A Movie Starlet
Chapter Eight: Topaz Shines
The studio was already buzzing by the time Topaz arrived
the next morning, and, with some excitement, she realised that today they
were going to start to put down some of the music.
"Finally, a world I know about!" She told herself as she crossed the set
to where the main cast were gathered around Milton.
"Nice of you to join us." Marina murmured in her ear, and she frowned.
"I got caught in traffic." She responded quietly. "It happens, you know."
"Ah, Aurora, good." Milton beamed in her direction. "Impeccable timing
- I was just discussing the blocking for your duet with Travis." He indicated
the woman at his side.
"This is Rachel Fontaine, and she's in charge of the musical side of the
production - recording and all of that stuff, but I'm sure you don't need
me to explain to you how that side of things works." He winked at her. "Rachel
is going to work with you and Travis today, with the intention of putting
together some of the tracks. I know you've had some private time to work
on these individually, but I want to see how well they work together, before
we do any filming for those scenes. Morgan, I'm going to need you today,
my dear, since we're going to focus in on some of your scenes. Tomorrow you'll
be in the recording studio, but we're running a day or so behind schedule,
so we need to get on with things."
"I wondered if you were going to show up." Travis murmured, as he and Topaz
followed Rachel across to the recording studio.
"Traffic." Topaz said briefly. "I'm here now, though. I'm glad we're going
to put down some of the music today. This is something I feel comfortable
with, at least!"
"I'm sure that recording a movie track is quite different from recording
a rock single." Travis said decidedly. "But I'm sure it will be just fine."
He eyed her keenly.
"Did you think any more about what I said last night? About us getting
together outside of filming to work on these things in private?"
"I have, and I'm working on it." Topaz agreed. "When did you have in mind?
I want to do my best for this production, and it was a lot of fun, going
to the premier last night and meeting all those people. I had a blast."
"I have engagements tonight that I must attend." Travis told her loftily.
"But I have no plans for tomorrow night, and I think that will be best."
"Tomorrow night?" Topaz repeated. "So soon?"
"Time moves fast in a movie production." Travis shrugged. "Is there a problem?"
"I guess not." Topaz looked troubled. "Just Jewel have a local concert
tomorrow night, and..."
"What does it matter what they do, Aurora?" Travis interrupted. "What are
you? A Jewel or an actress?"
"I...an actress, I suppose." Topaz glanced at her hands. "But..."
"I don't understand this reticence of yours." Travis looked impatient.
"I don't waste my time over just anyone, you know. The press were falling
over themselves last night to get statements from you, and you're splashed
all over this morning's presses, hailed as the next big rock star turned
actress. Yet you want to rush off to some concert that you're not taking
"No, I'm not going to the concert." Topaz shook her head. "I...I have to
babysit. Cynthia's working and there's only me to..."
"Babysit?" Travis' expression became incredulous. "I don't believe
I'm hearing this! Do you want a career in showbusiness, Aurora? Or do you
want to sit at home and babysit for whatever brat is thrown your way? Do
you not understand? Being seen with me will make or break your career!"
"I understood from Milton that your work permits to stay in Canada rely
on your continued employment in showbusiness." Travis interrupted her once
again, fixing her with a pointed look. "Last night you took a big step in
the right direction. Are you willing to throw it all away now?"
Topaz looked troubled.
"I want to stay in Los Angeles." She whispered. "Everything important to
me is here."
"So I'll come tomorrow night." Topaz sighed. "I guess when you put things
that way, I don't have a lot of choice in the matter."
"I'm glad you realise it." Travis nodded. "You're a strange girl, Aurora.
Most girls are sensible enough to realise where I can put them on the career
ladder to the top, and they don't put up a fight. It makes me wonder what
that Morgan girl has said to you."
"Not a lot, really." Topaz spread her hands. "I worked out that you don't
like each other, that's all. I guess I'm still learning about making this
transition. I haven't worked this hard for a while, and I'm still getting
to grips with that."
"Well, I suggest you get to grips with it a little faster." Travis told
her bluntly. "Milton is holding a dinner party at his estate next week, and
the whole cast is meant to be there. Then there will be press appearances,
and other engagements. Whatever arrangements you have with your former bandmates,
I suggest you dissolve them and start thinking of yourself. Acting isn't
for just anyone. It takes diligence, patience, and an amount of determination.
I'd like to see that you have it."
Topaz did not respond, merely pushing open the door of the recording studio,
and slipping inside. Her mind was troubled, however, by his words.
"What have I gotten myself into?" She murmured. "Travis is right, damn
him! If I want to make this my career, I have to make an effort to be included
in the things that the others do. And where does that leave Hollie?"
Her eyes narrowed.
"Mind you, she doesn't rule my life." She added. "Just because I chose
to have her, it doesn't mean I can't have a life or a career. Heck, others
have done it! Look at Sirena! Jetta! Even Copper's Mama! It's not like I
have to spend all my time running round after the kid. Cynthia's usually
on hand to babysit if need be, and there's always the Foundation. Maybe it
won't be so bad, if I attend a few more social engagements. I want people
to take me seriously!"
"Okay, guys, I know you know this song, so I'd like to take it from the
top, hear how far we've gotten with it." Rachel interrupted her thoughts at
that moment. "Aurora, since you're an old pro at this recording business,
let's hear your part first, huh? I want to be sure you have the emotion of
the song down before we get to laying it on disk."
"Okay." Topaz nodded, heading over to the microphone and slipping the headphones
on, putting her copy of the score on the stand. "I'm ready when you are.
It's a beautiful song - I want to do it justice."
"Judging by the way Milton talks about your voice, sweetheart, I'm sure
you'll do just that." She assured her. "He raves about your audition, so let's
hear what you can do, huh?"
"I just love to sing." She murmured. "Always have done."
Rachel flicked a few switches on the control panel, and Travis dropped
discontendedly down into a free chair, folding his arms to listen half-heartedly
to his co-star's performance. He had resented the comment about Topaz's recording
"I'm the star here. She's the rookie, I should show her how to do it."
He muttered. "This will take twice as long now."
The opening strains of the track began to fill the studio at that moment,
and Topaz began to sing. At first nervous by the fact he was there, she
soon got into her rhythm, and by the time she had finished her passage,
even Travis was staring at her in wide eyed amazement.
"Hell, for a rock star, you sure can sing!" he exclaimed. Topaz's cheeks
flushed with pleasure.
"Thank you." She responded. "Was it really all right?"
"Girl, you keep singing like that and we'll have your tracks nailed within
no time." Rachel assured her. "Since you obviously have that down, let's
try the duet, okay?"
"Rachel?" The door of the studio swung open at that moment to reveal one
of the backstage hands, and Rachel cast them a quizzical look.
"What's up? We're trying to get this song down."
"Milton wants to see Aurora. She's needed for a scene."
"We've only just begun!" Travis protested. Topaz sent Rachel a questioning
"Should I go?"
"If Milton wants you, my dear, you'd better go." Rachel sighed. "Travis,
we'll work on your numbers instead. Aurora, when Milton is done with you,
come back here, huh? I've a busy schedule of things we need to do, and we
need to press on if we're not going to be caught working late."
"I can't work late. I have an engagement." Travis announced firmly. "I
must leave here at seven."
"Then we'd better get moving." Rachel told him evenly.
Topaz slipped off the headphones, heading out onto the set with the backstage
"Do you know why Milton wanted me specifically?" She asked. The young man
shook his head.
"Only that they were running through a scene and suddenly he had inspiration,
and sent me to get you." He responded. "Milton's like that, though - you
get used to it."
"Will it mean working late?" Topaz cast a glance back at the studio door.
Her companion laughed.
"This is a movie set. There is no 'working late' - only occasional hours
"I see." Topaz bit her lip.
"Aurora!" Milton greeted her with a grin. "I'm sorry to call you out of
the studio, but I just had the perfect inspiration for this scene between
you and Morgan, and I wanted to try it out. With any luck from the start of
next week we'll be filming on location, so if we can get the most of this
done before then, it'll be a bonus."
"On location? Where?" Topaz looked confused. "I thought this was a film
set in LA."
"It is, but we film outside of the studio fairly often." Milton told her.
"There are a couple of beach scenes and I've arranged for us to have a stretch
of private sand to film next week."
"Oh, I see." Topaz's face cleared. "Well, what do you need me to do? And
Milton, will it mean me working late? I don't want to fuss, only I have
to collect Hollie, and..."
"My dear, I am fully aware of your situation." Milton winked at her. "If
necessary, I will have Judith call the Foundation and tell Ms Harrison you'll
be late. They're understanding people there - it won't be a problem."
"I suppose not." Topaz said doubtfully. "Okay. You're the boss. Are we...filming?
Or just, well, blocking through?"
"Blocking first, then we'll shoot." Milton told her. "Morgan, are you ready?
Aurora's here now."
"I'm here." Morgan appeared from the opposite side of the set, shooting
Aurora a guarded smile. "And ready."
"Good." Milton looked approving. "Then let's go from the beginning of scene
fifteen - when you're ready, girls...and action!"
Almost as soon as the director had called for action, Morgan seemed to
become transformed from the pretty, merry eyed actress into a cold, calculating
villain, and for an instant Topaz just stared at her. Then, pulling herself
forcibly back into character, she drew on her hasty cramming of the scripts,
dragging the lines out of her memory.
"I don't care what you do." She responded. "I make my own choices, and
"We'll see." Morgan advanced on her, grabbing her by her shoulders and
pushing her down into a vacant chair. "You see, this is my world, Isabel.
You and your precious pretty music don't belong here. It's my name they
scream, and it's me they want to see."
Her eyes narrowed. "And don't be so sure that your beloved boyfriend is
all you think he is. His eyes seem to stray rather a lot, if you ask me."
"Noone asked you!" Topaz shoved her away, but Morgan just began to laugh.
"It's only a short step from wandering eyes to wandering hands." She taunted.
"Trust me, little girl. This business is no place for you. Go home now,
before it destroys you completely."
She paused, narrowing her eyes.
"Before I destroy you completely."
"Okay, that was great, girls." Milton clapped his hands. "Morgan, you were
fabulous, as ever. Aurora, you're really getting into the mood of this!
I think it would be good if we had a few tears when Morgan challenges you
about your boyfriend, though...as if you're not quite sure whether she's
telling the truth or not. Let's try the scene again, all right?"
"Sure thing, Milton." Morgan nodded her head, returning to her opening
position. "Ready when you are."
"Cry, he says." Topaz bit her lip. "Okay, I'll try...I hope I can pull
The scene progressed, and, as Morgan rallied her taunts about the heroine's
chosen beau, Topaz forced her mind away from the film. Instead of picturing
Travis in her mind's eye, she imagined that the man Morgan was talking about
was Cameron. As she did so, she realised how empty it was without him, and
how nothing would ever be quite the same in Los Angeles again. Slowly, the
tears began to trickle down her cheeks, and she shoved Morgan away with
rather more force than she had intended.
"Noone asked you." She muttered. Morgan delivered her scornful retort,
and Topaz glared at her.
"I know he loves me, whatever you have to say about it." She whispered,
her voice shaking. "He'll always love me, and if you can't take that, it's
your problem. Leave me alone, you jealous bitch. We'll soon see who's going
to be the star!"
"Wonderful!" Milton exclaimed. "Aurora, that was perfect! Okay, girls,
we're gonna get ready to shoot the scene, so get yourselves to make up and
costume, and prepare to do it all over again!"
"That was pretty fab, you know." Morgan remarked, as they did as he was
bidden. "You're turning out to be some actress."
Topaz shook her head.
"I wasn't acting." She murmured, drying her eyes. "I just imagined you
were talking about someone else, that's all. Then it was easy for me to
cry, because I still feel so wretched inside over it all."
"That's what acting is, though." Morgan put a gentle hand on her arm. "We
all do it. We all draw on real life pain when we perform. That's why it's
She laughed bitterly.
"Noone ever said an actor doesn't suffer for his - or her, in this case
- art." She added.
Topaz eyed her thoughtfully.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you the other day, you know." She murmured. "It's
not my business whether you and Travis hate each other or not."
"It hardly matters, since you're not listening to my advice." Morgan shrugged.
"Oh, I'm sorry too, but not for the reasons you are."
She sighed. "It's not important. If you can conjure up tears thinking about
some other guy, rather than the one you're playing opposite, then maybe
there's hope for you yet."
"Morgan, is it true that we're likely to be working really long hours on
"Not uncommon to wind up pulling all nighters." Morgan nodded. "Why?"
"That's what I was afraid of." Topaz sighed. "It's not just me I have to
think of, you see."
"Hollie? Isn't that what you said to Milton?"
"Yes." Topaz nodded. "My daughter. But I want this to work out so much,
Morgan. I want to carve out a new career and this is just the opportunity
I need to do it. I'm just not quite sure how she fits into the equation."
"Well, all I can say is this." Morgan eyed her companion keenly. "It's
easy to lose sight of what's really important, when a lot of the world around
you isn't real. You have to work out what's important to you. Once you know
that, everything else becomes a lot easier."
"I wish it was that simple." Topaz groaned. "I have so many things to do!
Working late here...going to this dinner party or that press engagement,
or...whatever else I have to do. I feel bad, because it means I'll be monopolising
Cynthia's free time to babysit, and I know she has work of her own to do.
But what else can I do? I need people to accept what I'm doing now. It's
proving harder than I expected, and we've only just begun."
"It'll settle down." Morgan soothed. "Trust me. It's always crazy at first."
"I hope you're right." Topaz admitted. "Hey, does this mean we're friends
"I suppose so." Morgan shrugged. "Hard to know what anyone is in this business,
but sure. Just be careful, okay? I've seen way too many pretty girls led
"Warning noted, but I don't think you need worry." Topaz assured her. "There's
only one guy on my mind, and it's not Travis Banning. I'll be fine."