Well, so it was done.
Phoebe moved to close the curtains of her hotel room, tying her dressing
gown around her waist as she contemplated the outcome of her plan.
"I don't know how he'll do it, or if he will even succeed." She mused.
"But it's a risk worth taking. I owe that brat some pain for the events at
the Reunion show. I don't know how she did it, but somehow she was behind
that ghost. I swear it. Somehow I'm going to get my own back on her, and
this seems the perfect way to do it. So Copper disappears - well, it's at
Jason's discretion what happens to her now. I don't suppose the guy has it
in him to really hurt the girl - just shake her up, take her out of Los Angeles
for a convenient amount of time given Riot's planned publicity blitz for Diablo's
new album, and it couldn't be better timed. Stefana has served her purpose
but is out of it before she became a liability - she won't talk because she
knows too well that if she did she'd end up on the wrong end of a jail sentence
for what happened to Jewel's dressing room. And if Copper never comes back
from her little road trip?"
She paused, then shrugged.
"Oh well. Worse tragedies have been survived." She decided complacently.
"I don't suppose it would be particularly worrying for Riot and his musicians
if Jewel lost their drummer. It might even work in his favour, despite the
"And if nothing else, it would be so very amusing to know that the daughter
of one of those blessed Holograms is somewhere in the middle of nowhere,
at the whims of an obsessive who wants to carry her off to Vegas and make
her his wife! Oh, I almost wish I could be a fly on the wall in Raya's house
when she finds out! Jetta's too! Oh, I haven't had this much fun for years!"
She chuckled, sitting down on the end of her bed.
"And the best part is that Riot and I are well out of the way. Whatever
people suspect, Jason is the one implicated. It could not be more perfectly
planned. That will teach those brats to dare to mess with Rapture!!"
* * *
* * * *
It wouldn't be long now.
Jason pulled himself deeper into the shadows, settling himself down to
wait. He knew that this time it would all work out - hadn't Phoebe promised
him that tonight would be his chance to finally meet his beloved?
She had spent altogether too long at the fiance's house. This had vexed
him, but, mindful of what Phoebe had told him about the possessiveness of
the Pelligrini family, he could not really be surprised. If nothing else,
he had had used the time to define his plan more clearly in his head. Surely
this time he couldn't get into trouble? Not if it was all being done according
to the book - and hadn't that Phoebe woman assured him that he had his, and
Copper's full backing?
The police? Well, they were unimportant. Jason dismissed their interest
with a shrug. They had chased him before and this time he was wiser. He
would steal in from the shadows and they would find no trace of him. He
had been so proud of his initiative, sending her letters without licking
the envelopes, since that was how they had caught him the last time. He
had been so much more careful this time. Everything was going to plan.
His gaze darted across the dimly lit service station carpark to where
Copper stood, filling her car with petrol. Phoebe had been right, he mused.
Emptying her tank would certainly give her a reason to stop here, at the
rendezvous point. And as soon as she went inside, he would make his move.
Quietly, silently, so as not to disturb the other patrons. But, as the big
van in front lumbered away, he realised that there were no other patrons.
It was late, the sky was dark and they were alone. Even he could not have
planned it any better.
Of course, he considered, she might be startled. Phoebe had admitted that
she had not had time to get word directly to Copper that it was going to
happen tonight. He was ready for that. Once she realised what the situation
was, she would behave herself. Besides, this was how it was meant to be.
And he had brought insurance, anyway.
He slid his hand into his pocket, feeling the cool steel of the revolver
Not that he intended to use it, but he was used to these showbiz types.
"Who knows how temperament will take her." He mused. "I know she loves
me and that we're meant to be together, but they're all show and emotion...I
have to make it clear who's boss. Phoebe said she's a girl who likes adventure
and excitement - and I mean to make sure she gets it! By the time that Pelligrini
guy gets a clue that we're gone we'll be halfway to Las Vegas and he won't
be able to do a thing to stop us! If she's married to me she can't be married
Across the parking lot, Copper had finished with the petrol pump, and,
with a glance behind her, she grabbed her purse off the front seat of her
vehicle, banging the door shut and hurrying across the tarmac to the small
shop that the station boasted. In her hurry to be out of the dark, bleak
parking lot she omitted to lock her vehicle, and Jason spied his chance,
slipping across the parking lot and into the back of the car.
"Good evening, miss." The store clerk cast her a warm smile. "Or should
I say good morning - you're out late tonight!"
"Heading home now. I can't wait to get to bed." Copper grinned, relaxing.
"It's dark outside and I don't like driving alone. How much do i owe you?"
"twelve-ten." the clerk told her, watching her count out loose change.
"Nothing else I can do for you?"
"No - that's it, thanks." Copper shook her head. "I better be heading
back. My friends will wonder where I am - I told them I'd be back an hour
ago and I didn't envisage having to stop for gas on my way." She grimaced.
"I'm sure that car eats more than my last one."
She raised her hand in a wave.
"Thanks - goodbye!"
"Bye, miss - have a safe drive home!" The clerk called.
Copper slid her purse into her jacket pocket, humming a tune under her
breath as she returned to her waiting vehicle. Pulling open the door, she
slipped into the driver's seat, fastening her seat belt and adjusting her
mirror, starting the engine.
Checking that there were no vehicles attempting to pass her, she pulled
cleanly out of the parking lot and onto the main road, reaching for the
radio dial in order to break the silence of the car. As she did so, she
caught a movement in the mirror and frowned, casting a brief glance behind
her. Nothing was immediately apparent, however, and giving it up as overkill
of nerves, she put her foot down on the accelerator pedal, switching the
radio to a popular local rock channel.
"Sooner I'm home, sooner I'm safe." She murmured, tucking her hair behind
her ear and reaching to switch on the air conditioning. "It's hot tonight.
I can't understand why February's so damn scorching this year! By the time
the end of March ticks around we'll all have melted!"
She smiled, remembering the night she had spent with her fiance. It had
been a quiet night in, but Copper had enjoyed just spending the time in
his company. They were so busy now, she reflected, and with everything going
on, his presence was as reassuring as it was romantic.
The moonlight glinted off her engagement ring as she reached to flick
the indicator on, and from the back of the car Jason caught sight of it.
Indignant anger flared up inside of him. How dare he expect her to wear
his ring? How dare he?
He glanced out of the window, judging how close to the Starlight Mansion
they were. Still three blocks, he decided, but he could not afford to leave
it any longer. He had to act now, or risk her slipping through his grasp
Copper's attention was on the road, and the first she knew that she was
not alone in the car was when the barrel of a steel shot gun appeared between
the seats, touching the side of her head and almost causing her to swerve
off the road in her fear.
"Keep driving." The voice was soft, almost gentle and entirely unlike
the threat that the weapon seemed to convey. "I am not going to hurt you,
Copper, I just want to spend some time with you -alone."
Copper muttered a curse in Spanish, casting a terrified glance into the
mirror, but she could not see her passenger's face.
"Who are you?" She managed. "Why are you doing this to me?"
"My name is Jason." The voice continued, still soft and now slightly pleading.
"I told you I won't hurt you - don't be afraid of me. I love you...I would
never hurt you. Really, you don't understand."
"No...no, I don't." Copper agreed, slowing the car down as much as she
dared as she neared the turning for the Starlight Mansion. "And I'm sorry
that you felt you had to go this far to speak to me, but really, I need to
go home now. My friends are waiting - they will be worried and I wouldn't
"Keep driving." The voice said quietly. "We're not going to the Starlight
Mansion tonight. They might stop me from being near you and that won't do.
I don't want to be disturbed, Copper. Just do as I say and everything will
There was a soft laugh, then, "Phoebe said you liked excitement."
"Phoebe?" Copper's eyes opened wide, then, "Rapture? Rapture of the Stingers?
Hell, was Aaron right? Did she put you up to this?"
"Put me up to what?" The voice sounded genuinely confused. "I love you,
Copper, that's all that matters. We're together now. You won't have to marry
that Pelligrini creep now - I've saved you! Don't you see that? He's wrong
for you. He takes you for granted. I would never do that. Never. You're
a princess and he should treat you like one."
"You're tired." The man interrupted her. "And you won't want to drive
all night. Keep going here...I'll tell you when to stop, but don't waste
time talking. We can talk when we get there. There's plenty of time then.
We have the rest of time together, after all."
"Rest of time together?" Copper echoed, then, "Hell, where are you taking
me? Where are we going?"
"Oh, didn't I mention?" The man sounded repentant. "I'm sorry, I thought
it was clear. Las Vegas."
"Vegas." Copper frowned. "I don't understand..."
"No...no of course not. So sweet and so innocent, of course you don't."
The voice was tender now. "To get married, of course. In Vegas, where nobody
can stop us. Where nobody can prevent our love - and no Pelligrini can interfere!"
"Married?" Copper's eyes widened. "But I'm engaged to Aaron! I..."
"I told you. Forget him. You're safe from him now." the voice instructed.
The gun touched against her skin again, then,
"Everything will be fine...I promise you.