He drags me away from my hunka-hunka-evil-space-general-Englishman-lover and doesn’t let go until we are well out of the green room and in one of the off-limits stairwells. He whirls to me, his lips set in a thin line.

Ruh-roh. That’s not a happy face.

“You will not get away with this,” Ethan snaps.

I blink. “With what?”

He takes out his phone and shows me my profile on Twitter,@OhSparkleMonster. “Jess might not have done any digging, but I sure have. You started the Save Amara movement. That’s why you were so willing to trade places with her. Your outburst yesterday on the panel makes so much sense now—” This he says more to himself than to me.

My mouth falls open. I don’t know whether to be offended or to applaud him for figuring me out.

He puts his phone away. “You don’t understand what’s at stake. I won’t allow it—and neither will Darien.”

I scoff. “Allow me? What can you do to stop me?”

“You’ll ruin her career.”

“Ruin it? I’m going to save it! If the world knows that Jessica Stone backs the movement, maybe the producers will think twice about killing her. Or having her stay dead.”

“Maybe she doesn’t want to get behind the movement.”

“Maybe she should. Maybe she should stop being Burr and start being Hamilton.”

He blinks. Of course that reference went straight over his head. He’s the pencil-straight, button-up-shirt kind of guy who probably listens to smooth jazz while reading a Stephen Hawking book. Which is fine, no shade there, but ugh. Of course I have to be stuck with the most uncool person at the con—

He steps up to me, looming like the five-foot-eleven beanpole he is, and says in a soft rumble, “She is. She just doesn’t want to waste her shot.”

Gooseflesh ripples across my skin.

“You know the rules,” he says. “And that thing you just tried to pull with Vance? Yeah, smooth move, criminal.”

“I wasn’t actually—that wasn’t—I had it under control.”

“Right, ‘under control.’” He puts it in finger quotes. Starflame, who does that anymore? “Jess would never have given him that much face time. Not to mention he interrupted you.”

“It was a great entrance!” I defend. “And it was a crowd-pleaser. Besides, he apologized.”

“Get the lovesick out of your ears, Imogen.”

I grit my teeth as I feel a blush redden my face. “I am not lovesick. I just had a minor brain fart, okay?”

“A brain…” He pinches the bridge of his nose and mumbles under his breath, “I should get a raise for this.” Then he pushes up his thick black glasses. “Jess—you—have a meet-and-greet in”—he checks his watch—“twenty minutes. We should get lunch, and I’ll teach you how she signs her name, and you need to fix your makeup and—”

“Chill, dude.”

He shakes his head. “Jess’s career is already on the line and I’m here to make sure she doesn’t screw up her chances because of some rapscallion look-alike.” He stands a little straighter, as if needing the extra height in order to call me names, even though he is already a full head taller than me.

Which, point taken. He does. Especially after that name-calling.

“Rapscallion?” I echo, keeping my voice even. “That’s all you’ve got? Rapscallion?”

He hesitates, unsure whether I’m just so angry that I’ve lost all inflection or I’m about to burst out laughing. “It—it sounded fine in my head.”

And he looks so uncomfortable and so embarrassed but trying so hard to keep his cool that I just sort of…lose it.

Laughter bubbles up through my chest and I double over in hysterics, gasping for breath. “Ohmygod, rapscallion! It’s like you’re from some eighties fantasy cult classic or something! Ohmygod, my spleen. Where did you get that—your mother’s regency novel? ‘Hark, you dastardly rapscallion!’ What do you say when you’re really pissed?” I straighten enough to twist my voice into that of a crotchety old man: “‘Oy, you rascally kids, get off my lawn!’ Oh, you and Pretzel Henry would get along so well!”

And then I bend over into another gasp of laughter.

“It wasn’t that bad,” he mumbles, but there’s definitely a red tinge to his cheeks. He folds his arms over his chest and looks away. “And who’s Pretzel Henry?”

When I’m finally able to calm down, I wipe the tears from my eyes and blink at the ceiling. “Oh my God, I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. My mascara isn’t running, is it?” I ask, batting my lashes at him.

He looks into my eyes, and oh—he is blushing. He quickly looks away. “No, it’s fine. Come on. We should get lunch.”

“But shouldn’t you text Jess about this first?”

He pauses midturn. “I already did. She’d want to know about Vance—”

“No, I meant about you secretly being an old man in a young body,” I say, at which he frowns again.

+10 Disapproval.

“Ha ha. Come on.” He turns abruptly and marches out of the stairwell, and I feel a grin tugging at my lips before I can stop it.

“Whatever you say, old man.”

He tosses over his shoulder in a startingly awful Yoda impersonation, “Master Ethan it is to you, young Jedi.”

Five minutes later, he peels me up off the floor because I’ve died and become one with the Force.

And then it hits me—

If the script is real, then Amara is truly, truly dead. And that means I’ve failed. I failed, like I always fail, and our princess is never coming back—


Just because there’s a script doesn’t mean the fate of the character can’t change. Like Agent Coulson in the MCU! Darth Maul in Star Wars! Spike in Buffy! Freaking angel Castiel in Supernatural! Axel in Kingdom Hearts! I can go on. It’s not unheard of, and I still have time.

I have to.

“HERE,” SAYS THE MUSCULAR GUY WITH the gray lock of hair, handing me a rag full of ice he got from a nearby vendor selling water bottles and shaved ice. I’m sitting against a wall, close to where I bit the ground. “You hit your head pretty hard.”

I take the ice pack gratefully and press it against the side of my face. I don’t think I have a concussion, but this is exactly why I don’t do my own stunts. I hiss as the cold cloth touches the growing bruise on my cheek.

How am I going to explain this to Ethan, or Diana, or at the pressers I have after this convention?

Thankfully, I have makeup. I guess.

My pursuers had quickly helped me up from my faceplant and are now squatting beside me. Well, the waifish guy in the witch’s hat is leaning on his umbrella, looking down at me as if he can’t quite figure out who I am. But I am most definitely not “Monster.”

I hate conventions.

“What happened to the Nox King?” asked the burly one to his friend.

Umbrella Guy shrugs. “He jetted as soon as she bit the floor.”


I hate conventions.

At this rate, I’m more likely to blow Imogen’s cover than find the jerkoff who stole my script, and that has me very annoyed.

PS – Can you guess where I am? A surprise might be coming soon if you can find me!

It’s like this person wants to be found, and I’m afraid if someone does find them, they’ll reveal that the script was mine. Do they want to publicly humiliate me? Sic every living Starfield fan on me and drive me off the internet à la Star Wars? They’re already on the road to doing that if my Instagram comments are any indication. I can just imagine some greasy dirtbag riling the masses to get me annexed because how dare I even try to live up to their dear, beloved Natalia Ford?

Was that their plan all along?

My fingers curl tightly around the ice pack. I can’t let these strangers see me lose it. Breathe.

The broad guy with the curl of silver hair studies me. “So…it’s clear you’re not Mo…”

“But she looks familiar, doesn’t she, babe?” asks Umbrella Guy, giving me a long look. He has a jade earring in his right ear and strikingly dark eyes. He twirls his umbrella around his wrist. “You know, if I didn’t know better, you kinda look like—”

“I’m no one,” I interrupt.

“No one’s no one,” replies the muscular guy.

“Then it’s none of your business,” I snap and rise to my feet, gathering my strength even though my cheek is still throbbing and all I want to do is crawl back into my hotel room and watch reruns of Project Runway.

Maybe all of this is just one horrendous nightmare, and I’ll wake up soon and not have to worry about any of it. The stars will align and I’ll be Jessica Stone again, hating Starfield but solid in my career. Or maybe Starfield will be the nightmare, and I’ll wake up—

Someone touches my arm gently, and I whirl around.

It’s the burly dude, looking worriedly at me. “Do you need help?”

“Help?” I try not to laugh. “With what?”

The two guys exchange a hesitant look, and I play with the idea that they know what I’m looking for, can magically identify who’s leaking my script, but I quickly shove that thought away. As soon as they “help” me, they’ll want something in return, guaranteed. Everyone always does.