Part One: North Of The Border
Chapter Six: Eric's Gambit

"Oh, thank God that's stopped."

Sirena dropped the last of her stage clothes down onto the heap beside her, reaching up to tie a scarf into her thick wavy hair. Glancing at her reflection, she rolled her eyes, hunting in her purse for her cellphone.

"All go and still no sign of Mom." She muttered, dialling her mother's number and putting the phone to her ear. "What in hell time did she order my car for anyway? Can't anyone do anything without her yelling at...Mom? Where the hell are you?"

"Stuck in traffic, currently." Phyllis sounded annoyed. "I've been trying to call the venue but not having much luck. Their switchboard is jammed. How did it go tonight?"

"It went fine. Why weren't you here?"

"Do you need me to hold your hand for every stage show?"

"God, no. But it would be nice if sometimes you saw what I could really do when I do it well."

"Well, some bonehead called me out on a paperwork technicality and then got chicken and wouldn't own up to it when I got here." Phyllis sighed.

"I'm not surprised. Most employees cower when you storm in on them in a rage." Emily sounded amused.

"Well, they shouldn't call me out then." Phyllis retorted. "It was a waste of my evening. Paperwork is all fine for your next gig, but a headache I didn't need. And your car is on it's way, in case you're wondering. Traffic is like hell tonight."

"It's late." Emily glanced up at the clock. "I wonder where the fire is."

"Pile up or something." Phyllis responded. "Anyhow, I'll probably be there before the car, so don't go anywhere, all right? Stuart with you?"

"He's been playing the bodyguard. Mom, I don't need it. This place is hardly dangerous."

"Well, I ain't taking chances." Phyllis said flatly. "See that he stays with you. I'll see you soon."

"Yeah, yeah. I get it." Emily rolled her eyes. "I'll see you shortly. Bye, Mom."

She terminated the call, tossing the phone back into her bag and rummaging around inside for her cigarettes and her lighter. She paused, glancing at them, then sighing, dropping them back into her bag.

"So Mike's not here and it's okay for me to smoke?" She asked herself out loud, glancing up at the no smoking sign that hung over the door. "Why did I even buy them? Am I that on edge about being in Canada? I haven't smoked more than a couple here and there since Mike was born. Come on, Em. You know you can't take this up here and then go home and be fine about it. You know it doesn't work like that, and you promised yourself you'd never do that around Michael. Some Gabor you are if you can't handle stress without a kick."

At that moment there was a knock on the door, and muttering a curse under her breath, she got to her feet, stalking across the dressing room and shoving the lock back, pulling the door open.

"What the hell is your problem!" She exclaimed then, as she got a glimpse of the person on the other side, she cursed again, going to shut the door. Eric was too quick for her, however, blocking her attempt with his foot.

"Is that any way to speak to your father?" He asked softly.

"Wouldn't know. I don't have one." Emily said coldly. "Get your foot out of the way, else I'll break it for you, and something else besides. I have nothing to say to you now, or ever. Mom was right. You are a headcase."

"Your mother has interesting opinions on many subjects." Eric said thoughtfully. "Not all of which are good for you. It's a shame that you seem determined to follow her delusional attitude to life instead of harnessing the genuine abilities you have inside of you. You're my daughter. You must be capable of more rational thought than that."

"Oh, I can be very rational, Daddy." Emily retorted. "Rational enough to know I don't want you anywhere near me. You had a chance - one chance - to be a part of my life and my son's life. You decided to screw me over and use me to get money instead. Mom had to pay you off to get you to leave me alone. What makes you think I want to talk to you now?"

"Because I have a business proposal for you which can only be good for young Michael in the long run." Eric rested a casual hand on the door, pushing it back and catching her off guard. He slipped into the room, shutting the door behind him and sliding the lock across. Emily stared at him.

"Why did you do that?" She demanded. "What do you think you're going to do to me?"

"Talk to you." Eric said with a shrug. "What else would I do to you? What did your mother tell you about me?"

"That you're not to be trusted, and I believe her." Emily's brows knitted together. "Let me out. Or no, even get out. Mom will be here soon, and so will my security team. You might not be a violent person, Eric, but believe me, Mom and I both can be if you get us annoyed. You're going a good way towards that right now."

"Assault charges aren't really good publicity, so I don't think you'll do anything of the sort." Eric said calmly. "Besides, it doesn't cost you anything to hear me out, does it?"

"Only time, which I don't have where you're concerned."

"Well, the sooner you listen, the sooner I'll let you out." Eric shrugged. Emily made a lunge for her bag, but he was there before her, scooping it up and removing her cellphone, sliding it into his pocket.

"No, I don't think Mommy needs to be part of this conversation." he said lightly. "Not right now."

"Give that back!"

"I will, when I'm done talking." Eric assured her. He flicked through her purse idly, pulling out the cigarettes and eying her keenly.

"Tut tut. With a small child in the house, too." He said mockingly. "What kind of an example did your mother set you?"

"She didn't, and it's none of your business what I do." Emily snatched her bag away, dropping it down on the unit behind her. "What part of that don't you understand?"

"Oh, of course not." Eric smiled. "Your mother wasn't around when you were growing up. So it must have been...let me see...Kimber Benton that set you the bad example. Am I right?"

"Well, since you weren't there either, it's hardly important now." Emily shot back. "And you're hardly the one to be judging me on what kind of a parent I am, are you?"

"I couldn't take care of a child I knew nothing about, now could I?"

"Don't try and play that card again. You did that last time. I don't follow the same lines twice." Emily shook her head. "Just get to the point and get out."

"My impression was that you hated your little charity house upbringing quite badly." Eric pursed his lips. "Dumped like garbage on someone who really didn't want you - would that sum it up about right?"

"What part of 'none of your business' don't you understand?" Emily bristled. "My childhood was a very long time ago. Whatever issues I had then, I don't have them now."

"Really?" Eric's glance flitted to her bag, and he raised an eyebrow. "Seems otherwise to me. Seems to me you're still trying to escape it."

"Meaning what?" Emily demanded. "If you want a fist in the face, Dad, you're going the right way..."

"Threatening behaviour." Eric cut across her, counting on his fingers as he did so. "Getting pregnant to get your mother's attention. Raising a mistake from a brief fling. Smoking. Wild stories. Club nights out. You tell me. Are you really past all of those things? It's Kimber's fault, you know. She probably knew all along who you's not impossible, I can see it just by looking at you. Your mother's eyes. Your mother's spirit. She could have found you your family whenever she wanted to but she chose not to."

"And this matters to you why?"

"Because I have the perfect way to get back at her." Eric responded. "You and me both."

"What do you have against Kimber Harrison?" Emily looked startled. "What did she ever do to you?"

"Aside from steal a music company out from under my nose on several occasions?" Eric raised an eyebrow. "I could say she prevented me from bonding with my only daughter. That she kept you from me when she could have tracked me down."

"Well, considering what I know about you and your last attempt at family bonding, I think she did the right thing." Emily said bluntly. "Look, Dad, I'm running out of patience. You had your chance to involve me in your life and in your business affairs. You screwed up and you did it big time. Gabors don't forget things easily...or did you not pick that memo up when my Mom kicked you out of America? We don't forget, we don't forgive. And you said yourself I have my mother's spirit. Why would I even think about talking business with you? Now or ever? And don't pretend it will benefit Michael. You've used that line before as well, and I've no time for it. Whatever it is you want from me, I'm not interested. And you might as well not come back, because I won't change my mind. I won't be interested tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after...or ever."

She pushed past him and with one fluid movement, unlocked the door, pushing him up against the wall and extracting her phone from his pocket.

"So do me a favour and leave me alone." She muttered. "The only thing I ever want to hear from or about you again is that you're dead and you aren't going to bother me any more. Because I'm not your daughter, and you might as well get over it now. I won't ever be anything more to you than a quick means of cash, and you'll only ever be some random jerk where I'm concerned. Get out and leave me alone, before Mom gets here and rips you to shreds herself. This conversation is finished."

She released her grip, pulling open the door of the dressing room and shoving him towards it. He straightened his jacket, pausing to give her a long, hard look.

"You do have your mother's spirit more than you have my good sense." He said coolly. "But we'll see who has the last laugh in this."

With that he was gone, and Emily leant back against the wall, closing her eyes briefly as she fought to get her wild emotions under control. She clenched her fists, banging them against the wall as she struggled to control her anger.

"How dare he." She muttered. "How dare he! Who does he think I am, someone he can manipulate and drag into his games on a moment's whim? Dammit, and it means Mom was right, too. Maybe he was behind yesterday. Maybe she was right to have Stuart here. Maybe..."

"Miss Gabor?" At that moment, Stuart's voice startled her and she glanced up at him, offering a faint smile.

"I was just thinking about you and Mom's babysitting idea." She owned.

"Are you all right, Miss?" Stuart looked anxious. "The door was open and..."

"I'm fine. I just wanted some...some air." Emily forced herself to get a grip on her composure, nodding her head. "I spoke to Mom and she's on her way over here now. Looks like we're both stuck here till she gets here - traffic or something, I don't know what - so you might as well come in and take a seat. You did get rid of that fan okay?"

"Yes. She's long gone." Stuart nodded. "I cut her loose at the venue perimeter. She said she was going to be sick,but she seemed to improve with fresh air. She looked a bit ashamed of herself. I think maybe she had a touch to drink or something. She totally lost her head."

"Well, at least you were here to deal with it." Emily said levelly. She slipped her cellphone into her bag, pulling out the cigarettes and setting them down on the unit as she looked for her lighter.

"I know it's no smoking in here, but I'm beat and I need something." She said. "You want to join me in breaking the rules? After all, it's your overtime too, and Mom'll settle it if any of the venue staff have a problem with it. After all, she's Phyllis Gabor and not many people will argue the point when they have her to contend with."

"Well, after that little incident, I won't say no to that." Stuart grinned, dropping down into a seat and accepting a cigarette. "I'll be glad to see your mother, in truth, and report back on tonight. Even gladder that she was proven wrong. Just another madcap fan...we deal with those a lot."

"Yeah." Emily sighed, putting her cigarette to her lips and lighting it, tossing the lighter at her companion. "And now I guess we just wait for our transport outta here."

Prologue: Toronto
Chapter One: Preparations
Chapter Two: Heading North
Chapter Three: First Show
Chapter Four: A Hotel Scare
Chapter Five: Diversion
Chapter Six: Eric's Gambit
Chapter Seven: Under The Radar
Chapter Eight: Flight

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