Recap: Astrid has been suspended for five days because she said the weed that was found in Ollie's locker was hers. While Astrid tries to spend time at the beach, her mother wants her to attend various snobby events with her. Ezra founds out that his mother has eye cancer and needs surgery so the cancer doesn't spread and kill her, but they don't have the money to afford it. Her chances of recovery anyway aren't great. Ezra then meets Layla, the self-proclaimed loner who hates Queen Bee Astrid and everyone popular.
Can we climb this mountain?
I don't know
Higher now than ever before
I know we can make it if we take it slow
Let's take it easy
Easy now, watch it go
"Erin, darling, it's lovely to see you."
As these words drifted up from downstairs, Ollie and I froze. Slowly, we turned to face each other, eyes wide, expressions mirror images of horror.
"Oh mother, you knew I couldn't stay away for long. I needed a holiday from work and what better place than home?"
Erin's lyrical voice confirmed both of our fears – the older sister was home.
"You have got to be kidding me," Ollie muttered, sitting up from where we were lying on his bed. "What the hell is she doing back? I thought she was sharing an apartment with her new boy toy."
I covered my face with my hands, groaning. "I don't know. They probably broke up and she's going to latch onto the parents until they buy her a new place to live."
Ollie made a face. "But she's such a fucking bitch. Why can't she use her own money?"
I reached out and slapped Ollie on the shoulder. "Hey, watch your language, she's still your sister."
"Oh come on, Asti, you were thinking it. She ignores me but she hates you."
I grimaced. "Don't I know it."
"Olivier, Astrid! Come down and greet your sister."
It was more like a command than a request and, grumbling, we both got up and dragged ourselves downstairs.
"Astrid!" Erin cried when she saw me, fake smile planted on her face. Her eyes ran up and down me and she didn't even bother to hide her disgust. "You're looking healthy."
I looked down at her tiny model's body and knew she was calling me fat.
"Hi Erin, you too." When her nails latched onto me to draw me into a hug, I whispered. "Is that why you're not working at the moment?"
Her nails instantly dug in deeper to my arms and her eyes flashed.
"Oh, darling sister, you still haven't gotten over your jealousy issues, I see." She turned to Ollie, who was loitering near the doorway. "And Olivier, aren't you going to give me a welcome hug?"
Ollie reluctantly walked over to her and embraced her quickly before stepping away.
"Erin, I saw you arrived here in a taxi – what happened to your car?"
Her brown eyes darkened slightly but her voice was still sugary when she answered. "I got into a car crash, mother, didn't I tell you? My car is completely totalled and I have no way to get around other than paying for those grubby taxis!"
Diana smiled. It truly was not a nice expression.
"Well we can't have that, can we? You can have Astrid's car."
"What?" I cried, stepping forward. "You can't just give away my car!"
Her cold, steely eyes met mine. "I can if I paid for it, which I did. Plus, your sister has more use of it than you do. Consider it your punishment for being suspended."
Erin's eyes lit up, and I could tell this had worked out better than she'd been expecting.
"Suspended?" she repeated, latching right onto any dirt to do with me. "Really? What did you do this time, Astrid? Get caught drunk on campus again? Did you sleep with a teacher?"
Diana pretended to ignore Erin as she walked off into the next room.
"It's none of your business," I snapped, before turning on my heel and stalking away.
"Don't forget to bring me the key's to your car!" she called after me. I ground my teeth together.
"That's if I can find them, you bitch," I muttered, too softly for her to hear. Ollie, who was walking beside me, perked up.
"Let's throw them off the balcony!" he said, a wide smile on his face.
"Ollie, I can't, that's just horrible. Plus I'd get into even more trouble."
"Really?" Ollie said doubtfully. "What else can mum do? She probably won't even care. And Erin deserves it. Consider it payment for the hell she's gonna put us through for however long she's here for."
I was seriously considering it but Ollie made the decision for me by entering my room and re-emerging with the keys.
"Let's do it."
When Ezra arrived at home, he found his mother sitting in her chair in front of the television with the news on. Although she couldn't see what was happening clearly, he knew that she always loved to hear what was going on in the world. She looked content, sitting there, and he didn't want to break it. But he knew if he didn't ask now, he'd never get around to it.
"Mum," he said softly, kneeling on the floor next to her chair and taking her hand in his. "Who is my father?"
She sighed. "I knew from the tone of your voice that your question would be an important one."
"Please don't try to change the topic."
"Are you sure you wish to know, Ezra? You've never cared before. I told you he left before you were born and you were always content knowing that."
"Our circumstances have changed slightly, mum."
She paused for a moment, the sounds of the television filling the room before she chuckled softly. "What a coincidence – that's him there." Her head nodded towards the television and Ezra's eyes flew to it.
The news was playing a video of a man striding out the doors of a courthouse, followed by a group of serious-faced lawyers. Ezra's heart plummeted. Underneath, was written 'mining magnate and billionaire Kian Hundt wins his third divorce'.
"You have got to be joking," he whispered. "That can't be true."
His mother smiled slightly. "Kian Hundt is your father, darling – it sounds like he's still breaking hearts wherever he goes. Does he still cut a powerful figure?"
A dull roaring filled his ears. He had wondered, on occasion, who his father was but he'd never have guessed it was this man before him. A billionaire and mining entrepreneur.
He studied him intently. He basically exuded power and money in his finely cut designer suit. He had dark brown hair that was greying at the sides, which he kept slicked back. His face was all strong angles and his eyes were hawk-like.
"My father…" Ezra whispered, then he cleared his throat. "Uh, yes, he still is."
At the moment reporters were shoving microphones in his face and yelling questions, but he just replied with, "No comment." Even his voice was strong.
"Can you please tell me the whole story?" Ezra asked hesitantly. He felt like he was being hit with one surprise after another - as if he were drowning in every new revelation and he didn't know how much more he could take. But he had to do this. He had to clear his head and do this for his mother.
"There's not much to it, I'm afraid. I met him when I was young and going through university. He was handsome and rich and I was a young, gullible and poor girl who he used to annoy his parents." He was amazed to find not one bit of bitterness in her voice. Kian Hundt was just using her yet she sounded like she had forgiven him long ago. "He and I weren't just a one time thing, Ezra. There was a time when I believed we were in love, but now I think it was just the thrill of it." She turned to him and clasped his other hand in hers. "I told him I was getting an abortion, if only to get his parents to back off. I dropped out of university and had you."
"So he doesn't know I exist."
She shook her hand sadly. "No, he doesn't. At first it was bitterness over our break up that led me to keep quiet about you – he was engaged the entire time, which I only found out at the end. But then I wanted to keep you safe. I wanted you to be free to grow up as you, not to be known as the bastard son of a billionaire. You understand this, don't you? I was trying to protect you."
He sucked in a deep breath then swallowed. "I know. I never really asked about him before now, anyway. It's just… it's hard to take in. That he is my father."
Ezra glanced at the television again but the segment on Kian Hundt – on his father – was over and a new one was showing. He would need quite a bit of time to wrap his head around this.
"I-I'm gonna head down to the beach," he said, standing up, his head spinning.
His mother gave him an understanding smile that broke his heart, her eyes unfocused. "Just be back in time for dinner," she said softly.
He nodded, once again grabbing the car keys as he left the building.
It was all becoming too much. He could barely think about his mother's cancer without his eyes stinging and now this? It was like some sick soap opera. Who finds out that their missing dad is one of the countries richest men, anyway? In a way, it was too good to be true. Just when he needed an exorbitant amount of money, his billionaire father enters the picture. Ezra knew he should be driving straight to the man and demanding the money, but he was confused. So damn confused. Despite a tiny part of him that still wanted a dad, he didn't want anything to do with the guy. He disgusted Ezra, actually. What kind of man abandoned a woman and her unborn child? And what was he even doing with his mother in the first place, if he was already engaged?
Rich people, he thought with a sneer. They thought they could get away with anything they wanted. And, sadly enough, they did. It didn't matter that most of them were rotten on the inside, with a little charm and a whole lot of money on your side, you could get out of anything.
Well, Ezra decided, he didn't want anything to do with the man. If it weren't for his mother, he would forget about Kian Hundt completely. He'd never had any desire to find his father. He loved his mother wholeheartedly and had a great deal of respect for her. She was so strong, to be able to raise him on her own. But he couldn't deny the facts – his mother was dying and needed the surgery.
Swearing, he abruptly turned the car off the highway and onto the exit that pointed towards the city centre.
Finn finally managed to find a park on the street outside of Gabe's house. His house was huge, squeezed onto a fairly small plot of land between other McMansions. Like my house, though, it screamed money. It also had a beautiful view of the Harbour, meaning the price of the house just about tripled.
Gabe had invited everyone around to watch the rugby union game on his ridiculously massive TV screen since his parents were on a business trip. It was Australia versus the Barbarians in Twickenham, and Finn's excitement was infectious. Since she no longer had a car – or the keys, since they were somewhere over the balcony – Finn had offered to drive her, the whole way jabbering about the game. He even had a Wallabies jersey on, the number 7 emblazoned on the back for his favourite player, David Pocock.
Even as they exited the car, he still kept talking.
"…and this game's gonna be great too, since Graham Henry's the coach of the Barbarians this year and, speaking of Kiwis, Sonny-Bill's playing too! There you go, you'll have some man-candy to watch. But the Wallabies better take Piri Weepu out early on, he's a damn good fly-half, you know? I swear, half the team this year are bloody Kiwis. And they stole Mortlock off us! Dirty, I say—"
"Asti!" Sienna called, running up to me and hugging me.
"Oh thank god! Someone who isn't obsessed with rugby! I've had to listen to Ollie all day and Finn wouldn't stop going on about the whole way here!"
"Aw, babe, you should've asked me to come pick you up! I got your Facebook message about your car and Erin – what a bitch! Did you get my txt?"
I nodded, patting the bag slung over my shoulder. "Yep, I brought some heels to chuck on later."
After the game finished, Sienna had told me everyone was planning to head to Kings Cross to go clubbing. I was wearing a simple tight, floral dress that went to a bit above mid-thigh, my beloved and comfortable pair of combat boots, and an open, button-down denim shirt that I'd stolen off Finn a while back. I could tell from the look in Sienna's eyes that she thought I wasn't dressed up enough, but I was comfy the way I was, so she would have to deal.
"What are your heels like?" she asked suspiciously. "If they're kitten heels I will be forced to kill you. Kitten heels are not only ugly as hell, but they don't even deserve the name of high heel!"
Rolling my eyes, I pulled out the bright turquoise pumps. They were by Brian Atwood and had red, orange and pink embroidery up the back of the heel.
Sienna gasped. "Oh my god, those are new! Have you been shopping without me?"
I laughed. "What else am I supposed to do all day? I bought them yesterday."
"I so have to borrow them off you."
Finn, bored of our conversation, walked past us and into the house. Sienna showed me what she was wearing, which consisted of a pair of to die for Gucci Sofia Etoile heels that I'd been salivating over in last months Grazia, and a tight, long-sleeved mini dress with gold sequins at the top, blue sequins and peacock feathers at the bottom, by Matthew Williamson. Altogether, Sienna was going to sparkle tonight.
That was Sienna – always trying to outshine everyone around her. Finn couldn't stand the girl and had once asked how I could be friends with such a bitch. On the surface, Sienna was a jealous, manipulative, heartless bitch. But I'd been friends with her long before she'd turned into a 'man-hungry monster', as Joss called her. My uncle had always taught me to never judge a person, as you had no idea what burdens they had to bear.
While my mother couldn't care less about me, Sienna's mother cared a bit too much. She was a high-flying socialite who was always pushing her daughter to be prettier, smarter, better. It was probably her fault that Sienna now had a superiority complex the size of Antarctica, yet she was always deeply insecure. It was a strange paradox, but that was Sienna. It was also her fault that Sienna always fought tooth and nail to be so powerful, through her popularity and her reputation.
Sienna slung an arm around my shoulders, jarring me from my thoughts.
"C'mon, babe, lets get inside and watch grown men throw themselves at each and get groped in the name of rugby."
The next day at school, Joss caught sight of Finn before he had time to open his mouth, let alone sling an arm over her shoulder.
"Go fuck yourself," she snapped, slamming her locked closed and stalking off down the hallway. Unfortunately, Finn couldn't take a hint.
"You know, this whole 'dominant woman, submissive male' thing we've got going here is a real turn on. I love it!"
She flicked an annoyed glance his way. "I have a boyfriend, jerk-off."
"Do not give me that horrible soccer analogy again. I thought you were better than recycling lines."
"So you do think of me?"
She huffed out a breath in frustration. "Nice try. Now get lost, I have class."
Finn chuckled to himself. "Oh you're a slippery little sucker! You have a free period at the moment. With moi."
She frowned, pressing her lips together. "Joy," she deadpanned.
He finally managed to sling an arm around her shoulder. "I knew you'd warm up to me eventually."
"Eat shit and die."
"Really? That's the best you can come up with? Really, Joss?"
He was pushing her up to her boiling point and he knew it.
She shoved his ridiculously well toned arm off her shoulder.
"You're like a baby. Look at you! You're not even walking, you're bopping."
"That's 'cause I'm happy. You make me infinitely happy, Joss." The look he gave her was so cute and innocent and child-like that her heart melted a little. That is, until he leaned over and whispered, "Wanna have a quickie in the toilet stall?"
Joss nearly screamed in frustration. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down.
"You know what? I'm going to the art studio. Fuck the library."
"We can fuck in the library." At Joss's narrowed eyes, Finn looked sheepish. "Okay, that was a bad one, but you didn't give me much to work with!"
Joss turned on her heel and began striding away, as fast as she could without losing all dignity and running.
"Wait!" Finn hurried to keep up with her. "Can I be in your major piece?"
"Hell no. But I heard a girl over in Textiles is wanting a guy to model her clothes – the theme is Mardi Gras."
His face twisted, but the image of him in drag made her infinitely happier.
Suddenly, he said loudly, "No I will not have sex with you, Josslyn Stewart! I can't believe you'd even suggest it!"
Joss's jaw slackened as people, began to whisper around them. Finn shot her a wink before – finally – spinning around and going to the library again. Joss stood there for a moment, surrounded by students already gossiping and on their phones, and couldn't help but smile slightly.
Life was never dull around Finnley Grenier.
Sienna watched Finn throwing himself at Josslyn, and could barely contain her contempt. The guy was a total sleaze and drug-fucked nutcase – she had no idea why any girl would spread her legs for him. There was of course the obvious, like his chiselled abs and white smile but Sienna preferred her guys to not have a stick up their arse. When she made the mistake of flirting innocently with Finn a few years ago, he'd turned her down flat with a disgusted look on her face.
Like she said, he was a nutcase.
Seeing Tessa, the gossip queen, walking past, Sienna reached out and grabbed onto her arm.
"Wha—oh hey Sienna!" the girl said, her voice bubbly and smile wide. "How are you going? I love what you've done to your hair. Did you get highlights?"
Sienna threw her a disgusted look. "No," she said shortly. "I need you to spread some things."
"Sure!" she chirped.
"You can tell everyone about what Astrid got up to last night on Kings Cross."
Sienna frowned. "Use your imagination."
Sienna's phone began to ring and she quickly fished it out and, before answering, shot another glare at Tessa.
"What the hell are you still doing here?"
As the girl scampered off, Sienna answered the phone.
"Sienna, I just got a call from your maths teacher. He said you barely managed to pass the last test."
"Mum, look, I'm sorry—"
"If I had known how badly you were performing at school, I most certainly would not have let you go out last night! How are you ever going to get into a good course in university when you're barely passing mathematics?"
"Mum," Sienna said in a hushed voice, "I told you that I didn't think I was capable of doing extension maths. I just can't keep up—"
"Don't be silly, Sienna! Your father was top in the state in maths – you just aren't trying hard enough! Which is why I've hired a tutor for you, two hours a day; three days a week."
"Are you kidding? That'll completely mess up my social life—"
"Well you should have thought about that before you started lagging in your classes! I will not have you arguing about this."
"Fine," Sienna growled, before hanging up. She knew she'd have hell to pay later for hanging up on her mother, but she couldn't care less at the moment. She wanted to punch something.
Clenching her fists, she breathed in and out slowly. When she finally felt slightly calmer, she headed to class, viciously shouldering people out of her way.
Ezra couldn't face staying at school the entire day. After lunch, he just had one class and a free period, but he figured he could skip it since just about everyone else in the class acted like they had learning problems. He scoffed, remembering the way Astrid had not been able to put down one answer in the Ancient History quiz. That was completely unlike the Astrid he used to know, but he guessed that being cool and popular didn't allow for things like brains.
Once he was out of the school grounds, he flagged down a bus heading into the city. He couldn't over think what he was about to do. He held the memory of his mother's unfocused eyes and beautiful smile in his mind to keep the fear and slight nausea overtaking him.
Once in the CBD, he stepped off the bus in front of the tall, imposing glass skyscraper that held the offices for Kian Hundt, according to the Google search he did at school. Before he could lose his nerve, he strode forward and up to the reception desk.
"I'm here to see Kian Hundt," he said brusquely to the woman sitting behind the desk.
She snorted. "Yeah, you and every other journalist in the city. Do you have an appointment?"
"No, but I'm sure he'll want to see me."
"Look, kid, Mr Hundt doesn't have time to help you with your school projects or whatever you're doing—"
Ezra let out an impatient breath. "I'm his son. Get him on the line and ask him if remembers leaving a pregnant woman called Angela Wyatt some time eighteen years ago."
The receptionist looked shocked for a moment before her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"For all I know, you could be lying. Mr Hundt doesn't have any children."
"I'm not. But if you're not willing to let me up there, then I'll have to talk to these journalists hanging around and create another scandal for Mr Hundt to deal with."
The receptionist glared at him before slowly picking up the phone and punching in a few numbers.
"Yes, this is the reception desk. I have a boy here saying… well, he's saying that his father is Mr Hundt and his mother is… who again?"
"Angela Wyatt," Ezra supplied impatiently, fingers drumming on the desk.
"His mother is Angela Wyatt. …Yes I'll hold." As they waited, Ezra folded his arms tightly and fought the urge to tap his foot. Finally, the receptionists eyebrows shot up. "Okay, I'll let him through."
Frowning, she put down the phone and handed him a visitors pass.
"Take the elevator up to the 51st floor."
"Finally," Ezra muttered as he stalked through the turnstile.
The elevator ride up was agonising. There was no one else in there, so it was just him and his thoughts. Despite never having an urge to find out who his father was before, he couldn't help but be nervous. Would he like him? Would he be proud of him?
Ezra quickly stamped down on these thoughts. He couldn't care less what Kian Hundt thought of him as long as he paid up.
When the doors pinged open, Ezra strode out with renewed determination.
"I'm here to see Kian Hundt," he said, once again. The man behind the desk gestured to his right, where a smiling woman stood.
"Hi, you're the young Mr Wyatt?"
With narrowed eyes, Ezra nodded stiffly.
"My name's Jasmine, I'm Mr Hundt's secretary. If you'll follow me?"
As they walked through the office, Ezra kept his focus in mind and didn't meet any of the curious eyes staring at him.
When they reached large wooden doors, Ezra felt like his stomach was seconds away from revolting.
Jasmine waved her hand at the door, giving him a strained smile. "He's waiting for you."
Ezra hesitated a moment before clenching his fists and pushing open the door.
A/N: I'm the worst person ever, I know.
I realised when I was reading through this that I wrote the beginning half ages ago. Like, that rugby game was on when I was writing it (I LOVE IT) and that was months ago. So, huge apologies to everyone and thank-you for sticking with it!
Gawd I love writing Joss and Finn. I'd love to hear everyone's feedback!
Thank-you so much for reviewing: Northfacegrl5 , pbgurl , TO-OLazyToLogin , ILveJcb , Starcrazed , Heath cullen lover , Anehalia , Rosalinda Pink and shann-ng.
Anehalia : I agree that I need more description, I always just get so into writing that I want it all done as it is played out in my head. I'm sorry about the lack of any breaks, but a while back fictionpress decided it would be awesome if they deleted them out of every one of my stories. So helpful. I haven't gotten around to putting them all back in yet, because it's a pretty big task. Have they been working for this chapter and the last? I thought they were!
ILveJcb : I'm sorry! That's because I'm the worst at updating! But I put a recap at the beginning for you, so I hope that helps!
Pbgurl : I'm glad you mentioned Layla! I actually based her off that stereotypical character that seems to be in every high school story that hates everyone who is popular for being popular. Admittedly, I may have had a character like that in some of my stories… guilty.
Song: When You Were Young – The Killers (another all-time favourite of mine!)