Chapter Thirteen: Thicker Than Water
Jetta pushed open her hotel room door, dropping her coat on the chair by
the dresser and sinking down onto the bed, placing the saxophone case down
carefully beside her and flipping undone the catch. Slowly and reverently
she lifted the golden instrument from it's battered home, running her fingers
over the keys. It was just as she remembered, and time had not harmed it any,
for it had been kept safe and dry, undisturbed since her grandfather's death.
Bertie's other revelations had struck little chord with her, for she had
more or less absolved herself of her background, but the saxophone was something
else. Inside of that case were trapped a million memories and, as she silently
fingered the opening notes to her grandfather's favourite old jazz tune she
found them all coming back. Now there was no stopping the tears, and, in
the darkness of her hotel room she let them fall.
From the shadows a voice made her jump, hurriedly returning the instrument to it's case and dashing away her tears as she squinted in the dim light for the speaker.
"Mom, are you all right?" Nancy emerged slowly from the en-suite, and Jetta could make out the concern on her daughter's face. She muttered a curse.
"What in hell are you doing here? Trying to give me a heart attack?" She demanded. Nancy shook her head, flicking on the overhead light so that the room was bathed in a bright glow. Now there was no hiding her tears in the shadows, and Jetta cursed again, turning away from her daughter's curious sympathy.
"I wanted to wait here till you got back." She said softly. "I couldn't focus on things back at our hotel and so I came here to wait for you. I thought you'd come straight back here."
"How did you get in?"
"I can pick locks. You taught me to do that when the kids at school used to reset the combination on my locker." Nancy said, coming to sit beside her mother on the bed. "Are you all right? I...I was worried."
"Well, don't be. I'm a big girl, Nancy." Jetta said curtly. "And I..." Her gaze fell once more on the saxophone, and she paused, biting her lip. Nancy eyed it thoughtfully.
"It's beautiful." She murmured. "Is that...?"
"My Grandpa's sax? Yes." Jetta nodded. "I...I thought it 'ad been sold, but it were there all the time." She closed her eyes, willing the tears not to fall in front of her daughter, but Nancy was too perceptive not to know and, rather clumsily, she hugged her mother tightly.
"I'm glad you have it." She whispered. "I know you've said so many times you wished you knew who had it, so you could track it down and buy it back."
"It was always mine." Jetta's voice shook. "Grandpa left it me all along."
She swallowed hard. "Look at me. If you breathe a word of this, Nancy..."
"I wouldn't." Nancy assured her. "You're my mother...I wouldn't betray you for the world." She paused, then, "Did what he had to say upset you?"
"What, Pa? No." Jetta shook her head. "I ain't thought of England as where my family is for a long while, Nancy. You an' Aaron an' your Dad, they're my family. An' Taylor, I s'pose. England is me 'ome an' where I still feel like I belong the most, but I wouldn't swap me life in LA for anythin'." She sighed. "So you see, it's nothing to me really. It were a shock when 'e told me, but to be honest it's all been erased in me 'ead by the saxophone." She paused, then, "My Grandfather was a lot to me, an' nothin' I learnt this afternoon changed that."
"I know." Nancy nodded. She frowned.
"You know, we've never sat and really talked about family before." She observed. "And when Taylor told me what he told me earlier, I...I really didn't know how you'd take it. Myself, well, it hardly mattered, since I never really knew any of your family here till we met Taylor and he's still my blood cousin, that hasn't changed. But I was worried about you...because I'd be devastated if someone told me you weren't my real mother."
Jetta looked startled.
"Do I mean that much to you?" She asked, her tone disbelieving. Nancy blushed, nodding.
"Yeah." She admitted, glancing down. "You and Dad both mean a lot to me, Mom, but you've always understood me better than anyone else, and fought in my corner whenever I've needed it. You taught me survival skills at school, and it got me through it all. I know you don't think you're a good mother, but you are. You're the best."
"Wow." Jetta's expression was indecipherable. Despite herself, Nancy laughed.
"Don't look so startled, Aaron and I both love you to bits." She teased. A smile touched Jetta's face.
"So you damn well should, the amount of hell you've both put your Pa an' me through." She retorted.
"You don't regret us though, do you?" Though Nancy's tone was light, there was a note of anxiety in it, and Jetta smiled.
"No. Don't s'pose I do." She admitted. "Your father were right. I could 'andle kids...an' I didn't mind it so much, neither, once I'd gotten used to it."
"I don't know if I ever want kids." She admitted. "The idea scares me and, well, Dean and I are going slow in some ways, you know? But I guess if you can do it, I can...people've always said we're alike."
"Well, don't you dare land that on me any time soon." Jetta threatened. "I ain't ready to be a gran yet!"
"Okay, message noted." Nancy grinned.
"I guess I ought to phone that lawyer bloke an' settle this money issue."
"So you are gonna claim it, then?" Nancy asked. Jetta nodded.
"Yeah." She agreed. "I don't feel like it's mine, though. I ain't the same kid I was when I first went out to the States. Then I 'ad scraped by a livin' an' makin' money was my objective. Now...well, money ain't so damn important. It's jus' cash now, an' not money either you or Aaron really need, let alone me or your father."
"So what will you do?" Nancy looked interested.
"I'm goin' to give it Taylor." Jetta said with a shrug. "As me contribution towards 'is weddin'." She looked awkward. "After all, 'e ain't got a Ma or a Pa to 'elp 'im out, an', well, if it weren't for 'im, either you or me or both of us mightn't be 'ere now, 'avin' this chat."
"That's sweet." Nancy was touched. "And I know he'll appreciate it, too. I did feel it was kinda unfair that Uncle Jeremy's money was lost whilst yours wasn't, since Taylor needs it more than we do. Vi earns more than he does, but I know he wants to pay his fair share towards the wedding and he wants it to be special for her too."
"Well, it'll serve 'im an' Vi well, I 'ope." Jetta smiled ironically. "Should last em about a week once they begin 'avin' squallin' brats."
"Think they will?" Nancy looked startled. Jetta laughed.
"Well, knowin' the fondness your cousin 'as for findin' a family of 'is own to belong to, an' knowin' the sort of girl young Violet is, I can see it as a definite possibility." She said dryly. "I don't say they'll do it soon as they tie the knot, Nancy, but I wouldn't bet against it."
"Wow...everyone is so grown up all of a sudden." Nancy looked pensive.
"Taylor's damn near thirty years old." Jetta reminded her. "Not far different of the age that your Pa was when I married 'im."
"You're right." Nancy admitted. "I don't think of the age gap between him and me being so big, but it's eight or nine years at least." She smiled. "But Vi is only twenty two, I think. Still, I hope they're happy anyway. I think they will be...they're both sweet people."
"Mm. Kinda a turn up for the books that young Taylor wound up the total opposite of 'is biological mess of a father." Jetta said ironically. She took a deep breath, closing the saxophone case slowly and pressing shut the clasp. "Well, I did 'ope you wouldn't see me get emotional." She admitted slowly. "I knew it would 'appen once 'e gave me this...but all the way back from London I were thinkin', and perhaps it is for the best that you were 'ere after all."
"What do you mean?" Nancy looked curious.
"I 'ave a saxophone." Jetta said softly. "Which carried me through me Misfit days, even before. I 'ave a lot of good memories with that sax too, an' it's somethin' of me trademark. An' yet, I can't bear to part with this one out of the family."
"Noone said you had to. Great Grandpa left it to you fair and square and he wouldn't want you to sell it." Nancy pointed out.
"No, but 'ed also say 'e wanted it to be used, not put away in a cupboard to rot." Jetta responded. "An' when I thought about it, it came to me what I should do." She paused for a moment, then, "Nancy, there's only one person in the whole world I'd entrust this to...only one person who knows enough about music an' what this instrument means to treat it with the care it deserves." Slowly she picked up the case, holding it out to her daughter, who stared at her, not comprehending.
"I want you to take it."
"Me?" Nancy stared. "But Mom, it means so much to you!"
Jetta looked awkward for a moment, then,
"So do you." She said simply. "You ain't gonna argue with me, Nancy, me mind is made up. The saxophone needs a new lease of life, an, well, I built me image an' me career round me black one back 'ome in LA. You play the thing like a true pro, but you ain't never 'ad cause to 'ave your own instrument before...now you do."
"Wow." Nancy whispered. "You're really sure about this?"
"I'm sure." Jetta nodded. "And I know Grandpa would want me to do it, too."
Nancy put the box on the floor, hugging her mother once more, this time rather more wildly.
"I'll take the best care of it." She promised. "Thanks, Mom. It means a lot to know you trust me with it."
"I do." Jetta smiled. "I'll get it safe back to LA for you, don't worry, I know you girls 'ave plenty of stuff to worry about an' in any case I want to get it insured properly once we're there. Then it's all yours."
"I'll write something for Jewel with a sax line." Nancy decided. "Oh, I can't believe it! I always wanted to have a saxophone, like you, but you and Dad bought me my piano and my guitar and I didn't like to ask for any more after Aunt Phyl set up my studio for me in LA...this is perfect!"
"A good instrument needs a good musician." Jetta got to her feet, retrieving her paperwork. "And that's what it's got. Now, run along, okay? I'll call you girls later with tomorrow's schedule, but for now I 'ave to catch up on this afternoon."
"Okay, I understand." Nancy grinned. Then, almost impulsively she kissed her mother on the cheek. "Thanks again, Mom." Jetta stared at her, and, a little embarrassed Nancy shrugged, grinning.
"I'll speak to you later." Was all the executive said, however, and Nancy took her chance to leave, secretly buzzing with excitement.
"A saxophone of my own!" She murmured as she hurried down the front steps of the hotel, and out to the waiting hire car. "Wait till I tell the others!"
Chapter One: Jewel In England
Chapter Two: Lovesick
Chapter Three: A New Sensation
Chapter Four: Cameron
Chapter Five: Sadie Gets A Warning
Chapter Six: A Little Love Advice
Chapter Seven: Topaz Makes A Friend
Chapter Eight: At The Halfway House
Chapter Nine: A Shock For Sadie
Chapter Ten: A Family Encounter
Chapter Eleven: Copper Gets A Fan
Chapter Twelve: A Burns Family Secret
Chapter Thirteen: Thicker Than Water
Chapter Fourteen: A Phonecall