Thicker Than Water

Chapter Four:
In the Big Apple

"Oh, damn it."
The young woman pushed the pile of manuscript papers to one side, casting a reproachful grimace at the window, which was becoming spattered with rain. "It would rain, just when I don't have my car! Damn them not fixing the gearbox till tomorrow. I'll have to flag down a taxi, because I'll get drenched waiting for the bus. Damn it! I don't need to be a drowned rat tonight."
She rested her chin in her hands, running her gaze over the final few phrases of the song she had been working on. Pursing her lips, she shook her head.
"And that won't do, either. It's not up-beat enough for what they're after." She said aloud. "I hate working on this stuff in my office. It's so much more difficult writing score when they've got the studios out of action. How am I suppose to compose anything without a keyboard?"
She got to her feet, glaring at the hapless standalone keyboard that stood in the corner. It had blown something only that morning, and though she had called the engineers, they had all been tied up in work on a lower floor.
"Tomorrow, they said." She murmured, running a lazy finger over the dead keys. "Just great. A perfect conclusion to a perfect day - or not. I've got nothing useful done, it's tipping it down with rain outside, and I'm starting a headache. If it wasn't for the fact Mom's in New York and I know I can trust her to pick up the rings, I'd probably need committing. I never thought I'd have so much on my mind so close to my big day - or that I'd have so much damn work to do here leading up to it. But this maintenance is going to delay everything by weeks. I can just see what will happen. They'll hand the rest of it over to someone else to tie up because I'll be on my honeymoon. And if there's something I can't stand, it's some other idiot messing around with my music!"
"Someone's cranky today."
A voice came from the doorway of the office and she swung around, a shadow touching her blue eyes as she registered the speaker.
"Can I help you, Colin?" She asked wearily. "I was about to cut out of here. Without my keyboard I can't get anything done - I might have better luck at home."
"It's not like you to be so defeatist, Anna." Colin slipped into the office, clicking the door shut behind him. "Do you want this project handed over to one of the juniors?"
"No, I don't." Anna Martescu shook her head. "And I don't really want to be stuck here discussing it, if you don't mind. I have plans tonight, and..."
"Sometimes I think you forget that I'm your supervisor."
Colin made no attempt to leave, sitting down on her desk and indicating for her to take a seat. "I have to monitor your progress - you know that. And you've not come and made arrangements for our developmental review yet - I have to push it with you. It's important - those at the top want all reviews done by the end of the month."
Anna sat down slowly, taking a deep breath.
"Colin, I told you. I can't stay late." She said quietly. "John's parents are coming for dinner and so is my Mom and then tomorrow I have all kinds of people coming in - family for the wedding - and a zillion other things to worry about. I'm sorry about the review but it will have to wait till after the wedding, now."
She spread her hands.
"I went and spoke to Mr Dalian and he said that it would be okay if I put admin on hold till after I came back from my honeymoon, because I'm usually so well up to date with all my paperwork. He was very understanding, and said so long as all my scripting was tied up by the time I left, he'd overlook it this once. I'm sure he includes the review in that. Apparently our chat was good enough for him. He said I was a good employee and he had faith in me."
Colin pursed his lips.
"It might be good enough for him. It's not good enough for me." He said softly, leaning across the desk towards her. He was close enough for her to smell his aftershave, and she drew back hurriedly, getting to her feet and grabbing her bag.
"I need to go, Colin. I'll miss the bus."
"You're not going out in that, are you?" Colin raised an eyebrow, gesturing at the rain-sodden window. "You'll be drenched. Let me give you a lift."
"No, it's all right. I...I can manage."
"Can you?" Colin's expression became thoughtful, and he grabbed her hand, holding her fast. His expression was teasing, but despite herself, Anna felt a chill go down her spine. "You know, you look real cute in that outfit. I like that colour on you."
"Colin, let me go."
"I'm just playing with you." Colin winked at her. "A pretty girl like you should expect compliments. And learn how to receive them."
"Colin, please, let me go. I need to get home!"
Anna wrenched her arm out of his grip, backing towards the door. "John will wonder where I am - I'm already running late."
"John." Colin rolled his eyes. "Anna, didn't anyone ever teach you how to have fun? I mean, you can't tell me you've always been prim and proper and straight - laced? Gee, with a face like that, you should be well used to getting a guy's attention."
He grinned.
"And not just the face, if you get my meaning."
"Colin, I'm going to miss my bus." Anna fumbled with the door handle, pushing it open and taking a step into the corridor, but he was too quick, and he slipped an arm around her shoulders, squeezing her playfully.
"Plenty of time for our review before you go on your honeymoon." He whispered in her ear. "You're not a taken woman yet, Anna - you should enjoy your last days of freedom."
With that he let her go, and, shaken, Anna clutched her bag to her chest, fleeing down the corridor.
As she reached the lift shaft, she realised that she'd left her manuscript in her office and she muttered a curse, leaning back against the panelled wall as she waited for the car to reach her floor.
"Oh well, with John's parents coming by and Mom and all this wedding stuff, I won't have time to look at it tonight anyhow." She told herself. "No way am I going back to that office. Not if he's in one of those moods. I wish he'd leave me alone! I wish I knew how to make him leave me alone! But he's my supervisor - he could lose me my job, and noone would believe me, anyway! Everyone else on this floor thinks he's some kind of God...everyone's best friend. How in hell am I meant to stop him hitting on me?"
She sighed, stepping into the lift car and pressing the button for the lobby. "At times like this I really wish I had my sister's big mouth. It would really come in handy. But I can't even talk to her about this. Firstly she'd probably think me crazy - I mean, he hasn't tried to rape me or anything, and it's mostly just words. And well, it's about time I stopped running to big sister to fix all my problems. I'm getting married, and I have my own life here. Sylvie has hers in Cali. I want us to stay as close as we've always been and that's not going to happen if I'm always clinging onto her at every juncture. So get over it, Anna. You're getting married and maybe when you and John have tied the knot, Colin will lose interest in you."
The lift car reached the ground floor and, as the silver doors parted she stepped out, casting a surrepticious glance around her for her supervisor. On one or two occasions he had taken the stairs down in order to cut her off in the lobby with a seemingly harmless request, and she was in no mood to play more of his games today.
A voice made her jump and she turned, a relieved grin flooding her features as she saw her fiance waving to her from the security desk.
"John! Oh, what are you doing here?"
"Well, I left work, it was raining and I thought I'd stop by here and see if you were still working." John Wraith greeted her with an affectionate hug, kissing her on the cheek. "No use you looking a drowned rat when we've dinner guests, and we've both got a lot to do tonight before anyone comes a-calling."
"We do. I'm sorry I'm finishing this late." Anna sighed. "My keyboard has broken and I was going to take my scripts home, only...well, I got distracted and left them upstairs."
"Probably better they stay there." John told her. "You bring work home too often, Annie - and I know you want this finished by the wedding, but I don't want you wound up the day we walk down the aisle. You need to chill out, too." He grinned, slipping his hand around her waist. "Or is that something I have to teach you, when we're on our honeymoon?"
"Maybe." Anna offered a wry smile. "I'm sorry. I guess I am trying to do too much at once. I want our wedding to be perfect, I want this project to be perfect..."
"Ever think maybe you're a perfectionist?" John quipped, and Anna laughed.
"Oh, probably, but you're good for me." She responded, kissing him on the lips. "And that's why I'm marrying you. It's been an awful day, John. You've just made it a whole lot better."
"Glad to be of service." John pretended to tip his hat. "So, shall we go? The car awaits."
"With pleasure." Anna nodded. "I hope you parked's heavy as hell out there."
"Yeah, right up by the door." John agreed, leading the way to the stationary vehicle and unlocking it. With a wink at his fiancee, he pulled open the passenger door for her, and she grinned, climbing inside.
"Very gentlemanly." She teased. "Are you practicing for the wedding day?"
"Maybe." John shrugged. "So long as it's not doing this."
He grimaced up at the weather, then opened the driver's door, getting inside and slipping his key into the ignition as his companion fastened her seatbelt. "Hopefully it'll get it out of its system by the time we tie the knot. I realise that the ceremony's inside the church, but photos will be outside and this is really not outside weather."
"June in New York." Anna looked amused. "What else do you expect?"
"Nothing more." John admitted. "But it could cut us a break here."
Anna opened her mouth to reply, but as she did so she caught sight of Colin leaving the building. Their gazes met, and Colin raised his hand in a playful wave. Despite herself, she found her good mood fading and she bit her lip.
"Annie?" John, noticing the change in her demeanour frowned, casting her a glance. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Anna pulled herself out of her reverie, managing a smile. "Like I said, it's been an awful day."
"Yes, but ten seconds ago you were..." John trailed off, his eyes narrowing as he recognised Colin through the bad weather. "Hell, Annie, is that jerk still giving you trouble?"
"John, it's no big deal." Anna looked troubled. "He's just a bit of a creep, that's all. It's fine. Really."
"Really?" John shook his head. "I don't like the idea that some guy's hassling you, Ann. You know that's harassment, and he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it."
"No, but he's also my supervisor, so I'm kinda stuck with him." Anna sighed, running fingers through her rain-dampened hair. "It's all right, John. Really. I can handle it and I don't want a big fuss. That will just make it worse...really. Forget it, huh?"
"It's hard to forget the fact some guy is coming onto my fiancee."
"I should never have told you." Anna looked troubled, and John sighed.
"No, I'm glad you did." He said at length. "And look, much as I'd like to punch this dude out, I won't do it. I don't want to create trouble for you, and I don't want to get myself in court on an assault charge. But I don't like it. And it's all very well saying that you can handle it...but to be honest, Ann, I...I really don't know if I can."
"What does that mean?" Anna looked startled. John shrugged.
"Just that I don't like it." He said simply. "Maybe he needs to realise that you're not interested, and that you're getting married soon. It's time to back off and find his kicks somewhere else."
"I think he will, once we're married." Anna admitted. "But look, let's not talk about him, huh? We have such a lot of things to do and I don't want Mom or your parents to know what's going on. Mom would freak, and it's not really good pre-wedding conversation. All right?"
"All right. I agree with you on that." John nodded. "But please, Annie, it's getting beyond a joke. At the risk of sounding possessive, you're my girl and I don't like him messing with you."
"You can act possessive." Anna told him softly. "I don't mind. Colin hasn't any chance with me anyway - you know that. Otherwise I would be marrying him and not you."
She grinned, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek and almost making him swerve into a lampost. "And you better drive more carefully, Mr Wraith, because otherwise we won't see our wedding day!"
*    *    *    *    *    *    *

 "Well, it all looks fine to me."
Elizabeth Pelligrini shuffled back against the wall of the music studio, handing the sheets of manuscript paper back to her companion. "I don't know why you need to run these by me, Nance. You write drumlines in fine and sometimes the best way of working out if they need tampering with is when we're all in session. Looking at them on paper is not the best way to do rhythm."
"I know, but I like to have your take on it anyhow, Copper." Her sister in law Nancy frowned, folding the paper and putting it into her folder. "So thanks for humouring me. I can write music, but penning in rhythm has always been my weak point. I know the theory of it, but theory's not much without practical behind it. And I don't play drums. You, on the other hand,'d rather know you think it's okay."
"Well, I'm glad you think I can help." Copper dimpled. "Though when do you suppose we'll get to laying this song down? I thought we were releasing another from the new album before we did anything different - and Syl will be out of town for Anna's wedding for the next week or more. Is this just getting prepared in advance?"
"I write when it comes to me." Nancy spread her hands. "And I like this one. It flowed well when I was putting it down."
She grinned. "It mightn't be the next single release, and it doesn't even have words yet. But I think it's good to have something ready. I know how Mom and Aunt Phyl get if Jewel aren't ready to record at a moment's notice."
"Sounds wise to me." Copper chuckled. "Though you better think about the lyrics. Just in case."
"Well, you could write me some Spanish ones." Nancy's expression became teasing, and Copper held up her hands.
"Not a chance." she said ruefully. "I've been there, done that. We already know none of you can sing in Spanish, and I am not singing lead vocal again. You have no idea how sick I felt before we played Dolorida on Dean's show. It's not happening again. Not ever."
"Well, it was just an idea." Nancy shrugged her shoulders flippantly. "Besides, I think Sadie might have something in mind for it. She's way better with words than I am, somehow."
"Maybe it's her artistic streak." Copper mused. Nancy grinned.
"I don't know, but whatever it is, it works for her." She responded. "And honestly, I'm glad we have her. She's blossomed a whole lot musically since she came in with us, haven't you noticed? Four of the tracks on that last album she wrote almost entirely herself."
"Not just musically." Copper settled herself more comfortably. "Her confidence, too. It's nice. It feels like we really made a difference to her."
"Yeah, I guess so." Nancy pursed her lips. "I didn't really think about it that way. But I spose since she's been seeing Alex, she's quit believing that she's hopeless and scared of guys. That's a start."
Copper laughed.
"Alex is very good for her, and an ally worth having." She said with a wink. "As Cynthia's recent adventures could tell you."
"Yes." Nancy nodded. "I'm glad that the pressure is off her again. Though I think it's gonna be a while before she's really herself. Have you noticed? She still seems...strange sometimes."
"Distant and preoccupied? Yes." Copper agreed. "But she's processing human-style grief still, don't forget. She'll be all right, if we give her time to work it all out. And sometimes she's playful and mischievous and like nothing's happened. We just have to say nothing and let her get it out of her system. Literally. Losing someone you were close to hurts. Take it from me. It takes a while to get used to the change."
She glanced at her watch.
"Speaking of change, are we done here? I have Aaron's library books in the trunk of my car and I need to take them back. I said I would, since he's set to work late tonight. Latisha is playing Connie's Corner and he's tied up with it."
"Aaron's library books?" Nancy's eyebrows shot up. "Aaron reads?"
Copper laughed.
"Don't be mean. He's your only brother." She reproached playfully. "Of course he reads. And these were books he took out when Cynthia wasn't doing so good. Computer something or other - greek to me. I think they're that's why I'm taking them back. He hates paying the fines...apparently they give him really bad looks."
"And you sweet talk them so they're nice to you?" Nancy asked. "Or do you wind up coughing up the difference?"
"No, I get it put onto his ticket, if he doesn't give me the cash in advance." Copper giggled. "I'm not stupid. But do you mind? We can head into town for lunch after - but I should get shot of them, before I forget."
"Hey, be my guest." Nancy shrugged. "I haven't any further plans and God knows I haven't visited the library in forever."
She looked rueful. "Maybe you should be asking me if I read."
Copper chuckled.
"I've seen you." She said playfully, as they left the studio, heading towards the lift at the end of the corridor. "So I know you do. I know Syl doesn't go near the library because she thinks it's bad for her showbiz image to be seen borrowing books instead of buying them, but I like to go. It's quiet and since Aaron and I got our own place I've been asked to do less crazy and mental things. Whenever he's working late and I'm home alone I like to curl up in bed with a good book. It's relaxing."
"Wedded domesticity, huh?" Nancy asked. Copper nodded.
"Something like that." She agreed sheepishly. "I dunno, Nance. I love being a Jewel and all of the things that has brought me, but I think I'm a family person at heart. Nice house, good husband, warm bed and a good book...I'm easily satisfied."
"That's what bemuses me about you and me being such good friends." Nancy admitted, as they stepped into the lift, pressing the button for the ground floor. "I don't want any of that stuff. I mean, I don't mind the warm bed...but the husband and everything. We couldn't be more different, you know that? Why do you suppose we get on so well?"
"I dunno. Probably because of that." Copper mused. She shrugged. "And well, I'm a part of your family too, now. That's an added thing we have in common. We both sign our names Pelligrini."
"That's another thing, as well." Nancy pursed her lips. "If someone did con me into marrying them - for whatever reason - there's no way in hell I'd be taking their name. Pelligrini is me. It's a Misfit name. Mom is a Misfit. Aunt Roxy was one. Pelligrini belongs to that world, the music world. And so do I. So whatever happened, I'd still be Nancy Pelligrini."
"Jetta changed her name." Copper objected. "Wasn't she...Burns or something before she married your dad?"
"Yes." Nancy admitted, as the car came to a jerky halt and the doors slid open. "She was Sheila Burns, technically, and she doesn't use or hold onto either of those names now, except with Aunt Laura's family. But it's different in a way, Copper. Mom hated her heritage - and we know that Burns wasn't her proper name anyhow, it was just the one she grew up with. So she didn't need to keep it. I mean, taking Dad's name meant she had a name that really belonged to her, after all. But I'm proud of my heritage."
"Well, so am I of mine." Copper mused. "And so was Mama of hers, before she married Papa. I don't think pride came into it, you know, when she became Carmen Santiago. It certainly didn't when I became Eliza Pelligrini. I love Aaron and wanted to do it. I know it's kinda traditional to change your name, but I wouldn't feel properly "Mrs" without it somehow. I'm pretty sure Mama felt the same. It changes everything, more than you realise even when you're talking really seriously about doing it. A new name marks the change."
"Well, to me it sounds like some guy owning me." Nancy snorted. "I'm Nancy Pelligrini till I die, and that's that."
"Fine." Copper looked amused, linking her arm in her companion's. "I suppose it makes sense, after all you've made your writing name as that. People know you in the business as Nancy Pelligrini."
She paused, then,
"Do you ever think about what you might do after Jewel is done?" She asked, as the two girls stepped out into the Los Angeles sunshine. Nancy looked startled.
"Are you thinking that's gonna happen sometime soon?" She demanded. Copper shook her head.
"No, I hope not. But I meant, sort of, ten years in the future." She responded. "I'll be honest - I do. I'd like to think that by then Aaron and I will have children...but I don't honestly know what I'll be doing if Jewel are no longer recording. I know I wouldn't be going into music as a solo artist, because I'm scared stiff of performing live. And I'd miss the group chaos, anyway."
"You could act, like your Mom." Nancy suggested. Copper shook her head.
" Rosita inherited that gene, not me." She said ruefully. "And after you've spent years prancing about on stage, it seems a little late to go off to law school. Even if I had my high school diploma - which I don't."
She spread her hands. "I suppose it depends on whether Aaron and I have kids. Honestly, I'd like to stay in Los Angeles and raise a family. I'll be a Jewel till the day we all decide it's enough, but then it might be nice to get out of the spotlight and just be a normal mother. If it's possible."
"A stay at home Mom?" Nancy pulled a graphic face. "Sounds like an exciting future."
"Well? What about you, then?" Copper slipped her hand into her pocket, pulling out her car keys and unlocking her vehicle. "Music? A solo stint?"
"I don't know if I'd go solo now." Nancy admitted. "But music, certainly. Writing, probably, in the same kind of capacity as Syl's Mom. I can't see a me without music of some sort, so that'd probably be the case."
"And family?"
"A guy? Kids?"
"Not on my agenda right at the moment." Nancy shook her head. "The guy...maybe. The kids? Not me. Wouldn't know where to begin with them."
Copper grinned.
"You're right. You and me really don't think alike." She acknowledged, getting into the driver's seat and reaching over to push open the passenger door. "Oh well. I guess variety is the spice of life. But what about Dean? Does he want kids in the future or haven't you discussed all this with him?"
"The future isn't something I spend much time thinking about." Nancy admitted. "And we haven't discussed it. I prefer it that way, for the time being."
"What if he does, though, and thinks you do too?"
"Then the discussion will happen and he'll discover I don't." Nancy clambered into the passenger seat, settling herself comfortably and fastening her seatbelt. "And that's that."
"All figured out, huh?"
"Yes. All figured out."
"Okay." Copper grinned. She put the key in the ignition, starting the engine and pulling the vehicle out of the parking lot. "What of the others? Sadie, Topaz, Syl? See any of them ten years down the line?"
"Why all this wondering, Copper?" Nancy frowned. Copper shrugged.
"Aaron and I were discussing things the other night." She admitted. "About when we're going to work on the whole fertility thing, seeing doctors and whether or not we want to leave it a while and enjoy just being together first. It got onto other things and it was kinda interesting, trying to see that far ahead. It's hard to imagine what's going to happen - I mean, ten years ago I was planning to go to law school. Now look at me. Couldn't be more different."
"There doesn't seem to be much point then." Nancy said dryly. "But okay. I'll play along."
"Topaz's future is mapped. She's got Hollie." Copper remarked. "And I hope, Cameron, in time. With her voice, she'll sing. No doubt about it. Sadie..."
Nancy glanced at her hands.
"I'd like to think Sadie will stick around in the US." She admitted. "I like writing with her and I'd miss her if she went back. We make a good team and that's something I didn't think I'd say. But she spends so much of our writing time doodling pictures on the manuscript paper, she might well jack music in and go for design. I hope not, though."
"Think she and Alex have a future?"
"I don't know. Ex-con and FBI agent - I actually didn't see it lasting this long." Nancy looked rueful. "But she seems to really like him. Don't ask me romance questions, though. It's not my area of expertise."
"Okay, though I will ask you if you think that the fact Syl is apparently taking Logan to the wedding means there's something going on there?" Copper's eyes twinkled. Nancy stared at her.
"Since when?"
"Since yesterday. Topaz told me. Apparently Syl blushed and went all coy about it."
"Eugh." Nancy wrinkled up her nose. "Do you think so? It's not like Syl to be coy. Don't you think it's more than likely he's going as a wedding prop?"
"A what?"
"A stand in date so noone thinks she's a loser?" Nancy shrugged. "It is her sister's wedding."
"I don't know. I think she likes him." Copper admitted. "She's hung out with him a lot since Aaron and I got married, and I dunno, he seems fun and able to keep up with her. I'd like to think she's finally found a guy who can do that."
"Well, I still think it's probably all for show, but all right." Nancy laughed. "If you want to be the romantic, I won't spoil your day."
"Thank you." Copper dimpled, pulling the car onto the front forecourt of the library. "And now I have to ditch these...coming in?"
"Hey, why not?" Nancy nodded. "I haven't been here since High School, actually...finishing off assignments."
"No school library for that?" Copper frowned. Nancy grimaced.
"It depends if I wanted to work or if I wanted my books taken and my paper drowned in someone else's soda." She said darkly. "School was not a good place for me. If I wanted to get work done, and I couldn't do it at home, I'd come here. The mean kids came here too, but they didn't cause me hassle when the librarians were all over. It was safe."
"High School can be cruel." Copper acknowledged. She stepped around her vehicle, undoing the trunk and pulling out a bag of books. "Okay. Got them. But you know, kids are like that. Anything they don't understand - they grow out of it eventually. Most of them."
"I dunno. I think mine could've won an award for it." Nancy sighed, as they crossed the gravel to the big oaken doors.
"I didn't get bullied." Copper mused. "But it wasn't always nice. I mean..."
She paused, then,
"It was mostly fine. I was straight A, I had my friends, noone hassled me. I dated, I got on with my life. It was all right." She said slowly. "I wasn't a cheerleader or one of the really popular kids but I didn't want to be. I was happy where I was, you know? I wrote articles for the school paper, and stuff like that."
"So what was wrong, then? Sounds okay to me." Nancy looked confused. Copper glanced down.
"I had cancer." She murmured. "And that was the end of everything normal."
"I don't understand."
"No, I don't suppose so." Copper sighed. "When we visit hospitals, Nancy, and see sick kids, how do you tend to feel inside about it?"
"I dunno." Nancy pondered. "Kinda freaked, I guess. But you don't show it. I mean, we're professionals."
"Yeah, but in high school you're all just kids." Copper shrugged. "And it scared people, when they knew I had cancer. Everyone knew my Papa died of it, because he was famous and it was in the papers. When they heard I'd got it too it freaked everyone out. Even though it was different from Papa's. Some kids thought they might catch it from me. A lot of them simply didn't know what to say to me, or around me. And I changed, too. I was scared. I was more snappy, more withdrawn, and I cried a lot more easily. In the end I just couldn't handle it. All but my closest friend drifted away from me, and when her Dad got a job in Arizona, I couldn't hack it at school any more. Honestly, I'd begun to cling to her as any kind of support at school. On my own, I didn't do so good. I wasn't well, either - not just from the cancer, but the treatment didn't help. I'd miss days and I'd be tired and dizzy and not able to concentrate. My grades dropped. My interest dropped. In the end Mama and I talked and I made a decision. I always meant to go back, once I was well...but you know what happened and I never did."
"Jewel happened." Nancy nodded. "Though I forget how close to us starting out you having this thing was."
"Yeah." Copper looked pensive. "I've never really been angry at the other kids. I mean, I guess I know why they were freaked out. It was just hard. Honestly, the day I was diagnosed was the day my life changed forever. Even now I have the effects of it...even now I don't know if I'll have kids."
"But if you hadn't had cancer, Copper, you wouldn't have dropped out." Nancy said matter of factly. "Your Mom wouldn't have paid your medical bills, you wouldn't have been playing in a club to earn extra funds for college and Dawson would never have heard you play. You'd never have come to LA, never have met Aaron and there'd have been no Jewel and no Mrs Pelligrini. Ever think of it that way?"
"No." A slight smile touched Copper's lips. "But you're right, and I'll try to."
They headed up to the desk, and Copper ferretted in the bag, pulling the three books out and setting them down on the counter. She cast the librarian on duty a sheepish smile.
"They're a bit late." She admitted. "My husband has a habit of getting engrossed in what he's doing and forgetting to bring them back."
The librarian smiled.
"Sounds like a lot of men I know." She responded, amused, as she ran the scanner over the books. "Yep. Three dollars sixty on these, I'm afraid."
"Here." Copper handed over a five dollar bill. "He always sends me back with them when they're late."
The librarian laughed.
"That's always the way." She agreed wryly, counting out the change and passing it across the desk. "There you go. One forty back."
"Hey, Copper, look." Nancy nudged her friend at that moment, and Copper glanced up, surprised.
"Over there. By the window - at the microfilm reader. Isn't that...Jesta?"
"Jesta?" Copper's eyes widened and she turned to look. "Oh God, I think you're right. But Jesta in a library? In an American library? What's that about? Did you know she was even in LA at the moment?"
"I'd heard a rumour." Nancy nodded. "Syl's cousin has taken to hanging out with her, apparently, and you know how these things leak. But I agree. Jesta in a library seems surreal. Don't you think she should be out wrecking someone's car or something? Reading old papers doesn't seem her deal."
"Well, whatever she's doing, I vote we leave before she sees us." Copper folded the carrier bag, pushing it into her pocket. "Come on. A scene in a library is not a good idea and I can imagine your Mom on the subject if we started a free-for-all."
"She wouldn't care, so long as we won." Nancy said flippantly. "But you're probably right. I don't think she's noticed, anyhow. Whatever she's doing, she seems pretty engrossed."
"Good thing, too." Copper pursed her lips. "Okay, I'm done here. Let's go find somewhere for lunch, huh?"


Prologue: April 1st, 1997
Chapter One: Sylva's Request
Chapter Two: Samantha...and Jesta
Chapter Three: Flashback - Junior High
Chapter Four: In The Big Apple
Chapter Five: Flashback - Sammi's Eighth Birthday
Chapter Six: Flight
Chapter Seven: Anna
Chapter Eight: Flashback - The Martescu Home
Chapter Nine: Old Wounds
Chapter Ten: Jesta's Clue
Chapter Eleven: In Translation
Chapter Twelve: Flashback - Thick As Blood
Chapter Thirteen: A Friend In Need
Chapter Fourteen: Anna's Secret
Chapter Fifteen: Wedding Day
Chapter Sixteen: Flashback - First Kiss
Chapter Seventeen: Crossing The Line
Chapter Eighteen: Colin
Chapter Nineteen: Settling Up