Chapter 28: I Think I’m Going to Like it Here
Caution: This Coming of Age Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft, mt/Fa, Humor, Sports, School, Slow,
Desc: Coming of Age Sex Story: Chapter 28: I Think I’m Going to Like it Here - David's Junior Year is beginning with a sharp edge to it. His best friend is dead. The girl he'd thought he would spend the rest of his life with is now lost to him as well. He's facing new challenges and pressures due to his rapidly increasing fame. He doesn't just want to survive - he wants to excel. He'll have to reach deep inside himself and find the inner strength and toughness, the resolve and focus, to achieve his dreams. The continuation of the award winning Stupid Boy saga.
Sunday November 29
I was up early to say goodbye to my trusty hound. I had to give him enough loving to hold him for the next several weeks. I put my bags in the back of my mom’s car. I was surprised when Precious was at my feet and meowed. I bent down, picked her up and scratched her ears, which made her purr. She was a typical woman: one minute she seemed to like you, and the next she tried to claw your eyes out. I put her down and called Duke into the house.
Mom and Dad were up because they were taking me to the airport. I made myself a hot tea and put it in a travel mug. Mom had made breakfast sandwiches, so I grabbed mine and we left.
On the trip, Dad wanted to talk business.
“The accountant sent over your tax information. I forwarded it all to Caryn to look at.”
“Good. I’m hoping she can make sense of all that. I really need to get a handle on that type of thing. I plan to have her explain it all to me. I don’t want to end up letting my people rip me off because I didn’t know what to look for,” I admitted.
“Frank Ingram got Caryn’s background check back. She grew up in San Mateo, just south of San Francisco. She graduated in the top ten percent of her high school. She then went to Cal Berkeley where she excelled and received her MBA. Range Sports hired her and put her into their entry-level management program. She was assigned as Devin’s assistant. From everything Frank found, she’s an upstanding citizen. She pays her bills, has never been arrested and has only had glowing reviews at Range Sports,” Dad said.
“You had her checked out?” Mom asked.
“That wasn’t Dad. I asked for it to be done. You saw what kind of money we’re talking about, moving forward. Caryn’s going to be involved with me closely, and if she was shady at all, I could be in a lot of trouble. I have to know I can rely on her. I realized I needed to check on the people who’re going to be close to me when Brook’s parents had me investigated. The whole thing with Pam’s dad clarified just how bad things could get. I’d rather ruffle some feathers and at least check up front than find out the hard way later.”
Mom gave me a sad look. I’d used Frank to investigate Cal, so I’d done the same for Caryn. I hoped moving forward Caryn could find someone else, because Frank wasn’t cheap.
“My dad was the same way. He even had your mom investigated,” Dad said to me.
“He did not!” Mom growled.
“Oh, he sure did. Did you know your mother has a juvenile record?” Dad asked me.
How the tables had turned! My mom gave my dad a look that almost caused us to have a car accident. He wasn’t talking. I got my phone out.
“Hey, it’s me,” I said. “What was my mom arrested for?”
“David Allen Dawson! Who are you talking to?” Mom asked.
“I’m talking to Grandma Dawson.”
The phone was snatched out of my hand and my mom talked to my grandma. She then called my uncle. I could see that I might never know what happened, and then I had an idea. My mom glared at me.
“If you have me investigated, I will end you,” she threatened.
So much for my good idea.
Caryn had booked me in first class to LA. For a flight that long, it was worth the extra money. My seat was in the last row, next to the window. I put in my earbuds, turned up the music, closed my eyes and relaxed.
I started when someone touched my hand. The flight attendant leaned over and I pulled out my earbud so I could hear her.
“We’re about to take off,” she told me.
I put my seat back up and noticed a girl about my age in the seat next to me. She looked totally out of place in first class. She had orange, green, blue and purple streaks in her hair, and she looked like she’d just crawled out of bed. I glanced across the aisle and one row up and there were three girls that looked similar to the one next to me. They had to be together.
I saw out the window that we were taxiing to the runway. The girl next to me looked like she was going to be sick.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
She had wild eyes; that concerned me.
“I’ve never flown before.”
“It’ll be fine. I’ve done this a lot,” I reassured her.
It looked like we were third in line for takeoff.
“Why are you going to LA?” I asked to distract her.
“We’re going to sign with a record label,” she said, and then leaned over me to look out of the plane. “What’s taking so long?”
“Amy, settle down,” the girl on the aisle across from us said.
That girl was kind of hot in a fucked-up way. She had this deep red hair that was obviously out of a bottle, but she had a cute face. The girl next to her had the blackest hair I’d ever seen. It was so black that when the light from the window hit it you caught a glimpse of deep purple. Their bandmate one row up had pure white hair that reminded me of Suzanne.
Amy turned to me and latched onto my arm.
“Have you ever been on a flight that had problems?” she asked.
“Only when we didn’t go fast enough,” I said.
“We’re not going very fast now,” she whined.
Of course not. We were just moving into takeoff position.
“Yeah, at this speed we’ll never get off the ground,” I said.
“Hey, shut up. You’re freaking her out,” Red said.
That was when we began to accelerate down the runway. If I’d known how really scared Amy was, I would have never teased her. She let out a scream that about made me deaf. I grabbed her hand.
“Look at me,” I ordered her. “We’re fine.”
She took a deep breath and our eyes locked. That was when we lifted off.
“Look out the window. We went fast enough,” I said, and smiled at her.
She peeked out, then let out a long breath and began to shake. When we reached altitude, Red switched seats with her and I saw the girl with black hair give her a pill. Whatever it was had her asleep in no time. They should have given that to her before she got on the plane.
I put my earbuds back in, turned on my music and settled in for a long flight. When the stewardess brought me a drink, I looked at Red and she smiled at me.
“You look familiar,” she said.
“I have a movie coming out. You might have seen an ad for Star Academy.”
“I’m Jett,” she said as she offered her hand.
“We’re going to LA to sign with a label,” she said.
“That’s what Amy said. What’s the name of your band?” I asked.
“That’s Not Toothpaste.”
I wrinkled my nose. She threw her hands up.
“It sucks, right? I told them that was a terrible name. I wanted to call us Stop Laughing!, but they don’t like it.”
“That’s not good either.”
She pulled out a crumpled piece of paper that had a list of band names on it. Most were terrible. Then I saw Birthrite.
“I like that one,” I said as I pointed at it.
“Birthrite‘s not bad,” she admitted.
I found out that all the girls in the band met at a Catholic High School. The group had talked their parents into giving them a year to see if they could make a go of it. If they didn’t make it, they would go to college. Things hadn’t gone as expected and the band had struggled. Then they’d played at an open-mic night at a local restaurant and were discovered by a talent scout. The next thing they knew they were offered a trip to LA to sign a development deal. I noticed she didn’t say anything about making a CD.
“So, what do you get with a development deal?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Jett asked.
“Are they going to have you cut a record and promote it, or are they going to have you play at some bars to see what you can do?”
Jett looked concerned.
“I don’t really know,” Jett admitted.
I knew what had happened to Eve Holiday when she first went to Nashville. She’d gotten tied into a shady manager who kept her doing bar gigs so he could make money. He never seemed to come up with a record deal. Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was play the white knight and come to these girls’ rescue. I didn’t even know them, but I saw the same desire to make it in Jett’s eyes that I’d seen in the eyes of my ‘Country Girl’ when she left to go make it.
“Do you have an agent?” I asked. “Someone who knows the business and can advise you?”
“No. Do you think an agent would even talk to us? I thought that was what the record label would do,” Jett said.
I pulled my phone out and scrolled through my numbers. The only music agent I knew worked for Tom Dole.
“Take this number. This is an agent who represents a friend of mine. Her name is Angelina Hargrove. She goes by Angel. Give her my name and ask her to help you. At the very least she can look at your contract and explain what they’ll do for you,” I explained.
“Do you think she can help us?”
“She used to find talent for Juke Records. She now represents talent, so she’d be someone you could talk to that knows both sides of the business, and she’ll give you good advice. You might even want to hire her to be your agent.”
She then wanted to know about me. I explained why I was going to LA. By the time we landed we’d agreed that when they had their first gig I’d come and hear them play. I gave her my number and honestly thought I would never see her again.
Fritz found me at the luggage pickup area. I was embarrassed when we had to get a cart to get all my things to the car. Halle had packed for me, and I knew better than to reject anything she put into my garment bags or suitcases. She didn’t pack any of my athletic gear or anything for just goofing off. I ended up having to borrow my parents’ luggage to get everything I wanted to bring.
“I don’t think Halle had this much,” Fritz said.
“Who do you think packed most of this stuff?” I shot back.
We both knew there was no sense in arguing about it. Fritz insisted on pushing the cart.
“David, we need to get something straight. While you are the guest of Rita James, I need to treat you as if you’re one of the family. I work for them. That means that I’ll handle your bags, and when we get to the car you’ll ride in the back seat. I know you’re not used to that, but I must insist.”
When we found the car, a large Range Rover SUV, Fritz had me sit in the back while he loaded my luggage. I thought a Range Rover was an alternative to a Jeep. This looked nothing like my Jeep. It looked like what I would expect a high-end luxury car like Rolls Royce would put out. Then I remembered that this was Rita James’ car. If you were made of money, you would only want the best.
Fritz ignored me as we exited LAX and began our journey to where I’d be staying. I quietly took in the city I’d be living in for the next several weeks. This was certainly not where I grew up. Our destination was the hills that overlooked LA. When we pulled through the gates, I did a double take. This house looked familiar. When we stopped, I got out.
“David,” Fritz said as he came around the car. “When we’re anywhere but at the house, I need you to wait until your driver opens the door. It’s not because we’re trying to put on airs, it’s for your security. The driver won’t open the door if they think there’s a threat. Please let them do their job.”
“Sure,” I said distractedly. “Why does this house look so familiar?”
“It was rented out to a cable series called Entourage. You might have seen it on TV. Come on, I’ll give you the tour. Halle and Rita are at the studio, so you might as well get the lay of the land,” Fritz suggested.
I recognized the media room and large kitchen from the TV show. When we walked out back, the view of LA was spectacular. The property was built on a hill, so they had a large patio area right out the back. You then could walk down the stairs to where there was a pool. On the next level down there was a tennis court with a basketball hoop. I turned to Fritz and smiled.
“I think I’m going to like it here.”
“I’m sure you will.”
He introduced me to the staff. Rita had a cook, maid and six security people. Normally Fritz would be with Rita, but she suggested that since we already knew each other, she wanted him to be with me. Two of the security people were with Rita and Halle, and another one was with Trip at the beach house. There was always one person at the house who monitored the security systems. They also kept in contact with each of the other security people. I hoped I never needed anything like this.
He and I got my luggage out of the SUV and took it to my room. I was surprised when the maid came in and began to unpack for me. I started to say something, but Fritz shook his head, so I let her do her job. I learned her name was Chloe. There were some things I was going to have to get used to.
Once I was unpacked, I pulled out my schedule for the upcoming week and went to the patio to enjoy the marvelous weather LA had to offer. Tomorrow I was at the studio in the morning. I was scheduled to have lunch with Ari and Frank. After that, I was free. I pulled out my script and read my lines for tomorrow.
I was surprised when the cook brought me out a fruit tray and an iced tea.
“If there’s anything special that you require, please let me know,” Rosy offered.
I told her what I normally ate in season, but I explained that I wasn’t training right now. While I preferred to try and stay on my diet, I didn’t want to cause any problems. I also told her I wanted to experience what LA had to offer, and that included the food, even if it wasn’t good for me.
Halle came out of the house and sat down next to me. I looked up from my script. I was a little irritated that they’d sent me the third version in as many weeks. Halle told me that wasn’t unusual, and that I should expect more changes when I arrived.
“What were you and your mom up to?” I asked.
“We had someone drop out last minute and we need to replace them. We were doing screen tests all day. I think we went through like thirty people today.”
“Did you find anyone?” I asked.
“No. Maybe. I don’t know,” she vacillated. “Mom said one guy might do, but he’s supposed to be my boyfriend and there was no chemistry. He kissed like a carp out of water.”
She stuck her lips out in a little ‘O’ and made kissing motions. I did the same and tried to kiss her.
“David! Stop!” she giggled. “It was really gross.”
“I wish I could help,” I said, and shrugged, not knowing what I could do.
Halle held up a finger that told me to wait and went inside. Halle was back a moment later with her mom. Poor Rita looked stressed-out and the movie hadn’t even started shooting. She handed me another script.
“Read this, and when you’re ready we’ll do the scene,” Halle told me.
I wasn’t a complete idiot. I knew she wanted me to read for one of the leads. Thankfully it was a short scene. I looked at Rita.
“How do you want me to do it?” I asked.
I saw the first hint of a smile from her.
“The character is Adam Conant. He’s dating Diana, but finds Cassie attractive. So there’s a repressed undercurrent of longing on his part towards Cassie.”
“Okay. I’m ready,” I said as I put the script down.
Adam: ‘Diana told me what happened.’
Cassie: ‘Are they okay?’
Adam: ‘Uh ... Faye’s a little shaken, and Diana’s worried. Faye has always been a little unpredictable. You never know what’s she’s going to do next.’
Cassie: ‘Is that why you came here? To convince me to join your secret cult?’
Adam: ‘No. I just wanted to apologize. I’m sorry about earlier.’
Cassie: ‘Which part?’
Adam: ‘In the woods.’
Cassie: ‘Yeah, I know.’
Adam: ‘It should never have happened. I don’t know how it happened. I love Diana.’
Cassie: ‘Yeah, I get it.’
Adam: ‘It can’t happen again.’
Cassie: ‘It can’t.’
Adam: ‘Well, I should go. You’re one of us, Cassie. I can’t tell you what to do. But just know you’re not alone.’
Rita held up a finger and left us. It was amazing to watch a mother and daughter have the same mannerisms. A moment later, she had Fritz in tow with a video camera and tripod.
“Okay, do it again — and David, I need you to be a little more hesitant,” she said.
When Fritz was ready, we read the scene again. When we were done, she grabbed the video camera and went back into the house.
“How did I do?” I asked in confusion.
Fritz rolled his eyes at me and disappeared back in the house. Halle smiled.
“I think we need a new baseball player.”
I wondered if that really was a good thing or not. The plan was to have a small role in the film and then see what else I could do. I wanted to audition for a few of the roles Ari had sent me. I also had agreed to shoot the Japanese sunglasses commercial. Caryn showed up as I was thinking about everything.
“Hey boss. Hey Halle,” Caryn said as she joined us.
“How’re your parents?” I asked.
“Happy I finally left Range Sports, but nervous that I’ll be moving further from them. Just a heads-up: on Monday Sandy’s telling Devin that I’ve gone to work for you. I would think he might call you,” she said.
Rosy called us in for dinner. I was happy to see Trip and his friends Craig and Kent join us. Craig, of course, had been the lead in Star Academy. Kent’s task was to keep Craig on the straight and narrow. I noticed that their drug-dealer friend wasn’t around. I hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with him ever again.
Rosy made us chicken enchiladas and tamales with sliced avocado and tomato as a garnish. It tasted as good as it smelled. Rosy was all smiles when I asked for more. Halle had been right: her LA cook was much better. After a couple of months of this I would put on thirty pounds. She was evil too, because for dessert she made fried ice cream. I’ve had it in a restaurant before, but that was laughable compared to what she made. The ice cream was cinnamon-flavored. If I’d been here longer I might have asked for seconds on that also.
Monday November 30
Halle was totally missing her opportunity. I woke up and there wasn’t a blowjob waiting for me. I put on my running clothes and went out front to stretch. I smiled when I saw Fritz and three other security people come out to join me. Fritz introduced me to Paul, Jane and Flo. They were all in their late 20’s and looked to be ex-military.
“Why do you carry around a stick?” Flo teased me.
“David fancies himself a martial artist,” Fritz said.
They all looked at me, and I could tell they weren’t buying it. I just gave them a tight smile.
“I take it you plan to run with me. Is it okay if I set the pace?” I asked.
“By all means, we’ll try to keep up,” Jane said.
We began to run through the neighborhood. I was amazed they packed these luxury homes so close together. My mom always told me that real estate was all about location, location, location. Only so much land had views like this. Each home had been custom-built to take advantage of the cityscape. The homes varied in age and style. Rita’s house was more of a classic Hollywood mansion. As I ran I saw several similar homes, then I came across more modern styles that were all glass and steel.
I’d asked Fritz to direct me so I didn’t get lost. I noticed that he had us slowly going down the hill. I suspected he planned to let the terrain give him and his team an advantage. After we had gone the first mile, according to my iWatch running app, I began to hit my full stride. Being six-four meant I had long legs, and they could cover a lot of ground in a hurry. I noticed that Jane looked over at Paul with a worried look. I then started to do my Bo staff exercises.
When I hit the two-and-a-half mile mark, I turned around and we went back up the hill. I used my speed-work technique of increasing my pace by ten percent and then easing back to a normal pace, only to repeat. Combine that with now running uphill and I could actually feel the burn in my thighs and butt.
I will give Fritz’s team credit; they all made it back. I had to cut my warm-down stretching short when Paul puked, or I might have joined him. Fritz was grinning because the old man of the group had bested his charges, with my help.
I took my shower and came downstairs to find Rosy had made me a huge vegetable omelet with a poached chicken breast on the side. There were also bowls of yogurt and fruit salad in the middle of the table. Caryn, Halle and Rita all joined me.
“You missed our run,” I told Caryn.
“Are you kidding me? They planned to kill you this morning. I used the gym instead.”
“Who planned to kill David?” Rita asked.
“I think Fritz wanted to show his people that they weren’t in as good shape as they thought they were. When I left them they looked a little worn out,” I offered.
“Go easy on them,” Rita commented, and then left with a bowl of yogurt and fruit.
I frowned at Halle, which caused her to have a confused look.
“You have a golden opportunity here,” I said.
Caryn now looked confused.
“David has a ‘friend’,” Halle said with the added air quotes, “who told him that I would, ahumm...”
“Wake me up with oral sex,” I said.
I raised my eyebrows when Halle gave me the look.
“I wasn’t the one who suggested it,” I said with my hands held up.
“But you were hoping,” Caryn supplied.
I just smiled. From the look Halle gave me, I could probably forget about that kind of wake-up call.
Caryn and I went to the studio alone because we had to meet Ari and Frank for lunch. Fritz drove us through the gate and seemed to know where we were going. I saw a banner for our movie on the side of a large building. There were nine trailers parked by the front door in a three-by-three square. On the other side of the door was fleet of golf carts.
Fritz took us to a trailer in the back row, and I was surprised when I saw my name on it. When I walked in, I saw Rita seated with Jessup Fields. He’d directed Star Academy.
“Hey. What are you doing here?” I asked Jessup.
“Rita asked me to direct this movie.”
“That’s great, but I didn’t think you were going to. What happened to the other guy?” I asked.
I was embarrassed I couldn’t remember his name. Of course, I’d never met him, either.
“When Josh walked, so did the director. I showed Jessup your video and he wants you to play Adam,” Rita said.
“Is everything okay?” I asked.
“You’ve every right to be concerned. This is the first movie I’m producing, and my male lead walks off the movie the day before shooting. When the director finds out he also walks. If I were just acting in this movie, I’d be asking a lot of questions.
“I’m hoping you’re on board. I know you’ve worked with Jessup before, and he only has good things to say about you. I need you to step up and help me out,” Rita said.
“This sounds like a much more important role and a greater time commitment,” Caryn said.
“I think we can work that out. What I need to know is if you’ll help us and do it. We need to get started today,” Rita said.
“I’m in. Just tell me what to do.”
Rita and Jessup seemed to relax.
“Let’s get started,” Jessup said.
We met Ari and Frank at The Ivy for a late lunch. We were delayed because Jessup wanted to make up for lost time first thing. He’d addressed everyone to explain that everything would be on schedule and any rumors of problems were overstated.
When we arrived, I was surprised to find paparazzi. Fritz made a show of checking for any threats and then let Caryn and me out of the car so we could go in. Caryn quickly went in, but I paused and let them take my picture. I ignored their questions and went inside.
The Ivy looked like an old French house from the outside. It’s one of the places people in the business have been coming to for the last thirty years. I thought we were done with the paparazzi, but I soon found out that Ari had reserved a table in the garden. It was an area in front of the restaurant with an old picket fence. Ari had Caryn and I sit on a wicker couch that had gaudy French-design pillows.
“Quentin Tarantino sits here,” Ari bragged. “I hear that your role in your movie has changed.”
“How did you hear that?” I asked.
“I hear everything,” Ari said as he checked out Caryn.
I snapped my fingers to get his attention. Frank looked at his menu intently. Caryn was used to men checking her out, but I could tell she didn’t like Ari. I was glad our server was a man.
“I brought more scripts for you to read. I’m told these would be perfect for you,” Ari said.
“Fuck you, Ari,” Frank said, surprising me. “Have you even read them?”
“I read the first few pages,” he defended himself.
Frank grabbed the stack and flipped through them.
“Okay, this one would have David in a period piece that would only appeal to old women,” Frank said.
“It could be the next Pride and Prejudice,” Ari shot back.
“It’s an independent film with an unknown director that’ll have to go through Sundance and win a bunch of awards before it’ll even be put out on limited release. They’ll be lucky if it doesn’t go straight to DVD,” Frank complained.
“That may be the case, but they’ve guaranteed one-point-five million if David will do it. It’ll also be filmed in Italy,” Ari said.
“When will it start?” Caryn asked.
“April, and will film for eight months,” Ari said as if that was a good thing.
“There’s no way I’ll give up both baseball and football season for any amount of money. My mom would kill me if I went to Italy for eight months and missed school,” I said.
I was glad Frank was there, because he knew almost as much as Ari did about what was going on in this town. It turned out that a couple of the scripts were favors Ari owed to someone. A couple finally sounded plausible. I’d kept quiet through most of this as Ari battled with Frank and Caryn. He wasn’t happy that she stood up to him, and in a profanity-laced tirade he made that abundantly clear. I think he was surprised when she wasn’t a shrinking violet and told him to fuck off.
While the battle was going on, I enjoyed lunch. I had the crab cakes and they were excellent. I even was able to people-watch. I saw Jessica Simpson and Jimmy Fallon. Not together, but I was as starstruck as the next person.
When I was done eating, I’d had enough.
“Ari, I appreciate that you decided to be my agent, but don’t waste my time anymore. While I’m fine with reading scripts, I want to know that at least someone in your office has read them. From what I’ve heard there were only a couple that I should’ve been shown,” I said.
“David, that’s not how this works,” Ari began.
“Well, for now that’s how it’ll work for me. I just got told I have to get up to speed with a new character that I haven’t been preparing for. Right now I don’t have time to read a script unless it’s important,” I said.
“You could always have the princess read it,” Ari said.
“Fuck you, Ari,” Caryn said.
This was going well. What I’d observed was Ari was combative as hell. I think he woke up looking for a fight. If you listened, though, the man knew what he was doing and how to make a buck.
Over dessert Frank laid out his media strategy. It was all about having a clear, short, continuous, managed message. I was to be that unicorn among actors, ‘The All-American Boy’. I chuckled when he laid it out. I honestly thought I would never become that perfect role model Frank described. He planned to use my football record and the awards that were starting to come in.
Ari wondered if the reverse-catfishing show was a step in the wrong direction for the image they wanted me to have. Caryn waded in and told them about the responses I was getting. Apparently she’d hijacked my Tinder account with a little help from my mom. She read a few of the more inappropriate messages, and Ari and Frank decided I shouldn’t be involved, so Ari said he’d get me out of it. I of course agreed, but I wanted the numbers of the girls who had sent me a couple of the messages.
Ari loved the ‘All-American’ angle, and Caryn felt Frank’s plans might work, so we gave permission to proceed.
I just hoped that future team meetings would be a little less combative.
Instead of a free afternoon, I had to go back for more scenes. Jessup had only let me go to lunch with my team because it had been set up prior to the change in my role.
Caryn proved her worth once again. On the ride back to the studio, she gave me some news.
“I did some research about your recruiting and found that if you’d played the baseball player we might have been in a gray area that could’ve made you ineligible for college baseball. There’s an NCAA rule that basically says that you can’t use your athletic skill to be in a related movie. For example, you couldn’t play a quarterback in a remake of Friday Night Lights. There seems to be a change that would allow it if you were out of school, meaning on breaks when you aren’t attending classes.
“The problem is that it also could be looked at as illegal compensation, especially if a booster were somehow involved. The two things that I think we would’ve been okay on were that you are not yet a college athlete and you haven’t committed to a school yet. The only issue that I think might’ve come up was if you picked a school like USC and it turned out that someone associated with the film was either a USC alumnus or booster.
“I was going to have your lawyer look into it until I heard your role had been changed,” Caryn said.
“I would’ve never even considered that,” I admitted. “Keep up the good work.”
“I also wanted to apologize,” she said.
“I said some things that I shouldn’t have in a business setting.”
“I should be the one to apologize. I should’ve never allowed Ari to speak to you, and for that matter, Frank, like that,” I said.
“I’ll try to do better,” Caryn said.
“No. If you come across as ... what did he call you? ... a princess ... then he’ll never respect you. I don’t want to tie your hands when dealing with him. I’ll step in the next time he says something he shouldn’t,” I said.
“Actually, I don’t want you to step in. If I can’t stand up to Ari, I shouldn’t be your manager. I just wanted to let you know that I normally don’t use that kind of language in a business setting.”
We arrived at the studio, and it was off to the grind.
My other love interest in the movie was Diana, who was played by Emma Stoned. Not Emma Stone, but Stoned, which turned out to be her real name. I know, because I bet Halle that it was a stage name that someone thought would be funny, so we asked.
Emma was a dark-haired beauty who never smiled. She’d won the role because Diana was supposed to be the serious one. Halle bet me that she was probably a freak in bed, which I couldn’t see. I think Halle was just yanking my chain.
The other main guy was Zak Verwood, who played Jake Armstrong. Jake was supposed to be the good-looking bad boy. He had golden sun-kissed hair and looked like a Ford model. Zak had grown up close to where the James’ lived. He’d been a senior when Halle was a freshman, so she kind of knew who he was. I got the impression that Halle didn’t like him for some reason.
The other two girls were Tanya Bishop, who played Faye Chamberlain, and Jessica Abbot, who had the role of Melisa Glaser. Tanya was a total flirt and had her eyes on Zak. She was tall at about five-eleven and was athletic. I found out later that she’d been a volleyball player at UCLA until she hurt her knee and then decided to give acting a try. Jessica was the bubbly one of the group and seemed to be the glue that held it all together. She was also the oldest at twenty-three.
At the end of the day, Rita sat down with each of us individually to give us acting tips. I was left ‘til last, because Fritz was taking us all home. I wasn’t surprised when Halle followed her mom into my trailer.
“I have some of the dailies from this morning,” Rita began as she plugged her tablet into my fifty-inch TV with an HDMI cable.
She began to play a scene Halle and I had been in together.
“I can tell you’re a model. You’re aware of where the camera is and how you should present yourself for the best effect. I love that you’re comfortable in front of the camera, and you follow Jessup’s direction without any problems. I talked to Jessup, and the only criticism we have is that you need to be more the brooding teenager for this role.
“You’re in love with Diana, who’s been your sweetheart since you were kids. New to the school is Cassie, who for some unknown reason you’re attracted to. While you need Cassie to complete the circle, you’re not sure if it’s a good idea for the two of you to be together. You’re afraid you’ll do something that’ll hurt Diana. I’m not seeing the turmoil that we need. What I’m seeing is that you’d willingly be with either of them,” Rita said.
I saw Halle’s smirk at the last statement.
I thought about Tami and how I would’ve felt if she and I were dating and Halle came to our school.
“I think I know what you want. Can I borrow Halle and we do the scene again right here?” I asked.
“Sure,” Rita said.
“Give me just a second.”
I went back into the bedroom and opened up my old feelings for Tami and how much I’d loved her. I then thought about Halle and how special she was to me, and how I would feel if I couldn’t be with her. I was surprised how easy it was to rip that wound open again, but I felt I was ready to do the scene.
The first time through I was a little too emotional. Rita had me dial it back some to a dull ache, and I tried again.
“That was perfect. I could kiss you,” she blurted out, and then did.
I guess my mind locked, because I was stunned. Halle and Caryn burst out laughing, and Rita turned red.
“David, I didn’t mean to do that,” Rita said.
“I think he’s fine with it. You just checked off one of the things on his bucket list,” Halle said.
“Actually...” I started as I held up a finger.
Halle jabbed me in the ribs to keep me from revealing the full extent of my list of things I’d like to do with Rita. I took her direction on this and shut up.
On the way home, Fritz asked me if I wanted to go to his dojo to work out before we ate. I of course agreed. I almost bailed on him when I smelled the food Rosy was making. I was quickly falling in love with her. She gave me a couple of empanadas to hold me until dinner.
Fritz had Paul and Jane with him. I was jealous when he let Jane ride shotgun. We pulled into a huge complex that was gym, dojo, and boxing facility all wrapped up into one. Fritz had already registered me and they had a membership card waiting.
“Let’s warm up, and then we can spar,” Fritz said.
“I’m not sure I should,” I said.
Cassidy was worried I would hurt someone if I sparred with them. Unlike what was normally taught, Cassidy wanted me to never pull my punches. She’d taught me to fight for real, because she reasoned that I wasn’t learning this to play around. If the time ever came to use my skills, she wanted me to be able to defend myself.
“David’s afraid he’ll hurt you,” Fritz shared.
I was impressed that both Paul and Jane didn’t laugh at me, but I could tell they didn’t think they had anything to worry about. I thought they were being silly, because at six-four I had reach on both of them.
“I think we should even up the odds and let you use batons against this young buck,” Fritz said, and then smiled. “Two on one.”
“Don’t you want in on this?” I asked Fritz.
“No. I promised Cassidy that I wouldn’t spar with you while you’re in LA. I’m afraid of what she’d do to me if I broke my promise.”
“Alrighty, then,” I said as I smiled back. “I take it I can make them cry.”
“I’m counting on it,” Fritz said.
Practice batons sting when you’re hit with them. I wasn’t looking forward to this. I knew that Fritz wouldn’t have put me on the mat with these two if he didn’t think I could hold my own.
Fritz ran us through some forms to warm up. I watched both Paul and Jane move, and I could tell that Jane was better than her male counterpart was. Cassidy had taught me not to underestimate a girl. I would be wary of Jane.
When we got on the mat, I did some showy moves that labeled me a complete rookie.
“You about done showing off?” Fritz asked.
I rotated my head back and forth like I was a boxer and started to bounce on my toes. I anticipated that they would both attack me at the same time. When Fritz signaled for us to start, I exploded towards Paul, dropped down, and slid past him. I actually felt the breeze as his baton just missed clipping my head. I popped up and kicked him in the thigh from behind.
I knew that hurt like crazy. Cassidy had used that little move on me a number of times. I watched as Paul said some choice words and limped off the mat.
“Get him, Jane!” Paul shouted.
My little maneuver had her reevaluating me as an opponent.
“You wouldn’t hurt a girl, would you?” Jane asked.
“I think you can handle yourself,” I shot back.