Laurie backed up against the bathroom door, her legs slightly parted. Her pink nipples hardened as a cool breeze from the open window gently caressed them. She closed her eyes, her defenses weakening as the dark-haired woman’s mouth moved from breast to breast, sucking her nipples with feverish hunger. Caught up in the moment, a moan of ecstasy slipped through her lips as warmth from the woman’s tongue spread tantalizingly slowly down her taut abdomen, leaving a trail of heat. Her sure, confident hands tugged at Laurie’s underwear, pulling them down to the floor with great urgency, sending fire through every nerve end in her body.
Laurie eyes snapped open, and she fixed her gaze in the mirror opposite. In an instant, the red flame of desire was replaced with a cool look of indifference. Glancing down at the script Laurie held tightly in her hand, she shook her head as she re-read the scene again.
I wasn’t meant to speak!
Reaching out, Laurie switched off the camera sat on a tripod, and re-read the script again, having every intention of getting the scene right.
Before she had the chance, the alarm on her mobile phone pierced the air. Laurie located it and swiped the screen, noting the reminder she’d made in the calendar.
Guilty Hearts. Audition. 2PM.
A sense of apprehension filled her as it normally did on such occasions. Clicking dismiss on the reminder, she set the phone down on the basin.
Kicking off her underwear that lay loose around her ankles, Laurie quickly removed the rest of her clothes and stepped into the shower. The hot spray of water pelted her body like a downpour of rain as she went over the script in her head again.
Could she really pull off playing such a character? Someone who was so different to her in every sense of the word.
Isn’t that what I studied all these years for? To be able to be someone that isn’t me?
Whatever the answer, now wasn’t the time to debate her career choice. Laurie had one shot at getting the part and she had to put on her best performance. It was a feature film after all.
Laurie turned off the shower. The intermittent drips of water from the showerhead creating a rhythmic beat on the ceramic floor.
She should be thanking her lucky stars that she’d even been called for an audition.
If she got the part… When I get the part!
Laurie had to believe in herself, because if she didn’t, no one else would.
Droplets of water streaked down her body as she grabbed a towel from the radiator and wrapped it around herself. Taking a step forward, she appraised her reflection in the steamed mirror with a critical eye.
Twenty-six. Natural red hair. Green eyes. Five foot seven inches tall.
Pretty, but not so pretty she’d be a distraction to the storyline on screen.
Persona? Approachable. More like the girl next door. The kind of woman you’d happily take home to meet your parents.
As the thoughts crossed her mind, Laurie realised that’s how she’d come to look at herself these days. Through the eyes of a film producer, director and casting agent.
Did her exterior match their requirements? That’s all they were interested in. She was one out of millions of actresses who thought they had what it took to become the next A-list star.
Tapping on the YouTube app on her phone, she replayed the podcast she’d been listening to the night before – ‘Manifest the future you want’. Whether it was possible remained to be seen, but for now it motivated her to believe that she controlled her own destiny. If Laurie wanted the lead role it was hers for the taking.
Unzipping her make-up bag, Laurie applied eyeliner, lipstick, a smudge of blusher and she was done. She didn’t overdo it, wanting more of a natural look.
Picking up her phone, Laurie carried it back to her bedroom where she dropped the towel on the floor and opened the wardrobe. Everything inside was neat and orderly. Jeans in one section, dresses in the next. Even her t-shirts were ironed and had their own hanger.
She opted for blue skinny jeans and a loose-fitting black t-shirt. Ankle boots followed and she was ready to go.
After packing away the camera equipment and quickly tidying around her flat, Laurie made her way downstairs and out onto the bustling streets of London. A glut of cars were bumper to bumper as they inched forward with nowhere to go.
Laurie looked up the street in the hope of seeing an end to the traffic jam.
Nope. Looks like I’ll be riding my bike.
There was no way a bus would get her there on time.
Stepping back into the hallway of her building, Laurie undid the lock on her bike and wheeled it outside before mounting it and heading in the direction of Islington, where her fate would soon be decided.
Twenty minutes later, Laurie arrived at the imposing, but dilapidated building where the auditions were being held. Locking her bike against a railing, she waited a few minutes before going straight in. She had to centre herself. Calm her racing nerves.
Wiping her clammy hands on her jeans, she inhaled for three seconds, held it in then exhaled for six, like she’d been taught on a meditation course.
Not that anyone would be able to tell from her outward appearance, but in the past Laurie’s nerves had always got the better of her, to the point where she would actively avoid certain situations. It was only through finally realising she would not get anywhere fast in the industry if she remained living in the fortress she’d built around herself, that Laurie had turned to the many motivational videos on YouTube.
Laurie wiggled her nose at a strong musky smell assaulting her nostrils as she stepped into the hallway. She noted the white staircase leading to the first floor. Black imprints of the many shoes having passed through marked each step. Now she would add her own.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Laurie was confronted by a large wooden door. ‘Auditions’ was scribbled on a white piece of paper stuck to it.
Hand outstretched, Laurie pulled on the handle and walked inside to a spacious room with high ceilings and arched windows. Though the interior was as run down as the exterior, the room had a majestic grandeur about it. She could only imagine what the place looked like when it was first built. Stunning.
A tall woman with unruly thick, curly hair stood behind a reception desk, engrossed in her phone. It took her a few seconds to realise Laurie was standing there.
‘Oh sorry,’ the woman said, stuffing her phone in her pocket before picking up a clipboard. ‘You here for the audition?’
Laurie forced a smile she didn’t feel, and nodded, taking in the woman’s name tag – Sandra.
‘You’re thirteen minutes early.’
Laurie checked her watch. She looked up frowning. ‘If it’s a problem, I can—’
‘Nerves?’ Sandra interrupted with a knowing look.
Laurie shrugged. She hadn’t been affected by them until Sandra mentioned it. ‘It’s my first audition in a while.’
Sandra gave a bitter grimace. ‘I feel for you. Had mine three years ago. I didn’t get the part, but I landed a job here instead.’
Laurie inwardly shuddered at the thought of finding herself in the same position three years down the line, especially when she considered how much student debt she still had.
Sandra read her expression and laughed.
‘Don’t worry, I was dreadful. No, really, I was,’ Sandra said as Laurie opened her mouth to speak. ‘I’m sure you’ll do much better. If not…’ Sandra looked at the empty space beside her. The intention clear. ‘Always room for one more.’
Laurie looked away, afraid her expression would reveal her fear of not accomplishing her dreams.
‘But I’m sure it won’t come to that,’ Sandra said quickly as if realising she wasn’t doing Laurie any favours by filling her head with negativity.
Footsteps caused Laurie to turn and when she did, she came face to face with a woman in her early thirties and a wide smile. She headed straight towards Laurie, her hand rising as she neared.
Laurie shook it and was surprised by the woman’s strength. She almost crushed her hand.
‘Nice to meet you. I’m Terri, come this way.’ Terri gestured for Laurie to follow her in the direction she’d just come from.
‘Good luck,’ Sandra called out as Laurie trailed behind Terri.
Laurie turned, crossed her fingers and held them midair.
Turning back to fall in step with Terri, she discreetly inhaled and reminded herself to stay in the moment.
Filming was more than Shona’s livelihood. She lived and breathed for capturing and relaying what she saw through the lens of her camera to the outside world. Having grown up with one of the most sought-after cinematographers in England, Shona had learnt how to dissect the very essence of what a director wanted. As soon as the images from the storyboard were embedded in her mind, she knew exactly how to use her own creativity to bring the scenes to life.
The flipside to filmmaking was sometimes being asked to sit in and film auditions. They bored her senseless. Nine times out of ten, Shona could tell which actor would fit the role as soon as they uttered their first line. And if she was honest, usually nine out of the ten needed to go back to drama school or change careers. It wasn’t that she was judging them, after all, who was she to shit on someone’s dream. It was simply because bad acting made her job ten times harder. Especially if she had to shoot a scene using a shoulder rig. If they had to keep doing takes because the director wasn’t happy, it was Shona who paid for it. And pay she did. Two appointments a month with her physio had been the result for the past year.
Shona took a swig of water and sat back in her chair. The fifth actor was due. Or is she the sixth or seventh? Shona had lost count. She was just looking forward to six o’clock when she could hit the bars and replace water with a cool beer or two. Then it would be home for an early night. Shona liked to take the buildup to a shoot easy, especially when they were going to be filming over twenty consecutive days.
Shona cocked her head as voices neared. A short burst of laughter sounded then the door opened.
Terri breezed into the room with a smile and gave Shona a quick wink which she took as a good sign – Terri was pleased with the actor’s appearance.
Shona straightened when she saw the woman walk in behind. Tall, attractive with red long hair, she had an aloof air about her.
‘This is Laurie everyone,’ Terri said.
Her breath caught in her throat. Shona deliberately avoided Laurie’s gaze as she leant forward slightly to shake her hand. There was something familiar about her that made Shona wonder if they’d met before. But where? It couldn’t have been in a club as Shona hadn’t been on the gay scene for years. It definitely wasn’t a dating app as she’d never used one.
This is going to bother the hell out of me.
Shona stole a glance at Laurie as introductions were made to the rest of her team.
For some unknown reason, her normally cool, calm and collected façade was rattled. Her insides a jittering mess.
Shona couldn’t fathom why she felt the way she did, but she kind of liked it.
The feeling, though foreign to her, wasn’t unpleasant. It was intense anticipation with an equal amount of fear, just to level things out.
‘You ready, Shona?’
Terri’s voice crashed into her internal narrative. ‘Sure, give me two secs.’
Shona tilted the camera on the tripod and looked through the lens directly at Laurie, who patiently stood in her marked position. It was if she was waiting in line to be served, not about to audition in front of six people.
Shona mentally juxtaposed the woman stood a few feet in front of her and Rachel, the character from the script. They were polar opposites. Aloof and reserved versus free-spirited and vulnerable. Although Shona knew it was presumptuous of her to judge Laurie based solely on her demeanour, she just couldn’t picture Laurie as Rachel. No matter how hard she tried.
Come on girl, get yourself in check and do your job!
‘Great, if you’d like to start from scene one, Laurie. And, Ali, if you’d like to give it a few seconds before you join her,’ Ellie the director said, taking a seat at a table.
‘Sure,’ Ali said, slipping out of her jacket.
The room fell into silence.
Laurie closed her eyes, her lips pressed together in concentration.
Shona pressed record.
A soft sigh escaped Laurie’s lips.
Gently twisting, Shona pulled focus as she stared down at her monitor.
Laurie’s eyes suddenly opened, the desire undimmed, the intensity off the scale to such an extent Shona had to look away momentarily.
The sexual tension in the room was palpable when Ali joined her in the frame.
Loosening her hair from the band that held it back in a ponytail, Ali shook it slightly, letting it cascade down past her shoulders in one swift movement.
Shona drew in a sharp breath and hoped no one heard her.
Laurie’s lips parted, and her tongue slowly caressed her lips as Ali stepped forward.
Shona’s pulse accelerated in anticipation as she waited to see if any chemistry existed between the actors.
Ali pinned Laurie against the wall, taking on her role of the female predator with what seemed great relish.
Although the audition was intense, it was an important one Ellie had insisted Shona be there to film. There had to be a connection between the actors, a believable attraction the audience would buy in to.
The next fifteen minutes of the audition took place in a vacuum of time. Shona saw no one but Laurie.
She was simply mesmerised by her.
Before Shona knew it, Laurie was standing back in her original position in the middle of the room, her gaze aimed straight at Shona in her monitor.
She’s not staring at you, she’s looking into the camera.
All Shona knew was that she couldn’t look away.
‘That was great, Laurie, thank you.’ Terri was on her feet, moving towards her. ‘We’ll be in touch shortly.’
Laurie made her way to the door and waved goodbye to no one in particular before leaving.
‘Well, ladies?’ Terri asked, rubbing her hands together. ‘Was she good or what?’
‘Amazing,’ Ellie said. ‘I think we’ve found Rachel. What d’you think, Shona?’
‘Yeah, she was good.’ Shona’s voice came out in an awestruck whisper.
That’s an understatement. She was AMAZING!
‘D’you think there’s any point leaving the casting call up?’ Terri said, addressing Ellie.
‘NO!’ The words left Shona’s mouth before she could stop them.
All eyes turned toward Shona and she did the only thing she could think of – throw up a smoke screen and hope no one saw through it.
‘I mean what’s the point. Laurie is Rachel. Everything about her is that character.’
Terri and Ellie seemed happy enough to buy that explanation and Shona let out a discreet sigh of relief.
‘So, we’re agreed then?’ Terri asked, looking at them for confirmation.
Shona’s was the last to join in. Although she genuinely thought Laurie was perfect for the part, her only sense of apprehension was caused by the effect she’d had on her.
Hopefully, by the time it gets around to filming I will have seen sense.
Though Shona’s head tried to convince her of this, her heart, on the other hand, was in total disagreement.
Copyright © Jade Winters 2021