"I can't believe we're off on tour in just a few days time."
Sylvina Martescu perched on the edge of the windowsill, settling herself more comfortably against the double-glazing as she did so. "I know that Phyllis and Jetta want to get us back into the swing of things as soon as possible after the wedding hiatus, but next week? That's awful soon, when you think about it."
"I feel like I'm on and off planes a lot at the moment!" Elizabeth Pelligrini cast her a grin, tucking a lock of thick auburn hair behind her ear. "Aaron and I only got back from Valencia three days ago...and what do we come back to? A memo on the phone telling us to come to Misfit Music and by the way, we're off to Connecticut."
"It's been a while since we hit the East Coast, though." The third member of the trio, raven-haired Nancy Pelligrini put in contemplatively. "I don't know why you're complaining, Syl. You're from the East Coast - it's practically going home for you."
"Not really." Sylva shook her head. "I'm from DC. We're going to Hartford. Totally different thing."
"Well, it's nearer than California." Elizabeth, or "Copper" as she was better known put in, amused. "I suppose with this Rock Festival on the cards, it had to be organised like this, at short notice. I don't know what would have happened if Aaron and I had still been on our honeymoon when it was due to take place."
"I do. Aunt Phyl would have chartered a jet to Valencia and gone to fetch you two home." Nancy said dryly. "Face it, Copper. She might have been lenient about you guys having your time for your wedding, but it's back to the grindstone now and make no mistake."
"Doesn't it feel weird, going on tour a married woman this time?" Sylva asked the drummer curiously, who laughed, shaking her head.
"I don't feel weird about it at all." She said with a shrug. "For a start, my passport still says Elizabeth Santiago. And for a second thing, I don't even need my passport to get into Connecticut. So no. It's business as usual."
She fingered the slim gold band on her fourth finger, a smile touching her face. "Only better."
"I wondered if you'd wind up fighting, actually." Nancy admitted.
"Fighting?" Copper stared. "Why?"
"On their honeymoon? Isn't it against the law or something?" Sylva added. Nancy grinned.
"You forget, I've lived with Aaron before. You haven't." She said with a shrug. "I know all about his smelly socks, his habits of leaving the loo seat up and of tossing old clothes down wherever. You, on the other hand, Copper, are a neat freak. I thought by the end of spending two weeks in a penthouse honeymoon hotel suite you'd be ready to kill him."
"Oh, that." She replied. "Well, we had an arrangement about that. He promised to put his dirty clothes in the laundry case, and I promised not to nag him about smelly socks. It worked pretty good in the end." She shrugged. "And at home, well, he'll have to be housetrained, that's all. I can deal with it. Mama always said I was the most domestically minded of her kids, and I intend to put that to good use!"
"Wedded bliss then, huh?" Sylva asked. Copper nodded.
"Yes. Something like that." She agreed with a wink.
"Do you suppose Topaz and Sadie are going to join us this morning, by the way?" Nancy asked, glancing up at the big studio clock. "Mom did say she wanted all of us here by two o'clock to go over itinerary for our trip, and it's five to now. They're cutting it a bit fine."
"Hollie had her first visit to the dentist, don't forget." Copper pointed out. "You know that Topaz wants her to get used to all that kind of stuff as early as possible, so she isn't scared of it later, and Sadie went along in case the kid freaked and they needed two of them."
"Well, my usual reaction to the dentist is to scream and run." Sylva said dryly. "So I don't think I could blame Hollie if she did that. The babe's only sixteen months old, after all!"
"But she has plenty of teeth." Nancy pursed her lips ruefully. "As I've found out on occasion, when she decided my finger was lunch."
"The look on your face when she did was priceless." She teased. "But she didn't do it on purpose, and besides, it's almost impossible to stay mad at Hollie for long."
She glanced idly out of the window, scanning the parking lot for any sign of a familiar vehicle. An exclamation told her two companions that Sadie's car had just drawn into Misfit Music's grounds, and before the big hand had reached the twelve, the five members of Jewel were gathered in the company's main music studio.
"Was she very bad?" Copper asked Topaz, or Aurora Stapleton, Jewel's singer and of Canadian birth. Topaz shook her head.
"She was pretty good really." She replied. "She let him look in her mouth and even run his fingers over her teeth okay. She didn't bite him either, which is what I was afraid of. She got a bit fed up with it after a while and started to whimper a bit, but he was so impressed with her good behaviour he gave her candy, and that cheered her up."
"Candy...at the dentist?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. "What's he doing, trying to drum himself up business?"
The final member of the group, Sadie Monahue laughed at this.
"No, it was of the sugar free variety." She replied. "And he didn't give her much. He gave her a sticker, too, for being such a good girl. We left her at the Starlight Mansion, re-sticking it all over Cynthia."
"Cute." Sylva dimpled. She glanced up at the clock. "And now they're late! Honestly, we're all here on time! It wouldn't take much for them to show us the same courtesy!"
"Some of us 'ave more work to do than you kids do." At that moment the door of the studio swung open to reveal Jetta Pelligrini, Nancy's mother and Misfits Music's chief executive. Behind her was Phyllis Gabor, the company's owner and, as most people who had met her would testify, not someone to be tangled with. Sylva blushed.
"I didn't know you were there." She admitted. Jetta laughed.
"Obviously." She replied wryly. "But I'm glad to see all of you are, and in good time."
"I've had Jemima draw up itineraries for the tour." Phyllis seated herself on the unit, waving a sheaf of blue paper. "They are pretty straight forward - just so that you know when to be at the airport and all that." She fixed Copper with a thoughtful gaze, then, "Since you're not all living at the Starlight any more, I figured it was best to include that kind of information. It's not so simple as just sending a car this time."
"I'll make sure I'm at LAX in good time, Phyllis, I promise." Copper took one of the proffered itineraries, an example soon followed by her companions. "Aaron and I both will."
"Well, see that you are." Phyllis grimaced. "And for the record, while we're dancing around the subject, Copper, just because you kids are newlyweds, I don't want any funny business while we're on the East Coast. I'm coming along with you this time - just to make sure everything goes as it should - and I want you two to be the perfect professionals. Whilst we're in Connecticut, you're one of the musicians and he's backstage. I don't want any little accidents of nature occuring on my watch, you understand me?"
"Yes, Phyllis." Copper's cheeks tinged pink with embarrassment, and a wistful look entered her brown eyes. "I can promise you that there won't be any accidents of nature."
"Good." Phyllis looked satisfied. "Then that's that settled up."
"The other bit of news is that you aren't the only California rock act to be playin' this festival." Jetta put in her bit at this moment, eying her daughter-in-law's expression, and deciding to change the subject. "Diablo have also been invited to the East Coast."
"Diablo?" Sylva's eyes widened. "But...Stefana Ranieri? Oh heck, what did we do to deserve that?"
"Syl, shut up." Sadie snapped. "If you don't expect trouble, you won't get it!"
"Aaron told me that Diablo were going last night." Copper admitted. "And I agree with Sadie. I mean, we shouldn't expect automatically that Stefana - or any of Diablo - are going to cause us any trouble. If we go looking for a fight we'll only cause one."
"And fighting is also something I don't want on my watch." Phyllis said darkly. "At least, not fighting that Jewel come off worst in, you understand me? You girls have a certain reputation - make sure you preserve it."
She glanced at the clock. "And that's all. I have an appointment with my hairdresser and Jetta has a meeting, so we'll leave you to yourselves. I suggest that you get in some practice." She eyed them coolly. "This is a big deal festival and you haven't done half enough of that lately!"
With that she swept out of the room, her business partner in tow, and the door of the studio banged shut behind them.
"Diablo?" Nancy pulled a face. "Ugh. That isn't the best news I've had all day."
"You could have told us they were coming, Copper, if you knew already." Sylva agreed.
"I didn't want to create a problem." Copper shrugged. "Listen, all of you. Stefana's been a brat to us for a long time now and it's natural to expect her to be a brat. But Aaron thinks she's going to leave Jewel alone now that the whole wedding thing is behind us - he really believes she's going to lay off and stop causing us hassle."
"I'll believe it when I see it." Nancy grimaced again. "This is the girl who tried to murder Cynthia with that computer virus, and the one who tried to blow me up by switching my guitar cables. Forgive me if I don't have very high hopes."
"I think we should give her the benefit of the doubt." Sadie said softly. "People can change, you know."
"Sade, just because you reformed and turned over a new leaf and became a fab person does not mean Stefana has it in her to do the same." Sylva shook her head. "Not a chance. To do that she'd have to have a heart, and the girl is totally devoid of feeling."
"No, she isn't." Topaz looked thoughtful. "A lot of the spite we had from her over the last twelve months was mostly aimed at Copper...because of the Aaron situation, perhaps. But she could have wrecked Aaron's wedding - and she didn't. That proves she cares about him, at the very least. Maybe she does mean it. Maybe somehow Aaron has got through to her in a way that noone else has managed."
"I still maintain that she did all that out of spite because she wanted to." She said with a shrug. "I'm sorry, Topaz, too much bad karma. And what is this, anyway? We're her victims for what, two years? Maybe longer? And now we're supposed to suddenly believe she's turned over a new leaf and become an angel?"
"Nobody said that." Copper shook her head. "And Aaron hasn't told me a lot, in all truth. Just that he's spoken to her and she gave him her word not to mess with Jewel any more. That's all."
"Well, I guess all we can do is sit and see what happens." Topaz sighed. "I'd like to believe it, you guys. The rest of Diablo aren't so hostile, and if we had peaceful relations with Stefana we might even wind up having the two bands as friends."
"The less friendly you are with Luca Ranieri the better." Nancy said acidly. "You just have Cameron speaking to you again. Don't blow it a third time, huh?"
"I have no intention of blowing anything...if there's even anything to blow." Topaz replied quietly. Cameron Milligan was Hollie's father, a young medical student from England with whom Topaz had had an on and off relationship with for some years. The alliance had caused both much heartbreak over the years, plagued as it had been with mistrust and misunderstanding, but now Cameron had accepted a residency at a San Diego hospital, and by the Autumn would make his home in California. "You know that at the moment we're just friends and even though we've buried the hatchet, it's largely Hollie that we're both focused on." She shrugged. "That's all."
"Did he pass his exams?" Sadie asked. Topaz shrugged.
"He doesn't know yet. He still has two to go." She replied. "He emailed me last night."
She looked pensive. "Hollie misses him, you know. I'll be glad when he is out here. I know the kid hardly knows her Dad, but I keep thinking how much she cried when she realised he was leaving...and he's been too busy to videochat or voicechat much, because of his exams."
"Well, if you speak to him before we go to Connecticut, wish him luck for the rest." Copper smiled. "However things are between you guys, Topaz, we're all glad that there are no more battle lines in the sand."
"Me too." Topaz nodded. "And no more secrets, either. Hollie knows she has a father, and he knows he has her. And thankfully, both seem to approve of each other, so that's a load off my mind, too!"
"Who could not like Hollie?" Sylva demanded. "Even when she's screaming, she's cute!"
"Aunt Phyl wanted Cynthia to come to the east coast with us when we tour." Nancy remembered. "But Cynthia said very adamantly that she had to have her leave then, because of Hollie, and Mom said she wanted her on hand in case anything went wrong with the new network. You know they're installing a new online drive or something - Mom said that if Aaron was going to Connecticut, Cynthia had to be on hand in case they made a mull of it. Her words."
"Cynthia can't project out of Los Angeles, though." Sadie remembered. "So she'd have had a job coming along."
"She could project a proper hologram." Copper nodded. "Just not a solid one. She wouldn't be able to touch or anything. Aaron's promised to start working on that, though. I mean it's rough for her to be trapped here all the time, when we go jetting off around the world. When we get back, he's going to sit down and look at her plans and see if he can work out a way to increase her capabilities."
Her eyes twinkled "In the peace and quiet of our study!"
"Isn't it deathly quiet, though, living in your own place?" Sylva demanded. Copper nodded.
"Eerily so at times." She admitted with a grin. "I'm so used to living round all of you. But its nice too, in a different way. Aaron and I have never lived together like this before, so I wasn't sure how it would all pan out. Being, well, all new and all. But it's all working just fine so far." She reached over to touch the wooden door. "Touch wood it stays that way. And...well...it's nice sometimes to be private and know that it's not just your night for the house, but that it's your house, period."
"No need to ask how far Aaron and Copper have gone now, Topaz." A wicked twinkle entered Sylva's eyes. Copper reddened.
"Shut up!" She protested. "Besides, I'm a married woman. Sra Pelligrini. It's hardly front page news." She touched her ring again. "And like I said to Phyllis, there won't be any accidents of nature. Even if I want there to be."
"She doesn't know about your problems that way, so she didn't mean to be unkind." Nancy said softly. Copper nodded.
"I know, and that's why I didn't say anything." She agreed. "But it's the one thing I'm missing, Nance. I have a beautiful new house, a husband who loves me very much, good friends and a loving family. I have a steady job and I'm doing something I love doing to pay the bills. There's just that...that one thing. It's not nice, sometimes...not knowing."
"Well, any time you want Hollie for a weekend as training, you know you're welcome." Topaz said with a grin. "Seriously, Copper. And you know, there's always adoption if nothing else works out. Besides, you're only just married. You ought to take time to enjoy that before you worry about babies."
"Oh, I intend to." Copper nodded. "That's something else Aaron and I discussed last night, actually. That we shouldn't rush into anything just because I don't know if I'll be able to conceive - but we should find out all the facts and then take our time and see what the best solution looks like."
"Sounds wise to me." Topaz agreed. "And its better to do things that way round, too." She grimaced. "I did them backwards, and though I love Hollie, there aren't many guys who are willing to take on a single Mom. Even if I could get Cameron out of my head...which right now I can't."
"If you ask me, you and he are both being stupid with this just friends business anyhow." Sylva shrugged.
"For Hollie's sake we have to not just rush into anything crazy. We've done that before." Topaz shook her head. "This time we're being adults about it and if just friends is the way we stay on good terms, well, then that's what it will be. Hollie comes first." She smiled, but there was a touch of wistfulness in her expression. "That's kinda one of the things about being a Mom. It goes with the territory, putting the kid first."
"You ever wonder what your Mom would make of her?" Sadie asked. Topaz shrugged.
"Sometimes. But it's academic." She said slowly. "Mom and I parted on bad terms as it was. The last thing I need is to try and bring her into the equation and wind up having Hollie in the middle of a Stapleton fight. It's almost better I leave things be."
She glanced at the clock. "We should get down to some music, whilst Cynthia has my bad daughter and before someone comes to yell at us for slacking." She said. "After all, if Diablo are playing this festival as well, we have to prove we match up, even after several weeks off work!"
Chapter One: Jewel At Work
Chapter Two: Jetta's Visitor
Chapter Three: A Surprise For Topaz
Chapter Four: Farah
Chapter Five: Jewel's Rehearsal
Chapter Six: An Unwelcome Encounter
Chapter Seven: A Secret
Chapter Eight: A Call For Help
Chapter Nine: The Real Stefana
Chapter Ten: Machinations
Chapter Eleven: A Reunion
Chapter Twelve: After The Show
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, 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. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!