The Number One Star in the Interstellar Era



AFTER the long tiring day, Astrid finally returned to his apartment. Since he already ate dinner, he just took a shower and went straight to bed. Sadly, despite the feeling of tiredness, he still couldn't fall asleep. So, he got up and went to the kitchen to make tea.      

As he was steeping the tea, he couldn't help but think back to that one part of conversation he and Ellis had with Cassius.     


  "I know it's probably not appropriate to ask this at this time, my lord. But can I know what EMMA's plan is in terms of publicity once the news that Astrid would be your new brand ambassador comes out?" Ellis asked.     

"It's fine. I'm glad you asked," Cassius said, wiping the corner of his mouth with the table napkin. "I can tell you exactly how the publicity would go because that's not my area. What I can tell you though is that I will make sure the PR team would be ready for any malicious comments. I will also not let any rumors slip up about Astrid's possible connection to our family. Because we all know how people would take that news. But we still must be ready. There would definitely be a lot of criticisms but campaign started, I'm sure they would have no choice but to agree that Astrid indeed deserve this ambassadorship."     

Astrid picked up a piece of meat and ate it. The two were discussing things as if everything was already decided. Well, it's true that the chance of him not getting this job was almost close to none. After all, he truly gave it his all during that screen test. Him not passing it must only mean that someone sabotaged him. But that would hardly happen with Cassius' support.      

He picked a glass of water and took a sip. Then, he turned to Cassius. "Thank you for your consideration, Lord Grimaldi."     

"Please, there are two other 'Lord Grimaldis' out there, so I hope you can just call me Casey," Cassius said. "Uncle Casey would be fine too."     

[No thank you.] – Astrid almost blurted out. "I think that would be too inappropriate," he said instead with an awkward smile.      

"Why? Brother Aster is my brother so it's fine to call my uncle, 'Uncle Casey'," Nicol readily interjected. "Right, in the light of that, Brother Aster should also just call me 'Nikki' instead of 'young master'. Every time you call me that, I feel like we're too distant and I hate it," he added with his cheeks bulging.     

"Nikki is right. Don't be such a stranger and just call us comfortably," Cassius added.      

Then, the two both looked at him as if waiting for his response. The expression on their faces were almost identical. Astrid suddenly felt an unprecedented pressure. It was easy to do what they wanted but somehow he couldn't bring himself to. Probably because, deep inside, he wanted to keep them at arm's length.      

If the two weren't actually related to him, then maybe he wouldn't feel that way. But as they were his real cousin and uncle, the irony of everything was just making things awkward for him.      

He glanced at Ellis, hoping to seek help from the other. But Ellis was just watching with eyes full of amusement, as if there's an interesting show in front of her.      

Astrid looked back once again at the uncle-nephew duo. He secretly sighed. If he rejected them, then it would only look like he's some uptight kid who couldn't read the room. Even more so, Cassius might suspect that there was a deeper reason why he was being so reluctant if he continued to reject their suggestion.      

"Then, only if we're not in public," he said, finally making concession.      

Cassius nodded in approval. Nicol jumped off his seat happily and hugged Astrid's arm.      

"Brother Aster, call me Nikki."     

Astrid smiled helplessly. "Nikki."     

The boy grinned, showing how much he liked it. Seriously, who could say 'no' to such an adorable kid?      

He was kind of thankful that despite the bad impression he had of his mother's family, Cassius- no, Casey turned out to be a good person. He was just a kid when that incident happened. That's probably why Astrid was more amiable towards the other. At least, in comparison to his mother's other brother.      

When he and Reas met Thomas Grimaldi during that dinner, he was exactly as he thought he would be – strict and reserved. The only thing that prevented Astrid from completely disliking the other was because he saw how much he loved Nikki. The fact that Nikki seemed to have grown up full of love was the evidence of that.      

After that little conversation, they continued on with the dinner.     


  Astrid and Ellis talked a bit more during the ride back home. He was scolded a bit for not telling the other about him and Reas saving Nikki. He just accepted it because it was indeed his negligence. Although he wondered how much scolding he would receive once she found out that his mother was actually a Grimaldi.     

Anyway, it would probably take a while before that would be revealed. If he was being very careful, then it might not even happen. But he also knew that no secrets could be kept eternally. One way or another, it would be revealed. So, it's better to be prepared for anything that was to come.     

The tea finally finished steeping. He lifted a mug, blew on it, before taking a sip. His body instantly felt relaxed.      

The result of the screen test would be sent to them this coming weekend. Then, they would also send the schedule for the pictorial and the recording of the advertisement.      

He would go back to school next week but it seemed that he had to take a few more days because of this upcoming advertisement schedule. It's better to call Kieran and Snow and tell them about it. Since he knew that the two must be waiting for him to come back.      

But before that, he probably should worry first about the reaction to the two shows that would air this weekend – the official episode of [Fieldtrip] and [New Star].     

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