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V. Daddy Issues

6:00pm. People from different industries gathered at the Leto Music Store Hall, awaiting the beginning of the program. Several artists with new music are up to give the press something to talk about in their papers and websites. Some are in attendance to perform acoustic sets to give a taste of what's to come in their new records. Others are only there under invitation to make the event seem more important. Lucian stood at the start of the carpet while watching a woman in a barely-there skin-tone dress hog all the spotlight. All 50 cameramen and reporters extended their arms at her, whether it is their equipment or microphone. All the lights pointed in her direction as she gladly whipped her hair at every question or compliment every reporter was giving her. Her laugh was almost obnoxious but everything sounded scripted from the way she chooses her words or her movements. Typical day at the press junket.

A voice drew his attention until he felt a strong pat at the back.

"She's great isn't she?" A short man said.
"She is. If only she had a competent manager." Lucian replied without giving him any glance.
"Ha! Lucian, Lucian. You haven't changed one bit."
"I'm not planning to."

The short man wearing a purple suit lit up a fat roll or tobacco. After puffing out the poison, he flicked it fast leaving some embers to fall on the floor.

"But a leak though? I think everyone knows at this point that 'leak' means 'actual release, I just want my artist to appear like people are dying for her album.' I doubt that's what you are going for, Lucian." He whispered.
"I'm just sorry for your artist, Mr. Abia, Glory is going to rightfully dominate the charts this week. And we intend to keep it that way for weeks to come."
"Then I'd just have to release a nude pic of my Kenna and the attention is right back at us."
"I'm not surprised you'd go as low as humiliating your own artist just to rake in some loose change."
"It's the business model, Lucian. Don't get so worked up about it. They're just pawns anyway. I don't even understand why you haven't fucked your pawn yet. They'd do everything to be famous. Shame, still the same stubborn, Lucian Gastrell."
"It's Edevane."
"Right, still the same, daddy issues-filled Lucian Edevane, then."
"I'm not here to compete with you, Mr. Abia."
"Oh sure you aren't. Moving your release a day early, however, is a clear red flag. Especially when you know so well this was my intended week. Are you trying to sabotage my career, Lucian?"
"I would but there's nothing to sabotage."
"You are quite awfully cocky tonight than the last time we met. Or are you saving face? Everyone knows you are keeping Glory on the lid because she might fuck up her interviews. Don't even try to pass it off as some marketing trick. It's your talent's weakness and it's going to be your downfall."

"Now I see where Kenna got her eloquence from. If you will excuse me." Gently, he slipped away from the conversation to meet the limo pulling up right at the very end of the carpet. And at the very first step of the clear glass shoe, all cameras turned to the scene. Glory stepped out in a sheer form-fitting dress, her in a large updo and her skin sparkling and flawless. She held her manager's arm and they walked down the carpet as lights flashed at them in succession. All eyes were on her in awe of her beauty. She smiled as if she had not met a friend in a long time. Her comfort around cameras were astounding, as if they did not intimidate her.

Her name was on everyone's lips. Glory! Glory! On your right. Glory! Over here. They tried to be the first to ask the question yet she remained calm in front of all the flashing lights. She left her manager's arm for a moment and allowed herself to bask under the adoring voices of people calling out her name. She waved and laughed with grace and class.

"Glory, how do you feel about your album's early release?"
And she was quick to reply with a cheeky laugh, "Oh some fans were eager to have it so we just had to release it sooner." Just like that, she captivated the reporters with her honesty.
"Who are you with tonight?" A loud voice tried to make his question heard.
"Well aren't you nosy!" The crew had a hearty laugh and she quickly added, "No, I'm just with my manager, Lucian. He's probably gonna make sure I don't get too much jello shots." The crowd loved her candidness.
"What about Jagger Reed? Where is he?" Another voice came up.

Before she could answer, Lucian had his arm around her waist and directed her away from all the cameras gawking at her.

"There's gonna be more time for questions later!" He raised his hand up while Glory waved at them.

"I can do it." She whispered firmly.
"I know."
"You don't have to help me." She brushed his arm slightly and smiled as she did so. It was not like the Glory he knew. Some people handling the event ushered her to her seat in the panel as official reporters from magazines all stood from their designated seats. Lucian was left at the back row to watch her completely alone in the panel. It made him nervous.

A few minutes into the panel and all the reporters cannot get enough of the new attraction.

"Good evening, Glory! I'm Joe from Various--"
"Hi, Joe from Various!" And the crowd erupted in giggles.
"We love you and we are loving the new sound. I, personally, am very surprised at seeing you here with us. This is your first time meeting the press, correct?"
"That would be correct, Joe from Various."
"We did not expect you to be this bubbly and kind, and I'm gonna ask in behalf of everyone in the room right now… Are you single?" The crowd had a mixed chorus of oohs and ahhs.

Lucian at the backrow had his arms crossed eager for the time to be up.
"Looks like one of us pulled of something tricky tonight." Mr. Abia was again right beside him.
"You see, I'm just letting her be herself."
"We both know that's not true, Lucian. Let us not fool ourselves."
"Well what do you know about the truth, when everything about your talent is the opposite."

"I can assure you these are real." A woman came up behind him pushing up her breasts to fix them in her barely-there dress.
"Oh, she has ears. Great work, Mr. Abia."
"Lucian, this is Kenna. I'm sure you've heard of her." Mr. Abia proudly put his arm around her shoulder.
"Nice to finally meet you."

Kenna is a new artist signed by Max Abia at Eros Records. Her debut album was also released on the same day just a few hours apart. Breakout. A generic electropop record that mimics everything already out in the charts while offering the same catchy tunes and subpar auto-tuned vocals. What she lacked in musical talent made up for her tiny waistline and contoured makeover.

"Heard Glory was seen with the crossover pornstar. So, she has great taste in men?" She had an eyebrow raised.
"It wasn't planned, unlike your words." Lucian hit back.
"Lucian, I can take your being rude to me, your rival. But you gotta lay off on my gem right in front of me." Kenna's manager held down his ground.
"Abia, there is no rivalry. Keep that in mind." Lucian walked past them and headed for the stage, signaling to the event organizers that the time is up.

"Alright, we'll be accepting one last question for Glory! Who's up?" the host exclaimed.
A large man stood with a bite of cheeseburger in his hand. "I have a question."
"Alright, we have Burt from Exposed, if you would please kindly continue with your question."
Glory sat there, bright-eyed and still eager to answer another inquiry.
"Glory, we all know you're lovely and all, you've been wonderful for us tonight but I gotta ask, why date Jagger Reed? Why associate yourself with a man who has appeared in 600 and more adult titles and has recently crossed over to gay porn. You're a beautiful lady, everybody knows that by now. But why be seen with a degenerate on the day of your sophomore release. What's up with that, Ms. Glory?" The crowd fell dead silent as the man pushed into view the elephant in the room. Mortified, Lucian kept on motioning to have his microphone cut off but all eyes were fixated on Glory, waiting for her answer. She did not look visibly shaken by the obnoxious reporter's statements. Instead, she had her eyes closed. Once she opened them, she smiled.

"We all have made choices in our lives to get where we are. Just like I did. I don't know Mr. Reed's story and I have no right to judge him based on his choices. But I'm willing to listen and get to know the person better. I did not know of his background prior our accidental meeting in the park. What I can give you is that he's a great guy and nothing like what you are being right now. He chose his path just like how you chose to be rude and a horrible human being on this night. You did nothing but to embarrass yourself in front of the world. And I could only wish you good luck on your career. Thank you." Politely, Glory stood up and the silence that was became a wave of shutters and flashes of cameras.

The host nervously cleared his throat, "A-and there we… have it. Thank you Glory for your time. Be sure to get Emergence, Glory's sophomore album out now in your one and only Leto Music Store."

Lucian was quick to grab her hand and walk with her down the carpet as the cameras followed them on the way out. He had his suit around her while four of his bodyguards kept them secure in four corners. The chase was causing a ruckus and it became a race to reach the limo safely. Some cameramen even tripped on one another in hopes of snapping a photo of the star before she disappears from sight.

A bodyguard opened the door for her and they quickly went in. Just as the door closed, Glory burst into tears and embraced Lucian. He had nothing to tell her but he made sure she felt secure.

"It's over now. You're safe with me."

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