Seattle Sensation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


GrungeCon is underway and Jem is going to make a HUGE splash there!! So, she hopes, is Regine!



This is my second entry for the Seattle-based 2017 JemCon!

Submitted: December 04, 2017

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Submitted: December 04, 2017

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Pinned to a wide corkboard above a drafting table were several hundred reference pictures of people in oversized t-shirts, coats, sheer material, and two-toned hair. Short skirts, thigh-high leggings, safety pins in strange places and - so much flannel, Regine thought to herself. In a fit of exasperation, she swept her sketches from the drafting table, sending them fluttering to the floor.

"Purée! I cannot do this! Why on Earth did I agree to design clothes around such a negative trend in fashion?!"

From just inside the doorway to the room, a calm voice answered. "Because they are your friends and they are giving you a second chance to enter the world of American fashion once again."

Danielle DuVoisin, clad in an elegant blue day dress, came into the room. From the floor, she collected a few of the scattered designs, going over them one at a time. She returned them to the drafting table before turning to face her friend and protégé.

"Do you know why you can't make any progress, my dear? It is not because grunge was a negative fashion trend, but because you see it as such. Look here," she said, touching a photo on the corkboard. "This crushed velvet dress is beautiful in its simplicity. See how it tapers at the hip, flattering the figure? Then here, this simple cotton shift does the same. You can mimic the style without fraying the edges and tearing holes in everything. You just have to embrace the basics of the movement without it clouding your vision."

"I don't know why I allow myself to get so upset!" The younger woman sighed, already beginning to pick up her designs.

"Because you want to do well and you are frustrated when your first attempt is not the best one. It happens to many talented designers."

"Even you?"

Danielle gave a pleasant laugh. "I said many, I did not say me. Now, I suggest you regroup, reorganize, and try again. Perhaps you should have a croissant and some coffee before beginning again. Call a friend...have a chat."

"Of course," Regine nodded, already reaching for the cell in her vest pocket. "I know just who to call."

---

"Roxy! You have got to see this!"

The platinum-haired Misfit finished the last of her make-up before turning toward her band mate, who was still grinning at the screen of her open laptop. Jetta turned toward her, a predatory look on her slender face.

"She can't be serious! Miss Pink and Perfect is going to slum it at GrungeCon? What do those Pony-Pink Princesses know about grunge? HA!"

"We've got to tell Pizzazz!"

Roxy stood up, then came over to the screen. "Oh, this is too much! Regine is doing the costuming for this?! Let's get Bobby Stark on this right away!"

"Better yet," Jetta said, her grin growing more feral. "Let's call the Stingers!"

The two Misfits shared a dangerous look between them before Roxy began typing out an e-mail, one directed to the creative department of Stinger Sound, the subject line reading: You Girls Have Any Soda Left? When the body of the message was complete, she hit 'Send'. The pinging sound indicating the message was sent caused both Misfits to explode into fits of mischievous laughter.

---

"Do we have everything?"

"Yes, Jerrica, for the one thousandth time, we have everything." Kimber's expression was one of exasperation. "Can we please go and see the Needle now?"

"We're here to do other things, you know," Aja reminded her, opening the door to their hotel room. "We have a sound check at three so we need to keep an eye on the time."

"We also have to make an appearance at the Seattle Children's Museum," Shana added. "They're counting on us being there today and we don't want to disappoint them. It means a lot to the kids."

Raya laughed. "And, it's only nine o'clock."

Jerrica adjusted the front of her blouse, a white cotton button up with a wide collar. "It's a lot to do in one day. I'm glad the convention isn't for another week."

"Have plans with Rio?" Kimber asked in a sing-song voice.

"He's flying in later today and tomorrow, we're taking the Seattle Chocolate Indulgence Tour. Maybe, we'll visit Alki Beach, if we have time. Today, though, let's get going. There's a lot to do and not a lot of time."

All five women left their room. In the hallway, Shana closed the door and slipped the passkey into her pocket. As she was going to catch up to the others, her phone rang. Kimber reached the elevator and was pressing the button as Shana slid the call into the receiving area. The voice on the other end was a surprise.

"Regine? How are things?"

The young woman's voice filled the space of the elevator as Shana hit the speaker feature. "I hope I'm catching you at a good time. It's about the designs for your show."

"We still haven't gotten them," Shana told her, some concern in her voice. "I have the basic patterns drawn out, the ones you sent last month, but without the final designs, there's not much we can do."

"I know and I'm sorry. I've been hitting a creative snag. Nothing is coming to me the way I thought it would. It's difficult to get inspiration from all of these pictures. Nothing appeals to me!"

Aja leaned in toward the phone. "Meet us at the Seattle Children's Museum in an hour. It's time you looked elsewhere for your inspiration, girl!"

"O-okay," Regine relented. "S-See you there."

"I guess we've just had our schedule set," Jerrica said with a laugh. "After we get the contracts all signed, we're making our first appearance of the day." She touched her earring. "Jem will just have to meet us there."

In a voice only she could hear, Synergy responded. "As you wish, Jerrica!"

As she was replacing the phone in her pocket, Shana gave the others a worried look. "We have two days to get these clothes finished and she's still experiencing designer's block? This doesn't bode well, you all."

"Two days?" Kimber asked, incredulous. "She's going to turn out five looks in two days? That sounds impossible."

Raya waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "They do it on Runway Project all the time! Regine has much more at her disposal than they do!"

Shana laughed. "She's got the Countess, they just have a whole network of people and Jim Sunn behind them!"

"Do we have a back-up?" Aja asked.

"I brought a few things we can use, just in case there's a bigger problem," Shana said. "And – I have Jim and Gina Garza on speed-dial!"

"I hope it doesn't go that far." Kimber said, watching the numbers on the elevator go down as they did. "Otherwise, I'll have to start ripping up my favorite pants!"

Much later, all five women were walking the streets of Seattle, taking in the sights and sounds around them. Buildings rose up all sides, their glass fronts reflecting the turquoise water and bright blue of the sky. The smell of good food and fresh coffee was mingled with the sea air. In the distance, the mountains made for an amazing backdrop to their city adventure.

"What's the draw of this children's museum?" Kimber asked after taking several selfies in front of a coffee shop window. "Is it famous?"

"It isn't famous but I promised we'd stop by," Aja answered.

"It won't take too long to get our contracts for the convention performance signed. We'll have time to take a short tour of the place, maybe sign some autographs. It'll be fun, Kimber! Isn't that why we're here? Fun?"

The redhead looped her arm through her sister's. "I like this side of you, Jerrica! We should do these sorts of things more often!"

---

"What do you mean...we're not going?"

Riot waved away Minx's question. "We have more important things to worry over than some has-been's defunct fashion career. Regine had her chance to rise along with our star and she chose another path. Now, she must trudge along on it - without us."

"But...we're just going to stand by and do nothing?"

He turned on her, both hands on his hips. "What would we accomplish by going to Seattle, Minx? What would you do? Find more soda to pour into her purse like you did Shana? No. This time, the Stingers stay as far from Regine Cesaire as we can. All of us. Tell me you understand, Minx."

"I don't but I will do as you ask, Riot."

Still reclined on the nearby couch, Rapture raised a hand. "Suppose she comes through with this new grunge fashion update? What then? It means free press for the Holograms and nothing for the Stingers."

Now, Riot was annoyed. "Do you want to swathe yourself in velvet, denim and flannel, just for a soundbyte online? Let Regine and her playmates have their fashion moment. We, my revenge-ridden band mates, have music to create! Before I lose all semblance of patience with the two of you, let's get started on the new vocal track."

After he opened the door, Rapture got up and went through into the recording studio. Minx, still fuming, followed. As Riot closed the door after them, the German keyboardist sent out a quick text. It still bothered her they weren't going to Seattle, they were going to allow the woman who left them looking like fools for the no-talent American band to do it again! Harriet Horne grilled Regine about her association with the Stingers and the girl made it sound as though they were beneath her.

"Minx! You have the opening!"

"All right, Riot," she responded, hitting the 'Send' key.

---

GrungeCon's first day was a spectacular showing of musical influences to the movement. To everyone's surprise, Johnny Deacon opened the show with a whole range of new songs dedicated to Grunge. Randy James accompanied him with an expert guitar solo and a new song of his own. At the conclusion of their set, they fielded questions from the audience on a panel with other musical guests.

Just outside the lobby, a very nervous Regine waited with her sketchbook in one hand, a fabric swatch book in the other. Many people passed by, all of them dressed in typical Grunge fashion. Again, the butterflies in her stomach rose up.

"I believe I may have made a mistake," she said to herself, glancing down the sidewalk. "Why did I ever agree to tackle such an unknown element?"

The answer came as soon as she saw the rental car pull up in front of the venue. Kimber was the first one out, dressed in a pair of gray jeans, a black crop-top, and a fitted gray flannel shirt. Her bright red hair was straightened and hung down around her face. She waved. Raya was dress in a similar way but with a blue flannel shirt tied around her waist and her hair pulled into a high ponytail.

"I am so glad to see you," Regine said, breathing easier, now.

"We're glad to see you," Aja told her, smoothing back her wavy hair. "How are the clothes coming along?"

The blue-haired singer was dressed all in black with strategic rips in the leggings and white laces in her workman's boots. Shana wore a purple miniskirt with matching top and a loose overshirt. They were the last ones out of the car.

"Where's Jem?"

"She'll be along later," Shana answered. "So, how are the clothes?"

"They're upstairs, in the VIP room. I hope they're going to be all right. We just have to do the last-minute fittings."

"Let's get to it, then! We have a music panel at one." Aja came forward, taking Regine by the arm. Shana took the other arm and they gave her a playful lift before going inside. "I'm sure what you've got is going to be amazing!"

The designer was not so certain and the waver in her voice told them so. "I'm just not sure I have my finger on the pulse of what this movement is all about."

"Nevermind all this self-doubt," Kimber said, following the others. "Forget about Dirt, Regine! At its Core, this whole movement was about the Superunknown! You have to embrace that part and the rest will just speak to you!"

Upstairs, in the VIP room, Regine entered first. Nervous, she walked over to the clothes rack and waited until the others were all inside. When the door was closed and they were alone, she laid out the fabric swatches and put her sketchbook beside of them. Everyone took seats around the center table and she started explaining the clothes she had put together.

First to respond, Aja's excitement was hard to read. "You got all this from the children's museum, didn't you?"

"Most of it. It was a wonderful idea to go there for inspiration."

"So, can we see them?" Shana asked.

"Well...they aren't...exact." Regine moved to the rack, her hand trembling. "I just hope you aren't too disappointed and if you are, you can help me fix what I've done." She pulled back the cover, revealing her creations.

Shana stood from the couch, her mouth coming open. "Oh...Regine...what have you done?"

---

In the recording studio, Roxy made the last few adjustments to her guitar. Sheet music waited for all of them at their various stations. Hers contained colored tabs that she put there, herself, to show different progressions and approaches she wanted to try. She wasn't fond of the slower pieces but she found a way to make them her own. Stormer insisted on slower pieces to counter some of their faster ones.

Soon, she was joined by Jetta, who began making similar adjustments to her own guitar. "Heard anything, yet?"

"Not a word. All of the Stingers are still here."

"Noticed that, meself," Jetta nodded. "I wonder why they're not setting upon Seattle like angry little harpies. You'd think Riot's ego would be a big enough incentive for them to have already been in the air!"

The platinum-haired Misfit just shook her head. "Who knows what goes through their minds? They're all like some alien hybrids that you read about in supermarket tabloids."

"Speaking of reading, how's it going with you?"

"I'm caught up to a college level. I gotta say, though, it's hard enough having to catch up as an adult but to find out the reason it was so tough was because I was dyslexic, that was a kick in the teeth!"

Jetta strummed the guitar before making further adjustments. "At least you found out when you did and can do something about it. You have to be thankful for that, at least."

"I am," Roxy nodded, strumming her own guitar. "Just think, in just two more years, I'll be the second Misfit with a college degree!"

"Brilliant! You and Stormer will finally have something to talk about," Jetta teased.

"We already do, your lousy guitar playing!" Roxy teased back.

"Oy! I'm still learnin' – give a gal a break!"

"You know, something has been bothering me. Why hasn't Pizzazz insisted we crash this convention? I mean, if Jem is there, it has to be a big deal, so why are we not already on a plane and headed out there?"

The door to the studio opened, then. "Because we don't want to be on that ship when it sinks to the bottom!"

Stormer followed Pizzazz into the studio but contributed nothing to the conversation. Instead, she went to her keyboard and began setting up. The others engaged in conversation while she did the checks on the instruments as well.

"This whole GrungeCon thing might take off but it's not our scene." Pizzazz went on.

"You said we needed to diversify our sound," Roxy returned. "Isn't that why we've learned all these new guitar riffs? You're going to cash in on the new Grunge craze but we're not going to play the convention?"

"You got it! This way, when Jem and the Jerks come out of this with egg on their face, we're miles away!"

Roxy gave the lead singer a knowing grin. "You know something, don't you?"

A Cheshire-cat grin spread over Pizzazz's face as she adjusted the microphone. "Let's just say the Holo-Jerks are about to be cut down to size!"

---

Overlooking the whole of Seattle, Jerrica took in a deep breath. Holding to the railing, she let it out while scanning the city skyline. From where they were, she could see the Columbia Center, one of the tallest buildings in the city.

"It's the tallest building in the state," Rio said, sliding his hands around her waist. Seventy-six stories."

"It's beautiful."

"Not as beautiful as you."

She folded both hands over his, closing her eyes and enjoying their time together. The sky was a beautiful mix of purple and orange, both fading into black. Several stars sprinkled the upper portions. Along with the Columbia Center, several other buildings were spattered with small squares of light. In a real way, they were their own star-spangled backdrop. She chuckled at this.

"What's funny?"

"I was thinking of the skyline when a Misfits song popped into my head. Even here, I can't stop thinking they're just going to appear out of nowhere like some ghost from under the bed."

"Now, I am insulted," Rio said with a laugh. "We're taking in one of the most romantic sights in the city and you're thinking about the Misfits?"

Jerrica turned in his embrace, her eyebrow raised. "You're not thinking about Jem?"

He smiled. "I'm always thinking about Jem when I'm with you." A very gentle kiss was placed on her lips. "I have to be, don't I? She's Starlight Music's top-earning act, which means she is your number one priority, making her my number two."

"I've been thinking a lot about my priorities," Jerrica said, brushing back her hair from one side of her face. "About how you seem to always be pushed to the bottom of them. I don't mean to do it but with Starlight House, thirteen new kids, six of them boys, Starlight Music, and everything else going on, it just happens."

Rio put a hand to her face. "I know, Jerrica. I've always known."

"You may know in your heart but I feel like I need to say it from time to time, how much you mean to me. I would never want to make you feel second-best." She hesitated, looking into his eyes. "You need to know that."

He just smiled.

"I've given our lives a great deal of thought, how intertwined they are, yet separate, at the same time. With my work, the House..."

"Being Jem," Rio interrupted.

"Being—"

Another smile, another gentle kiss. "Say it. Just once."

Jerrica's blue eyes were wide but her soundless mouth was wider. A full minute passed between them before she found her voice. "You...knew?"

"I was close to your father, remember? I learned a lot about the music industry from him, but he also taught me more than just sound systems and lighting. If I'm right, he got his last project working before he died."

All Jerrica could say was, "Last...project?"

"One to fuse music and video technology," Rio's thumb brushed the glittering star-shaped earrings. "I'm guessing, since you never take these off, you know what I'm talking about. I also suspect, they're some kind of remote projectors."

"I-I..." She stammered, not believing what she was hearing.

"At the party the countess threw for you, when Jem kept leaving to find Jerrica, I started to get more suspicious than I was before. Then, you and the girls were stranded on that island with the Misfits. Jem didn't come near me when we arrived to pick you up. She also didn't say anything on the way back to the ship. The clincher was..." He leaned in close to her. "When Jem and Riot disappeared together, so did you. There is no way you would let Starlight Music fall into the hands of Harvey Gabor or his daughter. Of course, Kimber gave the whole thing away when Minx told us about Riot forging the postcard. Sure, she stopped herself but sister was on the tip of her tongue."

"You...knew? All this...time, and you never said anything? Why?"

"At first, I was angry that you would keep it from me but then I saw all the good you were doing for the Starlight Girls, for the other acts at Starlight, so I just kept my mouth shut. I thought you would tell me in your own time. I did, however, give you the chance to tell me several times."

In a fog of confusion, Jerrica just shook her head. "Like when?"

"The day you were in the studio alone – singing? I told you I thought I heard Jem in there but you said you had the playback on. How long have we known each other, Jerrica? Since we were kids. I know the sound of your voice."

"And you're not angry with me?"

"Like I said, Jem was your secret to keep. I didn't want to make things harder for you so I just went with it."

"What was with you kicking over the plant in the back yard, then?"

Rio's smile widened. "Frustration with a precocious teenager. Speaking before thinking. Anger management. All of the above?"

"I was going to tell you then, before the blow-up."

"I figured as much. I always manage to mess things up, huh?"

"Not so much," she said with a smile of her own. "Are you sure you're not angry with me for keeping this from you, or at the others?"

A deeper kiss answered for her. Rio held her close as they kissed, making the moment last for the both of them. Overhead, orange and purple faded into black, allowing for  more stars to appear in the Seattle sky. At the conclusion of their kiss, Jerrica took Rio's hand in hers.

"I'm so relieved. I did not want to do this with secrets between us."

"Do...what?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

After slipping her free hand into the pocket of her tailored maroon pants, Jerrica withdrew a slender black box, which she held out for him. "This...is for you, Mr. Pacheco. It comes with a question."

"A question?" Rio's expression went from curiosity to realization.

Jerrica gave him a winning smile. "How would you like to become Mr. Rio Benton?"

---

Saturday, the one day they were supposed to have the day off, the Misfits were called in. Second through the door, dressed in a black sheath dress and multi-colored overshirt, Roxy was not happy. She made this clear when she waved away Stormer's offer of coffee and doughnuts. Taking off her sunglasses, she fell into a chair near the window.

"So, where is everyone?"

"Jetta's in a car on the way over, Pizzazz and Eric are with Techrat."

Roxy groaned. "Wonderful. Another hair-brained scheme? What's next? We're going to skydive into GrungeCon and bust out with our cover of 'Straight From the Heart'?"

Stormer smiled, halving the doughnut for herself. "I don't think so. It's a little more low-tech this time around."

"Wait, you know what's going on?"

"Not everything but I have a good idea."

Before she could elaborate, Pizzazz entered in a flurry of zebra print and attitude. Eric followed with Techrat mincing behind them. He went to one of the two large monitors in the lounge and turned one on. The inside of a convention hall came up, the sound muted. Eric took a seat near Roxy, much to her displeasure.

"What is this all about, Eric?"

The Misfits turned to see all three Stingers gliding through the double-doors of the lounge. Stormer folded her arms across her chest, preparing for the worst. Like the others, she recognized the imperious tone in Riot's voice, one which told them all he was more than upset.

"Riot!" Eric exclaimed, as though they were best friends. "You and your harpies are just in time! Have some coffee, take a seat – and enjoy!"

Minx and Rapture followed Riot inside but none of them sat. Instead, they stood at the back of a sofa, all in the same bad mood at being summoned. Still at the monitors, Techrat attempted to avoid Minx's notice but gave a slight smile when they locked eyes. Whatever exchange they might have had was cut off by Riot.

"Explain yourself. Now, Eric."

"If you'll wait just a few more minutes, I won't have to," the other man was pointing toward the monitor showing the convention hall.

Jetta arrived, her long purple trenchcoat flowing around her. "Sorry loves! I would have been here sooner but the—"

"Quiet," Pizzazz hissed, her eyes fixed on the monitor. "It's starting!"

Roxy moved to the edge of her chair, her eyes wide. "What...are they wearing?"

The edge came back to Riot's voice again. His icy stare found Minx. "Yes...what are they wearing?"

"Everyone shut up!" Pizzazz shouted, preventing any answer.

On the large screen, five familiar females filed onto the circular stage. The Holograms took their positions behind their instruments, Raya being the last to situate herself. Jem stepped up behind the microphone stand and addressed the crowd as it quieted.

"Good morning, everyone! Thank you all for coming out to GrungeCon!" Applause followed. "I hope you're all ready to have a great time, I know we are! Our set was inspired by all the great performers who established the Grunge sound, Bert Korbain, Eddie Better, and groups like Pearl Garden and Sound Temple! We hope you enjoy our take on their pioneering sound!"

Taking the microphone from the stand, Jem held up her hand. Above her, the huge display came to life. At first, the image was of the stage, then it flickered.

In the lounge, Pizzazz clapped her hands together in unmitigated glee. "I wish I was there to see the look on her face!"

A collage of images, all featuring the Misfits, began flashing on the screen. All audio to Jem and the Holograms' equipment was cut. Strong drum beats and even stronger guitar solos blasted through the convention room, eliciting cheers from the crowd. The first few strains of Surprise, Surprise began, its heavy synth sound replaced with Roxy's lead guitar and Jetta's back-up.

Pizzazz spoke the words, "I hope you like surprises," seconds before the chorus kicked in. "Just look at the crowd – they love us!"

It was true, the entire convention crowd was singing along, waving their fists, and getting into the Misfits' music. On stage, Jem and the others were confused, all of them exchanging glances.

"How are you doing this?" Roxy asked, standing.

Techrat tapped the screen. "Remote sensor control in the convention center's sound system. It wasn't hard to tap into it from here."

"Brilliant," Minx said, flashing him a smile.

So you like surprises; they're a lot of fun! I hope you like surprises! Well, here's another one! The song melded into I am a Giant. Again, the heavy synth-sound at the beginning was transformed into solid guitar and drums as only the Misfits could do. Stormer was impressed with the clear, clean sound and how the lyrics were complimented by the music instead of Pizzazz's usual insistence of them being filtered to be louder. The reverb on the guitar bridge was phenomenal. Strong and defiant – I am a giant, Pizzazz sang, the song already fading into How Does it Feel. A strong guitar lead opened the song, leading into the drum substitute she and Jetta arranged. The guitar grew stronger just before Pizzazz sang, how does it feel to be one the charts, how do you like the glamour, reaching a dizzying height in the few seconds between the next verse.

"This is tremendous!" Roxy said, coming to stand next to Pizzazz. "Listen to those cheers! Look at the shock on the faces of the Holograms!"

Images on the screen above the bewildered rock group were now short video clips of the Misfits' concerts, rehearsal sessions, even a few candid clips of them. The music overlaid was harder than their usual fare, more in keeping with the sound of the convention. Interspersed through their clips were pictures of 35th Avenue and SW Myrtle Street, Safeco Plaza, different people on the streets of Seattle, the Columbia Center, and other skyscrapers.

Roxy's hard guitar brought the whole thing to close – causing the GrungeCon crowd to explode into applause. On the screen above the Holograms, the words, This has been a Stingers Sound production, appeared. For a full two minutes after, the crowd was chanting, Misfits Rule! Misfits Rule! Misfits Rule!

Eric's phone pinged. He smiled. "Guess whose latest remix has just jumped six places on Spotify? You're welcome!"

Techrat muted the sound on the monitor as Jem and the others' systems were restored. Rapture came around the back of the sofa to stand in front of the monitors while the Misfits began to cheer and celebrate behind her. She took a much closer look at the outfits the Holograms were wearing.

"Riot, do you see what Kimber is wearing?"

Not moving, he answered. "Yes, I do. A very familiar purple dress."

"Those are the same dresses Regine made – for us!"

"With a few alterations," Minx added, her expression sour.

"Torn in all the right places," Riot said. "Impressive job...for one so inexperienced."

"How was I to know?" Minx asked, holding her hands up. "They were supposed to destroy them, not add to their appeal!"

Riot's eyebrow rose. "They? I thought I told you to stay away from Regine!"

"I was—"

"Enough! We've seen what we came here to see, we're leaving now."

Eric was on his feet, his phone in the air. "Just wanted you to see how it's done, partner. Maybe next time you'll let me handle the Stingers' next performance interruption."

"Not likely," Riot said, already heading toward the door. "Minx! Rapture!"

The Misfits were left with a jubilant, smug Eric. On the monitor, Jem and the Holograms were playing to the crowd, who seemed to enjoy their set, but the Misfits had already set the tone for them. Pizzazz would not come down from this high for some time. She all but floated around the room.

---

Monday morning, Regine seated herself across the table from Jem and the Holograms. Danielle DuVoison joined them after a while. Dressed in a flattering purple dress, her short blond hair was swept to one side. Rio pulled her chair out.

"Thank you," she said, her French accent as thick as ever. "I don't believe I have ever seen such a dazzling view! Even the majestic Mount Rainier is visible today!"

"Seattle's Space Needle Sky City does not disappoint," Kimber said, toasting the view with a full glass of water.

"Neither do Jem and the Holograms!" Regine said, tapping her own glass against Kimber's. "What a tremendous performance you all put on!"

Shana raised her glass. "And, we looked amazing doing it! I have to say, I had my reservations when you brought in those dresses! I recognized them right away from the ones you brought to Starlight House just before going to the Stingers. But, stripped of all the pomp and circumstance, they were pretty amazing!"

"I just don't know...how they were ripped up before the show," Regine said, shaking her head. "They were all intact – you saw them!"

Raya raised a glass as well. "However it happened, it was a triumph! Jim Sunn, Gina Garza and Mac Rosen have been all over social media about your looks!"

"To a job well done, by all of us!" Jem said, raising her glass with the others. Aja, Rio, and the countess joined in the toast. "I'm afraid I can't stay for brunch, everyone. I have other plans but I'll see you all in Los Angeles."

Danielle rose from her chair. "Just where to you go when you are not with these girls, eh? What sort of exotic hotspot do you retire to, away from the prying eye of the public? I ask because I would love to join you one day."

"One day, Countess, I'll take you along." Jem said with a broad smile. "See you later, everyone! Have a safe flight home."

Rio watched as Jem walked across the room toward the entrance. Coming inside, Jerrica paused just long enough to exchange words with the singer. Because he was looking at them when it happened and because he knew what to look for, he noticed the subtle shimmer in the two figures. Jerrica, dressed in a pair of blue pants and a white blouse, came toward them. Jem, in gray pants and a pale pink blouse, continued on her way out of the Sky City restaurant.

"Amazing," he said under his breath. "Just...amazing, Emmett."

"Hi, everyone!" Jerrica called out as she reached their table. "I'm glad you're all here! I have the most excellent news!"

"We already know," Kimber said, her grin wide.

"You...already know?"

"Sure! We can read!" The redhead held up her phone. "We got the whole front page of Harriet's blog page – in spite of the Misfits' little stunt! Outrageous, huh?"

"It is, but I was talking about more personal news. Rio? Would you like to tell them?"

Standing, he held up his left hand, showing off the platinum band with the singular purple band embedded in it. Everyone gasped. Jerrica came over then slipped an arm around his waist. Kimber was incredulous.

"You didn't...get married?" She asked, her face pale.

"No," Jerrica chuckled. "But in a month and a half, we're going to!"

-END-


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