Part Three

Chapter Five: An Act Of Pique

 "So, that basically leaves me with nothing more to say than to let Darren get on with what he's best at."
Rory cast a benign smile at the assembled Diablo musicians, gesturing to the young man who lounged in the doorway of the main studio. "He has...extensive experience in the public relations business, and I hope you'll be able to work well together. I've had a few ideas on your next big campaign, but we want some input from all of you, too."
He glanced at his watch, then, "And I have a meeting, so if you'll all excuse me, I'll let you get on with it."
"Well, it looks like Rory did hire this dude after all." Luca murmured. Stefana nodded, casting Darren a quizzical look.
"Well?" She demanded. "If you're a hotshot in this department, aren't you going to give us the usual spiel about maximising our resources and yada yada?"
"Yada yada?" Darren's face broke into a grin at this. "Do you think that'll get anyone anywhere?"
He perched on the windowsill, folding his arms across his chest. Unseen by his companions, his finger slipped into his top pocket, flipping the dial on a small dictaphone to 'record'.
"Rory must really think the situation is bad out there, if he's bringing in new blood to do our PR." Madeleine observed. "Has he told you his ideas, or are we working blind?"
"With Rory, you never quite know." Clay added ironically.
Darren smiled.
"I know all of Mr Llewelyn's plans in this matter." He agreed amiably. "The bottom line is, Jerrica Pacheco and Starlight Music have been the top story in the local presses for far too long. The reporting world are all looking for new angles on her death, on her husband's affair, on her will...on that computer everyone's talking about. It's hot stuff and it's selling papers by the bucketload. It's also providing a lot of nice free publicity to Starlight Music and it's new the heat hasn't died down there yet. With Aja Phillips taking hold of the ropes, it's going to net another few headlines before the month is out."
"Aja Phillips? Aja of the Holograms?" Marissa looked startled. "I thought that was just a rumour."
"No, no rumour. It's true enough." Darren told her. "Already some of the local tabloids are buzzing with the idea that she's going to sign her out of contract daughter's group to her label once it's all in her hands, and of course, none of that is good for Diablo."
"How do you know all of that stuff?" Clay asked suspiciously.
"I work in PR. Do you expect me not to be well versed on the competition?" Darren asked sweetly. "Put simply, the current press wave has nothing about Diablo in it. And we can promote your songs to death with glossies and radio plays and meetings with interviewers. That's fine and good. But Jewel have been doing that since the Jerrica story broke and they've had precious little press coverage, really, to show for it. So I don't think that's the best approach."
"So what you're saying is, playing it the nice, clean music company way isn't going to net us any sales?" Stefana demanded. Darren shrugged.
"I don't believe in breaking laws, but rules, they're there to be trampled on." He said simply. "And if Diablo are going to get back into the limelight, we need to do some trampling. I can arrange some exclusive interviews and some hot off the press one on one chats with magazines or papers without a problem. But I need something to work with. Something that will grab the attention of the public and wrench it away from Jerrica Pacheco. Something," he paused, his eyes glinting thoughtfully as he glanced at Stefana, "to sell papers."
"Why papers? We want to sell disks." Stefana caught his gaze, bristling under it.
"Because papers sell disks." Darren spread his hands. "Some stats for you. Did you know that a recent survey by the media section of the Tribune revealed that eighty percent of their readers followed the reviews the paper gave of new albums and singles, and a good seventy four percent of those people acted on the reviews and made purchases. That's one heck of a slice of the market, and that's just one paper. Do you see what I'm talking about now?" He gestured. "To put it more bluntly, when Misfits Music set on fire, Jewel's sales went up three-fold. When Jerrica died, demand for Daisy Buchan shot through the roof." He cast Luca a knowing smile. "And when your affair with Topaz was hot gossip, your record jumped up the chart like noone's business."
Luca coloured.
"That was a long time ago." He countered. "And there was no affair."
"Hell, I don't care about the technicalities." Darren shrugged. "What I'm saying is, that publicity can never hurt you when you're in the public eye."
"But we don't have anything to counteract the Jerrica story." Madeleine pointed out. "I'm sorry, Darren, but we're pretty boring on the whole."
"Mr Llewelyn doesn't seem to think so." Darren leant up against the glass pane. "Aside from the recent tour to Europe - which is a great angle, because everyone's always interested in hearing about places most of them can't afford to go to - I'm intrigued by some of the press cuttings in his cabinet. Particularly in this little piece of hell label."
He winked at Stefana. "It seems to have generated quite a cult following. Did you know that eighteen percent of Diablo fans when surveyed revealed they were considering 'Stefana' as a name for a future daughter?"
"What?" Stefana's eyes almost fell out of her head. "You're joking with me. As if it isn't bad enough I'm stuck with it!"
"I never kid about my work." Darren shook his head. "I've done my homework on you folks and that's netted me this job."
"I don't think the little piece of hell is something we want to encourage in the public eye, Darren." Luca cast his sister an anxious look, which Darren noted with interest.
"On the contrary." he shook his head. "I was speaking to a contact at Cool Trash at the weekend and they told me that it's netted them some huge sales in the media market. Everyone loves the bad girl, after all."
"Maybe I'm not as bad as the press likes to think I am." Stefana folded her arms. "And I still don't see what this has to do with selling our album."
"Mr Llewelyn has already printed up a rough schedule, with my help, of Diablo's next public engagements. It's in his office." Darren said calmly. "In the meantime, we need to work on this from a more personal angle. I will be straight with you. I work for myself, in whatever I do. Who pays my bills is irrelevant - I'm enough in demand in my line of work to step on a few toes if it gets me what I want at the end of the day. And what I want is your cooperation. Diablo are a huge act in Los Angeles - you're just not tapping your resources and you won't get out of second place until you do. It's only half about the music. The rest is the publicity. And to get people's attention, we have to have something to wrench the readers away from Jerrica Pacheco. Are you with me so far?"
"Guess so." Luca frowned. "Though I'm not sure how you intend us to do that."
"For the time being, I just want you to think and talk among yourselves." Darren told him. "It's well known that Diablo like to keep the inner workings of their private lives as private as Los Angeles allows. Perhaps it's time to open yourselves up a little more to your fanbase. All fans like to think they know their idols."
He indicated Stefana. "Particularly you. In fact, I'd appreciate it if you'd have lunch with me. I have something to discuss with you on a one to one level."
"Me?" Stefana's eyes narrowed. "I don't do lunch with strange guys."
"Not even ones with Rebel Records passes?"
"Honey, those who work for Rory Llewelyn are usually the worst kind." Stefana snorted. "And I do not date publicists, so you can take that look off your face now."
Darren chuckled.
"Then we can talk here." He said comfortably. "I'm easy. I just thought lunch would be a more relaxing venue."
"If it's work, do it here." Stefana said bluntly. Darren shrugged.
"All right." He agreed. "Like I said, I'm flexible."
He pursed his lips, glancing across at Clay.
"In the're Clayton Blake, that's right, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Clay." Clay agreed. "What of it?"
"Where to even start with you?" Darren grinned. "I have it on good authority that you could be a headline in yourself, if you chose to be. Perhaps we could discuss harnessing that?"
"I beg your pardon?" Clay frowned.
"You don't see the classic romance in it?" Darren demanded. "The scorned bastard son of one of England's most famous titled landholders, making a living on his own terms in a foreign country, far away from his family ties?"
"Who in hell told you about my father?" Clay's eyes widened in surprise and anger. "Look here, you might be a publicist but there are some damn things that I don't talk about to the press, and Mason Hawthorne is no part of my life. Not now, and not ever. So forget it! I don't cash in on that connection, and I never will!"
"I wasn't talking of cashing in. I was talking about exploiting it for all you're worth." Darren seemed unperturbed. "As for how I knew, I make it my business to know everything about everybody that I work for. But just think of it, Clay. The dark and brooding drummer that noone knows anything about, is really the son of an English earl? Do you know how much publicity that would get you? People love a title. Plus, since Mason Hawthorne was a friend of the late Ms Pacheco, and the husband of the newest incumbents of Starlight Music, don't you see how topical it would be? Remember, papers sell cds at the end of the day."
"And my mother's honour and my father's bloody-mindedness ain't going to be how we do it." Clay snapped. "I know you're doing your job, but some things stay private."
"Clay's right." Marissa nodded. "It's always been his decision to disassociate himself with the Hawthorne family and the ties in England. It shouldn't be in the presses."
"Then what about...I don't know...your budding relationship?" Darren asked. "The moonlight walks by the Eiffel Tower in Paris? The picnics at Montmartre?"
Marissa blushed furiously.
"Is there anything you don't know about us?" Madeleine demanded. Darren shrugged.
"If I don't, it's probably not worth knowing." He said frankly. "You people have a lot of things going for you, you know. You just need to lose some of your inhibitions and be prepared to reveal a little for the public. Not too much to make it tacky, but a few exclusive revelations in this paper or that and you grab people's attention. That's what all this is about."
He winked at Clay.
"I still think there's a great story in your family ties. But hell, if I could find it out, so could anyone. It's better to be in control of this kind of information, and how it gets about...than having it splashed all over Cool Trash or Music Bizz. I remember the fiasco there was when that Jewel girl's inmate past came out." He winced. "Ooh, that must have been a painful one for Misfits Music's PR department to wash out."
He shrugged.
"I'll let you think on it." he said at length, "Stefana, we really must talk...I'll leave the rest of you to ponder."
He got to his feet, moving to the door and swinging it open, pausing to glance back at the guitarist. "Stefana?"
"Okay, I'm coming." Stefana sighed. "Though I think the little piece of hell angle is old news now."
Darren made no response until they were out of the studio. Then he closed the door behind them with a click, leading the way down the hall to an empty office and ushering her inside.
"Are you serious?" Stefana sat down in one of the empty chairs. "About using things like Clay's family or his and Mari's romance in the press?"
"Between you and me, Stefana, I mentioned those things because I had a tip that there are local press interested in those exact topics." Darren said gravely. "And that's my business, keeping on top of and controlling how these things hit the public eye."
"I see." Stefana frowned. "So basically you want Clay and Mari to come and tell their stories before someone else beats them to it?"
"Precisely." Darren smiled. "It's always better in their own words."
Absently his hand brushed against his pocket, feeling the small dictaphone that was still running. "And I like to be ahead of the pack."
"Okay." Stefana rested her chin in her hands. "That makes sense, I guess. But how can I help you?"
"Ah." Darren grinned. "Well. Like I said in there, I work for myself. And publicity is my game. From the moment I took this job, you jumped out at me as the centrepiece to this blitz we've got planned. In every press account I've found, it's you they're all interested in. How bad is Stefana really?"
"Maybe that's something they don't really want the answer to." Stefana said slowly. "Maybe I'd disappoint them."
"Maybe you would." Darren pursed his lips. "But I don't think so. Arrested and interrogated by the FBI over the fire at Misfits Music?"
"Arrested? No. Interrogated? Yes. Cleared as a suspect? Yes." Stefana objected. "I don't have a criminal record to flaunt all over the papers."
"No, not like your friend Garnet." Darren remarked casually. "That was a really mis-managed affair on Misfits Music's behalf, but they did get a hell of a lot of publicity out of that and the murder trial stuff. It did help Jewel's sales."
"How do you know that Sadie and I are friends?" Stefana exclaimed. "You spend your life spying on Diablo?"
"No." Darren shook his head. "But in this business, I have a lot of contacts."
He eyed her speculatively. "And I do know a lot about you. A whole lot."
Stefana paled.
"What did Rory tell you about me?" She whispered.
Darren laughed.
"Tell me?" He echoed. "Why, Stefana? Is there something you think should be kept sacred between musician and employer?"
"Just answer the question."
"No. I don't think that will be necessary." Darren shook his head. "Just, I want you to think very carefully about your role in Diablo's next big publicity drive. Seriously think about it. Your contribution could be vital, so anything that you think would help, I want you to talk to me about it."
"Let me guess. You or Rory."
"No. Not Mr Llewelyn." Darren shook his head. "He's handed these things over to me. I'm handling it now."
"Oh." Stefana faltered, then, "Well, all right. But there's nothing to tell, Darren. And if there was, I don't think people would want to read it."
"I don't know. People always like a hot love story." Darren eyed her suggestively.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Aaron Pelligrini. Nice guy, or so I've heard. Big into Jewel's music."
Stefana swore.
"You are creepy." She said, getting to her feet. "And I don't like being in a room alone with a guy who has no life of his own and has to spend his regurgitating bits of other people's to try and impress them. There are other ways to get PR exposure, you know, without resorting to scandal!"
With that she stalked out of the office, banging the door shut behind her. Darren pursed his lips, slipping his hand into his pocket and pulling out the dictaphone. Neatly, he switched it off, letting out a low chuckle.
"Yes, there are, Stefana." He agreed. "If you're in it for the PR. But if you're in it for the front page story and the hot scandal...that's another matter."
He opened the machine, putting the cassette safely in it's case. "That little chat will net my colleagues at the Tribune a few hot stories for the media pages, but I'm here for the big fish. If Stefana really knows about Jerrica's computer, well, I need to stay on her. And get her to trust me. That might be harder than I thought, but hey, noone ever said I didn't have a way with women."
He laughed.
"And I like a challenge."
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 It was dark.
The figure flitted from pillar to post, pausing in the shadows as she assessed her surroundings. A slight smile touched her lips, and she nodded.
"Just where I expected it to be." She murmured. "And so blatantly unprotected, too."
Checking her reflection briefly to ensure all was in order, she slipped across the gravel driveway to the sleek silver mercedes, running a gentle hand along the driver's side door. There was a click as the car unlocked, and, satisfied, she pulled it open.
"It's a nice car." She decided softly. "Pity it has such a limited life expectancy."
Perching on the edge of the seat, she pulled some paper from the glove box. Her hunt for a pen proved more elusive, but eventually she found an eyeliner pencil in the back of the car, and she scrawled a crude message in block capitals.
"With love." She chuckled, folding the piece of paper in half and stepping out of the car, padding up the arc shaped driveway to the mailbox and pushing it inside. "And now for some fun. Let's see how this car really drives!"
To think was to act, and she was soon back behind the wheel, dismantling the crook-lock with a deft movement of her hand. After a moment's assessment of the car's controls, she reached deftly under the seat, pulling out three wires and sparking them together, kicking the engine into life. She pulled the door shut behind her, pushing her foot down on the accelerator pedal and screeching out of the drive, onto the main road.

"Did you hear something?"
Inside the Mansion, Nancy put down her pen, a frown on her face.
"Something? What sort of something?" Topaz looked startled. "A baby cry something? Is Hollie awake?"
"No, it sounded like a car out the front." Nancy pushed her manuscript aside, moving to the window. "Is anyone expecting company?"
"Not me." Sadie shook her head. "It's not Alex on another federal visit, is it?"
"No, I can't see any strange cars." Nancy shook her head. "And I can't see anyone, either. Maybe I imagined it. It just sounded like a car engine."
"It's pitch black out there. You won't see a thing." Topaz said sensibly. "Let me go down and wake Cynthia. She'll be able to scan the grounds for anyone better than we can."
"I probably did imagine it." Nancy frowned. "Maybe I'm working too hard."
"Let me see." Sylva came to join her on the window seat. "There's noone out there, Nance. Just our cars and...wait a minute!"
"What?" Sadie demanded. "Syl, what is it? Can you see something?"
"No. It's what I can't see." Sylva's expression became grim. "Do we have a torch?"
"Sure. By the phone." Nancy cast her friend a strange look. "Why?"
"How many cars do you see, Nancy?"
"Er, four." Nancy squinted. " Three. Hey, that's not right..."
"No, it's not right." Sylva shook her head. "That's exactly what I mean."
She jabbed a finger at the glass. "I parked my merc under that tree this afternoon when I came in. It's not there now. Unless it's shrunk. Or camouflaged."
"You think someone stole your car?" Sadie's eyes became huge. "That's damn brazen!"
"Yeah, and I bet I know who, too." Sylva rubbed her hands together menacingly. "My cousin."
"Sammi?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. "That's a leap of faith. Yeah, you had a fight yesterday, but that's all it was. Sammi isn't a car-stealer type."
"She pinched Amber's once, and totalled it." Sylva shook her head. "Okay, it was when she was drinking, but she still did it. Aunt Aja mentioned it to Mom when they were worried about what Sam was into. I'm telling you, this is her revenge."
"Did we find anything?" Topaz re-entered at that moment, eying her friend's expressions with some confusion.
"Yes. Syl's car is missing." Nancy nodded. "She thinks Sammi took it as revenge for the fight they had. Where's Cyn?"
"Running scandisk, or something. I can't raise her." Topaz responded.
"She was pretty beat yesterday." Nancy remembered. "I guess we should let her rest her circuits. Besides, whoever came for Syl's car is long gone now. We might as well go out there and see if we can find anything that points to who took it."
"We should call Alex." Topaz suggested.
"No." Sylva shook her head again. "If it's my cousin, I don't want the cops involved. But I do want my car back. Come on. Let's go see if there's anything out there. If we stick the front porch lights on we should be able to see fairly well."
"I'll stop here, in case Hollie cries." Topaz shook her head. "But if you three want to go look, go ahead."
"Nance? Sadie?" Sylva glanced at the others. Sadie shrugged.
"Sure, why not?" She agreed. "Come on, Nance. Let's go play detective."
With one accord the three girls headed out into the hallway, pulling on shoes and grabbing jackets as Sadie unlocked the front door, stepping outside.
"All seems quiet out here." She reported, flipping on the porch lights as she did so. "I suppose if Cyn was running her scandisk, the person picked the best possible moment to come pay us a visit. You do realise that Sammi isn't the only possible suspect in this...we still have the matter of the wrecked studio, don't forget."
"Daisy." Nancy grimaced. "Oh, aren't we just so popular? We can't even pick our saboteur out of a list!"
"Let's not drop Stefana off the bottom, either." Sylva sighed. "Since Diablo are back in town. And isn't Jesta here, too?"
"Stefana is out of this." Sadie said firmly. "Trust me on that - she's not into messing us around any more. Besides, she..."
She faltered.
"She what?" Nancy asked. "Come on, Sadie. Spit it out."
Sadie looked troubled for a moment, then,
"She did mention earlier that Rory Llewelyn is showing interest in finding Synergy." She said uncomfortably. "And she wanted me to be warned. But she doesn't want you guys to know she warned me, so keep your traps shut about it. Especially around Cynthia. Steffi is scared stiff of Cyn for whatever reason, and I don't want her to think I break my word."
"She took the time to warn you?" Nancy demanded. "Why?"
"Because she and I are becoming friends." Sadie said simply. "And that's what friends do. Now come on. We're looking for clues to Syl's missing car. Let's split out and scour the grounds. If you find anything, yell."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Sylva brandished the torch. "I'm taking the tree. That's where my car was, after all."
Without waiting for her companions to respond, she was gone across the gravel, purposefully making her way up to the tree and examining the ground beneath it.
"Tires...and I suppose that might be a shoe, but it could be mine from earlier." She muttered, crouching down for a closer look. "Nothing else."
She reached into her pocket, her hand closing around her keys. "And it's not like I left the keys in the ignition, because they're right here. So whoever it was knew how to unlock it and hotwire it...without setting off the car's alarm?"
"Syl!" Sadie's voice made her turn to see her friend hurrying towards her, brandishing a piece of paper. She stood.
"What's that?" She demanded.
"I found it in the mailbox. Someone left a note." Sadie explained breathlessly, handing the sheet over. Sylva unfolded it slowly.
"Misfit kids should take better care of their property." She read aloud. "Otherwise they might find it disappears."
"Weird." Nancy joined them at that moment, overhearing the message. "Who steals a car and leaves a calling card?"
"Do we recognise the handwriting?" Sadie asked. Sylva shrugged.
"It's in blocks...and it's in some kind of crayon or...or God, eyeliner pencil." She said, wrinkling up her nose. "Classy. But I don't recognise it. Mind you I wouldn't know Sammi or Daisy's handwriting, honestly."
"I know Daisy's. She puts silly hearts over all her i's." Nancy remembered. "But block capitals are harder to recognise. I wouldn't know if that was hers or not."
"Well, it's a cryptic note." Sadie frowned. "Misfit kids? What's that about?"
"Sammi did call me a Misfit kid earlier. And she was demanding Synergy." Sylva tapped the sheet with her nail. "And she has done this car thing before. I still have her top of my list as a suspect."
"So what are we going to do about it?"
"Nothing, tonight." Sylva shook her head. "Tomorrow...tomorrow I'm going to pay Samantha a visit. But I won't give her the satisfaction of chasing over there tonight. If it's one of her silly games, I'm not going to feed her attention whoring."
She turned on her heel, pocketing the note and heading back towards the house. "Come on. Let's go inside."
"Hang on, Syl." Nancy held up her hands. "Someone's coming. I can hear a car."
"Maybe whoever took yours is bringing it back." Sadie suggested. "Perhaps they only borrowed it."
"'s not Syl's car." Nancy squinted into the darkness. "It...looks like a squad car."
"Did someone call the police after all?" Sylva looked startled. Nancy shook her head.
"Not me."
"Me either." Sadie agreed. "Maybe Topaz did?"
"Maybe." Sylva shrugged her shoulders helplessly, as the police car pulled to a stop on the edge of the drive. The door swung open, and an officer stepped out, stopping as he registered the presence of the three girls.
"I'm looking for a Miss Martescu?" He ventured.
"That's me." Sylva stepped forward. "Why? What's up?"
"Miss Martescu, are you the owner of a silver mercedes, with local plates?"
"Yes." Sylva nodded. "But as you can see, it's decidedly not here at the moment."
The officer pursed his lips.
"Miss Martescu, we had a tip off at the station about half an hour ago that your car was involved in something downtown."
"I wouldn't know." Sylva's tone had an edge to it. "It's broken it's curfew and hasn't come home like a good mercedes should."
"Someone took Sylva's car about...well, about a half hour ago, officer." Sadie offered her part. "We heard the engine and came out to see whether we could see anyone, but we couldn't. Syl's still here, but her car isn' whatever it is, she's not involved."
"That was never the implication, ma'am." The officer assured her. "I'm here because we followed up on the tip and, well, we found your car. Or...well...we found what's left of it."
"What's left of it?" Sylva's face paled. "What do you mean? I've no claims on that thing and it didn't have even a scratch in the paint before today!"
"Well, you wouldn't notice one scratch now, Miss." The officer said bluntly. "Whoever took your car ran it straight into a condemned block of flats on the south side. Brought half a wall down on top of it. Not made for that kind of impact, a mercedes...I'm afraid it's a writeoff."
"Was there anyone...I mean, did you find who was driving it?" Nancy asked, as Sadie slipped a supportive arm around Sylva's shoulders.
"There was no body at the scene." The officer shook his head. "We think they left the site, though we don't know what kind of injuries they might have sustained and we're still hoping forensics might pull something from the wreck. Miss Martescu, we're treating this incident as highly suspicious. The tip we got was, we think, from the perpetrator. We believe she wanted us to know exactly what she was going to do...she said something about making sure Misfits Music remembered where they belonged in the pecking order, and that their employees shouldn't take their fancy possessions for case they didn't have them any more."
Slowly Sylva reached into her pocket, holding out the crumpled note.
"Sadie found this." She murmured. "It says something similar."
"I see." The officer took the letter, reading it over. "May I take this?"
"Yes, of course." Sylva swallowed hard. "I can't believe someone wrecked my car! Dammit, I know it's just a car but it was a damn nice one! And my insurance premium..."
"Does it cover theft?" Nancy asked. Sylva nodded.
"Yes, but bang goes the no claims." She responded bitterly.
"Miss Martescu, do you know of anyone with a grudge against Misfits Music?" The officer asked. "Or has anything else suspicious happened recently that might be connected with this?"
"In this business we have enemies." Sylva sighed. "Some friendly and some not. That's all I know. We don't know who took my car...I'm afraid I don't know anyone loopy enough to call the cops and tell them what they're gonna do before they do it, as if they weren't afraid to be caught."
"Well, we'll see what forensics say when they're done with the wreck." The officer said with a slight smile. "Miss, I must ask you to come to the precinct tomorrow and speak to us - we will need a formal statement. There are a lot of nutters in this city - we just have to track down which one is responsible this time."
"Yes, of course. Thank you, officer." Sylva sounded a little dazed, and Sadie squeezed her arm.
"Come on. We'll go in and I'll make coffee." She murmured, as the policeman headed back to his car.
"Syl, I don't think Sammi is mad enough at you to do something like this." Nancy added. "Especially not the tip off call. That's plain weird."
"I know. But is Daisy?" Sylva shrugged helplessly. "Or is it just some random idiot thinking it's funny to break into Starlight Mansion and total my car? Five minutes of fame and all that?"
"I wish Cyn hadn't been scandisking." Sadie bit her lip. "Else she'd have detected them and we might have caught them on the spot."
"Well, whatever it is, I think it's connected with the studio trashing." Nancy pushed open the front door. "And the blond we caught on camera. I still think we're dealing with Daisy."
"She isn't the only blond in Los Angeles." Sylva said bitterly. "Let's not rule out Sammi completely. I know it's insane to call the police, but when she's drinking, Aunt Aja did tell Mom she did some crazy things. Maybe she was drunk tonight. I don't know how licked her problems are and she's had big things to deal with in England over the last eight months or so."
"Sammi isn't blond."
"No, but Opel is, and she's stopping at the villa with Aunt Aja and their family."
"I refuse to believe Opel is involved in something so stupid as wrecking a music studio." Sadie shook her head. "Let alone stealing a car. Look. Let it lie for tonight. Tomorrow we'll all be clearer and maybe the police will know something more about it. You can take my car to get down to the station. I don't mind. But for now, let's just get inside and tell Topaz what the latest is."
"Okay." Sylva sighed. "God, what a night! And I thought this week couldn't possibly get any worse...what in hell next?"

Chapter One: At The Funeral
Chapter Two: Stefana's Secret
Chapter Three: Nancy's Studio
Chapter Four: An Old Rivalry
Chapter Five: An Act Of Pique
Chapter Six: Darren Moves In
Chapter Seven: Daisy's Ghost
Chapter Eight: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Nine: Scheming
Chapter Ten: The Synergy Ruse
Chapter Eleven: A Legacy Reborn

The copyright for the original Jem characters featured in this and other stories by me belongs entirely to Hasbro and their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the Sunbow Jem series. Their future selves are based on concepts that are entirely my own and are not to be repeated elsewhere without due permission.
All other characters, including their likenesses, are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World from 2001 to the present day and are not to be reproduced elsewhere without permission.
The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma Dawn whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's World. You can visit her site at!
All events in the stories on this site are based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction nor in any real life event or person.