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 part in?"
"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."
Rachel smiled.
"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?"
Topaz blushed.
"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 experience.
"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 look.
"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 hand.
"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 off."
"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 that's that."
"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 this off."
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 so real."
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 this film?"
"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 again?"
"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 astray."
"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."


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