"What's this about, Zoe?"
Constance Montgomery set her bag down on the unit of her dressing room,
casting her daughter a confused look. "I got your text - what's so urgent
that you hared right over here? Has something happened?"
"Maybe." Zoe perched on the edge of the chair, her green eyes sparkling.
"Listen, Mom, did you know Vivien is doing a documentary about Dead of Night?"
"Yes, I heard something about it." Constance nodded. "What of it?"
"She'd like you to be involved. She's already asked me to help her out
and I said I would." Zoe explained. "She wants me to play interviewer, and
she said it would be cool to get an interview with you. I promised to come
and run it by you myself, see what you thought about it. Apparently she's
hooked in the girl you worked with on set - Alexa something - and she's hoping
you'll come and give your comment."
"Dead of Night." Constance frowned, pursing her lips. "It's not got the
best of memories for me, Zoe."
"I know that." Zoe softened her tones. "But I think Vivien would really
like you to be involved."
"Who else is interviewing?" Constance glanced up, eying her daughter sharply.
"Alexa Van Aarden - who else?"
"Robin Huntingdon and Cheryl Black Lewis. Vivien said she was gonna be
a nightmare." Zoe grinned. "And then as many of the other people she can
rope in. The director, of course. He's the one who got Viv on the job in
the first place. I cleared my schedule so I could help her - it struck me
that this might be my chance to find something out about where Dad is. Maybe
even meet him myself."
"Yes, and that's precisely why I'm not sure I should get myself involved."
Constance sighed. "Your father and I parted on strange terms a long time
ago, Zo, and I don't know how he's going to take the fact I have a daughter
- his. It might be better if I didn't."
"We don't know Dad will be involved yet." Zoe admitted. "Vivien wasn't
sure. Mom, would it bother you if he was and I spoke to him about, well,
everything? You know how badly I've wanted to know about my Dad, and since
the fire, it's become even more of a priority. I need to know where I came
from, and it all seems so, well, opportune."
"No, Zoe, I don't mind." Constance shook her head. "Or rather, I do mind,
but I won't do anything to stop you." She sighed. "Heaven knows you have
a right to find out anything you like about the guy, and I doubt you'll find
much about him to disappoint you. I'm not surprised that Vivien talked you
into this...in fact, I meant to mention it all to you myself, if you didn't
know already. But I'm not sure I'm ready to meet your father head on. Not
after so many years. I'm not quite sure how I feel about him - and it could
wind up messy. You do understand?"
"Yeah, I understand." Zoe said at length. "I told Viv you mightn't be
so keen. But it'd suck if you didn't get in on this. You were part of backstage,
and I know a lot of your fans now will be interested to find out about that,
if nothing else. Here, I tell you what - I could come here and interview
you after your show one night, or in between your runthroughs in the afternoon.
Then you'd not have to come to the main set, and you wouldn't encounter anyone
who you didn't feel comfortable around. If anyone asks, I'll tell them it's
because of the death of your fiance during the filming. They'll not question
"I could do that." Constance's face cleared. "Okay, Zoe, on those terms,
I'll agree. Will Vivien mind?"
"I doubt it." Zoe shook her head. "I'm sure she'll understand - she's
that kind of person. And I don't mind coming here to interview you. After
all, if I can;t interview my own mother, I'm not gonna manage with anyone
else, am I?"
"It's not so easy when you have to pose the questions." Constance's eyes
sparkled. "Mind you, you do have the genes for it, I admit. I'm sure you'll
do great, Zoe. Oh, but if you'd do me one favour?"
"Of course." Zoe nodded her fair head. "What is it?"
"Can you give Alexa my phone number? It's been a long time, and I'd like
to see her again."
"I'll do that." Zoe promised. "No problem. Thanks, Mom. Viv will be thrilled
when I tell her you'll do it!"
* * *
* * * *
* * * *
"Cool Trash has us two percent up on those Jewel brats in
their weekend poll! This award is so ours."
Stefana breezed into the practice room, tossing the aforementioned magazine
down onto the unit and casting her waiting bandmates a grin. "See? I told
you. We're going to win this award, and that's that. Like Jewel have done
anything so far to prove themselves worthy competition! We're totally number
one here now. The press doesn't lie!"
"Where I come from, Stef, the tabloid press will lie on a regular basis
if it'll sell papers." Clay leaned over, grabbing the magazine up and glancing
over the poll. "And forgive me for not being overwhelmed, but Cool Trash
aren't Jewel's biggest fans at the best of times. I think they took offence
over that keyboardist girl talking about wanting them burnt down. They've
been partisan towards us ever since."
"Well, shows they have taste, then." Stefana snapped, snatching the magazine
back. "Besides, we're still number one and our new single is going to blow
the old one - and Jewel - right out of the water!"
"It would, if you turned up for rehearsals on time instead of half an
hour late." Madeleine scooped up her microphone, plugging it in. "But since
you're here, maybe we can runthrough?"
"Yeah, yeah." Stefana rolled her eyes. "Why do you think I'm here? For
the good of my health?"
"Stef, don't let's fight." Marissa pleaded. "It's great about the article.
I mean, that's a Cool Trash reader poll and readers buy cds. Right? So it
does matter, Clay, however you look at it. A lot of people read Cool Trash!"
"People who need their brains read." Clay said dryly. "Okay, Mari, I take
He twirled a drumstick. "But we've been waiting long enough for our prima
donna to arrive, and I'm not sure going to the newstand for the latest rag
was worth the effort."
"For you information, I was with Rory at Rebel Records and I just got
back." Stefana bristled, fixing her bandmate with a look of steely disdain.
"He gave me the magazine. He wanted to see me, and I drove as fast as I could.
And if you're done mewling, I'm ready to play."
"Mewling? Did you swallow a dictionary?" Clay raised an eyebrow. Stefana
just stuck out her tongue, checking her guitar was properly tuned.
"All right, we've a full compliment, so we might as well run through."
Luca said with a grin. "From the top, everyone, okay? Clay, you can beat
"Sure." Clay nodded, tapping the rim of his snare. "One, two, three..."
They launched into their new song, and, boosted by the news of the poll,
even Stefana managed to play her passages through without griping at the
stops and re-starts that Marissa insisted upon. Gentle by nature, Marissa
was protective of her music, and, mindful of the award, she wanted to make
sure Diablo gave their best.
"Besides, we play Connie's Corner tomorrow night, and we record the song
the day after." She concluded. "We might as well be perfect."
She glanced at Madeleine, who was glancing over the lyric sheet.
"Will you know the words in time for tomorrow, Maddy?"
"Yeah. I'll run over them tonight when we're done, just to be sure." Madeleine
raised her head, nodding. "No problem, Mari. I have the first verse and the
chorus down already, and it's just a matter of the bridge and second verse
to drum in. It'll be fine."
"Who else is playing Connie's Corner tomorrow?" Luca wondered. "They haven't
time-slotted us with Jewel, have they? With all the hype..."
"Jewel aren't ready to perform their song yet." Stefana snorted. "Apparently.
I believe it's 'hit a technical glitch". What that means I don't know, but
Rory seemed to think that they wouldn't be ready to play when we were. We'll
have two weeks lead on them, easy."
"And we can use all the time we can get, if we do have a chance of winning."
Marissa mused. "Okay, guys, can we run through it again? From the beginning
- I'm still not happy with the tempo of the introduction and I think we need
to step it up more. Clay, can you drive the beat a little harder?"
"Not a problem, so long as you can keep up with me." Clay's eyes twinkled.
"We'll be fine." She assured him. "We've done this before, you know."
She turned back to her keyboard. "All right, everyone. Let's hit it!"
Once the practice was over, Stefana grabbed her friend by the arm.
"Come out with me?" She hissed. "Le Klub Kool has some big deal evening
tonight and I figured it wouldn't hurt our publicity any if we were seen
mingling with the fans. You up for it? This place is dull as hell, anyway."
"Clubbing?" Marissa looked startled. "Sure, but if we're on the publicity
trail, shouldn't we take the others?"
"I'd rather walk off a cliff than socialise with Maddy or Clay more than
I had to." Stefana grimaced. "And Luca thinks he's my father sometimes. I
don't need him on my tail if I'm going to have a good time."
"Which means that you're going to get stoned, or drunk, or possibly both."
Marissa sighed. "Which will be just great for our publicity."
"I can control what I do, you know." Stefana glowered at her friend. "But
if you're going to be that way, I'll go alone."
"No, I'll come." Marissa made up her mind. "It'd be nice to get rid of
the cobwebs in my brain after working on that song all week, and besides,
someone has to make sure you get in the right taxi to come home tonight.
Let me go change, huh? I'll see you out the front in half an hour."
"All right." Stefana nodded. "But we don't need a cab, duh. You can drive
"Can I? What if I want to drink?" Marissa put her hands on her hips.
"I thought diabetics weren't supposed to drink." Stefana shot back. Marissa
"Oh, I don't want to argue with you." She said finally. "Fine, I'll drive,
if it makes you happy. See you in a few, okay?"
"Sure." Stefana nodded. She scooped up the discarded magazine, glancing
down at the poll once more. "After all, we got something we should be celebrating!"
Meanwhile, across the city at Misfit Music, Jewel were greeting the news
of the poll with quite a different attitude.
"It's not that Cool Trash matters in the sense of normal people." Phyllis
concluded. "But there are a lot of morons who read it, and the fact that
they've voted like this isn't a good sign. I know we've been out of action
for a bit and people are fickle, but the rot has to stop here. How goes the
"We're ready to record, pretty much." Nancy glanced at her companions.
"Tomorrow we can lay it down, if you like. We've settled all our technical
difficulties and we've made sure that this song is going to be something
a bit different from all our others."
"Well, God knows you need it." Phyllis frowned. "I don't like taking phone
calls from Rory Llewelyn informing me that my band has slipped into second
spot, and offering me his commiserations. We're going to show Los Angeles
that Jewel are far from finished, all right? This song had better be good
- we want it circulating the networks by the weekend."
"It will be, Phyllis. We're sure of that." Sylva dimpled. "We all know
the melody to death by now, and Nancy's added a sax line as a counter-melody,
too. It really rocks."
"Well, you might be considered biased, love." Jetta put in from her corner.
"But I'm glad you're gettin' down to workin' on it. There won't be time for
you to play it for us before you record it, so make sure you 'ave us forwarded
the first copy of the disk tomorrow evenin', so we can pass comment. We
want to schedule you in some bookin's on shows like Dean's and Connie's early
next week if we can, so time is of the essence. Not to mention the video
situation - which I believe 'as been explained to you."
"Yeah, but a montage suits us." Sadie cast Copper a grin, and the drummer
blushed. "We have an element of mystery in this song, and doing the video
that way will only help."
"Mystery?" Phyllis raised an eyebrow. "Sounds ominous. Is this mystery
going to be expensive?"
"No, not at all." Topaz assured her. We've just maximised our resources
a little, and come up with a new blend. That's all."
"Well, we can yak about it all day, but it ain't gettin' the song done."
Jetta reflected. "If you're ready to lay down tomorrow, you might as well
clear off now an' get 'ere nice an' early tomorrow. I'll make sure the studio
techs are prepped for you before I go 'ome tonight. Go on, shoo! We've 'eard
all we need to know."
With one accord, the band left the office, and Phyllis shot Jetta a glance.
"You think they can get their lead back?" She asked at length. Jetta snorted,
picking up the copy of Cool Trash and tossing it into the waste paper basket.
"Are you seriously worried about Jewel because Cool Trash say so?" She
asked. "Pizzazz, it's only two percent."
"Two percent is big enough in showbusiness." Phyllis said darkly. "I remember
a Glitter and Gold contest that was lost on one record. These things can
"Yeah, I know that. I ain't a rookie." Jetta said impatiently. "But two
percent ain't that damn much at all when you think that Jewel ain't recorded
a bloody thing since the fire. Before it, in fact. They've been out of the
loop for almost two months with one thing or another. Part of it I suppose
is my fault, for gettin' caught in the smoke the way I did. Some of it is
yours, for not gettin' the company back up an' running quicker. But Jewel
are strong an' they'll breeze through once they've got a single out. Fans
are impatient - you know that. Once we keep 'em 'appy, well, then things
will sort themselves out. Diablo 'ave 'ad one major hit record, but Jewel
'ave had several. It's still clear who the nation love best."
"Well, I hope you're right." Phyllis said at length. "I know Jewel are
strong, and they're the best bet we have at the moment. But I don't trust
"Why should you?" Jetta shrugged. "He can cause us trouble. It ain't our
fault if 'e can't win these things legit."
Phyllis looked thoughtful.
"We had to do whatever it took to win when we were Misfits." She said
slowly. "We were ruthless and we didn't care if we broke the rules. Now
we're on the other end of it, with Riot and his Diablo brats...I don't like
it. I don't like that we have to play by the rules when he isn't."
"Noone said we had to, love." Jetta rested her chin in her hands. "There's
keepin' within the law, an' there's bendin' the rules to suit us.The first
of those we 'ave to do. Otherwise the company could go down the tubes. You
know it an' I know it an' your Pa knew it when 'e 'anded control of this
place over to you. But the second...no reason we can't think like Misfits,
even if we do play it on the level most days these days."
"What are you thinking?" Phyllis cast he friend a suspicious look.
"Nothin' much." Jetta's grey eyes sparkled with mischief. "'Ow much dirt
do we 'ave on Diablo? Anythin' we could conveniently make public this week?"
"Not a whole lot." Phyllis rummaged in a drawer, pulling out a folder.
"This is what my contact at Rebel Records sent me, but it isn't much. I know
their schedule and I've been keeping an eye on them. Oh, Latisha mentioned
something about them arguing in the dressing room before Dean's show the
other morning, but that's par for the course where bands are concerned. Much
as I'd like to whip those babies back to Connecticut and out of our hair,
Riot keeps them too much out of trouble."
"What about your Emily? She an' Luca are cosy. Is there nothin' she's
"Emily is like a clam where Luca is concerned." Phyllis grimaced. "She
won't get involved - damn her. I don't know what kind of a Gabor she is,
but she won't join in the fight."
"If you ask me, she an' Luca are closer than everyone realises." Jetta
said thoughtfully. Phyllis pulled another face.
"Yes, they are. She had the gall to talk to me about relationships a few
weeks back." She admitted grimly. "She's sleeping with the enemy in the literal
sense. But hell, what can I do about it? She's not my daughter in the way
that I can tell her what to do. Not like you can with Nancy. Face it, Jetta.
There's nothing low, mean and unethical that we can pull on Riot or Diablo."
"Pity." Jetta reflected. "Of course, I suppose it's immaterial that Stefana
was questioned about involvement in the fire that torched this place?"
"She was questioned because she knew that Barren guy." Phyllis frowned.
"Ain't that right?"
A slight smile touched Jetta's lips.
"So we were told." She agreed slowly. "Although from the snippets I've
'eard from Nancy an' the others, Stefana was the one responsible for wreckin'
their studio two days before. And I know we can't prove anythin' - but would
it be worth droppin' an anonymous line in some local rag about Stefana bein'
partly to blame for Jewel's lack of recent appearances?"
Phyllis let out a low chuckle.
"Rumours are always fun to spread." She agreed with a wicked grin. "All
right. I'll see to it that it's leaked to somewhere bound to print it. Not
Cool Trash - they seem to be on Diablo's side these days. But there's Music
Bizz, among others. And in the meantime, Jewel have their new song ready
to go down, so that's another thing taken care of. What do you reckon they
meant by the mystery?"
"We'll find out tomorrow, no doubt." Jetta shrugged. "So long as the song
is good, an' a winner, who cares?"
"I suppose you're right." Phyllis looked thoughtful. "Okay. I'll make
sure that we've everything ready for the song to go out to radio and tv
stations on Saturday. Riot had better watch out - Jewel aren't going to
give this one up without a fight!"