Sadie glanced up, casting her companion a questioning glance as she entered the little sitting room, closing the door behind her. Sylva grimaced, shaking her head as she came to join her friend on the sofa.
"No luck. She won't talk about it." She said expressively, shrugging her shoulders. "It's like she wants to pretend he wasn't even there. I dunno, Sadie. Sometimes she talks about her Mom back home like she'd like to get in touch with her again. But then this guy shows up and it's clear there are major issues going down there, if you ask me. I've known her a long time now and I've never seen Topaz act that way to anyone."
"Me neither, though I haven't known her as long as you have." Sadie sighed. "I hoped you'd be able to get her to open up. It obviously bothered her. She didn't sing as well as she usually does during our runthrough and she was only half paying attention when we were blocking for lights. Phyllis was about to rip us all to shreds as it was!"
"I know." Sylva rested her chin in her hands. "But she said she'd rather leave it be. Then she said she was going to phone home, to find out how Hollie was - which was a blatant hint for me to get out, so I did. I don't know, Sade. I realise I've interfered in her life a few times of late, with Cameron and everything, and not all of them were good interventions, I admit it. But surely there's something we can do here? After all, just because Topaz hates her stepdad doesn't mean that she hates her mother, too."
"We are not getting involved in her family's strife." Sadie held up her hands. "That's the end of it. Syl, what you told Cameron in England about Topaz could have cost you her friendship, you know that. Even though you meant well. And equally, even though it turned out all right, you going over to see Cameron when they were at war with each other was not a smart move. You could have made things worse. This is none of our business. It's up to Topaz if she wants to settle things with her Mum. Not you and me. And besides, we don't even know what he wanted or if he was here alone. It might wind up that he was here on business and just dropped by to stir up an old argument. We don't know."
"I suppose you're right." Sylva sighed. "I just don't like to see her miserable."
"Did you ask her if she wanted to come shopping?" Sadie wondered. Sylva nodded.
"Yes, but she said she was tired and had a headache. She told me that she was gonna call Cyn and have a nap." She replied. "So I guess it's just you and me, unless Nancy and Copper are back from their sightseeing trip around the city."
"Well, I don't see them." Despite herself, Sadie grinned. "But we can manage all right, can't we?"
"Oh, I expect so." Sylva returned the grin with one of her own, though her blue eyes were still shadowed with concern. "In fact, it's a perfect opportunity to find Hartford's most expensive shoe store and see if I can't find some designer boots for the first night. It's only a couple of days before we play, you know, and I want to have something local to mark the occasion - sort of as a good luck charm? You're the best shoe shopping buddy I got, so what do you say?"
"I'm in, so long as we can stop for coffee somewhere on the way." Sadie nodded, grabbing her bag. "I've bust the heel on my suede boots anyway, so I need to either find somewhere to repair them, or replace them completely."
"Get them fixed in Cali." Sylva said with a shrug. "You got a good reason to spend money now - why waste it?"
"Guess you're right." Sadie laughed. "But even after all this time with Jewel, I still can't get used to the idea of having enough money to do that from time to time."
"I'm trying to teach myself to save." She admitted. "I've spent the last few years splashing out on everything in sight, but Mom's taken half of my paycheque each month and she set up a savings account for me. With Copper getting hitched and all, I kinda realised that I can't just sit by and let my Mom be the one to take charge of my finances. I mean, hell, Copper's less than a year older than I am, and if she can run her own household, I need to get with the programme. Part of the reason why noone thought I could go for it with Jack was because I was being too much of a kid, and well, I've decided that it's time to be a new, sophisticated and independant Sylvina. What do you think?"
"I think that warrants a whole new sophisticated outfit, knowing you." Sadie giggled.
"I'm serious!" Sylva put her hands on her hips. "I mean it. I'm taking charge of my finances. I haven't spent half as much money lately as I usually do."
"What, over the last three weeks?" Sadie raised an eyebrow.
"Well, it's a start." Sylva defended herself, pulling open the door of the hotel suite and leading the way into the corridor. "Can't work miracles overnight. And I am twenty four now. I'm not a baby."
"Syl, has this got anything to do with the fact that your sister's getting married in the summer?" Sadie asked, as they crossed the lobby, stepping out into the fresh air. Sylva frowned, shaking her head.
"No. At least, I don't think so." She said at length. "To be totally honest, Sadie, I can't help thinking she's making a mistake. I mean, John is a nice guy and all, and, well, I've done my best to be stoked for her. I've even told myself that I'm happy for her. I just don't know if I am, that's all."
"Whyever not?" Sadie looked surprised. "I thought you said this guy was perfect for her in every way."
"He is." Sylva sighed. "He isn't really the problem. It's more the fact that he's in New York, his whole family are around that area, and she's working out there now. And even more, she's having trouble at her job - though she won't tell me what that trouble is - and I can't help but think she'd be happier in California, with Mom and me on tap."
"But Anna's not a west coast girl." Sadie reminded her. "And maybe she prefers to be out there."
"I don't know. Maybe." Sylva shrugged. "Like I said, I'm telling myself I'm happy for her. And in the meantime, I'm focusing on being Sylva the sophisticate. They say you are more likely to meet the future love of your life at a wedding, and I'm going to go to Anna's with all guns blazing."
"What about Logan?" Sadie teased. "You met him because of Copper's wedding. Or isn't he your type?"
Sylva pursed her lips. Logan Matthews had been Aaron's best man, and best friend from high school. They had hit it off from the moment Sylva had collected him from the airport, but so far they had just become firm friends, and she slowly shook her head.
"I don't know if it's a truly madly deeply kind of acquaintance." She said finally. "Oh, I like him, and he's great fun to hang out with in California, so I'm stoked that when we get back from Connecticut he'll also be back from Wisconsin, ready to move into Aaron's old place. Who knows, Sadie? I'm not as lucky as you are with Alex. I'm keeping my options open." She shrugged. "Who knows?"
Sadie looked thoughtful, then,
"I was under the impression that you and Logan had made it past the just friends stage." She remarked. "You were very pally at Copper's reception - kinda touchy feely, too, if I remember right."
"Were you spying on me all evening?" Sylva put her hands on her hips. Then she laughed. "Oh, I know we were. But that was too much good champagne and party atmosphere." She paused. "Well, at least I think it was." She amended. "It's hard to tell when you're tipsy what's real and what isn't."
"He took you outside and you were gone a long time." Sadie teased. Sylva elbowed her friend playfully.
"What are you trying to suggest?" She demanded. Then she giggled. "No, if you must know, we took so long because I tripped over the rose beds and Logan had to rescue me from the briars. That's all."
"That's why you came back so dishevilled then!" Sadie joined in the giggles. "I admit I wondered if he'd sullied your bridesmaid's honour!"
"Never." Sylva winked. "But now you come to mention it, we did have a good night. Maybe you're right. Perhaps he is my type."
"I didn't say that." Sadie scolded. "I just asked if you'd given up on him, that's all. But he does seem a nice guy. And he is a friend of Aaron's, so that helps in his favour."
"Yes." Sylva agreed. "I know he's not gonna be some psycho, like that inadequate jerk who groped my cousin." She scowled. "Mind you, Stefana is a friend of Aaron's and she's psycho. Maybe it doesn't follow."
Sadie, who had been about to ask what inadequate jerk Sylva meant, frowned at the mention of Stefana.
"Please stop it with her." She begged. "She's done nothing to us since we've been here. You've not even seen her since Copper and Aaron got married. Let well alone, huh?"
"I don't get why you keep defending her of late." Sylva grumbled. "You never did before."
"Well, I wasn't real nice to know back before you knew me." Sadie spread her hands. "And everyone deserves a chance to change."
"You're different. You're human. But all right, I'll drop it, if it makes you happy." Sylva shrugged her shoulders. "Besides, we're practically into the centre of Hartford anyway. Coffee first, then shoes. Right?"
"Sounds good to me." Sadie dimpled. "Lead the way!"
The two girls had not been inside the coffee house long when the door swung open, and the man they had encountered at the venue entered. He was not alone, and Sylva, who had been facing the door kicked her companion under the table.
"It's him again. That guy. Topaz's stepdad." She hissed. "I wonder who that is with him?"
Sadie turned to look, and Sylva rolled her eyes.
"Don't gawk! Be discreet!" She snapped. "What do you think?"
Sadie did not answer to begin with, watching as Stephen carefully escorted his companion to an empty table, pulling the seat out for her and making sure she was comfortable. She was in her late forties, the guitarist surmised, with soft golden hair streaked with grey, and tired blue eyes. Her face was pale and gaunt, making her seem older, but there was something about her that made Sadie realise she was not. She turned back.
"I don't know." She admitted. "But she looks almost familiar. Do you see it? She wasn't with him at the venue - or was she?"
"I didn't see her." Sylva shook her head, then, "Oh crap, he's coming over. He's seen us! I told you not to gawk!"
"Well, we're not exactly inconspicuous." Sadie reminded her. "Be polite. Topaz isn't with us - he can't speak to her and soon as he realises, he'll go away."
"Excuse me?" At that moment Stephen reached the table. "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but you girls were at the stage earlier - you're friends of Aurora's. Members of Jewel. Am I right?"
"Yes, sir." Sylva nodded her head. "But we really can't interfere in a family matter between you and your stepdaughter. It...it's not our business, and..."
"Normally, I wouldn't even think of bringing you into it." Stephen's expression became grave. "I understand that I am putting you in a difficult position - you saw today what kind of a relationship my stepdaughter and I have. I had hoped time had made her grow up. Maybe I was wrong."
"Topaz is very grown up. She has to be." Sadie said quietly. "She's been on her own since she was eighteen, after all."
"Well, we didn't part on good terms." Stephen said tiredly. He turned, indicating his fragile companion. "You might have realised that I'm not in Hartford alone. That lady at the table is my wife Melissa - Aurora's mother."
"Her mother?" Sylva's eyes widened. "So that's why she looks familiar!"
"But she looks so...so tired. So fragile." Sadie added. "Topaz said her Mom was quite young when she was born, and that they were always active. I don't understand!"
"Melissa is not well." Stephen explained slowly. "There is no good way to say it, so the direct approach will have to do. She has cancer, and we are here seeking advice of a specialist who might or might not be able to help her. She has been fighting it for some time now - the first signs of it were there before Aurora left, and the collapse that Aurora's going brought on only made things worse. Of course, Aurora didn't know - Melissa didn't want her to know - and after the first round of treatment, we hoped it had gone." He paused, swallowing hard. "Six months ago it returned, and it caught us all unawares. Her only hope of survival now is an operation, but few surgeons are willing to perform a risky procedure which has a good chance still of failure. When I heard you girls were here, I decided to try and reach Aurora - bring her back into things before it was too late. I don't know how long Melissa has - none of us do. She might be cured, or she might die. It's all still up in the air. But even if Aurora still bears a grudge, Melissa does not. She loves her daughter and frets over her more often than I'd like. She needs every chance...I thought it might help, if I could repair that bond."
Sylva bit her lip.
"So that's why you wanted to talk to her at the arena?" She asked. Stephen nodded.
"But she wouldn't hear me out. I could see there wasn't a lot of point in staying, when she was about to call security on me. Getting me arrested wouldn't do any good."
"Does your wife know that you tried to speak to her this morning?" Sadie asked softly. Stephen bit his lip, then he shook his head.
"As far as she knows, I'm still trying to track her down." He admitted. "I wouldn't have her upset any more than I can help at the moment. I came over to you because I recognised you as friends of Aurora's from this morning - but I told her I saw your pictures on billboards as we came into Hartford."
"Neither of us had any idea that there was something so serious behind this morning. If we had, we wouldn't have been so keen to evict you." Sylva sighed. "I'm sorry we were so harsh - only some months ago one of our number was abducted by an obsessive fan, and we're a bit wary about people getting entry to our practices and catching us unawares."
"It was no mean feat to do." Stephen admitted. He offered a slight smile. "Will you come and speak with my wife? At least tell her that her daughter is safe, well and happy? She reads the press - she knows as well as I do what Aurora's career is now, but she still worries about her. Aurora was...how can I say...something of a wild child when she left home. She worries about what the girl might have become entangled in."
"Well, she needn't worry. Topaz has more sense than to get wound up in drugs or anything crazy like that." Sadie said quietly. She cast Sylva a glance, then, "Syl? What do you think?"
"You said we shouldn't interfere, earlier at the hotel." Sylva said slowly. "But this is different. I say we do it."
She got to her feet, and, after a moment's hesitation, Sadie followed suit. Stephen cast them a grateful smile, leading the way over to the other table, and indicating for them to sit down. As they did so, Sadie cast the fragile woman a smile, and as Melissa returned it, the English girl was struck for the first time by the strong resemblance between this lady and her friend.
"It's so obvious now." She told herself. "She must have been really beautiful, once. Topaz always said she looked like her Dad, but I don't think so. I think she looks a lot like her Mum."
"You are friends of Aurora?" Melissa spoke in soft, gentle tones, and both girls were aware of a faint Quebecois accent. Sylva nodded.
"Yes. She sings with us." She agreed. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs Montclare."
"My name is Melissa." Melissa offered her smile again. "But I do not know your names?"
"Sylvina Martescu, and this is Sadie Monahue." Sylva introduced her companion. "Topaz...I mean Aurora...has mentioned you to us."
"She speaks of me?" Melissa's tired eyes lit up with faint hope. "We parted on bad terms...I often wonder whether she forgets about her home completely, in her new life in Los Angeles."
"I think it's safe to say that she hasn't forgotten anything, or anyone." Sadie said carefully. "Your husband said you were concerned for her health and her welfare - and that's why Syl and I agreed to join you. I've lived with her for the past couple of years, and Syl longer than that. Both of us can promise you that she's well and healthy, and everything is good with her."
"You read such horrible things in the papers about Hollywood." Melissa murmured. "And scandals come and go. I had to know what was true."
"Well, Sadie's right." Sylva nodded. "She's well and happy, and life in California suits her. We look after her - Jewel are almost like a surrogate family, after all."
"I only wish that I could see her." A wistful look touched Melissa's face.
"Jewel are in Connecticut playing the festival. They are probably busy." Stephen told her gently. Melissa nodded.
"I know, but I'd at least like to know that she doesn't bear me any grudges." She replied. She cast Sylva a hopeful look, then turned her gaze to Sadie. "Will you help me? I know I am a stranger to you, and you have no reason to believe that I have good intentions, but it is so important to me that I get to speak with my daughter. Stephen has had no luck tracking her down, but you see her all the time. Will you please help me?"
She reached into her pocket, fumbling with something and producing a Canadian driving licence, which she pushed across the table. "This is to prove to you who I am, so you know I am no fraud. I have not been well, and I don't know how long I might be in America. I...I don't want to go back to Missisauga without having spoken to my daughter - whatever my prognosis."
"We don't need to see your ID." Sadie told her gently. "Both Syl and I can see just by looking at you that you are who you say you are. Topaz always says she looks like her father, but she looks a lot like you as well. More, maybe, than she realises."
"Then can you help me?" There was a beseeching note in Melissa's voice, and Sylva sighed. She cast Sadie a glance, and Sadie shrugged.
"What else can we do?" She said at length. "You said yourself - this is different."
"We'll do what we can." Sylva looked relieved. "I can't guarantee that we'll talk her round, but we'll both of us do our best."
"That's all we ask." Stephen said quietly. "If you can do that, then we'll be more than grateful."
He reached into his wallet, pulling out a card and handing it to them. "This is my contact number. The work number is no longer valid - I gave up my job when Lissa became ill again - but the cell number is still good. You can reach me anytime on that - please let us know either way how things are. We...it's not good not to know."
"We promise." Sylva said seriously, taking the card and pocketing it. "Come on, Sadie. We ought to get moving. But we won't forget!"
"What have we got ourselves into now?" Sadie wondered, as the two girls left the coffee house. Sylva shrugged her shoulders.
"But it's like you said. What else can we do?" She replied. "If Topaz's Mom is really dying - and by the look of her I'd say she wasn't faking it - then we have to do something. Imagine if someone told you your Dad was about to pass on - would you stay over here or would you fly out to see him, even if you haven't had the best of relationships?"
"I'd go to England." Sadie said. "No contest. But I don't know how we're going to convince Topaz to speak to her Mom and stepdad without telling her about her mother's illness."
"Why shouldn't we tell her that?" Sylva looked confused.
"Because it won't be good for either Melissa or Topaz if they only make up out of pity." Sadie responded. "What we need is some crafty thinking."
"How do you mean?" Sylva frowned. "Crafty in what way?"
"Well, some way of tricking them together." Sadie said slowly. "I know that Topaz misses her Mom and so do you. If we can catapult them into the same place at the same time, maybe that will do the trick."
"And of course, if Stephen isn't there to upset the balance, it might just work." Sylva nodded. "Well, it's worth a try. But how do you suppose we do it?"
"Beats me." Sadie shrugged. "Guess we got a night or so to think on it, if nothing else."
"Guess so." Sylva sighed. "Though if Melissa really is that ill - the sooner we work this out the better!"
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!