Chapter Seven: La Familia Santiago
The airport was busy that morning.
The tall woman crossed the terminal floor to where the cases were slowly crawling around on the black caterpillar of a conveyor, a smile on her face as she remembered that this time her visit was not a business one.
"Mama, I got a trolley."
A voice startled her and she turned, casting a warm grin at the young man who had hailed her. He neatly manoeuvred the baggage trolley to where she was standing, casting a careful eye over the luggage to see if their cases had appeared yet.
"It was the last one." He added, in the fluent Spanish that the Santiago family so often used between themselves. "LAX is buzzing today."
"The plane was full." His companion nodded. "Look, Luis! I think that is my bag!"
"I'm on it." Luis's dark eyes twinkled and he grabbed the bag off the conveyor, followed by two sturdy suitcases. Dumping them on the trolley, he cast his mother a grin.
"Well, Mama? Are we being met here or do we need to find a taxi?"
"Copper said that she or Ros would come to meet us." Carmen Santiago responded, tucking a stray wisp of curly hair back into it's band. "And the sooner we find whichever one of them it is, the better for us both, I think. In such crowds as this I'm bound to be recognised, and with Copper's big day not so far off, I don't think the press would resist the chance at a story."
"That's why I came with you." Luis laughed. "To play bodyguard!"
"Of course you did." Carmen looked amused. "Ven, Luis. Others want to collect their belongings, and it's been a long enough flight already."
"Really? I liked it." Luis remarked. "I love flying, and this is the first time in a long while that I'll have seen my big sister. She's far too busy these days to drop into Detroit to say hi...who would've thought that she would've wound up such a big star as this?"
"I knew she had the ability to go all the way." Carmen observed softly. "And your father would be so proud of her, you know that."
"I know." Luis nodded. "I'm really honoured that she asked me to give her away, Mama. I know it means a lot to her, with Papa not being with us."
"I think you will do a very good job." Carmen decided. "Oh, I feel old, that my children are grown enough to be getting married!"
"Not old, Mama. Just experienced." Luis's eyes twinkled once more, then, "Mirate! I see Ros!"
"Mama! Luis!" An excited Rosita came haring across the arrivals lounge, hugging each one of the arrivals tightly. "Oh, I'm glad you're here - I was so worried I'd miss the flight! I came haring down the freeway but there was so much traffic - it's like everyone has chosen to visit Los Angeles this Easter break!"
"Well, here we are." Carmen grinned. "How is Copper?"
"Excited and fussing around over this detail or that arrangement." Rosita dimpled. "I've been busy working out the technical details for her hen party most of the week, but Nancy's doing the finishing touches, so I came out to meet you. Copper's knee deep in floral arrangements, or something - she had a panic last night that there wouldn't be enough to decorate the whole of the mansion grounds, so she's been on the phone to them nearly all morning."
"I can't imagine Copper as a flustered bride to be." Luis admitted. "You, Ros, yes. But not Copper."
"Well, it all means a lot to her." Rosita linked her arm in her mother's. "Luis, can you manage the trolley? I borrowed Copper's car - it's parked right outside, so it's not far to go."
"I can manage." Luis assured her. "Though I don't see that I'm getting a lot of choice in the matter."
"Well, you're being a gentleman." Was his sister's return. "Come on. Mama, you're stopping with Mrs Harrison at the Foundation, isn't that right?"
"Yes." Carmen nodded. "When Kimber heard I was coming in for Copper's wedding she begged me to come to her - she thinks we don't see enough of each other, and she's probably right. It means one less person underfoot at the Starlight Mansion, if nothing else."
"And I'm staying in a hotel." Luis said with feeling.
"You know you don't have to." Rosita scolded him. "You know Copper would have you at her place - there's tons of room and it's a gorgeous house."
"I know, but I don't think I could bear living with that many girls in the build up to something this big." Luis told her dryly. "I know what you're like when you're excited, and believe me, I'd rather stay somewhere a little more peaceful. Besides, if I'm giving her away, I have a speech to do as well. I'll get no peace at the Starlight Mansion, and so this is the best way."
"Well, have it your way." Rosita shrugged in her usual happy-go-lucky manner. "Here we are - this is us."
"Wow, Copper has good taste in wheels." Luis looked approving, as his sister unlocked the boot of the blue mercedes. "She trusted you with this thing? I hope her insurance is paid up!"
"Oh, don't be cheeky." Rosita swiped him playfully. "You know as well as I do that I passed my driving test the first time, and you took four goes before you got your permit."
"If you two are going to squabble, I think I'll walk." Carmen grinned, lifting her bag down off the top of the trolley, and pushing it into the open boot whilst her son manoeuvred the cases. "It's been a long flight, after all."
"Sorry, Mama." Rosita was not noticeably crushed by her mother's gentle scolding, and she opened the front passenger door. "Get in, huh? I'll help Luis close the trunk and then we'll go.I might as well take you straight to the Foundation, if Mrs Harrison is expecting you, then I can ditch my brother in his unsuspecting hotel. Oh! And before I forget, Copper wants you both to come to dinner at the Starlight Mansion tonight, if you're not too beat. She's thrilled you're in town and she wants to welcome you personally. We're going to spring her bridal shower gifts on her tonight, too. Her party is tomorrow, but we thought we'd do it when you were there, Mama. After all - she's getting married in a week, and there's still a ton of stuff to do."
"We'll be there." Carmen assured her, clambering into the front of the vehicle. "How's Aaron? Is he taking all of this any calmer?"
"I haven't seen much of him." Rosita reflected, helping her brother fasten the boot, and then climbing in the driver's side as he got into the back. "Like I said, I've been busy. But everyone seems to be buzzing at the moment. And you should see the dresses Copper's got for her maids - they're so pretty."
"What about her dress?" Carmen asked. Rosita shook her head, slipping the key into the ignition.
"We've none of us seen it, bar Copper herself and Gaynor." She replied. "For some reason it's all being kept top secret."
"Gaynor?" Carmen looked confused.
"She's a local designer - she works with Jewel, I think." Rosita replied. "She's really sweet, anyhow. Everyone in Los Angeles seems to be sweet, actually."
"Don't be dumb, Ros. It's just another big city." Luis glanced out of the window.
"Well, maybe, but I like it anyway." Rosita dimpled. "Luis, did you work out what you're wearing yet?"
"Yes. I have a whole new suit for the occasion." Luis nodded. "Cost me a week's wages, but I don't want to let Copper down. It's hard enough being a broke student without your big sister's disapproval on your conscience."
"It means a lot to Copper, all of this." Rosita looked uncharacteristically thoughtful. "As she's said to me, this is the real deal for her. She doesn't intend on there being any second goes - when she marries Aaron, that's it."
She paused, then, "Mama, how do you know when it's like that?"
"How do you mean, chica?" Carmen looked confused.
"Love, I mean." Rosita flicked on the indicator, turning onto the main high street. "Copper seems to just know that Aaron is the one - I was just wondering how you know these things."
"I don't know." Carmen's clever face became grave. "But I know it's true, Ros. I think it's a case of - you'll know it when it happens. It was there between your Papa and I, and it's there between Copper and Aaron. It's a chemistry - when you meet your soulmate."
"If this goes on I'm going to get carsick." Luis teased. "Ros, can we drop the romantic mush, please? I've already one sister dopey-eyed and running down the aisle. I know you, and I don't want it to be two before we leave the city!"
"I was just asking." Rosita protested. "What about you, anyhow? I thought you were bringing a date to Copper's wedding?"
"Well, I was, but let's not go there." Luis glanced at his hands. "We broke up a week ago, so that saved on the flight costs."
"Oh! Luis, I'm sorry!" Rosita looked stricken. "I didn't mean to make you feel bad."
"I don't." Luis said briefly. "So don't worry about it, okay? It wasn't right, and that's that. Better I know now than later, huh?"
Rosita glanced at her brother's reflection in the mirror, and frowned, but said no more on the subject. She knew her brother's pride, and that Luis would never confess how he was really feeling. Nonetheless, she was sure that the break-up had been a bad one, and she resolved to involve him as much as possible in the arrangements for Copper's wedding, to take his mind off what he had left behind.
"I don't object to having a flight companion." Carmen observed now. "I might not be old, but I don't like lumping around heavy cases if I can avoid it!"
"And here we are, at the Jacqui Benton House." Rosita screeched the blue car to a halt outside the Foundation grounds, casting her mother a grin. "I'll grab your case, since you're such a weakling! You go ring the bell."
"Yes, ma'am." Carmen laughed, obediently getting out of the vehicle and heading up the front drive as her youngest daughter made her way to the back of the car. "Mine's the grey case, and the black bag is mine too. The other is Luis's."
"Okay, I got it." Rosita hauled the case from the boot. "Man, it is heavy! What did you bring, the dishwasher?"
"Nope, but pretty much everything else." Carmen's eyes twinkled. "I have a few weeks off, so I plan on staying in Los Angeles a while. I have old friends here to catch up with, after all - and I think I need the vacation."
She rang the bell, and, as Rosita came to deliver the case to her mother, the door swung open to reveal a pretty girl in her early twenties. This was April, one of the Foundation's helpers and at the sight of Raya she uttered an exclamation.
"Carmen! Kimber's been expecting you - come on in!"
She glanced at Rosita.
"You must be one of Carmen's other children - Do you want to come in for coffee?"
"This is Rosita." Carmen nodded. "My youngest."
"Thanks for the offer, but I have to dump my brother yet, and I've got a few things still to sort out." Rosita smiled prettily. "Take good care of her, huh? Mama, I'll see you tonight at the Starlight. Seven o' Clock - don't forget!"
"I promise, chica, I won't forget." Carmen hugged her youngest affectionately. "You'd better go deliver Luis to his hotel room before he starts to nag. Till tonight!"
"Hasta luego, Mama!" Rosita returned the hug, then hurried back down the path to the waiting car, slipping back into the driver's seat.
"Okay, bro, which hotel is it?" She demanded.
"Some place called the White Horse Hotel." Luis glanced at his booking. "I don't suppose you know where it is?"
"I think it's across the other side of town." Rosita looked thoughtful. "I'm almost sure I passed it yesterday when I was running an errand. Let's see, huh? We're not in any hurry, so it doesn't matter if I get lost."
"Not to you, perhaps." Luis rolled his eyes. "But I've had a long flight and I'd like to shower and change before we go to Copper's for dinner tonight, if you don't mind. I don't want her thinking her brother's turned into a ragamuffin for her wedding!"
"I'm not going to get that lost." Rosita assured him. A mischievous look entered her eye. "And at least you don't have to shave! I told Copper you were growing a beard!"
"Why shouldn't I?" Luis's male ego was offended. "Besides, I told her myself. What's wrong with my beard?"
"Nothing, it's just odd to see you with it." Rosita shrugged. "You look way older than twenty one, that's for sure."
"That's the idea, cuckoo. And anyhow, I'm practically twenty two now." Luis settled himself more comfortably in his seat. "Plus, if I'm doing the whole 'giving away' thing, I need to look responsible and mature."
"True." Rosita pursed her lips, then, "You know, you look a lot like Papa with the beard. I know he had red hair, but you still do. I never realised it till you started to grow one."
"Well, I suppose that makes sense." Luis shrugged. "You look like Mama, except for your dark hair, and Copper's the image of Papa. Why shouldn't I look like him?"
"Because you've always looked more like one of Mama's brothers." Rosita explained. "Mama always said you had a look of Papa about you, but I never saw it till now."
She paused, then, "Think he'd be proud of us all now?"
"I don't see how he couldn't be. We've all done our best since he died." Luis told her firmly. "I hope you don't go on like this to Copper, by the way. You know how she gets over Papa from time to time."
"I know, and I'm always careful." Rosita assured him. "Though I think she's better with it now than she was. I don't know - maybe having Aaron has helped, in a way. She'll have a home and a family of her own to start - she has to look forward, not back."
"Well, we all agreed when she got over the cancer that we had to make her do that." Luis remembered. "I'm glad she's getting hitched, Ros. I know it's dumb to feel protective over her - I mean, she's my big sister, and all that - but I do. I know Aaron's a decent guy and he'll look after her. I'm glad of that."
"I feel it myself, sometimes." Rosita admitted. "Protective, I mean. Not that Copper needs it, but I guess after she was sick, well, it's easy to remember how vulnerable she was then. I'm glad too, Luis. I want her to be happy, and she really is."
"So I understand." Luis smiled slightly. "And if you keep driving, bonehead, you're going to go right past the hotel. Can't you read? Or don't you need language skills at drama school?"
"Oh, shut your face." Rosita scolded playfully, pulling the car to a halt and carefully backing into the hotel parking lot. "There, you see? Perfect. And I'll let you manage your own case!"
"Charming." Luis laughed. "Okay, I suppose I'll see you at seven tonight, then? If I can find the Starlight Mansion!"
"We'll send a taxi or something." Rosita promised. "Copper's eager to see you, so make sure you're ready! It's been far too long since the Santiago family had dinner together, and this is in honour of a very special occasion!"
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!