It was dark.
At the edge of the soft white-gold sand, waves lapped at the rocks and seaweed, glinting occasionally in the moonlight. From further up the beach came faint yells and laughter, evidence of a party in progress, but the woman sat, oblivious to all but what was on her mind. Absently she twisted the silvery chain around her fingers, a frown touching her features as she considered recent events.
If she was honest, the suddenness of everything had scared her - far more than she had liked to admit. In the space of just two months, the Misfits' whole world had been thrown upside-down and then, sharply and brutally pulled back into check, the reins tighter than ever before. She had slipped away at sunset, needing space to herself, but in truth she did not want to be around her housemates just at the moment. Harsh words still simmered in her brain, and, try as she might, she could not let them go.
"She 'ad no right." She murmured aloud, clutching the chain more tightly as a flash of anger welled through her body. "It ain't none of 'er bleedin' business. First she ships ol' Elliot back to DC an' expects me to be able to take on everything 'e did at the drop of an 'at, regardless of the fact I ain't got no degree nor qualifications to do it, an' then this. I don't care what she does with 'er life. She ain't bleedin' well tellin' me what to do with mine an' that's a fact!"
She got to her feet, sliding the necklace into her pocket and making her way slowly down the beach, away from the water's edge. The chain had sparked off the argument, it was true - but all it had done was bring to the surface tensions and tempers that had been bubbling uneasily for a long time. In fact, Jetta acknowledged, ever since that New Year's Eve when Pizzazz had told her the thing that would change the Misfits forever.
Ever since Pizzazz had told her about the baby.
Jetta kicked idly at a stray rock, her brows knitting together as she remembered. It had been Pizzazz, or Phyllis Gabor, the band's singer who had committed the ultimate indiscretion - an ill-thought out affair with former manager Eric Raymond, who had since been exiled to Canada for his rampant embezzlement. Their music company had almost gone under that Christmas, and then, just when things had seemed to be levelling out, Pizzazz had dropped her bombshell. Alone in her room, barricaded against anyone else who dared to enter, Pizzazz had confessed something that she'd struggled to deny to herself for the previous fortnight.
That she was going to become a mother.
"If the stupid bitch 'ad only been sensible about it an' got rid of it when we all told 'er, then we'd none of us be six months behind on an album an' I wouldn't 'ave spent most of this year to date filin' and writin' memos and doing more jobs in a day than there are hours for." She muttered darkly. "I've kept that bloody company afloat, which is more than can be said for 'er. I've kept her blessed secret. I've 'elped her cover it up with everyone outside the band. And now she thinks that, now it's all over an' behind 'er, she can treat us all like naughty children. Misfits don't 'ave curfews an' they don't cling to each other's coat tails. She stopped Stormer seein' Elliot an' now she thinks she can tell me what to do about Justin. Damn woman! He's my business an' none of 'ers. And that's the way it's going to be, whether she likes it or not."
"Talking to yourself is supposed to be a sign of madness."
A soft voice came out of the darkness and Jetta started, turning to see Mary "Stormer" Phillips standing, watching her with a mixture of concern and amusement. She scowled.
"Are you checkin' up on me or is this a random encounter?" She demanded. "And I am mad. Mad at you know who for treatin' the lot of us like crap an' then decidin' that we're the irresponsible ones who need regulatin'!"
"I'm not here because Pizzazz asked me to come find you." Stormer fell into step with her companion. "I'm here because it's getting late and the weather forecast says rain. I've been driving around looking for you - I don't like it when we fight."
"It's not a fight. It's a rebellion." Jetta said flatly. "An' you can't think I'm gonna sit back an' meekly take her strictures the way you jus' accepted 'er sendin' Elliot away! That bloke was a git, but 'e knew 'ow to run a music company an' the 'elp was bloody useful, I'm tellin' you. An' you didn't even raise a whisper, even though 'e'd been takin' you out an' showin' you a good time."
"It wasn't a good time to argue." Stormer said simply. She linked arms with her friend, leading her back up the beach towards where her car and her friend's were parked behind the dunes. "Jetta, Pizzazz has been through a lot recently. I know we all have too, but in her case it's more acute. She knows as well as any of us that she's the one who's delayed our album and who's created all the extra chaos and work. She knows that. And this knee jerk reaction is only her trying to re-assert some control. Some standing. She feels she's lost that, over the last few months. We're not playing follow the leader as much as she'd like us to. And, I think, she's paranoid, too. She thinks if we even speak to guys, we're going to wind up repeating her mistake."
"Do you think I can't use contraception?" She demanded bluntly. "I'm not a fool. I don't go gettin' drunk like some people an' randomly seducin' sleazeballs. I know what I'm doin', when and with who. And if I want to hang out with Justin and let 'im buy me a drink or whatever, ain't that my business? So long as it's on my time - which I 'ave precious little of these days, by the way."
"Now Pizzazz is fit again, she'll be back at the company and not hiding out in her room." Stormer said sensibly. "She has nothing to hide, now Emily is safely away at the Foundation and unlikely to interfere any further. I still think it's a shame that she can't find it in her to play Mom, but then that's probably just me being soft. As it is, the matter is shelved and she's determined to keep it shelved. Give it a few weeks. Things will go back to normal. Just as soon as she feels like she's lived it down."
"She ain't gonna live it down quite so easily." Jetta said quietly. "I've learnt 'ow to run that company damn well in the last few months. I've 'ad to, else we'd 'ave no company. You've done your bit 'ere an' there an' even Roxy 'as got involved, but I'm the one who's 'eld it together. I ain't takin' orders from 'er now on 'ow it should be run. It might be 'er company, but dammit, if she wants overall power she's gonna 'ave to fire me from the band and from being Chief Executive. I ain't gonna 'ave done so much damn work for nothing!"
Stormer was silent for a moment.
"She won't fire you from anything." She said at length. "Honestly, Jetta, I think it was sink or swim where you and the company were concerned. You swam and she knows it. I'm not sure if she's cross about it, or relieved that she has someone who's figured it out for her. But right now you're tired and she's frustrated and Justin picked the wrong moment to drop by the gift he bought you from his photo trip to Reno. That's all. Bad timing. She'll cool. You'll cool. Tomorrow we'll be fine."
"You're a bleedin' optimist, ain't you." Jetta muttered. "I've never wanted to slap the woman so much in me life, an' that's sayin' something!"
"But you didn't." Stormer was unperturbed. "And least said, soonest mended."
Jetta pulled another graphic face, but she said nothing further. At that moment they reached their parked cars, and, reluctantly, Jetta unlocked the driver's door of hers, turning to cast her companion a questioning look.
"Are you goin' to shadow me 'ome, or trust me to go?" She asked lightly.
"Don't take it out on me, Jetta." Stormer shook her head impatiently. "It's been too rough a time for all of us and I'm not up for it. You're tired - we all are, and me most of all from all this fighting. I just want my band back - is it too much to ask us to care about music for a change?"
Jetta pursed her lips.
"Fine." She said at length, pulling the door open with more force than was necessary. "I'll see you at 'ome, where I'm goin' straight to bed an' not continuin' any argument. But I'm tellin' you, Stormer, things 'ad better be the way you say they are gonna be at the company. I want some damn music to be top of our priority lists again too, you know."
"Then I'll see you there." She said simply, climbing into her own vehicle. "Drive safely."
With that she put her car in gear, reversing through sand and pebbles out onto the main road and then speeding away into the darkness.
Jetta hesitated for a moment, then she followed her friend's example.
"I 'ope she's right, that it'll all settle down." She muttered. "But I ain't bleedin' counting on it. Whatever Stormer says an' however Pizzazz tries to pretend, things 'ave changed. The only thing that's left to figure out is what exactly this means for the Misfits."
* * * * * * * * *
"Maybe I should just keep my distance from the Gabor place for a few days."
Justin Pelligrini eyed his reflection in the bathroom mirror, a sheepish expression on his face as he remembered the reception he had received. "I don't want my head ripped off just for visiting Jetta, and I don't want to create extra chaos. But it's mental, if I'm honest about it. I never know what mood Pizzazz is going to be in."
"None of us do of late." His companion, a willowy young woman with thick white blond waves of hair shrugged her shoulders, lounging in the doorway. "It's just got worse since she decided she was fit and well enough to take the reins again, if you want the truth. If I wasn't playing in the damn band, I might well be keeping my distance as well."
She pulled a face.
"Not that I can't take Pizzazz if need be, but she's giving me a major headache. You know she's pretty much jumped on the solo album I was writing and threatened to ditch me from the company wholesale if I pursue it and not the Misfit album she wants out before the end of the month. Anyone would think I was moonlighting just to annoy her!"
"She did?" Justin looked surprised. "That's rough, Rox - I thought
first disk sold well?"
"It did - and that's the problem." Roxy sighed heavily. "She doesn't like us doing anything that she ain't involved in. It's doing my head in big time."
She spread her hands.
"So much so that I'm standing in your apartment moaning at you." She added sheepishly. "But there you have it. Jetta's going round like a bear with a sore head ever since Pizzazz started back at the music company anyhow. It's scaring me, but I'm starting to think I'm on her side. I mean, since Pizzazz...since Pizzazz took sick, we've all hoed in to keep that place afloat. And it ain't like she's even grateful. She just wants everything done yesterday."
"She's probably sick of being sick." Justin said wisely. "It was a long time to be out of action - glandular fever's supposed to be nasty. Are you sure she's kicked it off completely? Maybe she's just tired."
"Oh, she's kicked it." Roxy's expression was foreboding. "Trust me. This is just her in a temper."
She sighed, retreating into Justin's bedroom and dropping down onto his bed.
"And it's starting to get old with me."
"Me too." Justin admitted, coming to join her, and shutting the en-suite door behind her. "I rely on a good amount of my income from Misfits Music and the goodwill of whoever's in charge. It's been fine while you and Stormer and Jetta have been calling the shots. It's meant working with the Stingers and sundry other acts, but at least it's paid my bills. Now I'm in very real danger of being tossed off the books if I dare come within five feet of you all in your free time."
He pursed his lips, eying his sister contemplatively.
"I wonder if you being here now would count." He added.
"No, she's just paranoid about you sleeping with Jetta." Roxy snorted. "Before Eric left the company, she felt like she had us all wrapped round her little finger. Now we ain't, and she knows it. Not that we ever were, but you know what I mean. She likes to be in control. And she's convinced that if you keep seeing Jetta, you'll wind up luring her away from the Misfits."
"Yeah, I can just see that happening." Justin grimaced. "Jetta's a Misfit before she's anything else - you'd think Pizzazz knew that. If you had a pair of scales and put me on one side and the band on the other, I know which side would weigh heavier with her."
"Damn good thing, too." Roxy said contemplatively. "I mean, it's nauseating enough for me to think about you and bignose spending free time together. If I thought you were all truly madly deeply and that she might actually consider taking off from the band for some romantic happy ever after with you, I think I'd have to throw myself off the top of Misfits Music. Talk about gross."
"Chance would be a fine thing." Justin's eyes twinkled. "No, Roxy. Jetta's as devoted to the Misfits as the rest of you. And I'm cool with that. It's how things are. But Pizzazz is gonna put everyone's backs up. And I want to be the one doing the snaps for this album cover, because I need the money...so I guess I'm going to have to keep my distance for a while. At least until she cools down."
"Well, keep me out of it." Roxy said firmly. "Tomorrow morning I'm going to studio and I'm gonna play whatever it is Stormer puts down in front of me. I have a bike rally on Saturday and I ain't missing it because we're being held back in the recording studio trying to lay down tracks."
She got to her feet, glancing at her watch.
"That being the case, too, I better get home." She said reluctantly. "With any luck, the nuclear fallout will have gone and someone will have ordered pizza. I'm starving and I don't have any cash on me...I hate when we fight."
Amusement sparkled in Justin's dark eyes and he leant over to grab
wallet off the unit, flipping it open and pulling out a twenty dollar
"Here." He said with a wink. "Dinner on me."
Roxy eyed him thoughtfully for a moment, then,
"Is that a handout?" She asked at length. "Because you know how I feel about that. It's not like I don't earn my own money these days."
"No, it's not a hand out. It's me bribing you to do me a favour." Justin shook his head. "If I'm gonna keep my head down for a few days, I need to let Jetta know I'm not avoiding her. So if I write her a note...will you give it to her for me?"
"In the mood she was in tonight, that'll need to be dinner and dessert, so don't be expecting change." Roxy said firmly, scooping up the twenty and slipping it into her pocket. "But all right. Only because I'm hungry, though, no other reason. I really don't want to be in the middle of this sick-fest you call a relationship."
"Thanks, Rox." Justin scooped up his notebook from the dresser, quickly scrawling a note, then folding it in half. Neatly he looped Jetta's name across the top, then held it out to his companion. "I appreciate it."
"Well, unfortunately you know my weakness." Roxy looked rueful. "I better be going. Just don't expect me to bring a return message, okay? I'm done with it."
"Agreed." Justin nodded. "Have a safe drive home, sis."
"It's not the drive home. It's what's waiting for me when I get there." Roxy said dryly. "But I'll be cool. Just, if you hear that Pizzazz has got a sudden bloody nose or black eye...you'll know that she was still up and about when I got home."
With that she was gone, and Justin chuckled, moving to the window as he watched his sister climbing into her car, roaring away at speed down the main road.
"At least I know Roxy will deliver my note." He mused. "Though I'm more worried about how Jetta will receive it than anything. I don't like how things are but I don't want to lose either of us our jobs. We both need to be employed by Misfits Music and I love her too much to be a part of her getting deported back to England. So...so I guess we'll play it by ear. And I'll hope for the best!"