Blind Faith

Chapter Nine: Jewel's Dilemma

"We 'ave to have words, girls."
Nancy glanced up from her guitar, her brows creasing in a frown as she took in her mother's grave expression.
"What's up, Jetta?" Sylva paused in working out the new range of chords. "Has something happened? We were getting down to album stuff again - do you need us for something?"
"I do, but it will do as well 'ere as anywhere." Jetta quietly closed the door behind her, glancing around at them all. "Where's Topaz? I need all of you."
"She went down to the creche to take Hollie out to the park to see the ducks. It was lunch hour." Sadie explained. "She should be back any minute, though. What's happened, Jetta?"
"When Topaz gets back, I'll explain." Was all the answer she got. Jetta perched on the windowsill, and the musicians exchanged confused looks.
"Is it something bad?" Copper ventured. Jetta's expression darkened.
"That depends." She said, and there was a definite harried edge to her clipped tones. "On 'ow you girls choose to 'andle things."
"I don't understand." Sylva looked confused. "What have we done, Jetta? Are you mad at us?"
"No, not really, though I will be if this goes on." Jetta replied shortly, as the door opened to admit the final band member. "An' there you are, Topaz. Sit down, huh? I need to 'ave words with all of you, 'ere an' now, about your new single. It goes to stores tomorrow, as I think you know."
"Yes." Nancy nodded. "So? What's wrong with that?"
"This." Jetta reached into her pocket, pulling out a folded scrap of paper and handing it to her daughter, who read it, her indignation growing with every line. She handed it back.
"Who wrote that? Can't you sue them?"
"Not without good evidence to the contrary. An' your Aunt Phyllis an' I don't want all kinds of negative flurryin' before the awards." Jetta shook her head. "But you might as well realise now, if this kind of press continues, there won't be any award - not for Jewel, anyway."
"Not for Jewel?" Topaz frowned. "What is that, Jetta?"
"Do you have to talk in riddles?" Sylva added. "What's gone so horribly wrong?"
"Some junk magazine has written an article." Nancy said quietly, her dark eyes flashing. "The article suggests that we're trying to cheat everyone - including the fans and the award committee - by releasing a song that isn't our own. Furthermore, they seem to have got their information from someone who knows something about us, because they cite as proof a conversation between the band and Mom on the night of Connie's show."
"What?" Topaz's blue eyes blazed with fury. "Which magazine? Jetta?"
"Cool Trash. Who else?" Jetta frowned. "Sylva, that quip of yours about burnin' them down 'as made an enemy of them for keeps, mark my words. They ain't forgotten it an' they take malicious pride in printing negative Jewel scandals."
"They take pleasure in printing nasty scandals about everyone." Sadie said darkly. "I thought some of the mags back home were bad enough, but there isn't anything to beat the depths this one goes to, believe me. How they haven't been sued out of existance is beyond me."
"Because they control a powerful medium." Jetta said grimly. "Freedom of the press. Any attempt to choke them off - however libellous the article might be - would be interpreted by them as a breach of their constitutional right to say whatever the 'ell they like. An' in essence I support that - after all, if the press were controlled, we'd all be in trouble. But we don't need this kind of malicious garbage upsettin' us. Our position is already weak - an' this can only weaken it. Pizzazz 'as already 'ad one phone call this mornin' from the award committee, saying that this needs investigatin'. If proven true, Jewel will be expelled from the nominations list."
"And Diablo will win it outright, since they and we are favourites and neck and neck in the polls." Copper concluded, her expression angry. "But they can't prove it, Jetta. It isn't true! Dolorida is as much our song as any of our others, and that's that!"
"Well, so Nancy assured me." Jetta nodded her head. "But the magazine folk ain't dense. They picked up on 'ow you wouldn't perform it live on Connie's show, nor on any other show you've been called to guest on so far. They think that this is indication of your guilt - and you know how the press are. We need a rebuttal - hard, fast an' damn conclusive - to get rid of any doubts people have. Do you understand me?"
"You mean, play live, don't you?" Nancy said quietly. Jetta nodded her head.
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean." She agreed, casting a glance at Copper, whose lips had set in an obstinate line.
"Don't look at me." She protested. "I never wanted to do it in the first place - Nancy made me! I'd make a worse mess of the show if you tried, and that's that! I know you've worked out what we've done, because Nancy pretty much told me so. And that's fine, so far as it goes, but sing live I will not do. I can't do it! My vocal chords will freeze and I'll probably faint into the bargain! There's a good reason why I've never sung on a Jewel track before, and this is it!"
"Copper, we're sorry - me especially, since I couldn't get my tongue round the Spanish - but what choice do we have?" Topaz asked. We can't have everyone in LA think we're so desperate to win an award that we'll go to any lengths to get ahead! This is a good song and you sing it damn well. You know you do! The recording studio people complemented you on it, and everyone's been raving about it in the presses. Well, before all of this. What have you got to be afraid of? Singing it live is just like, well, singing it into the studio mic, that's all. You did that well enough."
Copper sat silent for a moment, her brown eyes clouded. She shook her head.
"I can't." She repeated. "I joined the group to be Jewel's drummer. If I'd known that all of this would blow up then I never would have let you guys talk me into it. You promised I wouldn't have to sing live!"
"This is different, Copper." Sadie said softly. "It's our reputations on the line here. And really, if I can do it, you sure can. You've been a Jewel a lot longer than me and the fans love you - you know they do. You'd be fine, I know it."
Copper just shook her head.
"I can't." She said again. "Not now or ever. I'm sorry, but I can't. There'll just have to be some other way around it."
Jetta's expression darkened.
"In that case I 'ave nothing more to say." She said quietly, in tones that made even her daughter shiver. "I'll go an' discuss this upstairs. Action will be taken, because none of us 'ave any idea of lettin' lies like this fester. I suggest you girls talk it over an' come see one of us tomorrow. I 'ope you'll 'ave a better answer, if you value your careers."
With that she was gone, banging the door behind her, and there was a moment of silence as the girls digested her words. It was Sylva who broke the quiet first.
"That didn't sound good." She said at length. "Copper, would it be such a big deal if you sang it once? It wouldn't have to be sung again, and, well, we'd all be there with you. We'd back you up, you know. If it was just a case of the words, I'm sure we could get around it, but none of us can pronounce as well as you, and besides, people will expect to hear it sung with the same voice as is on the disk."
"Oh, don't you listen?" Copper exclaimed. "I told you, I can't do it! All right? I can't and I'm sorry, but that's it! And if that's all you're going to talk about, I'm going home. I have a date with Aaron tonight and obviously, work is done for today!"
She stalked out of the room, banging the door with equal ferocity as her manager, and Sadie winced.
"Guys, we have a real problem, don't we?" She murmured.
"I don't see what she's so fussed about." Sylva frowned. "It's not that big a deal, singing live."
"For Copper it obviously is." Topaz looked troubled. "We all do it so much that we don't think about it, but she never has. If she's that afraid..."
"If she's that afraid, then she's a damn hypocrite." Nancy cut in. "Before we did our very first concert, I was freaked and I didn't want to go out there. She talked me into it - said that it would be fine and that it was just stage fright. So I did it. But what good is that if she won't take her own advice?"
She bit her lip, and her friends could see the mix of emotions in her dark eyes. By now all of Jewel knew that Nancy and music were synonymous with each other, and that this latest obstacle had hit the youngest band member harder than any of the rest.
"How dare they suggest it isn't our work?" She whispered. "After all the time and energy I spent on writing up the score! How dare they?"
"Nancy, cool it." Sadie slipped down beside her, putting an arm around her shoulders. "Listen, Cool Trash are scum. Okay? You know that. We all know that."
"But Jetta is right. We do need to do something." Topaz knitted her brows, deep in thought. "Playing live would solve things immediately, but if Copper won't, what else can we do?"
"You know, Stefana is probably behind this." Sylva said darkly. "That bitch knows we're up for the same award as her no good group is, and if that isn't a motive, what is?"
"You think she skulked around backstage and spied on us?" Sadie opened her eyes big with shock. "How come noone saw her?"
"If she really did that, I want to know what security thought they were doing." Topaz said grimly. "But I think Syl is right. Poison comes from Stefana's lips all too often, and we know what lengths she will go to to upset us. Besides, there was that article in the presses, too. You remember?"
"Publicity war." Nancy intoned softly. "And what a war it's become!"
"Well, all I can see is that we have to talk Copper around somehow." Sylva said finally. "If we don't, well, we're in trouble. Not just from the world at large, but I never heard Jetta talk like that before. Either we fix this - somehow - else Jewel are going to regret it big time."
"The stakes are higher than I'm comfortable with." Sadie shivered. "I think we've all learnt that doing something different doesn't always pay."
"Nance, are you all right?" Topaz asked quietly. Nancy shook her head.
"No, and I won't be, either, until this is settled." She said flatly. "You guys excuse me? I need some head-space to think this one out. Noone's ever put me in this kind of position before - I need to work out what to do."
"Sure. We're done here, obviously, so we'll go hang in the city and see you later." Sylva nodded. "And if you see Copper, talk sense into her, huh?"
"It's best if I don't see her at all for an hour or two. I mightn't be responsible for what happens if I do." Nancy said quietly. "Later, guys."
"What do you reckon is eating at her? It's a pain for all of us." Sylva asked as the three remaining Jewel's slowly headed down to the creche to collect Hollie, before heading into Los Angeles proper in search of comfort food.
"Nancy's a genius. We all know that where her music is concerned, noone of us can hope to understand." Topaz said wisely. Sadie nodded.
"If you ask me, this cuts her deep." She agreed. "It's not so much the matter of Copper not performing live, but the idea that someone could doubt her hard work as her own. She's given everything to this group, from everything that I've heard, and, well, music is her life."
"I suppose so." Sylva's pretty face became sombre. "Nancy and I don't always see eye to eye, I know that, but I never saw her quite so shaken up about a press article before. Do you think we can talk Copper around?"
"I don't know. In truth, I don't think we should try yet." Topaz responded. "Right now she'll just push us back, and if you ask me, Nancy is the only one who can make her see any sense at all."
"How so?" Sadie asked. "In the state she just left here in, I wouldn't count on anything."
"Copper's scared - she's not trying to cause Jewel trouble." Topaz replied. "I doubt she realises how deep this runs, either. Not yet, anyway - she will, when she has time to stop and think it out. And most of all she'll realise how much it hurts Nancy. Or if she doesn't, Aaron will probably make her see it. He might be dense in some ways, but he knows his sister probably better than any of us do, and Copper's bound to confide in him. Whatever else it brings, I don't think Copper has it in her to do this to Nancy and her hard work. Not when we all know that this song was meant to put behind us the last few months. Nance went through a lot then, remember. Jetta could easily have died."
"Then for now, we leave it?" Sadie looked doubtful. Topaz nodded.
"For tonight, we leave it." She agreed. "Tomorrow...well, we'll see where we are then."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   
"It's certainly a lot quieter here than it is at the studio."
Jeff glanced around the Red Rock Restaurant, a smile touching his lips. "Seems an age since I was last here. Is this how you intend to get all the secrets out of us, Zoe, by wining and dining us at a classy place like this while you ply us with questions?"
"Well, the studio are paying expenses." Zoe's green eyes sparkled with mischief. "But no. Viv and the others are setting up for filming there and she thinks it best that I run over things with people away from the studio. This seemed as good a place as any, and I thought an old haunting ground might spark some memories for you about the film."
"What exactly do you want me to tell you?"
Jeff set aside his menu, eying her keenly. "Dead of Night was one of a zillion films I worked on during the eighties. The only reason that it stood out at all in my mind is because it was also the film that my best friend, Andrew Power was killed during the making of. I don't doubt you know all about that, being Connie's daughter. She...she really seemed fond of him, you know. She was very young when it happened."
"She's told me." Zoe agreed slowly. "But not as much as you might think. She only really mentioned it recently, to be honest. I didn't know Mom was ever engaged at all till then - there's only ever been her and me growing up." She paused. "I don't want to dig out too much in the way of painful memories for you, but I do want to know about Andrew. In memory of him, if you like. From what the others on set have told me he was a favourite - Alexa says he was sweet as could be, and a big loss to the movie business."
"Yeah, he was." Jeff pursed his lips, remembering. "I knew him a long time - from high school. We'd race motorcycles and stuff - we were a pair of young dare devils, to be honest. Both of us had the same ambition - to make it into showbusiness in some way, and in the end we got lucky. Andrew's father was a journalist, and he knew some people who got us screened. The rest was almost history - we worked together on three films before Dead of Night, but that was undoubtedly the biggest film we'd done to date. He was excited about it - we both were. John Garram is a big name in the business. Even back then he was something."
"This is exactly the kind of thing I need you to talk about on tape." Zoe nodded. "If you don't mind doing it, I mean. Everyone knows that he died during the filming, but to a lot of people he is just a name. I want to make sure he's a part of this as much as anyone else who was involved in production. Vivien asked me to make sure of it, in fact, and since you're the only stuntman we have from the film..." She paused, then, "What made you leave California?"
"Work." Jeff said briefly. "I was called to shoot something in Canada, and I've always been restless. My sister can tell you that. I guess I never really had roots in California, since my family took off to Texas when I left home. My Dad re-married a Houston girl and that was that for the West Coast as far as the Wright family were concerned. After Andrew died, I didn't really want to stick around. Too much to think of."
"You never thought of giving it up, though?" Zoe asked. "I mean, weren't you scared something like that would happen to you?"
"It's not something you think about." Jeff responded. "Oh, you know the risks, but it's part of the job to minimise them as much as possible. It's much safer than it appears - Andy's fall was a freak accident, that's all. Besides, I had to keep going for him." He paused, then, "The killer factor in his death was your mother, of course. It made me determined never to have a family to cry over me the way she did him. I won't pretend - your Mom and I weren't always friends. Actually, we hated each other for quite some time. But she didn't deserve that. Neither of them did."
"Mom said he was one of the nicest men she ever knew." Zoe said quietly. "I think it's sad they never got a chance to be married. I know Mom was wild and stupid when she was younger - she and Viv have both told me enough about that - but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have had her turn at being happy."
"Lord knows that's true." Jeff's eyes clouded, and he shrugged. "Life can kick you in the teeth when it wants to, that's for sure."
"So what are your plans now? Are you going to carry on doing films here in Cali?" Zoe asked. Jeff shook his head.
"I'm considering retirement." He admitted. "Though how I'll keep myself busy is beyond me. My sister thinks I'm talking crazy and I'll never manage it, but I know that it's dangerous to go beyond what you know you can do. I am getting older, even though I'm in pretty good shape, and it'd be suicide to carry on now. I'm looking for something more stable, though I dare say I'll still be off to the mountains to ski, or climb, or abseil when I can do it."
"That's a quiet life, huh?" Zoe looked amused. Jeff shrugged.
"Well, I've nothing to tie me down. No wife, no kids, nothing like that." He said matter-of-factly. "So there's nothing to stop me."
"Don't you regret that?"
"Not really. I mean, it's a stuntman's choice." Jeff said simply. "And after what happened to Andy, there was nothing else I could do. I had to keep this going for the both of us, and so that was that."
"How much of what you're telling me now is for the documentary?" Zoe asked softly. "It's great information, Jeff, but I don't want to include anything that's, well, too personal."
"Trust me, Zoe, I've done interviews before." Jeff grinned. "When the cameras are ready I'll give you only what I want the world to know.You're easy to talk to, though, I'll give you that." He laughed. "You know, when I first saw you, I thought you were Vivien's daughter. You look a lot like her."
"People often think that, particularly because we're in the same line of work." Zoe dimpled, touching her fair hair absently. "I produce music videos for some of the local bands, like she did for the Holograms. Jewel are my biggest clients - and some of my dearest friends. Are you familiar with them?"
"Vaguely. These things come and go and pass me by, but I think I've heard the name." Jeff nodded. "The Holograms, of course, I knew very well." A rueful smile touched his face. "Kimber Benton was as close as I ever came to exchanging vows at the altar."
"I heard about that." Zoe admitted. "Why the change of heart?"
"It wasn't right for either of us. We were both too young." Jeff shrugged. "There were no hard feelings, though. In fact, since I'm in Cali, I should look her up and say hi. I know she and that Harrison guy are happily married these days, but there's nothing says I can't call on an old friend."
"Nope." Zoe paused, then, "Are you going to look up Mom?"
"Connie?" Jeff looked startled, then he shrugged.
"I don't think she'd want to see me. We didn't part in the best way." He said at length. "We were friends, was largely Andy's death that made us that way. It...well, it's been a long time."
"I see." Zoe looked thoughtful, then, "We should order, else we'll be here all day."
"Good idea." Jeff nodded, relief in his eyes at this change of subject. "If the studios are paying, we should definitely take advantage of their generosity."
"That's my idea, too." Zoe grinned impishly. "Might as well make the most of 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!