Part Two: Heartstrong
Chapter Eight:  A Play For Freedom

It was raining by the time Jason drew the vehicle into the parking lot of a Nevada motel and the sky was beginning to darken, revealing a mottled sky of cloud and stars. By this time, Copper's legs were so stiff from the drive that she stumbled from the car and Jason had to haul her to her feet, enquiring in anxious tones as to whether or not she was all right."
"My legs have gone to sleep." Copper said quietly. "From the long journey."
"Then it's a good thing we're resting here." Jason decided, reaching in the back of the car for the headscarf and the dark glasses. "Here, my sweet. Put these on."
Biting her lip, Copper hesitated for a moment, then did as she was bidden, tying the floral wrap tightly around her distinctive red curls and hiding her brown eyes from view.
"You said on the radio that they found my car." She said lightly, as he linked his arm protectively in hers, leading her towards the brightly lit building. "What if they discover that it was you who took me away?"
"They won't do that." Jason said dismissively.  "Besides, they don't know where we're going. And Phoebe promised to help me. She said she'd deflect attention."
"Phoebe." Copper bit her lip. "I don't understand, Jason - why would you trust her? She's no friend of mine."
"She's your business agent." Jason told her calmly. "And it's all right, my darling. You don't have to pretend with me. Together we can be totally honest. You're not in California now - those Pelligrinis will never find us in time."
"Did Phoebe tell you that the Pelligrinis were unkind to me?" Copper asked softly. Jason nodded.
"Yes." He agreed. "He said that the mother controlled you and the son was marrying you for your money and your fame, to keep you tied even more closely with the music company. I knew it had to be true. He's not good enough for you."
"Maybe she was lying to you." Copper ventured. "Maybe Aaron a friend of mine, and Nancy too. Perhaps I wasn't afraid of them."
"It doesn't matter." Jason seemed unperturbed. "Because they were bad for you, anyway. Phoebe knew they were and so do I. And so did your friend. She went to great trouble to make sure that Phoebe and I could meet without anyone knowing."
"Friend?" Copper looked startled. "I don't understand -which friend? You met with one of my friends?"
"Yes." Jason agreed. "She told me all about your problems with Misfit Music and everything." He beamed. "Now, no more questions. It has been a long trip and you will be tired. You need to sleep and I must make a phonecall."
"A phonecall?" Despite herself Copper stopped dead, causing him to pull impatiently on her arm to get her moving once more. "To who? Phoebe?"
"No, of course not." Jason tut-tutted. "To your friends, of course. Now we're out of California I have to tell them that they need to stop looking for us. That you're happy with me and that if they try and come to Nevada I will have to hurt them. I don't want to hurt anyone, Copper, but nobody can be allowed to stop us being together. Not ever."
Copper blanched.
"I will do whatever you ask of me." She whispered. "So long as you don't hurt anyone back home."
"There, now you are upset." Jason looked regretful. "I told you, noone will get hurt so long as they are sensible and realise that we want to be left alone. That is what you want, isn't it, darling? To be left alone?"
"More than you know." Copper nodded her head, her mind a whirl. Jason smiled, satisfied, then pulled open the door of the motel.
"I will book us a room." He told her. "You stay here. I don't want people to see you and think they should interfere. Remember what I said."
"I remember, and I won't say a word." Copper assured him, though her eyes flitted to the door as if gauging whether she would make it out of the motel and across to the car before he caught up with her. Jason slipped the car-keys into his pocket, sauntering up to the desk, and inwardly the drummer berated herself for not having learnt the dubious art of hotwiring a car when she had been in high-school.
"If ever I get out of this, I'm gonna get Sadie to show me." She decided, twisting her hands together and lowering her gaze as a couple sent her a curious glance from across the room. "I want so much to call out for help - it could all be over so quickly! But I know he has that gun in his jacket and that he'd kill these people just as easily as he'd kill Aaron or anyone back home if they tried to intervene. It's not a risk I dare take - maybe he wouldn't kill me but I have no doubt that he would kill others to keep us together. I have to just be patient. Something will come up. I just have to pray hard and hope that he makes a mistake. So long as I do as he tells me, he seems to trust me enough not to manhandle me too much. I wonder if I can convince him not to tie me up tonight..."
"Well, my love? Shall we go?" Jason's voice penetrated her thoughts and she glanced up, meeting his hard blue gaze with a hesitant one of her own. At length she nodded, getting to her feet and allowing him to lead her across the lobby and into the lift.
"Tomorrow the secrecy stops." He murmured to her. "I think we will be in Vegas before nightfall, and then we will be man and wife. Nobody can seperate us then!"
Copper made no response, and, taking this as acquiescence, Jason led her down the corridor to their room, unlocking it and ushering her inside. Glad of the chance to rest, despite the circumstances, Copper sank down on the end of the bed, rubbing her aching legs.
"It's been a long day." She murmured. "Will you let me sleep?"
"Soon." Jason nodded. "Soon. First I must call California, and then we will rest. We have an early start tomorrow."
He rummaged in his pocket, fishing out his length of rope and Copper's heart sank.
"Jason, I thought you trusted me." She protested. "Must you tie me again tonight? It hurts my arms and legs so!"
"I have no choice." Jason told her sadly. "I have to make sure you stay with me. Someone might spirit you away otherwise. Once we are married, my pet, I promise, no more ropes."
Copper sighed, but raised no further objection, and Jason carefully bound her wrists and ankles. The knots were not as tight as they had been the night before, however, and Copper found that though escape would be impossible, she could at least make herself comfortable on the soft matress. Gently Jason covered her over with the flowered duvet, then he reached for the telephone.
"You must tell me the phone number for the Starlight Mansion." He said at length. "So I can call them."
"You don't know it already?" Copper was surprised. Jason shook his head, his eyes narrowing.
"No. It is not on your website. Nobody would tell it me. But you know it...tell me."
Slowly Copper recited the number, watching her captor carefully as he dialled. She was somewhat comforted to know that it was her home he was calling, even though she knew that she would not be able to speak to them. At least then they would know that she was alive, and that as yet he had not harmed her.
The phone was answered on the third ring, and from the bed Copper could make out Sylva's familiar East coast accent.
"Starlight Mansion, Sylva speaking." She said. "Can I help you?"
"Stop looking for Copper." Jason cut straight to the point. "She doesn't want you to find her."
Sylva let out an exclamation, then, "Who is this? What do you know about Copper?"
"Copper is here with me." Jason said quietly. "She doesn't want you all chasing her! She loves me and we are going to be man and wife! She doesn't need any of you!"
Across America in the Starlight hallway, Sylva's blue eyes had widened as she'd registered who she was speaking to, and, grabbing a sheet of blank paper, she scrawled a note on it, holding it up to Sadie, who had emerged from the lounge at the sound of her exclamation. Sadie's own expression became one of amazement and she turned on her heel, hurrying back into the lounge and rummaging through her bag for her mobile phone.
"What's going on? Where's the fire?" Nancy demanded, glancing up from the newspaper article she had been poring over.
"It's him on the phone! I have to call Alex!" Sadie hissed.
"Him?" Nancy frowned. "Who?"
"Copper's abductor!" Sadie responded. "Keep your voice down! I don't know how long Syl can keep him on the phone for, but it might not be good for Copper if he knows that we're contacting the FBI to put a trace on it!"
"So Alex was right to have our phones tapped." Topaz looked grave. "I didn't think that we'd get a call from the nutter but I guess I was wrong. Unless we have it all wrong and it's a ransom he wants after all."
Sadie shrugged, but before she could respond her boyfriend had picked up the phone and she relayed to him what was going on in hushed, excited tones.
As she terminated her call, the door of the lounge swung open, and Sylva stepped in, her expression troubled and somewhat dazed.
"Couldn't you keep him on the line any longer? Alex was trying to get a trace on him." Sadie looked crestfallen. Sylva shook her head.
"He just hung up." She responded. "Oh God, guys, what are we involved in here?"
"What did he say to you?" Topaz asked.
"That we were to stop coming after Copper because she loves him and doesn't want us there. That they're going to be married and if anyone comes after him he'll kill them, because nobody is going to keep him and Copper apart." Sylva swallowed hard. "He sounded like he meant it."
"Did he say anything about Copper? Was she with him, or...?"
"He said so, and I thought I heard something in the background, but I couldn't make it out." Sylva shrugged. "As for where he is, it's anyone's guess. I couldn't get a good enough idea of the sounds or anything. Wherever it was, it wasn't a payphone."
"Another motel? Remember, he ditched her car at one already." Nancy suggested. Sylva pursed her lips.
"Yeah, like there aren't many motels in California." She said darkly. "It doesn't really narrow things down at all."
"Do you think he will call again?" Sadie wondered.
"If he thinks he has his message across, then no, he won't." Topaz decided. "If he thinks we're ignoring him, he might well. But by ignoring him we might put Copper at risk. If he's openly threatening to kill anyone who interferes, we can't discount the idea that he might kill Copper too on the least excuse. We have to think of her, too."
"There is one thing, though." Nancy murmured. "It looks like Cynthia's source was right, and that he is taking her to Las Vegas. Where else could they be so easily and quickly married with the minimum of fuss? Sacramento must have been a red herring - a detour to throw us off the scent."
At that moment there was a knock at the door and Sadie got to her feet to go answer it, returning in a moment with Alex and a group of officers. Alex cast his girlfriend a quizzical look.
"Well? Who spoke to him?" He demanded.
"Syl." Sadie responded. "But he just hung up on her. We're sorry, Alex. Did you get anything?"
"No. He wasn't on the line long enough for us to get anything other than a vague bearing." Alex shook his head. "Somewhere near the California/Nevada border, but that's about all. Nothing more precise."
He eyed Sylva.
"What did he say?"
Sylva outlined the conversation briefly, her blue eyes anxious.
"We think it means that he is going to Vegas, and that Copper is still alive." She concluded. "But what are we going to do? He scared me, Alex. He sounded like he really meant it."
"He probably did." Alex said darkly. "This morning, Cynthia brought a photograph to the bureau that she had found amongst Copper's belongings...and we managed to identify the man involved. This is not the first time he has abducted a young woman and tried to force her to love him. He's done time for it fact he's only recently been out on parole." His lips thinned with displeasure. "A parole that Ray and I tried to block. Believe me, I take no pleasure in having my reticence vindicated."
"Dammit, I'd like to get my hands on this jerk." Nancy clenched her fists. "He's driving my brother to distraction and he's taken one of our best friends away from everything that's important to her just to fulfil some sick fantasy of his!"
"Believe me, Nancy, we'd quite like to get our hands on him, too." Alex frowned. "Ray is in Sacramento still with her car - not that it's revealing a whole lot that we didn't already know - and I called him on the way over. If we can get a tap on where the call came from, he's all set to round up the local law enforcement and do a raid, but unless we can pinpoint something it's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
"Isn't there any way you can trace the call even after it's finished? We have caller ID." Topaz looked hopeful. Sylva frowned.
"I already tried that, but the number was withheld." She admitted. Alex shook his head.
"This is a repeat offender and as such he's learnt from the mistakes he made first time around." he said astutely. "All we can do is keep tabs on your phone and hope that for some reason he calls again."
As if to answer Alex's remark, the phone suddenly began to ring out through the house, making everyone jump.
"One of you girls answer it." Alex got to grips with himself first. "It might be nothing but it might be important."
"I'll take it." Sadie slipped into the hall, and, exchanging looks, her friends followed her, none of them knowing what the call might mean.
"Hello?" Sadie berated the nervous note in her voice as she scooped up the receiver. "S..Starlight Mansion, Sadie speaking."
A faint, but familiar voice came down the line and Sadie let out an incredulous squeal.
"Copper? Is that you?"
"Keep your damn voice down!" Copper's voice became anxious, and Sadie bit her lip, gesturing to Alex, and glancing at the disbelieving expressions of her friends. "He's asleep!"
"I'm sorry." Sadie muted her tones. "How...I didn't expect it to be you. He just called us, you see, and.."
"I know. I heard him. Listen." Copper's voice wavered, then, "I don't want any of you to try and come after me. He's got a gun and he's told me that he will kill anyone who tries to interfere."
"Has he hurt you?" Sadie sounded anxious.
"No." Copper's tone held some reservations. "But I know he will if I don't cooperate with what he wants, so that's why I don't want to wake him."
"Can you tell me where you are? Alex is here and they're trying to get a trace on your location, but if you could tell me..."
"Some motel. We seem to have been driving forever." Copper paused, getting to grips with her composure, then, "I think we're in Nevada, but I don't know where. Just something he said. He's taking me to Las Vegas, I know that...he keeps telling me that we're going to get m...married there, and..." She faltered.
"Do you know what the motel is called?"
"I didn't see - it was raining so hard when we got here." Copper admitted. "And it was dark, but he made me wear shades so noone would recognise me. I think...I think it has Washington in the name but...but I might be wrong."
"That's something." Sadie said gently. "Listen, can you keep the line open a while longer? Maybe Alex can pinpoint where you are. Ray - Agent Nicholson - he's been up with your car in Sacramento and he's on the alert."
"I'll try, but we seem to have come a long way from Sacramento." Copper responded. "He thinks we'll be in Vegas tomorrow...I don't know what happens then, except he keeps talking about Mexico." Sadie could hear the tears in her friend's voice. "Sadie, I want you to tell Aaron not to do anything silly. Tell him I love him and...and if I have to marry this guy to make sure noone I care about gets hurt then I will, but that whatever happens he's keep out of it, all right?"
"I'll tell him." Sadie promised. "But Copper, none of us are giving up on finding you or stopping this yet, so don't you give up faith in us, all right? Alex and his bureau have been working like hell on the case and it will be okay. All right?"
"I...I hope so." Copper replied. "I...Oh no!"
"Copper?" Sadie sounded concerned. "Copper, are you still there?"
There was no reply, and Sadie was sure she could make out a squeal in the background, before the line went dead. A chill running down her spine, she slowly replaced the receiver.
"That was Copper." She said softly. "But the phone went dead...and I think she screamed. I think...I think he found out she was calling us. She doesn't know exactly where she is, except that it's in Nevada and some motel which might have Washington in the name. But she said he'd hurt her if she disobeyed him and I know I heard her scream...I'm scared of what he might do!"
Alex glanced across at one of his officers, who gave a thumbs up signal.
"Well, if nothing else we got a trace on the location." He said. "I'll get onto Ray at once. With any luck he'll be able to get in there and get Copper out!"


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

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!