Chapter Five: Margot's Plan


Robin tossed his pencil down against the white polished unit in frustration, running his hands through his thick dark hair as he surveyed the first three lines of his new song. He had been holed away in the main studio at Misfits Music for the best part of two hours, and still, no matter how hard he tried, the melody would not come to him.

He pushed the papers aside, moving to the window to study the streets below. A young couple greeted one another in the doorway of a shop with an affectionate kiss and a laugh, and despite himself, he felt hollow inside.

It was, he mused, three years ago to the day. The reason for his writer's block was more than apparent...but it did not help him to conquer it.

"Oh God, are you in here again?"

Nancy's exasperated tones came from the doorway, biting through his reverie and he turned, casting her a quizzical look.

"Well, there's not a lot of point me saying I'm not, is there?" he drawled. "Since you can see me."

"Don't be a smart ass." Nancy sighed. "I was hoping the studio was empty this morning. My studio's got a power outage and I've had to call someone in to rewire...Aunt Phyl is paying the fee, but there's no way I can do anything in there while there are workmen swarming all over it. Are you gonna be here long? I have a song dancing around my brain and I really need to get it finished."

"I have three lines." Robin said flatly. "And your Phyllis told me, pretty much, that she wants to see a finished song by the time we close business today. Something about being ready to farm out the next hit when the last one fades and dies. I haven't even released the first one yet...or done the video or even met with Zoe Montgomery. But I'm learning that what Phyllis says, goes. Unfortunately she hasn't learnt that you can't write a song to order."

"Agreed on both points." Nancy acknowledged ruefully. "I just never knew anyone for spending so much time up here writing. Except, well, me, actually. I wish my studio was operational. I can see I'm not gonna get any peace to write today."

"Me either." Robin eyed her pointedly. Nancy frowned, crossing the room to the unit and glancing at the first few lines. She let out a low whistle.

"This is heavy stuff." She commented. "Complicated from the wonder you're tying yourself in knots."

"Nancy, I didn't ask you to rewrite my music for me. I'm a big boy - and I'll get it done."

"I wasn't going to." Nancy dropped the sheet of paper down onto the unit. "I've done it once...helped you tweak it, isn't that what you said on Connie's show? I'm not going to nanny you. I was just going to wish you luck. It looks like a good song...or it will be, when it's finally finished. I look forward to hearing it."

"Really?" Robin looked startled. "And hey, how do you know what I said on Connie's show?"

"I have a television. I watch." Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "There was an actor also interviewing who Syl thinks is hot, so since we had the night in, we watched."

She paused, then,

"You didn't have to credit me any, you know. You wrote the song...I didn't do anything much."

"Credit where credit is due." Robin shrugged his shoulders. "You did help me to tweak it...or at least, pick up the phrasing to make it a better melody. It wouldn't have been fair not to."

"Are you always fair?"

"No...probably not always." Robin admitted. "But where my music is concerned, I like to think so."

"Well, your song isn't going anywhere, and my song is obviously going to stay trapped in my head until I either find some space or it explodes." Nancy pulled herself up onto the windowsill. "Which will make neither one of us popular with Aunt Phyl at the end of the day. I've nowhere else to work and obviously, nor have what are we going to do about it?"

"Quite honestly, I'm beyond caring." Robin said frankly. "Today's been a bad day from the moment I woke up and I don't anticipate it getting any better before I go to bed."

"That's melodramatic." Nancy cast him a confused look. "Any particular reason why?"

"Just an anniversary." Robin dismissed it with a flick of his hand. "Of something that I'd rather not remember. It's not important. It's just been a bad day...don't you ever have those?"

"All the time." Nancy agreed. She sighed, then,

"Look. You were here first, and you obviously need more space than I do right now." She admitted. "I'm going to run upstairs and see if Mom will let me write in her office for a bit. If she has meetings, she might...and I don't need my guitar or my keys right at the moment. I know how it's phrased - I just need to get it down."

"Thank you." Relief and gratitude flickered in Robin's eyes. "I appreciate it."

"Well, just finish that song." Nancy said acidly. "And make sure it doesn't get released in the same week as mine...then we'll both be happy. All right?"

"All right." Robin nodded. "It's a deal."

"Good." Nancy offered a smile. "Then I'll leave you to it. Good luck!"

With that she was gone, the door swinging shut behind her, and Robin pursed his lips, moving slowly back to where he had been working. He picked up the top sheet, glancing again at the first few lines of his song.

Maybe Nancy was right...maybe he was on to a winner.

"But it's hard to write anything coherently when you're flitting in and out of my head." He said out loud. "I gotta get a grip, and get this done. This is my life now...this is what I chose. I have to deal with it...and...I guess...I have to forget."

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

"So, have we had any luck?"

Daisy pushed open the door of Margot's office, shutting it with a click as she came to sit down by the desk. Margot, who had been on the phone, hurriedly terminated her call, placing the receiver back in it's cradle as she eyed her cousin with a mixture of irritation and surprise.

"Don't you knock?" She asked. "I'm supposed to be working and you are meant to be in the studio, singing!"

"I'm done for the day. They broke the mixer, or something." Daisy shrugged her shoulders carelessly. "So I thought I'd come find out how we were doing on Robin Sheppard and his mysterious criminal record. Anything juicy? I love a good scandal."

"You are impossible sometimes." Margot rolled her eyes. Daisy grinned.

"I know. That's why I'm such a great celeb." She agreed. "So? What have we got?"

Margot glanced at the door, then,

"Not a whole lot." She admitted, lowering her tones. "I have made some calls this morning, in between the monthly tax review meeting and one with Aja about your publicity machine...I think you'll agree that that's more important."

"Oh, much." Daisy nodded. "So do we have anything at all?"

"A little bit." Margot pursed her lips. "A lot of the channels out of Carrowville are fairly closed, you know...I don't know what that Gabor woman has done, but not many people seem willing to speak about Robin Sheppard, or divulge any kind of information. But I did call the number on that form he filled in. I pretended to be from Misfits Music, running a background check. They got all grumpy with me, told me they'd already given that kind of information...and that if I wanted more I should go through the proper channels. I did manage to confirm that he was convicted and sentenced for something...and that it was something fairly violent, judging by the department I was speaking to. So...then I got on to the local paper in Carrowville. Talk about your penny daily...but the editor was most helpful. Told me that he didn't remember the story exactly - he was fairly new in the job - but that he was sure it had something to do with an accident..."

She paused, eying her cousin's rapt expression.

"And a death."

"A death?" Daisy's eyes opened wide. "Do you mean to say that Robin's some kind of, well, murderer?"

"I don't know, and I haven't been able to find out." Margot admitted, pursing her lips. "But I figure, half the papers in this city don't really care if it's fact or if it's fiction, so long as it sells editions. I've put together the information I had from the Carrowville Sheriff's office and the stuff the editor of their paper told me...and I mailed it out at lunchtime anonymously. I sent it to the Tribune and to Cool or both of them is bound to print it and that reporter at the Tribune has a nose for trouble like a rottweiler's for fresh meat. Just give it a day or two for them to check out the sources, and bam...we have ourselves some dirty press."

"I love this industry." Daisy said decidedly. "And I love America. Who can beat freedom of speech like that, huh? It just figures that that Gabor witch would try and bury it all. But we'll show her. Wow...Robin Sheppard a murderer. It's so juicy it has to be true!"

"So long as it creates a negative wave, I don't care if it is or if it isn't." Margot shrugged. "Mud sticks. And in this case, it's gonna do a lot of sticking at speed. This kind of a scandal will sweep across the city like wildfire. Across the country, even. And if that happens, well, who knows who might come out of the woodwork in that stupid small town, looking to make a buck or two?"

"Nancy's new friend is going down big time." Daisy spoke with satisfaction. "I don't suppose there's any way to take her down with him?"

"Doubtful, but you never know your luck." Margot said philosophically. "The papers have been big on this rumoured romance..."

"Don't make me vomit." Daisy grimaced. "He's a creep and she's a nerd. Those kinds of people shouldn't be allowed to talk, let alone make out. Could you imagine if they started making babies? Yeuch. I swear, they're the reason why kids should be screened at birth!"

"Well, there's not much more we can do to push this along, not without Aja getting suspicious." Margot said firmly. "You're not to mention anything to anyone - or say anything in the press about it unless you're asked to comment. In which case..."

"Open my eyes wide, act shocked and distressed and say how I can't believe anyone in the industry could be wrapped up in something so horrible." Daisy finished. She grinned, running her tongue over her white teeth.

"Not a problem, Margot. I can play the innocent girl real and I both know it. How else did I get away with so much crap in school?"

"Well, you're the only girl I know who skipped off gym class to do the football team's main quarterback, and didn't even get a detention out of it." Margot admitted. "Just make sure you remember that we know nothing at all about this. Starlight Music cut their losses where Robin Sheppard was concerned and that's the line we have to take. We're glad that our company isn't involved in the scandal. Who knows? It might even put Starlight Music up a few notches on that rich bitch's glamourpuss company. Maybe Aja will stop being such an anal boss, then...and lighten up a little. Trust people a bit more."

"And give you your old job back?" Daisy raised an eyebrow. "Not gonna happen while puppydog Taylor is in situe."

"Well, I've plenty of time to think about puppydog Taylor another time." Margot said thoughtfully, flexing her fingers. "For now, he's not important. Your new single, however, is...and so is promoting it. So now we've discussed our other little project, how about we look at some potential concert dates and magazine slots for your career, huh? There's gonna be a wave of bad publicity hitting Misfits Music and ol' redneck Robin in the next few days - we might as well try and match that with something strong and positive!"

"Count me in." Daisy's eyes sparkled. "I love talking publicity!"

Prologue: Flashback: Carrowville, Arkansas
Chapter One: Memory
Chapter Two: Spies and Secrets
Chapter Three: Jack
Chapter Four: Flashback: The Hartlin Bar, Carrowville
Chapter Five: Margot's Plan
Chapter Six: Confidences
Chapter Seven:Flashback: The Wedding Reception
Chapter Eight: Fallout
Chapter Nine: Advice
Chapter Ten: A Friend In Need
Chapter Eleven: Logan
Chapter Twelve: Flashback: Sian's News
Chapter Thirteen: Ambush
Chapter Fourteen: Reconciliation
Chapter Fifteen: Flashback: Farewell
Chapter Sixteen: The Curse

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