“Of course, but don’t you want to know the name of the film first? Friends?” I ask, looking back to the audience, and they cheer. I lower my hands and they quiet again. Wow, this kind of power is kind of addicting. “But I think Vance already knows it.”

Vance laughs. “Yeah, I can take a guess—”

“No guesses needed. Because you’re the one leaking the script.”

The crowd murmurs.

I see Imogen hang her head.

Vance’s eyebrows jerk up in surprise. “I—what? You’re kidding, right?”

“Don’t play dumb, Vance. It’s not becoming.”

“Yeah, because I’m not. Bloody hell, I don’t even know what you’re going on ab—”

“Then show us your phone.”


“Show us your—”

Vance Reigns, General Sond, the villain, holds up his phone. There is a text from his mom—now two, now three—but no missed calls.

But if not him, then…

My eyes find Imogen’s, and she has her arms crossed and is pointing (not so subtly) to the right. Toward Calvin and Amon.

And Amon’s phone is lit up like a beacon.

Yeah, I’ll just keep spam-calling him through an untraceable Google number, Bran had told us. You know, to get the screen to light up.


This entire plan just went supernova.

“What’s the meaning of this, Jessica?” Vance asks. “Why do you think I’d leak the script? I don’t even have it! How do we know you’re not the leak? That it’s not your script?”

My trusted director looks at me, and we lock eyes, because I had been wrong this whole time. I’m not the only person with the script. One other person would have it. In fact, he’d have it before everyone else.


Was he just—was he going to let me take the fall? Let those fanboys and trolls have at me, make their lewd comments, scrape my career across their teeth? When the time came for someone to get in trouble for leaking the script, was he simply going to pawn it off on me because I was on the outs and leaving anyway? He gave me a script even though Princess Amara was dead.

He was so adamant not to have Amara come back that he wanted to frame me for a publicity stunt to ensure that I wouldn’t.

He’s the one who killed me off in the first place.

“It is,” I say, never taking my eyes off Amon. “It is my script, but I wasn’t leaking it.”

Amon clears his throat. “We can talk about this later, Jessica—”

“No, we need to talk about it now. It was you.”

Amon scoffs. “You just accused Vance, and now you’re accusing me? Jessica, think a little. Why would I steal your script?” There’s a patronizing note to his voice that curdles my blood. I won’t let him talk to me like this. He never thought I was pretty enough on camera, he never praised my work while giving Dare and Calvin compliment after compliment. He made me run in heels when I obviously didn’t want to, and Princess Amara never would have.

I ball my hands into fists.

“I lost the script, Amon,” I say, “and I spent two days looking for it because I thought someone had stolen it out of the trash. At first it was so I wouldn’t look bad in front of you, or any other director who wants to work with me in the future, but now…”

“Jess, come on,” Amon groans. “Stop making a hysterical spectacle. You don’t like Starfield anyway.”

At that, I hear a few people in the audience chuckle. I feel their laughter crawling up my spine, mocking me.

“You’re right,” I admit.

The murmurs grow louder, and Amon sits back, amused.

“I didn’t like Starfield,” I go on, “but that was because I didn’t know what it could be. I only saw a part of it. I only knew what it was like from the outside looking in.

“But I think I’m beginning to. Starfield isn’t going to win any awards, and Starfield isn’t going fix everything that’s wrong with the world, but you know what? Sometimes the stories we need are the ones that can show us a happy ending and make us feel whole and welcome and loved. And that, I think, is the true magic of Starfield, of watching twenty Amaras through a small camera lens strike the same pose, of howling a theme song off-key, of debating its economy and its politics and its world-building and whether Carmindor’s uniform is really the perfect shade of blue. That’s the part of Starfield I never saw before, that magical, weird, and wondrous part that I now want to protect.”

I turn to the audience and survey the three thousand shadows staring back at me. My doppelgänger sits behind me at the table, looking increasingly uncomfortable, but she shouldn’t worry. The audience isn’t looking at her. In the dark room, telltale flashes of cameras and lock screens set people’s faces aglow.

“I only saw the parts of Starfield that didn’t want me,” I say, and that includes Amon. “I knew the niches who didn’t like my acting, or my hair, or my breast size, or the fact that I even existed. They said that my mole ruined their princess. But that’s the thing with Amara”—I look out at the audience, those shadowed faces staring back at me, unrelenting—“she belongs to no man, and no king, and she certainly doesn’t belong to you.” I look down at one of the girls in the front row; she’s ten and dressed as Princess Amara. I take off my silver crown and place it on her head. “She belongs to us—all of us. She taught us how to be bold and powerful, and she taught us that we can make mistakes and be better. That we don’t have to be perfect—we can just be enough. We carry her with us. And because of that, Amara will never die.” The ballroom is quiet and this is not how our plan was supposed to go, but this is how it went, and I am still intact on the other side. Whatever happens now is out of my control. Perhaps it always has been, but I like the thought of having tried to change it.

And then I turn, like a ghost, and return down the aisle whence I came, and behind me rises a tide of silence.

Amon stands abruptly and calls after me. “Jess! Jess, where are you going?”

“The horizon is wide,” I say over my shoulder, my words spoken in the steady, even cadence of Amara, “and I have a girl to kiss.”

Then I pick up the sides of my dress made of stars and wishes and impossibilities, and I run out of the room.

THE BACK DOOR SWINGS SHUT, AND silence swallows us whole. No one moves as Jess’s words sink in. No one breathes. It’s like the silence after a rubber band, wound too tightly, suddenly snaps. The tension is gone. And then—

Vance glances at Calvin. “Did she just say a girl?”

Calvin gives him a crude look. “Don’t talk to me,” he says—I think—because at the same time an audience member stands, picking up her magical staff, and follows Jess. Then another. And then an entire row of people. Filing out in growing numbers until everyone is trying to cram out of the doors.

That’s when it hits me—Jess is going to find Harper.

I jump to my feet and hurry around the table. Behind me, Amon shouts Jess’s name, but I don’t stop. That is not my name, and he definitely doesn’t deserve mine.

Ethan meets me at the edge of the stage, with Elle right behind him, and takes my hand to help me down. “I think I know where she’s going,” I tell them.

“This way!” Suddenly, Darien flings the backstage curtains wide, beckoning us to hurry.

“Oh, so you’ve returned,” Ethan says mildly.

Darien gives him a look. “You would not believe what just happened—”

“Let’s talk and run, shall we?” I interrupt. “Follow me! I know a shortcut.” There’s a door on the side of the room that is always barred, mostly because it lets out to the next panel space, where the old guy from Star Wars is taking questions and—

“Does he sound like the Joker or is it me?” I ask.

Ethan rolls his eyes, and we cut into the next hall, and then the next, Darien and Elle following close behind. I know this convention center like the back of my hand. I know every nook and cranny, every shortcut and quiet bathroom, and soon I navigate us outside into the sticky Atlanta night.

Darien and Elle speed ahead, folding their fingers together, leaving Ethan and me to follow.

A stream of people follows Jess from one side of the convention to the other, trickling down into the street like the parade we saw earlier, and I can’t help but smile like mad—because although it isn’t a marching band, this is totally my new favorite trope. A bunch of nerds following a princess in a dress made of galaxies.

Beside me, Ethan lets out a long sigh. “So, now that you’re you again, I think we need proper introductions. I’ll start. Hi there, my name’s Ethan Tanaka.”

“That’s a real smooth pickup line.”

“That’s a very long name you have, That’s a real smooth pickup—”

“Imogen,” I laugh, offering my hand. “But my friends call me Mo.”

“Mo, it’s a pleasure.”

We shake hands.

A block away, the crowd has stopped moving. I squint into the distance. “Is Jess trying to—”