Quick Author’s Note: Please note that this chapter is mostly picture free. The lack of pictures is intentional.
Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter, Max took Mission home and met her father. He also met the newest member of the Immortal Council, Ian Destansi, who took over when Lucian decided to retire. Mission also told her father she was pregnant and the father was out of the picture.
Finals had gone well. The only thing left for Leia was to see what her final semester project was going to be. Since a lot of jobs for fine arts related careers were very practical, the University had decided that the final semester should be used for students to get a portfolio for their future career.
Leia had put in for a once in a lifetime script writing opportunity. She had done one in a previous course and looking at the scripts Max brought home made Leia feel that script writing would be where she would shine. She just hoped her anxiety didn’t get too bad. It was already elevated due to the circumstances and the room was a bit on the crowded side.
“Leia Rand,” a voice rang out.
Leia approached the desk where the department chair was sitting and took her assignment package. She opened it up and it said: female lead role in SNIA 2: The Shang Simla Affair. Leia took a few unsteady steps over to a chair and sat down. She could barely handle the one public speaking class she had to take. How was she going to get through this?
And to make matters worse, Max had already gone off on a shooting of his own and wouldn’t be back for several weeks, if not longer. So she couldn’t even get advice from him. Jordan’s an actor and he’s our new roommate. He might have some advice for me. And he already knows about my anxiety, Leia thought.
Jordan McDaniels was indeed the Rands’ new room mate since Max said he would likely not be back before the semester was a decent amount through and knew that Jordan was in need of a place to stay. He listened to Leia as she explained her predicament.
“That is a tough one,” Jordan said and thought for a while, “Your best bet is to approach the director and let him know. You have had it diagnosed so he can’t just ignore it. But from what Max says, you read a lot. Read the script. See if you can’t pick a book character you know like the back of your hand that would fit that character and emulate him or her. I think you’ll be better than you’re imagining. Also based on the profile I know you gave when putting in for this, just be yourself. Your personality combined with your looks probably matches what their character is. So that also gives you a leg up. You don’t just choose someone who isn’t looking at getting into acting to take a lead role. And who knows, maybe the scenes won’t be too crowded so your anxiety won’t be a problem.”
It was with that advice in mind that Leia went off to the airport. Like Max’s movie, her movie was to be filmed in Shang Simla. She found the person she was meeting.
“Ah, good morning. I take it you are Leia Rand?” the lady said.
“I’m Lena Vao. I’m acting as your agent. Normally, I wouldn’t go with the person set up for this, but I got to look at your profile and you put in for script writing and you mentioned you have social anxiety and when we pulled up your medical record it does look like you’ve been diagnosed. So I’ll be there if you need someone to step up and argue something if you aren’t feeling comfortable with it. My younger sister has bad anxiety and she tried acting and her agent refused to do anything beyond what was legally required of him. She cracked under the pressure and was committed for several months. Which is why I fought to get you. I’m not going to sit back and let that happen again. And I’ve already gotten my being there approved with the director.”
“Alright. I can handle that as long as you don’t interfere without my permission. Anything else I need to know?”
“Yes, there is. The director has expressly forbidden you and the lead male from seeing each other until the first scene you have together. Says it will make the scene that much more real. It’s a love at first sight kind of thing. And he wants true emotions when you first meet and it can be hard to fake the emotions and expressions that occur when two people meet. Or at leas that’s what he said and he’s hoping for great chemistry between you two.”
Leia nodded and made a decision: she was going to attempt to not have to use her agent.
She rode in the plane in silence reading the script. It appeared her character, Elena Nichols, saw the son of Shang Simla’s mayor kill someone and the mayor refuses to believe that his son is a murderer. The son, hires henchmen to murder Elena. While running from the henchman she literally runs into a SNIA agent, Myles Corcoran, who is on vacation since his partner was killed (in the last movie). Myles realizes that the pair of men who come running past him after Elena runs into him and runs off are chasing her and chases the men down. He runs into Elena first and helps her lose the men. The rest of the movie is the pair spent trying to get the mayor’s son arrested and stop the henchman from killing them. The pair also fall in love over the course of the movie.
Meanwhile, back at the house on campus, Jordan McDaniels was fitting in quite well with Obi and Mission. Mission never wanted to go to the medical appointments alone and she couldn’t always get them scheduled for when Obi was free. Jordan had heard what the so called father of the unborn child had done to Mission and had stepped in and went with Mission to the appointments Obi couldn’t go to when he was free.
Jordan caught Mission just staring out of the car window sadly one day after an appointment. “What’s wrong, Mission? Did the doctors give you some bad news?”
“No, nothing’s wrong with my child. It’s just I’m not sure if I did the right thing in pushing Dillon away. I’m not sure if I can raise my child alone and if I’m not going to let him be a father in any sense of the word, I can’t rightfully demand any kind of monetary support. It’s not like Dillon’s abusive. He’s selfish, not abusive.”
“I think you did the right thing. You don’t need someone being so pushy towards getting an abortion when you’re not wanting to get one. How many more times would that argument have happened had you not ended it there? When your child is born and older you can rethink your position on letting him into your life and into your child’s life. Maybe by then you’ll have found mister perfect. And I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful mother.”
Several hours later, Leia found herself in Shang Simla and Lena escorted her to the place where they would be staying. She quickly got a meeting set up with the director and informed him that she did indeed have anxiety issues and the director was willing to work with her on that. As she explored the areas that were allowed to her due to the restriction on not crossing paths with the male lead, she could tell her anxiety level was already slightly elevated due to nerves.
“So you’re that super special perfect person for the lead female role,” a voice behind Leia rang out and Leia got the feeling this person wasn’t too happy she got the part.
“If the director would let you have the part and let me take your role, I’d give it to you. But I’m probably just the perfect personality and looks for the role. You obviously don’t have the same personality as I do.”
“That’s just it, I’m an actress. I can pretend I have your personality. The role of Elena Nichols should have been given to me and it will before it gets too late to reshoot the scenes,”
“Leave the girl alone, Lorraine!” one of the other actresses said. Leia recognized her. She was Regina Walters, the actress who played Myles Corcoran’s rival and in this movie Myles bites the bullet and the pair buries the hatchet when Myles realizes it’s going to take more than 2 people to take down the mayor of Shang Simla’s son.
Lorraine rolled her eyes and said, “You’ve been warned. No crying when you’re told to go home ok?”
“Sorry about Lorraine, Miss. I’m Regina Walters,” Regina said.
“No need to apologize. Pride comes before a fall so she’s bound to fall someday. I’m Leia Rand.”
“Rand. Why does that name sound familiar?” Regina asked.
“Think composers,” Leia said, smiling.
“Oh my gosh! Don’t tell me you’re related to Atton Rand? I still hear older directors comparing the new ones to him! Mostly in how well they take criticism or suggestions. Atton took things in stride and was willing to work with the directors without thinking it was an insult. Every time. Even when the directors actually meant it as one.”
“He’s my father. And he is something else. And thoroughly enjoying his retirement.”
“He still does the occasional project though. I know he did a few songs for the last SNIA movie after the last composer went and quit on us. He even mimicked the other guy’s style so that he wouldn’t have to redo every song.”
“Well he does help out those who were the most tolerant of his quirks or helped him out as he was climbing up the ladder.”
“Yea, the funny thing is, sometimes I hear parts of his work in Goodfellow’s stuff. If you’ve heard of him.”
Leia laughed. “Oh, I’ve heard of him alright. He’s my father’s best friend. Pip has a tendency to call and go, ‘This doesn’t sound right’ and then plays it and my dad will help, hence the influence. Is it normal for actors to be so noticeable of composers?”
“Not really, my parents wanted me to go into music so they had me trained. I was a natural at it and I’ve got a good ear for style. The certain quirks that certain composers have. The way my parents helped me train means I can’t help but notice the music in movies. Anyway, I’ve got to run. I’ve got a scene with the male lead to shoot. See you around, Leia.”
Leia and Regina soon became close friends and Leia felt relieved to have a friend on the cast. She did regret that it meant Regina had to be very careful since she was also friends with the male lead. And the two couldn’t know of each other until the shooting for the first scene.
And the day and time for that had arrived. Leia was to run around a corner and literally run into the male lead and try to control her landing on her rear end. She needed to have a panicked feel and she could see that director was trying for a natural panic and had allowed a crowd to form and had told her and the crowd to be there early, so Leia was already mentally prepared for the onset of anxiety. And she was feeling the panic that arose from her anxiety and gave the go ahead to the director to get the scene started. She just hoped that in her state she’d remember her lines. The few that she had.
The director started the scene and Leia started running, the “goons” following behind her at a pace the three had worked out so that they wouldn’t catch her. She rounded the corner and allowed herself to run into the male lead and pulled off a successful landing on her rear end while trying to not to vocalize the name that came to mind: Max.
“Are you ok, Miss?” Max said after blinking a few times. Leia knew he wouldn’t miss the signs that her anxiety levels were raised.
Leia took the hand Max offered and allowed him to help her up. “Yea, sorry. Thanks for the help. Gotta run!” Leia said and ran off on queue.
The rest of the scene went smoothly, Max chased after the “goons” but ran into Leia first and then Max helped Leia evade the “goons.”
The director walked up to the pair before the two could even acknowledge each other and said, “Wonderful job you two! Loved the chemistry. And we pulled it off. We got a great first take for the truest emotions! I put in time for doing reshooting so we’re ahead of schedule! You’ve guys have a break though since I know Leia needs to calm down.”
Leia pulled Max off before he could go off, “Before you get in trouble with the director, the crowds were my idea. He said he needed me to feel panicked. I suggested he have moderate crowds and have me and the crowds arrive early by virtue of telling them the shoot started earlier than you were told it started. It was a gamble, but one I was willing to take. And he did ask me about a half dozen times if I was fine with the plan.”
“I guess clubbing with Jeffery paid off. You’re more used to gutting through the anxiety attacks,” Max said, “I know this is no where near what you wanted to do for your internship semester but I’m glad you got picked. Going in I thought I was going to be paired up against Lorraine and there is absolutely no natural chemistry between us and she’s a drama queen. With you, it’s all good. I can play off our friendship.” And I have a crush on you but I’ll make it harder for you to pull off the chemistry if I even mention that, Max thought.
Things were going fairly smooth. Max was amazed at how easily Leia took to acting, even if they did have to take fairly frequent breaks to keep Leia from getting anxious. Max could tell though that some of the actors didn’t like the number of breaks that the lead actors got to take due to this. One morning he went to Leia’s trailer to walk with her to the set to find her crying while packing. “Leia, what’s wrong? Why are you packing?”
Leia ran into Max and cried, “The director has decided that Lorraine is better suited for the role of Elena and upon further pushing since I hadn’t heard that many complaints he said he got an offer he couldn’t refuse. He refused to give me another part and since I haven’t worked the minimum hours for the internship, I’ll have to repeat the internship semester and not be able to graduate with the 4.0 I worked so hard to earn. All for something completely out of my control.”
“I’ll go talk with the director and see what I can do. Maybe he can let you help with the script writer or something if I can’t get him to reverse his decision on the role,” Max said giving Leia a good squeeze before heading out, his mind already formulating what he was going to do.
Max found the director arguing with one of the chief editor. It sounded like the editor wasn’t pleased with the cast change when Leia was working out. Max waited for the two to stop talking and approached the director, “We need to talk.”
“Alright, I take it you’ve heard about the casting change?”
“I have and I’m pissed. Leia and I have real chemistry. Lorraine and I have zero as I despise her. I haven’t heard any complaints about Leia’s talent and you know the reason behind the breaks which is the root cause of the complaints she does get. Not to mention your decision will cause Leia to fail her class. When she’s worked so hard to maintain a perfect GPA. Then you get an offer you can’t refuse and kill her GPA. You don’t find her a job here and she fails her internship class as a result, I walk. You don’t put her back as Elena, I give what most actors you work with give you, which you know isn’t my maximum. And I won’t be doing the series I heard you pitch.”
“You’re willing to tank your career over this?” the director asked.
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it.”
The director stepped off to the side and Max didn’t catch what he said to one of the assistants.
“Why are we here? Shouldn’t we be shooting? We’re behind schedule,” Lorraine said as she approached five minutes later. Max saw a red eyed Leia follow closely behind.
“I’ve changed my mind, Lorraine. You’re back to being Agent Ross. Leia, you’re back to being Elena Nichols.”
“WHAT?! You can say goodbye to my funding of your little film!” Lorraine said.
“I figured as much. The profit from that will be less than any profit from this movie or the series I plan on doing for it. And Max assured me he won’t be giving his all for this movie nor will he do the series if Leia’s not Elena Nichols.”
“You’re wanting to work with a nobody? You of all people should understand that we actors have to stick together! Not let people who don’t want to be actors take our roles!”
“My best friend is not a nobody, Lorraine. She doesn’t want to be here as an actress. But she’s still giving it her best. May I tell her, Leia?” Max asked. When Leia nodded, Max continued, “Leia has been diagnosed with social anxiety. If it gets bad enough she has been known to pass out from it. The day we shot the scene where our characters first met she approached the director and asked for the crowds to be present. She knew her character was going to be in a state of panic as she was escaping and to get the emotion as close as possible flirted with sending her anxiety over the top to the point where she would mess up the scene. Just to get the perfect emotions. Would you do the same?”
“No! I wouldn’t do anything that could jeopardize a scene!”
“And that’s why I had no qualms reversing my decision when Max threatened to bail,” the director said, “I’d rather have an actress who gives it their all even if they aren’t the best than someone who thinks they are the best and doesn’t give it their all. And in this business it is all about taking calculated risks and Leia’s gamble was a calculated risk. And Leia seems to be a bit of a natural at acting.”
The rest of filming went well. The script writer even heard of Leia’s true desire and offered a job after she graduated after he spoke with her and saw some samples.
Meanwhile, back at the college apartment, Obi was lining up some after graduation employment. He had been offered a job as a contract private investigator at a business in Starlight Shores. They were not sure how long they would be able to keep him on the payroll so Obi wasn’t sure he wanted to buy a house in Starlight Shores for something that might only last a few months. They were hiring him after a string of lawsuits had been filed and the company had been forced to pay tons of money to get it investigated and then get it handled. They figured having one on the books for a while might help the process cost less money overall. Or at least be easier to financially absorb without having to shift too much of the cost onto the consumer.
Mission had begun spending more and more time with Jordan, soon becoming friends with him and it didn’t take long for the pair to realize they had fallen for each other. They dated for a few months and it was shortly before finals when Jordan popped the question, to which Mission said yes.
“She’s just all talk, Max,” Regina said, having caught him just watching Leia, “Go for it.”
“But what if she doesn’t have the same feelings for me as I do for her? I’ll be liable to ruin our friendship.”
“She’s fallen for you. Why do you think the romance scenes were so easy for her? When she claims to never wanting to love again? If you hadn’t noticed Leia and I have become best friends. I’ve caught her looking at you the same way you’re looking at her.”
“Then why don’t you try to push her into taking the first step?”
“She throws the I’m not falling in love again card out. And we’ve both tried our hardest to get her to destroy that card. But she’s afraid. She’s afraid of what if you say no. That she’ll be hurt again. If you’re waiting for her to show you she loves you, you’ll be growing old alone. You’re going to have to take the initiative. Take her sight seeing. Get her away from the crowds.”
Max took Regina’s advice and took Leia sightseeing. They ended up at a scholar’s garden not too far from a martial arts studio. It was mostly used by martial art students to relax and meditate. He figured this would be a nice relaxing place. But the right words weren’t coming. So he did the only thing he could think of. Pulled her close and kissed her.
Leia wasn’t sure to make of Max suddenly kissing her. She had felt that her feelings for Max had grown more than just best friends, but she didn’t want to get hurt. But something in the back of Leia’s mind said that Max wouldn’t hurt her. At least not intentionally. He had always been there for her, even when she did treat him like dirt and hurt him.
But she didn’t know how to respond to the sudden kiss. At least not with words, so she did what her gut told her to do, pulled him and returned the kiss.
“Live with me after graduation?” Max asked, “I’d ask you to move in with me, but we already live together at the moment.”
“Yes, I’ll live with you after graduation. I’ve never really ever lived on my own and I’ll be having to stay in Starlight Shores to take the script writing job. And I think Obi’s got a job in Starlight Shores, too. Shit, that leaves my dad all alone because Jordan and Mission are engaged and Jordan’s job is also in Starlight Shores.”
“Has your dad ever lived alone?”
“No, he hasn’t. And I’m not sure how he would handle it. He wouldn’t be lonely. Uncle Carth still lives in Moonlight Falls. Pip’s still in Moonlight Falls and looks younger even though he’s older. Gotta love how long fairies live.”
“Yep. Wings and all.”
“Well, I’ve known of vampires my whole life and I met a werewolf, wizard, and genie when I took your sister home for the weekend last year. I suppose fairies aren’t out of the realm of possibilities,” Max admitted, “Anyways it could still be lonely for him living alone even with his brother and best friend there. Especially if the house holds unpleasant memories as well. I wouldn’t be opposed to him living with us if that would be best for him. I’ve never really lived in a house with just one other person.”
“You’re sure you want my dad living with us? You have heard our stories about him right?”
“I have and I did meet him when I took Mission home that one weekend last semester. All the more reason that he should remain with loved ones.”
“He’s not that insane, Max. But he does turn to bad habits when he gets depressed and being alone could depress him.”
The two talked for a while before heading back to the trailers. Regina saw the pair walking back holding hands and said, “Told you so, both of you. He wasn’t going to say no and she felt the same way. So, when’s the wedding?”
The pair looked at each other and Leia said, “I don’t know. We just became a couple and I’m not sure I want to marry and I don’t know if Max does or does not.”
“I don’t need to marry someone to tell them I love them or that I’m committed to the relationship,” Max said.
And that’s it for this chapter. Will Max and Leia last? Will Obi be able to reconnect with Mindy or will he find someone new? Find out in chapters to come!
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases
- Snoop 10 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 1
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes
Progress towards Leia’s Goals:
- Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 6
- Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 8
- Paint 20 paintings
- Be friends with parents – Due to story reasons I’ll only be considering Atton as her parent.
- Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – She’s got like $2568 in royalties
- Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive)
- Join book club (if applicable)
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Atton – Hit Movie Composer: Hit Movie Composer – Level 10 – MET Chapter 2.14
- Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 3, Athletic is at 5
- Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – Earning more than $4000 a week – MET Chapter 3.6