Chapter Two: Nancy Finds A Clue
"So what, exactly, are you trying to tell us, Mr Pelligrini?"
The stern police officer cast him a searching look, settling himself more comfortably in his seat as he did so. "Your fiancee has been missing since when, exactly?"
"She left my apartment at one or thereabouts, in the early hours this morning." Aaron repeated. "But she didn't arrive back home. None of her friends or housemates have seen her and though we've called around all the local hospitals, noone has seen any trace of her. We've driven around the neighbourhood - hell, the whole city! It's like she's just...vanished."
"I see." The policeman pursed his lips, then, "You do realise, Mr Pelligrini, that she could just have taken off? It does happen, you know. Girl gets cold feet, runs out of town...we see it all the time."
"No! No, Copper isn't like that." Now Aaron was frustrated. "Listen to me! She was here just a couple of days ago filing a report about a break-in at a venue she was working, where stuff of hers was stolen! The officers on that case took it seriously - now she's gone missing! Don't you see that the two things are probably connected?"
The officer cast him another searching look, then,
"Do you know the name of the officer whose case your fiancee's was assigned to?" He asked at length.
"Blackwood." Aaron said promptly. "He spoke to Copper for some time and took letters from her. She's had all kinds of mail of late...please, this isn't just some lover's tiff. She's really disappeared...we need your help!"
The officer turned to one of the junior officers.
"Get Blackwood in here." He said curtly. Then he turned back to his companion.
"You'd better tell me the story through as you know it." He said reluctantly. "What's your fiancee's name?"
"Elizabeth Santiago. But everybody calls her Copper." Aaron responded. "She's drummer with a local music act, you see, and..."
"Copper?" For the first time the police officer seemed to have absorbed what Aaron was saying. "Not Copper of Jewel? Kid, are you trying to convince me that you're her fiance? You do know how many people we get in here making wacked out claims like that?"
"I don't care if you don't believe me." Aaron fixed the policeman with a glare. "I don't care if you think I'm delusional or whatever it is. I want her found and so long as you do that you can think what you like. The facts of the matter are that Copper left my apartment at around one this morning and noone has seen her since!"
Before the policeman could retort, the door of the interview room swung open and the officer who had first spoken to Copper at the scene of the break in entered. He cast Aaron a startled look, then turned to his colleague.
"Something up, Ron?"
"Something and then some." His companion rubbed his beard. "This joker thinks he's Copper's fiance - Copper from Jewel. He claims she's missing and that you took some cock-o-hoop story about a break in and letters or something the other day. Mind laying me out some facts here?"
"I spoke to you before." Aaron put in, eying officer Blackwood hopefully. "When the dressing room was burgled. Copper's earrings and datebook were stolen."
Recognition flashed into Blackwood's eyes, and he nodded.
"Yes...I remember." He agreed. "We hadn't much to go on, though, and with that big homicide case in Pasadena winding up yesterday nothing more has been filed on it. But did you say the girl is missing?"
"She disappeared after leaving my apartment this morning." Aaron repeated his statement once more. "Nobody has seen her since. We're all frantic about her. I came here to file a missing person's report but your colleague here doesn't seem to think that a word I say is the truth!"
"Hey, my apologies, bucko, if you're on the level." The initial officer shrugged his shoulders. "We get a lot of pranks round these parts."
"Well, I'm on the level." Aaron said firmly. "I wouldn't be here otherwise."
"Then we'd better take a full statement from you." Blackwood took a seat. "Start from the beginning...from when Miss Santiago left your apartment."
"Do you suppose Aaron is having any further luck with the police than
we're having looking for Copper's car?"
Nancy pulled into a layby with a screech, resting her arms on the steering wheel with a sigh. "I swear there's something surreal about all of this. People don't just disappear."
"They can, you know." Sadie said darkly, turning to check out of the back window. "If someone knows what they're doing, people can disappear for good and noone ever finds them."
"Don't, Sadie, you're not helping." Nancy snapped. "If you must sit and indulge in your criminal expertise, at least use it to tell us what we're looking for, huh?"
"I wasn't ever party to an abduction, Nance." Sadie shook her head. "And even if I had been, it would've been from the wrong side of the hedge. All I can tell you is that any criminal worth his salt covers his tracks as best he can. If we believe that this nutso admirer of hers snatched her, then he'd have to ditch her car somewhere, because it'd be full to the back teeth of evidence that would probably convict him in a court of law. So..."
"So where would you stash a car like Copper's?" Nancy demanded. "It's not the most snazzy showbiz vehicle you'll ever see, but it's not exactly inconspicuous. It's blue, to begin with. Blue doesn't camouflage well."
"I suppose he could've sent it off the pier or something, into the sea or into the river." Sadie pursed her lips. "Water's a pretty good hiding place."
"With or without Copper inside it?" Nancy asked sharply. Sadie shrugged.
"Without, I hope." She said. "But how should I know? Look, Nance, sitting here isn't helping us look for her. I'm gonna lay odds that, since this guy obviously has his heart set on Copper, he's not going to drown her at the first opportunity. Wherever he is, she's probably with him and she's probably not at the bottom of some ravine. We just gotta track her down before he realises that she's mad for Aaron and isn't his type."
"I'm with that." Nancy sighed, putting the vehicle in gear. "But first we need gas. We've been driving all morning and my tank is almost empty. If we're gonna head out to the beach to check for tiremarks or whatever, we're gonna need juice."
"Okay." Sadie nodded. She frowned. "Though I'm pretty sure we won't find anything at the beach, Nance."
"Well, it was your idea!" Nancy protested, reversing the car back into the road and screeching off in the opposite direction to the one they had first come from. "You said that he could have ditched her car off the pier. If he did that and they dredged it out, surely we'd have something to go on?"
"Yeah, but another thought occured to me after that one." Sadie responded. "I'm trying to think criminal again, and it's a more logical suggestion than taking the time and the energy to dispose of the car so close to home."
"Well?" Nancy demanded. "Share this brilliance with me, will you?"
"It just struck me that maybe he didn't ditch the car at all." Sadie shrugged. "Maybe he still has it."
"You mean that, wherever he's taken Copper, he's also taken her car?" Hope flared in Nancy's dark eyes as she drove onto the front forecourt of the nearest petrol station. "So we find the car, we find Copper?"
"Yes, essentially." Sadie nodded. "But don't get your hopes up, Nance. I don't think that's gonna be half as simple as it sounds." She sighed. "I want to get a hold of Alex and run all of this by him. Damn him being tied up in an interrogation this morning! He still hasn't called me back."
"Did you tell whoever you left the message with that it was urgent?" Nancy asked.
"Yes. Life or death." Sadie agreed. "Want me to fill the tank while you go pay? That'd cut down how long we're here."
"Works for me." Nancy grabbed her purse, stepping out of the car. As she did so, she paused.
"Sadie, what did you mean, that it wouldn't be as easy as it sounded?"
"Well, he has several hours head-start on us." Sadie replied, pulling the nozzle from the pump and beginning to fill the car's petrol tank. "If Copper vanished around half one...he's had almost twelve hours on us now. He could've taken her anywhere."
"But at least we can give the cops her license plate number and they can put out a nationwide hunt for her." Nancy replied. "So it isn't as hopeless as it was before."
She headed towards the shop, and as she did so, her toe scuffed against something on the ground. Frowning, she glanced down, catching sight of a glint. She paused, bending down to scoop it up. Her eyes widened.
"Sadie!" She exclaimed. "Sadie, look! I think I found a clue!"
"A clue?" Sadie dropped the nozzle back into it's holder with a clatter, hurrying to join her. "What kind of a clue?"
"Look!" Nancy held out her find, and Sadie took it, turning it over in her hand.
"Copper's earring." She murmured. "One of the ones that was stolen from the dressing room. That is...I suppose it is Copper's and not a coincidence?"
"Well, I don't believe in coincidence." Nancy said firmly. "You know that. It has to be hers, Sadie. Think about it. This gas station is pretty much on Copper's route back from Aaron's place. If she needed gas, she'd call here."
"And so he was here, too?" Sadie asked. Nancy nodded.
"You know, we probably shouldn't have touched it." She admitted at length. "In case it had prints on it."
"Too late now. All we can do is hand it in with the authorities." Sadie said with a sigh. "But it does suggest that Copper was here, at least...or well, the guy who took her earrings was here."
"Waiting for her." Nancy shivered. "Ooh."
She glanced across at the shop.
"Maybe someone in there saw something." She mused. "They have surveillance footage, don't they? Perhaps something's on their film."
"Maybe." Sadie looked hopeful. "Come on. Let's pay your tab and ask the manager. If nothing else, we can tell the cops that we think Copper was here...and if there's surveillance footage, so much the better! Maybe this isn't such a hopeless hunt after all! Maybe we really will find Copper soon!"
Chapter One: Where Is Copper?
Chapter Two: Nancy Finds A Clue
Chapter Three: Marissa
Chapter Four: A Faint Lead
Chapter Five: Undercover
Chapter Six: A Reluctant Witness
Chapter Seven: Cynthia Takes A Gamble
Chapter Eight: A Play For Freedom
Chapter Nine: Aaron Decides
Chapter Ten: Midnight Flight
Chapter Eleven: The Race Is On
Chapter Twelve: Nemesis
Chapter Thirteen: Aftermath
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!