“Are you sure I’m allowed here?”
“It’s fine Annie,” he assured me, pressing more firmly into my lower back and propelling me forward into the chaos. There were people everywhere. Large thick black wires snaked across the ground and cranes swung overhead with cameras hanging from their highest points. There were makeup artists weaving their magic over the faces of unsuspecting actors everywhere.
Xander had informed me last night that he was bringing me to his movie set so I could, ‘see him in action,’ as he put it. It had been two weeks since we had returned from his parents and we had attended two galas but had done little else. Apparently, according to Dee, we needed to be out more in the public eye, and this had been Xander’s solution. Xander was on location in downtown New York where the street had been shut down for the filming. High, block out fences had been at the entrance to the set, and they hid the thousands of fans who had somehow gotten wind that their favourite movie star was shooting his latest film, Forevermore, there.
“I don’t think anyone wants me here.” I frowned, looking around at everyone as they rushed to finish their jobs.
“I want you here,” Xander tried to convince me. “And that’s all that matters.”
“You’re so conceited,” I laughed. This man lived in a world where the concept of no was a myth.
“Come on, teach. I’m already late for makeup.” He smirked, shifting his arm, so it was wrapped around my shoulder and pressing me into his side.
“And whose fault is that?”
“Behave,” Xander laughed, squishing me even closer to his side.
“One of us spent a little too long trying to achieve the perfect bedhead.” I teased before stretching up to run my hands through his perfectly styled hair, and his arms quickly came up and wrapped tightly around my waist until I was pressed firmly against his rock hard chest.
“M-Mr Collins?” We were interrupted by a nervous, squeaky voice and I pushed at Xander’s arms to get him to release me, but the best I could manage was to turn and face the skinny, bespectacled man. He was clutching a clipboard in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. While he spoke to Xander his attention was divided between his phone and his clipboard as he tapped away furiously. “You were scheduled for makeup over an hour ago.” While I thought it was intended to be a reprimand it almost felt as if this man was apologising to Xander.
“I’m heading there now,” and the man seemed to inhale deeply after this before his gaze drifted to me.
“This is a closed set,” he began, his eyes narrowing in my direction. My suspicions had been correct. I wasn’t allowed here.
“Annie is my girlfriend. She stays with me.” Xander shot back, his tone only seeming to intimidate the poor weaselly little man further but surprisingly he didn’t back down.
“No one, other than cast and crew, is allowed on set.” He began, he swallowed nervously before he continued. “Those were the terms you agreed to in the contract.”
“My circumstances have changed since then.” Xander frowned, and I glanced around to see that we were quickly becoming the main attraction on this movie set.
“But the contract hasn’t.”
“Look, let me speak with Adrain I’ll sort this out.” The little man frowned down at his clipboard before tapping out a quick message on his phone.
“He’ll meet you in your trailer but-” I tuned out the rest of what he was saying as two very burly men came up behind him and I quickly realised where this was heading.
I heard Xander curse beside me and I knew this situation was about to get very messy. Those men where here to escort me from the premises.
“Xander, I think it’s best I just go back to the apartment with Harrod and Greg.” I reasoned, not eager to be dragged away by these two very intimidating security guards. “I don’t want to cause any trouble.” I tried to convince the now, more confident, stick man.
“You aren’t a trouble. I want you here, so you’re staying.” There was an edge of finality in his tone, and I knew it was going to be almost impossible to change his mind.
“Mr Collins, Mr Thomas is waiting for you in your trailer.” The spineless man reminded him before his eyes fell on me again. “And, your guest needs to leave the set immediately.” I tried to wriggle from Xander’s grip, but he held firm, not allowing me an inch.
“I refuse to go anywhere without Annie.” He was going to be kicked off the set if he didn’t watch himself. He was already walking on thin ice with this movie after the whole domestic abuse issue. He really shouldn’t have been kicking up a fuss over whether I was allowed on set or not.
“Xander, please. It’s not a big deal,” I whispered, trying to keep my voice low so the man in front of us wouldn’t hear. “I’ll just see you when you get home tonight.” However, instead of answering me, he took my hand and brushed passed the man, glaring at the security guards as he went. As if he was daring them to touch me. Despite feeling uncomfortable about the whole situation, I stuck close to his side and kept my eyes downcast. I was acutely aware that almost everyone on the street was watching the exchange and was now watching as the big movie star dragged me along to his trailer with Harrod and Greg trailing behind us.
Once we were in his trailer, the tension in the air was palpable. It was almost suffocating.
“She stays Adrian,” Xander started on the defensive, and it seemed the man, already standing in what appeared to be the living room, wasn’t about to let him get all the shots in.
“The terms of the contract were very clear,” Adrian began, pushing his black framed glasses higher up on his nose and shoving a hand through his greying hair. “There are to be no guests on set, period.”
“Like I told Jerry, my circumstances have changed. Have her sign a privacy agreement, I don’t care, but she is not leaving. Annie will not breath a word of what we are doing to anyone.” He promised, and while that was probably true, I didn’t like that he was agreeing to things on my behalf.
“You’ll start to get a reputation in this industry if you keep acting like this Xander,” the greying man threatened. “You stardom is relatively new, directors talk.”
“I guess I’ll take my chances,” Xander shot back. Adrian breathed out an exasperated breath before shaking his head and making his way to the door.
“Our lawyers will draw something up within the hour for her to sign.” He conceded before he disappeared out the trailer door. Without him in the room, it suddenly felt less stifling. Xander’s shoulders seemed to relax, and he brought us over to a green, comfy looking couch and we both sunk down into the soft pillows.
“Xander, that was reckless. I could have just-”
“They don’t dictate who I can and can’t bring on set.” He cut me off.
“If you signed a contract, they kind of do.” I shrugged.
“Annie-” but he was stopped from saying anything further by a knock at the door. Before any of us could answer it burst open and five people rushed inside, followed by a rack of clothes. And before I knew it Xander was whisked away in a whirlwind of powders and hairspray. I was shunted to the side to hide with Harrod and Greg. If I stayed behind them, I wasn’t at risk of being chocked by the fumes coming from my pretend boyfriend. This was going to be a long day.
“That was a disaster from start to finish.” Xander groaned, slumping in the folding fabric chair. I had vacated that very same chair only moments before when I saw him storming over after the director had called cut. The chair had a star with his name on the back. He had settled me in it over an hour ago when he had stomped on set after hair, make-up and wardrobe had finished with him. He was looking mouthwateringly handsome, with his perfectly tousled blond hair and his worn leather jacket and snug jeans. He even had my heart racing, so lord knows what this look would do to all the teenage girls out there. As far as I could tell his character was in a biker gang and his love interest was the police chief’s daughter.
Once Xander was settled back in his star chair, he shut his eyes before reaching across between us and startling me by pulling me into his lap. I was all too aware of the many eyes watching us, and while everyone needed to surrender their phones at the gate, I had the overwhelming feeling that someone was filming us. I felt like a science experiment. In my experience with science experiments in high school almost every time, without fail, they ended up exploding.
“You know what they taught us at university?” I began, ignoring the sensations igniting across my skin from where he held my waist. I could feel the heat from his hold through my jumper, and it was sending me dizzy. I also tried to divert my gaze from where his shirt was undone at the top revealing the start of the solid muscles I knew made up his very firm chest.
Xander reluctantly opened his eyes and looked down at me expectantly. So, I continued, “They said, we should always look for the positives.” I smirked. “Even when a child was rolling on the floor screaming and shouting we needed to find something positive to commend them on.”
“All right teach,” he began dubiously, “What was positive about that?”
I took a moment before I came up with the only positive I could think of when reflecting on the performance he just had with his breathtakingly stunning costar. But judging by the number of times they have had to reshoot the scene because she had forgotten her lines or messed up her cue it was safe to say that beauty did not equate to brains. Poor darling.
“You breathed very well.” I beamed.
“Wow,” he chuckled before he buried his face in the side of my neck and I suddenly had something else very distracting that I needed to ignore. His hot breath dancing across my already warm skin was sending my heart into meltdown.
“You took blinking to another level.”
“My blinking?” His lips grazed the skin of my neck as he spoke and I felt my breath catch in my throat.
“Y-Yep, four-second breaks between each one. An exemplary display of blinking.” I couldn’t fight the beaming smile that spread across my face and nor could I stop the bloom of my cheeks as his deep, rumbling laughter vibrated through my body. Stopping the reactions my body had to him was like telling the sun not to shine.
“Mr Collins,” the weaselly little man from this morning, was back and he had the same scrunched up look on his face as before. I had learnt that he was the assistant director on set and Xander was going to be having a lot to do with him over the months of filming. Not to mention he was the one who had delivered the privacy agreement to me and informed me that he would be watching me closely to ensure I did nothing to threaten the integrity of the film. “We’re going to circle back to this scene. We don’t have the time to fix it. The scriptwriters are going to take another pass at it, but we’re going to move on to the fire escape scene. You need to head over to make-up and wardrobe.” Then he spun on his heel and wobbled over to Yasmin, Xander’s bimbo costar. I couldn’t help but notice that in the face of the red-haired beauty he turned into even more of a bumbling idiot.
“Do I have to hang around here all day?” We were already heading well into lunch territory, and I failed to see a single scrap of food.
“Nah, we’ll break for lunch in an hour,” Xander shrugged, sliding me off his lap and guiding me back to his chair. “I’ll take you someplace nice if we have time. Otherwise, I’ll get something delivered to my trailer.” I nodded my agreement.
While it was exciting to see Xander performing and doing the thing he loved it just reminded me that I couldn’t do mine.
I had called Thomas ridiculously early the morning after we met at the nightclub but he told me that he had a shoot out in Colorado for the next month and he didn’t want me to start tutoring his daughter without him there to introduce us. It had been two weeks of waiting for him to return and I was pulling my hair out with boredom.
Greg and Harrod had left me an hour ago, now that I had signed their confidentiality agreement and they weren’t threatening to throw me off the set. It meant that I now sat alone in Xander’s chair as he went to wardrobe and make-up to prepare for the next scene. This was the prime opportunity apparently for Xander’s costar to approach me and judging from the look on her face I wasn’t going to like the topic of discussion.
“You don’t belong here,” and she came out swinging.
“Xander wants me here.” I shrugged, not interested in getting into a fight with the other star of the movie. If this ended badly, it was me that was going to be getting thrown off the set, and I knew little weasel face would enjoy every minute of it.
“I’m friends with Allison Kelly, you know?” Her blue eyes flashed triumphantly with this statement, but I was still wondering where this conversation could possibly be going. I found it a little hard to believe that this airhead was going to beat me in a verbal battle.
“Who do you think you are, stealing her man?” Oh, so that’s where this was going. I should have seen that coming.
“As far as I’ve read your friend and my boyfriend aren’t together anymore, so this whole conversation is a moot point.” She seemed thrown off for a moment, but that didn’t seem to stop her spouting more ridiculous accusations.
“She’s going to get him back you know,” she threatened her smug voice grating on my nerves. “You’re not his type. Us stars always end up together. He might be slumming it right now, but he’ll dump you and come crawling back to Allison soo enough. It’s fate.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” I shrugged. I’d never met this Allison girl and as far as I knew Xander had no intention of returning to the girl who had, according to the magazines, broken his heart.
“You’ll disappear back into whatever hole you crawled out of soon enough, Xander’s too good for you.” Thankfully, weasel face returned and ushered her away from me which was lucky because I was one bitchy comment away from giving him a very convincing case to have me removed. The red-head glared at me as she was escorted away and I sent her my best smile to let her know her words hadn’t affected me. I’d dealt with her type before, and I wasn’t about to let years of experience go to waste.
It was almost midnight by the time we returned home and needless to say Xander and I were both ready to collapse into bed. However, I wasn’t willing to go without something substantial to eat. The take away in his trailer had been rushed and unsatisfying. Xander had spent almost the entire time on the phone to his publicist Dee, dealing with the consequences of his immature actions in the morning.
“Hungry?” Xander grunted in reply before slumping over in one of the bar stools. I assumed that meant yes so I quickly whipped us both up a pasta dish and sat down beside him.
He shovelled the food down as if someone might take it away from him if he didn’t eat fast enough and despite my tiredness, there was still a question that had been playing on my mind since my run-in with his dimwitted co-star.
“Xander?” I began and he didn’t even stop to acknowledge me so I forged on ahead. “I was wondering, if Allison was to say she wanted you back, would you do it? Get back with her?” He paused for a moment before he turned to face me with a puzzled look on his face.
“Oh, it was just something your lovely co-star said. She seems to be under the impression that those are her intentions.”
“Yasmin is a few crayons short of a set. I advised them not to cast her in this movie, but they obviously thought she was worth the risk. I think today’s failure supports my opinion.” He muttered, continuing to finish his pasta.
“But, would you do it? Would you take her back?” I would never admit it, but a part of me paused in anticipation of his answer. Like somehow it mattered to me. I knew the only reason it should matter to me is ending this farce, but if I was honest with myself I don’t think that was the real reason.
“Why does it matter?” he frowned, his fork stilled over his almost empty bowl.
“I was just wondering, you know? If you were willing to take her back, it would make this whole thing between us redundant. I mean you don’t owe me anything.”
“Annie, that woman cheated on me and publicly humiliated me. I would have to be a fool to take her back.” He scoffed, eating the last mouthful and placing his bowl in the sink.
“People do crazy things for the one they love.” I reasoned, pushing what remained of my meal around my bowl.
“Yeah,” he muttered. “Love drives people mad.” Then he disappeared into his room, and I was left with my thoughts in the empty kitchen. “I may be crazy, but not for her.” I could have sworn I heard him mutter, but I must have been hearing things.