posted by maverickangel35
A half hour later, the press had been ushered from the building, security was posted outside the entrances to prevent their re-entry, and the party had started. The lights dimmed over the ballroom and a spontaneous cheer went up as David went up to the microphone to make his traditional speech. Lisa took a step back, expecting to lean against the wall and listen while she nursed her mineral water, but landed instead against a very large and well-dressed body.
“Careful,” Hugh’s voice came low in her ear and her entire body flushed. “You step on me with one of those shoes and I’ll get more practice with a cane than I ever wanted in my entire life.”
“Sorry,” she whispered, stepping to the side and leaning back next to him. Hugh turned his head slightly and grinned at her as they continued to whisper under the sound of David talking.
“Are you really ok?” He asked. “I mean, with this thing…”
“Yeah—don’t—” Lisa shook her head. “I understand. I know it’s not because you’re having second thoughts or anything…”
Hugh let out a long, relieved sigh. “Ok. Because if I had to sling you over my shoulder and carry you out by force it would probably be difficult to explain.”
“And as soon as my two stars finish gossiping in the back, I will be happy to wrap this up!” David shouted into the microphone, and Hugh and Lisa jumped, startled. “That’s better.” The gathered crowd sniggered. “Anyway, we are looking at a very different kind of season next year—it’s going to be something new and different for us, but we have every confidence that it’s going to turn out brilliantly as usual. So let me just raise my glass to all of you… thank every one of you for everything you do… and please, enjoy the party!”
As applause filled the room, Lisa turned to Hugh.
“You guys had a meeting this morning. You know anything about this new direction he’s talking about?”
“Yeah…” Hugh worked his jaw slightly.
Lisa turned and leaned her head back, regarding him carefully. “How bad is it? Is House—”
“It’s Cuddy.” Hugh said, looking around automatically to make sure no one was listening. “From what I understand, House is going to be getting… I don’t know, better, I guess. But they want to put Cuddy in a relationship.”
“A relationship?” Lisa started, pushing herself off the wall and facing him. “Not—with House?”
“No. With Lucas.” Hugh rubbed his jaw and smiled crookedly at her. “Guess Michael’s going to get to make out with you after all.”
“Ugh.” Said Lisa without thinking, then blushed. “No, I mean Michael is such a nice guy, it’ll be nice having him on set again…” Hugh fake scowled at her and she threw her hands in the air, laughing. “Ok! I’m not talking anymore.”
Slowly the smile faded from Hugh’s face and his eyes darkened. Lisa tilted her head at him, her eyes plainly asking what was wrong. “Do you have any idea how hard it is for me not to kiss you when you smile like that?” He asked huskily. Lisa immediately took a few steps back and looked around. This was a very bad idea.
“Ok…” she offered a tiny smile. “I will be sure to find something humorous to laugh at later… but for the time being I think I should go… over there.”
“And I will go… over there.” Hugh pointed in the opposite direction just as the music started up and people started drifting toward the dance floor. “But first—”
Lisa suddenly found an arm around her waist and Hugh’s comforting warmth along her side and she gaped at him as he manhandled her in the direction of the growing mass of people.
“Hugh, what the hell are you doing?” she hissed.
“Look at this,” he said, gesturing around. “You’ve got Jenn and Jess, David and Katie… Omar and that cute girl from crafts… no one’s going to say anything.”
“Just you keep your distance, mister,” Lisa warned as he lowered his hands to her waist and pulled her into his embrace.
“I will strive to do so,” Hugh said, gazing down at her as they began to sway slowly in time with the music. “Besides, once the guys get a load of you in this dress I’m not going to get another chance to do this. Your dance card will be—”
“My dance card? Do you have any idea how many female writers, editors, prop masters…” Lisa sighed long and theatrically. “Producers, directors, stunt doubles, extras—”
“I adore you,” Hugh said into her ear before taking her hand and twirling her under his arm. Lisa’s astonished look flashed quickly at him before her curls swung in the way of her face and Eddie poked his nose into their business.
“Can I cut in, Lis?” He asked, grinning at her. “You still owe me for trying to distract David during the hat ordeal.”
“Shouldn’t you be asking him if you can cut in?” Lisa teased, squeezing Hugh’s hand before letting it go and resting her hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “Oh, all right. Hess!” The writer looked up from where she was talking with a gathering of fellow twitter addicts, all eyes glued to their phones, thumbs working away. “Come dance with Hugh before he tries to escape!”
“I don’t get paid enough for this nonsense,” Sara grumbled good-naturedly as she strolled over and extended a hand to the star. “Oh all right, Hugh, but try not to step on my feet.”
“Duly noted,” Hugh said wickedly, and immediately dipped her until her head nearly touched the ground. The sound of Sara’s surprised shriek followed Lisa and Eddie as they spun off in another direction, each teasing the other about the looks they were getting when they bumped into the other dancers.
Robert was standing off to the side, watching his two friends carefully, even as they reached opposite ends of the dance floor. Hugh’s eyes were constantly searching, not enough for his partners to notice anything or to be offended at his lack of attention, but enough that Robert knew what was going on; after all, he knew what he was looking for. And what he was looking for—indeed, what he was seeing—was almost constant seeking out of Hugh by Lisa, and vice versa. Occasionally they would look at the same time, and their eyes would meet, and then they would look away, their faces guarded.
Lisa’s infectious laughter rang out and Robert smiled in spite of himself. How could Hugh have helped it? Certainly he had fought it hard, Robert knew that. He had seen them dancing around each other for the past—oh, probably too long to count, now that he thought about it. But he was quite sure that nothing had happened while Hugh was married. Nothing had happened even now, unless he missed his guess.
David and Katie were talking softly a ways to his right, and Robert tilted his head to catch a few phrases.
“Look at her,” David was saying, watching Lisa. “I cannot believe she’s single.”
“Maybe she wants to be single,” Katie said pointedly. “I’m sure if she wanted some kind of companionship she would go out and get it. Lisa knows what she wants.”
“People are going to start making up stories if she doesn’t start dating someone,” David muttered to himself. “I wonder…”
“Michael’s single. Isn’t he?” Katie’s gaze slid sideways at her co-executive producer.
“I don’t recall adding ‘matchmaker’ to our job descriptions…” David was saying as Robert frowned and looked up to see Hugh walking toward him. The music had paused for a few minutes and waiters were circling again with trays of desserts. Robert snagged a plate of pie and his eyes lit up when he saw that it was his favorite flavor. Hugh arrived next to him and stuck his hands in his pockets, casually looking out across the room.
“How’s things?” Robert asked. “And Lisa’s over there, by the way.” The look on Hugh’s face nearly shamed him into shutting up, but not quite. “Sorry. Just needling you. But I want to warn you about something I just heard David and Katie talking about.”
“What, the Cuddy storyline? I know.” Hugh smiled as Lisa started towards them from the corner to their left. “I’m not too worried.”
“That’s swell. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Robert snapped his fingers in Hugh’s face. “Hey. David and Katie are talking about setting up Lisa with Michael.”
“Well, it could be interesting—”
“Lisa. And Michael. Not Cuddy and Lucas. Lisa… and Michael.”
Hugh’s face underwent an unreal change. Lisa walked up just as Hugh turned around and made a beeline for David and Katie, his fists clenched in his pockets.
“Where’s he going?” Lisa asked, seeing his face and knowing something was wrong. “What happened?”
“I think he’s going to tell David and Katie about—”
“No. Hugh!” She spun around and dragged Robert with her, trying to catch up, but Hugh was already only a few feet from his bosses and there was no way to catch up. The music started up again and over the thumping bass line their voices were drowned out as they tried to call him back. “God, Robert, how are we going to stop him?”
Unable to call to him, unable to get to his side before he could open his mouth and spill his secret, and stuck between a rock and a hard place, Robert did the only thing he could do.
He threw his pie at him.