Chapter Fourteen: The Awards
"It's really busy out there tonight."
Marissa peered out at the crowd, shivering as she took in the masses of screaming, clustered fans, all clasping banners and posters. "Do you guys believe we're really involved in something of this magnitude? I can see at least six Diablo banners from here - tonight is huge!"
"No more than what we deserve." Stefana said archly. "And at least we're not playing sneaky tricks like those Jewel bitches, grabbing free publicity on Dean Stacey's stupid show with that damn song of theirs. It's not all that special - if he wasn't sleeping with one of them, they'd not get half the airtime they do."
"Possibly true, but I'd call that shrewd management on her part." Clay glanced out of the window. "You're right, though, Stef, in one way. It is no more than what we deserve, considering everything we've given our music since we came to L.A. It's nice to be considered in the big league for once. Don't you guys agree?"
"Can't disagree with that." Luca grinned. "As for sneaky tricks, Stef, I suppose they had to denounce that silly Cool Trash story some way. I'm glad it's a level playing field tonight. It wouldn't have been right if we'd won by default, and that's what Cool Trash seemed to want."
"Winning is still winning." Stefana said darkly. "Noone records who makes second place."
"Well, with Jewel's popularity, I don't know that we have much chance of winning tonight." Madeleine said matter-of-factly. "But we have won a lot of things lately, you know. We had that long running number one single, for a start. Our last album has gone double-platinum - Rory told me so this morning, when we left the studio. We've a hot new number ready for release and it might just have a chance of going top of the charts. We've a big money tour of Canada on the horizon, and you know that our music is going down big time north of the border. And the last single we tendered across the atlantic reached the top ten in the UK chart, thanks to the publicity it got. We don't need this award to prove how good we are. This is just for fun - the rest is more important. At least, it is to me."
"Silverware would be nice, mind." Clay reflected. "Oh, I dare say you're right, Maddy, but I'd like to have something for the trophy cabinet, as it were."
"I'd like to show those snooty Jewels who plays real music." Stefana muttered. "I don't think they toured dumps and travelled in a junkheap van and scrimped and saved for their instruments! You know how many times I gave up new shoes or dying my hair or even a pack of cigarettes to pay off the money for my first guitar? I don't see any of the Jewel brats doing that. Do you?"
"I don't think it matters." Luca shrugged. "Where you come from is immaterial. It's where you stay that matters."
"Besides, Stef, if you think about it, for us to be included in the same bracket as them is a big deal." Marissa agreed. "We know that they had connections that we didn't have to begin with, and the fact that we've worked our way up to their level means we've done real good. Don't you think?"
"I think that L.A would be a much nicer place if they dropped off it altogether." Stefana snapped. "Hey, we're stopping!"
"Yes, so take the scowl off. We'll have to sign autographs with the fans before we go in." Madeleine instructed. Stefana stuck out her tongue.
"They expect me to be moody. Smiling might be for you but it isn't me." She retorted.
"Well, I'm glad you said it, kid." Clay looked amused. "I know I'd have had a black eye if I'd done it."
"Oh, get a life." Stefana rolled her eyes. "Are you guys coming or not? I didn't get dressed up tonight to sit in the back of a car, however classy it is!"
"We're coming, sis, don't fret it." Luca assured her, as the driver opened the back door of the limousine. "You first - we'll follow."
Stefana pushed her way out of the vehicle, stepping out into the dim Los Angeles twilight. Glancing around at the crowds of fans, she read several banners in support of Diablo, and despite herself, a smirk touched her pale features. She adjusted the thin muslin gloves on her arms, heading purposefully towards the venue.
"Well, she might be spouting off, but she looks good tonight." Madeleine decided, as the rest of the group followed her. "Where did that dress come from? Stef hasn't bought new stuff for ages."
"We went shopping three days ago. She was very particular about looking her best." Marissa explained. "Gothic black kinda goes with her, somehow."
"If you ask me, Stefana's psycho side is half of the reason we're so popular." Clay said dryly. "The press keep harping on about her being our little piece of hell, and she's got a devoted following."
"In that case, maybe we should stop teasing her." Madeleine laughed. "No, Clay, I think that good music is the reason we're popular. Not Stefana's tantrums!"
Not far behind Diablo's limousine, Jewel's own car was pulling carefully
up in front of the glittering theatre.
"Wow, this is wild." Sylva decided, as she clambered neatly out of the back, adjusting her shimmering shawl and gazing up at the lights. "Don't you guys think? Been a while since we did a glitz and glam thing like this."
"Topaz did her premier." Sadie pointed out, joining her on the concrete. "Oh, but look at all the people! I feel sick just seeing how many people are here to support us!"
"We're not the only award tonight." Copper reminded her. "And there's a lot of support for Diablo, too."
"Stefana's flaunting herself with the fans up ahead." Nancy rolled her eyes. "What is she dressed as? Morticia Adams?"
"The day I see Stefana Ranieri wearing colours other than black and red will be the day I get my eyesight checked." Sylva giggled. "Oh no, wait - is that a silver necklace she's wearing? How will we cope?"
"Quit it, the pair of you." Topaz's eyes twinkled with amusement. "We're here to be sophisticated, glamorous and above the competition. Not giggling like schoolkids over what someone else is wearing."
"I thought that wasn't your style, Nance." Copper added. Nancy shrugged.
"Stefana's open season. I make an exception for her." She replied. "Besides, you tell me what you think she looks like. If the Grim Reaper has a wife, I'd say that's her up ahead."
"Shh! Someone will hear you and we've had enough scandal already these last weeks!" Copper retorted. "Now come on! We've fans to talk to and our seats to find. Jetta and Phyllis will be here and so will Rory Llewelyn. Let's keep Jewel on the level, huh?"
"You're no fun sometimes." Sylva grimaced playfully at the drummer. "Okay, okay, we're going. I can't hurry in heels - and these aren't shoes I'm going to ruin for anyone!"
"They cost enough." Sadie teased. Sylva shrugged.
"They had to go with the dress." She said, unperturbed. "And I like this dress a lot. So new shoes it had to be."
"Dressing up is a lot of fuss about nothing, if you ask me." Nancy grimaced. "If we weren't up for an award, I'd be sneaking in the back in my faded old levi's."
"She would, as well." Topaz laughed. "You look chic, though, Nance."
"Well, at least it isn't some fancy, frumpy dress." Nancy agreed. "And I like my hair this way, too, for a change."
At that point they reached the fans, and, immersed in signing programmes and answering eager questions, the conversation dropped. Soon they were inside the big auditorium, taking their seats at the Misfit Music table and casting Jetta and Phyllis nervy grins. Now that they were inside, the true magnitude of the occasion had begun to sink over them.
"How far in is the best rock act award, Mom?" Nancy asked in low tones as she made herself comfortable.
"About 'alf way." Jetta replied in equally low tones. "All I ask of you girls is that you don't make a scene of yourselves. You know you 'ave to play about six acts along, an' I want you stone sober till then, so no wine - got that Sylva? - till after you perform. An' keep it in mind that we don't want you staggerin' should you win this award, either!"
"I'm not going to get drunk!" Sylva was indignant. "And I'm not the only Jewel who drinks from time to time, either! Just because Nancy's teetotal..."
"Pipe down." Phyllis interrupted bluntly. "You got the message, now shut up and act like a celebrity. Cameras will be on you soon, you know, and I don't want them filming you having a tantrum."
Sylva pouted, but whilst she was willing to argue with Jetta from time to time, Phyllis was another matter, so she turned her attention to the programme of events instead. Three tables across, Diablo had also taken their places, and fortunately for Jewel, there was enough distance between the two for them not to notice the disdainful glances Stefana sent their way.
At the back of the big hall, Zoe had greeted her father with a nervous smile, then slipped off to tell her mother that she'd be back soon. Connie, knowing that her daughter was often called in at the last minute to help out where there was a technician missing, did not suspect for a moment what the fair girl had planned. In fact, it was a total surprise to her when, instead of Zoe a tall, fair man, handsome despite his advancing years slipped into the seat across the table from her, casting her a smile. To begin with, she could not place his features. Then her eyes widened, and her hand flew to her mouth.
"Jeff?" She whispered.
"Hi, Connie." There was more nonchalance in Jeff's voice than he felt. "It's been a while."
"Where's that damn daughter of mine!" Suddenly Connie realised what had happened. "Oh, when I get my hands on her..."
"It's partly my fault, so don't be too mad with her." Jeff held up his hands. "I wanted to talk to you, somewhere where I knew you wouldn't run out on me. She came up with this as the solution, but I put her up to it. If you want to yell at someone, you can yell at me."
"It's the last thing I expected." Connie looked uncomfortable. "Jeff, I thought we agreed years ago that it wasn't good for us to be near each other? Things got messy, we both did silly things...why do you want to chase me up after all this time?"
"Because of Zoe." Jeff said quietly. "Yes," as Connie bit her lip, "She told me that she was my daughter, as well as yours. I wanted to hear it right from you, though. Is that the truth? Is she really mine?"
There was a long silence, then,
"Yes." Connie admitted. "Yes, Jeff, she is."
"You could have got in contact with me, you know. I would've helped you out."
"I know you would." Connie nodded. "But like I said, it was better we weren't together. Remember? Andrew..."
"Oh God, do you think I'll ever forget Andrew?" Jeff shook his head. "What we did...well, it was wrong, and you know that as well as I do, but...well...if I had known..."
"It wasn't important. You had your career and I had mine to worry about." Connie raised a faint smile. "Things were better this way. Maybe I'd lost Andrew and lost you, but I managed, and this way I wasn't holding onto something that was wrong because of a mistake that was made. It was already bad enough. I didn't want to make it worse."
"I see that." Jeff nodded. "I really do. And I suppose, thinking back to then, well, it would have been difficult. I would've helped you out, but..."
"But we would have wound up hating each other and ourselves even more for what had happened. It wouldn't have been good for us or for Zoe. She's a bright kid, sensitive and perceptive. She'd have known right from the off that something was up between us."
Connie sighed, glancing across the hall into the crowd.
"I knew she'd met you, and spoken to you, and that she was going to tell you everything. I didn't anticipate...well, I didn't expect to see you, to be brutally honest. I thought you'd come, do your interview and then leave. I didn't think..."
"You didn't think that, once I'd had that bombshell dropped on me, that I wouldn't come chase you up, and ask for the whole story?" Jeff asked quietly. Connie shrugged.
"I didn't think about it. You should know me by now - I don't dwell more than I have to." She responded. "Are you angry about it - is that what this is about?"
"I'm not angry." Jeff sounded thoughtful. "I haven't been angry, not at all, not since Zoe told me. I have friends coming out of my ears, Connie, but aside from my sister in Texas I have no family. To know that I had a daughter - even in these circumstances - I can't be angry. It's the one thing I regretted - not having something to fall back on once my career was at it's end. I'm looking to retire from stunts myself, go into something else, maybe training others to be stuntmen. I don't know. But it has bugged at me, that I had noone to carry on my line. Now I realise that I do have...thanks to you."
"Thanks to a silly mistake which betrayed your best friend." Connie spoke bitterly. "That was the worst part about it, Jeff. I loved Andrew - you know I did - but I needed you more than you knew. When things happened between us, it was comforting to know I wasn't alone. But for you it was all about...about pride and respect for the dead and...and being strong and distant and stepping away. It was a damn year after Andy's death...and maybe it's cold to say it, but I was over it by then. I know that now - I've had years to do nothing but think about it, to tell you the truth. I never told Zoe about you because I didn't want to revive the memories. I didn't want you and your stupid, crazy lifestyle to mess up the kid. It was bad enough you messed me up when you left, let alone her."
Jeff digested this tirade slowly, then he shook his head.
"I'm sorry I hurt you." He said quietly. "Till I spoke to Zoe, I didn't know how much I had. She told me you...you felt more for me than I realised you did. I thought that...well, it doesn't matter what I thought. I certainly didn't think you wanted me to stick around. If I had, well...it might have been different."
"I don't think that it would've." Connie sighed. "I'll throttle that girl when I see her. What else has she told you?"
"Not much. Only that losing LinZ was a big blow to you, and that's not really relevant to what we're talking about now." Jeff shrugged.
"I suppose it is." Connie reflected. "I still miss her now, you know - not knowing eats away at you. But when I lost her, I guess it was the first time I knew what it was like for you, losing Andrew. I admit I'm bitter about it, but I understand it too. I've never been angry about it, Jeff. I just accepted it and got on with things. We would never have been a sane, happy couple, anyway. Whatever had happened with Andrew. We were too different...it would have ended in tears."
"I was under the impression that it already did." Jeff said softly. "Listen, Connie, I can't change what's been. I can't bring Andy back, nor can I undo anything that happened since. I like Zoe, and I mean to get to know her. If she is my daughter, I have that right and I mean to grasp it with both hands. But I'd like us to be friends, too. Water's passed under the bridge since we were young and silly and careless. We've both changed. Grown up. Maybe this time it would be different."
Connie was silent for a long while, considering. Then she sighed, shrugging.
"I don't know." She said finally. "Maybe you're right. Maybe it would. I guess...I guess we'll see. I'm making no promises. Zoe's your girl - I swear that that's the truth of it - and I'm all for her having a relationship with you, now she's older and sane enough to deal with it rationally. As for you and I..." She eyed him speculatively. "We'll see. Okay? We'll see."
Before Jeff could say anything, the lights in the auditorium dimmed, and Ben Raynor appeared on the stage. Music poured out from speakers around the venue, and then, in an instant, the show was live.
Though he was not the hearthrob in California that Dean Stacey was, Ben Raynor's playful style and amiable interview technique had made him a local favourite through his popular show "The Public Eye", and he introduced the show with his usual off-beat humour, announcing the first act and then calling upon a celebrity guest to announce the winner of the first award. Before long it was Jewel's turn to play, and they stepped onto the stage amid a rousing reception, launching into the medley of their biggest hits that Nancy had hurriedly mashed together four days previously. It had begun as something of a melodic disaster, but Nancy's determination had made a success of it, and it was greeted with big cheers from the audience. Ben cast them a warm smile as they headed back to their seats, but in truth the nerves were beginning in earnest. Even Sylva, who had spent much of the opening period whispering to Topaz and Sadie about what the other guests were wearing had fallen silent, and Topaz took a sip of her wine, contemplating.
"So far there have been two upsets." She reflected.
"Upsets?" Sadie looked confused.
"I mean the people who win the awards haven't been the ones people have expected." Topaz replied. "Everyone tipped that band from Baltimore to pick up the best new act award, but that singer from Dallas got it instead. And then there was the R&B act. Rory Llewelyn looks smug as hell that his act beat the press hype and picked that one up."
"I see what you mean." Sadie frowned. "Do you think our award will have an upset?"
"What's an upset? This award has two favourites." Nancy looked grim. "That's part of the problem, it could go either way. Before the fire, I'd have said we'd have walked it. But we lost ground, and then we've had the press battle of the last few weeks to deal with, too. I dunno, guys. I think it's too close to call."
"If Riot's damn group wins this award, I'll trot down to the penitentiary myself and hang Zipper from the light fixtures." Phyllis muttered, clenching her fists. "The amount of chaos his pathetic little scheme has caused my company - play second fiddle to Rebel Records I will not!"
"Our award is after this break." Copper shivered. "I hate how they do that. I know it's to build up the suspense for the watching TV audience, but I hate waiting. I want to know!"
"We all do." Topaz admitted. "And the way these have been going, I'm none to sure how it's going to go, either."
"Who's announcing the award for the best rock band?" Sylva asked.
"Sirena." Jetta said quietly.
"Interesting choice." Sadie reflected. Sylva nodded.
"She's daughter of one side and sleeping with the other." She agreed. "I suppose that makes her neutral."
"They chose her because she's a rock musician herself, not because of her connections." Phyllis snapped at her. "Besides, she doesn't choose the award. She just reads it out."
"Us and Diablo aren't the only bands in this, either. There are six or seven acts up." Topaz remembered. "I dunno, guys. The press might have done us a disservice, hyping us up."
"Well, all we can do is grin and bear it, whatever it is." Copper sighed. "Break's up, guys. Here we go."
Copper was right. All attention had returned to the stage, as Ben Raynor announced Sirena. There was enthusiastic applause as the popular local singer emerged from the wings, and she gazed out at the crowd with laughing green eyes, scooping up the envelope.
"Well, wouldn't y'all like to know what's inside here!" She exclaimed, and a laugh rippled through the auditorium. "Okay. This is a big honour for me, to announce the winners of this award for best rock band, particularly since two of Los Angeles' biggest bands are in the running. Every man and his dog seems to know that I have close ties with both Jewel and Diablo, but there are five other bands in the nominations for this and I don't want any of them to be forgotten or left out. The music industry is a busy, competitive and crazy place to be, so even getting a nomination of this kind is a huge, huge honour. Before I read out who's won the award, I want to congratulate all of the nominees for getting this far."
She grinned, winking towards the judges. "And tell the nomination committee that only the fact this award is for best band and not best rock performer is saving them from a meeting with my lawyers about my lack of inclusion!"
Another laugh, then, with long, red-painted nails she slit open the gold envelope, pulling out the card. There was a pause which seemed to last forever as she glanced at it's contents. Then she smiled.
"Well, you wouldn't have got great odds on this." She said at length. "I understand that it was a very, very close run thing, but the winners of this year's best rock act award are..."
She paused, glancing down at the audience.
"Oh, you guys know it already." She teased. "Everyone, put your hands together - it's Jewel!"
"We did it!" Sylva only just managed not to shriek her triumph at the top of her voice, and Topaz hurriedly pulled her to her feet as the five girls made their way to the stage to accept their award.
The singer was first to the mic, and, as the cheers abated, she grinned.
"Well, we were surprised, if noone else was!" She said. "You know, the last time I was on the dais like this, accepting an award as part of Jewel, I capped off the event by dramatically passing out in full view of everyone. People questioned then whether the cracks were beginning to show, and whether Jewel were beginning to fade. Well, two years on, you have your answer. Jewel are still here - and very much here to stay."
"We've faced our fair share of traumas since that award ceremony." Copper took the microphone. "We lost Topaz - temporarily as it turned out - when she had her baby daughter, Hollie, and that has involved all of us learning a lot of new things. We had the recent unpleasant press scandal to handle, and false accusations of murder levelled against one of our number. Finally, we've had the terrible fire at Misfit Music which could so easily have cost us the life of someone very important in Jewel's world, Jetta Pelligrini. Thankfully, as you can see for yourselves, Jetta is recovered and here with us tonight. Our first thanks have to go to both her and Phyllis Gabor, without whom there is no Jewel. They've stuck with us through the hardest of times, and we're always going to be indebted to them for their belief and commitment. So, a big thankyou to Misfit Music!"
"We haven't only had bad times, though." Now it was Sylva's turn. "We adopted a new member," She winked at Sadie, "We went to Morvania, played for the Queen and won an award. And whatever we've done, we've done as a team. Our music is core to all of us, but our friendship even more so. It;s that which keeps Jewel together, fighting and successful. These girls are my best friends, and that's the honest truth. There's noone I'd like to be up here with more."
"While we're doing the usual thanks, it's important to mention Aaron Pelligrini and Cynthia Benton for their hard work behind the scenes. Not to mention our roadies, techs and everyone else who puts up with us moaning when we have an early morning." Sadie's eyes twinkled with excitement.
"Since everyone else has said pretty much everything else, all I'll say is thankyou for this award, and we hope to be around for a lot longer to come." Nancy added her bit. She paused, then, "And...and to echo what Sirena said, congratulations to the other nominees. We always knew it would be close tonight and it makes the award mean even more to us. Thanks, Los Angeles!"
More cheers, as the group returned to their seats under the roving spotlights. Jetta grimaced at Copper as they did so.
"You 'ad to bring me into it, didn't you?" She muttered. Copper nodded.
"Of course." She said matter-of-factly. "We missed you."
"Jewel isn't the same without you nagging us, Mom. That's what Copper's trying to say." Nancy grinned. Phyllis smirked.
"Well, I'm damn glad you won it. It's one in the eye for Rory Llewelyn and it means we got you girls back on the right track. Jewel are on the winning streak now, just in time for your tour of the UK next month. It's been a good night, all in all."
"And of course, we expect you to perform Dolorida over there." Jetta's eyes twinkled. Copper stared.
"No way! I said once, and once only!" She exclaimed.
"Mom's teasing." Nancy assured her. "She doesn't mean it."
"Don't I?" Jetta raised an eyebrow. "Well, I'm comin' overseas with you, kid. We'll just 'ave to wait and see."
She winked at Copper.
Chapter One:News For Jewel
Chapter Two: Zoe Confides
Chapter Three: A New Sound
Chapter Four: A Challenge For Copper
Chapter Five: Plots
Chapter Six: A Secret For Stefana
Chapter Seven: Hope For Zoe
Chapter Eight: Dolorida
Chapter Nine: Jewel's Dilemma
Chapter Ten: Wise Counsel
Chapter Eleven: Decisions For Jewel
Chapter Twelve: Zoe Takes The Plunge
Chapter Thirteen: Her Father's Daughter
Chapter Fourteen: The Awards
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
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!