Arc Three: When Life Goes On...
Part Three
Chapter Six: A Shock For Zoe

 "It's cutting it fine. Are you sure Sirena is going to make it on set on time?"
Dean Stacey stepped out of his dressing room, casting the production assistant an anxious look. "We're going to have to run her interview last, if she's not here soon, and pray she's through make up in time - what's the word?"
"Traffic." The assistant, one Julie Kazar rolled her eyes expressively. "I think her car has just arrived, though, so hopefully we're on schedule. Fingers crossed."
It was an ordinary busy morning at the television studios, and Dean Stacey, local heart-throb and presenter of morning television's most popular Californian show, was preparing himself to go on air. Bustling and chaotic, the studio was full of people each doing their various random jobs, and, as he made his way up to the set, he cast the cameramen a grin, acknowledging their banter with a wave of his hand. Dean was as good natured and gentle as he was handsome, a reason why, many said, his relationship with Nancy Pelligrini had lasted as long as it had, for he had always treated her with the utmost patience and respect, and had never forced her hand. This morning, however, it was Jewel's fiery colleague Sirena, Phyllis' own daughter, who was to be interviewed live, and Dean anticipated an interesting chat on air, for Sirena always loved being in front of the cameras.
It was a bare few minutes before the show went on air, when a flurried Sirena emerged from the makeup area to join him on the couch for the opening segment of the show. She looked harried and pale, and though he knew the stage makeup would hide it on camera, Dean could see that she had had little sleep. He sent her a sympathetic grin, knowing that it was hard enough getting up early after a late night before, and that Sirena's young son Michael, now just over a year old, was at a trying age.
"Damn traffic." She muttered, settling herself down on the cushions. "In the end I almost got out the damn thing and walked. They decided to dig up the road today, which was nice of them."
"How's Michael?"
"Oh, he's fine and dandy now." Sirena rolled her eyes. "He was sick all yesterday after getting into my cupboard and eating a whole bar of chocolate, but he's feeling a lot better now and I ditched him on the foundation for the day. Dean, take my advice and don't have kids, huh? Damn things are nothing but trouble anyhow."
Dean grinned.
"Okay, message noted." He told her amiably.
"Say, before we go on air, you're friendly with Zoe Montgomery, aint ya?" As they sat there, waiting for the indication that they would be on air in ten, Sirena suddenly seemed to remember something. Dean frowned.
"Zoe? Yes, of course. She's like a kid sister. Why?"
"Well, did you know that Cool Trash magazine has some great scoop splashed all over it's pages?" Sirena asked him. Dean looked taken aback.
"Yeah. Didn't read it, didn't have time, but I noticed on the cover something about an inside scoop on the secret life of Jewel's video artist or something. Don't ask me. Cool Trash stink at the best of times, and it's probably not even true."
"I see." Dean looked troubled. "Thanks for the heads up, Sirena. I'll look into it."
At that moment, Julie indicated from across the studio that the show was about to go out live to the nation, and the conversation was soon dropped as both Sirena and Dean slipped into their professional roles. The singer's words troubled the young presenter, however, and, once the show was off air, he found himself heading out to Zoe's apartment, pausing en route to pick up a copy of the offending magazine, and skimming through the contents.
As he read the story, he saw that his worst fears had been realised, and, upon reaching his friend's apartment building, he could see that a handful of reporters were already on the case, trying to convince a resident or two to let them in. Zoe's flat, he knew, was on the top floor of the building, and, despite the eager questions of the press bloodhounds, he pushed his way through to the door, somehow managing to get inside without taking any of them with him. As he reached Zoe's apartment, he became aware of her singing and the sound of a hair dryer, and he realised with a jolt that, as yet, she was blissfully unaware of the scandal that had begun to break. He knocked on the door and the singing stopped. Footsteps crossed the apartment and the video artist swung open the door, casting him a grin.
"Hi, Dean." She said. "Come on in. Kinda early for social calling though, isn't it? It's only just gone nine thirty." She indicated her dressing gown and the hairdryer still in her hand. "I'm not fully up yet."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to barge in on you." Dean apologised. "But I think it's kinda important that you know about this."
"Dean, you never barge in on me." Zoe dimpled. "What's the deal?"
"I think you should see this." Dean held out the magazine, which was open at the offending page. "I don't know where it came from, and I had nothing to do with it, I swear, but Sirena mentioned to me before filming this morning that there was something in Cool Trash and I picked it up on my way over here. I came straight off set here to show you - I didn't know what else to do."
"Cool Trash?" Zoe looked startled, taking the magazine from him. "What on earth could they want with me? I'm not a star - I just work with them! I..."
"You're a big name in the industry, so that makes you a target." Dean told her grimly, watching as her expression went from confusion to utter horror. "I'm sorry, Zoe. Whoever was responsible for this hit at you way below the belt."
"How did they know?" The magazine fell out of Zoe's grip as she turned frightened, tearful green eyes on her companion. "How did they find out, Dean? Who told them? Why?"
"Shh." Dean hugged her. "Listen to me. There are a bunch of reporters clustered outside your apartment building as we don't cry. If they see your weakness they will just jump on you all the more."
"But you don't understand." Zoe sank down onto her sofa, burying her head in her hands. "Dean, the reason I never told you who it was that I was seeing was because she made it very clear to me that she didn't want and couldn't handle it being in the public eye. She even said to me at Violet's wedding reception that it either happened in secret or...or not at all. When she sees this she's going to think that I blabbed to the press and decided to come out without telling her! What am I going to do? Someone must have overheard us talking at the reception or something..."
She trailed off, and Dean bent to pick up the fallen magazine, flicking over the page and eying the grainy photograph printed there with some disdain. He flipped the magazine closed before his friend could see it and get further upset, setting it to one side.
"Maybe you should call Cool Trash." He suggested gently. "See if you can work out who it was that tipped them off."
"There's only one person that I can think of." Zoe raised her gaze to his. "I'd forgotten, but Fiona said to me at the wedding reception that she was worried about what Jesta might do. It looks like she did it."
"Would you mind explaining? You've lost me." Dean said softly. Zoe groaned.
"Jesta is a singer from England, a ruthless, scheming, opinionated girl who makes more enemies than she does friends." She said slowly. "She's involved with a man called Mr Whatson - the father of Amber of the Teenangels - and his funding allows her to do all kinds of stunts to cause trouble. Somehow she found out about Fi and me - I don't know how - and she was blackmailing Fi - she wanted her to ruin the wedding. Fiona couldn't do that to Violet though - thankfully, in my opinion - and I think this might be Jesta's idea of revenge."
"I see." Dean pursed his lips. "She sounds charming."
"She's a bitch." Zoe said bitterly. "This is hard enough without the whole world butting in on it. Fiona will split us up and deny it now it's in the press, I know she will, and when I get my hands on Jesta..."
She trailed off once more, and Dean reached for her phone, handing it over.
"Call them." He suggested softly. "Cool Trash, I mean. Ask them where they got the story from. If it was an English girl, you'll soon know."
"Okay." Zoe nodded her head. "At least once I know for sure it was her I can go rearrange her face for her."
She dialled the Cool Trash number, her green eyes unusually hard and angry, and Dean eyed her in some concern. Her words about her chosen girlfriend and her bid to keep the affair secret worried him, for he was more than a little afraid that she would get hurt.
The call was brief, if hostile, and Zoe hung up the phone, meeting Dean's gaze with a morose one of her own. She shook her head slowly.
"They wouldn't tell me much." She admitted.
"What did they say?"
"Only one thing of any use." Zoe said darkly. "It wasn't Jesta who phoned in the story."
"It wasn't? Then who?"
"Beats me." Zoe shrugged. "All I got out of them was that it was 'some chick with a new England drawl'. She didn't leave her name."
"New England?" Dean looked surprised. "But..."
Before he could finish his statement, there was a cacophony of knocking at the door, accompanied by an angry voice calling Zoe's name, and Zoe bit her lip.
"That's Fiona." She murmured. "Oh, this gets worse..."
She got to her feet, moving across to open the door. Her girlfriend stormed into the apartment, banging the door behind her and glaring at the hapless video artist as she did so.
"What the hell is all this about?" She demanded, ignoring Dean as if he wasn't even there and rounding on Zoe herself. "I've had six or seven phonecalls this morning about some Cool Trash article, and I want to know what's going on!"
"I wish I knew!" Zoe exclaimed. "I've only just seen the damn thing for myself, Fi, and I have about as much idea as you as to how it got there!"
"Well, I think it's fairly obvious how it did." Flame's eyes narrowed. "I haven't read the damn thing and I don't intend to - Cool Trash is not worth my time - but isn't it a funny coincidence how suddenly we have a little chat at the wedding reception, you have a little chat to one of your so called friends and then this happens?"
"What are you implying?" Zoe demanded. "That I've decided to come out behind your back? Hell, Fiona, I told Mom and that's it. You going to suggest that my Mom sold the story to the press? I don't think so! She might be a television presenter, but she's not that kind of person! Besides, Mom isn't from New England, so there's that theory dead in the water!"
"I wasn't accusing Connie of anything." Flame snapped back. "I...hang on, what do you mean, New England?"
"I called Cool Trash, trying to find out where the story came from. I thought it was Jesta." Zoe admitted. "But they told me it was some girl with a New England accent." She eyed her girlfriend suspiciously. "Speaking of which, Fi, you speak like a New Yorker..."
"Oh yes, very good. I'm going to ruin my own life and your life in the presses by anonymously tipping them off about our relationship?" Flame's tone was rich with sarcasm. "Gee, Zoe, that really works. How dense are you?"
"Don't call me dense!"
"Well, what else would you call it? You told that damn girl about us and now she's blabbed and it's all over Los Angeles!"
"What girl?"
"Whaddya mean, what girl? Sylvina Martescu, dammit!"
"Syl?" Zoe stared at her girlfriend, then. "You think Syl did this?"
"Well, let's look at the facts, huh?" Flame was clearly still raging. "One, the story comes out suspiciously close to when you spilled your guts to her at the wedding. Two, she has a big mouth and it'd be just like her. Three, she hates me and pretty much told you that we should split up, this is a way to guarantee it. Four..." She eyed her girlfriend pointedly. "You said yourself that the person who tipped the press off had a New England accent. Where is Syl from?"
Zoe paled, as she realised her girlfriend was right.
"Washington DC." She murmured. "Oh no...but...she couldn't have? Could she?"
"Well, in my mind, she damn well did." Flame snapped. "Look, I'm outta here. This is your fault, Zoe, I told you what would happen if you started trusting people with this, and I told you Sylva had a big mouth. I'm going to go and try and salvage what's left of my reputation, before I lose my career completely!"
With that she stalked out of the apartnent, banging the door once more behind her and causing Zoe to flinch. Tears touched her green eyes, and, without a word, Dean came to hug her.
"I guess that said it all." Zoe murmured. "I will probably never see her again now."
"She'll calm down. It's a big shock to you both, that's all." Dean soothed.
"Do you think she's right?" Zoe asked anxiously.
"About Syl?" Dean asked. Zoe nodded.
"Well, even if she does hate Flame, I don't see her setting out to hurt you." Dean said sensibly. "No, Zoe, I don't think it was Syl who broke your secret to the press."
"I wish I could believe you were right." Zoe sighed. "The trouble is, though, that it does all add up. I did get upset at the wedding reception, and I did wind up telling Syl everything. She does hate Fiona and she did say that I should get better taste in women. And she...she does come from New England. When you look at it, noone else knew. Just you, Mom, Fiona, me and that Jesta bitch. Jesta doesn't know anyone in America, and we know it wasn't her who did it, even though she'd be the most likely candidate in the circumstances. Fiona's right, she wouldn't have done it and then come to jaw me out. I know for sure I didn't do it. Mom and you don't fit the bill, either. Much as I hate to admit it, Syl is the only person that leaves. And I have to get dressed - I'm supposed to work with Jewel today and I intend to tell her exactly what I think of her!"
"Well, I still think you're being silly." Dean said sensibly. "Besides, what about the..."
But Zoe wasn't listening, for, hairdryer in hand, she had padded purposefully back into her bedroom, swinging her door shut firmly. Dean frowned, reaching for the offending magazine once more, and glancing it over.
"What about the picture?" He murmured. "How can Syl have been responsible for that?"
He sighed, shaking his head.
"Zoe, I'm going to leave you to it, I need to get home and catch some sleep." He called. "Don't do anything silly, okay? I'm still sure that there is a rational explanation for all of this."
"Yeah, the rational explanation is that I got betrayed by someone I thought was a friend." came the reply. "Don't defend her, Dean. I've probably lost Fiona because of this, not to mention the fact that my private life is now public property. I'm a forgiving person but this isn't something I plan on ever forgiving, so there;s no point in trying to talk me into it."
Dean sighed.
"Well, I'll go then." He said finally. "I just hope you're not making a big mistake."
From inside her bedroom, Zoe heard his footsteps as he left the apartment, clicking the door shut behind him, and her heart felt heavy. She was an open and bubbly soul as a rule, but betrayal cut through her like a knife, for she was extremely sensitive and her confused relationship with the dancer was already a tender point.
"I can't believe she would do something so horrible, though." She murmured, tears pricking once more at her eyes. "What kind of friend does that? And hell, how will things ever be the same again now?"

Chapter One: Zoe And Flame
Chapter Two: Spying For The Enemy
Chapter Three: Connie
Chapter Four: Back To Work
Chapter Five: A Broken Heart
Chapter Six: A Shock For Zoe
Chapter Seven: A Confrontation
Chapter Eight: A Second Leak
Chapter Nine: Press Conference
Chapter Ten: Revelations
Chapter Eleven: At The Starlight

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!