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 2: In The Club
Grady pulled up to the door of the restaurant and Jake ushered us inside. The cast had a private dinning room all to ourselves. I felt like a VIP. Wait, I AM a VIP. I couldn't wrap my head around it. My heart was pounding in my chest as Tom escorted me to our group. He kept looking at me, making eye contact, which sent my nerves into a flutter. How did he do that? We'd spent the entire forty minute car ride together, alone (since Jake had the brilliant idea of sitting in front and putting up the privacy wall), talking, and I still felt like I was dreaming. Why didn't his touches send my anxiety through the roof like when other people touched me? Each time he made physical contact, it had a calming effect on me. Right now his hand was in the middle of my back and I felt like pudding.
We weren't the first to arrive, but we weren't the last. We took our seats and Tom introduced me to everyone. This was a dinner just for principal and primary cast, so the group was rather small. To my left, was Natalie Portman, playing Evan's best friend Lily. Next to her was Maisie Williams, playing James's sister, Jessica, then was Liam Hemsworth who was playing Kyle, James's best friend. Peter Capaldi sat across from me, he was playing Kurt, Evan's father, and next to him was Jaden Smith, who was playing Byrant, a client of James's with a troubled history. Holden Kelpton, who was playing Evan's younger brother Frankie, hadn't arrived yet.
"Welcome to the club, Astrid." Natalie said reaching over to hug me.
"It's my first movie, I doubt that puts me in the club." I said quietly.
"Oh, it does." Peter said. He held up a bottle of wine. I picked up my glass and let him fill it.
"Landing a lead role with no experience on your first time out, very impressive." Liam said. He raised his glass. "Lets toast to a fabulous production, and the birth of something new." He winked at me. Everyone raised their glasses, said 'cheers' and took sips of their drinks.
Tom fell into conversation with Liam and Maisie, Jaden was on his phone taking pictures, and Natalie and Peter bombarded me with questions about my favorite films and TV shows. It was no secret to me that the majority of the cast had stalked my profile, so I felt like their interest was out of politeness. Still, it was a little overwhelming. By the time Tom swooped in to save me, I felt like I was drowning.
"Are you alright?" He asked quietly.
"Not really, I could use some air." I replied. Tom signaled Jake, who was standing off in the corner.
"I think its a little warm in here for her." Tom said.
"It is a bit stuffy, why don't we go outside for a moment, Astrid?" Jake held out his hand. I took it, tossing a look of gratitude to Tom.
Once outside, I took a deep breath and leaned against the wall of the building.
"I hope you don't mind, I clued Tom in about your anxiety. I figured since you'll be working with him closely, he should know."
"Thank you. It came in handy." I said. "I get into situations that overwhelm me and my anxiety kicks in. I can't get myself out, because my anxiety makes me feel rude, and if I am able to get out, I obsess over it for ages. Or if I do something stupid, it lingers." I looked up at him. "I still find myself obsessing over things that happened years ago that no one but me probably remembers. Like my meet and greet with Rebel, when I started to head for the gate before it was time to."
Jake thought for a moment. " I vaguely remember that. But I could also tell you were not only keyed up on having met your heroes, but your anxiety was through the roof. No need to worry about it, I knew you weren't a threat."
"See, logic tells me that, but what ever part of my brain controls anxiety, doesn't get it. I'm broken."
"You aren't broken, you just work differently." He said. "Nothing wrong with that."
"Haha, tell that to my brain." I said. Jake smiled at me.
"Yeah, and I'll be even better when I have more wine." I replied. Jake laughed.
"Well, lets get you back inside." I let him escort me back to the private dining room. When we entered, I noticed Holden had arrived, and had soaked up nearly everyone's attention.
"You're alright?" Clearly, Holden didn't have Tom's attention.
"I'm good." I said picking up my glass of wine. He smiled and protectively put his hand on the back of my chair. I settled in to listen to Holden talk about his movie. It was some sci-fi flick that had just came out, he had a supporting role.
I sat and quietly ate when our meals were brought out. Soaking in what was happening around me. I think Tom had picked up on my level of discomfort and preference to not talk, because when ever the conversation drifted towards me, he'd steer it a different direction. Fuck, did he read minds? Every time I dared to glance at him, he'd turn his head slightly and wink at me.
After dinner, I was excited to escape. I hurried to the suburban and quickly got in. Tom followed, and stood outside the open door.
"I'm going to ride to the party with Liam, if that's alright. You look tired, I thought you'd prefer to rest." What planet was he from? Fuck.
"Oh, uh, yeah. Thank you." Shit, I forgot about the party. I started wracking my head to find ways to try and get out of it, then panic set in, because as the star of the movie, it would be bad if I didn't show up.
"Not to put any more pressure on you, but there will be media there." He slipped me a piece of folded paper. "I'm sure you already have it, it's on the cast list, but if you need it, use it." He smiled at me and closed the door. I unfolded the paper, and found his phone number. As Grady pulled away, I felt my mouth start to water. Oh god. No. I covered my mouth and smacked Jake on the shoulder. He turned and looked at me.
"Shit, Grady, stop." He said. Grady slammed on the brakes and Jake produced a plastic bag, just in time for me to retch. Jake got out of the car and came around to the back seat. He pulled my hair up and rubbed my back as I hurled up the most expensive dinner I'd ever eaten, into a grocery bag. There was a tap at the window. Of Course. I looked up, it was Maisie.
I pressed the button and let the window down a couple inches.
"Are you alright?" She asked.
"She's not used to such fancy food." Jake answered for me.
"There's a bin out here, let me toss that for you." She reached for the bag. I tied it closed and handed it to her. She turned for a moment. "I'm not going straight to the party, I want to check out the beach first. Would you like to come?"
I processed my options and weighed the pros and cons. Tom's number was still clutched between my fingers, somehow surviving the purge.
"I find the ocean air helps calm me." She said with one of the sweetest smiles I'd ever seen.
"Actually, the beach sounds wonderful." I said.
"Come on, we'll take my car." She opened the door.
"We'll follow behind." Jake said.
Maisie had a cute little Mercedes that she rented. I climbed in the passenger side and she took off.
"How was your first Hollywood event?" She asked with a smile.
"Unnerving." I said.
"It's a lot to take in, especially when you're just thrown into it with no idea what to expect."
"It's not that, it's more who I'm working with. Natalie is my favorite actress, I've been following her since 1999 when I saw Star Wars. Don't get me started about Tom." As I spoke, I saved his number in my phone. Maisie handed me a piece of gum.
"Yeah, he has that effect on people. Once you relax though, it goes away."
"No, I'm a huge fan, not like, stan level, but, to give you a general idea, I have a pillow case with his face on it."
"Do you kiss the pillow?" She asked looking at me.
"No, it's actually in a closet someplace. They didn't size it right, his head is twice the size of a normal human being, and it creeps me out. I do have a six foot long body pillow I, uh, cuddle with while I watch his movies on repeat." I admitted. "I'm a very lonely person."
"I see nothing wrong with any of this. When I was younger, I did the same thing with my celebrity crush." She said.
"It's embarrassing." I stated.
"Not at all, we do what we have to do to ease the loneliness. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, there's nothing to worry about. Just don't tell him, ha-ha." She gave me a warm smile.
"Trust me, I don't intend for him to ever find out."
Maisie was easy to talk to. She was the same age as my youngest sister, and she gave a comforting presence. We talked as we walked the surf. Not about work, but life; our childhoods, what brought us to where we were now. It was peaceful and helped me calm down a lot. At least I knew I had one friend. I felt much more confident about doing the movie. It still didn't help with my Tom situation, though. She said in a couple days, I'd start to relax, to just remember we are all on the same level and we are all human.
We spent about an hour at the beach before going to the party. We sang along to the radio with the windows down, and by the time we arrived, I was in a party mood. We were obviously the last to arrive, but no one seemed to notice. Maisie and I headed over to a large red velvet booth where the rest of the primary cast was sitting, talking and drinking among themselves. Karaoke was in full swing, and I veered off to put my name in before I lost my nerve, grabbing a drink from the bar before entering the VIP section.
I smiled at everyone and settled in between Maisie and Peter. Peter pointed to my glass.
"What's your poison?"
"Jameson on the rocks with a twist." I said. "I usually don't add the lemon, but I thought I'd spice things up a bit."
"Not many woman can drink whiskey like that, I'm impressed." He said. He nodded to Tom, who was sitting next to him. "Seems like the two of you have something in common."
"He prefers his neat and straight." I replied.
"I see you've done your homework." Tom chimed in.
"What kind of fan would she be if she hadn't?" Peter asked him.
"I only took an interest after I found out that was your drink of choice. I thought it was funny. I've been drinking this a lot longer than I've known about you."
"Known about me or my drink?" He asked with a wink.
"Your drink." I said. I turned my attention to Maisie, who was deep in conversation with Jaden about her film, Early man. Well, not something I could jump in on, I hadn't seen the film, and didn't really have the desire too. I turned my head to ask Peter a question about Doctor Who, only for him to get up before I could speak. Tom was looking at me.
"So, how long have you known about me? I'm curious."
"Uh, The Gathering Storm. I saw it on BBCAmerica the year I turned 13." I said.
"Wow was quite a while ago. You're how old, 28, I think your audition sheet said?"
"Yeah. I'll be 29 in a few weeks."
"What did you think of it? The Gathering Storm is not usually what people know me from."
"I thought you looked like a British Justin Timberlake wannabe. Actually, I didn't make the connection until after I saw Age of Utlron, then went back and watched The Avengers. That's when I really got interested. I looked you up on IMDB and said 'No fucking way that's the same guy'. You've come a long way." I said. I made sure to keep my eyes on my drink, studying the ice cubes as they melted. He laughed and put his arm up on the bench, near my shoulder.
"You didn't notice in Thor?"
"I was too busy watching Natalie to pay attention. That and you hurt Anthony Hopkins, and at the time, I couldn't admire anyone who hurt Hannibal."
"Fair enough." He looked me up and down. "I find you quite interesting. This is going to be fun." He said getting up. He flagged down Ken and strode off. I felt like I could breathe again.
I took several sips of my drink and leaned back. I scanned the room for Jake and Grady. At first I couldn't see them, then, on my third lap of the room, I saw them near the door. Jake nodded and I gave him a thumbs up. So far, I was doing okay.
Liam found me then, with a plate of food. How could he possibly be hungry after that dinner? He sat down and offered me some shrimp.
"No thanks, I'm still trying to digest dinner." I said. At least I wasn't nervous around him. I enjoyed his films, but that was it, I wouldn't consider myself a fan.
"You look bored." He said. Okay, his accent was hot, but that was it.
"I'm trying to process everything. This is so different from everything I've known, and never where I expected to find myself."
"I can understand that. When I moved here to be an actor, it was terrifying. Once you make a name for yourself and build a rep, it's not so bad, and you find things come easier when you work with people you never thought you'd be on par with." He paused, setting his plate on the table in front of us. "I remember when Chris was cast as Thor, he couldn't believe he'd be working with Anthony Hopkins. He was so nervous he made himself sick." Liam and I both laughed. "Don't tell anyone I told you that, it's supposed to be confidential."
"Okay, but only if you say 'confidential' again." I said giggling. He obliged, drawing the word out, making me laugh harder.
"So, who here, besides the obvious, has you nervous?" He asked.
"Natalie. She's been my favorite actress since Phantom Menace. Ten year old me loved Queen Amidala, and therefore, Natalie."
"Well, she's a great person, easy to get along with. I know you guys will be fast friends. I think you guys are filming together tomorrow with A unit, right?" He asked. I nodded.
"Yeah. All day." I said. He smiled.
"I think you'll be fine." He waved at Natalie. She smiled, concluded her conversation, and came over, squeezing in between us.
"Hi!" She said. "What's going on?"
"Trying to wear her down." Liam said.
"Aww, Astrid, don't be nervous!" She said. She held her arms open, silently asking for a hug. I leaned in, letting her hug me. "We are going to be friends, I can tell. All of us are." She said. She pulled away and I sucked down the rest of my drink.
"Next singer we have is, Astrid! Come on up!" The DJ called my name.
"Go kill it!" Natalie said. I smiled at her as I got up and made my way to the stage.
I got up there and grabbed the mic as the song started. I waited for the words to light up on the monitor, and tried to ignore the room as I started singing "Take me to Church". I dared to glance up a few times, each time I did, Tom was staring at me. When the song was over, the room exploded into applause.
"Damn, you've got a voice!" Ray said coming up to me as I stepped off the stage. He patted me on the back. "I've got a great feeling about you." He said.
"Thanks." I replied. I needed another drink.
"How come you didn't mention your vocal talent?" He asked. I started towards the bar, he followed.
"No one asked." I said simply. I got to the bar and ordered my drink.
"So you can act, sing, can you dance?" He asked.
"I took belly dance lessons for a short time several years ago, and I've picked up a few things here and there, but I don't think I can dance." I leaned against the bar top.
"Well, we'll find out." He said. He was pulled away by someone and I was left alone until the bar tender came back with my drink.
"Transfer her tab to mine." Tom said from behind me, handing over his card. The bar tender nodded. I spun, finding Tom much closer than I expected.
"I can buy my own drinks." I said.
"I'm sure you can, but you're the star of the film, you shouldn't have to, and I'm more than willing to buy them." He was literally inches away, I could feel his body heat, smell his cologne. I opened my mouth to argue back, but he winked at me and walked away. I took a large sip of my drink and rejoined Natalie. She gushed over my singing, before we fell into conversation about things we had in common.
I woke up the next morning to a knocking on the door. I dragged myself out of bed and opened it. There was a girl with pitch black hair, red framed glasses, and a tablet in hand.
"Hi! I'm Andrea, I'll be your assistant." She said. I stepped back to let her in. "I wanted to go over the days schedule with you. First thing today, in about an hour, we have the table read for the scenes you'll be doing today, you'll break for an early lunch, then head to hair and make up, then wardrobe. You'll be working on three rather long scenes today, scenes 17, 33, and 25 in that order. At six, you'll break for dinner, then at seven you'll be in the rehearsal studio going over choreography for the wedding reception scenes next week. That will go on until about nine, then you'll be done for the night." As she spoke, I changed into jeans and a t-shirt, and slipped on my favorite flats.
"I've never done this before, so lets start over, okay? Hi Andrea, I'm Astrid, it's nice to meet you." I said.
"It's nice to meet you, too. Sorry, I'm in a rush, I was supposed to be here an hour ago, but my planning meeting ran over. We still need to get your golf cart, so you can easily travel around set." She said.
"Can I have breakfast?"
"Breakfast will be served at the table read." She said. She eyed Rebel's leash on the counter. I grabbed it. "How is he adjusting?" She asked.
"He's pissed, but he'll get over it." I called him, and he came running from the bedroom. I clipped on his leash. He was already wearing his vest, I hadn't taken it off, because he knows as long as it's on, he's working. Though he was really good about tending to me even when he wasn't wearing it, with the current situation, I felt keeping it on was best. I scooped him up. "Thank you for setting things up for him."
"Not a problem, that's why I'm here. If you need anything, let me know, I'll get it done. All you need to worry about is making a movie. How do you want me to answer your phone?"
"Oh, you don't have to do that. Anyone who would be calling me that doesn't know what I'm doing, is probably not someone I want to talk to." I told her. "Though, if I have a medical emergency, you'll need my code to access my emergency information." I told her what it was.
"I'll make sure to remember that." She said. I followed her outside. She produced a set of keys, and used one to lock the door, since my hands were full of cat. "The cart lot isn't far from here, so we can walk. You can use it to travel around the studio, to set, to the canteen, wardrobe, as long as you don't take it off the studio lot, you're fine. Comes in handy when you've got a short break, and want to get away from set."
As she explained in more detail about how things operated, I followed her, soaking in my surroundings. Ray told me there were currently six other films being shot at various stages, and it wasn't uncommon for people to drop by to say hi to friends, so I could expect anyone at any time. When we arrived to the cart lot, Andrea did all the work, I just smiled and signed the paper work. I was given a key for myself, and Andrea got one as well. She and I were authorized to drive it, so was Jake, should he ever see the need.
Andrea drove me to set, I had to admit, it was kind of nice to have someone to do all the extra work for me. She listed off her duties, including helping care for my cats and keeping my trailers tidy. Not having to think about housework was a huge plus.
We arrived to set about ten minutes before the table reading started. I entered the room and sat down at my assigned seat. I was going to be sandwiched between Tom and Natalie.
"Would you like anything? You said you needed breakfast, what would you like me to get you?"
"Hot tea, please. English Breakfast with a dash of cream and a tablespoon of honey, and a bagel; plain with a fruit cream cheese." I said getting myself settled. "Oh, and a banana."
"Sure thing, Ms Long." She said as she dashed out of the room. I glanced over at Maisie, who looked like she was ready to fall asleep.
"Morning." I said to her. She looked up and gave me a tired smile.
"Good morning. How did you sleep?" She asked. She contemplated the drink in front of her.
"Really well, actually. The mattress in my trailer is super comfortable." I said, trying not to yawn.
"That's one thing they do well here; take care of us. I know a few studios that could care less about our comfort." She said. She smiled as the door opened and Tom walked in. "Morning!"
"Hello, ladies." He said with a smile. He took his seat next to me. "I see you survived your first party." He said.
"Oh, uh, yeah." I scratched Rebel's chin, who was purring softly on my lap. " You Hollywood types know how to get your groove on." I said lamely. Tom chuckled, checking out Rebel.
"I heard he was a support animal." He said warmly. I pulled Rebel from my lap and placed him on the table.
"You can pet him if you want, he's friendly. Spoiled rotten as well." I said. I always felt at ease talking about Rebel, because the attention wasn't on me. Tom reached over and let the black mass of fur sniff his hand. Rebel touched his nose to Tom's fingers a few times before rubbing his face against the palm of his hand. Tom lit up at having gained my cats approval. "Well, Reb seems to think you are good people." I said.
"That's good." Tom said laughing. He bent down and nuzzled Rebel, who meowed his approval and sprawled out on the table for Tom to rub his belly.
"That's my cat, a big affection whore." I said. Tom rubbed Rebels belly and kissed his head. How the fuck was this so sexy? I was glad when I saw Andrea coming with my breakfast, I tied the end of Rebels leash to my belt loop and put him on the floor.
"He's a sweetheart." Tom said leaning back in his seat.
"He has his moments. Mostly, he just likes attention."
"Ms Long, here's your breakfast. I also brought you a bottle of water and some granola." Andrea said setting down my food. I smiled at her.
"Thank you, Andrea. I appreciate it." I opened the little carryout box she had set down and pulled out the banana.
"Should I remember how you take your tea? " she asked.
"Uh, for breakfast, yes. Any other time, it changes depending on my mood." I said. I took a sip of the tea, and smiled. "This is perfect."
"I'll be working on your schedule for the next week while your doing the read, but if you need anything, let me know. " Andrea quickly sent me a text message so I would have her number, then quickly ducked out.
I nibbled on my banana as the rest of the days cast arrived. Ray was the last, and he was ten minutes late. Tom leaned over and said this was usual for him, and on High-Rise, they had what was called 'Ray-Time'. I smiled and whispered back that it looked like things hadn't changed.
"If you two are done whispering, I'd like us to get started. We've got a busy day ahead of us and I've got a dinner meeting, so we have to finish on time." Ray said staring at Tom and I. Tom gave him a cocky grin. "Don't teach her bad habits. " Ray jokingly added.
"To begin, scene 17. Lily and Evan are at lunch. The tone is light at first, then takes a serious turn as dialog continues." Ray pointed to me and Natalie. "Remember, you are best friends from childhood."
I flipped to the scene in the script that was on the table.
"Evan, did you hear about Margy?" Natalie said, starting us off
"No, but anything you tell me will be less than surprising. She's been a train wreck since high school." I said in response.
"Oh, you're going to love this. She was caught having an affair with the senior partner at her husbands law firm. Turns out all three of her kids, are his, not Peters."
"Jesus. Peter must be pissed."
"Not sure, he left town. Hasn't been seen in a couple weeks."
"A couple weeks? When did all of this go down? "
"Like, three days after you guys took off for the honey moon. Your quick, not a shot-gun wedding, was not the talk of the town while you we're gone."
"Hey, I'm fine with that. I hate being the topic of gossip."
"Yeah well, I think Mrs. Hopewell is still expecting a baby bump soon."
"That's not happening. James and I are no where near ready for that circus. Let's see if we can undo all the damage from Micheal, first." As I spoke, I drifted to the more serious tone the script called for.
"Mmmm. How did your wedding night go?"
"It went really well. Of course, I realized I'd never told him about Micheal's' inability to adhere to the word 'no', so I had to. James took it better than I thought."
"He agrees with you, that Micheal raped me."
"I knew James was a smart man. So after you told him?"
"He was very gentle, at first. "
"Oh?" Natalie's voice spiked with interest.
"Once I figured out that I liked having sex, things got very heated. We may have broken the shower rod." I said in an amused tone.
"Well look at that. Evan likes sex. Welcome to the club." She paused. "What's wrong?"
"He's very insatiable. I'm worried it's the only reason he married me. "
"Ev, the man loves you. No man hangs around and marries a girl because he wants to have sex. You wanted to wait, so he respected that. That's a good thing. You're so used to being played, you've gotta learn to enjoy the fact that you've got a good man."
"Still, what if I'm not enough? "
"And end scene." Ray said. "Good job ladies. Astrid, your a pro at dialog. I love it. You're going to be great. Let's move on."
Tom leaned over. "Welcome to the club. " he whispered.
Ready for the rest of the story?
The complete story is live on Wattpad.