Borders and Barriers

"He made her into a crashlander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet."
When someone hears the name Emelia Archer they think of the Instagram famous trendsetter, the daughter of Archer Enterprises, and the one who crashed herself into a scandal.
When someone hears the name Jackson Andrews they go...huh? Then they think of the art-loving boy, the one who stayed in the shadows for the fun of it.
Push those two opposites together and you've got a story, maybe not a love story, but a story nonetheless.

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Author's note

New chapters coming from October 1st 2018
AA

1. A fire struck is a fire halved.

 

Chapter One

 

In striking a match, the arsonist

And the to be struck object

Share a breath of life.

A fire struck,

Is a fire halved,

Well, not halved exactly

But waiting to grow,

To fly like a bird,

Ready to fall

To be where the humans were.

Emelia

In her younger and better days, the Archer family told Emelia something, something that made an impression on her.

“The sky is never the limit,” her father said one night, “Space is the limit. And space is infinite so your limits are infinite.” He didn’t say anything else worthy of note, but he’d always been reserved with advice, especially if it did not have to do with Archer Enterprises.

Maybe there was more to it than what the words physically said, maybe Emelia was too young to have deciphered them. Emelia was inclined to follow her father’s word, a habit that followed her through the rest of her life.

She lived in a world where advancement dominated. If you weren’t ready to be destroyed and remade then you’d better find somewhere else to live. Brigadier, a district just west of London, was known for its radical change and evolutions. So she was only keeping up with the times when she took her father’s advice and ran with it.

Not literally running with it. But running with it in the way that she lived life like life didn’t last long. Emelia Archer represented the definition of reckless beauty, and it was only Emelia Archer that could pull this look off.

Every night was displayed in an Instagram photo, long legs and the latest designer dress hugging curves. The aesthetic of fancy dinners and elusive clubs and once in a lifetime opportunities. Music loud enough to beat your blood around your body ten times faster than your heart was echoed from most of the venues she visited. Kisses on cheeks were like brands and tattoos signalling popularity, status and above all, the reputation of being the Love Queen.

Emelia Archer was not one for casual, settling down. She lived life in the fast lane if the fast lane was a kamikaze catastrophe. Her name was an invitation to every party and her beauty was the muse for every scandalous magazine worth mentioning.

In the blue and green gardens of her rooftop penthouse, separate from Archer Enterprises because she couldn’t even be tied down to that, men and women rolled up in fancy necklaces and cufflinks, escorted by limousines from London or Paris or another capital of the world, and made their way up the lift. The skyline was lit up from eight at night to four in the morning with cherry smiles stretched wide with wine, and laughter coaxed with sex, kisses, and affectionate, insane love.

Emelia Archer knew that her limits were infinite. But maybe she forgot that.

She had gotten drunk enough times to not remember the specific number of times that she had gotten drunk. It was on an infinite drunken night that she did something as reckless as she usually did. Except for this time she woke up in a ditch after having crashed a limousine, with the Prime Minister’s son in the passenger seat. Like it always happened, the story was front-page news within mere hours.

“What on God's Earth were you even thinking?” Louise Archer, having been married into a wealthy family for over ten years was usually a calm, level-headed person; however, she was having a bad day. It was not every day that your daughter was called a trollop who nigh on murdered the Prime Minister’s son. It was lucky that the Prime Minister wasn’t suing them for god’s sake.

“That’s right! You weren’t thinking,” Louise was poised on the edge of her husband’s desk, the pencil skirt and blouse portraying a calm woman. But a calm woman she was not. Not now.

Emelia was hunched in a desk chair, her head in her hands as she tried to shake off the mariachi band playing in her brain.

“Mom it wasn’t that bad—“ Emelia tried to say, tugging down the red material of last night’s dress. As soon as she had been done at Brigadier’s police station, where she reported and paid for the damages to the limousine, she had been swept off into Archer Enterprises just to avoid the mobs of reporters on the streets. News travelled fast but gossip travelled at the speed of a superhero.

“Wasn’t that bad?” Now that was her father, raising his eyes from the laptop he was studying at his desk. Even her mother now hopped off the desk to stare at her father and what he had to say. “Archer Beauty found trashed with PM son. Emelia Drunk-driver damages a million dollar car and PM son. PM son and Alcoholic Archer found half naked and half dead.” He read off the titles of several gossip magazines and newspapers, “That’s just three out of hundreds. In the last hour the Prime Minister has made a statement about not suing but now her son has a restraining order against you. In the last hour, Archer Enterprises has lost a hundred customers for your stunt and our stock shares have gone down. In the last hour, three hundred reporters have stationed themselves in front of our door. Emelia Claire Archer that is not 'nothing'.” Her father was stern and shocked.

Emelia groaned. Being called by her full name was not good in any way.

“They have called you every name under the sun Melia, including a whore, trollop and prostitute.” Her mother’s use of the nickname made Emelia sink lower in her chair. “Your Instagram account has been spoofed with new names like the ones in those articles and hate messages has been at an all-time high. You need to take this seriously.”

Emelia stuffed her head further into the comfort of her arms just to hide her face. She needed to shower, she hadn’t since she had arrived back at Archer Enterprises.

“What can we do then?” she muttered, raising her head to reveal bloodshot and tired eyes.

“You lay low, you stay here and do not say a word. We will sort this out, you will do what we tell you. No more freedom when it comes to parties and wild child behaviour. When we give you a statement to read you read it off word by word, there will be no creative genius moments where you decide to change it.” Her father made himself very clear and leaned over the desk imposingly, “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” and the quiet word from Emelia signalled her fate.

 

Jackson 

In the modern day, Jackson did not care for gossip and technology. He had a television and radio in his flat but the radio was always switched to non-gossip channels where indie music and podcasts were played, and his television was nearly never on. He was the kind of person who would take advice from authors and not news reporters.

He resonated deeply with the art of mindfulness and personal space. He may have been Jackson Andrews, the son of the renowned partner in crime to Archer Enterprises, but he kept out of the limelight and out of mind.

He preferred to be a shadow rather than a spotlight, with a sketchbook open and earphones in cancelling the world out.

His love for drawing first began with building plans. His family had about as much artist blood in them as the common man were descenders from Shakespeare. So he had been doing some homework and mindlessly doodling on the latest scrapped blueprints for the new Andrews Incorporated building. He had looked over and seen renditions of his family, eyes, noses, bees, flowers and cars detailing the page. Half of his mind was apparently on Biology homework and the other half was a world away from where stray noses and cars seemed to co-exist. He had smudged the drawings with his left hand but they were clear enough to be somewhat remarkable.

The doodles became his self-care for stress when school became too much. In exam season his first drafts of notes were covered in pencil and ink doodles. The method of relaxation just seemed to stick and before he knew it he had a drawer full of childish drawings that progressed into skilful portraits, landscapes and abstract pieces. It was as if the other world he was immersed in half the time suited him better than the real world.

But drawing was beside the point when someone kept incessantly knocking at his door. “Coming!” he hurriedly called, putting his brush into the pot next to his easel. He tripped over a corner of his rug and picked up his coffee cup on his way to the door. Taking one sip caused the revelation that he had just drunk brown coloured paint water, and the person at his door was met with a scowl as Jackson was forced to swallow his mistake.

On the other side of the door stood his brother, dressed immaculately in a suit, with a distasteful look on his face when he met the sight of his younger brother in hole ridden pants and paint splattered chest. “Ethan, haven’t seen you in about two years,” Jackson joked as he ushered his brother in. His brother did not move from his perch in the doorway though.

He now had a statue for a brother, how quaint.

“Mom and Dad need you to come in,” the statement was blunt and to the point. So like Ethan that it nearly hurt.

“Come in as in…” Jackson asked putting his paint water cup down on the table near the door.

“Come in as in come into AI, as in right now.” Ethan was not playing around with the stoic expressions. He watched as Jackson blinked, once, twice and then started to laugh.

“AI has never needed me,” Jackson huffed, gasping laughter making him look like a dying pig. Andrews Incorporated would live without him, and mom and dad had never needed him to have a role in the business. He had his brothers for that since both Ethan and Michael were more than happy to do his bit for him.

“Well, it needs you now, put a goddamn shirt on and let’s go.” Ethan was quite demanding with this statement so when Jackson didn’t move Ethan forced his way into the flat and located a shirt and shoes for his perplexed brother. “Time is of the essence brother, chop chop.”

The elder Andrews brother watched as the younger sibling slowly put his arms into a white long sleeved shirt, the collar just low enough for a few splatters of blue paint to make themselves apparent on the fair skin. The Andrews boys were those of jet black hair and fair skin, and it was only Michael that inherited their father's pale eyes. With converse shoved onto feet, Ethan didn’t allow another second to go to waste as he dragged his brother out of his flat.

“What is so important that I need to get involved?” Jackson questioned stumbling at his brother's pace.

“You’ll see,” Ethan cryptically muttered as he led them both to a black car because they couldn’t have a more inconspicuous car. Ethan drove them through the clogged streets. Brigadier was a smaller version of London but with more libraries, Brigadier was famous for its business’ and its fascination with books.  The roads were normally not this congested but maybe Jackson had been in his flat for too long to notice how the world had changed.

The Andrews tower stood like a glass python, twisting in ways which shouldn’t have been architecturally possible, but it stood nevertheless. The Archer building was a monolithic spire, a needle pointed up to the heavens with the smallest rooms at the top being the rooms that housed the biggest decisions. It was said that the python and the needle battled daily although the buildings never moved. They were friendly battles though, because Richard Archer and Michelle Andrews were best friends on most days, having grown up together in Business School.

Ethan took them through to the basement carpark and then through to the shared car park of AI and AE. It felt weird referring to the two businesses by their nicknames since Jackson hadn’t had anything to do with them in years. Ever since he turned twenty-one he had been left alone by them, and that was how he wanted it to be. There was then a journey through the lift, all the way up Archers Enterprises and technically not AI.

Jackson made a quip about this fact in the lift and got a slap on the back of the head for his efforts. “If you had been here you’d know that the companies are basically the same these days. Mom and Richard just haven’t signed the papers for joint ownership.” Ethan didn’t look at him as he said this, just at the reflection of the two of them in the glass interior.

“Mom would never sign them anyway,” if there was anything that Jackson did know, he knew that his Mom was stubborn as hell, and Richard was too when it came to his company.

In the corridors of Archer Enterprises Jackson looked out of place. Where he wore denim and cotton, everyone around him wore suits and ties, polished shoes and set faces. Jackson had loose limbs and squeaky shoes with trailing laces along the tiled floor. His brother didn’t look at him, not until they were all in a room, a room at the top of the needle.

“Jackson,” the voice of his mother broke him out of his awkwardness and he hugged her. He hadn’t seen her outside of special occasions in about two and a half years. His father was seated along with the Archer family. He recognised Richard and Louise along with their daughter, who looked most like Jackson in casual wear.

“Mom, I heard that you needed me?” Jackson asked getting straight to the point. He didn’t see any point in dancing around things.

“Yes son we do,” his dad spoke up and got up to hug him in turn. He gestured to a chair which Jackson hesitantly took. Being in an office made him want to straighten his posture and he hadn’t had to bother about things like that in years. What was going on?

“Have you heard about the scandal with the Prime Minister’s son, Jackson?” Louise Archer asked sitting next to her daughter with her hands folded tensely.

“What scandal?” Jackson breathed out, pushing a hand through his unruly dark hair. He didn’t care to put gel or anything in it for styling and he noticed as he did it that he had dots of orange paint and ink on his hands. Great that made him stick out more.

“You have to remember that Jackson is sort of a recluse nowadays,” Ethan joked as he stood watching the town through the glass windows. They could see out but no one could see in, that was the wonders of tinted glass.

Richard Archer smoothed out a barely grown in moustache in frustration and looked at Jackson tensely. Everything was so tense in the room that Jackson felt like it was difficult to breathe.

“My daughter was involved in a drunk-driving incident with the Prime Minister’s son and we’ve been dealing with the repercussions of it the last couple of days.”

When Richard Archer said that Jackson’s gaze had swivelled to the daughter in question. What was her name again? Emelia. Emelia had dark hair like her mother’s natural colour and at that moment she looked tired. No makeup adorned her cheeks and the too large hoodie was draped over her knees and hands so she was nearly swimming in dark blue material.

“We’ve issued statements and articles and done everything we can.”

“Then why do you need me?” Jackson asked looking at Richard intently.

“The public already know that Emelia is here, so much so that they camp outside twenty-four seven waiting for her to go out. Her reputation is shattered and she needs to start repairing it herself somewhere quiet and remote.” Jackson could guess where Richard was going with this.

He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.

“I’m guessing that my flat is the absolutely perfect place for this?” The sarcasm in his voice was evident for all to hear and he could see the displeasure in his mother’s face from the corner of his eye.

“Not exactly,” his mother piped up coming closer to her son and leaning down to take his face into her hands, “We were thinking that we would take you both to the log cabin near the coast. You’d both live there, Emelia will repair her reputation with homely, traditional activities instead of wild parties, and you can get a sense of the world you’re so desperate to hide from. It’s mutualistic.”

“Mutualistic?” Jackson spluttered, turning his head to dislodge his mother’s hands. “We all agreed that we’d leave me out of all business ventures from the day I turned twenty-one. The last time I checked I’m twenty-three, well over that time span, and this is a business venture!”

“You’re the perfect candidate,” his mother tried.

“I’m the only candidate more like,” Jackson spat out and watched as Louise stood.

“No, you are the perfect candidate. The man who donates to charity with the money he’s inherited from his wealthy family. The man who loves art and sells some of his pieces online, taking commissions sometimes. The man who’s out of the way and responsible and indirectly loved by the tabloids just for those facts. Emelia will be on her best behaviour and you will not have to deal with any trouble whatsoever.”

Although Louise said that she couldn’t actually guarantee it.

A small stack of stapled documents was handed to him, “This is the contract, read through it, think about it and if you want to sign it. If you don’t sign it I really don’t know what we are going to do.” Louise looked like she had no hope and once the documents were placed in his hands she left the room. Richard followed her. His parents followed after them. Ethan was the last to leave.

“We’ll give you two some time to talk, Jackson it is best that you do sign.” Ethan was so helpful with his advice. Not.

Emelia didn’t look up from her knees as Jackson pulled his chair to the desk and began to read over the contract. It could be summed up with two clauses.

Clause One: Live with Emelia Archer for the course of three months. Blah, Blah.

Clause Two: Do not tell anyone about the arrangement, for money or pleasure.

It was more complicated than that in reality, it was all about maintaining a good public image and pretending to be best friends for the sake of cameras and reputation when that eventuality came around, everything Jackson hated.

“What do you think of this?” He asked Emelia who was still so focused on her knees.

“It has to be done.”

“What do you really think of this?” Jackson enquired.

“I want to be able to actually go outside and breathe, so…” her answer was vague enough for Jackson to sigh.

He spent several minutes pondering on the benefits he would get out of it before signing his name on the dotted line on the last page. It would make his family happy.

Maybe it would make him happy too, in the long run perhaps. 

 

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