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Dating the Actor

Dating the Actor

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A Hollywood hottie. A struggling actress. Is what they have real or another one of his games?

 

Main Tropes

  • Celebrity
  • Bad Boy Player
  • Broke Heroine

Synopsis

Aleyna McKenzie always dreamed of making it big as an actress, but her auditions haven’t gone well, money is running dry, and her car is barely running. When she gets a long-term gig as a stand-in on the network tv show Devastation, she can finally start to pay her bills. But she quickly becomes tired of the film set guys hitting on her, including Carson Peters, the male lead of the show.

When Carson discovers her with a broken-down car, he offers to give her rides to the set while her car is in the shop. When she can no longer deny the sparks flying between them, Aleyna has to decide if she’s willing to risk her heart for a guy with a reputation as a player.

In the tradition of La La Land, Dating the Actor brings you a mix of heartwrenching sweet romance and a girl fighting for her dreams.

Intro into Chapter 1

“Your card was declined. Do you have another way to pay for
this?”

“I’m sorry.” I forced a polite
smile. “That can't be right. Can you please give it another try?” The
pierced-up guy swiped my card again with an arm covered in so many tattoos I
could barely find a patch of clear skin.

“Sorry. Still declined.” He tapped
the card against the counter impatiently.

Head bent over my wallet, I tucked back long, wavy strands of red
hair that kept falling into my line of vision, digging for any stray bills that
could be hiding behind my stack of receipts.

Nothing. Not a single dollar.

An arm covered in a black leather
jacket reached out and slapped a twenty onto the counter. “This should cover
it, right?”

Relief flooded through me. “Thank
you so much.” I spun around to see who had rescued me. The guy was totally hot.
Messy brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and a devil-may-care grin. “You are so awesome for helping out.”

“Some of us have places to go,” he
said, smacking his gum.

The good feeling diminished. I
scowled at him. The tattooed clerk gave
him his change.

I took my food and rushed outside. I
held back a curse when my keys jammed in the door. I jerked the door open. I
climbed inside, took a long sip of my smoothie, and sighed in bliss. Kale Me
Crazy was hands down my favorite juice bar. I pulled up an email on my phone
and tapped the link to the address listed there. I set my GPS on its course and
pulled out from the terrible parallel parking job I’d done. The GPS led me to a
warehouse the studio had rented out. A bright yellow sign labeled “audition
parking” directed me to a parking lot across the street. After I parked, I walked for about five minutes. Before
opening the door with the sign labeled Auditions, I smoothed down my hair.

“Hi, I'm here to audition,” I said,
out of breath.

“Name?” a guy asked in a denim
shirt.

“Aleyna McKenzie.”

“Fill this out and take a seat,” the
denim shirt guy said in a monotone voice, handing me a sheet of paper.

My hands shook as I filled out the
information. A few minutes later, they called my name, and I scuttled into the
room. The director, a bald guy with a stud in one ear stared down at my
headshot and resume as I delivered my monolog.

Without even looking up, the director
said in a brusque tone, “Thank you for coming.” I forced a smile and backed out of the room, holding back
tears.

As I walked back to my car, I pulled
out my phone. “Hey, Mom.”

“Hey! How are you?”

“I’ve been better. My audition
didn't go well.”

If I’d landed this commercial, it would have paid a thousand
dollars—money I desperately needed. For the past year, I'd been searching for
real acting work. I'd made ends meet by picking up extras gigs here and there.
Surprisingly enough, Atlanta provided enough background work to help me pay my
meager bills. But my little red Corolla was on its way out, and who knew how
much further my small sporadic paychecks would keep me covered.

“What went wrong?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I wasn't
feeling it. And I was late. I'm sure that didn't help.”

“Maybe it's time to start getting
serious about your future. You could come home and go to the community college
here in North Carolina.”

“Mom, it was just a bad audition.
I'll get more auditions, and eventually, I’ll get cast in something and
everything will be fine.” I didn't believe myself as I said it. I wanted to,
but deep down, the doubt swirled in my belly. Maybe I should have just gone
straight to California. But Zoey, my best friend since I was five, convinced me
to come live with her in Atlanta. She said it was the Hollywood of the South.
It was true. Atlanta did offer a lot of auditions, but it still wasn't anything
like being in California.

I drove home. When I got to the
house, I parked beside Zoey’s Jetta and jerked open the mailbox. I grabbed the
pile of envelopes and sorted through it, grateful when I found a paycheck
nestled between two pieces of junk mail. I ripped open the side tabs and opened
the paper, peering at the amount.

$82.94.

It wasn’t much, but it was better
than the $1.82 I was sitting on in my bank account. I swung open the front door
and saw Zoey sitting in the middle of the floor with a drop cloth spread around
her, painting an end table a sunny yellow.

I reached up to my cat key rack and
hung my keys on the black cat’s tail that curved into the hook. “Whatcha up to?”
I asked.

Zoey dipped her paintbrush into a
can of chalk paint. She loved the stuff because she could pick up old furniture
from yard sales and paint right over them without sanding or stripping the
varnish. The two-bedroom house her dad bought when she got into Emory
University's pre-med program was full of her various projects. The kitchen
table was bright red with yellow chairs and seat cushions recovered in red-and-yellow-polka-dotted
fabric. Shelves repainted in various
chalk paint colors hung on the walls. She painted everything with the stuff.
Light fixtures, door knobs, cabinet pulls, vases, picture frames.

Leaning against the kitchen counter,
I ripped out the check, signed it, and snapped a photo of it with the bank app
installed on my phone.

I opened the fridge and pulled out a
bundle of kale. I laid out a cutting board and pulled my favorite knife from
the wooden block I kept on the counter next to the fridge. I glanced out the
window. Oscar, Zoey’s boxer, was chasing a squirrel in our muddy backyard. I
grinned. He would be such a mess when we brought him in later tonight. After
chopping my kale, I dumped it in the salad spinner and spun the excess water from
it. I opened the fridge. “Ooh, we have leftover couscous from last night.” Zoey
had recently introduced me to this Mediterranean restaurant, and we’d become obsessed with it.

Zoey’s dad was a film executive in
Atlanta. Her parents split when she was thirteen, and he’d been distant until
lately. When she got into Emory, he reappeared into her life, paid her tuition,
and bought her the house. I thought it was a little strange that he didn’t just
have her move in with him, but Zoey suspected that it was because he didn’t
want to have to explain the lifestyle he’d chosen since he became a film
executive. She still held a lot of resentment toward him, but I knew she was
grateful for his help. Emory’s tuition was insanely expensive.

Later that night, Zoey browsed
through YouTube on the big TV her dad had hooked us up with, checking out her
favorite indie bands. “I just found this amazing new band,” she said, clicking
to the next video on her playlist. “They play folk music, but they have a
unique sound, almost like rock, but not.”

“Sounds cool,” I said, propping my
computer on my lap and leaning back into a pile of the Disney pillows I’d
collected.

Zoey twirled a tight curl around her
finger with a guilty look on her face. “I should get back to doing homework.
I've been slacking big time tonight.” She released the curl, and it sprung into
place with the rest of her dark hair.

“You? Slacking?” Just because she took a break to paint her end table and
watch a couple of YouTube videos, she was going to beat herself up about it?
Zoey was so obsessed with school she signed up for summer classes so she could
finish her undergraduate work faster.

She grabbed her backpack and opened
a thick textbook. “I swear I should have bought this on eBook. I can't believe
I lug this cinder block around campus.”

“How are you and Wyatt doing?” I
asked, opening my Gmail. She'd started dating this new guy about a week ago,
and she'd been falling hard for him. But I had yet to meet him.

“Amazing. He’s taking me hiking up Stone Mountain this weekend.”

“Sounds fun.” I clicked open an
email and scanned the contents. “This audition looks promising. They’re looking
for a lead for a horror film. It’s an indie film, but you gotta start
somewhere, right?” I responded with my resume and headshot and filled out the
information they asked for specifically.

I scrolled through the rest of my
emails. I clicked one open from a company called C.L. Casting. They were
looking for ultra-thin refugees with messy hair to cast as extras in a post-apocalyptic
series called Devastation. “Where’d my phone go?” I asked, looking around.

“It’s on the coffee table, right in
front of you,” Zoey said.

“I need a picture of me with messy
hair.”

Zoey snorted. “That shouldn’t be too
hard.”

I tossed a Little Mermaid pillow at
her. “Why do you need a picture of you with messy hair? Are you updating your
Tinder again? You know some guys are into that, right?”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m submitting as
background for a post-apocalyptic TV series.”

“What about that blackmail picture I
took of you from a few months ago?”

“The one when I just woke up?” I
asked, scrolling through my phone to find it. “Here it is.” I stared back at my
face and shuddered. I finished submitting and snapped my laptop shut. “Do we
have any ice cream? I’m starving.”

“I think there’s some of that
dairy-free coconut stuff left,” Zoey called over her shoulder as I danced my
way into the kitchen. I dished out the rest of the chocolate frozen treat and
settled into a yellow chair at the kitchen table.

“Tell me more about Wyatt. What’s he
do? How’d you meet him?”

“I met him on campus during finals
week at the testing center. He’s a law student at Emory.”

“Ooh, nice. He sounds like your type. Got a picture?”

“Not yet. I’ll have to get one this
weekend.”

My phone pinged, and my heart raced.
Had I heard back already from the indie film looking for auditions? I gulped
down the last bite of ice cream and put my bowl in the sink, cringing at the
pile of dishes there. I sunk back onto my pile of Disney pillows and checked my
phone. My heart sunk a little. The email was from C.L. Casting. They had
already seen my messy hair picture and were offering me the job as a refugee on
Devastation. “Looks like they want me to come in as an extra tomorrow morning,”
I said.

“Already?” Zoey said.

I shrugged. “It was a last minute
thing. Happens all the time.”

“Too bad it wasn’t the indie film,”
Zoey said.

“Being an extra on Devastation isn’t
my ideal job, but at least it’s some type of income,” I said.

“Keep moving forward, girl. You’ll
get there one day,” Zoey said.

Why was it, that at this moment, she
had more conviction in her voice than I felt?

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