He turns his head, smiling at me. “I got you one.” He picks up a beer bottle off the table next to him and holds it out for me.
I take it from him and sit next to him. I bring my feet up to rest on the sofa and rest my head on his shoulder. He lifts his arm and puts it around me, so I rest my head on his chest.
“It’s so pretty here. I can understand why you like being here.”
Honestly, looking out at the view, just acres of greenery and trees beyond, the peace and tranquility of it, I could stay here forever.
Okay, well, not forever because I’d miss New York and Nick and the clothes and everything New York. But I could definitely stay here for an extended period of time.
“Yeah, it is beautiful.” He presses a gentle kiss to my hair.
I tip my head back, looking into his face. “How did you get into the movie business?” I ask.
It’s something I’ve wanted to ask him for a while now. And seeing him here, where he’s from, has piqued my curiosity. I know Vaughn modeled prior to acting, but that’s all I know about his step into the world of movies.
“Meg was studying at UCLA, doing her nursing degree.”
“She’s a nurse?” I ask.
“Yeah, she works over at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls. Anyway, I was eighteen years old, on school break, and I went out to visit her. She took me to this club in LA. I was underage, but she got me a fake ID. Mom and Dad would have had a seizure if they had known.” He grins. “So, we were in this club with her university friends, having fun, and this woman came up to me. She was a model agency scout. Said that I had a great look. That I should consider modeling. She gave me her card. Told me to call her the next day.
“I knew I was a good-looking guy—I’d never had a problem with getting girls in school—but modeling wasn’t something I’d ever considered. Honestly, in my mind, I was going to go to graduate college, do a horticultural and business degree, and then work for my dad on the farm until I took it over one day.
“So, I took her card, put it in my pocket, and didn’t think about it until I pulled the card back out when I was getting my wallet the next day. I was looking at the card, thinking, What if? You know?”
He looks at me, and I nod.
“So, I called her. Thought it couldn’t hurt anything. Her assistant answered and asked me if I could come into the agency the next day. Turns out, she was a scout for LA Models. I went in, and they took some test shots. Then, I left. They called me the next day, asking me to come back in for a chat. A few days later, I was signed to their books.
“There was nothing at first. No calls. And I came back home. Then, the phone rang, and I had my first booking. And that was it after that. The jobs started rolling in, and staying in Keno wasn’t doable, so I ended up moving to LA and staying with Meg. I was getting busier and busier by the day, traveling all over the world.
“After being in the business for a year, I was at a party, and that was when I was introduced to Jack Hanson, my manager,” he tells me.
“Jack asked if I’d ever considered acting. I told him I hadn’t, but I was willing to give it a try. I signed with him and enrolled in some acting lessons. He started getting me auditions for small roles, like ads and that kind of thing. Then, he called me up one day and said he had a role in a movie he thought I’d be perfect for. He sent me the details. Of course I liked the looks of it. I mean, it was a movie. If I got the part, I knew it’d be a huge step in my career. I just didn’t realize how huge. So, a week later, off I went to audition for the part of Talion in All the Pretty Ones.”
“But you played Zander in the movie.”
Zander was the lead role. Talion was Zander’s rival in the movie. All the Pretty Ones was a dystopian film based on the novel of the same name. That movie was when the whole world fell in love with Vaughn West.
“Yeah, but when I went in to audition for the part of Talion, Jeff saw me—Jeff Burke, the director,” he explains. “Took one look at me and said I was exactly what he was looking for, for Zander. He asked me to read for the part. I did, and he offered me the role on the spot. And, as they say, the rest is history.”
“Wow,” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, but he doesn’t sound as enthused as he should.
“You don’t sound happy about it.”
“I am.” He takes a swig of his beer. “But, sometimes, I just wish…”
He looks at me again.
“I wish I had my anonymity back. I wish I could just walk around, unknown.”
“You can here, in Keno.”
“I know. But I wish I could just go anywhere without being recognized. Without someone stopping me to ask if I was Vaughn West, if they could take a photo with me, if they could have my autograph. I wish I could go to the fucking grocery store without the press following me there. Without my whereabouts being tweeted and shared among people, and then a crowd turns up, and I have to have a security escort out of there. To meet a pretty girl, take her out on a date, have a relationship without every detail ending up on the nightly fucking news. I just…I don’t know.” He sighs. “I love my job. I love acting. I’m fucking good at it. But, sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t made that call.”
“Sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like if my dad hadn’t murdered my mom.”