"Honey, I think you should just try to find some space for Scarlett," her father had told her, in that gentle, pleading, insistent voice he had. It was maddening.
Alexander grunted into her iPhone. "Mum is going to hate me, and you know it," she argued. In contrast with Peter Wild's voice, hers was as demanding as she knew he was being, albeit he was being much more subtle than she was. But she would be damned if she was going to be forced to share a room with someone she had never met, even if it was her stepsister.
"Now, honey, if you don't do this for me..."
Goddamn all the things she wanted the most in the world. Peter Wild had threatened to stop paying her credit card bills, and Alexander wouldn't live without her credit card. You may think she's spoiled, and undeserving, and irresponsible for having a father who wanted to pay for all of her needs. But it wasn't her needs - it was her wants he was paying for. Alexander paid for the necessities: food, rent, bills, the occasional winter coat during unbearable winters. Her father had insisted on buying her excess until she learned to live without them. Eventually, Peter Wild realized that Alexander would never stop needing it; but by then, the deal had become a habit, and the habit became a lifestyle. It was because of this lifestyle that Alexander was now showing her stepsister around. Scarlett Wild. The last name unsuited her, and Alexander resented the one thing they shared in common, from what it seemed. She was wearing her very best, full of labels on her body, and her stepsister was wearing sweats and a T-shirt. A plain maroon T-shirt, and plain grey sweats. God, she hated sweats more than anything. Alexander had helped her pack her things away for hours, explained to her how London worked ("We don't use dollars, we use euros! Euros, for God's sake!" "I understand, but-" "Shut the fuck up!"), and now she had to show her around? Everyone would see her. And everyone would assume the two were friends.
She was not friends with Scarlett, and she would never be friends with anyone who dressed like she did. Not after seeing Scarlett's wardrobe. She had all the resources! Something was very, very wrong with this girl. "Here's the lobby," Alexander said blandly, while Scarlett nodded and studied her new home. "This is Danny, he lives on the top floor. He has a thing for me."
"Oh, that's very interesting," Scarlett said kindly, smiling at Danny, who rolled his eyes at Alexander and walked off.
Even her replies were boring. She was tasteless. Alexander resisted the urge to snap at the girl, in her frustration and irritation and all of her anger, and led the girl down to the basement. "Oh, and this is the... Well, fuck. Why are all of you guys in here?" Kara, Robin, and Isabella were already gathered together, it seemed. The basement was a popular place for people who had nothing to do - you were always bound to find someone there. Why hadn't she thought of that? Alexander glanced over at Scarlett, who was smiling politely at each of them and waving. Well, might as well introduce her. She could leave out the stepsister part, right?"This is Scarlett. She's my new roommate."
From the very moment she stepped off the plane, Scarlett had questioned whether this transfer was a good idea.
Peter Wild was all too friendly and too loving and too welcoming, and his wife had been all too cold and distant. And their daughter? She could just feel the disapproval oozing from every invisible pore on the girl's face. At first, Scarlett had been so excited to see her. "Hi!" she had said immediately, grinning widely and waving enthusiastically. But Alexander had only looked at her, and looked away, as dismissive as her mother. But Scarlett still hoped. Alexander just may be the answer to a long and lonely childhood, and she wasn't going to deny that Alexander had a very beautiful face. She suspected an insane amount of inner beauty as well, after how dutifully Alexander had helped her unpack and get accustomed to the place. And she was funny. Witty and sarcastic, she had the sense of humor that Scarlett had always wanted to have for herself. She already felt like the younger sister with Alexander as a guide. She was enjoying it. She greeted each new person with an enthusiastic hello, trying to exude a friendliness that would eventually be returned with the same energy. A few friends of hers had been to England, and they had always said the people they met were some of the nicest people they had ever met. Things were bound to look up soon.
Her mother had been entirely disapproving of this adventure. "You cannot go off and leave me, Scarlett!" she had cried. "You just can't! London is so, so far away, and America is... well, it's on the opposite side of the country! Right? I think it is!"
Scarlett had stayed quiet throughout her whole speech, biting her tongue patiently. What was it about her mother that screamed crazy? What was it about her that made her overwhelming, too much? She wanted to go to Cambridge; it had been a dream of hers since she was a child, to reunite with her father and be happy again. She had wanted her mother to be there too, before she began to fully understand the truth of divorce, or at least the divorce of her parents. Now, she just wanted to know her father. The two had talked over the phone, and had even sent letters back and forth for awhile when their mother decided the phone bill was too much of a nuisance with the long-distance conversations between her daughter and her ex-husband. But it wasn't the same, was it? Or that was what Scarlett assumed. Nothing could be the same as a face to face conversation. Nothing could be the same as a relationship that developed when you were actually with them physically. She had placed all of her hopes on this trip, pinpointing them to the dot, to each little detail, and she wanted so much. A part of her was terrified, and another part was elated that she was actually here. The history of England! The culture, the accents, and the weather! With each moment, she fell in love - but she got the feeling that Alexander didn't want her here.
She had opened her mouth to ask her when Alexander led her down the basement, and she had been ready to try talking again when she realized there were people in the room. Well, talking now would be too awkward. So Scarlett smiled and waved politely, putting her dimples into full force. She wanted to make a good impression on these people. She didn't want to depend on her stepsister too much, after all. But for fear of making a mistake, not knowing the unsaid social rules of London, she only said, "Hi."