Taylor has heard it all. Taylor has read it all. They were always rumors. He never really paid attention to them after hearing them that first time. This time it was different. This time it wasn’t just him involved. This time, it isn’t a rumor.
Taylor stares down at the newspaper his brother had thrown in front of him. No, it’s definitely not a rumor this time. It’s a headline this time. Not even a headline he could deny, because a picture followed it.
“What are you gonna do?” Isaac asks.
“I don’t know,” Taylor answers.
“Taylor, this is serious. I’ve already had five magazines calling me for interviews. They want the inside scoop.”
“Fuck them, Isaac.” He runs a hand through his hair with a sigh.
“This is your career we’re talking about. You are on top of the damn world right now. Your last two movies were number one. You can’t ignore this anymore. You can’t look the other way. Before they could never prove it. They never had proof. But now?” Isaac points to the picture on the paper.
Taylor looks at the picture again. They’d been caught. How could he have been so careless about where they were? He’s not worried about himself. He’s been dealing with the paparazzi and media for years. But Zac…
“I have to call Zac,” Taylor mutters as he reaches for his phone.
“Who the fuck is Zac?”
“Not obvious?” Taylor lifts the paper and shows Isaac the picture. “He’s the one pushing me up against the building.”
Isaac takes the paper and tosses it to the side. “Are you kidding me? This isn’t about him, Tay. This is about you.”
“And he’s involved.” He puts his phone to his ear after he calls Zac. He sighs when it goes straight to voicemail.
“Hey, you’ve reached Zac. I can’t come to the phone right now. Leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
Taylor sighs. “Zac, it’s me. It’s Tay. I’m sorry. I don’t…” He runs a hand over his face. “I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not. Maybe that’s why you aren’t answering me. I don’t know. I just… Call me? Please.”
Isaac frowns as he watches his brother. He’s never seen him react like this before. So why now? What’s different? “You really like him.”
Taylor looks up. “What?”
“You like Zac. Not like the others. There’s something about this one. This isn’t just another fun time for you. You really like him.”
He nods. “Yeah, I do. And I probably just blew it.”
“Does he know who you are?”
“Obviously. And before you ask. No, that’s not important. Because the truth of the matter is that he pretty much hated me when we first met.” He sighs. “I think I love him, Ike.”
“We’ll figure this out, Taylor. Him included.”
“I’m going to try calling him again.”
Zac’s phone actually rings this time, but it ends up going to voicemail again. Taylor squeezes his eyes shut, trying to keep himself calm.
“Zac, please answer. We need to talk. I need to know you’re okay. Please call me back.”
“We now have an ID on the mystery man in the photo with movie star Taylor Hanson.”
Taylor’s head snaps up at that and stares at the TV. “Oh my God.”
“It seems the mystery man is a local here in New York City. We don’t know much about him at this time. But we can tell you that his name is Zac Morgan and that he works for a construction company here in New York.”
Taylor shuts the TV off. “Oh my God.” He climbs off the couch. “I have to go. I have to go find him. I have to see him.”
“Taylor,” Isaac says.
“You can’t stop me, Isaac. I know you’re my manager…”
“Stop. I’m not talking to you as your manager right now. I’m talking to you as your brother. Find him. But be careful.”
“Take my car.”
Taylor pulls his baseball cap lower after he puts his sunglasses on. He doesn’t see much activity around, but he knows how the photographers can come out of nowhere. He climbs out of the car and makes his way up the stops of Zac’s building. He hunches over after ringing the buzzer for Zac’s apartment, trying to keep himself concealed.
“I’m not interested in doing any kind of interview,” Zac says. “Go away.”
“Zac,” Taylor says. “it’s me.” He’s thankful when he hears the door unlock. He takes a quick look around before walking inside. As he climbs the stairs to the second floor, he finally takes his sunglasses off. He rounds the corner and sees Zac leaning against the wall outside his apartment. “Hi.”
“Hey,” Zac says. He gestures to the open door. “Come in.”
Taylor walks in and turns to see Zac closing the door. “I tried calling you.”
Zac nods. “I know. I turned it off for a while. They somehow got my number and bombarded me.”
“I’m sorry, Zac.”
“For what?” He shrugs as he walks the rest of the way to the living room. “I’m the one that had you up against the brick wall.”
Taylor follows Zac and sits down on the couch. “If I was any other person, you wouldn’t have to deal with any of this.”
“You can’t blame yourself, Taylor. I got into this knowing who you were.”
“Doesn’t mean…” He sighs. “I’m just sorry you had to be pulled into this. I don’t know how they got your name. I swear.”
“I know that.” Zac shifts so he’s now facing Taylor. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you back. I would have. I just needed to wrap my head around all of this. I’ve never dated a movie star before. Not that we’re… I mean… What are we?”
“Well, considering I’m falling in love with you, I’d say we’re a little past the dating stage.”
“You’re…” Zac blushes. “You are?”
Taylor nods. “Yes.” He reaches over and takes Zac’s hand. “Are you okay? I mean… How much have they been bothering you?”
Zac shrugs. “I’ve been ignoring my phone. People have been ringing up on and off.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Zac slides over and rests his free hand on Taylor’s cheek. “You have nothing to apologize for.” Leaning in, he presses his mouth to Taylor’s in a soft kiss. “I’m falling in love with you too.”
“That’s so good to hear. But…” Taylor sighs. “I would understand if you didn’t want to see me anymore. It’s not going to be easy now that they know.”
“If I wanted easy, I would have started dating you. Not that you gave me much of a choice. I can only say no so many times when I’m in denial.”
Taylor smiles. “Come here.” He pulls Zac closer and kisses him again. “I have appearances coming up. They’re going to be asking about us.”
“I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to.”
“You can tell them whatever you want.” Zac groans when the buzzer goes off. “I swear to fucking…” He stands up and walks over to the intercom. “I’m not interested in giving an interview. Go away.” He walks back over and sits down once again. “I just for a little warning on when you’ll be talking so I know to break my intercom.”
Taylor smiles a little. “God, I wish you didn’t have to go through this.”
“I’m just glad I’m in it with you.” He rests his hand on Taylor’s chest. “When and where is your first appearance?”
“Thursday. I’m on Fallon. I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to.”
“Tay, if you want to talk about it, that’s fine.”
“I’m not hiding you because you’re a man.”
“I know that.”
Taylor pulls Zac over and kisses him. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Taylor, you’re being ridiculous.” Zac leans over and kisses him.
Taylor looks at Isaac as he waits to be called out for his interview. He’s not sure how it’s going to come up, but he knows his relationship will end up in the conversation. Though, he’s hoping Jimmy will be cool about the entire thing. He’s been on the show before and Taylor’s never felt like it would be an issue.
“Did you tell Zac they’re liable to ask you about it?” Isaac asks.
Taylor nods. “We talked about it the other day. Told me to do whatever I wanted.”
“Did he really mean that?”
“Yes.” Taylor takes a deep breath. “Yeah, he did. I made sure of that.”
“All right, our next guest has been on quite a roll lately with his movies,” Jimmy says. “And it looks to be continuing with his upcoming movie, Fool Chain. Please welcome, Taylor Hanson.”
Taylor walks out onto the stage and waves to the audience as they cheer. At least he knows he hasn’t lost everyone. He shakes Jimmy’s hand before he sits down. He’s surprised that the audience continues to cheer even after he sits.
“Thank you,” Taylor says. “It’s good to be here again.”
“The last time you were here it was for the release of Points of Light, right?”
“That’s right. Wow, yeah. It’s been a while.”
“It certainly has been. And it would appear a lot has happened since then. We haven’t heard anything from you since the release of that picture. Can we ask you about it?”
Taylor smiles. “Well, that depends on what you wanna know.”
“Is it really you? I’ve had several people comment that it’s not you. I have the picture here. Mind if I pull it out?”
“Go right ahead. I have nothing to hide. Okay, well, that’s not entirely true.” He looks at the picture that Jimmy pulls out and stands up on the desk. “To answer your question. Yes, that is really me. Or well, what you can see of me. You’d never know I was actually taller than him.”
“What’s going on there?”
“We’re in a make out session.”
“No…” Jimmy snorts. “That’s obvious. But can we talk about your relationship?”
“Our relationship. First off, yes, I am gay. No, I have never hidden it. People have always made assumptions. They’ve asked me before. I never denied it. I just never answered it. Honestly, I’ve never been one to talk about my personal life. You know that.”
“I do know that. Which is why I’m surprised you’ve agreed to talk about it tonight. So we do have to know. Are you off the market?”
Taylor laughs. “Um… Yeah, I suppose you could say that.”
“How’d you two meet? Zac, right?”
“Yeah, his name is Zac. It’s actually a pretty boring story of how we met. There was work being done in my building. And it was like on every floor. So naturally it was him that was working on my floor. They were being noisy one morning and I walked out at complained about it. It wasn’t even early. I was just annoyed. He was not happy.”
“That’s not boring at all. How long have you been together?”
“Let’s see, that would have been eight months ago. So we’ve been together for four months now. Almost five months.”
“I don’t know how he’s dealt with me for that long to be honest. Though, I suppose it helps when you’re gone filming for part of it. Maybe that’s why he keeps me around. He knows I’ll be heading out for filming at some point.”
“I’m sure he’d argue with that. Okay. So the new movie, Fool Chain. Let’s talk about that. You had to travel a lot for this film.”
“Yeah, we did. It was great though. It’s amazing when you’re able to film in the actual place it’s supposed to be.”
“What was the best place you filmed for this one?”
“For me personally it was Montana. I know that sounds crazy. But I’m a nature guy. I absolutely loved it out there. We didn’t get to spend much time there unfortunately. We only had two days to get the filming in there. I would love to go back.”
Taylor walks to the back after they finish a few minutes later. He lets out a heavy breath as he approaches Isaac. “Wasn’t too bad,” he says. “I don’t think.”
“No, it wasn’t. Probably your easiest one. Also probably best it’s where you started.”
“Probably.” Taylor pulls his phone from his pocket.
“Will he be watching tonight?”
“I don’t know. He knows I’m on.”
“Well, I hate to be the downer, but you need to go get ready. We have a plane to catch.”
Taylor groans. “I know. Do I have time to call him?”
“Afraid not. Call him when we land.”
Taylor grabs his phone and video calls Zac. It’s then he realizes what time it is. He hopes Zac is still awake. God, he probably went to bed hours ago.
“Hey,” Zac says.
Taylor smiles when he sees Zac come onto screen. “Hey,” he says. “Did I wake you?”
“Depends on how you look at it. I fell asleep on the couch.”
He can see Zac shifting. “What time is it?”
“Midnight. I saw the show. Wasn’t as bad as I figured it would be.”
“No, it went well. I didn’t know they had the picture. So I’m sorry about that.”
“No, it’s fine.” Zac smiles. “I loved your comment after he pulled it out though.”
“What was my comment?”
“You being taller than me.”
“Oh.” Taylor chuckles. “Well, it’s the truth. I’m taller than you but you’d never know it in that picture.”
“So where are you now?”
“LA. I’ll be here until Monday night. Then I head back to New York. But not for long. I’m back out here Wednesday gearing up for the premier.”
“Will I get to see you before you have to head back out?”
“I hope so.” Taylor sighs. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too. I should probably head to bed.”
“Me too. Call me tomorrow?”
“I’ll call you when I go to lunch.”
“Good. I’ll be waiting. Bye, Zac.”
Taylor sets his phone to the side after ending the call. He’d rather be in bed with Zac right now. This is definitely one of the times he hates his job. He grabs one of the extra pillows and curls around it. He hopes he’ll be able to get some sleep tonight, though he knows it won’t be much.