Part One: Lovesick
Chapter Four: A Valentine Surprise
"It's just been one of those weeks."
Copper stepped down off the stage, following the rest of the band into
the back of the big studio with a sigh. "I swear, if anything else could
happen then it would have. I don't know what it is of late, but I really
wasn't looking forward to this morning's interview. I felt...creepy."
"Creepy? Why?" Sylva cast her companion a surprised look. It was three
days on, Valentines Day, and the girls had played their new single to a rousing
reception on the popular morning show hosted by Nancy's long term boyfriend
Dean Stacey. The performance had gone without a hitch, and so there was
some reason for Sylva's confusion. "I don't get it, Copper. What's so weird
about playing Dean's show? We do it all the time."
"Well, let's think about this." Copper sighed. "Monday, I get a weird
letter for some guy. Tuesday I get chocolates, rammed into our mailbox beneath
a bunch of other stuff. Wednesday, someone sends me a "just emailed to say
I love you" card over the net while I'm talking to Ros. Today is Valentines
- I half dreaded that whoever this guy is, he was going to do something live
"Ooh, that would've been icky." Sylva grimaced. "But it didn't happen,
you know. So you have a fan with a serious crush on you - stars get this
all the time. You should be touched by it."
"But I'm engaged." Copper grimaced. "I haven't even told Aaron. We're
meeting for lunch later, and I'm not quite sure how to broach the subject
with him. It all began out of the blue."
"Copper, fans don't see us as real people." Topaz said sensibly. "We're
public property to them. That you might be madly in love with Aaron doesn't
occur to them. In their minds, you're there for the adoring - and people
will adore you. It's flattering in it;s own way, that whoever this guy is,
he's bestowing his attention on you."
"I don't find it flattering." Copper admitted. "I might, had it not been
for that letter, but I wish he'd give up. I..."
She pushed open the door of the dressing room, stopping dead as she registered
the huge bouquet of yellow roses that lay on the unit. "Oh God, now what?
"Happy Valentines Day." A voice came from behind them, and Copper swung
around, her apprehension turning into sheepish embarassment as she registered
"Aaron!" She exclaimed. "Oh, did you leave the roses here?"
"Were you expecting someone else?" Aaron eyed his girlfriend in some confusion.
"Copper, are you all right? I mean, I know they're not red roses, but I didn't
"They're beautiful." Copper hugged him tightly, kissing him on the cheek.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I just thought that...well, it's hard to explain it, really,
"Copper has a secret admirer." Sylva said succinctly, moving to examine
the bouquet. "Hey, these really are awesome, Copper...you have him well
"A secret admirer, huh?" Aaron sent his fiancee an amused look. "Since
"Since Monday." Copper cast Sylva a glare. "I mean, that's when I first
heard from him. And he isn't so secret. I mean I have his name and his picture
- he wrote me a...a fan letter and sent me a necklace. Since then I've had
something every day - chocolates, emails...I was half afraid when I came
in here that he'd struck again. Coming into my dressing room is a bit too
close for comfort, so I'm glad these were from you."
"Well, I promise." Aaron laughed. "Though I didn't realise you were in
such hot demand. Maybe I should've forked out the extra bucks and bought
you orchids instead, if I have competition?"
"You don't have competition!" Copper shook her head. "I mean, Syl thinks
he's a cute guy but I wish he wouldn't send me things. I was half afraid
of what he might do on air, in all honesty...I'm just glad it didn't come
"It's cool, Copper. I'm used to dating one of Rock and Roll's most beautiful
musicians." Aaron kissed her gently. "I'm not jealous and I'm not worried.
Whoever he is has good taste, but he's at your door too late. Once he realises
it, he'll move his affections on elsewhere. You'll see."
"You're really okay with this?" Copper looked relieved. "I was worried
you'd be mad and go hunt him down or something. I mean, well, he wrote some
"I think vomit-inducing is the adjective you're looking for." Nancy put
in at that juncture, as Copper paused, searching for an adequate explanation.
"He wrote her a sicky loveletter, Aaron, that had her blushing out of her
seat. Trust me, this isn't the kind of guy who'd stand as serious romantic
competition in any circumstances. He's clearly a loser with nothing better
to do than write love letters to stars."
She cast Copper a grin.
"No offence meant."
"None taken." Copper dropped down on the unit beside the roses, lifting
the bouquet into her lap and reading over the card. "Aaron, these really
are beautiful. I'm sorry they didn't get quite the reception you hoped for,
but I'm gonna take them back with me and put them in water."
"You do that." Aaron grinned. "Cynthia and I have to finish off here,
but we're still meeting for lunch, yes?"
"Yes." Copper agreed. "Without a doubt."
"Then I'll come by the Starlight at about twelve, okay? I know you're
probably in studio this afternoon and I have an appointment with the tangled
mess of wires that calls itself Aunt Phyl's computer anyway."
"Twelve sounds great." Copper nodded. "I'll see you then."
"Sure." Aaron squeezed her hand. "And don't worry about this admirer business,
okay? It doesn't bother me in the least."
"I'm glad." Copper grinned. "Thanks for understanding, Aaron. I'll see
"You know, Nance, you have a pretty cool brother." Sadie remarked, as
the five Jewel girls gathered together their belongings, heading out to
the waiting limousine that would take them to their estate. "Some guys would've
thrown a fit over something like this."
"I think there'd have been a time where Aaron would have, too." Nancy
pursed her lips. "In school...well, he's never been possessive or domineering
or any of those things, but I remember he did get into fisticuffs with a
guy who made a really blatant pass at a chick he was dating. I mean a major
pass - he groped her in the movie theatre and Aaron was livid about it. He
beat the crap out of the jerk, too."
She eyed Copper thoughtfully. "Though if this guy had groped you, I think
he'd be equally livid."
"Well, nobody is groping anyone." Copper said firmly. "I'm glad he understands
and isn't going to get crazy over this. I guess we've been dating so long
that he knows that there's absolutely no risk of him being replaced. In a
month we're going to be husband and wife anyway. And I don't really care
what the showbiz predictions are for celebrity marriages - mine is going to
"Cool Trash reckons you're ninety-five percent likely to make it as a
couple, and they hate us." Topaz reflected. "Even the media can see how
strong you two are. This is just a guy with a slightly sad crush, that's
all. He'll get over it, like Aaron said - and move his affection on somewhere
"I hope he does it soon." Copper pursed her lips, climbing into the back
of the limo and pushing the door open further for her companions. "I'm not
a femme fatale type - never have been - and it makes me uncomfortable to
have some guy I don't even know showering me with gifts and letters and whatever
"When he emailed you, Copper, was it your fan address or your home email?"
Sadie asked. Copper frowned.
"The fan one, of course." She replied. "If he was emailing my home address,
Sadie, I would be seriously worried. Nobody knows that except Mama, Ros,
Luis and my friends."
"And let's face it, Copper -at least you have someone to buy you stuff
for Valentine's Day." Topaz grinned.
"Well, let's hope that only Aaron has bothered to do so." Copper said
dryly. "Are you not picking Hollie up from the creche?"
"No, not since we're in the studio later. I'm going to grab a bite to
eat then go to Misfit Music and spend some time with her there before we
have to work again." Topaz shook her head. "I tell you this, though, when
she's old enough to go to school life will be a lot easier. I'll feel less
guilty about sending her off to the tender mercies of some unsuspecting
Elementary school teacher than dropping her at daycare. When she turns three
I intend on enrolling her in kindergarten anyway."
"At least the kid is sociable and makes friends easily." Nancy pointed
out. "She could sit in the corner and scream all day."
She looked sheepish.
"I can see that." Sylva grinned. "I bet you were a charmer to look after
as a kid."
"I hated the creche." Nancy nodded. "In the end, the woman in charge told
Mom to take her delinquent somewhere else. Remember, of course, that Mom
was chief exec at Misfit Music when I was a kid...so I must've been pretty
bad, for the woman to dare. I used to spend some mornings in the office with
Mom after that, if Dad was working...or Dad would take me on photoshoots if
Mom had important meetings. It was kinda fun, in a way. I felt real grown
"You really did grow up at Misfit Music, didn't you?" Copper remarked.
"It's one hundred percent in my blood." She agreed. "I guess that's why
coming there after school was such a logical progression."
As the limousine drew into the crescent shaped forecourt of the Starlight
Estate, none of the girls noticed that they were being carefully observed
from behind one of the many big spiky bushes that surrounded the drive. As
they got out, thanking the driver and heading up the front steps of the house,
the figure felt his heart pound with a mixture of excitement and anger.
She was carrying flowers.
So her good-for-nothing fiance had got in first this time, had he? He
thought that roses were enough?
"Nothing is enough. Not for her." He muttered. "I'd like to slit his throat.
How dare he think he can win her over with just silly roses? I'll show her
how it should be done. Don't worry, Copper. I won't let him take you away.
I'll rescue you...I promise."
"Anyone for lemonade?"
Sadie headed into the kitchen, grabbing the jug from the fridge and pouring
herself a glass. "Speak now or forever hold your peace!"
Count me in." Nancy agreed. "It's not so hot today, but geez, someone
should tell whoever operates the weather round here that this is February
and not July. Working under hot lights in this weather takes it out of you!"
"Working takes it out of me, period." Sylva rolled her eyes. "Not that
I don't love doing it, but sometimes it'd be nice to have a lie in."
She grinned at Sadie. "Lemonade for me too please, Sade. Gonna need it
if we're singing in studio later on."
"We will be. The heat is on in more senses than one." Nancy remarked.
"Mom dropped some hint last night about Diablo stepping up their publicity
campaign and us needing to make sure we match them blow for blow. I don;t
know, you guys. I get very tired of competing with Diablo. We were here
first - it should be up to them to compete with us."
"Yeah, well, Stefana seems to subscribe to that view." Topaz grimaced.
"She's always in Cool Trash spouting some crap or other about how good Diablo
are and how hard they worked to get there and all that stuff."
"Well, if she's a little piece of hell, I'd like to send her back to join
her mothership." Nancy took the glass that Sadie held out, taking a sip.
"We shouldn't let Stefana get to us." Copper reflected.
"No, we shouldn't, but it's hard not to when she's so damn irritating."
Sylva pulled a face. "Come on, Copper, don't tell me you like the girl now?
She's practically drooling herself silly over your fiance, if you hadn't
"I hadn't forgotten." Copper shook her head. "But I trust Aaron as much
as he does me. Stefana can drool all she likes, Syl - she's only going to
make an idiot of herself in the long run."
"She doesn't need any help to do that." Nancy laughed. "Besides, what
would my brother see in her, anyhow? I don't pretend to be an expert on
love and all of that junk, but I don't think some skinny ghost of a guitarist
with a stinky attitude is quite Aaron's taste."
"Was that the door?" Sadie set the jug back in the fridge, pausing. "I'm
sure I heard a knock - maybe it's the post?"
"I'll go." Sylva slipped off her bar stool, heading out into the hall
and unlocking the front door, letting out a surprised exclamation as she
A delivery man stood on the doorstep, a huge bouquet of flowers in his
"Delivery for a Miss Santiago?" He said.
"Copper!" Sylva got a grip on herself. "Copper, it's for you!"
"For me?" Copper emerged into the hall, stopping dead.
"Oh my...he can't have!"
"Look, can someone sign for this damn thing? I do have other deliveries
to make, you know!" The delivery man cast the two girls a derisive scowl.
"Come on, I don't care if my form is signed by King Kong. I have two more
neighbourhoods to do before I can clock off!"
"Sorry." Sylva grabbed the form, scrawling her name across it and taking
the bouquet from him, closing the door. Solemnly she held it out to her friend.
"I guess this isn't from Aaron." She said quietly. Copper took it gingerly.
"I guess not." She agreed. "Maybe I spoke too soon about him leaving me
alone today...what in hell possessed him?"
"What's all the fuss?" Nancy lounged in the doorway, her eyes widening.
"Oh christ! Copper, your admirer strikes again?"
"Definitely." Copper bit her lip, coming into the kitchen and dumping
the flowers down on the table. "Someone making a point."
"Does it have a card?" Topaz asked. Sylva rummaged among the stems, producing
a bent card, which she proceeded to read out.
"To Copper. Just a small token of my love this valentines." She read.
"Small token? Hell, what does this guy do when he goes wholesale?"
"I don't want to know." Copper shivered. "I dunno, you guys, I'm starting
to get really creeped out by this. First that letter, and now all of this
fuss...I feel like I have a stalker!"
"It's just a few gifts, Copper. Don't freak out." Topaz said gently. "It
was bound to happen to one of us eventually, with Jewel so manic in Los Angeles.
It's not really odd that it's you - you're the one the magazines always
tout as being Jewel's rock babe. It's not like Aaron is bothered by it,
either, so there's no reason why you should be."
"I dunno. I'm with Copper." Sadie eyed the bouquet, biting her lip. "It
seems slightly coincidental that this guy has a mega bunch of flowers delivered
on Valentines Day, right after Aaron bought Copper roses. Does anyone else
"Flowers aren't exactly abnormal on Valentines Day." Sylva pointed out.
"I know that." She said patiently. "Alex bought me lilies last night when
we were out, since he had to fly out to Utah to close up this case this morning.
I'm aware that flowers and valentines kinda go hand in hand. But..."
She shook her head.
"I don't know. There's just something funny at work here."
"Please, Sadie, don't. I'm already creeped out enough." Copper begged.
"I want him to go away and leave me alone!"
"Maybe you should make some kind of public statement, then." Topaz suggested.
"That would only encourage him. To make a public statement she'd have
to acknowledge the guy." Nancy pointed out. "I reckon if you let it lie
and don't give him any encouragement he'll let you alone, Copper. Noone's
going to keep this up unreciprocated for long."
"Well, I hope so." Copper cast another look at the flowers, then, "I'm
going upstairs to change. Someone else do something with those?"
Before anyone could answer, she was gone, door swinging shut behind her.
"You really think there's something funny in this, Sadie?" Topaz turned
pale blue eyes on the British girl, who pursed her lips.
"When we came in this morning I had the sensation of being watched." She
said slowly. "Noone else felt it?"
"Nope." Sylva shook her head. "Watched? You mean someone was actually
on the premises?"
"I don't know. I didn't see anyone." Sadie shrugged. "I figured it was
just my paranoia at the time. Maybe it wasn't."
"But before we leave for work, I'm going to have a good sweep of the bushes
and make sure that, if someone was here, they're not here now. Copper's already
freaked out enough."
"I'll come with you." Nancy said grimly. "Let's go now, get it out of
the way while Copper's upstairs. Then she needn't know, and if it is just
your paranoia, well, you're not going to be scaring her even more."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Sadie agreed. "All right. You take the left
side of the house, and I'll take the right. It shouldn't take us long to
scour the front driveway."
"Be careful." Topaz warned. "If someone is out there, then don't challenge
them. Call the security folk."
"We'll be careful." Sadie promised. "Come on, Nance. Let's see what we
Twenty minutes later, the two girls returned, each wearing an identical
"Well? Did you find anyone?" Sylva demanded. Nancy shook her head.
"Not a soul." She replied. "The forecourt was empty."
"That's a relief." Topaz murmured. "I'm trying to raise a one year old
here and I don't like the idea of nutters prowling the bushes looking for
"We didn't say noone was ever there." Sadie said quietly. Slowly she held
out her hand, opening it to reveal a button. "I found this behind one of
the bushes. Right next to some dusty footprints. Someone was here. They just
"You're sure?" Sylva took the button, turning it over. Sadie nodded.
"I vote we keep an eye on Copper's mail." She said softly. "I don't know
who this guy is or what he wants. He might just be a harmless obsessive,
but as Topaz said, we've an infant in the house, among other things. It's
worth being safe."
"Now you're creeping me out!" Sylva shivered. "Do we tell Copper any of
"Better not. There's nothing she can do - the guy hasn't done anything
to her." Nancy shook her head. "So long as he just watches from a distance,
there's not much anyone can do about it. This is a free country, after all."
"Then we'll just wait and see how it works out." Topaz pursed her lips.
"I dunno. Suddenly this whole secret admirer thing doesn't seem to be much
of a joke any more!"