One thing at a time.

I wiggle the wig over my neon-pink pixie, flip it back, and comb my fingers through the brown strands. It seems like a pretty expensive wig. The hair feels real. Starflame, it might even be real. I smooth it out until it looks like my own hair—well, what I guess my hair would look like if I grew it out this long, though I never will. I hate the way it feels on my neck. Plus the whole bit about long hair being more feminine is Noxballs. Social constructs can go take a hike.

I gather a section at the front and braid it like Princess Amara’s hair in the thirteenth episode of Starfield, when Prince Carmindor first meets her. It’s a subtle nod, but fans will recognize it. I used to braid Minerva’s glossy black locks like this all the time when I was younger. Then I twist the braid behind my head, pinning it with one of the bobby pins in the bottom of the plastic bag.

But I still don’t feel like Jessica.

“Hey, uh, dude,” I call from the bathroom, realizing that I can’t remember his name. “Do I look enough like her now? I still feel a little weird. The wig doesn’t look too wiggy, does it?”

He looks up from his phone, clearly about to snark at me again, but whatever he was going to say falls from his lips. I shift on my feet, self-consciously.

He tries to speak, closes his mouth. Then tries again.

Wow, he must really love Jess—I mean, of course he does. He’s only babysitting me because he loves her so much.

Finally, he says, “Jess doesn’t wear her hair like that.”

I stand up a little straighter. “Then I guess it’s time for her to try something new. Besides, the braid hides some of the wiggy-ness.”

He eyes the braid, not liking it at all. “It will do.”


“Fine. Let’s go.”

“After you,” I reply, flourishing a bow as he wrenches the door open. I grab Jessica’s purse from the edge of the bed and we head out down the hallway. Once inside the glass elevator, he pushes the button for the ground floor. As we descend, the mythical land that is the showroom floor slowly unfurls underneath the transparent elevator floor. People are already cosplaying, milling about in clusters on the three levels of the lobby. No matter how many times I see this spectacle, I am constantly in awe. So many nerds coming together to celebrate the things we love.

It’s magical.

Meanwhile, Ethan—Ethan! that’s his name!—clears his throat, startling me out of my thoughts. “Hmm?” I ask.

“I said, give me your phone number. In case we get separated.” I hesitate.

“You’re not leaving this elevator until you give me a number.”

“So you can keep track of me? Can I have yours, too?”

“I don’t see a reason why, I’ll be with you the whole time.”

That doesn’t seem very fair. With my phone number he can track my device if he wants to. Bran taught me about some of those programs. I take his phone and put in the number I know best—the local pizza joint back home in Asheville—and hand it back with a smile. “There.”

“Good, now—”

Before he can finish, the elevator doors open to the lobby flooded with fans and paparazzi and journalists. They turn their bright camera lights and cell phones to me.

“Jess, is it true?” someone shouts, and a camera flashes.

Ethan quickly takes me by the shoulder and steers me toward the door, but my lips are curving into a smile. Oh my God.

“Jess, I love you!”

“Please look over here!”

“Will you marry me?”

We’re only halfway across the lobby and all eyes are following Ethan and me like we’re the center of the universe. Is this what Jessica Stone comes out to every day? People shouting how much they love her? How much she matters?

Who would want to give up something like this?

“Miss Stone!”



With each step, with each shout of her name, I fall in love. With the moment. With the feeling. With her life.

“Don’t listen to them,” Ethan whispers into my ear. But how can I not? It’s wonderful. “They’re trying to distract you. Let’s just get to the panel and—”

“Ethan.” I mimic Jessica’s voice so well that he jerks back in surprise. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.”

And then I do the most audacious thing I have ever done. I don’t know what comes over me. Maybe it’s the wig, or the weird contacts that turn my eyes a sort of oceany blue, or the fans in the lobby or the paparazzi snapping photos or the journalists asking questions about the script, which is no doubt fake, right? Or maybe it’s that, deep down, I’m not only going to help Jessica Stone.

I’m going to save Amara. Not with petitions, not with pins, not with harassing Twitter trolls. But with my own words. My actions.

Jess’ll thank me later.

So I wink at my new assistant and boop his nose and head in the direction of my first panel of the day.

IMOGEN’S BOOTH IS WEDGED BETWEEN an artist hawking sexy pinups of burly men and a mustachioed gentleman selling carved wooden blocks with famous people’s faces on them—Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Edgar Allan Poe seemingly the most popular. Her booth is located toward the middle of the aisle and is decorated with glitter, with a display of fanart in saturated colors on the back wall.

I can only guess that belongs to Imogen’s friend—and then I realize her friend will know I’m not Imogen. Did Imogen plan this as some sort of humiliating stunt to—

A young woman ducks out from behind the artwork and sits down and my mind just—


It blanks.

My mind never blanks.

She is very pretty, with delicate features, brown skin, and natural hair pulled into twin puffs on the sides of her head. She’s wearing a yellow dress with some sort of star design—when I look closer I realize it’s the Starfield logo.

Can’t one person not like this franchise? Based on the fact that she’s Imogen’s friend, I want to think she’s Team Save Amara, and so she likes me—I mean, Jessica Stone. But what if she doesn’t?

What if she says she does but she’s really one of those people leaving hateful comments on my posts—

She gives a start when she realizes I’m standing in front of the booth like a weirdo. “Oh! Sorry! Wow, hi!” she says, putting down her breakfast burrito. “It’s so nice to finally meet you in person! It’s Harper—I mean, I know you know I’m Harper, but…This is so nice, you know, meeting in person. Anyway, I’m babbling!” She laughs, loud and sweet, and smiles at me, her hand outstretched. Each of her long fingers glitters with midi rings and normal rings, her nails a polished and pointed teal. “Hi.”


Imogen and Harper have never actually met. That must be why Imogen wasn’t afraid of me meeting her. They’re internet friends. It’s like a balloon pops in my chest and I can breathe again.

I grab her hand and shake it. “It’s nice to meet you, too. I’m—I’m Imogen.”

She smiles, as if my hesitation is just nervousness. “I know.” She sits back down, and I take the chair beside her. “Burrito?”

“Um, no thanks.” I push up my glasses self-consciously.

“You sure? I got them from the Magic Pumpkin. I just had to see what it was all about. It’s pretty good, you know, for vegan.”

“Ah.” Dare’s girlfriend’s food truck.

“Oh! And I’ve given away a ton of your pins,” she adds, nodding to my side of the table.


“Your pins.”

My pins?

That’s when I notice them on the table, along with an iPad to sign a petition and ribbons to stick on the bottom of your con badge, all sporting the same phrase: #SaveAmara.

A cold feeling grips my stomach. I grab the iPad and navigate to the petition page and feel myself spiraling. The Save Amara initiative.

“She started this…,” I whisper. Harper hears me and leans over.

“Oh yeah, you’ve got, like, fifty new signatures.”

I quickly flick off the screen. Imogen Lovelace is the creator of the Save Amara initiative and didn’t even tell me? It all makes sense though. Her giving me that pin yesterday in the restroom. Speaking out on the panel.

Wanting to be me.

Everything’s fine, I remind myself. Ethan won’t let her do anything. But the other half of my brain is screaming that my worst enemy is running around pretending to be me. And I can’t do anything about it. Not right now.

Because at any moment the next scene could be leaked, maybe a page with my name in the corner and an irreparable spoiler that will get me blacklisted from every studio in Hollywood. Not to mention that I’ll get sued for violating my NDA, doxxed by angry nerds. And I’m stuck here wasting time at her ridiculous #SaveAmara booth!

What if Diana drops me?

What if I never—

Stop. Breathe.

After she finishes her burrito, Harper looks over at me. “Are you okay? You seem a little…”

Weird? Different? Not who you thought your internet friend was?

I wonder briefly how Imogen and Harper met in the first place.

A pretty big clue is the copious amount of fanart of Princess Amara in the arms of various characters—men and women—that hangs on the corkboard behind us. The prints on the table tout pairings from Steven Universe and Voltron and Harry Potter and some video-game artwork with a guy in a twirly mustache and bull-looking humanoid creature. And me. Have I mentioned there are drawings of me? Well, me as Princess Amara, but still. I’m sure I don’t understand any of it. Why is everyone into these bizarre pairings?