"I'm telling you that I'm on that list."

I stop short from where I'm on my way to the rest room and find myself with a bit of a situation on my hands.  I've been doing this so long that I can tell the situation even before I move over to stand next to the woman.  "Can I help you?"

Diplomacy is something that has come to me in time and tonight I seem to be particularly calm about things like this.  Everyone should be inside, the party is going strong and there is still more to come with the entertainment that is scheduled for the evening.  I don't really understand why anyone is outside here in the hall anyway.  That was the reason I left my post in the first place, so that I could use the rest room while nothing was happening.

When she doesn't answer my question I scoot a little closer.  "Miss?"

Her head whips up and she stops short, blinking a few times before she seems to catch her breath.  She doesn't look familiar to me, but I seem to be familiar to her.  There is a slight cringing in her eyes and she looks away for a moment as if she's expecting someone else to come and save her, before she turns back to me.

"I seem to be stuck out here and can't be found on the VIP list," she says reaching into her Gucci purse to pull a phone out of her pocket.

The phone says so much about her.  It's strange that way.  It's one of those new ones, the ones that you pay two hundred dollars for and it does the same stuff that the thirty dollar phone does.  She flips it open with one hand and looks at the screen before using her thumb to press a few numbers to dial.  She's got manicured nails, real ones, something that I thought was outlawed in the greater Los Angeles Area.  She puts the phone up to her ear and I feel my blood pressure already rising.

"Are you on the list?" I ask.

It probably sounds like a dumb question coming towards her, seeing that she clearly fits in here, but I'm obligated to ask.  She's been standing at the door for twenty minutes now, looking half lost and half pissed off.  I don't know who she came in with, but she must have stepped out the wrong door to get some fresh air, leaving her air-brushed boyfriend inside.  There is something slightly familiar about her, but I can't place her face.  The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I watch her.  I've seen her somewhere I'm sure, but then again these days, working more with the family than ever, I've been around more people in the business than I care to admit to.

The girl--well woman--in front of me sighs.  "I know I'm on the list.  I just can't remember who we listed our names under."  She presses the phone closer to her head and I can tell by her sour expression that whoever she just dialed, hasn't picked up and that a voicemail service is now speaking to her.  She doesn't leave a message, instead shuts the phone and shoves it back in the purse.  "It could have been the record label, it could have been the production company or it could have just been under Johnny's name."

"Are you sure you're on the list?" I ask again.

"Tamara?"  The speaker in my ear startles me a bit.  I should have been back to my post about five minutes ago.  Normally they aren't this picky, but working this event has gotten everyone on edge.  I ignore the call and shift my weight, trying not to let anyone know what is going on.

"Yes," she says now looking a little more worried than she had been a few moments before.  "Addison Whenton.  W-h-e-n-t-o-n."  She takes a deep breath and leans towards the other guard who is still looking at the ten page list of guests.  "I'm here with--"

"I'm sure they know who you are," I say trying to keep the bitter edge from my voice.

Everyone knows who Addison Whenton is.  She stared in three top box office hits this year and is rumored to have been starting in on a singing career due to her new social circle.  She's known for being a nice woman, but being impatient in this situation is something that anyone would go through, especially trying to get back into a party like the one that is going on inside.

"Ad-day!"

The drunk voice catches my ear and I tuck my chin down into my chest and move to look at the list again.  I feel my skin instantly break out in a clammy film of sweat and I adjust my jacket shoulder before I move my hair to my hair to pull the clip out of it.  It's against all regulations--my brother's as well as my own--to let my hair fall in my face like this while on duty, but sometimes I have to do things to keep myself safe, and at this moment, keeping myself away from Addison's friend is my priority.

"Tamara?"  The voice in my ear is suddenly filled with panic.  I wish sometimes that the boys would just let me be.  It's not like I'm going to disappear out of a party where there are thirteen hundred people dancing around and guards at every door.

My eyes somehow find her name and I read who she's with and it's confirmed.  I don't have to lift my eyes to see who it is.

"Let her in," I mumble.  I turn so my back is towards them and press my finger against my ear pretending to get a call over the radio.  I count to five before I hear them start to walk away so I turn back around and the guard is staring at me.  "What?" I ask.

"I don't think he saw that it was you."

I don't want to explain myself so I nod and move to put my hair back out of my face.  As I'm smoothing down the stray hairs that always seem to get away from me, I see the happy couple walking away.  I've hoped that I've gotten away with my little scam, but as soon as I lift my eyes somehow I catch eye contact with him.  He stumbles a bit as he's walking then nods at me and turns away, only to turn back for a moment with a shocked look on his face before someone in front of him called out to him.

"Tamara."  The voice in my ear is breathless and I know whoever is on the other end of this line is coming to get me.  I would love the distraction at this moment.  "Answer me."

"Ok," the guard says, "Maybe he did recognize you."

I hear feet clicking on the marble floor coming towards us.  I can hear the anger in the footsteps and there is hostility in my name.  "Tamara."

I turn and find, as always, Timothy standing there watching me.  He looks to be out of breath as if he's rushed towards where we're standing.  I know that he's been especially worried about me over the last year, but this is starting to get a little crazy.  He's being too overprotective and as much as I love that about him, right now, it's not what I need.

His eyes search me as if I've just committed a crime and I'm trying to hide it.  "Tamara, are you ok?"

"I was just going to go to the restroom," I say pointing down the hallway.  "Where are you coming from?"

"Backdoor," he says and steps closer to me, putting his hand on my cheek.  He looks into my eyes deeply for a moment, trying to see past the little story I'm telling him about being on my way to the bathroom, "Jake is out back looking for you."

I nod and push my brother's hand away.  "I'll call him."

I walk out towards the bathroom.  "Jake."  I pause for a moment outside the bathroom and watch my brother disappear back to his post.

"Big T," comes over the line.  "You ok?"

"Yeah," I say, "Just had a run in with the ex."

Jake knows all the drama that has gone on in the last few months.  He knows that my brother is off his rocker whenever things don't go right and that I've basically been on house arrest since I left Mississippi.  "Really?"

"Yeah."  I sigh.

"Tammy."

I turn around and Lance is standing in front of me with a worried look on his face.  His drink is gone and he looks a bit sober, but there is something glossy about his eyes, some soft lost look there that I'm not sure I've ever seen before.  "Yes?"

"Ok," he says nervously.  He's twisting his hands together, looking half innocent and half evil.  He's sneaky like that.  I believe, just by looking at him that he knows what he's doing.  To the untrained eye, he's looking sullen and self conscious, but I can see it in his eyes.  He's using the guilt trip approach to things to try to get back at me--something that I feel is totally inappropriate at the moment, "Don't talk to me like you don't know me."

"I'm working right now," I say calmly, "I'm sure there are a million things we should say to each other, but at the moment you have a date to get back to and I need to get back to my post."

"Can't you just spare a few minutes?"  His accent seems to have gotten thicker despite the fact that I know he's been in Los Angeles more and more these last few months.  "It's been months since I've seen or heard from you.  I would hope that you'd be able to get at least a few words out to me before you decide to disappear for another few months."

"You knew where I was this whole time.  You could have come over any time."

"And deal with your bull dog of a brother?"  He let out a bit of a laugh.  "Yeah right."

"Well it was nice seeing you.  I've got to get to the restroom and get back to work.  Maybe we can talk sometime later on," I say nervously and try to slip into the restroom.

He looks shocked that I'm being so distant.  I can't be anything other than that at the moment.  My brother is only rooms away and I've been so afraid of facing Lance that I truly am speechless when it comes to the subject that I know he wants to discuss.  We've been apart for so long that it's hard to know where to start on getting us back to the way that we were.  If that is even possible at this point.

"If you'll excuse me," I say when he continues to stare.

I slip into the rest room and am glad to find it completely empty.  I move to the mirror for a moment and look at myself in the mirror, checking my hair before I slip into one of the stalls.  I close and lock the door and see that there is a toilet seat on the toilet.  I flip it down and sit down on it.  This is the first time since five this morning that I've been able to have a moment alone.

The hallow sound of the room is soon interrupted and I find myself leaning to look and see who the person is that has just come inside.  It's a man's set of shoes, the clicking on the marble screams that much.  I take a deep breath and hold it and try not to think of some scary movie I saw one time that had a scene where someone got stabbed in a bathroom stall.

"Seven?"

I see him trying to look through the crack in the door and I turn away from where he's looking in.

"Seven, please talk to me."  He sounds horrible now and I wonder just how drunk he is.

"Leave me alone Lance."

"Please Seven."

"Don't call me that," I say and suddenly feel as if the walls have started to close in on me.

"Please Seven."

"Please Lance.  Leave me alone."  I want to tell him that I'm going to call my brother in a minute.  I wonder where his bodyguard is anyway.  He shouldn't be alone especially at one of these events.

"Seven.  It's been months," he says.

I close my eyes, take a deep breath, reach into my pocket and hit the panic button I have hidden in the lining of my jacket.  I know that in about a minute Timothy is going to come rushing through the door causing a huge scene.  I take another deep breath and cover my face with my hands, moving away from the door.  I'm not really afraid of Lance, but I don't want to talk to him right now and I need to get some perspective on the situation.

"TAMARA!"  I hear Timothy's voice echo in the room and I can hear Lance turning towards him and realizing that he's in trouble now.

"What'd you do?" Timothy asks.

I unlock the door, push by Lance and go stand near my brother.  "He didn't do anything."  I go and wash my hands.  "I accidentally hit the button.  My shoe slipped on the flooring and I landed wrong.

"You sure?"

Lance looks white with fright now.  He swallows a few times, his Adam's apple disappearing and reappearing again.

"Yeah," I say.  "Lance heard me slip.  I yelped when I hit my foot and he thought I was hurt and came in to check on me."

Timothy gives Lance a once over and is about to step towards him until I step between them and push him towards the door as a woman is on her way into the restroom.

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Last updated: 07/04/04.