Phyllis Gabor, otherwise Pizzazz, flamboyant lead singer of the Misfits, stepped out of the limousine, gazing up at the big Gabor Estate with a look of satisfaction on her face. "Stupid business meetings! So I own the company - so what? What does Eric think I employ him for, huh? Can't tell me what to do! If I wanna come home, I'll come home. Eric can take care of the boring junk."
She marched resolutely up the gravelled front drive, ringing the bell impatiently. "Come on, already! Open up!"
The door swung back at that moment to reveal Jetta, and for once the saxophonist's cool composure deserted her, for she gaped at her friend in abject shock.
"Pizzazz!" She exclaimed. "But...what are you doin' 'ere?"
"I live here." Pizzazz retorted, a frown crossing her face. "In case you hadn't noticed, my father owns this house. Quit gawking and let me in, will ya? I had a bad flight."
"Oh...yeah. Right." Jetta got a grip on herself, moving aside to let the singer in. "We jus' didn't expect you back until Saturday."
"Well, I got bored. I'm back." Pizzazz responded. She indicated to the chauffeur where to dump her luggage, then dismissed him in her usual imperious manner, telling him to send the bill to Harvey Gabor. "Daddy wasn't there in the end, he got called to some business bust up in Korea, if you believe it, and it was so-o-o mind-numbingly dull. I left Eric to deal with it and flew home."
She pushed open the door to the lounge.
"So, what's new?"
"Nothin'." Jetta replied hurriedly. "Absolutely nothin', in fact. Been borin' an' quiet ever since you left."
Pizzazz paused in the doorway, turning to send her friend a suspicious look.
"What's eating you?" She demanded. "Oh, don't tell me. Justin's here and I just walked in on your party? God, Jetta, you're so transparent. How many times do I gotta tell you that I don't want that lowlife sleeping over in my house? He's the Misfits' photographer, for heaven's sake! What do you think the press would make of that? Hell, they might even think I'm sleeping with him!" She shuddered. "God forbid."
"Shut your face about Justin." This rankled with the Londoner and she glared back at her companion. "An' no, 'e ain't 'ere. Think I'd bring 'im back 'ere when 'is bloody sister's watchin' movies in the front lounge? What kinda girl you think I am, anyway? No, I'm jus' surprised to see you back so early, that's all. I didn't expect you."
"Hmm." Pizzazz's green eyes narrowed. "Okay, but if I found out you lied and he's hiding in the closet or something, you're in trouble, you got me?"
"For the last time, Pizzazz, Justin ain't 'ere." Jetta rolled her eyes. "So tell me about your flight, then...what was so bad about it?"
As she asked the question, she folded her arms in her usual don't-care posture, trying to appear nonchalant, but all the time her grey eyes kept flitting to the stairs, as if afraid that the Hologram might appear at any moment. The two bands might have a truce, but Jetta knew only too well how Pizzazz would react to finding one of the other in her house, and she also knew who would take the flack for it.
"She left me in charge, damn 'er." She muttered under her breath. "'Ow can I bloody warn Stormer an' Roxy that she's back without makin' the woman more suspicious of me than she already bleedin' well is?"
"Believe me, you don't wanna know." Pizzazz said now. "Food was awful and it was late, too."
At that moment, Roxy emerged from her bedroom, stopping dead at the top of the stairs as she registered the singer's presence, her face draining of all colour.
"What in hell are you doing here?" She exclaimed.
Pizzazz's brow furrowed and she glanced between Jetta and Roxy, as if trying to work out what was going on.
"Well, welcome home, Pizzazz." She said bitterly. "Come on, what is this? So I came home early? Big deal!"
"I'll see you later. I gotta...tell Stormer." Roxy turned on her heel, disappearing back the way she had come before Pizzazz could stop her. Jetta offered the singer a wan smile.
"Normal day in the Gabor 'ouse." She said dryly, as they headed into the lounge, the saxophonist closing the door firmly behind them. "'Ere, I was gonna do some tea, you want some?"
"Okay, now I know something is up!" Pizzazz dropped down onto the couch, bare inches from where the fugitive Hologram had been cowering the night before. "You never make me English tea unless I bully you to!"
"Well, like I said, I was gonna do me some. Might as well not waste the 'ot water." Jetta said glibly, taking a step towards the kitchen as she did so.
"Jetta, hang on a second." Pizzazz called her back. "Do you swear to me that Justin ain't here? Cos you're acting very strange."
"I swear." Jetta looked relieved by the question. "Cross me bleedin' 'eart an' all, okay? Justin is at 'ome in 'is apartment and I bloody well wish I was there too right now, to be honest, rather than facin' the twenty questions from you! Will you get over it already? 'E ain't 'ere!"
Pizzazz pursed her lips, then she shrugged.
"Okay." She said at length. "You said something about tea?"
"Yeah." Jetta nodded. "Oh, bloody 'ell, Pizzazz, now what's wrong?" As the singer squirmed in her seat.
"Something." Pizzazz reached down the back of the chair, pulling out a pink compact. "Jetta, what the hell is this?"
Jetta stared at the small pink compact for a moment, then offered another feeble smile.
"Stormer's?" She suggested, taking it out of the singer's grip before the older girl saw the neatly engraved KB on the other side. "She's always leavin' stuff around an' I think she an' Roxy were watchin' movies last night. I..I'll go and see to that tea, huh?"
With that she fled into the kitchen, shutting the door and leaning against it, taking a deep breath.
"Bloody careless kid." She muttered, glancing at the compact. "Thank God she didn't drop 'er driver's licence down there! Wait till I get me 'ands on 'er!"
"Jetta, what's going on?" A fresh voice made her jump and she turned, glaring at the speaker.
"Pizzazz is back early, keep your bleedin' voice down." She snapped. "She 'ears you, we're all in big trouble!"
"Roxy said she'd come back early." Kimber looked anxious. "I s'pose you want me to go as soon as possible?"
"Damn right we do." Jetta muttered. She thrust the compact at her companion. "An' you left this in the lounge. I 'ope it's the only thing you did leave 'ere, for all our sakes. Now, go get your nice little boots on and get the 'ell out of 'ere before she realises what's goin' on!"
"I'm not even dressed yet!" Kimber protested. "Roxy and Stormer dragged me out of bed five minutes ago!"
"Well, go and get dressed, then!" Jetta hissed back at her. "And be bloody quick about it, will you? I don't know 'ow much longer I can cover for you, an', dammit, if you even want an 'int of my saxophone on your precious song you'd do well not to antagonise either 'er or me. You got it?"
Kimber opened her mouth to protest, but the sound of Pizzazz's penetrating voice in the next room made her think better of it, and she turned on her heel, retreating the way she had come. Jetta closed her eyes, letting out her breath in a rush and leaning on the kitchen unit for support.
"What a day." She muttered. "Trust Pizzazz to behave like the typical spoiled brat an' do exactly as she feels like. She coulda at least called from the airport an' given us some warnin'."
"Do I have to do everything myself round here?" Pizzazz's voice jerked her to attention once more and she swung around, seeing the singer in the doorway. "Tea, Jetta?"
"Oh...oh right." Jetta nodded. "Jus' doin' it."
Pizzazz raised an eyebrow, then,
"Funny. I thought you had to plug a teapot in before you could use it." She observed dryly. "Guess you do things kinda different in England, huh, Jetta?"
Her tone was rich with sarcasm and Jetta muttered a curse, banging the plug into the socket with very bad grace and slamming her hand down on the switch.
"There, 'appy?" She demanded. "Bloody 'ell, Pizzazz, what are you today? Me minder?"
"Well, I thought I heard voices in here." Pizzazz responded.
"Pizzazz, there are four of us who live 'ere." Jetta snapped back. "Is that surprisin'?"
"It is when Roxy and Stormer are both in the lounge with me!" Pizzazz retorted. "Who were you talking to?"
"Me!" Jetta exclaimed. "There, you happy? Your fussin' 'as driven me round the twist an' now I'm talkin' to myself. All right? It's probably the only intelligent conversation I'll get round 'ere, anyway! Now get off me case, will you? I'll get your goddamn tea done! I ain't your ruddy 'ousekeeper, so quit ordering me around like some kind of 'ome 'elp!"
Pizzazz stared at the saxophonist. Then she smirked.
"Just keep in mind who controls your contract and your permit to stay here." She said sweetly. Then she was gone, door banging shut behind her, and leaving Jetta to utter as many expletives as came to mind under her breath as she got the cups out for the tea.
"Bloody 'Olograms." She concluded. "Dammit, if we get away with this it'll be a miracle."
"Jetta, I'm ready." Kimber poked her head around the far door once more, causing Jetta to spill hot water on the unit.
"You 'ave the worst timin' in the world." She snapped. "Why do I care what you do, anyway? Why ain't Stormer sneakin' you out?"
"She and Roxy are distracting Pizzazz." Kimber told her. "Stormer said that I could sneak out the back this way."
"You 'ave everythin'?" Jetta demanded. Kimber nodded.
"Fine." Jetta set down the kettle, crossing the kitchen linoleum and unlocking the big french doors. "There. Get out. You keep to the path an' you'll find a gate. It ain't locked. If you go out of it an' keep left, you'll wind up back on the main road."
"Thanks." She said. "For letting me stay, and for not giving me away, I mean. After all..."
"Just get lost, will ya!" Jetta interrupted, pushing the redhead out of the doors and locking them firmly behind her. Then, uttering more expletives under her breath she returned to the teacups, adding milk and sugar and taking them through to the lounge.
Pizzazz eyed her contemplatively, but took her drink without a comment. Stormer sent Jetta an anxious, questioning look, and the saxophonist nodded her head, almost imperceptibly. Relief flickered in Stormer's blue eyes, and she settled herself more comfortably in her chair.
"So what is Eric doing in DC anyhow, Pizzazz?" She asked.
"God knows." Pizzazz rolled her eyes. "It's all boring suits and ties and crap like that. I didn't stay there long. I went shopping in the city then I decided I was gonna come home soon as I could charter a plane." She shrugged. "Tell you this. East coast people are boring as hell."
"Hey, I'm from the east coast!" This roused Roxy's temper, and Pizzazz laughed.
"I can't help that." She said, not noticeably worried. "I'm just saying."
"Well, quit sayin' it, or I'll rearrange your face for you." Roxy told her firmly. "Okay? Ain't nothing wrong with us East coasters!"
Stormer rolled her eyes. Things were back to normal, and the crisis had been averted.
"I just have to remember to remake the bed in that room before Pizzazz goes on the prowl." She told herself. "But no biggie. I'll slip out in a minute and do that. Noone need ever know Kimber was here!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"It's quiet this morning." Shana observed, helping herself to
"Peace after the storm, almost. Is Jerrica up yet?"
"Up and gone." Raya said softly from where she had been toying with her own bowl of cereal. "I saw her drive out as I went to have my shower."
"Are you all right? You're really quiet this morning." Shana took a seat opposite the drummer, casting her a look of concern. "Did something happen last night, after Aja and I went to bed?"
"Oh, it's not important." Raya sighed. "Jerrica came in in a bad mood and she said some things...I don't think she meant them, Shana. They just hurt a little, that's all."
"What kind of things?" Shana looked taken aback. "I thought this was between her and Kimber!"
"So did I." Raya admitted. She outlined the discussion the two girls had shared the night before, and Shana's expression became grave.
"If you ask me Jerrica has to quit working so hard before she finds she has no friends left." She said acidly. "Listen, Raya. It ain't like that. The whole business with Clash playing at film student, well, none of us knew that it was her. Aja was the only one who even suspected something was up. You were just doing what you do best, reaching out to someone who asked for your help. That's all. Jerrica was outta line."
"I know she did not mean to hurt me." Raya admitted. "But I did not sleep well last night. I hate fighting with anyone. I don't want her to be mad at me."
Despite herself, her voice shook, and Shana reached out to squeeze her friend's hand reassuringly.
"Don't take it to heart. Girl has issues to sort out." She said gently. "Really, Raya. We all know that you'd never let us down, and that goes for Jerrica too. It's the overtime talking, that's all."
Raya managed a smile.
"Thanks, Shana." She said softly. "Do you think she will work things out with Kimber this morning?"
"God, I hope so." Shana rolled her eyes. "I don't want to face another evening of inquisitive Starlight girls asking awkward questions, thank you!"
"They all went off to school without a problem. Aja and I saw them off." Raya said.
"Aja's up too?" Shana looked startled. "I haven't seen her this morning."
"She went to help Jerrica with filing at Starlight Music." Raya responded. "Once the kids were gone. I think she wanted to see if she could ease any of the workload." "That's just like Aja." Shana mused. "I'd go help her myself, mind you, if it wasn't for this design thing of Regine and mine. We're fast running out of hours. The main problem is that we don't have anything but manniquins to try the clothes out on. Neither of us can spare the time to play fashion model, so we don't get to see how they move."
"Can I help?" Raya offered. "I have no plans for today and I don't think Jerrica would want my help this morning. If I could help you and Regine I would be glad to."
"That would be great." Shana dimpled. "Thanks, Raya. It would help a lot to know exactly how the outfits go on a real live model. Just let me apologise now if either of us jab pins in you, okay?"
"I am willing to take the risk." She responded, taking a sip of her milk, then standing. "Well, I'll go brush my hair through and I'll meet you by the door, okay?"
"Sure." Shana nodded. "Hey, you're not finishing your cereal?"
"I'm not so hungry." Raya shook her head. "Don't worry!" As Shana frowned. "I will eat lunch. I just can never eat after a big fight. I'll be okay."
"All right." Shana grinned. "See you in a few then, huh?"
"Count on it." She agreed. "I think it'll be a lot of fun!"