"You know, this place really is something else."
Sylva gazed around the big stage, her blue eyes wide with approval as she surveyed the place that they would be playing. "I knew that it was a big deal and that people come from all over to this place when the festival is on, but sheesh!"
"They said on the radio this morning that the venue had sold out within three days." Topaz came up behind her. "Considering the size of the audience area, that's no mean feat."
"You're telling me." Sylva agreed. She grinned. "But then, we're playing here this time." She added. "So unsurprising, maybe?"
"Modesty isn't your best feature, is it, Syl?" Nancy, overhearing the end of the conversation added her bit, settling herself down on the edge of the stage. "I heard the radio story too. Apparently the fact that ticket places were available over the net was a big factor in the quick sales. They had to limit the number purchaseable by each credit card number, else there would have been folk buying them to resell on E-Bay or something similar. Demand has just been mad."
"Phyllis said that no group ever plays the festival twice. It's been going twelve years now and it's one of the rules - that every year must be different." Sadie added. "That's why Jewel haven't been here before - if we had, we wouldn't be here now."
"It's just unfortunate that our time clashes with Diablo's." Sylva agreed. "Though maybe the organisers thought that would be a good thing. After all, we have such different fanbases a lot of the time. That would bring in a lot of interest."
"Not so very different, else we wouldn't be in competition." Nancy pointed out. "But it could be worse. They have a photoshoot at some local landmark this morning, for a Hartford magazine that's excited to have them back in town. It seems to have escaped their notice that at least one of their number isn't a Connecticut native, but never mind." She shrugged. "It's meant we have time to rehearse here without running into them, and when we do our interview on local radio tomorrow morning, they will have the stage to themselves. Plus, our hotels are on opposite sides of town. We could have been stuck in the same one - could you imagine?"
"Not good for me to be in the same hotel as Luca Ranieri. Not with the press about." Topaz grimaced. "You know what they'd start saying. It doesn't matter how often I tell them that Luca is serious about Sirena and that no, my daughter is not his daughter. They're not interested."
"Obviously they all flunked biology at school, then, since most of the California press have seen Hollie once or twice at least, and she looks nothing like Luca." Sylva said dryly. Topaz shrugged.
"Whatever makes a story." She responded. "I don't like it, though. Still, when Cameron comes out to work in San Diego, maybe they'll realise their mistake. Hopefully it won't mean too much of a scandal, because I don't like my baby in the press if I can keep her out of it. Then it will all die down and someone else can be their next victim."
"Where is Copper, by the way?" Sadie turned, glancing across the stage. "I know she was with us when we arrived from the hotel."
"Helping Aaron spot for lighting." Nancy's eyes twinkled. "The technicians haven't arrived yet and of course, without Cynthia's active help, Aaron is shorthanded. Copper's being the dutiful wife and filling in."
"Phyllis won't like that!" Sylva looked amused. "Whilst you're in Connecticut, you're one of the musicians and he's backstage! I don't want any accidents of nature occuring on my watch!" She imitated Phyllis's distinctive voice, making her companions laugh.
"She won't manage it, though." Topaz said sensibly. "They only got married, what, less than a month ago? I think it was mean that she made Copper room with us in the suite at the hotel, and sent Aaron to have his own room across the road at another. I mean, Copper's a grown woman now. She doesn't need to be chaperoned from her own husband!"
"Aunt Phyl is funny that way, though." Nancy looked thoughtful. "Mom's said time and again that Copper had better watch her step now she was a married woman, because Aunt Phyl doesn't take kindly to romance messing up her business plans. I gather that when Mom and Dad were first seeing each other, Aunt Phyl did everything she could to keep them apart whenever the Misfits needed Dad on a tour. Mom would always have to room with the other Misfits, and seating on planes and stuff was strategically planned to keep them as far apart as possible. She threw a fit when Mom and Dad went to Vegas on vacation with barely any notice, and would've thrown a bigger one when they came back married, except it didn't quite work out that way. Dad had his accident in Michigan and almost drowned - I think after that Aunt Phyl decided she'd better lay off and hope that nothing worse came of it."
"Unfortunately for her, Aaron and me did." She added. "I bet she'll watch Copper like a hawk to make sure the same thing doesn't happen."
"Well, it's not likely to." Sylva sighed. "But there's no reason to tell her that."
She glanced across the stage, raising her hand in a wave as she saw their missing bandmate, the illustrious Phyllis in tow. From Phyllis' expression and Copper's clear amusement, it was obvious that she had discovered the young newlyweds hard at work discussing stage arrangements, and had decided to take a hand.
"This is where you belong." The executive addressed Copper curtly. "You know it, and I know it, and these girls need you if you're going to play any music this morning. Aaron can manage and the technicians will be here in less than half an hour. I suggest you girls discuss your running order and get down to some work, before you have to give way to the next band. You aren't the only act in this show and I don't want you wasting precious stage rehearsal time!"
With that she turned on her heel, stalking back the way she came. Sylva shot the drummer a grin.
"Busted, huh?" She asked playfully. Copper laughed.
"Big time." She agreed. "But I was only helping him work out layout. And surely one of the band needs to give some input there? Phyllis didn't quite see it that way."
"I bet she didn't." Sadie giggled. "Oh well. Now we're a full quintet again, maybe we should do as she says. We only have a couple of days before the festival itself, and we want to make sure we have everything ready. We're doing three nights playing - isn't that what Phyllis said?"
"Something like that." Topaz nodded. "The festival runs for five - we play opening night, third night, final night. The second night the festival is played by local club acts and stuff like that. The fourth night is for imported talent - European groups and whatever. It sounds like a lot of fun - it might be cool to drop by here on one of the nights we're not playing, just to see what's going down."
She got to her feet. "If we're going to play, I need a glass of water. My throat's real dry." She said. "I'll be right back, guys - feel free to start without me!"
"Kinda hard without our singer." Nancy observed dryly. "Okay. We'll see you back here in a few minutes, then."
"Sure." Topaz nodded, and with that she was gone.
The other four girls turned their attention to checking their instruments, making sure they were ready for a full on rehearsal. Aaron's first priority had been to prepare their stage equipment so that they could at least rehearse, and they found that the only task left to them was to tune up.
As they began to do so, a stranger approached the stage. At first, the girls did not notice him, so engrossed were they in their tuning, but he lingered to watch them and finally Sadie let out an exclamation, alerting the others to his presence.
"Who are you?" Sylva demanded, flipping off her keyboard. "Are you supposed to be here? Noone without security clearance is supposed to be allowed inside these grounds today."
"I know. I slipped past the security people." The man admitted. "I knew Jewel were going to be here this morning - it was all over the morning press. I had to come and see if I could speak with you."
"Then you should have come through official channels." Nancy said sharply, casting Copper an anxious glance. Not long before her wedding, Copper had been the victim of one obsessive fan, who had believed that she loved him and would marry him if he took her off to Las Vegas. Copper had recovered well from her ordeal, but it was clear that she was remembering it now, for she took a step back from her kit, shaking her head.
"I'm sorry, sir, but no unauthorised people are allowed here." She said quietly. "If you write to our office in California..."
"No, you don't understand why I'm here." The man seemed frustrated. "I suppose there's no reason for you to believe me, but my name is Stephen Montclare. I'm here to speak to your singer...Aurora Stapleton. Is she with you?"
"The same rules apply, you know, to speak to any of us without security clearance. Our business agent is very strict about things like that." Sadie said quietly. "I'm afraid we have to ask you to leave."
"I have no intention of going anywhere till I speak with Aurora." The man seemed quite determined.
"Then we will have no choice but to call security." Sylva spread her hands. "I'm sorry, but you're trespassing. You shouldn't be here."
"But you don't understand! I'm not just some crazy fan who's snuck in here to annoy you. I have urgent business with your singer!" The man tried again.
"What in hell are you doing here?"
A fresh voice interrupted the conversation, so tinged with ice that it made the other Jewels shiver. Topaz stood in the wings of the stage, her arms folded and an expression like none her bandmates had ever seen on her pretty face. Before anyone could speak, she had marched to the front of the stage, glaring down at the intruder with hate.
"Well? I asked you a question." She snapped. "Why are you here?"
"I came to speak to you. It's important." The man's civility seemed strained, in the face of such hostility. "Aurora..."
"I have nothing to say to you, not ever." Topaz shook her head. "I told you when I left that I wanted nothing more to do with you or your rules and I meant it. I've created my own life now and I did it without your interference. I don't know why you're in Connecticut at the same time as I am, but whatever you have to say is of no interest to me." Her lip curled. "You can't come chasing after your stepdaughter now, hoping to get a share of my money, or whatever it is that you want."
"That's not to do with it at all!" Now Stephen was clearly angry. "If you'd just listen to me..."
"Get out, or I will call security and have you arrested for harassing me." Topaz interrupted, holding up her hands. "I told you. Whatever it is, I'm not interested, so leave me alone."
Stephen eyed her for a moment, his annoyance clear in his face. Then, without another word, he turned on his heel and left.
For a moment there was silence, then,
"Your stepfather?" Sylva was the first to gather her wits. "Is that who that was?"
"Yes. The scum of the earth who made my mother hate me and whose stupid rules drove me out of my home." Topaz sank down onto the stage, rubbing her temples. "I hate him. I still hate him. I thought with time maybe I wouldn't so much any more, but seeing him here just made me so angry. He is the reason I left - he is the reason my mother and I don't speak. He is the reason my daughter doesn't have a grandmother..." She bit her lip. "I wish I'd never come to Hartford. But he should be in Canada. I can't think why he'd come here."
"Maybe because you were here?" Sadie asked gently. "It's closer to Canada than California. Maybe he had something important to say."
"Well, if he did, I don't want to hear it. Nothing he has to say can mean anything to me." Topaz shook her head. "And we're missing more practice time. I'm not going to let him bother me - it's a free world and he can visit whatever cities he likes, but I'm not his bad stepdaughter any more, and he has no sway over me."
She grabbed her microphone from it's stand. "Well? Are we going to play?"
The other Jewels exchanged looks, and Copper shrugged.
"If that's what you want." She agreed softly. "Let's go."
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!