Chapter Two: At The Airport
"Back at LAX so soon."
Sadie Monahue, bass guitarist for Jewel glanced up at the big Departures sign, a smile on her face as she took a drag on the cigarette in her hand. "Funny, when I first put pen to paper, I didn't imagine we'd travel so far so soon."
"Well, we did tell you Jewel were a big deal." 'Copper' Santiago, the band's percussionist told her with a laugh, picking up her case from the pile that was growing on the pavement and turning to join her companion. "Besides, Morvania is as new to us as it is to you. None of us have ever played there!"
"Have they even heard of Jewel there?" Nancy wondered. "We certainly didn't drop by there last time we did a trek across Europe, and I wasn't aware our music had got beyond Germany yet."
"Well, we've done a couple of forays with your last two singles." Phyllis Gabor put in at that moment. She folded her arms, casting the quartet a searching look. "And they've done quite well. Listen, you lot. I'm coming with you this time, and I don't expect any of the craziness that happened in England, all right? No getting involved in murder investigations. Are you with me?"
"Don't worry, Aunt Phyl. Once was enough for all of us." Nancy met Sadie's gaze at this, watching the English girl blush.
"It wasn't on purpose." She defended herself, flicking ash from her cigarette. "And anyhow, I've not been to Morvania before, so they can't possibly have me blacklisted already. I'll be good, Phyllis. I promise."
"Well, that had better go for the lot of you." Phyllis said grimly. "And put that damn thing out, will you? We have a plane to catch, and I ain't gonna queue at check in because one of my employees is getting her nicotine kick."
With that, she grabbed her own case, sweeping past them and into the departures terminal. Sadie rolled her eyes heavenwards, taking a last drag on her cigarette and putting it out.
"After a long flight with me, she might change her mind about not letting me have my fag in peace." She muttered.
"Arguing with Aunt Phyl is not an option." Nancy reminded her. "Besides, after everything in England, you'd probably best not antagonise her. You know that it wasn't pretty when we got back from the UK, even though Mom took your corner and pointed out that it was a police case of mistaken identity."
"I know." Sadie sighed. "Okay. I'm coming. How long is it to Morvania, anyway?"
"Beats me." Sylva shrugged. "Guess we'll soon find out." She dimpled. "I want the window seat, okay? I love watching countries as we fly over them."
"Fine. Most of what we'll see for the next few hours will be America and sea, anyway." Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "Copper, you got everything? We probably ought to head inside, before Aunt Phyl comes out and chains us together, or something."
"I can't find my passport." Copper frowned, slipping her hand down inside her case and feeling about for the small booklet. "I swear I put it in here this morning, but...oh, here it is! Man, I was worried for a moment there!"
"Come on, before you lose it again!" Sylva giggled, linking her arms in the drummer's and scooping up her own case. "Let's go check in, and flash some pearly whites at the regulation press mob, huh?"
"You're really looking forward to this trip, aren't you?" Copper asked, as the four girls entered the departure terminal, casting the waiting press and fans a grin and a wave. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah, I think it'll be a blast, and I have the perfect outfit for the night of the contest." she agreed. She frowned. "I just feel a little bad about leaving Topaz again so soon. We said we'd help and be supportive with Hollie, and I feel like we're abandoning her a lot right now."
"We haven't much choice. That's why she left the group, after all." Copper pursed her lips. "I do know what you mean, though. I'm glad Aaron and Cynthia will be on hand to help her, if need be."
"Think Aaron can handle a screaming baby?" Sylva demanded. Copper laughed.
"He'll have to learn." She said firmly. "Whatever my chances of conceiving in the future, Syl, I intend to have children, so when Aaron and I get married, screaming babies will definitely be on the agenda. Even if they're adopted screaming babies."
"Fair enough." Sylva dimpled. "It'll be good practice for him, if that's the case."
"Yep, it will." Copper nodded. She bit her lip. "I miss him too, you know, coming away again like this so soon. But then, that's part of the job, right?"
"Yes, it is." Sylva agreed. "I spoke to Mom on the phone about Morvania last night...she said it was a small country, but very beautiful. I'm interested to see it for myself now. And well, there just has to be a cute guy or two around the area, right? What is the airport we're flying into again? I keep forgetting."
"Laviana." Nancy put in. "That's the capital city, or something. I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's Laviana airport that we're heading into."
"Cool." Sylva grinned. "Then I'm sure I'll meet some cute guys in La...Laviana. Gee, what language do these people speak, anyway?"
"Morvanian, one assumes." Nancy said dryly. "I really don't know."
"Do they speak English?" Sadie looked worried. "Because I was awful in school - I failed French outright, and didn't even take German or Spanish."
"Mum said that they did when she was there." Sylva nodded. "So I presume they learn it at school or something. After all, if they speak Morvanian, they'd probably need another language, wouldn't they? Not many countries worldwide are fluent in Morvanian!"
"Garnet, where are you girls off to today?" A reporter called from across the lounge. "Are the rumours true about a trip to Eastern Europe?"
"Yep. We're going to Morvania, to take part in a Battle of the Bands." Sadie cast the reporter a good-natured smile. "We're all very excited about it!"
"Where in heck's Morvania?" A second reporter demanded.
"Sheesh, some of these people are so dense." Sylva rolled her eyes. Nancy looked amused.
"Yeah, yeah." She retorted. "Like you were an expert on where this place was three days ago!"
"Well, I learn fast." Sylva shot back, as Sadie explained a little more about their plans to the waiting press. "And now I suppose we sign autographs, smile for pictures and then check in our cases? I hope that chic little restaurant is open in the departure lounge. I'm starving."
"We're not here to feed your stomach, Sylvina." Phyllis' voice came from behind her. "Get your passports ready, we're gonna check you in. We've not long before the flight closes - traffic was worse than I thought it'd be - so you haven't time to be flitting around fancy restaurants stuffing your face. You can eat on the plane...you usually do that, anyway."
"Plane food isn't as nice, though." Sylva protested, as she obediently fished her passport from her handluggage. "Oh, all right. But they better have decent food on board. I'm not in the mood for cardboard pizza!"
"With the amount you ate for breakfast, Syl, I'm amazed you have room for pizza, cardboard or otherwise!" Sadie remarked. "Heck, if I ate as much as you do, I'd be fighting with the bathroom scales a hell of a lot more than I already do!"
"Well, I'm an active girl with a busy lifestyle, and a quick metabolism." Sylva shrugged, flashing her passport at the man behind the check in desk and casting him a smile. "Nothing wrong with my appetite...it's a good, healthy one, that's all."
"Yeah, if you happen to be a woolly rhino." Nancy muttered. Copper giggled.
"Well, if it keeps her happy." she chided, lifting her own case onto the black conveyer, and holding out her passport to be checked. "Hey, by the way, what are we playing in Morvania? That song you slipped us scripts for last night?"
"Well, I ran it by Mom and she liked it." Nancy's eyes twinkled. "But I can't wait to hear what it sounds like when Jewel play it. I...have something of a bet with someone, about how well it will be received."
"Sounds ominous." Copper pursed her lips. "What have you got us singing about now, Nance?"
"Nothing. It's a simple, harmless love song, that's all." Nancy grinned. "Only I didn't want you guys to get a good look at the scripts till we touch down in Morvania. I have a feeling it might surprise one of our number, and I don't want her to get a chance to back out."
"Oh?" Copper raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."
"That would spoil the fun." Nancy shook her head.
"Aw, Nance!" As they went through passport control, Copper sent her companion a beseeching look. "Come on!"
"All right." Nancy relented. "But not a word to Syl or Sadie, okay?"
"Okay, if it means that much." Copper nodded. "What's the deal?"
"Well, the song is called Someone, and Sadie wrote it, not me." Nancy grinned. "I helped her to touch up some rough patches, that's all. She said that it'd never be good enough to be a Jewel song, but it actually has a damn fine melody to it. I think it's just the kind of tune we need for this competition in Morvania. Fresh, new, and with a European touch. Besides, after everything Sadie has been through lately, I thought it would be a nice way of showing her how important she really is to the band."
"But...you think Sadie will freak when she finds out what we're going to play?" Copper deduced. Nancy nodded.
"I know she's gonna freak." She agreed. "I promised her I'd take it and touch it up, and that we'd work on it as a future Jewel song - but as far as she knows, it's still in the developmental stages. She seems to believe that a lot more work is needed on it than actually is the case. I mean, the rhythm probably needs tampering with some, but that's your department. I usually let you play about with my rhythms, so you can handle Sadie's. The keyboard part was the only bit I really had to tweak - she's not a keyboardist, so her understanding was a bit rough and ready. Aside from that, she did good."
"Well, I won't mention it to her till it comes to our first runthrough." Copper promised. "We were told at such short notice that it isn't surprising you managed to sneak this in. We'd never have had a chance to go over the track before we left, and the song we play has to be an original one, so that rules out Exotic songs."
"And most of my repertoire." Nancy nodded. "Since several of my newer songs have gone as B tracks on our recent releases, or are being stored away for a new album." She shrugged. "Sadie's song seemed the best prospect going, so I took it."
"She's gonna kill you when she finds out." Copper laughed. "But I'm glad you took the chance. Sadie is talented, and the business with her sister in England really knocked her for six. I know she can be very private with her feelings sometimes, but she's had a hard time dealing with this all being in the public domain, as it were. She keeps saying that she slurred Jewel's good reputation with her past misdemeanours...so this is just the right thing to make her realise that she's done us a lot of good, too."
"Right." Nancy nodded. "I don't usually take to people, and I was wary of her when I knew there was something that wasn't adding up. Now I know what she was hiding from us, I understand her better. I never thought I'd enjoy having someone to write with, but I do - I love it. She's opened up so many more ideas for me, and I feel like the next album is going to be fresh and different." She looked sheepish. "Hey, who woulda thought? Goldie's turning into a team player, after all!"
"She always was." Copper hugged her companion playfully. "She just didn't find her team till now."
"Well, maybe." Nancy shrugged, a faint blush touching her cheeks. "And that, I'm guessing, is our flight." She pointed up at the monitor. "Aunt Phyl wasn't kidding when she said that time was tight...we're boarding in five!"
"Well, we made it." Copper shrugged. "It'll be exciting to visit someplace new though, don't you think? Mama wasn't with the Holograms when they went there, so she couldn't tell me anything about it...but I hear it's supposed to be a beautiful place."
"Mom wasn't a Misfit then, either." Nancy acknowledged. "But it's kinda cool that Aunt Phyl had the foresight to put about a couple of our songs there, before we land. I don't say it'll influence the contest, because it probably isn't judged that way. But it will be nice not to be going in blindfold, as it were."
"It might be a good chance for a little anonymity, though." Copper reminded her, as the remaining two Jewels and Phyllis herself joined them. "If Jewel aren't very well known, then we might be able to walk around without being recognised or pestered for autographs. Now that will make a nice change!"
"Yes, I agree. I've had enough questions." Sadie put in fervently. "If one more person asks me about my criminal record, I will scream and commit a major felony, I swear!"
"Down, girl. You've been accused of murder once already. Don't let's make it two in a row, huh?" Sylva winked at her. "Come on. Morvania's gonna be so much fun!"
"Kids." Phyllis rolled her eyes, ushering them towards the gate and brandishing a handful of boarding passes. "Can we get on the damn plane? This ain't a package holiday, it's a musical obligation! And Sylva, before we go, you are forbidden to bring any of the local men back with you, all right?"
"Hey, Phyllis! I just want to have fun, that's all!" Sylva objected. "I wasn't gonna seduce anyone, much less abduct them!"
"Well, with you I never know." Phyllis shot her a dark look. "Quit dawdling, huh? Sooner we got our seats, sooner the flight can leave."
"She's on edge." Copper murmured. Nancy nodded, sending her adoptive aunt a sidelong glance.
"You'd think, having been to Morvania before, she wouldn't be stressing." She agreed. "What is it about this place, anyway?"
Prologue: Morvania, 1987
Chapter One: Los Angeles, 2014
Chapter Two: At The Airport
Chapter Three: Laviana
Chapter Four: The Competition
Chapter Five: The Queen
Chapter Six: Ransacked!
Chapter Seven: Anatole
Chapter Eight: Nerysa
Chapter Nine: A Frightening Realisation
Chapter Ten: Betrayal
Chapter Eleven: The Truth
Chapter Twelve: Heartfelt
Chapter Thirteen: Home