A Visit To Londinium
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 1st Apr 2022
The temperature in London had dropped significantly since Seb and Sloane had landed at Heathrow, and for once it hadn’t been caused by Seb’s familial reception. Instead, the weather was more January than March. But this hadn’t stopped Seb from forging on with his plans for a nice quiet evening with Sloane in the garden of his parents Chelsea home. He’d managed to improvise by somehow turning on the table-cum-barbeque in order to make food and toast marshmallows whilst keeping their legs warm. For the upper body, he found a store of large fluffy blankets. And so, the two of them had spent a rather pleasant evening thus far bundled together talking.
“I can’t believe he blocked you.” Said Sloane as she flicked past Seb’s most recent tweet aimed at one Dane Preston.
“Some people can’t handle the back and forth, love.” Seb said with a smirk. “Plus the realisation that I’ll probably increase his views fivefold is a little much for even two egos to handle.”
“Some people only need one, giant ego.” Said Sloane, sagely.
“That’s right they… Hey… You’re talking about me!” Said Seb. Sloane giggled. “So mean.”
“You like it when I’m mean.” She said, slipping down so her head was resting on Seb’s shoulder.
“Sometimes.” Seb said with a half smile. Sloane tossed another marshmallow onto the grate and Seb stabbed it annoyedly. “What did I tell you?”
“The marshmallow will mark the grate.” Sloane mocked and giggled again as she popped a fresh mallow into her mouth.
“That’s right. And if I have to listen to my father complain about marks on the grill, then there will be hell to pay.” Said Seb.
“Mmmhmm.” Sloane said as she took a sip of wine. It was some of Seb Snr’s best vintage. It amused Seb to take the best even though neither of them really knew the difference. It hadn’t been a lesson Seb had taken up in his younger days. Body shots and beer pong had been his alcoholic education.
“I can’t imagine this week is going to go well.” Seb said, rolling his eyes. “Other than your lunch with mother and her friends, I suspect I’ll be further away from a relationship with my father than I was at the beginning.”
“I hope not.” Sloane said quietly. “I want the two of you to have a relationship, Seb. You need family.”
“You’re my family.” Seb replied. “But if you want my family as part of our family, I’ll at least make an effort.”
“Good boy.” Sloane said, teasing. Seb pondered his commitments. New York, Chicago, Cincinnati. He had a lot coming up.
“Have you thought anymore about you? Your future? Wrestling?” Seb asked. Sloane became immediately more interested in the marshmallow between her fingers, turning it this way and that. “Earth to Sloane…”
“I heard you… I just…” She breathed a deep sigh. “I don’t know.”
“Well… Alright.” Said Seb turning over the marshmallow to cook the otherside.
“I just… Right now, I’m getting my wrestling fix in Valor. But I’m enjoying having the freedom to just travel. Since Christmas I’ve been to London twice, New York, Las Vegas and Canada. And you know what I’ve not had to worry about? Being in perfect ring shape. I’ve been able to watch wrestling as a fan for the first time in years. And it’s great – because it’s reminding me of everything that I felt growing up, watching with my dad and Kit. I’m starting to really love it again…” Sloane said with a smile on her face.
“I get it.” Seb said with a nod.
“But I don’t want to get a taste of loving it and dive back in. I want to wrestle for Valor and wake up the next day and need to spar with you. I need to start looking for my next booking. I need to get to remember what it feels like to hurt not to wrestle.” Sloane said, turning on the bench to face Seb and pulling the blanket over her shoulders.
“Yeah.” Seb said, smiling. “You know, I arrived here in the States and immediately assumed UGWC was everything there was. And don’t get me wrong, I love it there. I’ve had more than my share of disappointment, but it will always be the promotion that gave me my chance. But since I signed with Fight I’ve felt fire. Who wouldn’t? I had a taste of fighting Raven, and I’m not done with that by a long shot. But there’s so many people on that roster that I’ve been itching to get in the ring with for so long. So, I know what you mean – you want to need it again.”
“Yeah… That’s it. I’m happy, I don’t need to wrestle. But to be the Sky Queen, I have to need every second of being in that ring.” Sloane said quietly. She stared at the burning marshmallow for a second, before looking up at Seb. “Was Dane on your list of people you wanted to wrestle?”
“Do you mean Dane or Dane?” Seb asked. Sloane swatted him on the arm.
“You know exactly who I’m talking about.” Said Sloane. Seb let out a chuckle and then focused on the dancing flames. He pulled the mallow away and handed it to Sloane.
“I watched Dane Preston get crushed by a cage and less than a month later, he, Shawn, James Raven and I made it to the final round of Blood Money. A swing and a miss here and there, and it could have been either he or I that would have been where Shawn is now. Fact is, Dane is a tough prick with issues. But do you know what this business is filled with? Tough pricks with issues. SuMa is a tough prick with issues. Matt Knox is a tough prick with issues. JC. JC and JC, all tough pricks with issues. Tempest. Centurion. Chris Page. Tough pricks with issues. Do you know what the difference is? They’re all something else as well. But right now, Dane Preston is just a tough prick with issues.” Said Seb with a shrug.
“I’m not going to act like this is a foregone conclusion. It’s not – I saw what he did to Eoin O’Rourke. Maybe that was Dane or maybe that was Dane – who knows. But you can’t tell me that knocking off the last person deemed worthy of facing Dickie Watson for the Empire title isn’t going to look good on my resumé.” Seb said with a smirk. Sloane looked down at her phone and immediately screwed up her face and began to type.
“Everythig alright, love?” Seb asked.
“You’d best kick his butt, Sebastian.” Sloane said.
“What are you talking about?” Seb replied.
“Dane! Denzel just tweeted that Dane said he’s going to break you at Venom!” Sloane said as she pressed send with a flourish.
Seb picked up his phone and saw the notifications, chuckling as he saw the tweet and Sloane’s reply… “Excuse me?” with an angry emoji.
“You’re sweet.” Seb said leaning forward to place a kiss on her lips.
“Kick him for me?” She asked sweetly.
“Of course, love.” Seb said as he pulled her closely. And as their lips touched again, the lights on the inside of the house came on. Sloane pulled back into her seat, quickly trying to adjust any misplaced lip gloss.
“Hello?” Called Seb’s mother before she popped her head out of the door. “Oh hello! Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt. Your father left some papers here at the weekend and wanted to pick them up on the way back from the theatre.”
“It’s fine – we were just going to bed anyway.” Said Seb standing up and turning off the gas to the table.
“Sebastian.” Came his father’s voice from the door. “Sloane.
“Hello!” Said Sloane in an awkward squeaky voice. “Like said Seb, best we get to bed – up early tomorrow to get ready for lunch!”
“Oh don’t go to too much trouble – it’s nothing much.” Said Sofia. She gave Sloane a small hug as they passed one another. Seb Snr stepped back out of the way.
Seb leaned forward and kissed his mother on the cheek.
“Don’t suppose you want a kiss good night, dad?” Asked Seb tilting his head. His mother pursed her lips to stop from laughing. Sloane giggled and cleared her throat.
“Good night, Sebastian.” Said his father curtly. Seb winked.
“Good night, pops.” He said as he turned and slipped his hand into Sloane’s. As they walked up the hall, Seb Snr stepped outside before calling after them.
“Did someone put marshmallows on the grate?!” He said.
Seb closed his eyes in annoyance, as Sloane mouthed a soundless apology.
Hello Dane. Or should I say Fix? I guess that depends on who it is that’s tuned in right about now. Either way. For one of you, it’s the first time meeting me. And for me, it’s the first time meeting one of you. There’s the potential for chills, but I understand that realistic expectations are not at the fore where you’re concerned. You’re a unique individual… Or pair… Or conglomeration. Whatever it is you consider yourselves to be – unique is the word I would use. Different.
I want you to know that I don’t hold the same level of derision for you that many of your peers have shown. I know I’ve poked fun this past week, but I realise the magnitude of the opportunity that I have before me. You, Dane Preston, are one hell of a scalp for a man in just his third match in this company. You’re one to point to in order to show everyone else on this roster that I’m not here merely to crack jokes and play the fool. I have intentions beyond entertainment. I have a legacy to build.
An Empire of my own to evolve.
Lest we not forget, my introduction to you was of course impressive. Outside of the nonsense one hears upon the grapevine, it was you who closed out the year with our Empire Champion. And whilst I know that the result wasn’t as you intended, it also created something of a new beginning for you. The emergence of your other self – the one who has been causing trouble for you. The other Dane Preston.
I watched closely two weeks ago – I had little else to do given that James Raven stole my opportunity for a match – but I couldn’t quite place which of you decimated Eoin O’Rourke. But that’s the one that needs to show up this Monday. No half measures, no partially rolled dice. Your little message sent via Denzel was cute, but it will take more than pretty words to break me, Dane. I’ve walked through fire. I’ve stood victorious upon Battlegrounds. I’ve survived Melees. I’ve ran gauntlets. I’ve faced Demons and nightmares. I’ve bettered a devil. Believe it or not, you’re not the most unique I’ve faced.
But you may well be one of the toughest.
See, this is where I’m different from everyone else, Dane. I’m not afraid of your strengths. I don’t need to stand before you and laugh in your face. I don’t need to pick apart your relationships and laugh at your misfortunes to get ahead. All I need is to look you in the eye and tell you that as good as you are, I know that I’m better. All I need is for you to hit me with your absolute best. Because when you fall short – and make no mistake, friend, you will fall short – I want the world to see that the Dane Preston that I beat wasn’t some beaten down, broken version that everyone made fun of.
I want it to be the Dane that deserved to face the Empire Champion.
I want it to be the Dane that destroyed Eion two weeks ago.
I want it to be the Dane Preston that I’d heard about long before I saw the jokes.
I want to beat THE Dane Preston. Whichever one of you that is.
It was around four in the afternoon when the ladies who lunch finally broke from their afternoon of fun. One by one, Sofia Everett-Bryce’s friends were collected in their expensive cars until none but she and Sloane remained. Seb was thankful that the lunch was over – the afternoon with his father had been much like many in his life. The man who bore him into the world would sit silently reading every broadsheet known to man, and sighing everytime Seb chuckled at an amusing tweet or video.
So, when the doors of the dining room opened and Seb emerged, it was with utter and utmost relief. He smiled broadly as she walked towards him, her lips moving as she did.
“… mygodohmygodohmygodohmy…” She said as she walked past him at pace and headed straight for the stairs.
“Sloane?” Seb said as he turned around. He watched her up the stairs a little taken aback by her reaction. He flashed a glance at his mother who was equally perplexed by the reaction. Seb followed after her, but she was very far ahead and by the time he reached the landing where their room was located, he merely saw a flash of blonde hair before the door slammed shut.
He walked towards it and tapped a knuckle against the wood before twisting the handle, but it was locked.
“Sloane? Is everything alright?” He asked.
“I don’t want to talk about it!” She replied through the wood. “Just… I need to be alone.”
“It can’t have gone that bad, surely?” Seb asked.
“Go away!” She shouted through sobs. Seb turned, his face contorted with confusion as his mother approached.
“What in heaven’s name is going on?” Sofia asked.
“I was about to ask you the same thing!” Seb exclaimed. “What happened?”
“When?” Asked his mother.
“At lunch? Sloane seems devastated.” He added.
“It all seemed to go perfectly fine.” Sofia said, racking her brains. “She told a rather funny joke about private schools.”
“Ha. I taught her that one.” Seb said. “Did she nail the punchline?”
“Excellent comic timing, darling. You would have been proud.” Said Sofia. Seb beamed for a moment before returning to confusion.
“Then I don’t understand… Did she use her desert spoon for soup?” Seb asked.
“No, not that I could tell – I told her to just follow my lead.” His mother added.
“Did she butter her bread with the regular knife?” Seb followed.
“Sebastian, if she had no-one would have noticed and if they had no-one would have cared except your father and he wasn’t in there.” Sofia added.
“Gladys Mooreland-Tark would have noticed, mother, and you know it.” Said Seb.
“Okay fine, but Gladys was on her fourth sherry before the bread even arrived so I’m not even sure she’ll remember the poor girl’s name.” Said Sofia.
“Did she order dessert wine with her main course? Stir her tea with the caviar spoon? Oh – did she go to the bathroom and come back with her skirt tucked in her underwear?”
“Of course not!” His mother replied.
“I don’t understand it – you were there and you can’t think of why she thinks it went badly.” Said Seb, a finger pressed against his chin.
“No, she was delightful. We even said so – Portia told her she was charmingly American…” Said Sofia.
“Oh no…” Said Seb. “Oh no, no, no, no, no…”
“What? What is it?” Sofia asked.
“That’s possibly the worst thing you could have said.” Said Seb, glancing back at the door. “We Brit’s have a tendency to label anything American as a negative starting position.”
“Oh we do not!” Said Sofia. “That is ridiculous – remember Dilores Hildenbrand? She was the delightful wife of that horrible Senator from Mississippi. We adored her! She entertained us with all of her wonderful little turns of phrase.”
Seb looked down at his mother and tilted his head with a “think about what you’ve just said” kind of look.
“Oh…” Said his mother. “Maybe we are a tad patronising.”
“And it’s worse for Sloane – she’s in the wrestling business. And those of us in the wrestling business that come from England tend to have a somewhat haughty opinion of the unwashed masses in the towns we wrestle in.”
“Sebastian!” Said Sofia with exasperation.
“Well not ME obviously. Other people. I’m much more down to earth and normal.” Said Seb, ignoring his mother’s look of derision. Seb felt his phone buzz and he pulled it out of his pocket. “Oh god, she’s tweeting about how badly it went.”
“But we told her she was a breath of fresh air…” Said Sofia. Seb let out a strangled groan before rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Oh what now?!”
“Breath of fresh air indicates that she was something different to what you would usually have at your lunches. Clearly making it look as if she didn’t fit in at all.” Said Seb.
“Why would she want to fit in? We’re a group of entitled rich women in our fifties and sixties.” Said Sofia.
“Because she’s been working really hard to try and learn to do and say all the right things so she didn’t embarrass me… You… All of us.” Seb said.
“But why would she want to be anything else but who she is?” Sofia asked, looking at the door. “She’s wonderful.”
“Oh I don’t know… Maybe… Your husband?” Seb said, scrolling through her tweets trying to find a flicker of positivity.
“Oh come now, Sebastian, he’s been trying really hard.” Said Sofia.
“Right, right.” Said Seb rolling his eyes. “Well that will wipe clear the memories of his derisive looks and sneers. Look!”
He handed his phone to his mother who began reading through Seb’s notification. A few moments later she handed it back.
“Let me talk to her – you go and spend some time with your father.” Sofia said.
“Oh don’t you dare make me…” Seb began, but the look she gave him garnered little more than another eye roll. Seb turned on his heels and flounced down the hall.
“Oh and Sebastian – why did I see a notification announcing that two men plan on breaking you on Monday?” She called.
“Because I started an Only Fans, mother.” Said Seb sarcastically, before turning a corner and disappearing down the stairs.
“Oh my dear, sweet boy…” Said Sofia with a small shake of her head before she turned towards the door. “That would not be a surprise.”
And from just inside the door, Sofia could swear she could hear the faintest giggle.
“Hello, Sloane.” She said, as she pressed her palm against the door..
Thing is, though, Dane – respect only goes so far. And whilst I am more than willing to admit that I know how good you are, you do have the kind of face that automatically warrants five fingers and a palm. Maybe it’s that smug smirk, or that seemingly unyielding ability to give off an aura that says you think you’re the best despite having done nothing to earn the swagger. Could be that you do little more than tip your hat at the levels required to step into the ring with a man like me.
Perhaps it’s just the vibe man.
Don’t get me wrong, in the realms of punchable faces I’m up there with Lewis Chad-Pinkston. And yet you stand head and shoulders above us both. Honestly, your face just screams “physically attack me”. And if it was just the face, that would be fine, but christ man. When you had your breakdown and decided to come up with an entirely new personality could you perhaps have changed the shade of beige on the back up.
One fades into the other.
All the talent in the world, and your stumbling block is that no-one cares what you have to say. Even now, when you have twice as many accounts on twitter as everyone else, you have half as much to say. Whilst you poke fun at Lauren and Thad, your focus is split. That’s why I’ve been so very happy that your eyes have been so firmly set upon me this past couple of weeks. Because I want your full attention Dane. No excuses.
No easy outs.
No self-made woes.
This isn’t overly complicated either – there’s naught but pride and status on the line. While you pat yourself on the back for another snappy retort from my friends, just remember it’s another moment in which I’m better prepared for this. For you. To win – because that’s what I’m interested in, friend. I want the win.
You wasted six months – you and everyone else complaining about all the reasons why you were all so hard done to. How bitterly unfair everything was because of that mean New Status Quo. In the end, that particular group had to eat itself from within because people like you failed to do it. And yet, it was you Dane who had the chance to take the crown jewel. You failed. You failed spectacularly and when you couldn’t handle your own failure you collapsed in upon yourself and when you awoke you claimed that you weren’t broken anymore.
But let me assure you friend, you’re just as broken as you’ve ever been.
It doesn’t matter how good you are.
It doesn’t matter how much you think you want it.
You’ve got nothing on me.
On Monday, I welcome all of you into my Empire. Bring as many egos as you can and even more personalities. It’ll be me doing the breaking, friend. I can assure you of that. I’ll break every single one of them into pieces and put Dane Preston back together. Just as he was when I first laid eyes on him.
See you both in Nashville.
Having been calmed significantly by the ambassadorial skills of Seb’s mother, Sloane had managed to settle into her final day in London quite nicely. She and Seb were due to visit the family Savage later that day. It was a party for young Robert, and Cassandra and Tony had been kind enough to invite them. But first, they’d had breakfast in the City before meeting at the head office of Everett-Bryce Holdings for what had been described as an “Optics Meeting”.
“It’s so fancy.” Giggled Sloane as the two of them stepped into the elevator. “He’s like Willy Wonka.”
“Except he’s more likely to deal in blood diamonds than nougat.” Said Seb with a roll of his eyes. Sloane let out a small squeak. “What?”
“Ixnay on the eanmay.” She said, casting an eye towards the man in the corner of the room who was eyeing them both with suspicion.
“To be clear, Sloane, I’ve never understood pig latin. In fact, our new friend over there is likely more versed on the subject than I am.”
“Still…” Said Sloane with pointed eyes.
“Hello friend, my name is Sebastian Everett-Bryce… I’m the junior of the family.” Seb said turning and extending a hand. The man squeaked and gave a sickeningly limp handshake. “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to leak information you hear inside these walls?”
“Z… zero.” Said the man. “T… They make us take… Lie detector tests.”
“Of course they do. Because my father is a Bond villain.” Said Seb, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. “Thank you – now if you ever breathe a word of this to anyone…”
Seb pointed, palm to the sky. So much more menacing. I know you’ve tried it.
“Of course not sir!” Said the man, squeaking again. When the elevator came to a stop, he ran out. Seb chuckled and Sloane slapped him on the arm as they stepped out. As they walked towards the meeting room, Seb cast an eye back and noticed the man getting back in the lift. This clearly wasn’t his floor.
Once inside the meeting room, Seb pulled a chair the head of the table next to his. He grinned as he sat down in the chair that had been, very clearly, dragged into the room for his father. It was high backed and throne-like. One by one as people entered, they cast wide-eyed looks in his direction at the absolute gall of him sitting in his father’s seat.
“It’ll be mine one day – haven’t you heard?” He said with a wink. Sloane gripped his arm nervously.
And then in walked Sebastian Everett-Bryce, second of his name. He paused as he saw Seb sat in the best seat in the house and took a deep, nasal breath.
“Stand up, Sebastian.” He said quietly.
“But I’m comfortable.” Said Seb. “Plus I’m waiting for the cat to be delivered. So I can stroke it menacingly.”
His father’s jaw clenched, before seemingly deciding that this was a battle not worth undertaking. And so, he turned and pulled another chair out and took a seat.
“Hello everyone.” Said a man at the opposite end of the table. “It’s been some time since we started to work on our strategy to rebuild confidence in our company’s succession plan, with much work having gone into the optics of the relationship between Sebastian Everett-Bryce The Thi…” The man began.
“Nope. No. Not The Third. Just Sebastian Everett-Bryce, like my grandfather.” Seb said, not looking at his dad. Sloane cast a small look over and saw the knuckles of his father’s hand whiten against the arm of the seat.
“Carry on, Jasper.” His father said. Seb allowed himself a small smile. The next thirty minutes were filled with graphs about growth and market stimulation – and then the creme-de-la-creme. A view of rising stock prices since Seb’s announcement that he and his father were on excellent terms.
“Could I just point out that your graphs are offensive to the eye. You need to use pastel colours. Also what’s with the borders around them. And gridlines? Who needs gridlines?” Seb added with a roll of his eyes. At that moment, the door of the office opened.
“Mr. Everett-Bryce, there is a collect call for you from the United States.” The secretary.
“I’m busy, Simone.” Said Seb’s father.
“Sorry, Sir. It’s not for you – it’s for…” She began, pausing to cast her eyes towards Seb. “It’s about travel arrangements for the weekend.”
“Right – for Fight.” Seb said, taking a deep breath. He glanced at Sloane. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah of course.” She said smiling. The meeting had been quite pleasant, and she’d liked the graphs. Seb got up and walked towards the door that was held open for him by Simone.
Neither he nor Sloane noticed the look that passed between Jasper and Sebastian Snr.
“Things haven’t been entirely rosie, however.” Jasper said quietly. “There have been some slip ups that have cost us some room.”
He turned to the screen and clicked a button and on the screen popped a tweet from Sloane.
Her eyes opened wide, and suddenly she felt warm. Her face flushed as she read her own words read back to her.
“Ohmygod, I’m sorry, I know. As soon as I said it I realised…” She began, and then the screen flicked to another tweet just moments later.
“Right… Probably shouldn’t have drawn attention to the first tweet…” She said with an awkward giggle.
“Oh… Well…” She could feel herself getting flushed. The eyes on her, and most of all, Seb’s father. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes.
“These tweets are dangerous. Significantly dangerous.” Said Jasper, pointedly. “You’re a liability to our task.”
“What? I am not!” Sloane said defiantly. “Seb is just as…”
“Seb is a loose cannon, and people make allowances for the things he says. He’s a sensationalist – you are seen as truthful and honest. And while I’m sure you mother is so very proud of her little princess, that makes things difficult for us when you fuck up like this.” Jasper added. He was getting heated. Sloane flashed a look at Seb’s father. His eyes were on her. “Do you not get media training doing whatever it is you do?”
“I’m a wrestler.” Sloane said, sternly. She could feel her heart beating almost out of her chest.
“Right. Whatever.” Said Jasper. “Christ, I knew when I vetted you that you’re a moron but bullshit like this is toxic to our plans. We have Seb and his father going above and beyond to try and make this work and you come along and blow the entire thing up because you can’t activate your brain before you tweet.”
“Jasper.” Said Seb’s father. He wasn’t looking at Sloane anymore, he was looking at his employee now.
“Look, I said I was sorry, and I’ll be more careful but I won’t let you speak to me…” Sloane began.
“I don’t want to hear from you right now.” He said to Sloane before turning to Seb’s father. “She needs to know, Sebastian. She needs to understand how much of a fuck up this was. Fucking wrestlers – bad enough that they can’t get a real job, they spend their lives broadcasting their pathetic lives on the internet all the while…”
“Enough.” Said Sebastian carefully. “She made a mistake, and she’ll do what she can to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but you need to be very careful of your next words. Because if you disrespect my son or his girlfriend again, you’ll be making a swift exit and I’ll make sure you never work in this city again.”
“Sebastian, be reasonable – we both know that she’s a fucking liability!” Said Jasper with his arms held out wide.
“You’re fired.” Said Sebastian. “We’ll pay you for three months, but you leave today and you don’t come back.”
Jasper stared at Sebastian, before letting out a hiss and shaking his head.
“You all deserve one another – fucking family is a mess and she’s only going to make it worse.” He said before storming out of the door.
“Can you give us a moment please?” Sebastian said to the rest of his staff as Sloane turned her back on them. The tears couldn’t be held back now.
“Come on, chin up.” He said, handing her a handkerchief. She quickly dried her eyes.
“You didn’t have to fire him.” She said, chuckling.
“I did. Because any minute now, Sebastian is going to walk in here and see you in tears. He’s going to assume I did something and this entire plan is going up the river. If he knows I fired Jasper, at least perhaps he’ll understand that I wanted to fix things.” Seb’s father said.
“I’ll tell him. It’s fine. He’ll believe me.” Said Sloane.
“He won’t, Sloane. He’ll assume you’re covering up for me. Your eyes are red. Puffy.” He said.
“I’ll… I’ll fix it. I can fix it.” She said, pulling out a mirror.
“No you can’t.” Sebastian snr. said. “Seb has no faith in me, and this won’t help.”
“No… No, no, no…” Sloane said, the panic rising in her. “I can fix this, I can make it better.”
“You’ve done enough…” Sebastian said.
“Oh god, I’ve ruined everything…” She said, her breathing heavily.
“Oh no, I didn’t mean…” Sebastian began. “Come on, it’s okay…”
“No, oh god… You’re right. I can’t stop…” She said, her eyes welling up again.
“Shhh, shh, shhhh…” Sebastian said, before placing a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. You didn’t mean it… You can’t help it.”
“I can. I’ll be better. I promise.” Sloane said, looking up at him and dabbing her eyes again. “I’ll make it up to you all.”
“I’m sure you will.” Said Sebastian, with something like a kind smile. And yet in that moment, that smile was all that Sloane could hang onto, and she reached out and pulled Seb’s father into a hug.
“Everything… Okay?” Came Seb’s voice from the door.
“Oh it’s amazing.” Sloane said, clearing her throat.
“Jasper was out of line, so I fired him.” Said Sebastian.
“You fired Jasper…” Said Seb, suspiciously. “Jasper Evans, the man who has been your source of information about literally everything for the last twenty years?”
“He was amazing!” Said Sloane beaming up at Seb’s dad. “But I told him he didn’t have to fire anyone.”
“Family comes first.” Said Sebastian, looking down at Sloane and up at Seb. “Isn’t that right, son?”
“Sure.” Said Seb, as he reached out his hand towards Sloane. She hesitated for a second, before walking towards him. “Family is totally everything.”
It was their last night in London – the party had been a lot of fun, and now Seb and Sloane were enjoying another cool evening together in the Chelsea garden. There were no Marshmallows this time, just wine and blankets.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You’re just really quiet…” Seb said.
“Just thinking – I need to be more careful with what I tweet.” She replied.
“You do not.” Said Seb. “You’re not changing for this family. You do you and let them work out how to fix the problems.”
Sloane looked up at Seb and beamed.
“Did it go okay?” She asked. “This week?”
“I expected it to be an unmitigated disaster. You know this.” Said Seb with a smile. “Can’t say I’ve ever been happier to be proved wrong.”
“Your dad was amazing today.” Sloane said.
“Hmm…” Said Seb, sagely. “I’ll reserve judgement about how wrong I was about that until a later date.”
“You need to give him a chance, he’s really trying.” Said Sloane.
“I said what I said.” Seb replied, a touch of pout upon his beautiful face. Sloane smiled.
“I love you Sebastian Everett-Bryce…” She said.
“I love you too, Sloane Taylor…” He replied. She slid down into him more, and looked at her phone.
“Speaking of Twitter, I see Dane unblocked you.” She said.
“I saw that too – probably can’t wait for someone to tell him how hard my latest shot across the bow is.” Seb said with a smirk. “It’s been fun – I don’t actually have anything against Dane, other than he’s being a bit of a dick with Thad and Lauren.”
“Yeah, I don’t like how he’s sticking his nose in.” Sloane said, looking serious.
“Thad’s a big lad – if it bothers him enough, he’ll do something about it.” Seb said. “Thing is, all he knows of me is what he’s seen in Fight. And that’s barely scratched the surface of what I am and what I can do. Blood Money was a lot of fun, and a big deal for me. Same as fighting Atty in my first singles match, but right now? Dane Preston-cum-Fix have no idea what they’re getting into this week.”
Seb pondered the point.
“They always underestimate me – everyone does. I guess that’s of my own doing. How many times have I been on the edge of greatness only to stumble at the final hurdle.” Seb said
“You’re different here. In Fight. I can feel it.” Sloane said.
“I felt it too – there’s a touch of destiny tinged around the edges. A hint of inevitability – but don’t think for a second that makes me apathetic. It makes me hungry – because it’s about time I fulfilled the destiny that I see for myself. It’s time for the world to see who I really am, Sloane.” He said pulling her tight.
“I can’t wait to see it too.” She said.
“Monday night, Dane Preston is going to be a victim.” Seb said with a smirk. “And I don’t feel even the least bit guilty.”
Seb took a deep breath.
“Fuck it, let’s get the marshmallows.” He said, and somewhere in Surrey, the hairs on the back of his father’s neck stood on end.