The Trash Bin of Cliches

This is a series of shorts about the life of established author, Willow Parker.

Whilst living in London with her best friend Kennedy, Willow gets writer's block. Something she deals with by getting, what was supposed to be a temp job, at The Agency: a company that is invested in a bunch of media industry fields. While helping out with a photo shoot Willow meets one of the world's most coveted bachelors, Sawyer Huntington, one of the boys from the internationally popular group Once Upon.

Thanks to one of her new model friends, Yvonne, Sawyer gets his hooks into her and she wakes up after a night of partying with someone else's boxers on. After that it's one thing after another, starting again when Once Upon books their new music video shoot with The Agency. When she is mistaken for an extra and Sawyer picks her to play the opposing role in his scene, sparks fly, now all Willow has to do is try not to catch fire.

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1. Every Story Has a Start: 22nd April - 17th October 2011

 

 It starts out with a small part time job she took with the agency, she didn’t expect it to become full time. Simply, she was a stage hand, a roadie; really she just wanted something to do with the downtime as she wrote her next book. She was in London, why not get a travelling temp job; her roommate, Kennedy, thinks she’s crazy, they have money still tumbling in from the series they just finished last year. She gets on the set one day and checks the agenda, only to discover that what she’s going to be working on now is lighting set up for Once Upon, thrill and disappointment runs through her body. Sure, it’s Once Upon, the incredible band with talented, attractive males; not to mention Sawyer Huntington; she would never admit it to anyone but the fluff pieces she writes have males that look like him, however she’s not ignorant enough to assume he’s anything like the character she chose.   

And then it hits her. Lots, loads, don’t even begin to describe the swarm. Not only will she probably never meet the boys directly, but they will be causing quite a bit of trouble around the agency. She lets out a sigh, for the love of god, she has an hour to prepare, she has to find Susan.   

Her boss is actually in an interview with their manager about precautions, the day goes by quickly. She gets home at 3 am and is almost hit by Kennedy’s security bat and home made battle-dance style. She falls on her bed.  

The next day is a surprise halfway through the shoot, one of the female models comes up to her holding the novel she not only co-wrote, but the special edition cover she designed.   

“Excuse me, are you Willow Parker? Like the author of the Mirror Phase series?” Says the beautiful girl’s singsong voice. Automatically Willow feels inadequate, but the girl’s a fan, and she’s flattered at the same time. So she forces down the need to hide her tangled long dyed brown, blonde rooted hair under a cap and smiles kindly.  

“Yeah actually, but I can’t take all the credit,” she says though the girl has opened her mouth to say something.  

“Yeah, Kennedy Carson and Felix Avalon as well of course, but it’s in my understanding you wrote West and-”   

“Hey, sorry to interrupt,” says a all too familiar voice from behind her, he crosses in front of her and puts a hand on the model’s shoulder, “But Ivy sent me over to tell Yvonne, filming starts in 3 minutes.”  

The model actually looks annoyed, then Willow notices the tan line on her left ring finger, she’s married, and maybe Sawyer’s not her type, but she definitely is not sporting the same moon eyes Willow is.   

“Yeah, thanks be there in a few,” Yvonne says. Sawyer looks taken aback and Willow doesn’t think Yvonne is trying too hard to mask her annoyance at him for interrupting. Sawyer doesn’t leave and Yvonne continues. “So anyways, you did write for the character of West, correct? Because I think I’d be too embarrassed to ask you to sign this if I’m wrong.”  

“I did, and I’d be happy to sign, it’s just surprising that anyone here has even found the series,” her smile grows as Yvonne does an excited jump and grabs a pen from a confused technician with a check board, Willow knows she likes her.  

“Thanks so much! Yvonne Green, that’s my name,” Yvonne is actually jumping now and they are both simultaneously giggling as she writes a message in the book as a co-worker of hers comes over to them.  

“Hey, guys filming in thirty seconds, can you get on set please?” the man raises an eyebrow at her and she gives the book back to Yvonne who hugs her and causes widened eyes of the co-worker as well.   

Later that afternoon Sawyer comes up behind her.   

“So,” He says making her jump and spin around, he’s very close to her, “You wrote a book?”   

“Yeah, I did,” she says, her voice coming out uneven. She imagined he’d be shorter, but in reality he’s at least a half foot taller than her. They’re just looking at each other, oh my god, she’s been staring into those beautiful green eyes for at least twelve seconds. “It was a series actually. Do you need anything Mr Huntington?”   

“Actually yes,” a dashing smile spreads across his face and she tries not to be like the other girls who swoon at the sight of him and rip their clothes off, “a couple bags of chess mix and crisps to our dressing room.”  

“Oh, yeah, sure, it’ll be there within the hour,” she says taking her phone out and texts an intern to get the food from a vending machine. She expects him to be gone when she looks up and yet he’s still standing there. Smiling down at her. “Will that be all Mr Huntington?”  

“Yes Miss…”   

“Oh, Parker,” she says surprised he actually wants to know.   

“Alright,” he turns and starts walking away from her, and she starts to turn around as well, “Also, can we add Willow Parker’s first book of the series as well? A copy for me please. Signed.”   

He smiles again and walks away with his hands in his pockets.  

They don’t talk the next day, she doesn’t expect it, but at some points she catches herself gazing at him. Of course though, the next day, after a night out on the town with her friends, when she comes to work hung over, he talks to her.  

“Oy!” She cringes as she hears a yelling voice from behind her in the hall, she turns around and he’s bounding towards her along with his body guards, but still he is, “You! Yes, you! Parker, Porter, you!”    He stops in front of her, panting and the body guards swarm around them.   

“Uhm, yes? Also I don’t think anyone will attack you in here… they’re kind of used to famous people.”   

“Where’s my book?” He laughs.  

“What?” She asks.  

“Where’s my book?” He repeats smiling.  

“Uhm, you were serious?” she asks shocked.  

“Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I be?”   

Well, she can’t really say that a man who goes to the restroom in nothing but a blanket on a plane to California doesn’t seem like a reader can she? So she just smiles and shrugs. “I have a copy at home I can bring in tomorrow if you’re serious?”  

“Sure, bring it tonight.”  

“Pardon?”  

“The night out? Oh, Yvonne hasn’t told you yet? She told me you were going to be her plus one since Chris can’t come.”   

“But I work tonight?”   

“Not anymore,” he chuckles, smiling mischievously and starting to turn.  

“I don’t think I can do that Mr Huntington.”  

“Well aren’t you cute with the Mr Huntington.”  

“I try to be professional, one of the reasons I can not skip work tonight.”   

“Call me Sawyer,” he says turning back to face her.  

“Uh, okay, Sawyer, I can’t skip work tonight.”  

“You have no work tonight.”  

“Yes I do, I’m fairly sure the schedule’s set.”  

“Yeah, you may want to double check that, Willow,” her jaw drops as he turns around and calmly walks away from her.   

Her head throbbing, she walks over to Susan. “Susan?”

 “Yes dear?” Susan turns around kind smile on her face the same as when Willow first started temping.    “The schedule for tonight is still-”  

“Oh, honey, did you not check your work phone?”  

“No, I guess not. Should I be checking it now then?”  

“Love, a model asked you to dine with her, I gave you the night off.”  

“You listened to my messages again?” Willow can’t help but smile and shake her head.   

“Sorry dear, but I left a nice one afterwards giving you the night off, you work too hard.”  

“How did he know this was going to happen?” She says aloud.  

“Who dear?”  

“Sawyer,” Susan cracks a smile and Willow’s eyes widen, “He just… oh never mind, assume what you must, I have stuff to do as I’m sure the getting the shift back is…”  

“Impossible? Quite, yes,” Susan’s pocket buzzes and she reaches into it, Willow takes this as her exit call and walks away.   

The day goes smoothly, Yvonne is a delight, stopping by every so often while her make-up people chase after her. Just before she’s about to leave Yvonne pops up again.  

“Hi!”   

“Hey!” Willow can’t help but smile, her hang over is gone and the girl is just so bubbly one can’t help but smile.  

“You going to get ready? Mind if I come with?”   

“And casually happen to meet my roommate the author of your favourite character?” She looks guilty at this and Willow laughs, “Of course you can come!”  

Yvonne shrieks with delight and grabs a coat off the hangar.   

“Is that even yours?”  

“It’s one of the girls, they won’t mind,” Yvonne grabs her hand and they rush out the door.   

A cab and 15 blocks later, they are at her building. Getting ready is a cinch; Kennedy and Yvonne hit it off, Willow goes to take a shower and she comes out to them being, if possible, even more in depth to the Heather and Rowan conundrum. She grabs her copy of the book off her shelf and puts it in a plastic bag. Kennedy, not being one for clubs, has opted out of the evening; though if Yvonne happens to be too drunk to go home to Chris, there have been breakfast plans made.  

The nights a blur and Willow wakes up to the smell of waffles. Yvonne and Kennedy are laughing together at the kitchen table when she walks in.  

“Hey you!” Yvonne winks, “Nice boxers.”  

“Wha-” Willow looks down and jumps, “Who in the bloody hell are these?”   

If she looks back, she can honestly say it’s foreshadowing.   

“Hey!” Willow jumps around and sees a smiling Sawyer, her book in his hand.  

“Oh, so you got it?”  

“Yeah, it was a fair trade. I had to give up my best boxers though,” he winks and walks away. Her face is beat red.   

“Yvonne!” She calls when she sees the model.  

“Yes?”  

“What the fuck happened? Why don’t I remember borrowing Sawyer’s boxers?”  

“Oh that’s easy,” Willow waits for the answer but Yvonne just stands there smiling at her.  

“Would you mind telling me-” She’s cut off by another employee instructing Yvonne on where to go in the shot.   

The day goes on with Sawyer hinting at something, it’s driving Willow insane. By the end of the day she’s mustered up the courage. Shaky, she walks up to him as Henry and the other’s are walking off to make-up.  

“Oy!” She taps him on the shoulder and he turns, a large grin spreading across his face, “Alright, I admit it, you know what happened last night with the book and the you know, and I don’t, so can you tell me?”  

Sawyer leans in close and she turns red, he’s eye to eye with her and only a couple inches away from her face, he goes towards her right ear and whispers something that makes her eyes widen and walks away.   

“You, you, you can’t just… augh, fine, it’s fine.” She turns and walks away missing the intrigued look on his face as he looks back at her before entering the make-up trailer.   

From then on it’s all inside jokes and sneaking up on her. The other boys laugh and ask if she wants help sometimes. She usually just awkwardly says something and they smile down at her, sometimes pet her head. By the end of the two weeks she’s both sad and happy to see them go. She’s also surprised when Henry, one of the boys she had the pleasure of giving first aid to and helping with wardrobe malfunctions, texts her if it’s okay all the boys will be texting her now to keep in touch. In the end it’s mostly Henry and sometimes Sawyer at the odd time.   

In the next three months the boys are back at the agency and she’s changed her hair, it’s longer now, and red. The boy’s don’t recognise her at first and Henry, though she’s not sure if he’s playing, taps her on the shoulder and asks if she’s there for the music video.   

“Henry, it’s Will,” she says rolling her eyes, “quit playing.”   

“I wasn’t playing, you look so different! It’s quite becoming actually,” he says in his Irish accent.   

“Yeah, yeah, hush up,” she laughs.  

“I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks so,” Willow for a moment hopes he’s talking about Sawyer, at least the teenage girl still left in her does. But today they are set at a beach, so naturally she’s in a bikini under shorts and a white shirt, Henry takes his exit and Yvonne walks up to her.  

“Hey fancy seeing you here,” she nudges her.   

“Oy! You’re both supposed to be in make-up now!” says a man from behind them, Yvonne turns to leave. He taps Willow on the shoulder. “You too, go on.”  

“Huh?”   

“You heard me, make-up.” A smile spreads across Yvonne’s face and before Willow can correct the man, Yvonne has grabbed her hand and is dragging her along into the trailer.  

“Well this is a change of events isn’t it?” Yvonne says as make-up comes towards them.  

“But Yve, I’m not-”  

“Well, you are now. Just enjoy it.” And with that she’s in make-up, Susan comes in after she’s done and her eyes widen.  

“Will?” She hears her bosses amused voice behind her.  

“I don’t know what’s happening Susan, people just keep on thinking I’m-”  

“As well they should, pretty girl like you. We’re short a girl anyways and you work too hard, it’s time for you to have some fun.” And with that her boss leaves her.  

“Hey! Fancy seeing you in here,” Henry comes in and smiles, “What are you doing in here anyways?”  

“People keep on telling me to go places, I’m supposed to be doing lighting now but every time I try to leave someone says that I’m not finished in here. And now I can’t even correct them because I’m pretty sure Susan is going to lie about me actually working for her.” Henry bursts out laughing. “Oh, thanks, you’re such a great help, really.”  

“Sorry it’s just, why don’t you have fun with it?” he goes for her hair but a stylist grabs his wrist and glares before letting go and going over to another model, “Extra’s on the street are in the music videos all the time.”  

“Yeah, but I’m a novelist Henry, not a model.”  

“Are you telling me,” his Irish accent comes out more when he’s amused she realizes, “You don’t want to be a model and dance with me in the video? Not even a little bit?”  

“Fine,” her face is probably some sort of maroon colour by now, and she decides to get even, “You don’t think Lily Donavan will be jealous if I dance with you?”  

Now it’s his turn to blush. “Shut up.”  

“Excuse me,” the stylist that stopped Henry from ruffling her hair comes up to her, “But who dressed you in that suit?” he refers to the orange one under her shirt, “I’m not saying it’s bad… I’m just saying for your skin and hair we need something white, a lace pattern even…” And she’s whisked away to another trailer.   

Yvonne runs up to her when they’re on the beach.   

“See, this is what happens when you wash, brush, and blow dry your hair,” she laughs and playfully slaps her arm, “I should bring you to work on you’re hygienic days more often.”  

“Shut up, I still have to fake like I’m a normal person at work you know, the people who aren’t models or my friends here still don’t know how gross I am.”  

“Yeah? Well, no one can possibly hide how much you eat,” Yvonne looks her up and down, “How is it you look amazing in that suit and yet I watched you eat a huge bag of bacon flavoured crisps this morning, and don’t tell me Ken ate some because she hates every flavour but regular and dill pickle.”   

“I-”   Then someone called something and everything started. It was a bunch of running and jumping and swimming. Then it was lunch time.  

“Hi,” And she jumped again, “I’m guessing you wrote for West and Felicity?”  

Shit, he read the book, he actually read the book. “Yes? And Sawyer you have got to stop sneaking up on me like that.”  

“No, you’re cute when you’re all flustered. Now, some pretty, uh, I believe you Americans would say steamy scenes for them.” She blushes and he chuckles.  

“Oh my god, oh my god, I can’t believe you want to talk about this,” she shakes her head and his laugh increases. Deciding on humouring him she sighs. “Yes, what about them? Something particular? Did you not like them?” She smiles up at him. Not sure what has changed, but something inside her is challenging him.  

“No, no, they were quite um,” he clears his throat, “good.”  

“Well, glad to give you,” she stops there, “yeah, I can’t finish that sentence.”  

“Probably not the best idea no,” he’s smiling down at her.  

“So, did you just read the steamy scenes or the entire book?”  

“Oh, he read the book, and the second one,” Tyson comes up and puts an arm around his shoulders, Willow can almost feel the hundreds of slash fan fiction authors flailing, “I believe he’s on the third one now.”   

“Ah, so when you’re speaking about the steamy scenes you are speaking of the very steamy scenes.”   

“I do believe he is,” Tyson smiles down at her, Sawyer looks at him like he just turned into a fly whom has been buzzing around his head for hours.   

“Will!” Yvonne calls running towards her, “Sorry to interrupt boys, but she will kill me if I don’t show her the buffet of food.”  

“Food?” Willow pipes up.  

With that they all go to lunch, Tyson and Sawyer staring at her in awe as she packs food onto her plate and eats most of it. The male stylist, Spencer, wants to kill her when she comes into the make-up trailer. After a bunch of odd conversations between everyone on set, the director comes up and explains the concept to everyone.  

“Well we all know the theme of the song, young love. So what we are going to do is have each one of the boys pull a girl from the crowd and kiss her, since we want this to be surprising considering the last verse of the song is about the guy finally telling the girl at a party, it has to be random,” the director looks over everyone, “if someone is against this idea please notify one of the crew so the boys can know who is out of bounds.”   A bunch of exciting conversation starts up amongst the models and the boys look a bit uncomfortable but expectant. The sun is setting and the crew begins to set up a bon fire, and around it choosing the place where each boys kiss will take place. Willow walks up to Sawyer and Henry who are sitting on a bench beside the beach.   

“Hey,” the boys look up and smile, “Do you know where you guys will be yet?”  

“No, but the girls have been numbered at which spot they are supposed to stand by so no one cheats,” Henry chuckles at this, “Can you imagine?”  

“Yeah actually, you’ve seen the fan pages, this is a thing. Your fans are everywhere and we can’t just have a bunch of them swarming Max or either of you.”   

“I guess we can say from experience it’s possible,” Sawyer nods to Henry.  

“Yeah, so what number are you?’ Henry smiles dashingly at Willow and winks.  

“5,” she blushes.  

“Hmmm,” Sawyer smiles.   

She raises an eyebrow at him and he does the same to her before winking. Her blush deepens as she remembers the conversation they had about a certain scene in the second book, she doesn’t even want to think of the text message she’ll get when he reads the third one.   

The bon fire is lit and the shooting of the music video proceeds. Then the sun sets and everyone goes to their assigned spots. Max as 1, goes first, his group of girls are all talking to him before he takes the one to his right by the hand and the camera follows them towards a tree where he sings his part to her and then puts a strand of hair behind her ear and kisses her. Tyson, is next he gestures for a girl to dance with him and then after his verse and a couple twirls goes in for the kiss. Henry has people sitting around him as he plays guitar, he gets up and goes to the girl across from him, licking his lips as he leans in and kisses her. Paul sings as he makes a marsh mellow then offers it to a girl taking it away before handing it to her and then tapping his cheek and turning back kissing her on the lips. The director then goes over to Willows group and explains what’s happening, Willow is trying to contemplate the fact that she is in Sawyer’s group and he knows from her books exactly what kissing she likes; and it freaks her out even though she knows he’s going to pick someone else, she’s not sure how she feels about that.  

“Alright, so here it is, you girls are all in a group, laughing and having fun. The boys are hustling Sawyer and push him over to you, you guys are facing the opposite direction of him. He spins one of you away, you look at each other for a few seconds and then he kisses you. You pull away smile and kiss him again,” The director looks at each of them, “Understood? Alright. Places please.”  

Not 2 minutes later is when she felt a hand on her wrist spin her around and she was looking into those green eyes just like she had the first time they met. Blood rushed and thundered in her ears. Then he slowly leaned into her face and kissed her for a couple of seconds and pulled away. She looked at him for a moment bewildered and then remembered what she was supposed to do. Smiling she reaches up and pulls his face towards her. Feeling his hands wrap around her waist and pulling her towards him.    

Sawyer’s fantastic, everything is sparks and fireworks inside her brain, and what he’s doing with his tongue right now sends shivers down her spine right into her toes. There’s a horrible sinking feeling when she remembers she has to let him go, but she does, and even though she’s breathing heavily, and a part of her she wants to strangle, notes he is too. Willow can’t even contemplate whether the kiss was short or long, she chides herself for being so incredibly tacky. She’s written stories before and not all the characters get a happy ending, especially one that’s too good to be true. Willow could never write something like this, to her everything she just felt was literary garbage, a big hull in the bin of romantic clichés.    

“Cut! That’s a wrap guys!” A chorus of cheering echoes in her ears, but she’s looking at Sawyer, and he’s looking at her. Then he blinks and turns away, her eyes widen and she turns around too, looking for Yvonne, she can feel how hot her face is when she sees her friend rushing towards her.  

“Hey, so you guys let off some steam huh?” Yvonne laughs and hugs her.  

“What?”    \

“Oh, come on Will, that,” she points to the spot where the kiss was shot, “was hot. You watched the other kisses, sure they were cute, the guys are good actors as are the girls. But you guys let off heat.”  

“I think you’re insane and please don’t give me hope.”  

“Why not?”  

“Because he’s good at acting, but I’m not,” there was a tense moment while she looked at her friend before she walks over to the sea and put her feet in.   

“Will…”   

“It’s fine, I’ll be over it in a bit and hopefully when we get drunk at the after party I won’t throw myself at him.”  

Her friend looks at her sadly and shakes her head, hugging her. A bottle of wine is popped and Willow looks up smiling, it’s hesitantly returned. Then they laugh and run towards the others.  

She leaves with Sawyer after the party, and as the car drops her off and they say goodbye, she turns before closing the door.  

“Sawyer, by the way,” he looks up at her intrigued, “I’m Canadian, born and raised.” She closes the door and walks up the stairs to her apartment.  

It's not long before she sees her silhouette getting into a car with him, only the red hair is in view under the strait rimmed cap she borrowed from Henry. It’s also not long before the papers make that connection too.   

They flirt while texting but she doesn’t let herself think they are anything, she’s not stupid, she knows he has girls. There is also some pretty screwy fan fiction that she can’t get out of her brain she keeps finding online. Then one time when their all hanging out on the boys day off she leaves with Sawyer again.   

“I still love the bowtie,” she smiles as she impulsively reaches out and straightens it while the guards make sure they won’t get swarmed by girls; someone leaked their location to the media and now the theatre has a small army of teenage females just waiting to pounce. He’s looking at her now and she puts her hands back at her sides.   

“I thought it was classy,” He smiles and shrugs, his hands in his pockets.   

“Sure you do, bowties are cool, who doesn‘t love bowies?” she has to stop the Doctor Who reference halfway out of her mouth but his smile widened and she knows he has her.   

“Did you just-”  

“Reference Doctor Who? Yes, I try to tone it down but sometimes it just comes out. There goes the whole normal vision you had of your good friend Willow.”  He leans down, his mouth beside her ear.

“I never thought you were normal,” he whispers and then he’s in front of her face. A couple of inches away from her lips, and though she knows he doesn’t mean to be like that, she doesn’t want to be used, but as he slowly becomes closer, his eyes half closed. She decides she really doesn’t care, she’ll get over it anyways. Their lips graze, and her eyes flutter closed. His lips are warm, soft, and taste like buttered popcorn. She’s afraid to move, she may wake up. He slowly pulls away and she wants to kiss him again. She almost wishes he hadn’t done that because now she can’t avoid how she really feels about Sawyer Huntington, and short of actually being friends with him, she’s no better than a teenage girl who pins posters of his face on the wall and kisses the paper.  

“I…” She stops because she sees someone, and covers her face, “Sawyer, there’s someone watching,” she says quietly. Suddenly he’s looking around and shifts so he’s completely in front of her. Still covering her face she peeks through her fingers at him. “Doesn’t this look more compromising?”   

“Maybe,” he smiles down at her, he leans down, “But I think this looks worse.”  

“Well, if you’re going to make it look like you’re kissing me,” she uncovers her face and smiles back up at him.  

He raises an eyebrow and starts to say something but it’s cut short by the people ushering them out of a safe exit at the theatre. They make it to the car and there is silence for a few moments. Willow realizes she wants to hold his hand, it’s there, it’s right there beside her. He turns and smiles, how long has she been looking at him. She returns the smile. Then they are at her apartment and she starts to get out only to have the guy who ushered her out be right by the door.  

“Miss Parker, if you could stay in the car a bit longer, we would just like to check we haven’t been followed.”   

“Of course,” she says and the door is closed. She leans back against the seat, unsure of what to say and where to look. But after a few seconds she gives in and looks at him. She touches her lips and he turns to look at her. Dropping her hand on her lap she makes a face at him, he smiles and shakes his head. “Great time to be socially awkward eh?”  

“So Canadians actually do say eh.”  

“Shut up, maybe it’s just this Canadian.”   

“Alright, keep your knickers on,” he chuckles when she sticks her tongue out at him.  

“Not that I’m in a hurry to leave, but how long do these usually take?”  

“Hard to say, depends on if they found anyone.”   

“Ah,” she silent for a moment, contemplating her dues, there is a sort of stupid thing going in her brain, she doesn’t want to be one of those girls. But this is Sawyer Huntington and he did kiss her, however, he does kiss a lot of people in interviews, though not on the lips, unless you count that DJ he dated. She’s over thinking things. “So, I‘m guessing you‘ve finished the third book by now?”  

“I have.” He’s turned towards her now, smile dashing and she blushes.  

“Well, then I have to say, I‘m surprised you haven‘t teased me about any of it.”  

“You want me to?” He’s raising an eyebrow at her and smiling crookedly.  

“No, I just expected it after last time.”  

“You did? All the more reason not to, I prefer to be unpredictable. It‘s much more fun to take you by surprise.” Her heart flutters, he didn’t say people, he said you. She’s over thinking it again, and curses her brain, because this can do nothing but hurt her later. “I have a complaint though.”  

“Pardon me?”  

“A complaint, about something to do with the book.” His smile is devilish.  

“You can’t just complain about an already published book!”  

“What? You‘re going to be very upset when you find out about book critics aren‘t you?”  

“Oh, just shut it.”  

“What‘s the point of knowing the author if you can‘t ask questions?”  

“My impeccable kissing skills?” The look on his face makes blood rush to her cheeks, “It was a joke.” He‘s biting his lip and though she knows its to keep from laughing at her, which should make her angry, it just makes her want him more instead. “Fine, what did you want to,” she makes hand quotations, “complain about.” He laughs.    

“Well, just this one scene, seems a little dry.” He leaves it at that and looks at her, devilish smile still on his face which would usually have her mind spinning about kissing him again. However, her mind is currently busy; did he just call her writing dry?  

“Excuse me? Dry?” He looks so amused she could slap him.  

“Well, Yvonne says you were in a relationship while writing the second, which could explain why in the third, when you weren’t-”  

“Wait, you asked Yvonne about my,” She pauses, she really does not want to know, “never mind. Go on.”  

“As I was saying,” Is he blushing? “Just something about this one scene, seems a bit dry,” There’s that word again, “In the matters of, the kissing.” She stops short of her thoughts of strangling him. He is not doing what she thinks he is, he couldn’t be.  

“Are you saying I don’t kiss well?” She raises an eyebrow, smiling. She can’t believe he’s playing this game, nor that she’s about to play along. Something is definitely reacting in the wrong way inside her, and she can bet it’s all his fault. Regrettably, or not, she notes they’ve started to move closer to each other.  

“Not exactly,” she can’t stop glancing at his mouth, with it’s crooked smile and perfect teeth, “Just that it‘s something you may need a little more experience in.” His face is just inches from hers.  

“So, you’re saying,” her tongues caught between her teeth in something she knows is nothing but a naughty smile, she probably looks ridiculous, only problem is, she doesn’t care, “I should kiss more people.”

  “And what luck!” He exclaims, eyes half closed in a lovely sultry look, “There happens to be a willing, quite charming, if I do say so myself, volunteer in this car right now!”   

“Oh, you are so lucky you‘re pretty Sawyer, because honestly now,” the words rush out breathy, and his expression changes from cocky to intrigued, “your game is terrible.” And she closes the space between them, feeling particularly proud of herself as he gasps.   

“Cheeky,” he murmurs against her lips.  

She feels her lips form around his, soft at first, then she leans into it, and suddenly, they aren’t two friends kissing at a movie theatre any more. One of his hands is cupping her neck, one of hers is tangled in his curly mane. Then she feels his lips open a bit, as do hers and she can taste him, more than butter popcorn, now it’s mint. She wants to stay but she can’t help it, she pulls back a bit.

“When did you have a mint?” She feels the breath of his chuckle then his lips crush into hers again and they’re needy and delicious, her tongue meets with his then there’s a knock on the window and they spring apart as the door is opened. And it’s bonkers, because the both of them are over twenty and have nothing to be ashamed of.   

“Would you like me to escort you to your apartment?” says the burly man.   

“I’m fine thanks, see you Sawyer,” She gets out and turns before the door closes, “Let‘s hope one of us learned something.” She winks before waving to the man and half walking half running to the lobby of her building.   

That happens a few more times whenever the boys are in town over a span of two months, sometimes they’re playing video games and Tyson just happens to leave them alone for a couple minutes when Sawyer turns around and suddenly his lips are on hers. Then Tyson comes back and looks like he’s caught them in the act and Willow’s blushing but Sawyer just looks plain cheeky and she punches him in the arm. Other times they are just chilling after a radio interview and he has a headache and Yvonne told him her scalp massages are to die for, so she gives him one. He falls asleep just before someone comes to get him, just happening to say in his sleep that he needs a kiss from a fairy tale princess and Henry goes up but he opens his eyes and pushes him away. Then turns and kisses her, saying he’s got it, and he‘s magically awake now.   

Willow see’s the papers with her mostly, and with all the girls he’s supposedly dating and sometimes she’s jealous but most times she isn’t because honestly, she really doesn’t care if she is a glorified booty-call. She goes on dates too, Kennedy thinks she’s rationalizing the hell out of it and Willow can admit she probably is. But people flash him all the time, and they haven’t slept together. She just hopes she doesn’t catch herpes from him if he is sleeping around. She’s also not about to text Henry or Tyson asking what’s going on because it’s really none of her business.  

Then one day, Kennedy, Felix, and her are called to LA for a week of book promotion at the same time they have tour dates and interviews there. Willow can’t help but make arrangements at the same hotel they’re at, and Kennedy doesn’t mind as long as they have some sort of cool thing she can try, Felix is actually still rueing the day he challenged Willow saying she’d never meet or, for lack of better phrasing, get with a celebrity she previously had a crush on. When they meet in the lobby 2 days before the boys get there he is still going on about them technically not dating before he remembers the way Willow is, and how this is actually her better situation considering the history. So when the boys do get there and meet Felix’s beautiful fiancée Sage, he does act a bit stand-offish, especially because Sage is sort of a fan as well, even if it is apparent there is no one but Felix in her eyes.   

“Well, we have to go,” Felix says, “Press conference about the whole movie thing.”  

“Movie thing?” Henry looks towards Willow, “I thought you just met the screenplay guy a week ago.”  

“Yeah, the guys a fan and we all just hit it off,” Kennedy smiles at him. Suddenly her boyfriend Jude is distracted from his conversation with Paul to look towards Henry.   

“Well, we better go, come on guys,” Felix says walking towards the door, Sage rolls her eyes and laughs as she follows him.  

“Bye,” all the guys say simultaneously, and it really freaks Willow out when they do that. It happens too much for them not to do at least some sort of rehearsing. She starts to follow Kennedy and Jude out the door waving.  

“Hey, wait,” she turns and sees Sawyer walking towards her. Then he stands there and smiles, raising an eyebrow. “You were just going to leave?”  

“Uhm… yes?” She says, she smiles confused, “Am I forgetting something?”  

He leans down and kisses her. “There, now you can go.”   

“I’ll have to remember that’s the password to leave,” she winks and walks out the door.   

The next day Kennedy texts her a link; opening it she sees a bad cell phone image of a redheaded girl kissing someone from an open hotel room door that is obviously Sawyer Huntington. It’s titled, MYSTERY REDHEAD STILL AROUND DOES ANGELA DEVARA KNOW? The article has citations to the other articles about her, including STEAMY KISS IN MUSIC VIDEO: SAME MYSTERY GIRL FOR SAWYER?, MYSTERY REDHEAD AND SAWYER KISS: DO ONCE UPON FANS HAVE ANOTHER GIRL ON THEIR HITLIST? She’d never been to watch the music video anywhere but their site because the fan girls terrified her. Angela Devara and Sawyer weren’t dating because all of the boys were talking about how crafty she was at covering up her fiancé earlier and how hilarious it was that Sawyer was apparently the other man with another woman, who she assumed was her but decided it was safer to just leave it for now.  

She looks at the clock after reading and jumps out of bed. It’s been planned that she meet her and Sawyer’s mutual friend Rachelle Morgan at the airport in less than an hour and accompany her to the boys room so that her and Sawyer could catch up. She jumps into the shower, Rachelle always looks amazing no matter what she thought, so in order to feel adequate, Willow must as well.   

Willow first met Rachelle over a media site where she was blogging to fight rumours against Sawyer, they had a close online relationship and Willow’s even went to visit from time to time. So imagine Rachelle’s surprise when Sawyer suddenly started texting her about a girl named Willow Parker. She got a lot of texts, online mail, and a phone call from Rachelle flipping out. Willow still is determined to not take it too seriously though, she doesn’t blame Sawyer but fame makes people fickle, especially attractive people.    Jumping out of the shower she quickly blow dries her hair while putting on deodorant and underwear, doing minimal makeup as she brushes her teeth. Willow is going to be late for picking Rachelle up and Sawyer will never let her live it down, he’s repeatedly stated that 20 minutes late is 5 early for her and though he’s just teasing, they both know it’s true.   

3 outfit combinations later nothing is working and at this rate she is going to be very late.  She grabs an outfit she knows always works, her black and grey striped long-sleeve shirt-sweater and some medium wash skinny-jeans and she is on her way. Only when she’s outside the room does she realize she has no shoes on, slipping her cardkey through the door she grabs her black heels and sets off on a run.   

She makes it, just barely, and slipping her shoes on after she was in the cab was a bad idea. Rachelle bites her lip to keep from laughing.  

“I think I have a hand wipe from the snack on the plane,” she fishes through her purse as they get back in the cab.  

“Yes, please, anything!” Graciously taking the wipe from her Willow makes quick time in slipping off the heels and getting most of the dirt off her feet.   

“You look amazing besides that though,” Rachelle pats her on the shoulder after she’s finished putting her shoes back on.  

“Yeah, you have to say that, you just got off a plane and it looks like you could do a movie shoot.”   “It was only a 45 minute ride and you’re such a liar!”     

“Sure, sure,” they share a smile, moments like these occur a lot with them, “Hey, maybe you’ll get to meet the other people who share my book fortune.”  

“It feels like I already know them from your youtube channel but I would love to meet them in person, if we have time of course.”  

“Yeah, you and Sawyer haven’t seen each other in a while, just say the word and I can buzz off.”  

“No! He’s your-”  

“Don’t you dare say the word missy! We are not exclusive, I am not getting my hopes up, that is that.”

“God you are so thick.”  

“Pardon?“ The cab comes to a stop and Willow pays, a bell boy comes out to get Rachelle’s luggage, and seeing the suitcase again makes Will forget what they were talking about before, “Bloody hell Rache! You’re only going to be here until tomorrow!”   

“Yeah, but I have a business meeting as well, and I can’t wear this.” She could, she totally could, but Willow isn’t going to start this conversation again. They head into the hotel and after getting Rachelle into her room and settled there is a knock on the door.  

“Room service,” says an odd American accent and they both look at each other.   

“I never know whether he thinks he’s being funny or not.”  

“I don’t think anyone could ever suck at sounding like us so badly,” Willow says as she gets the door.   

“Did I hear you making fun of me?” Sawyer smiles down at Willow and leans in for a kiss, she puts her fingers in front of his mouth.  

“None of that, Rachelle hasn’t seen you for months, go hug the damn girl!” Willow moves back and holds the door open while Sawyer fake pouts but rushes in and hugs Rachelle.  

“Hey! Missed you too,” Rachelle says as he lets go.   

“Thomas didn’t come?”   

“Nope, didn’t want to risk another Willow lecture about her stealing me if he doesn’t start treating me better.”  

“He should and I don’t know what makes him think I haven’t already,” Willow winks and plops herself down on the bed.   

After a couple hours of inside jokes, catching up, and pointing out things they could do over the next day before Rachelle has to go, Willow’s phone beeps.  

“Well, I have to take my leave, casting director wants to meet with us over some auditions for Dawson.”   “They need you there for that?” Rachelle looks at her disbelievingly. “It’s not Felicity or West.”  

“I’m not ditching you guys, I’ll be back for dinner at that whatever place-”  

“Savoury. Do you want me to send a car so you don’t get lost?” Sawyer smiles and gets up off the couch.  

“I resent that you!” He’s walking towards her, she turns to Rachelle, “Yeah, he’s written from all the character’s points of view and he’s a side character up until the Third book.” Rachelle still looks disbelieving but sighs and waves her hand for her to go. She turns back to Sawyer. “Are we still doing the password thing?”   

“Oh, so I can kiss you now?”   

“If you don’t want to then by all means I’ll go,” He raises an eyebrow and plants a tender kiss on her lips. “Alright,” she starts to walk before either of them notice the blush on her cheeks, “Bye, see you at the restaurant.”  

“I will make him send a car if you’re even the slightest bit late!”  

“I know!” She closes the door but not before she hears Rachelle.  

“Kay, so now we are going to talk about you and her.”  

About fifty audition videos and they’ve found five potentials and one Willow feels very good about when her phone rings. Caller ID says Sawyer, and as she looks at the time she knows why. She’s almost an hour late for dinner with the two of them. Preparing herself for the teasing she puts the phone to her ear.  

“A car is on it’s way,” It’s Rachelle, and she sounds a little less than pleased.  

“Tell Sawyer that’s not necessary, why are you on his phone?”  

“I can’t tell him it’s not necessary, because he’s in the car and-”  

“Bastard left his phone with you to call and tell me with?”  

“No actually, he left his phone here I just hacked it to warn you.”  

 “Shit. How long do I have?”  

“Like five minutes tops, he has 3 freaking passwords on his phone.”   

“More like 30 seconds,” She presses end as she see’s Sawyer walk into the entrance of the building through the window. She walks back to the table, “Hey, I’m late for an appointment, keep Alistair Quick in mind though alright?” She runs out the door just in time to see him, from the look on his face, he sees her too.   

“Headed somewhere?” He looks far too amused.  

“Yeah, yeah, Rachelle called and you need to work on your phone security,” she grabs his arm and tugs him back to the elevator, “You do realize we are out in the open? More Mystery Redhead stuff is going to pop-up.”   

“And you have a problem with that?” She doesn’t look back to see his expression as the door slides open and they step into the elevator.  

“Have you met your fans? Not a problem with dati… seeing you, a problem with being hunted down and killed by teenage girls. My life would be like the Hunger Games and I am not a Katniss.”  

“I know, you even suck at digital sports. You’d be dead in minutes. No, wait, you have swords at your flat,” he drifts off for a bit tapping his fingers on his chin as he pretends to be thinking, “yeah, still minutes.” As they head out to the car he continues, and she can’t even kiss him to shut him up because he’s driving. “I mean you are an artist, so I suppose you could be fairly resourceful, maybe use a fork or something.”  

“What about the knives?”  

“I’ve barely been in your flat and I know Kennedy does not let you use those.”  

“She does too.”  

“Will, was she home at the time you used the knives without asking?”  

“They’re my knives too. We share the flat.”  

“Answer the question Will.”  

“No.”  

“No what?” She doesn’t have to look away from the road to know she wants to slap off his smile.  

“No, she isn’t home when I use the knives. But this is different, we are talking self defence here.”  

“I’ve seen you trip standing up, not moving.”  

“Your premise is flawed, I’ve survived using them unsupervised before,” he’s silent for a bit, she turns to him, “Sawyer?”  

“Will?” His expression is neutral but focused, she’s unsure of whether that means he’s thinking of something or whether he’s annoyed.  

“Is there a reason you’re quiet right now or am I imagining things?” She see’s him smile just a little and relaxes a bit.  

“A bit of both really, it’s hard to explain right now.” She has a panicky feeling in her gut, this is it, it’s happening. He is going to say lets just be friends from now on. She swallows and turns back to the road, he’s taken an exit and they are pulling up next to a fancy restaurant with a valet.  

“I am so not dressed for this,” she’s thankful for the distraction as the panging in her stomach goes to a small ache. The valet comes up and opens the door.   

“You look fine, come on Rachelle’s waiting dead girl,” Sawyer starts walking and she has to half jog to keep up with him, not an easy thing to do in five inch platforms. She grabs onto his arm to steady herself. He looks down at her and smiles. “And you were worried me picking you up from work looked compromising?”   

“Well, if it’s that much of a bother,” she lets go and walks as gracefully as she can through the open doors. Not looking back at Sawyer because she’s already panicky enough.  

“Hey! So I only have an hour or so before I have the meeting a couple blocks from here, don’t you dare apologize Will. We can see each other anytime we want to where as Sawyer’s schedule is less flexible.”  

“Not fair! Are you saying that if I was late you wouldn’t be as forgiving?” Sawyer sits down in front of the booth and pats the seat for Willow to sit down beside him.  

“Depends, were you late because you finally gave this one a shag?”  

“Rachelle!” Willow whispers looking around.  

“What? I know you two haven‘t done it yet.”  

“Do you want me murdered by fan girls?” Sawyer looks towards her amusement and triumph written all over his face, “Yes, yes, you were right I would last minutes.”  

“Are you two talking about the fan girl apocalypse? I thought that was our thing! What happened to the lair Will? What happened?” Rachelle has mock hurt on her face for a bit but she breaks and smiles wide when she sees Sawyer connecting the dots.  

“Hold up! You two have had discussions about a Once Upon fans apocalypse?”  

“All the time,” Rachelle raises an eyebrow at him, like she is surprised he’s never thought of it before.  

“Since the beginning of this beautiful friendship,” Willow puts in, she pats him on the cheek and he holds her hand there just for a second then drops it. His eyes widen in surprise with hers. She turns away quickly back to Rachelle who is looking at them like a starving hyena that’s just found a dead zebra. That is a horrible analogy for a relationship, hyena’s actually kill their food outright; oh god, she is so going to get dumped. 

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