Don't Look Back
(A Sadie Saga)
Chapter Nine: Dilemma at the Music Company

"So, what do you suggest we do?" Phyllis dropped down into her chair, casting her business partner an expectant look. "This baby crap is screwing up everything and it's starting to do my head in big style. The sooner we fix it one way or another the better."
"I agree with you." Jetta shrugged. "But the truth is, ain't much we can do till Topaz makes up 'er blinkin' mind what she's doin' when this brat of 'ers is born. There ain't a question of us keepin' 'er on our books - I spoke to 'er before the Photoshoot an' she seemed determined whatever she decided would keep 'er at Misfit Music. It's 'er future with Jewel that's the problem."
Phyllis glowered, then,
"You or I never damn well walked out on the Misfits when we were knocked up."
"You or I ain't Topaz." Jetta said bluntly. "She's all for playin' Ma an' stuff. Gettin' excited over scans and you name it."
"I think she's a bit more decisive than you think, though." Phyllis continued. "I spoke to her a half hour ago - which is why I called you in here. She more or less told me that she's cool with us scouting for a new bass player for Jewel. That suggests to me she's quitting on them, whatever she's told them."
"Which means we'll be backin' a group an' a solo act once the baby is born." Jetta shrugged. "End of the day, more 'ype, more publicity, more profits an' more kudos for Misfits Music. Not a problem with me."
"I'm not surprised. She said it was your idea to go solo." Phyllis said dryly. "Not that she said that was what she was gonna do, but, you know, I kinda think if we can lure in a good bass guitarist with the right skill and look and everything to fit Jewel's profile, we can easily deal with the Topaz situation. She cost this company a lot to sign, she's been a big part of making several times that amount for this company, and we're not going to let her go. If Jewel's guitar issue is solved, it means we can work with Topaz as a solo artist. That means no damn babies screwing up Jewel's schedule, and another successful solo act. People love Topaz. She'll be great."
"Which leaves us with that guitarist problem." Jetta observed. "You got any ideas? Any of your scouts said anythin' to you?"
"No." Phyllis admitted. "I called Dawson - he's the guy who gave us Copper on a silver platter, so I figured he was good for something, but apparently he ain't seen any decent bass guitarists recently. I've been trawling through the demo tapes and files and god knows what else...I came up with seven possibles. Ten or eleven, if we break the tradition of Jewel and add a male member."
"Nancy would throw a fit." Jetta said dryly. "Besides, all that 'appens if you bring in a male Jewel, an' move 'im into Starlight Mansion, is that Sylva will no doubt flirt with 'im, likely seduce 'im an' we'll be into more Jewel nappy changin'."
"Cynical." Phyllis smirked. "Stormer wouldn't love you for saying that about her daughter."
"Well, she can like it or lump it." Jetta shrugged. "Fact of the matter is, Sylva is a born flirt an' she don't need any excuse to get 'er distracted from 'er work. Livin' with a male guitarist might jus' prove too much of a temptation for 'er."
"Okay, so we're looking at a girl, then?" Phyllis pulled a folder off the desk, flicking it open and handing Jetta a sheaf of photographs. "This is what we're working with. I had a bunch of the department listening to and screening demo tapes, and I picked out the cream of them myself. Three of them are based in the Los Angeles area. The other four are outta state but if we're serious about them, we can fly them in."
"Mm, okay." Jetta skimmed through the pile of pictures. "Gah, why do they always grin stupidly in these pictures? What do they think this is, a bimbo contest?"
"I must admit I'd rather have a few glowers myself." Phyllis laughed. "Thing is, they have to fit the Jewel image. They all play damn good bass, but they have to click with Jewel and they have to fit the look and the profile. A new Jewel means a new stage name...remember that."
"Yeah, I know. I weren't 'ired yesterday." Jetta muttered, handing the pictures back. "So which are the locally based ones?"
"These three." Phyllis selected three images, spreading them out on the desk. "Bryony Richards, she lives in San Diego but that's not a problem for us. Hell, Sylva came from DC and Copper from Detroit."
"And Topaz herself from Canada." Jetta intoned dryly. "Go on."
"Ok. The Bryony chick is twenty one in October, she played bass guitar for a local band who split after their lead singer was killed in a car accident." Phyllis grimaced. "Spoke to her on the phone and got to hear all about it. Still, her demo is good. She's worth watching."
"Mmhm. The others?"
"Casey Spiller and Latisha Rowenall. Both from Los Angeles itself." Phyllis indicated the other two pictures in turn. "Good guitar skills, both of them."
"Well, I say we begin there, then." Jetta shrugged. "Call them in, interview them, if we like 'em we can introduce em to the girls. Failin' that we try out of state. You think?"
"Works for me. Saves on plane fares, but don't tell the tabloids we're doing it this way." Phyllis pursed her lips dryly. "I'll speak to Jemima. Make sure we get all three here to play for us live."
"Then what?"
"Well, I think maybe, once we've screened 'em personally here, maybe we should arrange a little dinner party for Jewel and the wannabes to get to know each other."
"Oh, so we're gonna 'ave a series of dinner parties?" Jetta looked scornful. "This is a band, not the initiation of some dumb sorority or...or socialite club!"
"Fine." Phyllis snapped. "We'll have them here, we'll get them together and hear them musically, then we'll introduce them to Jewel, we'll let them have a meal together, relax and dine and you know, generally hang out together. We'll talk to Nancy, Sylva and Copper and see what they think, and then, I dunno, if the girls can't decide among themselves, we'll have a press vote or something over 'em?"
"You mean, more 'ype for the band." Jetta said dryly. Phyllis nodded.
"Yes." She agreed. "Why miss the opportunity?"
"Well, then you better get on to Jemima an' get those girls 'ere." Jetta laughed. "We ain't done anythin' like this in a long time...maybe it'll even be fun!"

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

"Wow...I guess this is New York City."
Sadie took a hesitant couple off steps off the big jet aircraft, gazing around her in fear and awe. People were everywhere, and, more guided by the crowd than anything she found herself being swept towards the arrivals lounge.
The flight had been long and arduous and, despite the fact that it was only eight o' clock in the evening local time, she was exhausted. Glancing at her watch, she realised it was still giving Birmingham time, and she frowned.
"It's one am back home, no wonder I'm so blitzed." She murmured. "Guess this is that thing called jet lag that Cece was talking about. Still, I'm glad to be off that thing, whatever the time!"
She shuddered, remembering the bumpy, buffeting take-off which had almost sent her stomach lurching right into her chest and back again, and the turbulence they had experienced over the atlantic ocean. She had not enjoyed her first flying experience, a mixture of bad weather, fear of the unknown and general awe at the whole flying experience had prevented her from really sitting back and relaxing, and whilst others around her had caught a moment to take a nap or watch an inflight movie, she had spent almost the entire journey gripping hold of her seat arms, staring out through the wispy clouds at the expanse of blue beneath her. Dinner had been served just over an hour into the flight, and she had not been able to eat much for nerves, but, much to her relief, she had not been airsick.
After all, the journey had been rough enough without that.
"I wonder where I'm supposed to go now I'm here." She wondered, glancing around her for some clue as to where she was going. Signs in many languages surrounded her and armed men in official uniforms patrolled the area, alert and somewhat intimidating to the young English girl, whose own experiences in life had made her deeply suspicious of authority figures.
"Can I see your passport please, ma'am." A woman's voice made her glance up, startled, and she realised that she was holding up a group of other passengers, some of whom were beginning to complain. The woman behind the desk at passport control raised an eyebrow and offered a slight smile, holding out her hand.
"Your passport, miss?"
"Oh! Of...of course." Blushing to the roots of her blond hair, Sadie fumbled in her bag for her passport, handing it to the woman, who quickly ascertained her identity and it's validity.
"First time in the Big Apple, huh?" She asked wryly, as she stamped the small booklet. Sadie nodded her head.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause a traffic jam." She apologised, taking the passport back and casting the annoyed passengers behind her a sheepish smile. "Please, where do I go now?"
"That way." The woman pointed. "Through baggage claim and customs."
"Oh...okay." Sadie nodded, committing this to memory and shoving her passport back in her bag, making her way across the airport in the direction the woman had indicated. She found herself confronted by a series of huge conveyors, along which various articles of luggage were being sent, and already a crowd of people she recognised from her flight clustering around one such black caterpillar, grabbing for their suitcases at intervals.
"Thank god I didn't bring a case." Sadie murmured fervently to herself. "I suppose that just leaves me to deal with customs...I think."
She glanced across at the customs officials and her heart skipped a beat. She knew enough of travel to know that even though she had gotten safely through passport control, she had other obstacles still to face. She had no intention of returning to England, despite what she had told the woman she had bought her ticket from in Birmingham, and she knew that one wrong word could find her on the next flight out of New York and back to her home city.
"Which isn't an option." She murmured to herself, steeling her nerves and composing herself. Casting the customs officials a smile, she kept walking, telling them she had nothing to declare and hoping beyond hope that they would not stop her.
As it happened, she was in luck. The customs officials were extremely busy, like the passport control lady, and Sadie's demeanour and lack of heavy luggage allowed them to dismiss her very easily. Her heart pounding in her chest, Sadie paused in the big lounge, realising with a jolt that she had made it. She had gotten through the checks and stumbling blocks - she was in America!
"And I'm beat." She murmured, putting a hand to her head. "I can't face getting on another plane right away, I swear. Best idea is to change some of the money I have into US dollars now I'm here, and get a taxi, see if I can find a motel or something for the night. There must be somewhere with a room I can afford at short notice. I don't want much, just a bed to sleep in and a shower to get rid of that in flight smell. I'm not even sure I could eat a meal - I'm just exhausted."
She stopped, looking for the sign to take her to the taxi rank, then made her way slowly in that direction, first pausing at the bureau de change to change most of her remaining money into US dollars.
"Hey, they really do have yellow cabs here!" She realised, as she pushed open the door leading to the taxi rank, stopping to eye the vehicles in some surprise. "Gee, and I thought that was just in the movies! Wow...I can't believe I'm really gonna ride in one of those things."
"Where you wanna go, miss?" A car pulled up alongside her, the driver's window down and Sadie had her second shock, for the driver was on the right hand side of the car.
"Oh, they drive on the other side of the road here!" She remembered, berating herself a little for showing the surprise on her face. The driver was eying her with a mix of amusement and irritation, and she hastily apologised, asking him if he knew any good local hotels where she might get a room for the night. The driver grunted to her to get in, and no sooner was she in the back than he had roared off out of the airport taxi rank and onto the main road, sending her flying across the backseat.
 "Do you have to go so fast?" She pleaded. "I just flew eight hours already, my head is pounding!"
"Quicker we go, lady, smaller your tab, ain't it?" The driver raised an eyebrow at her in his mirror. "First time in the city, huh?"
"It shows that much?" Sadie looked rueful. "I've never been to America before, let alone here. I'm here to visit a friend in Los Angeles, but I need a night's rest before I get the other plane. One eight hour flight was definitely enough for one day."
"Hate those damn planes." The driver told her. "Always wondering when they're gonna give out an engine and crash or whatever. You know. Ain't been on a plane in wife always wants to go on our damn anniversary to some place exotic and I tell her there's no way in hell she's getting me on one of those death trap machines. Nowhere to go, you see, if a plane goes wrong. No escape."
Sadie thought back to her rough and tumble flight, and inwardly agreed with his sentiments. Even though she had not been airsick, the entire experience had frightened her and she was glad to have her feet back on solid ground.
"And if it wasn't that I was going to see Topaz, I wouldn't step on another plane tomorrow." She concluded fervently, gripping tightly to the seat as she gazed out of the window. "Well, if nothing else, I've had a glimpse of New York. I wonder if I remembered to put film in my camera? Should be worth a picture or two in the morning, anyhow."
At that moment the cab screeched to a halt outside a tall modern looking building, and, glancing at it, Sadie was able to make out the name of the hotel and the licencee. Thanking the driver and paying him, tipping him for his trouble, she slipped her bag onto her shoulder, making her way up the path and pushing open the door. As it turned out, she was in luck, and before long she found herself in a small, simple but attractive bedroom. 
"This is more like it. They should fit every aeroplane with cabins like this." She decided, dropping down onto her bed and removing her coat and shoes, stretching out on the covers and closing her eyes. "I could stay here forever, I swear. I can't take in where I am, what I've done or anything today. I just want to sleep. I suppose I should call Aly...oh, but no, it's late back home. She'd only get angry for waking her and the household and I did tell her it might be a day or two before I could get in touch. She won't mind."
She made herself more comfortable, taking in her surroundings in more detail.
The room was delicately decorated in pale blue and lemon yellow, with a big window looking out onto a bustling street below. Dark blue curtains hung at the window, and the bed was covered with a cream quilt, finished off with small roses across the hem. Over the other side of the room was a dark blue chair and then the door to the small blue and lavender en suite which lay beyond.
"I s'pose I should take a shower." She murmured sleepily to herself, closing her eyes once more. "But I'm so comfortable here. I guess it wouldn't matter if I left it an hour or two, after all I'm here for the night." She stifled a yawn. "I didn't realise how tired I was. I guess I could use a good night's sleep..."
That was her last coherent thought, as her exhaustion overwhelmed her and she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, safe in the knowledge that she had put an ocean between her and her abusive ex-boyfriend, whatever the next day might bring.

Sadie's Diary: August 27th, 2013
Chapter One: Jewel
Sadie's Diary: August 28th, 2013
Chapter Two: Topaz's Bombshell
Chapter Three: News
Sadie's Diary: August 30th, 2013
Chapter Four: Award Night
Chapter Five: A Refuge
Chapter Six: An Old Foe
Chapter Seven: Jetta's Advice
Sadie's Diary: September 1st, 2013
Chapter Eight: Sadie Acts
Chapter Nine: Dilemma at the Music Company
Sadie's Diary: September 3rd, 2013
Chapter Ten: A Change Of Plan
Chapter Eleven: A Journey
Sadie's Diary: September 4th, 2013
Chapter Twelve: Girl's Night

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, 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. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!