PART THREE: TO HELL AND BEYOND
Chapter Six: Legal Wrangles
"I think we made good progress this
lunchtime, Miss Gabor."
Across town, as Pizzazz and her legal representatives left the high
class restaurant, one of the men took her to one side. "The evidence is
more than enough for a successful verdict based on probabilities, and
I'm fairly confident we can extract a good settlement. It's possible
that, in light of this, an out of court judgement could be pursued - I
haven't made contact with Mr Raymond's legal representation yet, but
that could be offered on the table, if you so wished."
"Out of court?" Pizzazz looked surprised. "But we have the stronger
case, don't we?"
"Much." The attorney agreed. "But with everything at your company, the
court case is going to prove a heavy distraction. Plus, it may be very
expensive...whereas a settlement could be negotiated fairly painlessly
based on the evidence we have. Raymond is guilty, we're all aware of
that. It should be a piece of cake to pull strings in that department."
Pizzazz frowned, shaking her head.
"I want to go to court." She said simply. "It's not just about the
money, it's about showing that jerk what Gabors do to people who screw
them over. I don't care what it costs - the company isn't putting up
the money to do this. I am - and Daddy will help me, if I need him to.
We don't just want to sue Eric. We want to ruin him completely. The
more high profile this whole business is, the better. We have enough
junk to go to court with, you said?"
"Then serve him with papers." Pizzazz cut across the man's
protestations. "As soon as possible. Sooner, even. He's going to get
what's coming to him, in a big way."
With that she crossed the forecourt to her car, climbing into the
driver's seat and revving the engine. It had been some time since she'd
driven regularly, still haunted to some degree by her violent accident,
but now she wanted simply to be alone, to run over in her head the mass
of ideas and thoughts that were threatening to overwhelm her.
"Eric's done for, and I know Daddy has the strings to pull to make sure
this court date is not in the distant future." She muttered. "We've got
all our evidence ready and we're going to have this settled by
Christmas. The company will be okay, that Martescu jerk is there,
fixing it up and it has money again. We will win through this. It's
easy, really. Obvious, even. So why do I feel so damn confused over it
She put her car up a gear, speeding onto the freeway whilst absently
checking her make-up in the overhead mirror. "And I do look frazzled,
despite everything. That's got to stop. I'm not going to go to court
and make people think I'm worried about facing Eric or anything else.
I'm not going to be worried about anything. I'm just going to be the
righteous and indignant employer who was scammed by one of her office
staff. That's all. Hrm, I wonder if I have the wardrobe to pull that
off - we might have to hit the credit cards before we go to court."
She flicked on the indicator, swerving across the road to take the next
turning as she headed into the centre of the city, ignoring the angry
horns of other drivers. As she pulled onto the forecourt of one of the
city's most exclusive shopping plazas, she checked her appearance once
more, frowning at her uncharacteristic pallor and brushing away
imaginary worry lines from her brow before stepping out onto the white
paving slabs. People around her began to whisper and jostle for a
glimpse of the famous Misfit and despite herself, she felt mollified by
the attention, even pausing to sign a couple of autographs before
heading determinedly into the centre itself.
"People might think it suspicious, you shopping in this place when
you're company is on the verge of financial ruin."
As she flicked through a rack of executive outfits in the mall's most
expensive studio boutique, she was accosted by a short, plump
gentleman, smartly dressed, and with glasses that perched awkwardly on
the end of his nose. As she eyed him in confusion, he offered her a
patently false smile, holding out his business card.
"Lewis Sherman, Miss Gabor. Mr Raymond's attorney. I'm sure you'll
agree that it'll provide compelling evidence at this little show trial
of yours, that I've tracked you here when things are so uncertain back
Pizzazz gathered her wits, eying the man coldly.
"I have nothing to say to you." She said flatly. "My legal advisors are
serving papers to your client as we speak - everything you need to know
will be contained in those."
"But looking at thousand dollar outfits...you have to admit, it's
"Not when my father owns a billion dollar empire, and not when I have
credit cards with a limit you could only dream of." Pizzazz snapped,
dropping the outfit she had been looking at back onto the rack and
fixing the man with her most predatorial glare. "This isn't company
money, as my financial statements would soon prove. My legal advisors
have full access to that information, also. Since this is an open and
shut case, you really don't think you can bait me into dropping my
"Well, that depends on the type of civil suit we'd be talking about."
Sherman leant back against the end of the rack, a self-satisfied look
on his round face. "Mr Raymond divulged everything to me about his time
at Misfits Music, Miss Gabor."
"Then you already know he's guilty. What's that got to do with me?"
Pizzazz snapped. "Spit it out and get out of my face, before I file a
suit against you for unwelcome harassment, too!"
"Everything, Miss Gabor." The man's smile widened. "Including a certain
after-hours business arrangement the two of you seem to have had."
Pizzazz, who had opened her mouth to speak, paused at this, fighting to
keep her expression calm and disinterested.
"I have no idea what you mean." She managed at length, clenching and
unclenching her fist behind her back as she struggled to keep her
composure. "Business arrangement? You mean the Moss deal?"
"No, Miss Gabor. I don't." Sherman leant closer to her, then,
"I mean the events of a sexual nature that occured within the confines
of your music company."
Somehow, Pizzazz managed to inject outrage into her expression.
"What in hell are you saying about me?" She exclaimed. "Dammit, do you
have any idea what kind of trouble slander can get you into?"
"And do you know that it's a criminal offence to sexually harass and
forcibly seduce a company employee against his will?" The lawyer seemed
unruffled. Pizzazz stared at him. Then anger flared up inside of her,
and she shoved the lawyer aside.
"Don't try and bait me." She said darkly. "The only after hours
activities that went on in that office related to sponsorship from
Moss's company, and that was it. Anything else Eric has fed you is a
lie. I have much more self respect than to even look at a man twice my
age - especially that man - in that way. Do you think I'm really that
desperate, to seduce him? On company property? Where anyone could see
"You tell me, Miss Gabor." Sherman shrugged his shoulders. "You tell
Pizzazz quelled the urge to shake or throttle the man, fixing him with
a steely glare.
"Well, I advise you to think on it." She said quietly. "Because it's
very hard to prove something for which no evidence exists. I have
numerous witnesses who can vouch for my character and the character of
Eric Raymond. I have people who can testify that he's a self serving
liar, a coward and a cheat. My people will knock any case you build up
into pieces before it even touches the table. There was never any
sexual relationship between your client and me, so take that and work
it out for yourself. If I were you, I'd be very careful in venturing
that kind of allegation into a courtroom proceeding, wouldn't you? Your
client is already on rocky ground. If I have my way, he won't ever work
in the United States again. I advise you to think very cautiously about
how you approach this situation, Mr Sherman. Gabors aren't people you
tangle with lightly."
Sherman eyed her thoughtfully.
"I almost believe you." He said at length. "Almost, but not quite. Of
course, if you were to drop the suit, I'm sure that Mr Raymond would be
happy to forgo the idea of a counter-suit..."
"There will be no counter-suit." Pizzazz's eyes flashed dangerously.
"Not if either of you know what is good for you. This case is going to
court and you can't intimidate me by threatening me with fictional
allegations. Now get out of my way. I'm busy, and you're starting to
tick me off."
She pushed past him, heading out of the shop and across the main
thoroughfare, stalking into another boutique and withdrawing herself to
the furthest corner of the store as she fought to bring her heartrate
under control. Anger and fear both mingled within her but, mindful of
the fact she was a high profile figure in a public place, she forced
herself to keep composed, pushing down the urge to break into a rage.
"But he has a nerve." She muttered, running her fingers through her
thick wavy hair as she pretended to engross herself in the display in
front of her. "Would he dare? Could he? How far would I have to go to
bury that case in pursuit of nailing my own? Eric is slimy, that's for
sure, and the trouble is, he's telling the damn truth. I don't think
there's anything to prove it - it's his word against mine - but what if
there is something? What if Eric has a security tape or...or God knows
what to back up his story? He could ruin my reputation just as soon as
I could ruin his career. The stakes are going through the roof...and I
don't know how I should play this."
Methodically, she flicked through the dresses on display, discarding
them all in her mind and turning to leave the shop. There was no sign
of Sherman as she did so, and she allowed herself a moment of relief
that for now at least, he had stopped following her.
"But he was looking for a sign of weakness...and I hope I didn't give
him one." She mused. "I'm going to need to play this his way. Just in
case the situation arises, I'm going to need the others to be willing
to lie for me. Jetta and Roxy should be no trouble, but can I get
Stormer to swear the oath and lie on the stand, just to keep this out
of my father's line of vision? I wish I knew. I wish I knew..."
She glanced at her watch, muttering a curse under her breath as she
realised how late it was.
"I should have been back at the company a half hour ago." She realised.
"Dammit, its almost two o' clock and now Elliot will give me another
paternal speech on how unreliable it is to be tardy. Just what I need.
At least I'm not feeling sick any more. Between lunch and Sherman, I
should be - but thank God for small mercies, if nothing else. I have
enough to worry about without that."
She hurried out of the shopping centre, jumping into the front seat of
her car and pulling out of the car park, taking the turning for Misfits
Music and drawing onto the forecourt of the company as the minute hand
on her watch flicked onto the twelve. Climbing out of her car, she
headed inside, not even sparing a glance for the people on the front
security desk as she banged the button to bring the lift to the ground
Before long she was outside the main office and she shoved open the
door, catching Elliot by surprise.
"Well?" She demanded curtly. "What's new? Did you solve whatever it was
"I think so." Elliot gathered himself, nodding his head. "I'm pursuing
some ideas now, or I will be - I've just sent an intern to find Rory
Llewelyn and his girls. On further reflection, I think we might have
stumbled onto something positive for new funding."
"New funding and the Stingers?" Suspicion flashed into Pizzazz's eyes.
"What are you doing now?"
Neatly, Elliot outlined Jetta's proposal.
"It's rough and needs some working out, but as representatives for the
Stingers, this company would benefit from that kind of deal." He added.
"I've been working out the technicalities and speaking to a couple of
friends I have in the industry. I think it might be workable - with the
consent of the band, of course. And with your approval."
Pizzazz pursed her lips.
"This was Jetta's idea?" She asked doubtfully. Elliot shrugged his
"Mostly." He agreed. "As I said, I'm working out the real world
details. But yes, she had the idea. What's your take? You are the boss,
as you like to remind me. Do we run with this?"
"Yes." Pizzazz looked thoughtful. "So long as Riot and his bitches
don't strain too far on their leashes, I vote we do. Money coming in is
good, and there's no way we're pursuing the shares idea. That's
absolute - so make sure you get that into your head."
"Jetta already outlined your feelings on that subject, too." Elliot
nodded. "And if we can avoid that, we will - though I would not sell
anything behind your back. This is your company, and that would be
"You bet it would." Pizzazz said darkly. "Good. So we understand each
She leant up against the door frame.
"Are the others here, or did you scare them off?"
"Wouldn't know." Elliot spread his hands. "Jetta left here about a half
hour ago. No idea about the other two."
"Great." Pizzazz rolled her eyes. "And you call yourself a chief
executive, when you don't even know where people are."
"Nor do you." Elliot replied evenly. "Was there anything else, Miss
"Yes. Mind your lip." Pizzazz returned sharply. She turned to go, then
paused, eying him quizzically.
"Tell me something." She said slowly.
"Yes, Miss Gabor?"
"About Jetta." Pizzazz pursed her lips. "How much of this business junk
did you push onto her this lunch time?"
"Nothing that I haven't told you." Elliot assured her. "Why?"
"No reason." Pizzazz looked thoughtful. "I'm gonna let you tackle King
Popcorn Hair and his floozies. Ive other things to do this afternoon
and spending time around Riot is not on my agenda."
Before Elliot could respond, she had left the office, shutting the door
firmly behind her and heading down the corridor to the main studio,
peering inside for a sign of the other Misfits.
Stormer sat on the corner of a unit, manuscript paper spread out beside
her, but otherwise the room was empty. Pizzazz went to leave, then
paused, eying the songwriter doubtfully.
"I want to talk to you." She said quietly. Stormer jumped, sending
sheets of paper cascading to the floor.
"You startled me!" She exclaimed. "Pizzazz, what's up? Did it go badly
with the lawyers? You look worried."
"It went great with the lawyers." Pizzazz shook her head. "I handled
that, no problem. We've got one hell of a kickass case building,
and we're gonna sue his stupid brains out of his body with it."
"Well then, that's good, isn't it?" Stormer looked surprised. Pizzazz
"Damn good." She agreed, stepping into the studio and closing the door
behind her. "But we hit a snag."
"Eric's sleazy attorney tracked me into the city and collared me in one
of the boutiques downtown." Pizzazz sat down on the unit next to her
bandmate. "He was a jerk, and he's playing with fire...with things he
doesn't understand the first thing about."
"What's Eric up to now?" Stormer asked softly. "Something, obviously,
because you're upset about it and if it was nothing, you'd be laughing
Pizzazz closed her eyes briefly.
"He wanted to ask me about Eric." She said slowly. "He's talking about
sexual harassment and counter-suing me and...all kinds of crazy other
things. Not that there's any truth in it!" She added hurriedly. "But
Eric's a sleaze and he'll put out whatever he likes to get me over a
Stormer did not answer immediately, and Pizzazz shot her a glance.
"What?" She demanded. "I know that look. Spit it out, will you? I've
not got all day."
"You're saying that Eric's lawyer knows you and Eric had more than a
business relationship." Stormer said quietly. "Is that right?"
"I told you, it's not true."
"Pizzazz, don't lie to me." Stormer grasped her bandmate's hand
loosely. "Whatever you say to Eric's lawyers, at least be straight with
me, or I can't try and help."
Pizzazz glanced out of the window at the wisps of white cloud dotted
over the blue sky.
"It was insanity, or alcohol, or both." She said unsteadily. "I don't
know which, I don't care which. The accident shook me up and I did some
crazy things. But it was dumb. The dumbest thing I ever did and if
people knew - if Daddy knew...God, I couldn't face that. Eric's lawyer
is counting on me backing down because he's threatening to expose what
happened if I don't. I can't back off - this is too important to
me. But what if he does expose me? What if he has proof, dammit?"
"How could he have proof?" Stormer asked sensibly. "To back down would
be to give him that proof - the idea that you had something to hide.
Pizzazz, Roxy suspected you and Eric had...crossed the line before we
confronted you about the other stuff going on. She and Jetta both did.
They went over the security tapes looking for evidence of it, but there
wasn't any there. Only you guys working late, which could mean anything
at all. You're the boss, he was the chief executive...and you were
negotiating that sponsorship deal pretty much right up till his
dismissal. There's every reason that you could have been at the office,
settling up all the technicalities."
Pizzazz fell silent, digesting this. Then she nodded her head.
"I know that." She agreed. "But even just saying it...even if he can't
prove it. It would be his revenge...casting aspersions about me so that
people would always wonder. Daddy would wonder. He doesn't know half
the things I've done, but he knows enough to know there have been guys,
and usually ones he doesn't approve of. He'd wonder if it was another
sign of rebellion - and we're getting on so much better these days. I
don't want to...you know...screw that up."
She bit her lip.
"Now I sound soft as hell, too." She said bitterly. "But I'm not sure
how to make him shut his stupid face. Bad enough it happened. The world
doesn't need to know about it. And even if I could get Roxy and Jetta
to lie for me on the stand...people'd be more likely to believe you,
and I'm not sure I could make you lie for me. Could I?"
"In a court of law?" Stormer looked troubled. "No, Pizzazz. I'm not
sure I could do that."
"So what can I do to shut him up?"
Stormer pursed her lips.
"If it's a war of words and threats, you should be able to win that."
She said thoughtfully. "If there is no evidence on the table, then the
story can swing both ways, can't it?"
"Meaning Eric is a lot older than you are. He's crafty. Experienced,
perhaps..." Stormer chewed on her thumbnail as she thought out loud.
"Perhaps you didn't seduce him, Pizzazz. Maybe he seduced you, when you
were still suffering from post-traumatic shock, after the accident.
Maybe he's the bad guy. Do you see what I'm saying? If it's your word
on his, well, you have a lot of things on your side. You're a woman.
You're younger than he is. You've recently been in a major accident,
and you could easily use that as a reason for your vulnerability. It
doesn't even have to get to court. Not if you go on the offensive
first, and suggest that you have enough proof to indicate he made the
moves on you, and you did your best to resist him."
"You won't lie for me in court, but you'll help me twist the case?"
Pizzazz raised an eyebrow. "Your moral standards confuse me sometimes,
you know that?"
"But I'm right." Stormer said calmly. "And if you did pursue that
angle, well, it wouldn't be a case of lying in court. It would never
come to court at all. His lawyer wouldn't want to make the situation
worse for him. I don't know what happened between you guys, who kicked
it off and what happened. I don't care. Seems pretty obvious to me that
whoever began it, you both went along for the ride. But if his lawyer
is all for painting Eric as the victim, then he's underestimated the
whole picture. Without evidence, it's all circumstancial. And you're a
Gabor. Circumstancial should be easy."
Pizzazz's brows knitted together thoughtfully.
"You know, you're craftier than I gave you credit for. I woulda
expected that one to come from Jetta." She said slowly. "But you are
right, dammit. It is a war of words. I can win that. I don't even need
to get real legal people involved in it. I'll get you or Jetta to draft
up something that looks official. Not a writ, or anything like
that...but you know, a polite letter from my 'attorney' to his. Not
admitting that anything happened...but painting a different light on
it. The sleazy chief exec who tried to feel up his boss and then took
revenge on the company when it failed. It's almost perfect. I have to
admit, I like it."
"Then you've nothing to worry about." Stormer said with a grin. "But
get Jetta to write it, not me. She's better at the whole lying game
than I am."
"I think I will." Pizzazz sat back against the wall. "What are you
"Music, as ever. For when we finally make our triumphant comeback."
Stormer looked rueful. "Do you think it will be this year, or next?"
"Christmas, I hope. Maybe before." Pizzazz reflected. "I'm doing the
best I can to hit court as soon as possible. We've got all our evidence
ready, so the sooner, the better as far as I'm concerned."
"And what about the other side of it? Running the company? Are you
going to do that all on your own?" Stormer questioned, reaching down to
retrieve the fallen pieces of manuscript from the floor, and setting
them in the pile with the others. "Because that's going to be a lot to
take on, you know. Elliot won't be here forever."
"If I didnt know better, I'd say you liked that Martescu dude." Pizzazz
eyed her sharply. Stormer shrugged.
"He's nice and polite and helpful, and he's sorting out your company."
She said simply, though a faint blush touched her cheeks. "That's all."
"Well, keep it there." Pizzazz instructed. "Men are trouble, and I
don't want him staying longer than he has to."
"Then you are going to run this place yourself?"
"Yes, and no." Pizzazz shrugged her shoulders. "Let's just say I have
other plans in that department - and that's all I'm saying right at the
moment. For now the court case is more important...so I'd better go
track Jetta down. She has some correspondance to write!"