"Hollie, I've had enough of this."
Topaz pursed her lips, sending her daughter a weary look. "Please,
stop taking your socks off. I put them on for a reason - I don't want you
running around the house and catching cold. It's not so warm here as it
is back home, and I don't want you sick."
Hollie sent her mother a defiant pout, then shook her head. Carefully
she pulled the small white socks from her feet, tossing them aside.
"No." She said gravely. "No want."
Hollie!" Topaz bit her lip, fighting to keep her grip on her temper.
It was not the child's fault, after all, that she had not slept much the
previous three nights. Taunting dreams about Cameron and Eva had plagued
her night when she had managed to slip under at all, and she had awoken
with a banging headache. In fact, she mused bitterly, Hollie's rebelliousness
was probably a vibe picked up from her mother's unsettled state. It had
not helped that, when Cameron had headed out that morning to settle up
the sale of his car, Hollie had thrown a temper tantrum in not being able
to go with him.
"Oh, come here, you silly kid." At length the singer scooped the infant
up into her lap. "Listen to me, please. I don't make you do things because
I want to make you unhappy. I do it for your own good. You've had only
one really bad cold since you were born, and I'm determined you're not
going to have another if I can prevent it. So please, Hollie, keep the
socks on. For Mommy? Please?"
Hollie's pout deepened, and she wriggled free of her mother's grip,
toddling across the floor to explore something brightly coloured beside
the gas fire.
"Hollie, No!" Fear leapt in Topaz's eyes as the child reached for the
fire's switch, and she grabbed her daughter, pulling her away from her
new found toy. Hollie burst into indignant tears, and Topaz swallowed hard,
knowing that she was within an inch of following suit.
"Stop it." She whispered. "Please, I can't deal with this today. Cynthia
isn't here...noone else is here. It's just you and me. Please, Hollie.
That could have hurt you...and I don't want you hurt. Why can't you understand
that? I know you want to explore and find out about the world, but do you
have to do it today? Can't you see that Mom's frazzled?"
She sighed, grasping a tiny fist in hers as she gently wiped away her
"I suppose I'm being silly. I suppose you're too young to understand
that." She said resignedly. "Just keep away from the fire, huh? Else I'll
have to go looking for the playpen Laura dug out for you yesterday...and
I can't remember where exactly she put it."
She settled the baby on the cushions of the sofa, planting a kiss on
"I'm sorry I made you cry." She murmured. "Friends again?"
Hollie eyed her uncertainly, and Topaz scooped up the girl's discarded
doll, holding it out. Hollie grabbed it with a small smile, hugging it
to her tightly. Topaz smiled back.
"There, that's better, isn't it?" She said softly. "Dolly was feeling
all lonely down there on the floor."
"Daddy's gone out." Topaz forced the hurt from her tone. "Someone is
going to buy his car, and he had to go see them. He'll be back later. And
so will Nana and Grandpa. But for now it's you and me, okay kid? We've
done that before. We can manage. Right?"
Before Hollie could make any attempt to respond, there was a knock
at the door, and Topaz frowned. Hoisting her daughter up into her arms,
doll and all, she headed out into the hall to the front door, turning the
latch and pulling it open.
As soon as she had done so, she began to wish she had pretended noone
was home. Eva stood on the doorstep, and, at the sight of mother and baby
she offered an infectious grin.
"Hi!" She said warmly. "I wondered if Cameron was in?"
"No, he's out." Topaz forced herself to return the grin. "Everyone
is out, actually. It's just me and the little one here at present. I'm
"Well, I saw that the cars weren't here so I wondered." Eva owned.
"Cam told me that he was stopping by here when we met the other day, settling
everything for America - but I suppose I didn't think how busy he'd be.
Do you mind if I come in? I don't mind hanging around for him to get back."
"Sure, I guess that'd be okay." Topaz nodded, pushing back the door
and receiving another beaming smile for her efforts. "But I don't know
what time he'll be back."
"I can always leave a message." Eva shrugged in a happy-go-lucky manner,
pushing open the door of the lounge and leading the way inside. "In the
meantime, I'm curious to know all about you. Cam's always been something
of a dark horse where women are concerned! I knew there was someone in
his life the last time I saw him, but that must've been more than a year
ago now. I timed our reunion really badly, all things considered -we used
to see each other most every day."
"So I gathered from Laura and Keith."
"I'm not surprised they remembered me." Eva giggled. "I was always
over here as a kid. Keith and my Dad are great pals, and Cam and I were
always the same way."
She sat down on the couch, making herself comfortable, and, with some
reluctance Topaz followed suit, keeping her daughter protectively in her
lap. Hollie's attention had been drawn by the newcomer, and she made no
attempt to continue her previous complaints, merely fixing Eva with her
big aqua-green eyes. Eva caught her gaze, and smiled.
"She's so beautiful." She observed. "Hollie, isn't that what Cameron
"Yes." Topaz nodded, feeling the baby squirm at the sound of her name.
"Almost. Two at Christmas."
"I'm glad." Eva beamed another of her disarming smiles. "I hoped that
Cam would wind up meeting someone and settling down with a family. I know
he was always keen on doing medicine and stuff, but I worried a bit that
he didn't leave much space for a social life outside of it. Whenever I
hung out with him and his friends, they'd all have dates but he'd be flying
solo most of the time. He did say he'd hooked up with someone special,
but I never saw head nor tail of her and to be honest, I half wondered
if she existed. You know guys. They like to save face. But here you are,
so obviously it was true after all."
She dimpled. "Though I didn't anticipate him picking his soulmate from
across the Atlantic."
"I think maybe you've got confused." Topaz began, but Eva shook her
"Cam's never liked to confide deep and meaningfuls in anyone, but I
read body language." She said with a twinkle in her eye. "You know how
guys are. You learn to read the signs."
"But Cam and I aren't..." Topaz frowned, then, "The signs? What signs?"
"Well, don't you believe that there's a perfect match out there in
the world for everyone? I always have." Eva shrugged her shoulders. "When
you meet them you just know. It was the same for me when I met my husband
Ian. Just knew. Hit me, bam...and that was it."
"Wait a minute!" Topaz held up her hands, and Hollie took advantage
of her mother's lapse in concentration to wriggle out of her lap, heading
over to explore the stranger's shoes. "You're married?"
"Yes. A year now." Eva looked puzzled. "Didn't Cameron mention that?
That was the last time I saw him. He was at our wedding."
"Honestly, he never mentioned you to me at all." Topaz looked troubled.
"I guess you could say communication isn't our strongest facet."
"How odd." Eva pursed her lips. "Oh well. Guess with getting his doctorate
and everything, it slipped his mind. I know he's been full on busy for
the past year - that's why we've not seen each other. But surely you guys
have been seeing each other longer than that? I mean, if Hollie is nearly
"Eva, Cameron and I are not what you think." Topaz sighed. "I wish
we were, but we're not...and I don't think he sees us ever being that way
again. We were in love once...but I'm a screw up at relationships and I
screwed this one up doing what I thought was the right thing at the time.
Hollie...is the thing that binds us together. For her sake, we're friends.
But...I'm afraid that's as far as it goes."
She grinned awkwardly. "Honestly, when we met you at the zoo, I was
afraid that he might have moved on more than I'd anticipated." She admitted,
glancing at her hands. "He seemed so comfortable with you, and I really
thought..." She faltered, then, "We were talking about some things...some
first times. And he...he told me about you and him. It...got to me."
Eva's eyes opened wide with horror. Then she laughed.
"Oh my God, no!" She exclaimed. "He didn't tell you that? Oh, wait
till I get my hands..." She shook her head. "Aurora, we were drunk, silly
teenagers! We both swore it would never happen again and it didn't! There
was never anything like that between us - it was a moment of craziness
and that's all! I swear!"
"Well, I wondered." Topaz bit her lip. "Though I don't really have
any right to care if it was the case. Like I said, we're platonic now."
"With your body language? No way." Eva shook her head. She bent down
to ruffle Hollie's hair, causing the baby to giggle. "If you ask me, Mummy
loves Daddy and Daddy's just as keen on Mummy."
"It hasn't been that way." Topaz shook her head. "I broke his trust.
Twice. He forgave me the first time. The second was a lot bigger to forgive.
I...I didn't tell him about Hollie." She paused, then, "I actually let
him believe she was someone else's. I didn't tell him she was, but he...he
came to that conclusion, and I didn't do much to dissuade him."
"Why?" Eva looked stunned. "Aurora, there isn't a guy I know who'd
make a better Dad than Cam! Hell, that's why I was so stoked for you guys
when I met you at the zoo and realised this little mite was his!"
"I didn't want him to screw up his medical degree for me." Topaz admitted.
"As I said, I'm a screwball. This was the first and only relationship I've
ever had that meant everything to me. I would not have forgiven myself
if he'd dropped his dreams over my carelessness. It was my fault I was
pregnant anyhow. I miscounted. So I took the decision that he shouldn't
be made to pay for my lousy adding up." She spread her hands. "If I'd been
rational, I'd have probably thought of another way around it. But I've
never really been that when it comes to men. And...it was the only thing
I could see to do. We come from different worlds and our relationship has
always been long-distance and tempestuous, even when it was working out.
And I guess I grew up without a Dad myself. It didn't seem to matter if
Hollie did the same."
"Let me guess. Cameron didn't exactly see it that way."
"No. No, he didn't." Topaz shook her head. "We are on better terms
now, though. We worked things through to an amicable arrangement. But it's
Hollie he loves. I'm sure he wouldn't be around me if he didn't have to
"I don't know you at all, so I might be well outta whack." She said
slowly. "But I do know Cameron as well as if he were my brother. And I
know this. His eyes were all over one woman when we had lunch the other
day...and it wasn't me. It wasn't Hollie, either. It was you. Whether he's
hurt or not, I couldn't tell you. But there's no doubt in my mind that
he still feels as strongly about you as he did the night Hollie was conceived,
unless I much miss my guess. He's going all the way out to the States,
too - did you stop and think why that would be? That's partly why I thought
you an American when we first met. It seemed such a huge life jump. But,
well, you live in America - that's what you said, wasn't it?"
"Yes. Los Angeles."
"Which is a drive away from San Diego?"
"I told you. Because of Hollie."
"No, Aurora." Eva shook her head. "Trust me. I know this guy. I've
known him since before he had to shave!"
Her eyes twinkled sheepishly. "You might say I taught him some of what
he knows, too. Cameron loves his daughter, I've no doubt about that. But
he's more than happy to be spending time with her Mom, too."
She examined her nails absently. "Before, when he'd talk about the
girl he'd met, he'd never tell me your name or anything, but he said you
were the most beautiful girl he ever knew. Sweet and fun to hang with...and
that he wished so much that things could move on more quickly than they
could. I don't know why he was so secretive - at the time I thought it
was because you were fantasy. But whatever it was, Cam didn't want to share
you with anyone. I don't think that it's changed at all. Trust can be rebuilt...you
did what you did for good reasons and if he didnt understand that he wouldn't
be speaking to you now. He's proud as hell, and he would see the kid, but
he wouldn't have you over here with his Mum and Dad, in his family home.
You'd just be the mother...not someone he'd spend time with."
"You think so?" Topaz looked doubtful. Eva spread her hands.
"Trust me." She repeated.
A slight smile touched Topaz's lips.
"I don't know if you're right or not, but it's comforting to hear someone
say it." She said at length. "It's strange, though. Ever since we met,
I've been drawn to him. It hasn't mattered that we live a world apart,
or that when we first met we were both still so young, really. And it doesn't
matter that we're so different in our careers - or it didn't seem to. We
just...worked together. I often wondered if it was just, you know, lust.
She shrugged. "I shouldn't be boring you with this, and I certainly
shouldn't discuss it in front of my baby." She said ruefully.
"I don't mind." Eva grinned. "What's wrong with girl chat? And Hollie
doesn't understand what we're talking about. She's far more concerned with
removing the purple strands from the black of my shoelaces."
"She's into everything." Topaz looked apologetic. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. It's endearing." Eva admitted. "And honestly? Maybe I'm
a touch broody. Come the winter, I'll have my own little Hollie."
"Really?" Topaz's gaze softened. "Then congratulations. It's a lot
of work, but...I love her more than anything, Eva. That's the honest truth."
"I can see that." Eva grinned. "And I'm excited to think I'll have
the same bond with my baby, when it's here." She shrugged.
"You and Cameron have all the bits to make this relationship work."
She added. "It'll be down to the pair of you if you don't succeed."
She laughed. "But enough of me giving you counselling - I'm sure you
resent a complete stranger telling you what to do with your life."
"No, I'm glad you stopped by today." Topaz admitted. "Though I'm sorry
you had a wasted journey where Cameron was concerned."
"Honestly? I didn't come to see Cam at all." Eva pinkened. "I got the
feeling you didn't like me much when we met before, and I didn't want to
be out of sorts with Cameron's woman, as such. So I thought I'd come here
on a pretext and talk to you. He told me he'd be out this morning - I called
him earlier. He said you'd be home alone. Of course, I told him I wanted
baby advice, but..." She looked sheepish. "Lies all around, I'm afraid.
Are you angry?"
"No." Topaz assured her. "I'm glad we've cleared the air. After all,
you might want to bring your husband and baby to America to visit him one
day, and it's better for these misunderstandings to be ironed out as soon
"I agree." Relief flooded Eva's eyes. "So, we'll start over. I'm Eva
Garrett - formerly Eva Carroll. Pleased to meet you."
"Aurora Stapleton." Topaz's eyes twinkled. "Likewise."
"So what exactly is it you do in America, Aurora?"
"Rora, please." Topaz shook her head. "And I'm a singer."
"Sort of." Mischief entered Topaz's expression. "It's probably the
reason Cameron didn't give you my name, actually. He...never did like the
Los Angeles press. Especially when they hounded him for a story. It's another
thing that's put our relationship under strain over time, to be honest.
I'm...well, I'm in the public eye quite a lot, and he's more the down to
earth behind the scenes type of guy."
Eva's eyes narrowed.
"First time I saw you I thought I'd seen your face, but I thought it
was because of meeting you with Cam. I figured I'd seen your picture in
his wallet or something. Are you telling me it's some other reason?"
"I've done my best to dull it down since I've been here and just be
Mom on vacation, but my band has had a few big chart hits here." Topaz
agreed. "I sing with Jewel - are you familiar with them?"
"Topaz!" Comprehension flooded Eva's gaze. "Oh, that's why you
were so familiar. It bothered me! My husband has a damn crush on your drummer
- what's her name? Copper? Drives me mad."
"Copper's as happily married as you are." Topaz laughed. "But there's
no harm in fantasy, right?"
"Guess not." Eva conceded. She grinned. "No wonder Cameron was so dark
about who this wonder woman was. I didn't realise he was courting celebrity."
"Well, it's been nothing but trouble, but I'm gonna think carefully
over everything you've said to me today." Topaz admitted. "I don't know
if it'll change anything, but it's certainly worth knowing that at least
one of Cameron's hometown friends thinks there's something between us worth
* * * *
* * *
Aaron sat back on his haunches, eying his holographic friend hopefully.
"I've rebooted that loop now - see if you have better luck."
"Give me a moment to scan my drives." Synergy closed her eyes, and
her hologram shimmered slightly. Then she opened them. With a sigh she
shook her head.
"No. I cannot locate any difference." She said resignedly. "Except
that the way you have aligned my wires now tickles me."
"Better put them back then." Aaron grimaced, reaching for his screwdriver
once more. "I'm starting to think that it might well be impossible, Cyn.
I'm sorry, but we've tried near enough everything."
"You know, you guys are better than cable." Sylva put in off-handedly,
taking a sip of her drink and setting it down on a dusty crate beside her.
"Seriously. There's more drama down here than in any of the daytime soaps
I usually watch. You should go on the road."
"Syl, this isn't a joke." Aaron said sharply. "This is Cynthia's mobility
that we're trying to solve here."
"I realise that." Sylva retorted. "But I'm just saying, I never knew
watching a guy take a computer to pieces could be so entertaining."
She grinned at Synergy. "Nor did I realise how many shades of purple
your hologram would go when Aaron knocked out your graphics unit." She
added. "That was awesome. You should do that for Hollie. She'd love it."
"Is this a subtle way of telling us that you are bored?" There was
a slight edge to Synergy's tones. Sylva pouted.
"No." She protested. "I'm serious. I'm trying to lighten the mood around
"Well, it's not working." Aaron said shortly. "So maybe you should
go upstairs and grab some lunch then go out for the afternoon? I'm sure
that Syn and I will manage just fine without you."
"Charming." Sylva poked out her tongue. "I was just trying to be cheerful.
Besides, Cynthia already does a zillion things. Why do you want to leave
LA anyhow? This is the coolest place to live."
"Yes, but you are able to visit other places." Synergy shook her head.
"Once, through Jerrica's earrings, I caught a taste of these other places
too. I would like to experience them in the way that Cynthia experiences
Los Angeles. It is just another piece of life I want to add to my database,
that's all. If I must stay in this city, I must. But I would like to explore
"I suppose I see that." Sylva looked thoughtful. "I'm sorry. You just
both seemed to be getting so melodramatic."
She slipped down off the unit, coming to peer at the mess of wires
and cables that Aaron's tinkering had exposed.
"Doesn't it hurt to be taken apart like that while you're still running?"
"Believe me, if it did, Aaron would know about it." Synergy said fervently.
"There are more sensitive parts of my system. What Aaron is toying with
is not my core program - such as it is these days."
"I wouldn't operate on any other machine switched on, either." Aaron
added, returning the wires to their original locations. "Synergy is special.
She's sophisticated enough to cut power to certain sections while I tamper
and then return it afterwards. Otherwise doing this would probably fry
"Lovely." Sylva shivered. "What does that bit do?"
She pointed at a web of cables tucked in at the back.
"You said you wouldn't touch." Synergy reproached.
"I'm not. I'm being interested." Sylva objected. "What are they?"
"Think of them as doing the same job your nerves do when they send
information to your brain." Synergy explained. "They pass data from one
part of my system to another in binary code, at great speed."
"Neat." Sylva shrugged. "Have you tried moving them?"
"Syl, is this a good time to remind you that you haven't a clue what
you're talking about?" Aaron raised an eyebrow. Sylva rolled her eyes.
"Gimme a break. You've given up and I was just asking." She defended
herself. "Because if you ask me that blue cable is in the wrong place.
It should be there."
"Wait, Aaron." Synergy's eyes flickered a thoughtful red. "We have
tried more or less everything else. It would not hurt to do as she suggests."
"Fine, but I don't see what it will change. It will just make a longer
loop for you to transfer from that grid to your main processor." Aaron
shrugged. "But it's your insides. One second."
Carefully he unhooked the cable from it's sisters, moving it to the
new location and fixing it in place. He paused, glancing at the hologram.
"Does that feel all right?" He asked. Synergy nodded.
"It causes no discomfort." She said. A strange expression crossed her
face, then, "Actually, it feels like it's always been there."
"Well, give it some juice then." Aaron pushed the front panel back
into place, standing up. "I don't suppose it can hurt to experiment one
A loud whirr came from Synergy's system as the computer reactivated
the diverted circuitry, carefully scanning through her program files. Her
eyes widened, then her hologram flickered and dissolved into bursts of
"What did I do?" Sylva's eyes opened wide, but Aaron held up a hand
for her to be quiet. Numbers had begun to spill across Synergy's enormous
monitor, and then, without any warning, the words "Downloading launch data.
Set Grid Coordinates?" flashed onto the screen, followed by a map of the
globe. Aaron's jaw dropped, and he typed something into the keypad.
"Coordinates accepted. Cross-referencing with known data."
"Synergy, boot up Cynthia, will you?" He murmured. There was a pause,
then, slowly the eccentric technician took form before them, stretching
"Take a look." Aaron indicated the monitor. "Is this...?"
"What we were looking for." Cynthia breathed.
"Someone clue me in?" Sylva pleased. "Ignorant one here!"
"Syl, for someone who knows nothing about computers, you just solved
the problem that we've spent days trying to resolve." Aaron said ruefully.
"When Syn said that cable felt like it had always been there, I wondered
if I'd moved it when I originally fixed her, to get rid of some corrupt
data files. Since a lot of that has been fixed now..."
"I am once more able to retrieve such information, and unlock my default
coordinates." Cynthia's eyes sparkled, and she hugged Sylva impulsively.
"I'm sorry I was short with you. It was a welcome thing indeed that you
chose to spend today with us."
"Your power cells won't maintain Cynthia across the atlantic yet...so
no sea hopping right at the moment." Aaron warned, glancing over the power
readings. "But you should be able to branch out across America and maybe
even to Canada. Plus, I will see what can be done about giving you more
power to play with. But it's a start, isn't it?"
"Are you guys serious?" Sylva gaped. "I was right?"
"You were. I'm sorry I told you to go away." Aaron looked sheepish.
"But how did you know which cable to move?"
"I didn't." Sylva shrugged carelessly. "But Emmet Benton was a smart
man, right? And Cynthia has impeccable fashion sense and taste. So why
would a cable that shade of blue be tucked right up next to one that luridly
orange? Crazy. It looked much better with the purple one."
For a moment, Aaron and Cynthia stared at their friend, as if unable
to believe her words. Then, as if appreciating that she was sincere, they
both burst into laughter.
"I will remember that next time it comes to taking Cyn apart." Aaron
said with a wry smile. "That where girls are concerned, correct fashion
protocol should always be taken into account!"
Prologue: July 12th,
A Long Flight
A Day Out
Flashback - Esteban's Quest
In The Genes
Flashback - A Tragic Truth
A Tentative Bond
Flashback - This Is Farewell
The Memorial Garden
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
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All other characters, including their
are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World from 2001 to
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The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan
Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of
the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma
whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's World.
can visit her site at www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
All events in the stories on this site are
based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction
nor in any real life event or person.