Home > You Had Me at Hola(9)

You Had Me at Hola(9)
Author: Alexis Daria

Especially the kiss in episode three.

Marquita had told Jasmine that the production would be bringing in an intimacy coordinator, someone who helped direct physically intimate scenes between actors to ensure everyone was comfortable, to choreograph Carmen and Victor’s first on-screen kiss.

Jasmine had filmed more than her fair share of kisses and sex scenes during her career, and it hadn’t really been an issue before. But then, she’d also never worried that her costar actively hated her. Usually she was able to develop a good rapport with someone before getting intimate on camera. Ashton, however, was making that impossible.

If she were being honest, she was curious what it would be like to kiss Ashton. His lips were just so . . . sensual. Smooth and full, with a defined dip in the top lip. He used them to great effect while he was acting, along with his dark, facile eyebrows and expressive eyes.

It was totally possible to develop a crush on someone’s acting ability, and Jasmine already had it bad. She’d taken to watching an episode of La maldición del león dorado with subtitles before bed each night to better understand Ashton’s performance technique, although it was a fun story too. She could see why Ava liked it. The key was to make sure she only admired his acting, and nothing else.

Well okay, she could appreciate his sexiness, too, but that was it. Purely objective.

Except the thing that always toppled her headlong from crush into infatuation wasn’t just good looks or competence—it was attention.

So maybe it was better that Ashton was ignoring her. Because if he suddenly gave her the time of day . . .

Remember McIntyre, she told herself.

Jasmine had gone to his concert on a whim, accompanying a friend in Los Angeles who had VIP seats and backstage passes. His music was fine—not for her, but she could get why other people liked it. The problem started when Jasmine went backstage to meet him. McIntyre was a dynamic performer, but he was also an incorrigible flirt. That was his superpower—when he turned on the full power of that green-eyed gaze, it made you feel like the only person in the room. Like somebody important. Somebody who truly mattered.

Classic middle child that she was, Jasmine had eaten that up with a spoon.

And look where it had gotten her. Splashed across magazine covers. Unable to check her social media accounts. Hounded by paparazzi on the way to ScreenFlix’s production lot.

She’d had enough. And if she’d learned anything from a string of shitty exes, it was that she was better off alone.

If only she could make herself believe that.

A PA approached her, double-checking a clipboard. “They want you to film some B-roll in the office before we move on,” he said.

Jasmine followed, taking three deep breaths to shake off her gloom. She had this. She was going to shoot this footage, and then she was going to ask Ashton to join the rest of the cast for drinks. Piece of cake. Absolutely nothing to be scared of.

Nothing at all.

IN THE SAFETY of his dressing room, Ashton could finally breathe.

You wanted this, cabrón, he reminded himself. This job was the next step in his career plan, the thing that would move him closer to his goals. He could imagine being interviewed on the red carpet, replying to the interviewer with, “And everything changed with Carmen in Charge.”

But only if the show went well. And it wouldn’t go well if he couldn’t get his head out of his own ass.

He started brewing coffee, the familiar scent and sound of the single-cup coffee maker soothing his frayed nerves. The room itself, done in ScreenFlix’s signature orange, charcoal, and white color scheme with blocky modern furniture, wasn’t so calming. But it was spacious and clean, and the sofa was comfortable enough to nap on, if not exactly long enough for someone his height.

As much as he’d wanted this career upgrade, he missed Miami. He missed the other local telenovela actors and regular crew members. He missed his bright, spacious apartment and the trailer he’d personalized over years of working with the same production company. No pictures of Yadiel, of course, which weighed on him, but his phone camera roll was filled with photos of the two of them with silly animal filters over their faces. He missed being able to see Yadiel more easily.

And if he were being honest with himself, he missed being a big fish in a small pond. He’d built up his career over fifteen years in the telenovela scene and achieved a modicum of fame. Yet it hadn’t felt like enough. Despite his intense need for privacy, he wanted more.

But now that he was on the verge of having it, he felt like he was drowning. It didn’t make any sense.

Maybe it was just that he didn’t like being so far away from Yadi. Ashton worried about him constantly, and he was sure he was annoying his father with his frequent check-ins. His last text to Ignacio had been met with an all-caps “ESTAMOS BIEN,” and he could just imagine his father typing it with flared nostrils and thinly veiled irritation.

Maybe it was that he didn’t know anybody here. He knew how he came across—cold, aloof, reserved. It was a carefully crafted persona that made it easier to shut down intrusive reporters and impromptu interviews. If he kept people out, they didn’t look too deep, and therefore didn’t learn about his life. It was something he’d adopted with his coworkers, too, but he’d gradually felt more comfortable around his telenovela costars after being part of the industry for many years. Here, working on Carmen, he felt like the new kid all over again, and his walls were up.

And then there was Jasmine.

As a scene partner, he couldn’t have asked for anyone better. She was open, giving, and vulnerable. And when she was out of character, her humor and lightheartedness drew his attention, despite his best efforts to remain ambivalent.

Everyone loved her. And while Ashton could play that kind of open, carefree character, he could never really be like that.

When his coffee finished brewing, he added a ton of milk and sugar from the mini-fridge and stirred. The smell comforted him, reminded him of the way his mother had brewed her morning cafecito. Maybe he should order an espresso machine for his dressing room. He’d just taken his first sip when someone knocked on the door.

“It’s Jasmine,” came a voice from the other side.

Heart pounding, Ashton set down the mug, just in case. He was still mortified about their first encounter. For a split second, he thought of pretending not to be in, but that was stupid. He got up and opened the door.

Jasmine greeted him with a brilliant smile that made his pulse beat even harder. She was so fucking pretty, and she’d been so forgiving after the coffee thing, even when she would have been totally justified in chewing him out.

“Hey, Ashton,” she said. “I just wanted to let you know a bunch of us are going out for drinks after we finish on Friday. We have a reservation at a tapas bar that Miriam recommended. Do you want to come with us?”

“Ah . . .” Ashton’s mind ricocheted between yes and no. He should say yes. What was the harm? But some unidentified anxiety held him back. It was that damned pond metaphor. This was a bigger pond, and he was scared to dip his toe in.

“Gracias, pero no,” he finally said. “Para la próxima.”

“Okay.” Jasmine’s smile tightened, and her voice was brittle. “Maybe next time.”

Closing the door, he shook his head at himself. What the fuck was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he bring himself to trust these people enough to go out for one night?

Because you don’t trust anybody, a little voice whispered in the back of his mind.

It was true. He didn’t. His father and grandparents, yes, but that was it. Over the years, he’d grown more and more withdrawn.

He hadn’t always been this way, damn it. In his twenties, he’d relished his budding fame, partying and clubbing with his actor friends and enjoying everything the Miami nightlife had to offer.

But then he’d become a father, and everything changed.

When Yadiel had been born, his mother—another telenovela star Ashton had a short-lived fling with—had handed the baby over, along with a list of terms. As a devout Catholic, she’d done her duty by giving birth, but she had no interest in ever being a mother. It would ruin her career. Ashton could have full custody, provided he kept her identity secret and paid for the cosmetic surgery treatments to get her body back to what it had been pre-pregnancy. Not only that, she never wanted to work on a show with Ashton ever again.

For Ashton, who’d grown up as an only child, the prospect of being a dad had been scary, but exciting. The first time he’d held Yadiel in the hospital in Orlando, his heart had broken and reformed into something stronger than he’d ever imagined, forged in the purest love someone could feel. His son was everything to him, and Yadiel’s happiness and well-being was worth any price. Yadiel’s birth had brought joy back to Ignacio, too, who’d struggled to find his balance after losing his wife.

But that didn’t mean there weren’t sacrifices, or stress. Every time hurricane season rolled around, Ashton bit his nails and sweated while he watched the weather reports, ready to hop on a plane to evacuate his family at a moment’s notice.

And the bigger his career grew, the more he worried about how his visibility would affect his son. He still had nightmares about being awakened by a sound in the middle of the night. Of getting up, as he often did since becoming a father, to check on his little boy as he slept.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Beautifully Broken series
Most Popular
» You Had Me at Hola
» Cemetery Boys
» Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Chronicles #4
» Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles #4.5)
» Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)
» Sapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy #4)
» Always Crew (Crew #3)
» Rich Prick