CHAPTER 8 | the english rose

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📎A/N. The weekend is here... Yay!

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It was with reluctance that Sydney's mind pushed her the rest of the way to consciousness. What had begun as a dull tapping was now bordering on an intolerable thumping. Her head felt like it was ready to explode from the pressure.

Sydney pressed her face into her pillow, hoping this would ease the pain. "Oh, God," she groaned, "I knew that last Margarita was a bad idea."

Memories of the previous evening flooded back as she gingerly swung her legs out of bed and winced as they hit the floor - loudly.

The banging continued and she looked around for its source. A gentle breeze was knocking the wooden ends of the curtain cords against the wall.

"Shut up will you," she mumbled as she reached over and closed the offending window.

After the bombshell, coupled with her already unsettled state-of-mind, the Margaritas and other concoctions that Stephen and Grace had put together, had been a welcome distraction. At one point in the evening, Stephen had taken it upon himself to download a cocktail app in an attempt to make every drink they had the ingredients for.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time. However, Sydney was now acutely reminded why she tended to not mix her drinks. The morning after was not worth the few hours of blissful relaxation and suspension of her problems.

Or maybe it was?

For a few short hours, she had managed to forget her father's possible resurfacing, her mother's unexpected invitation, and Ethan MacMasters imminent arrival.

Sydney sat back down on the bed and put her head in her hands. "What the hell did I do to deserve this?"

Deciding she needed coffee, she silently made her way to the kitchen. Careful not to wake the others, Sydney made an extra strong brew, grabbed some Tylenol, her iPad and padded out to the patio. She knew what she was about to do was ill advised. She knew that it would only cause more pain. However, if she didn't, it would eat at her for the remainder of the day.

Downing two pills with her coffee, she did a quick search of the news outlets. Sydney exhaled when nothing new jumped out at her. Stephen had been correct. The apparent sighting had already exceeded its news cycle, and with no new information it had been relegated to the back pages.

Her major concern, alleviated - for now, Sydney gazed out across the yard to the line of trees and willed her vision to stop moving.

"You look a bit green," remarked Stephen as he took a seat an hour later. Sydney's head was no longer pounding so loudly and she was on her third cup of coffee.

"And you are looking a bit too happy," she grumbled.

Grace chose that moment to make an appearance. "Who's looking happy?" she groaned as she cautiously made her way to a chair and slowly sat down. "Why is everything still spinning?"

Grace looked over at Stephen, who was now sipping on a large glass of orange juice. An enormous smile on his face and looking fresh and relaxed. "Why don't you look how I feel?" she asked.

"That's because you two alcoholics can't hold your liquor," he chirped.

Sydney pushed the bottle of Tylenol across the table towards Grace, "Here's breakfast."

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