Chapter One: Daisy
"Will you get that damn thing out of my face?"
The tall, willowy blond wheeled on the hapless photographer, planting hands on hips as she fixed him with a confrontational glare. "Do you really think I'm going to sit around and pose for a guy who's been on my tail since I left my apartment this morning? Geez, will you get a clue already? I do not do unscheduled photo appearances! If you want a piece of me, call my office like everyone else!"
Slamming the door of her taxi cab shut, she stalked purposefully up the stone steps of the music company, turning her head slightly to allow her thick blond hair to ripple gently in the wind. As she reached the door, she shot a glance back over her shoulder, noticing with some satisfaction that the photographer was still rooted to the spot, staring after her in dumbstruck amazement. She laughed, pushing open the door and fishing in her purse for her security pass, flashing it at the guard on duty with a flirtatious smile.
"Morning, Gary." She said with a wink. "Ms Pacheco in her office?"
"Morning, Miss Buchan." Gary, a young man in his late twenties returned the wink with a warm grin of his own. "And you just missed her. She's headed out to meet someone but she told me to tell you she'd be back by ten if you asked after her."
"Brilliant." The girl pursed her lips impatiently, tapping her red-painted fingernails on her purse in her irritation. "Oh well. Guess it can't be helped. I have stuff to do of my own, anyway. Later, Gary. Don't work too hard, will you?"
She offered him a playful smile, then headed off across the lobby towards the lift.
Sure, she mused, as she pressed the button to call the car to her floor, he was only security. But he was tanned and good looking, and there was never any harm in chatting up a good looking guy.
As she stepped out of the lift car onto the top floor, she was greeted by an excited young woman in a suit. "I wondered when you'd be in. Jerrica asked me to waylay you if I saw you before she got back - did you know that she got a call from the organisers of the big Arena show? They returned hers this morning, just before she took off to meet that sponsor. You got the gig! You're gonna open the show!"
Daisy let out an excited squeal, hugging the woman impulsively. Then, seemingly remembering where she was, she took a step back, nodding her head.
"Cool." She said slowly. "Opening it? For who exactly? Someone huge?"
"Pretty big." The woman nodded. "Jewel. Their show is a sellout. Imagine the response when all those fans hear you play your song...it couldn't be better!"
"Jewel, huh?" Daisy wrinkled her nose. "Aren't they like, last week's news now? They've been in the charts forever, Margot. Don't they know that there comes a time in everyone's career where graceful retirement is the thing to do?"
"Jerrica reckons Misfits Music will milk them for all their worth, while they have the girls on their books." Margot shrugged her shoulders. "And heck, what do I know? I'm just behind the desk here. But America likes them and it's a big deal coup for Jerrica to get you on the bill of one of their shows. Been a long time since a Starlight Musician has been in those kind of circles."
"I know." Daisy curled her lip derisively. "Which is why she was so glad when I came along."
She examined her nails, then cast Margot a grin.
"So I got the gig...I gotta blow them away with what I got down so far, isn't that the deal?" She asked. Margot nodded.
"I spent the morning going through Joanie's old files." She agreed, leading the way down the hall and slipping the key into the main studio, pushing open the door. "Before she retired last summer, she put the whole lot in order, and I went over them to see when Starlight last had a singer generate the kind of support you have in such a short space of time. You realise you're Starlight's biggest deal since Jem and the Holograms came out of the woodwork in the eighties - and you know full well that a huge part of that phenomenon was Jerrica herself. You couldn't have better representation."
"I like working with Jerrica. She has taste and good musical sense." She said simply. "And I haven't forgotten your help either, Margot. I know you slipped her my tape above the others."
"Well, what else do you expect me to do?" She asked playfully. "You're my cousin, after all. Do you think I was going to let Jerrica sign some nobody when you were in the frame? I've always known you've had the fight to do this, Daisy, and the talent, too. Ain't it time you proved the rest of the family right and started rolling in the cash?"
"Yes." Daisy nodded. "But it's more than that, Margot."
She pursed her lips.
"Do you remember that mouse of a kid in our grade back in High School? Nancy Pelligrini?"
"Nancy who?" Margot's brow creased in confusion. "Did I ever know a Nancy?"
"Yeah...Wednesday Addams. Freak girl. Had a brother to die for in the grade above - don't tell me you don't remember Aaron Pelligrini?" Daisy's eyes opened wide.
"Aaron I remember." Margot nodded her head. "But...Oh! Wait, do you mean that ugly little moron who trotted round the halls as if the world was gonna end?"
"That's the chick." Daisy snorted. "Weird little brat."
"So what about her?"
"What do you think she's doing now, Margot?"
"Should I care?" Margot laughed. "She was a freak. She's probably holed up in a box cubicle somewhere putting numbers into databases all day."
"I wish. It's where she belongs." Daisy pulled herself up onto the windowsill, casting her cousin a grimace. "But no. Nancy Pelligrini - the girl who couldn't get a date if she paid them for it - is now pulling out top chart hits as Jewel's lead guitarist. More, she's been dating that hunk Dean Stacey practically forever."
"She never is!" Margot gaped. "That's not the same Nancy Pelligrini? Daisy, you're kidding me! Nancy the moron is Goldie from Jewel? Are you sure?"
"Sadly, yes." Daisy agreed darkly. "I wasn't sure, till all that press hype recently. You know, with that Copper chick getting married? The dude she hitched to is none other than drop dead gorgeous Aaron himself. And there might be two Nancy Pelligrini's on the planet - I could accept that more easily than I could the fact that freak-face turned herself into something worth looking at - but I doubt there are two Nancy Pelligrinis with elder brothers called Aaron and who are daughters of Misfits. Don't you?"
"I see." Margot looked thoughtful. "Is this what all of this has been about then? Getting back on terms with Nancy?"
"Give me some credit." Daisy snorted. "I always had the drive to do this. Your getting the job here just provided the perfect platform, that's all. As you said, we're family. We help each other out a little here and there. We always have. But it kinda struck me. If a freak like that can make it in the music industry, it sure as hell can't be hard to be a hit in Los Angeles. So I mean to be a hit. And I don't relish opening for Jewel, considering who's playing their chords, but I can deal with it. Because it's only a matter of time before the roles are reversed and they're playing warm-up for me. Just like back in High School."
Margot was silent for a moment, then,
"Tell me something." She said at length. "And tell me honest, cuz. I need to know."
"Sure?" Daisy looked startled. "What?"
"You aren't still crushing on Aaron? I know he turned you down pretty bad back in High School - you aren't still on that path, are you?"
"No. Over and past." Daisy shook her head. "There are cuter guys in the world and I've been with most of them, if you get my drift." She raised a suggestive eyebrow. "But Nancy is always fair game to me, you know that. She's a jumped up little weirdo and there's absolutely no way she should be a star in this world if I'm not a bigger one."
"Well, I can't argue with that." Margot chuckled. She grasped her cousin's hand tightly, squeezing it.
"So, here's to the Buchan family and their rise to the top of the charts." She said playfully. "And long may it continue!"
"So who exactly is she?"
Phyllis Gabor cast her colleague a quizzical look. "This Daisy Buchan girl? Where the hell has she come from, and more importantly, why is she singing for Jerrica?"
"She did send a demo tape here." Her companion responded, not looking up from her computer screen as she typed up a letter. "You said she didn't have the cutting edge."
"She probably didn't. It takes a lot to get a contract with us." Phyllis perched on the edge of the desk. "But that doesn't mean I like the idea Jerrica's getting back into the big time music market. She's been no trouble for the last few years, and you'd think Riot was enough to deal with at any one time!"
"Oh, for God's sake, Jetta, will you pay attention to me when I'm talking to you." Phyllis's green eyes sparked with impatience and she reached a hand out towards the plug cable. "If you don't, I'm pulling this from the socket and then you'll have to begin all over again."
"Fine." Jetta Pelligrini sighed, saving her file and raising questioning grey eyes to her business partner's. "What?"
"What about her?"
"Why is she singing for Starlight Music?"
"Because Jerrica ain't a fool?" Jetta shrugged. "She ain't the kind of singer we want on our books, if that's what you want to know. We've got lots of artists with much deeper talent an' much better long term prospects than that girl. But Jerrica's needed a big seller for the longest time. Like you said, the company's been quiet for ages. This is obviously her step back into the mainstream market."
"Hrm." Phyllis pursed her lips. "I don't like it. Two music companies operating in that mainstream is one more than necessary most days of the week. Are you saying that we're going to have to look at Starlight Music in the same way as we do Rebel Records if this girl hits the top of the chart? And more, that she might even get that wretched company back to what it was when Eric was so keen to get his paws on it?"
"Possibly." Jetta acknowledged slowly. "But I don't see what in 'ell we 'ave to fear from Jerrica or from Riot. Jewel are California's biggest act. Diablo are damn good, an' they've stepped up the 'eat of late, but they still aren't in our girl's league. Their videos are fine, but they aren't shot in exotic locations or produced by Zoe Montgomery. Their songs are good, but they ain't as diverse nor as popular as Jewel's songs. An' they might play sell-out shows, but they don't 'ave the kind of financial backing that our girls 'ave. Jerrica is some years behind Riot even in that. I wouldn't be too worried about Daisy Buchan. Even if she is an 'it, it's gonna take a bleedin' long time before she can touch the league Jewel or even your Emily are movin' in these days."
"Perhaps." Phyllis conceded. "But I think I need to start thinking about how to deal with Starlight Music again. When the place went under five years ago, I pulled my spies out of there and found them other jobs in the company. But maybe it's time to slip a few of them back in again. Just, you know, to keep ahead of the game. This Daisy girl shot out of the blue...and I don't like not knowing about something before it happens."
"Between you an' me, Pizzazz, I ain't overly keen on the whole thing either." Jetta admitted, pushing her keyboard back and resting her chin in her hands. "It's not that I think she's even 'alf the musical competition that Jewel would need to be pushed off the top. It's more on a personal level than anything."
She paused, then, "Nancy went to school with her."
"She did?" Phyllis's green eyes lit up. "Then I can get the dirt on her from the kid direct! Maybe it'll be easier than I thought to get the measure of this new signing!"
"No...I don't want you to talk to Nance about any of this." Jetta shook her head. She bit her lip. "I don't remember the names of many kids Nancy went to school with, because most of them she never told me about. But there were a few times..."
"This is between us, an' you mustn't tell her I mentioned it to you." She said at length. "But there were some nights I caught my girl cryin' 'erself to sleep over somethin' that 'ad gone on at school. Neither of us liked to talk about those things much, you know, but sometimes you can't just let the kid deal with everythin' on 'er own. Daisy Buchan was a name that came up time and time again. A more spiteful, unpleasant bitch you'd be 'ard pressed to find, if all the things Nancy told me were true. An' whatever else my daughter can be, she ain't ever been any kind of a liar."
Phyllis's expression grew grave.
"I don't suppose it's escaped Nancy at all what Daisy is up to now." Jetta continued. "But it'd be best for all concerned if we didn't encourage 'er to think about the Daisy she knew in 'igh school. Not least because a public catfight is not the kind of thing we're tryin' to preserve as part of Jewel's image. You know that as well as anyone."
"True." Phyllis sighed. "It's a shame, sometimes, but true."
"In this climate, how can we do different?"
"Oh,we can't, but it sounds like the girl could use a good smack in the mouth." Phyllis said regretfully. "Still, it makes me doubly certain that getting spies back on board at Starlight Music has got to be a top priority. If this is the kind of competition Jewel are now dealing with...and if Daisy and Nancy do have something on a personal level...it can never hurt to be too well prepared!"
Chapter One: Daisy
Chapter Two: Jewel's Show
Chapter Three: Cynthia's Dilemma
Chapter Four: Jerrica Acts
Chapter Five: For The Public Good
Chapter Six: End Of An Era
Chapter Seven: A Reason To Be
Chapter Eight: Loyalties
Chapter Nine: Starlight Music
Chapter Ten: Kimber
Chapter Eleven: Consulting Aja
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 permission.
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 without permission.
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.