Willa quickly pulled on her shirt before she got up then excused herself from the set. She grabbed up a sweatshirt that someone had left hanging over a chair on her way out. She threw a nasty look in the direction of the other guys, who were all still laughing. It shut them up a little, but she wondered if it would really do any good since she figured whenever Lance came back the guys were going to make fun of him again, since that's what guys do in situations like that.
She didn't know what she was going to say or even really why she was trying to follow him, but she felt like she needed to say something if they were going to get through the rest of the shoot without another incident. She wanted him to know that she was on his side and that whatever the guys said shouldn't effect the fact that they had a shoot to get through.
When she got outside she looked around for a minute, thinking that he might be pacing, since she was prone to do that often when she was upset. She didn't see him so she thought he might be in his trailer. It would be ridiculous to have him be anywhere else since one of the bodyguards would have followed him if he'd gone anywhere else.
She found the right one and walked up slowly to the door. Sure enough one of the security guards was sitting outside. He seemed to just wave her on through as if he expected someone to come after Lance.
She expected Lance to still be pissed off. She expected him to be cursing at himself or someone else, but he wasn't. She actually was surprised to see him through the window, lying on his stomach, looking as if he was already well into an afternoon nap.
She knocked softly and watched him turn over and look at her through the glass. His eyes were tired looking and he was still angry, and although he didn't seem to be too thrilled to see her he waved her in.
"Can I come in?" she asked cracking the door a little.
When he nodded again that it was ok for her to come in, she entered the tiny ten by ten room and immediately took a seat in a chair next to the bed he was laying on.
"What do you want?" he asked. He lay flat on his back and stared at the ceiling.
"I want to know why you hate me so much," she said plainly.
He studied her face then sat up and rubbed the back of his neck before he got to his feet and went to get a drink out of the tiny refrigerator.
"Want one?" he asked holding out a bottled water.
"Thanks," she said and took the one he held out to her while he reached for another. He moved slowly across the room again and took a seat across from her on the bed.
"So are you going to tell me?" she asked.
"I don't hate you," he said twisting open the bottled water he threw the cap across the room and watched it hit the wall and fall into the sink. "Actually I think I like you too much," he said and took a quick drink, as if having something in his mouth would get him out of saying anything more. He didn't look at her as he held the water in his mouth for an extremely long time.
"You sure don't act like it," she said with a frown. She opened her bottle and took a drink.
Lance reached over and grabbed the top out of her hand and threw it over into the sink, like he had with his own top. It bounced differently, but landed in the sink just the same. "I'm sorry for running out of there before," he said not looking at her still.
"What was that whole drama scene about?" she asked, "If I didn't know better I would have to think that you just threw a model tantrum."
"Finally," she said with a sigh. "Considering that you're in a bubble gum pop sort of band, you sure act way too serious than most of the other teeny-boppers."
"I'm not a teeny-bopper," he said firmly.
"Give me a break Lance," she said, "I wasn't making fun of you. I was trying to get a reaction out of you, something that I'm finding is hard to do."
"What are you talking about?" he asked.
"You're way too uptight about certain things and I think it needs to stop if you and I are going to get the rest of this damn video done!" she said.
"It was dumb of me to run out," he said softly. He reached with his free hand to smack himself lightly on the forehead as if he was trying to smack some sense into himself.
"Dumb wasn't the word I was thinking of, but yeah it was kind of stupid considering how much money is being spent on this shoot."
"Why'd they pick me to do the love scenes?" he asked, "The other guys are so much better at this acting stuff."
"Lance, you really weren't paying attention in that meeting were you," she said with a laugh.
"I was the one who requested to have you be in the love scenes with me," she said with a smile on her face.
"You did what?" That wasn't the comment he was expecting at all.
"I had my pick and I picked you," she said, "And well everyone thought that you needed a little help in the lovin' department since…"
"They said what?" he asked. He still couldn't believe what he was hearing. She was sitting there looking at him as if he was a charity case or something.
"Everyone has said that…"
"Look I don't want to hear about how everyone thinks that I need a date." He snapped at her. He didn't mean to, but with the lack of sleep and the strange circumstances of the day he needed to get out of this conversation before it really got ugly.
"Hey!" she said. She stood up. "I hate to tell you this, but it wasn't my fault that they were making fun of you! And if you're gonna be an asshole like this then go to hell. I'll skip out on this video in a minute if you don't stop acting like this!"
Lance stared at her. He hadn't expected that either. She was standing there yelling at him, talking to him like no one had talked to him in a long time. The problem was that he thought she looked sexy as hell doing it when he knew he should be mad at her for getting him into this mess.
"And if you think that this is a model tantrum then go screw yourself. You've made my life nothing but hell since I got he-"
Doing the only thing he knew how to do to shut her up. He got to his feet and pulled her into a hug, kissing her to shut her up. He thought that she wouldn't react the way that she did and he found himself, a moment later with a smack across his face.
"You hit me!" He grabbed her hands and held them tightly so that she couldn't take another swing at him. He was shocked to feel the tingling on his cheek. He'd never been smacked like that before and didn't want it to become a habit.
"Don't do that!" she said angrily and twisted out of his grasp.
"I…I…," he stopped and stared at her.
"I thought you were the southern gentleman of the group. That’s the only reason I agreed to do this…I thought that I'd get a little respect from you all, but it seems like the only thing I'm getting from you is harassment!"
She stormed out of the trailer and he knew that he'd done it now. If he didn't go out there after her she was going to leave the set and screw up the entire video shoot as well as walk out of his life, which he didn't want.
Pushing out the door he followed her into the alleyway and grabbed her arm. "Where are you going?"
"To quit, where do you think I'm going?"
"Look, you can't do that," he said quickly.
"Why not?" she asked.
"Because it'll screw up everything. There is a lot riding on this video and if you leave it'll screw things up."
"I don't care," she said, "I can't work with you."
"Come on, there are like only two more scenes left then you'll never have to see me again, if that's what you want," he said.
She glared at him, took a breath. "Don't speak to me once more or I'm out of here."
Lance nodded and looked over to see some of the crew watching them. "Truce for now?" he asked.
She nodded. "This is far from over Lance, but if we don't get this shoot done everyone is going to kill us."
Lance nodded again and held out an arm for her to go into the building. When they returned to the set everyone was watching them. He wondered if everyone had heard them yelling at each other.
"Make up!" Wayne called out and a woman came over and applied some make up onto Lance's reddened cheek. The woman stared at him for a moment and he tried to ignore the look she was giving him. He wondered if there were marks across his cheek where he'd been smacked. He hoped that he could get through the next few hours and then get whatever needed to be settled, settled between Willa and him.
"I'm not doing it!" Willa yelled into her cell phone. "I swear if I have to put up with another one of that guy's little fits!"
"Honey, it's MTV. It's the best television exposure you've gotten in the last few months. I think that this would be a great opportunity to get your face out on television a little. It'll open up a whole new market for you..."
Willa paced across her small living room and stared out the window while her booking agent went on and on about the new market and the whole strategy of getting her face out there.
"MTV is about as wide spread coverage as anyone could get. I mean Cindy and the whole House of Style thing really shot off a lot of people's careers."
Willa stomped her foot. She was cranky from having a bad week and really had thought she'd be done with NSYNC and everyone associated with them when the video had wrapped up two weeks before. "Elena, I don't want to be with THEM!"
There was a pause for a moment and she could almost hear Elena's brain working. The two of them were fairly close despite the fact that had purely a working relationship. Elena was the one who booked her shoots for her and made sure that everything was set for her to travel. The woman was a saint and in the last few months had become somewhat of a friend. Willa knew that Elena was going to ask about the video shoot. Willa had given her a short answer to her question of how it had gone just after the wrap party, but now she was going to want an explanation.
"What happened?" Elena said calmly. "I thought that you were the one who volunteered to be in the video in the first place."
"I did…" she sighed thinking of how excited she'd been to see Lance again. He hadn't made the best first impression with her, but after seeing his face on numerous magazines she'd formed a little crush on him, but since the video shoot she'd found it taxing for her to even look at his face in a picture. She definitely didn't want to have to face him in person if possible.
"You won't have to be there with them. It'll be just you and Carson there for the premiere."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. The guys are going to tape a message to be played, but you'll be there live with Carson."
Willa thought about it for a moment. She wanted to say no, but she knew that Elena was right about the exposure. MTV would make her face visible to a lot of people, and although Willa didn't love her modeling career, at the moment it was paying the bills and the more exposure she got, the more bills would get paid.
"I guess I can make it then."
"Honey, if this video goes big you're going to have to be seen with them in public at least if it gets nominated for something at the video music awards."
"Yeah well that's at least a few months away, so I can have all this time to prepare myself to deal with them!"
Elena laughed into the phone. "Good lord girl. Calm down. It's not like they are that bad."
"You've never met them in person." Willa knew that she really shouldn't be bad mouthing the whole group, but dealing with Lance for the photo shoot had soured her to the whole group.
"They can't be that bad. Most of them have model faces."
"Yeah well they have supermodel attitudes to go with them," Willa said knowing how Elena thought of her as a normal person and not a supermodel.
"Honey calm down and go enjoy the rest of your day off. You'll be going to the studio on Tuesday. Now do you want a car to come and drive you up there or do you want to get their on your own?"
"Can I get a car?" she asked, "And will someone go with me? I hate doing press stuff by myself."
"I'll make sure that someone is with you and that the car picks you up at the apartment."
"Thank you Elena."
"Hon, go and eat some ice cream or something."
"I'm planning to."
"You seem stressed out. You need to relax a little."
"I know, I know."
Willa hung up with Elena and went to make herself lunch. She'd been at a shoot for the last two days and was trying to make up for the stress of the event by making herself a huge lunch. She knew that if she was going to deal with working another shoot the next day she was going to have to eat a load of food. She didn't like to deal with the stares of the makeup people and crew when she actually ate a real meal on the set so she usually ate heavily the day before she had a shoot.
She was about to sit down to watch cartoons and eat lunch when the phone rang.
"Hello, Willa speaking."
He hadn't expected her to pick up. Well he'd called her and wanted to talk to her, but he'd been praying that he'd get her voicemail or something.
"Willa, its Lance."
"What do you want?"
Great. She remembers me. His sarcasm didn't ease the tension that could be felt across the phone line.
He wanted to groan. He hadn't been the one to think of calling her. The guys all wanted him to talk to her and make sure that she was going to show up at the premiere thing for MTV since they hadn't parted a few weeks before as friends.
He took a huge breath. "I was wondering if they'd called you about going to the MTV studios."
"I just got off the phone with them and I'm going to go, only because I know that you won't be there."
Lance bit his tongue and thought about his next move.
"Well I was thinking of seeing if you wanted to go to lunch the next time I'm up your way, but I guess that you wouldn't want to be seen in public if you can't stand to see me in a professional setting."
"You guessed right."
Lance was stunned when she hung up the phone on him.
Fuming, Lance got up and began to pace the room he was staying in that night.
"How'd it go?" Justin asked peeking his head into the bedroom.
"What a bitch!" Lance said, not to Justin really, just into the air.
"Tell Willa I said hello when you call back," Justin said and ducked out of the room again.
Lance stared at his phone again. He wanted to throw it across the room. How could this girl get him so pissed off in such an off beat way? She didn't scream or yell, she just was herself and she'd gotten under his skin.
He dialed her number again and waited for her to answer.
"Look, you know what? I'm getting tired of your stupid attitude. You've been giving it to me since we met and I just don't understand…" Lance felt his head begin to ache as the air left his lungs with the words he was spitting out at her.
"Oh, hello again Lance." She took a breath and spoke in a lazy tone to him as if she didn't care at all that he was yelling at her. "Goodbye again Lance."
The click of the phone going dead on her end of the line filled his ears. Lance punched the end button on his phone. "Damn it!"
He heard a noise and turned to find JC now watching him from the doorway. "Why don't you just ask her out already?" JC laughed and left the doorway.
Lance thought about dialing her again, but figured two calls was enough for one day. He didn't turn off the phone. He found himself calling up the group's travel agent.
"Hello, I need a flight to New York…JFK…yeah, for Tuesday…and I need a car and driver to get me to Times Square…MTV Studios."
Willa sat back on the couch and munched on her sandwich. She had things to do, but she kept staring at the phone thinking, hoping more like, that Lance would call back. She may not want to see the guy, but playing phone games was always something to fill the afternoon.
Finally when the phone rang about twenty minutes later Willa picked up the phone.
"Took you long enough," she said with a harsh tone thinking that it would be Lance.
"Took what long enough?"
"Who is this?" she asked.
There was a pause. "This is Mark Catchem. I was wondering if you have a comment on your recent engagement to Lance Bass."
"What?" Willa sat up quickly and knocked her soda onto the hardwood floor. "What did you say?"
"Your recent engagement?" the man repeated.
"Look, I don't know who you are…" She thought about it for a moment. "Did Lance put you up to this?"
"Put me up to what?" Mark asked. "I just wondered if you had a comment that I can print in tomorrows edition of…"
"Goodbye!" Willa slammed down the phone and prayed that the guy wouldn't call back. She was going to have to change her cell phone number. If he'd gotten her number then she figured a few other people probably had it to.
Her phone rang again. She tried to ignore it, but after ten rings she finally picked it up. "I told you I don't have a comment!"
She paused and listened to the voice. "Elena?"
"What's going on?" Elena asked with true concern in her voice. "Who were you yelling at?"
Willa took a breath. "Did you know that someone floated a rumor that Lance and I are engaged?"
"That's what I said. Someone just called to ask if I had a comment…" She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm going to kill Lance if I ever see him in person!"
"Honey, calm down."
"I'm sorry," Willa said, "Why did you call again?"
"I just wanted to tell you to dress warmly tomorrow. They're planning on doing some shoots outside so I wanted you to bring some warm clothes with you."
"Thank you MOM," Willa laughed. "I'll stop by the office if we get done early."
"Ok," she said, "Calm down honey. I'm sure the rumors will fizzle out soon."
"I hope so," Willa said. "See you tomorrow."
"Get some rest. I'll make sure that everyone around here knows that you and Lance aren't a couple."
"We aren't a couple. Hell, we aren't even friends!"
Lance got tense as the car slowed as they neared the Viacom building. He always did when he was arriving somewhere that he knew he'd have to face a huge crowd. Today he was going to have to have to face the crowd alone, which added somewhat to his stress level. He'd only recently started to do press things on his own, because of FreeLance and still wasn't used to being the only one in front of the camera.
"You ok?" Wes asked from the seat across from him in the FORD Expedition. The noise from outside was becoming deafening now.
Lance nodded and took a few deep breaths. "Let's just get into the building. I'm gonna shake a few hands, but I'm not going to stop."
"Sounds like a plan," Wes said with a smile and a moment later the bodyguard unfolded his huge frame from the car and led the way into the building so that Lance could do the interview portion of TRL.
Lance followed Wes into the building and upstairs to the studio where TRL would be taped. The sound of the screaming fans made his ears ring and for once in his life he wished he had his in-ear monitors with him. They usually were a little uncomfortable to wear, but right now he could have used something to block out the noise from the crowd. They were making a surprise visit so they didn't stop in the green room. They waited in the hallway until Lance heard his name being said.
"And now here's a special mystery guest. Lance Bass." Carson's announcement sent the people going nuts. Lance took a breath and walked through the curtain that led to the taping area, grabbing a microphone from someone as he passed.
He touched the hands of the few girls in his reach as he made his way over to where Carson and Willa were already standing. He could tell that Carson was surprised to see him. A good surprised. Willa however narrowed her eyes at him for a moment then plastered a fake smile on her face.
"Hello, hello, hello," he said and waved to the camera.
"So what brings you by?" Carson asked with a sarcastic tone. He wiggled his eyebrows at the camera and reached to shake hands with Lance which turned into one of those half hug things that Lance hated, but knew that was in style for people to do.
The crowd screamed.
"Well I thought that Willa might be a little lonely up here talking about our video so I flew up from Orlando to help out a little," Lance said. He threw an arm around her knowing that she couldn't brush him off. She was on camera and that would be the ultimate sin. If she made him look bad on camera it would be replayed on MTV NEWS later that night for sure.
Willa of course smiled widely, but kept her elbow sticking out so he couldn't quite hug her to him. He could feel her digging her elbow into his ribs and had to let go a little so that he could breathe correctly.
"So is there a love connection going on?" Carson asked, "I mean I watched the video this morning and I could see some chemistry going on."
Lance shrugged and looked at Willa. It would be the perfect revenge if he did say that they were together. There would be nothing she could do about it. She'd have to go along with it or leave him looking like an asshole, something he knew that she wouldn't due, even if it was merely that business associates didn't do that to each other.
"Let's watch the video and see what I mean."
The video began to play and everyone in the audience began to clap and scream.
While they were off camera Willa leaned over and spoke angrily into Lance's ear. "What in God's name made you come here? My booking agent said you weren't going to be here."
Lance smiled. "I thought you'd be lonely."
"Yeah right. You did this because you knew it would piss me off!"
The camera came back onto them and Carson began more of his little interview. "So are you two seeing each other?" he asked.
"Should we tell him?" Lance asked. He could see the evil glares that Willa was giving him, but he chose to ignore them.
"Tell him what?" Willa asked.
"Don't be shy honey. It's no secret that we're seeing each other."
Willa gave him an angry look, but this wasn't the place to be having a fight. Willa plastered a smile on her face and hugged Lance to her, reaching around and grabbing his side with her one hand and twisting. "Well the video does say a lot."
Carson turned to the camera. "You heard it here first…I know NSYNC fans all over the world are crying right now, but I'm sure a lot of them are happy for the two of you."
"Thanks Carson," Lance said.
He watched Willa's reaction and knew he was going to get it later. Willa did her part for the cause. She just smiled and waved as they went to a commercial.
While the camera wasn't on them Willa took her heel and stood on Lance's toe. "I'm going to get you back for this Lance."
"I'm sure you will," he said with a laugh and disconnected himself from Willa and went over and signed some autographs.
Lance saw her watching him as he signed autographs for the fans. She looked pissed until Carson began talking to her. Lance couldn't hear what they were saying through the screams of the small audience, but he hoped that whatever it was he could figured out how to talk to her like that since she seemed calmer.
Lance came back over and hugged her. She hugged him back, but made it clear to him that she wasn't pleased by again grabbing his side and twisting. Lance reached around and grabbed her hand and let her go only letting her far enough away so that he could still hold onto her hand.
Willa curled her hand so that her fingernail was pressed into his palm. He gave her an angry look and leaned over and spoke into her ear. "Don't ruin this Willa. It's good publicity, not only for me, but for you too."
"Whatever," she said.
When the taping was over Willa and Lance exited the studio together. She dropped his hand as soon as they were out of the public eye and tried not to wipe off the germs on her jeans. She felt horrible about what he'd done, but there really hadn't been anything she could have done. They'd been on camera and even she knew that if she snubbed him on television that it would be over for her career.
"Do you need a ride some place?" Lance asked, "I'm here until tomorrow night if you want to hang out."
"Hang out?" she asked. She was completely shocked that he was asking her this. Did he not understand what had just gone on? "No. I don't want to hang out with you! You just probably ruined my career with that little announcement. I really hope that we're never seen in the same place again."
"Come on Willa," he said. "Think about this for a minute."
"Think about what?" she asked.
"Think about dating me," he said, "It's not really that bad of an idea. I mean, I get to be known in the model world as your man and you get the publicity of being linked to me. I swear it'll be good for your career."
"I'm not going to fake a relationship to get publicity." Willa was a lot of things, but she wasn't going to allow herself to lie to people just to get ahead in the business.
"Look, just think about it," he said. He smiled. "Really it's not that bad. You'll get invited to every party in town and you'll get your picture in people magazine. I'm sure that there are already magazine covers being planned just from my announcement."
"I'll think about it," she said.
"Look, I'm staying in the Ritz tonight. Call me there. Ask for Larry Brownstone," Lance said as Wes came around the corner to escort him out of the building. He leaned and hugged Willa. "Even if I don't hear from you we need to make sure that something gets into the press about us not being together."
"Fine," she said but realized that he'd put her into a hard position. If they were together things would go well. She'd have some of his fans angry with her for dating him, but mostly she'd get horrible press if she decided to break things off with him because, knowing the rumor mill, she'd get the bitch stereotype placed on her.
Willa watched him leave and for a moment she almost thought that she'd miss him. She wasn't at all familiar with the MTV crew and she didn't really want to be alone there so as soon as he disappeared into the elevator she went to find her driver to take her back to the apartment.
It was ten o'clock when Willa arrived at the Ritz. She paid the cabdriver and walked slowly to the door hoping that she could get in and out of there without a disaster. She'd already been in two fights over the phone over this mess, the first one with her agent and the second one with Elena and didn't want to get in another one. Her agency representative had yelled at her for dropping a bomb like that and Elena had called and told her that she was crazy for dating Lance after all the complaining that had gone on in the last few weeks.
Neither of them had believed her when she'd explained what had happened. Elena told her that she knew that Willa was in love with Lance. She'd seen the video and told her that there was no denying that kind of chemistry.
As she stepped through the front doors she took a breath and held it. She still didn't know what she was doing there, but she knew they needed to talk about what had happened that afternoon, even if it was just to tell him to never speak to her again. She'd rather not talk to him again at all, but she knew it was inevitable.
She let out her breath and looked around for a moment. She'd never been in the Ritz and didn't know exactly where the front desk was. It took her a minute but she soon found it across the room and began to make her way over.
"Oh my God!" a young girl said suddenly appearing in front of her. "You're Willa Marviani! I saw you on TRL today!"
Willa smiled and ran a hand through her hair and stared at the young girl then looked around. The girl seemed kind of young to be there by herself. She hoped that there weren't more of her kind around, but she'd seen the reports of how crazy NSYNC's fans were and had a feeling that there were probably more somewhere around there. "Yeah, that's me."
"Wow, are you here to see Lance?" the girl rambled off. "I saw him go upstairs a while ago. My dad and I are here because he has a business meeting so I got stuck in the hotel today and I caught the TRL show. At first I was really sad about him not being single anymore, but wow. Here you are. I told him that I thought it was great that you two are dating."
"Ah," Willa said with a laugh watching how the girl's eyes were about to pop out of her head. She tried to be polite to the girl, but the thoughts of how she was going to torture Lance for this mess ran through her head. "You saw Lance?"
"Yeah, he went out to dinner a while ago, but he got back around nine o'clock."
Willa couldn't believe her. She was a miniature stalker.
"Can I get your autograph?" the girl asked. "You and Lance are so cute together. I loved the video."
"Ah, sure," Willa said and took the pen and paper that the girl offered. She signed her name quickly.
"I saw your Speedo ads. I swim at my high school and all of us have your new navy suits for our team."
"Really?" Willa asked. She hadn't had much contact with her fans other than the leering sort of men at parties who liked to hit on her. It was nice to see a friendly face for once.
"Yeah, we all think you're the coolest."
"Well thanks," Willa said.
"Having fun?" a voice said from behind her.
She watched the girl's reaction to the voice and knew it was Lance behind her.
"Ah yeah," Willa said looking up.
"I see you found Veronica," Lance said.
Willa looked at the girl. "You two know each other?"
"Veronica and I played video games this afternoon," Lance said with a smile.
"Yeah. Lance said that he was waiting for someone to come to visit and couldn't leave so I told him that there were video games in the gym so we played a few games," the girl said.
"Veronica, I have a surprise for you," Lance said.
"Did you get the--"
Lance held up his hand then pulled a card out of his jacket pocket. "Just have your dad call this number and there will be meet and greet passes and tickets for you for the Hershey show."
"Thank you so much," Veronica said.
"No trouble," Lance said then looked at Willa. "Willa and I have to talk right now, but I'll come and say goodbye tomorrow before I leave town."
"Ok," Veronica said and skipped away from them like a happy five-year-old.
When she was gone Willa turned to Lance. "What was that all about?"
Lance smiled. "The poor girl is stuck here with her dad for the week and since she can't go anywhere I hung out with her for the day."
"Wow," Willa said.
"So are you here to talk business?"
"Yes," she said.
"Good." He leaned and hugged her. "So I figure that we should be seen as often as possible."
Willa held up her hand. "I can't date you Lance."
"What?" Lance asked. He tensed up and stared at her. He clenched his teeth and looked around for a moment. "Then what the hell are you doing here?"
Was she trying to make a fool of him? He'd thought that he'd made sure she wouldn't be able to do that. He expected her to have no other option than to date him considering how he thought that her career wouldn't be able to stand her not dating him or denying what he'd said on the show earlier.
"You told me that either way I should come and talk to you," she said. "We can't do this."
"Can't do what?" he asked.
"Lie to everyone. I don't know about you, but I actually have morals."
Lance watched her stick her hands on her hips and let a smile form over his face. She was in the industry and thought that people had morals. How sweet was that? He knew he had to convince her to do this. It was going to be good for her career, but it also was going to get him in the news a little bit more. The whole Justin and Britney news had gotten the NSYNC name into the headlines and he knew that a relationship with Willa would do the same thing.
"It wouldn't be lying."
"How?" she asked.
"Because technically we would be seeing each other." It was the smart ass answer, but it was the truth.
"It's not the same," she stated.
"How?" He really couldn't see anything bad that would come from this whole thing and wondered why she was resisting things so easily.
"Because right now I don't know if I can even stand to be in the same room with you." She took a breath and held it for a moment. "Like today. It's clear, first off, that no one would believe that we're seeing each other."
"Veronica believed it," Lance said nodding his head in the direction that Veronica had disappeared.
"I have a feeling that Veronica would believe anything you said," Willa said.
Lance watched her fold her arms across her chest and wanted to laugh at her. She just wasn't getting it. "Willa. The target group of my fans are all Veronica's age. It's perfect."
"No it's not," she said. "There's too much tension between us."
"Sexual tension maybe," Lance said with a smile.
"Look Lance. This isn't a game. We're talking about my career here."
"And mine too," he said.
"You can always make music, but one of these days my face isn't going to be the In look and I'm going to have to find something else to do. I'd prefer not to end up on one of those Behind the Music episodes as a groupie. At least you'll still have your contacts in the music world, but I don't think I will."
"Then date me," he said, "You'll get all my contacts."
"It's not all that easy."
"Because I'm already seeing someone. I can't wait to get a call on my answering machine from my boyfriend!"
"What?" Lance stepped back a few feet. He'd meant to mess with her a little, but he had never meant to break up her relationship. He wanted to be nasty to her, but not destroy her. "But in LA, you came to my hotel room. You spent the night."
"That was almost a month ago Lance. I don't know about you, but I have been living a life since I did that video."
"Well SOR-RY," he said with a sarcastic tone.
"You keep telling me what I'm going to get out of dating you," she said. "So far I've not gotten much, other than probably a ruined relationship. What are you going to get? Control over me? Control over the situation? I really don't think it's worth it."
"Fine then," Lance said and turned on his heel and left her in the lobby without another word.
"Lance, wait a minute," Willa said.
"What do you want now?" he asked.
"We have to put out some sort of statement to the press," she said, "This isn't going to go away."
"Well what do you suppose we say?" he said, "That I'm a liar and that you agreed to it on air but now are saying that we aren't together? Either way one of us comes out looking bad. Just leave it alone. If we screw with it now it'll just get worse."
He watched Willa sigh and hoped that this was all getting to her. If she just said that she was dating him things would be fine, but he could see that it wasn't going to be that easy. He wasn't giving up yet. He was going to come out on top of this whole deal.
"So what do we do if this video gets nominated for some awards?" she asked.
"Then we deal with it."
"What are you listening to?"
The question startled her as she sat on the couch in the dark. It had been a long day and she knew she was going to have to face him sooner or later so she had picked some soft music to listen to. It was already past midnight, but she wasn't tired yet. She had too much on her mind.
"It's Sara by Hall and Oats."
"Ok, what's wrong?" he asked, "You never listen to this unless you're worried about something."
She took a breath. "Brennan, sit down. We need to talk."
He nodded and came around and sat next to her, flipping on the funky lamp at the far end of the couch. She lived in a loft and the overhead lights were horrible so at night they used the lamps to see by instead of the fluorescent lights overhead. They didn't technically live together, but they'd spent more than a few nights sitting together on the couch talking when they weren't working.
"Something happened today and I want to explain it to you before you hear it from someone else," she said and gave him a serious look.
"Ok, what happened?" he asked, "You went to MTV today. I would have caught it, but I was in a meeting. I think Calvin Klein is going to sign me to his new ad campaign."
"Congratulations. I know that's a big account to have."
He leaned and kissed her cheek. She held herself still so that it wouldn't like she was trying to get away from him. She normally enjoyed her boyfriend's kisses, but now she felt sort of strange about taking them when he didn't know what had happened that afternoon.
"I'm sorry I didn't see the broadcast."
"It's ok," she said, "Actually I'm glad that you didn't see it."
"What happened?" he asked and undid his tie. He'd been out of town for the last two weeks off and on and they hadn't had a good conversation in a while. She wondered if he'd react harshly to this. They'd been exclusively seeing each other since just after she'd returned from LA after filming the video with NSYNC and she didn't want to ruin that, but she had a feeling that it was going to be blown to pieces when she revealed what had happened that day.
While she'd been at the studio taping her spot for TRL he'd been up-town with his agent trying to get some more work. He'd been fairly successful in the last few months and was trying to keep himself on that roll.
"Well you know how I told you that I had trouble with the guys from NSYNC on my video shoot?"
"Yeah," he said. She'd told him all about how she and Lance hadn't gotten along.
"Well Lance showed up today and the TRL shoot and told everyone that we were dating," she said and took a breath to wait for his reaction.
Brennan let out a breath and stared at her. "You aren't dating are you? I know I've been gone for a while, but I didn't think you'd find someone that soon."
"No, no, I'm not dating him, but it's going to show up in the press for sure considering that he made the announcement while we were on air and about a million people saw the show."
"Oh," Brennan said.
"I know that this is going to screw up everything, but I went to talk to him afterwards and he won't release something to the press about it."
"Why not?" Brennan asked. "You told him about us didn't you?"
"Of course I told him about us, but he wouldn't do it. He said that all of this will go away with time and that if either one of us was to release something to the press we'd both look like liars."
"And why would that be?"
"Because I didn't say anything this afternoon on air that made it seem like we weren't dating."
Willa got up and paced the room. She wanted him to understand what had happened that afternoon, but she was certain unless he saw the tape for himself, whatever she said wouldn't do the trick. "I don't know why I didn't. I was standing there with fifty people watching me. There was a camera in my face. It's night like I could punch him. So I froze. I couldn't help it. If I'd said anything it would have looked bad and if I'd done anything people would have called me the bitchy model for the rest of my career."
Brennan got up and came over to her. "You have to get him to say something to the press. If we're seen together it could blow up in our faces. I'm trying to get in with Calvin and you're trying to get those new jobs with ESPIRT. This could be horrible for the two of us."
"I can't. I tried to tell him that he had to do this, but he refuses. He won't listen to me."
"Then couldn't your agent talk to his publicist or something?"
Willa flapped her arms and stomped across the room to the kitchen. She pulled a beer out of the refrigerator and popped it open and took a long swig form him it before looking back over to Brennan.
"I hate this soap opera stuff!"
"Then deal with it Willa."
"How can I? No matter what we're all going to look horrible if we go against what he said on television."
"So have a big public break up scene."
"I thought of that. It won't work. Either way one of us is going to come out looking bad and I have a feeling that he's going to come out on top. You know the kind of stereotypes I put up with on a daily basis. I know that if I say a word about this that I'm going to end up looking like a bitch. I've worked too hard to not be a bitch and I don't want that ruined by this."
"So what are you going to do about it?" he asked.
"I don't think we should be seen together in public for a while."
"What?" he said. He angrily stomped towards her. "You're going to throw away the last month because this little snobby pop star said something on television."
"Look Brennan. It's late and I'm tired and I really think that we should talk about this tomorrow."
"You were the one who brought it up."
"I brought it up because I wanted you to know what was going on. I didn't want you to hear it from someone else."
"Well it would have been better hearing it from someone else. At least then I could have said. My girlfriend wouldn't do something like that. But I can see that you are going to go along with this all, so maybe you're right. Maybe we shouldn't be seen together." He walked over and grabbed his keys and his coat. …"Give me a call if your pop star gets bored of you."
He slammed the door on the way out and Willa walked over and dropped into her seat on the couch again. "Thank you Lance Bass!" she screamed angrily and punched the pillow next to her.
Calming herself Willa did the only thing she could think of doing. She dialed up the Ritz. She wanted to make sure that Lance knew how much he'd just messed up her life.
Lance's eyes only strayed from the television for a moment when the phone rang. He picked it up and put it to his ear hoping that maybe it would be the travel agent getting him an earlier flight out of New York. He'd planned to stay until the next day, but with Willa already giving him his answer there was no reason for him to be in New York now.
"I want you to know that you have totally screwed up my life you bastard!"
Trying not to let out a huge Lance covered his mouth for a moment and muted the television. Wes gave him a look then grabbed the remote from him and motioned for Lance to leave the room if he was going to talk on the phone.
Lance took his bodyguards advice and took the portable phone into the bedroom of the hotel suite.
"Well hello Willa," he said with a smile knowing that his plan to mess with her had ended with the results he wanted. She might have snubbed him in the hotel lobby, but he still had control of their situation. "How are you this evening?"
"Shut it you prick!" she yelled.
"Willa, this isn't very ladylike of you." He spoke with a completely calm voice and tried not to laugh.
It was working fairly well until he heard her begin to cry.
"You ruined the best relationship I've had in years you insensitive asshole. My boyfriend just walked out on me thanks to you."
He paused at the sound of the pain in her voice. Half of him was sympathetic to her pain, but the other half of him, the part of him that was thriving on his power-trip only fed off her pain. He wasn't at all a cruel person, but he felt even more powerful to know that his planned had succeeded. It was only time until she came crawling to him.
"I don't know what to say," he said sounding a little more sensitive.
"Sure you don't. I'm sure that you don't want to celebrate too hard in front of me. I'm sure you'll save that until I get off the phone with you."
"Hey now," he said finding that her calling him insensitive was harder to take than he'd thought it would be. It was true and the truth always hurts.
"Hurts doesn't it Lance?" she said with grit in her voice. "How does it feel to know that you're an asshole?"
When she slammed down the phone on him Lance couldn't help but to laugh. He knew that he'd done something fairly mean, but he liked the reaction he'd gotten. He'd made her blow her cool, something that he'd been trying to do all along and now that he had the knowledge of how to get to her he was definitely going to save up that bit of information for later. He was still on top and she wasn’t going to beat him at the game she'd started months ago.
When he returned to the living room Wes laughed at him.
"How's the little woman?" he asked.
"Just fine," Lance said with a smile and sat down.
"Do you know what you're doing?" he asked.
"Not really," Lance said lifting his eyebrows. "But I'm winning so far."
"You don't know this girl Lance. I hope she doesn't go to the press with this because I'd hate to hear what Johnny would have to say about this."
"You worry about protecting me from the fans. Let me deal with Johnny and the others."
"If you say so man."
Lance nodded and settled back in to his seat. He could have gone out partying that night but had decided to take some time out to relax. He'd had a busy schedule in the last few weeks and he had a feeling he was going to need his rest if he was going to deal with Willa and the situation he'd set up that afternoon.
"What the hell were you thinking!"
Lance scooted down in the conference room chair and stared at the wall just above Johnny's head. He wanted to look like he was paying attention, but he really didn't want to look the guy in the eyes. He was scared what he'd see if he did make eye contact.
He'd been back in town for almost two hours before Johnny had paged him 911 and had insisted that he come to the compound to talk. He didn't even bother to ask the guy why he was needed at the compound. He knew that things had gotten back to Johnny and he knew when he entered the conference room that he was going to get scolded for this one."
"Your first mistake was flying off to New York without telling me, which I will forget because it turns out that the whole controversy over this girl has brought a lot of attention to your video."
Lance smiled. He knew there was a method to his madness and the added bonus of the press paying attention to them was a good thing in his eyes. Publicity was publicity these days.
"That’s not all I have to say to you young man." Johnny frowned and sat down across from here. "Lance, you know that none of us here is against you having someone in your life, but the next time you'd like to announce it on television please come and see us before you do it! We've been swamped with phone calls here and Melinda has been on the Internet and hasn't heard very good things about this new relationship."
"I didn't do this to cause trouble," Lance said lying through his teeth. He really hadn't meant to cause trouble at JIVE. He'd just wanted to ruin Willa's day. "Why would I want to jeopardize the work I've put in for the last five years?"
Johnny scratched his chin and glared at him. "Has her publicist released anything to the press yet?"
"No," Lance said calmly. "I told her I didn't think it was necessary."
"Well look at this then," Johnny slid a section of the New York Times across to him.
The headline on the inside page of the entertainment section read:
"Boyband more popular than Calvin Klein."
Lance read the article quickly. The gist of the article, from what Lance could see, was that her boyfriend had dumped Willa and the cause of the break up was his announcement. The thing that Johnny seemed to be focusing on was the fact that the article made Lance out to be the home wreaking kind of guy. This didn't reflect on him or the band well, which then reflected back on Johnny badly since he was the one in charge of all of them.
"I didn't think it would be that big of a deal," Lance said casually. He knew he was in trouble, but if he pled innocent to any of Johnny's charges then there wasn't anything that they really could do to him.
"Sure you didn't Lance. I heard about how Willa embarrassed you on the set a few weeks ago. This better not be part of some plan to get the girl back. Too many people are involved now and you just made the announcement yesterday."
Lance got up from the table and began to pace. "I don't need the scolding Johnny," he said. "I made the announcement and I'm willing to take whatever comes my way."
"Are you even dating this girl?" Johnny asked.
"Yes," Lance said. It was another lie, but why start counting now. He'd already committed the biggest sin of his life by telling the world that he and Willa were together. What were a few more lies?
"Then bring her around."
"We've got a date set for the MTV VMA's. She'll be there with us when we win all the awards."
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch," Johnny said.
"I'm not Johnny," Lance said. Lance pounded on the table top for dramatic effect. "The relationship trouble is going to bring more people to want to watch the video. They're gonna wanna see if Willa and I are as hot for each other as they may think. You know that when people want to see the video that sales go up and that can mean only good things for all of us. I think this couldn't have been better if we'd planned this out. Just trust me on this one. Things aren't going to go down the drain with this one."
Johnny stared at him.
"Look, I'm out of here. I just got back in town and I haven't been home yet."
"Fine," Johnny said, "You keep track of what's going on with this. If it gets out of control I'm going to have to take action."
"It's not going to."
"They want me to do what?" Willa asked angrily. It had been only a day since she'd been at the Viacom studios for the taping and already the news had gotten out that she and Brennan were no more. He'd probably rushed home to tell his publicist that he was a free man again and no doubt had told the whole story to someone he shouldn't have.
"Honey, calm down. I know you don't want to do this, but the MTV people have called, JIVE has called, hell, even Wayne Isham himself called and left you messages about this."
Willa stomped her foot. "I'm not doing it. I trusted you last time to keep me away from that man and now look at what I've gotten myself into. Brennan is now trashing me in the news and Lance is sitting some where I'm sure laughing at me."
"You can't be that paranoid. I've had about a fifty percent increase in the calls for you. Your press packets are flying out the door like there is no tomorrow."
"I don't care."
"Yes you do honey. I've already booked shoots with GAP and OLD NAVY and Martha Stewart Magazine wants you to call them for an interview. Also Sports Illistrated called and wanted to see if you were free in April to do the swimsuit edition."
"Really?" Willa asked. She knew that those were big accounts to land, but she still felt wrong about getting the attention from lying.
"Yes honey. I'm going to have to hire an assistant if I get any more calls about you."
"Really?" Willa said. This was what she'd wanted all along. She'd been wanting to get the new IT girl, but now that it was all falling into her lap she knew that she wouldn't be satisfied. Lance was the reason for all of this and until she stepped out of that shadow nothing that came from it would mean anything.
"So will you go to the VMA's?" she asked.
"I can't make any promises. That's a long time away, but pencil it in so that if I do decide to go then I won't be skipping out on something important."
"You won't regret this honey."
"Yes I will," she mumbled and hung up the phone.
She sat down on the couch and then dialed Elena back.
"What do you need honey?" Elena asked.
"Can you try and get me a number where I can reach Lance?" Willa asked. It was a humbling thing to do, but she needed to talk to him about all of this and set some ground rules before they were seen in public together again.
"Are you sure you want to talk to him?"
"Yes," she said in a firm tone. We have some things to work out before I go and spend a whole evening with the man."
"Fine honey. I'll get the number and call you back."
"I'll be waiting," Willa said. "I'm not going to hold my breath or anything, but I do need it as soon as you can get it to me."
"No problem honey."
"Thank you Elena."
"It's all part of the job," Elena said.
"Yeah right. How many other girls do you call up to ask about their boyfriends?"
"Not many. You're on a special list."
"Sure, sure," Willa said, "Remind me and I'll bring by those cookies you like so much the next time I come to the office."
"Oh you're a doll," Elena said.
"I know, I know. Keep reminding me of that, because if any more shit hits the fan I'm going to rip Lance's head off of his shoulders!"
"Well that one I won't be able to help you out of, so warn me before you do it so I can leave the country."
"I will Elena."
"Oh, by the way," Elena said. "Call your family. Someone called here while I was at lunch, but the temp person lost the message."
"Thanks Elena. And don't kill the temp."