"What were you trying to do?"
Copper cowered back against the pillow, real fear in her eyes as she registered the almost insane anger in her companion's expression. "Who were you calling? Why?"
"I..." Copper swallowed hard, tears coursing down her cheeks. "I wanted...that is...I had to..." She faltered, unable to finish her sentences, and Jason grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her hard.
"If you ever do something like that again I will kill you." He said roughly. "I have been good to you and I won't have you treat me like that other bitch treated me. Understand? You and me, we're meant to be together. Noone else understands!"
Copper raised her hands to her face, gingerly touching her cheek. When he had first discovered that she had managed to get the telephone receiver free and that she had been making contact with the outside world his first action had been irrational fury, and he had slapped her hard across the cheek, slamming the receiver back into it's cradle so hard that it had been a miracle that it had not broken. This was a different Jason from the gentle captor who had carefully escorted her from Los Angeles across America. This was the madman that he had hinted at being, and Copper realised with giddy relief that she had come very close to testing how deep his love for her ran.
"I'm sorry." She whispered. "I just wanted to tell them not to come after me. I didn't want them to get hurt."
Jason eyed her thoughtfully.
"They will not come." He told her quietly. "But we must leave this place."
"Now?" Copper's brown eyes become big with dismay. "But why? It's raining, Jason, and I'm so tired..."
"You can sleep in the car. We must leave." Jason pulled her roughly upright, grabbing her shoes and pushing them onto her feet. "You promised not to disobey me but you broke your promise! Nothing is going to stop us getting married, do you hear me? Nothing! If we drive all night we'll get to Vegas by dawn and then nothing will stand in our way!"
Frightened, Copper raised no further protest, not even struggling as he loosened the bonds around her ankles, pulling her towards the door. Tears still blurred her vision as she stumbled along the corridor and down the flights of stairs, out into the cold, rainy parking lot and into the front of the car. Jason, his eyes steely, climbed behind the wheel of the car, revving the engine and pulling out of the motel forecourt with little regard for the poor visibility or the violence of the elements. Copper shivered, casting him an apprehensive glance.
"I hope Sadie gives Aaron my message." She told herself, clenching her hands together tightly in her lap. "I don't want him coming face to face with this guy!"
Back in Los Angeles, the late hour had become unimportant as the anxious group gathered in the front lounge, waiting for any news. Alex and his officers had long since left the Starlight Mansion, after having communicated to Agent Nicholson that they had made a successful trace on Copper's phonecall. Aaron had been alerted, for Nancy had felt that it was at least his right to know that they had had communication with the missing girl, and Cynthia had joined the group from where she had been studying news articles in the basement. For a while, noone spoke. Then,
"Do you think that Agent Nicholson will get to the motel in time?" Topaz wondered. Sadie bit her lip.
"I don't know. Define 'in time'." She replied. "We knew that Copper was okay and unhurt when she spoke to me, but if he caught her, who knows what's happened since?"
"Don't." Aaron put his hands up. "This is hard enough, Sadie, without that."
"I'm sorry." Sadie looked contrite. "I suppose it's something that we do know she was all right, even after so long missing. And I know that Agent Nicholson will have local police swarming the area as soon as he can. Perhaps they'll take the guy by surprise."
"He's taking a big risk, ferrying her from motel to motel." Cynthia was thoughtful. "At any point someone might recognise her."
"Or him, now the picture is out on the networks." Nancy added. "But I suppose that kind of thing doesn't occur to a madman."
"Alex said he was a madman who had done this before." Cynthia shook her head. "I suspect he knows exactly what he is doing. It was not he who told us he was headed to Las Vegas, after all. It was my source, and Copper herself. Anyone just looking at the road route he has chosen would not think of Las Vegas as a logical destination."
"You're probably right." Sylva nodded, toying idly with the tassels of a cushion. "I just hate not knowing, that's all! He has such a creepy voice...Copper must be going nuts."
"She was very brave to risk calling here." Cynthia said softly.
"But if he's taking her to motels and stuff, why hasn't she yelled and caused a fuss?" Sylva looked confused. "I mean, I would. I'd yell blue murder if I thought it would mean people would help me. Why hasn't she done that? Why hasn't she struggled?"
"She said he had a gun." Sadie remembered. "I think he probably told her that if she did he'd kill her - or anyone who tried to intervene on her behalf. It means Cynthia's right and he has a better tap on the situation than we realised - because everyone knows that Copper would never put anyone's life in danger if she knew she could prevent it. He's using her compassion and her fear to keep her quiet, that's all."
At that moment, Sadie's mobile bleeped, and she scooped it up off the table, hitting the receive button.
"Hello? Alex, is that you?" She asked anxiously.
"Yes, it's me." Alex sounded tired. "I thought you girls should know the deal."
"What's happened?" Sadie was immediately on her guard. "Something has, hasn't it?"
"Well, we know for sure that the trace was correct, and that Copper and this guy were definitely at this motel." Alex sighed. "But your suspicions about him discovering what Copper was doing were probably correct, because he, she and the hire car are long gone. The hotel room is a mess and apparently there is some evidence that they were both there - but they're not there now."
Sadie cursed, then,
"So what next?"
"Ray's on his way there, and local law enforcement are questioning anyone who might have seen anything." Alex replied. "Someone apparently remembers seeing a man and a woman having what he thought was an argument in the parking lot about a half hour ago, and we've got people all over the place looking. But he obviously knows exactly where he's going - so far we've had no luck in working out which road he took. The weather's not helping either - apparently it's driving down out there." He paused, then, "I'm sorry, Sadie. I wanted to bring you guys better news."
"It's all right." Sadie sighed. "At least there's something more to go on, right?"
"A little." Alex agreed. "Look, I'm gonna call it a day and so should you. Maybe by the morning there'll be better news from Nevada."
"I hope so." Sadie bit her lip. "Thanks, Alex. Bye."
"That wasn't good news, was it?" Nancy asked softly, as Sadie terminated the call. Slowly the English girl shook her head.
"They got to the motel and found plenty of evidence that they'd both been there, but he'd taken her and gone." She said grimly. "Probably he took fright at the fact she'd made a call and decided to get out of there as soon as possible. The local law enforcement are combing the area and interviewing folk at the motel, but so far they've no clue as to where he's going this time."
"I've had enough of this." Aaron clenched his fists. "I'm not gonna sit back and let some madman run off with my fiancee - even force her to marry him! Copper and I have damn well been through enough already without this and I'm going to go make sure I get her back!"
"Aaron, no!" Sadie's eyes became big with anxiety. "Copper told me to tell you specifically not to try and come after her! He has a gun and from what she said he's more than willing to use it. She doesn't want you hurt, and nor do any of us!"
"She might get hurt while we're sitting twiddling our thumbs." Aaron said stubbornly, reaching for his jacket. "I'm gonna do what I should have done a long time ago, and take a trip out to Nevada myself."
"But we don't know where he's taken her." Topaz protested. Aaron frowned.
"Yes we do." He said darkly. "He's taking her to Las Vegas, whatever route he chooses to use. And I'm gonna be in Las Vegas waiting for him when he gets there!"
"Aaron, stop! Think rationally about this!" Cynthia reached out to take his arm. "You are flesh and blood and you could easily get harmed."
"Well, you can't go. You can't project Cynthia outside of Los Angeles." Aaron snapped, wrenching his arm free of her grip. "Besides, you know I have to do this. Copper means too much for me not to, so don't try and talk me out of it. I'm going to LAX and I'm going to get a plane out tonight, if I can. Copper's been scared and alone long enough - it's about time someone went to the rescue!"
"If you're going to Vegas, then so am I." Nancy said quietly, making up her mind and getting slowly to her feet.
"Nancy, there's no sense in both of us putting ourselves at risk." Aaron said impatiently. Nancy shook her head.
"No, Aaron. If you go alone, you'll do something dumb." She said sensibly. "You're impulsive at the best of times and irrational where all of this is concerned. I'm gonna come with you and make sure you don't do anything that you'll live to regret. This guy is dangerous and I'm not going to let you go after him alone, so get that out of your head."
Aaron sighed, but saw the resolution in his sister's dark eyes, and shrugged.
"Fine, but I'm going now." He said abruptly. "Sooner I'm outta here, sooner I'm in Vegas." And with that he stalked out into the hall.
"Nancy, are you sure about this?" Topaz looked anxious. "It's probably dangerous."
"Yes, it probably is." Nancy sighed, running tired fingers through her dark hair. "But he's my brother, Topaz, and Copper is my best friend. I know Aaron and I know the kind of thing he'll get into if someone doesn't keep an eye on him - he loves Copper and he's always been impetuous about stuff. I'm not, and if there are two of us maybe we'll have better luck." She frowned. "I'll call here when we get to Vegas. Try not to worry Mom and Dad if you can help it - I'll do my best to bring him back in one piece, whether we find Copper or not."
"Then take care." Cynthia said gently. "And we shall look forward to hearing from you." She sighed. "I wish that I could be of more assistance to you, but Aaron is correct. I am unable to project outside of this city in my solid form."
"Just see if you can find anything out this end." Nancy responded. "And I'll be in touch as soon as I can."
"Nancy, are you damn well coming or aren't you?" Aaron's voice came from the hall and she rolled her eyes, grabbing her jacket from over the back of the couch.
"I'm coming!" She exclaimed. "Quit whining!"
"Be careful, Nance." Sadie looked troubled. "Nutcases with guns are people to avoid if you possibly can."
"I know. I read that memo." Nancy agreed grimly. "Okay. I'll be as careful as I can be. See you guys soon, okay? Hopefully with better news!"
With that she was gone, and a few moments later the remaining girls heard the sound of a car engine. Sylva moved to the window, watching Aaron's vehicle pull away into the night.
"Do you think they'll have any luck?" She wondered.
"I think they should have stayed here and stayed out of it, like Copper said." Sadie bit her lip. "It might mean trouble for her and trouble for them that they've gone to Vegas. I wish Aaron had listened to me!"
"Nancy was brave to go with him." Topaz observed. Sylva shook her head.
"Not really." She replied. "If it had been Anna going off into the night like that, I would have done the same."
"Aaron and Nancy are far closer than often they let us think." Cynthia agreed. "But it is true what she says - that Aaron is impulsive and that Nancy might well be the one to keep him from risking his life."
"Let's hope so." Topaz grimaced. "It's bad enough one of our friends is missing, without trouble for two more into the bargain!"
"Should we tell Jetta and Phyllis?" Sylva wondered.
"Nancy didn't want us to worry Jetta." Sadie looked thoughtful. "But then she's no idiot. She'll know something's up, especially when both of her kids have vanished from Los Angeles overnight. In the circumstances I think it might be best that one of us tells her. At least that way she'll know what's going on."
"You're probably right." Topaz nodded. "After all, if anything was to happen..."
"It's a pity Jetta wasn't here tonight. She'd have talked Aaron out of going." Sadie looked troubled. Sylva shook her head.
"No, she wouldn't." She said firmly. "Because Jetta's done similarly stupid things herself since Jewel began, you know."
"She has? Since when?" Sadie looked startled.
"Topaz probably remembers." Sylva cast the singer a glance, then, "When we were in London one time - before Jewel were even big over there - Nancy was kidnapped by Jetta's psycho brother and Jetta took off across London to go get her out. She didn't tell anyone where she was going and it was only thanks to Nancy's cousin Taylor that either of them returned alive. It was a really, really dumb thing to do, but she did it anyway. And Aaron's doing the same for Copper."
"I still don't think that Jetta would like what he's decided to do." Topaz frowned. "She was willing to take a risk herself way back then, but she got very adamant that Aaron wasn't to risk himself trying to find Nancy." She sighed, making herself more comfortable on the couch. "But I think we have to tell her. Tomorrow."
"Who's going to do that job?" Sylva looked apprehensive.
"We should all go together." Cynthia said quietly. "That is all we can do now, after all. Stick together and hope very much for the best."
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!