* * *
* * * *
"I wonder where Sadie's got to."
Sylva stretched out on the big rug in the Starlight Mansion's front lounge,
idly pushing around one of Hollie's stray building blocks. "She went out
a good hour ago now - any idea where she went to?"
"She asked for the key to my studio." Nancy dropped down onto the couch,
dropping her pen and manuscript pad down onto the table beside her. "So
maybe she went to write. Or more likely, some peace and quiet away from
the chaos. Do you know where I found my hairbrush this morning?"
"Surprise me." Sylva rested her chin in her hands.
"Inside my sock drawer." Nancy grimaced. Sylva snorted.
"Male FBI agents, probably." She said dismissively. "Guys don't seem to
know a sock drawer from a video case, honestly. Do you know, I was over helping
Logan settle things into the apartment the other day and he actually had
his salt and pepper pots in the fridge? He told me it's so he doesn't
forget where they are - but who chills salt and pepper?"
"Someone who's a screwball. Trust you to take a liking to a nutcase." She
said derisively. Sylva rolled her eyes.
"We're just friends, Nance." She said. She frowned. "If Sadie's lost in
the mists somewhere, I won't be able to grab her for a shopping trip, will
"Don't look at me. One a month is all my credit card can stand when I'm
out with you." Nancy put up her hands.
"You did look good though, on Connie's Corner." Sylva remarked. Nancy shrugged.
"Maybe that's just me."
"No, honey, it's because you've been taught how to manage your style since
you became a star." Sylva shook her head. "By the way, what's with the hair?
Where are your yellow streaks gone to?"
"They were fading out again, and I decided I was done with them." Nancy
said simply. "Copper dyed them out last night. I'm glad, honestly. I'm sick
of the dye and it's making my hair go horrible. When the dyed bits grow out
you won't even know it - time to go back to natural black for a while."
"So how do you work Goldie, then, if you have no gold?" Sylva raised an
"I don't see silver in your hair." Nancy retorted. "Besides, I'll spray
it for shows or something. Or Copper did suggest maybe dying the tips for
a performance in something less permanent than the stuff she'd been using
to strip and colour my hair before. That sounded...kinda interesting." She
shrugged. "You're the one who says that you can't always have the same image.
So I'm up for a change!"
"Okay, you win." Sylva grinned. "At least you've a nice dramatic natural
colour to work with. You'd be a nightmare if we were dealing with mouse
"Well, we're not." Nancy retorted. "And I've kinda missed being basic black."
She glanced up at the clock. "Is Topaz still at the hairdresser with Hollie?"
"I think so. She hasn't called. Maybe they went to the park afterwards."
Sylva responded. "Looks like it's just you and me again. Unless Cynthia's
"Cynthia's always home."
"I mean, is she working?"
"I think she's at Misfits Music, working on the studio." Nancy agreed.
"Though she thinks it's a lost cause, and so does Aaron. They're waiting
on new equipment so I' guess she'll be home when there's nothing more they
"I have been home for a half hour, Nancy."
The hologram's voice came from the doorway, startling both girls. "I am
sorry, I did not realise you were looking for me."
"We were just discussing where everyone was." Nancy explained. She frowned.
"Hey, Cyn, are you quite all right? You look...funny."
"Nancy's right." Sylva squinted at her friend. "Is something up with your
"Perhaps. I just rebooted my lasers and they take a while to power up after
a long day projecting." Cynthia glanced at her reflection in the mirror
over the fireplace, pursing her lips. "I see what you mean. My colour is
a little off."
She shrugged, sitting down. "I don't suppose it matters, anyhow. I was
going to rest them this evening, but I thought you should know that we have
company. I detected someone coming up to the house and came up to tell you,
in case it was press."
"Press?" Sylva was on her feet in an instant, moving to the window as the
doorbell rang. "I don't see any cameras..."
"I guess I'll go see who it is." Nancy shrugged, disappearing into the
"Should I make myself scarce?" Cynthia wondered. "Do you think anyone will
notice my projection isn't up to scratch?"
"No, they'll just think you're pale and stressed after recent events."
Sylva shook her head. "Besides, unless it's friend, Nancy won't let them
in. So don't worry, Cyn. Unless you want to go down and rest your lasers,
we'd like your company."
"I shall stay a while." Cynthia decided. "Much as my circuits need the
occasional break, I find things better when I am with people."
"I thought you bypassed all of that?"
"No, merely controlled it." Cynthia frowned. "But I hear voices, so now
is not a good time to discuss this. It seems we have a guest after all."
Before Sylva could respond, the door of the lounge swung open once more
to admit Nancy and the visitor. Sylva let out an exclamation.
"Sammi! What are you doing here? You should have called ahead to let us
know you were coming - we thought you might be press!"
"Press? Hah." Samantha snorted, shaking her head. "Press, police, we've
had them all at the villa. Mum was a suspect, you know, in Jerrica's death."
"Yes. Which is the biggest piece of nonsense on the planet." Sylva pulled
a face. "Aunt Aja wouldn't hurt a fly, no matter what Jerrica did to her."
"I didn't come here to really talk about that, Sylvie." Sammi admitted,
taking a seat and pulling absently at the tassels on the chair's cushions.
"You came to see her a few days ago."
"Yes, I did." Sylva looked surprised. "Why? Nothing odd about that."
"No, though you haven't really been over a lot since we got to the States."
"We've been hellish busy, Sam." Nancy put in. "It's not been a deliberate
slight by any of us. We've just been manic."
"Oh, I know what that's like." Sammi dismissed it with a careless gesture.
"Honestly, I miss the whirl. But it might be all right - you know Mum is
going to be running Starlight Music?"
"We heard a rumour. Is it for sure?" Sylva's eyes lit up.
"It's true...and the Teenangels will be signed to the label - at least,
if Mum can work it all out." Sammi nodded. "We're all kinda happy about that."
"Why did you come over, Sammi?" Nancy asked. "And do you want coffee or
something? We've lemonade in the fridge."
"Lemonade sounds good, Nancy. Thank you." Sammi nodded, and Nancy grinned,
getting to her feet and leaving the room.
"It's really you I wanted to talk to, anyhow." Sammi made herself more
comfortable. "About your visit to the villa."
"Okay." Sylva looked confused. "Shoot."
Sammi paused for a moment, then,
"I want to know about the computer."
"Synergy. I want to know about it."
"Who says I know anything about h...it?"
"You did." Sammi said calmly. "You and Mum spoke about it. I know you have
it and I know it's here, in the Starlight Mansion. You more or less said
as much. I want to know about it."
Sylva was silent. She cast Cynthia a helpless look, and the hologram spread
her hands. Slowly she shook her head. Sylva sighed.
"Sylvie, we're family. Don't lie to me."
"I wasn't going to." Sylva bit her lip. "Listen. Synergy was at the Starlight
Mansion when your mother used her, that's true. But the room where she was
isn't a room any more. We knocked a wall through and renovated it."
"No, you meant she." A shadow touched Sammi's face. "Is that all you're
going to say to me? I know you know where the thing is. I know that you came
to Mum to ask her help over it for something. I know that this is a secret
you have with her that I know nothing about. It's not the first time Mum's
had a secret from me. I knew the computer existed. I didn't know it still
did till your visit. And now I know it does...well, I want to know where it
"If I knew that, it doesn't mean I should tell you."
"Not even as my cousin?"
"Sammi, you don't understand..."
"No, stop it." Sammi held up her hands. "Don't patronise me. I know you
know about it, so stop jumping around it. You know where it is - probably,
all of you know."
"Know about what?"
Nancy re-entered the lounge at that moment, lemonade in hand.
"Synergy." Sammi responded. Nancy's expression changed, and Sammi's eyes
"Yes, I thought so. It is a Jewel secret." She said quietly. "One Mum can
share with her niece and not her daughter. Well, that's fine. I can handle
that. It doesn't matter now, anyhow."
"I beg your pardon?" Nancy raised an eyebrow, handing the visitor the glass.
"Did I miss something important?"
"No, I'm about to say that." Sammi's tone had an edge to it. "See, girls,
my mother is one of the beneficiaries of Jerrica's will. And that will doesn't
just have Starlight Music in it. It also has this place...and it has Synergy."
"This place was sold. Phyllis Gabor owns it."
"I don't care. There are no deeds of sale for the computer." Sammi retorted.
"And I might not be a lawyer, but I know what that means. That means the
computer belongs one third to my mother - and I'm her daughter. So I want
to know about it! Don't prevaricate with me any more - that computer belongs
to my family and I want it back!"