Chapter Ten: Machinations

"Tonight's the night."
Topaz brushed her thick golden hair into a neat ponytail, humming to herself as she got ready. "Is anyone else feeling a buzz? Tonight we play Hartford's Rock Festival, live and uncut in the open air."
"In the drizzle, if the weather forecast is to be believed." Nancy flicked off the television, a look of clear disgust on her face. "You'd think they'd plan better weather when there's an open air festival on."
"Oh come on, Nance. Rain is part of the atmosphere." Sadie giggled. "Besides, with all our equipment, we'll be under canopies anyhow. It'll be the crowd who get wet. And mostly the crowd don't care. Cece dragged me to Glastonbury the year after I moved into my own place, and we were more mud than human by the time we got back home. I was washing it out of my hair for a week after!"
"Sounds very glamorous." Sylva pulled a face. "Marianne and I went to a few in DC, but never anything that involved wrecking designer boots and screwing up hair."
"I guess you haveta be British to wallow in the mud, then." Sadie shrugged. "Either way, I found it a lot of fun. I was glad she'd talked me into going."
"Strikes me that it rains so much in Britain you have to either do things regardless or spend your life indoors." Topaz grinned. "Besides, tonight's sold out. Obviously the people of Hartford are made of stronger stuff than you, Syl."
"Guess so." Sylva nodded. "Though Phyllis said that they'd come from all over the East Coast to be a part of this." She grinned. "Guess Jewel are a draw!"
"Not just Jewel. Diablo too." Nancy shook her head. "Though thankfully they're keeping to their quarters and we're keeping to ours. So long as it stays like that, I've no problem with us both playing tonight."
"So far, so good." Copper glanced up from her magazine at this, sending Sadie a wink. "Maybe things have died down in that department."
"What are our plans for this morning, anyone know?" Topaz dropped down onto the rug. "Are we rehearsing?"
"At two o'clock we have final runthrough." Sadie nodded. "I spoke to Phyllis after breakfast and she told me to tell you guys that the car would come around half one. This morning she's got a meeting with the people running it - she wasn't overly impressed by it, at least that was the impression I got - and so we're pretty much at a loose end. And, if you ask me, after yesterday's publicity drive, we need it."
"You mean I got up for no reason?" Sylva looked disgusted. "I've a good mind to go back to bed again!"
"You would have missed breakfast." Nancy said calmly.
"There's room service." Sylva returned. "And some of the hotel bell boys are cute."
"Syl, you only ever have one thing on your mind." Nancy groaned, rolling her eyes. "Did it ever occur to you that it isn't just the cute guys in this world that matter?"
"Of course it did! I'm not that shallow." Sylva was indignant. "But different people have different tastes. And I just happen to like cute guys. Okay? That all right with you?"
"Stop teasing her, Nance. There's really no point." Copper grinned. She glanced at her watch. "Phyllis said half-one, Sade?"
"Yes. Why?"
"Aaron's done at the auditorium at eleven. I'm going to meet him there and we're going to have lunch while Phyllis is in her meeting." Copper's brown eyes sparkled. "After all, we're both mature adults, and married, too. There's nothing to stop us."
"Crafty!" Topaz laughed. "Okay, we'll see you later."
"You certainly will." Copper agreed. "One thing I try to be is punctual - and at the moment, if I'm not, Phyllis will probably chain me to the table or something until it's time to perform!"
"Probably shouldn't give Aunt Phyl ideas." Nancy warned. "She might decide to act on it."
"Warning noted!" Copper slipped her bag onto her shoulder, pulling her sandals onto her feet. "Bye, all. See you this afternoon!"
"I'm going to go call home." Topaz decided. "Check up on baby and make sure she hasn't driven Cyn mad yet." She grinned. "Besides, Cyn puts her on the phone and when she's not trying to eat it, it's actually quite cute talking to her."
"Tell her hi." Sylva dimpled. "And that we'll all see her soon!"
"Will do." Topaz nodded. She retreated into her bedroom, closing the door behind her, and Sadie raised an eyebrow.
"Well? We play the festival tonight. Shouldn't we deal with the other thing before then?"
"We certainly should. Question is, can we?" Sylva frowned. "We're pressed for time as it is."
"Are you sure we should be intervening?" Nancy said hesitantly. "I understand where you guys are coming from, but if Topaz really hates her stepdad that much...maybe it would do more harm than good to stick this poor woman in a room with an angry daughter?"
"Melissa was desperate." Sadie shook her head. "We can't just leave it, Nance. Think about it. Topaz and her mother might be estranged, but it'd be a hell of a blow if she found out Melissa had died and she hadn't even known the woman was sick. And she'd hate herself for not making up the fight - I know she would. Topaz is pretty laid back and she's pushed it out of her mind - at least, she seems to have - but she's sensitive too, and I know she broods on it."
"Sadie's right." Sylva nodded. "This isn't something we can just leave to chance."
She reached into her pocket, pulling out Stephen's card and carefully smoothing it out. "What if I was to give him a call, invite him to bring Melissa here this morning? None of us have any plans, and we three can easily slip off and give them some privacy."
"Well, we could try it." Nancy sighed. "I don't know. I don't think upsetting Topaz right before we play this thing tonight is the way to go about this."
"We haven't much choice. We promised Melissa we'd try, and as soon as we could." Sadie said simply. "Once we play tonight, we'll be wound up in promotion and hype till we leave. It's basically now or never."
Nancy frowned.
"I suppose that makes sense." She acknowledged. "All right. Syl, you better try and call the guy. But I hope this doesn't go horribly wrong."
"We all hope that." Sadie admitted gravely. "But we don't have an awful lot of choice."
Sylva scooped up her purse, retreating into her room and curling up on the end of her bed as she located her phone, hesitating for a moment and then dialling the number on the card. It was picked up on the third ring, and, a little apprehensive, Sylva identified herself.
"I hope I'm not disturbing you." She added. "I've talked with the others and we think it would be best if you brought Melissa to the hotel - this morning, if it's at all possible. We have some free time till after lunch. All of us are agreed that whatever Melissa needs to say is something that should be said in private, and we thought here was best. Only...we're not sure if T...Aurora should see you. She got mad at you before."
"I see your point of view, and I tend to agree." Stephen sounded thoughtful. "I will bring Melissa to the hotel lobby, if one of you can meet us down there? Security will be tight and we won't get any further on our own."
"We will." Sylva promised.
"Thank you for helping us." Stephen said seriously. "It's so important - thank you for realising that."
"I know how I'd feel if it was my mother." Sylva admitted. "And even though they've been apart for a long time, well, maybe it's time that stopped. There are other things in Topaz's life now that she really should share with her mother, and all of us are agreed that it's time she tried."
"Does she know we're coming?"
"No." Sylva confessed. "We thought it better that way."
"Perhaps you're right." Stephen acknowledged. "Well, are you all at the hotel now?"
"Then I'll call a taxi, and tell Lissa what's going on. There's no need for you to tell us where you're staying - every news rag in town is full of it - and we're about half an hour's drive away. So...maybe we'll be there in forty five minutes? An hour?"
"Fine. We'll be expecting you." Sylva agreed.
"All right. Thank you again, Sylvina - and goodbye."
Sylva terminated the call, eying her phone apprehensively.
"I hope I just did right." She murmured. "But it's done now, and if she kills me, she does. We had to get involved and that's that. Now we just have to make sure Topaz doesn't leave the hotel between now and when they arrive."
She tossed her phone into her bag, sauntering to the door and poking her head out, casting her co-conspirators a grin.
"All go." She told them, giving the thumbs up signal. "They'll be here in just under an hour. All we have to do is not let her go out anywhere in the meantime. Anyone think of a nice relaxing game we could play?"
"A game?" Nancy raised an eyebrow. "Syl, that will make her suspicious. Especially if you suggest it. You know that ever since Copper whooped your ass at Monopoly you've pretty much sulked every time the board games come out. And besides, what do you expect us to have with us? Clue? Chess? Scrabble? It's not like we're at home."
"Well, think of something." Sylva retorted. "I've done my bit."
"What are you guys squabbling over now?" Topaz re-emerged from her own room at that moment, and Sylva and Nancy exchanged looks of consternation. Sadie grinned.
"Arguing over which board game they would play if they'd remembered to bring any along." She said dryly. "Gee, this is starting to feel like a family holiday in a caravan somewhere in the wilds of Wales, rather than a music tour."
Topaz laughed.
"Well, since we didn't bring any with us, that's that ruled out." She said with a grin. "So what about going shopping in the city? We have some free time."
"We could." Sylva said slowly. "But..." She faltered.
"But Aunt Phyllis told me to tell you guys that she wanted us on tap at the hotel this morning, in case the arena wanted us earlier." Nancy said smoothly, casting Sylva a scornful look. Sylva shrugged her shoulders helplessly.
Topaz pursed her lips.
"She did? You didn't stop Copper."
"Well, Copper's married and Aunt Phyl is way too hard on them." Nancy replied. "We can always cover and say she's in bed if we do get dropped on, but it's harder to hide the fact five Jewels are absent than it is to conceal one."
"She has a point." Sadie stretched out on the sofa. "Besides, the press will be waiting outside again if we try and go anywhere. With the playing tonight, I really don't feel like fighting to get through them as they jostle for quotes. Call me lazy but I'm happy enough to curl up here and veg out till we have to go."
"Me too." Sylva agreed, relieved. Topaz shrugged.
"Well, if that's how things are then there's not a lot we can do." She said good-naturedly. "Okay. So we'll stay here, then. Anything on the telly?"
"Haven't looked. Too lazy to retrieve the handset from behind the sofa." Sadie responded. Topaz laughed.
"Oh, Sadie! You can't be that tired!" She scolded, getting to her feet and claiming the handset from where it had carelessly been tossed the night before.
"No, I'm conserving my energy for tonight, that's all." Sadie seemed unphased. "And in this job you get to do very little lazing about."
"How true that is." Sylva groaned. "And you think that living the celebrity high life is gonna be easy."
"Look, Diablo are on morning television." Topaz flicked onto a local television channel.
"Don't tell Phyllis, or we'll be dragged out to join in." Sadie pulled a face. "They don't look thrilled to be there, do they?"
"Stefana never looks thrilled to be anywhere." Sylva observed archly. "But I dunno. It sucks doing a dumb interview like that one when you've a big gig that evening. Your mind is anywhere but on the questions being asked."
"I'm almost looking forward to hearing their set tonight." Topaz owned, dropping down into a free seat, and setting the handset down on the table. "We've seen nothing of them since they've been here, and whatever else you say about Diablo, they do usually put on a good show."
"Are you turning traitor?" Sylva demanded playfully. Topaz shook her head.
"Nope, not a chance of it." She returned with a grin. "But some of their music isn't half bad. And if Copper's right and the Stefana problem is at an end, well, I see no reason why we can't appreciate their work as much as anyone else can."
"I'm all for that." Sadie agreed. "Ooh, look! Now they're playing our video!"
"Poor comparison against a live interview." Nancy said astutely. "Mind you, it's not a bad video. The only trouble is, of course, that we haven't released a new song yet. We should have done that before we came out here, really. That video is a couple of months old and so is the song."
"We're playing new stuff tonight, though. Hartford will be the first to hear our latest." Topaz reminded her. "And as soon as we're back in LA, well, we'll be hard at it again."
"If you ask me the times are rare when we're not hard at it." Nancy grimaced. "But there we go."
Sylva glanced up at the clock, pursing her lips, and then slowly getting to her feet.
"I'm gonna take a walk downstairs." She said. "See if that cute bell boy is anywhere around."
"You can't even take one day off from flirting, can you?" Nancy cast her a look, then, reading her bandmate's expression, she grimaced. "Well. Okay. Fine. Do whatever you want to."
"Syl will." Topaz laughed. "How cute is he, Syl?"
"Well, worth a second glance." Sylva winked. "I'll catch you guys in a few, okay? I'm sure I heard him tell the receptionist that he was on morning shift."
With that she was gone, and Sadie and Nancy exchanged anxious glances. Topaz seemed oblivious, however, merely flicking the set over to another channel.
"There really is nothing on." She decided with a sigh. "Morning television in Hartford isn't the same as morning television in LA."
"Has Dean's show finished?" Sadie asked. Nancy nodded.
"Just." She agreed. "It airs later over here because it's live and because of the time difference, but still, by elevenish I think he'd be through. It airs seven through nine over in LA."
"Nancy's right." Topaz agreed. "See? Nothing but commercials on that channel."
"Well, no doubt we'll be playing his show sometime in the near future." Sadie decided. "With this new song and all to promote."
"Yes." Nancy agreed slowly. "I expect that we will."
"There a problem with that, Nance?" Topaz looked startled. "I thought you liked playing Dean's show?"
"I do. Very much." Nancy nodded. She pursed her lips, then, "I think it's more me that's the problem. Or maybe it's Dean. I don't know."
"Are you guys fighting?" Sadie sounded concerned. "You seemed such a tight couple at Copper's wedding - did something happen before we came away?"
"No, nothing at all." Nancy shook her head. "We're just as we were before. Perhaps that's what's bothering me."
"You're getting bored?" Topaz asked gently.
"Bored is a strong term. I love Dean a lot, and that hasn't changed." Nancy shook her head. "But we hang out brother and sister, or like bosom pals these days. We still have a blast but it's not..." She waved her hands, trying to think of how to put what she wanted to say.
"It's lost the romance?" Sadie suggested. Nancy grimaced.
"Probably. Not that I'm a romantic, but I suppose that's what's happened." She acknowledged. "And I'm getting older and realising that he wants different things from me. Copper getting married kinda clinched that. He wants marriage and kids one day. I don't know what I want - not kids, probably not marriage - just my music."
"But wouldn't you be lonely that way?" Topaz pressed. Nancy shrugged.
"I'm never alone when I have my music." She said simply. "It's hard to explain without sounding a freak, but it's the most important thing in my life. Sometimes...sometimes even more important than people. Does that sound awful?"
"No." Sadie shook her head. "One thing we've all learnt about you is that your music comes from the soul. But you don't want to wind up alone, Nance. Really."
"Maybe not. But no matter how much I like Dean, he doesn't understand music, and that's a big problem." Nancy spread her hands. "Oh, who knows. Right now I'm doing nothing about it. Maybe when we get back to LA, things will be different and we'll talk about it, work it out. It just seems kinda strange, that's all."
"Copper's wedding has made us all think about the future." Topaz nodded. "It's weird how something can do that - but it has. They've been dating forever - pretty much since I've known them, actually - but it's strange thinking about Aaron and Copper as Mr and Mrs Pelligrini. And Copper as Elizabeth Pelligrini and not Elizabeth Santiago any more."
"Well, to us she's still Copper. And I don't think it's changed her overly yet." Sadie dimpled. "She's still the same sweetheart Copper we know and love."
"She's only been married a few weeks. Give her a chance." Nancy said acidly. "Mom reckons that from the moment you say 'I do', you're on the downward spiral."
"She speaking from experience there?" Topaz teased. Nancy shrugged.
"Ask her." She suggested wryly. "I value my life too much, thank you."
Before Topaz could respond, the door of the suite opened, and Sylva poked her head around it, casting her bandmates a slight smile. Sadie raised an eyebrow, and Sylva nodded. Sadie got to her feet, holding her hand out to Nancy.
"Nance, can you come into my room a second? I want to ask you about a harmony I was working on last night." She said softly. Nancy nodded her head slowly.
"I'd be glad to." She agreed solemnly, standing and following the English girl into the bedroom, closing the door. Topaz looked confused.
"What's going on, Syl?" She asked. "Is something wrong?"
" least I hope not." Sylva bit her lip, pushing the door all the way open and stepping into the hotel suite. "Only there's someone here who really wants to see you...and we didn't like to tell her no."
She stood aside, revealing her companion, and Topaz's jaw dropped open.
"Oh my god." She whispered. "Mom?"


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

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!