IN PRODUCTION

By Patricia Brown


ONE


"You better tell her before she finds out some other way," the voice on the other end of the phone said.

The chair that he was sitting in leaned back a little as he shifted his weight in it. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, but that didn't take away from the fact that he was doing serious business. He was in the middle of a tough contract negotiation for his next project, but one wouldn't know that by looking at him.

"I know I need to," he sighed and flipped the page of the contract in front of him to the next page, "I just haven't gotten to the right time and the right place to just bring it up. I know she already hates that I'm gone and adding this all to the mix isn't going to help."

"Well Toronto is coming up and you're not going to be able to hide the fact that you're doing a movie. I mean Entertainment Tonight has been spreading rumors and it's going to reach her ears sooner or later."

"I know Wendy," he said with a sharp tone. "I've got a few other things on my mind besides this movie."

"Don't start snapping at me now," she said, "I know that you are under a lot of pressure and all, but don't take it out on me."

"I'm sorry," he said, "Forgive me."

"Always."

Lance leaned back in his chair and put a hand to the bridge of his nose then turned his chair and looked outside. It had been raining off and on for the last few hours, but he hadn't realized that it was still wet outside. "So I'll meet you in Toronto in a month?"

Just as the words came out of his mouth Nicole stepped into the room. He almost groaned knowing that she'd heard his comment. He'd wanted to tell her about this for a month, but had never found the right place or right way to bring it up. He knew she'd be upset and he hated the feeling of causing her that stress, which was probably why he had put it off for so long.

"You're going to Toronto?" she asked.

Lance sighed and spoke into the phone, "I'll talk to you later. Thanks for setting up the house for me."

"House?" she asked as he hung the phone up.

"Yes a house." He took a deep breath and paid that she would understand. "I figure if I'm moving there for a few months that I should stay in a house and not a hotel."

"Moving?" she asked.

"Yes." He saw her eyes instantly tear up and he started to get up to go over to her but she put a hand up to stop him.

"You better talk and talk fast Lance," she said and sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk from him.

He took a deep breath, let it out then began to ramble hoping to get it all out before he thought about what he was saying. "I'm starting, well started a production company and we're filming a movie in Toronto for two months and well I have a business partner and I'm staring in the movie with Joey and basically I didn't tell you because I thought you'd get upset and well you are so now I don't know what I'm going to do."

"What?" she said. Her jaw dropped. "Is it possible for you to fit anything more in your schedule?" she asked, "With the group, FreeLance and all the publicity for Meredith and Ryan there aren't enough hours in the day."

"It's not really that much stuff," he said, "When the tour ends in two weeks I'm going to fly up to Toronto to film, my mom and dad are taking care of the business and well Meredith has her parents watching over things. They consult me about things and I'm still working with Ryan on his album, but everything seems to be settled right now."

"Well they aren't settled with me." She still looked shocked, "Where does that leave me?"

"You can come too," he said.

"No I can't," she said angrily then got up and began to pace. "I have work Lance, work that I go to every morning and come home from every night and I barely see you as it is and I'm wondering how it's going to be physically possible for you to be in two places at once."

"Two places at once?" he asked.

"You promised me," she said taking a deep breath, "You promised me that after the tour was over that you'd come home and spend time with me."

"Why are you getting so upset about this?" he asked. "I've had to go out of town for longer than this before...and with this movie you'll be able to come up there and live with me. We'll be together."

"That's not the point. I wanted you home...home and in this house that we've owned but barely lived in this last year...you seem to have forgotten about you getting the flu and you always being tired. You're going to add more stress and get sick again and well," she paused, "I'm not going through that again. It was bad enough that I had to fly to Atlanta a few weeks ago to see you in the hospital. I'm not flying up to cold ass Toronto," she said.

"But--"

"No butts Lance," she said angrily, "You and I were married the last time I checked and normal couples don't do this to each other."

She stomped her foot and despite being worried about her reaction Lance almost wanted to laugh at her. She was acting like such a child. Her tantrum was cuter than a five year old's. "Do what to each other?" He thought he should ask because really she seemed to be making a bigger deal out of this than it was worth.

"Marriage is a partnership Lance. You don't just go off and plan things without discussing it first," she said.

Now he seemed to be the confused one in the conversation. "What are you talking about?"

"You've kept this from me for a while," she said, "I mean you already are going to produce a movie. That doesn't happen overnight!"

"Lucy, what's wrong?" he asked, "It's more than just this."

"Like you really care," she said and turned on her heel. She left the room and he heard her making noises in the kitchen so he got up to see what was wrong, but didn't get far before she came back in and threw a picture about the size of a poleriod at her.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Your son...or your daughter," she said angrily, "Since we all seem to be spilling the beans today about our little secret projects I thought you should know about mine--well ours really." Her expression softened for a minute as she pointed to the picture in his hand.

Sure enough, along the edge of the blurry picture were the initials: OBGYN. He was going to be a father and this was his child's first picture.

"How are you going to explain it to our child that making movies and music was more important than them. I can deal with this...I signed up for this job, but they didn't and I'm not going to let you act that way to them."

Lance stared at her. "Job?" he asked, "You think this marriage is a job?"

"You know what I mean Lance," she said putting a hand on her jean clad hip, "You know that I knew full well what I was getting myself into when I married you. You warned me a million times what it was going to be like.


TWO


His eyes followed her out the room and it took him a moment, but he finally got to his feet and followed her. "Where are you going?" he asked as he slid down the hall and out to the kitchen.

"I need to be by myself for a minute," she said firmly giving him a warning look and walked towards the back door.

He hadn't noticed earlier, but it had begun to rain. He could see the ripples on the surface of the pool. He knew it would stop after a while, but he still didn't think she needed to be going outside.

"Lucy, stop it," he said, "Don't go outside."

"Why Lance?" she asked opening the door. She stood outside and held onto the door, "I thought you had to get back to work. I'll leave you alone so you can." She slammed the door and stared at him through the glass for a moment as if she was warning him not to come outside.

Lance stared at her then went and got on the portable phone while keeping a eye on her.

"Hello?"

"Wendy," He put an arm out and pointed towards the door, even though he knew she couldn't see him, "She's standing out in the rain and she's really pissed."

"So you told her?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"Well go out there and drag her inside caveman!" Wendy said with a sarcastic tone. Her voice went lower, "Sometimes men are so stupid."

"Good one Wendy," he said then took a breath. "Oh and guess what?"

"What?" she asked.

"Oh and guess what else?" he said starting to feel even more frustrated with the situation. His wife was only separated from him by a pane of glass, but there was so much more between them.

"What?" she asked.

"I'm going to be a dad."

"Congratulations." There was a long silence. "You don't sound too pleased about it."

"Well I would be...I mean I am..." he sighed."

"You don't sound it."

"My wife reminded me--so pleasantly--that I have no time for anything including the movie, the production company and now my own child."

Wendy laughed a little, "Don't worry about it. It's not like your kid is going to be popping out any time soon. You'll adjust to it. You've done that well so far with the new company."

"I just don't know..."

"Lance, my first advice to you is to go and find your wife right now and talk to her. She's probably pissed, but if you're on the phone with me I don't think it's going to help your case."

Lance sighed and looked out the window. Nicole was standing there soaked to the bone still looking out at the storming sky. "I'll talk to you later," he said, "If I can't be reached for the next day or so you'll know why."

"Ok," she said, "Good luck with everything."

"Thanks."

Lance hung up the phone and went to grab a towel. He threw it over his shoulder and went to the sliding glass door. He slid it open and stared at her for a moment before speaking, "Honey, come in here. You're gonna get sick."

"No," she said firmly.

"Come on Nicole, I'm not kidding, come inside."

Lance threw the towel down onto the counter and walked out into the rain. The wind was blowing a little and the rain was coming down pretty steadily and even though the water and air seemed warm he still shivered as he walked towards her.

She turned away when he got in front of her. "I don't want to see you right now."

"Lucy, stop this," he said, "I mean it."

"Lance you don't understand. It's easy for you to stand there and say that this is going to be ok because you're going to go off on tour or to film or to record, or whatever and I'm going to be stuck here alone."

"No sweetie."

"Yes Lance. You know it's true so don't try to deny it. I've never once demanded anything from you, but I've got to put my foot down. If I'm going to have this child then I want you in its life."

"If?" he said.

"Yes if," she said, "I have to make the decision about what I'm going to do about this child."

"Decision?" he said.

"Yes."

"What are you talking about?" he said, "You better not be thinking about what I think you're thinking about."

Nicole looked at him with a frown. He wasn't sure what to make of that, but he knew enough that something serious was going on with her and he needed to find out about it soon before she made a decision that would change both their lives forever.

"Don't make this into some sappy romance novel," she said hitting at him, "I'm not going to abort this baby. I'm not that dramatic." She took a deep breath. "How could you think that?"

"I don't know what to think anymore," he said with a sigh. It was true. In the last few weeks, hell the last few months, things had gone so horribly and everything was starting to merge together that he wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't.

"Lance, we have to talk," she said with a serious tone. "I mean really talk."

"Come inside then," he said squaring his shoulders. He knew he needed to get her out of the rain, not only for her own good, but for his. "You're going to catch a cold."

She nodded finally and turned and walked into the house. He grabbed up the towel and wrapped her in it for a moment and looked in her eyes. "I love you, you know that."

"I know," she said and lowered her eyes from his. "I love you too, but sometimes that isn't enough."

Lance's heart stopped. "Then what do I need to do?" he asked finding now that they were discussing this that there were tears coming to his eyes. He didn't want to lose her. "I'll do anything," he said desparately.

 


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