In the universe of Imogen Lovelace, however, that’s an impossible thing.

I push the palm of my hand against my eyes, willing myself not to burst into tears as the elevator doors glide open.


The familiar voice makes me look up, and there are Milo and Bran. My brother must recognize the look on my face because in one long step he’s out of the elevator and drawing me into his arms. I press my face into his chest and he smells like the Stellar Party—vape juice and Oh No—and I try really hard not to cry.

“Let’s go get some food—I’m thinking burgers,” Bran says, and I nod against Milo’s chest, and they lead me out of the lobby and down to a diner at the end of the street.

AS IT TURNS OUT, I WAS STARVING—but for more than just food. For company. For a quiet moment like this. Harper and I laugh and talk about all of the things that I never talk about with anyone: the latest trash mag gossip, the perfect eyeshadow palette, that YA rom-com that had the most adorable kiss. We talk about her family—it’s big and loud—and we talk about our favorite bands and childhood crushes.

I want to tell her everything about me. I want to tell her about my parents, and how since I became an actress they live in a big house in Nashville, and they come to visit me as often as they can, and my dad is a computer tech and my mom works with charities. I want to tell them about our dog, and about Ethan, and about how lonely it sometimes is in that posh LA apartment my agent found for me. I want to tell her how I miss going for hikes with my dad, and I want to tell her about that red carpet stumble, and what it was really like on the set of Starfield.

I want to prove that Jessica Stone is not the aloof, cold robot everyone thinks I am. I am not a serial dater. I simply never cared. It was so easy not to care because I’m not built that way.

I’m not built to take a random person into a bedroom, I’m not wired to want those things, and so it made all those dates and chaste kisses with celebrities so easy. It never went further than that. It was never falling in love—it was never even falling into like.

It’s a part to play, and so I played it.

What I am built for is falling in love slowly, page by page, like reading a favorite book. I am built for the nearness of someone, the quirk of their lips, the sincerity of their smile, the dreams just underneath their skin. I fall in love moment by moment, collecting who they are, who they were, who they want to be, into a kaleidoscope of colors.

I have only fallen in love once, and she left a hole in my heart the size of the universe. So I know the feeling, the strange beast in my stomach that shifts and growls whenever Harper laughs, whenever she says something snarky, whenever she calls me Imogen, because in my head I hear her calling me Jess.

I know this feeling, and I try to shove it down because this is not who I am. She is falling for nobody. For a girl who will be gone in the blink of an eye.

And I guarantee she will not like Jessica Stone.

“…And I swear to you,” Harper says with a laugh, telling a story about the ExcelsiCon ball last year, “it was like the entire place just canceled her. The girl went running out of the ballroom so fast, she tripped in the lobby and fell flat on her face. It was hysterical!”

“I kind of feel sorry for her. I didn’t know Darien could be that mean.”

“She was mean, too. Right down to the bone. Sage told me the whole story. If anything, that girl deserved what she got. She’s the reason Elle Wittimer’s called Geekerella. She wanted to be a beauty vlogger or something, but she’s working at her mom’s nail salon now.”

“It’s funny how sometimes we don’t end up where we think we will,” I remark.

Harper turns her dark gaze to me. “What would you do if you could do anything? Doesn’t matter if you’re talented at it or not.”

I don’t even have to think. “An astronomer.”

“Really now.”

“I love stars,” I say earnestly, and she bursts out laughing, which makes me smile sheepishly despite not knowing whether she’s laughing at me or—no, no it’s definitely at me. “Listen! I’m not kidding. I love everything about stars. I love proton stars and neuron stars and cosmic phenomena. If I could, I’d get Stephen Hawking’s equation describing black holes tattooed on me. That’s how much I love space.”

She wipes the tears from under her eyes. “You’re really serious, aren’t you.”

“Of course!” I jerk to my feet, taking her hand and pulling her up with me. She grabs her keycard as I pull her out the door, not even bothering to put on shoes. “Where are we going?”

“I’m showing you some stars,” I reply, and punch the elevator button for the top floor, where we head for the stairwell.

“Oh my God, we’re actually going up,” Harper says.

“I’m being totes serious right now.”

“Then you need to work on your fresh-from-Azkaban cosplay.”

“Or my drought-bringing-dog-star cosplay,” I reply.

“Ugh, nerrrdddd,” she drawls.

But it’s playful.

“I gladly take that compliment.”

“Neeeeerrrdddddddd!” she cries, her voice echoing down the stairwell as we climb to the top.

Most rooftops I’ve visited haven’t had alarmed doors, so I’m counting on this one being accessible when I shoulder it open and wedge a cement block so it doesn’t lock us out. The almost-midnight Atlanta skyline sparkles brightly around us, the city lights reflected off glass buildings that twist up like titans frozen in a dance of steel.

It’s so much quieter up here. I let go of Harper’s wrist and breathe in the humid air. Because of the light pollution, you can’t see as many stars as you can on my grandfather’s patch of land in Tennessee, where the sky is so wide you can almost fall into it, but this is a good enough view, for good enough people, on a good enough night. There are no trolls yelling in my mentions about how I’m not enough, no people dissecting how I play a character, or the way I say a word, or why I will never—no matter what I do—be good enough.

I think that’s why I dislike Elle just a little bit. She was one of those people. She tore into Dare without even knowing him, knowing how big a fan he is, or how passionate he will always be about Starfield. The internet makes it easy for us to forget that there are people on the other side of those characters, and whether you like us or not, we’re people too. So your hot take shouldn’t dehumanize me, or tell me that I’m wrong, or that I’m worthless, or a slut who slept on some casting couch for the role.

Because I’m none of those things. And it’s so, so hard to remember that when the internet just keeps echoing it back to you.

But up here there are no echoes and no trolls, and I am just a girl wearing her heart on her sleeve, staring at the sky, asking the universe—just for a moment—to be enough.

I orient myself and point to one of the brighter stars. “See, there he is. The Dog Star. And there’s Mars over there. And over here…” I spin around, not really noticing where I’m going—

—and collide with Harper.

She’s smiling, and looking up at the sky, too. “You know, most normal people don’t go looking up at the sky.”

“I never claimed to be normal,” I reply.

In the nighttime air, with buildings towering around us, thirty stories up and far above car horns and gossip and chatter, I look down—just briefly—to her, and she’s looking at me. In the darkness, her eyes look like pools of ink I could dip a pen into and write a ballad about the way she’s looking at me. My heart trembles as she takes my hand and laces her brown fingers through my pale ones.

“I think I finally see you, Imogen Lovelace,” she says.

It’s important to see that people like us exist. Her voice echoes in my head, along with Imogen’s.

But Princess Amara is dead, and she isn’t coming back.

Not even if I want her to.

And I don’t.

Do I?

I don’t have to wear that galaxy-glitter dress that pinches me under the arms. I don’t have to run in heels or dye my hair that god-awful red. Or actively ignore most social media because of the trolls. I don’t have to eat an inedible catered salad. I don’t have to listen to Dare complain about his uniform not being the right shade of blue. Or watch Amon act out a fight scene and stub his toe on a prop.

And I probably won’t meet Harper at another con. As Imogen, or as myself.

It was an accident that I met her here.

Almost impossible—


Things that would never happen in real life. A fangirl with wicked stepsisters and the actor she despises falling in love. A fashion designer and Geekerella’s stepsister finding each other. Colliding with your look-alike in a con bathroom at the edge of the world and falling for her internet friend.


I’m not Imogen Lovelace, I want to tell her, and now is the perfect time, when the stars are bright and the sky is wide, but the words catch on my tongue as I remember all those Instagram comments. The Twitter notifications.

What if she’s one of them?

Or what if she gets mad that I’ve lied to her this whole time and never wants to talk to me again? Is this how Dare felt when he had to confess to Elle? How did he get up the courage? I don’t know much about Harper, but I want to, and I’m afraid of all the things I’ll never get to know if I tell her who I am.