Chapter Two: A Tiny Life
"Misfit Music is so big."
It was the next day, and, having been called into the big music company for a final briefing from her new employers, Sadie had decided to spend a few minutes exploring her new surroundings, drinking in properly for the first time how glamorous and impressive it all was.
"To think that, in a week or two I might even be laying down my first tracks here." She mused, peering in through the big frosted glass windows of the main recording studio. "I dunno, it still kinda takes my breath away, just thinking about it. All the big stars..."
She hesitated, then pushed open the door of the studio, stepping inside and pausing to examine the many framed disks that hung on the walls.
"Jewel: Tapestry. Jewel: Only The Music. Jewel: Bijoux. I wonder if soon Exotic will have a disk up here too." She mused, touching the glass of each one reverently. "And one day, I will be a part of this. I will be able to come in here and look up here on the wall and know that I played my part in getting one of these. Platinum albums, gold albums, double platinum albums...wow. So many people - I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to have a fanbase that huge."
She crossed the studio to the other side.
"I wonder what the other records are for. These ones are older - they must belong to the Misfits, I guess, since this is Misfit Music and I know that Phyllis and Jetta were both phenomenal artists in their day. But these ones are newer...I wonder."
She squinted at the gold label.
"Sirena? I'm sure I've heard of her, but I can't think where I might have seen the name. I wonder if she's big in Europe too? Unless Topaz told me about her, of course. That might be it. I can't place her music right at the moment."
"Well, I find it hard to lay down a new track when someone else is in the studio."
A voice came from the doorway and startled, Sadie swung around, her cheeks reddening as she met the quizzical gaze of someone not many years her senior. The newcomer was tall, with sleek, red-dyed waves of hair pulled back from her face in a ponytail. Her arms were folded across her chest, and her piercing emerald gaze reminded Sadie of the predatorial executive who owned the recording company. Despite herself, she took a step away from the disks.
"I...I'm sorry." She murmured. "I didn't realise anyone was...was working in here."
"Well, I suppose when you got here noone was." The other girl observed, coming into the room proper and letting the door bang carelessly shut behind her. "I'm late." She eyed Sadie thoughtfully.
"I'm guessing you're Garnet, right? The new Jewel that the press can't keep from talking about?"
"Yes." Sadie nodded her head, blushing red once more. "I'm afraid you know more than me...I feel like I should know you but..."
"Well, since you've been examining my disks, I'm rather put out that you don't." The girl laughed. "I'm Emily Gabor...you can call me Sirena. I'm Misfit Music's other biggest selling act - so we will probably see a fair bit of each other."
"Oh!" Sadie stared, then, "Gabor? Are you...?"
"Related to the owner? Yes, she's my mother." Sirena's green eyes glinted thoughtfully, and in a flash Sadie saw the likeness between mother and daughter. "You're not familiar with my music, though? Hmm. Well, once you've been in LA a while, that will change. I assure you of that."
She pulled herself up onto the unit, grabbing a folder down off the shelf and flicking through it. Then, realising that Sadie was still watching her, she glanced up.
"I am supposed to be working, you know." She said quietly. "I don't object to company, but my album is already two weeks later than it should be, and Mom isn't amused."
"Oh!" Sadie looked embarrassed, then, "I'm sorry. I'll let you get to work. I didn't mean to intrude."
"Hey, don't worry about it, kid." Sirena eyed her keenly. "You have a real name, or do you just answer to Garnet?"
"My...my real name is Sadie Monahue." Sadie responded. Sirena pursed her lips.
"Sadie, huh?" She remarked. "Well, I suppose you could've been landed with worse." She shrugged. "Okay, Sadie it is."
The singer turned her attention back to her files and, taking the hint that she had outstayed her welcome, Sadie backed out of the studio, pulling the door firmly shut behind her and leaning up against it as she regained some of her composure. Sirena had not been unfriendly or unkind to her, but there was something in the girl's off-hand nature and piercing green eyes that told Sadie she was not someone to cross if it could be at all helped.
"I hope I haven't blotted my copybook with her already. I don't want to make any enemies here, especially when I'm just starting out." She mused to herself as she headed slowly back down the main corridor. "She reminded me of Amber, just a little, only scarier." Amber, or Amanda Whatson was the bass guitarist for the Teenangel Outsiders, but she was also an old friend of Sadie's, and someone whom the fair girl had always put absolute faith in.
"I wonder where I should head now." She mused as she reached the lift shaft, pressing the button and waiting for the car to arrive at her floor. "I know that up is where Phyllis and Jetta have their offices, so there's no reason to go up there. Down then, I suppose. I know Cynthia, Copper and Nancy are gonna help me find some new clothes this afternoon, but I really need to find my way around this place as soon as possible. I know there are conference rooms on the ground floor, and that there are studios and offices and various other places throughout the building, but it seems so big and confusing still. The last thing I want to do is look like a total idiot when we come here to record or something and I don't know where the heck I'm supposed to be going."
She stepped into the lift, pressing the button to go down, and leaning back against the rail as she considered what she had learnt so far.
"Being a star is more work than I'd pegged it to be, even having chatted to Topaz online for so long." She reflected. "And what they said about the press worried me. If the initial press conference prints up okay, well, fine, I've made a good impression on the local media. But what if I say or do something wrong, or someone gets suspicious? One whiff of what happened back in England and my career here would be doomed. I have to be absolutely sure that I never give anything away, no matter what. It's for Jewel's sake, as well as for mine. Positive publicity is important to them, and I'm not going to be the one to let the ship capsize. They're local heroes and worldwide superstars. I have to prove that I'm good enough to be there too, and I will! Noone will ever associate Garnet with that Sadie Monahue, thief and drug addict!"
The car reached the bottom floor, and Sadie stepped out, glancing briefly at her reflection in the silver panels along the walls as if to convince herself that she really had changed. Then she sighed.
"I'm paranoid." She muttered. "That was years ago. Noone here suspects a thing, they've all been angels to me. I've earned this new start and that's that. What happened back then doesn't even matter any more."
She turned down a corridor, glancing at the names on the doors as she did so. Names of executives and employees, she decided. People she had not yet met, and maybe never would.
"And this is the company creche." She murmured as she hesitated outside one of the doors. "Where Topaz's baby will spend some time, no doubt, when it's born and she returns to work."
She sighed, hearing the children's voices from within. They reminded her of her family, back home in England, and despite herself she felt the homesickness creeping back.
"I only wish they were here to share this with me too." She muttered, pushing open the door almost without thinking about it and slipping inside. "They're the only thing missing."
"Can I help you, miss?"
A girl in paint spattered overalls cast her a cheerful grin. "This is the creche - did you take a wrong turn or something?"
"I was just looking around." Sadie said shyly. "My name is Garnet - I just signed up with Misfit Music and I'm trying to learn how the building is set up. I heard the sound of the kids laughing in here and it reminded me of my nieces back home in England."
"Well, plenty of kiddies here." The girl beamed. "Garnet, huh? I've heard about you. You're the new Jewel, ain't that right?"
"Yep, that's me." Sadie looked embarrassed. "Everyone seems to know who I am today - it's a bit scary."
"You'll get used to it." The girl assured her. "My name's Debra - I've worked here three years and I've seen most of the stars who come in and out of this place. Lots of them have kiddies of their own, too. You have children?"
"No." Sadie shook her head. "Though one day I'd like to. The only thing I really miss about home now I'm settled up in LA is playing babysitter to my nieces, Sharita and Megan."
"Well, if you ask me you're sensible." Debra said decidedly. "Busy lifestyle it is, for most of the people who work here. And, well, we do our best, but you know. Nothing can really replace Mom and Dad, can it?"
"No, definitely not." Sadie agreed, remembering her own parents. "So all the kids here are kids of performers?"
"No, not all of them." Debra shook her head. She indicated a small boy in the corner, studiously examining a cardboard paged book. "That's Michael Gabor - Sirena's son - but other than that, we've only kids of executives here today. Mike doesn't come here often - he goes to the Foundation most days, because the girls there love playing with him and Sirena prefers it, but Kimber - that's the lady who runs it - is down with a cold at the moment, so he had to come to us. Can't let eighteen month babies go around catching colds!"
"No, indeed." Sadie glanced at the darkskinned child and, seeming to sense her gaze, Michael looked up, meeting her blue eyes with solemn brown ones.
"Hi there." Sadie cast him a smile. Michael did not respond at first, then he offered a small smile, returning his attention to his picture book.
"He's sweet." Sadie remarked. "I wouldn't have picked him out to be Sirena's, though. I met her for the first time this morning, and they don't look much alike. Does he look like his father?"
"I never met his Dad, so couldn't tell you, but from what I've been told, yes." Debra looked thoughtful, then, "You ever hear of a R&B singer called Blade?"
"No, I don't think that I..."
"Well, see, 'bout two years ago now, this Blade guy and Sirena were thick as thieves. Shacked up together and, if you believe the presses, very much in love. Michael was the result."
"What happened to Blade?" Sadie looked curious.
"Ah, sad story." Debra said pensively. "He was shot by some nutcase fan in San Diego. Tragic, really, he was still so young. Probably about your age, I'd say. He was talented too - Rebel Records released a commemorative disk and I play it all the time, he really knew his music. Tragedy all round for this little mite - he was born six months later, and he never met his Daddy. Rumour was at the time that Sirena's heart was broken, because she pulled away into seclusion and she's not dated since. I wouldn't know myself. She's not the kind of girl you can really stop and chat with, but she loves the kid to death, that much is obvious. Guess maybe he reminds her of happier days, if you catch my drift."
"I see." Sadie was touched. "Poor kid. I lost my mother that way too - she was caught in the crossfire of a street riot when I was ten, and she died straight away. It's a horrible way to lose someone, and it's sad that Michael will never know his father."
"Well, life is odd sometimes." Debra sighed. "And I shouldn't be chatting away to you when you've probably got several thousand other things to do."
She smiled impishly.
"It is nice, though, to get to know the company's new blood. I like meeting new people."
"I feel less homesick now." Sadie admitted. "Coming in here has helped. I guess I'm just used to being a part of a big family - that's important to me these days. I don't have any family in LA, and it's something I have to get used to."
"Well, feel free to come chat to me anytime!" Debra assured her. "I'll be here."
"Okay, thanks." Sadie dimpled. "I do have to run now, because Cynthia said something about helping me find a wardrobe fit for a Jewel, but thank you for being so kind to me. So far everyone's been great and Los Angeles is a dream come true...I only hope I'm gonna prove to everyone that I deserve the chances they've given me!"
As she left the building, deep in thought, she did not notice someone watching her from above; observing as she hailed a taxi and slipped into the back seat with a friendly greeting to the driver.
"So that's Garnet." Sirena mused to herself, pursing her lips. "Jewel's English acquisition. Why do I think that she's going to be an interesting addition to this company? I'd bet anything that there's more to that girl than meets the eye. Wonder if Mom and Jetta know exactly what they've signed up?"
She shrugged, moving away from the window and scooping up a CD with perfectly manicured nails, slipping it into the disk drive and hitting play.
"Jewel aren't my business or my problem." She decided, as she checked to make sure her practice microphone was properly hooked up. "No doubt she'll fit in. Things have a knack of going the right way for Jewel, after all."