Can’t Look Away

26: Do You Still?

“I can’t thank you enough for coming over to help, Sasha”

Sasha, who was wiping a spot off of a wine glass, startled slightly at the sound of Olivier’s voice before she lifted her head, offering him the best smile that she could muster. She had tried for days to get out of it. Olivier had asked if someone was available to help him set up for Leila’s birthday party, and Carina had been quick to volunteer her younger daughter, highlighting the fact that she had the week off of work, but Sasha had tried her hardest to avoid it, not wanting to spend longer around her sister’s husband than was necessary. Their relationship wasn’t bad. Sasha and Olivier weren’t antagonistic, they never had been, but the air between them often felt stifling and Sasha didn’t quite know how to change it.

“It’s no trouble” Sasha replied, putting the wine glass in its place.

Olivier let out a laugh, shaking his head as he adjusted a napkin on the table. “I know that’s not true” he mused “But, still. I am grateful for the help” he added.

Sasha’s expression softened a little, but she didn’t say anything, allowing the slightly stifling silence to grow between them again. Shuffling around the table, she started to lay out cutlery before Olivier cleared his throat lightly, pulling her attention back towards him. “Is Leo not going to be joining us tonight?” he asked.

Sasha’s eyes moved back to the cutlery she was putting out before she shook her head. “He’s got other plans” she said, hoping that Olivier wouldn’t catch the lie on her face.

She hadn’t even contemplated asking Lionel if he wanted to join them. Olivier had extended the invitation to both of them. It was no secret that they were together, her parents and siblings all knew about it, and Olivier had told her that Lionel was as welcome as Ellie was, but Sasha had made the decision not to ask him. She didn’t know how Leila would react, but she had an inkling that it wouldn’t be good and she didn’t want to ruin the night. Lionel’s introduction to her parents could wait.

Olivier’s eyes narrowed slightly, scrutinizing her features for a fraction too long, before he nodded his head slowly. “Has he met Carina and Eddie yet?” he asked.

“Not yet” Sasha replied “It’s still pretty early days, though. He only met James because he showed up unannounced, and after he’d met him, it made sense for him to meet Ellie. I think I’m going to hold off on introducing him to mama and papa for a little while” she added.

Olivier offered her another nod, allowing the silence to fall between them again.

Sasha watched him for a moment before she turned back to her task, laying out cutlery until the front door thumped closed, preceding Leila’s appearance in the dining room doorway.

Sasha smiled at her gently. “Happy birthday, Leila” she cooed “I left your present in the kitchen” she added.

Leila grinned and swanned into the room, wrapping her younger sister in a soft hug.

Sasha hesitated fractionally before she returned it. She was more than a little surprised that Leila was happy to see her.

“Your parents, James and Ellie ought to be here soon” Olivier commented “I told them to be here for seven thirty” he added.

Leila moved her stare from Olivier back to Sasha, her head tilting to one side. “No Leo?” she asked.

Sasha shook her head, self-consciously pushing her hair back off of her face. “He had other plans” she replied.

Leila’s expression told Sasha that she didn’t believe it for a second, but she didn’t call her out on it. Instead, she nodded once and smiled. “Mama’s going to be so disappointed” she mused.

Sasha rolled her eyes playfully. “She’ll get the chance to terrify him eventually” she quipped.

Leila let out a laugh before she stepped towards Olivier, kissing his cheek gently before she disappeared from the room, leaving Sasha staring after her, not entirely sure what to make of the situation.

“So, how long are you planning on keeping this boyfriend from us for, Sasha?” Carina asked.

James, who was sat next to his younger sister, almost choked on his drink as he let out a laugh, causing the blush on Sasha’s cheeks to glow a shade deeper. “Mama” she complained softly “I am not hiding him. He just had other plans” she added.

“Every day this week?” Carina poked.

“He’s a busy guy” Sasha protested.

“Mama, leave her alone” Leila said “She’ll bring him home when she’s ready to” she added.

Sasha blinked a couple of times, slightly surprised that Leila was sticking up for her.

“You know him, Leila” Carina quipped, taking a sip of the coffee that Olivier was busy supplying everyone with “What’s he like?” she prodded.

Leila stirred her drink slowly, but before Sasha had the chance to open her mouth and object to the topic of conversation, she spoke up. “He’s lovely” she said gently “I mean, I wouldn’t say I know him very well, but what I have seen of him, he’s always come across well. He’s always been good to me, sweet, and I could see why Sasha would be so smitten with him” she added, the smile on her face appearing slightly wistful.

Sasha shifted in her seat, unsettled by the fondness that had appeared in her sister’s expression. She wondered if she was the only one who could see it. Clearing her throat slightly, she mumbled an ‘excuse me’ under her breath before she stepped out of the room. Padding through the house, she reached the back door and swung it open, stepping out into the slightly cool air.


Sasha shook her head, but didn’t turn to look at Leila who’d followed after her. “Why didn’t you just tell me?” she asked.


“I saw it on your face, Leila” Sasha cut in “The way you spoke about him. Why play games?” she added.

Leila pulled the door to behind her before she stepped around Sasha, her eyes levelling with her sister’s.

Sasha held the stare before she spoke quietly. “You loved him” she said gently.

“He never loved me” Leila replied, confirming Sasha’s statement with a sad nod “Never came close. I thought the time we spent together would be a start, but it never felt right, so it was easier to go along with his suggestion that we just forget it ever happened. I never thought it would matter, but now he’s with you, and he sees you when he didn’t see me, and that’s...that’s harder than I would like to be” she admitted.

Sasha just blinked.

“I want you to be happy” Leila continued “And if he makes you happy, then...”

“Why not just say something?” Sasha’s voice was quiet, but it was still enough to stop Leila in her tracks “Why play on my insecurities and try and sabotage it? You know how big a deal this is to me, not just Leo, but the relationship thing itself, and you tried to put me off it. Why the hell would you do that rather than just be honest with me, Leila?” she pressed, her voice rising in volume as she grew more upset and frustrated.

“I’m sorry, Sasha” Leila said gently.

Sasha shook her head, trying, and failing, to blink away the sting in her eyes. “I...I need to get out of here” she whispered.


“Do you still love him?” Sasha cut in.

Leila shook her head without missing a beat. “I’ve got Ollie” she said “What I felt for Leo, it was different. What I feel for Ollie’s better” she added.

Sasha sniffed. “I need to go” she whispered “Tell mama and papa I felt sick or something” she added, bustling back into the house. Making a beeline for the front door, she swung it open and stepped outside without hesitation, needing to get away to digest what happened.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)