Impressions- A Collection of One Shots
Featuring A.A Hawthorne and Andrea Nichols
by Love is a Ring Toss Game
1. First Impressions & Second Chances
New York, NY - 2004
I was watching leaves blow past the first time I saw him. I loved New York in the fall.
It was him! I would swear to it. A.A Hawthorne was standing right outside the little café! I recall thinking that the twenty-three year old was far more adorable then the photos made him appear.
I was shocked to see him. At first I didn't think I would approach him but I quickly reminded myself that I would have to get used to things like this. Seeing famous people that is, as I had just gotten my biggest role yet. I was honored to be cast as Cordelia, the favorite daughter in Broadway's production of Shakespeare's King Lear. I could hardly think about meeting my co-stars without feeling jittery.
I left my half-finished mug at the table and exited the café.
"Excuse me?" I said stepping near him. The young, internationally acclaimed writer and director wore a smart looking black coat. He was very European looking with his nice leather shoes and Slavic jaw line. Did I mention he smelled good? Well, yes, that was the first time in my life I ever realized men could 'smell attractive' in addition to looking it.
He lifted his eyes casually to meet mine and then his generally attractive features appeared harsh and hawkish.
"Yes?" his reply was positively chilly, but I ignored it. It was good practice after all.
"You're Alexander Aristov-Hawthorne," I beamed, hoping to shine through his iced over expression.
"Yes," this time he sounded blunter, if possible.
"I'm Andi Nichols, Andrea really but nobody calls me that," I offered, sucking in breath when I saw his face. He looked utterly sickened, as if I was some miserable person that was contaminating his space. It stung just a little.
He didn't make any move to speak or acknowledge my introduction.
I felt compelled to ignore his obvious slight. "I love your work," I said offering a cute smile in trade for the look of contempt he gave me. I wasn't a bitter person at fifteen; I was peppier then and longer suffering.
"I'm sure," he pronounced wryly.
"I really do! Wild Outside of Ourselves is my favorite but Love and Other Funny Words was—well it was good in its own way," I offered. Truth be told, Love and Other Funny Words wasn't my favorite, it didn't seem the same caliber as his other films, but Hollywood wouldn't stop talking about it. Someone else had written the screenplay and he had directed it. I didn't want to point out the flaws of that movie to his face, especially not when everyone else loved it with a capital L.
"If everyone would just shut up about that movie already I'd be content," he hissed looking absolutely angry and as if he was more than ready to leave. I wondered idly if anything would make this cantankerous man content.
I gulped, drumming up my courage; it really was now or never. "Can I have your autograph, please?"
His glare grew, "No," he said pointedly, "you may not."
He turned on heel and promptly left. I was left standing there wide-eyed and in shock. Welcome to the world of fame and fortune.
Hollywood, CA - 2011
Alexander Hawthorne had written it himself.
I told myself that was my only reason for auditioning. He hadn't written anything in ages and the last thing he wrote was beautiful, and no surprise, loved by everyone in the business. I still liked Wild Outside of Ourselves best—the main character Charlie made my heartbeat just a little bit faster—he made me want to live life.
Perhaps what shocked me more than my willingness to audition was the fact that I got the part.
I was Julie Randle, one of the few strippers in the movie that was at least possible to empathize with. I had a few really solid lines. It was a minor role but I was reasonably excited.
I arrived for my shoot feeling nervous. I arrived on the Hollywood lot and was quickly put through the usual hoops, make-up and costume, then waiting. I was so nervous that I had guzzled an entire liter of water while waiting for my turn in front of the camera.
The room for our filming was dark, it looked like a shady motel and I hated the fact that we were doing this scene, of all scenes, first. It took place at the end of the film, I hated that my first day my ass would be groped on camera.
It was worse than that. Hawthorne had only grown in attractiveness and in temper.
"Get your hands out of her bloody fishnets!" Hawthorne fumed, it was the second caution he'd given to the man who was groping my ass, which was scarcely covered by tiny black boy shorts. To make things more amazing, my scantily clad ass had also been nicely elevated in the air towards the cameras for the last hour. "It's supposed to be innocent. Make it look innocent," he demanded, "Again," he called to the crew and they set up the shot again.
"Okay! Get the hell up," Hawthorne hissed after the man beneath me, was unable to get the part right.
Gabriel stood, looking sheepish. I gave him a good natured shrug. Hawthorne had a name for this, as a director he was as finicky as they came.
Hawthorne took up the spot that Gabriel had vacated. I tensed. At least Gabriel was chummy, Hawthorne was frightening and I wasn't super eager about straddling the man.
"Look you dolt! This is for your benefit and yours alone," I heard him snap; I knew he wasn't addressing me because my eyes hadn't left him. I looked back over my shoulder to see Gabriel's startled look.
"So you love her, you don't want to add to her pain but your best friend has died and your lonely and you've always wanted her, so all those things have to be conveyed," Hawthorne explained, his hand on my neck startled me.
"This isn't about lust or passion, at least not consciously; it's about you wanting the comfort that only she can offer you," he added, using my neck to pull me closer. I hoped that in the dark of the room he couldn't see my blush.
My heart was racing. I was confident that he would know it, if only because of where his hand was situated on my neck.
I pressed my face into his neck like I was supposed to. I had been in this same position for at least an hour and not once had I felt this close to asphyxiation. He still smelled remarkably good.
"So it is slow and gentle at first, you're cautious and sweet," Hawthorne explained to Gabriel, his voice thankfully soft, as my ears were closer to his mouth than before.
His warm hand on my thigh made me jump; the actions caused my lips to literally press against his neck, almost as if I had kissed him, in the way that I was pretending too.
"And then she falls into her drug induced stupor and you'll just cuddle her to your side, the passion has to be existent but secondary; the balance needs to be right," Hawthorne explained.
"Your turn," he said to Gabriel, pulling me gently away from his neck.
"I have to pee," I said as soon as Hawthorne stood.
His agitated sigh was not lost on me.
Thankfully the scene, once explained to Gabriel in that way, was completed in two or three more takes.
A few weeks later, I was out of costume and had finished the last of my shoots when he caught me in the hallway.
"You will be on set for a dance number," he questioned.
Julie was one of the only strippers that didn't have a dance number. I had actually accepted the role for that reason. It might have been ridiculous in this day and age but I refused to do nudity.
"No, Mr. Hawthorne, the bar scene was my last shoot," I replied.
"I wrote in a pole scene, the set manager will let you know when the coach we've scheduled can give you lessons," he stated.
"You'll have to rewrite the scene for a different dancer, I'm not that type of actor," I explained. Sure my manager would probably kill me but honestly I didn't care.
He looked applaud. "You're playing a stripper and you claim you're not that type of actor," he scoffed.
"There wasn't any nudity and I wouldn't have taken the role it if required a sex scene," I told him.
"The sex scene was implied, what exactly is the difference?" Hawthorne asked looking almost angry with me.
"Andrew and Julie don't have sex. That's what makes it so touching!" I challenged.
"What do you know? I wrote it—of course they do," he spat out, his blue eyes blazing.
"Well, they don't in my head. You can create a character but you can't determine what exactly the audience believes about them," I told him. "Like Charlie in Wild Outside of Ourselves, I think he was a good person," I stated confidently.
He sputtered and looked extremely angry then.
"What is your angle Miss?" he paused, evidently not knowing my name.
"Andrea Nichols, we met when I was fifteen, you didn't give me an autograph—I was crushed but no, I'm not taking that out on you now—I really don't have an angle," I told him directly.
He just stared at me. "Then why won't you take the additional scene?"
"Because my mother would be disappointed," I told him.
"Screw your mother," he barked.
"My mother is dead," I snapped back feeling the urge to slap him. But I wasn't that type either. I settled on frowning.
It brought out a very different side of Alexander Hawthorne. Shock and embarrassment permeated his face.
"Shit," he cursed, his eye were suddenly soft, "I'm very sorry," he said.
"It's okay, I came into this knowing you were an asshole from first-hand experience; nothing you can do or say would really shock me," I told him with a tone that only revealed slight resentment.
He stood there looking almost as shocked as when I told him about my mom.
The silence deepened but his eyes were searching me, as if to read my mind and that alone prevented me from starting to walk away.
"Do you really think Charlie was a good person?" He asked then, willing me to answer.
"Yes, deep down I think he was; he just didn't know how to be that person," I said.
He stood there just staring at me.
"Would you like to go to coffee with me?" he asked out of the blue.
"Well here's the thing—you, me and coffee shops don't mesh well together," I stated.
He rolled his eyes, "Have we ever gone to dinner?" he asked slight impatience in his tone.
I shook my head.
"We're going for Thai food and I'll convince you to take the part," he told me.
I nearly laughed at his confidence, "You probably won't but I am starving,"
Thai Boat. It wasn't the place you'd expected a celebrity to eat. It was rustic meets Thailand. I liked the décor.
"They have the best Red Curry," he informed me as I made myself comfy sitting across from him.
I realized quickly he wasn't much for extraneous conversation. I sipped my water and hot tea interchangeably. Frequently I re-remembered that I was sitting across from Alexander Hawthorne. He'd yet to bring up anything about the pole dancing scene.
"Why doesn't Charlie stay with Layla?" I asked. Then I resorted to fanning my mouth because I had just taken the first bite of red curry. I snagged my water and stared guzzling, seeing Hawthorne look amused for the first time ever. His smirk was deadly—I nearly choked on my water.
"I never thought of that being a real choice," he told me, "I'm surprised you don't want to talk about Seven Wonderful Years or Love and Other Funny Words" that last bit was given with a scoff.
"Um, I know it isn't the 'cool' or polite thing to say given that you directed that piece but I wanted to smack Amelia several times and why the hell does everyone love Jack? He's like—" I groaned. I couldn't believe I was actually telling him this, but in for a penny—"Jack was a prick—not overtly—all my female friends love him but he just exuded this overconfidence and everything in me wanted the world to take him down a peg," I admitted taking another bite, smaller this time of curry and only needing a small sip of water.
Shock of it all was that he smiled. A.A Hawthorne freaking smiled.
"It's mystifying. That movie made my career, but I still think it is drivel and would burn every copy if I could," he stated, looking a little more morose and more like his usual self. "People still talk about it though; I don't know why it stuck,"
"It is romantic—if you can delude yourself into believing that Jack really loves Amelia, then it is romantic; but I imagine him leaving her after the movie wraps," I provided my cynical take.
"I don't think he'd leave—he's spineless. I see him two kids in and miserable but staying because it was easier than dealing with reality," he reflected dryly.
I laughed and he gave me a sharp look.
"I was just thinking that you should write the sequel, I think your legions of fans would hate you," I said laughing again and he grinned looking rather mischievous.
"You and I would enjoy it though," he stated.
We didn't discuss any additional scenes.
"Do you want to be my date to the premier?" He asked as we exited the Thai restaurant.
That was a shock. It would be huge career wise but all I could think about was being his date!
"It is months away, I realize that—if you have other obligations, I understand," he said mistaking my silence for rejection rather than awe.
"You realize what you are offering me, right?" I exclaimed with amazement.
"It's for publicity, you understand," he said, his eyes looking cautious.
"It's amazing publicity for me; you are the big-shot director that everyone wants a piece of! What I don't really see how you going to the premier with me, a relative nobody, works in your favor," I told him honestly. "You should be asking Marissa Rodriguez," I told him. She was the lead female cast member, single again after a rather messy divorce a few years back.
"I like your company," he told me flatly, and if I didn't see the ghost of a smile touch the corners of his lips I wouldn't have thought it was true.
"I like your company too-which is shocking since I've only ever thought of you as a handsome, intelligent, fastidious ass." I admitted.
His eyebrows shot up.
"Sorry," I shrugged, "but you really should work on first impressions," I offered truthfully. "And second impressions for that matter-I'm considering this dinner as a separate event from meeting you in the hallway on set earlier,"
"Would you care for a fourth impression?" he inquired, it came out sounding very much like something Charlie would have said. "We could have coffee at my condo,"
"I don't think that would be wise," I offered.
He seemed to ignore my statement, and advanced his own, telling me, "I want to see you between now and the premier,"
My own eyebrows shot up.
"Is that your way of asking me on a date?" I inquired analyzing his features under the streetlights.
"I guess," he said sounding awfully noncommittal for someone who always seemed to know exactly what he wanted.
"Why?" I questioned, genuinely curious.
"I like that you don't like my work," he told me.
"Oh, but I do like your work, I hope you don't think—I love most of it! I just don't love all of it," I told him trying to sound encouraging.
"I like that you're honest then, how's that?"
"I—yeah, that's good," I nodded.
"Good then. I'll rewrite the pole scene for someone else; I don't want my girlfriend stripping in one of my movies," he stated and I could tell his mind was immediately back at work.
"Girlfriend?" I asked feeling shocked.
"I like you, I can't say that about many people, women especially. I don't mince words, why some feel they should is beyond me. Is that fine with you?"
"Do you even remember my name?" I asked feeling the full weight of the situation in an instant.
"Andi Nichols—Andrea, but you said nobody calls you that," he said with a wink.
I was shell-shocked.
"I'm cursed with a brilliant mind, would you still like my autograph or is my phone number sufficient?"