He had known she would write.
The slim figure slipped eagerly between the darkening streets of Los Angeles, pausing occasionally to make sure he was really on the right track. His patience had finally paid off, he mused, as he headed down 4th Avenue, his heart beating more quickly in his chest as he contemplated seeing her close up.
"I knew she would want to meet me. I knew it would be all right." He whispered, clenching his fists together in excitement as he glanced at his watch, willing the seconds to tick by more quickly. "All this time - I've been patient, Copper, my love. I've kept my distance - I've learnt, this time. And it's paid off. It's going to be...perfect."
He darted across the road, oblivious to the angry horns that blared as cars screeched to a stop. He must not be late, that he knew. He must not keep her waiting.
He reached the bench with two minutes to spare, slipping his hand into his pocket and withdrawing the letter, reading it over carefully for the thousandth time. It had been the second letter she had written to him, in response to his heartfelt begging for a meeting, and he had not been disappointed. The press had always called her the sweetest of the Jewel girls, and he believed them wholeheartedly.
"Dear Jason," [the note read]
As I'm sure you realise, it's difficult for us to meet but I want to meet you so very much. You are the most loyal fan I have ever encountered, and I know we could be great friends. The trouble is my fiance - he is very protective of me and sometimes I find it hard to escape from his supervision. You must not tell anyone that you are writing to me, because I don't know what he might do to you if he knew we were corresponding. I'm engaged to marry him, but how can I be sure that it's what I really want?
Meet me in St Louis Street at eight o'clock on Tuesday night. Come alone, for we must not be seen to arouse suspicion. I will come as soon as rehearsals are through.
Should anything happen between then and now to prevent me making our rendezvous, I will send a trusted friend to meet you and tell you what has happened, for I would not want you to believe I would stand you up. Her name is Stefana and she is the only one in whom I have confided our secret. You may trust her as you can trust me.
Take care - it will not be long now."
He refolded it, glancing around him for any sign of her. The big church
clock said that it had just passed eight o' clock, and he wondered if her
practice had perhaps overrun.
"I can forgive you anything, though." He whispered, touching the letter gently, then pushing it back into his pocket. "I know you are busy."
The minutes ticked by, slowly and painfully, as the streets became darker and the moon began to rise higher in the sky. The clock began to chime for quarter past, and still there was no sign.
And yet he waited.
As the big hand on the clock began to move towards the four, there was a sound from behind him and he turned, expecting to see her.
But a stranger stood there, her expression unreadable and her green eyes wary.
"Jason?" She murmured. "Are you Jason?"
Jason stared at her, for a moment not comprehending why this raven-haired girl should know his name. Seeing his confusion, the girl slipped round to join him, sitting down on the end of the bench.
"My name is Stefana." She said softly. "Copper sent me to meet you. You are Jason, aren't you?"
"She sent you?" Jason's features fell as he registered what her presence meant. "Copper...is not coming?"
"She tried." Stefana schooled her features into a look of distress. "Oh, she tried, I promise she did! But Aaron turned up unexpectedly and dragged her off to dinner. There was nothing she could do - his mother was there and you know as well as I do that Copper works for his mother. If she doesn't keep in with the Pelligrini family then she could lose her job and her career -everything."
"But she promised." Jason said quietly. "She...promised to come."
"She said that she'd told you in her letter that if anything was to happen I should come to explain to you." Stefana pretended to be confused. "Did she forget?"
"No...no, she told me. She said to trust you as I would trust her, so I must." Jason fixed her with limpid blue-grey eyes, and despite herself Stefana was a little unnerved by the intensity of his gaze. "But when can I see her? I must see her. This Pelligrini jerk...he can't control her! She wants to come meet me - I know she does. And I...I want her, too."
"I know, and believe me, I'm here to help you." Stefana promised. She reached into her pocket, pulling out something, and holding it out to him. "Here. Copper sent me with this as a token of her goodwill."
"She sent this to me?" Gently Jason took the thin, delicate bracelet, turning it over in his hands and then smiling. "She does care about me, doesn't she? She wouldn't lie to me?"
"Of course not. Copper doesn't tell lies." Stefana said simply. "But we can't stay here. Listen. There's someone else I think that can help you - help you both."
"There is?" Jason's eyes lit up, then became wary. "But Copper said it must stay a secret."
"Phoebe is different." Stefana got to her feet, reaching for his hand and pulling him up with her. His grip was clammy and cold and she pulled her hand away as quickly as she could, feeling chilled inside. "She is Copper's business agent - she represents her interests in the music world. She also represents me - which is how Copper and I met and why we are such good friends."
"Phoebe?" Jason looked blank."
"She's fed up with the way Jetta Pelligrini and her son are controlling Copper's interests too." Stefana explained patiently. "She wants the relationship to be broken up and to be honest, so do we all. It's so bad for Copper. He's not right. Whereas..."
She paused, eying him thoughtfully. "Perhaps you are."
"And this Phoebe can help me to meet her?"
"Yes." Stefana nodded. "Will you come with me to see her? I know she has plenty of contacts and can arrange something which Aaron cannot interfere in. Will you trust me? I'll take you to her now."
Jason paused at the moment, then glanced down at the bracelet still clutched lovingly in his hands. He nodded.
"I'll come." He murmured. "Anything for her."
* * * * * * *
"Copper, what on earth are you doing?"
Nancy stood in the doorway of her friend's bedroom, casting the percussionist a bemused stare, for the redhead was on all fours, her bed pushed out from the wall and her thick curly hair every which way. The bedroom was in uncharacteristic disarray, and there was some excuse for Nancy's confusion.
"Have you finally lost your mind? What gives? I don't think I've ever seen your room look like a whirlwind hit it before!"
"I've lost my silver bracelet." Copper paused, pushing the bed back and fixing Nancy with a worried look. "You know, the one I sometimes wear for luck if we're doing a big show or something? We're playing tomorrow night and I need it."
"Copper, that's superstitious nonsense. You don't need it to play well." Nancy sat down on the bed. "Besides, it's probably just slipped down inside your car or something. That's all."
"No." Copper frowned, shaking her head. "It's so weird because I could have sworn I had it this morning, when I met Aaron for breakfast. I remember taking it off and putting it in my purse, so that it wouldn't be in my way while I fixed my hair. After that..."
"Could it have dropped out of your purse?" Nancy reached for the tan handbag, but Copper shook her head.
"I don't see why." She responded. "I left it on the unit for a split-second whilst I washed my hands, but there was nothing on the counter when I left the restroom and I've already called Aaron. He hasn't seen it."
"Then it must be in your bag, unless you think someone nabbed it." Nancy's brown eyes danced with amusement. "Invisible people often do steal bracelets from purses in rest rooms, you know."
"Nancy, I'm serious." Copper frowned. "That bracelet was a present from my father for my fourteenth birthday and I always wear it for luck when we have a big show. But it's important to me - you know that things Papa gave me are important to me."
"I didn't realise." Nancy admitted. "Have you tipped the whole lot out on the floor?"
"Yes, twice, and Sadie's helped me check my car, but there is no sign." Copper bit her lip. "I can't think what happened to it. There's no hole in my purse and no way it could have fallen out. I don't understand where it's gone."
"And there was noone in the rest-room with you this morning? Noone who might have had itchy fingers?" She asked.
"I thought that was s'posed to be a ridiculous idea." Copper reminded her. Nancy shrugged.
"Well, was there?" She asked again. Copper shook her head.
"No. Well, only some old woman - but seriously, Nancy, noone grabs a trinket bracelet and leaves a full purse if they're going to steal something. No - I must be mistaken and it must be somewhere in my room - but I've hunted high and low and it doesn't seem to be here."
"Give it a rest for now." Nancy advised. "You're hot and dusty and your room is a pigsty. Come watch a movie and grab some food - Topaz ordered pizza. The bracelet will turn up - it can't have gotten far."
"I hope you're right." Copper sighed. "Oh well. I guess there's not much else I can do. Who knows? Maybe a night's sleep will help me remember where I put it!"
Meanwhile, across Los Angeles, Stefana had pulled her car up outside Rebel
Records, casting her passenger a disdainful glance, then pushing open the
door, stepping out into the floodlit parking lot. He had done nothing but
talk of Copper since they had left St Louis Street, and she was already
heartily sick of his company. "I hope Phoebe is right. He seems like a dweeb
to me." She mused, banging the car door with bad grace as she watched him
clamber out. "He'd better not have got mud all over my upholstery, either.
I can't afford to have this thing cleaned right now."
"Well?" Jason fixed her with his limpid eyes once more. "What now? This is Rebel Records. Copper works for Misfit Music."
"I work for Rebel Records and Phoebe is freelance. I told her to meet us here since Aaron's mother Jetta controls Misfit Music." Stefana tried hard to keep the edge from her voice. "If she knew what we were doing, Jason, you would never get to see Copper - and I mean never! That's how serious this all is! This is far safer. Phoebe can talk to you here."
"Well, if you say so." Jason did not seem to be fully paying attention to her. "What now?"
"Come with me." Stefana grabbed him by the arm, leading him into the building and past the security guard, who hailed her with a warm 'hello'. There was noone else about, however, and Stefana pushed her companion into the lift, hitting the button for the top floor and leaning against the wall of the cage as it juddered into life. Her head was already pounding, she realised, and her night's work was only half done.
"So long as Phoebe has the office." She muttered. "She said she could get around Rory, but I don't know. He might ask too many questions. This isn't his business - it's between her and me and I don't want him interfering. He'd stop her paying me so much - she's damn well paying my debts at the moment and I need her. At least that's one thing - Rory will have gone home by now."
The car jerked to a halt and Stefana led the way into the main corridor, pausing outside Rory's office, then knocking. A familiar voice called her in and she shoved the door open, pulling Jason inside with her, and pushing it shut with a click.
Phoebe sat behind Rory's desk, an expectant smile on her face. She cast a cursory glance at Jason, then greeted Stefana with a warm grin.
"Good evening, Stefana. You found me all right, then?"
"Yes." Stefana replied primly, sitting down in one of the empty seats. "This is Jason. He wants to know how he can meet Copper. I told him you could help."
"Yes, I can." Phoebe sized the man up in an instance, then, "Jason, for quite some time now my influence in Copper's business affairs have been poached and dominated by the Pelligrini family. Not only does she work for Jetta, but she has been forced to work with Jetta's daughter Nancy in a musical sense and now it seems she's going to be made to marry Jetta's son. The control is unbearably tight and none of us can tolerate it any more. Copper no more than anyone."
"I hate him." Jason said firmly. "He's wrong to think she loves him. She wrote to me - I know she doesn't."
"Yes." Phoebe agreed smoothly. "But you have to realise that we are dealing with major powers here. Jetta was a Misfit, a group reknowned for their violent methods and unpleasant temperaments. She has a personal grudge against Copper's mother Carmen, and is determined to control her daughter. I...am an old friend of Carmen's - well, we worked closely together during the eighties here in Los Angeles. For that reason I continue to represent Copper, even though she has all but been swallowed up."
"So what can I do about it?" Jason's eyes flashed with angry indignation. "She should not be treated like this! She is too good - too special. He does not deserve her!"
Phoebe saw Stefana bite her lip and she frowned, remembering what she had deduced about the girl's emotional state. She shook her head.
"I agree." She said pointedly, meeting Stefana's gaze and raising an eyebrow. "But idle talk will get us nowhere. Listen to me. As Copper's agent I have access to her schedule. I know what she's doing and where she's doing it. I will discover all of this and pass it on to you via Stefana, so that you are able to find a good moment to slip in and speak with her. Maybe find a way to help her. I can see you are a good man who cares deeply for Copper's interests - as we all do. I know you won't let her down."
"Of course not." Jason's eyes narrowed. "Whatever it takes - you can trust me. I'll do it."
Prologue: Downtown Los Angeles
Chapter One: A Special Task
Chapter Two: A Bitter Heart
Chapter Three: A Fan Letter
Chapter Four: A Valentine Surprise
Chapter Five: Cynthia's Advice
Chapter Six: Interception
Chapter Seven: Test Of A Friendship
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!