Love. From the moment you were born, love fills your life; from your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, relatives and as you age, you begin to understand different types of love; puppy love, platonic love, then there is a kind of love that hits you…sometimes you see it, most times you don’t…it excites you, moves you, changes you…It makes your heart skip and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside….the love of romance.
Believe it or not, being a man, the general consensus is that we don’t dream about marriage or wonder or care about love as much as our female counterpart but we actually do; albeit in a different way. I don’t think about what flowers to pick, what theme my wedding will be or how the food is like. I don’t have this fantasy where I will fall in love at first sight or meet my soulmate and spend the rest of my life with her; no, nothing like that but I wonder who she is, when will I meet her, how will I know that she’s the one?
Throughout high school and college I dated a few girls but was only serious with one; Iris. We met in college in Philadelphia and she was great. I genuinely loved her and after graduation, when I decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, she was supportive and relocated her life and career to California to be with me. Like all struggling actors, I took up odd jobs and went for auditions, hoping to catch that big break. She was adapting to life here and we were happy.
After about 3 years, my break came. I got a role on a TV show playing a lawyer who made a reluctant deal with the devil and was forced to do his evil bidding. The character started out to be a guest-star spot but by the following year, when we were renewed for a second season, I became a part of the regular cast. I was ecstatic! Everything was all falling into place and I excitedly called home to proudly say that I am a working actor.
Right before the second season started, I married Iris. We were together for almost 8 years by then and it was time. We had our wedding back in Philadelphia and it was beautiful. Surrounded by our friends and family, we exchanged our vows and promised forever. After the wedding, needing to return to California because of my budding acting career, we had to hold off the honeymoon to start filming the show.
By the time the second season premiered, the show was gaining popularity and there were a lot of press conference, appearances and publicity events that all the cast had to attend to promote our show. It was tiring but a blast because as a cast, we had amazing chemistry. We were all genuinely friends outside the show. We would go for dinners, hang out and just meet up for no reason. I counted myself lucky because it was my first real break, the show was gaining a lot of popularity, my character were fans’ favourite which meant I was getting recognized and the cast got along really well. I could not have asked for something better.
“So, you play this sexy, dark lawyer with a secret. What does it feel like?” asked an interviewer with E!
We were at our show’s network party where they announcing new and returning shows to the network. Our show was the highly anticipated comeback show and the attention on us was crazy!
“He’s a very interesting character to play. I think he has a lot of depth and a lot of story to tell”, I answered.
“Seeing you out of character, you don’t seem like the broody type but Blaine defines and epitomizes broody. Is it hard to channel that broodiness?”
“Oh, he’s broody!” a voice came from my side. It was Buffy’s, tucked in my arms.
“I am not. Don’t listen to her”, I denied.
“Oh please! I’ve seen you brood for 30 minutes straight and you were not even in character. I timed you!”
“Please, don’t listen to her”.
“So, he’s a brooder himself?” the interviewer directed the question to her.
“Totally! He’ll just sit in a corner and brood”.
The interviewer just laughed before asking her next question.
“Okay, a lot of fans are asking. We saw a bit of Blaine and Lara smooching in the first season and there’s clearly romance in the works. I am a fan of the ship myself so will there be more smoochies in this season?”
“You know, a girl doesn’t kiss and tell”, Buffy teased.
“Come on Buffy! Us fans are dying here!”
“I guess you will just have to wait and see”.
“Angel, come on man. Give us something!” the interviewer asked, clearly seeing that Buffy was not going to answer her.
“Well, you will definitely see more of me this season”.
“Aw man, you guys are tough! Okay, last question; what was it like to do the kissing scene?”
I looked down at Buffy and we both smiled at each other.
“Breathtakingly wonderful”, I playfully answered and touched my nose to hers and ended the interview.
Due to the number of fans that showed up, all of them reaching out trying to get a touch of the stars, I held Buffy tighter against me. Shortly after, we were escorted by security to enter the party.
Buffy Summers was my castmate. She was the eponymous character and also my love interest. She was the first friend I made on the show and was considered a veteran in the business. She has been acting since she was 7 and was had accolades in her name.
When I first heard I was to play opposite her, I was nervous. You hear stories about accomplished actors and their arrogance and tantrums. I anticipated her to be demanding and unfriendly but she was completely opposite. She was warm and friendly. When we first met to do the reading, we hit it off and got along very well.
“Buffy! Angel! Over here!”
We turned to see Willow waving at us. She was my castmate too, playing Lara’s reliable best friend. The rest of our castmates were around her having manage to enter the party before us. I held Buffy’s hand and led her through the throngs of people inside.
“The crowd was crazy outside! We thought you guys were right behind us”.
“We were caught by one interviewer so we answered a few questions”, Buffy explained.
“We could barely make it into the party. Xander got his arm pulled by a girl”, Willow teased.
“Hey! In my defence, she was a big girl and the word you’re looking for Will, is yanked. She yanked my arm!”
“Luckily, security managed to escort us inside. We figured you guys got caught too”.
“We were but I had my own personal bodyguard here”, Buffy said, tapping on my chest.
Working with Buffy was beyond amazing. Because she is such an experienced actor, she was so open that it was easy for our characters to connect emotionally. She never gave me acting tips or advice but when I’m in character acting a scene with her, I was usually able to portray the correct emotions that were required of me. Like I didn’t need to think so hard or ‘act’ so hard. It came naturally.
Our chemistry was not lost to the fans and we’ve been getting fan mails asking if we’re secretly dating. Of course we’re not. I was a married man and she was dating another actor. I have to admit though; I was incredibly attracted to Buffy. When we first met, I thought she was very beautiful.
When we had our first kissing scene, it was awkward at first because she couldn’t stop giggling that infected me too. But after the third take, I could feel she was in character and the kiss was tongue tangling that it took my breath away. When the director yelled cut, I wanted to keep kissing her. Her lips were so addictive and I silently rejoiced when she asked to do it again. Her reason was of course a professional one; I think I covered his face, she said. We redid the scene and by the sixth take, the director was satisfied. After that, kissing her was a breeze for me and like the other emotions I portray, it came naturally.
Whatever slight attraction or emotion I had for her, I thought nothing of it. I mean come on, this is Hollywood; almost all actresses were attractive. Willow and Cordelia; our other castmate, were beautiful too but I was drawn to Buffy, probably because I had the most scenes with her. As the show progressed and our characters became more emotionally involved, Buffy and I grew closer too. To a point that it seems she was dependant on me, that she needed my presence. When our scenes became emotionally difficult, I was the only one who could calm her and overtime, I truly cared about her. Although she had the most experience acting, because she was young, sometimes people around didn’t treat her right. She hated that. I hated it too. She was so professional, charming and mature that even I forget she’s younger than me. I felt protective towards her and no one dared to misbehave towards her when I was around.
As my professional life was thriving, my personal life was crumbling. Iris hated the long hours I spent on the set, the parties or events I had to make an appearance for to promote the show and how even doing everyday things like grocery shopping, eating out or going to the drycleaners was difficult for us because people recognised me. But the thing she hates the most was my association with Buffy. Whenever I get fan mails on how Buffy and I should be together or when we come across fans who say things like how Buffy was perfect for me, she would walk off in a huff. I reassured her that it was nothing and I tried to include her in my professional world. I would bring her to events, invited her on set and even introduced her to my castmates.
However, word got around how I am with Buffy. The closeness, the protectiveness, the dependency, the assurance I gave Buffy and it was like icing on the cake for Iris. She told me to choose her or the show and I thought she was unreasonable. I have been nothing but Lisaful to my marriage and blamed it on her insecurities. It was evident by that time that my marriage was over. I filed for divorce and moved out.
When our divorce was finalised, Iris went back home to Philadelphia and cut off contact. To say I was sad would be an understatement. Iris was a constant in my life for so long and losing her was hard. I drowned myself in work and stayed away from dating. During the difficult adjustment period, my castmates were amazing especially Buffy. In the first few months of my divorce, she subtly organised dinners and get-togethers for the cast so I wouldn’t be lonely and I was grateful to have found a great friend in her.
Towards the end of the second season, the show’s popularity skyrocketed and we got even busier; attending interviews, conferences, photo shoots and the show even branched out into novels, games and merchandises. By then, our on-screen pairing or what the fans called it, the Blara-ship was considered the hottest couple on TV and pretty soon, requests for our appearance as a couple came pouring in.
When news got out that I was no longer married, the entertainment reporters were having a field day and rumours started that Buffy was the reason my marriage broke down. It hurt her as much as it did me but Buffy was a very private person and refused to comment, simply saying she doesn’t mix personal and work. In truth, while I was still nursing a broken heart, I have to admit Buffy’s presence and friendship was like a soothing balm and I was drawn to her because of the comfort she provided.
Then, there were moments where I would look at her and feel something or I would look at her and was really attracted to the way her eyes sparkled when she talked about what she cooked over the weekend or the way her nose scrunches when she laughs. Figuring that it was just a passing thing and that I was simply in an emotionally vulnerable state, I simply shrugged those moments off and focused on work.
Shortly after the third season started, one of the producers called for a meeting with Buffy and me. Usually when that happens, it means there was going to be a big change for the characters. There was a change alright and a pretty big one; I was offered to start my own show. It was exciting for me because Blaine had so much depth and having my own show meant that I could explore the possibilities. However, this also meant that the Blara-ship that fans loved so much had to end and that was a bit daunting for me and Buffy. Blaine was an integral character in Lara’s life and Lara was the driving force behind Blaine’s. These characters relied on each other as much as Buffy and I relied on each other.
We suggested letting the couple continue their relationship long distance but it was shot down for growth of character and in terms of storyline, it would not be easy and eventually, may not make sense. In conclusion, we had to break up.
The break-up scene was so hard to film. Being the passionate actor that she is, Buffy became the very essence of her character, Lara, crying her eyes out because she was a fan of the Blara-ship herself and did not want it to end. Being the other half of the Blara-ship devastated me too and seeing Buffy bawling was heartbreaking for me. I hugged her and comforted her, telling her it was going to be okay. We had a tearful goodbye on the last day I filmed her show but when we parted, she put on her sweet smile and told me my show will rock.
While promoting the first season of my show, Buffy showed her support by attending the events with me and I was so grateful for that. It was my first time heading my own show and as always, her presence, supporting me and being by my side made the transition easier. The network renewed a second season for my show by the time the tenth episode of the first season was on air. My show was successful and the happiest person other than me was Buffy. She was constantly giving a shout-out to my show and texting me whenever she managed to catch an episode. I was so thankful to her in so many ways. I got my break because of her show and I would like to think that her constant promotion of my show was part of the reason why my show was well-received.
The rumours about me and Buffy died down slightly after I left her show but I would still smile when people asked me about her. I would honestly say that although I don’t see her, she was in my heart and that I would do anything for her. She would do the same, telling reporters that she missed me and that Blara is meant to be. We would still try to keep in touch but meet-ups was getting difficult due to our conflicting schedules and over time, even our texts got lesser.
I got to know about her dating William Pratt through the tabloids and was slightly surprised. I guess the friend part of me expected to hear it from Buffy herself but she seems happy and I knew she has had a crush on William since they worked on a movie previously. Around the same time, I was dating Nina Ash for a couple of months. We met at a party and she was a new actress with a supporting role in a show on another network. We hit it off and I really liked spending time with her. After dating for about 10 months, Nina found out she was pregnant and marriage seems to be the right thing to do. This time my wedding was in Los Angeles and I flew my family in from Philadelphia. I have come to think of LA as my home now.
I was on cloud nine when my son was born and named him Liam. Nina decided to take a break from acting to raise Liam, preferring not to have a nanny. During this time, Buffy got married to William. I was invited but did not attend due to work, sending them a congratulatory gift to commemorate their new lives together.
From time to time, Buffy and I will cross paths due to guest star spots on each other’s shows or we’ll bump into each other at parties. By 2007, due to cancellation, my show aired its final episode and I bid goodbye to Blaine Mason, the character I played for 9 years. Buffy had ended hers a year earlier much to the disappointment of fans and producers because work had already started on the new season. Buffy felt it was the right time to end the show after playing Lara Kaden for 8 years. She wanted to focus on her marriage and explore new projects. Naturally, after her show ended, people asked me what I thought. Of course I support her decision and jokingly added that she can always come over to my show.
By 2009, I was working on my new show. I was a part of an ensemble cast and this time my character was a history teacher in a high school for delinquents. It was an interesting role for me and I savoured my new character. It was an added bonus that the show became popular by mid season one.
Like a curse; when my professional life was going well, my personal life took a toll. My marriage began to hit its rough patch at the fourth year mark. Nina stopped acting completely and was a homemaker. My son was growing up well and attending pre-school. All seemed well and good but there was something missing.
I wasn’t attracted to Nina anymore. She kept herself in shape and looked better than most women her age but there was no spark. I tried to relive the romance and scheduled dinner dates and romantic getaways but it didn’t work. We couldn’t talk. Our dinners were filled with silence or when we do talk, it’s ‘Liam’s teacher called’ or ‘Liam drew you the other day’ or ‘Liam needs new shoes’. I thought back on how we first started dating and wondered what we had in common, what we talked about or what was it about her that attracted me. I was drawing a blank. Was she just a rebound? Was it a whirlwind romance? She appeared when I was ready to date and yeah, we really enjoyed being together back then. We had sex the one time and she got pregnant so marriage was the right thing to do right?
By the sixth year, I knew I wasn’t happy anymore and realised that spending time with my son was the only thing I looked forward to at the end of the day. I decided to have the talk with Nina and explained to her that I was no longer happy in the marriage. Divorce was on my mind but after one failed marriage, I really wanted to make this one work so I suggested we see a marriage counsellor, which we did and we were fine for about a year. Nina even got pregnant again. But shortly after our daughter Kathy was born, I felt I was in a rut again.
I talked to Nina again and this time I broached the topic of divorce and she broke down, begging that we try again, asking me to think of our kids and I agreed. My kids mean everything to me. They were my pride and joy. She also promised to be a better wife but that’s the thing; that was not the issue. She did her wifely duties just fine and on top of that, she was a good mother but what I wanted was a partner. Someone I could connect with and talk to but I convinced myself that she was enough. She takes care of me and the kids, makes sure the house runs smoothly; what more could I ask for? After some time, everything was routine. I go to work, come home, have dinner, spend time with my kids, sleep and started the cycle all over again.
This went on for eight more years before I told myself it was enough. By this time, Nina and I were practically strangers. We would talk only when we had guests or when we were with family but when it was just us, there was nothing. This time, I filed for divorce before telling Nina and she once again broke down but I was adamant in my decision. I got an earful from my parents but unlike my first marriage, I really did try to make this one work and divorce was the last resort.
By the time my divorce was finalised, I had moved out and was staying in my own apartment. I focused on work and rebuilding my life. My only joy was my kids, whom I got to see on weekends. When news broke out on my second failed marriage, Buffy reached out to me. We were still good friends but staying in touch was slightly difficult as we were both busy with life. She herself had two kids, Dawn and Connor. Our kids are about the same age and had been on play dates a few times.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
I sighed into my mobile phone and answered, “I’ll be alright”
“You don’t have to be. Things just didn’t work between us. It hasn’t worked for a long time but we tried to hang on until we couldn’t.”
“How’s Liam and Kathy? How are they taking it?”
“I really don’t know…I mean, it seems like they’re taking it in stride but what’s in their heart, I don’t know and it worries me.”
“Did you try talking to them?”
“Yeah, I asked if they know what happened between Nina and me and they said they do. Honestly, I’m just winging it. I’ve been reading books on this, on what to say to them or how to make this transition easier for them but it’s hard.”
“I guess now you just need to make sure that you’re there when they need you. Make them understand while Nina and you are over, you’re still there for them, you’re still their father.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“I mean, you’re reading books on how to help your kids deal but what about you? How are you dealing?”
I smiled a little. I suddenly realised how much I miss her…her friendship…her smile and warmth.
“Right now, I’m just taking it a day at a time. Eventually with time, it will get better”.
“I know I haven’t been a good friend for some time and life got in the way but I want you to know that if you need someone just to talk, or if you need anything at all, I’m always here for you Angel”.
I felt a pang in my heart and recalled how caring and affectionate she was…that at one point in my life, I was drawn to that part of her. Just seeing her and talking to her used to soothe me.
“I know. Thanks.”
“I gotta go. I need to pick Connor up from school. Maybe, we could meet for a meal soon.”
“Sure. I’d like that.”
“Take care Angel.”
We hung up and I grinned like I haven’t grinned in a long while.