A Jewel Whodunnit...
Chapter Three: Justin's Vigil

In the quiet hospital sideward only the hiss of the ventilator and the ticking of the clock broke the silence.
Justin sighed.
It was three hours now, since the fire. Three hours since his whole world had been turned on its head, and still he did not know how things would work out.
She was stable now, that was something at least. He sighed, gently taking her still hand in his, and squeezing it slightly. It was more than had seemed possible at the scene, it was true, but Mary's brave efforts and the efficiency of the paramedics had maintained his wife's fragile grip on life and, despite a few terrifying moments upon arrival at the hospital when her breathing had once more gone down, the doctors had managed to stabilise her condition. She was now in a sideward off Intensive Care, her breathing controlled by a machine and her face pale. The nurse had told him that she was sleeping, but she didn't look asleep to him.
She looked dead.
He sighed again, glancing up at the clock. Minutes had turned into hours and yet he had no impulse to leave, or return home. Their marriage had always been founded on witty banter and sarcastic teasing, but beneath it all there was a depth of emotion few realised existed, and Justin was not ready to let his wife go yet. Somehow, subconsciously, he almost felt that by staying in the hospital with her, maybe he could protect her, keep her going just that little bit more.
"Dad? Aunt Phyllis is here...she wants to see Mom." That was Aaron's voice, and Justin met his son's gaze with a sad one of his own.
"I suppose there's no reason why she shouldn't." He agreed.
"She's kicking up a fuss with the nurses, they won't let her. Shall I tell them it's all right with us?"
"Yes...you might as well." Justin nodded his head. Aaron frowned, biting his lip as he glanced at the figure on the bed, then he was gone. He loved his mother dearly, but he also knew that someone in his family had to be strong. His father was still in a daze, his younger sister hysterical with grief...so the mantle had fallen on him to pull things together.
"But whether or not I can keep it up is beyond me." He added to himself as he retraced his steps to the nurse's desk.
"Dad and I are fine with Miss Gabor paying Mom a visit." He told the sister on duty, not meeting the executive's gaze. "Since they work so closely together and are such good friends, Dad reckons it's only right."
"Well...for a little while." The sister agreed cautiously. "But only if you're quiet!"
"Oh, go stuff yourself." Phyllis snapped. "If you want to keep your job here, you'll butt out." She turned to Aaron, and for the first time the young man saw the emotion in the executive's green eyes. "Where is she?"
"Follow me." Aaron told her quietly. "Aunt Phyl, listen...I don't know what you've been told, but Mom ain't really up to much right now. She's not woken up and she's hooked up to breathing apparatus. We don't know quite yet what's going to happen."
"Yes...Cynthia told me enough to realise that." Phyllis said, rather abruptly. "Your Dad's here?"
"Been here since she came - I drove over about half an hour ago."
"At home. She's cried herself sick."
"Hm." Phyllis fell silent, as they weaved their way through the bustling hospital staff members to the sideward. Aaron pushed open the door, allowing his companion inside. Phyllis entered, stopping dead at the sight of her, and muttering a curse.
"I know. It's how we all feel right now." Justin turned to greet her, his brown eyes sombre. "You got the news then."
"Yes." Phyllis paused, then, "Hell, this shouldn't have happened."
"I think we can echo that sentiment too, Aunt Phyl." Aaron said gravely. Phyllis frowned.
"Whoever did this is damn gonna pay with their neck if I catch them." She muttered.
"It doesn't have to be arson." Justin said softly. "Accidents happen."
"No-o-o. Accidents don't happen like this." Phyllis shook her head. "Accidents don't send threatening notes."
"You had a note?" Aaron looked startled. Phyllis nodded.
"This morning. I ignored it." She responded. "Dammit, if I'd taken notice...but it ain't the first threatening letter I've had in my life. They usually come to nothing, there wasn't any reason I should think this one was different. And then I got called out to San Francisco...so I had other things on my plate."
"Mom was in your office, you know, when we found her." Aaron remembered slowly. "The door was locked, and the fire door was jammed. You don't think..."
"I don't think anything. I know this was on purpose and I know it was meant for me." Phyllis interrupted. "And dammit, I'm going to get to the bottom of it, too! I know there's foul play involved, Jetta was about to tell me when I phoned her that she'd seen someone she didn't expect to have seen on the premises, then the alarm went off and distracted her attention." She frowned.
"Justin, I came by here for a reason. Misfit Music takes care of it's employees...if Jetta's insurance doesn't cover everything, then don't worry. The costs will be covered...tell them to do whatever they need to to help her."
"Thanks, Pizzazz. I appreciate it, and I'm sure Jetta does too." Justin told her quietly, recognising only too well that Phyllis' offer stemmed from her own friendship for the stricken executive, and not business protocol at all.
"Well, if someone could keep me updated..." Phyllis made a move back towards the door, for hospitals had always unnerved her.
"We will." Aaron assured her. "Thank you, Aunt Phyl." He managed a small smile. "Mom would have been glad you came."
"Well, whatever." Phyllis muttered, looking uncomfortable. "I...I have things to do."
With that she was gone, and father and son exchanged looks.
"I think she's feeling it like we are." Aaron said finally. Justin pursed his lips.
"Your mother and Pizzazz have been friends longer than I've known either of them. Of course she is." He responded. "I know she isn't one to show how she feels, Aaron...but she does feel it." He frowned. "Jetta can't die...there are too many people who care about her. She has to make it through."
"I hope." Aaron murmured softly. "I really hope..."


"Mom, are you all right?"
Sylva knocked gently on the door of her mother's bedroom, pushing it open and poking her head hesitantly into the room. She had called by the apartment which her mother called home to make sure the sensitive song-writer was okay after the chaos of that afternoon, and had had to let herself in, for Mary had not answered the door. She turned now, casting her elder daughter a feeble smile.
"I'm sorry, Sylvie, I didn't hear you knock." She murmured softly. "In answer to your question, yes, I'm all right. I'm alive and I'm healthy, and that's all that matters at the end of the day."
"You did a great thing, Mom." Sylva came to hug her mother. "If Jetta makes it through, it'll be thanks to you."
"No, it'll be thanks to the doctors." Mary shook her head. "I'm not a miracle worker, Sylvie, don't read too much into what I did this afternoon. I just did what any friend would do, that's all. I've known Jetta too long to turn my back on her when she needed me, and there seems little use in knowing the procedure if I'm not game to use it."
Sylva frowned.
"I wish I'd kept on with girl scouts, in a way, and had learnt the whole course." She said regretfully. "They kicked me out for messing around too many times - for the first time I wish I'd bothered to listen...maybe I could have helped."
"From what I hear, you did." Mary told her softly. "I overheard a conversation between your friends as Jetta was put in the ambulance - I understand Sadie fainted, and you helped her."
"Yeah, true." Sylva nodded. "But Sadie was just shook up. Jetta..." She trailed off, and Mary sighed.
"Jetta might still die." She intoned sadly.
 It was all too clear that her soft blue eyes were full of unshed tears, and gently Sylva hugged her companion.
"Topaz said where there's life there's hope, and that's what we're going to try and believe in." She said quietly. "Mom, whatever the outcome, you did something very special this afternoon, something that Nancy and Aaron and Justin will be grateful for once the initial shock has worn off and they can think it through."
"I don't want their thanks...I want her to live." Stormer murmured. She got to her feet, pacing the room restlessly. "I wish I could have done more, she was so still and limp! It's going to haunt me always, I think...how still she was this afternoon. How helpless. That's not Jetta...I've never known her that way."
"Where there's life, there's hope." Sylva repeated. "Things are a mess at the moment, but the word from the hospital is that she's stable, so that's something at least. I know she's on a lot of support machines right now, but it's better than the alternative. And whatever you say, Mom, if Jetta survives this it's as much down to you as the doctors. If you hadn't taken a hand it would've been too late by the time the medics got there, and I'm damn proud of you, whatever happens."
"Thanks, Sylvie." Mary offered a small smile. "It makes you realise how important family is, when something like this happens."
"It does indeed." Sylva looked troubled. "I don't always like Nancy, Mom, but I wouldn't have ever wished for this. Let's just hope Jetta is stronger than everyone thinks...and that somehow she can survive this!"


Chapter One: Stormer Tries
Chapter Two: Phyllis Returns
Chapter Three: Justin's Vigil
Chapter Four: A Call Of Conscience
Chapter Five: Investigations
Chapter Six: A Fright For Zoe
Chapter Seven: Dean Takes A Hand
Chapter Eight: Questions
Chapter Nine: A Dead End
Chapter Ten: Flame
Chapter Eleven: A Ray Of Light