"If that goddamn phone rings again this morning I am taking
it off the hook."
Nancy Pelligrini dumped the receiver back down into it's cradle, glaring
at it as if it had just personally offended. "I swear, for a boy who's
pushing his thirties, Taylor really needs to learn not to fuss. That's
the third call this morning about the wedding. How am I supposed to finish
writing this song for the album so we can lay it down next week if I keep
getting calls from a harried groom-to-be asking me to do this or check that
or find out about something else? Men!"
"You should be touched that he trusts you." Topaz pointed out. "Besides,
it's his big day, Nance. What else is he going to do? He wants everything
right and you are his family."
"I know, it's just a pain." Nancy grimaced. "I like Taylor and I like
Vi but I'm not playing pre-marriage guidance counsellor for either of them.
I'm twenty years old, I'm a guitarist and I want to write music. Not work
out precisely this many invitations to expect or that many balloons to organise,
or some god knows what else surprise he might come up with. One more call
and I'm going to tell him he has a wrong number and has reached the Los
Angeles lunatic asylum!"
"Maybe he needs it. He is, after all, asking a hermit's advice on his
wedding day." She remarked, flexing her newly painted fingernails and examining
the colour thoughtfully. "What do you guys think, is this colour me? I want
to find the exact perfect shade for when we go on Dean's show...the new single
is hot and I want to make sure I look the part!"
"Sylva, you are on keys, and the camera always follows the singer. In
this case, Topaz." Nancy returned dryly. "So I don't think it'll matter
if you paint your nails pink, gold, blue or orange, to be honest. Noone
will be looking at them."
"That just shows what you know." Sylva retorted. "Just because Dean is
your boyfriend does not mean those of us who are young, pretty and single
can't flaunt what we have a little for the camera. You know that Jewel are
always the hottest item on any show. It's an important image and we have
to keep it up."
"Whatever you say." Nancy rolled her eyes. "I'll be more concerned whether
or not you actually play that wretched passage right, to be honest. It took
us three tries in the recording studio yesterday just to get you to play
the right notes and remember that it's in B flat minor. Anyone would think
that you were a beginner."
"Anyone would think you were a sadist for even writing it in B flat minor."
Sylva snapped back. "It's not my fault if I'm not the world's most perfect
sight reader, either! You only gave us the manuscripts the day before and
I'm sorry, but some of us have a life outside of the band too!"
"Sure. Playing barbie with a four year old while her dad gets it on with
his blond bitch." Nancy snorted. "Nice life, Syl."
"Oh, shut up." Sylva rolled her eyes. "Besides, I bet even you can't play
that section note perfect."
"I can too." Nancy retorted. "Here, watch." She stalked over to the big
piano that stood in the corner of the salon, sitting down resolutely on
the stool and pushing back the cover. This was Nancy's own beloved piano
that she had had from childhood, and that had been moved from her family
home to the Starlight Mansion some months before. She treated the instrument
like it was made of gold, for she would not let anyone touch it without
her supervision, and Sylva was still most put out that, even as the group's
main keyboardist, she was forbidden to touch the keys.
Deftly Nancy played the sequence, turning and poking her tongue out at
"There. See? No wonder Violet doesn't want you to play at her wedding.
You're all thumbs!"
"She probably won't want you either." Sylva snapped back. "More likely
she'll ask one of her friends, rather than her fiancee's hermit cousin!"
"Will you give it a rest, you two?" Topaz rolled her eyes, grimacing at
them. "It gets old, you know."
"Well, I don't see what's so difficult about the piece." Nancy folded
her arms, shrugging. "I really don't. The key change isn't a major one and
if you're a competant musician you can play it."
"I think the stress of the wedding and everything is beginning to get
to people." Topaz suggested. "You two don't fight like this so much these
days, and besides, we've an album we're trying to record alongside all of
"Do you think we shouldn't have asked Vi and Taylor to come here?" Sylva
asked. Topaz shook her head.
"No, I think it'll be wonderful for the Starlight to have a wedding, and
Violet is a sweetie. Besides, Taylor is Nancy's family and it's the perfect
answer to a difficult problem. I think that everything is getting taken a
little too seriously, that's all. Nance, we will get the album recorded in
time because we always do. The new single was laid down yesterday and we'll
play it on Dean's show this week and everything will go fine. And Vi and
Taylor will come and they'll have an amazing wedding and everything will
be fine. And Syl, Nancy's worked like mad to get this song done and you know
it sounds awesome. You know you'll have it down fine by the time we play
it live, and you'll still have plenty of time to shop for the ideal wedding
outfit and accessories."
"Thanks, Topaz." Nancy sent the singer a sheepish smile. "Guess I am a
bit worked up. It's more the album than the wedding, though Taylor's calling
isn't helping. Syl is right on one point, what do I know about wedding preparations?
I've never been to a wedding before."
"It's kinda sweet that it'll be right here, too." Sylva mused. "I mean,
Nancy, Taylor is your family and so it's right he is married in Los Angeles.
He's got no important family in England, does he? He should be here, with
you and with Aaron and Jetta and Justin when he ties the knot."
"He will have family when he's married. Violet has plenty of relatives
to adopt and fuss him, if I understand right." Nancy replied, carefully closing
the piano lid. "I dunno, in some ways I'm looking forward to this. It's
a big occasion and I'm kinda curious about how someone can know so absolutely
and entirely that they want to commit to someone else for the rest of their
natural life. It's quite a scary thought."
"It doesn't always work. Look at my folks." Sylva grimaced. Nancy nodded.
"Yeah, but Mom and Dad are still together." She replied. "And I think
they always will be, because Dad adores Mom and Mom loves Dad to death,
even if you can't get her to say the words."
"Weddings are so romantic, though." Topaz mused. "My cousin Annette got
married when I was fifteen and I was one of her maids. She was the prettiest
bride, all curls and dimples and flowing white lace. She and her husband
are still together, to my knowledge, and they have a son, Tristan...It was
one hell of an occasion, I loved it. I think Vi and Taylor's will probably
be just as good."
"I live in dread of Taylor suggesting to Vi I should be a bridesmaid.
He teased me that he might." Nancy grimaced. "I am not going to wear a fancy
frumpy dress, not even for my favourite cousin!"
"I think you'd look pretty. You could have your hair all curled and styled
and you'd be a perfect little angel." Sylva giggled. "Besides, Violet has
nieces, doesn't she? They'll probably be bridesmaids, and the Teenangels,
if anyone. You can relax, Nance. I think you're safe."
"Will you all just shut up?"
A fourth voice came from the far corner of the room at that moment,
startling all three girls, for they had been so focused on their discussion
they had completely forgotten that their fourth was curled up in the corner
with her book, seemingly oblivious to everything. Now Copper had set down
her book, her brown eyes angry and upset, and her companions exchanged awkward
"It would be nice if you'd be just a little sensitive about where you
held long and detailed discussions about weddings, you know." She continued
now. "I really don't want to hear what a cute bride your cousin made, Topaz,
or how wonderful Vi and Taylor's wedding is going to be! Bad enough that
they're coming and imposing their wedding on our home, without you guys going
on about it! Isn't there anything else to discuss?"
"Copper, we're sorry." Topaz said softly. "We didn't mean to upset you."
"Well, you did, so shut up, okay?" Copper did not seem at all placated
by Topaz's gentle tone, and Nancy frowned.
"Look, Copper, we have the right to talk about whatever we like. It is
a free country." She said quietly. "Besides, you had every chance to be a
blushing bride yourself, but you decided against it. You really can't complain."
"I can complain if I want. You don't know anything about what happened
with Aaron and I, so don't pretend that you do!" Copper flared up at this.
"Well, what I do know is that you broke my big brother's heart and that
puts me in one hell of an awkward position." Nancy said levelly. "You are
my best friend and he's my blood. More than that, I love my brother and
I don't take kindly to people messing with his heart. Okay, you say you
had your reasons and maybe you do, that's fine. You have that right and
I respect it. What I don't respect is that you make the rest of us suffer
by censoring what we talk about and making us feel bad if we even mention
relationships, romance or weddings. If you wanted to marry Aaron, you could
have said yes. You didn't. Fine. Now butt out and let us talk, okay?"
"Nance, leave it." Topaz murmured, but it was too late. Copper's brown
eyes were already tearful, and she got to her feet, stalking out of the room
without another word. The door banged violently behind her, sending Jewel's
own invite to the Teenangel's wedding flying off the mantlepiece, and Sylva
"Nice going, Nance." She said reproachfully.
"Hey, you know I'm right." Nancy shrugged. "Besides, you guys know I love
Copper to death and usually she's the sweetest girl on the planet, but I
don't get her frame of mind at the moment. When she wants to be she can be
the most infuriating person on the planet. Remember when Rapture was messing
her about over her father's death? She was like this then! Impossible to get
any sense out of her, and to make it worse, Aaron is hurt." She grimaced.
"I don't know which side to take or who's said what. I'm kinda in limbo over
the whole thing."
"I don't think any of us imagined that Aaron or Copper could ever fight
like they did the other week, or that Copper would refuse any proposal Aaron
made." Topaz looked troubled. "It just seems to be that something is very
wrong there, because Copper's a romantic at heart and a sucker for a happy
ending. Why in hell would she say no to the guy she loves?"
"Something about it bugs me." Sylva admitted. "Aaron...seems to think
there's another guy involved."
"Yeah, he said that to me too." Nancy glanced at her hands. "I told him
to quit being a ninny, but deep down I don't know, guys. I thought I knew
Copper pretty good, but this throws everything out, and where love is concerned
I'm not the world's greatest expert. Maybe I'm wrong. Besides..." She grimaced.
"I don't know if Aaron's said anything to the rest of you, but he said to
me that he heard a phone message on our answer machine...you know when he
was over here the other week, helping Cynthia to fine tune her new laser
unit? He heard the end of the message come in as he was getting a drink. It
was something like, 'I'm sorry to rearrange everything like this, Eliza, but
I'd like to see you as soon as possible. Give me a call back as soon as you
get this, bye.' I don't know who the guy was, and he didn't recognise the
voice, but I took a call for Copper last week and it was some guy - who wouldn't
give me his name. He just asked for 'Eliza Santiago.' And when Copper took
the call she seemed anxious that I didn't hear anything of what was said...It
worried me rather."
"Copper isn't the cheating type." Topaz said firmly. "It must've been
"Well, whatever it was, it was odd." Nancy replied. "And she might be
my best friend, Topaz, but if she has
two timed my brother, and led
him on I will not ever forgive her. Noone messes a Pelligrini."
"I doubt it'll come to that." Topaz soothed.
"Do you think Copper and Aaron will make up?" Sylva wondered.
"I don't know." Topaz admitted. "At first I thought they might, but after
that big row they've not even spoken to each other, even when they're at
Misfit Music or the studio or whatever together. Not a word, barely a look.
I think we might have to get used to the idea of them being split up for good."
"It's dumb." Sylva pouted. "Aaron is so Copper's soulmate, too."
"Well, if so, Copper doesn't know it." Nancy looked troubled. "Do you
think one of us should go upstairs after her?"
"Probably not, at the moment. She's wound up and we don't want more fighting."
Topaz said wisely. "Besides, we have plenty of musical fine tuning to do
on the new song before we play live. Maybe you could put your writing aside
for a bit and help Syl and I get the gist of it? We do want it to be a hit,
"I guess so." Nancy nodded. She gestured towards the piano. "Here, Syl.
You can use it but don't you dare get polish on the keys."
"It's dry now." Sylva told her. "And okay. God only knows I need the practice."
Up in her bedroom, Copper had curled up on her bed, burying her head in
her pillow as her tears engulfed her. It was all so unfair!
"He asked me so suddenly, I didn't know what to do or say." She whispered
to herself, banging her fists on her bed as her anger seeped out of her.
"I love him so much, why did he have to push it so far so soon? I didn't even
know...oh, but I do now. No matter what happens, when he knows the truth he'll
know that I'll never be the kind of wife he wants. Besides, he seems to be
happily getting over me, whatever Nancy says. Whenever I see him he's out
someplace with that creepy Stefana girl, so I guess there was more to that
than any of us realised! Oh, I hate this. If I could I'd just get in
my car and drive back home to Detroit and to Mama where it's safe and I'd
never have to see Aaron or Los Angeles again! I was so happy, and now I'm
so sad, and all because of a stupid question and a stupid ring!"
She sighed, then shook her head.
"No, it's not that. It's the other thing." She admitted, reaching under
her pillow and pulling out the letter, skimming over the contents once more
till her tears blurred her sight too much for her to read any more. "It's
probably for the best, but if only it didn't hurt so much to lose him! I
love him...I love him so bad and I want what's right for him as well as for
me. I'm not the one to make him happy, I know that now! But oh, it doesn't
stop me from breaking my heart over him! And the others don't understand
either - how can they? They don't know how awful things are in my head at
the moment, or why I did what I did. Maybe I should tell them, confide in
them and get all my fears out, but they'll only say I did the right thing
and anyway, I don't want them to know. Bad enough that I know and can't change
it. I couldn't face everyone knowing. No, Copper, you're on your own. It'll
get better. It had better get better, because otherwise how am I going to
stand Violet and Taylor's wedding? How can I watch them say 'I do' when I
want to be right there with that ring on my finger, waiting for my turn to
walk down the aisle?
How can I ever be happy again?"