ARC ONE: NEW DAWN
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.
"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 administration...so 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
"Why papers? We want to sell disks." Stefana caught his gaze, bristling
"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."
"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
"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 meantime...you'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
"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
"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."
"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
"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."
"What did Rory tell you about me?" She whispered.
"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."
"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
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
"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,
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
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,
"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
"Sure. By the phone." Nancy cast her friend a strange look. "Why?"
"How many cars do you see, Nancy?"
"Er, four." Nancy squinted. "No...no. 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
"Yeah, and I bet I know who, too." Sylva rubbed her hands together menacingly.
"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
"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 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
"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
"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
"Maybe whoever took yours is bringing it back." Sadie suggested. "Perhaps
they only borrowed it."
"No...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
"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
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't...so
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
"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 granted...in
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
"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
"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
"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
"Okay." Sylva sighed. "God, what a night! And I thought this week couldn't
possibly get any worse...what in hell next?"