A subtle cool breeze swept through as the waves softly crashed against the cliff-side, interrupting an otherwise hot evening on the Southern California coast. It hovered around the mid-90s for much of the day, slightly warmer than average for August. Not a cloud was in the sky as the sun glistened off the sparkling blue ocean. Sailboats could be seen off in the distance as a pod of whales were spotted nearby. It was truly a magnificent scene.
As the evening tide rolled in, a large crowd had gathered beneath an iridescent white tent that stood atop one of the cliff-side estates in Malibu. A line of limousines and luxury cars were stretched along the Pacific Coast Highway as guests made their way to the gated estate where a Champagne and caviar bar greeted them upon their arrival. The fountain lights were lit brightly in anticipation of sunset and the falling water created a calm mist to cool down the star-studded guest list. Everyone was huddled around with flutes in hand, waiting for the event of the season to begin. Suddenly, the four-piece orchestra began, signaling everyone to take their seats.
Raya Alonzo appeared from the French chateau-inspired mansion that stood on the property and began her way towards the ceremony. She was dressed in a pale pink, off the shoulder gown, holding a bouquet of bright pink roses. As she reached the halfway point between the tent and the house, Aja Leith appeared, followed by Shana Elmsford and finally Kimber Benton – all in the same pale pink gown, all holding bright pink bouquets of roses.
Riot stood in front of the guests with his groomsmen at his side. He glanced over to Minx and Rapture who were seated next to his parents and smiled. He knew it was only a matter of time before his beautiful bride would make her way down to him. As Kimber joined the rest of the bridal party, the string quartet began to play Pachelbel's Canon in D and Jem made her way to her handsome groom in waiting. She wore a stunning couture strapless white taffeta gown, which had a radiant pink glow against the vibrant sun. A Swarovski crystal belt accentuated her svelte figure. The dress was a perfect match to the iconic pink-haired singer's sense of style. Riot beamed at the sight of his love approaching.
Once the rock star reached her groom, the Reverend began. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Jem and Riot." The couple exchanged sweet glances. "If there is any reason why these two should not be united in Holy Matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace."
The crowd remained silent. As the Reverend was about to continue on with the ceremony, a figure stood up at the back of the crowd. "I object!" a familiar voice said out loud, followed by a sinister laugh. Stunned, everyone turned their heads to see who would object to such a perfect match. It was Pizzazz.
"What's the meaning of this?" Riot demanded to know. "And how did you get in here? You're supposed to be at the Betty Ford Center."
"Never mind how I got in here," the Misfit replied. "Do your parents know that the woman you're about to marry isn't really who she says she is?"
"What are you talking about?" Jem interjected.
"Isn't it time to reveal to the world who you really are, Jerrica Benton?" Pizzazz retorted. Everyone gasped. Jem and Riot were speechless.
"This is not the time nor the place for your antics, Pizzazz!" an irate Riot sneered, motioning for security to take her away.
"But how did you know?" a shocked Jem gasped.
"I overheard Minx and Rapture talking about it," she revealed.
"How did you two know?" a stunned Jem said, turning to the two Stingers, who were unsure how to respond. "How did you two know?" she asked again. Their heads turned to Riot whose face had turned from a look of shock to a look of horror. "You told them?" she demanded to know.
"I'm sorry, Jerrica," he quickly replied. "I-I-I didn't mean to –,"
"How could you, Riot?" she began to cry. "You told me it was my secret to tell. I thought I could trust you!" she barked as she threw down her bouquet of white roses and ran towards the chateau, which Riot had purchased as a wedding gift for her. All four Holograms followed.
"Great!" Pizzazz remarked. "You can marry me now," she flamboyantly said to the Stinger.
An even more horrified look came across Riot's face. "Jerrica!" he began to yell. "Come back, Jerrica! Please come back!" he cried. Riot began to run after his bride, not paying any attention to his surroundings and suddenly fell into the pool. He tried swimming up to the surface, but couldn't. "I'm going to drown," he screamed. "I'm going to die before I can explain the truth to Jerrica!"
"Riot!" said a voice. "Riot, wake-up!" Drenched in sweat and gasping for air, Riot awoke from his nightmare. "Are you okay, man?" Anthony Julien asked.
"Anthony!" he gaped as he caught his breath.
"Sorry to barge in your room like that," Anthony began, "but I heard you screaming Jerrica's name from down the hall."
"It was just a nightmare," the Stinger murmured. "It was a horrible nightmare."
"Care to talk about it?" his friend asked. Riot despondently shook his head no, not wanting to reveal the truth about Jem's identity to him. "That bad, huh?" Anthony asked. Riot nodded yes. "I need to head out. I have a meeting with my real estate agent to close on the house," he explained. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine. Thank you, Anthony," his friend reassured him.
The two had become fast friends since the Stingers hired Anthony to direct their first music video. It seemed like an odd friendship at first with their contrasting personalities. However, their mutual respect for each other professionally, as well as their love for basketball, set the stage for a great new alliance in Hollywood. With their respective relationships with Jerrica and Shana, Riot and Anthony found themselves spending more time together on a social level. So when Anthony decided to put his condo on the market and it quickly sold, leaving him without a place to live before the wedding, Riot generously offered for Anthony to stay with him at his sprawling penthouse until the big day.
"Alright, I'll see you later, man!" Anthony replied as he turned to leave.
Riot heard the front door shut as got out of bed to head to the shower. His dream was on the forefront of his mind. It had become a recurring nightmare since the Independence Day concert over a month ago. While Minx and Rapture had made good on their promise not to mention anything about their knowledge of Jem actually being Jerrica, Riot was constantly feeling guilty for not being honest with her. Although he wasn't the one who told them, he felt responsible for not guarding her secret like he had promised her. It pained him to keep this secret from her, but it worried him even more to think he could lose her for good if she found out.
Despite the guilt he carried, the past few weeks had been the best ever in his life. After the fiasco at the concert, Rio left Los Angeles for good. No one knew exactly where he went, but Riot heard from a reliable source that he had accepted a job offer from a computer software company in Seattle. Then there was Pizzazz. Once her father got wind of her schemes against Riot and Jerrica, Harvey Gabor immediately checked her into a mental ward for psychiatric evaluation. Embarrassed by her behavior, Mr. Gabor promised to give Riot anything he wanted that money could buy as long as he kept Pizzazz's stint in the mental ward a secret. Instead, the press were told by Stingers Sound that she had checked into a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse. Losing Stormer, Pizzazz and their music contract, the Misfits officially disbanded.
With the Misfits gone from the record label and Craig Phillips as the company's new executive producer, a new breath of life swept through Stingers Sound. Eric Raymond was still missing, but that had no bearing on business. Riot had taken Stingers Sound from the cellars of the music industry and made it one of the sought after companies to sign with in just a matter of months. Teaming up with Starlight Music had been great for business and Jerrica was a greater mentor than Raymond could have ever been, if he had been around. In the midst of regular business matters, Riot had the company's legal team looking into removing Eric as co-owner of Stingers Sound, citing job abandonment. Riot had a feeling it would be just a matter of time before he would own the company outright. This made him even more driven and confident to take Stingers Sound to the top of the music world. Everything was falling into place for him professionally.
Remembering his meeting with the lawyers for later that morning, Riot turned to the digital clock in his bathroom to check the time. It read 8:45 AM. "Time to go," he sighed as he turned off the faucet and dried off his tanned and toned body. It was time to conquer another day for the hottest name in music.