Chapter Six: Facing Shadows
"Where on earth have you been?"
Grace unwound her wrap from her shoulders, hanging it neatly on the stand in the hall before turning to face her husband's anxious, quizzical gaze. She sighed, shaking her head.
"Out." She said slowly.
"Grace, do you have any idea how worried I've been?" Mason descended the stairs two at a time, hurrying to take her in his arms, his eyes anxiously searching hers for some clue to her disappearance. "With Trevor on the loose and then you disappearing and noone in the house knowing where you were..."
"Oh, Mason..." Grace shook her head. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to worry you, but I knew you'd try and stop me if I told you."
She sighed, slipping her hand into his.
"I am tired." She admitted. "It seems to have been a much busier day than it actually has been."
"You are pale." Mason bit his lip. "Should I call the doctor?"
"No...no." Grace dismissed this with a wave of his hand. "There's no cure for simple exhaustion but sleep, Mason...and you should stop worrying quite so much about my constitution. I've lived this long and I'm not about to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon. I wouldn't think of leaving you - not with things how they are."
Mason's eyes softened.
"I'm glad to hear it." He said gently. "But I was frightened when I couldn't find you and none of the house staff knew where you'd gone. I didn't know when you'd be back and...well...I suppose at the moment I've a tendency to jump to the worst conclusions."
"Yes, I know." Grace agreed, slipping her hand into his and leading him into the main sitting room. She took a seat, indicating for him to follow suit. "And when you find out where I went, you will probably be all the more anxious and angry that I went against your feelings. But I had to, regardless. There were things I needed to discover."
"What are you talking about?" Mason's eyes narrowed. "Grace, where did you go today? What have you been meddling in?"
"I went to see Clayton." Grace folded her hands in her lap with an illusion of composure that she did not feel. "I went to speak to your son."
The change in Mason's expression was immediate.
"I thought I told you that he was no son of mine!" He exclaimed. "Grace, how could you? And why, dammit? Aren't we already in a precarious enough situation without getting him involved?"
"You are not so very different." She observed. "Father and son share the same obstinate pride, and it's difficult to reason with on either side of the equation. Your son is a Hawthorne, Mason, in more ways than you'd care to admit. He carries your features in his face and your self-righteous, stubborn temperament. More, I had to settle in my mind whether or not he was touched by the family curse...whether he was like Trevor. He's not. He's just a hot-headed, opinionated young man, and he puts me in mind of you."
"What did you think you were doing?"
"Trying to pull this family back together." Grace said astutely. "Since you won't do it yourself."
"If you die tomorrow, Mason, Trevor inherits this estate in full." Grace held up her hand, interrupting him. "It was always that way. Your father's will was clear on that matter. The estate falls to his issue, or his brothers and/or their surviving issue. Your father had only you. Jeremy and his family are dead. There is only Clayton between you and Trevor. We need him."
Mason did not respond, and a look of familiar obstinacy crossed his features. Grace sighed.
"Fight with it all that you want." She added. "But you have scarce few choices left, Mason. Your father did not detail in his will that the line had to be pure or the heirs born within wedlock. It simply states that his holdings be left to his issue and children, and in absence of them his brothers and theirs. You know it as much as I do. And now it matters. Trevor is out of prison. It matters. We must make an ally of your son before it's too late."
"And if I don't want to?"
"Then I fear for us all." Grace's features became shadowed.
served far too much time to have given up on his ultimate goal, we both
know that. If something happens to you, all hell will be let loose in
The money will be gambled away, the heirlooms pawned and sold, the
of this family broken up...You know as well as I do that it would be
end of the Hawthorne family in every sense of the word. The good causes
you patronise would fall wanting, the people who rent land from us
be bankrupted by his high demands...and who's to say that those who
him wouldn't again be harmed or killed? The man is a murderer. Probably
a child-killer. He slaughtered your father and your uncle's
he tried to put an end to you all those years ago without caring who
he might maim or kill in the attempt. Do you really think there's
that he wouldn't stop at doing to secure the family estate? We both
She bit her lip.
"I won't let those things happen if talking to Clayton might somehow prevent it. I won't let that madman bring down our whole family and more, I won't let him take away the man I love. So swallow your pride, Mason, and think about finding a way to reach your son. Please."
She bit her lip, tears glistening in her eyes.
"Before it's too late."
* * * * * * * *
Jetta drew a heavy breath of air into her lungs, letting the wind whip around her as she sat sheltered beneath the old oak tree that grew at the foot of Laura's garden. She ran her fingers through the blades of grass, barely even registering their presence. Her mind was still full of those words - the name on the wedding certificate that had threatened to alter her entire understanding of herself and the world in which she'd lived.
"Hawthorne." She spoke the word aloud, bitterness and anger in her tone. "Humiliated and deceived...and now I find that I'm tied to them? Can it be the same family? Can there not be two families in this bloody country with money an' that blessed name? I couldn't face it. Not after what 'appened in Wissex all those years ago. How could I be one of them? After...after that?"
She sank back against the trunk of the tree, closing her eyes as memories flooded unbidden across her senses.
"Well, that was the best vacation I've taken in a while."
Roxy pushed open the front door of the Gabor mansion, stifling a yawn as she led the way into the main hall. "We oughta visit England more often."
"Sure, if you like being dressed up like housemaids by some crackpot earl." Pizzazz muttered under her breath, casting Jetta a pointed glare and then stalking into the main body of the home, stamping her way up the stairs. Jetta's grey eyes became clouded and unreadable, but she made no response, turning her attention to her own case.
Stormer cast a glance between her two remaining bandmates, as if comparing Roxy's jubilant expression and then Jetta's blank one. A frown touched her lips, and inwardly Jetta felt herself tense. She forced herself to stare back, schooling her features into a grim line. Stormer's frown deepened.
"Are you guys gonna make obscure comments forever, or is someone going to tell me what the hell happened in Wissex?" She asked at length. Roxy's mouth twitched into an amused smile.
"Ask Jetta." She said airily. "I'm starving...I'm going to see if there's any food left in this place."
"Ask Jetta." Jetta mimicked her companion, her tones edged with ice. "Oh, you watch your bloody mouth, Roxanne Pelligrini, else you might find it gets broken for ya."
"Not very ladylike, Brit." Roxy balled her fists, but Stormer raised a hand, stepping neatly between the two girls.
"You're both tired and it's been a long flight." She said sensibly. "And if neither one of you is gonna tell me straight, I'm going to go get a drink and then take a nap. If you're not jet lagged, I am, and though it was nice to see Craig again, it was a long way to go to do it."
"You should've come to Wissex." Roxy said in playful tones, casting a sidelong glance at Jetta as she did so. "You'd have loved Jetta's parents."
Jetta muttered a string of unrepeatable words under her breath at this. She dropped her case, shoving Roxy out of her way and storming up the main staircase. As she reached the top, she heard Stormer calling her name but she ignored it. Tears pricked at her eyes and she fought them fiercely. No matter what Roxy did or said, she was not going to give her foe the satisfaction of seeing her cry.
She stalked along the landing to her room, pulling open the door and slipping inside. After banging it shut to illustrate her displeasure, she dropped down onto her bed, burying her face in the cool pillow as she relived for the hundredth time the humiliation of the visit to Wissex.
"Stakes too high, Jetta girl." She muttered. "You should never bet too close to the outside, in case you lose everythin'. Well, there you go...you damn well almost did. Pizzazz ain't speaking to you - God only knows if you'll 'ave a work permit by the end of the week. If Roxy doesn't shut her face soon I might punch 'er one, an' if Stormer asks too many more questions..."
She trailed off, swallowing hard.
"Who am I kidding? If Roxy doesn't tell her everything in graphic detail, Pizzazz likely will." She added bitterly. "I'm finished. I might as well pack me bleedin' luggage now. I'll be out of 'ere before the week is done an' the whole world will know what a complete fraud I am. Everyone...everyone. Damn Mason 'Awthorne and damn Jem! I will never forgive either of them for this - never!"
Now the tears came and, helpless to prevent them she let them fall as she cried out the bitterness she had held back ever since they had left the Wissex estate.
"How was I supposed to bleedin' know that my stupid parents 'ad stumbled into a plot?" She asked aloud. "I'm not bloody psychic! You'd think they'd at least 'ave done their side of the deal properly. An' God, you'd think they'd 'ave at least stuck by me an' 'elped me concoct somethin' believable. They were lucky not to be arrested an' charged - we all were. If only they'd 'ad 'alf a brain about them..."
"And if I weren't such a damn mug myself, I wouldn't 'ave trusted them to do anything right." She acknowledged. "Why would I think they'd come through for me? When 'ave they ever done that before?"
She rolled over onto her back, tears still spilling down her cheeks and onto the soft pillow.
"And now it's all over." She added brokenly.
A voice from the doorway startled her and she cursed, struggling into a sitting position and dashing away the tears.
"Get out of my room, Stormer!" She exclaimed. "Or am I not even allowed to be private now? Go an' laugh an' joke with Roxy about the latest little scandal an' leave me be. I don't want to talk to you or anyone!"
"You're crying!" Shock flooded Stormer's features, followed by concern and she shut the door behind her, coming to the bedside. "What on earth is wrong, Jetta? I've never seen you cry before...I didn't even know you...well...did."
"I don't." Jetta retorted fiercely. "And it's none of your business. Don't pretend Roxy 'asn't told you. Don't pretend you even give a damn if I'm kicked onto the first plane to London. You never really wanted me to be a Misfit in the first place, did you? Guess now you'll get it your way. You an' Roxy can go back to how it was before an' I'll be out of everyone's hair!"
Stormer's eyes became big, and she sat down on the end of the bed, confusion crossing her face.
"Hold up...you lost me somewhere. Plane? Kicked out? What do you mean? Did Pizzazz say something?"
"She doesn't have to." Jetta snapped. "By the time Roxy's done, I'll be a laughin' stock all over the city. It's enough to make me jump, even if I'm not pushed."
"Roxy hasn't told me what happened in Wissex." Stormer shook her head. "But I wish someone would. More, I wish I'd come with you. Obviously I missed something major...and obviously I should have been there."
"Yeah, so you could've 'ad front row seats an' all." Jetta said coldly. "Yes. That's all I'd need."
"I got the impression you wanted me to come, originally."
"Maybe I did...but you didn't." Jetta spat out. "You ran off to your no good brother in London an' left your group an' your responsibilities behind you. Some Misfit you are, turnin' your back like that when you're needed!"
"Was I needed?" Stormer looked surprised. "I didn't know."
"I wish we'd never gone to England." She muttered, running her hands through her thick dark hair in her agitation. "I wish we'd stayed 'ere an' noone had thought it such a brilliant idea to visit my family. Now everythin' is ruined. Everythin'. I can never...I'm never goin' to be able to be Jetta of the Misfits again. Not really. I'm just bloody Sheila friggin' Burns an' that's all I'll ever be, dammit."
Stormer fell silent for a moment, taking this in. Then,
"Tell me?" She asked softly. "At least so I know why you're so upset and why you think you won't be a Misfit for much longer? I don't understand why you'd think that."
"Does it matter?"
"Yes." Stormer folded her arms, then, "Or would you rather I play it your way? Do you want me to say that I'll go and tell Pizzazz and Roxy you're up here crying if you don't tell me what happened in England?"
"You bloody dare!"
"Well, then tell me of your own accord." Stormer made herself more comfortable. "I'd rather hear it from you than from one of the others. Obviously it affects you and obviously worse than it does them. So I'd like it if you'd explain to me exactly why there's been a weird atmosphere ever since we left the UK."
Jetta drew a long, shuddery breath into her lungs. For a moment she eyed Stormer, almost as if she were a predator who might wish her harm. Then she sighed.
"Fine." She said flatly. "But if you breathe a word to anyone about what you saw up here...or anything I said..."
"You have my word." Stormer drew her hand across her chest in a solemn cross. "I won't tell."
Jetta eyed her companion again. Then, slowly and haltingly, she relayed the events in Wissex. As Stormer's expression became more stunned, she dropped her gaze, toying uncomfortably with the edge of the bedcovers. At length she faltered, and for a moment there was silence as Stormer digested everything she had heard.
"Oh, Jetta." She said, shaking her head with a sigh. "And what a way for it to come out."
"You don't sound so very surprised." Jetta raised her gaze, looking at her companion suspiciously. Stormer blushed.
"I admit sometimes I had my suspicions." She admitted. "But then I wasn't sure...you lie so well. And, well, I guess I hoped it was true. I didn't want...well, I didn't want something like this to happen. It's messy and ugly. But you didn't need to lie to us. Not about something like this. None of us have had a perfect path into the music industry, you know that. Heck, Roxy was a runaway. Why would you think it would matter, who you were or where you came from? We wanted your sax before any of this began."
"It has nothing to do with the rest of you, or whatever holes you crawled out of." Jetta's voice shook with anger and suppressed hurt. "You try growin' up with every kid on the block knowin' who you are...but for the wrong blinkin' reasons! Your Ma an' Pa are bein' investigated for tax evasion again. Your brother's in the nick for armed robbery an' you spent a night down the cells yourself because of 'im an' his web of lies! Your family are just above the poverty line most days, but they ain't ashamed to scrounge off people around them an' spend it bettin' on the nags. Yeah, people knew the name Burns all right. Do you really think I wanted to be at all associated with that pile of crap?"
She spread her hands, glancing absently at her chipped nails as she did so.
"For once I wanted to be someone else." She admitted. "When I came here, noone 'ad a blind clue who I was. I was jus' Jetta, the mysterious sax player from Europe. I was finally free of it...after so long, people weren't starin' at me because of my connections in London. They were interested because I 'ad a talent an' something to give. So I thought...I thought I'd play on it. Create a persona to go with that talent. Make people 'ave somethin' to talk about...somethin' that meant I mattered. And now..."
She paused, then shook her head.
"Now it's ruined, so what's the use in even explainin' it?" She demanded. "It's done with. Pizzazz will want me out of 'ere after what 'appened at Wissex. I'll be back in England before you know it, an' worse. Now people will know me for somethin' else than what my folks get up to. I'll also be the bitch who lives in a fantasy world, pretendin' I'm related to 'alf the nobility in Europe!"
Now the tears returned and she turned her face away from her companion, burying it back in the pillow.
"Jus' go away." She added, her voice muffled. "Whatever you do, you can't make me feel worse than I already do, so you might as well not bother."
"If I can't make you feel worse, I'm doing no harm by staying." Stormer said reasonably. She put a gentle hand on Jetta's shoulder and the dark girl flinched, pulling away.
"I'm sorry it happened like this." Stormer ignored her companion's unreceptiveness. "And I don't think you should have lied to us. But I don't think it's as big a tragedy as you think it is. Now it's out in the open, you don't have to lie or pretend or worry about it any more. It's happened and it's over, and Roxy will lose interest as soon as it's old news."
"An' Pizzazz?" Jetta turned her head towards the other girl, hopelessness in her grey eyes. "What's she gonna do to me? Stormer, I have nothin' except this stupid band. Do you understand that? No nice brother in England who'll cover my back if I'm in trouble. No property in the suburbs where I can retreat if things are rough. Nothin'. Nothin' but a work permit an' the ability to play my instrument. That's all."
"Pizzazz isn't going to kick you out." Stormer shook her head. Jetta snorted.
"Oh? And what makes you so sure?"
"Two things." Stormer responded. "Firstly, if she was going to do it, she'd have done it already. She's not one to mince around with these things. If it was going to happen, it would've happened in England. We'd have left without you. No sense in paying your air fare back here just to deport you again. No, she's keeping you on. She might be annoyed - and she probably is that. But she's not going to kick you out. Atl least, not over this."
"And if you're wrong?" Jetta demanded. "You said two things...what's the other?"
"I'm going to talk to her." Stormer said quietly.
"You think she'll listen to you?"
"Yes, she will." Stormer nodded her head. "Because I'll make her realise how much bad publicity she'll get if this hits the news networks. If people knew she'd been duped in Wissex, and that she'd been tricked by you all along...she'd not like that. She'll swallow it when she realises the implications. After all, I think she likes having you around. She certainly seems to. And she'll get over it - it was only money, after all. She's never really cared about that."
"It all sounds so simple when you say it like that."
Jetta shuffled herself into a more comfortable position, resting her chin in her hands. "But why? What do you 'ave to gain for 'elpin' me? You don't owe me anythin'. In fact, at times I've been a bloody bitch to you an' we both know it."
"At times." Stormer nodded her head. "You've all been that to me from time to time, but I've learnt to read between the lines."
She smiled, getting to her feet.
"And I'm doing it because I care about this group, too." She added. "That and the four people in it. We make a good team, when we're not at each other's throats...and that's how I want it to be."
Jetta looked doubtful.
"Maybe." She acknowledged at length. "But it doesn't change anythin'. I'm still Sheila bloody Burns. I'm still that girl...the one I came to America to be rid of."
"You'll always have that name." Stormer nodded. "But who the girl is...isn't that up to you? If you want to be a rock star and an award winning sax player, isn't it up to you to make yourself that? You can't lie and pretend your way to fame and fortune...you have to put some of yourself into it as well. And you can, you know. You're one of the best sax players in the industry and you should know it already. I love writing for you because you pick tunes up so easily. So what if that girl is called Sheila Burns? So what if her family back in England aren't who she'd like them to be? It's not about them. It's about you. It always has been."
Jetta looked startled.
"That's easy for you to say." She said, pursing her lips. "But..."
"Oh, I know." Stormer nodded her head. "Accepting who you are isn't always fun."
She looked rueful. "I long since accepted that I'm never gonna be the same kind of kickass Misfit bitch girl you three can be on occasion. Even though part of me would love to be - it's just not in me. But I can be Mary Phillips who writes damn good music for the kickass Misfit bitch band and I can live with that."
"Just think about it." She counselled. "It might make sense to you after a while. Sometimes you pull yourself away from us - musically and, I don't know, somehow else, too. I don't know if you can trust us - or anyone - yet or at all. But we could make better music if you realised you're a Misfit for keeps now."
A soft smile touched her lips and, despite herself, Jetta found she was comforted by it.
"After all, it's like Pizzazz is always saying." The younger girl concluded. "You're either born Misfit, or you're not."
"I'm certainly that." Jetta said, a touch of irony in her voice. She shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe you're right."
"Maybe I am." Stormer winked at her. "And maybe now I'm going to go unpack and then tackle Pizzazz while she's still jet-lagged. You think about what I've said, and even if you don't agree with all of it, just remember you are whoever you make yourself out to be. Noone can take that from you - not ever."
Her husband's voice roused her from her reverie, and she gazed up at him, startled. His expression held tenderness and concern, and without a word he held a hand out to her. She gripped it gratefully, allowing him to pull her to her feet.
"I'm gettin' too old to play on the grass." She murmured. Justin shook his head, reaching up to touch her cheek.
"You've been crying." He remarked, and Jetta's hands flew to her face, realising that he was right.
"I didn't realise." She admitted, then, "I'm sorry I walked out. I needed...it...shocked me."
"Obviously." Justin nodded. "And we both decided to give you time to reason it out - but it's getting dark and dinner is almost ready. Keith is home and I volunteered to come and get you."
He slipped a gentle arm around her shoulders. "I wondered if you were ready to talk."
"Not really. Not right at the moment." Jetta shook her head. "Jus' ghosts from the past playin' with me, that's all. Nothing else, Justin."
She sighed, then,
"I'm going to go to bed, and try and sleep." She said finally. "I'm not hungry - tell Laura I'll be fine. I just haven't much appetite right now."
"Will you be fine?"
"Yes." Jetta hesitated, then nodded her head. "Yes, I will be. As soon as I work out the bloody truth an' prove this is a coincidence an' not at all what it looks like."
She squeezed her husband's hand.
"Tomorrow we go back to Pa's place and we finish sortin' through the
wardrobe an' anyplace else we ain't looked yet." She added. "Tomorrow
find everythin' and damn well prove that I'm not a Hawthorne!"
Prologue: London, England
Chapter One: England's Rose
Chapter Two: Delving
Chapter Three: Wissex
Chapter Four: Grace
Chapter Five: Revelations
Chapter Six: Facing Shadows
Chapter Seven: A Change In Plans
Chapter Eight: County Show
Chapter Nine: Trevor Hawthorne
Chapter Ten: A Sea Chest
Chapter Eleven: Binding
Chapter Twelve: Homecoming
Chapter Thirteen: Hawthorne Blood
Chapter Fourteen: Mayfair
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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 www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
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.