Part One: Alex
As she stood on the set of her first big Hollywood film, her stomach churned with nerves. On her forehead, tiny droplets of perspiration accumulated. Her hands faintly trembled as she rubbed them together and paced the floor.
“Hey, Mercy. Have you met your co-star yet?” John, the on-set still photographer asked while snapping a photo of her sweating profusely.
“No, not yet,” Mercy replied.
“Well, he’s around here somewhere. I’m sure you’ll run into him soon,” he said, moving on to photograph something else that had caught his attention.
"Why am I so nervous?" she asked herself.
It wasn’t as if it was her first time on a movie set, but the two other sets she had been on were significantly smaller than the one in which she stood.
Mercy has been an international top 20 recording star since the age of fifteen. That meant she had performed for crowds of thousands in the past. She was used to steeling her nerves and keeping her cool. Yet at that moment, she couldn’t remember a time when she had felt the jitters so intently.
“Snap the hell out of it, Mercedes!” she chided herself internally.
Mercedes de la Cruz is her given name. Throughout the years, it has been shortened. First to just Mercedes, then shorter still to Mercy. Her manager Tom had been the first to start calling her Mercy. Now, there is rarely a soul, besides her mother, that calls her by her given name. She’s become like all the one name wonders that have come before her; Cher, Madonna, just to name a couple. She grew to like it, after all, Mercedes is simply the Spanish word for mercy anyway.
She took a long, slow sip of water. The coolness soothed her parched throat. She shook out her hands and took a deep breath to calm her nerves. Suddenly from behind, she heard a loud confident voice.
“Hi, I’m Aleksander. They tell me we’ll be working together.”
Startled, she jumped, sending water from her bottle splashing onto her face. She heard a hearty laugh. Slowly turning around, she saw him. There before her, with his hand extended, stood the beautiful, tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Swede, Aleksander Eriksson. She nearly swooned as she took in his handsome face. He was practically Hollywood royalty.
She stuttered her response. “Um... hi. I’m, uh... Mercedes, but you can call me Mercy.”
She hesitantly took his hand in her sweaty palm and shook it.
“Fantastic! Mercy, you can call me Alex. I’m actually a big fan of your music,” he replied, flashing her a smile that made her stomach do flips. “Um, you have some water on your face. Here…,” he said as he tossed her a towel from a nearby table.
She caught the towel and gently dabbed her face. She knew she stood there staring, but she couldn’t help herself. She was completely star-struck.
She had seen all of Aleksander’s films; he was a jack of all trades and dabbled in just about every movie genre there was, and he excelled in them all. That’s why he was considered such a brilliant actor among his peers and in the industry in general. He was hands down her biggest celebrity crush.
You might be thinking, ‘but she’s a celebrity too!’ So she is, but even celebrities have celebrity crushes, and he was hers.
He was gorgeous; it was as if someone had chiseled his features from marble. Like Michelangelo’s David, he had a well-defined jawline and skin like ivory. He was a god amongst men.
“Are you okay?” Alex asked, snapping her back into reality.
“Huh?” she said, looking up at him confused. She had forgotten she’d been staring.
“Do I have something on my face?” he asked with a playful grin.
“Oh, no. I’m sorry. Was I staring? I zone out sometimes.” She immediately regretted saying it.
“He’s gonna think I’m some space cadet. How the hell am I going to play this man’s love interest without looking like a bumbling fool?”
“You seem nervous. I totally understand. I was super nervous during my first few films too. How old are you? I mean, if you don’t mind me asking,” he said, pulling two chairs from nearby and motioning for her to sit.
“I’m nineteen going on twenty,” she replied, taking the seat he offered. “How old are you?” she asked as if she didn’t already know.
She knew exactly how old he was. Mercy knew just about any public knowledge there was to know about Alex. For example, she knew he was six feet and four inches tall. She also knew his father was the famous actor Samuel Eriksson. He had two brothers from his dad’s marriage to his mother. They had since divorced. Mercy also knew he had two young half-brothers by his dad’s new wife.
“Nineteen! Shit... I’m an old man compared to you. You’re a baby!” He laughed.
“A baby who desperately needs a babysitter. Are you available?” she mischievously thought.
She could feel the beginnings of a blush creeping up her cheeks.
“So, how old are you?” she asked once again, still pretending she didn’t know.
“Twenty-six,” he finally replied.
“Wow... twenty-six, huh? How do you get around so well without your walker?” she teased, the tension she felt slowly melting away.
He laughed so loud the surrounding people stopped working for a moment.
“You’re hilarious!” he replied.
“Yeah, well. If acting and music don’t pan out, I plan on going into stand-up comedy,” she continued to tease, feeling more relaxed.
“I think we’re gonna have a great time together,” he said, tilting his chair back and smiling.
The first week on set was crazy. There were table reads, rehearsals, and costume fittings. By the time their day off came, it felt like they had been working over a month. Mercy spent her first day off sleeping. She only briefly got up to eat and call her mother.
“Mami!” she yelled when her mother answered the phone.
“Hey, baby! How’s it going there on that big Hollywood set?” Sandra, her mother, asked.
“Fantastic, but so damn tiring!” she replied.
“Chiquita, watch your language!” Sandy scolded.
“Sorry, Mom...” Mercy replied, rolling her eyes.
She was nineteen years old and her mother still acted like she didn’t curse ninety-five percent of the time.
“So, have you been eating well?” her mother asked.
“Yes, Mom. Have you been eating well?” Mercy asked in return.
“Ay, Mija. As well as I can. You know I’m always so nauseous,” she replied.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive home on my days off? I’m worried about you,” Mercy said, her heart aching with the thought of her mom’s suffering.
Her mom had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer over a year before. The doctors had tried everything, but it continued to spread. Finally, they told her there was nothing more they could do. They put her into hospice care and sent her home, to wait and die. Her diagnosis spurred Mercy to take a break from music and do some acting; that decision had led her there, to that set, and to Alex.
“Enough about me and being sick,” Sandy said, changing the subject. “So, how gorgeous is he in real life?” she asked, referring to Alex.
“Oh my goodness, Mom. You have no idea! He’s just so tall and dreamy,” Mercy said.
She added, “I was tan estupida when I first met him. It’s a miracle he didn’t quit and refuse to work with me right there and then.”
Sandy laughed. Mercy’s heart leaped; it felt good to hear her mother laugh.
“Well, Mija, it’s time for my medicine. We’ll talk again soon. Love you!” she said.
“Love you too, Mom,” Mercy replied, waiting for her mom to hang up before putting her phone down.
She paced around her hotel suite a while before crawling back into bed. Sleep didn’t come; she thought about her mother. She knew Sandy didn’t like talking about the fact she was dying.
“Dying,” she thought, “it still doesn’t feel real.”
Work was keeping her mind from dwelling, but anytime she had a minute to herself, she thought about it. She thought she had come to accept it, but a part of her would never fully accept she was losing the only family she had.
Unable to quiet her mind, Mercy got up and threw on a sundress, some sandals, and a wide brim hat. It was about 8 PM, but Mercy needed to get out of her room. She decided to go down to the hotel restaurant and lounge to have a drink at the bar.
When she arrived, the host greeted her warmly. “Ms. De la Cruz, what a pleasure to have you dining with us tonight. Will you be dining alone?”
“No, I’m just here for a drink. A seat at the bar would be great.”
The host led her to the bar where she took a seat on a plush bar stool. Even though she was underage, no one refused her an alcoholic drink anywhere she went. One of the perks of being a celebrity.
“Hello,” said the much too handsome bartender. “What can I get you tonight, Ms. De la Cruz?”
“Please, just call me Mercy.” She scanned the bar menu. “To start, I’ll have your smoothest whiskey. Straight.”
The green-eyed bartender cocked an eyebrow at her request. He smiled. “Whiskey it is.”
He poured her a whiskey and handed it to her. Mercy took it and slammed it back in one gulp, shuddering as the liquid burned the back of her throat and a warm, calming feeling took over her body. She closed her eyes, letting the alcohol numb the thoughts in her head.
She opened her eyes slowly and smiled at the bartender. Leaning in, she looked into his eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered.
He smiled and nervously cleared his throat. “Can I get you something else?”
“I’ll have a Long Island.”
He gave her a look that said he wasn’t sure he should make her another strong drink. Mercy noticed. “It’s fine, I’ll take my time this time around,” she purred.
She wasn’t sure why she was flirting with the bartender so heavily. He was hot, but normally that wasn’t her style. She was feeling lonely and thinking of her mother had also left her feeling sad.
“I bet you get this all the time, but you’re so much prettier in person.” Bartender had a sexy smile, and he seemed to know how to use it.
Mercy didn’t even notice Alex walk into the restaurant and request to be seated at a table near the bar. He took a seat facing her and watched as she and the bartender flirted, intensely. He couldn’t help take notice of every small move she made. The way she smiled before bringing her drink to her lips. The way she tugged at her dress when it rode up too high. The way she crossed and uncrossed her long, smooth, tanned legs. She was damn sexy.
Everything about her screamed,’fuck me’. From her tight ass, to her rounded hips, to her perky tits. All of it. Alex had to keep reminding himself she was only nineteen. He couldn’t get involved with a barely legal girl like her; it wasn’t right. She needed someone like Bartender over there, who probably just turned twenty-one. But why was it then that the thought of Bartender taking her back to her room and showing her a good time didn’t sit right with him?
Working with her so far had been fun. There was definitely a flirty banter between them. Her nerves had gotten a bit better, and she was a talented actress. Chemistry, they certainly had chemistry.
He spent way too much time watching her. When he finally realized his food was sitting in front of him, it had gone cold. He ate it anyway and continued to stare.
Mercy reached out, touching Bartender’s hand. “What time do you get off?” she asked him with a heady gaze.
Alex told himself to mind his business. If she wanted to fuck the bartender, that was none of his concern. Something inside him churned at the thought. He paid his bill and quickly walked over to the bar.
“Alex!” she exclaimed when she saw him. “I didn’t know you were staying here too.”
“Yup. How are you tonight?” he asked.
“I’m good. Um...” She looked over at the bartender.
“Did I interrupt something?” Alex asked, looking between them.
“No, not at all. Can I buy you a drink?”
“No, I just ate. I had some wine with dinner. I was just heading back to my room. I can walk you back to yours if you’d like.” Inside, Alex pleaded with her to say yes.
She looked at the bartender and asked to close her tab. She paid and smiled at him. “It was nice talking to you.”
“Yeah, same. I work tomorrow night if you need a drink.”
“Okay.” Her cheeks tinged pink. “I’ll maybe see you tomorrow night.”
Alex placed a hand at the small of her back and began to guide her towards the exit. She had had a bit too much to drink. Every now and then, Alex had to help her steady her balance.
When they got to her door, Mercy turned and said, “Thanks. You didn’t have to walk me all the way here. I could have made it on my own.”
He laughed. “Okay.”
“Okay. Well... Good night.” She walked into her room and shut the door, heading straight for her bed and passing out.
Alex scolded himself for feeling disappointed she didn’t invite him in. She was something else. Feisty in her slight irritation with him. He knew she wanted him to know she was independent and didn’t need his help. Even though she clearly did. Every time he encountered her, he discovered something else he liked about her.
“This is gonna be fucking hard,” he thought to himself.
Another week passed, and filming had started. The evening before their next day off, Alex approached Mercy as she was getting out of costuming.
“Wanna blow this place and go get dinner?” he asked.
“You want to have dinner with me?” Mercy asked, unsure if there wasn’t someone less awkward behind her he had been asking.
“Yeah, why not? Do you chew with your mouth open or something?” he jokingly asked.
“What if I do?” she countered.
“Well, I slurp my food so we’re both in good company.” He laughed.
For a moment, Mercy’s heart skipped.
“Come on. We can borrow disguises from costuming. There’s this great little taco joint nearby.”
“Okay, why the hell not,” she said, finally giving in.
“That’s the spirit!” he replied, putting his arm around her shoulder and leading her back into the costuming trailer.
They borrowed a hat, wig, and sunglasses from costuming and headed to the taco place.
The food was delicious; Alex hadn’t been lying.
They sat talking and laughing; Alex told Mercy everything she already knew about his family. She pretended to be surprised. Then he asked, “How about you? Any family?”
“Just my Mom. My dad’s never been in the picture. He left when my Mom was pregnant. We refer to him as the sperm donor.” Mercy flashed him a toothy smile.
Alex felt a stirring in his lower abdomen as he took in Mercy’s gorgeous smile. He loved how her eyes almost disappeared when she smiled.
“Damn. That’s messed up,” he said with a frown, trying to force the creeping arousal he was beginning to feel for Mercy far away. She was much too young for him to be having those feelings for her, he thought.
“Nah! It’s been great, just me and Mom. But she’s sick. Cancer,” Mercy said. She averted her gaze, looking down at her food as a sadness crept into her big brown eyes.
“I’m so sorry. Is she going to be okay?” Alex asked with genuine concern.
“No... she’s in hospice care. So, it’s just a waiting game now.” Mercy tried her damnedest to hold back the tears threatening to force their way out her eyes.
Alex reached across the table and grabbed her hand tightly in his. He didn’t say anything. They sat there for a while in silence, her hand in his.
“Well, that’s always a mood killer,” she said, suddenly keenly aware of the reaction his touch was eliciting in her body.
He chuckled, and they quickly changed the subject.
“Are you enjoying acting so far?” Alex asked, taking a sip of his Corona with lime.
“It’s alright I guess. I don’t think I’ll ever love it as much as I love writing and performing music,” Mercy replied.
Alex could see a spark in her eyes when she mentioned music. “Well, if it’s worth anything, I saw both of your other films, and you were fantastic.” His comment made her cheeks flush with color.
“She’s so damn beautiful,” Alex thought, unable to restrain what he deemed were his inappropriate thoughts about Mercy.
They continued to talk until the sun came up. Mostly, they talked about acting and the various projects they had been in. Alex gave Mercy various tips of the trade, and she shared some of her experiences with him about the music biz.
“Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so long talking to one person before,” Alex commented, looking at the time on his phone.
Mercy stifled a yawn.
“Come on. I’ll drive you back to the hotel and walk you to your room,” Alex offered.
“Okay.” Mercy accepted his offer.
When they arrived at the door to her room, Mercy paused before swiping her keycard.
“Thanks so much for dinner. I had a great time.” She gathered her courage, got up on her tiptoes, and gave Alex a kiss on the cheek.
Pleasantly surprised by her boldness, Alex’s pulse quickened. “Thanks for keeping an old man company. I hope my walker wasn’t too distracting,” he joked.
Mercy couldn’t help but giggle as he turned her joke around and used it on her. “I’ll see you Monday,” she said, unlocking her door, going inside, and gently shutting it.
Alex stayed by her door until he heard her lock and chain it securely shut. As he walked to the elevator to go to the floor his room was located on, he thought, “Shit... that girl is gonna be trouble.”
Later the next week, they went out for coffee and once again spent hours in conversation. The more time Alex spent with Mercy, the harder it was becoming to deny he was attracted to her. The more he learned about her and the more her personality shined through, the more he thought she was perfect.
Three weeks in, Mercy was in hair and make-up when an assistant handed her the scenes for the day.
Mercy read the first line of the script and her face went white as a ghost.
“We have to what?” she said, almost yelling.
It turned out the director wanted Mercy and Alex to film their steamy love scene that day.
“Alex and I barely know each other. We’ve had one on-screen kiss! Off-screen, we’ve only met up outside of work twice!” she thought, panicking.
Costuming gave her a robe. Nothing else, just a robe.
She called Tom.
“What did you think they meant when they said the part required full nudity?” Tom asked into the phone.
“I don’t know, Tom! I didn’t think about it. I was just excited to get the role!” she screeched into the phone.
“Well, it’s too late to back out now. You signed a contract,” he replied.
She knew he was right, she was stuck. She was going to have to put on, or better yet, take off her big girl panties and suck it up.
Mercy went on-set a bundle of nerves. “I’m gonna lose my breakfast all over their nice, expensive equipment,” she thought.
“Hey, you look calm as a cucumber,” Alex said sarcastically as he approached her, also only wearing a robe.
“Ha, ha, ha, very funny!” she returned his sarcasm. She restrained the urge to stick out her tongue, that would have been way too immature.
“Hey, come here,” he said, sidling up next to her.
He leaned into her ear. His warm, hot breath against her skin made her tingle with anticipation. He whispered, “Did I ever tell you how incredibly beautiful and sexy you are? Just pretend there’s no one here but the two of us.”
He was only half-joking. In so many ways he did wish it was just the two of them, and he most certainly thought she was beautiful, and much too sexy for his own good.
Mercy turned fifty shades of red on top of feeling like she was going to upchuck at any moment.
“You’re a real asshole... How’s that supposed to make me feel any better?” she yelled, pissed off at him for making the situation even worse. Not only was she now more embarrassed, but she was also turned on.
He glanced at her sideways. After a while, he broke out in laughter. Mercy looked at him dumbfounded, but eventually, she couldn’t help herself and began to laugh too. After laughing till her side hurt, she felt much calmer.
Alex threw his arm around her shoulder and said, “Kid, you’re gonna do just fine! It’ll be the most un-sexy and awkward thing you’ll ever have to do, and when it’s over, you’ll wonder why you were so nervous in the first place. I guarantee you though, on-screen, we’re gonna set off fire-alarms.”
Mercy looked at him with doubt.
She and Alex only partly acted during the scene. When her robe came off, Alex couldn’t help admiring the curve of her back and her round, soft hips. Her ass was the most deliciously smooth, plump thing he’d ever laid eyes on. His hands tingled with the desire to grab it and give it a great big slap. Her tits were a perfect size, not too big, but not too small, and best of all, they were one-hundred percent real. Perfect for her hourglass figure. Her waist was so petite he wondered how she carried around all that ass.
He forced himself to think unsexy thoughts. “Get with it, Alex!” he scolded himself. “You’ve done these dozens of times and have managed never to get a hard-on; this time is no different.”
His cock responded as if it had a mind of its own, saying, “Yeah, but you’ve never wanted to fuck one of your co-stars as much as you want to fuck her.”
It wasn’t going much easier for Mercy. “Okay, don’t stare, don’t stare. Christ, how am I going to get through this with a shred of dignity intact? He’s so damn sexy!” she thought, while her nether region tingled uncontrollably.
There was nothing fake about the way they kissed during that scene or the way Mercy moaned. She was so turned on. They both excused themselves after the scene was wrapped, headed to their respective trailers, and rubbed one out.
They spent the rest of filming together whenever possible. Much to Mercy’s dismay, everything they did was very innocent. There was flirting, but that was the extent of their non-existent romantic relationship. Despite there being nothing going on between Mercy and Alex, rumors spread they were more than just friends.
Mercy hoped Alex would catch any of the clues she was dropping that she had a serious lady boner for him, but he seemed to be actively trying not to go there. She couldn’t understand why, especially since they had so much chemistry. She thought perhaps once they wrapped up filming, he would make a move.
“Maybe he’s just trying to keep things professional while we’re working together.” She hoped that was the case.