"Well? What's going on?"
At the foot of the stairs Rosita, her black curls neatly pulled back by sparkling silver clips was clearly excited, hopping from one foot to the other as she impatiently waited for her sister to appear. "When do we get to see the bride?"
"Any minute now." Gaynor told her as she descended the stairs. "She's coming right behind me - I came to tell people with cameras to be on standby."
"Message received loud and clear." Justin grinned, checking his camera carefully. "All ready for the bride."
"And here she comes." Luis observed. "Wow, sis, you clean up real nice, you know."
"Thanks, Luis." Copper blushed. "It's so hard to walk downstairs in a gown and veil, you know...I'm afraid I'm going to trip and fall."
"You better not." Sylva scolded. "Gaynor put a lot of work into making that."
"I ought to get a photograph of the bride with her bridesmaids." Justin remarked. "Aren't we missing a few of the latter?"
"We're right here." At that moment, Topaz pushed open the door to the hallway, Cynthia in tow. "Oooh. Yellow roses and all..."
"Aaron is a very lucky young man." Cynthia's violet eyes sparkled. "But then, I'm sure he already knows that."
"Stop it." Copper protested. "Else I'll be blushing in every photograph Justin takes!"
"But you're beautiful, Copper!" Rosita exclaimed. "You shouldn't be embarrassed about that!"
Rosita was right. Always the prettiest Jewel, Copper's soft auburn waves - highlighed only very lightly with touches of blond had been gently curled into pretty ringlets that fell about her shoulders. Gaynor had tucked a band of yellow roses carefully into the folds of the veil that was gathered up behind her head and which fell away in a gentle cream wave behind her. The dress itself was ivory, long and delicately stitched to best enhance the drummer's slim figure, and on her finger sparkled the beautiful diamond engagement ring which Aaron had so carefully picked out. Idly she touched it. Soon, she mused, it wouldn't be alone. Soon it would be joined by a slim gold band, and she would be Mrs Elizabeth Pelligrini, a married woman. A flush of excitement rose in her heart.
"It's a little scary, but I know it's right." She murmured to herself, as she allowed Justin to instruct her where to stand for his photographs. "I just wish Papa was here to see it, that's all. I know he'd love Aaron as much as Mama does, and if he could be there, well, my day would be truly perfect."
Fleetingly her memory returned to her conversation with Aaron about Stefana, and she bit her lip.
"I wonder if she'll come." She mused. "I'm so happy today, I wish I could do something to make her happy too. This is my perfect day - I don't want anyone to be unhappy today."
"Okay, I've plenty of pictures." Justin said, finally lowering his camera. "I'm going to change the film, and then I'll see you all out the back. Lots of people have arrived, you know...Cynthia's been making sure they all have invites and that everything's okay."
"Is...Aaron here?" Copper asked hesitantly.
"Not yet, but then the ceremony doesn't begin for another five minutes." Cynthia responded. "Don't look so worried! He will be here."
"I know he will. It's just nerves." Copper bit her lip.
"Well, you have no reason to be nervous." Sadie grinned.
"Sadie's right." Sylva agreed. "Logan won't let anything happen to him, you know. As best men go he's not going to wind up sending Aaron in a dump truck somewhere."
"Unlike Cameron at Taylor's wedding." She remembered. "That was funny."
"How many people are here, Cynthia?" Copper wondered.
"A lot." Cynthia smiled. "You are a much loved friend to many people, after all."
"I heard a car!" Rosita exclaimed, hurrying to the window. "Ooh, Copper, your groom is here..and ooh, does he look cute!"
"What?" Copper turned towards the window, but Sylva shook her head, pulling her back.
"He's not allowed to see you, and if you gawk out of the window he's bound to." She scolded. "It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the ceremony, you know that."
"I will go and greet him." Cynthia said. "Copper, take a deep breath and relax. In a few minutes, you will be walking down that aisle."
"What a way to calm my nerves." Copper muttered. Cynthia laughed, pushing open the door and slipping outside and down the front steps.
"Aaron!" She called. "You made it!"
"Sweating buckets and about to flee, but yes, I did." Aaron said ruefully. "You look pretty, Cyn. Is everything settled up here?"
"Yes, everything is fine, and Copper is ready." Cynthia told him, linking her arm in his. "You know, this is only the second wedding I have ever been invited to attend, and the first time I will ever be a bridesmaid. It makes it very special to see two of my best friends tie the knot."
"I'm sure." Aaron swallowed hard, glancing behind him as Logan got out of the other side of the car.
"Don't worry about him, Cynthia. He's just having pre-wedding jitters." the best man laughed. "All morning it's been 'why would she marry me? What does rock and roll's hottest drummer want with an ordinary roadie like me anyway? And we won't even mention last night."
Cynthia grinned as Aaron blushed.
"Aaron, you are a fool indeed if you don't know why you and Copper are here." She told him reproachfully. "She loves you very dearly, you know that, and you love her equally as much. I cannot think of any couple I have met who were better suited than you two, so you have nothing to fear. This time tomorrow, she will be Mrs Pelligrini and the wedding will be a happy memory."
"I hope so." Aaron admitted. "I don't want anything to go wrong. She's so beautiful, Cynthia. Sometimes I find it hard to believe she's really my fiancee - and that she's really going to be my wife. I didn't sleep a wink last night."
"Nor did Copper, from what I understand." Cynthia looked amused. "But have faith in me, Aaron. Nancy and I knew what we were doing when we got you two together."
"Yes, I suppose you did." Aaron smiled at this. "All right. Come on." He glanced at Logan. "You better have the ring."
"It's right here." Logan slipped his hand into his pocket, then his expression became anxious. "Well, I thought it was..."
"Logan, if you dare..." Aaron raised his fist, and Logan laughed, pulling out the small black ring box.
"I was only kidding." He assured his friend, flipping it open to reveal the ring. "I've kept it very safely ever since you gave it to me to look after."
"Jerk." Aaron rolled his eyes, and Logan grinned.
"Aw, come on, can't you take a joke?" he bantered. "Lighten up. You're about to marry one of America's most sought after chicks- you should at least enjoy the occasion."
"Thanks for the pep talk." Aaron muttered. "Okay. I'm following you, Cynthia - you know how this place is laid out today, and Copper's not let me near it. All to do with superstition and tradition, but I don't want to look like a total doofus in front of Zoe's camera."
"Follow the flowers." Cynthia grinned. "Copper will not be long, Aaron - you have little time to wait. Your father is taking photos, and then she will be ready. And smile! This is a wedding, after all!"
With that she was gone, and Aaron shrugged his shoulders, doing as he was bidden.
It seemed an age to the nervous groom before his sister, moving uncomfortably
in her bridesmaid's dress appeared by the portable keyboard she and Sadie
had set up that morning for the occasion. Casting a glare at anyone who
might dare to laugh at her attire, she settled herself before the keys,
beginning to play the bridal march. Copper had chosen to keep with tradition
- here at least - and Nancy's expert touch caused a hush to fall over the
gathered guests. From the far end of the arc of flowers that the girls had
created, a small procession began to make their way up the aisle, led by
a blushing, coy-faced Copper, clutching her bouquet of yellow and white
roses as if afraid she might drop them, and leaning on the arm of a sober-faced
Luis. Behind her came Rosita and Sylva, then Topaz, Sadie and Cynthia, and
once Copper had reached Aaron's side, Nancy slipped off the keyboard stool
with amazing grace, moving to join the little group. From the audience stalls,
a tear touched Carmen's blue eyes as she watched her eldest child's slow
progress down the aisle. There had been times during Copper's months of ill
health that the actress had wondered if her pretty daughter would ever reach
this day, and she knew that, had Esteban been with her, he would have been
just as proud.
Aaron cast his bride a sidelong glance, reaching across to squeeze her hand.
"You look amazing." He murmured. "I almost wonder if you're real."
"Don't be dumb." Was his companion's rejoinder. "Else you'll make me blush again, and forget my vows."
Aaron merely shot her a sheepish grin, but obediently fell silent, as the minister began his solemn address.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, in the sight of God, and in the presence of witnesses, to join together Elizabeth Maria Santiago and Aaron William Pelligrini in holy matrimony."
Engrossed in the service, nobody noticed a slim, dark figure make her way slowly across the Starlight Mansion grounds, pausing a good distance away from where Copper and Aaron were now exchanging vows. Tears touched her eyes, but she forced them back, resting against the brick wall of the house and folding her arms across her chest. It had taken every ounce of her courage to come this far, but she knew that she had to have this closure, and so she had slipped out of the house as soon as she had woken. With all of the guests, it had been an easy matter to get into the grounds unnoticed.
"And so it ends here." She whispered, as Aaron gently slid his ring onto Copper's slim finger. "Mr and Mrs Pelligrini. I guess I always knew that it would wind up this way, though. Nobody knows better than me how much you love her, Aaron - I've just tried to ignore it, that's all. But Sadie said yesterday that I had to stop ignoring things, and work through them. Starting here...here and now. People keep telling me that I'm strong - well, I'm going to prove to them that I am strong. Strong and...and for once, I'm not thinking of myself."
From where the bridesmaids stood, to one side of the bridal couple, Nancy's sharp eyes noticed a movement by the house and she bit her lip, nudging her neighbour - Sadie - and nodding imperceptably across the grass.
"Stefana." She murmured. "You said she wasn't coming."
"I didn't think she would." Sadie murmured back.
"If she tries to cause trouble, I'll rip her head off."
"She won't." Sadie said firmly. "Trust me on this, Nancy. Stefana might be a pain in the butt a lot of the time, but she loves Aaron too much to spoil today for him."
"Oh, and what makes you so sure of that?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. Sadie shrugged.
"Just trust me." Was all she said. "You'll see I'm right. It's a happy day, Nance - no fighting, huh?"
Nancy did not reply, but an obstinate look touched her dark eyes and she glanced once more to where she had seen the figure. Stefana was nowhere in sight, however, so she gave it up as a bad job, returning her attention to the service.
"....I now pronounce you man and wife." The minister concluded. He winked at Aaron. "You may kiss the bride."
"With much pleasure." Aaron grinned, obliging, to many whistles and cat-calls from those of his work and high school friends who had attended. Copper, her eyes sparkling, linked her arm in her new husband's as Nancy and Rosita led them back down the aisle, and they were showered with rice and paper confetti. From big speakers all around, Copper and Aaron's chosen love song pulsed into the air and the guests converged on the happy couple with congratulations, hugs, and occasionally tears.
"Before everyone gets messy and teary-eyed, can I have some photos to mark the occasion?" Justin asked, a twinkle in his eye as he surveyed his son and daughter-in-law. "Bride and groom first, I think, since Copper looks ready to go weepy on us, and then I want to take some family shots. And yes, Jetta, that will include you." He added, noticing his wife grimacing in his direction.
"Lot of fuss about nothing." She retorted.
Whilst Justin was busy taking pictures of Copper with her family, Aaron wandered across the grass, turning to survey the scene with a warm heart. There were no nerves now, only excitement for the future.
A soft voice startled him and he turned, eying the speaker with some surprise.
"Stef?" He exclaimed. "I didn't know you were here!"
"I watched at a distance. I'm not really welcome at the Starlight." Stefana said with a shrug. "I wasn't going to come at all, only..."
She blushed, glancing at the ground.
"This ain't easy." She said at length. "But you've been a good friend to me, Aaron. Even knowing what you do about me - you've still helped. I wanted to...to wish you well. Properly. And...and offer you and Copper my...my best wishes."
"Oh, Stef." Aaron hugged her tightly. "Thank you, it means a lot. And it will be okay, you know. Sadie told me you'd got in touch with her - how did that work out?"
"It...was strange." Stefana admitted. "But I think it helped me put some things into perspective. She's promised that she won't tell the others she's helping me, so I agreed to let her carry on. She...she isn't so bad on her own. We have things in common."
"I'm glad you think so." Aaron grinned. "Are you staying for the party?"
"No...they wouldn't want me. Copper wouldn't want me." Stefana shook her head. "And I have a lot to do. But...things are gonna be different now. I...I promise."
"Good." Aaron eyed her keenly, then,
"When we get back from our honeymoon in Spain, I'll come see how you're doing and we'll start over, just like I said." He told her. "Okay?"
"Okay." Stefana offered a faint smile. "I...I better go, before someone else sees me and creates a scene. Noone at home knows where I am and they're liable to go crazy if I disappear at the moment, anyway."
"I can't say I blame them." Aaron grinned. "All right. Drive safe, take care and I'll see you when I get back - is it a deal?"
"It's a deal." Stefana nodded. "Bye, Aaron. And...and thanks again."
"Was that Stefana?" As the dark girl disappeared across the grass, Aaron felt his wife's gentle hand on his shoulder and he turned, nodding.
"Yes. She came to wish us well." He agreed softly. "It took a lot for her to do, Copper - and it meant a lot that she did."
"Maybe she cares about you more than I thought." Copper looked thoughtful. "It was nice of her, though."
"It was." Aaron agreed. "Hey, did Dad let you out from his picture-taking frenzy?"
"No, he sent me to get you." Copper dimpled. "He wants to do the Pelligrini family shots now - and, well, since I'm the newest member of that family, I could use a little guidance."
"Fair enough." Aaron grinned. "I'm right with you."
"It's been a beautiful day so far." Copper glanced up at the sky. "I don't think it could have been any better, Aaron - or that I could be any happier. I feel like I've waited so so long for this - and now it's here and it is the happiest day of my life. It really is."
"Somehow I think things will be different now." Aaron reflected, linking arms with his wife as they headed back towards the waiting guests and photographer. "Not just with us living in our own place and being husband and wife. I just think things will be, well, more settled, now that Stefana's situation is resolved and now we've gotten all the bad stuff behind us."
"I think you're right." Copper agreed softly. "Well, then here's to us."
She leaned over, kissing him gently on the cheek.
"To us and to the future."
PART THREE: TILL DEATH US DO PART
Chapter One: A Father Should Be
Chapter Two: Stefana and Aaron
Chapter Three: Sylva Intervenes
Chapter Four: Stefana's Battle
Chapter Five: Common Ground
Chapter Six: A Special Meeting
Chapter Seven: La Familia Santiago
Chapter Eight: Hen Party
Chapter Nine: Rory's Scheme
Chapter Ten: Stefana's Dilemma
Chapter Eleven: A Friend Indeed
Chapter Twelve: Sadie Gets Involved
Chapter Thirteen: The Night Before
Chapter Fourteen: Closure
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!