It's entirely too early the next morning when I am so rudely awoken and dragged out of bed, not to breakfast but instead to have makeup blotched and padded onto my face. One woman comes at me with something on a brush that is definitely not concealer.
I bat her hand away and squawk, "Why are you putting pink stuff on my face?"
The makeup artist merely rolls her eyes, "It's blush and it's so you don't look dead on camera."
"Let the woman do her job, Liam," Midge pipes up from where she's texting up a storm to some unfortunate soul. I relinquish, allowing the woman to brush my cheeks with the blush. She even curls my eyelashes a bit, with some contraption that looks more like a torture device than a beauty tool.
Why the makeup? Well, today I've got an interview with a major news publication, Fuzzbeed. Orla and I are supposed to answer some mundane questions about the movie and our lives. I'm reading through the questions and what kind of answers we're supposed to give when one catches me off guard.
"Midge! What the hell is this supposed to mean?" I point to the question and the answer I'm supposed to give and she doesn't even bat an eye as she reads it. The question inquires about the relationship status between Orla and me, and instead of telling them the truth, that we are in no way romantically involved, management wants us to "remain obscure, neither confirming nor denying any claims" which is as good as confirming something is going on.
"Liam, you knew this was coming."
"I don't like Orla in that way!"
"It would be best for the movie and your career if you at least indulged the idea that you two are dating." I huff in response. Do I not have a say in anything? This is my life for fucks sake!
But I do understand where Midge is coming from, "As long as we don't have to officially date! I'll indulge the rumors but Orla and I don't like each other as anything more than friends," If Orla liked me, she would have made it abundantly clear already. The girl was nothing if not straight forward.
"I'm glad you've seen reason," And with that, the conversation was over, my fate once again sealed. I resume glowering at each question and each perfectly manicured answer.
The interview is conducted in a random unoccupied room in the hotel where Orla and I sit side by side in two director's chairs, in front of a backdrop that depicts the poster of the previous Electric Pheonix movie. A woman with a black bob and red lips asks us prodding questions about the upcoming movie and what they could expect from it. She moves on from that to more personal questions, directed at each of us individually. The ones she asks me are straightforward and pretty standard, all stuff I've been asked before like what it's like to play a superhero and how I get into my role, but the questions she asks Orla all have a certain theme.
"Did you have to gain or lose any weight for this role?" The question takes me aback. I certainly didn't see it before in the overview of the interview, but Orla seems unfazed as she begins to answer.
But I cut her off, "Excuse me, why exactly is that a relevant question?" The interviewer seems shocked at my outburst. She takes a moment to answer.
"Well, we think the viewers would be interested in knowing-"
"Knowing what?" I interrupt again, "personal details about Orla's body? why do you ask her questions like that but not me? Is her worth only determined by her beauty?" I can see the cameraman and director exchanging a nervous glance as Midge glares daggers at me, but Orla, she looks something like relieved and it's enough to make me keep going. "I can assure you Orla is just as if not more talented of an actor as me, so why don't you make your next questions a little more relevant?"
The woman is staring at me with a shocked and nervous expression, that red mouth puckered into something distasteful.
"That's enough!" the director from Fuzzbeed calls from behind the camera, "Ms. Cather, get your client under control, please" Midge narrows her eyes at the use of her last name and I can see the internal battle playing out in her head.
"Actually, I agree with my client," a wave of relief washes through me at that, "These questions are hardly appropriate to be asking a minor." The director laughs in disbelief.
"If I recall correctly, you were the one who invited us here for this interview, and you were the one who signed off on those very questions which you now call inappropriate!"
Midge grimaces, "This was clearly a mistake, inviting you guys here. If you aren't going to treat me and these actors with respect then I'm going to have to ask you to leave." From behind her, Quinn surfaces and towers over the Fuzzbeed employees with a menacing glare. The director looks ready to protest but his words are cut off when Quinn makes deadly eye contact with him as he crosses his muscled arms.
"You'll regret this." the director calls even as he signals for his crew to pack up. The cameraman seems reluctant and he shoots me a look that seems almost sympathetic but follows the director's orders anyway. Soon the Fuzzbeed interview is all packed up and they've exited the hotel room, leaving me, Orla, Midge, and Quinn alone.
Midge groans as she rubs her temples, "This is not good. Fuzzbeed is not a company you want to make yourself an enemy of,"
"Well, I'm not sorry"
"You shouldn't be. I should be the one apologizing here. I was the one who signed off on those stupid questions even though I knew they were inappropriate." a swell of pride hits me at Midge's words. She has her moments sometimes.
"Well, at least that interview won't be aired," Orla pipes up for the first time. She turns her attention to me, "Thank you, Liam, for standing up for me."
"I was just being a decent human, Orla. You shouldn't be objectified like that." a soft smile spreads across her features.
"You don't know how rare it is for me to hear something like that," and my heart aches to know this is certainly not the first time Orla has been treated like this, nor will it be the last.
Later that night, I stare down at the scrambled Rubix cube in my hands and rewind the youtube tutorial for what must be the millionth time. I decided an hour ago that I suddenly wanted to learn how to solve this thing, thus I flocked to youtube for advice. Unfortunately, Rubix cubes are much more complicated than they seem and the task is doing a poor job at keeping me distracted, which is why I went down this path in the first place. My mind once again drifts to that annoyingly handsome face. Those cold eyes, framed by dark eyebrows.
Elliot hasn't fully left my mind since the moment we parted last night nor has the wonderful food. Both left me wanting a second taste. The only way I can reason my sudden obsession with this boy is the cold way he treated me like I imagine he treats everyone else, if not a little harsher. It reminds me of the life I still mourn. The one where I was just like every other kid, free to make my own choices and live my own life, and maybe that's another reason I keep thinking about him. Because he could be one of the first choices I've made for myself in a long time. That is, only if I choose to pursue him as a friend, and I'm sure Elliot wouldn't be too keen on that.
Just as I'm on the brink of deciding whether or not to go back to the little restaurant again, my door is flung open by a very excited Orla, who is followed by an equally excited Henry. She vigorously waves around her phone, which displays a video I can't make out at all between her flailing or Henry's incoherent chattering.
"What?" I manage to get out.
"Just, look at this!" She shoves the phone in my face and the two of them go silent, gaging my reaction as the video begins to play. I recognize the set immediately. I see Orla and I in those dreaded chairs, facing a woman with a black bob and red lips. The blood drains from my face.
"They released the interview?"
"No! keep watching" Henry retorts. I shut up and turn my attention to the screen again. The video goes on and I quickly realize this is the unedited footage from earlier today. It continues and eventually comes the dreaded question and my subsequent outburst, but the video doesn't stop at that, It goes on to catch the director's cutting remarks and Midge's defense, all the way up until she threatens them to leave the premise. Then, the video cuts off abruptly. I'm left shocked and confused,
"The cameraman must have released that unedited footage on his own," Orla starts, "The video completely blew up, Liam. People are praising you for standing up for me and well, our ship name, as well as Electric Pheonix, are both trending hashtags on Twitter!"
I gape at her. That's certainly one way to stir up attention for the new film. But the next words out of my mouth are only, "Does Midge know?"