Cynthia stared at her visitor in surprise, leaning against the doorpost
and fixing him with a searching look, as if trying to work out his motives.
"She isn't here, Aaron. She and Topaz went shopping, I believe, and are
not back yet."
"Oh...I see." Aaron frowned. "Cyn, will you tell her I stopped by? I
don't wanna hang around here, looking desperate and pathetic, but I do want
to talk to her. Have it out with her, if need be. So if you could tell her
that I came to see her and that I'd appreciate it if she could call me..."
"I will tell her." Cynthia promised solemnly. "Did you want to see Nancy?
I believe she is in her room, writing the final songs for the Exotic album."
"No, I don't need a lecture from my kid sister today." Aaron shook his
head. "Thanks anyway, Cyn."
"No problem." Cynthia cast him a smile. "I will pass on your message."
"Who was that?"
As Cynthia closed the door, heading along the hallway to the lounge,
she heard a voice from the top of the stairs, and she glanced up, shrugging
"Aaron." She responded. "Looking for Copper. I can't tell you why. He
didn't want to stay, but he said he wanted to talk to her."
"He did?" Nancy looked startled. "But...has he spoken to Topaz?"
"Topaz? What has she to do with anything?"
"She found out why Copper turned him down, but she said she was gonna
leave it to me to sort out whether or not to interfere." Nancy frowned.
"Do you think she told him?"
"I think I wish I knew what you were talking about, let alone him."
Cynthia said wryly. "Will you trust me, Nancy, and tell me what it was
Topaz told you?"
"Sure." Nancy nodded, briefly outlining what the singer had said. "So
that's the situation. I think she's putting too much onus on it, to be
"But if it is of great importance to Copper, she will perceive it to
be of greater importance still to Aaron." Cynthia said wisely. "My advice,
Nancy? Do not interfere. I think Aaron may have come to the point where
he needs to know on his own...if Topaz told you she wanted you to think
about it, I don't believe she would have told him herself. Maybe Aaron and
Copper will settle it themselves. That is my hope, at least."
"Mine too." Nancy admitted. "Hell, I'm turning into a sucker for a happy
ending, but it's a double whammy for me with them estranged. Copper's my
best friend, Aaron's my brother. I can't take sides, and if I could, I wouldn't
know which to take." She sighed. "Aaron's I guess, cos he's blood, but then
again, Cyn, Copper has always been there for me and I couldn't forsake her
either." She shrugged. "Which is why I'm safer in my room with my music."
"Maybe." She agreed. "But soon the house will be populated with guests,
including a bride to be...there will be little in the way of peace and
"Tell me about it." Nancy grimaced. "Oh well. Will be nice to see them
again, I suppose. But...that is even more reason for me to disappear to
my writing now. Later, Cynthia. Let me know if anything else happens, okay?"
"I will." Cynthia nodded her head. "I rather wonder at the outcome myself.
Whatever comes of this talk Aaron wants, I hope the ending will be
a happy one."
Aaron, meanwhile, oblivious to the discussions going on at the Starlight
Mansion, had driven into the city, in order to see if he could find the
percussionist before his nerve to confront her left him. No sooner had he
parked the car, however, when he heard someone call his name and, turning,
he saw Stefana hurrying to greet him. Despite himself, he met her warm smile
with a grin of his own. She had, he mused, been good to him, and he appreciated
her support more than he could tell her.
"I was coming to see you, to see if you wanted to grab a bite to eat."
The guitarist told him now. "Was it great minds or are you here for some
"I was gonna talk to Copper." Aaron admitted. "But I can't find her."
"Again?" Stefana raised a perfectly styled eyebrow. "Think she's avoiding
"Yes, actually." Aaron rolled his eyes. "Food, did you say? Sounds good.
Where did you have in mind?"
"Nowhere special. I thought we could drop by that little Italian restaurant
on third, they do the best pasta in the city." Stefana suggested. "Up for
"Hell, why not." Aaron shrugged. "Sure, lead the way."
"I also wanted to talk to you, actually." Stefana admitted, as he fell
into step with her, allowing her to lead him across town and, had he but
known it, as far away from the shopping musicians as possible. "I'm...not
sure what to do, but I found something out today, it's left me in a bit of
"What kind of something?" Aaron was curious. "Something bad?"
"See, this is what I don't know." Stefana adopted her most convincing
troubled expression, pushing open the door of the restaurant and ushering
her companion inside. "I was in the park, earlier on, and, well, I couldn't
help but overhear a conversation. I didn't mean to listen to it, Aaron,
I swear. I don't really know what to do about it."
"Is it bad news for someone?" Aaron asked.
"Maybe." Stefana agreed. "Oh, but I shouldn't burden you with this."
She gestured to the waiter to bring them menus. "What about you? What were
you going to see Copper about?"
"I wanted to have it out with her, why she turned me down. You know,
once and for all." Aaron admitted. "Dumb, huh?"
"Maybe, maybe not." Stefana said cautiously. "Perhaps she just...you
"Well, I can see that as a possibility, but it doesn't explain everything
else." Aaron sighed, taking the menu almost automatically and setting it
down on the table. "Were you working this afternoon?"
"Yes, Rory called us in to redo a track." Stefana grimaced. "Hot work,
too." She settled herself more comfortably in her seat, casting her companion
a careful look, then, "You? I called your apartment, but you weren't about."
"Yeah, Mom's PC broke down." Aaron agreed. "Aunt Phyllis bust it, and
I think she bust it once too often this time. I gave it up as a bad job
and came into town."
"You know, I didn't realise it before, Aaron, but we have something
in common." Stefana pretended to look surprised.
"We do? What, apart from being friends, you mean?" Aaron looked nonplussed.
"Yes, silly." She gestured to the menu. "I didn't realise it before,
but we both have Italian heritage, don't we?"
"I suppose we do." Aaron grinned, though his grey eyes, had Stefana
but seen it, remained clouded. "Though only half, for my part. Mom's as
English as they come. Dad comes from New York, originally, and his mother
and father were both from Italian American families. I tend to think of
myself just as a mongrel American, though."
"Both my parents were Italian American." Stefana replied. "My Dad even
spoke the language."
"Do you?" Aaron was curious. Stefana shrugged.
"A little." She admitted. "I was never a good student, but Dad taught
"You were close to your Dad?"
"I guess." Stefana dismissed the question nonchalantly, but there was
a slightly sad look in her green eyes at the topic. "He was a decent kinda
guy, till he upped and died and left me with that bitch mother and Luca."
"Luca's all right though, isn't he?"
"Yeah, guess so. Thinks he can play Dad over me, but still." Stefana
grimaced. Aaron laughed.
"Well, Nancy would tell you I can be the same way." He admitted. "I
fought enough battles for her in High School." He looked rueful. "As for
the language, I wouldn't have a clue myself. Dad doesn't speak it, Gran
might, but I've never asked her, and I don't often see my Grandfather,
so I don't know about him. I was always a dud at languages in school. Copper..."
He paused, frowning. "She tried to teach me Spanish, but I flunked that
in High School enough times, till I got Nancy doing my homework for me."
"Who needs school, anyway." Stefana shrugged carelessly. "Waste of time.
What does it get you? I mean, look at me. I'm successful, right? And good
at my job? I don't have a diploma. Who needs one?"
"Copper doesn't, either." Aaron remembered. "She was ill in her final
year, and never got round to resits."
"Aaron, will you stop it with the Copper remeniscences?" Stefana struggled
to keep her tone level. "You're not gonna do yourself any good moping over
her. After all, she turned you down and made a fool out of you, don't forget
that. She hurt you. Why waste your time thinking about her?"
"I'm sorry, Stef." Aaron looked sheepish. "I guess I still think about
her a lot. Thanks for being patient, huh?" He grinned. "You know, one day
you're gonna make someone a great wife too, you know."
"Me?" Stefana stared at him, then, "You must be mad. Me, get married?"
"Well, wouldn't you? I mean, if the guy of your dreams turned up and
"The guy of my dreams?" Stefana looked dumbstruck, then, "I never thought
about it. I've never had good dreams involving men."
"Oh, I don't mean now, but you know, later? Settle down, have kids...that
Stefana's green eyes lit up, as she spied her opening.
"Perhaps." She agreed slowly. "In the future." She grinned at him. "What
"Well, I always joke about a camper van and sixteen kids." Aaron said
ruefully. "But in truth? Yeah. A nice home, a wife who loves me and a coupla
kids to carry on the Pelligrini gene."
"You want children, then?"
"I'd like to think I'd have them, yes." Aaron nodded. "Why the interest,
Steffi? What gives?"
"Is it...important to you, to have children?"
"I'd say so, though obviously not for a few years yet." Aaron agreed.
"But I'm not sure I understand..."
"I didn't want to be the one to tell you this." Stefana affected a distressed
expression. "But...but that was the conversation I overheard. It...it was
Copper and Topaz. They...well...Aaron, you'd best forget Copper altogether,
if that's how you feel."
"What do you mean?" Aaron stared.
"I'm sorry, Aaron." Stefana murmured, reaching out to take his hand
gently. "But Copper can't have kids."