I Knew you when – Chapter 1

I knew you before all the money, before the glitz and glamour, before everyone knew your name.
I knew you before the tabloids and before you were the envy of every man and the dream of every girl.
I knew you back then and it feels like a life time ago. Both of us struggling to get by doing what we needed to do to stay afloat.

However I am getting ahead of myself. In order for you to understand how we got here I must first introduce myself and then take you back to the beginning.

My name is Tonika Croft an aspiring actor from Ontario Canada.
I began acting at the age of 6 in Canadian commercials and I have to say as a child I was quite the snot to others when it regarded my work.
I was however an actor and they were merely just little people.
It was not until puberty hit and the zits began to pop out that I realized how hard getting and acting job really was. Its one thing to be a cute and adorable little girl but to be that funny looking zit faced teen was a whole other ball game.
Suddenly I found myself back with the little people not getting any jobs.
This went on for years till finally at 21 I scored a small role on a Canadian television show.
It was one episode but I didn’t care I was going to take it!
Over the next few years the rolls trickled in but not really enough to keep a roof over my head so I began re thinking everything. Did I really want an acting career? Did I really feel I had what it took to make it in an industry that was so complex? To each question I asked myself I responded with a yes.
This is when I knew it was time to head to L.A.

It was now 2003 and I had just turned 23 and finally had saved up enough money to head to L.A.
I had no idea where I was going to stay or what I was going to do when I got there but I knew in my heart it was the right step to make. So I boarded the bus for the long haul there and kept my fingers crossed the whole time.

Once I arrive I felt a sudden fear like what the hell was I thinking? I had no place to stay and didn’t know a single soul in this town yet here I was fresh off the bus trying to make a real go out of my career choice.

Ok Ton first things first. Find yourself a place to stay!
I’d had researched online a few places I could go to seek shelter so with my note pad in hand I headed to the first destination and this is now the beginning of my tale.
A tale a friendship, love, devotion, aspiration and hard work.

As I stood there looking through all the listings I found it so overwhelming.
It seemed like everyone had a place to stay in L.A. but not many in my price range.
Just then I heard “Excuse me.”
I turned to look and there stood the most adorable young man I had ever seen.
His hair dark and curly and his eyes almost crystal blue.
“Sorry” I said as I stepped out of the way.
“Oh you didn’t need to move, I’m sorry.”
“That’s ok.” I smiled.
Then he smiled and he lit up like the fourth of July.
“Looking for a place to stay?” He asked.
“Yeah, just got into town and don’t know anyone.”
“Me either” he said. “Is this your first time in L.A.?”
“Yep, You?”
“Yeah me too, long way from home but I saved every penny to get here.”
“Actor aren’t you?” I laughed
“Wasn’t till you said what you said about money, I know because I did the same thing.”
“Seen anything worthwhile?” He asked.
“Yeah probably, but I am too scared to actual call any of them.” I laughed.
“I’m Henry by the way, pleasure to meet you.”
“Tonika, but you can call me Ton, Toni or Nika I respond to all.”
“Have to say I kind of like the sounds of Nika.” He said smiling.

As we poured over board I think we both began to feel a little overwhelmed when finally we were both staring at the same ad.
A guy had two rooms to rent weekly and needed them filled right away.
Henry and I looked at one another and nodded.
I pulled out my cell phone and gave the number a call. I explained there were two of us both looking for a place to stay while we searched for work.
The gentlemen asked if we had money to pay for rent and I replied we had.
He asked if we would like to come over and see the rooms, I looked over to Henry who gave me a nod and told him we’d be over within the hour.

When we arrive at the house our eyes widened.
“Wow nice place eh?” I said.
“It looks fantastic!”
I knocked on the door and the guy answered.
“Hi my name is Tonika we spoke on the phone.”
“Hey I’m Chris, come on in.”
Even the inside looked nice and I was happy that we might just be living in something that was half decent.
Chris laid out the rules very clearly regarding everything from laundry days to cleaning and what he expected of each of us.
We were also told there were to be no parties what so ever unless it was one he planned.
I was fine with all this I am sure Henry and I were going to be too busy looking for work to be partying any time soon.
We signed the contract he gave us and handed him a week’s rent.
Henry was sweet and allowed me to have the room with the larger bed.
“I’m from a family of five boys I am use to smaller.” He laughed.
“What?” I gasped “Five boys??”
“Yep I have four brothers.”
“Holy! Your mom must be a superhero!”
“Yeah she is one amazing women putting up with us over the years but she kept us in line not one of us would ever disrespect her.”
“Oh a mama’s boy aren’t you?”
“I think all of us are in our own ways.” He laughed. “Our dad was the strict one.”
“My dad never really cared about me so I am not familiar with that.”
“Oh really? I’m sorry.” He said. “My dad’s a military man so it’s now built right into his very being to continue the traditions he learned there.”
“Not sure I would ever want to be raised by a military man! I have heard stories.”
“It’s not that bad!” He laughed.

We parted ways and went to our rooms to un pack.
This was it I was here and I was going to give it everything I had to make it.
I was determined!
Suddenly I felt a little un nerved.
When I turned I saw Chris standing at my door just staring at me.
I smiled.
“Is the room ok?” he asked.
“It’s perfect” I said. “Thanks.”
He stood there for a couple more seconds watching me and I began to get creped out.
Finally he walked away.

As I sat down on the bed I sighed it was happening so fast and I felt like I had to keep that same pace. Like if I didn’t have a job by tomorrow it was all going to fall apart on me.
I heard a knock at the door.
“Come on in.”
“Hey” Henry said. “Want to go shopping for some food?”
“Ok that sounds like a plan! I was not even here for a moment and already getting stir crazy.” I laughed.
We grabbed out wallets and headed out the door when Chris stopped us.
“Where you headed?” He asked.
“Going to get some groceries” I said.
“Oh cool” he said staring at me.
“Talk with you later” Henry said.
He watched us walk out.
“I think he has a thing for you Nika.”
“Don’t say that! I caught him staring at me while I was un packing it was freaking me out.”
“Don’t worry I won’t let him hurt you, Promise”
I looked up at him and something in me knew he was not lying that he would in fact protect me.
This handsome 19 year old was going to be my protector yet I somehow felt protective of him.
This was going to be very interesting!

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