Chapter Eight: A Second Leak
"Luca, can I have a word?"
Stefana slipped neatly into her brother's bedroom. "I need to talk to you about something and it's rather important."
"Talk to me?" Luca looked up from where he was busily writing a letter, eying her in surprise. "Sure, what's up, sis?"
"Well, I need to know something." Stefana sat down on his bed, casting him a smile which automatically put him on his guard.
"Something about what?" He asked her suspiciously, setting his pen down and turning to face her fully. "What's this about, Stef?"
"I want to know how far your little faux pas with Topaz really went."
"What?" Luca stared at her. "Stef, for heaven's sake, can't you ever let anything go? I slept with her last December, it's almost damn July and I've barely said two words to the girl since! What is this fixation you have with it?"
"December?" Stefana frowned, counting carefully on her fingers. "That would make it...seven months ago? Are you sure you've not slept with her since?"
"I think I'd remember."
"With you, I never know." Stefana told him acidly. "Just answer the question, bonehead. Did you sleep with Topaz after December?"
"God, no! Stef, I don't even find the girl attractive in that way! I was drunk, that's all, and so was she, it was a mistake and it's not one I'm going to repeat!" Luca was getting angry now. "Why? Dammit, what is this all about?"
"Topaz is pregnant." Stefana shrugged. "I wanted to be sure you weren't behind it."
"Pregnant?" Luca stared at her. "But..."
"Oh, don't worry, you moron. If it was seven months ago you last laid her, then it's not yours." Stefana dismissed it with a wave. "It's a lot more recent than that, which is a damn good thing for your sake, I was going to forcibly castrate you if you'd dared do that again."
"How do you know she's pregnant at all? I didn't think you were exactly Jewel's best friend."
"Aaron told me." Stefana lied glibly, since Aaron himself had not yet been told about Topaz's impending motherhood. "Why?"
"Oh, I see." Luca frowned. "Well, you have my word, Stef, that nothing has happened between Topaz and I since December. Plus, she told me at the time there was no way she could get pregnant from it, so I presume she was using some kind of contraceptive pill then."
"Evidently not very well, if current circumstances are to be believed." Stefana said archly.
"Well, if you must know, Steffi, I'm far more concerned with helping Emily with Michael and I haven't any desire to get involved with any of Jewel."
"Good. Keep it that way." Stefana told him silkily. "I'm relieved that you're not the father, Luca. I wasn't ready to play Auntie Steffi just yet."
"Well, I'm not exactly planning on playing Papa Luca right now, either." Luca retorted. "I help with Michael and I think he's a great kid, but he's not my kid, he's Emily's."
"Poor brat." Stefana muttered. "All right."
She got to her feet.
"I'll leave you to your letter." She told him, flashing him a smile. "I have to go make a call."
"I promised Aaron I'd call by his place later, but I'm kinda tired and I'm going to cancel." Stefana lied again, crossing her fingers behind her back. "Gonna take a nap instead, I think."
"Okay." Luca grinned at her. "And Stef?"
"You have my word that I don't plan on fathering any unknown babies any time soon. Okay?"
"Okay." Stefana returned his grin. Then she withdrew from his room, clenching her fists in triumph.
"Well, that couldn't have gone any better." She murmured. "Luca's ruled out as the father, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me, since that girl is an out and out slut, it's damn obvious. Anyone could be the dad. But that part of it doesn't concern me too much - I just have a scandal to spread. I think my first call will be to Misfit Music, just to see if they know about all of this. If not...well...it's time I let the cat out of the bag! I remember Luca told me Rory Llewelyn kicked Sirena out of his company when she got knocked up with that Michael brat he's so fond of. Maybe I can get Topaz kicked out of Misfit Music, too! One less Jewel would suit me fine!"
She slipped into her bedroom, scooping up her telephone. Reaching for the phone directory, she flipped through to the M section, running a long, manicured nail down the list of numbers until she reached the one she wanted. Then she carefully dialled the number, waiting for someone to pick up at the other end.
"Hello, is this Misfit Music?" She asked, as the call was answered. "It is? Oh good! Can I possibly speak to Phyllis Gabor or Jetta Pelligrini, please? I have something rather important to tell them."
"You wanted to see me?"
Topaz eyed her employers nervously, trying to gauge from their expressions exactly what was wrong, and why she had been summoned into the main office at such short notice. Phyllis indicated curtly for her to sit down, and she did so, twisting her hands together anxiously in her lap. What had happened? What could be wrong? She had never known them to be so unreadable before.
The silence threatened to become unbearable, but, just before Topaz felt ready to scream, Jetta spoke.
"As your employers, Topaz, we need to know important matters that might affect your employment and the company." She said quietly. "Is there, perhaps, anything that you might like to talk to us about?"
"Talk...?" Topaz stared at her.
"Dammit, girl, are you or are you not pregnant!" Phyllis' patience, it seemed, had already run out, and she banged her fist down on the desk, making the fair girl jump. She flushed to the roots of her golden hair, slowly nodding her head.
"Yes." She agreed softly. "I...I am. How did you..."
"How we know is not important right at the moment." Jetta said, her tone businesslike and professional. "I appreciate that your former employer was that git Eric Raymond an' that protocol might 'ave escaped your notice, but it's common practice in this business to inform your employers when you get knocked up. Why in 'ell didn't you tell us?"
"I was coming to do so this week." Topaz admitted, her expression troubled and apprehensive. "I didn't want to do it whilst everything was going on with the wedding, and all of that. I don't know who told you, but they beat me to your door. Really, that's the truth. I wanted to come talk to you about it, anyway. I needed your advice. Are you...very cross with me?"
"We're damn angry that we had to find out from an anonymous phonecall, rather than from you." Phyllis said bluntly. "How far are we talking? One month? Two? Three?"
"Two and a half. It happened in April." Topaz admitted. "I didn't know then, though. I'm about ten weeks, the doctor thinks. I only found out a short while before Violet's wedding...after I got sick at Dean's show and everything else." She spread her hands. "I didn't mean to deceive you, but everything was so busy."
"And you intend on keepin' it?" Jetta asked quietly. Topaz nodded her head.
"'Ave you even thought that through?" The Briton demanded. "Listen to me, Topaz. I've raised two brats of me own, an' I'm married t'boot. It ain't easy. It's a damn sight 'arder than most people appreciate, I'm tellin' you, and you're a good three or four years younger than I was when Aaron was born! What makes you think you can juggle music and a baby?"
"I don't know, to be honest." Topaz said earnestly. "I kinda hoped you might give me some advice in that department. I want to keep my baby, Jetta, my mind is made up on that count, but I don't want to lose my music contract either, or leave either Misfit Music or Los Angeles. I will need maternity leave, I know that, but I intend on coming right back to work."
"Babies disrupt everything." Phyllis said darkly. "Jewel will be out of action for a good few months, not to mention working around a newborn brat." She cast Jetta a pointed look at this moment, as if remembering something from their own Misfit days.
"I know, and I'm sorry." Topaz responded. "I've talked to the others, they're supportive of me. I think it will be okay, I'm not on my own, after all."
"You 'ave some bloke involved in this?" Jetta eyed her thoughtfully, as if an idea had just occured to her. Topaz reddened again, shaking her head.
"Not exactly." she whispered. Jetta read her expression, then cursed.
"It's Cameron's kid, ain't it?" She demanded. "That's why you didn't come to see us about this till we dragged you here right now! You waited till the lad 'ad gone back 'ome to London, so I couldn't get involved!"
"He doesn't know, and I don't want him to, either." Topaz met her elder's gaze with a level one of her own. "And yes, that is another reason why I waited, I'll be honest. I know you and his mother are good friends, Jetta, and I was afraid you'd feel obliged to tell him the truth. I don't want him to know, because he has a degree to finish and he's not ready to be a Dad. I know that."
"But you're ready to be a Mom?" Phyllis snapped.
"I have enough money to raise this kid, and I want to keep it more than I could ever put into words." Topaz said softly. "I'm sorry to cause you hassle, but I can't let it go."
"And we wouldn't make you." She said resignedly. "Listen up though, Topaz. Your residency in Los Angeles relies on us an' your contract 'ere, so you're goin' to 'ave to think very carefully about 'ow you want to 'andle your future with the baby. We 'ave a creche 'ere, but you can't ditch a babe there all the time. You need to think this over."
"I know." Topaz nodded her head. "Will...you won't tell Laura, will you?"
"Laura 'as been one of my best mates since I was six, an' I don't like the idea of keepin' from 'er the fact she's gonna 'ave a grandkid." Jetta pursed her lips. "But I know better than to mix business an' pleasure. You are my employee an' it ain't my business to get involved. I really 'ope you've thought this through, though. Babies are more work than you realise."
She frowned. "There's something else, too. Since you're 'ere, I might as well ask you why it is Zoe Montgomery called us up an' pretty much told us that she didn't want to do Jewel's video? The presses are rife with a story about a rift between her and you, and we'd appreciate knowing what was going on."
"Did you see the Cool Trash article about Zoe?" Topaz asked. Phyllis nodded.
"We saw." She agreed. "It ain't much business of ours to worry about, what of it?"
"No surprise to me, anyway." Jetta remarked. "It'd occured to me more than once about her, to be honest."
"Well, Zoe thinks that Syl was the one who leaked the story to the press." Topaz said slowly. "Syl says she didn't do it, and we believe her, but Zoe is adamant that noone else could have. She quit on us...hey, was it her who told you about my pregnancy?"
"Well if she did, love, it weren't in the call I took from 'er." Jetta responded. Phyllis shook her head.
"It wasn't Zoe's voice. I didn't recognise who it was." She said. "I'm working on finding out, but nothing yet."
"Strange." She murmured. "It's like someone knows all our secrets at the moment, and is leaking them one by one...oh God, I hope my baby isn't the next thing to hit the local press! That's all Jewel need!"
"If it 'appens, it does. You won't 'ide it long, anyhow." Jetta told her. "Right now, we've arranged a press conference for tomorrow, to address this Zoe/Jewel rift business. We are not goin' to make out that there is catfightin' and infightin' goin' on at Misfit Music an' we are not goin' to tell them what you just told us. It ain't good for business, so I'm givin' you some prior warning. I want you to make sure that you don't tell any lies, but that we don't come out of this badly. I don't care if Syl did or didn't leak Zoe's secret to the press, and nor will they - they just want a juicy scandal an' we want to prevent one!"
"I see." Topaz nodded her head. "Okay, I'll talk to the girls tonight and we'll work out what to say and what not to." She sighed. "In truth, Zoe's got the wrong end of the stick, but we think she's confused about herself more than anything. We don't want there to be a rift - we like her."
"Well, you'd damn well work out a way to fix it, too." Phyllis said darkly. "Because otherwise Jewel don't have a music video."
"I realise." Topaz said gravely. She got to her feet. "We'll do our best." She turned to the door, then paused. "Thank you for not interfering in my choice, by the way. Im grateful."
"Misfit Music work on the level. It's not our right." Jetta said quietly. "In return you can damn well work with us to work the best way around it."
"Okay. You have my word." Topaz nodded her head. Then she was gone, and Phyllis sat back in her chair, letting out her breath in a rush.
"That's why I hate managing young adults." She muttered. "They think they own their own damn lives and ignore the music company's interests."
"We can keep Topaz under control, though. She can't stay in LA without Misfit Music, so we'll be all right an' she's level 'eaded enough to keep her word." Jetta shrugged. "I'm more fussed about this kid of Clash's, to be honest. Guess she inherited somethin' of 'er mother's attitude an' temperament after all."
"And we don't have her to contract here. She's freelance." Phyllis growled. "Dammit. Jewel had better fix this...else what are we supposed to do about their new single? Kids! They're nothing but goddamn trouble!"
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