Just A Dream...
Chapter Six: Sirena's Scandal
"So, how was your hot date, Blade?"
Sirena cast the r&b musician a coy look from across the studio, a light of unmistakeable pleasure in her green eyes. Blade, as she'd known he would growled, tossing his jacket in her direction and dripping down into a chair. True to her word, Cynthia had tipped off the press, and had stood him up, causing him a fair amount of public discomfort in the process. Sirena, for her part had gotten great amusement out of Blade's humiliation, for, though they were signed to the same label and effectively on the same side of the great music battle, the singer rather resented anyone laying any claim to any of her established glory as Rebel Records' current hottest seller.
"It's none of your business." He muttered now. Sirena shrugged.
"Fair enough. I can read about it in the tabloids." she said sweetly. "And whilst you've been playing mind games and losing, I've been busy with some proper messing about. I've found out some information about Topaz."
"Do I look like I care?" Blade demanded moodily. "If you were a better performer you wouldn't care about Jewel anyway."
"If you were a better date you wouldn't have been stood up." Sirena retorted neatly.
"Well, do you want to hear or not?"
"Oh, go on. Excite me." Blade frowned. Sirena looked smug.
"See, I knew you were interested." she observed lightly. "Anyway...I had an email from James. You remember, my loser admirer in Toronto? Topaz's family are from a small town one hour or so from the Toronto suburbs...a sleepy place where not much happens. Her mother is loaded...so why did she wind up working for my father in a cheap and nasty diner?"
She paused expectantly.
"Oh, get on with it." Blade snapped.
"No wonder you can't get a date, if your manners are like that. You probably scared her off." Sirena rolled her eyes. "Anyway...according to my source...Topaz had some big falling out with her mother. Even more interesting is the fact that her last boyfriend is in jail, serving a sentence for dealing drugs - cocaine, no less."
"Drugs, huh?" Now Blade looked vaguely interested. "Hey, do you think this Topaz chick is into them too?" He pulled a cigarette from his pocket, lighting it up.
"Well, who cares if she is or she isn't." Sirena was dismissive. "The truth isn't important. What matters is making the press believe that she does. I can imagine the scandal now! Squeaky clean Jewel's new singer a junkie. It's too perfect for words!"
"Yeah, if you can convince the reporters that there's something in the story." Blade exhaled a cloud of smoke. "Remember, Jewel got big bucks behind them, and no paper's gonna want to risk a law suit."
"I'm one step ahead of you, as usual." Sirena replied smoothly. "James sent me a copy of this guy's charge sheet...Cliff Bailey, he's called. According to him, Topaz was held overnight in a cell pending interrogation, but they couldn't pin anything on her for lack of evidence. But...just because they can't prove it doesn't mean it isn't true. There's no smoke without fire, after all."
"Rory's right. You are conniving." Blade looked grudgingly impressed. "When are you gonna launch this little scandal of yours?"
"As we speak." Sirena dimpled. "I sent anonymous copies of the file to four different tabloids and to Cool Trash too, for good measure. Now...we just sit back and wait for the storm to hit."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"You look thoughtful."
Nancy glanced up from her manuscript book, casting Cynthia a curious look. The two girls were alone, for Sylva and Topaz were taking advantage of the break by enjoying the mansion's big pool, and Copper was upstairs, chatting online with her sister in Detroit. "What's up, Cynthia? What you thinking? Please tell me you don't feel bad about standing Blade up!"
"Of course not." Cynthia dimpled. "I enjoyed the idea of playing him at his own game very much. No, I'm thinking about Aaron and Copper. There must be some way of getting them together."
"They're both so dense, it's driving me mad, too." Nancy agreed, rolling her eyes. "And with both of them making us promise not to tell the other...what can we do?"
"This is the problem. I must not break a promise." Cynthia sighed. "But then, I have also made a promise to myself to bring the together...I just cannot see how to do it. I am afraid my knowledge of love and romance is too limited."
"Well, Syl said something last night that might work, if we could find some way of doing it." Nancy set down her pen, resting her chin in her hands. "Aaron's my brother and Copper's my best friend...so I'm dying for them to get together. Guess I must be desperate, if I'm taking note of something Syl said, but there you go."
"Sylva knows a good deal about men." Cynthia looked thoughtful. "More than I. I shall be glad to hear what it was, Nancy. What does she think?"
"Well, she reckons Aaron needs something to jolt him into action. She said it was a pity Copper doesn't have another guy around to make him jealous."
"Jealous..." Cynthia's violet eyes lit up. "Ah, yes! That is a good idea, and I think it might just work..."
"Sure, but Copper doesn't have any other guys trailing her, though why not is a mystery to me." Nancy replied. "You can't just conjure up an admirer out of thin air."
"Perhaps not..." Cynthia looked thoughtful. "But I think I might know a way to rectify that. Thank you, Nancy. You have given me the start of a plan."
With that she got to her feet, heading slowly out of the room and leaving her companion staring after her.
Once alone, Cynthia paused, adjusting herself to normal projection and flipping through her intensive database of human faces, finally picking one which was to her satisfaction.
With a chuckle, she flicked the hologram off, storing it for future reference.
"How convenient that I can make an admirer come from thin air!" she said to herself, amused. "And maybe this is what Aaron and Copper need...the extra push in the right direction!"
A sudden commotion from the living room attracted her attention and she turned, heading back along the corridor to discover the reason for the noise. Copper was in the doorway, a worried look on her face.
"Cynnie!" She exclaimed. "Have you heard anything about a news story?"
"News story?" Cynthia looked taken aback. "No...I have not. What kind of news story?"
"Someone's trying to but the smear on Jewel again." Nancy said darkly. "This time by attacking Topaz. I bet I know who started this. That witch Sirena."
"Does Topaz know yet?" Cynthia looked concerned.
"No." Copper shook her head. "I'm not sure I wanna be the one to break it to her, but according to Ros it's all over the tabloid press. Luis had a paper this morning and she was flicking through it."
"Luis? Ros?" Cynthia looked blank.
"My brother and sister." Copper explained. "Back in Detroit."
"Oh, I see." Cynthia smiled. "I did not realise Raya had other children."
Nancy shot Cynthia an odd look, but made no comment, for, at that moment Sylva emerged from the back, Topaz in tow. She paused, eying the troubled expressions.
"Whose canary died?" She demanded.
"Worse." Copper dropped into a chair. "We're splashed all over the tabloid press."
"So? It'll sell our album." Sylva shrugged. "What's the stress?"
"It's not a nice story." Copper frowned, shooting Topaz a worried look. "Topaz...it's about you."
"Me?" Topaz looked startled, and a note of apprehension crept into her tone. "What about me?"
"Apparently the press have some idea that you're involved with drugs somehow." Copper said slowly. "I don't know where the story came from, but according to my sister, it's all over the press. Did noone think to get a paper this morning?"
"We've none of us been out." Nancy replied. "We've been so busy that we've just been chilling out here."
"Drugs?" Sylva exclaimed. "That's crazy! Topaz doesn't do drugs any more than I do!"
"No, I don't." Topaz agreed darkly. "And I never have. Damn them...I bet they got the idea of it from my relationship with that jerk Cliff Bailey and a few of my other less delightful associates back in Toronto."
"Well, the tabloids are idiots, and we know it isn't true." Sylva said. "Stupid idiots!"
"There's the door." Nancy got to her feet. "I'll get it."
Topaz sat down on the carpet, wrapping her towel around her shoulders.
"I never imagined this would happen." She said quietly. "I mean, I know I've not always been an angel, but I've never broken any law that I know of, and I had no idea being in the public eye could spark such poisonous reports...especially not so soon!"
"We haven't seen the story yet." Cynthia said reassuringly. "Perhaps it isn't so bad."
Nancy re-entered at that moment, her expression dark and her mother in tow, an identical look of displeasure on the executive's face.
"Do any of you know anythin' about this?" Jetta asked quietly, dropping a copy of one of the offending papers onto the floor. Topaz picked it up gingerly, glancing over it and frowning.
"Only that it's not true." Sylva said firmly. "Topaz wouldn't use drugs!"
"I swear." Topaz said solemnly, the light gone from her pale blue eyes. "I never have...hell, I don't even smoke! Sure, I drink from time to time, but hardly enough to constitute a habit, and I don't think one experimental cigarette aged seventeen is anything to warrant a press scandal!"
Her voice shook slightly, and Sylva crouched down beside her, putting her arm around the older girl's shoulders to comfort her.
"That witch Sirena is behind this, and I'll rearrange her face for her when I see her." she said angrily.
"Who is behind it is not the problem." Jetta said gravely, sitting down. "Pizzazz an' I 'ave discussed it an' we both agree that some kind of rebuttal...soon and firm...is needed. Some kind of 'ard evidence that the press are on the wrong end of the stick."
"What do you want me to do?" Topaz glanced up.
"Well, first off, we both know you're one 'ell of a singer, but neither Pizzazz nor I know much about you before you met with these girls." Jetta replied. "Maybe it'd 'elp if we knew a bit more."
"I have no criminal record, Jetta." Topaz spoke quietly. "I left home at eighteen, moved to Toronto, got the job in the diner because I was desperate and could sing...that's basically all there is. Okay, some of my boyfriends have been a bit dodgy...but I'm sure I'm not the first girl to have bad taste in men."
"That's a relief to me at least." Jetta sighed. "Pizzazz 'as been phonin' some of 'er people, tryin' to get the deal on this Cliff Bailey bloke. You do know 'im?"
"Yes...I dated him for three months."
"Did you know 'e was dealing coke?"
"No." Topaz shook her head. "Not till he was busted. I...knew he used it, though." She spread her hands. "It didn't come into our relationship much, to be honest. I wasn't die hard in love with him...it was something to do for us both. It only got sticky when he was arrested...I was at his apartment at the time and I got taken in too. They asked me a few things, decided I was innocent and let me go. End of story."
"Okay." Jetta frowned. "Looks like we're gonna be callin' a press conference...an' there are gonna be some sticky questions, too. You reckon you can 'andle that? Last thing we need is you breakin' down in front of the press an' givin' them the wrong impression. This ain't a matter of truth, it's a matter of image an' that's twice as 'ard to repair in this business."
"I can handle it." Topaz said softly. "I want to clear my name."
"Good." Jetta nodded. "Then I'll go tell Pizzazz what you told me. With any luck we can nip this in the bud."
Once she was gone, Sylva shot the singer an enquiring look.
"You really okay?" She asked.
"Oh, quit fussing...leave me alone." Topaz snapped, getting to her feet and pushing the younger girl away. "So much for being a star!"
With that she left the room, banging the door behind her and heading up the stairs to her room, leaving her companions to exchange looks.
"What was that for? What did I do?" Sylva looked bewildered.
"For once, you didn't." Nancy frowned.
"No...Topaz is just shook up." Copper agreed. "Maybe we need to give her some space."
"Forget that. I'm not letting her walk out and shut herself away." Sylva shook her head stubbornly. "I'm going to talk to her."
For Sylva, to think was to act and she was gone before anyone could stop her, hurrying up the stairs with her long curls flying every which way. She knocked on Topaz's door and, upon getting no answer swung it open.
"What?" Topaz asked wearily. "Syl..."
"You shouldn't have run off." Sylva said reproachfully. "Jewel are a team...we face things together, okay? We're all on your side, anyway."
This was too much for Topaz's shaken emotions, and tears filled her eyes.
"Oh, Syl...it was all going so perfectly." She whispered, and, generous hearted as she was tactless and brash, Sylva came to hug her friend. Topaz buried her head in her companion's shoulder, unable to keep from crying now. It was the first lapse in her cool, laid back nature that any of the girls had seen since she'd joined the group, and Sylva knew the older girl was hurting.
"Things happen in show business." She said at length. "You just don't gotta let them get to you."
"But this ruins everything!" Topaz raised a teary gaze to the synth player. "Joining Jewel was a dream come true for me...but now everyone is going to wonder about me...I can't deal with that coming up all the time...the does she, doesn't she use drugs question! And it's gonna affect you guys too!"
"So prove you don't." Sylva shrugged.
"I dunno. Take a blood test or something." Sylva replied. "Surely that'd knock the dumb story on the head?"
"A blood test?" A faint look of hope entered Topaz's eyes.
"Well, sure. I mean, you don't have anything to hide, right?"
"Nope." Topaz agreed. "The only thing they'll pick up in my blood is excess of coffee. Drugs never appealed to me and I loathed the idea of smoking, and what it'd do to my voice."
"So I'll do it!" Determination replaced despair in the blue eyes. "Thank you, Syl...I guess I shouldn't have pushed you away. You girls...well, you're better friends than I've had in a while."
"We're like a family these days, living together and all of us being so young, really." Sylva responded with a grin. "So we've gotten like sisters. Even me and Nancy - we're the sisters who always bicker and never get along."
"I had noticed." Some of Topaz's usual dry irony had returned to the singer's tone and she managed a smile of her own. "I'm sorry I snapped downstairs...I never imagined anything like this would happen. Worse, I don't want my mother to see it and think I've turned into some hopeless junkie case."
"What is the deal with you and your Mom?" Sylva, never famed for her tact asked.
"She re-married, we don't speak." Topaz said simply. "But I'm not having my dumb stepfather and his stupid kids smirking over my evil tendencies. Why do people print things like this?"
"To sell a paper or two." Sylva said with a shrug. "Look, forget it, it's not even important. Jetta's hung up on image because it's her business to be, but in the real world they'll find another scandal tomorrow. They always do."
"Guess so." Topaz acknowledged, comforted. "Okay. I guess it's about time I worked out how to fight back, huh? I'm not going to let those press sleazes ruin my dream career!"
PART FOUR: HARDLIGHT
Chapter One: Aaron's Experiment
Chapter Two: Cynthia
Chapter Three: Back To Work
Chapter Four: On Set
Chapter Five: Mind Games
Chapter Six: Sirena's Scandal
Chapter Seven: Zach
Chapter Eight: A Happy Ending
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.