Part Three

Chapter Seven: Daisy's Ghost

"I am not looking forward to this."
Sylva pulled the vehicle to a stop, sitting back in the driver's seat as she gazed at the building in front of her. It was a fine day and the whitewashed brickwork seemed to sparkle in the California sunlight. Somehow, she mused, as she slowly unlocked the door of Sadie's car, it had seemed a lot less forbidding a place when she had last visited.
"But then I came for Aunt Aja's help. Not to ask my cousin if she went mental and drove my car into a wall." She muttered, locking the vehicle and doublechecking that it was firmly fastened. "And if anything happens to Sadie's car she'll probably kill me, so I'd better make sure that I'm not here long. If there is a Teenangel brain behind any of this, it's probably not a good idea to have it parked up in full view."
She headed slowly up the front drive, hesitating, then knocking on the front door. She could hear the sound of voices from inside, then the door swung open to reveal Lauren Martin, also known as Opel, the lead singer of the Teenangel Outsiders. For a moment Sylva just stared at the figure in front of her, and Opel frowned.
"Sylva? Is something wrong?"
"Oh. No." Sylva got to grips with herself, looking sheepish. "I mean, well, maybe. But no, I just hadn't seen you...I mean, Sammi said you'd got rid of the hairdye, but..."
Opel offered a smile.
"You're not used to seeing me as a natural blond?" She asked. Sylva shook her head.
"No. But boy, you really are blond, aren't you?"
"I'm afraid so." Opel looked confused. "Are you coming in, or are we going to discuss hair colours on the step?"
"Oh. Sorry." Sylva blushed. "I came to see she here?"
"Yes. We were going over some music stuff - noone else is, though." Opel pushed open the door, ushering her inside.
"That suits me." Sylva said quietly, following the singer through the hallway into the pretty pine and white living room. Sammi was curled up in a corner of the big settee and she cast Sylva a startled look which soon became cold and unwelcoming.
"What do you want?" She asked.
"To talk to you about something." Sylva steeled herself, dropping down into an empty seat and watching Opel follow suit.
"Something?" Sammi looked surprised. "Something to do with our little chat the other day?"
"Not exactly." Sylva shook her head. "No. About my car."
"I beg your pardon?" Sammi frowned. "What about your car?"
"Well, it decided to go for a little joy ride last night." Sylva bit her lip, then, "I wondered if maybe you knew anything about it."
"Me?" Anger and indignation flashed into Sammi's eyes. "What do you think I am, deranged?"
"Well, you tell me." Sylva shrugged. "You were mad enough to hit me one."
"Yes, because you were damn rude!" Sammi's voice shook. "And I don't have to take that from you. But steal your car? I don't think so! Why would I do something like that?"
"You did it to Amber." Sylva reminded her. Sammi paled, and Opel shook her head.
"Sylva, leave it alone." She said softly. "That was when Sammi had problems and you don't know anything about it. Besides, I can settle this for you. Sammi was here last night. All night. With me."
"So there." Sammi added, folding her arms. "I'm not some klepto, you know."
"This isn't a game." Sylva said darkly. "Whoever took my car last night rammed it with some force into the wall of a derelict building. They also left a note - one which said something about Misfit kids taking care of their property, else maybe it would disappear. That sounded eerily relevant to the conversation we had, and you even called me a Misfit kid. So tell me what I should think?"
"You should think better of your cousin." Sammi said flatly. "But if Opel's word and mine isn't good enough to prove I was here all night, you can ask Mum. She was here most of it, too. I didn't take your stupid car, Syl. And though it probably looks very pretty hanging on that wall, it's nothing to do with me."
Sylva sighed.
"Fine." She said resignedly. "But I had to know, one way or another. The police are involved, and Aunt Aja wouldn't really want to have to go down to the station on behalf of her only daughter again, would she? Not now that she's on the verge of taking control of Starlight Music again."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No. I'm warning you that you'd better be telling me the truth." Sylva said evenly.
"Sylva, maybe you'd better go." Opel looked troubled. "Aja wouldn't like it if she knew you were going at it like this in her house, and she has plenty on her mind as it is."
"I was going." Sylva assured her. She paused, casting Opel a thoughtful glance.
"You really are very blond without your dye." She mused.
Opel frowned.
"Excuse me?"
"Nothing." Sylva shook her head. "I guess I'll see myself out."
"Wait a minute." Sammi held up her hands. "Did you think any more about...what I said the other day?"
"I don't want to talk about that. Especially not here and not in front of Opel." Sylva shook her head. "It's bad enough you should be interested in it. But you're pestering the wrong person."
"I don't think I am."
"You are." Sylva responded quietly. "I can't give you what you are after - it's just not my decision to make."
With that she was gone, hurrying across the driveway to Sadie's car and jumping into the driver's seat, starting the engine.
"Maybe she's telling the truth." She acknowledged reluctantly, as she pulled out of the driveway. "She seemed fine - not hurt or scratched at all, and there's no way anyone who was in my car last night would have got out of that without a scratch - even if they did do what that cop suggested and jumped before impact. I don't know...perhaps I'm being paranoid. And Sammi isn't blond. Yet Opel is. Would she lie for Sammi? I don't know. I guess at the moment I don't know much about anything, except that I don't have a car. And that's a damn nusiance in itself. I'd better get onto the insurance people and demand to know what's going on. Sadie's car is all very well, but it really isn't me."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   

Daisy threw her nailfile across the music studio, sending it clattering off the metal hinge of the door.
"My nails are ruined! Stupid manicurist...I'm going to rip his head off!"
"Daisy, do you think you could keep it down?" Margot glanced up from her stack of papers, casting her cousin an irritated look. "If it isn't bad enough that Phillips woman has taken over Jerrica's office and is sending everyone scuttling around like flies, I have to spend my time listening to you complain while I try and make sense of all of this garbage!"
"Well, someone's tetchy today!" Daisy slipped down off the windowsill, coming to join her companion. "What is that stuff, anyhow?"
"Paperwork Aja gave me to work on." Margot rolled her eyes. "Since for the time being I appear to be hers for the asking. Part of the joy of keeping the contracts of existing employees going seems to be that she can give me all the mundane stuff to worry about while she and whoever she has with her in the office go over the important things. Jerrica would never have run the company that way."
"If you ask me, you're mighty cranky that Aja's taking hold of the reins." Daisy observed. Margot scowled.
"Shouldn't I be?" She demanded. "It's not a good state of affairs for either you or me. I've got you so much publicity through having a fair amount of clout in this place. Now, heaven only knows what my job is, except representing you. And that can seem pretty grim on occasion, when you're echoing round my head like you are today."
"Charming." Daisy pouted. "Fine. I'll get out of your hair and let you deal with your dull paperwork."
"Please! And make yourself useful. See what you can find out about Aja and her new administration, will you?"
"Sure." Daisy shrugged. "So long as you stop yelling at me."
"Fine. Just go!"
Daisy poked out her tongue at her cousin, but obediently pulled open the door of the studio, heading down the corridor towards the main office. As she reached the doorway, she could hear low voices and she paused, trying to make out anything she could.
"Seriously undermanaged..." she heard someone say, then, "Administrative reshuffle."
She grimaced.
"Margot's gonna be in an even better mood if they demote her." She muttered. "Guess keeping on everyone's contract doesn't mean you'll be used in the same capacity. But dammit, Margot's smart. Too smart for Aja to treat her like crap. We both need her high up in this administration. I want a hit! Aja had better realise that Margot's pretty much held this damn company together since she got here, else it might get ugly for her and this group she wants to sign."
Her lip curled as she heard the words 'Teenangel Outsiders' through the wood panels.
"So it is true, and not just a rumour." She mused. "Great. Just what I need. Competition before I even got myself off the ground. Oh, I've had enough of spying for Margot! It only ever brings bad news, anyway. I might as well go spend some of my money on something nice, before they decide to take my credit away."
Humming under her breath, she moved away down the hall towards the lift. As she reached it, she almost collided with an unfamiliar figure.
"Who are you?" She demanded, pushing the stranger away. "And mind where you're going! This jacket cost three hundred bucks and I don't want you breaking a tooth on it!"
The woman eyed her in silence for a moment. Then she offered a small smile.
"Hello." She said amiably. "I was looking for Jerrica's office."
"Jerrica's dead, lady." Daisy said irritably. "She decided to go mash her car into a wall. Believe me, I wish she was in her office too - but you're a few weeks too late."
"That is unfortunate." The woman seemed unphased. "I will have to speak with her another time, then."
"Did you not hear what I said?" Daisy's brow creased in surprise. "She's dead! Kaput! Wormfood. Don't you read the papers?"
"Not so often." The woman shook her head. "I have been asleep a long time."
"Er...that's very nice for you." Daisy took an involuntary step backwards. "Did you maybe come to see Aja? She's running the place at the moment....tall lady, chinese?"
"Aja!" The woman's features broke into a smile. "I have recollections of that name. I should like to see her. I must thank her."
"Look, if you're one of Aja's new administration, you're definitely on the weird side." Daisy looked confused. "Nothing you say makes any sense. Will you tell me what you want or get the heck out of here? Because you're creepy enough to make me want to call security on you."
"Security will not arrest me." The woman seemed perfectly composed, reaching up to toy absently with a lock of golden blond hair. "This is my husband's company."
"Your husband? And who's he? Mickey Mouse?"
"Don't be silly, Daisy Buchan." The woman shook her head. "Emmet Benton. Of course."
"Me don't be silly?" Daisy exclaimed. "You have a serious fixation with dead people, did you know that?"
"Well, that's probably because I am one." The woman said matter of factly. "Will you excuse me, please? I must thank Aja for bringing me back...I was buried so deep that I didn't think I'd ever be here again. And I have so much to do. Where did you say Jerrica's office is?"
"You are too crazy for me, lady." Daisy took another step backwards. "And if it's all the same to you, I'm gonna take the stairs."
Before the other woman could answer, she turned on her heel, fleeing for the stairwell. As she reached the bottom of the second flight of stairs, a picture caught her eye and she stopped dead, colour draining from her face.
She swore, tracing a finger over the picture frame and pausing at the names beneath the fading print. The colours were no longer so bright as they had once been, but Daisy could clearly make out the figure of a blond woman, dressed in finery and smiling for the camera as she accepted a bouquet of roses. In the background stood a man with glasses, a proud expression on his face, and Daisy knew only too well who he was, for his image had hung over Jerrica's desk for as long as she'd been at the company.
"That's Emmet Benton." She murmured. "And...Oh God. That was her...I swear it was her!"
She shook her head.
"No, but it's not possible. It's just not...but I know I saw her. I know what I saw and I swear, she looked just like..."
She swallowed hard, backing away from the photograph.
"Like Jacqui Benton." She whispered. "Oh Starlight Music haunted?"

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.