FIUR and VLAMME

 

proudly present

 

HOLLYWOOD DREAMS

 

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For Disclaimers see Episode 1

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SPECIAL AUTHOR'S NOTE:

A video containing the intro for the first season can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WishToglgO0

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There you can see trailers for upcoming stories, watch our Xena musicvideos, listen to music that inspires our stories, have a look at Fiur's gorgeous artwork or share Vlamme's anime obsession :-)

(c) 2002 - 2012 by Fiur and Vlamme  

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EPISODE 3

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Taylor was still sitting in the living room of the Jones' yacht and was getting more and more nervous by the minute. The tapping of her sneaker-covered foot changed rhythm and was faster than before.

Sara noticed this and grinned. "Hey, stop worrying, before you tap dance a hole in my carpet," she said, patting the other girl's knee. "I'm sure it will be fine and they will get along. After all, this is about your figure skating."

"I hope you are right," Taylor mumbled, not at all convinced that the meeting between her Russian coach and the new choreographer would go over well.

Sara searched for something to change the subject and looked out of the window. "Oh, Lee is coming. I guess this means mail. Excuse me for a minute." While the photographer went to talk with the postman, Taylor took a look around the living room. On the desk she discovered a revolver next to a cowboy hat.

When Sara returned she saw Taylor 's horrified gaze. "Don't fear, I can shoot since I've been 11 years old." She smiled and pointed to a framed picture at the near wall. "Do you see that? That is a picture of me and Alex where we were shooting rabbits in the Outback, which are quite a plague in our country. I think that was 9 years ago. My Daddy taught me then how to shoot and I like it."

"Interesting," Taylor responded. "Still, you shouldn't let it lie around so open like that."

"Advice accepted." Sara smiled and stuffed the weapon in the back of her jeans beneath her leather jacket. "You know what? Pick any photo that you like. I'll give it to you gladly. The project "Parker Chronicles" has been put to a hold as it seems anyway."

Taylor pricked up her ears. "And why is that?"

"Oh, I don't really know. It seems that the whole family is kinda tense, which makes the situation to portray an idyllic life of them extremely hard. But, I really don't want to bore you with that."

While Sara was gathering her equipment and things she would need, Taylor went through the pictures. During that her eyes fell upon a magazine, which Sara had carelessly thrown on the table. The cover showed her brother Christopher and Sara in front of his gallery. Taylor frowned as she noticed that they were hugging each other quite fiercely. The title said, "Celebrity pairs and their private life". Completely confused the girl sat there trying to comprehend what was going on.

"I'm sorry, Taylor but I have to go. I promised Aunt Cathy that I would take some pictures of the movie studios today."

"Oh, th-that's... that's okay," the teenager stuttered. "I'll have to go to the meeting with my coach and the new choreographer anyway."

Sara wrinkled her forehead. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, everything is fine," Taylor said, trying to force a smile to her face, which failed. "Gotta go, have a great rest of your day, Sara!"And with that she was gone.

"I will. Let me know how your new choreographer is, yes?" Sara called after her but Taylor didn't hear that.

 

*****

 

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" A loud piercing scream tore through the huge warehouse and reverberated from the walls. Victoria looked in disgust at the dress she was supposed to wear for her photo session. "There is NO way that I'm going to wear that! No way whatsoever! CLAUDE! Claude, I want to talk with you right now in my dressing room!" The blonde model hurried away and set down in front of the big mirror in her dressing room. Her anger was still in full force and the next unsuspecting victim was the stylist. "Thanks for the tons of make-up that disfigure my beautiful face instead of enhancing it," Vicky hissed at her. "It also is about time that my champagne is finally here. It only took 8 years!" She began to rub her temples. "Ooooooh, why me, why does it always have to be me? And now I can feel the start of a migraine, it's just horrible!"

Claude, the designer, entered then, willing to do everything for the model to make her feel better. "Here, Victoria, my Goddess, take some aspirin it will help with your headache."

She groaned pitifully. "Oh Claude, Claude, what are doing to me? All these incompetent people..."

"I know, I know." He started to massage her bony shoulders. "It will soon be over, I promise. We only need one more shot... please."

Victoria exhaled sharply. "No. I'm not in the mood. Let's stop for today."

The designer paled. "But... but..."

The door opened again and Juan stepped in. Immediately a wide, pleased smile appeared on Vicky's face as she recognized her Latin lover. "Juan, now that is a nice surprise."

"I aim to please," he replied and took her hand. "I have decided to take you out, for a nice meal and maybe some other fun later?"

"Ooooooh," she gushed. "I so like the sound of that. Shall we go now?"

Juan smiled and led her away.

Completely and utterly stunned Claude looked after them.

Victoria turned around and gave a little wave over her shoulder. "Ciao, Claude. Until next time."

 

*****

 

Karen sat in Elizabeth 's office, buried in a mass of paperwork. She looked up as the phone rang and saw that it was the office of Alexander Parker. Wrinkling her forehead she picked up the receiver. "Stuart Films, Karen Miller speaking, how may I help you?"

Alexander's assistant told her that she had a call from Wellington / New Zealand . Karen smiled, thinking that it might be Liz, who had finally arrived and was contacting her. She let the woman connect her. Her smile started to fade when it wasn't the voice of Liz that greeted her from the other end of the line.

 

*****

 

Jonathan Parker had decided to have a little tennis match before he would go to work. He took a look around if he could find one of his usual buddies and get them to play with him. But not many people were at the club at this time. At the bar, under a huge umbrella, he noticed an Asian woman with long dark hair.

Jonathan walked over to her and greeted her with a gentle smile. "Hello. I hope that such a beautiful lady as yourself was not stood up, were you?"

The woman returned his smile and answered. "No, no. I have a meeting later and just wanted to kill a little time. But it seems I have no luck since no teacher is free."

"Oh, I guess I'm in luck then. But, where are my manners. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Jonathan Parker."

"It's a pleasure to meet you. My name is Michiru Kasawaki." They shook hands.

"Have you been to L.A. long? I don't think I have seen you at this club before and I'm sure I would have noticed."

"No, I'm still new to L.A. , "she explained.

Jonathan's smile got wider. "This town has been waiting for your shine."

"Charming, charming." Slightly blushing, Michiru giggled. "How about a match, Jonathan?"

"It would be my honor."

 

*****

 

Jack Carpenter stopped his racing motorcycle in front of the run-down house. He pulled off his helmet, took off his leather gloves and slid off the seat. "Okay, the number is right, but I never would have thought that it is so run-down. It certainly wasn't the last time I was here." Jack went to the front door and rang the bell. He waited a few seconds and rang the bell again when nothing happened.

Finally somebody opened the door a gap. It was Danielle's mother, a short, middle-aged woman with dirty blonde hair. She glared at him through the small gap. "What do you want?" she asked unfriendly.

Jack was taken aback. "Uh... Hello Mrs. Stiehl. It's me, Jack."

Danielle's mother still scowled. "And?"

"Surely you remember me, I'm Jack Carpenter. Your daughter was my girlfriend when we were in High School."

"Ah yes, I remember you. It's been years. What do you want?" Mrs. Stiehl asked suspiciously.

"I would like to talk with you about your daughter. May I please come in?"

"No, you may not," she hissed venomously. "And now leave and stop bothering us before I call the police!" With that she closed the door right into his face and Jack stood there, completely flabbergasted. "Alright," he mumbled, "so much for that plan." He walked back to his motorcycle and noticed a black car. Something about this car was quite familiar and he knew he had seen it somewhere before. Climbing up on his racing machine he spared one last glance at the car and then he drove off to his workplace, the Parker Studios.

 

*****

 

Christopher came storming into his sister's office, where he found Karen. The personal assistant was very pale and the blonde man became instantly worried. "I came as quickly as I could after I got your call. For heaven's sake, Karen, what's wrong? What happened, you are totally pale... Is something up with Danielle? Did Alexander do something again?"

Karen rose from the comfortable leather chair, shaking her head. "No Chris, it's nothing like that." She said quietly. "Please sit down. I just got a call from New Zealand ."

"Great. Liz finally called. So, why the long face?"

Karen took a deep breath and then she told him what she had learned. "Liz never arrived in Wellington ."

Minutes of silence went by during which they just looked at each other.

"So, the plane is late?" Chris asked carefully.

"She should have been there 2 days ago. The studio partner only called Catherine's office because he thought that maybe something with the schedules got messed up..." Tears began to gather in her warm brown eyes and sobbing she continued, "I... I told them they should do everything they can... call flight control... check everything... they should search for her... god, Chris... what are we going to do now?"

He pulled Karen into a gentle embrace. "I'm sure they landed somewhere else... I'm sure they have." Chris said that not only to comfort Karen but also for himself. He too was scared to death of the truth and what Liz's disappearance could mean. "We will not say anything to Taylor . Not until we are sure what's going on, she has enough stress as it is," he decided.

"I don't know, Chris. She has a right to know..."

Right in this moment they were interrupted as the door opened and Taylor entered, holding a little box. "Hey Karen," she greeted cheerfully, balancing the box carefully in one hand to turn around and close the door. "You have so much to do I thought I would drop by and bring you something to eat before I meet with Mrs.Yagudin and Ms.Kasawaki..." she stopped as she faced them and noticed that her big brother was there too and that Karen had red eyes. She must have been crying. "Uh... what's going on?" she asked confused.

"Chris, you have to tell her," Karen said.

"Tell me what?"

The blonde man looked lost. He opened and closed his mouth a few times but nothing came out.

"You know, I don't have time for this. I need to get to that meeting or Mrs. Yagudin will be mad again when I'm late. Just let me tell you one thing. I don't think it's very nice of you to betray your new girlfriend Sara with your ex girlfriend."

Both Chris' and Karen's eyes widened at that in shock. " Taylor , what..."

"I really need to go, you can tell me later," the teenager grumbled, put the box with food for Karen on the table and left the office in a hurry.

"Okay, that was weird... what just happened here?" Chris asked after his little sister was gone.

Karen just shrugged her shoulders.

 

*****

 

Liz awoke with a slight headache. Bleary-eyed she stared at the ceiling and noticed that it was made of leaves. She rubbed her eyes tiredly, opened them again and the leaf ceiling was still there. "Would have been too good to be true to find out it was just a bad dream after all," she mumbled and slowly sat up. A steady, soft rustling sound come from above and the business woman realized it was raining. "I must be in some kind of hut." The next shock came quickly as she pulled back the furs that had covered her. She was naked. Her eyes wildly scanned her surroundings and she blushed a bit, hoping that nobody was around to see her in her present state of undress. She recognized her now totally ruined business suit that had been hung up to dry in a corner of the wooden hut. Liz found some roughly woven cloths and quickly wrapped one around her body.

Suddenly another rustling noise came from above her and as the blonde looked up she didn't believe her eyes.

A young woman descended towards her, slipping down a rope that looked as if it was made from some kind of plant. She was much taller than Liz and her long dark hair reached down to her waist. Her fit, tanned body was barely covered with a black leather loincloth and top. Both were adorned with wooden, painted pearls.

Liz stared at the stranger in fascination. Then her eyes met the shining blue ones that beamed at her from beautiful chiseled features. To the business woman it seemed as if they would gaze directly into her soul. She couldn't explain the weird feeling that suddenly happened in her chest. Her heart gave a lurch and she had to swallow hard. Liz' heartbeat and breathing picked up speed and tiny beads of sweat appeared on her skin.

Several minutes went by where they just stood there and looked at each other. Finally the blonde gathered all the courage she could muster and said, "Hello."

The beautiful stranger cocked her head. Obviously she couldn't understand what the other woman was saying.

Liz tried again, speaking slowly and clearly. "Hello." She waved her right hand a little in greeting. "I," she pointed a finger at herself, "am Liz." Then she indicated the dark haired woman. "And who are you?"

But instead of answering the question the stranger came closer to Liz. She seemed utterly fascinated especially by the long blonde hair, which she began to touch. Then she lifted Liz' right arm and brought the hand closer to her face. She sniffed at it.

A shiver went down Liz' back as she felt the warm breath on her skin. Goosebumps appeared all over her body and she closed her eyes until her mind brought her back to reality.

 

*****

 

Jack was going over some production notes while he crossed the backyard of the Parker Studios to get to a meeting.

Unnoticed, Sara came around a corner, a cup of coffee in one hand and in the other her cell phone. She was engrossed in the conversation and fighting wildly with the person on the other end. They crashed into each other and the coffee landed hot all over Sara's shirt. "Damn it!" she cussed. "This stuff is freaking hot and now my favorite shirt is ruined! Don't you have eyes?! There are other people on this planet beside you!"

He gave her his bandana and Sara tried to dry herself with it as best as she could. "I'm sorry," Jack apologized, "But maybe you also should look as to where you are going."

The young photographer scowled at him. "Oh, now it was all my fault, huh? Idiot!"

Now Jack had enough of her petulant behavior. "Do you always have to be so offensive? I really do not understand how Christopher Stuart can stand your presence."

Sara snorted. "Just for your information we are in 7th heaven. Something you will never understand because you will never have somebody special in your life."

Jack's eyes widened at that. "So, it is true then. You two are really going to get married soon?"

"Yes, of course we are," she snapped at him. "But you won't get an invitation!" With that Sarah stalked off, not sparing her unwanted suitor another glance.

 

*****

 

Vicky and Juan sat in the V.I.P part of the restaurant " California ", shooting adoring glances at each other. However the model's mood quickly changed and became quite frosty as Juan changed the topic to movies, because she had not the slightest interest in the new film her family would produce. But exactly that seemed all the Latin superstar wanted to talk about lately. "Mmmh, Vicky, my beauty, can you not at least tell me the name of somebody there, whom I could contact? It really is important."

Victoria rolled her eyes and exhaled sharply but she finally relented. "Okay, but only if you promise not to start with it again."

Juan took her hand, guided it to his lips and breathed a gentle kiss against her knuckles. "I promise."

"There is this guy my Dad really likes to work with. He is supposed to be a genius and has lots of influence. His name is Jack Carpenter."

The singer nodded. "Interesting." He let go of Vicky's hand to have a look at his watch. His eyes widened as he saw how late it was. "Oh, my precious I am so sorry, I have to go. I totally forgot that I have this rehearsal today, I really need to go."

Victoria started to pout. "Now you start with it too. Nobody ever has enough time for me. Is it too much to ask to have some attention once in a while?"

Juan rose, walked over to her and took her face into both hands. "Bella, don't act so childish. I promise I will make it up to you another time." He kissed her then and left her at the restaurant.

Vicky watched him go and a nasty thought reared its head. "It almost feels as if... no, no that can't be. He wouldn't do something like that." But the doubts had been planted.

 

*****

 

Completely relaxed, Alexander was sitting on the couch in his mother's office. "Alright, Steven managed to get you out of it. But still, it is very important that you are careful," Catherine reprimanded him.

"Why? The whole interview was over in 20 minutes, I don't have a police record and Danielle has disappeared. Life goes on, mother. Would you please calm down?"

To stay calm Catherine took a deep breath and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She didn't raise her voice but the anger was still clearly audible. "Alex, do you have any idea how much money this little stunt of yours cost us? Only thanks to my good name did we not lose any partners of our movie project. What we need now is good publicity. So, please, use your brain before you do anything the next time!"

A knocking on the door interrupted them.

"Enter," Catherine called.

The door opened and Sara stepped in.

"Ahh, Sara, my dear. How are you?"

"Hello, Aunt Cathy." They hugged and kissed each other's cheeks. Sara then turned to Alex and greeted him in the same way she did his mother. "Hey Alex, old buddy. Everything okay again?"

The tall man smiled. "Of course. They realized that everything was just thought up and one big lie. I'm totally innocent." He cleared his throat then, the smile still firmly fixed on his face. "What about you though? Is it new fashion to run around with big brown spots on white shirts?" He chuckled.

Sara glared at him. "Ha ha, laugh it up, big guy. For your information this is the deed of the idiot Jack Carpenter."

"Oh... well... I'll say goodbye now. I've got something to do. Sara, you gotta promise me though that one day soon we are going to have a little race, because I have a new car."

"New car or not, I'll beat you any time," the photographer announced and grinned.

Alex waggled his eyebrows. "Oh really? We will see... you set the time, I set the place."

"You've got yourself a deal there, big guy!"

The dark-haired man left the office then and Catherine shook her head. "You two, always up to something and causing trouble. Just when will you start behaving like adults?" She smiled tenderly at Sara and changed the subject. "I have to admit I was rather surprised by your spontaneous idea."

Sara looked at her completely puzzled.

"Your upcoming wedding," Catherine clarified.

"Huh?"

"Do you trust us so little that I have to find out from TV?"

Sara wrinkled her forehead. "TV? What... I have no idea what you are talking about."

 

*****

 

The meeting was over and Jack sat in the cafeteria of the studios. He was trying to get some more work done on his laptop as suddenly Juan was standing next to him. "Hello, my name is Juan, Juan Rodriguez. We do not know each other that well but..."

"Ah, aren't you Victoria Parker's boyfriend? The famous singer?

Juan smiled then. "Yes, I am. May I sit done, please?"

The other man nodded and indicated a chair opposite him. "Be my guest."

Not knowing how else to start without being obvious to his real desire Juan began with a little small talk. "A guy like you surely has lots of suitors, don't you?"

Jack's thoughts were still whirling around the unfortunate encounter with Sara Jones and he sighed. "I'm sure that you as superstar don't have any problems with girls. Hey, but maybe you could give me a few tips?"

Juan smirked and raised one eyebrow. "That sounds as if you have your eye on somebody special. I have to admit that yes, I'm a ladies' man. It would be my honor to help you in some way."

The other man leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms in front of his chest. "The thing is that I'm really not shy to voice what I want. I also never had problems with women before, but this one... this one drives me totally crazy with her attitude."

Juan's grin got wider but the minute. "You have fallen hard, my friend."

"She doesn't spare me a second glance. She is also constantly annoying me with her behavior and still... I'm crazy about her," Jack continued and sighed again. "That can't be normal. Just what am I supposed to do?"

"Women want to be conquered. Especially those that want to appear overly distant actually want the man who shows them attention. It is all a matter of playing hard to get to make the game more interesting for them."

Jack frowned as he thought this over. "So, basically you are saying she does want me but she is too proud to admit it?"

"Exactly," Juan exclaimed happily.

The tall special-effects artist just shook his head. "Women... will we ever understand them? Anyway, the person I'm talking about will marry sometime soon."

"Am I right in assuming that this is about Sara Jones and her upcoming wedding with Christopher Stuart?"

Jack was surprised. "Yes, but how... are you psychic?"

"No, no," Juan denied laughing, "it's been all over the newspapers and TV that there is talk about a wedding between these two."

"It's of no use," Jack mumbled then. "I give up. She is out of my league anyway."

"You must not give up if she is your true love. If you do that it will only show Ms. Jones that you were never serious about it. Every man can win the love of each woman he wants, remember that. You just need a certain something that will enchant the women and makes you attractive to them," Juan explained.

Jack was still not convinced. "Great, and where do I get this certain something during the next weeks?"

"Why, of course from me," said the singer with shining eyes and a huge grin on his face that showed off his pearly white teeth.

 

*****

 

Alexander returned to his own office and his happy mood vanished instantly as he was welcomed by his assistant Bibi. He could see that she was nervous and dying to tell him something, but the thought of having to work didn't appeal to him at the moment. "Thank God you are finally here Mr. Parker."

Rolling his eyes Alex fell into his leather chair and looked at her with a bored expression. "What is it now, Bibi?"

"I've been trying to contact you all day, Mr. Parker."

"Just tell me what this is about and then leave me alone, I had a rough day."

Bibi was clearly intimidated by his harsh tone. "Mr. Jackson from Wellington called and... and..."

Alex was growing impatient. "What? Out with it!"

His assistant inhaled and then blurted out the whole horrible news. "Your fiancée, Ms. Elizabeth Stuart is missing."

Shock and disbelief were now clearly visible on Alexander's face as he exclaimed, "WHAT???" His eyes wide, he shook his head softly. "No, that can't be true!"

Dutifully Bibi brought him a glass of cognac. "I put the call through to Karen Miller and I think by now Elizabeth 's siblings know what has happened."

Alex looked up. "We have to send out a search party or whatever it is one does in this kind of situation. Connect me with this Mr. Jackson and call my mother! She will know what to do."

 

*****

 

Liz awoke from her trance-like state as she noticed the huge, black panther behind the beautiful woman, who was still holding her hand. The golden eyes of the big cat were firmly fixed on the small blonde. Taking her hand out of the stranger's tender grip, she retreated slowly more and more until her back hit the wall and she had nowhere left to go. Searching for help she looked pleadingly to the stranger as the cat came stalking towards her. Liz started to tremble in fear and cold sweat appeared on her forehead as the female panther rose up on her hind legs, placed her huge front paws on the business woman's shoulders and gazed directly into her eyes.

"N-ni-nice ki-kitty," Liz stuttered. "Sit down... sit down..." Her heart was beating a mile a minute and she feared she would pass out again as little black dots started to dance before her eyes.

The dark haired woman stepped behind the panther, placed a hand on her head and stroked the cat between her ears.

Liz released a relieved breath as the panther lay down next to the woman's feet. Tenderly, the stranger reached for one of the blonde's hands again and placed it on the silky, soft fur of the animal.

Closing her eyes to tiny slits the panther still stared suspiciously at Liz, but as she began to stroke her, she closed her eyes completely and visibly relished the tender caresses. Once she had enough, the cat walked to a corner and curled up there for a little nap.

"Well... that was... that was highly interesting." Liz said after she had found her voice again. "Is this your pet?"

After a pause during which the dark haired beauty just stared at her, Liz remarked, "I guess you don't understand one word of what I'm saying, right?"

A loud growling and grumbling noise was heard then and the stranger scanned her surroundings, trying to find out where it came from.

The business woman placed a hand on her tummy. She knew exactly what was causing the noise. It was her stomach that voiced its neglect strongly.

Smiling, the other woman now realized what was happening and indicated to Liz to follow her.

They had a breath-taking view over the wild jungle when they stepped out of the tree house that was a few meters above the ground. Liz was stunned. "Wow... oh... wow... that's... that's just... wow!"

The stranger was holding another plant-made rope in her hand while she waved impatiently with the other for Liz to come to her. She wrapped an arm around Liz waist and the blonde wrapped both arms around her, holding on tightly and squeezing her eyes shut. But it wasn't a wild flight through the jungle from tree to tree like the business woman had feared. Instead their journey was slow and went down until they stopped at the ground.

Freeing herself from Liz' forced embrace the other woman indicated for her to sit. Then she gave her a big leaf with all kinds of different fruit that had been cut into manageable pieces and also fried fish. Liz thanked her, which earned her another beautiful smile. But Liz was also sure that she didn't understand the meaning of that word.

In silence they sat next to each other and ate.

 

*****

 

Sara stood in Catherine's office an expression of utmost confusion on her young features. "I really have no idea what you are talking about, Aunt Cathy."

Catherine smiled and brushed her red hair back. "I understand. You don't want to talk about it so I guess you planned it to be a surprise." There was a little pause and then her smile got wider. "I just had a brilliant idea. Why don't we make it a double wedding?"

Sara looked at her flabbergasted. "What?"

"Oh yes, that will be fantastic! When Alex marries Lizzy and you her brother Christopher... oh, that will be so spectacular for the media... and such great publicity for us..."

While Catherine was gushing, Sara knew it would be of no use to say anything. She looked at her watch and pretended to be very surprised by what she saw. "Gee, how time flies by," she exclaimed. "I have something important to do." The photographer left quickly and shut the door forcefully behind her.

It didn't take but 2 minutes as the door opened again and Victoria burst crying into the room. "Mommy, please tell me that it isn't true," she whimpered exaggerated.

Catherine wrinkled her forehead. "That what isn't true, sweetheart?"

"Sara will NOT marry MY Christopher, will she?"

"Of course, she will. Soon."

The blonde model stomped her foot. "But he is MINE! Mine alone!"

"Good God, Victoria. What is the meaning of this? You already have a boyfriend... Juan Rodriguez. And now calm down." Catherine said and pushed her petulant daughter to sit down on the couch.

The phone rang and the head of the Parker family picked up. "Hello?... Yes, yes she is here... one moment, please." She held out the receiver for Vicky to take. "It's for you. It's Claude."

Nerve-wrecked , Victoria rolled her eyes but took the call. "Hello Claude?" She didn't even try to keep the boredom out of her voice. "What?... Flying to Paris ?... This evening?... If I must... yeah, okay. One more thing... if there are as many incompetent people like earlier I will fly back home the instant, is that clear?... Good. Until later." She hung up and looked at her mother, who was smiling at her gently. " Paris , hm? Sounds exciting."

Vicky snorted disparagingly. "If only the people were not so incompetent. Well, gotta go and pack. See you later, Mommy." After a quick hug and a kiss to the cheek, she hurried out and Catherine was left alone again.

Once more the telephone rang. Catherine rubbed her temples. "Just what is it today? Can I not have 2 minutes of rest?" She picked up and her face paled as she listened to the voice of Alexander's assistant. "Alright, please tell my son that we will meet at home in an hour and then we will talk about everything. Bye." Staring at the phone she shook her head slightly in disbelief. "That cannot be. It just can't be true."

 

*****

 

Michiru Kasawaki entered the ice hall. She took a look around and decided she would probably find the others somewhere in the backstage area.

Tatjana Yagudin was in her office, watching tapes of Taylor 's performances. She jerked in surprise as she heard somebody clearing their throat behind her. Whirling around, she looked at the other woman, her face and body language showing that she did not like the interruption at all. "Who are you and what do you want?"

The small Asian smiled friendly, holding out a hand. "Hello, I'm Michiru Kasawaki."

Mrs. Yagudin crossed her arms, ignoring the other woman's hand completely. "Ah, so you're the choreographer. You can go right away, we don't need you."

Michiru was taken aback by that. "I think that is a decision better left to Taylor , isn't it?"

"There is no way that I will let you manipulate the girl!" the coach hissed acidly.

Michiru's eyes widened. "Why do you think I would do that?"

"How am I supposed to know that you don't just use her to get money from her?"

The choreographer's gaze fell on the small TV where a tape was still playing. "She is tense."

"What?"

" Taylor , she is too tense when she skates," Michiru explained, pointing at the screen. "That is the reason why she has not won a medal yet. She is too grim. I could change that if I get the chance."

The coach snorted scornfully. "Out of the question."

"Why are you so rebuffing? You don't even know me."

"I hope it stays that way," Mrs. Yagudin replied, scowling at the small woman. "And now get out before I call security!"

Staying calm, Michiru tried once more to reason with the coach. "Mrs. Yagudin, Taylor could become one of the best. She has great potential. The only thing she needs is to find is her inner calm. I can help her with that."

Unbelieving, the coach looked at her. "Just how would you like to accomplish that?"

"Martial Arts and meditation combined with a little Tai Chi and the usual training," Michiru answered seriously.

"You are kidding, right?" came the sarcastic remark almost immediately. "This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard."

"Please, let me try. What could it hurt? You have nothing to lose and Taylor could gain so much, I know it. Please, give me a chance. Give her the chance."

Tatjana exhaled sharply, but after the last comment she couldn't help herself and gave in. "Alright. Until the Olympic Games you will be Taylor 's choreographer and coach. If she wins a medal you can stay on board afterward, if notů then you disappear to where you came from."

Michiru smiled warmly. "Thank you. You will not regret it, I swear."

"But... if I find out that you are somehow using her then I will make your life a living hell." She held out a big hand. "Do we have a deal?"

Michiru agreed and shook her hand.

Now the Russian coach wasn't so unwelcoming anymore and she asked, "Would you please do me a favor?"

"Of course, what is it you want?"

"I would like to see what you can do on the ice with these skates that I'm sure you have in your bag."

"It would be my pleasure," Michiru answered, put on the skates and went on the ice, presenting the astonished coach some of her famous moves.

At the same time, Taylor came storming into the hall, completely out of breath.

The coach glared at her protégée and reprimanded her, "Say, don't you have a watch? You are late again!"

"Is it my fault that there is such chaos out on the streets?" Taylor grumbled back. "Besides..." She couldn't finish her sentence because her attention was drawn to the graceful figure that whirled across the ice like a tornado. "Wow, who is that?"

Before the coach could reply the small woman came towards them and turned to Mrs. Yagudin. "So? What do you say?"

"You've got the job. Taylor I would like for you to meet your new coach and choreographer."

The teenager was positively surprised. "You are Michiru Kasawaki?"

"In flesh and blood," Michiru responded, smiling warmly. "It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person."

Taylor was so flabbergasted she couldn't say a word and just stared at her.

 

*****

 

Jonathan Parker entered his house with a satisfied smile on his face. His day couldn't have been better and his thoughts were still circling around the beautiful Michiru Kasawaki, who had beaten him in the tennis match. "If only I were 20 years younger," he thought to himself and walked into the living room.

Immediately his wide grin vanished as he saw the serious looks on his wife's and son's faces. "Did something happen? Is anything wrong with Vicky?" he asked concerned.

"No, everything is fine with Victoria . She is on her way to Paris for a photo shooting," Alexander explained. "Please, Dad, sit down first."

Jonathan did as was asked. "Fine, I'm sitting. Would somebody please be so kind and enlighten me now as to what is going on?"

Catherine sat down next to him and took his hand. Carefully she began, "Darling, do you remember that I sent Elizabeth to New Zealand to check out the location for our new movie?"

"Yes," Jonathan nodded. "You told me that."

"Well, Mr. Jackson called us from Wellington today. He said that Liz was not there for the meeting... which was 2 days ago..."

Jonathan looked at his wife and frowned. "What?... What does that mean?... Where is Lizzy?"

"We don't know, Dad," Alex chimed in. "For now she is missing."

"We will do everything we can to find her," Catherine announced.

Jonathan was so shocked he didn't know what to do. "I think... I think... God, I need a drink... yes... a drink," he muttered.

 

*****

 

Meanwhile it had begun to darken in the jungle and the stranger had lit some antique lanterns in the tree house.

Sitting on a pile of blankets and pillows Liz was brushing her long blonde hair. "The fish was very delicious. I really believe at home not even a 3-star-cook would have done it better." She knew it was in vain because the other woman couldn't understand her but the silence was driving her crazy so she talked.

The dark haired beauty was not paying attention to her guest. She was rather fascinated by the deodorant stick she had uncovered in Liz' briefcase. Turning it this way and that way, she looked at it from all angles. Finally, she unscrewed the white lid and sniffed carefully.

Liz managed to stop her in the last second as she realized that the woman was extending her tongue towards it, intending to have a taste of it. "No, no, no," Liz said, reached over and took the perfume from her hands. "That is not for eating, even though it does smell good. It belongs there." She lifted an arm of the stranger and rubbed the deodorant into the woman's armpit.

The dark haired beauty giggled and writhed a bit.

The laughter was a beautiful sound and Liz had to smile at that. "Well, I guess I just found out that you are ticklish."

 

*****

 

Christopher sat on the leather couch in the living room. Tasilo sat next to him and the blonde man stroked his head tenderly. He was waiting for Taylor to come home, knowing it would be hard to explain what had happened to Liz. Sighing sadly, he stared off into space, trying to compose the words he would need to tell his little sister as considerately as possible. The phone rang and he picked up. "Hello?"

"Hi, it's Sara."

"Oh hi, what's up?"

Sara hesitated for a second and then she blurted, "I have a little problem. To tell the truth you and I have a little problem... about our wedding..."

He closed his eyes and groaned pitifully. Chris had known that there might be a chance their little charade would backfire but he had not thought that it would happen so soon. "Oh no. Please don't tell me that the Parkers are already making preparations so that you can have a wedding like in a fairy tale."

Clearing her throat Sara admitted, "Well... I'd say it won't be long and Aunt Cathy might just do that. She is very excited."

"Argh, damn it," Christopher cussed.

"Can we meet somewhere and talk about this?"

He was just thinking about that as he noticed how Tasilo jumped off the couch and raced to the front door, whimpering in excitement and wagging his tail wildly. That could only mean that Taylor was coming home. "You caught me at a bad moment, Sara. I'm sorry, but I cannot meet you now. How about tomorrow morning?"

"Yes, that would be fine."

"Okay then. I'll come to you tomorrow morning and then we will talk about everything."

"Good, until then. Bye."

"Bye." Chris hung up a mere second before Taylor came prancing happily into the living room.

"You won't believe what happened!" She began her tale and told him everything about her day and the meeting with the new choreographer. It didn't take long for her to realize that her big brother didn't show any excitement at all. "Man, here I am telling you I have a new coach, who is totally cool and all you say is 'great'? What's wrong with you?"

The moment had come. Chris gathered all the courage he could muster and told his sister, " Taylor , sit down. There is something I need to tell you."

The teenager rolled her eyes in annoyance. "If this is about your wedding with Sara Jones then you can forget it. I already know all that from the newspapers."

"I will NOT marry Sara!" Chris exclaimed. "But that's not what I wanted to tell you."

"Then what is up?"

"Karen got a call today...," he began haltingly. "It's about... it's... God, Taylor, I don't know how to tell you..."

Taylor 's heart began to pound. Something had to be horribly wrong if her brother acted like that. "Chris, just tell me."

Tears gathering in his eyes he said, "Liz never arrived in New Zealand ."

Taylor just sat there, looked at her brother and tried to process what she had just heard. "What... what does that mean?... Is she... she is dead? Is that what you want to say? She is dead?"

"No! No, no, no! Don't even think that, little one. She is NOT dead."

The girl started to tremble and shake. As the first tears rolled down her cheeks and the first sobs burst free from her chest, Chris pulled her into his arms, holding on to her tightly. "But if she is not dead then where is she?" she whimpered through her tight throat.

"I don't know, little one. I don't know. But we will find her. This I swear on everything that's holy to me."

"I miss her so much," Taylor sobbed and now Chris also cried openly. "I miss her too."

Tasilo sat next to them and started to howl.

 

 

 

*****

 

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT EPISODE...

 

 

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