Another busy day.
Constance Montgomery pushed her pen absently between her hands, a preoccupied
look on her face as she considered the events of the past few days.
"I know he was involved." She murmured, a troubled look in her blue eyes.
"But how on earth can I raise the alarm, knowing that he could ruin me in
an instant, with just one or two words!"
She got to her feet, moving to the dressing room mirror, and glancing
at her reflection. Shadowy, tired eyes stared back at her from her sleepless
night, and a frown played around the corners of her mouth, making her look
older than she really was. She sighed. This was hopeless!
"How can I work in these conditions?" She demanded, as if expecting her
reflection to answer her. "And what can I do? Jetta could die...and it can't
be a coincidence that it happens within only a couple of days of him showing
his face again. But what if he did as he threatened to do, and exposed what
happened between us all those years ago to the press? I couldn't bear it...and
Zoe would never have faith in me again."
She bit her lip, remembering the last time they had met.
"It's so eerie, like deja vu." She murmured. "I thought he was dead, he
vanished so quickly. And then I put him out of my mind, got on with life,
with raising Zoe and giving her everything I knew how to give her...Vivien
and LinZ helped, too...I didn't need to go back to that time. I thought
it was behind me. And now...now I don't know what to do. I...hell, I'm scared
of him, and I hate it!"
She tossed the pen down on the unit with some force, uttering a cry of
"I wish he'd never come to Los Angeles!" She exclaimed.
"Talking about me?" A smooth voice came from the doorway, and she turned,
her eyes filling with hatred as she saw him.
"Yes, you." She snapped. "Get out of here - this is my dressing room!"
"Just because you've, uh, made it in the big time out here, don't change
what happened all those years ago, you know." His gaze did not falter, and
a sly smile played around his lips. "You best remember that. I got a memory
like an elephant, you know? I never forget." He winked at her insolently.
"Especially not where a pretty girl is concerned."
"Shut your face." Constance ordered. "You don't scare me, not for one
moment! I don't know what you want from me..."
"Nothing." He assured her smoothly. "Just your...cooperation. My business
in LA doesn't concern you - keep your trap shut and keep it that way. Kapiche?"
"What if I don't want to?" Constance's eyes narrowed. "I know full well
what your business in LA concerns! I'm not as stupid as you think I am.
I know you had something to do with that fire!"
"Maybe I did, maybe I didn't." He shrugged easily. "Either way, you better
keep your theories to yourself, Clash. We...lets say...have a mutual interest
in keeping silent." He winked at her again. "Got me?"
"Got you? I wish I'd never met you." Constance muttered. "All right, all
right. I won't say anything, so long as you keep your mouth shut too. If
Zoe were to find out the truth of what happened between us all those years
back she'd never forgive me, and I'm not having my daughter's understanding
of the world turned on it's head by the likes of you."
"Very touching." Her companion drawled. "Gee, you've sure gone soft since
I knew you."
"I've grown up." Constance's tone was cold. "I had a baby, I got a good
job, I did well for myself."
"Matter of opinion." He laughed. "Well, keep it schtum, and there'll be
no problem. I'll catch ya later."
With that he was gone, and Constance sighed, closing her eyes against
her anger and her fear. She only hoped he would keep his word.
"I can't prove my suspicions about the fire, but he can sure find all
the evidence he needs to prove the dirt he has on me." She murmured to herself.
"Dammit, I hate this!"
In the corridor, unbeknownst to either Constance or her tormentor, a lone
figure stood in silence, trembling with shock and horror from all she had
overheard. Zoe had come to the studio on the request of one of the production
team, to help them fill in for a sick member of the film crew, and she had
acquiesced, always willing to help out on her mother's show. The news at
Misfit Music had shocked and grieved her, but it had also left her at a loss
in terms of work, so she had been able to drop everything at such short notice
to come lend a hand. Her trip backstage to her mother's dressing room had
been perfectly innocent, for Constance was needed up on set and the young
film artist had volunteered to fetch her, but as she'd approached the door
she had heard raised voices and, as she had been about to knock she had heard
her own name mentioned.
What had come next had chilled her right to the bone.
"He is my father." She whispered to herself, tears touching her
blue eyes. "He must be, or why would Mom be so afraid to tell me? Oh God...no
wonder she wouldn't tell me who he was? And oh no...how can I face Nancy now,
knowing that the guy who's most likely probably my own father is the one
who made her mother so ill? What am I going to do?"
He had not seen her upon leaving the dressing room, for she had concealed
herself behind a tray of props when she had heard the door opening, and she
was now in a quandary about what to do. Part of her wanted to confront Constance
and demand the truth, another part of her was insisting that she did not
want to know how she had come about after all. Finally she turned on her
heel, making her way slowly back up on set and away from her mother's dressing
"Is Connie coming?" The production assistant asked her.
"I didn't speak to her. She...was busy." Zoe said vaguely. "I...I'm gonna
go outside for a moment, get some air...I'll be right back."
And before anyone could stop her she was gone, leaving the assistant staring
Once outside, the tears came and she secluded herself in her car as she
let them fall. Despite her mother's attempts to prevent it, she felt like
her world had already begun to come crashing down around her.
"And now I have to pretend I didn't hear...act like everything is the
same as it was first thing this morning, when I arrived." She sobbed. "But
how can I? And how could Mom have let herself be taken in by that horrible
Phyllis swung open the door of the Gabor Estate, sending her two hapless
visitors a hostile glare.
"Well? What do you want?" She demanded. "Don't you think I have enough
on my plate at the moment without people trying to sell me stuff on the step?"
"Ms Gabor, we're with the FBI." Raymond produced his badge. "I'm Agent
Nicholson, this is Agent Bray. We're investigating the fire at your music
"You are?" Phyllis raised a perfectly styled eyebrow, then, "You took
your damn time to come speak to me! What kept you?"
"We've been collating information from the crime scene, Ms Gabor." Alex
took a hand, trying to smooth over his partner's abrasive technique. "And
we realise this is a difficult time, but if you could answer a few questions
"Hey, be my guest." Phyllis pushed open the door. "I want the cretin or
cretins who did this caught and strung up for it, preferably yesterday.
Have you any idea how much time and energy and...dammit, life has
gone into building that company up to what it is today? Not to mention..."
She frowned, remembering Jetta. "Not to mention that an important member
of my staff's life is at stake. I want this cleared up, so you damn well
better be good at what you do."
Raymond seemed somewhat startled by her confrontational manner, but Alex
merely offered a smile.
"Well, we hope we can solve things as quickly as possible too." He agreed.
"It's a messy business. I hope that we will have your complete cooperation
in investigating the crime scene and the files there?"
"Do whatever you want, just find the jerk." Phyllis snapped, leading them
into the lounge, and telling the housekeeper in no uncertain terms to fetch
coffee for them. "What do you think I can tell you, huh? I wasn't in Los
Angeles when it happened...I'm not a witness." She clenched her fists. "If
I had been here, it damn well would never have happened. I would've seen to
"Ms Gabor, do you know of any reason why Misfit Music might be a target
for arson?" Raymond asked her, after setting his handheld cassette player
down on the table and recording the time and date in his rather imperious
way. Phyllis glared at him.
"I thought that was your job to find out. Not mine." She snapped. "People
get jealous when you're rich or successful - I'm both. Misfit Music is top
banana in this country's music dogfight, and some people don't like the competition
"You think one of your rivals was involved in this?"
"No reason why they shouldn't be. They're all lowlifes." Phyllis retorted.
"You said you weren't in Los Angeles when it happened - can you tell us
why?" Alex asked softly.
"I got called out to fix up some business deal." Phyllis responded. "It
had been in the pipeline for a few weeks, it's a sponsorship deal with a
company in San Francisco, promotional stuff, you know. That's all. We were
waiting on someone to sign some papers and agree our terms - they did and
I went to San Francisco to settle it all and finalise things. I wish I'd
never gone, but I'm no psychic."
"Did you tell anyone you were going?" Alex pressed, as the housekeeper
entered with coffee. He shot the woman a smile of thanks, but his attention
was fixed on the fiery woman in the armchair.
"Of course I did." Phyllis scowled. "My business partner, and those of
my employees around at the time - my secretary, couple of interns, few other
people. It was a last minute thing, though...it wasn't general knowledge."
She eyed him suspiciously. "Why do you ask?"
"Routine question, Miss." Alex told her evenly. "We want as full a picture
of what happened as possible."
"I assume that Misfit Music is heavily insured." Raymond interjected.
Phyllis wheeled on him.
"It's insured, of course it is. What do you think I am, a dumbass?" She
"What kind of sum are we talking?"
"Does it matter?" Phyllis' tone was scornful. "Look at me. My father made
billions, I don't need insurance money to pay to reinstate my music company.
I insured it because that's protocol, it's how things work. If you think
this is some kind of insurance scam, buddy, I suggest you take a look at my
damn bank statements and tell me exactly what I need with more money! That
music company was sabotaged and it wasn't by me...got it?"
"Can you think of anything that happened on the morning of the fire which
was at all strange?" Alex asked quietly, once more attempting to smooth over
his partner's style of questioning. She had made good sense, he reasoned.
It seemed unlikely that the sole heiress of Gabor Enterprises' massive savings
needed to scam on insurance money.
"There was something." Phyllis said slowly. "A letter."
"A letter?" Alex looked interested. "What type of letter?"
"My Gas bill. What kind of letter do you think I mean?" Phyllis demanded.
"A threatening note. Hate mail, I guess you'd call it."
"Have you ever had one of those before?" Raymond asked. Phyllis shrugged.
"You get them, in my line of work." She said. "I didn't take any notice
of it. Seemed no different from the others, and they all came to nothing."
"Do you still have the note?" Alex wondered. Phyllis shook her head.
"Tossed it out." She replied laconically. "Well, I didn't know, did I?"
She defended herself, as Raymond cast her a disapproving look.
"Can you tell us what it said?" Alex asked. Phyllis nodded.
"Something like, 'watch your back, it's been a long time coming but we're
gonna get you'.! She replied. "That was all."
"Los Angeles, but no return address and it was typed." Phyllis responded.
"And yes, it was real!" As Raymond raised an eyebrow. "You can ask Alan if
you don't believe me. He saw it too."
"Alan?" Alex enquired.
"Yeah. Alan Garcia. He...lives here." Phyllis responded.
"Your husband?" Raymond asked. Phyllis bristled.
"No." She snapped. "And it's none of your business what he is to me, either.
That's not part of your investigation!"
"Is there anything else you can tell us, Ms Gabor?" Alex asked. Phyllis
"What do you mean?" She demanded. "I can't remember everything I did on
"Did you speak to anyone or see anyone strange?"
"Oh!" Phyllis' green eyes lit up with remembrance. "Yes, now you mention
it. I had a silent call on my mobile. I thought it might be my business partner
- so I called the music company, but she knew nothing about it. She said
to me over that call that she'd seen someone on the premises and from the
way she said it, it was someone who didn't belong there, then the fire alarms
went off and she rang off to deal with it." She bit her lip. "That's all."
"Your business partner - Sheila Pelligrini?" Alex asked gently. Phyllis
"Can you think of any reason anyone would want to harm Ms Pelligrini?"
"Dammit, it wasn't meant for her, it was meant for me." Phyllis muttered.
"I got the note, not her. She was in my office, not hers. It was meant for
me...she shouldn't have even been involved."
She got to her feet.
"I'm done with this. You want any more from me, you better wait till I
got my lawyer around." She said decidedly. She cast Raymond a glare. "Any
more aspersions about insurance scams and you'll find a legal suit on your
door, so keep that in mind, okay, before you start with your smart alec remarks.
Misfit Music might be ruthless and direct but it's on the level, buddy,
and don't you forget it! Now get out...I've enough to do."
Wisely the two agents retreated to the safety of their car, Alex
slipping behind the wheel and starting the engine.
"Nice woman." Raymond commented. Alex grinned.
"She lives up to her reputation, I'll give her that." He admitted. "But
you know, I don't think she's that bad, not really. And she's clearly worried
about her business partner's health."
"Do you think she was telling the truth?"
"About the insurance? Yes. Remember, Gabor Enterprises has a lot of capital,
and she only lives on a small proportion of that. The family is loaded -
it wouldn't make sense to jeopardise a highly successful business venture
for more money she doesn't need."
"So we're back to finding a motive." Raymond groaned. "Great. And even
better, our most promising witness is comatose."
"Well, perhaps we ought to go back to the company files and find out who
was on site that day." Alex suggested. "Even if we can't speak to Ms Pelligrini,
maybe there's someone else who can give us a clue as to what happened there."