Torture Disguised As A Press Conference

Julianna's point of view

"What's wrong?" Brad asked, hearing me mutter.
"Nick and I have to go to a press conference tomorrow to explain to everyone once and for all that we are not dating," I replied.
Brad raised an eyebrow. "Why does everyone think that you are dating?"
"Cause we kinda let them think we are. After Lance and I wound up in the hospital when some fans got out of control at the movies, Nick and I had a press conference telling everyone that we weren't dating. But then Lance and I parted ways and some photographers took some photos of Nick and I and it looked like we were more than friends, which we weren't. So we finally got tired of telling people that we aren't dating so we just went along with it, let them think whatever they wanted," I explained and took a deep breath. "So now we have to hold another press conference to tell them that we're not dating so that we can avoid another incident if some reporter happens to see you and I together."
"Oh-kay," Brad nodded. "You want some company for moral support?" he smiled.
I couldn't help but smile too; he was so sweet. "Thanks, but I think I better handle this myself. The longer you can stay out of the spotlight, the better. Trust me, once your picture gets into the papers and magazines, you won't be so thrilled about it."
"Is the press conference going to be televised?"
I thought for a minute. "I have no idea, I forgot to ask Nick," I said and was about to dig out my phone. "Actually you know what? I'm going to ask him tomorrow. Right now it's just you and me," I smiled and laced my fingers through his, enjoying the warmth of his hand.

THE NEXT DAY

"Ready?" Nick asked, opening the passenger's car door for me.
I sighed and got in. "As I'll ever be," I groaned and slammed the door.
"It won't be that bad," he said, buckling his seat belt and starting the car.
I looked out the window. "I hope not, but those reporters can be vicious, they have no conscience whatsoever and have no problems playing dirty," I commented.
"Don't worry, everything will be fine," Nick assured as he drove through the busy streets.
We got to the conference and parked in the back, making sure to stay out of sight of the reporters that crowded the front of the building since they weren't the ones allowed to go inside.
I nervously looked at the room full of people in front of me.
"Why are you so worried? You were fine at the last conference," Nick whispered.
"There weren't this many people at the last one," I replied as my eyes roamed around the room.
"Just stick to what we agreed upon and everything will go smoothly," he said and took his seat. I took the one next to him and prepared myself for the questions to come.
"Ms. Palmer, what is your relationship with Mr. Carter?"
"Mr. Carter, do you and Ms. Palmer have a sexual relationship?"
"Nick, are you engaged to Julianna?"
"Julianna, are the rumors true? Are you pregnant?"
"Ms. Palmer, are you and Mr. Bass from *NSYNC having an affair under Mr. Carter's nose?"
The questions flew from all directions, being thrown out so quickly that Nick and I had no time to respond to even one of them.
"This is ridiculous! Do you hear what they're asking?" I hissed to Nick. He had a frown on his face as he looked from one reporter to the next.
"EVERYONE, QUIET!" he suddenly yelled. My eyes widened as the room exploded into a deafening silence. I wasn't sure if the reporters were surprised that Nick had yelled, or that they had listened. Maybe both. "Now, either myself or Julianna will point to one person at a time, and he or she will ask their question. If you start yelling out once again, we will be forced to terminate this conference," he said seriously.
I did a double take. Was this the same Nick who had just two days ago rented The Little Mermaid? Since when did he turn into an adult?
"Before you can ask your questions though, we would like to say something," Nick continued and then nodded towards me.
What was the point of me speaking? He was doing perfectly fine by himself and I was very content with that.
Nick urged me with his eyes to speak. I sighed and turned my attention towards the vultures in front of me, with their notepads open and their pens poised eagerly above the blank paper. "Nick and I would like to make very clear that we are not dating…anymore. Though we did try to take our relationship past friendship, we both realized that this was indeed, a bad idea and that we made much better friends than lovers. Furthermore, we would appreciate if anything else regarding our personal lives would remain just that, personal. We do not like scheduling numerous press conferences just to get rid of the rumors that have been circling around. We also do not enjoy seeing ourselves on the front page with some ridiculous headline above our picture, a headline that is completely absurd and based on something taken out of context." I nodded slightly towards Nick and he turned his eyes on the reporters.
"Okay, now whoever has a question, please do the polite thing and raise your hand," he requested.
I chuckled slightly. Nick should've gone into the teaching business, not music. He could've been a singing teacher. I smothered a laugh as I got a mental picture of Nick in a classroom full of second graders trying to get them to raise their hands instead of yelling out their questions. That made me wonder if the reporters before us ever finished second grade. Or if they had, did they pay attention to the fact that it's rude to call out?
While my brain was going off on different tangents and imagining Nick in glasses and a tweed jacket, the real-time Nick had pointed to a man in the front row.
"Mr. Carter, are you and Ms. Palmer engaged?"
That question caused both Nick and I to roll our eyes simultaneously.
Were the reporters stupid or just pretending to be?
"Did Julianna not just say that we are not dating?" Nick asked pointedly.
"Yes, but are you engaged?" the reporter prodded.
Nick let out a sigh of frustration and looked at me. I nodded and turned towards the reporter. "Nick and I are not dating, engaged, or married. And I am not pregnant!" I exclaimed. "Where do you people get your information?" I added angrily.
No one said anything. Maybe they were afraid of Nick yelling again.
I figured I might as well keep this circus act going, so I pointed at another reporter.
"Ms. Palmer, do you have a comment on a certain young man that you were spotted with in several places lately? He's about 6'3", brown hair, blue eyes?"
Dread settled in the pit of my stomach.
"No, I do not have a comment because like I said, I would like to keep my personal life personal from now on. And if I see any stories in the paper regarding this, I will be sure to involve my lawyer." I didn't know if such a claim was valid, but I didn't know how else to make them stay away from Brad.
"Next person please," Nick said and pointed at another woman on the left side of the room.
"Ms. Palmer, are you still dating Mr. Bass?"
"No, Lance and I are just friends. Next?" I nodded towards a man in the third row.
"Mr. Carter, did you and Ms. Palmer have any sexual relations?"
Both Nick and I tensed at that question. He turned to look at me. I blinked slowly, allowing him to answer however he saw fit.
"I do not appreciate that question and will therefore not answer it. You're going too far, we may be in the public eye but we deserve some privacy," he said, his eyes flashing briefly with anger.
I released a breath of relief that I didn't realize I was holding when the reporter decided not to push the issue. I really wanted to tell everyone that the conference was over but I knew that that was impossible. By the expression on Nick's face I could tell that he thought this event went on for too long already.
I sighed and pointed to yet another reporter.

Nick's point of view

"Thanks for the lift," Julianna said as I stopped the car in front of the 'Unreal' set.
"No problem," I replied. "Sure you don't want a ride home?"
Julianna laughed. "My car's right there." She pointed to her silver convertible parked a few feet away.
I chuckled, having forgotten that she drove to work in the morning.
"Okay, I'll see you later Nick." Julianna unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door.
"Bye," I said. I waited until she walked to her car and got inside, after which I drove off.
I arrived at my house and saw that the red light on the answering machine was blinking.
"Nick," Brian's voice rang through the room, "Our tour has been pushed up two weeks since they decided to include more cities. I tried calling your cell but you didn't pick up. Did you leave the phone at home again?" Brian let out a small laugh. "Anyway, I know you and Jul have that conference today, so I'll will see you at the meeting tomorrow. Later." Before the machine had a chance to move on to the next message, I shut it off and then ran to my room.
Digging my way through the mess that had accumulated there for the past few weeks, I got to my table and rummaged around until I found our itinerary.
"What did he mean he'll see me at the meeting tomorrow?" I mumbled, looking at the piece of paper and seeing that the meeting was not for another week.
A quick glance at my watch told me it was almost two in the morning. The conference had gone on for way too long.
I debated on whether or not I should call Brian and ask him about the meeting.
I figured it couldn't hurt, or he couldn't hurt me cause he was home, so I dialed his number and waited for him to pick up.
"You better be coughing up all kinds of nasty stuff if you're calling this late," Brian said, his voice laced with sleep.
"Hello to you too," I said wryly.
"Nick, I know you can be such a blonde sometimes, but do you know what time it is?" he groaned.
"Yeah, I wanted to know why you said you'll see me at the meeting tomorrow in your message."
"Because that's when the meeting is."
I shook my head, after which it occurred to me that I was on the phone and doing so was pointless. "I'm looking at our itinerary right now and it says the meeting is next week."
Brian sighed. "Did you check your messages today?"
"Well, I got yours didn't I?"
"Did you check your voice mail?"
"No, I forgot the phone at home."
"I knew it."
"Stop being a smartass and tell me what's going on."
"Since you got my message, you know the tour's been pushed up. Due to that fact, the meeting was moved to tomorrow and rehearsals start the day after."
"Great," I muttered.
"What are you mumbling about? You love touring."
"I know, but this break went by so quickly that it feels like it was never there to begin with," I explained.
"True," Brian agreed. "But a new tour is always exciting."
I sighed. "Yeah, how long is this one again?"
"Four months," Brian replied, and I could hear papers rustling in the background. "Two months in Europe, and two here in the U.S."
"All right, thanks. I'll let you get back to sleep," I said, making a couple of notes in a small planner I had recently acquired.
"Finally. See you in the morning Frack."
"Night Frick." I hung up the phone and then remembered that I forgot to ask Bri if the time of the meeting had been changed as well. I then figured that if it were, then I'd be late once more, nothing new there.


chapter 18 chapter 20