END OF THE LINE
Chapter Eight: Dilemma
"Kimber! Kimber, hang on!"
Kimber swung around, stopping and casting the speaker a faint smile as
she waited for them to catch up with her. Aja's blue eyes were clouded
over and her expression troubled, but she did not look angry, and the
redhead felt relieved. Aja was her closest confidant in so many ways,
and she was already feeling shaken up enough.
"Did she jaw you out too?" She asked, as Aja came alongside her. Aja
"Sort of." She admitted. "But to be honest, I'm not surprised. She just
overreacted, that's all."
"Maybe." Kimber frowned. "Aja, what am I going to do now? I know I said
that I was going to show Jerrica I didn't need her, but I really don't
any ideas in my head. It was temper talking, but I'm not going back on
I'm fed up with her trying to run my life." She paused. "You don't
Stormer is using me, do you?"
"No, of course I don't." Aja shook her head. "The Misfits are all
difficult characters to get a hold of, but Stormer's not like the rest
of them. She's one of the sweetest, most genuine people I ever met and
though I'm sure
she has a wicked streak deep down, I don't believe she'd betray your
friendship." She sighed. "It's very confusing for us all at the moment,
not knowing quite how to take things. The trouble is that Jerrica
hasn't let herself mingle with them like the rest of us have. She's
still wary, whilst we're getting to understand them all the more."
"I saw a different side of Roxy last night." Kimber admitted. "I've
always been kinda scared by her and her tough girl attitude, you know?
But last night
she was laughing and joking and making fun of Stormer and me - it was
like it was the most normal thing in the world for me to be there. She
care. And I realised exactly why Stormer is so fond of her. She might
rough and tough and violent sometimes, but she's a lot of fun to hang
"Yeah, I found that too." Aja pursed her lips. "But Jerrica won't see
it. It's all right for Roxy to fix the roadster, but it's not all right
for us to hang out with her. I don't know. Your sister needs a vacation
very badly indeed, I think Raya had that exactly right. She's going to
drive herself into the ground."
"So what am I going to do?"
"I suggest that right now you go home, take a swim in the pool and just
relax and think things through." Aja suggested.
"I don't know...I don't want to go back there." Kimber admitted.
"Staying under the same roof as her in this mood might not be a good
idea, anyway. Think of the girls!"
"True." Aja frowned. "Then where will you go? Starlight Mansion belongs
to all of us, Kimber. You shouldn't feel that it doesn't."
"I love Starlight Mansion, I just need a break." Kimber responded. "I
think I'm going to beg sanctuary from Stormer, but I'm a little
apprehensive about doing that. Pizzazz came back early this morning,
and it was hard enough getting
out of there without her seeing me. There's no way I could stop there
without her permission. Jetta almost bust a gut at me this morning as
"Well, if they can't help you, promise me that you'll come home." Aja
"All right, I promise." Kimber agreed. "But I meant what I said about
quitting, Aja. I don't want to be a Hologram right at the moment. I've
always loved the group and our music but it's becoming such a chore -
like a really bad summer class at high school which you only do because
you need extra credit to pass!"
"Kimber, the Holograms aren't likely to be doing any playing for a
while, anyway." Aja said quietly. Kimber looked startled.
"Jerrica...pretty much threw me out." Aja admitted.
"What?" Kimber's jaw dropped.
"She said if I came after you I would be out of the band." Aja
A small smile touched Kimber's face.
"But you still came."
"Of course I did." Aja responded. "You're my sister and that's more
important to me. Jerrica shouldn't have hit you, either. She needs time
out to cool down and I wanted to make sure you were okay." She smiled.
"If the Holograms are strong enough, things will work out somehow. If
not, then I don't regret it. You mean more to me than the band,
"Maybe I really will go solo." Kimber looked thoughtful. "I could, you
know. I can write, I can play, I'm talented enough. Dad always hinted
that he'd promote me as a solo artist if it was what I wanted when I
graduated. Even that jerk Eric Raymond tried to lure me away for a solo
deal. I'm not saying I'd ever get involved in anything he ran, Aja," As
her companion looked anxious, "But it means that other people think I
have the potential to do it, too. I've struck out on my own before,
too. I think I can do this."
"Don't jump into anything. Think it through first." Aja warned. "You
won't have Stormer this time - I don't think she's looking to leave the
"I know, and I wouldn't ask her to." Kimber responded. "Don't worry,
Aja. Whatever I decide, I'll think it through." She dimpled. "Hey,
though, here's an outrageous idea for the time being."
"Go on." Aja fixed her sister with a thoughtful look. "What kind of
"How about you and I team up and release a record, huh? We have our
song...we could do this."
"I dunno, Kimber..."
"Look, the music company is half mine, and you're clever, you could
handle the business junk that we'd need, right? We'd not have any
trouble, and our song rocks, you know that!"
"Yes, maybe, but the problem was already that we didn't have enough
musicians. How are we going to lay down the track with just two of us?"
"Let me think about it. I'll work something out." Kimber decided. "In
the meantime, shall we go get ice cream and discuss it? I could use a
"Sounds good." Aja agreed, though her blue eyes were still troubled.
"But I hope that somehow Jerrica will calm down and see sense, Kimber.
We've been family for so long...I don't want to lose that!"
"You know, Raya, I never realised how patient you are."
Shana carefully helped her friend into a soft blue jacket, pinning the
ends of the sleeves as she did so and glancing across at Regine for the
thumbs up before she stood back to take a look. "We've been at this for
hours and you haven't complained once!"
"I'm actually enjoying it." Raya looked embarrassed. "You both are so
talented, too, I love the things you've made." She turned to examine
her reflection in the mirror. "They're beautiful."
"I hope Mr Evanson agrees." Shana sighed. "I'm so nervous about this."
"He will be fine." Regine assured her. "He liked the rough sketches you
gave him and the clothes he wanted to see then...and these look better
they did on the paper. How can we fail?"
"You guys should really make something of this talent you both have."
Raya decided, posing as Shana lifted her camera to take a photograph
for her folder. "It's one thing dressing the Holograms, but it's rather
limited too. I know lots of people who'd love to be wearing these kinds
"Well, with the band and all, I'm kinda tied." Shana set the camera
down, taking a sip of coffee and pausing once more to scrutinise her
friend's apparel. "As soon as we went on tour, you see, Regine would be
left in the lurch and I don't want to do that to her. We have enough
work as it is for two of us, with little on the side projects like this
one." She cast Regine a grateful smile. "I know I wouldn't have gotten
everything so close to being ready if
I hadn't had Regine's help."
"Well, I am learning all the time from working with you." Regine
dimpled. "Which reminds me, I spoke to the secretary of M. Evanson last
night. She told me that he had everything prepared for the shoot -
including the models and everything - and would be here tomorrow
morning to collect the last
of the clothing. Can we be ready by then?"
"I hope so." Shana rolled her eyes. "Raya, how does it feel? Is it
comfortable? I know it's a mite tall for you, because we're working to
sizes Mr Evanson gave us, but it looks all right."
"It feels fine." Raya nodded. She looked wistful. "You have so much
talent. I wish I could do something like this."
"Aww, c'mon Raya, don't be like that." Shana grinned, giving the other
girl a hug. "Look, if what Jerrica said is still bugging you..."
"No...not really." Raya said slowly. "I just feel that I'm very useless
sometimes, and well, Jerrica's words last night did not help it any."
"Is there something wrong with the 'Olograms?" Regine's dark eyes
widened in surprise and curiosity.
"No, something's wrong with Jerrica." Shana sighed, sinking down into a
chair and rolling her eyes. "She's working way too hard and it's
to show. She's lashing out at everyone -yesterday it was Kimber, last
it was Raya..."
"And I guess this morning it was me."
The trio turned at the sound of a fresh voice from the doorway,
uttering exclamations of surprise as they registered the speaker.
"Aja!" Raya exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Danielle let me in - I remembered Shana was working here with Regine
this morning and Mrs Bailey told me you had gone with her to help." Aja
quietly. "I guess I needed a friendly ear. If you thought that things
a mess yesterday, well, they've taken a turn for the worse this
"Do you want me not to be here?" Regine asked quickly. "If this is
"Regine, you can stay." Shana assured her. "You're a friend of the
Holograms - that's good enough."
"Besides, there aren't any Holograms right at the moment." Aja said
"What do you mean?" Raya stared at her. Aja spread her hands.
"Kimber quit." She said quietly. "Jerrica and she had the biggest row
I've ever seen them have, and Kimber walked out. I...I went after her,
but Jerrica told me there and then if I went after Kimber I was out of
the band." She bit her lip. "But Kimber's as good as my sister. I
wanted to be sure she was
Shana cursed under her breath, then,
"So what happens now?" She asked. Aja shrugged.
"Kimber's gone to beg sanctuary at the Gabor Estate, but with Pizzazz
back who knows if she'll be successful." She replied. "Jerrica's gone
over the top on this one, but to be honest it's rubbed Kimber up the
wrong way. Now Kimber is all for proving to Jerrica that she's not a
kid and can be successful in her own right. Not to mention choose her
own friends. I bet if it wasn't for the fact Jerrica tried to stop her
hanging out with Stormer, she wouldnt be going to the Gabor place right
"It is probable." Raya looked troubled. "And you? Will you go home
"I don't have a choice. It's that or a hotel, since Craig isn't in
America at the moment." Aja looked helpless. "I wish he was."
"Home's gonna be no fun for the girls tonight." Shana observed quietly.
"If Jerrica's in this kinda mood, and if you ain't in her best books,
vibes are gonna spread. We've twelve girls in our care, Aja...what
"That worries me, too." Aja admitted. "The Starlight Girls are our
family as much as each of us are and if we break up, what happens to
them? Who will fund them? It's crazy."
"Jerrica needs to realise that the Starlight Girls need the Holograms."
"Well, Kimber wants to release our song anyway - her and me." Aja said
with a frown. "I think it's problematic because we're missing too many
instruments, but she seems to think it can be figured out. Whether it
can or can't be, she wanted to do it for the Foundation - the girls
mean a lot to Kimber too, after all, and I think she realised that her
walking out on the Holograms is gonna affect them somehow, no matter
what. This is where I'm kinda tied. At first I wasn't sure we should
even be talking about using Starlight Music behind Jerrica's back to
promote this song, but when Kimber brought the Starlight girls into the
equation, well, surely if it was a big hit, the proceeds would wind up
going to the girls and things would be all right for them, at least for
"It's all such a mess." Shana bit her lip. "I mean, Regine and I can
clothe the kids - we often do, and they don't mind wearing what we
make, thankfully. If they were a bunch of designer mad beauty queens
we'd be in trouble, but they're happy just to look good without a label
emblazoned across what they wear, so that's something. I know I have to
make Dierdra a new party dress once this fashion shoot is out of the
way. I did promise I'd have it done for her before the summer dance."
"It's not so much clothes as other things. Food. Electricity. Phone.
Water. Recreation." Aja counted them off on her fingers. "And of
course, if we're fighting, it makes their homelife dysfunctional. It's
hard enough being a foster kid in such a big family without all that."
"So then, we have to make Kimber and Jerrica make friends again, and
you also." Raya said simply. "It is the only way."
"Kimber's adamant that she doesn't want to speak to Jerrica or be a
Hologram." Aja shook her head. "She's a sweetheart, but stubborn as
they come when she's made up her mind."
"But for the girls..."
"Perhaps you should speak to Rio?" Regine asked softly. "He loves
Jerrica and they are so close. Perhaps he can help the situation?"
"You know, Regine, that's actually not a bad idea." Shana acknowledged.
"Rio does know Jerrica as well as any of us and he might just be able
make her relax. He coaxed her out for lunch the other day and I think
did her some good. We're all agreed that she needs a vacation. Maybe we
convince Rio to take her on one. It's not like the Holograms have any
concert dates really, or at least, we won't once this story hits the
"And in the meantime?"
"Well, maybe you and Kimber should see about that song." Shana
"I'm not sure either about going behind Jerrica's back, but where the
are concerned, we can't let them down. You and I were Starlight girls,
Aja...you know that."
"I'm still as much one as ever." Aja assured her. "And I know you're
right. But logistically I don't see how we can do a song with two
people that requires six players."
"Well, two down and four to go." Regine told her.
"And I will play drums for it." Raya made up her mind in an instant. "I
do not wish to cause conflict with Jerrica but also I see that the
Starlight girls need our support."
"Thanks, Raya." Aja flashed her a grateful smile. "Shana? Will you play
"I'd love to, Aja, but I'm not sure I can." Shana bit her lip. "I was
pushing it a little with Hologram practices and the designing and all.
If money's gonna be tight then I'm going to have to make all new school
threads for the
girls for the summer rather than us going shopping with them and I'm
to have my hands full with that. If I can do it, then you know I will,
I can't promise you."
"Well, thanks for the thought." Aja assured her. "It's all right, we'll
work it out. You'll be doing your bit by the girls with the clothes,
all. That's more than enough."
"I hope it will be." Shana admitted.
"I think that all we can do is do whatever we can until things are
stable to keep the Starlight Foundation afloat." Raya said wisely. "If
there is no
Jem and the Holograms, then there is no steady income for the company.
will have to reshuffle a lot of things, and I think if we can possibly
other ways to raise funds for the girls, then it will take the pressure
Starlight Music. Surely that will be better for all of us?"
"If Jerrica and Kimber calm down and things go back to normal,
fine."Shana pursed her lips. "But if they don't, then Raya has it
right. We all have
to do whatever we can to support the girls in the meantime, and prepare
for the worst. Starlight Music will be all right, I have no doubt about
that. It has other acts. But only Jem and the Holograms plough all of
their revenue into making the Foundation a good place for the girls.
It's our responsibility to make sure that that money keeps coming in,
whatever the status of the band."
"I agree." Aja nodded. "Which is why Kimber has almost talked me into
doing this song, even though it will have to be without Jerrica's
"Yes." Shana frowned. "Aja, if you don't mind, I think I'm gonna call
Anthony and ask him if I can camp out at his place tonight. If home's
gonna be a warzone I don't really wanna be there, and I've loose ends
to finish up with this stuff. I need some peace and quiet to do it."
"It's okay, I don't blame you." Aja told her. "If I had somewhere else
to go, I wouldn't be going to Starlight Mansion either. Raya, what
"I promised to help Anne with her Spanish tonight." Raya shrugged. "She
asked me at breakfast. I will come to the Starlight Mansion. I won't
my promise and anyway, if Shana and Kimber are not there, you and I
be in case Jerrica is working late again."
"Let's hope she is." Aja rubbed her temples. "I don't want a fight in
full view of the girls, if it can be avoided! Bad enough that they'll
soon work out exactly what's going on!"