MOTHER'S PRIDE
Chapter Two: Jetta's Visitor

They were nearly there.
Stifling a yawn, the auburn haired lady glanced out of the window of the taxi, biting her lip as she contemplated how best to tackle the situation that she found herself in. It had been some years, she reflected, since she had seen her old friend, but even so she knew that secrets had been kept from her, and it hurt her to realise it.
"It ain't as though this is some little thing, either." She murmured, watching the Los Angeles scenery skim by, her green eyes taking in the landscape without recognising anything. "This is a bloody big thing, an' she kept it from me."
"Misfits Music, ma'am." The driver put in gruffly at that point, jerking her out of her reverie as he swung the car to a stop with a screech, pulling up outside a big black fronted building. "That'll be seven eighty."
"Oh! Here." The lady reached in her pocket for her purse, pulling it out and staring for a moment at the unfamiliar currency before producing a ten dollar bill. "Keep the change...it's fine, really. Can you 'elp me grab me case out of the back?"
"Sure can, lady, but you can't stop the night here." The driver eyed his charge gravely. She was so obviously not a local, and he half wondered what her errand was in this busy, bustling city. For the whole journey she had sat in silence, rigid with tension, staring out at the scenery. Now she was at one of Los Angeles' most prestigious businesses, wanting to lug her case around as if it was a hotel.
"I know that." The woman glanced up at the imposing building. "But I 'ave a friend who works 'ere."
"Well, whatever you say." The driver shrugged, heaving his bulk out of the front seat and hauling her case from the back of the car. "Have a nice visit, okay?"
"Thank you." A faint smile touched her face. "I hope I will."
She grabbed the handle of her case, lifting it resolutely and heading into the lobby. As she had imagined, it was bustling with people, most of whom seemed to be on an errand and few of whom took any notice of her. She pursed her lips, considering her options. Finally, she moved across to the nearby security desk, dumping her case on the floor and sending the guard on duty a wan smile.
"I'm lookin' for Sh...for Jetta Pelligrini." She said quietly. "Is it possible for me to see her?"
"Ms Pelligrini is very busy." The guard eyed her suspiciously for a moment, then, "Why do you want to see her? Do you have an appointment? If so I have to see your security clearance..."
"I don't 'ave any clearance. That's why I came to you." Tired from her trip, the frustration began to edge into her tone. "She doesn't know I'm 'ere, which is why I'd like to speak to 'er. It's important. Very important. More important than tax forms or any other administrative business."
The guard eyed her once more, then, "Can I see some ID?" He asked.
"Of course." The woman reached into her handbag, pulling out her passport and pushing it across the desk. "If it will 'elp."
"Laura Milligan." The guard's eyes narrowed. "I don't know the name."
"You wouldn't." Laura snapped back. "Look, will you 'elp me or won't you? I've come a long way an' I'm tired. I don't want to play games an' I ain't 'ere to cause trouble. All I want is to..."
"Laura?"
A voice interrupted her tirade, and the Englishwoman turned at the sound of her name, meeting the incredulous gaze of Misfit Music's chief executive. Relief mingled with anger flooded through her.
"You know this woman, Ms Pelligrini?" The guard asked, returning Laura's passport. Jetta nodded.
"Yes." She said, her expression still one of disbelief. "Though this is the last place on the planet I ever thought to see 'er."
She bit her lip. "Laura, why are you here? Why didn't you tell me you were comin'? When did you fly out? What..."
"Not 'ere." Laura held up her hands, shaking her head. "First, I'm looking for a place to crash. It cost a fair bomb to get me flight out, an' I suppose I 'ave enough for a cheap motel if I look, but when you came to England for Flo's funeral you stopped at our place. I'd like to ask you to return the favour."
"Of course." Jetta nodded. "But I don't understand. You could 'ave told me you were coming!"
Laura's expression became grim.
"So you could avoid answerin'?" She asked quietly. "No."
Jetta looked confused, then,
"I'm 'eadin' home." She began. "Justin isn't in Los Angeles till tomorrow, 'e is workin' out of state. You got a cab waitin' or what?"
"I paid him. He's gone."
"Then we'll take my car." Jetta was beginning to recover her senses, and she grabbed her friend by the arm. "Come on. Get your case. It's a bloody long way from London an' whilst I've no idea why you're looking at me like you want to bloody murder me, the front lobby aint' the best place to catch up."
Laura did not respond, merely scooping up her case and following her old friend out to the parking lot. Once there, she allowed her companion to safely stow the case in the vehicle's boot, then she wheeled on her friend, fury sparking in her green eyes.
"An' now we're alone." She said darkly. "When exactly were you goin' to tell me that I were a grandmother?"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"It's sounding good."
Clayton Blake twirled his drumsticks contemplatively, casting his bandmates a grin. "We've cracked it, guys. This one is going to be ready for Connecticut and we've days to spare."
"I dunno, it's seemed a lot easier of late to get these tracks together quicker." Marissa Young, the group's keyboardist decided. "Don't you think?"
"We've worked hard, that's all." Luca Ranieri fingered a couple of experimental chords, then, "And Rory didn't give us a whole lot of choice. He told us we were playing it on the East Coast, so we are. That's that."
"Yeah, what gives with that, anyway?" Madeleine Dacourt, Diablo's singer put her hands on her hips. "I was under the impression that Rory had become more manageable of late. I know you had that spat with him over Stef's contract - or whatever it was. Has something changed?"
"Sort of." Luca's expression darkened. "Let's just say that Mr Llewelyn is as slippery as an eel and he knows how to cover his back. Even if it means using threats to get himself there."
"What did he do now?" Madeleine stared.
"It's because of me." Stefana, who had been silent up till then spoke up. She grimaced, then, "He found out that I was using speed. He threatened to leak it to the press if Diablo didn't toe the line."
"Ugh, that's typical." Clay rolled his eyes. "I swear the guy has spies everywhere as it is."
"For sure." Stefana said darkly. "I don't know how he sprung me, because he never knew while I was taking them. Only once I had stopped. He must have had my dealer bribed or something...I don't know." She rubbed her temples. "As if it isn't hard enough keeping him off my back and keeping things out of my system, without Rory adding pressure on the top of it all."
"Our trip is coming up, though." Marissa said softly, coming to slip a supportive arm around her friend's shoulders. "I know you're not sure about going back to Hartford, but it's not all bad stuff there, you know. Mom's there - and she'll be happy to see us, you know that. It might be nice to go home for a while, too. You don't have to see your Mom, and there are a lot of old shopping haunts we can visit."
"We could, if I had any money to spend there." Stefana agreed morosely. "Oh, I dunno. It'll probably be okay."
She adjusted her guitar strap. "And the less thinking about it I do, the better." She added. "So are we going to play again?"
"No, we're not." Luca shook his head. "We've peaked that track and if we keep on at it it'll be tired and old before we play it on the east coast. We're a Connecticut band, whatever our Californian ties, and we have to show the hometown folk what we can do." His gaze fell on his sister, and his expression softened. "Besides, Stef, you can't work yourself to death trying to avoid things. We're all grateful for the hours you've put in since...well, over the last couple of weeks, but you're not really well yet, and we don't want you to overdo it. You're pretty important for our tour, and..."
"And if I'm going to be ready for it, I have to play." Stefana said simply. "Besides, Rory might be a jerk but I'm not giving him an excuse to keep his threat and make it a reality. I'm not having the world know what I've got mixed up in - I'm just not!"
"Luca's right, you know." Madeleine set down her microphone. "You're pale, you've shadows under your eyes and you're still not eating right. If you keep working yourself at this rate your body will just give up the ghost on you. The last thing we need is to go away and have you collapse on stage."
Stefana did not reply, but a mutinous look touched her expression, and Marissa sighed.
"Fussing over her isn't going to help." She said practically. "But if it's any consolation, it's almost dinner time and even if you folk don't have set mealtimes, I can't skip mine. Otherwise it won't be Stef who passes out, it will be me."
She glanced at her watch. "I vote we call it a night and head off somewhere flashy for something to eat. I can do my insulin here, and I don't fancy going home to cook. We can go dutch."
"Red Rock gets my vote." Clay slipped his sticks into his stick bag. "And we can come back to the song tomorrow, when we're fresh."
"Okay, sounds like a plan to me." Luca grinned. "Well, Stef? Red Rock suit you for dinner?"
"I suppose so." Stefana shrugged, putting her hand in her pocket and pulling out a handful of change. "So long as my meal doesn't cost any more than four dollars sixty one cents, I'm cool."
"Well, if it does, we'll make up the difference. Call it rehabilitation." Madeleine sent her bandmate a grin. "Besides, they've got this gorgeous new dessert that I'm dying to try out. It's all chocolate and ice cream and probably about a thousand calories, but since I'll be working them off on stage next week, I'm game for it."
"Chocolate ice cream?" Stefana's expression lightened at this. "Hrm. Okay. I suppose I do have to eat and I suppose we have done the song to death."
She yawned, stretching. "Who's driving?"
"Not you, if you're gonna fall asleep." Clay said dryly. "I'll drive, if noone else wants to. Come on, let's shoot out of here before Rory comes down and demands we stay till midnight."
"If he wants to live to see tomorrow, he'd better stay in his office." Stefana said grimly. "I see enough of the jerk as it is. I am not working over hours as well!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

For a moment, Jetta just stared at her companion, disbelief in her grey eyes. Then, at length, she muttered a curse.
"That was slow of me." She remarked ruefully. "I should 'ave known that only a good reason would bring you all this way out 'ere, an' if I'd stopped to think of it I'd have realised that 'Ollie was it."
"Well, now you've figured that out, maybe you could answer me question?" Laura put her hands on her hips. "I want some serious answers, Sheila. You an' me, we've been mates since we were at primary school, an' if I thought I could trust anyone to tell me the truth it's you. Or has this high life affected you, huh? Has showbusiness clouded your judgement? You and your girls were in England not six months before your son got married - Avril even spoke to you. But you didn't say a damn word about this!"
Jetta frowned, opening the driver's door to the car and leaning across to unfasten the passenger door.
"Get in." She said quietly. "Not out 'ere in the parkin' lot."
"Car park." Laura snapped, nevertheless doing as she was bidden. "You might think that you're an American citizen now, an' too good for backstreet London with your top of the charts rock band an' your partnership with that fat cat Phyllis Gabor, but I'll be damned if I'll let you forget that you came from the same neighbourhood as I did, an' that your old friends don't turn their back as easily as you seem to 'ave done!"
"Woah." Jetta put up her hands. "Shut your trap an' listen to me for one bleedin' minute, will you? This 'as nothin' to do with me turnin' me back on anyone. I'm a London kid at 'eart and you should know it well enough. This business 'as nothin' to do with that."
"Well, then tell me." Laura folded her arms. "Because I came 'ere to get some answers, and I ain't going 'ome till I got them."
"That's fair enough, I suppose." Jetta pursed her lips. "Though it ain't as simple as you seem to think."
"You've obviously known all about this for some time." Laura said bitterly. "Did it not occur to you that I might want to meet the damn kid?"
"Yes, many times." Jetta admitted, putting the car in gear and pulling slowly out of the car park. "But listen. Topaz told us that she was knocked up after your Cameron trotted back across the atlantic, followin' my nephew's weddin'. At the time she made it clear to both Pizzazz an' meself that she'd done that deliberately...that she did not want Cameron to know. An' that was bleedin' difficult for me to handle, because I knew you'd be this way about it! But I ain't allowed to get personally involved in the lives of employees if they don't want us there."
"Not even when I was involved in the equation?" Laura retorted. Jetta shook her head.
"Not even then." She agreed quietly. "Besides, Topaz impressed on me that the reason she was keepin' Cameron out of it was for 'is own good. Yours, too. And I saw the sense in that. Your boy's got a great future ahead of 'im - 'e always was a bright spark, so you've always said. Well, come autumn 'e will be a doctor in San Diego. But if Topaz 'ad told 'im when she was pregnant, 'e would've dropped everythin' and come out 'ere. Dropped out. Wasted all that you an' Keith 'ave put into 'is ambition an' all the hard slog 'e'd put into it 'imself." She paused, then, "You know better than most that it ain't easy for a kid to come from the kind of world you an' I come from an' make it so 'igh up the educational ladder. Student loans, bills, fees...tuition costs...all of that adds up an' without you an' Keith's 'elp an' 'is own determination your kid would never be where 'e is, takin' 'is medical finals. It would 'ave done nobody any good - Cameron least of all - to 'ave it dropped on 'im in the middle of all that that 'e'd been bloody careless one visit to California, an' that there was a small redheaded brat runnin' all over the shop."
Laura opened her mouth to retort, then she paused.
"She has red hair?" She asked softly. Jetta nodded.
"Didn't Cameron take pictures 'ome with 'im?" She demanded. Laura nodded her head.
"Yes, but because of 'is exams they've been sittin' in 'is flat waitin' to be processed." She replied. "An' to be honest, he and I ain't 'ad the best of weeks since he dropped 'is news on me."
"If the roastin' you're givin' me is anything like the one you gave 'im, I pity the lad." Jetta said ruefully. Despite herself, a smile touched Laura's lips.
"It was worse." She admitted. "Keith an' I 'ave drummed it into our kids so damn often about contraception and all of that. Besides, bein' a medical student, you'd think 'e'd have 'ad 'alf a brain about 'im and would've been able to take precautions. We 'ad somethin' of a barney, an' though we made it up, I ain't had a chance to ask 'im about pictures or, really, about Hollie. I made up my mind to fly out 'ere an' hijack your 'ouse, see what I could find out for myself. Keith just got a promotion at work anyway, an' we 'ad some extra cash for me to fly out. He couldn't get the time off, new job an' all, but he agreed one of us needed to come out an' see the kid."
"Are you still goin' to murder me in my bed? Should I ditch you at a motel?" Jetta eyed her friend cautiously. Laura looked sheepish.
"I'm takin' it out on you, and I shouldn't." She reflected. "Though I am 'urt you didn't tell me. Bloody 'urt, to tell the truth. Mind you, I suppose what you said made sense. Neither Keith nor I would've been amused if Cam 'ad dropped out, after all the time and energy we've all put into supportin' 'im."
She stifled a yawn. "Truth is, I'm tired much as anythin'. Flyin' ain't somethin' I do very often, and not at this distance. I ain't never been to America before."
"No, and it's about time you did come here." Jetta told her. "Pizzazz an' the girls are flyin' out of state come the end of the week - they're goin' to Connecticut to take part in some rock festival - so I'm 'oldin' the fort 'ere. But 'ow long are you plannin' to stay?"
"As long as it takes me to get my head around all of this. My priority is to see Aurora - and the kid -as soon as I can. Sooner, if they're goin' out of California." Laura replied. "There ain't no urgent reason for me to fly back this week, though."
"I 'oped as much." Jetta responded. "Stay a while. Keith won't mind, an' it's about time I showed you around Los Angeles."
"I suppose I could." Laura pursed her lips. "For a while, anyway. But not too long, else the house will be chaos when I get back. You forget that I still 'ave kids livin' at 'ome, an' Kyle's laundry is one parent's work at any time! But I suppose it wouldn't 'urt to 'ave an 'oliday. And you can show me Aaron's weddin' snaps, as well. I'm curious to see your boy all dressed up for the big occasion!"
Jetta laughed.
"Okay." She agreed. "That works for me. Though between you an' me, I ain't 'opin' to see my daughter go the same way any time soon. Weddin's are way too soppy for my taste an' the bigger the gaps between them the better."
"Tell me about Hollie, Sheila." Laura cast her friend a beseeching look. "Cameron wouldn't much. Well, not really." She sighed. "We fought over a few things. I knew that he was wantin' to work out 'ere an' to begin with I thought he'd known about 'Ollie and kept 'er from me. Then I realised that the kid 'ad been born an' he'd 'ad nothin' to do with it an' I flew into a rage with 'im about 'is responsibilities - by the time I'd finished tearin' the poor boy to shreds, there wasn't much time left for talkin' about the kid 'erself. I got the impression 'e was real taken with 'er - but that's about the end of it. And like I said, I ain't seen 'is pictures."
"I don't spend an awful lot of time gawkin' at 'er." Jetta admitted. "I see 'er from time to time, when Topaz brings 'er to the creche, or when I 'ave to pay a visit to the Starlight Mansion to pass on some message. I think she's about eighteen months - or no, I remember she was born at Christmas one year, because she messed up our musical plans nicely. So sixteen months. She's a redhead - the spit of Cameron, actually - an' from all I've gathered she's developin' quite a personality."
She paused, then, "I shouldn't tell you this, but I 'ave Jewel's schedule in my bag." She said slowly. "From now till they leave for Connecticut. If you want to see Topaz an' the kid, well, maybe I can work out the best time for you to descend on the Starlight Mansion."
Laura's tired features creased into a smile, this time a genuine one.
"That's more like the Sheila I know." She observed. "That would be just perfect, if you could."
"I'll see what I can find." Jetta promised. "But listen, Laura, no tearin' chunks out of the girl. She 'as to go on tour an' she 'as to sing damn well, because 'er group rely on it. I don't want to be sendin' a weepin' waterspout to Connecticut! And one other thing..."
"Hrm?" Laura cast her companion a questioning glance.
"Don't go gettin' it into your 'ead to put in a plea for custody. Kids belong with their mothers, unless the mother is a waste of space, an' for all 'er faults, Topaz ain't that."
Laura looked thoughtful for a moment, then she shook her head.
"I would never take a baby from her mother." She said softly. "You 'ave my word on that, Sheila. But I want to meet my granddaughter. That is important to me."
"Then we'd better see about finding you time to do it." Jetta decided, pulling the car into the front drive of the Pelligrini home. "Here we are, 'ome sweet 'ome. Lets find you a room for the night an' then we'll take a look at Jewel's schedule. It shouldn't be too hard to find the perfect opportunity!"



MOTHER'S PRIDE
Prologue

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!