"You know, this was a good idea."
Copper stretched out on the blanket, reaching for a second sandwich
and taking a bite. It was the following morning, and Topaz, her mind still
on what she had found out the day before, had determined to do something
to lift her bandmate's uncertain spirits, suggesting that they grab some
sandwiches and drinks and take a picnic in the park, away from the bustle
of the city itself.
"Thanks for suggesting it, Topaz. I needed to get out and about
a little and relax - I didn't realise how much this was upsetting me."
"You didn't?" Topaz raised an eyebrow. Copper looked sheepish.
"Okay, I did." She amended. "But talking to you at the hospital helped
a little. And I'm sorry I took things out on you as I have. It's not your
fault, just timing."
"I know, and no offence is taken." Topaz dimpled. "I figured if we came
out on this picnic we could call it a proper ceasefire and put it behind
"Sounds good to me." Copper set the sandwich down. "I have one more
hospital appointment, anyway, but I'm debating cancelling it. It seems
futile. They're just going to tell me the exact same thing...that I'm infertile,
I won't conceive naturally and I should settle my mind to the likelihood
I won't have my own children, save for a miracle. I might as well accept
it and get on with my life."
"Miracles can happen." Topaz assured her. "Besides, in your line of
work, Copper, what about IVF? I know it's expensive, but with Jewel and
everything, it's not like you haven't the money."
"Well, I read up on it online last night when I was chatting with Rosita."
Copper admitted. Rosita was her sister, back in Detroit. "But the odds are
dismal, Topaz. The chances of it even taking are low, and I don't know if
I could handle that amount of heartache, putting so much hope and money
into something and getting nothing back, you know?"
"Yeah, I guess so." Topaz looked thoughtful. "It's something to consider,
"Maybe." Copper shrugged. "Either way it's not something I need to think
about for a while."
"Did you talk to Ros about all of this?"
"Mm, she knows it's been on my mind, I talked to her about it before."
Copper nodded. "We've always been so close like that, especially since Papa
died and more so since I took sick. She's clever, too, so I think she knew
it was worrying me. Isn't much she can do to change it though."
"I suppose not." Topaz agreed. "So what now?"
"Who knows?" Copper looked thoughtful. "It's been a while since I was
single...I wish I felt like the chick the papers always write me as - you
know, the guy magnet Jewel. God knows where that comes from. I've been with
Aaron so long now, I wouldn't know where to begin starting a new relationship."
"Do you want to?" Topaz looked startled. Copper sighed, shaking her
"No, I think that's part of it." She admitted. "I need to get over Aaron
first, and I'm nowhere near that yet."
"There's no hurry." Topaz told her. "It's almost Violet's hen night,
that's more of a hurry. Do you have any idea what you're gonna wear yet?"
"Vaguely." Copper nodded. "I'm gonna wear the white dress and choker
I got when we were playing in Maine. I need some new shoes, though. I can't
find the ones that I bought to go with it, I have a bad feeling Sylva borrowed
them and they walked to her closet again."
"In which case, they will likely not leave alive." Topaz laughed. "I
see your point. I'm glad I'm a size bigger than Syl. I love her to death,
Copper, but she is the world's worst accessory nabber."
"Tell me about it." Copper groaned. "Well, are you beat, or do you fancy
a trip around town, looking for shoes? We haven't studio today, and I don't
really wanna go home and mooch in front of the television."
"Sounds good to me, I'm game." Topaz nodded. "I don't have an outfit
for tomorrow night, anyway, so I could use a trip round town and Syl's gone
to her mother's . Something about a good Mother daughter chat - I don't know
what about, but I suspect it's Jack."
"Did something bad happen there?" Copper asked gently. Topaz nodded.
"I'll explain later." She said. "For now, let's go shop, huh? It might
take a while for me to find something I like, I'm feeling a little self-conscious
about my body right at the moment."
"You needn't, you look fine." Copper assured her, getting to her feet
and beginning to collect up the remenants of their picnic. "I guess we
ditch this in my car, then, and walk into the city? It's hot and I don't
feel like fighting traffic, even with the top down."
"Sure, I'm up for a walk." Topaz agreed. "Besides, then I can show you
the pants Syl thinks are utterly me...and you can tell me your thoughts.
I like them, but they're kinda expensive and I wanna be sure they're worth
From behind a nearby tree, a sole figure watched the two girls pack
up their belongings, leaving the park in high spirits and deep in conversation.
Neither one of them had been aware that their entire conversation had been
overheard, for the eavesdropper was both stealthy and well practiced, and
had had no mind to give herself away. Now that she was alone, however, she
sat down beneath the tree's shady branches, lighting a cigarette and thinking
over what she had learnt.
"Copper ditched Aaron because she can't have kids." She mused, exhaling
a lazy cloud of smoke. "Hm, how can I use that to my best advantage? God
knows why Aaron would want screaming brats anyway, especially with a headcase
like her, but there you go." She pursed her lips. "She's a hopeless wimp,
can't hack it on her own without big strong boyfriend there to back her
up, so that means this must be a big deal situation. Aaron doesn't know
about it, which means that if he did..." A slow smile crossed her face.
"Ooh, if he did, she must know that he'd never look at her twice! Mm, maybe
it's time I brought up the subject of family around Aaron, told a few fibs
about my own ambitions and see if I can make him take the bait? Once he
knows that Copper is faulty goods, he'll never want to take her back!"
A voice from across the park made her curse, turning to see her brother
striding towards her.
"Great timing, Luca." She muttered. "What now?"
"I'm glad I found you." Luca cast her an amiable grin. "Rory called
home, we're to be at the studio in ten minutes, something about there being
a problem with the last vocal dub and he needs us to do it over, urgently.
I got my car...you coming?"
"Yeah, yeah, I suppose so." Stefana sighed, getting reluctantly to her
feet. "Talk about rotten timing. I was gonna head over to see Aaron!"
"Stef, what exactly is the deal with you spending so much time with
Aaron at the moment?" Luca asked, as he led the way across the grass to
the parking lot. Stefana scowled.
"None of your business, that's what it is." She told him firmly. "Besides,
I know what you're thinking, and it isn't, okay? I'm not the one who goes
around sleeping with people who are on the rebound, that's you!"
"Stef, that's not called for." Luca looked pained. "You know that the
thing with Topaz was a one night stand only, and that it was ages ago now.
I've not really spoken to her since."
"Well, you'd better not have done." Stefana told him darkly. "And as
for Aaron, he's just a friend and I'm trying to help him. He's broken hearted
over Copper and I've been getting him out and about, stopping him from moping,
getting him back in the real world. Okay?"
"Really, Stef?" Luca looked doubtful. Stefana pouted.
"Is it so impossible for your kid sister to do a good deed?" She demanded.
"Yes, Luca, really! Ask Aaron if you don't believe me!"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry." Luca was contrite. "It's just that Marissa
led me to believe that you were...well....keen on him."
"Well, Marissa has her head in some sappy romance novel most days and
doesn't know anything." Stefana snapped. "You know me, Luca. I don't do
love and I certainly don't seduce guys who have just split with their girlfriends.
Give me some credit!"
"I already said I was sorry." Luca grinned at her sheepishly. "What
more does it take, huh?"
"You owe me an ice." Stefana told him firmly. "And to let me smoke in
your car, too."
"When have I ever been able to stop you?" Luca rolled his eyes. "Just
get in, will you? I've already had Rory on my back once today, I don't
need another encounter!"
"Then be a good boy." Stefana told him sweetly, slipping obediently
into the passenger seat. "And remember, you owe me. I won't forget."
"No, I know. You never do." Luca got into the driver's side, shutting
the door and revving the engine. "Well, here goes nothing. God knows what's
up with the recording...Rory sounded pretty mad so I guess it was ruined
or didn't come out right."
"Well, we'll soon fix that." Stefana observed. "And then I'm going to
keep my promise to go see Aaron, see if I can coax him out for a meal or
something." She shrugged. "Right now he needs a friend."
"I guess he does." Luca agreed. "And I'm glad if that's the case that
he has you." He laughed. "Perhaps we'll make a normal mortal of you yet,
"If you weren't driving, I'd brain you for that." Stefana threatened,
taking a drag on her cigarette and blowing smoke in his direction. "At
least Aaron appreciates me." A slight smile touched her lips. "Copper's
treated him like trash, really."
"I don't know, to me it's all garbled and Emily doesn't know anything
"Bah, Sirena, why do you waste your time with her and her brat?" Stefana
"I like her company, and we're friends. Like you and Aaron."
"Yes. I won't lie to you, Stef, I like her a lot, but we're just friends.
She has to think of the kid and she told me straight she doesn't want a
relationship. That;s fine with me." Luca flicked on the indicator, turning
into the parking lot of Rebel Records. "And here we are, just in time. Guess
we'd better go put some voice to disk, huh?"
"Whoopedoo." Stefana rolled her eyes, getting out of the car behind
him and trailing into the building. "Oh well. I s'pose it won't hurt if
Aaron has to wait just a little longer to hear my news. After all, once
he knows what I know, he won't want a thing to do with Copper ever again!"
"You know, I was under the impression that Misfit Music
paid you to fix stuff like that, not to sit an' stare at it like you never
saw it before in your life."
In the brightly lit office, at the top of Misfit Music's towering company
headquarters, Aaron was himself hard at work, but, try as he might his mind
kept skipping onto other things. Taylor's oncoming wedding was a sore reminder
of his own failure to secure Copper's hand, and pride was a trait Aaron
had inherited lock, stock and barrel from both sides of his family tree.
Though he had done his best not to openly break down, inwardly he was still
a mess, neither comprehending or wanting to face the reasons that might
have lain behind the drummer's troubled refusal and the subsequent fireworks.
He glanced up guiltily now, meeting his mother's gaze and setting down
his screwdriver, pushing the chair back from the desk.
"It's a hot day." He said apologetically. "Sorry, Mom. I can't find
out why it crashed. It won't boot and I'm not sure what to start with next."
"Well, most computers come off worst in a fight with your Aunt Phyllis."
Jetta remarked, coming into the office and shutting the door behind her.
"But I'd be surprised if it were computers on your mind, my boy. I think
you were thinkin' about somethin' quite different."
"Well, the topic I was thinkin' of 'as curly red 'air and plays the
drums." Jetta sat down on the desk, meeting his gaze and watching him frown.
"Hah! I knew it."
"Mom, this isn't any of your business." Aaron said tiredly. "How did
you find out, anyway? I haven't said anything to you."
"Word spreads. I 'ave ways an' means." Jetta shrugged. "Besides, you're
me son, so it is my business, especially when you ain't doin' what you're
supposed to be doin' an' fixing my computer!"
"Well, if you ask me, your computer's been fixed, permanently." Aaron
groaned. "I think it's time for a new model. Preferably one that's tantrum
proof." He grimaced. "And I don't want to talk about Copper, Mom. She said
no, that's the end of it."
Jetta eyed him thoughtfully for a moment, then,
"Funny, I thought you were like your father when it came to things like
this." She observed.
"What do you mean?" Aaron looked startled. Jetta shrugged.
"Only that 'e never gave up on me, no matter 'ow much abuse I threw
at 'im." She replied. "I dunno, I guess I thought you 'ad more fight in
She reached over for a folder, flicking through it idly.
"But then, I suppose you don't love Copper as much as all that, huh?"
"Mom, what are you trying to say?" Aaron's eyes narrowed. "I'm not a
little kid now, you know, you can't tell me to go to my room without any
dinner. This is my life and anyhow, Copper took the decision out of my hands
by turning me down. You expect me to go crawling after her, trying to make
her change her mind?"
Jetta didn't reply for a moment, then she set the folder down, meeting
her son's gaze with shrewd grey eyes.
"I expect you to do whatever it takes you make you 'appy, an' so does
your father." She said quietly. "I never got on with Raya when we were
younger, but I 'ave never interfered in you seein' Copper because your
Pa an' I, we both believe that you care more for 'er than you 'ave any other
girl you've ever dated. She's a bright kid an' I could about bear to 'ave
her as me daughter in law, too. Fact is, you're both miserable about this."
"What can I do? Mom, she said no! Am I supposed to pin her down at gunpoint
and make her marry me?"
"Don't be bloody stupid, it don't suit you." Jetta told him cuttingly.
"An' no, I don't. But if you give up at the first 'urdle, I rather wonder
that you were ready to commit to marryin' 'er at all. Maybe she did the
right thing, turnin' you down. Maybe you ain't grown up enough to think it
"Mom, will you just shut up?" Aaron demanded. "I love Copper, all right?
I love her now, I loved her before and I want her to marry me. That hasn't
changed. But I can't make the girl want me!"
"You're a fool if you believe she doesn't." Jetta shrugged. "Isn't it
worth findin' out why she said no?"
"I don't know. Is it? Maybe I'd rather not know."
"Well, your call, love." Jetta shrugged. "Your life an' all that." She
gestured towards the computer. "But the current situation ain't gettin'
that 'eap of junk fixed, and it certainly ain't 'elpin' Jewel get down drumlines,
so think about it, huh?"
She cast him a grin, ignoring his glowers and getting to her feet. "I'll
leave you to it."
Aaron watched her go, muttering curses under his breath. He picked up
his screwdriver, glancing at it, then tossing it down onto the floor, burying
his head in his hands.
"What's the use?" He muttered. "Is Mom right, is there something to
fight for? Or am I kidding myself by keeping that ring by my bed, just
He ran his fingers through his hair, making up his mind in an instant.
"Well, truth might hurt, but it's time I discovered it." He decided.
"It's time I cornered her and made her tell me exactly why she turned me
down...whatever her reason! At least maybe then I can start to work out
where to go from here!"