Three: When Life Goes On...
A STARLIGHT WEDDING
Chapter Thirteen: Zoe's Revelation
"Today has been a long day."
Thus Nancy, as she and her companions watched the happy bride and groom
head out from the marquee, their hair thick with rice and paper confetti
and identical smiles wreathed across their faces.
"Worth it, though." Copper murmured. "Come on, Nancy. Vi's going to toss
the bouquet - maybe you'll catch it!"
"Then some poor fool would have to marry Nancy." Sylva put in. "I vote
we tie her hands together, and save all of mankind."
"Funny." Nancy pulled a face. "Come on. It's tradition, I suppose, and
it's their day."
"You've been sweet as anything with all this romance today, Nance." Topaz
observed as they headed over to join the crowd surrounding the bride. "And
haring off to San Diego to get Taylor was a nice thing to do, also. This
wedding wouldn't have happened without you."
"You don't think so?" Nancy paused, eying the couple thoughtfully. Then
she shook her head. "I don't agree. I think it would have happened anyway.
If those wretched films Copper loves are to be believed, love always finds
"Aww, Nancy has a heart after all!" Sylva laughed. Nancy glowered at her.
"Not where you're concerned." She muttered. "Now shut up, will
you? Vi's gonna throw her silly flowers and then, thank goodness, all of
this is done with!"
"You're proud as anything of today, really, Nance. I can tell." Topaz
looked amused. "First of your kin to be married, too. Who's next?"
"Aaron. I'm going to be a nun." Nancy said immediately. Copper laughed.
"Aww, I think you'd make a beautiful bride." She teased, though there
was a slightly pink tint in her cheek at the mention of Nancy's brother.
"I think this whole thing is sweet, anyway. Vi is so pretty and happy and
it's like she's spreading that to everyone else."
"Blech, pass the sick bucket." Nancy grimaced as they joined Cynthia around
the bride. "If you ask me, there's nothing to be gained by getting a ring
on your finger and a man's surname. It's all a waste of time and effort!"
"I'm in the frame of mind to agree with you, actually." Topaz murmured
dryly. "Oh well. I haven't a hope in hell of catching this thing, considering
everything, but it's part of the game and I'll play."
"Okay, everyone, I'm ready!" Violet exclaimed, her dark eyes twinkling
with excitement and happiness as she held the bouquet aloft. "Good luck!"
She turned her back on the huddle of girls, and, counting to three she
launched the lilac and white cluster of lilies into the air. For a moment
it seemed to just go up and up, then, slowly, it began to drop.
"It's coming this way!" Sylva exclaimed. Copper glanced up, seeing that
it was indeed true and that the delicate bouquet was hurtling towards their
part of the crowd with growing speed. Almost in a dream, she realised with
a start that they were heading right her way, and a slight flush touched
her cheeks as she realised the prophetic nature of the simple wedding tradition.
As she closed her hands around the pretty lace wrap of the bouquet, she
was aware of Syl's shriek of excitement, and a few mutters and playful complaints
about the flowers' destination.
Copper glanced down at her prize, gently straightening Violet's lilies
as tears touched her eyes.
"It's not a silly game after all." She whispered to herself. "It really
is wedding magic."
"I can't believe you caught it!" Nancy grinned at her. "I thought you were
dead set against this whole marriage idea, Copper!"
"You can't exactly turn Aaron down now." Sylva told her authoritatively.
"The bouquet doesn't lie, Copper, you can't fight fate forever. You have
to accept his proposal now, it's your destiny." Her blue eyes sparkled. "Shall
I go get him? It would be so romantic..."
"Syl, shut your big mouth, will you?" Topaz interrupted. "It's just a tradition."
"I can't accept Aaron, Syl." Copper's voice was soft, and she could not
take her eyes off the precious burden in her hands. "I'm sorry, but I...I
"Spoilsport." Sylva pouted. "You know he adores you and you love him to
death. I can't believe you're being so stubborn!"
"No, you don't understand."
Copper raised her face to her companions', and there was a smile on her
lips as she did so. "I can't accept Aaron's proposal...because...well...I
"What?" Nancy grabbed her companion by the shoulders. "You didn't tell
me? Is that what you were on about earlier, talking nonsense about Aaron
getting married and how I'd react?"
"Yes." Copper blushed deeply now, as people began to crowd around her.
She clutched the flowers tight to her chest, her eyes sparkling. "I'm sorry,
but I wanted it to be a surprise. You folk aren't mad, are you?"
"No, we're happy for you." Sylva assured her. "You're gonna be a gorgeous
bride, Copper, and I'm glad that I had my instincts right all along! I told
"This is Violet's wedding." Cynthia murmured softly, her expression giving
away the fact that she had more than suspected the change in Aaron and Copper's
relationship, but had not made any comment. "Copper has time to plan hers...today
is for Violet."
"Yes, exactly." Copper nodded her head. "Aaron and I will have a long engagement
anyway, so I don't know if we will be the next couple to marry." She blushed.
"But...well...it will happen. We're going to face things together, rather
than struggle on on our own. So yes, Syl, your instincts were spot on. Eventually,
and despite everything, I will be Mrs Pelligrini!"
"This is so much fun." Sylva leant up against the
doorpost, a glass of champagne in her hand. "Don't you think? So romantic,
too. Taylor and Vi are the world's cutest couple."
It was later that evening, the wedding ceremony had moved into the busy
reception party and the Starlight Mansion was buzzing with people all there
to toast the good fortune of the newly wed Mr and Mrs Conway.
"Mm..they are sweet together." Zoe nodded her head, grinning.
"They're photogenic, too...I bet their wedding video is gonna come out
real good at the end of the day."
"Well, if it doesn't, they'll be onto you to know why." Sylva
laughed, taking a sip of her drink. "Hey, you ain't drinking?"
"Mm...no." Zoe shook her head. "I've had a glass or two anyhow,
and I don't like being drunk." She frowned. "You say and do some daft
things when you're wasted and I don't want to embarrass myself."
"Guess that's sane." Sylva acknowledged. "Me...well, to be honest,
I don't care so much. I know Topaz and the others will rescue me. Nancy
doesn't ever drink much anyhow, and Copper doesn't usually get blitzed.
It's a wedding...you should enjoy yourself."
"I know." She admitted. "Guess it's that camera girl instinct...always
watching for someone to poke a lense at you."
"Well, chill." Sylva instructed. "Grab a drink and relax, okay?
It's a party to celebrate the coolest ever wedding...you're not driving,
and you're not working tomorrow, so you needn't worry."
"I'm not getting smashed, Syl." Zoe laughed. "You wouldn't believe
how much I hate being hungover. But I'll go see if there's anything non
alcoholic going. You're right, this is a party...and I should enjoy it."
She disappeared into the crowd, pushing through people to get
to the makeshift bar that had been set up for the party. En route she
sent warm greetings to the bride and groom, both of whom were looking
extremely pleased with themselves, and cast a grin at several others
in the near vicinity.
"After all, Syl is talking sense." She mused. "Even if I have
kinda lost track...well, it doesn't matter. I'm gonna have fun anyway.
It's a public event, after all. It's not like we can just walk in hand
in hand and flaunt it. God knows what would happen if we did."
She paused at the bar, ordering a diet coke and casting the temporary
bartender a merry smile. He returned it, getting her drink as he did so.
"Ice?" He asked.
"Mm, please." Zoe nodded.
"They're a pretty young couple, ain't they." The man observed.
"Yes." She agreed. "And very happy too, no doubt."
"Nice to see in this day and age, young people so devoted to one
another." The bartender winked, handing her her drink. "Don't take it
all at once, now, will you?"
Zoe laughed, thanking him and beginning to weave her way back
through the crowd to where Sylva was waiting. As she did so, however,
she caught sight of a familiar face, laughing and flirting. Despite
herself she frowned. Maybe they couldn't be as open as they'd like here,
but there was no need to go the other extreme. Then she caught herself.
"Jealousy isn't like you, and it's not like it's anything more
than simple flirting." She scolded herself. "The bartender was flirting
with you a second ago, from those looks he gave you. Get a grip, Zoe,
and quit with the possessiveness. At the end of the day it's just a party,
and you've been too depressed lately. You're here to enjoy yourself and
you knew that this was going to be the way of it. You agreed to it, even!
So don't make a fuss now, for heaven's sake. Noone here knows what the truth
is and noone will as long as you quit reading stupid innuendoes into the
least relevant things."
No sooner had she convinced herself of this, did she glance back
across the room and as she did so her heart stopped in her throat, her
green eyes wide with horror and disbelief. By the far wall, locked in
an embrace were the alluring Flame and Gavin Sewell, another of Misfit
Music's employed dancers and going through a sticky divorce into the bargain.
Zoe had worked with them both many times before on music videos, and had
thought nothing of the fact they had chosen to go to the wedding together...after
all, it was a perfect front for the secret affair that had monopolised Zoe's
young heart for the past year.
She had not expected to be betrayed so blatantly in front of so
With a choked gasp she let her glass slip from her fingers, not
even registering the crash as it hit the floor or the spray of cola
and glass that shot out every which way. Turning on her heel with a
stifled sob she fled the room, leaving everyone who had been near enough
to see staring after her in shock.
"Zoe!" Sylva was the quickest to react, hurriedly setting her
own drink down and haring after the older girl. She had no idea what
had upset the girl, only that it was most unlike the bubbly, cheery Zoe
to cause any kind of public display and that her friend was hurting. Pushing
open the door, she slipped outside into the dimly lit hotel grounds, glancing
around her in the glow for any sign of the video artist.
She didn't have to look far. Zoe was curled up beside the stone
fountain which had been switched off for the duration of the festivities,
sobbing pitifully. She did not even see Sylva's approach, and started
violently as the keyboardist laid a hand on her shoulder, crouching down
"What's wrong?" She murmured gently. Zoe just shook her head.
"Go back to the party." She whispered. "It's nothing...it doesn't
"Rubbish." Sylva replied bluntly. "I'm not going back in there
when you're out here on your own crying your heart out. This is Vi and
Taylor's reception, you know. No tears allowed!"
Zoe took in a shuddery breath of air, then,
"She's such a damn flirt. I should...I should've known this w...would
happen." She murmured.
"Flirt? Who's a flirt?" Sylva stared. "Zoe, what are you talking
"It's not important." She responded slowly. "I...I can't explain,
Syl, don't ask me to explain. It's too confusing, I've already said
more than I should."
"Zoe?" A fresh voice joined the discussion and both girls turned
to see Flame watching them, uncharacteristic apprehension on her own face.
"Someone said you were upset...what's up?"
Much to the startled Sylva's surprise, Zoe's entire countenance
changed. Fury sparked into the girl's bright green eyes and she grabbed
the first stone that came to hand - fortunately she was too upset to
aim straight - and flung it directly at the dancer. Flame, more than a
little stunned by this mode of greeting simply stared, but as it turned
out Zoe was not finished yet.
"You....you cheap little flirt!" She exclaimed. "I saw you all
over him, so don't pretend you weren't. How do you think it makes me feel,
huh? Seeing...seeing that!"
Flame's expression went from bewilderment to consternation.
"No, I don't want to hear it. If you want him so bad, well, fine.
I have nothing to say to you." Zoe interrupted. Grabbing Sylva roughly
by the arm, she pulled the other girl to her feet. "C'mon, Syl. We're
Sylva, who had remained dumbstruck and silent throughout the whole
tirade finally found her voice, staring at her friend as if she'd grown
"Zoe, what the hell was that about?" She demanded. "What did that
girl do to you? Did she nab a guy you like or something? What's the
deal?" Then, as she remembered the cryptic text message in town and her
friend's uncharacteristic reaction, something occured to her,
"God, Zoe, don't tell me you've been sleeping with that Gavin guy!
God please tell me you haven't...it's all over the place that he's cheated
on his wife a million times and that's why she filed for divorce." A shadow
touched her face. "Please tell me it wasn't you who broke up that kid's
Zoe stared at her companion for a moment. Then she began to laugh,
a hollow, bitter laugh.
"Is that what you think?" She demanded. "That I'm seeing Gavin
Sewell? The guy who can't keep his pants on more than ten minutes when
he's out with a woman?"
"Well...he didn't seem like your kinda guy, and it didn't seem
like you." Sylva admitted. "But I don't get it otherwise. I mean, Flame
and he came to this thing together, and she was all over him before, like
the sly cat she is...if it's not him then what is it?"
"Nothing." Zoe said flatly, then, "I need a drink...something
"Uh-uh. I'm not letting you get slaughtered over some guy." Sylva
shook her head, sitting down on a bench and pulling Zoe down with her.
"Now look, we're all on our own out here. There's noone about, no cameras,
noone to listen. You wanna tell me what's got you wound up? Because tonight
you're not acting like you, Zoe, and you can't blame it on the alcohol.
If it's not Gavin Sewell...and dammit, any girl who goes with him has
to be in it for money because there ain't much else he got going for him...then
what is it? Has that Flame witch screwed you over with some other guy or
something? What's the deal?"
Zoe bit her lip as her anger seeped out of her, and, as the tears
began to return she buried her head in Sylva's shoulder. Instinctively
Sylva hugged her friend tightly. Flighty and impetuous she could be,
but she had a generous heart, and she hated seeing one of her friends
Finally Zoe exhausted her tears, and she raised puffy green eyes
to Sylva's questioning blue ones with a sigh.
"I'm sorry." She murmured. "Guess...guess it needed to come out
like that. I guess...I guess I didn't realise how much...I mean..."
She frowned. "Hang it. I shouldn't be talking about this."
"Do you trust me?" Sylva asked. Zoe nodded.
"Then tell me, huh? Get it off your chest?"
"It's not like that...I'm worried how you might take it." Zoe
bit her lip. "It's...not what you think."
"Well, try me." Sylva settled herself more comfortably. "You might
feel better too once it's out."
Zoe sighed again, then,
"It's not Gavin." She murmured. "I don't care what the hell he
does in his life, Syl. I really don't. It's not him I'm all mad at inside,
so mad I want to burst and yet so upset and betrayed over as well. It's
not Gavin...it's...someone else."
"Can you tell me who?" Sylva asked softly. Zoe grimaced.
"I dunno how you're gonna react to this." She said uneasily. "But
it...it's impossible to control who you fall in love with, even if they're
really not good for you sometimes. You know that, right?"
"Mmmhmm." Sylva nodded. "So?"
"Well, a...a year ago I...I kinda fell pretty hard for someone."
Zoe twisted her fingers together as she spoke, trying to get up the courage
to explain fully what was on her mind. "I...I'd dated before, but this
was different somehow. I mean, it was really...special. I...I never knew
what it was like to really be in love, I s'pose, till...well...this happened."
She paused, assessing Sylva's expression, then continued.
"I didn't expect it to go on this long." She admitted. "But in
a way it's just...we've just gotten closer, not the other way around.
It made me do some serious thinking, to be honest. Thinking about things
I'd never considered before. It's been so hard, I've had to keep it all
bottled up and secret, because I was so afraid of how people would react."
"So who is this mystery guy, then?" Sylva murmured gently. Zoe
shook her head.
"No...oh, you don't understand." She replied, her voice little
more than a whisper. "It's not a guy at all.