At the Starlight
"Well, so I guess this means that Music
Bizz were right about another Starlight Wedding on the horizon."
Nancy set the tray of lemonade down on the outside table, casting Sadie a playful grin. "And boy am I glad that it's you, not me."
"Me too." Sadie blushed, glancing down at the diamond that now sparkled on her fourth finger, then up at her fiance. "And last night just made it all the more special, somehow. Even though we both knew that I'd already said yes."
"It made it a lot easier for me to ask the question." Alex laughed, taking a glass of lemonade and relaxing back in his seat. "And I still have three more days before they expect me back at the office, so the convalescence time has been nice, too. I don't get this much time off at once, ever...so being shot has had it's up moments."
"Well, I for one can't wait." Sylva said decidedly. "Weddings are fun."
"Aren't you sick of them yet?" Copper teased. "Violet's. Mine. Anna's. Now Sadie?"
"No...this time I'll have a date." Sylva's eyes twinkled mischievously. "Logan."
"So it's all on between you guys now?" Sadie asked. Sylva nodded.
"I think it's what we both want." She agreed. "It's been nice, taking it gently. It's meant we've really got a chance to see how each other feels about things. But it's all worked out pretty well so far. So yeah...I think so."
"Maybe Sadie won't be the last Starlight wedding, then." Nancy observed dryly. "Just count me out of the running, okay? I'm the happiest single girl you'd ever care to meet, and that's a fact."
Topaz hoisted her daughter up into her lap.
"Have you discussed the whole dates thing, yet?" She asked. "Sadie said something to me about her paperwork, but if she's already working here, does that matter?"
"It does." Alex nodded. "I've got in touch with my friend at the DA's office, though, and she's legally trained. She's going to find out everything we need to know, hopefully. I don't know if it will be complicated or not, but we'll work it out."
"I think that side of it sucks." Sylva admitted. "I mean, Sadie has an effective green card because she works here. It's like Topaz said. It shouldn't matter. She's already living here."
"But I'm not an American citizen." Sadie squeezed Alex's hand. "And if I married Alex, I would be eligible for an American passport. It's a different thing."
"Are you okay about that? I mean, settling so far from your family in England?" Topaz wondered.
"I'm already settled away from them." Sadie shrugged her shoulders. "But if you want the truth, Topaz, I don't want to get married until I can have them all come out here to see me do it. And that means waiting until Georgia's two years probationary is up. That won't be until January, so it won't be before then. I suspect it'll take a lot longer to get everything through, mind you. I might have permits here, but I also have a criminal record that they'll probably need declared. But we will work it out. Somehow. The technicalities of it...I'm sure Phyllis would help, too, if I told her it'd mean she'd no longer have to renew my paperwork."
"Don't count on it." Copper giggled. "She's been obsessive since Aaron and I got married. She likes to keep us apart as much as she can manage - and in your case, she'd need to be doubly vigilant. Unless, of course, you don't plan on starting a family."
"After spending so much time with Hollie?" Sadie cast a grin at the small redhead, who glanced up at the sound of her name. "You have to be kidding."
"You'd have to give up smoking, then." Topaz observed. "One of the things they asked me when I was pregnant with Hol was whether or not I smoked. It can cause all kinds of really icky complications if you do."
"Well, maybe if I had something that big to give up for, I'd find the will power to do it." Sadie shrugged her shoulders philosophically. "Right at the moment, I don't know what's going to happen. But we're not going to be making any babies until after we're married and the legality question is out of the way. It's just too messy otherwise."
"I'm with that." Alex kissed his fiancee gently. "And in my line of work, people often do leave it late. Ray is thirty six this year and his wife is only just expecting their first. I guess we're in no hurry, though I'd like to be a Dad."
"Well, Cameron's certainly liked having Hollie." Topaz frowned. "As much as he's been able to have her, so far. The long distance is a killer."
"Though he'll be in San Diego soon." Sylva said comfortingly. "Then she'll see Daddy a lot more."
"That reminds me, I have to go book tickets for her and me to go to England in a few weeks." Topaz got to her feet, setting Hollie on the ground and wrapping her reins around the fence-post to prevent her from wandering into the pool. "Copper, would you watch trouble here for me for a few minutes?"
"Sure, not a problem." Copper nodded. "But is it that urgent?"
"I ought to do it before it slips my mind again." Topaz agreed. "I got Jetta on my side and she promised me the time, so I'm good to go. And Hollie's passport came through last week...I'm glad I decided to process that, in case I took her north to see Mom and Stephen."
She cast a grin at Sadie.
"Congratulations again, you two." She added. "And Sadie, that ring is to die for!"
With that she was gone inside, hurrying up the stairs to the little room that the band often used for group online chats. Four computers had been networked in here, and she dropped down in front of one of them, reaching over to switch it online. As she did so, though, she paused, swallowing hard.
"It's so not fair." She murmured. "Sadie's not known Alex half the time I've known Cameron. And just because I'm a complete screw up...but dammit, Sadie, of all people! God only knows that she's been so scared of men since I knew her. And suspicious...and then she meets Alex and it's all so easy for her!"
"Interesting way of booking tickets, Topaz."
A voice from the doorway made her jump. "Or does remonstrating with the computer now work as well as logging on to the website?"
"Syl." Topaz bit her lip. "What are you doing up here?"
"Finding out why you're so tepid about Sadie's engagement. Why else?" Sylva slipped into the seat next to her. "It doesn't make any sense to me. She's happy...so why aren't you?"
"I am, Syl. I'm really happy for her." Topaz's voice shook. "And I don't want her to think otherwise. But I keep thinking about Cameron. I mean...well, Copper and Aaron have been together forever, and Nancy and Dean, if they'd gotten hooked up, it'd have been different. But Sadie and Alex...they've been together a year. And yet it's just clicked together so easily. She's got so many hang-ups and issues with men, considering what she's been through. But even she's better at working out a relationship than I am!"
She closed her eyes, fighting tears.
"I love Cameron still, so much. I know once he loved me too, to the point where he was joking about flying back here one day with a ring in his pocket." She whispered. "When his studies were done. But now they are done, Syl. And it's not going to happen...because of me. Because I can't even get the simplest things right."
"Oh, Topaz..." Sylva hugged her friend tightly. "Listen to me. You and Cam have had a rough ride, and it's not all been on you. The distance has never helped, and he hasn't always understood how you feel about things. But he will be in San Diego in a short time, and you are going to England to spend time with him first. You never know what might happen."
"I'm helping him pack up. He wants to see Hollie, not me." Topaz responded dolefully. "And I know it's my own fault, Syl, so don't try and protect me. I don't want to be a sourpuss over Sadie's happiness, but I'm just so unhappy when I think about it. And I can't even talk about it any more...because what's to say? You all know what the situation is, and it couldn't get any bleaker. Even now he knows about Hollie, all he wants from me is friendship. And he only wants that because of her. Not because he loves me. He was so angry...there are things he'll never forgive."
"That's partly my fault too." Sylva said guiltily. "I should never have meddled...I'm sorry."
"I put you in the impossible situation." Topaz shrugged. "And the bottom line is, Syl, you're here and you've always been here. I don't need any more friends - I already have the best ones in the world. I need something else, and so does Hollie...but neither one of us are ever going to have it. And just hearing Sadie talking so freely about marriage and babies and all of those things..."
"It's not easy for anyone, you know." Sylva said softly. "Finding a perfect ending, I mean. Copper and Aaron are so much in love, but Topaz, the baby thing isn't settled for them yet. You have something already that Copper may never have, but she's learnt to deal with it. Noone is more genuine with Hollie than Copper is. And then, well, look at what Sadie went through before she came to England. Look at all the things she's overcome. She deserves this, now, and so does Alex. They're such a happy couple. And it's not like I've had it easy, either. I've not had a steady boyfriend at all since this band began. And now, maybe I've got Logan - but it's taken a lot of soul-searching to get there, I'm telling you. Our trip to New York was enlightening in more ways than one, and it could have ruined our friendship forever. That's the thing about life. We take chances. All of us. And sometimes those chances make us happy. Sometimes they don't. It's how it works."
"I guess I know that."
Topaz got to her feet, moving to the window to watch her friends chatting and laughing by the pool. "And I shouldn't be so selfish. I mean, I have so many things. The best friends, like I said. A beautiful little girl who I love more than anything. Even a relationship with my family, which I never thought I'd have. Is it wrong to want more?"
"No...I think wanting more keeps people going." Sylva said thoughtfully. "But listen, Topaz. It's up to you what you do about Cameron. If you feel that way about him, and want it that badly, you have to fight through whatever happened before and go for it. I got the impression he was still a man very much in love with you. If you can prove to him that he can trust you - and I know that he can - then maybe there is something more there than you think."
"Perhaps there is." Topaz acknowledged, turning away from the window. "But the first priority I have is my daughter, and her happiness. I'm not going to go on wild gambles into the love market before considering her interests. And if pushing for more than friends with her father might estrange her from him, it's not an option."
"But I will get over myself where Sadie's concerned." She added. "I know she has every right to be this happy, and I don't begrudge it her. Don't worry, Syl, I'll snap out of it."
"Well, make sure you do." Sylva said gently. "And either way, taking Hollie to England will be good for both of you. You need the vacation time, and at least then you'll know how things stand between you and Cam, won't you?"
Topaz sighed, glancing down at her hands.
"Yes. That I definitely will."
Prologue: Flashback - Sadie's
Chapter One: Los Angeles, 2015
Chapter Two: Enter The Stray
Chapter Three: Flashback - Sadie's Song
Chapter Four: Nerves
Chapter Five: The Dean Stacey Show
Chapter Six: Flashback - School Concert
Chapter Seven: Sandra Bray
Chapter Eight: The Dean Problem
Chapter Nine: Cursed
Chapter Ten: Flashback - Stir
Chapter Eleven: Secrets
Chapter Twelve: Robin Vs Nancy
Chapter Thirteen: In The Line Of Duty
Chapter Fourteen: Flashback - Griefstruck
Chapter Fifteen: Aftermath
Chapter Sixteen: Jewel Consult
Chapter Seventeen: Forever Changed