“What was that about?” Ada asked.
Autumn was smirking. “Yeah Astra, what was that about?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Astra mumbled.
“Babe, what happened?” Cadence asked.
Astra looked away, fighting back the tears. “Nothing.”
“You’re supposed to be happy, what happened?” Autumn asked. “I’m sorry is this my fault?”
Astra shook her head and shut her eyes. “Its nothing. Really. Okay?”
“Nothing?” Ada asked, “You sure?”
Astra nodded and leaned her head backwards.
“It’s not nothing, whats wrong?” Cadence sat down next to her cousin. “What did Thad say?”
“Nothing,” Astra repeated.
“Nothing? Really? So you’re all upset for no reason?” She poked her cousin’s cheek.
“Don’t do that.”
“Then tell me,” She said. “I’m here to help.”
“He thinks I have a crus-h on him, he sai-d he w-as too old f-or me,” Astra confessed. She was so nervous she shut her eyes while Cadence spoke.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” She said.
“Why? I don’t have a cru-sh on hi-m,” Astra stammered.
Cadence didn’t really believe her but she dropped it. “Anything else bothering you?”
“Grandpa,” Astra said. “Do you think he’s alright? What about my dads?”
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Cadence said.
Astra looked to Autumn who was chattering excitedly to Ada. “Someone doesn’t come all the way from Sunlit Tides for someone who’s fine.”
“He’s fine, Astra,” Cadence said. “Why wouldn’t he be? He has a lot of people there with him.”
Astra shook her head. “What if its a disease?”
“You can’t think like that,” Cadence said.
“Fine, but, I want to go home.” Astra stood up. “I’m tired of talking.”
Cadence smiled at her, noticing her stutter was gone. She didn’t like Thad? Yeah right!
“Bye Astra!” She heard his voice again. A small smile fell on her lips. She was happy that even after their conversation he decided to say goodbye again. It was something small, but it meant a lot to her. She turned quickly and waved.
“Feel better.” He mouthed the words and she nodded steadily. She turned back around.
“You’re leaving us with all this?” Autumn asked. “I’m the guest here.”
Cadence waved her off. “Who’s louder do you think, Ada? Thad or Autumn?”
“Model boy is a dork, look at him smiling dorkily at your baby cousin.” Ada smiled watching them. “He cares about her, I don’t know to what extent, but she’s oblivious..”
“He’s not though, at least, I don’t think so,” Cadence said.
“Know who’s really oblivious?” Autumn asked. She pointed to the two of them. “You and Ada.”
“What does that mean?” Ada asked. Cadence looked away and blushed. Autumn smirked and stood up. She went to finish doing the clothes.
(Monika Sinclair was made by TinyPiglet, thank you dear! I added some CC for her shoot, hope you don’t mind!)
Astra was mortified. When she logged onto her computer that night, she didn’t expect to see this. She had gotten an email from Gabrielle asking if Astra would go and review another restaurant. But, Gabrielle’s email was linked to the website of the backlot and Astra mistakenly clicked it, trying to open the email. The cover story was of course, the newest shoot. Thad had texted her about it, she recalled but she didn’t think when he said he was working with another model that it’d be such a beautiful woman. It made Atra feel inferior. She had snapped at Thad earlier and she wasn’t as beautiful or confident as this model. Monika was a famous model. She had beautiful luxurious hair, a stunning body and she just oozed perfection. Astra thought about her lanky body, her small breasts and her flat hair. Not to mention she was only 18, why would Thad waste his time talking to her when Monika was more up to his level? She knew it was just a picture, but he looked so in love with her. It looked so effortless…it shouldn’t have even bothered her to begin with. She wasn’t, in any way, in love with Thad. He was too old for her, and he wasn’t interested.
“What are you looking at?” Cadence asked. Astra jumped. She quickly clicked out of the webpage, or tried to. Cadence grinned as she saw a glimpse of Thad and Monika on the screen. “Oo Thad is looking good.”
“Uh, huh, yeah.” Astra nodded quickly. “I uh, I clicked it by accident.”
“Sure, you did.” Cadence placed her hand on Astra’s shoulder, causing her to jump. “You okay? Still on edge about grandpa?”
“Of course I am,” Astra breathed. “What if he’s not okay?”
“He is okay,” Cadence reassured the girl. “He’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
“You don’t know grandpa like I know him,” Astra said, trying to fight back her tears. It was a combination of her anxiety, fear and helplessness in this situation and her unsure feelings for Thad. “He’s the greatest man I’ve ever met. He doesn’t deserve to be in pain!”
“We’ll fix this,” Autumn said. She had just come into the room and collapsed onto Astra’s bed. “But you worrying isn’t going to fix anything.”
“Of course not, I have to be back there with him, and I can’t!” Astra was practically yelling. “I need to find Zodiac, he’ll have to let me go-”
“No!” Cadence snapped. “No. Alistair told me, he said not to go against the guardians. Please, Astra.”
“The who?” Autumn asked. “What?”
“It’s nothing,” Cadence said. “It’s better if you don’t know. I..we should do something to get our minds off of this.”
“At the laundromat Ada was telling me about this club, it’s opening night tonight apparently. We could all go, do a girls thing?” Autumn suggested.
“You go,” Astra said. “I don’t like big crowds.”
“She doesn’t,” Cadence confirmed. “Let’s do something else.”
“Just go,” Astra said. “Ada has been talking about this forever. You like her right? So go ahead and hang out. I just want to stay home anyway. My heart isn’t in it today, I’d just be dead weight no matter where we went today.”
“No…” Autumn’s voice trailed off. “That’s not fair.”
“It is because I really don’t want to go,” Astra said. “Why suffer because of me?” THe idea of sweaty half clothed people invaded her space made her sick to her stomach. THats not what she needed right now.
“Ast, you sure?” Cadence frowned. “I don’t want to leave you alone. Alistair has work tonight.”
“I want to be alone, I’ll be fine.”
“Hey, Astra how are you holding up?” Astra turned around to see Alistair in his pajamas.
“What are you doing? Get dressed, you have work tonight,” Astra said.
“I don’t have a job anymore,” Alistair said. “Apparently a whole week off on such short notice with no proof is not good. Who knew?” He was smiling but she knew he was upset. Not about the job, but about Lucie.
“I’m sorry,” Astra muttered. “I should be the one going, not you.”
“He’s my grandfather too,” Alistair said. “I’ve known him just as long as you have. And that Zodiac guy scares me, I don’t want him doing anything to you. So, stay and I’ll bring your dads, or at least Declan to you.”
Astra grimaced. “Al, I just want to go home. I hate it here.”
“I thought you were starting to like it?”
“No, I hate it. I feel so…out of place. I feel like I’m not good enough, I feel like I’m just a face amongst the crowd. At least at home, I’d have my sisters, parents and grandparents.” She wiped at her eyes. “I’m 18, not 25 I’m not capable of growing up so fast.”
“That’s why I’m here,” He said. “I’m going to make sure that nothing goes wrong.”
“It’s not your burden to carry!” Astra exclaimed.
“It shouldn’t be yours either,” Alistair answered calmly. “Your dad didn’t ask for this, his dad didn’t, and neither did his dad before that. Athena Gray, she was the founder of this legacy. The one who started this whole mess. I looked into our ancestry. She travelled to the future and met a man named Emit Relevart, she got involved with things much bigger than herself. The guardian’s plans were with another family, but since she just threw herself into the mix, they decided to use her. Now, here we are, suffering for her mistakes.”
“How do you know that?” Astra focused on her cooking, so that she wouldn’t burn anything.
“Your dad. He should have told you this stuff before you left. You have a right to know. For some reason, the guardians want to keep you ignorant like the rest of our family out of Moonlight Falls. Millie should have been the one…” His voice trailed off.
She glared at him fervently. “I love Millie but how many times do I have to hear that she can handle situations better than me? I know I’m a screw up. I know that I’m not confident, or pretty or smart. I can’t even talk to strangers without stuttering. I get it, I’m a freaking mess, but why do you have to point that out?” She angrily pulled the food out of the oven and left it on the table to cool. Then, she stormed out of the room.
She sat by the game system, angrily button smashing. “Can I join you?” Alistair asked.
“Sure go right ahead, then you can talk about how much I suck some more.”
“That’s not what I said,” Alistair replied. “Listen to me. You’re so much more innoccent than Millie. I don’t want you to go through with this because I know how much you’re hurting and I want to protect you. You’re amazing. I’m not lying, I just wish you could see it too.”
“Then why…” She bit her lip. “Why can’t I be as confident and pretty as Cadence or Autumn?” Or that model.
“Because you don’t feel as beautiful as you truly are,” Alistair said. “That guy…please don’t base your opinion of yourself on him. I know that Cadence and Autumn are edging this on but he’s not good for you.”
“I know,” Astra said sadly. “He’s not interested, so you don’t have to worry.”
“I do worry,” Alistair said. “I worry because he doesn’t get to see the broken girl that I see when he leaves.”
She wiped the tears falling from her face. “It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. I want to go home.”
“Fight this, prove everyone wrong.” Alistair looked at her. “Show these idiots whose boss.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“But you can do it.”
Alistair yawned as he heard the clanking of heels on the floor. “Shhh! She’s sleeping.” He pointed to his cousin. “She’s had a really rough day, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t do anything to wake her.”
“What happened?” Cadence asked in a low voice.
“Two guys are on her mind,” Alistair said simply.
“Model guy and grandpa?” Autumn guessed.
Alistair nodded. “You know about Thad?”
“He was at the laundromat,” Autumn said. “They talked.”
“What did he say?” Alistair balled his hands into fists. “The poor girl feels so bad about herself. I won’t let him do this to her.”
“She’s not a baby, you have to let her solve her own problems,” Cadence said. “I know you don’t want to, but you have to let her.”
“I made a promise to her dad. Without uncle Alistair, we wouldn’t be alive Cadence. Mom and dad wouldn’t be alive. I owe him everything and I’ll do anything that I have to do to repay him. I’m leaving to talk to grandpa in the morning and I don’t want anyone following me.”