"You've been quiet since we hauled anchor. Something up?"
Justin jerked to attention, meeting the gaze of his companion with a troubled frown. He had arrived in Michigan almost two weeks earlier now, but his wounds were still stinging from the way he and his wife had parted company, and inwardly he was not looking forward to returning to Los Angeles, afraid that all it would bring was a demand for divorce.
"Women trouble." He told the well
meaning captain now, shrugging his shoulders. "My wife and I had a bit
of an argument
before I left, that's all...it's preying on my mind. It's nice to get some lake air and think things through in peace."
"I didn't realise you were a
man!" The captain beamed, clearly not taking the hint that Justin
wanted to be left
alone. "Women are strange creatures at the best of times, though. My Betty flies into a passion if I forget our anniversary, and,
well, tisn't like she hasn't had twenty of them already to look forward to! I don't understand them myself...but you know the old
maxim, can't live without 'em."
"No, very true." Justin bit his
gazing out at the swelling lake waters and the cloudy grey sky. Somehow
it mirrored his mood,
he mused. "I'm rather wondering if my wife and I will make it to our first anniversary, as things stand."
"Ah, first year is always the
my boy." The captain sounded sympathetic. "Settles down after, trust
Stick it out,
"I intend to try." Justin nodded.
He glanced around him. "Its a pity the light is so bad, I'm going to
my equipment up here if
I'm gonna get any decent photos of the lake today."
"Some brochure or other, is it?"
"Yeah, that sort of thing."
nodded. "I work freelance, so I tend to wind up all over the place. I'm
living in Los Angeles at
the moment, though. That is...well, my wife and I both are." He frowned. "I'm not sure if I'm mad at her or just upset with her."
"Well, that's how women are,
you topsy turvy." The captain laughed. "Buy her some flowers, tell her
she's wonderful and
she'll soon come round. Works with my Betty, it does."
"Jetta's rather a different prospect. She's not easily sweet talked." Justin frowned. "Oh well. Down to business, I guess."
He pulled his tripod from his
carefully setting it up. As he did so, he became aware of a strange
noise, and he
"Hey, what's that noise? Sounds like something's up with the motor!"
"These old boats, there's always
something wrong with them." The captain grumbled. "They want us to come
out like this, but
don't see to repairing the boats half as much as they should, and that's a fact. I'll go see. Probably some fish has gotten itself
trapped in the mechanics - has happened before, you know. Not dangerous for the boat, but pretty damn lethal for the fish!"
He laughed, disappearing below
and, glad to be alone, Justin affixed his camera to the tripod, taking
scenic shots more
automatically than with his usual real enthusiasm. Try as he might, he could only think of Jetta. She had pulled back from him
before, but this was different. He had taken the biggest gamble ever, had thought he'd won it, and then had had it snatched
away from him at the last second - but despite everything, he knew he loved her.
"She's just scared of commitment,
and that's something we really haveta work on." He mused. "So fine
that's what we'll
do. I'll make her realise that we did the right thing in Vegas, if it takes me till we're fifty!"
So intent was he on his thoughts,
that he didn't hear the captain's yell to the first mate that the ship
was in dire straights, nor did
he register that the sound he had heard earlier was getting louder. Suddenly, out of nowhere there seemed to be a huge
explosion, and Justin found himself launched into the air, spinning down towards the swirling blue waters below. Then, there
was a resounding crack, and with a flash of colour, everything went black.
* * * * * * * * *
"Roxy? Roxy, there's some guy on the phone for you."
Stormer poked her head around the
door of the main lounge, where Roxy was sitting, guitar in hand as she
through some chords. It had only been a short while since she had begun to really explore her own musical potential, but with
the improvement in her reading and writing had come the confidence to experiment more and more. Therefore, it was not
uncommon these days to find her in some corner or other with her guitar and a rough sheet of manuscript, scribbling down
music in a shorthand only she could understand, and with a patience which was entirely absent in her usual, everyday nature.
She glanced up with a grimace at the interruption, setting her instrument aside.
"What now?" She demanded. "Stormer, who is it?"
"I don't know...he's a stranger
me." Stormer replied. "He asked for Roxanne Pelligrini...I don't think
he was anyone who
knows us well, else he'd have called you Roxy."
"Strange." Roxy frowned, getting to her feet and following her friend into the hall. "Oh well."
She scooped up the phone.
"Yeah, this is Roxy. What do you want?" She demanded.
As Stormer watched, her friend's
expression changed, from irritation to shock and then to disbelief. She
set the receiver down
without any of her usual brusqueness, and somehow the synth player knew something major had happened.
"Roxy...what is it?" She asked anxiously.
Roxy didn't speak for a moment, as if trying to digest the information herself. Then she swallowed hard.
"Get Jetta." Her voice was strange and unfamiliar to Stormer's ears.
"What?" Stormer frowned.
"Just do it, dammit!" Now Roxy's shock became anger. "There's been an accident in Michigan...just get her!"
"Oh God." Stormer's clever blue
adopted a look of horror as she interpreted the meaning behind her
"I don't know. Just get her, will you? Or do I have to do it myself!"
"I'm going." Stormer responded
hurrying out of the room and upstairs, pounding on her friend's door.
eying her bandmate's agitation in some surprise.
"What's up?" She demanded.
"Roxy wants you. She just had a call...something's happened in Michigan." Stormer babbled out.
"Something? What kind of something?" Jetta asked sharply, closing her door and following the younger girl downstairs.
"I don't know...Roxy just said an
accident." Stormer replied, as they reached the lounge door. "She went
all strange, Jetta...I
think you better talk to her."
"Roxy?" Jetta pushed open the door of the lounge, heading apprehensively inside. "What's up? What's 'appened in Michigan?"
"Some guy from the place Justin
working for just called me." Roxy spoke in flat, emotionless tones.
said...they said that there had been an accident...the boat they were
out on blew something and sank. The weather's been too bad to get a
proper rescue mission going...two of the people on board have been found, but as yet noone alive. Justin...is still not found."
"Justin..." Jetta's face drained
of all colour and she sank down onto the sofa. For a moment Stormer
she might faint, and
she hurried into the kitchen to get her friend a glass of water.
Jetta took the glass almost
taking a sip and setting it down on the table without even looking at
For a moment
noone spoke, then Roxy sighed.
"Well, I'm goin' to Michigan,
you're all doin'." She said finally. "If they're to dumb to be able to
find him, I'll go look
for him myself."
"You shouldn't go on your
come with you." Stormer offered. "Oh...but Jetta..." She cast the
an anxious look.
"Jetta, are you all right?"
"All right?" Jetta repeated numbly. "Stormer, are you daft? What do you think?"
"Oh, Jetta, I'm sorry." Stormer sat down beside the older girl, resisting the urge to hug her tightly. She glanced up at Roxy.
"Roxy...I want to come with you to Michigan but I can't leave Jetta on her own in this state."
"I can cope, Stormer." Jetta said
quietly. "In any case, if you're goin' to Michigan, I'm comin' too. I
sittin' around 'ere doin'
"Where's Pizzazz?" Roxy glanced around her. "If we're all going, she might as well come too."
"Upstairs." Jetta said flatly.
"I'll go find her and explain what's happened." Stormer got to her feet. "Roxy, are you holding up okay?"
"I'm fine." Roxy said impatiently. "Go get Pizzazz and tell her we need a plane, and fast, okay?"
"I'm gone." Stormer nodded,
off to carry out her friend's instructions. Better than anyone she knew
impatience was masking her own worries for her brother's safety.
Left alone together, the blond
her dark companion a doubtful look. Jetta had not regained any colour,
and she was idly
toying with her watch, a troubled look on her face. A little awkwardly, she sat down next to the saxophonist.
"He ain't dead yet." She murmured.
Jetta looked startled. Then she bit her lip.
"Roxy, don't. Please." She begged. "I...I 'ave to control this. I can't think about 'im...I won't let myself."
"I know what you mean." Roxy
She eyed her companion thoughtfully. "This ain't a game after all, is
You really do
like him, don't you?"
"More than you know." Jetta's tone was shaky. "More than I even knew, Roxy."
"I don't want nothing bad to happen to him either, you know. He's the only family I got, really." Roxy said quietly.
Jetta looked at her companion, a strange look in her eyes.
"No 'e ain't." She whispered.
"Huh?" Roxy frowned. "What do you mean?"
Jetta hesitated, then,
"I'm your family too." She murmured. "Now."
"What in hell are you talking about?" Roxy looked startled. Jetta's expression became melancholic.
"I married 'im, Roxy." She admitted. "'E's my 'usband...I'm Sheila Pelligrini now."
"What?" Roxy could only stare at her companion. "You...you did what?"
"Married 'im. In Vegas." Jetta's
voice trembled as she removed the habitual gloves to display her ring.
"But we rowed...Damn
that row! I may never see 'im again an' we parted like that...I'm too young to be a widow, Roxy! I'm only twenty six!"
Roxy was silent for a moment. Then she frowned.
"Then you're my sister now." She
said gravely. "An' Justin would want me to make sure you were okay
"You...you don't mind? You ain't angry?"
"No...I'm not." Roxy admitted. "I dunno why...odd, ain't it? But I s'pose other things are kinda pressing on me at the moment."
She took Jetta by the hand,
her to her feet. "We're gonna get through this, you hear me? And so's
finally. "He ain't dead and I refuse to believe we've lost him, not till they show me a body. We're goin' to Michigan and we're
gonna help, right?"
"Right." Jetta managed a faint smile. "You know...maybe it'll be all right 'avin' you as a sister in law."
"Maybe we'll make a good team."
responded. "Come on. Let's find the others and get going...we ain't got
time to lose!"