Through The Telephoto Lens

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a god among men
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Slice of Life, Horror, Fandoms, Superheroes, Crime, Drama, Grit, Supernatural, Light Sci-Fi, Modern Era, Dark Themes
Famous boy meets semi-famous girl, angst ensues.

The marketing campaign for Dangerous Summer was a product of pure aggression. For the last several months, teasers for the show had been inundating living rooms across the country, desperately asking to be watched from behind a veil of arrogance that said the show was only for people who liked a little mystery with their television and for those who were tired of reality shows centered around spoiled girls with baby-like voices, or middle-aged women pointlessly arguing over what was or wasn't shade. The feelers were out for Americans aged eighteen to forty-five with a bit of superiority complex, and in the morning, everyone would finally know whether or not the show was worth it.

After scoring bit parts on almost all of the cop shows, and gaining more traction on stage than screen, Audrey Case hoped that the show would be a big hit. Since coming to Los Angeles at eighteen, this was the first time that things felt good, almost completely perfect and the dark-haired woman, now barely twenty-one was full of optimism. It didn't matter that she had auditioned for the part of Summer, the morally ambiguous, liquored up sociopath and wound up as a supporting character, the responsible sister—the script was solid, the acting was perfect and the directing was some of the best that Audrey had ever seen. She wanted this to work; needed it to because starting over at square one was going to be too disappointing.

A team of stylists had spent the majority of the afternoon getting her ready, coordinating out fits, changing her hair and reminding her of who she was wearing in case reporters asked. The Step and Repeat was almost as important as the show itself, and the interviews that Audrey had given that night were dizzying, so many of the same questions answered, smiling until her cheeks hurt, shaking hands and holding a few uncomfortable poses a dozen times over. Whoever said that acting was an easy job had never had to sell themselves in a sea of endless talent and beauty, or play ball in an industry that handed out favors for the right kind of cooperation.

The event for the premier had everything to do with work, but the after party was another story. Audrey was glad to be out of the feeding frenzy and away from the constant camera flashes—her vision still hadn't adjusted back to normal, and small spots of color still materialized in her line of sight after blinking. Thankfully, the focus had shifted to a mansion in the hills, the lights were low, the drinks were flowing and the house was crowded with all kinds of people. For the first time that day, Audrey felt like she had a second to breathe; in and out, nice and easy and the stress began to melt off.

The atmosphere inside of the sprawling mansion was relaxed, but the music that pumped through the speakers was upbeat enough to put people in a good mood. Audrey wandered around, a drink in her hand as she stopped to talk to a few people that she knew, and be introduced to others that she didn't. It was a nice time, and the night continued to wear on, well past midnight and many bedtimes, but Audrey still didn't want to leave. Even though her feet hurt, and her dress was starting to feel uncomfortable, she was having a good time. It felt like she had finally made it.

Eventually, the young actress found her way outside. It was a cool night now and a few stars were visible in the sky through all of the LA's light pollution—the sight was familiar, perfect as Audrey found a place to sit down. She reached for the strap that surrounded her ankle, pulling at the silver clasp to undo her shoes. The black heels on her feet, while stunning, had been giving her problems all night. It took a moment, but one shoe was finally off and Audrey gave an audible sigh, pleased as she stretched out her sore toes.

Giving a look around, the dark-haired woman spotted a semi-familiar face in the darkness. Audrey had met so many people over the last few months that it was hard to keep all of them straight but the man that she was currently looking at was more recognizable than ones that had been lost to the blur. “Didn't you do the music for the show?” she asked, a curious smile on her lips as she reached for the strap around her other ankle. “The theme song, right?” If she was wrong, Audrey may just agonize over the mistake for weeks to come, but if she was right, there was no harm in striking up a conversation.

You probably don't remember me,” she laughed, now sure that they had at least said hello to one another in passing.
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This wasn't the first time he had been presented with the opportunity to have his music playing some part within a television show or even in a movie that was supposed to be some sort of blockbuster hit that ultimately failed to preform, nor would it likely be the last. This was the first time, however, that he had been asked to sing an original song written by one of the writers of the show so that his voice could play through the opening credits, rather than him just sending the producers one of his songs and giving them the right to use it in their show as they pleased. When he had first been approached and asked the request through his manager from the producers of the show, he couldn't help but stop, think, and then laugh about it before he agreed to the proposition after getting a run down of what the general plot line of the show was. It wasn't something that he would normally find himself watching on television -not that he ever had much time to watch television any longer- but he agreed to take part in the helping process regardless. It wasn't as if his manager was going to let him skip out on something like this anyhow.

A few weeks after that rather long phone call of putting the deal together with his manager trying to squeeze out every penny he could, Miles O'Connor was sent the music sheet with lyrics scribbled along the margins. He read through the words diligently, memorizing what had been written for him while he tapped his fingers against his knees as he bobbed his head up to the rhythm of the music that he could imagine playing in his ears. A few days after that he had been brought to the recording studio where he sung the song for them and listened to himself back after a few hours of work. It was nice. Not a song that he would have written himself, but the song had a nice melody to it, one that hinted to the show having a darker undertone to it with a striking sense of suspense. It could get the senses riling, he could tell, and he could only hoped that it would actually work so that the show didn't turn out to be a bust like so many other shows that tried to tamper with this subject matter and was unable to preform well.

He had been able to meet a few of the cast during the time. He met the leading lady of the show, a beautiful woman with striking eyes who admitted to having listened to a few of his records and was a bit of a fan of his, along with a few of the supporting cast members who he couldn't really call to mind. They allowed him to watch one of the shooting for the show, and, to say the least, he had been impressed. It was one thing to know and memorize what one was singing, but it was another thing to memorize lines in a script while playing the character that they were given. Miles had decided to himself, then, that he never would have been able to make it as an actor, much like his manager had said to him in one of their first meetings together. "You've got that next door neighbor, warm, pretty boy actor face that every girl loves and would drool over if seen on the big screen," he had said, "but you're a terrible actor. Just stick to singing and you'll do fine in this town. You'll get more girls anyway with that voice of yours."

And the man hadn't been wrong. Though he had only been a professional musician for five years now it hadn't taken him but two years to take off into the music industry world. With one hit song that had been written after two days of no sleep because of the stress and worry over his labeling potentially dropping him due to his lack of stardom his luck had finally begun to change. First the song had been number twenty on the top one hundred list of music, and then only a day after it had shot it's way up to number one, setting up the course of his career from that point until now at the age of twenty three.

But his music career wasn't at the forefront of his mind in that moment. He pushed his own success aside as he shoveled his way through the throng of people that loitered around the mansion as they held glasses full of alcohol in their hands and as they chatted loudly over the music. Occasionally he was stopped by the guest and asked questions that he had been asked by the interviewers that flooded the premiere -did he like the show, what made him decide to sing the theme song, how was his music going, when was his next single coming out... The questions had become so predictable over the years that he had accustomed himself to answering the questions automatically with short, simple responses, responses that either held little or no information about what was being asked. It was always amusing to play with the press; keep them guessing with what he was doing and never answering their questions directly was the advice he had been given over the years, and he took the words of advice with stride.

The stifling amount of people in the space was beginning to become too much for him, however. Sometime past midnight after congratulation most of the cast for the premiere of the show, Miles headed his way up the stairs of the mansion and walked down the hall, stopping when he saw a double door entry to the balcony that would lead to the outside world. Figuring, since it was empty, that this would be the best place to go he made his way towards the doors, opened them, and them breathed a sigh of relief as the cool breeze of the night air breathed past him. Finally, room to breath. He smile lightly as he walked over towards the railing after he closed the doors behind him, the rumbling sound of the bass still beating against the walls and windows though the noise considerably less loud than it had been before. He took his blazer off and folded it against his arm before he let it rest against the railing as he leaned his arms against it and just... Looked. He looked out into the distance and blinked his eyes at all of the sights because there hadn't been very many times when he had just been able to stop and look at things. As sad as it was to think, he almost missed it.

With Miles so wrapped in his own mind and of the sights that his eyes were taking in, he hadn't noticed the doors opening behind him, nor did he notice the young woman who walked on the balcony to sit in one of the chairs to take her shoes off. He only noticed that someone had entered the vicinity when he heard her voice, causing the man to snap his attention away from the view as he turned to look at her with slightly wide eyes until he lowered them back to their natural state. She looked familiar, he couldn't help but think, only to then realize why she looked familiar -because she was apart of the show.

He gave her a smile at her questions as he fully turned his body to look at her, his hands resting against the railing as he leaned against them. "Yeah, I did," he answered smoothly and easily, another question that he had been asked often throughout the course of the night. "It's a much different song than the ones I'm used to singing, so I hope I was able to do it justice." But her last statement caused him to raise his brows as he tilted his head, his mind going away from the theme song and onto her face.

"No, I think I do. You played the sister in the show, right? If I'm being honest, I think you would have made a much better Summer than the one who actually plays her." While there had been a hinting of flirtation in his voice, he actually found himself being honest with what he said. Miles knew he knew nothing of the acting world, and while he could hardly tell whether an actor was a good one or not, he thought that she was good, better than good maybe. He chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck after he shook his head. "Or maybe I'm wrong; I don't know. But your name? Wait, let me guess. It start's with an..." He paused again, this time his lips pursing in concentration as he tilted his head. He didn't remember her name, no, but he did recognize her and he thought he knew what her name started with. "A, right? Your name has an A in it."
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After getting her other shoe off, Audrey raised her eyes to meet the man's gaze in the semi-darkness. Inwardly, it was hard for her to believe that she hadn't instantly recalled a smile like that, so toothy and wide, the type that was sure to make every girl within a mile melt into a puddle. Remembering a face, however, was only half the battle of small talk and Audrey quickly realized that she had never gotten this guy's name before. It seemed the slightest bit rude, to have already watched the first episode of the show and not be able to say, with confidence, which beautiful-voiced artist had sang the theme song. Inwardly, Audrey hoped that he wasn't offended.

I thought it was really fitting,” she smiled, sure that he had already been showered with compliments all night. Luckily, one more genuine word of praise never hurt anyone. “You have a really nice voice—I just wish I knew some of your other music.” Audrey had a few friends trying to break into the music industry, but she knew nothing of the scene other than what was played on the radio. Generally, the dark-haired girl was too busy to get lost in a new album, or become completely obsessed with a newly discovered band. It was something of a shame, but that didn't stop her from appreciating something good when she heard it.

Outside of her theater work, Audrey hadn't cultivated much success on television or in movies, and she didn't expect anyone to recognize her. Again, she smiled as the man dolled out his own compliments and added his own surprisingly coy assessment of her being more suited for Summer. Whether or not he actually believed that remained to be seen, but Audrey laughed anyway, possibly doing some flirting of her own. Thankfully, she wasn't the only one who was at a loss for a name, and the young actress found herself relaxing as he took guesses at what it started with.

You're on the right track,” she confirmed brightly, but wasn't about to let him flounder around with guesses for the rest of the night, “it's Audrey, actually.”

Letting her hands rest on the bench she was sitting on, Audrey gave a bit of a stretch. It felt good to finally be out of those shoes, and although she usually operated under the rule of not removing anything until she was home, her feet couldn't take another second in those stilettos. “I have to guess your name totally blind, by the way,” she revealed, still feeling the slightest bit awkward about it and it may have showed in her laugh. “I guess you could just tell me, but that's not very fun.”

Studying him again, still looking rather cute with his jacket off and draped over the railing, Audrey drew a name out of thin air. “Zach?” she asked, tilting her head slightly. “You look like a Zach to me.” She reached for her drink, the same vodka rocks she had been nursing for the last hour, now mostly water. “I'm wrong, aren't I?” she asked, her nose wrinkling slightly in apology. “What is it?”

Scooting over some, Audrey made room for him on the bench, a silent invitation to sit down and maybe continue their conversation once introductions were out of the way. “What kind of music do you normally play?” She was infinitely interested in others, the thought process of creative people that always seemed so unique to the individual.
When it was confirmed that he was on the right track with the name, only to have been told what her actual name was shortly after, Miles felt a short of pressure leave his chest as his smile widened. He straightened his frame and nearly puffed his chest out a bit with the swell of confidence that washed over him but decided to keep his cool demeanor in favor of trying to pass off as being smooth when he really just felt surprised, and even a little giddy, that he had actually made the right assumption with the letter of her name. "See, I told you I knew who you were. Or at least I knew the first letter of your name." He winked, a small chuckle leaving from behind his lips as he tilted his head to look down at the ground for a second as he ran a hand through his hair, a small breath leaving his chest before he finally looked back up at the young woman -Audrey. Really, his guess had been a good one; he figured that if he was going to be guessing any letter, he might as well start with the beginning of the alphabet. He hadn't expected it to have actually worked, but the world worked in mysterious ways, right? "You have a memorable face anyway, so how could I forget?"

He picked his head to look back at Audrey when she started to speak again, his eyes scanning down her body for a moment as they ended up stopping at her clad feet, only to look a few inches to the side to see that she had kicked her heels off. He didn't understand how woman could walk in those things on a daily basis. Did those heels not hurt their feet? Well, that may have been the reason why the woman before him decided to take them off, to which he could sympathize with her, however it was still a concept he found himself not able to fully understand. Women, he always thought, went through too much trouble in order to look 'pretty' in societies standards. But not to seem rude or like a perverse male only interested in the way she looked despite the darkness that surrounded them that shrouded a bit of her features from his sight, he turned his eyes and locked them back onto her face, his brows quickly rising as he listened to the rest of what she had to say.

Oh, so this was a game now? Game on then.

As a playful smile graces his lips, Miles moved his hands from the railing and crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back, his smile soon slipping as his brows furrowed, looking almost as if he was serious to hear her answer when he was really nothing more than amused and slightly curious for what her guess would be. It was always, while a rarity, a nice surprise to hear someone actually admit that they had no idea of who he was or at least of what his name was. Of course, he wasn't conceded enough to believe that everyone on the planet knew who he was despite how his face showed up on television advertisements and how he had been a guest on a few late night television shows to promote one of his albums or to talk about an upcoming tour that he was set to take, but it was more often than not that he went recognized by the general public because of how 'in their face' he was, or how the press made him out to be, rather, with articles and tabloids popping up about him constantly. Was it a bit bothersome? Yes, however this was the life he had signed up for and he knew that there was no way to take it back unless he, somehow, disappeared.

"Zach?" He mirrored the name back with a snort and a laugh as he looked down and ran his hands up and down the front of his shirt as he twisted his body from side to side as if looking for something, or at himself in this instance. "I look like a Zach? Where?" He pat his sides down again before he shook his head, a low laugh bellowing from the pit of his chest until the noise died down and he was able to get himself back under control. Why did he feel the need to be teasing with this actress when he hardly knew her and when he had only just learned her name a minute ago? The question caused the man to stop for a moment to think. Something about her made him feel comfortable. Something about her made him feel as if he didn't have to be stiff and short with his answers, as if he didn't have to hide behind a veil of himself for fear that he would be judged too harshly.

Miles wasn't sure though. He decided to push the feeling aside as soon as he noticed Audrey scooting over on the bench to give him a little room to sit if he so pleased. He took the invitation with a curt nod of his head as a thanks to her and walked over to the bench and sat down. "No, Zach's not my name. You were close though; my name's actually Miles." He couldn't stop the grin that persisted across his lips at the joke. Okay, so maybe the two names weren't closely related with one another, but was there harm in continuing on with the little joke?

With the smooth transition of the conversation continuing on, Miles leaned back against the bench and looked out at the skyline in front of them as he tired to think of a way to answer. "I play and dabble with a few different genres mostly. I don't know if I fit under one category per say since I don't think I'm necessarily as 'poppy' as most pop music but then I'm not smooth enough for R&B either." He quirked his brows at that thought for a second until he shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know; I don't do any rock, metal, hip hop, or country if that's what you're asking." After speaking he turned his head to look back at her. "But what about you? You an actress, so there's got to be a certain type of script you like to go for, right? Is Dangerous Summer something normally up your ally?"
Maybe your nose,” Audrey guessed with a tilt of her head, her grin growing just a little wider and more toothy. There was something very easy about the man in front of her, the quality of his voice was relaxing and there was an air of comfort between them that made opening up seem like the most logical thing in the world. Acting, and trying to make in Hollywood, required something of a thick skin, the need for a person to always wear their armor and not let anyone get too close unless they were in it for the long run. Maybe, Audrey thought, her current thoughts were swimming with the pleasant buzz of vodka, but the instant connection already had her falling. Inwardly, she cursed the hopeless romantic inside of her, and swallowed down another sip from her glass.

As the low sound of his amusement drifted off into the night, the man came to join her on the bench and Audrey turned slightly to face him. Whether or not Zach and Miles were at all similar was debatable, but Audrey was glad that her guess had been incorrect. His name certainly did suit him, only adding to that warm and comfortable quality that the young actress had stumbled upon only moments before. “Miles,” she repeated, her expression softening slightly, “yeah, I like that. It's very you.” Not that she knew what kind of person he was underneath all of that pretty-boy charm, but there was no guarantee she would ever find out either.

The conversation continued on with the same kind of smoothness and although music wasn't something that Audrey wasn't something she was expressly interested in, she wanted to hear more about Miles. “To be fair, you don't seem like metal type,” she joked, laughing softly. “I'll have to check out your music sometime, though,” she added, “you have a really nice voice.” The theme song really did speak for itself, and if the show happened to fail, at least Miles got some exposure out of the whole thing. He seemed like he worked hard enough, after all.

With the city skyline out ahead of them, Audrey became momentarily distracted. For all of the ugly things that sometimes went on, LA was an amazing place to be and in that moment, Audrey didn't want to be anywhere else. When asked about her own career, or lack there of, the dark-haired girl gave a bit of a curt laugh. There was a part of her that would have taken any script at the moment, be it a toothpaste commercial or a big, dumb action movie with no content, as long as she was working. At the same time, Audrey wanted her career to exist on her own terms; it was hard to have standards when she hadn't even gotten a break yet.

It's something I'd probably watch if I wasn't in it,” she answered with a slight shrug, sure that answer was somewhat confusing. “I like anything serious, over the top dramatic, the kind of shit that makes people gasp.” She laughed, “but it's tough. I haven't done much that isn't on a stage, so this is my first real acting job.” More people were going to see now that the show had aired, but the uncertainty of television still made her anxious and even well-received shows were sometimes canceled with little to no warning. “I'm kind of crossing my fingers,” she ended, raising both hands to demonstrate before letting them fall back to the bench.

Anyway,” she said, not about to let the conversation get too heavy. “What do you besides music?”
The smoothness of her laugh was enough to cause Miles to laugh softly his own self as he listened to the words that Audrey was saying. "I hope I don't come off as the metal type. I don't think it's really my thing," he answered back as he pointed his gaze to look back out at the sky line, his eyes blinking before he pursed his lips and brought one of his hands up to pull at the ends of his hair with his eyes crossing, then, to look at the strands of hair. "I mean sure, I could probably grow my hair out... Maybe even get a few piercings and tattoos, change my entire wardrobe to all black clothes, and then stay out of the sun for months to try and pull the metal look off. But... I don't think it'd still work." He dropped his hand from his hair and rested it back in his lap as he grinned cheekily at the joke. "I think I'll just stick with what I know." And, of course, his label and manager would likely lose their minds if he ever tried to change his image that drastically.

"But thanks. I appreciate that." Miles turned and looked back to Audrey, giving her a genuine smile rather than a grin to her compliment of his voice. It was something that he heard often -people telling him that he had a nice or beautiful voice- but it was nice to hear it nonetheless, especially from a complete stranger who seemed to only have heard his voice a few times. But that was alright. There was always a thought in the back of his mind that never seemed to cease, thoughts that made him wonder whether or not someone was actually being truthful with the compliments that they threw his way about his voice or if they were only saying that to get on his good side. Was Audrey only saying that because she wanted to get on his good side? No, that seemed doubtful. She was one of the few in this town who seemed like a genuinely honest person.

But of course, jumping to conclusions on her character like that were bad. He didn't know anything about her, and with his reservations towards most actors and actresses because of their craft he figured it would be best to keep his opinions to himself about her character until he actually knew who she was. If ever was able to learn something like that, anyway. Still, Miles couldn't shake the feeling that there was something about the woman beside him that drew him towards her and made him curious to know more about her. And when she started speaking he kept his eyes and attention on her, trying to figure out if he could learn more about her.

The acting world was much different from the music world, or at least that was what Miles had been lead to believe for years. While neither industry was easy to get into, he always had an inkling of a feeling that trying to make it out as a successful actor or actress was much harder than trying to become a famous musical artist. True, both crafts required a person to have those sets of talents that would take them off in the world, but while there was a certain skill level that needed to be met in order to be taken seriously in the industries, Miles always thought that acting was more skill based whereas being a singer or musician, while relatively skill based, was all about luck. After all, all someone needed nowadays was a good, catchy beat and they could become 'famous'. No one even needed a good voice anymore with all of the corrections that could be done in the studio. People hardly cared about the lyrics any longer, and most lyrics that did circulate around the music industry either dealt with sex, drugs, violence, or extremely sappy romance words that were just... Boring. And unoriginal. Miles knew that he wasn't a saint because he had done a few things that could be considered unoriginal, but he tried his best to stray away from that, and he knew a few other artist who did the same thing and actually had talent in the industry and he respected them.

But acting... People had to fall in love with an actor by watching them in action, and in order to do that they had to be good at what they did. Sure, just like in music an actor or actress could have a lucky break, but their lucky break usually came in the form of someone recognizing their skill, rather than someone being recognized for having a 'hit' song that went viral on YouTube. It was different, and while Miles knew that he may be wrong with his assumptions, he couldn't help but draw out the comparisons and differences between the two industries.

"If it means anything to you, I think you did an amazing job with the parts you had in the show, especially if this was your first real gig." He clapped his hands on his thighs lightly before he settled them there and let a wider smile come across his lips. "You have the face of someone who would star in those serious, over the top dramatic shows that make people gasp. Maybe someone like a psychopath or someone hell bent on getting revenge after getting her heart broken..." He couldn't keep down a chuckle at that before he brought his hands up in a mock defensive manner. "Okay, I'm kidding; you don't actually look like someone who would be a psychopath. But you do look like a girl on one of those types of shows who seems innocent with her pretty face at first but actually turns out to be very intelligent and a little crazy. You're not crazy, are you?" He teased lightly with the tilt of his head as he furrowed his brows, feigning seriousness.

"Regardless, I wish you the best. I won't wish you luck because I think that's a terrible thing to try and give someone trying to make it out in Hollywood luck, but I'll wish you the best with anything that'll happen." Miles dropped his hands and sat back against the bench again as he blew out a breath and paused, thinking about how to answer her last question. What was this, twenty questions? He snorted at the thought. "You sound like a reporter," he commented off handily as he shook his head. But what did he do besides music? Well... That was a little hard to answer. While music hadn't always been something that was a big part of his life, music was, now, his entire life. Music was how he made a living, music was how he was able to support himself and even his parents and little sister, and music was what he did nearly every day all day. Miles wouldn't be who he was without music. That wasn't to say that he didn't do anything else, but music was what he did most and thought about most.

So what did he do, besides music, that he really enjoyed? "I fish," he deadpanned as he scratched as his cheek and laughed. "Actually, I should rephrase that. I try to fish. Nothing professional or even remotely so, but I like to just go out on a boat every once in a while to enjoy the weather and fish." It was something he used to do with his dad often before he left home to pursue his music career. It was something that the two of them used to do together in order to spend some 'male boding time'. That, and hiking. But some of the most memorable moments to Miles was sitting on a boat, or on a dock, with his dad just... Talking, and fishing, and enjoying their time with one another. A wistful smile took the part of his expression until he brought himself out of his thoughts and looked back to Audrey.

"But back to you; the same question. What do you do besides act?"
Sometimes, it was hard to tell which compliments were genuine, and which were said purely to further a career. Audrey was an honest person, someone who sometimes came off as a little rough around the edges, slightly crass and maybe even rude, but she never went out of her way to pretend to be interested in something. If Miles wasn't good singer, if he was a talentless hack, the product of a studio and full of auto-tune, she would have kept quiet on the subject entirely—but he wasn't. His voice was nice, something that she probably could have listened to full albums of and not gotten bored, but that might have been an overstatement. After all, she had only heard the theme song once, cut down and in its final form, and there was nothing that said she would have been a fan of his other music.

Regardless, Audrey liked what she'd heard, thirty seconds of a song or not, he was good at what he did. “Well, you're welcome,” she smiled, “I'm sure you'll be getting a lot of compliments after this.” At least, she hoped that. If the show didn't take off the way the studio expected, it would just be more wasted time and effort, so much creativity down the drain. However, the experience was something that Audrey was proud of, seeing her time on the set as valuable and now she knew what to expect if she happened to land another television show in the future. Still, it was very different from theater, so many more chances to get everything just right; the safety-net of a fresh take.

Over the last four years, Audrey had been storing up all of the insecurities that had ever crossed her mind. There was something inherently foolish about leaving the suburbs of Chicago behind to become an actress out in Los Angeles, and most people, family included, thought that it was just some pipe dream. Having to return home, empty handed was the most humiliating thing that the dark-haired girl could think of, made even worse by having to find a job or actually got to college after tasting, just a little bit, of the other side. Dangerous Summer had to work, or else it was time to seriously considering packing her bags, tucking her dream away and leaving Hollywood behind for someone with the right connections.

Perhaps Miles would have understood her better if she'd told him about everything that was going on in her head, but now didn't seem like the time or the place. Their conversation was so light and easy, full of natural laughter and a smile that had been on her face since before the man had come to share the bench she was on. The connection was, for lack of a better word, magnetic, the kind of stuff that may have been found in a romantic comedy—boy and girl meet and the rest could be history.

Suddenly pulled from her thoughts, the racing ones that often spiraled out of control, Audrey returned her attention to Miles. Her expression softened again, his compliment sounding just as genuine and she appreciated it the same way. “It does mean something to me,” she confirmed with a bit of a nod, and laughed as his words went suddenly askew. “I might be,” she teased in return, inwardly happy to hear that he thought she looked a certain way. Some actresses were typecast, stuck in roles they never wanted to be in, and Audrey didn't want that to happen to her, she wanted options, projects to pick from that were more than just Nice Girl #1 or Pretty Girl #3. “You never know, it's a weird town,” she paused, still teasing, “maybe you're the crazy one.”

The wished luck was appreciated, but Audrey wrinkled her nose when he pointed out that she sounded like a reporter. That aspect of Hollywood wasn't something that she had ever really dealt with before the premier, and while there were always journalists and bloggers that came to plays, the questions weren't as invasive. She supposed Miles had her there, and Audrey was quick to offer up a little apology. Still, was interested in his answer, wanting to know more about him and also curious to see if her guess about his personality, laid back and chill, had been accurate.

It turned out that she was dead wrong. Audrey wouldn't have pegged him for a fisher at all. “I'm surprised,” she admitted, “most people around here aren't really into that sort of thing.” Fishing and hunting were big where she came from, people always went out for the deer hunt, sometimes traveling all over just to shoot things—it seemed like a habit that defined the Midwest as a whole.

When the question was turned around on her, Audrey gave a bit of a shrug. “You sound like a reporter now,” she said, a bit of a stall as she thought about her sporadic moments of free time. “I mostly just hang out with my friends, they like to party, so it's a lot of clubs and bars, and getting dressed up,” she laughed, “instagram pictures, you know the deal.” Put that way, Audrey was sure that she sounded incredibly one-sided and boring. “I also like to cook. If my friends ever decide they want a real dinner, I usually volunteer to make it.”
Despite himself, Miles couldn't hold back a chuckle at Audrey's obvious surprise to what his hobbies other than music were. It was a response that he had grown accustomed to receiving when ever he answered the question, if he ever answered it at all. He supposed he didn't necessarily look the type, but he also figured that it had more to do with the fact of who he was and what he did that surprised people most of all about his fishing habits. But, it wasn't information that he let out to everyone. The only ones who really knew about a few of his out of music hobbies were a few close friends (which even then he was still rigid with the information that he handed out) and his manager, all of them having given their surprises with the information before they would laugh, ask if he was serious, and then prod him with a few jokes until he grew tired of their antics and told them to go away.

At least Audrey hadn't taken to those actions. He appreciated that. "Yeah well, I'm not really from here so I guess those habits came along with me when I left home." He shrugged his shoulders to that, as if the matter was so small and simple, which, in his mind, it was. "Or I could just be crazy. After all, it's like you said; this is a weird town. I think everyone has to be a little crazy to be here." That was something he believed to be true; he believed that someone had to be crazy to live here, or at the very least they had to be crazy to try and get into the entertainment business. No body got noticed for being normal, after all. But along with the craziness, he also knew that people had to be brave, and they had to have the courage to possibly pack their entire lives up just for once chance. Just for one chance that could possibly change their life despite how the odds were stacked against them so heavily...

It had been an incredible risk for him to come out here when it had been offered to him. His parents hadn't been thrilled with his decision, but he figured that this was something that he had to do for himself. Sure, he was leaving behind the chance to go to college to get a degree, but what sounded more appeasing to a high school graduate? Being able to go to Hollywood to work on an album with the chance of becoming a star, or to go to college and sit in a class full of people that he wouldn't know and likely would never speak to outside of class? Obviously, he chose the former option. But luckily for him, it all worked out for the better.

He reached one of his arms back and rested it against the back of the bench as he waited for a reply to the question. Miles kept his eyes on Audrey before turning them to look away so as not to seem like a creep for staring at her for too long. When she finally did answer, however, he turned his eyes to look back at her as he rose his brows, intrigued. "Really? So you're a typical L.A. girl then, huh?" With his head cocked to the side and with a teasing smile playing across his lips, he laughed before he shook his head. "Kidding." He hadn't been expecting what came from her mouth next, however. He figured that she had been surprised about his fishing, he was certainly surprised about her liking to cook.

"You cook? You don't look like the type." He rose his brows to that before another question came to mind. "Are you any good? I mean, just because you like to do something doesn't mean you're any good at it. Do you know how to do those fancy tricks that tv chefs know how to do?"
Most actors and actresses were varying degrees of neurotic. That was part of what made Hollywood such an interesting place, but the city of Los Angeles itself was just plain weird sometimes. Being from the Midwest herself, an area of Illinois that never saw too much excitement outside of the occasional car accident, or random homicide, moving to California had been a huge culture shock. The first few months had been a hell of panic attacks and doubt, just trying to have the balls to stick out her dream—but Audrey wasn't lonely anymore, and no longer so unsure of her abilities. Being part of the show really did give her hope that this was going to be it, that her career would finally get some traction and start to take off.

Where are you from?” she asked, now curious after agreeing that everyone in LA was a little bit nuts. Miles really didn't seem like a California native, though and for some reason, Audrey felt compelled to know more about him. So far, he wasn't the most interesting person she had ever met, but he had a certain air about him that made the young actress want to know more. On top of that, Miles was easy to talk to and their conversation flowed like the drinks back inside the party; generous and without hesitation. A connection like that, no matter how fleeting it could possibly be, wasn't something that Audrey wanted to pass up.

Being described as typical produced a laugh from the young actress, but she quickly shook her head. “I'm not from here either, but nice try,” she smiled, letting the joke roll off of her. Going to parties or spending the night crawling from bar to bar was a good way to make connections, and Audrey tended not to mind getting dressed up and dealing with drunks if it meant meeting the right people. Her personality was rather goal-oriented, but not entirely type-A where a lack of control or advancement ruined everything. Again, there were many things that didn't need to be discussed with an almost perfect stranger, and Audrey didn't want to bore Miles with the finer details of what made her who she was.

I'm alright, I guess,” she answered with a shrug, “my mom and I cooked together when I was growing up, so I learned a lot from her.” Unfortunately, Audrey didn't have a lot of time to sit down and watch the Food Network, but the internet certainly did come in handy for recipes and tutorials. “Maybe you can be the judge of my fancy tricks for yourself one day,” she added, a coy smile on her lips.

There was no shame in flirting with a cute guy at a party, no matter how uncharacteristic it was for her. Normally, Audrey didn't have time for that kind of thing, relationship or just something temporary, and it had been months since she had even been on a date. But she couldn't deny that she was drawn to Miles, and she could only hope that he was drawn to her as well.
"Just from some small town in Minnesota that no one's ever heard about and likely never will. Nothing important, really." He waved his hand off as if it didn't matter and quickly took to listening to her again, ending the conversation of where he had come from. It wasn't that he was ashamed of it, no he actually loved his home town, but it wasn't something that he liked to talk about to people, especially people he didn't know, for fear of the information slipping to the wrong person.

So she wasn't an L.A native either, huh? Despite himself, Miles couldn't help but lean against the back of the bench even more as he rose his brows at Audrey as a playful smile eased across his lips at the notion. He shouldn't have been surprised, really. After all, it seemed as if most people he came across didn't originally come from L.A or California, especially not people looking for their big break that would take them to stardom so that they could live the 'lavish' and 'luxurious' lifestyle that so many people believed celebrities lived. Well, technically they weren't wrong, but there was a hell of a lot more than went into it than met the eyes, and Miles was more than positive that most people would just as quickly turn and run if they could after finally making it out in the entertainment industry. Those were feelings that he would, every once in a while, find muddling through his mind in his weakest moments, moments when he wanted nothing to do with this place and felt as if he was trapped with no where else to go because of the binds and chains that held him in place...

But those were usually fleeting moments. When Miles would feel himself beginning to rile up in those moments he would normally take some time to himself so that he could get back to his normal mindset, the mindset that told him that everything he did was good and that he willingly took to this life knowing what could happen. This was his fault, and there was no going back on it.

He went to give a short retort to her not being from here, to maybe ask her where she was from since he felt compelled to know more about this woman for reasons unknown to him, but before he could open his mouth to speak she was already continuing on to talk about her cooking endeavors. It took him a second to process all of what she said, but when her finally words finally registered through his mind he couldn't help but let his smile grow into a full blown grin as he shifted in his seat a little and tilted his head. It wasn't the first time someone had ever offered to do something from him, especially from woman -he couldn't count how many times a fan, or just anyone in general, had offered to give him massages, to cook for him, or to do other various task for him. The offers were always appreciated, but they were never taken seriously or even to heart on his part. He would just smile and wave, give a little chuckle, and then try to get himself out of the situation before anything progressed to something that he didn't want it to become all the while trying to be polite so that he didn't completely break anyone's heart or pride. But her offer... There was something different about it.

Miles wasn't under the impression that Audrey was being serious with it. Unlike all of the other woman, she was being playful with him with a little bit of flirting hidden in the mix, but it was so subtle that it could just pass as a playful conversation between two people who had known each for a while and knew each other's quirks. Regardless, Miles found himself nearly wishing that her words were more than just flirtatious banter. But he had to play along with this, or he wanted to, rather. He gave her a chuckle as he bent his head down before he looked back up at the skyline before them. "Maybe one day I can," he started. Slowly he turned his head to look back at Audrey with a charming smile, one that showed his teeth off to her. "I do love food, after all, and it has been a while since I've had a beautiful woman cook for me. I could even play some music for you too. You know, just get the guitar and strum a few cords to get a rhythm going to see if you really can do any tricks in the kitchen." Despite himself, he couldn't help but laugh a the vision that appeared in his mind. To even go with the joke even further he moved and motioned his hands to make it seem as if he was holding a guitar with his fingers flicking back and forth along it.

"Of course, if that happened then you'd have to eat with me, and depending on the mood of the place... Well, it could be considered a date, something that I certainly wouldn't mind doing with you, of course." He dropped his hands and winked at her. What was he doing, Miles questioned his own self. While he knew he was only flirting with her, playing with her to see the reaction that she could give him from his words and actions, there was a part of him that knew he was being slightly serious with his words. Did he want a date with her? Well, maybe date wasn't the right word; he just wanted to get to know her more to see if the atmosphere around them would evaporate or not as soon as they left the balcony of this mansion. But he couldn't, wasn't, going to just out right ask her either. He figured he had to probe a little bit more into the matter. So he shrugged his shoulders at the thought and leaned back against the bench again as he blew out an exasperated sigh, obviously exaggerating his actions at this point as he titled his head to look up at the sky. "But I doubt if something like that would work out. I mean, I'm sure you've got a horde of guys pining for your attention, and one of them has to have your heart already, right? I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate you cooking for someone else and showing your tricks for some other guy to judge."
Their lives sounded oddly similar and Audrey could appreciate the fact that Miles was another outsider looking in. After living in LA for the last several years, Audrey knew that she had changed, she could hear it in her own voice when she spoke to her mother on the phone, see it when she texted her friends back home or compared instagram posts. So many of her friends from high school were caught in the suburban trap; getting married, having kids, quitting school or work, buying houses and Audrey didn't understand the allure of it one bit. She thought that Miles must have been the same way, that he must have wanted more than cold winters and summers on the lake—if he didn't, he wouldn't have taken his chances in California.

In a way, it was comforting to know that Miles was also from a small, Midwestern town. It felt like they had more in common, as if they were going to be able to understand one another better. At least, that was what Audrey hoped. For being a total stranger, she already liked the man on the other side of the bench and he had a personality that some part of her craved to know. If it all went wrong, the dark-haired actress supposed she could blame it on the alcohol; pretend she'd overindulged and get the hell out of the party without looking back. Still, she hoped it wouldn't come to such a thing, that maybe Miles was feeling the same way.

It seemed likely that they were on the same page by the way he had accepted her impromptu and half-joking suggestion. Laughing, Audrey was unable to keep the wide and amused smile off of her face. “Did this suddenly become a music video for you?” she asked, still teasing, “because I don't think I want my house on camera. What if your fans try and stop by to meet you and it's just me there?” She stopped herself before she could mention hypothetically being dressed in sweat pants and last night's make up—that might have been a little too much for the beginnings of a first conversation. If Miles wanted to know how horribly lazy she was now and then, he could find out for himself later.

Rather suddenly, however, the situation became much less speculative and Audrey softened as Miles suggested an actual date. Although he thought otherwise, there weren't tons of men in the city who wanted to date her and for the better part of the last year, Audrey had been focused on herself and her career. The truth was, trying to make as an actress didn't afford a ton of time for dating. If someone happened to like her, they were usually forced to spend time together for a play and whatever was there, fizzled out once that commitment ended. It was something that she could have helped, but never did; maybe she was selfish that way.

I'm not dating anyone,” she said, a little more quiet as she wondered if this was just some kind of extremely polite rejection. “If you promise to appreciate my less than amazing, stolen from the TV, tricks, I'll make whatever you want.” It was a bold suggestion from her, someone who never really put her heart on the line. There was something different about Miles, though and Audrey didn't want to let a connection slip through her fingers.
Something in Miles jumped when Audrey denied his suspicious of guys pining for her attention with mentioning that she was single. It was a surprise to hear that of course, considering how he figured someone like her had someone else wrapped around her fingers, but he digressed and took the information for what it was. He told himself that he shouldn't be surprised though; most people in Hollywood trying to make it in the entertainment business didn't usually date. What they did, he had heard once before by a friend who laughed the matter off, was only play as if they were dating to get the attention of the press so that they could get the attention. A publicity stunt, more rather. And while Miles hated the thought of that, he knew it was true; it was the reason, after all, as to why he tried his best to stay out of any romantic situations. A few rumors in the past had nearly sprouted about him and some other woman all because they had been seen walking together or working together on something, but those were usually squashed just as quickly as they were created. Hollywood romance was not a thing, and the ones that were able to find love, the actual love and not the fake kind that most people tended to turn to if only to get more publicity, were one in a million.

Unfortunately, he had yet to find his one in a million. Not that he was particularly looking because of his busy schedule and because of his reservations to it all, but he couldn't deny that that was one of the things that he hated most about this life that he had chosen; the fact that he was never able to have real friends, and the fact that he, likely, would never be able to truly settle down with anyone.

He tried to hide the wide grin that stretched across his lips as he continued to look up at the sky until he was able to get his facial expressions under control to the point where he only had a small smile across his lips. He titled his head to look back down at her and, again, with raised brows tilted his had in her direction. Again, he was struck by her appearance, and just by the ways she was speaking with him; like a normal person. How long had it been since he had been able to sit down with a stranger and have a decent conversation with, one that wasn't too heavily on his career and one that had a smooth back and forth transition that said a lot, yet not enough?

It had been a long while. The fact that she was a female and not completely drooling over him was another plus, something that seemed to have been even longer since he had been subject to not face. Just the thought of it alone was enough to give him goosebumps, and he was only lucky that that his shirt was a long sleeved one to hide the little bumps that darted up the skin of his arms.

Despite himself, he scooted a little closer to her, closing the space between them just an inch until he stopped and rested his hands on the seat of the bench. "Anything I want?" It was a tempting offer, one that he wanted to accept, yet one he was hesitant to accept on the basis that he wasn't sure whether or not she was still playing with him and teasing him. He thought she was serious; oh how he wanted her to be serious with her offer, but he knew better than the jump to conclusion, and he didn't want to jump the gun too quickly to seem too eager. That might be a put off, something that he wanted to avoid at all cost. He snorted lightly to himself as his smile soon turned into a grin. "I'm not really that picky with what I eat, so... Surprise me. I like surprises." And if it was such a surprise to meet someone like her on a night like this? Well, he wanted to see what other surprises were in store from the woman. "Though... I guess the one surprise I can go without is chocolate." He rubbed the back of his neck at that and chuckled lightly. "I'm allergic. So I can't eat it. Anything else though? Fair game."

The thought of food and it being made was enough to make him hungry, but he pushed the thought aside and continued speaking, "And I promise, I won't bring any cameras. Wouldn't want to show the world any of your tricks, no matter if they're copied from tv or not, right? You might have to change your career path depending on how good you are if everyone saw it." He gave her another wink and turned to look away. "I do think you'd look good in a music video though, if that means anything." The lightness and teasing of his tone with everything he said was a surprise to him, but it was something that he couldn't help; not while he was sitting with her.

Miles went to open his mouth to speak again, to this time ask here where she was since the thought came back to his mind, but before he was able to get his words out he felt his phone buzz in his pocket, jolting his attention from the woman beside him and onto what was happening in his pants. Frowning, he picked his phone out of his pocket and looked at the caller ID, instantly sighing and groaning when he noticed the number; his manager. It wasn't an unexpected phone call; he had been expecting the man at some point to call him during the night if they lost sight of each other when it grew late, or early rather, but he didn't want him calling now. Not when he was having an enjoyable conversation.

But it's not like he could ignore the call. He turned to look at Audrey and gave her an apologetic look as he excused himself from the bench and walked over to the railing where his jacket still lie and answered the call.

It was short, the call. All his manager wanted to know was where he was and to let him know that it was time to go. Of course, Miles argued that he wasn't a little kid and that he could take care of himself and stay out as late as he wanted, but the argument was instantly thrown out the window as soon as his manger brought up what happened the last time he stayed out all night at a party. He ended up getting a little more than drunk that night with no sleep, which resulted in the worst hangover he had ever felt in his life when he woke up the next morning to try and record a few songs. It hadn't worked out well; Miles hadn't been able to get through one song without complaining about a headache and feeling sick enough to make him go home to recover for the rest of the day, which ended up making him an entire day behind with what they had to do. It hadn't been fun trying to catch up --no, it had been hell trying to catch up on all of the work. That was why he specifically avoided any alcohol at this party; because he knew how busy he was going to be the next day and he couldn't afford to have anything effect that, especially a hangover.

"Just think of this as punishment from the last party," his manager had mentioned, letting Miles know after that that the limo was out front waiting for him. "I know you're not a kid, but you've got an early day and a lot of work."

After pocketing his phone, Miles pursed his lips together as he breathed out a sigh. And just when he was beginning to enjoy himself for the night, it was time to go and end the nice and playful conversation he had been having with Audrey. "Looks like our planning for that dinner's going to have to wait," he said as he turned back to look at Audrey. He leaned back against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest as he shrugged his shoulders, obvious disappointment revealed in his expression. "That was my manager. He's got a ride waiting for me to head out." He didn't want to stop talking to her, and when that realization hit him, it sent a jolt through his body. He couldn't lose contact with this woman; he just couldn't. Miles reached his arm down then and patted down his pockets until he felt the soft material of a napkin in his back pocket. He pulled it out and then grabbed his jacket and pulled out a pen he always kept in there, and once his materials were all sent in place he leaned on the railing again with the pen and napkin in hand and wrote his number down on it.

When he finished writing the number with his name written above it, he hesitated. Did he want to do this? Could he trust her to not give this out to someone else? He knew there were multiple people who would love to have his number, probably even pay to have it, so he knew he was going out on a limb with this one. Likely, if his manger ever found it, he'd get chewed out about it, but Miles couldn't help it. He didn't want to lose contact with Audrey, and though she was still a stranger to him he, oddly, trusted her enough to not do something stupid with this information. Still, he couldn't help but say something about it as he turned and walked back over to her as he reached out to hand her the napkin, "I trust that you won't give this to anyone, right?" He smiled warmly again. "I don't give my number out to just anyone, so take care of it. And, you know..." He shrugged his shoulders at that as he backed up and grabbed his jacket, folding it over one of his arms. Again he hesitated as he gave Audrey one last look. "Just call me when you get the chance. Maybe you actually can cook for me one day, and I can bring my guitar and play for you." He paused in his step then before he nodded his head and gave off a chuckle before he waved a hand off to her.

"It was nice talking to you, and I mean that. A lot. Most people don't talk to me like you do, so, thanks. Have a good night, Audrey." Hopefully, he thought as he finally turned his eyes away from the woman and opened the doors to the balcony, closing them behind him, they would meet again. And hopefully she would actually use his number.
Phone calls were often the end of all conversations. It was a miracle that their talk had lasted as long as it had, but Audrey was grateful to have met Miles. In a way, it felt like fate—a happy coincidence that her feet had needed a break from her heels and that he'd needed a bit of fresh air. Normally, Audrey wouldn't have cared whether or not they ever talked again, but there were butterflies in her stomach when Miles handed over his number without hesitation and made future plans in a roundabout sort of way. Already, Audrey knew that her spur of the moment crush was silly, and that it was sure to bring nothing but heartbreak and hurt feelings, but it had never taken much for her to fall for someone when there was a real connection.

You too!” she called to him, one hand up in a goodbye wave as the other hung onto the napkin with his number scrawled across it. Audrey waited until Miles was out of sight before looking down at the seven digits. After, and with the biggest smile on her face, she took out her phone to save his number.

The rest of the night was much of the same and after putting her shoes back on, Audrey returned to the party. She continued to mix and mingle, and was shuffled around to meet anyone and everyone who wanted a piece of her. By the time the young actress finally managed to leave, the sun was close to coming up and her shoes were back in her hand instead of on her feet. Although she hadn't meant to stay out so late, she was looking forward to sleeping away the morning and hoped that when she woke up, there would be some good news about the show and whether or not it could be turned into something viable. Both Audrey and her blossoming career hoped so.

Actually catching up on sleep wasn't something that Audrey did very often but after falling into her bed after getting home with the sunrise, she slept until late in the afternoon. It was around three when she finally opened her eyes again, professional make up now a mess across her face and pillows. She frowned, and sat up before raking her fingers back through her hair, tangled instead of teased. “God,” she whispered, her voice hoarse and one eye still closed to a ray of sun as she reached for her phone on the nightstand. The LED was blinking, and she hoped that it was good news.

Several voicemails and text messages later, Audrey couldn't have been more happy. Dangerous Summer had proven itself to be a hit across the board with critics and viewers alike and all signs pointed to finishing the remainder of the season. More work was all any struggling actor could hope for, and not even the knots in her hair could ruin the moment. Sighing happily, Audrey flopped back onto her bed, her phone clutched in her hand as she smiled at the ceiling and allowed her mind to wander. It was finally happening, success was so close and Audrey was so ready to step out of the shadows and let the world see who she really was.

Later on and after a little more sleep, Audrey forced herself out of bed and into the shower. It took a little too much scrubbing to get her face and hair clean and she was sure that there were still stray flecks of glitter clinging to her skin somewhere, but she felt better and much more awake. The house was still quiet as she stepped out into the living room, and she doubted that anyone was home. Lillian was an artist, and there was always some gallery to go to.

Deciding on a snack, which probably could have been healthier, Audrey hoisted herself up onto the counter and began to scroll through her phone. There were pictures of the party up on social media, things she had been tagged in that needed a like but then Audrey remembered something a little more special than a like or a comment. Miles had given her his number and was probably (hopefully) expecting some kind of contact. Finding his number, she brought up a new message.

hey it's audrey from last night. Your bench friend. What's up?

Was that totally lame? She certainly hoped not because flirting didn't come naturally by a long shot. If Miles didn't text back, Audrey told herself that there would be no love lost, that maybe she had imagined their connection. It wasn't a big deal. In the back of her mind, however, she hoped that he was excited to hear from her.
"Either you got very lucky at the after party last night, or you're planning on getting lucky at some point in the near future."

The snide comment from his manager caused Miles to laugh as he rounded the corner and opened the door to head out of the sound proof recording sound booth. He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair as he listened to the chuckles of the other people in the room as they turned to look in the musician's direction, watching as he plopped down on the plush couch that sat against a dark red wall with various gold and platinum albums hanging above them on the wall as some sort of 'shrine', Miles always thought of it, to prove that the label had artist that were actually good in the business and could produce good selling music. "And you say this because...?" Miles rose his brows as he reclined back on the couch after grabbing a water bottle. He twisted the cap open and took a drink of the liquid before he dropped his gaze back to the men who all looked at him.

"Because I've never seen you work this easily on anything before. And you've got that stupid little grin on your face that hasn't gone away since I saw you this morning." His manager pointed at him, circling his finger before he scoffed out a laugh and dropped his hand back into his lap. "And I know that look; I used to have it all the time too."

"That still means nothing," Miles insisted, waving his hand dismissively. "I don't have to have sex with someone just to do my work well; I love what I do!"

"Yeah well, I'm sure a nice girl can help you enjoy your work all the more, right?"

When his arm was jabbed from the persistence of his manager, Miles pushed him off and shook his head. "It's not like that." The relentless teasing from the older man had been going on since Miles stepped foot into the limo after leaving the balcony of the mansion. First, his manager had asked what he had to drink and how much of it he had, and then he continued to interrogate him with asking where he had been and who he was with while he had been away and out of his sight for a while. Miles only answered, just as he did the paparazzi, in short spurts. It irritated his manager, yes, but there was no harm in poking fun at the man. Besides, it's not like his manager hadn't been acting childish either, what with his insistence that he had gotten laid and that it must have been good.

He didn't tell the man about Audrey; he decided to keep that information to himself for his own well being. He tried not to think about the woman, but even as he laid in bed that night he couldn't help but see, and think, of her when he closed his eyes. He thought about their short little conversations, and he thought about what he had seen of her in the small frames that she had been in in the premiere of the show. She was... Different. He knew she was, yet he didn't know why. But it just made him want to know all the more what it was about her that was special.

It was bad though; he shouldn't think about some girl that likely wouldn't take up his offer of giving him a call or sending him a text. It was stupid thing to do, something that he ended up berating himself about during the night when he turned over and groaned into the pillow. Maybe he had come on too strong. Maybe she wasn't even interested in him; maybe she was only acting. Those thoughts had become even more profound as the day continued on with no word from Audrey, but, even despite that, Miles tried to keep hope. That was why he kept smiling and why he was happy; because despite how, for what ever reason, worried he was, he had hope that she would answer him back in some way.

His manager, Jared, stood up from the couch and headed over to the two men who sat in front of the panel that held various buttons and dials that they used to tone and tweak at the music. He asked the men to play what Miles just recorded back, and as the sounds of his voice started to sing through the stereos that sat in every corner of the room, Miles felt a buzz in his pocket. Furring his brows, he dug into his pocket where he clicked his phone on to see that he had an un read text.

When he noticed that it was an unknown number, one that he didn't recognize that was, he grew all the more curious. Who the hell... Right! Even before he opened the text a grin stretched across his lips. He took one second to look up to notice that Jared and the other two people were paying no attention to him as they listened to his voice and the music along with it, and then Miles turned back to the phone and opened the text where his eyes started to scan over the words.

And as soon as he saw Audrey's name appear on the text, he couldn't have been happier. Of course, he was a little skeptical--how could he really know that this was Audrey?--of who was texting him and if it was really Audrey, but how would it not be her? It said her name! Then again, maybe he was being a little too optimistic about this.

so we're bench friends? good to no you still remember me. how do i know it's you though, from last night and not some fraud who got my number? i want you to prove it; tell me where i'm from, if you remember. if you answer correctly, then i'll tell you 'whats up'.

When he sent the text he looked over it and shrugged his shoulders. Okay, maybe he could have actually answered her question, but he just had to know that it was actually her. Still, he couldn't help but smile.
Slowly kicking her legs back and forth, heels tapping lightly against the cabinet, Audrey continued to scroll through the latest pictures and videos from the night before. Her thumb worked overtime, idly tapping a like on whatever looked mildly pleasing but comments were thumbed to actual friends. They may not have all been in the same business but the young actress wanted success for those who were closest to her. Eventually, she stumbled across a few shots of Lillian from a gallery party the night before, rosy-cheeked and smiling, clearly buzzed but looking just as much in control as she always did. Smiling to herself, Audrey liked the picture and was about to throw in her two cents when he phone went off.

At first glance, she was happy to see that Miles hadn't kept her waiting but the barrage of paranoid questions caught her off guard. Furrowing her brows and letting another piece of Red Vines hang from between her teeth, she took her phone by both hands and tried to figure out how to respond. He hadn't been so high strung earlier, but maybe she had misinterpreted the situation all together—maybe he wasn't charming at all and those drinks had been a little too strong. Regardless, Audrey was hardly the type to jump through hoops for someone; it didn't matter how cute they were or how nice their singing voice was.

From behind her, Audrey heard the back door click open and her brown eyes quickly left the glowing screen of her cell phone. “I didn't think I'd see you today,” she said, letting the device time out as she eyed Lillian. The other woman was a little older, model-tall and California blonde. She had a breezy personality, earthy, and her presence was always calming compared to Audrey's own brand of seriousness. It seemed like the universe had recognized that she needed a Lillian at that moment, someone to ground her when her mind was racing over what to say to Miles, or rather, if she should bother to answer him at all.

Right?” Lillian asked, and began to unpack her canvas bag from a grocery run. “How did it go last night?” Almost everything coming out of the bag was green—the juices, the vegetables, all of the kale that Audrey couldn't stand. Lillian helped to keep her healthy, always pushing organic this and that as she eyed the candy in her hand with a frown.

Great, actually,” Audrey replied, smiling before she went into greater detail. Out of everyone in her life, Lillian knew more than most when it came to how badly Audrey wanted to act and how hard she had been trying to break into the industry. The show doing well was a shared victory for the girls who had become best friends over the years and unlike most who dolled out compliments and praise without a second thought, Audrey knew that Lillian was being genuine.

With the shopping unpacked and most of her story done, Audrey wrapped up the re-telling of her night. “So, he just sent me this text,” she sighed and read the message out loud, which only earned a shrug from the blonde. “And I don't know what to say. It's a weird thing to ask, isn't it?”

Do you know where he's from?” came Lillian's response.

Audrey nodded, “yeah, he told me last night but it's just so...unnecessary.”

Maybe someone tricked him before,” she suggested and reached for the plastic container of licorice before Audrey could pull another rope. “You don't know his life, so just answer him.”

By the time Audrey checked her phone again, it had been at least half an hour, which probably made her look more suspicious. Taking a deep breath, she let her fingers linger over the screen before deciding to set her pride aside and take Lillian's advice. She didn't know Miles, but he also didn't know her and she didn't want to change herself just to look more appealing to some guy.

A painfully cute guy with a guitar that she'd wanted to cook dinner for sometime.

what kind of spanish inquisition?
you're from Minnesota
and now I kind of don't care what's up

This is why I'm always single,” Audrey laughed and set her phone down on the counter. “I'm too harsh.”

Lillian tilted her head, smiling, “challenging.”

Whatever synonym was thrown at the truth was fine, but Audrey knew that most people didn't react favorably to strong opinions or even the slightest bit of backbone from girls. There was a very fine line between tough and a complete pain and Audrey tended not to tread lightly.
It had been thirty minutes since he had sent off his last text to the unknown number, and Miles was beginning to lose his resolve with the entire matter. What if it wasn't Audrey and what if she had given out his number for a little bribe because she wanted a little extra money and because she just wanted to screw him over? He didn't want to think that; he didn't want to believe that Audrey would do something like that, but, when he thought about it, how could he have expected her to not to it? He didn't now the woman, and for all he knew the only reason she continued to play and flirt with him last night was because of the alcohol that ran through her system. It was a plausible excuse, one that he hated to admit could have happened, but as soon as that thought crossed his mind another thought crossed his mind that made him worry even more.

What if she had just been acting with him? She could have been playing him for all he knew, and now she was probably laughing at how stupid, and maybe even a little desperate, he had been last night with finally being able to have a decent conversation with someone, a pretty someone to be more specific.

Now Miles couldn't help but feel like an idiot, and the flushing of his face was enough to get him to drop his phone onto the couch as he leaned his head back and looked up at the ceiling. Great, he told himself, you made yourself look like an idiot. He could almost laugh at that, but maybe it was his own fault. There was a reason he tried his best to stay away from actors and actresses, and, apparently, he just got caught up with one. Well, maybe not really, but still. He didn't like the sinking feeling of disappointment that swept through his body in that moment, a feeling that made him hear his heart in his ears as he ran a hand down his face until it slapped against the cushion beneath him. He shouldn't have been so eager; he shouldn't have felt that sense of longing of wanting to get to know Audrey.

Yet, even so, he couldn't help but think about her, even as those thoughts ran through him. He didn't want to believe that she had merely been playing and acting with him last night because he wanted to think that she had been genuine. She seemed to be that way anyway, and he wanted to keep that image in his mind. Audrey, he wanted to believe, was a good person, a person that he, oddly enough, wanted to get to know despite how she was an actress.

Music continued to play in the background as Miles sat back up and, again as he had for the past half hour, listened to the words that were being spoken back and forth between the three men in front of him, himself even bringing things into the conversation though his previous enthusiasm was beginning to wane with each passing minute that he was left without a text. They started to play back another song that he had recorded earlier that day and started to tweak it a bit, though Miles only frowned and told them to leave it be because it didn't sound right, but it was in that moment that he felt the couch vibrate underneath him.

He turned his head to pick the phone up, and saw that same unrecognizable as he let the sound of his voice and music dull into the background. So she had text back, or rather so he hoped it was her. Maybe she had just gotten busy before; yeah, that sounded good, and he could accept that. Jared had mentioned something off handily earlier that day about the premier of the show being a hit, so perhaps she had been busy with that. Miles nodded his head to that thought as a smile slowly started to appear across his lips again, thinking that she would have proven that she remembered what he said from before by not answering with something specific like he knew just any random person would after reading through a Wikipedia page about him or something, and he hadn't been disappointed in that regard.

He had been disappointed, however, with the entirety of her text other than her answer.

So all things pointed that it really was Audrey other than the attitude that he could just feel floating through the phone. His brows pinched together as he read the text over another time, trying to figure out if he was reading it all correctly. Yep, he was. Had he said something wrong? Was it really her? Still, that didn't mean he couldn't text her back, and since the other guys were still busy listening to the music he had time.

um... ok? im sorry, but did i say something wrong? i just wanted to make sure that it was actually you, audrey

Maybe mentioning her name would make things better. He hadn't meant to piss her off with his last message, but in the back of his mind he couldn't help but think that that was what he had done.

but if you dont want to no whats up with me anymore, whats up with you then?

Okay, maybe that was good, Miles thought to himself as he sent the messages, hoping that she would respond back. Just keep the conversation going and maybe the mood would lighten up. After all, he wasn't going to just stop responding because of what she said. And still, he didn't think he had been in the wrong; he was only asking to make sure that it was her. Maybe they should have exchanged numbers with each other instead of him just giving her his number.
For the most part, Audrey always did her best not to judge a book by its cover, but that sentiment was sometimes difficult to carry out. The night before, she had liked Miles—he'd done everything right, said nice things, made her laugh and now he was (in a backhanded sort of way) trying to insist that she had given his number to some random person. The dark-haired actress often read too deeply into things, and arrived at so many different and bad conclusions that the truth was often a much needed surprise. Still, knowing that Miles thought she would do something that shady was almost enough to make her delete his number and move on without a second thought. After all, why should she want to hang around someone who questioned her character?

In quick succession, her phone went off two times, both texts from Miles that Audrey immediately frowned at. From the corner of her eye, she could still see Lillian hovering, now more interested in the pitfalls of her non-existent love life than conjuring up something green and healthy for an early dinner, or a very late lunch. Her finger lingered over the keyboard, ready to either text back to delete the messages entirely but something stopped her. Someone else may not have gotten another chance but their connection at the party wasn't easily forgotten and as someone who often found themselves dateless, Audrey didn't just want to walk away without a word.

At the same time, however, she didn't want to relent or make herself available to someone who questioned whether or not she was actually herself. The struggle on her face was clear enough, so much so that Lillian offered a sympathetic laugh and a pat on the shoulder before moving away from the counter to loudly rummage through the cabinets for a pot or pan.

Why is this so hard for you?” Lillian asked, clutching a stock pot now bound for the stove.

Shaking her head, Audrey could only shrug. “Because I'm terrible and can't compromise to save my life.”

How much longer was she going to keep this guy waiting, though? Audrey took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before deciding on a plan of action. She didn't want to clue Miles in about her life if he didn't have any trust in her but she also wasn't ready to just accept what he thought of her, or how careless she could be. It wasn't fair, an assumption like that, something she couldn't even really defend herself against without being there in person to show him that his number hadn't gone anywhere but her phone and the napkin that his number had been written on was still floating around somewhere in her clutch purse.

who else would it be, miles?
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She had to understand where he was coming from. She had to know that he couldn't just trust anyone sending him a text when he didn't recognize the number.

The thoughts continued to roll through Miles' mind as he leaned his head back against the couch again as he blew out a sigh. Maybe he had messed up. Maybe he shouldn't have given her his number at all and should have just let things be. Sure, he had an enjoyable conversation with her, but that was it. What made him think that something could actually come out of an interaction as little as that? What made him think that she had any ounce of sincerity in her tone when she, even jokingly, offered to show him her skills in the kitchen while he sat back and watched and played music for her? A lot of things made him think that, and it was bad that he still continued to think that way because in the back of his mind he wanted all of that to happen. Maybe not sometime in the near future, but sometime somewhere down the road he would have liked for something like that to happen.

But again, he reminded himself that she was an actress, a good one from what he had seen, and he couldn't trust her that quickly. Truth be told, however, he couldn't really trust anyone in this business or in this place for that matter.

"Hey! Miles." Jared's voice brought Miles out of his head. He snapped his head forward and looked at the manager who looked at Miles with raised brows before he motioned with his shoulder for him to come over there.

With a groan, Miles took another look at his phone before he stood up after seeing that there wasn't another text yet--if he would receive another one at all--and walked over towards the three men who sat in front of the panel. "You seem distracted now. What? The person you've been texting turn you down?"

"Very funny," Miles sneered as he watched a grin slowly start to take the expression on Jared's lips. "I'm fine," he answered with the shrug of his shoulders. "Just thinkin' about the music. I'm still stuck on one of the songs for the album."

A humming noise came from Jared as he swiveled his chair back and forth, nodding his head before he sighed. "You better figure it out soon; you know you don't have much time left to get this finished, and we can't afford to push this back any further."

"I know, I know," Miles said. He waved his hand dismissively when he suddenly felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. "I'll get it done." He pulled his phone out and turned his back to the three at the panel as Jared started to rattle off something to Miles that he wasn't paying attention to, and he surely stopped hearing much of anything as he read through the text. Now how the hell was he supposed to answer something like that without sounding like a dick? At least she, or who ever it was, knew his name. Then again, maybe he wrote it on that napkin... He wasn't sure; he didn't really remember since when he gave her his number he was just hoping that she would accept it and text or call him at some point. Then again, maybe that was what she was doing and he was making himself look like an ass by questioning her so much.

No, no. Miles figured that he was in the right; it was better to be safe than sorry, after all. Ah, but what if-- He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. This was beginning to become more of a headache than what it really was worth. And, to be honest, he was beginning to get irritated now.

i dont know...

He cringed at his own text as he read through it over and over after he sent it. Maybe it was wrong; maybe he should have just assumed that it was her, especially after she didn't correct him after he typed up her name. He thought about sending another text; he thought about just apologizing and telling her that he was only trying to be safe, but then, in the end, he decided against it. Instead, he decided to take a different route.

"I'll be back in a second," he started as he walked over to the door. "Going to the bathroom." Before the door was closed completely behind him, he heard Jared tell him to hurry back since they still had a lot of things to do.

He had to call her; that was the only way Miles knew he would truly be able to tell whether or not the person on the other end of the line was Audrey; he would remember her voice, and he was sure of that. But what made him think that she would answer the phone? From what he could tell from the text, she seemed more irritated than anything, so what reason did she really have to answer? Hopefully she would, and that was all Miles was going to hope for. Hopefully, if this person really was Audrey, she would answer the phone because she too felt some sort of connection last night that wasn't just due to any alcohol intake.

He dialed the number and then hit the call button and put the phone up to his ear as he stuck his free hand in his pocket as he paced up the empty hall. Just answer the phone, he silently chanted to himself. Just let it be her.
When things took a turn for the worse, Audrey's thoughts tended to spiral. One minute, she was happy, preparing herself for some kind of first date with a cute guy and the next she was lamenting the loss of her youth and trying to accept her future as an out of work actress who had adopted thirty cats. Being a spinster wasn't the worst thing, she thought to herself, while clutching her phone in her hand. She felt it vibrate again, surprised by how quickly Miles was getting back to her despite believing that she was a fraud. The sentiment just didn't sit right with her, a weird suspicion that had turned her off of the idea of ever seeing him in a personal way.

Exiting out of the text window, Audrey was moments away from slipping into radio silence and later deleting Miles' number when her phone started to ring. The tone of Bikini Kill's Rebel Girl filled the kitchen as the screen lit up. “Oh my god, he's calling me,” she said aloud, unable to censor herself as the song went on and Kathleen Hanna's singing made her feel guilty for ever wanting a boyfriend in the first place.

On the other side of the kitchen, Lillian was grinning. “Answer him!”

Against her better judgment, Audrey did just that. “Hello?” she asked after bringing the phone to her ear. She was unsure of why Miles wad calling her at all if he didn't believe she was the same person from the night before. At the same time, there was a part of her that didn't want to give him a chance, feeling like he had been rather unfair to her throughout the course of their short text conversation. In Audrey's mind, she had done everything right—texted when she was supposed to, sent something friendly, tried to be open—and now it wasn't good enough. Although she didn't have a ton of experience with successful relationships, she knew they didn't start off like this.

Was there something you wanted?” she asked, probably the wrong thing to say but when faced with stress, Audrey didn't tend to act very logically. It felt as though he had already rejected her and now he was just calling to rub salt in her wounds. From the corner of her eye, she could see Lillian frowning, ready to scold her for being mean or uncooperative; the opposite of anything a guy might like.
When he got down to one end of the hallway, Miles turned back around and started to pace back down to the other side, ticking down the ticks that flickered through his mind as he tried to judge about how much time he would be able to have a conversation with her if she ever answered the phone. If it was even her on the other end of the line, anyway. Miles frowned at the thought as he tilted his head to look down at the ground, going through his mind of what he had been thinking last night, and even that morning, about a stranger that he didn't know. Was he really that desperate? Had he been that transfixed about her personality and looks that he was willing to blow all of his reservations out of the water just to give her a chance--just so that he could have the possibility of having a connection with someone, someone who he felt like could be someone important to him?

No, that was ignorant thinking. She wasn't important to him--hell, he didn't even know her! Yet he still couldn't deny the sense of longing that penetrated through his chest, telling him to keep this connection with this stranger because she was different, even though he didn't know why, even though he wasn't sure he wanted to know why. This could be a disaster; she could make a fool out of him and he would be able to do nothing but sit back looking stupid and oblivious.

He should just hang up the phone. He should just hang up the phone, get back to the studio, and get back to work. That was his usual life; sung music, made music, did interviews for people who wanted him to appear on their shows or magazines, and was left only with the people that could help him prosper in his career. He didn't have time for friendships other than the one he had with his manager; he didn't have time for relationships because, as he had seen in the past, they were a waste of time and left him with nothing but a hurt heart. Hollywood wasn't a place to have relationships like that.

But still, he wanted to break that mold. Why was his mind running so many circles with this as he changed his mind and then went right back to a previous thought?

Just end it now, he told himself. Forget about trying to apologize to her and figuring out if it was actually her. Did he really matter anyway? He sighed again. Maybe this was pointless. Maybe he was being stupid. Despite himself, he couldn't help but snort out a laugh. Yeah, he was stupid, or at least not that good of a decision maker. Guess that was why he had a manger in the first place; to keep him in line and in check so that he didn't screw his own self over.

Right, he'd just end it. Miles started to pull back from his ear, yet right when he was about to, right when he was about to cut his losses and get back to his normal life, the phone clicked on the other end and he heard a voice. No, he heard her voice. Just as he thought before, the voice he remember hearing last night rang through the phone, reminding him of the nice conversation he had, had with the woman on the bench and how they laughed and joked with one another and how they seemed to have nearly forgotten about the pressures that they were subject to while sitting on that balcony. Now he really felt like an asshole for asking whether or not it was actually her.

Miles could feel his face beginning to heat up as he finally stopped walking and leaned against wall behind him. The tone of voice he heard coming from her as she asked her question was what he thought her text had sounded like and, for the moment, he was almost lost for words. He opened his mouth and then closed it right before before he sighed and rubbed his hand against the back of his neck as he shook his head. "So it is you," he spoke, mostly to himself yet still into the receiver of the phone for Audrey to hear. "Well, I seem like an ass, don't I?"

And there he was again; right where he was back before with his thoughts of wanting to apologize to her and wondering whether or not he ever would be able to taste a meal prepared by her. "I'm sorry, Audrey. I just..." How could he put this into words? How could he basically say that he didn't trust anyone with his number because he had been screwed over in the past for making a mistake like that before. "I just had to make sure that it was you. Again, I'm sorry, even though I just had to make sure." Maybe if he lightened it up a bit she wouldn't be as upset.

He pinched his lips at the thought and shrugged his shoulders to himself. "But... I know it's you now, and I have your number now, so there won't be any more confusion. It's all good! Right?"
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