much for your protection!"
Robin stormed into the main office at Misfits' Music, slamming a copy
of the Tribune down on Phyllis's desk, his dark eyes sparking with
anger. "I thought that we had a deal, Phyllis Gabor? I thought that, in
return for my hard work and my music, you were going to prevent this
kind of thing? What happened, huh? Did you decide it would be more fun
to play games and drum up a little scandal on the side?"
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Phyllis dropped her phone
down into the paper tray, glaring at the intruder. "I'm busy, and
unless you'd forgotten, I'm your employer! How dare you barge into my
office and how dare you scream at me like some petulant toddler? Don't
you think I have other people to mollycoddle besides you?"
"Have you even read
"I've read it. So?" Phyllis folded her arms across her chest. "What do
you expect from me? That I can silence every single rag in the country,
just to protect one silly boy's crazy background? This is America,
Robin! Freedom of speech! I can't plug every hole in Carrowville, and I
sure as hell can't legislate for leaks. I told you I'd do what I could
and dammit, I have! McMillan's story is based on rumour and hearsay.
There's nothing of any substance in it. And no names. I thought that
was our deal. That I'd make sure your stupid girl's name didn't trot
into the presses!"
"Leave her out of it." Robin snarled, brushing his hand across the desk
and knocking the paper tray to the floor, phone and all. "Believe you
me, if Sian's name had been in that article..."
"You'd have what?" Phyllis cut across him. "Thrown a temper tantrum?
Stamped your feet? Walked out on your contract? I have you, pen to
paper. I will
sue you if you
walk from this office and think you don't have to come back. Whether
you like it or not, Robin, I own your music now. Anything you write is
tied to me and to my company for the next four years. I know what I'm
doing when I pen a contract. I have some of the best legal advisers in
the country at my beck and call. So if you have something to say to me,
I suggest you consider how you're going to say it. Unless, of course,
you're desperate to find yourself destitute, destroyed and back in
prison on debt charges."
"Do you have any idea how much of an evil bitch you are?" Robin
demanded. "You think everyone is afraid of you, but I'm not. I don't
care how much you threaten me. I don't care if I have nothing, or if I
wind up back in jail. None of it matters - don't you understand any of
that? I didn't come to Los Angeles to be famous or to make my fortune.
I came here because I had to get out of Carrowville. I couldn't stay
there. If you turf me out, then you do. I don't care. But I won't have
my background bartered for publicity reasons. Do you understand me? I
won't. And if you try suing me, then maybe I'll tell a few people how
close you came to blackmail the last time we met!"
Phyllis fell silent for a moment, her green eyes glittering with
"You really don't understand how Los Angeles' music scene works." She
said in low tones, though each word held a note of suppressed rage.
"You're a newcomer. You write a song. People like it. They want to know
who you are and why you're so damn good at what you do. Once you take
that step into the limelight, you're public property. The media will
take you apart, piece by piece, looking for the truth. It doesn't
matter how much you try and hide it. In the end, all your secrets will
come out. It's just how they come out, that's what we can manage. And
how quickly, too. If you didn't want people talking about your prison
record, then you shouldn't have damn well got locked up in the first
place. That's not my doing. I've kept my side of the bargain. And I
will not have a jumped up little boy from Arkansas spouting abuse at me
in my own office!"
"Where would you like me to do it, then?" Robin put his hands on his
hips. "You assured me a certain amount of protection when I signed with
Misfits Music. Are you even going to do anything about the Tribune?"
"No, I wasn't going to." Phyllis shook her head. "Why? Do you think
your charming manners are going to change my mind?"
Her tone was rich with sarcasm, and Robin's scowl deepened.
"Then how are you helping me exactly,
?" He asked. "Is this whole deal your doing? Did you sell
me out to this stupid tabloid after all?"
"If I'd wanted to do that," Phyllis said slowly, "I would have given
them the whole scoop, and boy you'd know about it! This is nothing to
do with me. So some information leaked out. It happens. Carrowville is
a long way from Los Angeles and not everyone can be bought off. Be glad
it wasn't a whole lot worse. All you have to do is go out there and
tell them it ain't true. It's not my job to do it for you. You messed
up your life, I don't have to patch it back together for you. They've
no evidence to really say whether you did or you didn't do the things
they're accusing you of doing. Why throw a fit about it? It's not worth
your time or your energy."
Robin stood silent for a moment, digesting this. Then he shook his head.
"I'm not so stupid as to think that, if I told them it was a lie,
they'd stop trying to find the truth." He responded flatly. "Sian is
still dead, Phyllis. What do you want me to say about that, huh? She's
still a ghost and she still haunts every damn thing I do. Do you think
I want to live in another city where everyone who walks past you knows
that? I thought you'd at least spare me those things. I guess you're
not as powerful as you think you are."
"I wasn't the one who thought that I could block all comers." Phyllis
said acidly. "Listen to me. I don't care much about your sob-story
background or the fact you did time back in Arkansas. What I care about
is the song you played on Connie's show the other night. They loved it.
America will love it. It will be a hit - regardless of what a sappy
paper like the Tribune writes. It's not bad publicity if it makes
people talk about you. Get that into your head."
"I don't like playing that kind of publicity game." Robin said coldly.
"I won't have those things used as some kind of spin."
"Well, too late for that." Phyllis shrugged her shoulders. "Someone's
beaten you to the punch, so you'll just have to ride with it and hope
it dies down by itself. I won't be doing anything about it. In my
experience, the more I meddle in it publically, the more gets printed
privately. I'm not stirring your fire. It's up to you
how you handle it."
She paused, rolling a pencil back and forwards beneath her fingers
"And you know, sometimes being an evil bitch helps you to survive." She
added. "Remember that. You can't always be right, Robin. You can't
always expect everyone to follow the moral high ground or to even
believe that that's where you are. I know different. I've seen your
charge sheet. I know your background and I still signed you to my
books. People don't care about good and bad when there's music to be
sold and money to be made. You won't survive in Los Angeles until you
master that concept."
"This world sucks, then."
"Yes, it does." Phyllis nodded. "But only if you let it walk all over
"I should have known better than to make deals with Misfits."
"Yeah, maybe you should." Phyllis acknowledged his words with a slight
tilt of her head. "You never quite know if you can trust us, or if
we'll tell you the truth - do you?"
She smiled, but it was a cold smile, and Robin had the impression once
more of the hunting cat in her eyes.
"This time, I'm gonna let this little outburst go." She added. "It
takes guts to come in here and tell me how you really feel. Part of me
admires that. But I won't take it from you again, so remember it. My
resources have maxed out on you and on your secrets already over the
past few months. You rely on me too much. On Connie's show you were
tense and on edge - any pro could see you were hiding something in your
answers. I'll do my bit, but I can't squash it all. To me, it doesn't
matter much what's in the press so long as you perform good music.
That's the only reason I agreed to this little proviso - I know you
have the ability to go far and I want that ability signed to this
label. You want to keep a secret? Learn how to lie."
She gestured towards the mess on the floor.
"Are you going to pick that up?"
"No." Robin shook his head. "I'm sure you know where to find it on your
He cast her an equally cool smile.
"I'll remember everything you said." He added. "Every single last word
of it. But I'm telling you, if Sian's name starts hitting the
headlines...it won't just be me who'll be unhappy. There are folks back
in Carrowville who don't want to see that name slurred through every
tabloid in America. If you have any respect at all for the dead, you'll
do what you can to keep her out of it."
"And I'll tell you again, I've done my best so far to ensure that."
Phyllis responded quietly. "I can't buy off everyone. But you can rest
assured, Robin Sheppard...the name won't get to the media from this
source. I'm not interested."
"See that it stays that way." Robin retorted. He turned on his heel,
walking out of the office and banging the door behind him. In his hurry
and his temper, he did not see Nancy standing at the end of the
corridor, her eyes big with shock and her expression one of disbelief.
Making his way to the lift shaft, he banged the button for the ground
floor, stepping into the car and leaning up against the panelling as
the doors closed behind him.
Once alone, he sighed, closing his eyes.
His head ached, he mused, and he knew he'd lost his temper with a
potentially dangerous opponant.
"But whatever she says, this shouldn't have come out." He muttered.
"She may have done everything she told me, but somehow she still
failed. I can't live surrounded by the same stories and memories all
the time - I just can't. I'll go crazy. I don't want to think about
that life or that Robin Sheppard any more. I came to Los Angeles
because it wasn't Carrowville...because I didn't have to walk down
every street and not see her there. I don't want to start feeling that
way in Los Angeles too - but God, am I ever going to find anywhere that
I can escape it?"
* * * * *
Darren McMillan dropped down into an empty seat in the corner of the
deserted cafe, casting his companion a grin. "I have to say, I didn't
expect to be meeting you in such a public place, Ms Locke. I understood
that this business was...strictly behind Aja Phillips' back?"
"I'm not sure what you mean." Margot looked warily at the reporter. "I
called you here to discuss interview time and space with Daisy Buchan -
I've read your article style and I think it's about time she got some
of the action. Being as it is, you like to get to the heart of the
"Oh, I see." Darren looked thoughtful. "So the river runs that way,
huh? I thought we were going to discuss the tantalising rumour about
Robin Sheppard that's been drumming up a storm at news stands across
"I don't know anything about that." Margot snorted. "He's not part of
this company or it's interests, Mr McMillan. He chose not to sign paper
with us, and now I know why Aja turned him down. An ex-con on our
books? No thank you. It might be good enough for Misfits Music, with
that British jailbird Garnet, but it's not for us."
"Ah-hah." Darren looked amused. He glanced around him, then lowered his
"You don't need to pretend with me." He said softly. "I know where
those papers came from, I'm not stupid. I've had correspondance with
your office before...when all the investigation went into Jerrica's
death, I had one of my men in there, seeing what he could root out. One
of your printers has a very distinctive lettering style...I knew when I
got it who had sent it. Oh, it's okay," as Margot opened her mouth to
protest. "I'm not interested in that, or in blowing your cover. You've
given me a good story and I like that. I just want to know more, that's
all. I need names, dates, details...those kinds of things."
"I don't have those kinds of things." Margot told him coldly. "And I do
want to speak to you about Daisy."
"Nothing at all?" Darren pursed his lips. "You do disappoint me."
"It's not so easy as that!" Margot's eyes narrowed. "God knows I tried
every trick in the book, but most people didn't want to talk. Getting
into Carrowville is like getting into Fort Knox when you mention his
name...it's like noone wants to talk about it much."
"I only found one other thing, and I dug that up by accident." She
added. She faltered, then,
"If I give you that, will you promise not to ever reveal where it came
"I always protect my sources, Ms Locke." Darren nodded his head. "You'd
be surprised how many influential people in this city babble when the
pressure is on."
A sly smile touched his lips. "Even those near and dear to your former
boss, Ms Pacheco. Yes, you'd be damn surprised at what a reporter can
find out if he promises to withold identities."
"Well, make sure you do." Margot frowned. "And I want your assurance
that Daisy will get some coverage in your media section this week. She
has a new song and she needs the boost in publicity, whilst Misfits
Music are digging themselves out of the mud."
"If the information is worthwhile, then I'm all for it." Darren agreed
"It isn't a lot." Margot admitted. "But after my chat with the editor
of the Carrowville Echo, I did some research into their back copies.
Some of the papers were strangely not accessible...but I did find an
obituary. I guess, if it's relevant, it got missed out."
She reached into her purse, pushing it across the table.
"S.M.Sheppard. November eighth, 2012." She said softly. "Taken from us
by God and His angels too soon - aged 22. Beloved wife, sister and
"Ooh." Darren grabbed it up, skimming over it. His smile widened.
"You know, I think we might have room for Daisy in the Tribune's
society pages after all." He mused. "I dug up a marriage certificate
for our Robin and some woman called Sian Mulhavy. S M Sheppard sounds
too big a coincidence to me...I'm betting that I just nailed the little
'angel' that he did away with. The only question is, how did he do it? Are we dealing
with a domestic? The possibilities are endless...I need more leads."
"Well, you won't get them from me, because I'm all out." Margot said
bitterly. "And you better keep your word about the anonymity. My job's
important to me."
"So is mine, Ms Locke." Darren said with a wink. "If I started ratting
out sources, I'd never get another story. No, you can rest assured on
that count your secret is safe. But...Mr Sheppard's...now that's
another matter. I will find out what exactly he's keeping hidden...and
it won't be pretty by the time it hits the Los Angeles press!"
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
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
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
The copyright for the original Jem characters
featured in this and other stories by me belongs entirely to Hasbro and
their interpretations to Christy Marx and the other writers of the
Sunbow Jem series. Their future selves are based on concepts that are
entirely my own and are not to be repeated elsewhere without due
All other characters, including their
likenesses, are copyrighted to myself as webmistress of Jewel's World
from 2001 to the present day and are not to be reproduced elsewhere
The Teenangel Outsiders, Jesta, Flame, Ryan
Montgomery and the future interpretations of Aja, Danse and certain of
the other original characters are all or in part the concept of Gemma
Dawn whose teenangel outsider fiction world is twinned with Jewel's
World. You can visit her site at www.teenangeloutsiders.com!
All events in the stories on this site are
based on original ideas and are not rooted in any existing Jem fiction
nor in any real life event or person.