A Movie Starlet
Chapter Six: Making Choices

"That's a wrap, folks! Take five!"
Topaz stepped down off the set, inwardly thanking her lucky stars for her diligence in going over her lines the night before. The scene had gone without a hitch this time, and she had even managed to pull off the dreaded kiss with Travis without messing up the shot.
All in all, she reasoned, things were going better today than they had done the previous day.
"See, I said you just needed a few pointers in the right direction."
Travis stepped down beside her, putting a careless arm around her shoulders and shooting her a winning smile. "Didn't I tell you?"
"Your advice really helped." Topaz grinned. "Thanks, Travis. I see now why everyone thinks so much of your acting skill - you're really easy to play opposite, even for a rookie like me."
"I'm glad you think so." Approval touched Travis' expression. "I was sure that you'd fit in here in no time, and I wasn't wrong, was I?"
"I don't know about that, but I'm doing my best." Topaz responded. "I went over my lines till past midnight last night, and I think it paid off."
"The camera loved you." Marina purred up to her other side. "You've certainly shaken off a few amateur traits overnight, Aurora - I guess it's true what they say."
"What do they say?" Topaz sent the redhead a guarded look, but the actress laughed.
"Oh, I'm sorry, are you still mad at my little game yesterday?" She asked. "It's an old tradition in this business - to see how practiced newcomers are. I didn't mean anything by it - please, don't take it personally. You did well today."
"Thank you." Topaz smiled slightly.
"Have you plans for this evening, Aurora?" Travis cast her a questioning look.
"Plans?" Topaz looked startled. "What do you mean, plans?"
"A friend invited me to attend his premier and it would be too rude of me not to go." Travis said airily. "I wondered if you might like to come with me. There would be a lot of people there that I could introduce you to, and I know you'd enjoy it."
"I don't know." Topaz hesitated, her mind on Hollie. "There are things that I..."
"Well, it's up to you, of course." Travis told her with a shrug. "But if you're serious about becoming an actress and leaving that rock star nonsense behind you, these are people you need to meet and greet. Acting isn't just a question of what you know, but who you know. A lot of reporters and big names will be there, and you have to be seen to be with these people if you want folk to take you seriously."
"Travis is quite right, you know." Marina said with a nod of her head. "I read a couple of stories in the local rags before filming began, and none of them seemed to give you much chance of pulling off this whole film idea. Of course, we want you to succeed - as I said yesterday, Milton is a sweetheart and noone wants his projects to flop - but I would hate for the press to be in a position to say "I told you so."
"I never thought of it that way." Topaz frowned. "You see, it's not like I can just up and go out whenever I want. I have responsibilities, and..."
"More important than pursuing your new career?" Travis interrupted gently. "You don't seem to understand how much rests on things like this."
"I guess I do understand." Topaz sighed. "I've done my share of publicity appearances and autograph signings, I know the value of positive press. It's just..."
"I won't ask you again." Travis warned her. "I have to finalise my plans for tonight as soon as possible. I just thought it might help if you were to come along."
"I see." Topaz frowned. "It was very kind of you to ask me, Travis."
She hesitated, then,
"And I'd love to come with you. I'm sure you're right about the publicity and I don't want anyone to think I can't handle this whole movie deal."
"Good girl!" Travis smiled at her. "Then I'll have my driver pick you up at the Starlight Mansion at eight. That is where you live, I believe?"
"Yes." Topaz nodded. "All right. I'll be ready."
"Then I'll see you tonight." Travis told her. "Will you girls excuse me? I have to find DeMarco and tell him to make the arrangements for the car..."
With that he was gone, and Marina shot Topaz a blatantly false smile.
"You should consider yourself priveleged. Travis doesn't share this kind of attention with every new star." She observed.
"He's been kinda sweet to me, really." Topaz acknowledged. "I appreciate the advice he gave me."
"Well, I've known Travis ten years, and I know the sort of actor he is." Marina said smoothly. "Take it from me, Aurora, he believes you have potential. Ive seen actresses longer in their careers than you are who have done everything possible to get his attention, but he won't take notice of any but the best. If you want to be a star in this business, he's someone you ought to keep in with."
"I've realised that already." Topaz admitted. "Everyone seems to think such a lot of him. Well. Except Morgan."
"Morgan O'Sullivan?" Marina uttered another rather affected laugh. "Well, what do you expect? Morgan is one of those actresses I just mentioned, Aurora. Beneath his notice. It's all envy, of course. She was never worth his time. Silly girl fell madly in love with him, and he just didn't reciprocate her affections. She made a horrible great scene of it in a public place, and she's been bitter and cold about it ever since. No professionalism, that's all."
"Morgan?" Topaz looked startled. "What kind of a scene?"
"Attacked Travis and his girlfriend on a date in a local restaurant. There was an awful fuss." Marina shuddered. "A real mess, it was."
"Attacked them?" Topaz stared. "You're kidding me!"
"Well, believe me or don't believe me, the choice is yours." Marina shrugged carelessly. "You can look up the press reports and see the photos for yourself. I'm just warning you that she's really not the kind of actress we like to cultivate, if we can really help it. Travis was most upset when he learnt she'd be on this movie - if you ask me, they should have locked her up for that particular debacle."
She flashed another false smile.
"Well, can't stand around talking all day. I must go get my make up fixed. See you on set!"
With that she was gone, leaving Topaz staring after her.
"Trust me, her make up isn't all she needs to fix."
A voice came from behind her, and the blond girl turned to meet Morgan's dark gaze. "That girl is pure poison, Rora...I hate to think what she told you."
"She was just giving me some advice about Travis, that's all." Topaz said with a shrug. "He's invited me to a premier tonight, and I said I'd go."
"A premier?" Morgan's eyes opened wide. "A date?"
"No, not a date." Topaz sounded impatient. "Just an evening out, that's all."
"You're sure about that?" Morgan raised a styled eyebrow. "Travis doesn't usually go for business outside of work hours."
"Well, I know exactly what this is, and it's not a bit what you think is going on." Topaz said quietly. "Morgan, what is your problem? Travis has given me a lot of encouragement and help already, just as much as you have! I told you that I needed all the help I could get...why does it bother you if I spend time with him?"
"I told you already that whatever Travis does is for his own benefit and the benefit of the press. Never for anyone else's benefit." Morgan said flatly. "Maybe he's being all nice and helpful now, Rora, but have you stopped to think why he's being like this?"
"To be honest, I don't much care." Topaz said with a shrug. "I've spent long enough in Los Angeles to know that he is right, and publicity is important. I'm not falling in love with him, so don't insinuate that I am. I've known him what, a matter of days! It's just a publicity engagement, tonight, and that's all. He's going to introduce me to people, and if I have a hope of becoming any kind of serious actress, I need to meet as many people as possible."
Morgan eyed her coldly for a moment.
"You know, I did think that you had a breath of fresh air about you." She said quietly. "That you were going to be different - not one of his hangers on. Was I wrong?"
"And I thought you were reasonable and even-tempered, but I'm wondering if I'm wrong also." Topaz shot back. "You have serious issues with Travis, and you need to address those before you start giving me advice on how to deal with him."
"Oh, I do, do I?" Morgan bristled. "What kind of issues are those, huh?"
"I dunno. Unrequited love, perhaps?" Topaz snapped. "I might be younger than you are, and inexperienced in this business, but I'm not the naive little girl you seem to think that I am, you know. I'm not a child. I know how the world works. I've worked in a pit of a diner and I've learnt over the years that you don't spurn positive publicity if you can help it. If Travis is game to help me - whatever his agenda - then I'm game to play along. I don't need to be mothered."
"If you ask me, you need it a whole lot more than you think you do." Morgan said acidly. "Just don't come running to me to pick up the pieces when he goes to the press to tell them this, that or the other about you, or loses interest in you for some other idiot, okay? Don't say I didn't try and warn you."
"Morgan, I'm not looking for a lover." Topaz retorted coldly. "Hell, I'm already raising the result of the last messy relationship I was in - I don't need the hassle of another!"
"Even more reason to be prudent, in that case." Morgan said levelly. "But if you won't listen to me, you'll have to find out the hard way."
She shrugged.
"Oh well. Never mind."
She turned on her heel, disappearing into the crowd of people, and Topaz sank down onto an empty stool, turning over everything that had been said.
"I hate to admit it, but it looks like Marina was right." She mused. "Morgan does have a sore spot where Travis is concerned. Maybe what she said about the scene in the restaurant is true, also. I don't know, but Marina seemed very sure of herself, and she wouldn't have sent me to look at the presses if there wasn't something behind it. Morgan's been so nice to me, but I don't understand this attitude of hers. Can't she understand that I'm not in love with Travis, and nor am I likely to be? If he's using me, I'm using him just as much to get to know the right people. It's hardly Romeo and Juliet, whatever the story on set. Just because we're an onscreen item, it doesn't mean we're going to be one offscreen."
"What if Travis does make a move on you?" A little voice asked her. Topaz frowned.
"Then he'll have to know I'm not interested." She decided firmly. "I have Hollie to worry about, and that's that. Nothing else matters."
She slipped her hand into her pocket, pulling out her mobile phone.
"Speaking of Hollie, I hope Jewel aren't playing anywhere tonight. I need a babysitter." She muttered, dialling Sylva's mobile number. "Come on, Syl, pick up! Don't tell me you chose today to leave the phone on the kitchen unit! I..."
"Hello? Topaz, that you?"
"Finally. You took your time!" Topaz scolded.
"Well, sorry, but we were in studio. I just heard it ringing." Sylva replied. "What's the matter?"
"Are you girls working tonight?"
"Tonight? No, I don't think so. Why?"
"Good. Can I ask a favour, then?"
"What's the favour?"
"Travis invited me to a premier and it's important I go, if I'm going to meet the right people to stay in this business long term. Remember, I have to satisfy immigration that I'm fulfilling the details of my work permit - I have to give this a real go. Do you reckon you can watch Hollie for me? It's just tonight, I promise."
"Sure, not a problem. Though this sounds suspiciously like a date to me, Topaz."
"Well, it isn't. It's just an evening out." Topaz sighed. "You know as well as anyone that I'm still in love with you know who, and that's that."
"True." Sylva acknowledged. "All right. We'll be back at the Starlight around seven - what time are you s'posed to go out?"
"He's picking me up at eight, so that should be fine." Topaz sounded relieved. "Thanks, Syl, you're a lifesaver. I'll pick her up from the Foundation and feed her and everything before I go, I promise...thanks so much!"
"You're welcome. Anything to keep you in LA." Sylva laughed. "I gotta go, but I'll talk to you later, all right?"
"Sure, Syl. Say hi to everyone for me, and thanks again!"
Topaz terminated the call, slipping her phone back into her pocket.
"At least that's that sorted." She murmured. "Now, on with the show!"

Across Los Angeles, at Misfit Music, Sylva relayed her friend's message to the other Jewels, pulling herself up onto the unit as she did so, and settling herself comfortably between the masses of wires and cables.
"I said we'd do it. After all, we're not working tonight, and I do see her point." She concluded. "Besides, she's hardly gone out anywhere or had any time to herself since Hollie was born. She deserves a night out."
"It's fine by me." Sadie strummed an absent chord on her guitar. "As you say, Syl, she deserves a break."
"So we're confined to a night of playing babysitter?" Nancy rolled her eyes. "I was gonna work late tonight and see if I couldn't finish that album track."
"Well, we don't all have to watch Hollie." Copper assured her. "You can stop here and write if you like, Nance. We can handle the mite."
"Copper's right." Sylva nodded. "It's really me she asked to babysit, anyway."
"For a band with a single out in a week or two, you kids sure are quiet."
Jetta's voice from the doorway startled the group, and she grinned at their discomfort.
"Yes, I thought so. Dossin' on the job again." She teased. "Better get back to work smartish. We've just 'ad a call from the television studio, an' it looks like you're gonna be playin' that new song of yours live on air sooner than you think."
"Sooner than we think?" Sadie frowned. "What do you mean, Jetta?"
"Someone dropped out of a live slot on Connie's Corner this evenin', an' Pizzazz decided it'd be as good a time as any to fling you girls out into the public eye again." Jetta said with a shrug. "So you'd better get practicin'. The car is comin' at five and it'll pick you up here."
"Five?" Sylva's eyes opened wide. "But Jetta, we can't!"
"Why not?" Jetta frowned. "What's wrong?"
"We promised Topaz to watch Hollie tonight. She has a...another engagement to do with her film." Copper said quietly.
Jetta looked thoughtful.
"Topaz left Jewel so that she wouldn't interfere with your schedule. She will 'ave to make other arrangements." She said at length. "I'm sorry, girls, but we're runnin' a music company, not a creche. You're playin' Connie's Corner tonight, an' that's all there is to it. Now get playin', huh? We expect you to be professional on air."
"Yes, Jetta." Sylva got slowly off the unit, making her way back to her keyboard.
"She is right, you know." Nancy remarked once the executive had gone. "I know Topaz wouldn't have asked if she'd known this was going to happen, but we do have to play Connie's Corner tonight. That's as important to our career as the premier is to hers now."
"It sucks. I wish she was still with us." Sylva grimaced. "I guess I'd better call her and tell her the bad news."
"That won't be necessary, Sylva."
Cynthia materialised in the doorway of the practice studio, making them all jump. "I will undertake Hollie's care tonight."
"You will?" Relief flooded Sylva's face. "Oh, fab. Thanks, Cyn, I owe you one."
"Not at all. I like spending time with Hollie." Cynthia smiled. "And I am sure Aaron can manage your affairs for one night. If necessary I will tell Miss Gabor that I am feeling unwell, and not up to going backstage or lifting heavy equipment. One small lie will not hurt."
"We'll help Aaron out if need be." Copper assured her. "Thanks, Cynthia. That solves the problem neatly. Only, won't you get into trouble if she finds out you weren't really sick?"
"Perhaps." Cynthia shrugged. "But what will she do? Dock my wages? It hardly matters to me, and it would only be for once."
"Topaz said it was a one off." Sylva agreed. "Cool, Cynnie. Then that's what we'll do. But in future I'm gonna tell Topaz to arrange things with a little more notice!"


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