Chapter Six: A Devil Strikes
It was raining by the time Jewel reached the Starlight Mansion and, once
they had dried hair and settled in the main lounge, Copper showed the final
member of the band her chosen wedding dress.
"It's so lovely." Topaz looked envious. "You're gonna be such a beautiful bride, you know. I wish I could have come shopping with you this morning."
"Well, we wish you could too, but Hollie comes first, and that's fine." Copper dimpled. "Where is she, by the way?"
"Cynthia's giving her a bath. I would be, but I was so blitzed after her tantrum at the hospital, I didn't know which faucet was which."
"Should Cynthia be putting her watch so near water?" Nancy looked startled.
"Well, she's been caught out in the rain enough times before." Sylva pointed out. "I guess that holo watch of hers is resistant."
"I didn't realise she was back from work. I ought to ask her about invites." Copper looked pensive.
"She said Aaron had asked her to print some envelopes off." Topaz remembered. "She got in just as I was drying my hair after a good drenching in the Los Angeles idea of public showering. You get so used to the sun around these parts, that when it rains it tends to catch you unawares."
"Well, I'll take my dress and put it safely in the back room, where infant fingers can't find it." Copper grinned, scooping up the gown in her arms. "I know Hollie wouldn't damage it on purpose, Topaz, but it's probably best that I put it someplace where she can't find it, just in case."
"I'd say that was a good idea." Cynthia entered the room at that moment, the tiny redhead in her arms. "She likes to explore, now she can walk and crawl."
She set the baby down on the floor, and Hollie made a bee-line for her mother, who scooped her up with a grin.
"Well, trouble, at least now you're clean." She said playfully. "Thanks for helping out, Cyn. I was just so wiped when we got in."
"It isn't a bother." Cynthia assured her with a smile. "And this, I presume, is Copper's dress?"
"Yep." Copper held it against her, so the hologram could see it.
"I like it." Cynthia looked impressed. "And Aaron will like it too, I can tell."
"Well, he's not to see hide nor hair of it before the wedding, Cyn." Sadie told her firmly. "It's a tradition, the groom shouldn't see the bride's dress before the big day."
"I did not know of this tradition." Cynthia looked confused.
""I'm kinda superstitious that way, Cyn, and I don't want him to see until the day we tie the knot." Copper looked sheepish. "Besides, I'd kinda like to surprise him."
"I shall not tell him anything." Cynthia promised. "Odd though the tradition seems to be. How could him seeing the dress bring bad luck?"
"I dunno, but it's an age old thing." Copper replied. "Thanks, Cyn. I'm gonna go put this someplace safely now, where he won't see it if he comes calling, and where Hollie won't make a plaything out of it."
"She was playing with an old pair of socks earlier." Topaz remembered, as the redhead disappeared into the other room, dress in hand. "In some weird language of her own, it has to be said. She's funny that way - sometimes she talks baby language, and sometimes she says things we can understand, but I often wonder what goes through her head, and she's not old enough to really tell me yet."
"Kids will play with anything, give them half a chance." Sylva observed. "Anna and I used to play with colanders, pretending to be space invaders when we were about four."
"Aw, that's cute." Sadie giggled. "My sisters and brothers and I used to play with odd stuff too. Mum would give us lentils and beans and stuff and we'd make witches brew and all kinds of things to feed our dolls with."
"Sadie the psycho." Sylva laughed. "I'm not letting you cook my dinner again!"
"Charming." Sadie poked out her tongue, but humour sparkled in her dark blue eyes. She cast Hollie a look.
"She's oblivious to us all, in a world of her own." She commented, indicating the little girl, who had been studiously exploring her mother's jewelled belt buckle.
"She likes pretty things. Like a magpie." Topaz grinned. "So long as she can't put it in her mouth, I don't mind!"
"Her hair's getting really long now." Sadie came to sit beside her friend. "It's gone wavy, like yours, Topaz."
"Well at least she has something from me." Topaz rolled her eyes. "Everything else she has from Cameron."
"No...her hair is more reddy gold than auburn." Sadie eyed it critically. "It's a really pretty colour."
"I suppose so." Topaz agreed, gently running her fingers through her daughter's damp waves. "But her eyes are green as anything now. They were so blue when she was born, but they've changed such a lot. She hardly looks like my little girl."
"I disagree." Cynthia said softly. "She has a lot of Cameron's features, Topaz, but she has your outgoing nature."
"Cyn's right." Nancy nodded. "The kid will make friends with anyone."
"Well, I'd best go see about feeding her." Topaz got to her feet, lifting the small girl into a more comfortable position. "Before she decides she's hungry and begins squealing. Then I'm going to put her to bed and take an early night - it's been a long day!"
Once she was gone, Sadie looked thoughtful.
"You think single motherhood is taking it's toll on her?" She asked softly. Sylva pursed her lips.
"Sometimes I wonder if it is, sometimes I think she manages great." She admitted. "I think when she's tired, and Hollie's played up, then she comes across kinda ragged around the edges. But that's to be expected, right? We all play with Hol, and we all help out, but Topaz has to take ultimate responsibility, and it's a lot of work."
"I don't think any of us realised how much work a baby could be till Hollie was born." Nancy agreed. "But it's opened my eyes, at the very least. I have a lot of admiration for how well she copes, you know. I'd be a screaming neurotic mess by now."
"Topaz has always been levelheaded, and she wanted Hollie so much." Cynthia remarked. "I do worry, though, how she keeps referring back to Cameron. Before Hollie was born, it seemed like Topaz had really put him behind her and gotten on with things. But now the baby has begun to look like her father, things are different. I worry that Topaz will start to resent Hollie for Cameron's absence."
"You think she could?" Sylva looked startled. Sadie shrugged.
"It might seem crazy, but I guess Cyn does have a point." She acknowledged. "I don't doubt that Topaz loves Hollie very much, but sometimes I wonder how she feels about Cameron these days too."
"She won't talk about him much." Sylva pursed her lips. "I've just left it alone, mind you. I know she was very much in love with him, and it broke her heart to let him go. I thought it was better off not meddled with. Was I wrong?"
"No, I don't think so." Cynthia shook her head. "But I think we should all make sure that, whatever happens, Topaz does not grow to hate her daughter for breaking up her relationship. I have worried about it happening for some time, to be honest, and now, the more the child looks like him, I fear it will continue to remind her of his not being there."
"As ever, Cyn, you're way more perceptive than we are." Sylva sighed. "Thanks for the heads up. I'll keep an eye on her."
"Blech, how heartwarming."
From the shadows at the back of the house, a lone figure pulled her coat more tightly around her as she listened in on Jewel's conversation. "Topaz and her brat. Who actually cares, Cynthia? One of these days I'm going to split your circuitboard for you, but tonight I have more pressing matters. Now, where in hell did that irritating bride to be go? My business is with her, not the rest of you."
She pulled herself back further into the darkness, trying her best to shelter from the heavy, relentless rain. It had been a bad choice of days to play the saboteur, she realised grimly, but with time running out, she had persevered in her original plan. She had watched the group of musicians as they had selected Copper's wedding dress, and had clenched her teeth as she had watched the soon to be bride parade up and down in it.
"Like some catwalk model." she had muttered. "I'll soon show her!"
The plan had occured to her as she had trailed the musicians home to the Starlight, at a safe enough distance that she would not be recognised. Though Aaron was entirely unaware of the hatred that Stefana had for the successful all girl act, the band themselves were not so oblivious, and she knew that she would only be greeted with a cool, unfriendly reception. She had parked some way away from the elegant Starlight Mansion, pulling her beret down over her dark hair to try and keep the dampness out, and had determinedly crept around the back of the estate, looking for the window that she had used once before to enter the house. That night she had been stopped in her tracks by Synergy, whose job it was to ensure the house was internally secure, but this time she had stumbled upon the girls talking in the main salon, and, with some delight, she had registered Cynthia among them.
"If she's there, cooing over Topaz the slut's stupid baby, then she's not playing security guard." She mused. "Topaz is upstairs, I heard her say she was going to bed. That leaves Copper, and her stupid dress. We'll see how pretty that looks, Copper, when it's cut into tiny pieces!"
She felt in her pocket for the penknife she always carried with her for emergencies, idly running her finger down the side of the blade. She hoped it would be sharp enough, for she had had not much time to prepare her arsenal.
"The sooner Copper realises that she should stay away from Aaron, the better." Stefana muttered, suppressing a shiver. "Oh, dammit, where are you? I need to be sure you're all safely in one place before I stage a break in!"
At that moment, the door of the lounge swung open once more, and Copper rejoined her friends, taking a seat at the end of the sofa. The light caught the diamond on her fourth finger, and Stefana's hate welled up inside of her once more. She knew only too well how much Aaron had spent on his fiancee's engagement ring, and it had burned her to the core.
"Well, it still isn't too late to break them up." She mused, moving along the side of the house as quietly as she could, and gently easing up the window she had used the last time to enter. It was still not properly fixed, she noted with some derision, and with the help of her trusty knife she was soon inside, pausing to ensure that noone had heard her entrance.
She had been inside the Starlight Mansion only occasionally in the past, but she knew enough of it's layout to know her way around the ground floor, and she slipped silently through the corridors, past the door of the room where she knew the Jewel girls were talking. One ear on the stairs, in case Topaz decided to make an unscheduled descent, she paused at the end of the corridor, putting her hand on the door of the back room. This was, she knew, where Nancy kept a lot of her spare music, but even that wasn't her target today. Hanging on a hook at the back of the room was the beautiful wedding dress, that Copper had picked out only that afternoon.
"Well, it won't look so pretty by the time I'm done with it." She muttered darkly, closing the door behind her and crossing the floor in swift, purposeful steps. Pulling the knife from her pocket she hesitated for a moment, as if debating what she was about to do. Then a memory flitted into her head of her dream the night before, and her resolve hardened. Anger burning inside of her, she brought the knife down hard into the bodice of the dress, tearing and tearing at it as if the girl she so hated was inside it. As her anger faded, she stood back, breathing heavily. The dress was in tatters and, feeling a mixture of strange remorse and vindictive satisfaction, she pocketed the knife, pushing open the door and heading back the way she'd come.
"Did someone hear something?" A voice from the lounge made her heart leap in her chest and, caution thrown to the wind she hurried through the house, jumping from the window and running across the grass to her waiting car. Thanking her lucky stars for the driving rain, she put the vehicle in gear, knowing that, in the poor visibility Jewel would not be able to make her out. As she roared away from the estate, a slow smile touched her lips.
"Now let's see you be a bride." She muttered. "With your dress all in rags!"
"Someone's been here."
Back at the Starlight, Cynthia's expression became one of alarm. "I heard a window bang - I think we have an intruder!"
"No kidding." Nancy pushed open the door of the lounge, stopping dead at the sight of muddy footprints on the hall carpet. "Take a look at this, guys. Someone's been here all right."
"I told you I heard something." Sylva came to join her, her blue eyes angry. "Who treads mud all up an expensive carpet, huh? What gives here?"
"Whoever it is might still be in the house." Cynthia said quietly. "You should stay here, and I will investigate. Someone might be trying to steal something, and it is better they become violent with me than with any of you."
"What about Topaz and Hollie?" Sadie looked anxious. "I'll go upstairs and warn them!"
"Sadie, it might be dangerous." Cynthia shook her head. Sadie's eyes narrowed.
"I can handle petty thieves." She said darkly. "Don't worry about me, Cyn. I can handle myself, as you guys well know."
"Let her, Cyn. The rest of us will stay here till you tell us it's safe to come out." Copper said quietly. "Are you sure someone's broken in? Couldn't one of us have left the footprints?"
"I doubt it." Cynthia eyed them thoughtfully, then, "I am sure someone is here. It is my duty to find them - I should have registered their entry sooner, but I was engrossed in our conversation."
With that she was gone, and, with Sadie hurrying up the stairs two at a time to warn her fair haired friend to keep Hollie safely in the bedroom, the other Jewels settled back down, each one anxious as to what was going on.
"Noone's ever broken into the mansion before." Sylva remarked. "What do you suppose it is? An obsessive fan?"
"Please, don't." Copper shivered. "You're giving me the creeps."
"And besides, you're wrong." Nancy said. "Someone has broken in here before."
"Who?" Sylva looked startled.
"Our favourite devil." Nancy said grimly. "Stefana."
"Ooh, so she has." Sylva's blue eyes became angry. "If this is her doing..."
"It might not be her." Copper put in quietly. "This is a big house, and there is a lot of valuable stuff here. It could just be that someone thinks it's worth targeting."
"That's better?" Nancy demanded. "This is our home, Copper, and it's being violated!"
"More than that has been violated." Cynthia pushed open the door at that moment, her expression grave. "I have checked the house, my sensors detect that the intruder has left the premises. However, they have also left their mark."
"What do you mean?" Sylva was on her feet in a moment, for it was unlike the mischievous hologram to look so sombre. "What's happened, Cyn?"
"Copper, I think you should come with me." Cynthia said softly, holding out her hand to the redhead, who took it, non-plussed.
"Okay, but I don't see..."
"You will." Cynthia interrupted her. "Come on."
She took her friend out into the hall, followed closely behind by a curious Nancy and Sylva. When they reached the backroom, all colour drained from Copper's face, and she turned distressed brown eyes on the hologram.
"My dress!" She exclaimed. "They've wrecked my wedding dress!"
Prologue: Steffi's Vice
Chapter One: The Bride To Be
Chapter Two: A Little Piece Of Hell
Chapter Three: Jewel
Chapter Four: Shopping Trip
Chapter Five: Copper's Dress
Chapter Six: A Devil Strikes
Chapter Seven: Gaynor To The Rescue
Chapter Eight: A Shock For Marissa
Chapter Nine: Wedding Plans
Chapter Ten: A Blow For Steffi
Chapter Eleven: Logan
Chapter Twelve: The Final Straw
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!