Chapter Eight
A Tentative Bond

"So here you are."
Jesta swung around, muttering curses under her breath as she saw her sister heading to join her. She had walked in the biting Detroit wind for what seemed like hours, and the clouds that had begun to swirl overhead told of rain to come, but she had had no mind to return to the Santiago home just yet.
"What do you want?" She exclaimed, wheeling on her sister with a confrontational glare. "Why are you tracking me out here? Are you some kind of stalker?"
"I came to make sure you were all right." Copper said quietly. "Luis..."
"Luis is smarter than any of the rest of you." Jesta spat out, bitterness in her tones. "You know that's why I came to Detroit. For money. Why do you keep on after me? Do you expect me to suddenly want to play happy families? Luis has it right. I'm the daughter of a con-artist and that's all there is to it. I want my Dad's money and to be left alone. Is that too much to ask?"
"It's going to rain." Ignoring Jesta's unwelcoming stance, Copper carefully took her sister by the arm, leading her slowly across the busy Detroit park to a sheltered alcove hidden by stone and brickwork. She sat down, indicating for her companion to do the same. "And if you want to shout at me, I'd rather you did it here, out of the public eye."
"So you're ashamed to be seen with me too? I might have known it." Jesta's brows knitted. "Why did you really bring me back to Detroit, Copper? Tell me. I want the truth this time."
"You know why." Copper spread her hands. "You're Papa's daughter as much as I am. He would have wanted this."
"He wouldn't." Jesta shook her head. "You really don't understand, do you? My mother's everything Luis said she was. She brought me up - I'm her daughter. I'm not his. I never knew him. I get fed up with people telling me how damn wonderful he was. I don't take other people's opinions - I like to form my own. But this time, well, there's nothing to form it of. He's dead. So I want what he left me."
She frowned.
"If you ask me, you're way too interested in what a dead guy would or wouldn't want. He's dead. He doesn't want anything."
Copper flinched at this, biting her lip.
"I don't believe that." She murmured. "I mean, yes, I know he's dead. But I don't believe he's gone. I've always believed he's with me - with all of us. He promised he would be. He told me that, whenever I saw the stars, he'd be watching over me. I believe that he is. He's my father...and he never broke his word. He's there. Somewhere."
Jesta snorted.
"Don't make me vomit." She said scornfully. "You still believe that six year old pap?"
"When you love someone, Jesta, you have to believe something." Pain glittered in Copper's dark eyes. "And he was my whole world when I was small. I'm close to Mama now, yes...but as a kid, I was always his girl. We'd do so much together. Maybe you think it's childish...but I loved him so much. It makes it easier to accept, if I know that part of him is with me."
Jesta opened her mouth to retort, then paused. A strange look crossed her face.
"You mean that, don't you?" She asked. Copper looked surprised.
"Yes. I wouldn't say it otherwise." She agreed.
Jesta cursed.
"Even dead, he's more your father than he'll ever be mine." She said bitterly.
"Is that what this is really about?" Copper asked gently. "Whether or not he's any part your father, when he's so much a part of my past?"
"No." Jesta shook her head. "It was never really about him at all. That's the truth. I never cared who my Dad was." A cold smile touched her lips.
"Stands to reason really. I figured out when I was small that any guy who'd bed my mother couldn't be worth my time, so I lost interest in that whole deal. I did come here because you said you'd help me get the money he left me. That was the only reason I agreed to fly out with you. Luis had me right there."
"Who said there was a but?" Jesta raised an eyebrow.
"I get the feeling there is." Copper settled herself comfortably on the bench as the rain began to drum down outside the little shelter. "And with the weather like that, we'll be here a while. Talking passes the time."
"Something your Mum said." Jesta toyed idly with the buckle of her belt. "Something I didn't really think about before."
"Something Mama said?" Copper frowned. "Like what?"
"She said that they'd looked for me. Her and Dad...that they'd even discussed trying to get custody of me." Jesta raised her dark eyes to her sister's, and for the first time Copper saw genuine emotion in them. "But she took off. Mum, I mean. She took me and...well, I don't know what happened. Only that they tried to find me and they didn't. She showed me letters and stuff from solicitors...I know that it's true. Your Mum said he wanted me to know the truth, if ever she should meet me. So she told me everything, and showed me, too."
Her eyes darkened.
"Do you know how that makes me feel?" She added quietly. "That I could have had everything you had, except my bitch mother wouldn't let me? That I had to grow up with that drunken, no-good, dope-dealing cow..." she shook her head. "If she wasn't behind bars I might rip her head off her shoulders. I'm mad enough to kill her."
"Maybe she had her reasons. Perhaps she loved you too."
"Mum?" Jesta looked startled. Then she shook her head. "No. I'm my mother's daughter enough to know why she kept me. He'd sent her some money, and if she handed me over to him, there'd be no more of it ever again. Better to disappear, to gauge the situation and then work out some way of cashing in on me in the future. That's how she works - how I work. But it didn't come out that way. Mum was in trouble with the law so much that she had to keep her head down. Blackmailing a bigshot movie director would have brought attention to herself. Besides, she never told me who he was. I guess it was some kind of power she had over me. I couldn't run off to Dad if she had me in her claws."
She clenched her fists.
"I bet you anything she knows all about the money that Dad put by for me. I'm sure she's been trying to work out a way of getting it for herself ever since I turned eighteen."
Copper pursed her lips.
"That's sad." She said at length. "I figured you and your Mom weren't close, but I didn't think that there might be more to it than that."
"Well, don't start thinking of me as an abused kid who needs someone else's charity." Jesta said shortly. "I'm not. I survived. I taught myself a lot of the things she didn't bother to teach me. But you see, Copper, you need to quit it with trying to make me fit in with the Santiagos. You're wrong when you tell Luis that I'm your sister. I'm not. I'm really not. This family crap really doesn't matter."
"It matters to me." Copper said softly. "Hay la sangre entre tu e yo."
"I can't even speak your dumb language." Jesta shook her head.
"I said that there's blood between us."
"Please...just give up." Jesta frowned. "Leave it be. The more I'm here, the more I'm thinking that Dad's money isn't worth all of this. Tomorrow I'm going back to Los Angeles. I have a song to think about, and no doubt you and your wretched group have something on those lines, too."
"I thought Mr Whatson wanted your song to be in Spanish."
"Well, he can drop dead. Right now, I've had about my fill of Spanish." Jesta snapped. "I don't speak it and I never will. It's just another reason why I don't belong here with you and your stupid family!"
She turned away as she finished her speech, but she had not been quick enough. Copper reached out a gentle hand, grasping her sister's fist in her own.
"Why are you crying?" She whispered. "If none of this matters, why are you upset?"
"I'm not crying! I'm angry!" Jesta shook her off with some force, and it was all Copper could do to keep her balance. "Will you just go away and leave me alone? Is it not enough already that you got all the breaks in your life? You had your precious Papa, you had your rich as hell family background, your nice house in the poshest part of Detroit, your wonderful brother and sister. You had your break into music, the world adores you, hell, you don't even have a crooked tooth or squint eyebrow that I could take comfort in! Do you have to rub in at every single opportunity how perfect your life was compared to mine? I'm not here for that. I might not have had all the things you had, but I'm just as good as you, and I don't need your fussing now!"
"Nobody's life is perfect, Jesta." Copper was stung. "I watched my father die, if you'd forgotten."
"At least you were there to say goodbye to him!" Jesta choked out. "Where was I, huh? Shut away in some hellhole waiting for that bitch to sober up? Probably!"
At this she lost the last of her control over her emotions, dissolving into noisy tears. Copper stared at her for a moment, then shook her head.
"This is no better than what Luis was doing." She said with a sigh. "Jesta, don't cry. Please. Don't."
"Just go away." Jesta's tones were muffled, and she curled up on the end of the bench, burying her face well out of her sister's view. "If you're not happy now you should be. If you give a damn at all, leave me alone."
"I can't."
"Why in hell not?" Startled, Jesta raised her gaze to her companion's. "You hate me. Don't pretend you don't. We're rivals."
"No, we're not." Copper shook her head. "We're sisters."
"And what Luis said?"
"Luis was wrong."
"So you keep saying, but it's not wrong when it's true." Jesta groaned. "Oh, what is with me? I don't do this! And especially not in front of wimpish Jewels!"
"I'd watch who you called wimpish. You're the one in tears." Copper replied smartly. Jesta started. Then a slight smile touched her lips.
"Hell, maybe we are sisters." She acknowledged slowly. "That's like something I'd say."
"Come on. Dry your eyes." Copper pulled a tissue from her pocket, handing it to her companion. "And listen. We've had bad blood in the past, but this is important to me. And not just because of Papa. Because of me, too. I'm learning that people aren't always what they appear to be on the surface. I learnt it with Stefana, and I'm learning it with you, too."
"What has Stefana to do with anything?"
"Nothing at all." Copper shook her head. "Except that people I think I have figured out sometimes do things that make me think about them differently. When I look at you now, do you know what I see?"
"Aside from a scrawny bitch with red all round her eyes and mascara smeared to god knows where?"
"Yes. Aside from that."
"Do tell."
"I see Papa's nose, Papa's chin, Papa's eyes." Gently Copper pulled her to her feet. "And I realise that I have to do something I should have done the moment you arrived. You might have come here for his money, but that's not what you want now, is it?"
"I guess not." Jesta admitted reluctantly. "It made a difference, finding out he wanted me. Made me wonder...well, stuff. But it's useless, Copper. He's dead. He's been dead years. That can't be taken back."
She sighed, glancing at her hands.
"Besides, look at me. If you were him, would you welcome me into your home? Or would you be like Luis? I'm not going to kid myself. I'm no kind of daughter he could be proud of. I cheat, I lie, I sleep with guys to get them to do what I want. Would he still want me, knowing that? Maybe it's better he's dead. That way he'll never know what I turned into."
"I think he would have loved you, regardless. Papa loved being a father, and he would have welcomed you into his home in the same way Mama did." Copper said softly. "This was her promise to him - to always treat you as he would want you to be treated. Mama would have raised you. She told me so, when I called home to ask about all of this...back when we first found out. She loved him enough for that. And she would have loved you, too. Even if she hadn't been your mother."
"I guess I know that." Jesta pursed her lips. "That's why I'm so bitter. That bitch took my life away from think I'm ever going to forgive her that?"
"No, but it does you no good to hate her for it." Copper said sensibly. "Not when you can't change it. You wouldn't believe how much I hated it when I knew Papa was sick. I tried to pretend it wasn't there, but I knew it was. And I hated the doctors because they couldn't make him better. I yelled and screamed at Mama for not making him go to a doctor sooner. In truth, nothing could have been changed. It was too aggressive and too fast. It would always have killed him...I just wanted something to blame." She smiled. "And you keep telling me you're your own person. Why blame your mother, then, if you've made yourself what you are today? You can't change what's gone before. It's up to you who you are now."
"Did you swallow a book of proverbs or was that entirely improvisation?" Jesta grimaced. Copper laughed.
"Both." She conceded good-naturedly. "But I'm right, aren't I?"
"I thought Jewels were always right, Copper." Jesta rolled her eyes, but there was none of her earlier hostility in her tone. Copper shook her head.
"No...I don't think so. I think we've both been too conscious of who we are in professional terms to really understand each other any other way." She said thoughtfully. "So I'm not going to have you call me that any more. It makes you think of me as a Jewel, and in turn, of our musical rivalry. I don't want it to be that way."
"So what am I going to call you? Bugs Bunny?"
"I sincerely hope not." Copper pulled a face. "My name is Elizabeth, you know that. Papa coined my nickname, but before that, I was known as Eliza." She pronounced it 'E-lee-sa'.
 "They called me that at school, too."
"Shouldn't that be E-ly-za?" Jesta demanded. Copper shrugged.
"Spanish parentage." She said simply. Jesta groaned.
"Might've guessed. It's all Spanish with you folk." She said dryly. "Fine. Eliza it is, then, if you insist. And if that's the case, I guess you better drop Jesta, since that's obviously going to cause more bitter blood feuds."
"Can I call you Jessica?"
"I suppose so. Or Jess. That's what Sammi calls me." Jesta nodded. "But listen. Luis doesn't want me in his family, and I'm cool with not having him in mine. I like your mother, but she's no blood to me. I haven't met your younger sister but after meeting Luis, I'm not keen. So if you and I are sisters, it doesn't make me a Santiago. You understand?"
"Yes." Copper nodded. "I don't expect any more from you than that."
She grinned.
"And the rain has stopped." She added. "So we better make a break for it before it begins again. Besides, there's somewhere I really need to take you. I should have gone there yesterday, but I didn't think about it. Now I know that it's the right thing to will you come?"
"Sure. So long as there's somewhere I can clean up my makeup on the way." Jesta glanced at her reflection in her pocket mirror, then grimaced. "I look like a hungover clown."
"I wasn't going to be the one to say it." Copper's eyes twinkled. "But all right. People will probably just think you got caught in the rain anyhow."
"My hair is dry." Jesta objected.
"Oh, just come on." Copper exclaimed. "It's not a long walk, but the weather mightn't hold...this isn't California, you know!"
"Nope. Much more like home." Jesta observed. "And I'm coming. But are you going to tell me where we're headed? I don't like going into things blind."
"Simple." Copper shrugged. "I'm taking you somewhere I used to go a lot myself."
"Yes. I'm taking you to Papa."

Prologue: July 12th, 1991
Chapter One: A Long Flight
Chapter Two: Family
Chapter Three: A Day Out
Chapter Four: Flashback - Esteban's Quest
Chapter Five: In The Genes
Chapter Six: Confidences
Chapter Seven: Flashback - A Tragic Truth
Chapter Eight: A Tentative Bond
Chapter Nine: Some Truth
Chapter Ten: Flashback - This Is Farewell
Chapter Eleven: The Memorial Garden

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