"Well, it's another hot day and we're playing hostess to three girls we
barely know at the beach." Sylva grimaced at her reflection in the mirror.
"There are bound to be press reporters and all kinds of people and, most
important of all, cute guys...and my hair looks like something sat on it
in the night!"
"That would be just too easy." Nancy remarked from the doorway. "Syl, quit primping! Your hair looks as good as it ever does and we don't have till midnight. Besides, I'm hoping we might rootle out whoever's playing spy games with us today. I intend to keep close tabs on all of them and how they react to what we say."
"That's another thing." Sylva sighed, setting down her hairbrush and finally fastening her curls back from her face with small gem studded barrettes. "We're supposed to choose which of these three will be the new Jewel, but what if we choose the spy by mistake? What happens then? We'll be tabloid gossip forever."
"And we'd be putting Cynnie at risk." Nancy agreed. "Oh, get a move on, will you? Topaz and Copper are already waiting outside in the car. I came to give you a major boot up the backside if you weren't ready - we have to be there by tennish!"
"Okay, okay, I'm coming." Sylva retorted. "Cyn isn't tagging along?"
"Nope. She said something about taking Sadie into Los Angeles to see something of the city." Nancy pursed her lips. "They left already. Dunno what that's about but I guess it means Cyn likes Sadie. You know she told her about Synergy?"
"Mm, Topaz mentioned it." Sylva nodded, slipping her bag onto her shoulder and following her companion out to the waiting car. "But she didn't know exactly what Cynthia had said. I think Sadie knows that there's a holographic computer in our basement and that it's secret because of the patent and everything, but not that Cynthia actually is Synergy. I guess we have to leave it up to her. Cyn's a better judge of character than we are, generally."
"Which is why we could use her today, in flushing out trouble." Nancy rolled her eyes, shutting the front door of the mansion firmly behind her and locking it. "You know, I really hope it's Casey. That girl annoys me more than you do and I didn't think that was possible."
"Oh, grow up." Sylva poked out her tongue. "Though to be honest, after what she said about Topaz and the baby's dad, I kinda wanted to throttle her too." She grimaced. "Oh well. Come on."
She pulled open the door of the car, slipping into the back with Nancy in tow. "Okay, we're ready to roll - let's hit the beach, huh?"
"You two feeling as odd about this as we are?" Copper asked as she put the vehicle in gear, pulling out onto the main road. "I can't help thinking about that article. Listen, Syl, you have to be careful what you say today. I know you like to treat others like old friends and trust them but we know that we can't trust one of them, so..."
"I know. I'm gonna be mute." Sylva grimaced. "Don't worry, Copper. I don't want another telling off from Phyllis. She's three times as scary as Mom when she's angry."
"Three times as scary as the average sane person." Nancy muttered. "We really need to work out who isn't on the level. I don't see how this is working, though. If none of them have any link to the press, how on earth can any of them be spying on us? Surely Cynthia would have found that kinda stuff out?"
"We're probably looking at it all wrong." Topaz mused. "It probably is a lot more simple and obvious than it appears to be, Nance. That's why we can't see it."
"If I didn't know better I'd swear it was damn Stefana in disguise." Nancy replied darkly. Stefana Ranieri played lead guitar for Jewel's rivals Diablo and had been a thorn in their sides from their first encounter. "But I know that Diablo are in Europe at the moment, so I know that's impossible. Otherwise..."
"True, but I don't s'pose we can count Rory Llewelyn out of the frame." Sylva sighed. "He's a jerk with no life and he knows we're better than his no hope act, because otherwise he wouldn't keep bothering us like he does."
"Diablo are good." Copper looked thoughtful. "And they're not all hostile like Stefana. But Rory Llewelyn wants his music company to be better than ours, and he's fighting a losing battle. He doesn't have the money available to him that Phyllis does, and so he has to resort to dirty tricks to try and score points."
"I'm sure Mom and Aunt Phyl could come up with much better dirty tricks if they had to." Nancy said decidedly, folding her arms. "They're Misfits. He's just an idiot who had bad hair in the eighties."
"I think it's probably better we don't know most of the things Jetta and Phyllis did as Misfits." She said dryly. "From the little bits I've heard, I'd say they were more than a match for Stefana."
"I don't know. Stefana's twisted up somehow." Sylva remarked. "She gives me the creeps."
"Hey, the beach is kinda busy today." Copper observed as she pulled into the parking lot, and the four girls got out, glancing around them for any sign of their protegees.
"Guess people heard we would be here, huh?" Sylva grinned. "They couldn't keep away!"
"Well, seems like our hopefuls have kept away." Nancy said with a shrug. "Noone here. Are we early?"
"Five minutes. I guess I drove faster than I thought." Copper checked her watch.
"Hey, isn't that Latisha?" Topaz shielded her eyes from the sun, indicating a tall, slim figure making her way across the promenade towards them. She seemed relieved to see them, but there was something troubled in her brown eyes and the four musicians exchanged looks. What now?
"I'm glad you're here early. I hoped you would be, I wanted to speak to you before Casey or Bryony arrived." The black girl seemed preoccupied. "It's to do with Jewel and the talent sweep and things...can I have a moment?"
"Sure." Copper nodded. "What is it, Latisha? Is something wrong?"
"Yes, kind of." Latisha sighed. "I feel very bad about this, you know, because you've all been so kind to me and I've loved meeting you and spending time with you. But I've been doing some real thinking and you know, talking to the other girls, and I've come to a decision." She spread her hands, lowering her gaze. "You're looking for someone who wants to be a long term member of your musical act and you don't want to be having another hunt in say, a year from now. I...I went through with all of this because I saw Jewel as a stepping stone between now and my dreams of being a solo R&B singer but you know, that isn't fair on you. It's been bugging me since we were at your house and I saw how close you all were. Also the moving in idea. You're looking for something permanent and I don't think I qualify."
"Wow." Sylva was the first of the musicians to recover herself, then, "So you want to drop out?"
"I think I have to." Latisha nodded. "I'm really sorry. I...I like you guys a lot, you've been really sweet to us upsetting your privacy and schedule and letting us come by your house and all of that when you've so much to do anyway...it's given me confidence to know that there are good people in showbusiness and that if I really focus on what I want to do I will get my chance. But...I don't think this is it and it would be selfish of me to claim it is, when both Bryony and Casey would be able to commit to the band fully and I'd always be looking for that little chance to move on."
"We appreciate you being so honest with us." Copper offered the girl a smile. "And that you've bothered to come tell us now before we started making any hard and fast choices. You're right, of course, we need a new Jewel who's committed to the band and if you're not then that's fair enough. It must've taken some courage to come and tell us."
"Well, it did, and a lot of soul searching." Latisha grimaced. "My dad thinks Im an idiot for choosing to back out but it's not fair on anyone really for me to keep this up. I guess you can't take short cuts if you really want to be a success. You have to go for it from scratch and see if you can't get there on your own."
"Well said." Nancy said quietly. She frowned. "I'm kinda sad you're dropping out." She admitted. "I liked you best of the three of you."
"Nance, you're not supposed to tell her that." Topaz scolded. Nancy shrugged, as Latisha blushed.
"Well, if she's dropping out, it doesn't matter now." She said flippantly. "Besides, it's true."
"Thank you." Latisha smiled. "But both Bryony and Casey seem to want it pretty badly too, so I'm sure you'll be fine with one of them."
"Yes, I'm sure we will." Sylva grinned.
"I'll put a good word in for you with Mom and Aunt Phyl, if you like." Nancy offered. "They think you're something or you wouldn't have been called in and, well, I think you could be a star. I'll see if I can help you a little."
"That would be wonderful." Latisha looked taken aback. "Thank you, Nancy. I don't know what to say."
"Nancy doesn't often do that for anyone, so you must've made an impression on her." Copper looked amused. Nancy shrugged.
"Talent sells." She said simply.
"I guess I won't stick around here for this morning's meeting." Latisha remarked. "I will go see Misfits Music properly, but I wanted to speak to you girls first. Thanks for understanding and not being mad."
"Good luck, Latisha." Sylva dimpled. "I guess in the end you've made it less complicated for us, choosing."
"I guess I have." Latisha laughed. "Okay, and good luck to you." She grinned. "Jewel mightnt be my scene exactly, but they do rock and I'm glad to have met you. You've all given me a lot of things to think about."
Once she was gone, Copper let out a low whistle.
"Well, I think it safe to say we all thought she was going to admit she was the spy and now it's pretty certain that she isn't." She said finally.
"I didn't think she was the spy." Nancy responded quietly. "I liked Latisha."
"Well, like her or not, she's pulled out of the race, and I don't think she would have done that if she was spying for someone, so Copper's probably right." Topaz pointed out. "We're left therefore with Casey and Bryony as our key suspects."
"I guess that means one of them is the spy and the other the new Jewel." Sylva pursed her lips. "The stakes are pretty high here, aren't they? If we choose the wrong girl..."
"We could be in big league trouble." Nancy nodded. "And speaking of which, here they are."
"Heya!" Casey cast the group a grin, tucking a wisp of blond hair behind her ears. "Sorry we're a little late - I gave Bryony a lift from the hotel and we got kinda stuck in traffic." She frowned. "I asked Latisha if she wanted a ride too but she said no - is something up?"
"Latisha's decided to drop out of the race." Copper said quietly. "It's not a personal thing, but more that she decided Jewel isn't for her, and if that's how she feels noone is going to make her continue." She smiled. "We reckon she'll do very well if she pursues her R&B dreams, anyway."
"She dropped out?" Bryony looked startled. "So it's now just Casey and me?"
"Guess so." Sylva nodded, linking an arm in each of the hopefuls and leading them down onto the soft warm sand. "Excited?"
"Yes, actually." Bryony admitted. "I can't believe it's so close."
"Does that mean that there aren't any other people in the running?" Casey added.
"Well, you'd have to ask Phyllis or Jetta." Topaz said with a shrug.
"If they have an idea they'll let us know." Nancy put in succinctly. "As far as we know though, it's between you girls for the time being. I don't know if they'll pull up someone to take Latisha's place, that's the only thing. We'll have to wait and see what we're told."
As the girls settled themselves comfortably in the sun, they became aware of the sound of childish footsteps and, before any of them realised what was going on, a flurry of sand and blond hair descended upon the group with a shriek of joy.
Sylva blinked at the intruder, getting hold of herself as quickly as she could and casting the small girl a smile, though her eyes held an anxious look. Where four year old Courtenay went, her father Jack was sure to be close behind, and now was the worst time she could think of to encounter him, on the beach, in front of the Jewel hopefuls, one of which she knew was probably waiting for any information to pass on to someone else behind the scenes.
Sylva had never quite known what the deal was with Jack. As a teenager she had flirted and teased many a good looking guy and had never committed her heart to any of them, but she had fallen in love for the first time with this unlikely candidate for superstar romance, single father Jack Miller. Her heart, she knew, had been helped along in this direction by her fondness for Jack's small daughter, for Sylva had always adored children and Courtenay had taken to Sylva just as easily. But Jack had had a girlfriend, Melanie, and she had become his fiancee earlier that year. At first, Sylva had allowed herself to step back and accept it, for she had wanted to preserve their friendship but, when something she had seen had made her suspicious of the new mother-to-be's attitude towards the gregarious little girl she had decided to put everything on the line and tell him the truth. It had backfired and, hurt and humiliated she had withdrawn from seeing either of them at all, not even answering phonecalls or email that, in the last month, had begun to be sent her way. She had felt bad, because Courtenay was almost like a tiny surrogate sister to her, but she had not known any other way to control her feelings.
It had been a good few months since they had last met.
"You don't come and play any more." Courtenay looked reproachful as, oblivious to the incredulous and confused gazes of the other girls she clambered into Sylva's lap, snuggling down as if it was the most natural place in the world for her to be. "Why?"
"Courtenay, honey, I'm working." Sylva murmured gently. "I miss playing with you too, but we're very busy at the moment, and your Dad has a lot on, with the wedding and all that."
"Daddy's not getting married." A big grin lit up Courtenay's face.
"He isn't?" Sylva stared. Courtenay shook her head.
"Melanie went away." She agreed. "Will you come and play again now?"
"She's a cutie." Casey recovered her tongue first. "Friend of yours?"
"Yes." Sylva smiled. "This is Courtenay - she's the daughter of a friend of mine, that's all. It's been a while since we last saw each other and, well, she can get kinda exciteable."
"Courtenay, one of these days you're gonna run off and get yourself into danger." Copper scolded her gently. Courtenay shook her head.
"I'm safe with Sylvie." She said confidently.
"Yes, you are, but your Daddy will worry and I am kinda working." Sylva told her with a grin.
"But I never see you any more!" Courtenay pouted.
"Court, if you run off one more time, I swear I'm gonna crazy-glue your shoes together." A fresh voice interrupted them at that moment and Courtenay giggled, casting her father an unrepentant smile.
"I found Sylvie." She said un-necessarily. "She an' her friends are working at the beach today."
"I see." A certain amount of the sparkle in Jack's eyes faded and Sylva lowered her gaze. She did not say anything, but it was clear she was uncomfortable by his presence, and that seemed to trouble him all the more. Gently he reached down to take his daughter in his arms, hoisting her up on his shoulder. "Hello, Sylvie."
"Hi." Sylva murmured.
"Can Sylvie come and play again?" Courtenay begged.
"Court, Sylvie's a very busy young lady." Jack murmured. "She has plenty to do and you were naughty to interrupt her when she's working."
Courtenay looked crestfallen, and Sylva, always bighearted cast her a reassuring smile.
"It's all right, Court. It was nice to see you again. I've...missed you very much."
"We've...missed you too." Jack observed slowly. Sylva seemed to flush red at this, but she kept control of herself, shaking her head.
"Well, I was going to bring her back to you, but since you've found her, I needn't, I guess." She remarked softly. "I don't want to be rude, Jack, but we have a crazy schedule at the moment, and..."
"I understand." Jack nodded his head. "Goodbye, Sylvie. It was good to see you. Come on, trouble."
"Not now, Courtenay. It isn't the time."
"I think you hurt his feelings." Topaz murmured once they were out of earshot, forgetting for a moment that the group was not alone. Sylva shrugged.
"Then we're even." She said flatly. "Forget it. It's not important." She stretched out on her stomach, resting her chin in her hands. "Someone change the subject. Hey, did anyone tell you two about Exotic? We finally found a fab artist to do the cover, it's all kinda fun."
"You did? That's great!" Casey exclaimed. "Is she someone famous?"
"Not yet, but she has so much talent that she soon will be." Copper took the hint and swiftly adopted the new topic of conversation, casting Sylva a smile. "So it looks like Exotic will make deadline day after all."
"I never dreamed the music industry was so complicated." Bryony observed.
"It's not all glitz and glamour." Nancy admitted.
"Speaking of glitz and glamour, Nancy, is it true that you're seeing that hunky presenter on morning TV?" Casey wondered. "Dean...oh...what's his last name..."
"Stacey." Nancy pinkened. "Yes, it's been true a while. We have a lot in common and I like him very much."
"Dean Stacey. That's it." Casey dimpled. "I'm sorry. I'm great with cute guys facially and all that but names? Nah. Don't have a clue. He's one hell of a sexy anchorman, though. You're one lucky chick, you do know that I hope?"
It was not possible for Nancy to go any redder.
"I guess so." She murmured uncomfortably.
"He's often said that he considers himself lucky too." Copper observed with a wink. "He's as nice a guy as you'll meet, Casey. Friendly and open and perceptive...fame hasn't made him aloof or arrogant and he's a real sweetie. I guess Jewel kinda look on him as rather a surrogate brother. Well, other than Nancy. We've generated friends in showbiz since we started out and none of them are really up themselves or anything, it's nice. It's become like a big family somehow. Especially with us four living together and working together. There isn't much we don't know about each other."
"That must be nice." Casey observed. "Trusting each other so much."
"We think so." Copper agreed. She cast Sylva a sidelong glance. The synth player's expression gave nothing away but Copper knew her friend well enough to know that feelings still ran deeply within her over Jack Miller, and she frowned slightly.
"It's hard on her." She thought. "The first time she really falls in love and all of this happens. Ah well. She's strong. She'll come through it."
Chapter One: Conference
Chapter Two: An Unexpected Houseguest
Chapter Three: The Wannabes
Chapter Four: Sadie Confides
Sadie's Diary: September 6th, 2013
Chapter Five: A Spy
Chapter Six: Inspiration
Sadie's Diary: September 7th, 2013
Chapter Seven: Cynthia Lends A Hand
Sadie's Diary: September 8th, 2013
Chapter Eight: Into The Lion's Den
Sadie's Diary: September 9th, 2013
Chapter Nine: Latisha Admits
Chapter Ten: Dinner At The Starlight
Chapter Eleven: Truth Will Out
Chapter Twelve: The Newest Jewel
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!