Not only to be Jessica Stone, but to be a Jessica Stone who cares about Starfield. Maybe I can use this opportunity to my advantage. Do I feel horrible scheming about this?


But sometimes you need to think outside the box to accomplish your goals, and thanks to the thousands of signatures on my petition—and the reaction at the panel—I know I have a community of fans who’ll back me up.

I just need the actress who plays Amara to be one of them.

I clear my throat, not wanting to sound overly eager. “It sounds too good to be true, being you.”

“I promise it isn’t. No strings attached. Oh, and rule three: don’t talk about Amara. About her death. Wanting her to live. Whatever. That thing you did on the panel, you can’t do it again.”

My face pinches. “Why don’t you want to save Amara—your job?”

Jessica waves her hand dismissively. “It’s none of your business.”

Ugh. I chew on the inside of my cheek. I’m not going to stop just because she can’t see a good thing right in front of her. Amara deserves to be saved—and what Jess doesn’t know while she’s off being me won’t hurt her. Besides, she’ll thank me later. I’m sure of it.

“Fine,” I lie, crossing my fingers behind my back. “I won’t.”

She lets out a sigh of relief. “Perfect. Besides, Ethan will be with you the whole time.”

The nerfherder and I give each other the same look—a glower that could cut straight to the soul. I really, really dislike him. Like to a degree I don’t think I’ve ever disliked anyone.

“And that brings me to the fourth rule,” Jessica says, looking between the two of us. “Don’t flirt with anyone.”

My cheeks redden. “I—what?”

“Don’t flirt. With anyone.”

“Why would you—but I wouldn’t—”

She levels a look at me. “And you won’t. Understand?”

“Fine! I don’t know who I’d flirt with anyway.”

“Darien,” she says, “Calvin, the volunteers, Ethan—”

“I would never flirt with him,” I say at the same time as he says, “I’d never flirt with your two-bit clone.”

“Clone? Well that’s rude,” I say.

He clicks his tongue admonishingly. “And I want to keep my job.”

Jessica snaps her fingers to draw our attention back to her. “Children, children. I need you two to play nice. Rule five, be nice to Ethan.”

I jab a finger at him. Again. “He started it!”

“Rule six”—she holds up six fingers, as though I need a visual aid—“you will wear contacts at all times.”

I laugh. “Sorry. I don’t do contacts.”

“My eyes are blue, so now you will,” she says matter-of-factly. “Rule seven, you will be nice to my fans but you will not take selfies with them outside of photo ops. Rule eight,” she brings up the finger count again, “no interviews without my consent, no signing things, no nothing. Rule nine is no soda. I don’t drink sodas.”

“They’re gross; I agree.”

She looks happy at that and holds up all ten fingers. “Rule ten: you are only allowed to be me at this convention. And only for this weekend. We’ll swap back on Saturday evening. No going out after the panels, no dinners with costars, no nothing. And you’ll never speak of this again.”

“That’s hardly fair—what if someone invites me out?”

“No. It’s my image, not yours.”

“And what about my image?”

She gives me a once-over as if I’m barely worth her time, and I feel very affronted. “I’m sure your image will be just fine.”

“But I have con obligations, too.”

“So is that a no, then?” She cocks her head. “I didn’t figure you as someone to refuse something like this.”

Oh, she has me pegged. I huff, folding my arms over my chest. “You aren’t…wrong,” I say.

“All right then.” She smiles and outstretches one of her manicured hands for me to shake. This is a bad idea. I can think of ten ways to Sunday why this would never work in real life. Only in K-dramas. Only in animes. Only in YA novels. This sort of thing doesn’t happen in real life, and it most certainly doesn’t happen to me.

And yet…

And yet here is Jessica freakin’ Stone on my bed, stretching her perfectly manicured hand toward me.

What are the odds?

Almost impossible.

“What do you say?” she asks. “Will you be me, Imogen Love-true?”

What other choice does my Gryffindor heart have? Who boldly goes? Who leaps before she thinks? Who rushes in? Me. Because I can still feel the shadow of everything that I’m not looming over me, and I can still hear Jasper laughing when I told him I wanted to save Amara. And here is Jessica Stone, unwittingly giving me the chance to do exactly that. To change the course of my community, of my fandom, of Princess Amara.

Of me.

And when I meet Jasper Sunday at 5 o’clock, I’ll enjoy seeing his face once he realizes I did the impossible. I hashtag saved Amara.

“It’s Lovelace,” I correct, looking down at her hand. “But you can call me Mo. And even though I’m not important like you, I also have responsibilities. So if we’re trading places, you have to pretend to be me, too. I’m sharing a booth with a friend in Artists’ Alley, and I promised I’d be there.”

Jessica pulls her hand away. “I don’t agree to that. I don’t have time to sit in some booth.”

So she is hiding something.

“Well then, no deal,” I say with a shrug and begin walking to the door. Counting the steps. I know she won’t let me just boot them out. She needs me for some reason. She needs to be no one. “Now please, I have a lot to get done tonight, movies to watch and Netflix to chill, so I’d kindly ask you to—”

“Fine,” she snaps and marches up to me. “Fine.”

This time when she offers to shake on the deal, it’s not in comradery. She looks almost pained. I smile and accept her outstretched hand.

“I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship, Jessica Stone.”



* * *

“Starflame! I am not a Noxian Princess for you to save. I will be Queen, and you will kneel before me.”

—Princess Amara, Episode 43, “From Amara with Love”

AT NINE O’CLOCK ON FRIDAY MORNING, Ethan and I are dragging ourselves to the space-age elevator, still half asleep. I sip a double-shot dirty chai latte, hoping it’ll give me some sort of kick. I can’t remember what time I went to bed last night—I was up pacing and scrolling through Starfield hashtags, hoping no one’s realized that the leak is real or that it’s my script, before Ethan woke up and took my phone away.

“Go. To. Bed,” he enunciated and flopped back onto the couch.

I guess I did, eventually, but I don’t remember falling asleep.

We crowd into the elevator, squeezing between green face-painted witches and home-sewn Viking warriors.

I should still be sleeping.

Though, miraculously, my social is quiet this morning. Blissfully so. There are some rude or derogatory comments, but nothing I can’t swipe away with a swift DELETE.

It’s very cathartic.

Maybe the rest of the weekend will be this easy. I’ll find the person who stole my script and I’ll put an end to it, and then Diana will call me and confirm that Amara is well and truly dead.

The elevator dings to a stop on the eighth floor. Imogen’s room is at the far end, just beyond the flickering light.

I raise my hand to knock when Ethan stops me and pulls me away from the door. “Are you sure you want to do this?’ he whispers. “Think about it. She could ruin your career.”

“More than I’m ruining it myself, you mean?”

He frowns. “You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“I have to find that script, and I’m counting on you to make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid, okay? You’ve babysat me my whole life. You can take care of one nerd girl for two days. It won’t be that hard.”

He rakes his fingers nervously through his thick black hair. “Okay. If you’re in this, I’m in this—but at the first sign of trouble, we’re out. Swear?” He holds up his right pinky finger.

I hook mine through his. “Pinky swear.”

We kiss our thumbs and the deal is sealed.

Ethan marches over to the door. He gives it a knock and Imogen appears. She gives him one quick look before diverting her eyes to me. Oh that’s harsh.

She really does detest him.

Though the feeling looks pretty mutual.

“Oh thank God last night wasn’t a dream!” she blurts out in relief. “I was kinda afraid you wouldn’t come back. Not that I think I’m imagining things but my moms do say I have a pretty good imagination and some of my dreams recently have been super whack so—”

“You’re babbling,” Ethan interjects.

“Anyway,” she says tightly, “come in.”

I follow her inside. It’s clear that someone else shares the room with her—two other someones, by the looks of it—but just like last night, they’re not here.