"Well, that was a lot less painful than I imagined it would be."
Jeff cast Zoe a warm grin as she set aside her camera and her notebook.
"I wondered what you'd be asking me, but you have your cousin's easy knack
with that thing, and you didn't ask too many awkward questions. I'm glad
"I didn't want to pry too much. I know that he was a good friend, but
I felt that it needed a tribute from someone, and it had to be you, really."
Zoe responded, checking that the camera was properly switched off. "I couldn't
ask it of Mom - you understand."
"No, of course not." Jeff pursed his lips. "I think he would have made
her very happy, you know. They were both wild at heart - kindred spirits.
It's a shame that they never got to settle down and have a family. I think
it would have been good for both of them."
"Maybe it would." Zoe agreed. "Though if it had happened that way, I
wouldn't be here." She smiled, casting her companion a sidelong look as
she gauged his response to her words. He seemed unsurprised, she thought.
"Well, then maybe there's good in everything." He replied with a wink.
"Though your father must be a very proud man, to have such a gifted daughter.
You're a chip off the old block, that's for sure. Viv said you had your
mother's spark, and you do."
Zoe slipped her notebook into her pocket.
"Can I buy you a coffee?" She hazarded. "I'm not needed immediately,
and I think I owe it you, after interrogating you this morning. I'm only
sorry it took as many takes as it did - I'm not quite as practiced as Viv."
"I won't say no to that." Jeff laughed. "Sure, Zoe. Sounds good to me."
As the two walked towards the studio canteen, Zoe pondered on the best
way to phrase her next question. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure, kid. What's up?"
"When I mentioned Andrew's accident just now, and said that without it
I wouldn't have been here, you didn't seem surprised." Zoe said slowly.
"Two or three people here have asked me whether I'm Andy's daughter, because
I'm Mom's kid. I wondered why you didn't."
"I know you're not Andrew's kid." Jeff said simply. "You're nowhere near
old enough, and besides, I knew your mother for a year or more after the
accident. If you'd been in the offing, I would have known about you."
"Oh, I see." Zoe digested this. "I forgot you and Mom had been friends
after the film. I s'pose most of the folk on set she didn't see again after
it was done."
"I guess not. Bad memories." Jeff agreed.
"Jeff, how old do you think I am?"
"At a guess?" Jeff eyed her carefully. "Twenty? Twenty one, maybe?"
Laughter danced in Zoe's green eyes at this, and she shook her head.
"No...you're off by a few years, actually." She told him. "I was twenty-four
earlier this month. People always think I'm younger than I am, and that
I'm real young to be doing the job I am doing, but it doesn't bother me.
Youthful beauty runs in our family, I'm told. Neither Mom or Viv look particularly
old, even now."
"Twenty-four?" Jeff looked startled. "I'm sorry, kid, I hope I didn't
"No, not at all." Zoe assured her. "I was just curious."
"Well, if you're twenty four...you're almost as old as the film itself.
I'm surprised I didn't know about you." Jeff reflected once they had ordered
coffee and were sitting in a quiet corner of the cafeteria. "I must have
seen your mother last in the winter of eighty-nine...maybe as late as February
of ninety. She must have known your father then, I'm guessing, if you were
born in September."
"Yes. I believe she did." Zoe agreed quietly, taking a sip of her drink.
"Jeff, do you mind me asking you something else?"
"No, fire away. You've been doing it all morning, so another couple of
questions won't matter." Jeff's grey-green eyes sparkled with amusement.
"How well did you and Mom know each other?"
For a moment there was no answer, and Zoe saw a look of pain flash through
her companion's expression. Then,
"Not as well as I thought, evidently." He said at length. "I know she
was torn up over Andrew, Zoe, and we were never really friends before that.
But..." He shook his head. "I had no idea she was seeing someone else when
I left Los Angeles. I was surprised, mind you, that she had never married
and settled down properly. I suppose when I heard that I figured it was
Andy that she was still cut up over, after all this time. But listening
to you, maybe I'm wrong. Does she see your father?"
"No. I've never had a Dad." Zoe shook her head solemnly. "It's been the
one thing I've always wondered about, but Mom never talked to me about it,
and I didn't really like to ask. I grew up real close to LinZ's son Dean,
and his Dad used to tell us stories about growing up in Trinidad. I remember
one time I was over there, I asked Dean why it was he had a Dad and I didn't,
but he didn't know the answer. I can't have been more than six or seven.
We asked LinZ, but she just looked serious and told me that it was something
only my mother could tell me. I don't think I've ever missed out - Mom's
a better parent than you might imagine she'd have been. But I have wanted
"And she's never told you?" Jeff asked. "Or haven't you found the nerve
to ask yet?"
"Well, it took a while." Zoe sipped her drink again, setting it down
on the table. "A lot of things have happened over the last few years, to
both of us. We agreed that we'd kept enough secrets from each other, so,
finally, she told me everything I wanted to know."
She paused, eying Jeff keenly.
"And now it's important to me to talk to him, tell him everything and
find out what he thinks." She said at length. "Wouldn't you feel that way,
if you didn't know your Dad?"
"I guess I would." Jeff nodded. "Have you had any luck?"
"Yes...yes. Thanks to Viv I think I have." Zoe nodded. She twisted her
fingers together apprehensively, then raised solemn green eyes to her companion.
"I have to be honest, and hope for the best." She said quietly. "I can't
keep...keep prevaricating. I have to know."
"You've lost me." Jeff's brow creased in confusion. "Something wrong?"
"No...I hope not." Zoe shook her head. "Jeff, I want to apologise to
you. I like you - we've chatted together and I enjoyed interviewing you
this morning. But it hasn't all been professional interest."
"It hasn't?" Jeff looked nonplussed. "What has it been, then?"
Zoe took a deep breath.
"It's been about my father." She whispered. "Jeff...it's you."
* * *
* * * *
"I wish I didn't have to do this."
Copper glanced at her reflection in the dressing room mirror, biting
her lip. "I want to run and hide...are you sure I can do this?"
"You can, Copper, and you must." Nancy told her firmly. "You look fine,
by the way. The camera will love you, and once you're out there it'll be
fine. Dean's agreed that we'll go straight on and sing before we go to talk
to him, so you'll get it over with before we interview."
"Jetta thought that would be better, rather than have you a nervous,
gibbering wreck by the time we reach the set." Sadie added, amusement in
her dark blue eyes. "Listen, Copper, Nance and I are both nervous too. But
you were fine yesterday. We ran through it and through it and the studio
drummer picked up the beat almost at once, so you needn't worry there. It
might be that you never do this again - so go out there and give the whole
of Los Angeles what for. Okay? They have no right to print nasty things about
us in the press, and we're going to dispel all of that this morning. Right?"
"Right." Determination crossed Copper's face. "I'll do my best, I promise."
"We're not asking for any more than that." Topaz squeezed her arm reassuringly.
"And whatever happens, Copper, it happens as a team. Don't forget that."
"I won't." Copper shook her head. "All right. I guess I can do this.
"Jewel? We want you up on set." Julie Kazar, Dean's production assistant
poked her head around the dressing room door, casting the girls a grin.
"Well, you look real pretty! Come on - we're live on in a few."
"We're coming, Julie." Sylva assured her. "The sooner we put this horrible
bad press behind us the better."
"Thanks for letting us play at such short notice." Sadie added. "We promise
it will be worth the reshuffle."
"Honey, Jewel are always worth the reshuffle." Julie winked, leading
the way upstairs. "Dean said it was important, anyhow, and he has pull
in these parts. So, well, here you are. Give them hell, huh?"
"Don't we always?" Sylva grinned. "Come on, girls. We have a point to
"I'm glad someone's excited about this." Copper muttered, as they made
their way over to their set, where their instruments were already set up,
behind a gauze curtain that hid the audience from view. The studio drummer
hailed them with a wave of his sticks, and they grinned at him, taking
up their positions. From the sidelines, Aaron sent his fiancee a thumbs
up, and despite herself, Copper felt a little better.
"After all, it's like Topaz said." She mused, as the studio lights dimmed
around them. "Whatever happens, it happens as a team. And that's more important
than anything else. So...so I can do this. Oh, but I wish it were over
As if in answer to her prayer, the opening theme of Dean's show began
to pump through speakers, and a few technicians scuttled around making sure
everything was in it's rightful place. Dean strode out from the wings, casting
Jewel a playful grin, but there wasn't time for anything more, because the
cameras were rolling and they were live.
"Good morning, Los Angeles!" Dean beamed out at the rows of fans, who
cheered and whistled him with all their usual fervour. "Well, we had one
hell of a show for you today, and then we got a call from Misfit Music, to
make it even more of a hell of a show. I'm sure you've all seen the presses
recently?" He pulled a face. "Well, Jewel are here with us this morning,
to prove that they do do things by the book. Here, with the first ever live
playing of Dolorida - it's Jewel!"
The curtains swung back, and for a moment Copper froze. Then, as the
darkness over them began to lift and the introduction of the song began,
she forced herself to throw off her fear, focusing her attention on the
beat of the music and not the gasps and amazement of the fans.
She cast a glance sideways to Sadie, who gave her a reassuring wink.
Then she took a deep breath, said an inward prayer for help, and opened
her mouth to sing.
The next thing Copper was aware of was that they were taking their seats
on Dean's couch, amid wild applause and ovations from the fans. Dean cast
them all warm smiles, moving up to make room for the whole group.
"Well, that was some opening to the show!" he said playfully. "Copper!
This was a first in all senses of the word, wasn't it?"
"It wasn't my idea, I promise you." Copper found her tongue, sending
the host a rueful look. "But we all wanted this song to be special, and
when the idea was hit on to make it a bilingual song, well, the only way
to do that was for me to sing. I tried to teach Topaz..." She trailed off,
sending Topaz a knowing look, and the singer laughed.
"My Spanish pronunciation is appalling, apparently." She said good-naturedly.
"I can sing in French, because my mother is Quebecoise and she taught me
her language, but I was never very good at languages at school, and try as
I might I couldn't get the words up to speed. We rather press-ganged Copper
into doing it, but she has a beautiful voice, and it made for something different.
This was a big come-back song for us, after all - we wanted it to stand
"Unfortunately it seems to have done so rather too much." Nancy said
slowly. "We loved the song, and as Topaz said, Copper sings it beautifully.
What we didn't bank on was the local press's confusion over the vocal line.
I suppose that it's been taken for granted that Copper never sings, and the
rest of us have done enough that our voices are recognisable. But we didn't
think it would be such a big deal. After all, Copper's name is Santiago and
her heritage is Mexican-American. If we wanted Spanish lyrics it was only
logical that she'd be the one who'd be singing them."
"How come you kept the whole thing in mystery till this morning?" Dean
asked interestedly. Sylva winked at Copper, then,
"Well, we wanted to spring a surprise at the award ceremony, but, well,
the tabloids totally ruined that for us." She said matter-of-factly. "We
had to come out with some kind of response to all the nasty stuff that's been
written, after all, so Jetta decided we'd better play here as soon as possible
and prove to everyone that our song is one hundred percent Jewel, as always."
She flashed a smile at the audience. "We know that our true fans have stuck
by us, and we've had some lovely emails from people. But these things snowball,
and at one point it looked like we might have been kicked out of the award
completely. That's why it was so important to clear this up, before it got
"Well, consider it cleared!" Dean laughed. "Copper, any plans to sing
on any more Jewel songs?"
"No, not if I can help it." Copper admitted. "Singing out there today
was....was strange, I honestly don't remember much of it. It went in a blur.
But I don't think I'll be making a habit of it. As we've said, this song
was special, and so it should be a one off for that reason."
She grinned at Nancy.
"We wanted our first song after the fire to make everyone sit up and
realise that despite all we'd been through, we were still as good as ever."
She added. "I think - I hope - we've done that, because we are also hard
at work on a new album, which will be out before Christmas."
"Has anything changed since the fire?" Dean wondered.
"Yes...I think so." Nancy nodded her head. "I think we appreciate more
how much we have, and how much of a team we are." She smiled. "I know that
for me at least, the fire was a big deal and it could have been something
that...that I'd have taken a long time to get my head around. But, horrible
as all of that was, it's good to be back on track and recording again.
It takes more than a madman or scandals in the press to stop us, after
"Nancy's right." Topaz nodded. "We've all been through a lot of changes
over the last couple of years, but we're all decided on one thing - Jewel
are here to stay!"
"So, on to the awards?" Dean asked. Sylva nodded.
"You bet!" She exclaimed. "We'll be there!"