Just A Dream...

Chapter Seven: Topaz

"She's what?"
Phyllis pounded her fist down on the table, her expression one of pure fury. "What does the kid think she's playing at, running out on Jewel like this! Hell, on her own mother! What the hell is she doing?"
"She thinks she's in love." Sylva said slowly. "With Blade."
"Blade?" Phyllis' eyes narrowed. "Ain't he the creep Rory Llewelyn just signed to his label?"
"That's him." Copper looked troubled.
Phyllis scooped up the nearest object - a book - tossing it across the room, where it hit the door with a thud and fell to the floor.
"I don't believe it!" She raged. "Nancy, of all people! What the hell has he done to her, removed all of her free will? And you! Why didn't you stop this!"
"What could we do?" Sylva demanded. "It's not a crime to flirt."
"Your loyalties are to the band and the music company, and the three of you are under contract." There was a dangerous note to Phyllis' tone and despite herself even Sylva was cowed by it. "What do you mean, what could you do? I thought we drummed it well into you that you are a team! Now what am I supposed to tell Jetta? That her daughter is running riot somewhere round Toronto, fancying herself to have quit her contract?"
"What will you do?" Copper ventured.
"I'm going to call and cancel this morning's interview, then I'm going to call Jetta." Phyllis responded darkly. "You two are going to find a solution to the problem. Whatever that solution may be."
"You mean talk Nancy round?"
"Hang Nancy." For once Phyllis' usual fondness for the youngest member of the Pelligrini family were nowhere in evidence. "We'll deal with Nancy. But you got a tour to finish - shows to do. It's the end of Jewel if you don't find some way of getting around things...you understand me? If Jewel don't complete this tour, then there is no Jewel."
"We understand." Copper murmured. She sighed. "I'm worried about her. She can't see that Blade's going to hurt her."
"Men do." Phyllis said shortly. "They turn your head and make idiots out of you, that's why in this business you don't get involved with them in any kind of emotional sense. You got it? And especially not with other celebrities!" She frowned. "Now get out. I have enough to worry about thanks to this morning's events without you two bothering me."
Not wanting to provoke Phyllis' temper any more, the girls did as they were bidden, heading to Copper's room and sitting down on the bed to discuss the situation.
"What does she mean, we have to find a solution?" Sylva demanded.
"I guess she means a replacement." Copper glanced at her hands. "I don't want to replace Nancy, Syl. It's not the same...we're Jewel and we can't be Jewel without her."
"Well, I'm not giving up my contract that easy." Sylva folded her arms. "I'm mad as hell at Nancy for this, Copper, and if it screws up our careers I'll never forgive her for it, either. She's such a brat! I told you she was."
"You're not helping." Copper looked troubled. "Nancy's just not used to men and she's misread Blade. That's all."
"That's all? If it ends Jewel..." Sylva trailed off, her expression angry. "You know, I bet that was the idea! Screw us over and get Nancy away so he could use her writing ability to his own ends!"
"I reckon you hit the nail on the head." Copper agreed. "But it doesn't help either her or us to dwell on it now."
"I guess not." Sylva sighed, falling silent. Then she snapped her fingers.
"Wait a minute!"
"What?" Copper looked expectant.
"Phyllis wants us to find a new member, does she?"
"What you got in mind?" Copper looked curious.
"Man, you're as dense as Nancy sometimes." Sylva rolled her eyes. "Aurora, of course! What else!"
"Aurora!" Copper's face cleared. "Well, she sure sings well enough...think she'd want to join us?"
"Why wouldn't she? It's a guaranteed spotlight." Sylva replied.
"Do you suppose she plays any instrument?"
"Dunno, but her voice is good enough for us to improvise a while." Sylva replied. "And she doesn't have Nancy's attitude. I vote we go to the diner tonight and speak to her...see what we can arrange."
"Okay, I'll go with that." Copper nodded. "But let's run it by Phyllis first - otherwise she might be doubly mad at us."
It took much of the morning for the two girls to muster up their courage to face their manager again. There had been no sign of Nancy during that time, and Copper almost dreaded hearing worse news from Phyllis, but, upon hearing their tentative suggestion, she seemed to relax somewhat.
"This girl is good?" She asked.
"Very." Sylva nodded. "She's the best singer I ever met and she's dying to get into the music industry. I'd say she'd be glad of the money, too...she's working in the biggest flea pit in Canada, if you ask me."
"What do you know about her?"
"Her name and that's pretty much it." Copper admitted. "But she seems nice enough, Phyllis...she was friendly as could be to us."
Phyllis looked thoughtful.
"I'll come with you tonight." she said thoughtfully. "Judge the kid for myself, okay?" She frowned. "Last thing I want to do is take any phone calls from either the press or Jetta this evening. She's furious...more furious than I ever heard her be before. Nancy is going to regret this, mark my words!"
True to her word, Phyllis did indeed accompany her two remaining stars to the diner that evening. In truth she was somewhat curious to know what this mysterious singer was really like. Always on the lookout for new talent for her company, she had secretly resolved that, if the girl really was any good, she would offer her a contract anyway, whether she wound up becoming part of Jewel or not. And, as she viewed the front of the diner, she realised that Sylva's remark about money had been true enough.
"This place is a dump." She observed. "C'mon, Sylva. Quit lagging. We got business to take care of."
She ushered the two girls in. "Man, what a place!"
"Hey, Rora, friends of yours!" Shelley nudged her companion, indicating across the diner, where the trio had just entered. Aurora grinned at the sight of them.
"Maybe they like diner food." She suggested. "I'll go see what their order is tonight." She frowned. "Who's that with them? I'm sure I know her face, but I can't think..."
"I might be wrong, but she looks like the girl who used to sing lead for the Misfits in the eighties." Shelley observed. "My brother has all their records and he had a major crush on her, so I couldn't help but recognise her. Pizzazz, that's what she styled herself. God knows what she's doing now, mind you."
"Guess I'll go nosey a bit then." Aurora dimpled. "See you in a few, Shel."
She scooped up her notepad from the unit, heading across the diner complex with a smile.
"Hi there." She said warmly. "Back again? You must really love diner food!"
"Well, not really." Sylva told her. "We're here for another reason."
"Oh?" Aurora paused, looking confused.
Sylva indicated the executive.
"Aurora, this is Phyllis Gabor, chief executive and owner of Misfit Music, our music label." She explained. "We told her about your singing and she wanted to hear you for herself."
Aurora looked startled. Then she blushed slightly.
"You came here just to see li'l old me?" she asked.
Phyllis nodded her head.
"I wanna hear what you can do." She said quietly. "I don't mess around in this business, Aurora, especially if there's talent to be signed. I wanna hear you sing."
"I'm due to do that in a short while." Aurora recovered herself, dimpling. "I'm honoured that you came to see me! I can honestly say it's the first time I've ever met a real music executive face to face."
Phyllis' expression became approving.
"You're doing okay so far, kid." She told her. "Let's just see what you're like musically."
For Aurora, the night's performance could not come quickly enough. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she took the microphone, waiting for the band to begin the music for the first of the night's song. It was a slow tune, in English and requiring a good deal of both power and depth of voice, but, as Phyllis soon realised, Aurora was equal to the challenge. As her performance came to an end, the executive got to her feet, walking across to the stage.
"You're damn good." She observed. "What in hell are you doing in a dump like this one?"
"Earning a living." Aurora replied, her cheeks flushed with pleasure at the praise. "I don't have much choice...accomodation rent and food in Toronto is expensive enough as it is."
"Tell me, what kinda contract do you have here?"
"Contract?" Aurora looked startled. "Gee, I dunno if you'd even call it that. Our boss prefers to keep us on a week to week arrangement, and he tends to pay us cash, presumably so he can avoid respecting the minimum wage or get away with docking us on occasion."
"You haven't any written documentation of employment?"
"Well, I kinda do." Aurora frowned. "My accomodation and everything are tied into my working here and I signed a piece of paper to that effect. Otherwise I can't think of anything else."
"Give me the name of your employer. I'll deal with him." Phyllis told her. "Far as I'm concerned, I want you signed to Misfit Music as soon as is conceivable possible."
"Really?" Aurora looked surprised and delighted. "Oh!"
"Yeah, really." Phyllis nodded. "Gimme your address and your phone contact details and I'll be in touch as soon as I've been to see your employer...his name?"
"Oh...he's called Eric. Eric Raymond." Aurora replied, grabbing her notepad from where she had discarded it and scribbling down her details as she had been instructed. "This is his contact number - he's usually at his office during the day."
Phyllis stared at her.
"Eric Raymond?" She demanded. Aurora nodded.
"Yeah." She agreed.
"He an American? Dark hair, kinda wavy?"
"Yeah, that's the guy." Aurora agreed. "Only I swear he dyes it these days. He's bad news."
"You don't need to tell me." Phyllis' expression darkened. "Don't worry, Aurora. I have a score to settle with Mr Raymond as it is. I'll deal with him. You just wait for a call from me...you got it?"
"Sure thing." Her eyes bright with curiosity, Aurora nodded her head. "Thanks."
Phyllis eyed her thoughtfully.
"You're too good a performer to be in his grasp." She remarked. "With the right backing you could be as big a star as anyone, you know." She gestured across the diner to where Sylva and Copper were waiting. "You might as well get acquainted with those two. You're gonna be seeing a lot of them from now on."
"I am?" Aurora looked nonplussed.
Phyllis nodded.
"Yep." She agreed. "How'd you like to be the newest member of Jewel?"
"Are you serious?" Aurora exclaimed.
"Of course." Phyllis agreed. "I don't mess about. Say, how old are you?"
"Nineteen. Twenty in November."
"Good." Phyllis smiled slightly. "Of course, you'll need a stage name. With the colour of your hair and your birthmonth, Topaz springs to mind."
"Topaz?" Aurora looked startled. "Well, if you think so..."
"I do." Phyllis nodded. "Topaz it is."

Prologue: The Reason For It
Chapter One: Jewel On Tour
Chapter Two: Trapped in Toronto
Chapter Three: Nancy...and Blade
Chapter Four: The Singer
Chapter Five: Rows
Chapter Six: Defection
Chapter Seven: Topaz
Chapter Eight: Sirena Reveals
Chapter Nine: Confrontations
Chapter Ten: A Broken Heart
Chapter Eleven: Jewel Forever

Copper, Nancy, Sylvie, Anna, Blade, 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.