Blind Faith

Chapter Two: Zoe Confides

"Whew, that was one hell of a busy show!"
Dean Stacey, popular Los Angeles television presenter, and long term boyfriend of Jewel's Nancy Pelligrini stepped off the television set with a tired grin at the production assistant. "How many interviews were you trying to cram in at once, Julie? I can only talk so fast, you know!"
"Don't blame me. I had orders from upstairs." Julie Kazar returned the grin with a merry one of her own. "And you pulled it together well, all things considered. That Latisha girl is good, isn't she?"
"Well, Nancy recommended that the music company sign her on, and you know Nancy's a real authority on things like music." Dean winked, glancing back to where Latisha Rowenall was helping to clear the set. "She doesn't seem full of herself, though. It's a shame in a way she didn't take the chance to be a part of Jewel, but I can see why she didn't. Her music's good, but very different from what Jewel pump out."
"I heard some juicy information about Jewel, by the way." Julie tapped her pen against her clipboard. "You know anything about an award nomination?"
"I know nothing." Dean shook his head. "I've not seen Nancy to speak to her for a couple of days. She's been holed up at the studio, now her Mom is all better, and I've been busy here. Are Jewel up for an award?"
"According to my sources, they are, and it's a big one." Julie nodded. "And to add spice to the mix, Diablo are up for the same award."
"Ooh. Local rivalries abound!" Dean laughed. "I wish I'd known that before we went on air. I would've quizzed Diablo about their chances."
"Well, I only heard during the show." Julie told him. "It's going to make for some interesting press, though. Jewel and Diablo are both well loved in this area, and Diablo have more than achieved over the last year. Their current song is a real winner and it's been number one forever. Do you think Jewel can compete?"
"Before the fire, I'd have said no problem." Dean looked thoughtful. "But Diablo have rather gained ground whilst Misfits Music has been out of action. Still, I think the girls will come through, Julie. And I should stay objective, but you know who I'll be rooting for."
"Can't think." Julie laughed.
"Hey, Dean!"
A fresh voice interrupted the merry banter, and the two turned, Dean casting the newcomer a warm grin as he recognised who had spoken.
"Zoe!" He exclaimed. "What brings you here? I thought you were tied up on a video set today?"
"I was, but the thing's been rescheduled till tomorrow. Some technical glitch." Zoe Montgomery, video artist extraordinaire shrugged her shoulders. "I figured I'd drop by here and see if my big brother had any plans? I haven't had breakfast yet and I'm starving - I thought I might treat you."
"I'm always up for that." Dean laughed. "Count me in, Zo. Let me just grab my jacket, and I'll see you in the lobby."
"Sure." Zoe dimpled. Julie looked amused.
"Anything less like brother and sister than you two I'd find it hard to imagine." She teased, as Dean disappeared into his dressing room.
"Well, Mom and his Mom were the best of friends, and we grew up like brother and sister, so I consider it an honourary sibling-hood." Zoe grinned. "How was this morning's show, Julie? The crowd seemed to be buzzing as I came in."
"It went well. Busy, but no hitches." Julie smiled. "Which is a production assistant's dream, make no mistake about it!"
She glanced at her watch.
"And now I have to get downstairs for a briefing before we worry about this afternoon's stuff. Nice to see you, Zoe - take care!"
Zoe watched the busy assistant disappear across the set, then she hurried down to the studio lobby to find the presenter waiting for her.
"So what's all this about?" Dean asked, once they were in Zoe's car, driving out towards the centre of Los Angeles. "You don't usually offer to buy me breakfast without a good reason, Zoe - what's up?"
"Nothing's up, as such." Zoe reflected. "I've just been doing some thinking lately, and I figured that you were the one guy who might actually understand what's going through my head. I haven't really mentioned it to Mom, because I don't know how she'd take it, but I've been doing some research into finding my father."
"Your father?" Dean looked startled. "Jeff Wright?"
Zoe nodded.
"Mom told me he was a stuntman, and that was pretty much it." She agreed. "Part of me really wants to find him, Dean. I never had a Dad growing up, and I'd like one. But, another part of me..."
She shrugged.
"You know. I don't know what to expect. Besides, when he and my Mom seperated, I gather it was a fairly big deal experience for her, if not for him. She's kept it all hidden for so long, and I doubt he even knows he has a daughter at all. Mom certainly doesn't think he knows."
"I know." Dean pursed his lips. "So, what's the deal so far? What have you unearthed?"
"Well, the last film he did was some time last Fall, as far as I can see. Since then he's been pretty quiet." Zoe flicked on the indicator, turning into a side street and pulling to a halt outside a popular breakfast haunt. "The trouble with stuntmen is that they don't grab the headlines in the way that the big stars do. You know what I mean? The stuntman's job is pretty much not to be detected. I know he was on that film because he was on the credits - but that's where I lose the trail. I don't even know where abouts in America he might be."
"And you hoped I might be able to help?"
"Well, I thought you might know someone I didn't." Zoe blushed, as they made their way inside, taking a table by the window. "I already called cousin Vivien and asked her advice, but she told me honestly that she didn't know what happened to Jeff after she knew him. She wasn't...very surprised when I told her that Mom had confirmed him as my Dad, but that was about it. I think she suspected for a long time, but never had any proof. And, when Mom told me about him, she mentioned LinZ as well. I wondered..."
"Mom?" Dean looked startled. "Did she know about all this?"
"Mom isn't sure. She didn't tell her, but she reckons that the suspicion might have been there." Zoe replied. "I wondered if she might have said something to your Dad, or if your Dad might know where Jeff was now. He is a camera operator, after all. He films people."
"True, but since Mom disappeared, he's done less and less of the big budget stuff." Dean looked thoughtful. "He's more or less retired from that line of work now, anyhow. Still, I'll ask him. It might be that he's heard something."
"Thanks." Zoe looked relieved. "I think I have to find him, for my own peace of mind. It's like...well, now I know his name, I have to go further. I have to at least meet him, somehow. The name isn't enough - I always thought it would be, but it isn't."
"Sometimes you have to know either way, even if it's not the answer you want, huh?" Dean said softly. Zoe eyed him sharply.
"Something like that." She agreed. "Dean, I didn't mean to bring back memories..."
"Forget it." Dean dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "I gave up the idea of finding out what happened to Mom a long time ago, Zoe. She vanished - and to all intents and purposes, she really did vanish. I spent enough time in college building up my hopes and having them dashed each time I failed to connect a rumour with the truth. I've given up. I'm not even sure if I believe she's alive out there now, you know. I always did, when I was a kid - but it's been so long now."
"You never know. They didn't find her." Zoe said softly. Dean nodded.
"Yeah, and that makes it worse." He replied. "If she survived the plane crash, Zoe, why didn't she come back to Dad and I? It wasn't like we didn't need her. You know damn well that we did. In a way, I almost wish that she had been killed. Rather that than...well, than being abandoned."
"LinZ would never have walked out on your or your Dad." Zoe murmured gently. "If she survived the crash, Dean, there had to be a good reason she didn't get back here."
"Well, every time they find bones in the Amazon, I wonder." Dean admitted. "So far none of them have been identified as my Mom, Zo, but sometimes I want to know. If I can help you in any way in tracking down your Dad, I will. At least then one of us will have some questions answered."
"Thanks." Zoe smiled. "I knew you'd understand."
She scooped up the menu. "So what's new in Los Angeles? I saw you had Latisha on your show this morning - what do you make of her?"
"She's good." Dean reflected, his eyes showing relief at the change of subject. "I see why she didn't want to be a Jewel, in the end, but I think she'll be a big hit."
He paused, then, "I also had Diablo on. Did you know that they and Jewel are going head-to-head in some award fight or other?"
"Yes, I did." Zoe nodded her head. "Or rather, I knew that Jewel were involved. Phyllis Gabor called me yesterday to try and slot in some video filming time for Jewel's new single, and she told me then. Apparently she wants this song to blow apart the progress Diablo has been making - and I can quite understand it, considering how long that wretched song has been number one."
"And here I was, thinking you were objective and freelance." Dean's eyes twinkled. "My mistake."
"Well, I don't mind working for Rory Llewelyn or Rebel Records, but work with Diablo I will not do." Fire flashed into Zoe's green eyes. "You know as well as I do that it was that bitch Stefana Ranieri who blabbed to the press about Fiona and my relationship, and I haven't forgiven her for it yet. I don't think I ever will - after all, I almost lost Fiona and my sanity over all of that, and it wasn't like she did it by accident. It was a deliberate attempt to spite me."
"It wasn't the nicest thing in the world to do." Dean acknowledged. "But I think it is better for you now it's out in the open, Zo. Seriously, I do. You and Fiona seem more secure, and you're not half so stressed or secretive about it. Maybe she did it to spite you, but Stefana's big mouth did work out for the best in the long run."
"Perhaps, but I still haven't forgiven her." Zoe said darkly.
"So, what's Jewel's new song, then?" Dean cast her a curious look. Zoe shrugged.
"Your guess is as good as mine. Even Phyllis hasn't heard it yet." She replied. "Apparently they're having a few melodic glitches. Still, I know them, and I know they'll get on top of it before too long. They always do, after all."
"They sure do." Dean looked thoughtful. "And then it'll be full steam ahead for the award, I guess."
Zoe nodded.
"I think that's the plan." She agreed. "And between you and me, I really hope Jewel win it!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"I can't believe that we have to compete with those no-talent bitches for this award."
Stefana Ranieri dropped down into the shade beneath the big old tree at the foot of the Diablo estate garden, lighting a cigarette and tossing her lighter across the grass with some show of temper. "Can you believe it? Diablo have been number one for a month now, in which time Jewel have done nothing. And yet now they're our competition? Like they're in our league?"
"I wouldn't think there was much to choose between Jewel and Diablo these days." Her companion, sunny-tempered Marissa Young settled herself in the shade, casting her friend a reproachful look. "And I would have thought that you'd learnt your lesson where hating Jewel was concerned. The feds could easily have stuck you in prison for your part in sabotaging the studio, you know."
"Well, they didn't." Stefana shrugged her shoulders, flicking ash in her friend's direction. "I had nothing to do with the damn fire, anyhow, and that was all they cared about in the end. Agent Bray promised me immunity if I spilled on that Barren guy, and so I did. No problem. It's all under control and history, anyhow."
"You were lucky. This time." Marissa murmured. "The press and Rory didn't get a hold of how involved you were, else we might not have got this nomination. It's gonna be tough, competing against Jewel, Stef, but it's gotta be a fair fight. Okay?"
"Fair? What's the fun in fair?" Stefana grimaced. She took a drag on her cigarette, exhaling a lazy cloud of smoke. "We're number one, anyhow. They're gonna have to go some to beat us now. LA is all about Diablo these days, Mari. Jewel don't stand a chance."
"With the music company in chaos and Ms Pelligrini so ill, I suppose they didn't have much chance to do anything." Marissa reflected. "I'm glad she got better, you know. It would've been horrible if she'd died."
"Why do you care? She's not anyone to you." Stefana looked surprised. Marissa shrugged.
"Because it wouldn't have been nice." She said simply. "Besides, don't you care? I thought Aaron was a friend of yours. It's his mother we're talking about."
"Aaron is my friend - his family ain't. I don't give two hoots about Jetta Pelligrini, or the bitch she works with." Stefana said flatly. "And the fire is old news now. Do you realise, Mari, that if we're number one again this week we'll have topped our own record for long running hits? And Rory says the disks are selling by the thousand. This is really the big time - we should enjoy it. This award will just cap off our year nicely - it's about time we had some recognition!"
"We've worked so hard for it." Marissa admitted. "I just get a warm glow whenever I think about it, to be honest. That we could be up for such a major blows my mind. Whether we win it or not, Stef, the fact we were even in the running says a hell of a lot about how far we've come since we arrived in LA. I'm loving Diablo so much - aren't you?"
"If I wasn't, do you think I'd stick around?" Stefana raised an eyebrow. Marissa laughed.
"Guess not." She agreed. "I suppose Rory will have us working on a new single before too long, though. The old one might be running up the record books in the chart, but we have to have something new, too. I reckon Jewel will have a new song out before too long, so expect early morning summonses, okay?"
"If it's to spite Jewel, Mari, I'll be there." Stefana said simply, inhaling on her cigarette. "I still hate them, and I always will."
"Just be careful." Marissa warned her. "I know you, Stef, and I know you get into crazy things before you know what you're doing. It's bad enough you insist on taking those damn things that make you go strange on me, but I don't want you locked up into the bargain. Remember, there's no adoring fans or superstardom behind a prison door."
"And I'm not going to end up in any prison." Stefana snapped impatiently. "I won't get caught next time."
"I hope there won't be a next time!" Marissa looked horrified. Stefana shrugged.
"Sometimes you have to do what it takes to be the best." She said evenly. "Besides, you worry too much. I'm in control of what I do and what I take. Quit fussing. We're gonna win this award, and everything will work out fine.
Trust me."

Prologue: Texas

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

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!