Chapter Eight: Jewel
Copper paused in the arrivals lounge, case in hand and a look of awe on her face. So many famous people had been through this airport, but for Copper it was more a case of her walking in her mother's footsteps. She glanced around her, trying to imagine what it must have been like all those years ago, when Jem and the Holograms had been a frequent sight at the airport, surrounded by adoring fans chanting their names. Despite herself, her heart skipped a beat. Would it be that way for her? One day, would the name Eliza Santiago join her mother's name in the hall of Los Angeles' most dazzling stars?
"I hope so." she murmured. "Even the airport has an ambience...it oozes stardom. It's totally something else."
She hesitated, wondering what she should do next. The fax from the executive had told her specifically that she would be met at the airport, but how would she know who to approach? The place was busy and bustling, disorientating her more and more the more she looked about her.
From the midst of the melee a voice startled her and she turned, a mixture of surprise and relief on her face. The speaker was no older than she herself, and there was a merry, friendly grin on his face. At once she began to feel more at ease.
"Yes, that's me." she agreed. "Why do you...?"
"I'm Aaron Pelligrini. Mom sent me out to meet you, said she didn't want you getting lost in the city itself." Aaron explained, seeing her confusion. "Things have been kinda hectic at Misfit Music so I said I'd do the chauffeuring. I'm sorry that there wasn't time to call for a limo."
"A...limo?" Copper stared. Then, "Oh! No, it's fine, really. I'm glad to see you. I was beginning to feel overawed."
Aaron winked at her.
"LA is a crazy city, but it's okay when you get used to it." He told her. "Plenty to do, and all. Have you ever been here before?"
"No...my mother's family lived here twenty years or so ago, but when Mama married Papa she moved to Detroit and we have no family in California now." Copper followed the teenager through the bustling crowds of people. "Did you say your name was Pelligrini?"
"Yep, sure did." Aaron grinned. "In case you're wondering, my mother's Sheila Pelligrini, or Jetta, as she still likes to be known. If you're signed you'll call her that, most probably. She hates people calling her Sheila."
"I didn't know she had children." Copper admitted. "Are there more of you, or are you the only one?"
"I have a sister, Nancy. If you do get signed you'll probably meet her." Aaron led the way out to his car. "Mom and Aunt Phyl have some kind of plan brewing around her and this chick from DC, only they need a drummer. I think that's where you come in, but to be honest I only work at Misfit Music from time to time, when they need a hand with the company webpage or one of their computers crashes. He rolled his eyes. "Aunt Phyllis is hopeless with email. You wouldn't believe how many PCs she's been through since last April because they frustrate her so much she throws things at them. Or, on one occasion, she threw the whole thing out of a top storey window into the garbage skip. So these days if there's a PC problem they tend to call me in before she wrecks the whole network."
He opened the car door for her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bore you with computer chat. Nancy's always telling me I could bore for America where computers and electronics are concerned, but I'm not obsessed, I promise. It's just a hobby of mine."
"I like computers." Copper admitted. "My brother and I run our mother's fan club website. She..." she paused, blushing, for she had decided that she wasn't going to reveal her mother's identity till long after her audition was over and things were decided. "She acts."
"Oh? Cool." Aaron grinned. "The music company's not far from here. Do you want to stop at the hotel first and change clothes? Flying can be a drag."
"You're a real gentleman, you know that?" she observed. "But no, I think I'd rather go straight to Misfit Music. I'm more nervous than ever now you tell me there's such a lot riding on this."
"Fair enough. Misfit Music it is." Aaron swung the car round a bend. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure." Copper nodded. "What is it?"
"Well, I'm assuming you're Mexican-American, right?"
"Yes." Copper agreed. "What about it?"
"Nothing really. Just Elizabeth isn't a very Mexican name, that's all."
"Oh, I see." Copper grinned. "Well, Mama and Papa had a friend called Elizabeth and I got named after her, that's all. My sister is Rosita and my brother is Luis...but I don't think either Mama or Papa wanted to stick with convention."
"Do you speak Spanish?"
"Of course. It's part of my heritage." Copper nodded her head.
"I wondered. You don't have an accent."
"Well, Papa never spoke with an accent." Copper shrugged. "And Mama's has gotten fainter with time. I guess also going to school in Detroit with kids who mostly speak straight American dictated that. We speak both languages at home - mostly English, actually, but when we go to visit grandparents, then we generally speak Spanish. Mama's parents are from Cancun originally, though they lived in Los Angeles a long while. They left California quite a long time ago and now they're settled in Arizona."
"So can I call you Elizabeth? Or do you want me to be formal and stick with Miss Santiago?"
"Oh, Eliza, please." Copper grimaced. "Or, if you want, you could make it Copper."
"Yeah. My Papa picked it when I was small, and it stuck. Mainly because of my hair, and also to avoid confusion with their friend Elizabeth." Copper nodded. "I like it, though. My family still all call me that."
"You're a natural redhead?" Aaron looked surprised. "But I thought..."
"That all Mexicans were dark-haired?" Copper looked amused. Aaron looked uncomfortable.
"Don't worry, I'm not offended." Copper laughed. "I get it a lot, actually. But it's not impossible to have red hair, you know, even if you are hispanic, like I am. My Father had red hair - his family are from Spain, actually, and far as I know I'm not the only Santiago with red hair."
"He had red hair? You mean he doesn't now?"
"No...he died when I was fifteen." Copper sighed. "He had a brain tumour, and it all happened pretty quickly. It was a nasty shock to us all, to be honest."
"Oh, I see. I'm sorry." Aaron's tone was gentle. Copper shrugged.
"Well, you have to move on." She said with a sad smile. "We were very close, Papa and I, and I miss him a lot even now, four years on, but I know he'd want me to live my life and not dwell too much if I could help it. I know he'd want me to take this chance...he always encouraged my drumming. Mama too."
"Well, then I'm sure he would be proud." Aaron nodded his head.
"I hope so."
"Here we go, by the way. Misfit Music." Aaron pulled the car to a halt. "C'mon, I'll take you up. You gotta see Aunt Phyllis...um, I mean Ms Gabor. She's the head honcho here, she owns the joint. She's loaded. C'mon, you can leave your case in the car and I'll drop it by the hotel for you later. They know me there."
"I've heard a lot about Ms Gabor." Copper bit her lip, getting out of the vehicle and closing the door, checking her reflection in the wing mirror to make sure her hair - carefully and painstakingly highlighted with streaks of blond - and her makeup were all right, for she wanted to make a good impression. "I heard she can be pretty ruthless. You know her pretty well...is she?"
"The thing you gotta know about both Mom and aunt Phyl is that they're both committed to making Misfit Music the best." Aaron replied. "Second best is never good enough to them. And sure, sometimes it means they have to be ruthless. But once you get to know her...actually, either of them, you'll realise that they're not so fearsome. But a word of advice where Aunt P is concerned. Don't excite her temper, whatever you do. She's prone to throwing things and it can get messy."
"Point noted." Copper dimpled. "I appreciate your help."
"You're welcome." Aaron told her. "Good luck, by the way. You must be pretty good if you've gotten this far. A lot of people write to Misfit Music in hope of getting a screening and a lot of them never get through the preliminaries. Only the pick of the talent is actually head-hunted like you were, so you must be pretty hot at what you do."
"Maybe." A faint blush touched Copper's cheeks. "I had a good teacher."
Phyllis was waiting for them when they reached the office. Dismissing Aaron with a curt nod, for she had adopted her most professional guise for this morning's meeting, she indicated for Copper to sit down.
The redhead obeyed, her stomach twisting into a knot. Phyllis was just as scary as her mother's warnings had suggested, and she hardly knew what to say.
"You play drums?" It was the executive who broke the silence.
"Well, Dawson says you're pretty hot stuff, and he'd better be right." Phyllis observed off-handedly. "We need a drummer for a new band Jetta and I are putting together Unfortunately she's at some business meeting in San Francisco today, so it leaves me to find out if you make the grade. You think you can handle it?"
"I'd love to try."
"Well, let's see how good you really are, and whether you can stand the pace." Phyllis rose from her desk, indicating for Copper to follow her. "Come on, will you? I don't wanna take all day over this!"
Meekly Copper did as she was bidden, and before long she found herself at the door of a music studio. Phyllis opened the door, and Copper soon realised that the studio wasn't empty. Two girls of more or less her own age were there, and they seemed to be having some kind of dispute over the piano. Phyllis rolled her eyes, then shrieked for quiet. Both girls jumped and turned to face their superior. One of the girls looked a lot like Aaron and Copper supposed that this was his sister, though she was fairer skinned than her suntanned brother, and her eyes were darker in colour.
"Right." Phyllis pulled Copper forward, and the young drummer had no time to dwell on her companions for long. "Now you brats are done squabbling for the moment, can we have some quiet? This is Elizabeth Santiago, and she, with any luck, is gonna play drums with you girls, so long as Dawson hasn't been feeding me lines about her talent." She cast Copper an almost accusing look at this juncture and despite herself the redhead felt indignant. Well, she'd prove what she could do!
"Well, Elizabeth, play." Phyllis indicated the vacant drumkit. "I wanna hear this so-called ability for myself."
Copper did not make any verbal response, merely sitting down at the drumkit and setting up a basic rhythm. As she got more into it, however, her playing became more and more complex and she began to enjoy herself, twirling her sticks without missing a beat.
Phyllis eyed her thoughtfully.
"You know, you remind me of someone." she mused. "I'll be damned if I know any percussionists by the name of Santiago, though. You have family in the music business, kid?"
"No..." Copper shook her head, knowing that technically it wasn't a lie, since her mother had quit the industry several years earlier.
"Ah well." Phyllis shrugged. "Far as I'm concerned you got yourself a deal. You're staying in LA, right?"
"Good. Since you're gonna be a part of things here it's best you stay in the city and don't go back to Detroit till we've things properly settled. If you go back at all." Phyllis told her. "The company will cover the hotel costs."
"All right." Copper nodded. "And thank you!"
"Whatever." Phyllis shrugged, but there was a small smile on her face. "These two signed contracts already - I'll have Jetta run up one for you for tomorrow, make this official. Meantime you girls get to know each other. You're gonna see a whole lot of each other from now on."
With that she was gone, and Copper glanced at her two companions.
"Hi?" She ventured.
"You play a mean kit." Sylvina observed. "I never heard anyone bang out a rhythm like that, except Uncle Craig, and he's been playing forever."
"Uncle Craig?" Copper asked. "Oh, are you Craig Phillips' niece?"
"Yeah." Sylvina dimpled. "I'm Sylvina Martescu. Mary Martescu is my mother...you may know her better as Stormer of the Misfits. Oh, and that," she jerked her head in the direction of her silent foe, "Is Nancy, Jetta's daughter. Don't mind her, she likes being unpleasant."
"You're so funny." Nancy snapped.
"Craig Phillips is kinda an idol of mine." Copper admitted. "Mama always said he was as nice in real life as in interviews, so..." she paused, blushing.
"Your mother knows my uncle? Small world, huh?" Sylvina observed. "She a fan?"
"Kind of." Copper hesitated, then, "She played too, a long time ago now, but she hasn't done for many years now, except as an occasional hobby. She's an actress these days."
"Cool for her." Sylvina sounded envious. "Is she bigtime?"
"Yeah. Fairly." Copper agreed. "She's done quite a few big pictures."
"Hey, maybe I've heard of her." Sylvina dimpled. "Say, is she Carmen Santiago? I just realised you have the same last name!"
"Yeah, she is." Copper nodded.
"Well, that explains something, at least." Nancy interjected off-handedly. Both girls turned to look at her.
"What now?" Sylvina demanded.
"Don't mind me, airhead." Nancy retorted. "I just figured out why Elizabeth here is such a good drummer."
"Well, if you're too dumb to see it." Nancy rolled her eyes. "Ever heard of Jem and the Holograms? I'll give you a clue, we're tipped to play Jem's memorial."
"Stop talking down to me!" Sylvina exclaimed. "I know who they are, so?"
"So, thicky, The Holograms had an ace percussionist called Raya Alonso." Nancy responded. "When the group split up, Raya quit the music business and went into acting. She married some guy or another and acted under her married name...Carmen Santiago." She glanced at Copper, whose face had gone red. "I'm right, aren't I?"
"Yes, but please don't tell your mother or Miss Gabor, not yet." Copper begged. "I know that there was tension between the Holograms and the Misfits, and I don't want to get this contract on anything but my own merit, so please. I'm just Eliza Santiago, and that's all."
"Which also explains why she knows Uncle Craig." Sylvina realised. "Since my Aunt Aja played lead guitar for the Holograms. I shoulda seen that one, really. Thing is, I don't see my Aunt and Uncle real often - Uncle Craig's music kept him in Europe mostly and they settled out there after they married. Even when I do see her, she's reluctant to talk at all about her musical career. I don't know the details, but Mom always drills Anna and me before we see them not to mention the Holograms or anything. I wish I knew why, but Mom never tells us that. All I know is that somehow Aunt Aja got hurt, and she wants to leave it in the past. I'm not even sure her daughter knows what a great musician she was in her day, which is kinda sad." She grimaced. "Not that I like the brat. She's spoiled as heck."
"And you're not?" Nancy raised an eyebrow.
"There was a big controversy surrounding the split of the Holograms." Copper put in. "From what Mama's said, things were never quite right between them all after Jem's mysterious death, even though they carried on for a while. I don't know...sometimes I get the feeling there was more to that than meets the eye. Mama has very strong principles but, coming into the band as late as she did she did her best to get along with everyone, and she was a big admirer of Jem. These days she's not in touch with any of the Holograms, and I often wonder why she changed her lifestyle so radically and gave up her percussion career. I think it has something to do with a fight someone had with Jerrica Benton - she was the group's manager at the time - and I think that gradually the bonds between them all broke down. These days Mama doesn't talk about Jerrica much, although she did say once that she felt that when the band split she wasn't working with the same girl as had been managing them the day she joined. I often think Mama blames Jerrica for Jem driving off the bridge. Though it's never been proven as a suicide, I think Mama feels Jerrica drove Jem to it. After all, it didn't happen till a year after the Holograms split with her...I can't think of any other reason why she'd choose to do it then, unless she'd had some big blow up with the music company. The Holograms didn't properly return to Jerrica's management till after Jem died. Everyone started following their own lives and stuff after that, instead of a team schedule. Musically things just fell apart."
"Guess it's difficult to have kids and maintain the busy lifestyle." Sylvina looked uncharacteristically thoughtful. "I know that the Misfits split up because Mom was real sick when she was expecting Anna and I. Mom was the lynchpin behind the Misfits' music and they just couldn't manage without her. More, I don't think they wanted to...they'd gotten into a routine."
"Mom had Aaron while the group was still going." Nancy objected. "Six weeks after he was born she and the group were touring the East Coast. I know because she told me so."
"But she didn't have complications. Mom did." Sylvina pointed out. "We could all have died, you know."
"Well, you'd be no loss to the world." Nancy said cattily.
"That's not called for!" Sylvina exclaimed. "It's no joke, you know! But then, I wouldn't expect someone without a heart to understand."
"Hey, time out, both of you!" Copper raised her hands. "It's not important!"
Nancy frowned, but made no attempt to retort, shrugging off the remark, but feeling it all the same.
"So what do you guys play?" Satisfied that the immediate risk of a fight had calmed, Copper perched herself on a vacant stool, looking curious.
"Nancy plays half a band, apparently." Sylvina rolled her eyes. "I play keys. Keyboard, synth, piano...pretty much anything in that line. Oh, and I sing."
"Like she said, I'm flexible." Nancy shrugged. "But, since Sylvie here doesn't know the first thing about strings, I'd say I was on guitar, which suits me fine. And, if Miss Ego here doesn't butt her nose in, I can sing, too."
"You two are funny." She decided. "We gotta work together, you know, if we're gonna get a good sound out of this. Do we have any material?"
"Nancy has reams." Sylvina said. "Her personality, if she actually has one, sucks and she's a pain in the butt, but she can write good music."
"I'm honoured, your highness." Nancy's tones were laced with sarcasm and there was a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"Does the band have a name?"
"No. We don't even have stage names." Sylvina frowned. "Mom and the other Misfits used stage names mostly, and Phyllis said my name was...well, she called it sappy. So..."
"It is sappy. It suits you." Nancy interjected.
"Hang on you guys, give it a rest, will you?" Copper protested. "I've had a long flight and a stressful day, take pity on me, huh?"
"Hey, girls!" At that moment Aaron poked his head around the studio door, casting the trio a smile. "Mind if I crash the party? I'm kinda at a loose end."
"Sure, why not." Sylvina returned the grin. "Come on in, Aaron. You met Elizabeth yet?"
"Yep. Drove her here from the airport. I just dropped her stuff at the hotel." Aaron sent Copper a wink. "Well, Copper, how'd it go?"
"Just great. I'm in." Copper dimpled.
"Copper?" Nancy raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. Because of my hair." Copper laughed. "Papa coined it when I was tiny and it stuck. My family use it, but most other people call me Eliza."
"Aunt Phyllis won't let you be that." Nancy observed. "Eliza, I mean. She hates the name Elizabeth with a vengeance. I was gonna be Nancy Elizabeth at one stage, and Aunt P did her nut over it till Mom and Dad changed their minds."
"Why on earth?" Sylvina stared.
"Aunt Phyl's mother was called Elizabeth, I think." Aaron responded. "She walked out on the family when Aunt P was small. I don't think they ever made up. I will say she's a lady who can and does hold grudges."
"Okay, then I guess I'm Copper." Copper shrugged. "Suits me."
"I just had a germ of an idea." Nancy said slowly. "At least, I can think of a way to abbreviate Miss Prissy here. What about Sylva?"
"Sylva?" Sylvina's eyes opened wide. Then she giggled. "You know, that is kinda cool. Copper and Sylva...I like it. But what about you?"
"I don't need a stage name. You guys are the ones who Aunt Phyllis has a problem with." Nancy shrugged.
"Aw, play along, Nance!" Aaron told her. "It'll be cool! You could have a theme...call yourself, I dunno, how about Jewel?"
"Aaron, you're a genius!" The newly christened Sylva exclaimed, flinging her arms around his neck. "Jewel...that's just perfect!"
"It is kinda cute." Copper agreed. "But we have to do something about Nancy's name if we are going to go with a theme."
"No way." Nancy shook her head.
"If I'm Sylva and you're Copper, she ought to be Goldie." Sylva laughed. "Don't you think?"
"Goldie?" Nancy squeaked. "How tacky can you get? I'm not a goldfish, you know! Goldie indeed!"
"Works for me, Nance." Aaron grinned at her.
"You tell me how I look even remotely like a Goldie." Nancy folded her arms. "You guys, well, there's a logic there. It's just crazy. I mean, my hair's black, for a start!"
"That can be changed." Copper's brown eyes twinkled as an idea came to her.
"What?" Nancy stared. Then, "Oh no. No way. You're not tampering with my hair."
"I worked in a hairdresser's, I know what I'm doing." Copper responded, adopting a beseeching look. "You'd look really pretty with highlights, you know."
"Yeah, you look too much like Jetta at the moment." Sylva eyed her foe critically. "You wanna be compared with her your whole life?"
"I have Dad's eyes."
"Big deal." Sylva shrugged. "Don't you wanna look original? Or are you chicken?"
"I'm not chicken!"
"Fine. Then let's go." Sylva winked at Copper, who nodded.
"It'll be fun, Nancy, and I promise, I do know what I'm doing. I won't mess it up."
"When you're done fixing her hair, Copper, I want to see to her makeup. That's been bugging the heck out of me since I got to LA." Sylva decided, enjoying the look of horror on Nancy's face. "Time we made Plain Jane Pelligrini into Goldie of Jewel, don't you think?"
"Hey, I never agreed..." Nancy protested, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Aaron watched the exchange with interest.
"I look forward to seeing this." He observed. "Can I come watch?"
"Nope." Sylva shook her head. "This is a girl-only project - we've got some serious hard work ahead of us. I think...I think we take her into the city, get some wild new clothes, then bring her back to the Pelligrini place and fix her hair and makeup. Maybe then she'll stop looking like a mouse."
"More likely I'll look like the mouse's cheese, with all that yellow." Nancy muttered. Copper laughed.
"You'll look great, I promise." She said. "Just you wait and see!"
PART ONE: STARSTRUCK
Chapter One: Sylvina
Chapter Two: A Budding Genius
Chapter Three: A Well Kept Secret
Chapter Four: Making Waves
Chapter Five: Copper...and Sirena
Chapter Six: City of Angels
Chapter Seven: At Misfit Music
Chapter Eight: Jewel
Chapter Nine: I Want Everything
Chapter Ten: Sirena Strikes
Chapter Eleven: Stagefright
Chapter Twelve: Team Spirit
JEWELFIC MAIN PAGE:
Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series.