"This is not going exactly as I planned."
Eric Raymond paced across his office, a frown on his face as he met
the impassive gaze of his solicitor. "You're telling me that no matter what
I do I'm not going to win this case? That they're gonna hang everything and
damn deport me anyway?"
"Mr Raymond, your resident permit has been proven to be a forgery.
Immigration is not going to accept any excuses and you have to return
to America in order to apply for the proper paperwork. If I were you my
advice would be to claim that this was done without your knowledge and
agree to leave Canada till you have proper paperwork."
"And what about my business here? What'll happen to that?" Eric demanded.
"I can't run a string of nightclubs in Canada if I'm holed up in New York
or somewhere, applying for residency. What do you suggest I do? I'll lose
a damn fortune!"
"Mr Raymond, your business is already losing money." The attorney,
one Stuart Blythe was clearly unmoved by any of his client's complaints.
He had known Eric ever since his arrival in Canada and knew that the American
was as dodgy as they came when it came to business deals. It didn't really
matter to him, he mused, since he was perfectly prepared to take cash payments
for quicker consultations or better representation. It had been thanks
to him, after all, that Eric had evaded the authorities as long as he had.
However, this time they had hit a brick wall. Finally there was enough
evidence to prove that Eric's resident and work permits for Canada had
been falsified, and at the very least the businessman was facing deportation.
At most, the attorney knew, he could be arrested and charged.
"Well, it will lose even more money if I'm not there to run it!" Eric
retorted. "The costs of running this kind of thing are expensive! I can't
afford that kind of loss."
"If the records you showed me from your financial advisors are correct,
Mr Raymond, then you already are in need of another investor." The lawyer
told him calmly. "My advice would be to do as immigration tell you, return
to the United States, get your correct paperwork and in the meantime leave
the business in the hands of someone you trust. Perhaps whilst you are in
the States you will find the answer to your financial problems too."
"Some hope of that." Eric growled. He dropped down into a chair. "Okay,
so the nightclubs aren't doing such good business since the employees got
themselves a goddamn union and a right to complain about pay and conditions.
But how's a guy supposed to make a goddamn profit these days? God knows
I built that up from nothing after that bitch kicked me out of Los Angeles!"
"Well, maybe it's time you went to see
that bitch." Stuart cast
his companion a meaningful look. "I'm sure someone like that must have
some money to spare."
"You think she's going to spare me a cent?" Eric snorted. "You don't
know Phyllis Gabor!"
"I didn't mean like that." Stuart smiled. "But if you worked with her
so closely for so long, I'm sure there must be some way you could...persuade
her to cooperate. For old time's sake...you catch my drift?"
"I see." Eric's eyes adopted a familiarly scheming look. "Yes, I really
do see what you're getting at. You know, you might have something, too."
He smiled. "Forget New York. I think Los Angeles might be my ideal port of
call whilst I wait for all of this to be sorted out. Don't you?"
"I think that would be a very wise idea." His companion nodded, offering
a slight smile. "And I wish you all
the luck in the world."
"Someone's up early."
Nancy Pelligrini pushed open the door of the music studio, casting
it's sole inhabitant a smile as she did so. "What brings you here at this
time, Em? I didn't think the creche opened this early."
"It doesn't." Sirena glanced up from her pile of papers, returning
the smile with a tired one of her own. "Michael had a bit of a crisis
last night and I've not been to bed yet. He swallowed something - not sure
what, but I didn't get any sleep and I decided that once I knew he was
all right I'd take him down to Grandpa first thing. I left home at about
half four, and I just got back to LA."
"I bet Harvey loved you turning up at that time." Nancy raised an eyebrow.
"He's always up early and besides, with traffic and everything I didn't
get to him that early." She responded. "Then I sped back up the freeway
to get home before I fell asleep."
"So why are you here?"
"Couldn't sleep." Sirena admitted. "After worrying about Mike getting
into stuff and the haring about I'm a total insomniac, so I decided to come
here and look over some of the possibles for songs. You know, for the next
single. With Mike out of town for a while, I can sleep whenever."
"Oh, cool." Nancy grinned, taking a seat. "I'm here to go over music,
too. I've our new song to sort out by Friday if I possibly can, so I want
to get a head start on sorting out the key signiture."
"I wish I could write music." Sirena rolled her eyes. "It would make
life easier, you know."
"Well, you need to learn to read music first." Nancy told her
dryly. "Besides, you do write your own lyrics. That's something."
"True." Sirena acknowledged. "See, though, at Rebel Records I had Ingrid
Krueger writing my melodies. She might be a weird snooty witch but she
writes good music. Since I came to Misfits Music, you've written some of
my hits and that's cool - I like your style. But there's no guaranteed
writer for me, you know? I sometimes reckon I'm just pushed to whoever's
free to write for me."
"You're profitable. I doubt Aunt Phyl is that dismissive." Nancy shook
her head, pulling open the top drawer of the filing cabinet and hunting
for the manuscript she wanted. "It's just that Misfits Music works in a
different way. Don't tell me you'd rather be working for Rory Llewelyn still!"
"God no!" Sirena shook her head. "Not in a million years! I just wish
I knew a bit more quickly what the hell kind of song I'm supposed to be
putting lyrics too. That's all. Bit more control wouldn't go amiss. After
all, it's my career."
"Telling the wrong person." Nancy shrugged. "Besides, you know I have
to write for Jewel at the moment. I love writing for you but Jewel is my
"Jewel is everyone's priority." Sirena sighed.
"Hey, don't give me that!" Nancy put her hands on her hips. "I think
you need sleep, girl. You're not sounding a bit like you!"
"Oh, I know, you're probably right." Sirena grimaced. "I don't feel
tired but it doesn't mean I'm not. I don't know. Just sometimes I'm not
sure quite where Sirena fits into this company. Jewel was always Mom's project
and your mother is always actively behind anything in that vein. She supports
everything you do as much as she can. I don't say she fixes stuff for Jewel
to get the breaks," as Nancy opened her mouth to protest, "But Mom and I
don't have that same bond. We're friends, but apart from threatening to beat
the crap out of Rory Llewelyn if he didn't cooperate and pay me what I was
owed, she hasn't really come out and shown any real interest in my career
apart from in a business sense."
"Well, it's a business." Nancy pointed out. "If either Mom or Aunt
Phyl showed too much favouritism they'd have legal suits all over. Besides,
it's a pain when you've a Mom who does take an active interest." She rolled
her eyes. "Mom is never afraid to jump on me twice as hard as she would
on the other girls for something. Count yourself lucky! You do good and
Misfits Music has made you into a real worldwide sensation. You complaining
"No...I like that bit." Sirena smiled slightly. "I guess you're right.
I'm tired and my brain is soggy." She shrugged, pushing the paperwork
aside. "At least working for this place means I keep away from my stalker
most of the time. If I was still signed to Rebel Records I'd see him every
"Stalker?" Nancy looked startled. "What kind of stalker?"
"Luca." Sirena pulled a face. "Who else?"
"Hasn't he quit yet?" Nancy smirked. "Oh brother. Talk about hopeless."
"He just don't get the fact that I don't need a man and I especially
don't need the kind of man he is." Sirena responded. "I mean, no offence
to Topaz and all, you know I ain't got issues with her, but any guy who
can get drunk and get laid when he's meant to be in love with me really
isn't on the level, right? I reckon he's after me for something else.
Probably publicity, like Blade." She rolled her eyes. "And let's face
it, I have enough of a job raising Blade's publicity. I don't need any
more of that kind of hype."
"Topaz loves Cameron." Nancy mused, naming Jewel's Canadian singer,
Aurora Stapleton. The previous Christmas tension between Topaz and her English
boyfriend Cameron Milligan, a medical student from London had led to a public
split and Topaz had compounded the event by getting drunk and sleeping with
Luca. It had been a mistake, as all had universally acknowledged, but these
days Cameron and Topaz were on 'just friends' terms and the Canadian often
wished she could take back time. "And I don't think she slept with Luca
for any other reason than she was hurt over their split and of course, real
drunk. Maybe it was the same for Luca?"
"How can he be hurt by someone who hates his guts and who has never
given him any reason to think he'd stand a chance?" Sirena demanded. "Topaz,
well yeah, I can see what you're saying. But if you ask me, Luca slept
with Topaz for publicity and he's on at me for the same reason." She held
up her hands. "I went down that road with Blade. He got shot, and Michael
happened. True, I wouldn't swap Mike now, and sometimes I am at a loss as
to how to raise a boy on my own, not being a guy and all, but I'm not going
to give him a string of wannabe dad figures by sleeping with any guy who
expresses an interest. I just wish Luca would get the picture. He's so damn
Nancy shot her friend a startled look.
"You just totally contradicted yourself." She said in some surprise.
"You said that if hes meant to be in love with you he wouldn't have
slept with someone else, but then you said why should he even think he
had a chance with you." Nancy responded. "If you ask me it bothers you
more than you're admitting that your flunkie flunked someone else."
"You have such a godawful way with words." Sirena retorted. "And you're
wrong, incidentally. Luca is about as welcome round me as a swarm of hornets,
and that's the last I'm saying on the subject. Here, come make yourself
useful and see which of these two you like best?"
"In terms of what?" Nancy obediently set down her manuscript, coming
to peer over her friend's shoulder. "Harmonies, melody or what?"
"Just generally, which is most me?" Sirena asked. "I can't get the gist
"I'd say that one." Nancy eyed the scripts critically. "But I'll play
it for you if you like."
"That'd help." Sirena admitted. "Maybe I do need to read music, huh?"
She rolled her eyes. "Hard to decide what to sing if you haven't got a
clue what's on the page. I know what's on the stave and that's that...anything
above or below with whatever those silly lines are are beyond me, and forget
about bass clef."
"Ledger lines." Nancy said absently, sitting down at the piano and playing
through the melody with surprisingly few slips. "There. How's that?"
"Mm...how about the other?" Sirena held out the other sheet of paper
and obediently Nancy played it.
"I still think the first one is more you." she said. "But it's your
decision. And now I really have to take these Jewel scripts downstairs
and get some sense out of them, so I'll see you later, huh?"
"Sure." Sirena nodded. "Cheers, Nance."
"Welcome." Nancy responded, scooping up her paperwork and moving towards
the door. Soon she was gone, and Sirena was alone once more. Once the Jewel
was gone, she pursed her lips, considering.
"Last thing in the world that bothers me is what Luca Ranieri does with
his life." She decided finally. "It's just the cheek of the guy."
And this decided, she forced the idea out of her head, turning her attention
back to the task at hand. After all, she had a deadline to meet too, and
for now, Sirena's career was more important to her.
Finally, though, her tiredness got the better of her and she rested her
arms on the table, burying her head in them and closing her eyes as sleep