Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 2

“Coming,” I call as I walk to my hotel room door to answer it.

We landed a few hours ago, and a bus transported the entire crew to our hotel for the next two nights. I grabbed a quick power nap before getting ready for tonight.

I open my door to reveal Matt dressed in tight-fitting black jeans, a black shirt, and a blazer.

“You look great, Matt,” I say as I let him in.

“Says you, Holly!” He looks me up and down with a wolf whistle. “You look divine! If only I were straight!” He wiggles his eyebrows at me, and I laugh.

I turn and look at myself in the mirror. I’ve got a figure-hugging strappy gold dress on that shows off my curves and nude peep-toe heels. My last trip was to Barbados, and I caught a bit of a tan. The sun has drawn out more of the golden highlights in my hair, which I’ve styled in loose waves and swept round to one side with a vintage hair clip. I’ve done my eye makeup sultry and smoky and kept my lips nude. I’m so glad I packed an emergency going out outfit in my suitcase. Hopefully it’s not too much, but people dress up in LA. It’s not like I’m making the extra effort in case I talk to Jay Anderson again. I spray one last spritz of my perfume, the one I save for nights out. It’s heady and rich. I always feel sexy when I wear it.

“Shall we?” I take my nude clutch and key card off the bedside table and turn to Matt.

“Ladies first,” he says, and we head out.

After a couple of preshow drinks in the hotel bar, we find ourselves a little tipsy as we take our seats in the After Hours film studio.

“This is awesome!” Matt whispers to me.

It’s almost full now with everyone in their seats, and there’s an excited hum of chatter all around us. The audience members are predominantly women. A dark-haired girl sitting next to me turns and talks, her voice high with excitement.

“Hi, I’m Macy. I’m so thrilled to be here! Can you believe that Jay Anderson is a guest on tonight’s show? I’ve come from New York with my girlfriends just to see him.” She gestures at the three buzzing women next to her who all smile back as I raise a hand in greeting. “He’s such a private person; he doesn’t give much away about his personal life in interviews like this. I think it’s so sexy that he’s mysterious, you know? Like, for the right woman he would open up and bare his soul. So romantic.” Macy sighs with a hand on her chest.

“He’s certainly got something,” I say to her. “I’m Holly by the way, and this is my friend Matt.” I gesture to my left. He raises a hand to say hi.

“Oh, you’re English!” says Macy in delight. “I love your accent!”

“Thanks.” I laugh.

Our conversation is cut short by a loud cheer, and a guy appears at the front of the stage, introducing himself as Jimmy, the warm-up guy. He explains how he will hold up different boards with instructions on them, such as the applause board signaling when we should clap. He has us all practice a few times and tells some jokes and the entire audience is laughing, whooping, and whistling. The atmosphere is electric and energetic. I look around the studio where the show will soon start. There are cameras on tracks, enormous lights, and lots of people with headsets on. The stage itself looks like a trendy apartment with bookshelves in the background and a large window with lights from the city twinkling in the distance. There are two plush leather sofas in a deep brown and a table between them with a jug of iced water and glasses.

The audience hushes as Jimmy holds up a countdown timer signaling that the show is going live in 3,2,1. The familiar theme tune plays and the audience stand up from their seats, erupting into applause as the show’s host, Patrick Howard, appears on stage. He’s wearing a gray pinstripe suit and a white shirt. He’s maybe sixty years old, with wavy gray hair and a warm, friendly face. The sort of person you perhaps feel you can tell your secrets to. No wonder he’s so successful as the show’s host, a job he’s had for years. He’s never short of famous guests willing to come and sit on his couch and be interviewed.

“Thank you, thank you,” he says. “Wow, what a night we have for you, ladies and gentlemen,” he begins. “We’ve got Victoria’s Secret model, Anya Katiss here, country music band, The Rush, playing their new single from their platinum album, and ladies,” Patrick pauses, “and men of course.” He smiles. “You are in for a treat tonight!”

Someone in the audience shouts out, “Yes!” and the rest of the audience laughs.

Patrick continues. “Tonight, for your visual and audio—and every-other-sense-you-want-to-invoke pleasure—we have the incredible star of the US FBI show Steel Force, Jay Anderson!” The audience goes wild, bolting up from their seats, screaming and cheering. I even see what looks like a thong being flung toward the stage. I turn to Matt. He saw it too, and we both burst out laughing.

“This is crazy!” I whisper to him as the roar dies down.

“I know, right.” He looks at me, slightly glassy-eyed from our earlier drinks. His excitement is undeniable. “I feel like an obsessive eater at an all-you-can-eat buffet! I don’t know what you did on the flight, Holly. You obviously made an impression on Mr Anderson for him to invite us like this.”

“No, I just did my job” I say. But a brief flicker of something stirs deep down in my stomach. I quickly extinguish it. The thought is ridiculous. I’m a girl from a small town in England. He’s a Hollywood actor. “He was just being kind, that’s all,” I say back to Matt.

“Oh, Holly Darling, you need to give yourself some credit we are here because Jay Anderson wants in your panties! I’m telling you, if you get the chance to let your hair down with a man like that, even if it’s just for one night, grab it by the balls—literally!” he says, giving me an exaggerated wink.

“Matt!” I gasp. “That is not it.”

“If you insist, Holls, if you insist,” he says, deciding to believe his far-fetched version of reality instead. “One day you’ll realize just how amazing you are, and you’ll find someone who almost deserves you. Then I’m coming to your wedding to have first dibs on the hot, single guys.”

We sit on the edge of our seats as we watch the rest of the show. There are some light news segments and funny clips played that viewers have sent in. Patrick interviews Anya Katiss, the Victoria’s Secret model. I swear I have never seen such long, perfect legs in my life. It makes me think of a video online I saw of a woman in hot pants and stilettos performing a high kick to close the trunk of a car while holding a baby in one arm. How genetics even engineer legs like hers is a mystery to me. She looks like an exotic goddess, her long raven hair poker straight, long eyelashes fanning over her high cheekbones as she blinks, her mouth a perfect dark rosebud. She’s talking about a new perfume called Capture that she’s launching, and free samples are being handed out to the audience. The bottle is made of frosted glass in a heart shape with red and silver metallic streaks through it. It’s stunning, and the perfume smells like an enchanted orchard in moonlight.

“This is some good shit,” Matt says, taking a sniff.

“You have such a way with words,” I joke. But I must agree with him. Anya Katiss and her perfume are otherworldly.

I draw my eyes back to the stage as a hush of anticipation falls across the studio. The host, Patrick, seems to enjoy the building suspense.

“I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for tonight,” he says, shaking his head.

A gasp runs through the audience and someone wails “No!” Patrick looks up guiltily.

“I’m just messing with you! Hell, I want to make it home tonight in one piece,” he jokes as he pretends to look worried.

There’s a relieved murmur around the audience as Patrick throws his arms wide.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our next guest, the one and only, Jay Anderson!”

My eardrums might explode. The noise the audience makes is insane. I glance around and they’re whooping and whistling. Macy, the girl next to me, is jumping up and down in excitement. Matt grabs my hand and squeezes it. I’m worried he’s going to break a finger and am about to yank my arm back when he lets go, his eyes glued to the stage. I look over and there he is.

Jay Anderson.

He looks even better than I remember. He’s wearing smart dark-gray trousers, brown shoes and belt, and a white shirt, open at the neck with the sleeves rolled up his forearms. An expensive-looking watch glints under the studio lights on his wrist. He’s waving to the audience and smiling, his perfect white teeth dazzling us. His dark-sandy hair is just the perfect length. It looks effortlessly styled, like he just wakes up like that. He shakes Patrick’s hand, and they have a man hug, patting each other on the back like old friends before he sits down next to Anya Katiss, kissing her hello on the cheek. She seems to slide ever so slightly closer to Jay as he sits down. Or maybe I’m imagining it.

“Thank you for coming, Jay. I think it’s safe to say we’ve got some fans of yours in the audience tonight,” says Patrick.

A woman calls out, “I love you, Jay!” and holds up a sign, with what I presume is her phone number written on it.

He smiles and his eyes crinkle at the corners. “Thank you for having me, Patrick.”

There’s that deep, dreamy voice again. I swallow as I sit glued to my seat, watching him.

“Now let’s start with your show, Steel Force,” says Patrick. “You’ve been the lead character on the show for two seasons now and it’s just been renewed for a third.”

“Yes, that’s right. We’ve got a couple of months break from filming now, before we’re back at it.”

“So, what have you got planned for the next two months?” asks Patrick.

“I want to take some time to see my family, and I’ve got some projects I’m working on.”

“Any special friends in the picture?” Patrick asks with a cheeky smile. “Come on, you can tell your friend, Patrick,” he jokes.

Jay smiles and looks down at his shoes. “I will know her when I meet her,” he says, his voice soft.

Anya Katiss uncrosses and recrosses her legs on the sofa. She must feel it too, his undeniable sex appeal. Sitting that close to him and not being able to jump into his lap must be torture.

Patrick continues the interview, and they talk about upcoming movie roles and the superhero trilogy rumor. Jay is charming but gives nothing away. Then Patrick gets up and takes a handheld microphone from one of the stage assistants.

“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, it’s now time for you, the audience, to ask the questions.” He bounds up the stairs in between the seats and looks around at the eager hands which have flown up into the air. He holds his microphone out to the lady wearing the ‘I love Jay’ T-shirt, who grabs it in both hands.

“My question is for Jay,” she says. “How would you describe your perfect woman?”

Jay looks up at her. “Well, I like someone to be honest and upfront,” he says, gesturing to her T-shirt. The audience chuckles. “Someone who can make me laugh and challenge me to look at things differently. A best friend, I guess,” he says with what I detect is a hint of sadness.

I’m still pondering this when Matt elbows me hard in the ribs.

“Ow, what did you do that for?” I say as I turn to him, but my annoyance turns to sheer terror when I see Patrick Howard grinning at me with his microphone thrust under my chin.

“Your name, my darling?” he says, amused at my reaction.

“Er, Holly.” I gulp.

“Well, lovely Holly, do you have a question for Jay?” he asks.

There is silence as the whole studio waits to see what I am going to say.

“Um,” I squeak.

Shit, I need to think of a clever question and fast. My face is getting hot and I’m pretty sure if my heart beats any harder I could start a band.

“Do you have any pets?” I blurt out.

There’s a disgruntled mumble from some members of the audience, disappointed that I didn’t use my chance to ask him more about his ideal woman or even what he likes in bed. Jay, however, looks happy at the change in subject.

“Holly,” he says in his beautiful, deep voice that makes my insides melt. “No, I don’t have any pets.  However, I find animals fascinating. I saw an interesting program recently on rainforest birds.” His eyes hold mine and an amused smile plays on his lips as he runs his hand over his jaw.

“Lovely,” I manage, wishing aliens would abduct me now so I could escape the mortification of my lame question. Patrick moves on and I take a deep breath. Jay is still watching me with the same amused expression. He must think I’m such a loser.

Matt and I watch the rest of the show before the country band plays their latest song release, a catchy number about drinking whiskey under the stars. It’s been incredible being part of the live audience and watching the show being filmed. We’ve had a blast. We say goodbye to Macy and her friends and make our way to the exit when a guy with a clipboard and earpiece approaches us.

“Hi, Holly, Matt, I’m Stefan.” He holds out his hand and we both take turns shaking it.

He’s dressed in skinny jeans and a checked shirt. Thick-framed glasses outline his dark hazelnut eyes, and he has a dark quiff. He’s rocking the trendy nerd vibe, and I can tell out of the corner of my eye that Matt is checking him out.

“I’m Jay’s manager,” he says. “He asked me to look out for you guys. Listen, there are a few of us going out to a club nearby now that filming has finished. You guys are welcome to join us.”

I look over at Matt, who widens his eyes at me. I can tell he’s into Stefan and would kill me if I cut tonight short.

“Sure, sounds like fun,” I hear myself say. I mean, what’s wrong with another opportunity to humiliate myself in front of Jay Anderson?


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