England's Rose

Chapter Seventeen: Opening Night

"Well, someone's all dressed up to go someplace nice." Hazel paused by the window table, casting it's occupant a grin. "Hot date, Laura?"
"Nope...no date." Laura cast her companion a grin. "But I am going someplace nice. 'Ere, you haven't seen Cassie and Stuart, 'ave you? I'm meant to be meetin' them 'ere, and we're kinda pushed for time."
"Haven't seen hide nor hair of either of 'em." Hazel admitted. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure that she wasn't being watched, then slipped into the seat opposite, dropping her teatowel onto the table in front of her. "So spill. Where are you going, dressed up like that? Must be someplace better than this old dump of a cafe, right?"
"Well, it's somewhere we ain't usually invited." Laura grinned. "I'm kinda excited, to tell you the truth. We're going to Wembley."
"The stadium?" Hazel looked taken aback. "Is there a match on, then? I thought it was the off season!"
"It is. This is a concert we're goin' to."
"Oh? Who's playin'?" Hazel sounded interested. Laura laughed.
"Hazel, what planet you been livin' on for the last week or two? This concert is the biggest deal to 'it this city in...oh, I dunno. Ages. Don't tell me you ain't 'eard about it!"
"I've been working double shifts." Hazel admitted. "It don't leave much time for a life at home aside from going to bed and to sleep...I guess I'm behind on things in the real world. Brian an' I 'ave both been workin' doubly 'ard to pay off the price on our council flat an' make it our own before the baby comes along - security an' all that. It's been kinda mad."
"Oh, of course." Laura grinned. "You work too hard, you know, for a woman who's twelve weeks on."
"I know I do, but I need the money." Hazel shrugged. "Gotta grow up sometime, Laura...I'm twenty five on Tuesday. An' with any luck we'll 'ave things in 'and by the time the babe gets 'ere and I'll be able to quit this deadend job anyway. Brian's goin' for a promotion this week...fingers crossed."
"Wish him good luck from me." Laura responded. "You guys have been together almost three years now, it's about time things came into line for you."
"Yeah. I agree." Hazel laughed. "Anyway, enough about my borin' life. Tell me about this concert!"
"Ever heard of the Misfits?"
"Sure. I listen to the radio enough while I'm 'ere. American group, ain't they?"
"Yes, they're based in California."
"So it's them you're gonna hear? Cool...but why the big deal? I mean, there are a ton of American groups. There's that Jem group that Brian thinks is so fantastic." She pulled a face. "And it ain't 'er voice 'e finds compellin', neither.  What's so special about these girls?"
"You really do have your head in the sand!" Laura looked amused. "Who do you think plays saxophone for them?"
"Not a clue." Hazel shrugged.
"Oh come on. Who do you know who went out to America in search of fame and fortune, Hazel?"
"Is this a trick question? Do I win a prize?" Hazel grinned. Laura laughed.
"No, silly. Just think about it!"
"How do I know them?"
"Well, you worked with her for long enough."
Hazel's hand flew to her mouth.
"Wait a minute...you mean Sheila?" she demanded. "Sheila Burns?"
"Yep. Got it in one." Laura nodded.
"You're tellin' me that Sheila Burns is a bigshot rock star now, out in the States? Oh unbelievable! Some girls get all the luck!"
"I know...but they're good, Hazel. Real good. And she promised tickets on the door to me and any friends I bring along with me, which was cool of her. They cost a bomb, the tickets, and apparently the gig's sold out, only she's had a handful put by for me."
"What it must be to be famous." Hazel sighed wistfully. "That girl always landed on 'er feet somehow, didn't she?"
"That's Sheila." Laura shrugged. "'Ere, what time do you knock off work?"
"'Alf eight. Why?"
"Wanna tag along? We gotta be there for nine."
"You sure?" Hazel looked taken aback.
"Sure I'm sure. You 'ave as much right to be there as any of us, you worked with her, after all."
"True. Hard to tell if she liked me, mind you." Hazel grinned. "Hard to tell a lot of things with Sheila. I liked her, mind you. She was good fun."
"Well, she never said anything bad to me about you, though she had a whole catalogue of insults for some of the others she worked with." Laura said dryly. "I'm serious, though. Come, if you ain't too exhausted by workin'. I know it'll be a blast an' you need a break."
"I do." Hazel agreed. "Probably not the kind the doctor would approve of, but okay. I'm in. First though I gotta tell Mr Randall what became of 'is blue eyed girl...I'll see you 'ere in ten minutes, when I'm done for the night. I think I see Stuart's car outside anyway."
"Okay." Laura nodded. "We'll be here."
"Cool." Hazel dimpled, then hurried off towards the kitchens to spread the news. Laura looked amused. She had always liked Hazel, since Tony's Cafe had always been a favourite local hangout of hers, particularly when Jetta had worked there.
"It'll be neat to have her along, and a surprise for Sheila, too." she mused. "I just hope there's no trouble...that whoever was tryin' to scare her got scared 'imself. I so want this to be a success for 'er!"

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"Woo...what a night!" Pizzazz tossed her microphone up in the air, catching it deftly in her other hand and casting a wide grin around at her bandmates as the four girls left the stage for the final time. "They loved us out there! How many times did we have to go back out? We must've done every song we ever wrote tonight...some of 'em more than once!"
"It was a blast." Roxy nodded her head. "I never saw so many people in one stadium! Sucks to Jem and her dumb band. We're number one!"
"I guess England likes the idea of bringing home one of their own." Stormer cast Jetta a glance. The Briton shrugged.
"I 'ave to admit it's kinda nice." she agreed. "So we'll be playin' London again, will we?"
"We sure will, now your brother's little minion is tied up doing other things." Pizzazz nodded. "By the way, I spoke to Eric about that before we went on. He reckons we can nail the jerk for harassment and get some kind of penalty on Jeremy, too...I told him to hand it over to the lawyers and let 'em deal with it. I don't think Jeremy will dare try messin' with us again. He's lost out to us twice now."
"Good." Jetta grinned. "I've had enough of his interference in my life."
"You know what's been weirdest about this tour?" Roxy observed as they reached the dressing room, her expression unusually thoughtful.
"What?" Stormer asked her, her expression curious.
"The fact we ain't had to fight for it. It's all come to us."
"Huh?" Pizzazz stared. "What nonsense you talkin' now, Roxy?"
"I think she means that we 'aven't had any competition. That it's been so easy to take this country by storm." Jetta put in. "And, though I 'ate to agree with Roxy, she's right. It has been easy."
"The best part of that is that Jem played England a few months back." Pizzazz responded with a grin. "But she didn't have a sell-out show at Wembley, did she?"
"I read in a magazine this morning that a whole bunch of people have phoned their music hotline to demand to know when the Misfit single is going to be released." Stormer added. "We've been here a week and already we're big news here!"
"Well, we oughta give 'em what they want." Pizzazz observed. "We all agreed that Just Misbehavin' is the one to hit 'em with?"
"You're asking our opinion? That's a first." Roxy snorted. Pizzazz narrowed her eyes.
"I'm feeling benevolent. Don't push me." She retorted.
Jetta laughed.
"I don't think it'd matter what song we put out. We could remix The First Noel an' play it backwards, they'd still lap it up." she observed. Stormer giggled.
"I'd like to hear that." she admitted.
"I'll go with Just Misbehavin'." Roxy shrugged, deciding now was clearly not the time to enquire what exactly 'The First Noel' was. "Ain't we tacklin' America with that one too, though?"
"That's the plan. Why do twice the work?" Pizzazz responded. "We got a week or two left here to promote the song, then we fly back to Cali and attack the local market. How can we fail? Jem and her wimps will be history in no time."
"Pizzazz, forget Jem for a moment, will ya?" Jetta examined her nails, her tone suddenly serious. "This tour is ours...not Jem's. We ain't followin' Jem, we're makin' our own mark 'ere. And whatever 'appens in America, England belongs to us, okay? Who cares what Jem does? Tonight belongs to us."
"I agree." Stormer nodded. "The Misfits rock!"
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and a security guard poked his head around it, his gaze resting on Jetta.
"Miss Burns, there are a group of people outside wantin' to see you. Say they're mates of yours...you want me to get rid of them?"
"Did you get a name for them?" Jetta asked.
"A Miss Cunningham, I believe, Miss."
"Oh, then it's all right. Tell them to come on in...after all, there's plenty of room." Jetta grinned.
"Laura?" Pizzazz demanded. Jetta nodded.
"Sure. You got a problem with that?"
"No." Pizzazz shook her head. "Do what you want."
"Don't worry. I usually do." Jetta winked at her bandmate as the door of the dressing room swung open and the group of visitors were hustled inside by the bewildered security guard, before the door was once more firmly shut.
Jetta got to her feet.
"Well, this is nice, ain't it?" She observed. "Hi, Laura...I'm glad you came, by the way. I looked out for you but the crowd was too big and the lights too fierce."
"You are one heck of a star, Sheila Burns." Laura grinned at her. "I'm proud to know you! An' so are these guys..."
"Stuart...Hazel!" Jetta laughed. "Well, memories are long, that's for sure. An' who's this?"
"This is Cassie. Stuart's bird." Laura explained. "She's already a big fan, you know."
"Quit it, Laura. You're embarrassing me!" Cassie exclaimed, her cheeks going pink. "Hi...I don't really know what else to say."
"Well, these are Stormer, Pizzazz an' Roxy, an' Laura will probably 'ave told you I'm Sheila, though I'd prefer it if you didn't call me it. Most of the world call me Jetta these days, 'less they want a smack in the mouth. Old pals are an exception." Jetta indicated for them to sit down. "I can't believe that you finally got yourself a girlfriend brave enough to live with you, Stuart..."
"Cheeky!" Stuart protested. "I'm waitin' for the day a bloke's brave enough to take you on, Sheila."
"Well, I'm goin' for a soda." Roxy got to her feet at that point. "Pizzazz, Stormer, you comin'? Let Jetta have her little reunions."
"Sure." Pizzazz nodded. She shot Jetta a thoughtful look. "Hate to intrude on personal stuff. Stormer?"
"Um...well..." Stormer glanced between Jetta and Pizzazz.
"You don't 'ave to go. It's up to you." Jetta shrugged.
"Stormer." Pizzazz's eyes narrowed.
"Guess I'm going." Stormer got to her feet, a look of resignation on her face. "See you later, Jetta. Bye all."
"Well, they're conversational." Hazel observed.
"Oh, they're okay. Just not comfortable with friendly gatherings." Jetta laughed. "An' it gives me a chance to talk to you all properly. I never expected you 'ere tonight, Hazel...still workin' at Tony's?"
"Yes...but hopefully not for much longer, if Brian gets his promotion."
"You still seein' him?" Jetta was taken aback. Hazel nodded.
"Yep. Three years in September, and we've a babe on the way an' all."
"Wow." Jetta let out a low whistle. Hazel laughed.
"Like I told Laura, I'm almost twenty five, and it's kinda fun to think about playing family."
"Not for me." Jetta was adamant. "I ain't growin' up or slowin' down my life for no man or no children. You'd have to drag me off stage first...I love being a Misfit."
Cassie laughed.
"Laura told me you were full of life...she weren't wrong, neither." she responded. "It's been cool to meet you guys, though. You are going to put out a single while you're here, aren't you?"
"Apparently, according to the boss." Jetta grinned.
"Who is?" Stuart asked.
"Pizzazz." Jetta replied. "She owns the music company."
"She must be rollin' in it!" Cassie exclaimed. Jetta nodded.
"Why do you think we live in a mansion, duckie, back in California?" she asked. "Much fun as it is to be playin' back here, I'm 'appy livin' over there so long as I got a place like that to call home."
"Some things never change." Laura grinned. "Guess we'd better be going. It's late and you probably have a million things to do, right?"
"Guess so." Jetta agreed. "But keep in touch, okay?"
"Will do." Laura nodded. "C'mon, all...let's leave the star to her business, huh? It's time us normal folk trotted off 'ome."
"Silly." Jetta pulled a face at her friend. "I'll see ya, anyway. Before I go."
"You mean that?" Laura looked questioning. Jetta nodded.
"Count on it." she agreed.

Chapter One: Life in London
Chapter Two: The Saxophone
Chapter Three: A Friend In Need
Chapter Four: Never Again...

Chapter Five: Sheila's Decision
Chapter Six: A Band In Crisis
Chapter Seven: First Night
Chapter Eight: Making It Happen

Chapter Nine: The Misfits In London
Chapter Ten: On Every Screen...
Chapter Eleven: A Musical Reunion
Chapter Twelve: Jealousy
Chapter Thirteen: An Old Acquaintance
Chapter Fourteen: Doing London
Chapter Fifteen: Sabotage!
Chapter Sixteen: The Final Straw
Chapter Seventeen: Opening Night
Chapter Eighteen: Jetta

(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. All characters who do not appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted to E.A Woolley (2001)