Chapter Six: Suspicions
"Where in hell is she?"
Jetta glanced up at the clock on the dressing room wall, her expression impatient. "I thought I made it clear to her that you were to be at the hotel for five and the NEC for half five. It's damn near seven o'clock! What's she playin' at? We've your set to run through an' God knows we're already pressed for time!"
"She sent me a text about two hours ago to say she would get a cab straight from Alyssa's to the NEC." Topaz glanced up from where she had been brushing out her thick golden hair. "But after that I've heard nothing. Should I try calling her phone? I tried when we got here but the signal was blocked or something. Reception can't be that good here."
"Try again." Jetta nodded her head. "But she'd better have some damn excuse for this. I can't wait around all day for you girls to show up when you please...trust me, it's the last time any of you are takin' an afternoon out to visit family! Even shopaholic Sylva managed to make it to the 'otel for quarter to five!"
"I'm not unreliable!" Sylva protested at this. "I kept a very close eye on the time, thank you!"
"It isn't like Sadie to be unreliable either." Nancy frowned, setting her guitar down on the unit. "Do you think something's happened to her?"
"I don't know, but I can't get a signal from her mobile." Topaz shook her head, setting her phone down. "It's no good, Jetta. The reception in here is awful and I can't get through to her."
"Maybe if I tried one of the payphones in the lobby, that would work?" Copper suggested. "Perhaps she's been trying to contact us, only it's not been getting through. Something must have happened to hold her up, after all."
"Yeah, you do that." Jetta agreed. "And tell 'er I'm bloody mad at 'er, will you? God knows we 'ad enough trouble the last time I brought the kid to England! I'm startin' to think that I should keep you all on a lead!"
Copper slipped out of the dressing room, heading down the bustling corridors to where the bank of payphones were. Fishing in her pocket for some loose change, she carefully dialled Sadie's number, slipping coins into the phone as she waited for her friend to pick up.
At first it seemed there would be no answer, for the phone seemed to ring and ring. Copper was about to give up when suddenly there was a click at the other end of the line.
"Sadie!" Relief flooded Copper's heart at the sound of her friend's voice. "Sadie, it's Copper - where on earth are you? Jetta's going mental and the rest of us don't know what to make of anything! What happened? You were gonna meet us here at five thirty - did something happen?"
"Yeah, something happened." Sadie's tones were angry. "And if I didn't know better I'd think someone was involved, except I can't prove it."
"What do you mean?"
"I got a taxi from Alyssa's at five, just like I said, so I'd be with you for half past." Sadie responded. "Only the damn cab driver didn't seem to have a clue where he was going. By the time we got to Walsall I clued in that we weren't going to get to Birmingham at all this way, and I told him to stop. I got to the station and got a train to New Street - which is where I am now, by the way - but there are no taxi cabs in the taxi rank and the six thirty train to International is running twenty minutes late. It should be here any second but..."
She paused, as a metallic voice echoed over the tannoy system behind her. "I've been trying to call you guys for the last hour, only I couldn't get through. Is something wrong with Topaz's phone or something? It kept giving me a dead line."
"No, but she can't get a reception in here, for some reason." Copper replied. "Hence why I'm using a payphone." She slipped another fifty pence into the slot, then, "How long will it take you to get here?"
"From New Street? Twenty minutes tops by train if the bloody thing would get a move on. I'm really sorry about this, Copper. It's just a good thing I know this area like I do. Otherwise I'd really be lost. I don't know who put the taxi driver up to it, but I swear no Brummie cabbie would be so dumb as to mistake Walsall for the NEC."
"I don't even know where Walsall is." Copper admitted. "I'm just glad you do! Look, I'll explain to Jetta what's happened and why you're so late - she won't be so mad at you when she realises it's not your fault and you're doing your best to get here. We'll do whatever we can do to prepare without you - at least you know the tunes and everything well enough. It'll be enough to get you through hair and make-up by eight, not to mention tuning and stuff."
"Well, I'm doing my best." Sadie responded. "And here's my train now. With any luck I'll see you in twenty minutes or so - but dammit, if I get my hands on whoever's behind this..."
"Maybe nobody was. Maybe it was just a rookie driver who didn't know." Copper suggested. "This isn't LA -there's no Stefana here to spite us."
"True. Maybe." Sadie sighed. "Well, I'll talk to you soon, all right? Tell everyone I'm sorry and will be there soon."
"I will." Copper agreed. "Bye, Sadie. See you soon."
She set the phone down in the cradle, listening to the clunk as her change fell through to the coinbox below. Slowly she made her way back to the dressing room, deep in thought.
"Well?" Jetta cast her a searching look. "You took your time - what's up?"
"I spoke to her. She's been trying to call us but can't get a signal on Topaz's phone." Copper responded. "Jetta, don't look like that. It isn't Sadie's fault - she's doing her best to get here."
"What happened?" Nancy asked. "Was there a problem getting a cab?"
"No, not exactly." Copper sat down in her seat, carefully outlining all that Sadie had told her.
"He took her to where?" Sylva stared.
"Walsall." Copper repeated. "Wherever that is. Is it in Birmingham, Jetta?"
"No. Miles outside of it." Jetta's expression darkened. "Not a funny prank."
"Well, I wondered if it was a rookie driver or something who didn't know his way and took a wrong turn." Copper suggested. "Either way it's a good thing Sadie knows the area like she does. She got a train from Walsall when she couldn't find any cars and she's doing the same at New Street because the taxi rank there was empty too. She said she'd be with us in twenty minutes or so, roughly. She's hopping mad about it herself, Jetta, so don't get mad at her. She didn't do it on purpose."
"I guess not." Jetta pursed her lips. "Well, once she's 'ere we'll hurry you lot through makeup and wardrobe an' 'ope for the best. Meanwhile the rest of you better get out there an' block for lights, so we're all ready when she arrives. It's a pain and an 'alf, but we 'ave a show to do and we gotta do it. But dammit, tomorrow I ain't lettin' any of you out of my site! Rookie drivers or not, Jewel are damn well gonna keep their obligations this tour!"
Jesta pulled herself back into the shadows, frowing as she digested all she had overheard. "I forgot that Garnet was a native Brummie. I should've picked on one of the others - they wouldn't know Walsall from Coventry and they'd still be wandering lost around the Black Country right now. Still, I delayed them pretty good. There's no reason I should make their tour easy on them, and besides, I have bigger plans for them yet. Bainbrook Castle is a fortunate tour date...not only are they playing there on November first, they're actually going to stay in the haunted tower."
A wicked smile touched her lips.
"All it takes is for me to ensure that the haunted tower really lives up to local legend." She decided. "I wonder..."
* * *
* * * *
"You know, tonight's concert still has me buzzing. I don't
think I'm going to get to sleep for hours yet."
Sylva sprawled out on the rug in the hotel suite's central lounge, idly repainting her nails a vivid pink colour. "Don't you think the crowd were amazing? And so many people! I can't believe how popular Jewel are getting over here. It's almost as mad as California."
"I'm not going to sleep for a while either, and it has nothing to do with the concert." Sadie sighed, sitting down in one of the big leather armchairs. "I keep going over that taxi ride in my head, Syl. I know I told the driver very clearly to take me to the NEC. And he spoke with a local accent - I swear there's not a single person in the city of Birmingham who doesn't know what the NEC is or that it's not far from the airport. Seriously, it's not something you could miss and the train goes right there anyway. Why in hell would he take me to Walsall? And more importantly, where was he planning on taking me if I hadn't seen the Bescot Stadium and got suspicious?"
"Not knowing what a Bescot Stadium is, Sadie, I haven't a clue." Sylva sent her a playful smile. "But it's like Copper said - there isn't any Stefana here to spite us. Diablo aren't big in the UK yet, not really, and Phyllis is careful about arranging our tours so that they don't clash if she possibly can. So it must've been a coincidence."
"Yes. That's why it bugs me." Sadie shrugged, reaching in her dressing gown pocket for her cigarettes and lighting one. "I dunno. Just something seemed odd about it, that's all."
"You know, nail polish fumes and cigarette smoke don't mix, you two." Nancy emerged from her bedroom at that moment, stopping in the doorway and covering her nose. "Someone open a window, before we all die of suffocation!"
"Chill, will you?" Sylva reached over to do as she was bidden. "Besides, I was here painting first. Sadie just decided to light up."
"After the day I've had, I need it." Sadie retorted. "I had to counsel my kid sister, I wound up in bloody Walsall and I nearly didn't make the NEC concert at all, thanks to the train delays. I haven't had a fag since lunch and it's gone two in the morning now."
"Are Copper and Topaz asleep?" Nancy asked. Sylva nodded.
"I think so." She agreed. "Topaz said she was going to take advantage of not having a baby to chase after in the night, and Copper headed off just after her. We thought you'd gone off too - how come you haven't?"
"I had a melody running through my head and I had to scribble it down." Nancy responded, perching on the end of the couch. "What are you talking about?"
"Sadie getting her mystery tour this afternoon." Sylva replied. "She still thinks there's something fishy about it."
"Perhaps there was." Nancy looked thoughtful, picking a magazine up from the table and idly flicking through it. "I mean, it was pretty convenient if it was a coincidence...you know, that it happened the night of the concert? Yet we were all over London a few days ago and nothing happened there."
"That's what I think, too." Sadie tapped ash from her cigarette into the tray on the table. "I was saying to Syl that the driver was a local...a Brummie. You'd have to be born stupid if you came from this area and hadn't heard of the NEC. It's a big deal venue."
"So maybe he was." Sylva shrugged.
"No, I think Sadie's on to something." Nancy found the page she was looking for, folding the cover back and dropping it down in front of her bandmate. "Look. This at all familiar to you? Because it sure rings a bell or two with me."
Sylva scooped up the magazine, her expression becoming one of angry incredulation as she registered Nancy's meaning. She raised startled eyes to the composer's grim brown ones.
"Jesta?" She demanded. "You think that bitch is behind this?"
"I'd stake a fair bit of my royalty money on it, if it came to the punch." Nancy nodded darkly. "I dunno about you, Syl, but I don't believe in coincidences. If something happens, it's usually for a reason...and I bet you anything you like that Miss Talley spent this afternoon in Birmingham, talking business with a certain taxi firm."
"Though what I don't get is how she could know where Sadie was." Sylva frowned. "We weren't all together and Sadie wasn't even in the city centre."
"She could have followed me." Sadie looked thoughtful. "I mean, several folk did stare at me when they realised that I was who I was, if you get my meaning. When I was with Chevonne I signed a couple of autographs, too. I wasn't really...well...incognito. It wouldn't have been hard for her to trail me to Alyssa's place, if I think about it. Though honestly if she did she's a damn pro at trailing. I never had a clue she was there, and I'm pretty paranoid about those things as a rule."
"Well, remembering what Jesta did to Zoe, I wouldn't be all that surprised." Nancy said decidedly.
"Stefana was involved too, though." Sylva remembered. "And though we met Jesta in Morvania, she didn't really cause us any trouble. I mean she was bitchy and spiteful, but when we thought it was her causing all the problems it was really Nadia and her brother and their twisted rebellion plot."
She shivered. "I still wonder if Nat was right about them being executed for it. It gives me chills."
"We're not here to discuss Morvanian plots, Syl. This is more important." Nancy said firmly, taking the magazine and tossing it down onto the table. "Fact of the matter is, someone got Sadie driven away from the venue this afternoon, and the chances are that they intended her to miss the concert. The fortunate thing was that Sadie knows this part of England and so was able to track her own way back here in time. But Jesta probably didn't think about that - if it was Jesta. She set herself up as our rival because we're friendly with the Teenangel Outsiders. So we have to be prepared that she might well treat us in the same way as she treats them."
"Or as Stefana treats us, back in LA." Sadie groaned. "Great."
"Well, if I'm right, there;s something else to think about." Nancy responded. "We'll be at Bainbrook Castle before we know it, for Hallowe'en night. It's all over the presses. If I were you I'd be on the look-out for some odd goings on when we're down there - and I don't mean ghosts!"
"But we're doing that for charity!" Sylva objected. "She wouldn't cut that low, surely?"
"This is Jesta, Syl. You shouldn't even have to ask." Nancy grimaced. "Think Stefana with a British accent. That's what we're dealing with here."
"Well, if we are, then she's lost her advantage. We're on to her." Sadie took a last drag on her cigarette, dropping it into the ashtray. "So if anything untoward happens at Bainbrook, well, we'll know who to be looking out for."
"And with any luck, we'll catch her at her game." Nancy said grimly. "Because if you ask me, Jesta needs a lesson in not messing with Jewel!"
NO SUCH THING AS GHOSTS
Chapter One: Flight To England
Chapter Two: A TV Welcome
Chapter Three: Avril
Chapter Four: A Rival
Chapter Five: Sadie's Family
Chapter Six: Suspicions
Chapter Seven: Bainbrook Castle
Chapter Eight: Jesta's Game
Chapter Nine: Trapped!
Chapter Ten: The Castle Ghost
Chapter Eleven: To The Rescue
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!