everyone else was saying. She gave her sister a glassy eyed look and Tristin noted the annoyance on Adair's face before the organ began to play. He found Kit and walked in with her.
He had forgotten all about the blonde.
The ceremony had gone off without a hitch, Adair had stood there with the placid smile on her face as Kathleen got married, had walked out and then had gone to change. She hated the bridesmaid dress. It was long and floaty and simply got in the way. She changed into the blue silk dress that was "tea-length" as Kathleen called it. She liked it better simply because it enabled her to move. Coming out into the hall where the party was taking place she mingled among the guests, smiling and nodding politely, but really in search of William.
She couldn't believe he had shown up. The Thompsons, when pressed, usually sided with the Kenyan's; the Ravuses sensing this, tended to bow out when it came to social events where both families would be present; just as the Kenyan's bowed out of the Morrill's social events. The real problems would occur when the Blackwoods or Marlots began their social venues. Not that it mattered, William was there and that simply made Adair happy.
They had been best friends since they were five, briefly had a period where they had thought the other had cooties, become friends again, dated, fallen out, become friends again and had arrived here. William had hurt Adair in more ways then she could count, and she him, but despite this, Adair trusted William the most in the entire world. It was funny how these things worked out.
She found him quickly, able to see him from over the crowd and darting over to him and grinning as he grinned at her. She hit his shoulder lightly before hugging him. "How are you? I've missed you," she said.
"What, you didn't say that before, I'm hurt." William said, hugging her back. Adair rolled her eyes.
"I was tense, you know how I get when I get tense." She said lightly, looping an arm through his as they moved over to the balcony. William rolled his eyes at her.
"Fine, you say that and I'll believe you. I just think it's because people were watching you then," he said, sounding pitiful. Adair poked his side grinning.
"Yeah, because no one is watching now." In truth it had been because her grandmother had been around and Adeline made Adair nervous. Her grandmother had her sights set on Adair marrying quickly. William was not a first choice, due to his family, but since she was so comfortable with him, it seemed more likely that she was going to be continually badgered into a relationship with her best friend. They both agreed that this would be a very bad idea. "How's school going? Why haven't you come to visit me at the new flat?"
"We just finished our mid terms. Not all of us are smart enough to graduate early." William said giving her a look. He was mocking her and Adair knew it, all the same she pouted at him, giving him a look that implied she was hurt. William was in law school, finishing up his last year and enjoying it immensely, but Adair had graduated from medical school a year earlier then him along with the other two women in the program. Before she had graduated she had had a dorm room near William's. Now she lived on the other side of town, and never got to see him due to the demands of her job (she worked in the emergency care ward at St. George's Hospital) and his time spent studying.
"Well it's not my fault you don't have initiative." Adair said airily. The sound of the music filtered through the air and William half turned. Adair had a sudden sinking feeling in her stomach. "But Will!" she complained as he gave her a pleading look. "You know I hate dancing!" she complained as he pulled her back the way they had come.
"No you don't!" William said brightly as they reached the edge of the floor. Several couples had begun to dance and he turned to her, arching an eyebrow. One problem, she thought as he pulled her out, with being his best friend was knowing how much he loved this sort of thing. It was strange that William loved dancing at balls and social events, but Adair knew it was something he loved about the events. She smiled at him as he pulled her slightly closer. Friendly and protective, Adair knew that he wouldn't hurt her. Closing her eyes she let him lead… for once.
Tristin watched as Kit danced with Trevor and grinned. Yes, they were meant to be. Once Kit got it into her thick skull that she was meant to be with Trevor, there was going to be a Kenyan wedding. He shivered, of course that meant that he was going to lose his twin to some other man, if lose was the right word. He would never lose Kit, he supposed, but he had always felt protective of her. Men being with Kit was always a delicate issue with any of her brothers.
"Who's she to you?" it was a bright, cheerful voice and Tristin turned to find a very changed Peta. She was wearing all black, a leather jacket over a tight black tee shirt and black jeans. She had very nice black boots as well, boots that Kit would envy if she had been around, what with her shoe fetish and everything. Tristin smirked.
"She's my twin," He said. "You look different. Isn't someone going to yell at you for wearing that around here?" She looked a lot better in the black get up then she had in the peach dress, that was for sure. She grinned at him, mischief in her eyes as she shrugged.
"I drowned the dress in the Thames, so they can yell all they like." Tristin stifled a laugh. He really shouldn't laugh about something like that. Peta was incredibly inappropriately dressed, but it sounded so funny, and so much something that Kit would have done.
"Well, you shouldn't wander around like that, or someone will start yelling and you'll have to deal with it. How do you manage to get away with that sort of style?" he asked.
"Partly because I'm small and can pull all sorts of tricks around it, partly because I simply don't care if my parents yell at me, and if I don't care about them then no one else matters, please note I include my sister as one of my parents, because she acts like one enough of the time, and partly, or rather mostly, because Kathleen isn't going to notice and there was no indication on the invite saying it was a fancy dress reception." Peta grinned again, a pixie grin that made Tristin want to smile despite himself. Peta was very talkative.
"Sounds like you've thought of the best way to ruin your aunt's reception for her." Tristin said amused.
"Nah, Kathleen hates me anyways, this way she gets a chance to yell at me. I like to think of it as my gift to her on her wedding day. She really should have registered." Peta winked at Tristin and he had to laugh at that one.
"Peta!" Adair waded through the crowd, followed by William Ravus. William noted Tristin's presence and kept his face cool and impassive. Adair's face fell as she saw her sister. "Oh Peta, why do you always have to do this?"
"See, I told you she was just as bad as my parents," Peta muttered to Tristin. "Kathy will never notice, I'll keep out of sight."
"She's going to go on and on about having rock fans at her reception and you know she's going to blame me," Adair said. William lightly poked her side and muttered something at her, making Adair turn on him, giving him a half shocked look. "Will, stop it," she muttered back, only louder. William smirked and Adair turned back to her sister. "I have to go to work now, but I might be back later, can you please not do anything stupid." Tristin thought he saw her eyes travel to his form briefly before away again. He half wanted to bristle. Peta was amusing, but she wasn't anything that he would ever want to do anything with, in the way that Adair was insinuating at least.
Peta seemed to get that gist as well and rolled her eyes. "Of course not 'Dair." She said, contrite and Adair gave her sister an irritated look.
"Oh don't be that way Peta, you know it's only because—"
"You care about me. I know. Go on, who knows who's dying without your presence." Peta said, almost snappish. The way Adair's face looked was half hurt and half annoyed. William gave Peta a look implying dire things. Peta looked at him, her jaw setting as Adair walked off. "Fuck yourself William."
"You shouldn't talk to your sister like that."
"Who the fuck are you to talk to me about talking to people. You shouldn't be talking to me at all." Peta snapped. She was angry, and Tristin would have jumped to her defense even if it hadn't been a Ravus. It was just the icing on the top the fact that this young man was a Ravus and someone he could be merciless with. But before he could say anything Ravus replied evenly.
"Well I don't suppose you had a reason to do what you did then. I suppose everything that you did was because I coerced you wasn't it little innocent Peta?" he sounded almost bored, but there was so much malicious intent. Peta's face darkened and Tristin stepped slightly behind her.
"I think that you should leave Ms. Thompson alone Mr. Ravus, she isn't enjoying your company." He said, almost baiting Ravus. He couldn't help it, there was so much that could be accomplished with it. A fight was brewing in the air.
"You don't know the half of it Kenyan; stay the fuck out of this." Ravus said.
"Don't you dare talk to him like that, you fucking pig." Peta snapped. Kit was approaching, sensing that there was something going on over in this corner. And from somewhere over in the corner a dark figure moved towards them as well.
"Tough words from shut a tiny insignificant speck."
"Get away from her Ravus." His voice was calm and emotionless. Tristin looked up to see James Wells standing there. Peta was trembling with rage and William turned to look at him with cool green eyes. "You don't want to over excite the excitable." He said, every word was over pronounced, making Tristin grit his teeth.
"Oh thanks Jamie," Peta snapped. "You're all so fucking good to me. I can't believe I have such a great family." She turned on her heel and started walking. Tristin blinked, looking after her in surprise. James gave Ravus a look before stepping after Peta.
Tristin wanted to follow behind and find out what happened between the cousin's, but a cool, soft hand found his lightly brushing against it and he looked down to see a young woman standing there, a slight smile on her full red lips.
"Tristin Kenyan," she said, and Tristin met her eyes. Pale to the point of being translucent. The image set his stomach on nerves as he looked down at this small, lithe woman. "Hello," her voice was a soft, seductive purr. "I'm Cnyderia Morrill." She was like a cat, rubbing up against him and for some reason it made him want to back away. Or step closer. She smirked at him. "I was wondering if I might get you to dance with me." she asked softly. "James promised me he would but he seems to be occupied with Peta for the moment and I don't want to disturb."
Tristin swallowed. She made him nervous. Kit looked at him and he glanced at her, shrugging. "Sure." He said, following her out. Cnyderia smiled as they moved in the slow graceful circles of the dance.
"Peta and James are close," Cnyderia said finally, her strange eyes settling on the two in the corner for a moment before darting up to his face. "I'm sure that if you had gotten involved in a fight with Ravus, James would have helped out, but Peta is rather… excitable, and it's better to keep her calm. I'm sure that James will thank you later for your want to beat William Ravus into a pulp on his cousin's behalf, even if there were other reasons."
Tristin arched an eyebrow. How on earth did this strange woman know that? Or perhaps it was just the common knowledge. "And if James doesn't get a chance, I thank you on his behalf. He's one of my best friends, and while I know he's strong, William would have beaten him to a pulp first." She sighed softly and Tristin smiled.
"Well it was for Peta more then it was for James." Cnyderia smiled up at him.
"Peta has a knack for making friends," she said. "I'm glad that she managed to secure your good will if not friendship. She's chooses well."
Tristin flushed lightly. "Er… thanks." He said. Cnyderia smiled at him again, her red lips bright in the room, like she had taken blood and run it over her lips.
"You're welcome Mr. Kenyan."