A Movie Starlet
Chapter Ten: Crisis

It was a sunny morning.
Copper glanced out of the window at the brightening sky, brushing her long curls into a neat ponytail as she did so. She had had barely five hours sleep, but, as she well knew, once she got on the set of Dean Stacey's morning television show, the tiredness would fade and the fun of playing live would take over.
"I wonder if the others are up." She mused, setting her brush down on her unit and getting to her feet. "The car will be here soon, and I want to grab some breakfast before we go. I don't want to be caught in another of Syl's last minute panics to get ready."
She looked up at the clock, seeing that it was just past five, and that they had half an hour before the car would arrive to take them to the studio. Dean's show aired between eight and nine, but bands were always called to the set early, to rehearse and prepare for the live broadcast. She headed out into the corridor, as Nancy emerged from her own room, casting her a grin as the dark girl yawned and headed for the bathroom, towel over her arm.
"Seen anyone else?" She asked.
"Sadie's gone down. Apparently she didn't sleep so well last night." Nancy responded. "Haven't seen Syl - give her a boot, will you? It doesn't look good if we're late."
"Sure." Copper grinned. "You better hurry up and dress, too. We've half an hour."
"I know. I've got it in hand." Nancy assured her, disappearing into the big bathroom and closing the door behind her. Copper hurried along the corridor to where Sylva and Topaz's bedrooms stood, pausing at the far end.
"Syl, are you up?" She murmured, knocking on her friend's bedroom door. "The car will be here in half an hour."
"I'm up." The door swung open, to reveal Sylva, fully dressed and with her curly hair clipped back from her face. "No need to look so surprised, Copper! I set my alarm for once. Cynthia was beat last night and I didn't want her up early, running around after us, when her circuits needed a break."
She stifled a yawn.
"Ugh, I do hate early mornings! Everyone else up?"
"Nancy's taking a shower, and I think Sadie's downstairs. If I were you I'd go grab breakfast - I'll be down in a few."
"Sure." Sylva nodded. She eyed the redhead curiously. "What are you going to do?"
"I want to see if Topaz is up." Copper responded. "I want to borrow her suede jacket for this morning's show."
"I would be surprised if she was, but go ahead." Sylva rolled her eyes expressively. "Last night she came in a little merry, if you know what I mean. Be wary, huh?"
"She came in drunk?" Copper looked startled. Sylva nodded.
"Not really smashed, but tipsy enough." She agreed. "Good luck."
Copper watched her bandmate head downstairs, pursing her lips as she considered the other girl's words. Then she crossed the hall, carefully opening Topaz's bedroom door.
"Topaz?" She whispered. "Topaz, are you awake? I have a favour to ask of you!"
There was no reply, and, surmising that Sylva had been right, Copper turned to leave.
As she did so, however, a choked cry caught her attention, and she moved to Hollie's cribside, assuming that the baby had awoken and was demanding food or changing.
However, as soon as Copper reached the baby's side, she realised that something was badly wrong. Hollie was flushed and feverish, and her breathing seemed noisy and raspy. She was clearly upset, for her face was creased up as if preparing to cry, but Copper was quick to recognise the difficulty that the infant was having in even drawing breath. Frightened, she took a step back from the crib.
"Topaz!" She exclaimed. "Topaz, wake up! Hollie's sick!"
At first there was no response, but Copper was not going to let her friend sleep on in the face of such a crisis. Reaching over, she shook the singer firmly, until, groaning, Topaz stirred, pushing thick blond hair out of her eyes.
"Copper, what the hell is it?" She demanded blurrily. "It's damn early! What time is it?"
"Topaz, Hollie's sick. She's flushed up and fevered and I don't think she can breathe right." Copper exclaimed. "I'm sorry to wake you, but I came in here to ask you if I could borrow your jacket, and I saw her, and..."
"What?" Topaz rubbed her eyes, staring at her friend uncomprehendingly. "I've a headache, Copper, can't it wait?"
"Wait?" Copper's eyes opened wide with surprise and anger, and she took the girl by the shoulders, shaking her hard.
"Topaz, wake up! Get it into your hungover brain that your daughter is ill and she needs your help!"
"Get a grip, will you?" Topaz put a hand to her head. "That's not helping. Now, what do you mean? She's got a cold, that's all."
"Oh, for heaven's sake." Copper's anxiety was fast becoming impatience, and she grabbed her friend by the hand, pulling her forcibly to the cribside. "Look for yourself! No baby should be that flushed, and the kid can hardly even breathe! This isn't just some cold, Topaz, she needs medical help! I actually thought you'd be worried, but judging by the way you've treated the poor thing these last couple of weeks, I shouldn't be surprised that you don't!"
Topaz did as she was bidden, but any retort died on her tongue as she registered the struggles her small daughter was making to breathe. Instead she whispered a curse, reaching down to scoop up the little girl in her arms.
"What have I done to you?" She murmured.
"Shall I call a doctor?" Copper asked. Topaz nodded.
"Please." She begged. "I'm sorry, Copper, I didn't realise it was as serious as this, else I'd have..."
She trailed off, shaking her head.
"No, this is my fault. Cynthia told me last night she seemed off, and I just assumed she'd be okay. If I had been thinking..."
"Look, now isn't the time for this." Copper said gently, scooping up Topaz's phone. "I'll call Dr Finnan, huh?"
"All right." Topaz nodded, gently stroking her daughter's back as she attempted to soothe the baby's panic. "Shh, Hollie, I know. I know you're scared and you feel bad, but we're going to make it better, I promise. Shh-shh."
Hollie uttered a strangled, disgruntled cry, then began to cough, much to Topaz's dismay.
Copper terminated her call.
"He says to take her to the emergency room." She said quietly. "He made no bones about it, Topaz. I told him her symptoms and he said it was better not to take chances. Just in case it's more serious than just a cold...apparently infants are susceptible to getting sick very quickly."
"More serious than a cold?" Topaz blanched. "Could she be? I mean, what did he say? Did he give any suggestions?"
"Yes." Copper bit her lip, then, "He said it sounded like she could have a bad chest infection, or...or even worse. He did mention pneumonia. Apparently when kids are teething they sometimes run a fever and are more prone to things like this - left unchecked they get out of hand."
"Unchecked." Topaz repeated the word numbly. "Which is what I've done, isn't it? I've pushed her off onto everyone else for the last couple of weeks and I didn't even notice...Cynthia said she'd been bad with her teeth but I didn't bother about it. Even last night, when she was hot, I didn't take any notice."
"If I were you, I'd get dressed and get her to the hospital." Copper said quietly, taking the baby gently from her friend's arms. "It might not be so bad as you think, and you shouldn't waste time getting her to a doctor. I'll stop here and look after her - go on!"
"But you're working this morning!"
"It won't matter if we're a little late, in the circumstances. Just dress, hurry!"
Topaz hesitated a moment, her gaze on the tiny, flushed features. Then, swallowing hard, she grabbed a handful of clothes and her towel, hurrying out onto the corridor. Nancy was just leaving the bathroom, and she stopped dead as Topaz flew past her, staring.
"You're up early, considering what state you crawled in in last night." She observed.
Topaz did not reply, merely banging the bathroom door shut behind her, and Nancy shrugged, tying her dressing gown more tightly around her waist and heading to her bedroom to dress.
In Topaz's room, all thought of Dean's show had left Copper's mind as she cradled the small baby gently in her arms.
"Don't cry, Hollie, you'll make things worse." She told the frightened child softly. "We're gonna get you all better, so don't cry. Okay?"
Hollie took a raspy, choky breath, waving her fists as if trying to grab Copper's long ponytail. Copper bit her lip. Even when she was causing them all trouble, Hollie was cute.
"And I don't want anything to happen to you any more than your Mommy does." She whispered. "So hang in there, okay? I know you can."
A strange sound came from the baby, a half-cry, half gasp, and Copper noticed with some alarm that the child's skin was becoming bluish. Realising with a jolt that Hollie had stopped breathing, she set the baby down on the bed, uttering a fervent prayer for help. Her father had taught her how to resuscitate once, a long time ago, when he had taken her and Luis camping in the mountains on a long family weekend away from work. Whilst they had been there, a climber had fallen, and after the ambulance had taken him away, Copper had been curious to know how they had made him breathe again. Esteban, always keen to teach his children new things, had shown her with one of her dolls how to carry out the procedure, and for the rest of the holiday the young girl had had fun playing doctors and nurses with her toys.
Now, though, it was no game. Hollie's tiny lungs were struggling under the oppressive infection, and if she did not do something soon the baby would lose her battle altogether. Carefully she loosened the top of the child's nightgown, uttering another prayer, and then getting to work.
At first, it seemed like it was to no avail. Hollie made no sound, her eyes half closed. But Copper had every bit of her father's steely determination, and she persevered, half afraid to damage the tiny bones in her efforts. Finally, though, her fight was rewarded, as Hollie took a shaky, feeble breath and began to wave her fists once more, struggling to cry.
Copper uttered a prayer of thanks in harried Spanish, scooping the child back up into her arms, holding her tightly.
"We won't tell your Mama what just happened, okay?" She whispered. "You keep breathing now, and I won't frighten Mommy. Okay, Hol? Is it a deal?"
Hollie grabbed at her hair, seemingly comforted by the gentle voice and familiar touch, and Copper grinned.
"Good girl." She murmured. "It'll be better soon. I promise."
At that moment Topaz remerged, her hair hastily pulled back from her face as she fastened the buttons on her blouse with shaking fingers.
"How is she?" She asked anxiously.
"She needs her Mama to take her to the doctor." Copper said gravely, holding the precious burden out for the singer to take. "Take my car, since yours is at the studio. We'll contact Milton and the studios, and tell them what's going on. Topaz, Hollie needs you today, and that has to come first, whatever else you have lined up."
"I hadn't even thought of work." Topaz admitted brokenly, running her fingers through her hair, then taking Hollie carefully in her grip. "But I...I better call Milton, Copper. I'll do it from the hospital, but I...I have to take responsibility, and I can explain better that way."
"If that's what you want." Copper agreed softly, handing over her car keys. "Good luck, Topaz - call us when you know more, okay?"
"I promise." Topaz nodded. She swallowed hard.
"Thank you for being here." She whispered. Then she was gone, and Copper dropped down onto Topaz's bed with a sigh.
"You don't know how lucky you are that I was." She muttered. "And we've got to go play Dean's show now!"
"Copper! The car is here!" Nancy's voice called up the stairs, and Copper got slowly to her feet, heading down to meet the rest of the group.
"Has Topaz gone?" She asked softly.
"Topaz is on another planet today. She hared past me on the landing, then she was gone out the door without a word to any of us. We only knew she'd driven off because we heard a car engine."
"Your car engine, to be precise, Copper." Sylva added, peering out through the window.
"I told her to take it." Copper said with a shrug. "Guys, Hollie's not too good this morning. Topaz has taken her off to the hospital - seems the cold Cyn picked up on last night is more than a cold. The baby's really struggling to breathe."
"Is she all right?" Sadie's eyes opened wide. Copper bit her lip, then,
"Don't tell Topaz this, but she stopped breathing for a moment or two." She admitted. "Somehow I kept her going, but she's not very well. Topaz is pretty upset - she blames herself entirely, and in the circumstances, what comfort could I give her?"
"It is her fault, but she doesn't deserve this. And nor does Hollie." Nancy said gravely. "Should we call off Dean's show?"
"I thought you didn't want anything interfering with Jewel?" Sylva stared at her companion. Nancy shook her head.
"I don't." She agreed. "But nor do I want the baby's life at risk, and all of us are going to be thinking that way this morning, if things are as bad as Copper said."
"Topaz would want us to go on and play the show." Copper said quietly. "And we must, girls. Hollie will be in the best place she can be, and we have to have faith that they'll help her better there. It'll do noone any good if we cancel - if nothing else, it'll get the press alerted that something has happened. That's the last thing Topaz needs."
"Copper's right." Sadie nodded. "We have to play."
"Then let's get it over with." Sylva slipped her jacket over her shoulders. "Come on. We've a show to do."


Chapter One: A Surprise For Topaz
Chapter Two: Make or Break
Chapter Three: Audition
Chapter Four: First Day
Chapter Five: Travis' Plot
Chapter Six: Making Choices
Chapter Seven: Jewel...and Jack
Chapter Eight: Topaz Shines
Chapter Nine: Trouble
Chapter Ten: Crisis
Chapter Eleven: Morgan Explains

Chapter Twelve: Topaz's Future