When Lucy walked inside, Ian was sitting on the sofa and James was pacing up and down the living room as his agent talked, she sat on the metal stairs and listened.
“I’m glad you sobered up because this is serious James, your legal team will need a hefty raise if this is how you will be acting again.”
“I’m sorry Ian, it was a mistake! It’s not like I was planning on going astray like that...” said James as he finally stopped pacing and sat on the sofa across from the agent.
“Well, leave the apologies for the press James because you’re gonna need it! I received a video this morning...”
James rubbed his face with his hands “Fuck,” he said, tired.
Ian passed his phone to the actor who opened the video and immediately indistinct noises could be heard. Lucy got up from the stairs and purposely walked to the living room bending over the back of the sofa where James was sitting looking at the video, as he noticed the girl he immediately stopped the recording.
“Lucy you shouldn’t see this.” He said sternly.
“Well maybe at least the video would explain what’s going on.” She hissed, opening her arms in exasperation.
Ian looked between James and Lucy and stood up from the sofa, feeling uncomfortable in the tension between the couple.
“Lucy, I know this isn’t the happiest of occasions for us to meet and I don’t want to come across as insensitive but this is a quite serious situation. James and I really need to discuss what to do and I feel like you two should have a separate conversation...”
“I understand that. Sure, his career comes first and I don’t want to argue with that but James is not ok, I can see it in his eyes and honestly I’m freaking out a little bit.” She looked at James, his head in his hands, scratching his scalp in frustration, then she looked back at Ian and shrugged “You know him better than I do and obviously knows what’s best for him. Hopefully, you can help him sort this out...”
She leaned forward to James and hugged him briefly placing a quick kiss on his cheek.
“I’ll be upstairs if you need me.” She said.
James held her arms around his neck and looked in her eyes for a moment.
“I swear baby I will come and talk to you as soon as I can.”
Lucy nodded and walked up the stairs.
“Who sent you the video?” Asked James, handing the phone back to his agent.
“Josh Monroe from Staronline, he bought it from a lad who was at the club last night. The good news is this means the video hasn’t gone viral.”
“Is he going to publish it?”
“Luckily we are on good terms and he wanted to give me a heads up but it’s too good a scoop to go to waste, you’re the man of the year...” Ian was silent for a moment then said.
“This is the worst timing with the Oscars nomination coming up.”
“I know that Ian! Do you think I’m not aware I might have just ruined everything?” his voice was raised and filled with disappointment.
He walked to the fridge and took out a beer then, after a moment’s thought, he put it back and slammed the door closed.
The agent stood still, assessing James’ reaction.
“We could try and buy the video but I promise you it won’t be cheap.” Offered Ian.
James leaned against the kitchen counter and crossed his arms on his chest, breathing deeply to calm down.
“No, I don’t want to,” he said after a moment. “And if the video should ever come out it would make me look even worse.”
Ian nodded in agreement.
James tapped his fingers against the granite counter biting his inner cheek then looked at his scratched hands for a moment and memories of the night before came with a disconcerting vividity.
“Book an interview with Josh,” he said sternly. “He can release the video as part of the interview.”
Ian tilted his head, a confused look in his face.
“You mean as an unsolicited admission of guilt?”
James pushed his hips against the counter and moved to the living area.
The agent looked at him for a long moment.
“Ok...I feel like you’ve been hit in the head too many times, James.”
James let himself fall on the sofa and scratched his neck.
“Ian, this story is going to come out and, frankly, I don’t want to be the dick who bought his way out of trouble. I’ve been getting away with shit for too long, it’s time to take some responsibilities...”
Ian sat in front of him and James continued.
“Yes, the guy was a prick and I was trying to defend Karen but it’s not an excuse for the way I acted. I can’t keep blaming others for my behaviour, I need to own up to my mistakes. I thought I had my shit sorted but obviously, it’s not the case; this could be the final wakeup call I need to get back on track once and for all, going public will hold me accountable. I feel like this is the best thing to do not only for my future career but also for myself...and for Lucy.”
Ian took a long deep breath.
“Fine. I just want to be absolutely clear about the fact that you will be giving up any hope for the Oscars. Your general career might be fine but you can forget about the nomination. And you worked so hard for it James, you deserve it...”
James nodded slightly.
“It’s crystal clear Ian. And yes I have worked hard for it but there could be other chances if I come clean with this, if I don’t I could just be digging my own grave.”
James left his head fall between his hands, a pained looked on his face as he spoke.
“I’ve fucking beaten a man bloody, Ian...do I really deserved to be praised anyway?” He said with anguish.
The agent sat next to James and pulled him close with one arm hug, patting his shoulder.
“You will get through this, James. And I’m not talking about the press storm, I mean you. You will be OK, I know you can get back on track.”
“Thanks. I appreciate your support.” James said, grateful.
“Anytime, James.” Ian stood up and sat back on the opposite sofa.
“I will call Josh and set up a meeting for next week, this will give the legal and PR team time to prepare you. Hopefully, he will appreciate the exclusive and will be willing to negotiate some conditions...”
“Ok, that sounds good.” Said James, passing his hand through his hair.
“James I think before we go through with this you need to talk to Lucy. And I’m not saying this as your agent but as a friend and a married man.” Ian offered with a smirk.
“I know, I just hope I haven’t fucked up my relationship too..."