Goodness me, it's been more than a month! How time flies. I certainly have built a reputation for lengthy periods between updates, haven't I... Anyway, here's chapter two :)
Daylight streamed into the room, hitting Cara in the eye. She lay still for a moment, mentally running through what she had to do today. Anna's hand rested -- almost possessively -- on her hip, warm and heavy. Momentarily disoriented -- Cara was sure they'd very certainly retired to separate single beds last night -- she remembered Anna climbing onto the other side (if it was possible for a single bed to have an "other side") of her bed in the early -- earlier -- morning, whispering, "I hope you don't mind," to which Cara had simply shuffled over and thrown back a bit of the covers.
"Morning," Anna grumbled from behind her.
"Morning," Cara replied, her voice hoarse from sleep. She cleared her throat. "Good rest?"
The hand on her hip squeezed lightly before dropping away. Cara was acutely aware of it grazing her butt. "Very good," came the response, followed by a massive yawn.
"Ew, your morning breath stinks!" Cara giggled as if she were five years old again, squirming away and swatting Anna with her pillow. She sat up, hugging the fluffy object on her lap, and giggled again at Anna's sheepish grin. "Do you remember when we'd have sleepovers and you'd always keep your toothbrush next to you so you could brush the second you woke up?"
Anna chuckled. "Yes, I do! I was so obsessed about oral hygiene," she mocked herself. "Still am, actually. But spending my formative years hugging the porcelain in the bathroom at night meant there was no need for that." There was some rustling, but Anna didn't get out of the bed.
"You always were a rebel." Cara couldn't help but wonder what Anna had gotten up to after she and Jenner had moved. In her letters and telephone calls, Anna had always sounded so busy, both with work and play. She made a mental note to ask Anna if English schooling really was anything like she'd watched in Skins--
Anna was suddenly hovering over her, her body pressed flush against Cara's back. "How would you know?" she whispered, her face close, her breath hot against Cara's ear. It smelled faintly of mints. "You weren't here, Charlie." Someone's body shuddered, someone's breath hitched. The room felt really stuffy, and in an instant Cara had swept her legs out of the bed and onto the floor, reassured by the muffled but solid thud of her feet hitting the carpet. She looked back at Anna, who was lying propped up on one elbow, watching her inscrutably. In her tank top and boxer shorts, Anna's limbs were dark and sleek against the white of the sheets. She looked sexy as hell, too, with her hair all kinda mussed up like that, and--
What the hell am I thinking? Then: Is she -- "Are you laughing at me?"
"Of course I am," Anna laughed harder. "You're checking me out!"
"What-- I am not!" But Cara's ears burned anyway as she tore her eyes away from Anna's body and glared into mischievous green eyes. "I was just..."
"Just what?" Anna teased. She bounced upright and hugged Cara's pillow, and absently swept away a lock of hair that had fallen over her eyes. "Just whaaattt?"
"Oh, shut up," Cara huffed without bite, stepping back towards the bed and grabbing her pillow out of Anna's hands. She thumped the brunette over the head with it and then tossed it back. "Get your endless legs out of my bed."
The smirk on Anna's face could not get any bigger. "Hey, Charlie."
"Think quick!" The white projectile flew at Cara and bounced harmlessly off her neck before dropping to the floor. Her mouth an 'o' of indignation, Cara bent to pick it up and was barely able to straighten before Anna had thumped her back, over her head, giggling away. "How do you like me now!" Anna crowed, raising the pillow over her head in triumph, giving Cara the perfect opportunity to sock her in the stomach. Before long, they had worked themselves into a full pillowfight.
A short while after the fight had gotten "serious" and Cara was busy making a fort out of the sofa and the other bed, and Anna was raiding the suite closet for more pillows, the door opened and Jenner walked in, fully dressed in his suit. "Oh, a pillow fight, how excellent. Please, continue," he said, gesturing airily when the girls noticed him and stopped.
"Wow, you clean up well, Jay," Anna complimented, making a big show of checking him out. "You've grown into a wonderful young man." She pretended to cry and dab at her imaginary tears and then turned serious again. "Your mother would be so proud."
Jenner cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably at the praise. "Thanks, Anna. I hope you're right."
"Hey, I don't doubt it for a second." She clapped him on the shoulder and pushed the pillow she was holding into his hands. "Now, you can put the pillows back for us while we get changed. There's no time to waste! The bride waits for her bridesmaid. Chop chop."
The wedding happened like any other wedding would. Cara watched as her dad and Sarah exchanged their (self-written) vows, put (family heirloom) rings on each others' fingers, kissed (chastely), grinned at the wolf-whistles and catcalls that followed, kissed again (not so chastely) just to make the point, and then it was over. Pictures were taken immediately after the ceremony, outside in the large garden even though it was quite chilly, and Cara shook hands and smiled at friends and relatives she bumped into after years, repeatedly thanking them as almost every single one commented on how much she'd grown, and that they'd see her at the reception that night. She picked at a nonexistent loose thread on her dress (champagne coloured).
"You'd think that a child growing up into a fine young woman would be an anomaly in normal society," Anna commented dryly, sneaking up behind Cara and making her jump slightly.
Anna chuckled. "Never mind. You all right? Look a little worn."
"Yeah, I'm fine," Cara said, but a sigh escaped her lips anyway. "Just thinking about mum."
"Oh." Anna squeezed Cara's shoulder, and the younger girl reached up and touched Anna's fingers. "She'd think you'd grown up into a fine young woman, too." Cara laughed. "Seriously, though, I think she would've liked Sarah. She's good for your dad."
Cara watched her dad and Sarah making the rounds, thanking the guests and promising to catch up with those who could make the dinner. Then, her dad came up towards them, Sarah in tow. "Hi, girls. It's good to have you with us, Anna."
"Great to see you," Sarah agreed. "I love that dress you're wearing, where did you find it?"
"Thanks, it's actually one of my aunt's old Chanel dresses. I raided her closet last summer and took everything she never wore any more."
"Vintage," Cara said.
"Enhances all the assets," Anna added, and they all laughed.
"Anyway," Cara's dad said to her as Anna and Sarah lapsed into some small talk, "We just came to say that we'll be shooting off now, and we'll see you at dinner later." He kissed Cara on the cheek, as did Sarah, and they both hugged Anna before taking their time getting to the luxurious silver Lexus parked outside. It was completely unnecessary, of course, the dinner was going to be in the Dorchester ballroom, and Sarah was going to get ready in the suite upstairs. Cara turned to go back indoors but Anna stopped her with a hand on her forearm.
"Let's take a picture, Charlie," she suggested, calling the hired photographer over. Cara followed her lead, and soon they were laughing and making silly poses with as much fervour as the serious ones. The photographer, who had been directing posture and placement all morning, had no place in that now -- Anna and Cara just knew what to do with each other. Jenner walked past and Anna shrieked for him to come over.
Cara's brother looked at Anna's arms around Cara's waist in a hug and pretended to sulk. "There's no room for me in there," he complained, so Anna unwrapped herself from Cara and linked arms with the twins.
"There," she grinned. "My two most favourite people in the world."
After more silly (and serious) photos, they headed back inside soon after the guests had left and it began raining. Anna returned to her apartment (and office) in Soho to "wrap up a few things for the next issue and I'll be back as soon as you know it," and Cara didn't really know what to do with herself now, and wandered her way to the ballroom where the dinner was being set up for. About three hundred people would be there later in the evening (Sarah's side of the family was positively huge, not to mention the number of friends and colleagues she had from her architectural firm). The staff were busy following the instructions that Lois, Sarah's cousin and wedding planner, had explicitly laid out for them, and the Gallagher side of the party hardly had to lift a finger, really.
The ballroom was grand. Fine blue patterned carpet and deep blue lighting set into parts of the ceiling should've felt cold, but instead created a pulsating and cool environment. The tables had already been set up; silvery tablecloths and matching chair backs that draped down just touching the ground. Small vases of flowers made the centrepiece, and the place names were just being set out. At the far end of the room, a girl was tossing lengths of cable to another girl who was looking over a stack of amplifiers. Realising they were the band when she saw the guitars and drums being carted in by two boys, Cara decided to watch them set up, and moved closer until she met the gaze of one of the boys carrying a ride cymbal under his arm and a guitar in each hand. It was the boy from last night, the one who had walked into her outside the bathroom. His green eyes -- kind of like Anna's, but not as sharp, Cara thought -- widened in recognition and they stared at each other in surprise.
"--Hi." The boy spoke first.
"Hello." Cara allowed all her surprise to be expressed in her tone.
"Fancy meeting you here." His accent sounded slightly Northern to Cara, though she couldn't be sure. Anna could've probably placed the county.
"Yeah, I know. What are the chances? Although, my brother did mention that you guys were going to be playing for us tonight."
The boy laughed. "Small world, innit?" He set down his load just in front of the stage and extended his hand. "I'm Jordan."
"Cara." They shook hands and chuckled. "It's nice to meet you... again."
"Under far less dubious circumstances, too, which is quite comforting."
"I'll drink to that. But there's no alcohol here."
"Oh, that's a pity. We were looking forward to a pint and a bit."
"Yeah, my best friend is the same as you, but my stepmother used to be in AA, so -- her wedding, her rules."
"Good on her," Jordan nodded seriously. "Well, I'm sure we can all look forward to a good glass of punch, then?"
"I don't see why not. But we're going out later, anyway, and I'm sure they wouldn't mind if you all came along. Anna thinks you guys are great."
"Oh, brilliant." Jordan looked pleased. "We're quite a local band, that's cool that your friend's heard of us. Where is she from?"
"Well, we grew up in Kent, but she lives in Soho now. She runs this music magazine, so she keeps up a lot with the scene; I guess that's where she's heard of you guys from." Cara remembered the night before and added, "She was actually talking to the girls in the bar yesterday, I don't think you were there. But I'll introduce you two later."
"Speaking of introductions..." Jordan waved the two girls and guy over from where they were plugging in their instruments -- including a violin -- and pedals and introduced them to Cara.
"Thanks for having us," the one called Lee said after they'd all exchanged handshakes. "We started out playing weddings, it's pretty cool getting back to it."
"Cool," Cara echoed just as Jenner appeared by her side. "This is my brother, Jenner," she said, and everyone exchanged handshakes all over again.
"You hungry?" Jenner asked, as the twins excused themselves. Jordan waved and nearly dropped the microphone stand he was extending, which Cara found quite cute. "I was going to go see if Anna wanted to get some food on the way back; we haven't hit Soho in a while."
Cara had been saving up her stomach for dinner, but it was still relatively early in the afternoon. "All right," she said after a moment's consideration. "Wait, let me go get changed first. I'll meet you in the lobby?"
On the way out of the ballroom, Cara looked back and saw Jordan watching her leave. She raised her hand in a small wave and smiled, and Jordan grinned back. She really liked England, Cara decided. It was starting to hold all her favourite memories again.
Thanks for reading! I hope you guys like where this is going. It's going super slow (everything is really fast in my head but the pictures won't turn into words so easily) and I find I have a bit of trouble closing out a chapter... anyone else get that?