With nothing but bitter endings, Astrid Long was done with love. When she finds herself in the path of Tom Hiddleston's affections, she must make a choice that will change her life forever.
Written by: Monet R. De'Louve
The Dysfunction of Evan is an erotic fan fantasy. It's filled with passion and drama as Astrid not only navigates her changing world, but as she herself changes.
This story tackles the entanglements of love, explores the mind of a woman with a battered past, and navigates her mental illnesses.
Please be advised that some content of this book may be upsetting for some readers.
Be sure to check out the table of contents for information about the official audio podcast and the official book club!
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
Chapter 1: What the Fuck?
I've never considered myself beautiful. I've never found myself to be anything other than average. I'm overweight and I have plain features. There is nothing incredible about me. People tell me I can sing well, people tell me I'd make a great actress, I'm told I've got a lot to offer the world. Yeah. Sure.
So, tell me why I went to a major film audition in January. I must have been crazy. A total loon. Tell me again how I landed the role of one of modern literature's favorite characters? I sure as hell can't figure it out. The casting call asked for a woman in her late 20's to early 30's. Well, I'm 29 in July. It asked for her to weigh between 230 pounds and 270 pounds. At the time, I weighed 263 pounds, now I'm 250 (Yay!). They also wanted someone under five foot two inches. I stand proud at exactly five foot. They said no acting experience was needed, but a strong understanding of Depression and Bi-Polar was a must. I have both, it's a bitch.
So, after my friend dared me, I took the day off from work, and did the stupidest thing I'd ever done, and somehow, it turned into the coolest thing I'd ever done; jury is still out on if it's the smartest thing.
The Dysfunction of Evan was written in 2012 by an anonymous author. It spent an entire year on the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, and is still in the top ten today, in 2018. It's about a woman named Evan who has struggled her whole life with mental illness, but wasn't diagnosed until after she got married. Her husband proves to be her biggest supporter as she navigates the trials of learning that she can be happy and that she can feel like a real human being. They also have things that happen that cause set backs in her treatment and it can get really dark. There's also a lot of sex; and having read the script, there'd be a lot of sex in the film as well.
So here I am today, three days from the start of filming. In two days everyone starts to arrive, and I have no clue who I'm working with. I've met the production team. Ray Jones, the director, and his wife Karri Nelson, set producer, have been here a week, prepping me and doing a few external shots before we head to LA for primary filming. They met a couple years ago working on High-Rise (when they asked if I'd heard of it, I said yes, and kind of scoffed, they already knew about me...why ask?) and have been working on this project ever since. They had both been film students at the time, this was their first funded production. This had started as an Indie film, but Lions Gate picked it up about a month ago, and Forest Park Productions decided to kick in as well.
As I sat at my table eating Ramen, loathing being an adult with bills, while also pouring over the absolutely erotic comments on a photo I'd posted of Tom Hiddleston, my celebrity obsession of several years, my phone rang.
"Hello?" I answered, mouth full of waxy, salty, noodles.
"Hey Astrid! It's Ken." Kenneth Branagh, he was famous to me for directing Thor and for playing Gildory Lockhart in Harry Potter. He was also an executive producer for the film, and had taken me under his wing the past several months, making sure I was kept in the loop.
"Hey, how's it going?" I quickly swallowed the mush in my mouth.
"It's great. I'm getting ready to get on a plane, so I'll be out of touch for several hours, I wanted to make sure you got the cast list, the official cast announcement is coming tomorrow morning."
"Oh, I haven't checked my email yet." I put the phone on speaker. "Hang on a sec."
"Now, I know you might be overwhelmed when you see who you'll be working with, but I have every confidence that you'll fit right in. They are all very excited to work with you, and are all willing to help you out." Ken prattled as I looked through my email. I found the cast list. I glanced through it.
"I'm looking at it right now. Oh, Peter Capaldi plays my dad, that's exciting." I said aloud.
"I forgot, you watch Doctor Who."
"I'm a total geek, remember. Liam Hemsworth, that's cool. Oh, Natalie Portman!"
"She's very excited to meet you, when I told her you listed her as an inspiration she was very flattered."
"She's the best." I took a sip of the water I had in front of me. I continued down the list. Then I saw the name. I inhaled right as I tried to swallow, and stared coughing.
"Are you alright?"
"Holy fuck! You could have warned me!" I said trying to recover. "Tom Hiddleston plays my husband! What the fuck?"
"Ah yes, I was supposed to mention that, I'm sorry. He's only just been able to confirm and sign on, I know it's last minute, but we've been trying to get him to confirm since December. He really liked your auditions and screen test. He's probably the most excited to work with you."
"Does he know what I am?" I tried to inhale.
"He thinks it's funny that you're a fan."
"Is that good?"
"Well, considering he said he'd only take the role if you played Evan, yes. Said it wouldn't be worth his time otherwise."
"Oh. Why?" My heart started beating fast.
"Because you're amazing! Why else?"
"I have no experience, no training. I don't know why everyone thinks I'm amazing." I said. I couldn't stop staring at his name.
"You have a raw and unbridled talent. That's not something we see often. It's refreshing to see someone just do the role they way they feel, not how they were trained to feel." Ken explained.
"I think I understand."
"You'll understand better when you see the finished product. Just trust yourself and trust us. Tom, Ray, Karri, and I are all on your team. We've seen what you can do with very little direction, I'm tickled to see what you can do under direction." Ken paused. "I've got to go, my flight is boarding. I'll see you in a few hours."
The call ended and I turned my attention to the manila envelope sitting nearby. I grabbed it and pulled the script out. As I did, I suddenly remembered there are about seven sex scenes and even more heavy make out scenes, and several scenes where James and Evan are just naked for whatever reason.
"Oh fuck." I said out loud. I closed my eyes and tried to stay calm. Then there was a loud knock on my door.
"Come in!" I called out. "It's open!"
My Aunt came in, "Hey Kiddo!" She said. "What time do you need to leave tomorrow?"
"Ray and Karri are coming to get me around eight. Flight leaves at noon." I said. "I've got everything squared away at work, I'm on unpaid LOA until the end of August. I think I actually go back on Labor Day. They are willing to extend by two weeks if needed. I was able to get an advance on my pay to cover rent, that drops into my account on Monday. I'll send you a money order in the mail on Tuesday, it'll be enough to cover rent through September." I continued. I tossed the script onto the table.
"You okay?" She asked, sitting down next to me.
"I finally got the official cast list. I'm going to make an idiot of myself, I should have never done this." I handed her my phone.
"I recognize a few names on this list." She said.
"Yeah, and one of them plays my husband. Look." I covered my face and she started laughing.
"Well, isn't that something!" She said. "Looks like your dreams are coming true!"
"This isn't funny! This is awful! Do you even know what I have to do with this man for this movie? It's not just kissing, I have to have fake sex with him!"
"Well, just think, you're the luckiest fan in the world!" She laughed some more.
"This is awful, and this time tomorrow everyone in the fandom is going to know my name, I run a fan group of almost 600, and I'm active in a group of over 6,000! I'm going to be inundated with questions and quite possibly, death threats."
"You'll be fine. Now, you're taking both cats?" She asked.
"I'm taking Rebel now, and you guys are bringing Sassy when you come to visit. The studio won't pay to fly her; Rebel is a service cat, so he flies free."
"Okay. She's got all her shots?"
"Everything is up to date. I've got all her paperwork in her carrier in the garage. Also in there are sedatives if you need them. The money to cover her in cabin expenses will be sent when I send rent. Karen is coming tomorrow night after work and will be staying here until you guys bring Sassy. Please make sure she's keeping it clean, I'll be way too busy to check in everyday."
"I think I can handle that. Are you all packed?" She asked.
"For the most part. I've got some last minute things to pack tomorrow."
"Where are they lodging you?" She started to flip through the script.
"I've got a trailer on set. I've got the the most hectic schedule, so it's easier. I won't be the only one, some of the actors in smaller parts will be staying in the trailer park as well. My assistant, Andrea, says its really nice though."
"Well its a major studio production, I'd hope it was nice."
We talked a bit more about my leaving, and soon I had forgotten all about my dilemma. I went to bed that night relatively calm and woke the next morning in the same manner. Until I checked my phone. Over 100 notifications on Facebook, at least twenty text messages, and seven missed calls. All asking the same thing, am I the Astrid Long playing Evan, working with Tom Hiddleston? My anxiety came flooding back as I jumped out of bed, deciding to ignore everything. I'd deal with it when I got to LA. I could stay off of social media until then, I had a million writing projects I was working on to keep me busy, and I could study my script. I also had Ray and Karri to help distract me as well. When they arrived shortly before eight, I was ready to go.
"We've got personal security set up for you, he's picking us up from the airport. He says he knows you." Karri said as we sped away from the only life I knew.
"He does?" I said. Rebel was on my lap, and I was petting him.
"He used to work security for a band, his name is Jake Webber."
"I do know him! How did he get hired on?"
"He saw you post on Facebook that you'd been cast in a movie. He's got connections, and thought it would be cool to surprise you."
"Holy crap, I can't believe he even remembered me."
"He said you made an impression. Something about crying when the lead singer walked into the meet and greet?" Ray pitched in from the drivers seat.
"Oh yeah. I also got compliments from the band after the show, they'd never seen such energy from one person. Those guys are my heroes, they've pulled me from some pretty dark places."
"Well, Jake figures you might want a friendly face around. Your life is about to get really crazy, and Jake seems like he knows crazy." Karri added.
"Yeah, he does. Rebel fans can be a little, passionate."
"So, have you seen social media yet?" Karri asked.
"No, I woke up, saw all the notifications, and decided I'd tackle everything when I got to LA, and had my whole team." I said. I still couldn't wrap around me head that I had a team.
"Smart choice." Ray said.
"That was the most comfortable flight in my life." I said as we got off the plane. "I've never flown first class before. Well, there was once, when I was seven, and the plane had to be rerouted to Buffalo, and I had to get on a different plane to go back to Detroit, but I slept the whole time. Didn't even know the plane had been struck by lightening until I got off and my mom asked me about it."
"That sounds exciting." Ray said. I followed him and Karri to baggage claim, where I saw Jake standing off to the side.
"There he is." I said nodding in his direction. I waved to him and he walked over.
"Well, if it isn't little miss Sunshine." He said pulling me into a hug.
"This is the best surprise ever!" I said. "You're right, I appreciate the friendly face."
"I'm yours for the summer. It'll be nice to be back in LA. Too bad the boys are on tour, I'd arrange a party." He said grabbing my carry-on.
"I've got two suitcases coming." I said. "I was sad to hear you weren't working for them any more."
"Long story, we're all still cool, though. Let me know which ones are yours." He said as we approached the carousel. When my bags came around I pointed them out, and he grabbed them. Since my carry-on was lighter, he gave it back to me.
"Well, lets get you guys to set." Jake said once all the luggage had been claimed. We followed him out to the car. "This is Grady, Astrid, he'll be your driver while you're here." Jake loaded everything into the car. I pulled Rebel out of his carrier and climbed into the back of the Suburban, plopping the black furry mass onto my lap. He was still groggy from being sedated; he didn't fly well, and I thought it would be best to save the other passengers from having to listen to him cry. He spent the whole flight purring on my lap.
The car weaved through traffic while we went over schedules and protocol. As primary cast, I had full access to everything, including free food in the Cantina. There was a first aide building set up that was run by a studio doctor, so if I felt sick, I could go there to get basic and urgent care. I was allowed to come and go as I pleased during my free time, though Jake said if I left set, he or Grady was to be with me at all times. Jake also suggested I give him access to my social media accounts, so he could help weed out the hate, and deal with the onslaught of questions, until I had a publicist. I agreed and wrote everything down. I did make a mental note to talk to the admins of the fan clubs I was in. Hindsight told me I should have done so before the official announcement, just to prepare them. I pulled out my phone and carefully navigated my Facebook and did just that. I was responded with support and assurance that they would help calm things down. The girls I had helping run my own club agreed to take over everything. Jake then helped me set things up so no one could message me unless they were already on my friends list. That alone cleaned out the messages in my inbox to just a handful. I decided that I'd respond to the few I talked to on a regular basis, and then just to a status message to appease the rest.
I had just finished my final conversation on the matter when we pulled into the studio lot. We all had to get out to get our passes, it was a quick affair, and we all piled back in. Rebel even got his own badge, to verify his status as a service animal. Grady took us to our lot, way in the back.
"Welcome to set." Ken said approaching us. He pulled me into a hug. "I'm Ken, its great to finally meet you in person."
"Totally! I'm excited to be here." I looked around.
"A lot of the outside scenes will be filmed on location, I think we're doing all of that the final weeks of filming, in Toledo. All the inside stuff will be here. Once we got funding, it was cheaper to do it this way. You have two trailers, one here, for use between set calls, and one in the trailer park for use during your off time." Ken explained. "We have six trailers here, one for primary crew, one for food, and four for cast. You and Tom will share one, Natalie, Liam, and Peter will share another, and one is for primary cast, and the other for extras. You and Tom have the most taxing scenes, so we figured you guys would appreciate having your own space. The trailers here aren't as spacious as in the trailer park, but still pretty nice."
I nodded; I was looking around, trying to soak it all in. They continued to explain what would happen the next couple days, and I explored my new surroundings. Rebel was on his leash sniffing at the foreign environment.
"Why don't we show you your trailers, then you can rest a bit? You've got the cast dinner and then the launch party tonight." Karri said after my grand tour.
"That sounds nice. I'm sure this fluff ball would enjoy access to a litter box." I followed Karri to the area where the trailers were set up. There were two rows of three. The front trailer in the second row had a star on the door that read "Astrid Long" and underneath, "Tom Hiddleston". This was really happening.
I picked up Rebel, climbed the three steps, and pushed open the door and walked in.
The room had a couch, small dining table, kitchenette, decent sized TV, and a welcome basket on the coffee table. To the left was a bedroom, and on the right, a small bathroom and another bedroom. In the corner by the bedroom door on the right was a litter box, and in the kitchenette were food and water dishes. I un-clipped Rebels leash and set him in the litter box. He pawed at it, before finally using it. I decided that the room on this side would be mine. It had a full sized bed and night stand. There was a small shelf and a tiny two drawer dresser. The bedspread was black and it had gold sheets and red pillow cases. Due to the complexity and the chance of coming across some major mental health triggers, I knew I'd be spending a lot of time in this room. I opened my carry-on bag and pulled out my hand made Loki pillow and its matching blanket. I also pulled out my Lokitty, Lucas. I arranged them on the bed carefully, then realized who would also be spending time here as well, and shoved them back in the bag, replacing them with my TARDIS pillow and old baby blanket I'd named Bwo Bwankie when I was two. I never did get around to pronouncing it correctly, it held more charm to me this way. The blanket had also been my dads when he was a baby. One of the few treasures I have from him that aren't tainted.
"Ready to see your real trailer?" Karri asked. I grabbed Rebel and followed her back to the car. "Andrea is your assistant, you'll meet her on set first thing tomorrow. She's the one that set everything up for Rebel in both trailers, and will continue to care for him, and Sassy, when she gets here, while you're busy on set. Which, Rebel will be allowed on set, as he's a service animal, we have accommodations for him while you're filming. Sassy, will have to stay in the trailers."
"Yeah, I know. She'll be fine to stay in my main trailer. I just didn't want to leave her home to feel abandoned."
"Understandable." Karri directed Grady to the trailer park. "We'll have to get out here, I'm afraid it's a bit of a walk. You do get a golf cart, Andrea will get it for you tomorrow."
"I'm cool with walking." I said following her. As we walked, she went over the guidelines I'd have to follow to maintain the look for my character. "We'll be filming the wedding and honeymoon first, so clean hair and clean shaven is perfect. However, Evan is poor at self care, so after we film those scenes, you'll want to limit hair washing and grooming, I suggest a light washing once or twice a week, so it stays grungy looking. If we need it clean, it'll get washed in make up. Also, you'll need to limit shaving your body hair."
"Like, all of it?" I asked.
"Primarily what we see most, pits and legs. If you groom your pubic area, that's fine. We can add that in easy in post. But to keep things uniform, legs and pits need to be hairy. If it gets uncomfortable, let us know, well see what we can do to accommodate. Can I see your teeth?"
I showed her my teeth.
"Doesn't look like you brush everyday?" She asked.
"I'm kinda bad at oral hygiene." I was suddenly embarrassed of my chipped and broken teeth and visible plaque.
"No, it's perfect. At least for the character. It'll save us time and money since we won't have to make flippers."
"Can I still chew gum and use mouth wash?"
"I'm sure Tom would prefer that you did, since you'll be kissing a lot." She chuckled. I smiled nervously. "Relax. He's a great guy, very easy to work with. You guys will be friends in no time." We stopped in front of a trailer. "Here's your new home."
The trailer was sleek black, it was a 2018 Entegra Coach RV. I opened the door and walked into the most luxurious space I'd ever been in. It was oak paneled with grey leather sofas and grey marble. There was a huge flat screen TV, fireplace, table, full size fridge, stove top, oven, sink, and kitchen table. It had a washer and dryer, a small half bath, and lots of storage space. The bedroom had a king sized bed, TV, more storage space, and its own bathroom complete with full size shower and linen closet. I was in love. The bed had even been decorated in my favorite colors, a giant royal blue bed spread with royal purple sheets, and deep green pillows.
"This place is amazing!" I exclaimed. Jake was bringing in my bags. Karri had taken a seat up in the front.
"Obviously you can't drive it anywhere, but climate controls are up here. It's plugged in and hooked up, so the plumbing and electricity work. You have your own personal WIFI as well, log in info is on the driver's visor." She pointed to it. "I've got some things to do, the cast dinner is at six. Grady has the info. I'll see you at the party tonight."
"You won't be at the dinner?" I asked.
"Nope. It's primary cast only. I'll be at the crew dinner. I don't know all the details, but wear something cute, casual, and slightly fancy. You'll go from the dinner to the party, so best to dress for both. Oh, the party is pretty much much booze, Instagram, Facebook live, and karaoke, with some dialog and dancing in between. It's where we set up all the inside jokes." She headed for the door. "If you need help finding something to wear, hit up main wardrobe out near lot C, they'll hook you up. Grady can take you." She flashed a smile at me before leaving. I leaned against the counter and looked at Jake.
"So, what kind of set up did you get?" I asked. I eyed the fridge.
"Nothing this nice. I'm in a motel down the street. You'll pretty much only need me when you're off lot, but I'm a text away at all times. Just let me know when you want to leave."
"Duly noted." I said I gave into my curiosity and peaked into the fridge. It was full. I'd actually never seen a fridge full, and all the food in it be mine. It was weird. I checked out the cabinets, all filled with food as well. "I have food." I said, a little more excitedly than needed.
"And this is a new concept for you?" Jake asked, looking up from his phone.
"Kinda. It's usually bare bones for me. Living pay check to pay check usually means I get shafted on food. Exhibit A." I motioned to my overweight body.
"Yeah, cheap food can do that; but according to Facebook, you're loosing weight, right?"
"Yeah, but I can't dip below 230 while filming. I weighed in at 247 the other day. When I started this journey, I was 263 in February."
"Sounds like you're doing great! Good job. If you need or want a hand, let me know, I'll be more than happy to help."
"I'm game for everything that doesn't include running."
"Noted. Did you need help unpacking?"
"I'm more of a unpack as I go kinda girl. I will need an outfit for tonight, though." I said ignoring my bags that cluttered the couch and floor.
"Well, why don't we head to the car and get that sorted out, then you can come back and get ready." Jake suggested. I agreed.
"Hi, I'm Astrid. I was told I could come here for an outfit for the Dysfunction of Evan launch party tonight." I said approaching the desk. The building was at the front of the lot, and looked like a warehouse.
"I'm Margo. Come on back, let me get your measurements." She waved me back behind the counter and I followed her into a dressing room. She had me strip down to my bra and panties and measured nearly every inch of me. "I'll be right back."
I waited, feeling rather vulnerable. When she came back, she had three outfits. The first was a little black dress with yellow stones trimming the neckline. The second was a really cute jean mini skirt with a blue halter top. The top was rather low cut and it had a really nice shimmer to it. The third outfit was a pair of jeans with a lime green tube top. She also had various styles of shape wear.
"The undergarments are yours to keep. Chances are, you'll go through several while filming, so keep these to wear to events and off lot. Here are three outfits, pick two. You can borrow them until you're done filming. You can borrow more, but you must swap 'em out. You can only have two borrowed outfits out at a time." She explained. I tried on all three outfits. I opted to keep the dress, the halter top, and the jeans. She then lead me to another room to pick out shoes. I found a cute pair of blue flats and a nice pair of gold kitten heels to match my two outfits. She took my choices to the desk and recorded the items in a log book, I signed some paperwork, and was told to have a fun night.
"She wasn't very chatty." I noted to Jake as I got back in the car. He chuckled.
"Do you know how many people she has to dress a day?"
"Probably more than I care to know. I got a couple cute outfits though."
It was almost five when we got back to my trailer. I quickly fixed my hair and put on some light makeup before putting on the jeans and halter top. Holy shit my boobs looked amazing. The shape wear smoothed everything out and cut me down about two dress sizes, and, did it make me taller? What the fuck? I looked amazing. I felt super pretty, and looked like I belonged in Hollywood. I slipped on the flats and did a cat walk for Jake.
"You look stunning, darlin'!" He said. I gave him a high five. There was a knock at the door as I was putting on my favorite necklace, a gold chain with a pentacle on it, with Nordic ruins engraved along the sides. I wore my faith proudly. I went to the door expecting Grady.
It. Wasn't. Grady.
Holy mother of God. He stood there in the California sun looking like a living Adonis. My eyes widened and the water works started. I just crumpled to the floor like an idiot, bawling my eyes out, Rebel meowing, trying to get into my lap so he could help me calm down.
"I didn't mean to break her." He said with a light chuckle, I assume to Jake.
"I think this is a thing she does." Jake said. I felt warm, gentle hands on me.
"Hello." He said. His voice was velvet. It had a calming effect. "Here." He nudged my hand. I opened my eyes to see him trying to hand me a handkerchief. I took it and attempted to dry my face without destroying my makeup. "Lets get you standing or maybe sitting on the couch."
I was vaguely aware of his assisting me, and I quickly found myself on the couch, and he was handing me a very agitated Rebel. I grabbed my cat and clung to him, letting him lick my chin. His purring calmed me down.
"I'm Tom." He said simply, kneeling before me. "Word on the street is your my new favorite friend." He pointed to the tattoos on my arm. One was Loki's helmet with the word 'kneel' and above it, Moljnir, Thor's hammer. "I love your artwork."
"I'm Astrid. Sorry for the tears, you caught me off guard."
"No need to apologize. I'm sorry for surprising you. I thought it would be fun to attend dinner together."
"Oh, um, yeah, totally." His voice was mesmerizing. I then made the mistake of looking into his eyes. They were by far the kindest, clearest, bluest eyes I'd ever looked into. I felt my eyes start to water again. A single tear escaped. Tom reached up and carefully wiped it away.
"Would you like a hug? I find when my anxiety kicks in, a hug helps." I nodded in response, my voice lost. I moved Rebel off me and let Tom pull me into the best hug I'd ever gotten. Good god he smelled good. Like oranges and something else I couldn't figure out. I felt safe, I felt warm. He kissed the top of my head before pulling away. "Better?"
"Uh, yeah. I guess." I chuckled nervously. "Uh, I'll be right back." I said excusing myself. I scuttled off to my bedroom and closed the door. I quickly dashed into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Thankfully, I only wore waterproof makeup, so my eye makeup was undamaged. I grabbed a wet wipe from my bag and carefully dabbed the tears stains. I then re-blended my powder foundation and took a big breathe. I held it for several seconds before slowly exhaling.
I pulled out my phone and typed out a status to Facebook:
'For all of you wondering, I've just met Tom Hiddleston. I opened my trailer door and there he was, and all I could do was cry and fall to the damn floor. I did get a hug before I retreated to my bedroom to prevent myself from spontaneously combusting.'
I copied and pasted it into my fan club, and into the other big one that I was in. I pulled out Lucas and snapped a photo of him. I navigated to the Lokitty page and posted the picture with a caption reading "My mortal just met Tom Hiddleston, there were lots of tears. Mortals are weird."
I felt calmer. I slipped my phone back into my pocket and went back out, feeling much more composed. What the fuck was I going to do?
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