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Authors: Jane Harvey-Berrick

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BOOK: Dazzled
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She paused, still smiling, giving me a chance to say something. I wracked my brain but it was a thought-free zone. She cocked her head to one side and gazed at me as I struggled to find something, anything to say.

“Hi,” I croaked, staring stupidly at her feet. She was wearing Nikes.

She stepped back into the impressive entrance and waved at me to follow her. She didn’t seem fazed – perhaps she was used to monosyllabic morons knocking at her door asking for an audition.

I was distracted by the enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Wasn’t it a bit weird to have a chandelier in a beach house? Maybe it was just a house by the beach rather than… I thought of what Clare would say if she could see it and it made me smile. Uh oh. Jo-Anne was staring at me, a quizzical look on her face. Oh, crap! She was still waiting for me to say something. She was probably beginning to wonder what a mute actor was doing standing in her hall. I swallowed but my mouth had gone dry.

After an uncomfortably long pause, she took pity on me. “So, it says on your profile that you’re 20 years old, Miles?”

Finally a question – and one I could answer.

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“And you’ve done some TV work and stage work?”

“Yeah, some. Not much.”

She smiled pityingly.

“That’s a very British answer.”

I didn’t know how to reply to that, so I just stood there like a gormless twerp. It was becoming a theme. I shoved my hands in my pockets just to have something to do. Christ! I must have looked like a complete idiot.

“What the hell happened to your hair?” She was frowning at me, and her tone took me by surprise. “It says on your profile that you’re a blond.”

Since when? Bloody Melody!

“Really? Well, more light brown, I guess. It was dyed for a job. I was just letting it grow out…”

God! Stop talking, moron!


Again with the ‘hmm’.

“We’re in my bedroom,” she said, casually.


She walked off briskly, and I followed pathetically through her amazing house. It was full of modern, abstract artwork – probably the real thing, unlike the posters of Klimt that I had in my bedroom at home. Then she led me up the wide, oak staircase into a sort of upstairs conservatory area, and my anxiety level climbed a couple more notches. But the view was stunning and for a moment I was lost in the horizon, the ocean pounding over the stony beach. What would it cost to live in a place like this? It was almost painful even to imagine. More than I’d ever earn, that was for sure.

Jo-Anne handed me a script with some passages highlighted.

“Just give this a read through. I’m not expecting you to memorize it – just get the general feel for your character, Nuriel. And take your shirt off when you’re ready.”


“Is that a problem?”

She looked at me curiously and I could feel my face getting hot.

“Uh, no. That’s fine.”

What the hell?

God, I really wished I hadn’t had all that beer and kebabs over the last couple of weeks. It never occurred to me that anyone would ask me to take my shirt off in an audition. I could have cursed Melody for this. Ironically, I’d have killed for a beer right then.

Okay. I’d focus on the script.
Yes, concentrate on that
. I did remember it. It had seemed kind of dumb when I did the audition tape – definitely a chick flick. I was supposed to play an angel who had come to earth to help the citizens of a community in small-town America. And, of course, I’d fall in love with a human girl. So I was a perfect being. Great. How the hell was I going to play perfect? I was vaguely aware that angels were asexual beings – at least I thought they were. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure of anything. Shit. Maybe they thought I was gay.

Feeling pale and definitely not toned, I pulled off my shirt and stood self-consciously looking out toward the ocean. At least there were no mirrors. Thank God I’d had a quick wash at the agency.
Shit! Did my breath smell?
I rifled through my pockets and found a packet of mints. Would three be enough? I tipped them into my mouth and started chewing.

Jo-Anne leaned through the doorway. She was staring at my chest, a frown on her face. I guessed that wasn’t good.

“Hmm… I think we can do something with that. This way, Miles.”

Do something with what?!

The room next door was set up like a small studio with bright, halogen lights, a video camera and a very large and obvious bed in the middle of the room.

What the hell was going on here? Were they making a porn film? Was
making a porn film?

Jo-Anne smiled at the expression on my face. I must have looked like a deer gazing down the barrel of a hunter’s rifle – or possibly more nervous than that.

She answered my unspoken question.

“I prefer not to use the studio’s casting suites – they’re so cold and impersonal. I find I get a better idea of an actor’s range if it’s in a more neutral environment.”

She thought her bedroom was ‘neutral’?

“Try and relax, Miles, it’s not the orthodontist.” Then she muttered to herself, “Although as you’re British that might come later.”


I stood awkwardly, wishing I at least had my shirt to hide behind, trying to scan through the script and make some meaning from the words swimming in front of me. But my brain was having a serious meltdown.
Oh no, not here. Please!
Usually Clare helped me prep for script readings. The dyslexia always got worse when I was nervous – like right now. I tried to calm the fuck down and ran my finger under the lines as I tried to read through them slowly. They didn’t seem to make much sense – I started to panic.

“Okay, Jo-Anne, let’s do this, if we have to, although I don’t see the point
… Oh!”

I heard the sullen tone floating up from the hallway. I turned around and found myself staring into the eyes of one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. Long, glossy hair, jade green eyes, fan-fucking-tastic skin, and oh, so familiar. Shit! Shit! Shit! Lilia Purcell, a bona fide film star since the age of 12. And she was staring – at me! Why hadn’t I put two and two together while I was in Rhonda’s office? Lilia… Lilia Purcell!

Then her words sank into my numbed brain…
if we have to… I don’t see the point…
She didn’t want to be here. That much was obvious. I was wasting my time. Wasting

I felt sick. Then I felt fucking angry, disappointment and frustration crashing through me. Twenty hours and six thousand effing miles. For this.

Lilia’s look of irritation was replaced by her famous 100 mega-watt smile. I had to hand it to her: the bitch could act.

“Hi! It’s great to meet you. I’m Lilia.”

Amazing! As if she’d never said a word, as if I hadn’t heard her casual dismissal of me.

She held out her hand and automatically I shook it quickly. Her skin was soft and cool. It occurred to me, in a vague way, that she was smaller than I’d imagined; smaller than she looked on screen – actually quite tiny.

I realized I was still staring, and that she was waiting for me to say something. I felt so fucking inadequate and that made me even more furious. I couldn’t help glaring at her and I was pleased because her fake, fucking smile faltered slightly.
In my peripheral vision I could see Jo-Anne raise her eyebrows.

Oh yeah. Great start to the audition. They were looking for
, damn it!

“Okay, guys, we’ll read from page 17. This is where Esther first begins to suspect that Nuriel is more than just another student at college.”

Lilia strolled over to sit on the bed facing the camera, looking totally at ease, flicking her long, shiny hair over her shoulder. I was still staring down at the script, trying to find my place. Trying to remember what I was supposed to be doing.
Yeah, acting. Right.

“Miles, when you’re ready,” said Jo-Anne, not unkindly. “I need you in camera shot: sit next to Lilia, please.”

Shit. Of course. This was a film test. Was there anything I could do today that wasn’t moronic? Probably not.

Jo-Anne turned on the video camera.

“Three, two, one…”

You don’t sound like you’re from around here

Lilia’s voice was softer now. I looked up. Jeez! Her eyes were really green.

“Um, Miles?” Jo-Anne’s voice broke into my dreaming.

I scrambled to find my line.

How do I sound
?” I mumbled.
Idiotic – that was how.

Lilia laughed, natural and carefree. I felt like she was laughing at me. I couldn’t help scowling at her again.

Other than like you’re from another planet?

I’m trying… to fit in… but it’s harder than I thought
.” Too bloody right.

Why is it so hard?

The next line stuck in my throat. “
The people here are so… different. It’s different from what I thought it would be… I feel… different…

Lilia leaned toward me, staring into my eyes, her forehead wrinkled with concern. When she put her hand on my knee I nearly jumped. Bitch! She knew what she was doing.

Why do you feel different?

“Okay, that’s great, guys,” said Jo-Anne. “Miles, good intensity but could you try it with an American accent this time?”

Fuck. Of course.


“Oh, come on! Lady Macbeth is just a cipher for Shakespeare’s misogynistic views: all that ‘unsex me’ stuff!”

I was vaguely aware that Tasha was on a roll. Ever since she’d read ‘Man Made Language’ she saw sexism everywhere. If it was the 70s, she’d be burning her bra, although she’d have to take out the padding first.

The tutorial room was hot and stuffy, typical of London during a late Spring morning. My jeans were too thick and heavy for the unexpected heat wave and my armpits were already damp. But instead of nodding off while Tasha sparred with Professor Herring, I felt anxious. Miles had emailed me during the night to say that his phone didn’t work and that he was going straight to an audition. The bastards hadn’t even let him recover from the journey. In fact, he’d have had the audition by now and was probably in bed. I tried not to dwell on that tempting image.

It was really unfair to expect him to perform when he’d been traveling for the best part of 24 hours. He’d said LA would be tough; I just hadn’t realized it would be inhuman.

“And what is your opinion, Clare?” said Professor Herring, inconsiderately breaking into my worrying.


Second time around I nailed the American accent. Lilia blinked in surprise. I couldn’t help a small smile. Yeah! Bring it on!

“That was good, Miles,” said Jo-Anne. “Lilia, could you just try your part again: try to sound more concerned and less smug.”

Smug! Yeah, bitch!

Lilia frowned. I was liking Jo-Anne a lot at this point.

BOOK: Dazzled
5.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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