Chapter Ten: Sylva and Jack

"I can't believe we actually got a day off!" Sylva stretched out on her beachtowel, closing her eyes as she bathed in the bright sunlight. "With everything hotting up over this show, I would've thought we'd be in studio from now till the big night, rehearsing."
"We can't work all the time, we'll get stale." Topaz rolled onto her stomach, lowering her shades to look at her friend. "And it's nice on a day as hot as this to drive down to the beach and take a time out. I mean, come on. It is a Sunday. From tomorrow our single is in stores and then the countdown to the big show begins in earnest...we need a day to catch our breath."
"I never knew California was so hot." Gaynor observed. She and Anna had taken advantage of Sylva's day off to tag along with the group to the nearest beach. So far the band had avoided any snooping reporters and the six girls had been enjoying their morning in relative peace and quiet.
"Well, you'll go back to DC with a suntan." Anna told her friend. "We both will. See, that's how you tell Sylvie and I apart at the moment. Sylvie has a deep California tan."
"Yes, and a red bikini which probably should be banned." Nancy put in dryly. Sylva shrugged.
"What's wrong with the bikini?" She demanded. "It's brand new, and it was in the sale! Anyway, I think it looks fabulous...if you have a good figure, why not flaunt it?"
"You know you look great, Syl. Nancy's winding you up, as ever." Copper laughed.
"I just prefer to leave a few things to the imagination." Nancy added. Sylva snorted.
"Yeah? Well Dean must be the most imaginative guy on the planet." She retorted. "How on earth he fell in love with you I don't know."
"Jealous?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. "Something you want to share with the group, Sylvie?"
"Jealous of you? No way." Sylva shook her head. "Dean's all yours. I mean, he's cute, but if he's your type then believe me, he definitely isn't mine. In any case, I'm on the lookout for someone else."
"Jack?" Topaz demanded. Sylva nodded.
"I haven't seen anything of him for two weeks now." She replied. "But it's a nice day and he's hardly likely to be working on a Sunday, is he? Chances are he'll bring Courtenay down to the beach to play."
"I wondered where the bright idea to come here came from." Copper laughed. "Anna, how did you manage with her for eighteen years in Washington? I can't imagine what she must've been like round prom night or the school dance!"
"I was prom queen." Sylva retorted.
"She was, as well." Anna nodded, grinning as she remembered. "She had a really expensive dress for her senior prom, it made her look like some kind of movie star..." She paused, eying her sister in some amusement, for Sylva had gone slightly pink.
"What about it?" Nancy too had observed Sylva's embarassment, and was looking interested.
"I shouldn't tell you." Anna shook her head. "Sylvie might not like it."
"Damn right I wouldn't." Sylva agreed darkly. "I didn't invite you to the beach with us today to spill all my childhood secrets, you know."
"C'mon, Ann, you can tell me." Gaynor wheedled. "I'm interested." She grinned. "I want to know the scoop on my new celebrity acquaintances!"
"Well...shall we say...the dress wasn't much to look at by the end of the evening." Anna giggled. Sylva narrowed her eyes.
"Anna Marie Martescu, if you say another word I'm putting seaweed down your swimsuit!" She threatened.
"Aw, go on, Anna, you can't leave it like that!" Topaz exclaimed. "Come on, tell us!"
"Hmm." Anna eyed her sister thoughtfully, then, "Well, Sylvie has it that the punch bowl was spiked...and I guess I have to believe her, since a lot of people got rather merry that prom. But Sylvina, as Prom Queen no less, pretty much tumbled out of the room of the big hotel it was being held at...via the big french windows. Somehow...God only knows how...she ended up in the swimming pool, which sobered her up pretty quickly, I'd imagine, and she made a huge fuss, screeching and yelling. So Marianne and Celia - her two best friends, incidentally, and just as drunk as she was - tried to pull her out and all three of them wound up tangled in the bushes."
"Anna!!" Sylva's expression was dangerous and she reached out, grabbing a clump of seaweed. "That's it, you're dead meat!"
With a shriek, Anna got to her feet, running off down the beach with her sister hot on her heels, leaving the remaining girls to laugh.
"I like Anna." Nancy observed dryly, between giggles. "She can stay."
"Man, it feels good to laugh with you guys again." Copper decided, stretching back out on her towel. "Like things are really back as they should be."
"Think Syl will catch Anna?" Topaz wondered. Gaynor shrugged.
"I woulda thought Anna knows better than anyone how to escape her sister." She said with a grin. "You know, you guys are totally just like the students at college...being stars doesn't make you a bit different from the people Ann and I live with and hang out with, you know. If anything, you're crazier."
"That's Syl." Nancy told her. "She's the resident quota of insanity for this band."
"I don't know that we consciously feel like stars a lot of the time." Copper mused. "When the tabloids rip shreds out of us, well, then it stings some, you know? And we remember it...but most of the time we're just having a blast playing our music, hanging out and earning money doing something we all love. None of us really bother to stop and think, hey, we're famous...not very often. We're none of us looking to be crowded by anxious groupies looking for autographs, that kinda thing is a bit embarrassing, really."
"Album signings, now those are the worst." Topaz rolled her eyes. "Queues and queues of people and your hand ready to fall off as you sign the same thing, over and over again."
"Good PR, though." Copper pointed out.
"So what's the best bit, then, about being a star?" Gaynor rested her chin on her hands, looking inquiringly at her companions.
"Performing." Topaz said with a smile. "For me, anyway. I love being on stage."
"Me too." Copper nodded. "So long as it's with these guys."
"I dunno." Nancy looked thoughtful. "I think...playing my music and having people like and appreciate it and the hard work that's gone into it."
"Anna said you were a writer, like she is. You ought to get together." Gaynor suggested. Nancy nodded.
"I'd thought of it." She admitted. "How long are you staying in Cali?"
"All summer, is the plan." Gaynor replied. "Anna didn't want to leave her mother alone too much this summer, with the divorce and all, and her Dad is working a lot away from home, so if you ask me she didn't want to go home, either. So we're spending the summer here."
"Cool. Then after the big show, perhaps Anna and I can collaborate a little." Nancy grinned.
"Hey! Looks like Sylva caught herself something." Topaz grinned at that moment, indicating down the beach. The girls looked where the singer pointed, and a wry smile crossed Nancy's face.
"Jack." She murmured. "Typical."
"Where's Anna? Did she get away?" Gaynor asked.
"No, I got drenched." Anna herself joined them at that moment, long curls dripping from her dip in the sea. "I feel cooler, mind you. But she pounced on me and got me soaked...then some guy she knew appeared and she was off in a flash."
"That's Jack...the guy she was talking about before." Topaz explained. "She thinks he's hot."
"He also has a three year old could be interesting." Nancy added.
Anna raised an eyebrow.
"A kid? Ooh. Syl's never dated one of them before." She said.
"Well, I don't think she plans on letting it get in her way this time." Copper said with a smile. "They're coming over. Is Courtenay with him?"
"There's a little blond that who you mean?" Gaynor asked. "She's grabbing Sylvina's hand."
"Yep, sounds right." Topaz grinned. "Courtenay thinks Syl is her playmate even though they've only met twice. She's a sweet kid, but kinda wild at heart...kinda like Syl a bit, I guess."
"Hey guys...look what I found." At that moment Sylva and her companions rejoined the group, a secret smile on the keyboardist's face. "Jack, Courtenay, this is my twin sister Anna and her friend from college, Gaynor Fitzpatrick. You know the others already."
"Nice to meet you." Jack smiled. "I didn't realise there were two of you, Sylvina."
"Well, in looks only." Sylva dimpled. "We don't act much alike." She sat down, indicating for him to join them. "Want to grab a piece of towel? I haven't seen you in a week or two, I thought I'd offended you last time we met, because I had to work and couldn't play with Courtenay."
"Oh, it's all right, not offended." Jack grinned. "I know what work's like...I've been doing a lot of it myself recently, saving up to take Courtenay on vacation at the end of September. We're going to Disneyworld...aren't we, Court?"
"Yep." The small blond girl nodded her head. "To see Mickey an' Minnie Mouse an' Dumbo!"
"Sounds fun." Copper grinned. "Bet it's nice to get a day off, though, huh?"
"You're telling me." Jack agreed. "But my mother's been in town this week and she's taken Courtenay a lot of the time, so I didn't have to feel bad about taking her to daycare."
"I like daycare." Courtenay assured him, snuggling into his lap. "But I like Gran'ma more. An' I like Sylvina...Sylvina will you come play in the sea with me?"
Jack looked embarassed.
"I'm sorry...she seems to think you're her property now." He said sheepishly. Sylva laughed.
"If you trust me to take her, then I'd love to oblige." She said with a smile. "I think I owe her one for not being able to play the last time."
"Yay! Gonna play in the sea!" Courtenay reached over to grab Sylva's hand, then her father's. "Come on! We're gonna play with the seaweed an' find a crab!"
With that she was off down the beach, and, exchanging looks, Sylva and Jack headed after her.
"Well, he seems a nice guy." Anna said finally, when they were out of earshot. "Not Sylvie's usual type, but nice enough."
"Courtenay is so cute." Gaynor dimpled.
"She is sweet...but I can't see Syl playing Mama for long." Nancy said. "It's not gonna work out, so I don't know why she's bothering."
"You know Syl, act first, think later." Topaz shrugged. "If she's happy, Nance, let her be. She and Anna have been through enough this past couple of months, she deserves some happiness."
"I'll second that." Anna nodded. "Sylvie took the divorce thing worse than I did."
Down at the sea front, sitting in the shallow water helping Courtenay look for shells, Sylva shot Jack a sidelong glance.
"Being a single Dad must suck." She said finally. Jack shook his head.
"It doesn't's hard work, but we do okay." He said with a grin. "I love Courtenay, anyhow. How could I not? So it's worth the hard work. At the end of the day it makes us closer."
"Her mother must've been a total idiot to leave you both." Sylva said softly.
"I don't talk about it much in front of Court." Jack said with a shrug. "But it was for the best, Sylvie. Leave it at that."
"Don't you worry, though, about Court not having a mother figure growing up?"
"My Mom helps out a lot." Jack responded. "To be honest, Sylvina, I spend most of my energy looking out for the kid and I don't worry much about dating or girls. Can't...haven't the time to."
"You have time for new friends, though?" Sylva dimpled. Jack grinned.
"Well, friends are different." He acknowledged. "And Courtenay sure seems attached to you, so I guess we're friends for life now, huh?"
"I suppose we are." Sylva nodded. "Hey, Courtenay, come look what I found!"
"What?" The small girl trotted over, sitting down with a splash between the waves. "Ooh...pretty shell!"
"Here you go." Sylva put it into the girl's bucket. "Another one for your collection."
"Can I keep it?" Courtenay's eyes widened. "Really?"
"Yep. It's a gift from me to you." Sylva grinned. "To remember our meeting at the beach like this."
"Okay." Courtenay returned the grin, then, "Daddy, can Sylvina come play with us another time?"
Jack sent Sylva a sheepish look, and Sylva laughed.
"I'm game." She said softly.
"Then I guess she can." Jack sounded resigned. "But Courtenay, both Sylvina and I are working a lot, so it might not be very often, okay?"
"'Kay." Courtenay seemed to be thinking this over.
"Speaking of work, I'd like to invite you to come to our big concert next weekend, if you can make it." Sylva dimpled. "It would mean a lot to me if you came. The proceeds are going to the Starlight Foundation, you know...helping orphaned kids and all that."
"I'd heard about the concert, but I didn't know your band were playing." Jack admitted. "I'd have to find a sitter for Courtenay, though. She's too young for a big deal show like that."
"I wanna see Sylvina!" Courtenay pouted. Sylva scooped her up.
"Well, the whole concert is gonna be playing on television." She murmured. "So you could watch it at home and see if you could spot your Daddy and me."
"Ooh." Courtenay's eyes lit up. "Daddy, can we?"
Jack laughed.
"I'll ask my Mom to watch her for the night." He said finally. "I think you talked me into it."

Chapter One: One Jewel Down
Chapter Two: Fireworks
Chapter Three: Phyllis Steps In
Chapter Four: Esteban Speaks
Chapter Five: Consulting the Teenangels
Chapter Six: Rose Helps
Chapter Seven: Mending Ties
Chapter Eight: Misfit Reborn
Chapter Nine: Dean's Show
Chapter Ten: Sylva and Jack
Chapter Eleven: Sabotaged!
Chapter Twelve: Settling the Past
Chapter Thirteen: Revenge
Chapter Fourteen: Show Must Go On