It was hot.
Part One: Lovesick
Chapter Two: A Bitter Heart
The dark haired girl got slowly up from her bed, reaching languidly to
push the big window open further to let in any snippets of air. It was only
February, but California weather was often on the warm side, and that day
it seemed particularly airless. Dropping back down onto her bed, the girl
reached once more for her magazine, flicking idly through the pages.
She had taken refuge in her bedroom some hours before, for the stimulants
that she strongly denied a dependance on had sent her heart into a spin and
it had been all she could do to get up the stairs without blacking out. Now
she was calm again, as the dose had worked its way through her system and
her pulse rate had returned to normal, but she still felt tired and her
head ached and buzzed. It was getting all the more frequent, and she knew
that if she wasn't careful she'd have a turn in front of her over-vigilant
"And Luca just won't give up then till he's had me down the hospital talking
to specialists about some heart condition he'll think I inherited from Dad."
She muttered, reaching out for a cigarette and lighting it as she flopped
more comfortably on her pillows. "I'm glad we're not working today. I ain't
got a scrap of energy for any of Clay and Mari's compositions this afternoon.
It's enough to read this article straight - I wish it wasn't so damn hot!"
Stefana Ranieri was twenty-three years old, and her drug problems were
as deep rooted as they were secretive. She had developed an addiction to
amphetamine when she had dropped out of school some years before, and it
had spiralled into a trap from which she could see no escape. Not that, in
truth, she had spent much time looking. If she was to be honest with herself,
she knew that she was not well, but it was not in her nature to dwell on
such uncomfortable musings.
Far better, in fact, to blame the heat and the hard concert the night
before that she and her band, Diablo had performed to a sell-out crowd in
the centre of Los Angeles.
She scooped up the magazine once more, taking a lazy drag on her cigarette
as she read over the write up on their show. It was, she noted, extremely
positive to the point of sensational propaganda, but then, since an unfortunate
incident with one of Jewel, Cool Trash had been one of Diablo's most ardent
adherents in the busy press world.
"And the pictures just rock. I can't believe it made today's issue." She
mused, reaching for her scissors and carefully cutting around the article,
being careful not to cut through any of the images. "We looked so wild up
on stage last night with those red lights and everything. We really look
like the big time now! I really wish I could copy this and send it to my bitch
mother in Connecticut, just to show her what the daughter she pretends she
doesn't have has done with herself!"
She pushed back her pillow, reaching down behind the valance for the sheaf
of newspaper clippings and magazine cuttings she had carefully gathered over
their time in Los Angeles. There were a lot of them now, she mused, some
getting dog-eared and worn from their lack of a proper storage place, but
with all her money going on drugs, cigarettes and the occasional night out,
she had not found even the spare change for a scrapbook. Besides, part of
her was embarrassed that it mattered so much to her to keep a record of Diablo's
"Still, this is the best one yet." She decided, laying the new clipping
down on the top of the pile. "I look so fab in that dress - it was worth
blowing the last of my credit on it, even though I probably won't ever pay
She looked rueful, remembering how she had already lost one credit card
that month. It had taken wild financial shuffling and the covert theft of
several hundred dollars from her brother's bank account to pay off the debt
and prevent charges being brought against her, but the credit card company
had taken fright and had terminated her card as soon as the balance had
And she knew that this card was headed the same way.
"Luca didn't notice last time." She mused. "He assumed it was his new
car's insurance premium going up after he scraped the fender against that
truck, thank God. But Heaven knows if I can do it again. Oh well. Maybe
it won't matter. Maybe I'll find the money someplace else."
She pushed the pile of clippings back under the pillow, returning her
attention to the vandalised magazine and skimming over the next article.
It was about Spring Fashions, and Stefana rolled her eyes, turning the page.
"I have enough to pay off when I get paid." She muttered. "I don't need
designer shoes to add to it all! I already owe enough people things and
those are people who might well get ugly if I don't pay them off nice and
quick! At least payday is only a couple of weeks off...though dammit, I
could use one of Rory's assignments right now. He hasn't called on me for
ages - I hope he didn't scare off after the FBI got involved with the fire
at Misfit Music. It wasn't like I was even involved in that!"
She glanced back down at the newspaper, flicking ash idly off her cigarette
as she did so. Her gaze rested on a photograph at the top of the page and
her tired features deepened into a scowl.
Brilliant. Just what she needed.
With one deft movement she tore the picture out of the magazine, dropping
it down onto the covers.
"Aaron and that bitch fiancee of his." She muttered, her eyes narrowing.
"Celebrity couples and how likely they are to make the grade? I thought Cool
Trash was on our side! How in hell is it they've got Aaron and Copper
down as being favourites to last as an item! What's that about?"
She ran her finger down the column of text, inhaling on her cigarette
as her anger grew.
"Copper's relationship with behind the scenes Jewel road manager Aaron
Pelligrini seems set to last the test of time despite busy schedules and
long tours." She read. "Cool Trash's compatibility - 95% likely to make it
as a married couple. Bah. What do they know anyhow? How can they write a
brilliant article about us one minute and this kind of nonsense the next!
Aaron doesn't love her! He doesn't, dammit! He can't possibly! She's
sweet and simpery and does charity openings for free to get publicity. What
on earth could he see in such a goody goody flake like that?"
She grabbed the scissors up off the bedcover, bringing the sharp blades
down angrily across Copper's face, again and again until the musician was
barely recognisable. Then she took a deep breath, getting a hold of her
"It's just a stupid magazine." She muttered. "Don't freak out. It's not
like this wretched wedding will ever happen, anyway. Showbiz weddings never
do. They always wind up being called off and stuff. She's out of his league
- she's just some no-hope drummer from Detroit who got a contract because
her precious Mama was a bigshot. That's all."
She shoved the tattered clipping with some force beneath her pillow, tossing
the magazine and the scissors onto the floor with a thud and a clatter, and
then burying her head in her pillow.
"I need a goddamn aspirin." She muttered. "I hate this heat!"
A voice from outside the door made her start, anxiously glancing around
to make sure all evidence of her fit of rage was out of sight. "Steffi,
it's Marissa. Can I come in?"
"I guess so." Stefana's tone was rich with reluctance, but the door swung
open anyway to reveal Marissa Young, the baby of the band. At twenty-two,
Marissa was one half of Diablo's creative drive, and Stefana's long-time
best friend. As friendly, gentle and sympathetic as Stefana was brash, confrontational
and rude, their friendship was a mystery to many people, yet it had endured
through high school and the years after. Marissa was the only one to know
the secret drug habit that plagued her friend, but misguided loyalty kept
her silent, no matter how worried she became.
And it was clear from her expression that she was worried now.
"You look rough." She said softly. "Are you sick?"
"No, just tired out." Stefana's tone did not invite sympathy, but Marissa
sat down on the end of the bed.
"It was a hard night last night." She admitted at length. "We played out
of our skins. But you've been quiet today, even considering. I was worried
you weren't feeling good."
"The heat isn't agreeing with me. That's all." Stefana pulled herself
into a sitting position, tossing her half-smoked cigarette into a discarded
coffee cup and stretching. "Why are you up here, Mari? Did you want something
"Yes." Marissa nodded. "Luca asked me to scoot up and find you, since
I had to grab my folder." She indicated the grey manila file under her arm.
"Rory's called. We're to go to Rebel Records right away."
Stefana muttered the worst expletives she could muster.
"What the hell is he, a sadist?" She demanded. "We were working till three
this morning and now he wants us in the studio again? I thought he gave us
"Well, we thought so too, but apparently not." Marissa shrugged. "I'm
sorry, Stef - I don't want to go in any more than you do, but we don't have
a choice. Luca took the call and I think whatever it is is either urgent
or important. Possibly both. You know Rory."
"Yeah. Unfortunately." Stefana muttered. "All right, already."
She grabbed a hairband from her dresser, pulling her thick black locks
into a rough ponytail and getting to her feet, glancing around the room for
her boots. "Seen my shoes?"
"They're in the hall, if you mean the boots you usually wear." Marissa
replied. "Stef, are you sure you're feeling all right? You're white as a
sheet and you've shadows under your eyes. You don't look well."
"I'm fine, dammit!" Stefana snapped, pushing away the well meaning arm
Marissa had reached out to her friend. "It's hot and I'm tired and I don't
need your fuss! I'm fine! I just wanted some space up here to read my magazine
in peace! I spent far too much damn time with all of you anyway. Sometimes
I need my personal time too, you know!"
"I'm sorry." Marissa bit her lip. "I didn't mean to fuss."
Stefana opened her mouth to retort, but she sighed.
"I'm too tired to yell at you." She admitted. "Come on. Let's go and see
what the old miseryguts wants with us this afternoon, huh?"
Rebel Records was busy by the time Diablo arrived, and, with very bad
grace, Stefana stalked into the lobby behind her companions, her displeasure
clear from the scowl on her face. Casting her a sidelong glance, Luca decided
that it was safer not to venture a remark. He knew his sister and the wild
extremes of temper she favoured. It seemed all too clear that today they
had been graced with one of her unpredictable sulks.
Rory Llewelyn was in his office, and for once he was not alone. Sat behind
the desk was his deceptively pretty business partner, the conniving Sophie
Devereux, and by the window, gazing out at the busy Los Angeles scene below
was a stranger, who turned as they entered, casting them a cool and almost
"Well, so this is Diablo." She observed, in gentle tones that rang with
a hint of superiority. "I'm most honoured to meet you all. Riot has told
me so much about you all."
"Rory, what in hell did you want with us?" Stefana demanded. "We were
promised a day off, and..."
"And this is showbusiness." Rory interrupted, shaking his head. "No tantrums
please. I'd prefer it if you remembered your age as given on your birth certificate,
at least when you are in my office. I am as aware as you are that you were
working late last night and that today was mutually agreed as a free day
for Diablo. But Jewel's new song is breaking sales records already, and to
top it off there's a rumour buzzing that their next concert's gate receipts
are going to the Starlight Foundation. Jewel are flavour of the month and
we need to hurry along your next album."
"We've written a lot of stuff already, Rory." Marissa proffered the folder,
which her manager took, flicking through the contents. "There are two or
three songs Clay and I were working on last week that we've almost done with,
too. I think we'll only need two, perhaps three more tracks to finish an album."
"You write the songs, then?" The stranger cast Marissa a thoughtful look,
then, "Funny. You don't look a lot like your music, my dear."
"I beg your pardon?" Marissa stared at her, confused. "What do you mean?"
"Marissa and I both write the music." Clay said quietly, meeting
the visitor's calm, amused gaze with a grave one of his own. "And we all
put ourselves into performing it."
"Please, I meant no offence to anyone." The newcomer laughed, a tinkling,
condescending laugh. "I find it an interesting observation, that's all, how
little song-writers are reflected in their music these days."
"Who are you, anyway?" Clay demanded. "If you're going to patronise us,
at least tell us who you are, so we know if you're in any position to do
"This is Phoebe Asche." Sophie put in from her desk, her soft, accented
tones carrying in the brightly lit office. "Formerly Rapture of the Stingers,
and a dear acquaintance of both Rory and myself. She is no stranger to the
music industry, Clay - as you can see for yourself."
"Rapture?" Stefana narrowed her eyes, considering. "You're the one who
cons people out of their money promising seances and all kinds of crap like
that, aren't you?"
"Con people?" Phoebe's eyes opened wide in mock horror, though there was
a twinkle of humour in her expression. "No, I merely give people the service
they pay for."
"But all of that is garbage." Stefana said bluntly. "I know who you are
now. Rory's mentioned you before, and your business. You tell people things
that aren't true and make money out of it."
"Is that true?" Marissa looked stunned. "Is that what you do?"
"I am a medium." Phoebe inclined her head slightly. "Though I wouldn't
dismiss the work I do with as much scorn as your friend." She eyed the dark
haired girl with interest. "I suppose you are Stefana. Yes," As Stefana
looked surprised. "Rory has told me about you as much as he has told you about
me. I think that makes us even, doesn't it?"
"In that case you should know better than to try and fool me." Stefana
folded her arms. "I don't buy into all of that voices from the beyond junk,
just so you know."
"Well, nobody's asking you to." Phoebe laughed. "I'm not here to convert
you to anything. I came to visit old friends, that's all, and take an interest
in Rebel Records. I mightn't be in administration here, but I'm still a Stinger,
you know, and this is a Stinger run company."
"Enough." Rory held up his hand. "Diablo, I want you in the studio, working
through some of these songs Marissa mentioned. I want some constructive plans
about how you want this album to progress and we shall have a meeting about
it tomorrow lunchtime. Stefana, stay here for a moment, will you? I have
a contractual glitch I need to discuss with you."
"Whatever." Stefana dropped herself into a chair with bad grace, but there
was a hopeful glint in her green eyes. "I guess I don't want to play music
right now anyway."
Rory made no comment, waiting until the rest of the musicians had gone.
Then he cast Sophie a glance. The frenchwoman smiled, winked at Phoebe,
then obediently withdrew from the office. This was not lost on Stefana,
who narrowed her gaze thoughtfully, casting her employer a defiant look.
"What's this about, Rory?" She demanded. "You haven't called me back for
a long time - what's up?"
"I'm concerned, my dear, that's all." Rory said smoothly. "About Jewel's
progress. Our little...arrangement appears to have lapsed since your entanglement
with Los Angeles' FBI bureau six months ago."
"That's down to you. You know where I am." Stefana shrugged, eying Phoebe
"You needn't worry about my discretion." Phoebe assured her softly. "I
am perfectly capable of forgetting this meeting ever took place, Stefana.
I told you, I'm a Stinger. Besides, I have no love for those Jewel brats either.
They messed up our performance at the Reunion show and I don't forget something
like that. I have a score to settle myself. Particularly with the brat they
"You do, huh?" Stefana's expression changed. "Copper's the worst of them.
She always pretends she so sweet and nice but she's a bitch and I hate her."
"Then maybe you should put your mind to thinking up something that will
stop Jewel's current smooth success curve." Rory said quietly. "That is
all. We'll talk more when you've had time to think."
He gestured towards the door, and Stefana scowled, getting to her feet
and stalking out of the office, banging the door behind her.
Once she was gone, he cast Phoebe a look. His companion laughed.
"She's a spitfire." She remarked. "I'm impressed. Though potentially a
"Oh, I'm afraid so." Rory sighed. "She has no ethics to worry about, she'll
do whatever it takes for cash in hand, but yes, she can be a liability. That's
why I'm getting you involved, Rapture. You wanted your shot at getting revenge
on Jewel, well, I can't be seen to be involved in something like that. Not
in professional circles. Since the fire at Misfit Music everything has been
low profile from that point of view - Stefana was interrogated by agents
at the time and I'm still unclear on how far she was involved, though she
was never charged with anything."
"What's her motivation, then?" Phoebe took a seat opposite the desk as
Rory settled in his more familiar chair. "Why does she do as you instruct?
General ill temper? Because if you ask me, she has a grudge and I'd like
to work that grudge to it's full potential."
"She hates Jewel. We all hate Jewel - it's not an uncommon sentiment around
here." Rory replied. "But I have noticed that she spends an inordinate amount
of time with one of Misfit Music's employees, considering our rival status.
In fact, occasionally she learns tidbits of information by it, but it's a
connection that concerns me."
"A member of Pizzazz's staff?" Phoebe's eyebrows shot up. "And you rely
on this girl to do your dirty work?"
"As I said, she's potentially a liability." Rory responded darkly. "And
he's more than Pizzazz's staff. He's also Jetta's son...and Copper's fiance."
"O-oh." Rapture's clever face took on a look of comprehension and she
chuckled. "So that's how it is? The shrew has a crush?"
"A crush?" Rory looked startled, then a smile touched his lips. "Now you
mention it, I believe you might well be right. As I said, she is...strangely
keen on his company. And she has become extremely bitter towards Jewel -
especially Copper." He rolled his eyes. "Feeble female emotions! No wonder
she's so erratic."
"Not all females have feeble emotions, Riot." Phoebe told him quietly.
"As you should well know from your own experience."
"But if that is the way of it, I'm sure I can find a way to motivate Stefana
into revenge." She added. "I'll arrange to meet her, accidentally and spontaneously,
and see what I can do. After all, it's one thing to develop the perfect scheme,
but it helps to have someone to do the carrying out. And if she is such
a good friend of Copper's fiance - what's his name? - then that's got to
be the starting point."
"Aaron. Aaron Pelligrini." Rory reached into his filing cabinet, producing
a folder and pushing it across the desk. "Everything our spies at Misfit
Music have told us about Jetta and her family is in here. It should be all
"And if anybody is going to dream up the perfect deception, Rapture, it's
STOLEN: PART ONE
Prologue: Downtown Los Angeles
Chapter One: A Special Task
Chapter Two: A Bitter Heart
Chapter Three: A Fan Letter
Chapter Four: A Valentine
Chapter Five: Cynthia's Advice
Chapter Six: Interception
Chapter Seven: Test Of A
Chapter Eight: Rendezvous
Chapter Nine: Cat Burglar
Chapter Ten: Phoebe's Plan
Chapter Eleven: Copper!
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!