Arc Three: When Life Goes On...
Shadow Of The Girl

Chapter Twelve: A Discovery

"He's done WHAT?"
Topaz took a step back from the desk, almost wondering whether or not it was safe to remain in the office. Casting Nancy a glance, she realised that her bandmate was thinking very much in the same vein, and she bit her lip. It was rare these days that Phyllis lost her temper, but Nancy's brief explanation of Chimera's words had aroused a fierce maternal instinct inside her, the like of which had not been seen since the day she had marched into Rory Llewelyn's office and forced him to make reparation for his illegal dismissal of Sirena from his books.
"Since he can't get money from you, he's trying Emily." Nancy said simply. "At least, that's what Marissa said, and of all of Diablo, Topaz and I both agree that she's probably likely to be on the level with us. Besides, she said it came from her mother - Chimera - your half sister."
"Damn him." Phyllis cursed. "He was always a thorn in my side and now he's going to be one again!"
"He's not a nice man." Topaz said quietly. "I worked for him in Toronto - I believe everything Marissa says is true."
"Chimera doesn't lie." Phyllis said darkly. "She might be an obnoxious bitch and I might hate her guts most of the time, but she tells it how it is. If she says she overheard that then she did. Besides, Eric gave me warning himself that something would happen. I just didn't listen."
She cursed again, banging her hole punch down on the desk. "Where the hell is he, the jerk! I'll kill him!"
"We don't know that." Nancy admitted. "But in some hotel somewhere, I'd bet. Aunt Phyl, do you think Emily will listen to him?"
Phyllis frowned, then,
"Damn girl would be a fool if she did." She muttered. "But it don't matter, Nancy. I think she will anyway. Kid ain't ever happy with what she's got, she's always gotta have more...we've fought a couple of times recently. It would be just like Eric to take advantage."
"Maybe Emily just wants a family, like Marissa said." Topaz reflected. "Sometimes I know how that feels. I would have loved to have known my Dad...I swear if it turned out he hadn't died in that accident, and he'd just run off or something I'd still be stoked if he turned up on my doorstep wanting to meet the kid he never knew. Even if there had been bad stuff in the past. My relationship with Mom has fallen apart so would be nice to have someone who's blood."
Phyllis looked startled at Topaz's words, then her eyes narrowed.
"Meaning, I suppose, that this is my fault and I've let Emily down by not being some text book wonder Mom?" She demanded.
"No, of course not." Topaz shook her head hastily. "Just I understand why she's so willing to believe. Even though Eric is a can't help wanting to know. Particularly since Mike has no male role model in his life. I think that bugs her."
Phyllis was silent for a moment. Then she groaned.
"I should never have had her." She muttered, more to herself than to either of the bewildered musicians. She pushed back her chair, getting to her feet and pacing across the room to her filing cabinet, wrenching open the drawer and extracting a folder. She dropped it down on the desk.
"If Emily wants to know what kind of man her Dad is, there's the proof." She said quietly. "That folder has every damn bit of evidence we based our court case on, back in 1989. It's not something I'll forget. I've never before had a bill come in which I couldn't pay just like that. It was Jetta who spotted the discrepancies and with her help I got the lawyers on his case and brought in a private investigator to snoop through his stuff. Jetta had the honour of actually firing him. I...didn't feel I could do it myself."
"Wow. Ebezzlement, fraud...theft...this is heavy stuff." Nancy scooped up the folder, flicking through it, then handing it to Topaz. "Mom's always called him the rudest names imagineable, but now I kinda see why."
"Well, I doubt anything much would've happened over it if it weren't for your Mom's pressure." Phyllis sighed, perching on her desk. "I s'pose I might as well lay it out, since I'm going to have to if I'm going to get rid of him. Emily...wasn't conceived in a one night stand. We...we had a fling." She swallowed hard. "Even now I don't know why, and I damn well hate the fact, but it's not gonna be changed. I lashed out at Eric because he doublecrossed me...but not just in the company files. It wasn't the first time he'd embezzled from the company, and I knew I could deal with that. Okay, it had gotten out of hand, but still." She closed her eyes briefly, composing herself. "I guess it was because I was jealous. I didn't love the piece of turd, don't get that idea!" She added hurriedly. "But dammit, he dared to screw me over! I don't know who she was and I cared less. It was bizarre enough Eric having one woman on tap, let alone two." She rubbed her temples. "I claim insanity for my part in it. I was still getting over the life or death situation I was in after the car priorities were screwed. I didn't imagine for one moment it'd end up how it did. I wasn't equipped to cope with a baby and it's damn haunted me ever since. I thought I'd at least gotten rid of him from the equation. Now I have him and Emily and I can't deal with all of this. I was never meant to be a mother."
Nancy looked thoughtful for a moment, then,
"You're wrong." She murmured.
"Wrong?" Phyllis looked startled. "What do you mean, wrong?"
"You played as much a part in my upbringing as Mom did." Nancy said quietly. "You were my confidant - if I ever needed someone and I couldn't go to Mom or Dad, I came to you. When I was a kid, I thought you were wonderful. You would have been a better Mom than you think. You just never gave yourself - or Emily - the chance to be."
Phyllis bit her lip at the sincerity in Nancy's voice. Then she sighed.
"Well, it's done now." She said with a shrug. "And I suppose I'd better go see if I can't settle this somehow, too, before that jerk talks Emily into putting all her money and her talent into his business. It's been a pain, having Zoe sick...I didn't realise it was going to cause so much hassle between Em and me and besides, I've had a ton of other things to handle, too. Your mother and I have been trying to secure a major sponsorship deal for the company - a new investor based in the south. It's taken up most all of my thought time, I've not had time to fuss over silly things like Eric Raymond."
She took the file back from Topaz, pushing it into the cabinet drawer. "I'm gonna do what I should have done right at the start and get him the hell out of Los Angeles, where he belongs."
"How are you going to do that?" Topaz looked startled.
Phyllis shrugged.
"Money talks." She said simply. "And it happens to be Eric's favourite language. I'll see you girls later...I have some business to settle."

Across town, Sirena too was bent on seeing her father. He had left his hotel address and phone number with her when he had left earlier that day, and she had quickly located the hotel in question, avoiding the woman at the reception desk and hurrying up the three flights of stairs to her father's room. In her hurry to settle things, she had not noticed another car pull onto the main road, intent on trailing her to her location. Unwilling to break the promise to Chimera, and keen to protect her from further hurt, Marissa and Luca had decided to follow her. After all, as Luca had pointed out, it would mean at the very least that they'd know where Eric was based, and they might be able to help.
 Eric, it transpired, was very much in evidence at the hotel, for his bedroom door was somewhat ajar, and from the end of the corridor Sirena was aware of music playing. Curious, she crept up to the doorway, recognising the song as she did so as one of her own.
"I'm so damn paranoid, why did I even come here?" She berated herself. "What am I going to say to him? Excuse me, Dad, a relative stranger came and told me you were up to no good so I want to interrogate you? Dammit, Emily, get a grip!"
She was about to turn on her heel and leave, when she heard the sound of her name and froze, her ears pricking up. Creeping back up to the door, she peered around it, seeing her father on the bed, telephone in his hand. She did not know who he was talking to, but from the tone it sounded like a friend, and she paused, quelling any slight feelings of guilt that festered inside of her.
"He's my Dad and if I'm gonna get involved in his business, I need to know everything." She reasoned. "It won't do any harm to be well informed."
"Well, I spoke with her in some detail." The words drifted out into the corridor over the strains of the music. "Yeah, she seemed keen enough. Looks good on that front." A pause, a laugh, then, "Oh, you recognised the music? Well, I thought it was a good idea to be well versed in what the kid can do. Picked it up on my way in here. She's got a good voice, though."
A further pause, then another laugh.
"Oh come now, Riot, what do you take me for? I told you, everything's under control." The words cut through Sirena's slim frame like a knife, bringing angry, hurt tears to her eyes as she realised Marissa had been telling the truth and that Eric was working with her most hated foe of all - Rory Llewelyn. "No, she doesn't suspect me. I mean, I sweet talked the brat into believing some sobstory, laid the blame on Pizzazz. Not hard to do, considering what a godawful bitch of a mother that woman was. And sure, I can handle her. She's just like her mother - you flatter her and let her preen and she does whatever you suggest."
"Wrong, Dad. I'm not quite like my mother."
Sirena could not remain quiet any longer and she shoved open the door of the room, startling Eric and causing him to hurriedly terminate the call. "I don't always believe everything that I'm told...I like to verify things for myself. It's a good thing that I did."
Her eyes narrowed. "I'm a shrewd investor...but I really did hope that this would work out." She said quietly. "I have a little boy who's badly in need of a role model and well, for once I hoped I'd find a member of my family who actually gave a damn about me. Guess I was wrong...guess the only reason anyone wants to associate with me is because they think I'm rolling in money."
She scowled.
"News for you, Daddy. I'm not."
"Don't you Emily me." Sirena snapped, bringing her hand hard across his cheek. "I'm not going to be 'sweet talked' into anything. I'm not a Raymond, I'm a Gabor...and I'm damn glad I remembered it before I did anything I might regret!"
With that she turned on her heel, very much on her dignity, and stalked from the room, banging the door so hard behind her that the whole frame shook.
Once alone, however, the tears came and, unable to control her emotions she fled for the relative refuge of her car, locking the door and resting her arms on the steering wheel, burying her head in them as she cried out the unfairness of it all.
"I just wanted a father." She sobbed. "What in hell is wrong with me? Why can't I have a proper family?"
She did not know how long she sat there crying before she became aware of a persistant tapping on her car window. Glancing up, she recognised Luca and anger coursed through her veins. Shoving the car door open so hard it almost caught him full in the chest, she glared at him through her tears.
"Get the hell away from me!" She exclaimed. "You really think I want you here, gloating at me? Well, looks like the little scheme worked! You can have your damn single and your damn number one! I've had it! I'm quitting!"
"Don't be an idiot." Luca spoke in level, amiable tones, and before she knew what he was doing he had slipped into the vehicle beside her. "I'm not here because I want to gloat at you, and I certainly don't want any number one single by default. You can't be serious about quitting...Sirena, you're a star!"
"No I'm not." Sirena was bitter. "I'm just some chick who happens to be related to a billionaire, that's all. Rory only ever wanted me because he could use me to get at Mom, Mom signed me because she felt she had to, Dad only wanted me for my money...noone actually gives a damn what I can do!"
"That's not true." Luca shook his head. "Listen to me, will you, you silly girl?"
Sirena stared at him, for he had never used that tone with her before, and there was an uncharacteristically serious look in his eyes.
"Why the hell are you in my car?" She demanded.
"I'm talking sense into you." Luca replied calmly. "Listen. Marissa and I followed you here tonight because we figured you went to see Eric and we wanted to be here to pick up the pieces if things went wrong. I asked Mari to let me talk to you, but she and I are both here because we wanted to help you, not because we're involved in any big scheme of Rory Llewelyn's. Whatever he does - don't immediately assume that it means we're behind it. None of us knew what was going on till Suzanne told us and Suzanne isn't a liar."
"She...she was nice to me." Sirena admitted, gulping back her tears. "But she's the only one and I barely know her. How do I know she really gives a damn?"
"You don't." Luca said simply. "You have to make up your own mind about how people see you, you know. But there's a whole fanbase out there who think you're wonderful. People who'd be gutted if you let a past it old guy like your father prevent you from being the star we all know you are."
"Luca, what do you really want from me?" Sirena demanded. "Why are you sweet talking me? I'm not a slut, you know, and I'm more prudent than Topaz. I'm not gonna get blind drunk just so you can show me what you can do."
"If that;s how you're going to be, then I'll leave you." Luca seemed hurt. "One day, though, you'll realise that people do like you and care what happens to you - whether you like it or not."
He went to leave the car, but Sirena put a hand on his arm, stopping him.
"What do you mean?" She murmured.
"I only ever wanted to be friends." Luca responded quietly. "You made it very clear from the off that you didn't want anything else and whatever you think about me, I'm not the kind of guy to force the issue. What happened at Christmas with Topaz was a one off - I was too drunk to know what I was doing and so was she. Mistakes happen - we're only human, after all. But it doesn't mean my only aim in this world is to get you into bed."
Sirena stared at him for a moment. Then she laughed hollowly.
"You make me sound goddamn arrogant and hung up on myself." She observed. "Expecting guys to want to lay me."
She groaned.
"Life stinks." She decided. "And I want out of this whole music mess. It's been brought violently to my notice tonight that I'm never going to be good enough - no matter what I do. I'm not rich enough for my father's needs, I'm not good enough for my mother to be proud of, and I'm always performing or touring and not being a good enough Mom to Michael. I'd be best off quitting altogether."
"Then you're not the girl I thought you were." Luca said gravely. " I know what Rory is up to, I'm going to make damn sure our single isn't out the same week as yours is. Besides, Suzanne had a funny turn earlier and isn't as well as she's been claiming, so it will probably be delayed after all. But I want you to promise me - for your sake and for Michael's - that you won't give up. You don't want Mike to grow up and realise his Mom gave up on things when they got hard."
Sirena fell silent once more, digesting this.
"You don't know how it feels." She whispers.
"Sure I do." Luca nodded. "Things weren't all wonderful for me growing up either, you know. My Dad was ill - he had a heart condition, and we knew he could die anytime. It was genetic - thankfully Stef and I don't seem to have it - and he didn't know how much time he'd have with us. He always wanted a little girl, so he spoiled Steffi rotten. Me...he loved me, but Stef was his princess."
"What about your Mom?"
"Mom didn't want us and couldn't deal with us after Dad died." Luca said matter of factly. "I promised Dad when he died that I'd look out for Steffi and I do...I have. But I didn't come from a happy families type home. Going away to college was the best thing I ever did. Stef wasn't far enough away for me to feel I was neglecting her, and I always felt I was under Mom's feet at home. It's hard when you don't live up to your parents' expectations, or just don't understand them. But see, I learnt very quickly that it doesn't matter what they want. What matters is what you want. That's why I'm here and why Diablo exist. Isn't it why Sirena exists?" He met her green eyes with his own, his gaze questioning. "Isn't this what you dreamed of from when you were a tiny kid?"
Sirena bit her lip, nodding.
"But I wanted the family more." She whispered, as her tears returned. "More than anything, Luca. I wanted my Mom and Dad to c...come and get me. Now I know it's never g...going to h...happen."
"No?" Luca nudged her, nodding in the direction of the hotel. "Isn't that your Mother now?"
"Mom?" Sirena started, gazing out of the car window in surprise. Sure enough, she could make out the slim figure flitting across the parking lot towards the hotel doors, and realised her companion was right. "But..."
"What do you bet she's here to sort out your father once and for all?" Luca asked softly. "Topaz and Nancy were going to tell her everything - I'll bet that's why she's here. I think she does love you, she's just not sure how to be the kind of mother you wanted."
"She...was there when Mike was born." Sirena admitted unsteadily, wiping her eyes. "I was afraid and I had noone else...she came all the way from some business meeting to be with me."
"There you go then." Luca smiled. "isn't that proof enough that she cares?"
"She fought my corner with Rory, too." Sirena bit her lip. "I guess...I suppose you're right." She sighed again. "It's just...Mike is one soon, and he hasn't a family to celebrate with, not really. Mom might have been there when he was born, but she's scared stiff of him, and he doesn't have anyone to play role model - I mean, in the things guys need to know." She looked rueful. "I can't be Mom and Dad to him, however hard I try. I love him more than anything, but I'm afraid to make a mistake."
Luca looked grave.
"Noone is perfect." He said at length. "And you love him. That;s what matters. Nothing else does. Mike doesn't see you in the same way as the tabloids or your father or anyone else, I'm sure. You're just 'Mommy'. That;s all that matters to him."
Sirena pursed her lips.
"You're not as much of a moron as I thought." She admitted grudgingly. "Though I still didn't invite you into my car, you know."
"Hey, I'm sorry, but I couldn't leave you to cry." Luca looked sheepish. "And I'm not gonna get out of it till you promise me Sirena will carry on - after a few weeks of my company in the passenger seat, you'll be desperate to go back to work!"
Despite herself, Sirena laughed.
"Okay, okay, I give." She exclaimed. "I won't quit. But, dammit, you better make sure Rory doesn't play any more dirty games with me. He did enough to me already."
"I'll do my best." Luca promised her. "Hey, are we friends now?"
"I don't know." Sirena admitted. "Maybe. Guess I need a class or two on what friends are about before I decide that." She offered a wan smile. "However, if you and Marissa want coffee, and don't mind drinking it with a racoon, you're welcome to come back to mine. I guess I owe you that much at least for trying to warn me. Even if it didn't quite go to plan."
"Coffee sounds good." Luca nodded. "I'll go tell Mari...count us in!"

Prologue: February 1997  
Chapter One: Sirena's Show

Chapter Two: A Plot
Chapter Three: In California
Chapter Four: About Chimera
Chapter Five: Sirena's Aunt
Chapter Six: A Special Quest
Chapter Seven: The Plot Hatches
Chapter Eight: Eric Strikes
Chapter Nine: Webchat
Chapter Ten: Complications
Chapter Eleven: Handling Emily
Chapter Twelve: A Discovery
Chapter Thirteen: A Birthday Surprise

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!