“The Hellmouth has opened.” Milo nods solemnly and shoves a taco into his face. It’s there one minute and then gone the next. Like Pac-Man chomping up those little white dots. I don’t even think he tasted it.

“So,” I go on, tearing my eyes away from Milo as he rips into yet another taco, “I accidentally spilled our drinks all over him, and the dude just went off on me. He was so nasty. I honestly felt like, if the last few years hadn’t made me It’s Fine fireproof, then I’d be a roasted main course of Imogen Lovelace.”

Bran sighs and lounges back on the bed. “That’s a pity. Sounds like it would’ve been a pretty memorable meet-cute. I’ve read it on AO3 at least a dozen times.”

“Right?” I echo his wistful sigh. “But alas, true love has eluded me yet again.”

“Oh merciful heavens,” Milo moans from the chair, the wrapper carcasses of five tofu tacos littering the floor around him like tombstones in a graveyard. He leans back, one hand on his stomach. “I have been revived by tofu and fake cheese.”

“I didn’t take that long,” I say, folding my arms over my chest, and my coffee stain, crossly. “Although I don’t know why you wanted vegan tacos.”

Bran rolls his eyes. “Because it’s from the Pumpkin and your brother is extra.”

“Hey, you’re dating him. What’s the Pumpkin?” I ask, handing him a coffee that he didn’t order but I know he wanted. Americano with extra water.

“You are a goddess,” Bran replies. “You know, the Magic Pumpkin?”

My stare must be brilliantly blank because my brother adds, “The food truck Geekerella worked at?”

I give him a surprised look. “That was that food truck?”

They nod in unison.

I remember a young woman with blond hair and purple glasses working the register while a green-haired woman prepped tacos in the truck’s tight kitchen. No Geekerella in sight. “Huh.”

Milo takes out two tacos for me and shoves the rest into his Spider-Man backpack. “All right. We got blankets. We got water. We got food. Got my eye mask,” he adds, pulling a Carmindor-themed eye mask out of his back pocket and putting it on. The eye pads sit on his forehead, making him look as though he has a pair of Darien’s dreamy peepers above his real ones. “Anything else we need?”

“What was the news you guys were talking about?” I ask.

Milo and Bran shoot each other the same unreadable look. “Didn’t you see Bran’s text?”

“No, I was carrying tacos and coffee, remember? What news?”

Quickly, Bran takes out his phone and shows me a tweet with a photo. A grin spreads across his lips and he says, “Monster, someone’s leaking the Starfield script—and rumor is, it’s real.”

WITH AN EXASPERATED SIGH, I FALL back onto the bed, holding my phone and scrolling through the @s and RTs. The script has to be fake, but the internet is going insane. Again. And with more comments come more trolls and more fanboys bemoaning my existence. The first time the sequel script “leaked,” earlier this year, it turned out to be a reject from the first movie. I got sent hateful comments for surviving at the end of the film. The three times after that they’ve just been fakes.

Honestly, though? I’d kill for one of them to be real just so Diana can finally confirm whether or not I’m in the damn thing.



@sayjess @notthatdarien @calvinrolfe4real @dudebroamon


A scene of the sequel script leaked!!! I AM SHOOK.


EXCLUSIVE: photo of a page from the long-awaited sequel!

CARMINDOR fills the doorway, refusing to let the NOXIAN GENERAL pass in the hallway. The tired GENERAL gives him a dangerous look.


Your Highness, your treaty with us is already thin.


The Black Nebula - what’s happening to it?

The NOXIAN GENERAL draws herself up to full height. She is unafraid of her answer.


It has opened again, unsurprisingly .

Looks like your princess didn’t sacrifice enough.

Now get out of my way.

CARMINDOR’s mood darkens. He stands rigid in the doorway, like a sentinel. Just out of the NOXIAN GENERAL’s line of sight come two Federation officers. They have their hands on their pistols, ready to draw.

The NOXIAL GENERAL notices them and she whirls back to CARMINDOR angrily.


You know this is war.


(to the Federation Officers)

Arrest her.

For a moment, it seems like CARMINDOR won’t let her pass, but then he steps aside and the General leaves.

Ugh, people.

From across the hall, the booms and murmured shouts of a TV show hum underneath the door. Dare and Calvin have been marathoning old Star Trek movies in preparation for the fourth or fifth one—I can’t remember—coming out next week. They’re up to the one with the whales. I recognize Leonard Nimoy’s voice. My mom loves Spock—I think she had a crush on him, honestly.

Things were simpler back then, when Mom would catch the last thirty minutes of her favorite Star Trek movie before she bussed me off to auditions. Ethan would sometimes tag along, playing his Gameboy in the backseat while Mom and I played traveling games in the front. That was before I appeared in a commercial, which got me in front of a casting director for Huntress Rising, which nabbed me an Oscar nomination. Sometimes I wish Ethan and I could go back to Mom’s VW bus, with the windows rolled down to catch the summer breeze, Led Zeppelin blaring from the speakers, the road wide and open and the stars spread out across the endless horizon.

I could be anyone I wanted.

My story was mine.

The door to my hotel room creaks open and Ethan appears with a dirty chai latte and chocolate Frappuccino. I quickly sit up, checking to make sure my mascara isn’t runny from crying—until I notice a stain in the shape of Texas on Ethan’s once-immaculate shirt.

“What the heck happened to you?”

He scowls. “It was that girl again—the one who impersonated you. She’s a total monster, but I survived.” He marches over and gallantly hands me my chai latte and sits down beside me. He takes a long gulp of his Frappuccino.

I sip my chai, and it tastes like bliss. He smells like hazelnut creamer, but I don’t say anything since he looks as annoyed as the time his older brothers put blue dye in his shampoo (they didn’t know he used it for body wash, too).

“Thanks, Ethan,” I say quietly, and lay my head on his shoulder.

“Don’t mention it—”

“Not for the coffee, for everything. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Call me every day and complain about your other PAs?” His spot-on guess makes me laugh. “You can complain to me any day of the week whether I’m your assistant or not, you know that, right? I’m always all ears.”

“I’ve tried not to do it too often.”

“But it’s okay if you do. Everyone needs to vent sometimes, you know?”

I do know, but there are some things I can’t even tell Ethan—especially not now. He reports to my agent, so it’s his job to tell her whether I’m all right or if something is wrong in my life and how to make it better. But those are questions I don’t know how to answer. He’s my best friend and my secret-keeper, but it isn’t his job to be burdened with all the self-doubts in my head.

He shifts slightly, a little uncomfortably, and says, almost in a whisper, “Hey, Jess? Are you…are you happy?”

At first, I don’t understand the question. I blink once, twice, and the words sink in.

Are you happy?

Of all the interviews and online questions and magazine articles, this is one question I’ve never been asked. Perhaps because, in everyone’s mind, it’s never been a question. It’s always been a statement:

Jessica Stone is happy.

She has to be.

I open my mouth to tell him the truth when—

My phone dings. Ethan looks at me expectantly but I wave him off. “Twitter notifications. Someone’s leaking a fake script again.”

“Again? Wasn’t there one last week?” he asks. Thankfully he doesn’t push the “are you happy” question.

“Yeah, they’re being ridiculous—”

Suddenly, the Jaws theme shouts from Ethan’s front pocket. We both glance down to it. The duuuuuun-dun, duuuuun-dun is so loud it would be almost comical if we didn’t know who he assigned the ringtone to.

My agent.

But…I just talked to her. Why would she be calling Ethan so soon?

We exchange the same questioning look before Ethan pulls his phone out and answers. “Diana, good evening.”

I sit quietly, straining to make out whatever Diana is saying. Ethan tries to keep his face impassive, and to most people it would look like he succeeds, but I know him better than I know anyone. I know that the left side of his lip twitches when he hears something he doesn’t want to know; his breathing becomes even, deep, almost like a trance.

This is not a good conversation.

“Yes, she’s here,” he says, and hands the phone to me.

I have to talk to her; I don’t have a choice. Is it about the script? Is she calling to say that I am in the sequel as some pointless five-second flashback? Or am I free?