(Part of the Touch Universe)
"Cut!" The Director yelled from his seat behind the cameras. "That's a wrap for the day!"
I couldn't stop myself from sighing in relief as I relaxed from the stance I had been holding.
"Easton!" The man called out, keeping me from heading to my trailer. "A word, please?"
"Yes, sir," I replied as I ran over to where the man was standing, reviewing the footage from the day. "What can I do for you, Dave?"
The man hit the pause button on what he was watching before he turned to me with a serious expression on his face. "I know that this is your first time acting in anything, Easton," he began in a warm tone. "But don't let anybody boss you around - besides me, of course," he added with a chuckle.
I couldn't help but laugh along with the dark-haired man as he smiled at me.
"Now, tomorrow is going to be a big day for you, Easton," he cautioned. "We have to film the end scene before we destroy the set for the big battle, so I need you to review the lines for Scene-117. Okay?"
"Yes, sir," I replied with a nod. "I won't let you down, sir!"
"You haven't, yet, buddy," David smiled. "Go hit the hotel for the night. I've looked at you enough for one day, young man."
I giggled and bid the man farewell before running for my trailer, so I could change out of my costume. My make-up technician was waiting for me as I approached with a grin on his slender face and his make-up bag in his hands.
"Great job, today, Easton!" Ryan greeted me. He pulled the door open for me, letting me enter the small trailer, first.
"Thanks, Ryan," I thanked the young man. I stripped down to my boxers before I plopped down in the stylist chair, submitting myself to Ryan so he could remove the make-up. "I can't wait to get this crap off of me, tonight. It's really itchy!"
"Give me just a few minutes, and I'll get you completely taken care of."
Ryan made small talk as he ran his fingers through my blond hair, breaking up the gel and hairspray that held my character's hair-do in place throughout the day. Then, he pulled out a wet wipe and set to work cleaning my skin. I sighed happily at the instantaneous relief and closed my eyes while he worked. It only took about twenty minutes before Ryan declared me good enough to go back to my hotel room and shower.
"Thanks, Ryan!" I smiled as I slipped into sweats and a t-shirt. I grabbed my backpack before I went back outside where my escort was waiting for me. "Good evening, Reggie!"
"Good evening, Mr. Young," he returned with a slight nod of his head as he held the rear door of the car open for me. "Did you grab everything that you needed for the night?"
"Yes, sir," I replied as I jumped into the car.
Reggie got into the driver's seat and pulled away from the movie set, humming along with the radio music. I smiled as I leaned back in the seat and relaxed for the twenty-minute car ride. My mom and dad would be waiting for me at the hotel after leaving the set an hour earlier due to their presence not being needed. My agent provided me with a chaperone whenever my parents didn't want to watch me become a star. My parents rarely stuck around when I was doing boring scenes. It was when there were action scenes that they liked to hover to make sure I was being safe. Or, they were just making sure that I was earning their paycheck. I'm pretty certain they were only focused on the money with how many vacations they had started taking. At the hotel, I was left to my own devices as the parental units would usually spend most of the evening out with friends at swanky dinner parties, or any other excuse they could find to get rid of me. They were only interested in my becoming a star. Nothing more.
It was later that evening that I learned the whereabouts of my mom and dad when I was flipping through the channels on the television. On every news channel there was a live report being aired about a plane that had crashed at the Los Angeles airport during takeoff. Ten minutes into the news, my phone began to ring, making me jump from the suddenness of it.
"Hello?" I asked in a shaky voice.
"Yeah?" I replied. "Who is this?"
"Easton, it's Marcie, your agent," the familiar voice told me. "Are you sitting down? I have bad news, Easton."
"Oh?" I mumbled as I sat on the edge of the hotel bed. My pulse was racing as my anxiety kicked into high gear. My thoughts were all over the place as I tried to remember what my parents had told me they were doing this weekend.
'What was it?'
"Easton, your parents were in an accident," Marcie told me in a soft tone. "They were involved in a plane crash at the airport."
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Why would they need to be in a plane to go out to dinner?"
"Easton," Marcie's voice sounded resentful as she spoke to me. "You need to listen to me, little one. Your parents were leaving for the weekend to go to Italy. The plane they were on crashed on takeoff. There weren't any survivors, Easton."
"No, no, no, no, no," I repeated in disbelief as the phone slipped from my hand and tumbled to the floor. I could hear Marcie's voice calling out to me, but I was in too much shock to comprehend anything that was going on around me.
I don't know how long I was alone, but I didn't shed a single tear until Marcie appeared in my room and wrapped her arms around me. Then, I let go as my life crumbled to pieces. With no idea of what to expect, or what was coming, my life was left to be blown to bits in the wind.
"Montgomery Boys' Home"
The blue paint on the sign was faded, but I could still make out the name of the facility that my Probation Officer and Social Worker were dropping me off at. Judge Whitaker was quick to have my placement reassessed once my new Social Worker took over my case. Karen Stevens had taken on numerous cases after James, my prior Social Worker, had mishandled hundreds of cases. One of Karen's new charges had nearly died under the watch of the former Social Worker. I wanted to pry more information about James's demise out of Karen, but the brunette was quick to change the subject.
"It's new actually," Karen commented on the hidden facility as my Probation Officer navigated the tree-lined driveway. "One of my former cases convinced his dad to build the place."
'Great', I thought with a roll of my eyes. 'A rich kid with a conscience. What happens to us when he decides that he's had enough?' Instead, I kept my thoughts private. "Why is the driveway so long?"
"To promote privacy, and to keep people from trespassing," Dave Conner, the driver of the car explained. "We're almost there, though. You might actually like this place, Demetrius. I haven't heard a single bad thing about it."
'I doubt it,' I thought sadly. I had gotten used to being shifted from home to home after the death of my parents. While I was financially set for life, I was still a ward of the state until my eighteenth birthday. "How many kids are here?"
"Only three, at the moment," Karen told me. "You're number four, Demetrius. They have the capacity for ten, though."
"Oh, joy," I mumbled sarcastically.
"You have nothing to worry about, Demetrius," Karen stated, ignoring my comment. "They're looking forward to meeting you."
"Because, Demetrius," she told me as she turned in her seat to face me. "They're all just like you."
"Are they though?" I countered.
The woman smiled and patted my knee before she turned to face the front of the car, again. "You'll see, Demetrius. I promise."
'Whatever you say,' I thought sadly, already expecting the worst.
"We're here," Dave said with a grin as the car finally cleared the trees. The house was huge, and was made of tan brick. Dave followed the driveway along as it wound around a vine-covered gazebo to a parking lot that had two cars already in it. He put the sedan in park and grinned at me. "Let's go check in. We can get your stuff in a little bit."
"Yes, sir," I replied sadly before I got out of the car, and followed behind the man and woman as they ushered me to my fate. I glanced up at the front of the house to see that there was a large front porch leading to a set of wooden double doors that had glass panels in them. On either side of the doors were two wall-height windows that were stained with pastel colors. There were five windows running down either side of the wall away from the front doors, with matching windows on the second and third floors. I glanced up to see a blond-haired boy staring out one of the windows at me just before I climbed the stairs to the roof-covered porch. Karen rang the doorbell, and we waited for only a minute before a tall man with green eyes opened the door and greeted us.
"Karen!" The man smiled happily at my Social Worker. "It's always a pleasure to see you!" Then, the man's green eyes fell on me and I couldn't stop my cheeks from flushing red. "You must be Demetrius?"
I nodded shyly. "Yes, sir."
"I'm Oscar, Demetrius," the man introduced himself to me. "I'm one of the House Parents, as well as the Youth Counselor. Welcome to 'Montgomery Boy's Home'."
"Umm, thanks, sir," I whispered nervously.
Oscar stepped to the side and motioned for us to enter. "Come inside! Come inside! We'll just head right down to my office, so we can get everything handled as quickly as possible," Oscar shut the door behind me, and I felt an eerie chill go down my spine. The man must have noticed me flinch as he quickly knelt next to me, and spoke in a low voice. "The first few days are always the scariest, Demetrius. I've been in your shoes before - I know how the system used to work. It's different here, though."
"How is it different?" I asked without thinking. "It's a group home for people that can't be placed anywhere else. Am I right? We're all so fucked up, that nobody else is willing to take us, anymore?"
Oscar smiled patiently and I couldn't stop the tears from springing to my eyes as he pulled me into his arms. "You're only partially correct, Demetrius," the man stated softly as he continued to rub my back through my tears. "This is a group home, but it's for boys that shouldn't be placed anywhere else."
"What do you mean?" I sniffled.
"Come on," he said as he stood up. "I'll explain in my office."
"Okay, I guess," I replied with a sniffle.
Oscar kept his hand on my shoulder as he led me down the front hallway, catching up with Karen and Dave in low voices. I glanced around to see the walls were a dark blue in color as he led us past a set of sliding doors that opened to a large room with a black grand piano sitting in the center of it.
"That's the living room, Demetrius," Oscar explained as we walked past another set of doors looking into the same room. He pointed towards a large flatscreen television on one wall that was centered above a fireplace. "We have movie night on the weekends and other activities throughout the week, once everyone is finished with their school work."
"Oh," I replied softly.
"Here's my office," the man stated, motioning towards an open door on our right. He let Karen and Dave lead the way before guiding me inside. "Everything's going to be okay, Demetrius. I promise."
'That's a lot of promises from people that barely know me,' I thought miserably. 'I should just expect them to get broken.'
The inside of the man's office was gray in color, with a large oak desk in the center and a bookshelf filling the space between two windows that were set into the wall behind the desk. The bookshelf was lined with different books, and my fingers itched to begin picking through them. Three chairs sat opposite the desk, Karen and Dave moving to the outside, leaving the middle chair for me. Oscar shut the door behind us before he took his seat behind the desk. He hit a few keys on the laptop in front of him before a monitor on the wall to our left turned on.
"This is new," Karen acknowledged.
"Our benefactor wanted to make sure that our facility had the most recent technological advancements for our residents, Ms. Stevens," Mr. Eddings explained. He moved a cursor across the screen and clicked on a file that brought up my own headshot. Then, Oscar turned to look at me, his green eyes seeming to stare into my very soul as he took on a serious expression.
'Here it comes,' I thought, preparing myself for the disappointment.
"I know you're scared, Demetrius," Oscar said in a surprisingly warm tone. "As always though, there's work that we need to get out of the way. So, once we get past this, it will be smooth sailing through the remainder of the orientation process. Okay?"
I nodded numbly, still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"With that being said, let's get this over with," Mr. Eddings continued. "Okay, so you've been in and out of several different foster homes, Demetrius. That's really no big deal. Your prior Social Worker failed you miserably. That's all in the past, now. Now, it's time for you to heal in your "Forever Home"."
"Does this mean that I won't be adopted?" I asked sadly. I still needed my own chance at having a family, again. I heard Karen gasp softly at my question, but she didn't say anything.
"No," Oscar smiled. "There's already somebody interested in adopting you, young man."
"Bull shit," I muttered without thinking about it.
"Demetrius!" Karen admonished, making me turn red and look to the floor in shame.
"Sorry," I murmured, waiting for somebody to hit me.
"Why is he cringing, Karen?" I heard Oscar ask in confusion.
"The McConnells used to hit him," Karen said with distaste in her voice. "I'm still trying to fix Eversole's mistakes."
"You've got your work cut out for you, Karen," Oscar acknowledged.
"Hopefully, Demetrius was the last one."
"Hopefully," Oscar said before returning his attention to me. "While your language is not preferred, Demetrius, my words are true. Someone is very interested in making you one of their sons."
I frowned and looked down in shame.
"Sorry, sir," I apologized softly, fighting the urge to cry.
"Karen? Dave?" Oscar looked at the other adults. "Would you mind putting Demetrius's belongings in the second room?"
"The one overlooking the courtyard?" Karen asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Mr. Eddings replied. "His roommate is expecting you. We'll meet you in the courtyard in a few minutes."
"Shall we, Ms. Stevens?" Dave motioned for Karen to lead the way. "You've been here more than I have."
"This is only my second time, Mr. Conner," Karen laughed, her voice fading as the adults left the room.
I looked up to see Oscar looking at me with a serious look on his face.
"Yes, sir?" I asked nervously.
"Would you like to know a secret?" He asked as he moved around the desk to sit in the chair Karen had vacated.
"I guess," I mumbled with a shrug.
"It's me that wants to adopt you and add you to my family, Demetrius," Oscar admitted, making me glance at him in disbelief. "It's true," he said quickly to keep me from talking. "Me and my son have been discussing your situation for the past week, once Karen brought it to our attention."
"You have a son?"
"Yup," Oscar grinned. "He's waiting in your guys' room for you."
"Why do you live here, though?" I asked quietly, not trying to be disrespectful. "Isn't this a group home?"
"Not really," Oscar explained. "There are actually four apartments in this building. Two on the second floor and two on the third. My son and I live on the second floor in the suite that is closer to the front of the house."
"The blond-haired boy in the window," I mumbled softly.
"Probably," Oscar shrugged. "That's beside the point, though. As my son, you would be living here with me and my other son, but you would be free to come and go as you please. All I ask is that you let me know when you want to go somewhere, you keep your room clean, grades up, and you don't lie to me."
"Where do we go to school?" I asked nervously. I was always good in school, but my grades had been slipping with my last foster placement.
"Right here," Oscar grinned. "One of us will give you the full tour later, but you start school next Monday. Each of the House Parents is a certified teacher, and we contract any teachers for subjects that we aren't qualified to teach."
"What do you teach?"
"English, Literature, and Writing Compositions," the man answered proudly.
"I love stuff like that," I admitted. "What's your favorite book to read?"
"Recently? Or all time?" Oscar asked for clarification.
"Both," I told him.
"Recently, I would have to say that my favorite book is "The Legends of Blood"," Oscar replied. "My favorite book of all time is "Dragonsong" by Anne McCaffrey, though."
"That's my favorite book series, too!" I said excitedly before quickly reeling myself back in. I didn't want to scare away the person that wanted to make me a permanent member of his family. Oscar chuckled and patted my knee.
"You're fine, Demetrius," the man assured me. "You're allowed to be excited over stuff. I wouldn't expect anything else when it's an activity that you enjoy."
"Were the other boys adopted?" I asked to change the subject. "The other two that live here?"
"Yes, they were," Mr. Eddings informed me. "Both of them were adopted by the Headmaster, actually."
"Were they part of James's mistake?"
"Nope," Oscar frowned. "You're the only boy living here that had to deal with that situation. I think that's one of the reasons that Karen was adamant that I adopt you, Demetrius."
"You're like the owner's son," Oscar explained patiently. "You were both fucked over by the system that was put into place to protect you. So, the only solution to help you get past your pain was to remove you from the system as expediently as possible." The man shrugged his shoulders. "The only thing that matters now, is that you're my son, if you want?"
I didn't stop myself from launching into the man's lap, openly weeping as he held me tightly.
"I take it that this means yes?" Oscar asked with a slight laugh.
"Yes, sir," I sniffled.
"Good," he answered. "Let's go get some fresh air, and I'll introduce you to everyone else."
"Okay," I nodded, refusing to let go of my new dad.
"Hey," the blond-haired boy greeted me warmly. "I'm Easton Young."
"Demetrius Winston," I replied as I shook his hand. Then, I looked into his blue eyes again, and I knew instantly where I had saw him before. "You're the boy that's starring in "The Touch", aren't you?"
Easton blushed and looked down at his feet for a moment, making me instantly regret my question.
"Sorry, Easton," I stated quickly. "I won't bring it up again. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
"It's okay, Demetrius," Easton said sadly. "I guess I should get used to it if I want to keep acting."
"I only recognized you because of your interview in "Entertainment Weekly"," I assured him. Then, I decided to take the focus off of his career and changed the subject. "How long have you been here?"
"About a month, now," Easton replied, somewhat grateful for the change in topic. "My mom and dad were in a plane crash, and now I'm here. There was nobody else willing to take me in, so Ms. Stevens had me placed here."
"I'm sorry about your mom and dad, Easton," I said softly.
"Thanks," my new roommate nodded. "It gets easier, every day."
"Same here," I added.
"What happened, Demetrius?"
"Umm," I hesitated, forcing back the harsh memory. "They were in a car accident. A drunk driver hit them. The police officer said they died at the scene of the accident."
I sniffled, and before I could register anything else, Easton was embracing me tightly. My new roommate trembled along with me.
"I didn't mean to make you cry, Demetrius," Easton whispered as we held each other.
"I'm sorry, too, Easton," I said in return. "It was two years ago for me, though. I don't know why I'm such a mess, right now."
"Probably, because you never had anybody to grieve with," Easton pointed out. "Sorry. I was told about your old Social Worker."
"It's fine," I said, hiding the regret in my voice. He clearly knew about the past two years of my existence. Then, I felt something vibrating against my leg.
"I need to get this," Easton frowned as he stepped back from me, and pulled a shiny cellphone from his pocket. "It's my agent," the actor said as he hit the answer button and turned away from me. "Hello?" There was a slight pause as I listened to the one-sided conversation. "Hey, Marcie, what's up?" I turned to look around our large room, trying to give Easton some privacy. "You're fucking joking, right?" My roommate's voice was filled with awe, and I glanced over to see that his blue eyes were wide in disbelief. "Seriously? They want to hear me audition for Cory Short?" Easton froze in his pacing. "Why are they recasting him?" The boy squealed with happiness. "I'll go let Oscar know, so we can be on time, Marcie!" Easton was barely containing himself as he bounced in place."I'll see you, then! Thanks, Marcie! You're the best!"
Easton ended the call and stuffed his phone back into his pocket before smiling at me. I couldn't stop myself from smiling along with him.
"Have you ever read "Memories"?"
"Yeah," I replied with a nod, remembering how I had used that book to escape the abuse I had been put through for the past two years. "I'm very familiar with it-. Wait a second," I froze as I put two and two together. "You're auditioning for the lead role? Cory Short?"
Easton nodded emphatically.
"Holy shit, dude!" I couldn't stop myself from hugging Easton and jumping up and down with him. We didn't stop until Oscar knocked on the door frame, watching us with a smile.
"It's nice to see that the two of you are getting along," the man said as he leaned against the doorframe. "Why are we celebrating?"
"Marcie wants me to audition for "Memories", tomorrow, Oscar!" Easton exclaimed, shooting into the surprised man's arms. "It's the lead role, too!"
"That's awesome, Easton," Oscar said, sharing in our excitement. "Make sure that you text me all of the information so we can be on time, buddy."
"I will, Oscar," Easton replied with a giggle. "You can be sure of that!"
I sat down on the edge of my bed and watched as the two spoke in soft voices, Oscar wishing Easton luck on his audition before the boy hugged the man, again. Then, Easton was hugging me, again.
"Maybe, you can go with me, Demetrius?" Easton suggested before turning to Oscar. "Oscar?"
"That's up to Demetrius," Oscar said, putting the focus back on me.
"Please, Demetrius? Go with me? There will probably be an "A-Lister" there, and we would get to schmooze with them," Easton pleaded, hugging me tightly, again. "You'll have fun, I promise!"
There were those words, again. I couldn't stop myself from cringing at their sound, hoping that Easton didn't notice.
"Yeah, sure," I said, more to get the boy off of me, rather than actually wanting to go to Easton's audition. I knew for certain that I would not fit in amongst a group of high-ranking stars. I couldn't even wrap my head around the fact that Easton was my roommate. That brought a different thought to my head. "Mr. Eddings?"
"Yeah, Demetrius?" He asked with a concerned smile when he noticed the confused expression on my face. "What's wrong, bud?"
"You're in the process of adopting me, right?"
"Yes, sir," Oscar nodded.
"Did you adopt Easton, too?" I asked nervously.
"I did," Oscar admitted proudly.
"That means that I have a brother?" I couldn't stop myself from smiling like an idiot as the words left my lips.
"One of the best brothers you're ever going to have!" Easton stated quickly as he wrapped his arms around me. Then, he whispered in my ear as he squeezed me. "I promise."
'There's those words, again,' I thought resentfully.
Easton looked ecstatic that I was willing to spend my evening running his lines for his audition with him. "Memories-Part One" was set to be a three season series with a possibility of branching off into the other books later. The studio had sent over a few different scenes from the first episode, and they had highlighted which lines Easton was supposed to memorize. He handed me a copy of the lines and pointed out which ones were for me to learn. I grinned as I read through the part, imagining myself as Sean Short, a boy in pain and agony as he waits for his best friend, his adopted brother, the love of his life, Cory Short - to regain his memories of the life they had once shared together. I had read the book enough times to know the pain that Sean felt, and I believed that I could deliver the lines perfectly for my new brother.
"Just start from the top?" I asked my new brother hesitantly as I glanced up at him.
"Yeah, I'll start," Easton grinned at me. "It says that the two boys are eating breakfast and having a serious conversation about Cory's memories."
"Alright," I nodded. "You take the lead, Cory."
Easton immediately fell into character.
"Sean? After breakfast could we talk a bit? Something really weird is happening and I need to talk about it. I feel like I'm going nuts here!"
"What's wrong, bud?" I asked as I tried to sound like Sean would.
"You gotta promise not to laugh at me, first," Easton replied.
"Bro, I couldn't hurt you like that; I promise not to laugh."
"You have to pinky swear that you won't laugh," Easton said in a serious tone as he held up his pinky towards me.
I quickly reached out and looped my pinky through his. "I pinky swear not to laugh, or make fun of anything that you are about to say."
I waited as Easton sat next to me on the bed and leaned his head on my shoulder. I put my arms around him, holding him tightly as I prepared to deliver Sean's next line.
"Ok, bro, whenever you are ready, I'm listening."
Easton whimpered as he spoke to me in the voice of Cory.
"I think I'm going crazy, Sean. I'm afraid to tell the shrink back at the home what's been happening," Easton managed to stutter out through his fake tears. "He would probably make me stop coming over here, and I couldn't handle that right now." Easton snuggled in closer to me and my heart skipped a beat. For that one moment of silence between Easton's lines, I forgot we were acting, and I began to fervently wish I could hold him like this whenever I wanted. "It feels like I belong here with you, not at the home; and over the past week some weird things have been happening."
Easton suddenly looked up at me, so I smiled like Sean did in the story and looked deep into Easton's eyes. "Cory, if you are about to say what I think you're about to say, don't worry; you're not going nuts. I noticed a couple of things yesterday and this morning, but I was afraid to ask you about them. I love you, bro. Please, go on. If it's what I think it is, I'll try to help explain it to you as much as I can."
"You're really good at this, Demetrius," Easton told me, breaking character as he sat up on the bed. "I'm really glad that you agreed to help me practice."
"Thanks for asking me, Easton," I told him genuinely. I'm having a lot of fun. Did they send you any other Cory and Sean scenes?"
"There's a few, but I think that scene will get me a part in the series," Easton replied with a grin. "Plus, I don't think you want to kiss me, which is what the other scenes entail."
"Oh," I stated with a blush. "I didn't think they would have you kiss someone for your audition."
Easton grinned excitedly. "You should have met the guy I got to kiss for "Touch"!"
I giggled at his comment.
"I forgot that you kissed Gavin in that movie," I noted. "
"The Gavin from the movie had horrible breath," Easton told me as he made a gagging face. "It was horrible!" I laughed along with Easton. "I'd rather kiss an old lady than him!"
We spent the remainder of the night running lines together, ignoring the world around us. We even swapped roles for several scenes so Easton could get some practice as Sean, too.
"You guys are amazing," Oscar said in awe as he stood in our open doorway with his arms crossed. "You have no idea what you'll be able to accomplish standing next to each other."
Oscar came into the room and gave each of us a tight hug.
"It's late, boys, and you have a busy day ahead of you," the man reminded us. "Make sure you get some sleep."
"Thanks, Oscar," Easton was quick to embrace the man while I fumbled with my hands. "I'm going to go shower, really quick."
Easton slipped out of the room, leaving me alone with Oscar as he smiled at me.
"You really did do an amazing job, Demetrius," he told me. "I can't wait to see what you accomplish once you're given the opportunities." I blushed at his words and looked down at the floor. Oscar went on as he moved to sit on the bed beside me. "Whatever happens, Demetrius, don't let your past hold you back, son."
I cried as I nodded at his words and leaned into Oscar's side. He was quick to put his arms around me and hold me until I cried myself to sleep.
"How do you think he's doing in there, Oscar?" I asked the man sitting next to me as we waited with the other hopeful actors and their parents or agents.
Oscar smiled at me. "I'm sure he's knocking it out of the park."
"I hope so," I admitted. I looked at the wooden door that Easton had disappeared behind and wished him the best. After reviewing all of the scenes that we had practiced the night before, I felt like Oscar was right. Easton had already been behind the door longer than the three other people that had went before us, which had to be a good sign. Didn't it?
Nearly twenty minutes had passed when the door opened, and a young man with green eyes, red hair, and a frazzled expression on his face peaked out from behind the door.
"Demetrius and Oscar?" He called out. "Could you come here, please?"
"Oh?" Oscar said from beside me as he stood and made sure that I was moving along with him. "Is something wrong?"
"No," the young man acknowledged with a weary grin. "We're just trying something - different."
"Gotcha," Oscar nodded, pushing me ahead of him. I glanced up at him to see that he didn't look worried, just curious as to what was going on.
The young man looked much younger up close, making me think that he was barely out of high school, instead of possibly being in his twenties. Everything was so much different in Hollywood. His hair was more brown than red, but his eyes were even more captivating up close.
The emerald green seemed to be touched with a golden ring along the outside edges, and streaks of darker greens towards his pupil. I couldn't help but blush when he smiled at me, catching me staring into his eyes.
"I'm Jessie," the man explained as he led us down a short hallway. "I'm the intern for the director of the series."
"It's nice to meet you, Jessie," Oscar replied warmly. "I'm Oscar, Easton's father, and this is Demetrius, Easton's brother."
"It's nice to meet both of you," Jessie replied. He pointed at a door just ahead of us. "We're going in there. Just be prepared to meet a few different people, guys. It can be overwhelming sometimes if you've never been through it before."
"Thanks for the warning, Jessie," Oscar replied genuinely. "This is a first time for Demetrius being at a casting event, and it's my first time being called back here."
"Just relax and have fun, okay?" Jessie grinned. "I promise this is no big deal."
'There were those words, again. . .'
I nodded hesitantly as Oscar rubbed my shoulder reassuringly.
"You've got this," he leaned down and whispered as Jessie knocked on the door and opened it.
"There they are!" A man with brown hair smiled as we entered the conference room. A long glass table sat in the center of the room, with black leather chairs lining both sides of it. Easton stood at the far end of the room with a packet of papers in his hand. He smiled and waved at me and gave me a quick thumbs up as the man that greeted us approached us and shook Oscar's hand. "I'm Garret Mason, I'm the director for "Memories". Easton here has shown us a remarkable performance, today." The man motioned to two empty chairs at the table. "Please, join us!" The man didn't even check to see if we had sat down as he went back to his own seat on the other side of the table. I sat down next to Oscar and listened to Garret's introduction. "Actually, Demetrius," the man suddenly smiled at me. "How about you join Easton at the front of the room? He tells me that he can give me a better audition with you to bounce off of."
"Umm," I glanced at Easton and he nodded with a big grin. I then glanced up at Oscar to see him shrug.
"It's up to you, Demetrius," he said in a low voice.
"Umm, okay," I said hesitantly. I made my way down to Easton and he handed me a couple pieces of paper. "What's this?"
"Your lines," he said as if it should have been obvious. "You're reading Sean's part."
"Okay," I said as I scanned the scene.
It was the first scene we had rehearsed together, and it didn't take much for us to get through it. The room was silent when we finished, until Garret began applauding excitedly. One man remained quiet throughout everything.
"That was excellent, guys," Garret told us. He turned his attention to the auburn-haired man sitting across from him at the table. "What do you think, Rebel?"
The man leaned forward as I realized that I was staring at the man who had brought "Memories" to life from his own imagination. Now, it was being turned into a television series and Easton was auditioning for a starring role.
"Have them swap roles, Garret," Rebel J stated thoughtfully. "I want to hear Demetrius as Cory, and Easton as Sean."
"Oh," Garret acknowledged with a grin as he began to see what J was getting at. "That's a great idea, sir. I think the fourth scene will do perfectly."
I glanced over as Easton frowned.
"Umm, sir," Easton hesitated. "We didn't rehearse that scene, well- because of the kissing. . . We're not against it," he added quickly. "It's just, we just met yesterday. . ."
"I'm sure that you'll both do fine," Rebel grinned widely. "You've already impressed me so far."
"I'll read you in," a woman with blonde hair and hazel eyes stated. She was sitting closest to where I was standing, and it must have shown my confusion as to who she was. "I'm Regina Mardow, Executive Producer for the "Memories" series," she introduced herself with a polite smile.
"It's nice to meet you, ma'am," I managed to mumble out from behind my apprehension. I glanced at Easton to see him smiling and I couldn't stop myself from blushing.
"To my right is the Casting Director, Taylor Watts," Regina went on to introduce the other people in the room. Taylor nodded his head in my direction as the producer introduced him. The gentleman across from me is Producer Bryson Smith, a very knowledgeable man when it comes to the movie industry. You want to pick his brain if you can ever get him to sit still long enough. You've already met Garret and his intern Jessie, and this is Rebel J, the author of "Memories"."
I nodded at each of them and waited as Regina went onto begin our scene.
"Okay, boys," she smiled at us. "I know it's going to be tough to act out the scene holding paper, but try to do the best that you can. Okay?"
"Yes, ma'am," I replied.
"Okay, the scene is where Sean and JJ are hiding in the bathroom while Kyle and Cory have a serious conversation about Kyle potentially wetting the bed. Kyle leaves the room with a better outlook on the situation, while JJ comes out of the bathroom with Sean right behind him. Cory pushes past JJ and pulls a surprised Sean back into the bathroom. Cory laughs at the confused look on JJ's face.
I quickly cut in with Cory's line with my head turned towards an imaginary JJ. "Didn't you know? He's my slave! I need him to hold it for me!" I laughed at my own joke and shut an imaginary door, pushing Easton further into the bathroom. Easton was grinning in confusion, barely able to hold back his own laughter.
"I'm gonna kill you! What do you mean slave?" Easton demanded.
I giggled like Cory would and slid my arms around Easton's waist. His cheeks flushed red from my touch as I looked up into his blue eyes. "You are a slave to my love, silly! Now seriously, I need to talk for a second."
"Okay, what has that one-lonely brain cell in that blond head of yours thought up now?"
"Hey!" I protested. "No kisses tonight if you are going to talk like that! I pulled you back in here to warn you about a small issue Kyle has."
"What is it?" Easton took on a serious tone, following my lead.
"Kyle has a problem with peeing the bed sometimes, and he's worried that you'll get mad at him if he has an accident. He wants to sleep on the floor, but considering everything that has happened today, I think he needs to cuddle, Sean. I promised him that I would tell you, so you wouldn't get mad if something did happen tonight."
"Oh, that poor little guy," Easton replied in concern. "He can cuddle with us, Cory, no matter what. I'll be fine if he has an accident."
"I knew I loved something else about you besides that cute face," I told him, feeling the butterflies building up in my stomach as I leaned in to press my lips against his. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest as Easton's skin touched my own and he slid his hands down my back. Then, Easton pulled back and grinned at me.
"Yeah, you are pretty smart for a blond," Easton giggled before kissing me more firmly.
Did you know that even in the middle of an audition for a movie, that if it's your first kiss, everything else still disappears? Time froze as Easton held me against him, and I felt like my entire body was melting. It took everything I had to push him back so we could finish the scene.
"Okay," I giggled. "Get out of here so I can take a leak without you attacking me. If we stay in here much longer together, we will be busted."
Easton smiled and kissed my cheek before leaving me alone in the imaginary bathroom. I couldn't stop myself from touching my fingertips to where Easton had kissed my cheek.
"That was amazing, boys!" Rebel exclaimed as we finished the scene. He smiled at Taylor and Garret. "I'm sure that you can tell what I'm thinking."
"The only thing that makes me nervous is that Easton is relatively new, and nobody knows who Demetrius even is," Taylor commented.
"That wouldn't be an issue for long," Garret stated. "Marketing would be able to get their names out there, and we could get them some guest spots on a few other series that we have going on."
Regina looked at Bryson thoughtfully.
"What do you think, Bryson?"
The brown-haired man remained silent for a moment.
"Let's do it," he said with a shrug. "The way that they bounce off of each other was perfect. I can't see anybody else playing Cory or Sean."
"Wait, what's going on?" Oscar asked in confusion.
Just then, a gray-haired woman that had been sitting near the back of the room spoke up for the first time. "I believe that both of your boys were just offered a job, Oscar." The woman smiled as she stood from her chair and moved over to Oscar's side. She put her hand lightly on his shoulder. "We can go over details later, but I assume you would like to use the same contract that Easton is on?"
"I don't think Demetrius is ready for this, Marcie."
"Why don't you guys ask Demetrius what he wants?" Easton demanded, moving to my side and putting his arm protectively around my shoulders.
All of the adults turned their attention to me and I frowned.
"I thought I was just helping Easton audition," I mumbled, unable to look at any of them.
Then, Rebel was kneeling in front of me and he took my hand in his own. "It may have started out like that, Demetrius, but you read the part of Cory so well, that I want you to play him."
"What about Easton?" I countered. "That's the role he wanted."
"I'm happy with Sean, Demetrius," Easton admitted to me. "Trust me. I think it would be amazing to have you play Cory Short."
I glanced around at everyone as they waited expectantly for my answer.
"Okay then," I replied nervously. "I'll do it. I'll play Cory."
"Excellent, Demetrius!" Rebel J pulled me into a hug and my nostrils were filled with the scents of cinnamon and mint, making me flashback to a memory when my own dad hugged me this way. I couldn't stop myself from leaning into the man's embrace, which I was grateful that he didn't seem to mind. "This is great news!"
Rebel released me with a quick squeeze before he went back to his seat.
"Shall we discuss details, gentlemen?" Marcie asked with a twinkle in her eye.
Easton giggled and pulled me into his side.
"Boys?" Oscar called us. "Let's let the big wigs discuss the finer points of everything while we go get something to eat."
"Sweet!" Easton grinned as he pulled me over to where Oscar was waiting for us. "Thank you for this opportunity. We won't let you down."
"I know you guys won't," Garret smiled back. "We'll have Marcie give you guys the rehearsal schedule later today."
"Thanks, Mr. Mason," Oscar acknowledged. Then, he ushered Easton and I towards the door. "Let's go, boys."
"Holy shit!" Easton mumbled on the car ride home.
'Holy shit!' I thought to myself. 'Did that really just happen?'
Easton turned around from the front seat and grabbed my hand, squeezing it firmly.
"Can you believe this, Demetrius?" He asked me, still reeling from the results of the audition. "I'm just…"
I heard Oscar chuckle from the driver's seat. My own heart was racing in my chest as thousands of possibilities ran through my head. I couldn't get a grip on the fact that I was a television star now! Would I become famous, or would I flunk out like the other hopefuls that had been turned away by Jessie as we had been ushered out the door? I was seriously hoping that I would at least do a decent job as Cory Short. I didn't want to be the reason a multi-million dollar production flopped. We were just pulling into the parking lot of Denny's when Oscar's phone began to ring across the speakers of the car.
The man hit a button on the steering wheel and answered the call as he parked the car. "Hello?"
"Oscar?" It sounded like Marcie's voice coming over the speakers.
"Yes, ma'am," Oscar replied. "What's going on, Marcie?"
"I have great news for you guys!" She announced excitedly. "The studio has agreed to pay you both three million dollars per episode, with an increase of ten percent for the second season if the show does well."
"What's your take of that, Marcie?" Oscar asked.
"My fee is fifteen percent, which is now being covered by the studio during the duration of the series," the woman exclaimed happily.
"Wait," Oscar hesitated. "The boys don't pay you anymore?"
"Nope," Marcie confirmed. "I managed to get the studio to cover my fee and to let me assist in bringing in more talent for the series."
"Nice, Marcie!" Oscar congratulated the woman. "This will be huge for your agency!"
"I have Easton and Demetrius to thank, Oscar," Marcie said. "Which is why I will no longer charge either of them a retention fee, nor will I charge them a finder's fee like I do my normal clients."
"Holy shit," Oscar said in disbelief.
"The studio wants the boys to get in rehearsals right away, I'll email you the schedule when I get back to the office," Marcie informed us. "Congrats again, boys! You have no idea how proud of both of you I am!"
"Thanks, Marcie!" Easton chimed happily.
"Thanks, Marcie!" I added. "I appreciate this opportunity. Can you make sure Rebel knows that, ma'am?"
"I'll tell him as soon as we hang up, Demetrius," the woman replied softly. "Enjoy the rest of your day, boys. You're going to be busy for a while after this."
With that, the call ended, and Oscar urged both of us to get out of the car. Then, we went into Denny's as a family, one of the last times that we would be going out into the public as unknowns.
"This is weird," I told Easton as we finished filming a kissing scene together. "My first time kissing anyone was at the first audition in room full of people, and my second kiss was in front of a bunch of cameras. I just. . . I guess I just didn't expect it to be like this, Easton."
Easton pulled me into a hug and held me tightly.
"I promise that it's worth it, Deme," Easton tried to reassure me.
"At least we're done for the day," I sighed. "What are we doing tomorrow?"
"The accident scene where we get custody of Timmy."
"That's cool," I grinned. "I like that scene in the book. Plus, working with Evan is a lot of fun. He's a great kid! I can't imagine what this is doing to his life."
"He had experience playing Toby in "The Touch"," Easton told me. "He hated the filming part of the job, but he got into the Press Tour a lot. Evan is a social butterfly! Just wait, that's when life is going to really get crazy for us!"
I groaned and leaned into Easton's hug. He giggled lightly as he hugged me tighter. Then, Easton led me towards the dressing rooms.
"Come on, let's get changed so we can go home for the day."
"What do you think dad is planning for dinner tonight?"
Easton seemed thoughtful before he answered my question.
"I think it's meatloaf and mashed potatoes."
"I love meatloaf!" I smiled. "It's right up there with pasta!"
"We know you love meatloaf," Easton rolled his eyes. "At least I'm not being forced into eating broccoli or lima beans."
I giggled at his comment before we stopped outside of my dressing room.
"Hurry up, Deme," Easton smiled at me as he opened the door for me. "Reggie is probably already waiting on us."
"I'll try," I said before slipping into my room.
I made quick work of wiping the stage make-up off of my face before I changed back into a pair of sweats and a hoodie. Easton was just leaving his dressing room as I went to meet him so we could go home. We were nearly to the door when Marcie, our agent, stopped us.
"Boys?" The older woman called out as she hurried to meet us. "Might I have a word, really quick?"
"Of course, Marcie," Easton said with a grin as he held me back from the door by lightly grabbing my elbow. "What's up?"
The blonde-haired woman smiled as she caught up to us.
"Thank you for waiting," she said. "I was hoping we could discuss details of the Press Tour."
"Press Tour?" I squeaked out in fear.
Easton was doubled over in laughter at my reaction. Marcie was just looking at us in mild amusement.
"Sorry, Marcie," Easton apologized as he recovered. "We were just discussing my tour for "Touch", and Deme is a little worried about it."
Marcie laughed gently and reached out to squeeze my shoulder.
"The Press Tour is nothing to worry about, Demetrius," Marcie tried to reassure me. "Easton was jsut messing with you. Plus, it's not like the two of you will be the only ones involved. Also, Easton, I need to talk to you about "Touch Two"."
"Oh?" Easton asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Could we talk in private for a moment?"
"Of course," Easton replied hesitantly. He smiled as he turned to me. "Can you give me a few minutes, Deme? Reggie should have the car out front."
"Yeah," I frowned. "I'll see if I can get him to hold the car for you."
I quickly dodged out of Easton's range as he tried to tickle me.
"You little booger!" He called after me with a laugh as I slipped out the door.
'The Press Tour is coming,' I thought nervously as I made my way to the waiting town car. 'Am I really ready for this? It's not like I have a choice anymore.'
"Is Master Young working late today, Master Winston?" Reggie asked as he held the backdoor open for me.
"No, sir," I told our driver. "He got hung up by Marcie. He shouldn't be more than a couple minutes though."
"That's good to hear," Reggie said as he shut the door and climbed back into the front seat for a moment. "Your father told me to make sure that I bring both of you straight home after work. He has plans for this evening, I believe."
'I wonder what they are,' I pondered as we waited for Easton. 'I know he mentioned meatloaf, but what else could we be doing?'
As I was lost in my own thoughts, Reggie got out of the car and opened the other backdoor. Easton was greeting our driver as he slipped into the car. My brother was smiling, his eyes sparkling in the sunlight as he spoke excitedly. I could barely follow what he was saying as I found myself getting lost in his blue eyes.
"Hello? Deme?" Easton giggled as he waved his hand in front of my face. Reggie closed the door, breaking the sparkle of light from Easton's eyes. I couldn't stop myself from blushing as I realized that I had been caught staring at him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," I said quickly. "I just have a lot on my mind."
"Oh yeah!" Easton was off on another subject with the flip of a switch. "Marcie said that the Press Tour for "The Touch" is kicking off its final stage next week, so I'm going to be busy for a few days!"
"Is that what she wanted?"
"Yeah," Easton confirmed. "She also gave me a few ideas on how to begin to get your image out in the public before you begin your own tour."
Easton blushed as he fumbled to answer me. "Well, there's the possibility of you starring in a few commercials, attending some events, or there's the idea that we could. . ." Easton trailed off as he seemed to be thinking of something else entirely. His cheeks flamed red for a moment as he looked out the window.
"You ready, boys?" Reggie asked as he climbed back into the car.
"Yes, sir," Easton grinned at the man. "Thank you for all that you do, Reggie."
"Of course, sir," Reggie replied before he closed the center partition. The next thing I knew, Pink was playing in the back of the car, and we were driving away from the soundstage.
"What are you avoiding, Easton?" I asked directly, making the boy shift nervously in his seat. "What else did Marcie suggest to make me popular?"
"She - uhh - said that - uhh - we could go out together and maybe start holding hands," the older boy told me, never making eye contact with me. "We could also kiss in public."
"How would that help?" I asked in genuine curiosity. I wanted to know what our personal relationship had to do with making me popular. 'Don't get your hopes up, Demetrius. He's only suggesting it because Marcie wants him to do it.'
"Well," Easton continued, seemingly surprised by the fact that I wasn't angry by the suggestion. "It would make people ask questions. The more they saw us together, the more they would want to know who you are. They'll begin trying to find out everything about you - about us, Deme. We could be A-Listers before "Memories" even hits television screens."
"Oh," I replied thoughtfully. "This would help both of us?"
"Yeah," Easton nodded before he frowned. "Your life wouldn't be the same though. You wouldn't be a nobody anymore, Deme. Everybody will know who you are, and the paparazzi will follow you everywhere that you go."
My life as I currently know it would be over, and I would be thrust into the public limelight before I was ready, but it would help Easton become the star that he was always meant to be. I would never be an actor of his caliber - knowing that I needed more practice to even match his level of talent. Kissing him in public would definitely make me stand out, but it wouldn't hurt his career, would it? "The Touch" was out of theaters, and Easton was being pulled onto another Press Tour to promote the movie's DVD release. I wouldn't want the boy of my dreams to lose his chance at fame because he was held back by me or my actions. Besides, I've never even gotten to kiss him in private. Every time that we've kissed has been during scenes or during the audition. What would it even be like to kiss him? The real him?
"I know it's a lot to think about, Deme," Easton told me, reaching over and squeezing my hand with his. My heart immediately began to race in my chest and my stomach felt like it was doing back flips inside of me. Easton carried on without noticing my body's reaction to his reassuring touch. "We can try whatever method you choose. Marcie said that it was up to us. I just don't want to take away your innocence. It's my favorite thing about you."
His voice trailed off as I pressed my lips against his. I brought my hand up to his cheek and held the blond-haired boy in place. This wasn't where I wanted to experience my first real kiss, but I needed to know what it was like to kiss someone that you cared about. Someone that cared about you in return. Easton's hand slipped around my waist as he pulled my body closer to his, his lips never leaving my own. His tongue prodded at my lips and I parted them to let him inside. I twisted my tongue around his, feeling his hands slide up the inside of my hoodie as we kissed passionately. When we parted, both of us panting with excitement as we caught our breaths, I couldn't help but notice a different light in Easton's blue eyes. There was a fire ignited there, making him seem powerful as he pulled me into the touch of his lips again. One thing was for certain though, I was madly in love with Easton Young.
Easton slid his hand into my own as we walked towards the mall together. We were there for an event that had to do with "The Touch" and our plan was going to go into effect at the same time. The press was lining the doorways with their cameras, capturing everything that they could as the stars made their way into the massive building. As we made our way through the gauntlet of flashing cameras, Easton slid his hand around my waist and pressed his lips against my own. I giggled and smiled, playfully pushing him away like we had practiced for several days. There was an immediate result to our actions as the different reports started shouting questions at Easton.
"Who's your friend, Easton?"
"Are you coming out, Easton?"
"How long have you guys been together?"
Easton laughed and pulled me into the mall just as we were accosted by Marcie and her new intern.
"That was excellent, boys!" The woman congratulated us as she quickly hugged us. Her floral perfume filled my nostrils as she kissed my cheek before finally releasing me. She put her hand on the young man's back that was standing beside her. "This is my new intern Ian. He will be working with both of you directly over the course of your Press Tour. He's also responsible for hiring your assistants for the tour. Once that's over, I'm considering bringing him onto the agency as a full time agent. He shows much more promise than my other interns."
"Thank you, Miss Forest," the black-haired man replied with a humble nod of his head. "I hope that I can live up to your expectations." Then, the blue-eyed man smiled at us. "It's nice to meet you, guys. I'm Ian Deerling. If you need anything, just let me know and I'll do whatever I can to help you out."
"Thanks, Ian," I replied as I shook the young man's hand.
"It's nice to meet you, Ian," Easton said as he shook Ian's hand.
"It's a nightmare out there," Oscar said as he joined us. "What's even going on here, Marcie?"
"It's just a meet and greet like last time, Oscar," Marcie replied with a smile. "I'm sure there will be questions, but it should be over in a few hours. Everything is kept to a specific schedule at these events."
"Cool," Oscar grinned. "This gives me time to get some Christmas shopping done."
"I like Christmas," Easton chimed in with a wide smile making the adults laugh.
"Come along, Easton," Marcie said with a grin as she led Easton away from us. He smiled at me over his shoulder as he walked away and waved. I waved back with a blush as he disappeared from sight.
"Ian, would you mind taking Demetrius to the food court to get something to eat for me, please?" Oscar asked. "I really want to hit the stores while everybody is distracted by the event."
"I'd love to, Mr. Eddings," Ian confirmed. "When and where would you like us to meet you?"
"Let's meet up back here in two hours," my new dad told us as he checked his watch. "That should give me plenty of time."
I quickly slipped my arms around Oscar's waist, squeezing him tightly. He patted me on the back as he returned my embrace. "I love you, too, buddy."
Then, I was alone with Ian.
"What are you hungry for, Demetrius?" The young man asked me, as he gestured in the direction of the food court. "I think this mall has a bigger selection than most because of its proximity to the studio. . ."
My heart was racing as the car jostled down the highway. Oscar, Easton, and I were all dressed in black suits with our hair slicked up as Reggie drove us to the premiere of the first episode of "Memories". I couldn't believe how much my life had changed since that fateful day when I went to Easton's audition with him. I was once a nobody, but now nearly a year later, I'm more famous than I could imagine. And it all started with a kiss. A kiss that inflamed society to want to know who I was and why their favorite poster child was kissing me in public. A kiss that continued to inflame my own love for Easton.
"You okay?" Easton asked as he squeezed my hand. "You look like you're getting lost there, Deme."
"Sorry," I smiled at him. "I was just thinking."
"I noticed," Easton smiled back. Then, he touched his hand to my cheek. "You're beautiful, Demetrius Winston. Everybody is going to love you like I do."
"I hope so," I whispered before he kissed me gently.
Then, we were at the theater.
Reggie opened the door of the limo, enveloping us in flashing lights and the sounds of screaming fans as we took our places on the red carpet. I let Easton step forward a few steps so the reporters could get pictures of us separately before I slid my hand into his. It was our time to shine and nothing else mattered to either of us. People shouted questions, but we ignored them and just continued to smile for the flashing cameras. Then, Marcie was ushering us into the theater that the studio had rented out for the show.
"Let's go, boys," the older woman grinned at us. "Always keep them wanting more."
The inside of the theater was decorated with items from Warder Studios and from the new series. It was weird seeing posters with my face decorating them. I couldn't wrap my head around it completely. Was this really my life now? People were screaming my name as we walked inside. They wanted pictures with me, my autograph, or just to touch my hand so they could say that they did. Was this the price of being in the limelight? What would it be like after people actually saw the series? Would I get the same kinds of reviews that the others had gotten on their past projects? Easton had shown me some of the bad ones he had gotten from "The Touch", laughing the entire time.
"You should have seen the hate mail that Cooper got!" Easton had said with a giggle. "He replied by posting a screenshot of our kiss scene on his social media profiles! We all hate the keyboard warriors, Demetrius, but it comes with the job. Who cares about the few haters when you have all of these good comments from fans of your work? There's always a bright side, Deme."
What was the bright side for this?
The answer came to me just as the boy of my dreams turned and smiled back at me.
Easton is and will always be, my bright side. . .