Blind Faith

Chapter Six: A Secret For Stefana

 It was beyond belief.
Rory Llewelyn cast a disdainful glance at the magazine on his desktop, then raised his gaze to meet the defiant one of the girl before him.
"Well, Stefana?" He said quietly, pushing it across the desk towards her. "What is all of this about?"
The girl did not speak for a moment, and Rory saw the icy glint of anger surfacing in her green eyes as she read through the three short paragraphs. She muttered a curse, scooping up the offending article and ripping it in half.
"It's about nothing. Nothing but Jewel stooping to some lying level to get Diablo off the top spot." She said bitterly. "You know we won that poll the other day - this is their idea of revenge. That's all."
"Yes, I believe Misfit Music can be blamed for this particularly convenient bit of tabloid gossip." Rory sat back in his chair, eying Stefana thoughtfully. "I know that you were cleared of all involvement in the arson case, Stefana, so we have no need for any legal implications there. But publicity like this is annoying and unnecessary. It also suggests that you've been working off your own bat, and not telling me what's been going on. Do you think you could enlighten me? After all, I do pay your wages."
Stefana bristled at his tone.
"Yeah, well, they got it all wrong." She said bluntly. "Jake was the guy who caused all the hassle for Jewel and Misfit Music. Not me this time. You think I'd let myself get caught? I only got dragged into all of this because Jake decided he wanted to use me as a scapegoat. You know that. And that's all I have to say about it. He went to trial and they banged him up for it. Don't you think that, if I'd been involved, they'd have banged me up too?"
"Quite possibly." Rory seemed to be considering this, eying her keenly. "If that is the case, then, Rebel Records will issue a statement denying these allegations firmly. But for the future, Stefana, I prefer to be kept abreast of what you are doing. After all, it might be profitable to more than just yourself, and it's been a week or two since last you did an assignment for me."
Stefana eyed Rory sharply, but the executive's expression was calm and gave nothing away.
"So what do you want from me?" She asked at length.
"As if you need to ask." Rory chuckled. "Diablo are up for a very prestigious award, and so are Jewel. Evidently it's going to be something of a mudslinging campaign, if this magazine article is anything to go by. We need to fight fire with fire. Jewel need a convenient scandal in the local press, enough to put the award committee off choosing them to receive the award. Do you understand?"
"Of course I do, you dolt." Stefana snapped. "And after this, it'll be my pleasure."
"I'm glad to hear it." Rory observed evenly. "Well, then. Jewel's song is due to be spawned out to various television channels and radio stations tomorrow morning. Tonight they play Connie's Corner. I want you to be there, backstage - and as discreet as you can be, please. We don't need any more negative press for you people! I want you to watch them like a hawk, on and off stage, and see what you can find out. Use that Aaron kid if you have to - I know you're friendly with him, and it's a friendship which might yet prove useful to me. I need anything and everything on Jewel. All right?"
"I'll be there." Stefana said grimly. "Don't worry. If there's dirt to be had on Jewel, I'll find it!"

"I'm not sure I understand this."
Jetta frowned, casting her daughter a look of confusion. "We've got your song down, it's a damn good one, an' it's gonna be out on all the networks from tomorrow. Why don't you want to sing it live on Connie's show? Don't you want to win this award?"
"We can't sing it live. We promised that we wouldn't." Nancy said calmly, brushing out her thick dark hair. "That's all I can say about it. The song is done, and it's a good chance to air the video. Don't you think?"
"I don't follow, kid." Jetta pursed her lips, eying her daughter searchingly. "What's goin' on? First you girls are all in a panic about gettin' this down, and now it is down, you won't let even your Aunt Phyl or I in on the secret. What gives 'ere?"
"Nothing, Mom." Nancy set down her hairbrush. "Look, you're my mother and everything, and I know that as my agent you want to know what's going on in my career. But the girls and I all promised to keep the song kinda...under our hats for a while. The track will get plenty of airplay, and the video is a cool one. There's nothing to worry about. We can't play it live at the moment, that's all."
"I wish you'd tell me why." Jetta looked worried. "I know I ain't been involved in your girls' work for a bit, what with bein' ill an' all, but it is our business, you know. We both love the song, but..."
"Don't worry." Nancy interrupted her. "Look, I have to go catch up with the others. We'll be due in make up soon, and we're going to have plenty to say to Connie about the award and everything else. It won't matter for once if we don't play live tonight. Connie's crew have cleared it for us to just play the video, and it'll get people wondering what the secret is. That's all."
"Yeah, but not all speculation is good press." Jetta said bluntly. "Look, kid, I'll be straight with you. I know all of you an' the way in which you girls sing. An' the vocal track on this record ain't any of you. That worries know the legal implications of bringin' in a ghost singer an' passin' it off as your own work?"
"I know." Nancy said calmly. "But you don't need to worry about it. I promise."
Neither of them heard the click of the dressing room door, as their eavesdropper slipped away. Stefana had been true to her promise to Rory, and had secluded herself near Jewel's dressing room when she had caught the opening snippets of Jetta's conversation. The executive and her daughter were alone, and she had spied the possibility of Pelligrini family scandal. As she had listened, however, her excitement had grown. So Jewel weren't playing it by the book this time! This was exactly the sort of scandal she needed!
"And exactly what's going to earn me a good few hundred bucks from Rory, when I tell him." She added gleefully. "It couldn't be more perfect!"
"You're not 'elpin' with the not worryin'." Back in the dressing room, Jetta paced across to the window, glancing out at the busy streets below. "Nancy, this award is a big deal, but it don't mean that it's worth riskin' Jewel's reputation an' everything else for. I mean it. This could be serious, if people were to get the wrong end of the stick."
"We're not playing it live, Mom."  Nancy folded her arms. "We promised that we wouldn't. It was the only way to get the vocal the way we wanted it, and it's well worth it. The song sounds cool as anything, classy and definitely upping our stakes in the competition, don't you think? We needed something to stand out against Diablo's current popularity wave, and this song is it. That's all."
Jetta eyed Nancy thoughtfully for a moment, then,
"Promise me that it's all above board." She said finally. Nancy nodded.
"I promise. It's all entirely one hundred percent legal and straight and, well, not all that surprising when you think it out." She agreed. "After all, Topaz would have sung it, but she couldn't get her tongue around the Spanish stuff Copper wrote. This was the only way to do it, and we figured that by making it Spanish and English, we'd appeal to the biggest sections of Californian society. That's all. There's nothing sinister in that."
"Copper wrote the lyrics?" Jetta shot her daughter a sharp look. Nancy nodded her head.
"Well, of course." She said carelessly. "Mom, I have to go. The others will be wondering where I am and I told them that I wouldn't be long."
Jetta hesitated for a moment, then a spark of relief touched her grey eyes.
"So that's 'ow it is." She murmured. "Okay. I suppose, in light of that, then it's all right. Though I wish you'd talk some sense into the kid and make 'er realise that a rock star can't be treated with kid gloves."
Nancy smiled slightly.
"We had to bully her to get this far." She admitted, knowing all too well that her mother's quick brain had picked up on her gentle hints. "I'll see you after we interview, okay?"
"Sure." Jetta nodded. "Make sure you talk up a storm out there, an' keep off the topic of playin' live. For the time bein' we'll 'ave to go along with it, but I 'ope you've all thought this out. We're gonna be in a publicity war between now and the award, and, well, anythin' goes."
"We'll be careful." Nancy promised. "Bye, Mom. See you after the show."
With that she was gone, and Jetta leant back against the unit, contemplating.
"So they got Copper to sing lead on a song at last." She murmured. "Well, it's bloody obvious now I think of it. Guess I'm so used to the others performin' the vocal and 'er just sittin' behind her kit...but I wonder if Pizzazz realises that girl 'as real vocal talent locked up inside of 'er. I'm glad it's not a singer ghostin'. Copper is a Jewel, an' if I think of it, she's the obvious choice for Spanish lyrics. Topaz did say they were maximising their resources, and the song does work. Let's just 'ope it's what Jewel need to come out on top this time!"

"You took forever!" As Nancy rejoined her bandmates, Sylva cast her a disapproving look. "You should know by now, Nance, that it takes a miracle to make you photogenic in makeup. What took so long?"
"Mom was trying to get the truth about the song out of me. That's all." Nancy ignored the insult, dropping down into her vacant seat as the make-up artist put the smock around her outfit. "Nothing major."
"What did you tell her?" Copper asked.
"I told her that it was all above board, legal and logical if you thought about it. I think she took the hint and will get off our backs about it, but I didn't tell her anything outright. I promised." Nancy replied. "She did tell me that we were rock stars and shouldn't be treated with kid gloves, though."
"But our video is very cool. Even if it is a montage, it's a damn cool one." Sadie reflected. "And I love that snippet of just the three of you playing open-air in...well, was it here in LA?"
"Nope, that was when we were touring up north." Sylva shook her head. "Before we even met Topaz, though it was in Canada. I forget which city."
"I think the fans will like the video, you know." Topaz mused. "It shows a lot of snippets of real-life us, getting ready to go out on stage when we've been touring places, and things like that that've been filmed for compilation DVDs. It's not quite as good as the Public Eye for that, but it still gives them some kind of feeling that they know us."
"Which they really don't." Nancy looked amused. "But I know what you mean."
"The Public Eye?" Sadie looked non-plussed. "What's that?"
"Oh, it's a fly on the wall documentary that we did a year or so ago now." Topaz explained. "You know Ben Raynor? He presents it - or he did, I don't know if he still does. He came and lived at the Starlight for a week so he could film the real Jewel, behind the scenes."
"Sounds intrusive." Sadie grimaced. Nancy nodded.
"It was, and it caused all kinds of trouble for Cynthia, but it all worked out in the end and we survived it." She replied. "Needless to say we've vetoed any idea of doing a repeat. The Starlight is our sacred turf and no more camera folk are getting inside."
"Not even Zoe?" Copper teased. Nancy shrugged.
"Okay, Zoe." She amended. "She's different."
"Have you heard any more from her about this thing she's doing on Dead of Night?" Topaz cast Sylva a questioning look. Sylva nodded.
"Yeah - they're starting work on it from Monday, apparently, and she'll get to meet all the people then. She's still not sure if her Dad's going to be among them, but she's hoping that he will be. She knows that the studios managed to track him down and invite him to California to take part, so she's really hoping he chose to say yes. She's a little afraid that, what with that guy dying and then his own break up with her mother, he might not want to do it."
"Was it messy?" Sadie looked curious. Sylva shrugged.
"It's a tragic romance story, Connie and this Jeff guy." She said. "At least, from what Zoe's told me - which isn't all that much. Apparently they parted company on strange terms, and they've not spoken in all the time since then. Jeff doesn't even know about Zoe."
"It mightn't be so good for her, then, if she does meet him and drop a bombshell on him like that." Topaz looked troubled. "I'm imagining Cameron's reaction if in twenty odd years Hollie shows up in London and says, "Hi, you're my Dad." I don't think it'd be pretty."
"Well, Zoe seems to think it's worth the shot." Sylva shrugged. "She said she needs to know, one way or the other, and I guess that makes sense. Dad and I might have fought messily but he's still my Dad and I do still love him."
"You guys are on speaking terms now, aren't you?" Copper asked. Sylva nodded.
"We've exchanged the odd email and phone call." She agreed. "It was awkward at first, but in the end we figured everything out. He understands better now how important my music is to me, and how I have to do this for my career, nothing else. And I guess I understand that he only ever wanted the best for me, even if his ideas of what that was weren't the same as mine. I'm a grown adult now, after all. I should be able to have civil conversation with my father, right?"
"Right." Nancy nodded. "Events over the last few months made me realise how important your parents really are."
"Not mine." Topaz said firmly. "Well, I can't speak for Dad, of course, as I never knew him, and that wasn't his fault. But Mom made her choices." She shrugged. "And so have I."
"Changing the subject for a moment..." Sadie cast the Canadian a glance, then, "Did anyone else see what was in the press this morning about Stefana and Misfit Music?"
"Yeah, I did. It made me choke on my milk." Nancy grinned. "I'm thinking about keeping the clipping for future amusement."
"What's this?" Sylva looked curious. "What article?"
"Someone leaked a hint to the press that Stefana is part of the reason Jewel were out of action for so long as we were. The fire and everything." Sadie explained. "What I want to know is who leaked it?"
"Well, not one of us." Topaz said decidedly. "The feds didn't charge her for anything, and it's certainly not our business to get involved if they're not. We don't need that kind of rivalry."
"Well, from what Mom said earlier about publicity wars, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a corporate leak." Nancy observed thoughtfully, as the five girls headed from the set back to their dressing room. "How they knew about it is beyond me, but Mom has a way of discovering these things, and that poll in Cool Trash rankled everyone."
"It's not very...Misfit Music-ish, to leak bad press about the opposition." Copper said doubtfully. "Are they that worried about our standing that they'll resort that far?"
"Copper, Mom and Aunt Phyl might play by the book these days, but they're still Misfits." Nancy shrugged. "And besides, it's not like the article lied. Of course, Rory Llewelyn will deny it as far as he can go, and probably issue a statement saying it's libellous nonsense, but mud does stick and people will wonder. It was a stroke of genius, if you ask me."
"I don't know." Sadie frowned. "Like Topaz said, we don't need that kind of rivalry. Especially not at the moment, with the award and the head to head competition we have going on here."
"You know, Diablo and us aren't the only nominees. I wonder the press don't focus in on one of them, too." Topaz reflected.
"They don't, because we're California's biggest bands at the moment, and it makes perfect press. Everyone knows that we're not best friends, even though we sweet-talk and pretend in the press that we are." Sylva said with a shrug. "It's cool, Topaz. We can take it."

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!