"What exactly is it you're asking, Mr Raymond?"
The tall dark man peered at his companion over the top of his glasses,
his lips pursed in a thin smile. "That we hurry through this agreement
without properly waiting for the correct authorisation? I understood
Misfit Music was a Gabor owned enterprise. Surely Mr Gabor should be a
of this negotiation?"
"Mr Gabor doesn't run Misfit Music. I do." Eric said firmly, indicating
for the man to take a seat, then following suit. It was the following
morning and, bright and early, the music company's chief executive was
conducting a covert meeting on the top floor of Misfit Music's main
He was only too aware that Pizzazz had begun taking an unnatural
in business affairs since her recovery, and it would be no time at all
before she discovered what he was trying to do. Therefore he had
to take a gamble, and convince the investors that it was paramount that
the deal was concluded soon. He glanced up at the clock, inwardly
"It is owned by the Gabor network, yes, and nominally by Harvey's
daughter, Phyllis." He agreed. "But..."
He paused meaningfully.
"Phyllis Gabor?" The other man raised an eyebrow. "The rock singer?"
"Yes." Eric nodded. "She and her band are a big part of this company's
profits, but it's me behind the scenes who does all of the work." he
frowned. "Nevertheless, if it's her signature you require, I'm sure I
her down and bring up the matter with her. Obviously her first concern
is her music and she places a great amount of trust in me to oversee
business end of things. Naturally I do everything in my power,
to keep Misfit Music on an even keel. I've worked here ever since the
first opened - you will find that my credentials here are sound."
"I have every confidence in that, Mr Raymond. Our organisation doesn't
invest in unsound enterprises." The man told him coolly. "Would it not
be possible to speak to Miss Gabor herself?"
"She and the girls are very busy. She's recently been in hospital,
"I do read the papers, Mr Raymond." His companion held up his hand.
"Nonetheless, I must insist. It is a great deal of money we would be
putting into this business. I would rather do everything by the book."
Before Eric could respond, the office door opened and Pizzazz herself
entered, stopping dead at the sight of the stranger. She frowned in
confusion, casting Eric a searching look.
"What's all this?" She demanded. "Something up, Eric?"
"Ah...Pizzazz, you have perfect timing." Eric spoke in tones which
suggested quite the opposite. He got to his feet, indicating his
is Stanley Moss, he and his company want to invest in Misfit Music.
a lucrative sponsorship deal - something the company should really be
giving serious thought."
He turned a wan smile on his visitor.
"Mr Moss, may I present to you Misfits Music's owner, Phyllis Gabor."
"A sponsorship deal?" Pizzazz eyed Stanley sharply, then, "What kind
of sponsorship? What are you touting?"
"Musical instruments, Miss Gabor." Stanley held out his hand to shake
hers, and, hesitantly, she took it. "Your colleague, Mr Raymond...he
thinks that an agreement can be struck as soon as possible. We would
supply your company with our instruments for your artists to use, and
in return we would pay sponsorship for your other endeavours -
publicity, touring and the like. I'm glad to make your acquaintance -
it's a policy we have that we never
close deals without the consent of everyone in command."
He reached into his folder, pulling out a sheet of paper and handing
it to her. "These are the terms of our offer. If you'd consider reading
them over, I'd be much obliged to you."
Pizzazz took the sheet, glancing at it, then nodding her head.
"It'll be seen to." She said quietly.
"Good. Then I'll be on my way." Stanley smiled, a thin-lipped smile
that lacked all warmth. He nodded to Eric. "Mr Raymond, I'm sure we can
continue with this tomorrow, once Miss Gabor has had a chance to review
With that he swept out of the office, the door swinging shut behind
him. Pizzazz cast Eric a thoughtful look.
"Sponsorship?" She said softly. "What have you been doing since I got
hurt, Eric? How many other sponsorship deals are hidden away in
back-closets that I don't know about?"
"There's nothing wrong with lucrative backing. You should know that
yourself." Eric sounded impatient, crossing the office to the filing
cabinet and producing a folder. "Here. Since you were...unfortunately
detained in hospital, we've had two or three people contact us with a
view to supporting your enterprise. This one looked the best of the
bunch, so I was negotiating it. The company can benefit from it."
Pizzazz pursed her lips.
"Jetta thinks you're planning something." She said at length.
"Planning what?" Eric spread his hands. "If I was planning something,
wouldn't I have tried to get rid of you from the office, instead of
introducing you to Mr Moss? He was asking to meet you anyway - it could
not have worked out better."
"I suppose I better read his stupid terms." Pizzazz sighed, glancing
at the sheet of paper. "Great. There are a thousand things I'd rather
She raised her gaze. "Or you could give me a summary." She suggested.
"It's pretty much as Moss said." Eric retook his seat behind the desk.
"Instruments, sponsorship, all of that. We're talking a million dollars
here, Pizzazz. All driven into publicity and promotion for your company
most probably for the Misfits. And at the moment, they need that kind
injection of cash. Your father doesn't write so many cheques to keep
place going. Deals like this shouldn't be ignored."
"I don't need my father to tell me what to do or to pick up my
company's bills." She said acidly. "All right. Tell your Mr Moss to
forward his junk to me and I'll sign his contract. Don't suppose
there's any harm in it,
and it doesn't matter what brand of instrument we use. Roxy breaks
guitars anyhow. She keeps using the strings to fix her damn motorcycle.
I swear she should never have been allowed to buy that thing. Since she
did everything under the sun has disappeared to the garage."
She grimaced. "Well? Get onto it! If we're doing this, let's do it! No
time like the present."
"I'll pass the message on this very morning." Eric assured her,
inwardly hardly believing his luck. Pizzazz smiled.
"Good boy." She murmured, dropping the sheet of paper into the bin.
"You can fill me in on the boring details later."
Eric eyed her doubtfully for a moment, then he shrugged.
"Of course. You're the boss." He said genially. Pizzazz pursed her lips.
"Yeah." She agreed. "Whatever good that does me."
With that cryptic statement she was gone, leaving Eric taking a deep
breath and running his fingers through his hair.
"I thought I was a goner there." He muttered, as he pushed the folder
aside, hunting through his desk drawers for the real one. "Thank God
it's never been her style to read through documentation when there's
someone else to do it for her! I was getting worried that the accident
had made her more keen to be involved, but I guess not. I guess
it was just another
Pizzazz flash in the pan, and I can live with that."
He pursed his lips.
"Moss will get his paperwork signed - by me and by Pizzazz, by the
sounds of it - and that's one million bucks coming my way. She doesn't
know that the account it's going into isn't Misfit Music's. She never
that kind of thing, anyhow. She probably won't even notice. I've been
skimming off profits from this place off and on ever since I took up my
I should be a pro at it now."
He glanced up at the clock once more.
"Almost ten o' clock. I'll leave it till eleven then call Moss. I don't
want to seem desperate." He decided. "But you never know with Pizzazz
how things will end up. The sooner this is worked out, the better. Just
in case she decides to focus on her work for once!"
Pizzazz, for her part, had headed down to the lobby, intent on spending
the rest of the morning at the beach. She had not lost her licence
after the accident, though she had received a stiff talking to from her
her reckless behaviour behind the wheel, and so far had not driven
her return home, preferring to call one of her father's drivers and be
instead. As she reached the lobby, looking for the man who had driven
there that morning, she heard someone call her name and she called,
and pulling a face.
"Riot, what do you want! Can't you see I'm busy?!" She snapped.
"I can see you're heading out of the door after less than an hour
here." Rory Llewelyn, leader of the Stingers told her in smooth,
arrogant tones. "Which must be a new record, even for you. I wanted a
word with you about the Stingers next tour. Providing, of course,
you're going to let us away from your coat tails now you're back in
charge." His lip curled. "Eric
seemed to think you wouldn't want us away in your absence."
"You know and I know that I don't care much about your two bit band."
Pizzazz pushed past him. "If you wanna go on tour, be my guest. Talk to
Let him arrange it. That's why I pay him, after all."
"Your father should sell this company to someone who knows how to run
it." He said scathingly. Pizzazz paused, turning on her heel.
"Meaning?" She demanded.
"Meaning that you're as incompetant a businesswoman as you are a
singer." Riot responded darkly. "Money really doesn't buy you sense,
"And what are you trying to say?" Pizzazz's eyes flashed with fire.
"That I can't run this company? That I need to run to Daddy every time
something difficult comes up?"
"Yes, because you do." Riot said matter-of-factly. "Look at you! You
smash yourself up in a stupid road accident that could have been
and, quite honestly, should have killed you - it's only thanks to some
miracleworking surgeon that you survived, and the merits of that are
if you want my opinion. And you employ a charlatan like Eric to run the
show - someone who's as slick as they come and who's going to lap you
the intelligence track every time it comes to the crunch. One of these
days your luck is going to run out."
"At least Eric does work, and doesn't just stand around all day
spouting off like you seem to." Pizzazz spat back bitterly. "And for
your information, he's just netted this company a million dollar
sponsorship deal which even the Stingers will benefit from. You're full
of yourself, Riot, and I don't care about your opinion. This is my
company. You got that? Mine. Not yours. Not these days. And if you want
your stupid group to go on any kind of
damn tour then you better improve your etiquette. Now, I'm going out.
got a problem? Go cry to Eric. He seems to be the only one of my
bothering to keep this company afloat anyhow."
She stormed out of the front entrance, almost colliding with the driver
she had been seeking, and barking out an order to him to take her to
beach. He scurried to follow her orders, and soon the big black vehicle
pulling slowly out of the company's front forecourt. Idly Pizzazz gazed
of the window, her brows knitting together as they passed the big
of a hospital where she had spent the critical days and weeks following
her accident. Seeing the hospital made her think once more of her
recent conversation with Alan Garcia, and inwardly she resolved once
again that she would exorcise his memory with action.
"I'm not an invalid now, having to be careful of this or that." She
murmured to herself, clenching and unclenching her fists. "I'm a woman
with power...connections...and, of course, beauty. I'm a somebody out
in the real world and I'm going to prove it. Dammit, back before all
this happened, I didn't have a problem getting
a guy's attention! Didn't I win the bet in the club with Jetta? The guy
She drummed her fingernails impatiently on the arm of the chair as the
car hit the freeway, heading out towards the sea.
"I'm wasted, stuck in an office all day." She mused. "So it's my
company...but that's why I kept Eric on. He understands all that
complicated junk. Likes it, even."
She sighed. "At least he seems to be committed to this company. True,
it's probably only because he's a workaholic and he knows I pay him a
wage, but still. Jetta's paranoid - Jetta's always paranoid. Eric told
up front about this sponsorship crap, after all. He might be a jerk but
he ain't a fool. He knows that this company will pay him a fat pension
he retires - if he ever does - and it won't do him any good to go
about with it."
She rolled her eyes heavenwards.
"I need a few more employees on those terms. People who know that if
they don't do as they're supposed to, they're out on their ear. I wish
I'd never agreed that the Stingers would get promotion and protection
by this company when I coerced Riot out of his half of the business. I
held all the cards, with Minx's paperwork so flaky. But I guess you
live and learn. And I do have my company back. It is mine, whatever he
thinks of it, or me. So he can
screw himself. I might have to employ and support his band but it
doesn't mean I have to like them or listen to their complaints."
"I wish it wasn't so damn hard to run a music company. Misfit Music is
the best there is - why don't people just accept that and leave things
alone? All this competitive interest crap Daddy was talking about the
other night is a total drag. God knows why I decided to go along to
that. Maybe it was for the drinks...but none of his colleagues were
even remotely attractive and certainly not interesting company. Oh
well. I suppose it's irrelevant anyway. Eric can handle the business.
I'm just going to focus on being Pizzazz again, and getting the Misfits
back to the top of the charts. After all,
that's where we damn belong, and if it hadn't been for that stupid car
we'd be there already! Stormer's new song had better be something extra
special - the other night was all very well but we need something new
to knock everyone else down. The boring stuff can wait - music is what
we're here for, after all, and music is what we're gonna do!"
A Test Of Faith
Chapter One: Back In The Spotlight
Chapter Two: Eric's Deal
Chapter Three: Siren
Chapter Four: The Morning After
Chapter Five: Schemes
Chapter Six: Roxy Acts
Chapter Seven: Cracks