A Jewel Whodunnit...
Chapter Six: A Stranger

"Connie? Connie, what do you want me to do with this pile of schedules?"
Dean Stacey, popular local television presenter paused in the doorway of the dressing room, waving his stack of paper as he did so. Though successful in his own right, it was not uncommon for him to help out backstage on either his own show or that of Zoe's mother, for the two had a close bond and it had been largely thanks to Constance that Dean had got his longed for television break. Son of Constance's friend LinZ Pearce, who's own television career had been legendary, Dean had all the makings of a star presenter, and, despite his evident good looks he was often embarrassed by all the attention and fanmail he received, for his heart was entirely loyal to Nancy these days.
Constance did not answer him, and Dean frowned, putting the papers down on the unit and coming to join her.
"Connie, something wrong?" He asked softly. Constance started out of her reverie, sending him a look of surprise.
"Dean? I didn't even hear you come in." She admitted sheepishly. "Guess I was lost in thought."
"Are you okay?" Dean sat down beside her. "Isn't like you to go off into dreamland on a whim, especially since you go on air in less than twenty minutes."
"I was thinking about a few things." Constance admitted. "People I knew a long time ago. Your mother among them. I miss her, Dean. She used to give me such good advice about things."
"We all miss her." Dean's handsome face became grave. "Whether she's alive or dead out there, it doesn't change the fact that she's not here where she should be with Dad in Los Angeles."
"I agree." Constance murmured softly. She seemed to stir herself. "Anyway, it doesn't matter. I was thinking about a lot of things, not just LinZ. Back before Zoe was born, even."
"That is a long time." Dean acknowledged. "Are you sure nothing is worrying you? You look preoccupied."
"It's not something I should discuss with you, if I can't even broach it with my own girl." Constance said slowly. "But I...was thinking about her father, that's all. Zoe came and asked me about him for the first time this morning. She's never wanted to know before and it kinda threw me, that's all."
Dean frowned.
"Connie, Zoe's always wondered." He murmured. "Even when she was just a kid of five or six and we used to play together she used to ask Mom about Dad and wonder why she didn't have a Daddy too. I don't think she minded it, as such, but she did wonder. I mean, as we got older, she used to talk to me sometimes and every so often she'd get all wistful and say, 'I wish I had a Dad like yours'...stuff like that. She and Dad have always been pretty friendly, and she's always loved his stories about growing up in Trinidad and all of that, but I don't think it counted the same to her. Just like, close as you and I are, you'll never replace Mom to me."
"Nor would I want to. That would be betraying LinZ herself, for me to expect it." Constance looked troubled. "Zoe's really said those things? Many times?"
"She never wanted to bother you with them, she was afraid that maybe he hurt you and she didn't want you upset." Dean spread his hands. "I probably shouldn't have even said to you what I did, but it's not just a flash in the pan thing, Connie. She's always wondered."
"I suppose that's natural." Constance sighed. "Well, I guess I'll put that thought away for now and focus on tonight's running order. The schedules...?"
"Right there, by the door." Dean indicated, knowing it was not his place to pry into his friend's family. "Julie just gave them to me - she's all flustered tonight because one of her operators is off sick and she's got a rookie technician or something to round things off. Everything is chaos, which is why she roped me in to help."
"Television needs more people like you." Constance offered him a slight smile, getting to her feet. "No wonder all the girls go crazy over you, Dean."
Dean looked uncomfortable.
"Nancy wouldn't thank you for that." He responded. "I don't understand why they all go so mad anyway. I mean, I'm just a guy, I'm not superman or God or anything. And I'm not even available."
"LinZ would much approve of your choice of woman, I think." A tiny piece of the usual sparkle returned to Constance's mischievous blue eyes. "You've done her proud, you know. Wherever she is she should be glowing with pride over you."
"Well, we'll never know." Dean said levelly. "But in the meantime, I'm glad you think so." He got up. "Need a hand on set with final preparations?"
"Of course." Constance nodded. "Thanks, Dean."
Together they made their way up the short flight of stairs to the main studio, where people were busily finalising lights and cuecards and in the middle of the melee Julie Kazar, the studio production assistant was trying to make sure everything was ready on time in her usual harried manner. She cast Constance a brief smile as they entered.
"You're on time, at least...been to makeup and wardrobe, too." She noted. "Well, at least we've an anchorwoman!"
"We'll be ready, Jules. We always are." Miles Black, one of the cameramen assured her with a wink. "And we've a good fifteen minutes yet, that's bags of time!"
"Well, I wish you wouldn't insist on waiting till the last minute to check your lenses and so on." Julie snapped. "It's not good for my nerves!"
"Another normal night at Connie's Corner." Dean laughed. Constance grinned, nodding.
"The bands here? And Sirena?" She asked. Julie glanced at her clipboard, then nodded.
"Yep, all in their dressing rooms waiting for their calls, except Sirena who's on last, she's in makeup." She agreed. "She was late getting here, I was getting worried she wouldn't make it, but she just about did."
"She has a small kid to worry about, sometimes you do wind up making deadlines by the skin of your teeth when you're a single Mom." Constance said sensibly. "She's here, that's the important thing."
"Connie, pet, can you go sit on the couch so I can get my focus perfect?" Miles cast her a grin.
"Yeah, sure, so long as you quit calling me pet." Constance sent him a playful scowl, obediently doing as she was bidden. "You're not my Pa, you know!"
"Old enough to be." One of the other cameramen joked. Miles rolled his eyes.
"Jerk." He retorted. "Noone wants to see Connie in fuzzovision, now do they?"
"Better let someone else take on camera one, then!" One of the lighting technicians joked. "Hey, Julie, where'd that new guy get to? I need someone to run get me a new bulb, this one just blew."
"Um..." Julie glanced around her. "Anyone seen..." She glanced down at her clipboard for the name, "Warren Brooker?"
"Right here." A voice put in calmly, stepping out of the confusion. Constance glanced over in the direction of the speaker, and colour drained from her face as she took in his features. The man was not tall, with dark hair peppered with grey and crafty eyes which flitted between people as if assessing them all the time. Her hand flew to her mouth, as he caught her gaze, sending her an amused smile.
"Connie, by the way this is Warren, he's our rookie tech." Julie had not even noticed the change of expression on the presenter's face, though Dean had noted it with some consternation. "If you see him buzzing about don't worry, he's ok and he's got clearance to be here, just so you know he's not a wayward troublemaker or anything. Warren, Connie Montgomery, our host."
"My pleasure, Connie." Warren smiled, fixing her with a piercing gaze and making her shiver involuntarily.
"Likewise." She managed. As the technician disappeared into the storerooms to find a new bulb, she took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.
"It was a long time ago." She murmured. "He wouldn't recognise you now. And maybe...maybe you're jumping to conclusions. Maybe it isn't him at all."
"It's nice to see ya after all this time." A voice at her right ear startled her and she realised that he was back, job done. She met his gaze with an alarmed one of her own.
"What do you want?" She murmured.
"This is my job." Warren shrugged his shoulders. "That's all. I just have the pleasure of your acquaintance once again."
"It was a long time ago." Constance said firmly. "So leave me alone. You don't scare me."
"Scare you? I wouldn't want to scare you." Warren sent her an unnerving smile. "Say...er...does your daughter know all about me? I hear she's quite a chick in the music film industry these days. I'd quite like to meet her...you must be so proud."
"You keep away from Zoe, and I mean that." Constance told him in low tones. "You understand me?"
"Just making conversation." Another unnerving smile, then, "Be careful, Clash. Don't forget what I know."
"You wouldn't dare!" Constance blanched again. Warren just shrugged.
"Later." He said lazily. "You got a show to do, and I wanna check out your, uh, technique, if you catch my drift." He laughed. "Nice working with ya."
And with that he was gone. Constance muttered a curse under her breath.
"I hoped I'd never have to deal with this again." She murmured. "But I guess I have no choice but to make the best of it. Just so long as he doesn't speak to Zoe. My daughter would be heartbroken if she knew the truth!"


Prologue: 1989
Chapter One: The "Anniversary"
Chapter Two: Jewel's Sound
Chapter Three: At Sirena's Place
Chapter Four: Jewel's Video
Chapter Five: Fanmail
Chapter Six: A Stranger
Chapter Seven: Stefana's Date
Chapter Eight: The Results
Chapter Nine: A Moment's Weakness
Chapter Ten: A Shock For Zoe
Chapter Eleven: A Surprise For Jetta

Chapter Twelve: Fire!

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!