So like the scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding when the ship goes under the bridge—the moment passes and there’s no going back.

In reply, because I don’t know how to reply, because replying will break her heart, I squeeze her hand tightly and point up to a star and tell her its story because I can’t tell her mine.

Just a little while longer, I pray to the impossibilities. Let me be Imogen for a little while longer.

FOOD HELPS MY MOOD, AS DOES watching my brother inhale an All-Star Breakfast in five minutes flat. I swear to God he’s a black hole. Even Bran is slightly disgusted at the sight. There is nothing quite like it. Milo doesn’t ask why I was wet, or why I smell like a pool, or what happened to make me cry. He knows I’ll tell him, or I won’t. But then he says:

“So, Jessica Stone, eh?”

I look up from my coffee and involuntarily shiver. We’re sitting in a Waffle House, and my hash browns are cold because I only picked at them, and the coffee is warming my hands. “Um…what…about her?”

Bran, sitting beside me, picks up the wig on the seat between us. It looks more like a dead rodent right now, rather than Jess’s long and lustrous locks. He arches an eyebrow. “We know.”

“You…know what?” I try to play dumb, pretending that there’s a coffee ground floating in my cup. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“She was at the Stellar Party,” Milo says, finishing off his fried egg in a single swallow. “So we know about it. Well, kinda. She was with Harper.”

I wince. “Has Harper found out?”

“No.” Bran shakes his head. “She thinks she’s you, and I think there’s something going on between them.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like I think J—” But he’s cut off when Milo kicks him under the table. They give each other a meaningful look, as if I didn’t just witness that. Bran clears his throat and says, “I think Jess is having a great time. Being you, I mean. And she isn’t half bad.”

That’s a relief, anyway. “I’m glad.”

“And you being Jess…she’s not worried you’re going to,” Milo makes a motion with his fork toward me, “you know, the Save Amara stuff?”

Of course he’d ask. He’s like the sixth member of the Scooby gang, looking for clues to the murder of my life. I breathe in through my nose and then smile because I’ve found that I lie easier when I’m smiling. “Nah.”

“Then why are you impersonating Jessica Stone?”

“She asked me to. She said she wanted to take a break for a while.”

Bran almost spews his coffee. “You don’t believe her, do you?”

“Of course not, but she hasn’t told me the truth yet, either. And I haven’t really been looking. I’m just, you know, enjoying the ride. It feels nice being seen.” The last part kind of slips out, and all three of us fall silent.

Somewhere near the kitchen, someone drops a coffee mug and it shatters on the tile floor and someone else calls for an order of hash browns scattered and smothered. I grab the ticket from the table but then hesitate when I realize I don’t have my wallet. Bran plucks the bill from me and scoots out of the booth.

“I’ll get it. Finish your hash browns, though,” he adds as he walks over to the register.

I sit quietly with Milo. He studies me with those dark green eyes, and I pick up my fork and start shoveling the cold, congealed potatoes into my mouth so I don’t have to answer whatever question I know he wants to ask. We’re siblings, and we’re close. I’ve told Milo everything over the years, and he’s told me everything, too. I was the first person he came out to in his freshman year of high school, although with our parents it didn’t really matter.

“But I wanted to tell you first,” he had said. This was back when he was scrawny and a little shorter than me, and I could still suplex him splendidly in the community pool. “Because you’re my best friend, Monster.”

“You’re mine, too, bro,” I had replied, and scrubbed his curly head.

But how could I tell him that I can’t live up to the example he sets? That I’m just not built that way. That I’m afraid of being nothing in his shadow.

He sets down his fork, a frown tugging at the edges of his mouth. “Monster…”

I chase the hash browns with a gulp of coffee. “Let’s not talk about it, okay? And don’t tell anyone about me and Jess—not even our moms.”

“Of course not, but why do you think—”

“Okay.” I slide out of the booth to end our conversation, grabbing the wig as I go. Helplessly he lets the topic drop and we wait for Bran to pay, and they escort me back to the hotel before hitting up another all-night showing of Galaxy Quest. I wave goodbye from the lobby and head inside.

The problem is, I can’t get into my own room without my keycard, and guess who shockingly forgot to take it? Along with my phone, credit card, and bag. I’ve got no choice but to shuffle up to Jess’s suite.

I barely insert the key into keylock before the door jerks open.

Ethan towers in the doorway, vibrating like a human-looking sock puppet full of angry bees.

Uh-oh. That’s definitely not a happy face.

His fists are clenched, his shoulders jarringly straight, his mouth set into a thin line. He glares down at me from behind the shadow of his glasses. He’s changed into dry clothes, sweatpants and a loose tee, although with one look I remember the sight of his wet shirt clinging to his shoulders and chest. I quickly put those thoughts out of my head as fast as I can. His hair is kind of wild and dry, not gelled like it usually is, and he has a cowlick on the right side that I never noticed before. A part of me wants to lick my palm and try to flatten it, but he looks like a tower of angry cats and I fear for my hand. The way the muscle in his jaw throbs, I think he might just want to strangle me.

I clear my throat. “Ethan…um, hi. I, um, left my stuff in here.”

He breathes in through his nose, and a little of the tension melts. He sidesteps so I can slip past him into Jess’s hotel room. It’s just like when I left it. I grab my bag that I’d thrown on the couch and loop it over my shoulder.

“I think I’m going to go back to my hotel room for the night. So, tomorrow morning…”

And that’s when I notice all of the freshly ironed shirts hanging in the bathroom doorway. An ironing board stands just behind the couch, the iron giving off a soft hiss of steam.

He was…ironing?

“Where have you been?” he asks, closing the door with too-measured gentleness. His voice reflects his true feelings: quietly controlled rage.

Oh. It clicks.

“You iron when you’re worried,” I say, hazarding a guess.

“And fold laundry, and mop floors, and hem pants—and don’t change the subject. Where have you been?” He folds his arms over his chest, a finger tapping agitatedly against his biceps.

“Out,” I reply. “Why do you care? I wasn’t being Jessica.”

“You went off on your own!”

“Of course I did! Aren’t I allowed to? You obviously don’t care what happens when I’m me, only when I’m being your precious Jessica.”


“And you know what? I get it. She has everything! She’s not living in anyone’s shadow! Don’t worry. Jessica Stone’s intact. I didn’t tell anyone her secrets. Besides I’m no one. I’ll always be no one. It’s my lot in life, right?” And then I do something I know I should not do. I adopt Jessica Stone’s perfect lilt and I purr, “But I think your love for Jess might be a bit unrequited?”

A muscle on the left side of his jaw twitches with annoyance.

I know I’m being nasty and cruel. But he was nasty and cruel, too, and I’m too tired and emotionally compromised to reel myself in.

So is he, apparently.

He rakes his fingers through his thick black hair. “Forget it! You know why I was mad? Because of this.” He digs his phone out of his sweatpants pocket and hits a contact. He puts the call on speakerphone and my stomach drops into my gut when I read the name.


He even spelled my name right.

Although he’s calling it, my phone doesn’t start ringing, and shame eats at the edges of my ears because I remember I put in the number for my favorite pizza joint back home. It rings three times before one of the co-managers answers, “Junie here, and you’re calling the Roman Pizzeria, what can I get for you—”

He stabs his thumb on the END CALL button, his dark eyes seething at no one but me.

I swallow hard.


Right. I forgot about that.

“Is this some game to you, Imogen?”

I clench my jaw and look away. Okay, I hadn’t really thought that plan through. And all of the little things are starting to come together. Him ironing, calling my number, being angry with me—it means that, whether it’s because I’m Jessica or not, he was worried about me once I’d stormed off. And that makes me feel just a little worse for yelling at him.

“You can’t be Jess forever,” he says, his voice thin and brittle, “and those people out there? The ones who cheered for you? The paparazzi who called out your name? They care about Jess, and no matter how much you want or try to be her, all you’ll ever be is a copy.”