Chapter 5.28


It was the night of our date. THE date with James. For some reason I had knots on top of knots forming in my stomach. I had no clue why I was so nervous. He wasn’t going to be the man of my dreams like everyone on the stinking planet seemed to think. And poor Charlie. I died ten thousand deaths when I had to tell him about my date. But he took it so well, my heart melted. I was determined this would be the last of Jenny pleading with me to go out with her brother and the Sisterhood would be proven wrong, too.

Then Charlie and I could sail off into a Heartthrob sunset.

Domina gave me some last minute advice. “Make sure to take mace with you because I’ve heard his fans will hunt down any girl he’s with.”

Rolling my eyes and laughing, I said, “Gee, thanks, Dom. Way to make me feel gushy about this date.”

“Always happy to help.”


“I hope you have fun tonight, Lex,” Kate said. “You deserve to be happy.”


“Hey, thanks. But guys, this is just one date. It’s not going anywhere. I like Charlie, remember?”


Reese and Copper started giggling with each other.

“Do you think we should name our first child after James, babe?” Reese asked Copper.

“I do! James if its a boy and James Ann is it’s a girl.”



I shook my head. Flamers.



Normally, dating a girl was no big deal. Before the Heartthrobs, I had a few girlfriends. Well, more than a few. But fast forward to superstardom and my only choices were to date bubbleheaded golddiggers, conceited narcissistic actresses, or crazy groupies. In order to deal, I gave up the scene and hid. Meeting Lexie changed my world.

When she answered the door, I lost my breath. “Hi,” I said, clumsily, getting caught in her eyes. She was absolutely stunning. And tonight, I could finally be myself.


“Hello, um…so, you’re James?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

I nodded, so shell shocked I couldn’t find my words.

She waved. “I’m Lexie.” Her cheeks turned a nice shade of pink that rippled down her neck. I felt a twinge of awkwardness.

Glancing at the china rose I’d bought at Tiffany’s on the way over, she asked, “Oh, is that a flower?”


I raised it and said, “Um, yeah…it’s for you. I thought you might want something that didn’t die in a few days.”


“That’s…different. But nice! Thank you.”


She stood there, her plump and perfect lips twisting in that coy way I’d grown to love.

Blinking, she asked, “Um…are you…going to give it to me? Or do you want to keep it as a pretty accessory? The red does enhance the blue of your eyes.”


“Oh…shit…um…sorry.” I pushed the rose into her hands, my face burning. Damn, I was out of practice.



James seemed so nervous, he made me nervous. It was totally weird. Like I was on a date with Jenny only cut the hair, get rid of the gobs of makeup, and deepen the voice. But Jenny was always so relaxed around me. And fun. James was way more distant. Sort of how you’d think a superstar might act. It wasn’t as if he was snobby, but…he didn’t talk much. I must have started a conversation five times, and he’d just stare and give me short answers. Sooo wasn’t looking forward to him meeting my family. My father was going to eat this poor guy alive. And Uncle Beau? Oh my god…it was going to be a cringefest. My cheeks were red just thinking about it.

Because James would get mobbed if we went out normally, he’d rented out Rainbow Park. Had no clue anyone COULD rent out a park, but there you go. I guessed if you were James Sanderson, it was possible.


“S-So, do you want some coffee?” he asked as we wandered around and found what usually was the coffeehouse but it was like a ghosttown with no employees.

“Yeah, I guess. Do you know how to use an espresso machine?”

He shook his head. “My assistants usually get coffee for me.”


“Yeah. Kind of figured that.” I chewed on my thumb, trying to think back to my college days when I learned how to become a barista for a day at Geek Con. It was years ago, so I had to rinse off the cobwebs in order to remember. “I could take a stab at it, I guess. I’m dying to eat one of those pastries with some coffee. Just don’t tell my grandfather because he wants me to try his barbecue tofu.”


“Barbecue tofu? You mean, we’re not eating chicken or steak?”

“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this. You’re vegan.”


“Uh…I don’t remember ever being vegan,” he said, brushing his hands over his face.

“Well, you are. Hope you don’t mind.”

“No…not a strange order at all…I guess I’m vegan then.”

I laughed. He had a subtle sense of humor. I liked it.




I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. For some reason my mouth wouldn’t work like it was supposed to. All I wanted to do was stare at how beautiful Lexie was tonight. She went out of her way to dress just for me. It was so cute. I knew she hated wearing a lot of make up and styling her hair like that bothered her because strands of hair would get stuck to her lip gloss.

I laughed.


She gave me a sidelong glance. “What’s so funny?”

I couldn’t tell her I could see some of those strands caught on her lips right now. “Nothing.”

“Come on…out with it. You’re just like your sister. She’d always laugh at me, too. What’s up? Do I have a panty line showing? Spinach on my teeth? Toilet paper hanging out of my pants?”


I came over and pulled the strands from her lips, tucking her hair behind an ear. “There. Is that better?” I asked.

“God, thank you. I was too embarrassed to touch my face while I was making this stuff. I hate long hair. I think I’m going to cut it all off.”

I shrugged. “You’d look good in any hair style. You should wear it how you like.”

Handing me a cup, she grinned. “That’s not what Jenny says. She told me your dates are ‘sophisticated’.” She put a hand up in air quotes.

I sat down. I hated when she’d reference “my sister”. It underscored how fucked up this all was and how I’d dug my grave with her. I could only pray she’d take the truth well. I planned on telling her at the end of the night or when the time was right. Whichever came first.

“Maybe you shouldn’t listen to Jenny and do what you want,” I said.

She wobbled her head in amazement. “Wow. You’re nothing like I thought you’d be.”


I sipped on the delicious nutty coffee then asked, “How’d you think I’d be?”


“To be honest, I thought you were going to be some stuck up diva with a stick up his ass. No offense.”


“And you don’t think that now?”


Shrugging, she threw on a teasing grin. “The jury’s still out on that one, but it’s looking good you’re just a normal guy.”

“Normal?” I sipped my coffee then said, “I’m anything but.”

She laughed at my joke.









Next chapter Wednesday, August 1st

(Sorry for the delay…the next chapter is a bit long and I didn’t have time to finish.) 

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Chapter 5.27


I never thought escaping my friends by going to my dad’s was ever going to be a thing, but here I was with a smile on my face. It was nice to be home. I got this warm fuzzy feeling seeing my dad, uncle, and brother along with my grandparents. I definitely needed a break from the crazy of my life.


“Hey, everyone,” I said, waving.

“Hi, lady bug!” Dad said, smiling wide. “I hope you’re ready for escargot and lobster thermidore tonight.”


“August, how can you think a Pongan man like me would eat snails? We like shellfish from the sea, not from the concrete.”

I smiled. I adored my grandfather. “I’m with you, Grandpa. Those slimy things should be fish bait, not for human consumption.”


I kissed my dad then sat next to him.

“Lexi,” Uncle Beau said, “don’t knock until you try. I bet after tonight, you’ll be a slimy snail fan.”


“And speaking of fan…” Dad chimed in. “I hear you’re dating one of the Heartthrobs. Is this true?”

“James Sanderson, wasn’t it?” my grandmother added.


Blood seemed to rush out of my body. What the crap? How did they find out my lie?

Of course. Silas Moon. That creep. Couldn’t keep his trap shut for two days. “Uh…” I tried to stall.

“Why don’t you bring him by? We’d love to meet him.”


“H-He…uh…you know…can’t really get out much. Rabid fans and all.” Lexie! What are you saying??? You’re not dating JAMES! 

“Well, just don’t be shy about having him meet us. This is the first boyfriend you’ve had in years.”

I winced. “Uh, yeah, well…we’re not exactly…”


“Is everything alright?” Grandma asked. “It’s hard having a famous boyfriend. I know I suffered a lot with my father. Thankfully, the paparazzi doesn’t know about it. It’s a good thing to keep your relationship private.”


Grandma turned to Dad and said, “August, don’t pressure her into having him meet us.”

Thank you, Grandma!

“Oh, but it’d be so cool to meet THE James Sanderson. I love the Heartthrobs!” Uncle Beau shimmied and sang, “Baby, baby, oh, baby, baby, baby, baby, oh oh OHHHHH!”


“Are you sure you can’t talk him into it?” Uncle Beau pleaded. “We have that barbecue happening on the 4th. Surely, he could come to that!”

I waved my hands around. “Oh, I think he definitely wouldn’t want to come to a barbecue. H-He’s a…um…v-vegan.” Geeze…this was getting worse and worse. What was I doing?


“I make a mean Pongan BBQ tofu bowl,” Grandpa said, grinning. “I think he’d love it, Lexie. Why don’t you ask him? Now I’m intrigued by the kid. He’s got to pass the Grandpa Seth test before I’ll give him my stamp of approval. I don’t care how famous he is.”


“Eheheheh…” I breathed, heart flapping wildly in my chest, “Grandpa…um…I think you’d scare the poor guy away. He’s like…t-tiny…you’d tower over him. Do you think I want to put him through that?”


“Oh nonsense, Lexie,” Dad said, “we’ll be nice to him. Come on…we’ve got to meet the guy you’ve been dating. It’s not right to shut your family out.”

“It’s settled then,” Uncle Beau said, picking up little Brayden. “He’s coming on the 4th. And if he’s not on tour, he has no excuse.”

Damn. I was sunk. It was too late to tell them they got the wrong Heartthrob.

“Um…okay…I guess?”


“Did you hear that, Bray-bray?” Uncle Beau cooed at my brother. “We’re going to meet James Sanderson!”

“Yippee!” Brayden yelled even though he didn’t know what the hell he was celebrating.


“Why do you look so sour, lady bug? He’s going to like us. I promise.”

I lifted the side of my mouth. “Hum…y-yeah…sure…”



By the time I got home, my mind rolled over how it seemed as if everyone was basically shouting at me to date James. Even my family! But what was I missing? Maybe it was fate? Maybe it was coincidence? But no matter what, it was evident. I needed to give James one chance. Dom could be right. What if James was the love of my life and I was just passing him by for no good reason except my judgement against him. It wasn’t fair to him. Or to me. If that was the case.

Readying myself to tell Jenny the good news, I stopped short in the middle of my room.


“What the hell happened in here?” I whispered. The whole place looked like it did before except it got a revamp like a genie decorator came through and freshened it up with her magic wand. “Wow.”


Just then, Jenny popped out of the bathroom. “Oh you’re back. So glad I caught you before I left.”

My stomach lurched. “Before you…left?”


“Yes, dollface. My penthouse is ready, so I’ve got to move. I hope you like the changes. I knew your favorite color was red, so…I don’t know. I just couldn’t see putting your old things back. Well, except for your Charlie posters. Take a look. They’re all up as before.”


This hit me like a slap in the face. I didn’t really think through what it was going to be like without Jenny around. Yeah, I was mad about the Flamer crap, but I’d calmed down about it. Did she think I wanted her gone because of that?

“You know I’m not mad anymore about today. Jenny, I…I don’t want you to move out.” I put my hand on her shoulder and she took it in her warm fingers.


“Oh, sweetheart…I…” she stopped and shook her head. “Th-there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. And then I know you’ll want me out of here. It’s just…” She sighed then swallowed.

I looked into her eyes through watery tears and she stopped what she was about to say.

“Lexie, are you crying?” she asked.

I couldn’t help it.

What was I going to do without her? I’d miss our long talks on my bed, getting to know one another, watching movies together, or giggling endlessly about silly things. She always took care of me whenever I needed something and I, in turn, helped her with picking up laundry or fetching her coffee or bringing her asian takeout after work. We did everything together–from the time she moved in, we connected in a way that I never had with anyone–not even my only boyfriend, Cory.

How could I not see her every morning and every night? My mind reeled in panic.


“Don’t go, Jenny. Please? Didn’t you like staying here with me?”


And then I broke down. It was like I was losing a part of me.


She took me into her arms and rocked me gently. I didn’t want to let her go.



When Lexie started crying, I clung to her, wishing this situation was different. I didn’t want to leave. Instead, if I could, I’d order my driver to whisk her away from this carnival and drop her off at my penthouse. But…


She had to know the truth.


Taking a deep breath, I vowed to spit out my confession and deal with the aftermath.  “Listen, babydoll, I need to tell you something. I’ve been holding off for too long.” I closed my eyes then said, “I…”

“Hey, Jenny? I know what you’re going to say.” She looked down, fiddling with her fingers.

My stomach dropped. “You do?”


Her eyes darted around and she said, “I feel awful for what I’ve put you through about your brother. I don’t blame you for gettin fed up with me and leaving.”

“Huh?” I dropped my arms to my side.

“I’ve been such a little bitch about going out with him. The Sisterhood is right. What’s the harm in one date?”


I blinked. I wasn’t sure what she was getting at.

Raising her head, she said, “So, I want to go out with James. Do you think you could ask him for me?”


That was the last thing I thought would come out of her mouth.


















Chapter 5.26


When I got home from work today, I did a double take.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”


It looked like a Flamer mother ship had landed and dumped all its crap in here.


Jenny had gone too far this time. Why couldn’t she accept that I liked Charlie? And he liked me. We’d been texting almost nonstop after our date.

The idea of me dating James was over. It wasn’t happening. She was going to have to deal or she was going to suffer the wrath of Lexie.


I marched to our bedroom.


She was putting on makeup, as usual. “What the hell, Jenny?”

“What the hell what, sweetheart?”


“Can you tell me why our living room looks like it came from a Flamer’s convention? I’m not going to date James. EVER!”

“Look, doll face, I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve been here in our room for most of the day.”


I flipped my hands at her. “Come and see for yourself.”



Lexie slammed the door, making me jump. God. What did those women do to me? I should have known they weren’t going to help except tie a noose around my neck. The quicker I got out of here the better. I’d already called the movers to get my stuff tonight. It was best to make a clean break. Better for Lexie anyway. She’d be celebrating.


When I entered the living room, I gulped.

“See?” Lexie said. “Explain.”


I didn’t know how the sisterhood got their hands on our concert merch that hadn’t even been offered to the public yet. The Forever Mine tour was just about to start, but not for two weeks.


And it was the first I’d seen of this poster. “You know, that certainly isn’t James’ best side. I’m going to have to talk to his publicist about this.”


“Oh my God, you’re infuriating!” Lexie howled.

So much for trying to make her laugh. “Darling, I don’t know why you’re so upset. I didn’t put these here. I would have chosen much better pictures to tempt you with…Flamer stuff is just…cheesy.”



I couldn’t believe Jenny would blame the sisterhood for putting up the pictures. I couldn’t even look at her anymore I was so mad. So I went to the kitchen to get a drink.


Copper and Reese were chatting as usual, but then my mouth fell open.

“Certified Flamer?” I said.


“Copper? Are you serious? You put those posters up? Since when are you a Flamer?”


“Both of us are, Lexie,” Reese answered. “We have front row tickets to the Forever Mine concert in Bridgeport. James is such a talented singer. We saw some of his videos and became instant fans.”

“But you hate boybands,” I countered. “You told me you thought my brain had melted from all the Heartthrob music I listened to.”

Reese smiled. “We’re sorry about that, Lexie. You were right. The Heartthrobs are so special. We’re certified Throbbers now.”

Was I on an alien prank show or something? I fluttered my eyes, not believing these pop-culture haters would actually listen to one Heartthrob song let alone become Throbbers.


I had no clue what came over them, but I didn’t like the fact that they put James’ face in our living room. I wanted to talk to the other girls about it. I found two of them in our gaming room.

My hand flew over my mouth. “Not you, too! What is going on?”


I never thought I’d see Domina Langosta wear anything but black leather. And here she was sporting a teen-dream Flamer t-shirt.


“What do you mean, Lexie?” Dom asked innocently.


I sat down. “Oh come on, I’m not that stupid. Fess up. What is everyone up to with this Flamer stuff? Did Jenny put you up to this? Because it’s not working.”


“Okay, you got us,” Kate said. “We just want you to give James a chance. He’s a really nice guy and deserves one date.”

I shook my head. “’s too late now. I’m dating Charlie!”


“Are you official? Did he ask you to be his girlfriend?” Dom asked.

“N-No…but I just can’t go around and date one of his friends, too. It wouldn’t be right.”

“Why not? I don’t see a ring on your finger. And besides, what if the love of your life is James and you never even gave him a chance? Wouldn’t you kick yourself for waiting? It’s just one date. What’s the harm?”




I needed to confess who I really was to Lexie. Tonight. And then get the hell out. My thoughts of ever going out with her were burned in a pile of ash with those Flamer posters. The Sisterhood made sure of that.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang and I opened it to find Nathan dressed in a weird ass outfit and wig.


“Hey, Jenny,” Nathan said, winking at me.

“What the hell are you doing here, Nat? Having Heartthrobs hanging around the Sisterhood is not a good idea right now.”


“I’m here for a sultry witch named Elara. Girl’s got a dungeon I must explore.”


“Dude, I didn’t ask.”


“No, I’m serious. She has an actual dungeon. What’d you think I meant?”


“Whatever,” I said, stepping aside to let him in. Lexie popped out of our bedroom and glared at me. I looked away, knowing I was in deep shit with her. If only I could just disappear right now. I didn’t even want to deal with how she was going to react to the truth. Was not looking forward to that scene.

Nathan walked in and bowed immediately. “Your grace. I am honored to be in your illustrious, evil presence.”


“Arise, Lord Bloodmoon,” Elara said in her haughty voice. I was always amazed at seeing the two headed monster. She sent chills through me. I wanted to avoid her like a bad sickness. What was Nathan thinking, dating that headcase?


“Did you bring your sword? The rabble are on the loose and I will be in need of your attendance.”


“Of course, your grace. I will be happy to shield you from all unwanted attention.”

“Good.” The woman gripped Nat’s arm and both of them strutted away. I could almost here the clank of a castle door opening for them and whinnies of horses to their imaginary carriage.

Oh, God. This insane house was getting to me.


Lexie was about to follow them outside when I pulled at her arm and said, “Wait, Lexie. We need to talk.”


She shook her head and said, “Not now. I’m late for dinner at my dad’s. We’ll talk when I get back.”

But I didn’t want to wait. By then I would be moved out.


But maybe it was better this way. Slink out of her life like the rat I was.








Chapter 5.25

WARNING: One slightly NSFW shot (not worth censoring though…just be aware. Halfway down. ;-D )


Why the hell was I on wheels? I wasn’t a freaking bumper car. Although I felt like one since everyone here thought they could ram into me. Did no one else figure out that rollerskating was for either kids under twelve or big hulking Amazons doing roller derby? Unfortunately, once you got me going, I didn’t know how to stop so I was skating around in literal circles for the past hour.


And then some low voices stopped me cold on the wooden floor.


“And get your fucking hands off my boobs, pervert.”

“God, James, relax. They’re not real. Why get so upset?”



It took me a minute to process then…



It was as if a veil lifted from my eyes.


“Oh, Jenny, honey,” I thought to myself. “You are going down.”


I wasn’t sure if it was really true or I was seeing things. So, when I got up the next morning, I wandered down to my lair and pulled up a search engine. Surely some rag would know if James was parading around as Jenny.


But everywhere I searched turned up nothing substantial. It seemed as if he did have a sister who was a WooTuber.


And I found an article with a “no comment” about Jenny from the parents. But that wasn’t too surprising. Many parents didn’t talk to the press about their celebrity children.


But then I hit the jackpot. “Bingo,” I whispered.




This was so fucked up. James Sanderson had been rooming with Lexie all this time and she had no clue. But how to go about his reveal? This was a delicate matter that had to be done swiftly. I wondered what the perv was up to, no doubt peeking at Lexie when she dressed.


And then I saw James strutting through the living room.

Just the asswipe I wanted to see.


I put on the fakest smile.


“Hello, Dom,” he cooed.


I arched an eyebrow at him, channeling how to respond.


And then I thought, “Aw hell. Screw it.”

I grabbed his balls and squeezed. “Hello, James.”


He whimpered, “H-How…d-did…you…?”


“No. How did YOU get the dumbshit idea you could get away with this? Do you realize what you’re doing is a felony?”


“A felony? B-But I haven’t done anything to…”


“Lexie, a woman, thinks she’s rooming with a woman. Not a pervy dude who creepily watches her dress and hugs her and has done untold who-knows-what to her as she sleeps!”


“This was all a mistake, Dom. Please. I can explain.”


The hurt in his voice threw water on my anger. I let up on him, watching how pitiful he looked. “Okay. Explain.”


“Can we go somewhere private? I don’t want the other girls to know. Not yet.”


Why I was going to listen to the asshole was beyond me, but I was curious. So I told him to meet me in my bedroom. I’d at least hear him out before calling the police.



Fuck, fuck, fuck!

I knew I’d get caught. Why did I go with this charade for more than a second? And now I was at the mercy of Domina–someone you didn’t want to cross.

Her room didn’t make me feel any easier either.


After Dom closed the door, she crossed her arms and said, “Spill.”


So, I went through it all—how depressed I was, how dressing as Jenny made me forget my problems, and how I didn’t think it’d hurt to live here in my own room. But Lexie begged me to room with her, and I just couldn’t say no to her. And then…the rest just happened.

“I promise I didn’t ‘do’ any of those horrible things you’re imagining. I’m just her friend. Platonic friend. Even when she tried to undress in front of me once, I covered my eyes and ran to the bathroom. You can ask Lexie. We’re just close friends. That’s all.”



Being a game tester, I’d met a lot of creeps online. Believe me. I could sniff them out in a minute. But James didn’t seem like a pervy weirdo. Over the past few weeks, I saw a genuine bond between them grow. I even thought maybe Lexie was falling in love with her (Jenny). And now, it was so screwed up, I felt so sorry for him that it overshadowed my anger. He was a pitiful character–James Sanderson, leading star of the Heartthrobs,  had everything at his fingertips–fame, money, probably any girl he wanted, but he was lonely and obviously desperate to take things this far.

I eyed his miserable face and said, “You’re in love with her. Aren’t you?”


He nodded slowly.

I didn’t know what came over me but I had this aching feeling to help him. I knew Lexie loved him…would love him if she was able to go out with him as James. And he loved her. But matchmaking through this totally nightmarish scenario wouldn’t be fair. Lexie had to find out. But I decided to give the poor guy a chance. Lex was swooning after her date with Charlie last night, so it was going to take an all out offense to get her to go on one date with James. But it was worth a shot. I was a sucker for true love stories.

I pointed at him. “I’m probably going to regret this, but I’ll help you. Then you must tell her the truth. Got it? Or I will out you so fast, it’ll make your dress fly off.”

“I promise I will.”

“And you’re moving out. Today.”

“Got it. Um…Domina?”


“If you need any favors, all you have to do is ask.”


I smirked. “I’ll keep that in mind.”


I enlisted the help of the Sisterhood.


What we planned had the potential to totally backfire, but the sisters would do anything for each other.










Chapter 5.24


My angel fluttered away from me. Knees not quaking. Teeth not chattering.


It was as if Charlie had cast some freakish spell over her.


And I had to deal with my best friend who was currently being a jackass.

“You look simply delicious tonight, Jenn,” Colin purred in my ear. “I want to eat you up.”


“Eat this.” I punched his nuts and he let out a satisfying groan.


“Sweetheart, is that the thanks I get for taking you out? That hurt.”


“Cut the crap, Colin. No one can hear us. Now, your job is to keep Tsui occupied. Got it? Lexie said she wanted me to stay by her side all night and that’s what I intend to do.”


“Aw, baby, you’re no fun. At least let me feel up those huge silicone lumps of yours.”

I rolled my eyes. “Tell me why I let you be my friend?”

“Because you adore me and because no one else would do this for you.”

“True. Come on, let’s go.”




The night started out pretty good. Lexie calmed down and we chatted normally. But my plans of a romantic time at the skating rink, making sure Lexie didn’t fall and wrapping my arms around her were completely shattered by a jerk wearing a wig. And Lexie didn’t seem to mind that he was monopolizing her, so I gave up.


“Hey, Charlie.” Colin came up to me, hands in his pockets. “Having fun with your date?”

“What does it look like?”


Rolling over to us, James said, “Be a dear and take a picture of us, Col.” He was holding MY date and winking, obviously shoving it in my face that he had the upper hand. Well, I wasn’t about to fight. I mean, I didn’t know Lexie very well anyway, and James must have liked her a lot to go to all this trouble to be with her. Who was I to stand in his way?


Colin dutifully snapped some pictures with his phone. I rolled my eyes.

James was enjoying this way too much.


“James is being a dick, you know,” Colin said.

“Yeah…it looks that way.”


They made another circuit around the rink.


“Are you going to take that, Tsui?” Colin asked. “Now he’s taunting you.”


I knew what he was doing–trying to make me feel low so I’d give up. It was working.


“What the hell am I supposed to do? Lexie doesn’t want to be with me or she’d leave him and come over here.”


“Dude. Take her away from him. Don’t let James get away with that shit.”


I sighed. “It doesn’t matter anyway. The guy is living with her.”

“Yeah…as a girl. He doesn’t realize if he gets caught, it’s over. Plus, he told me Lexie won’t have anything to do with him. She’s like his anti-fan or something while she’s your biggest.


“It’s a no brainer, in my opinion. I’ll help, if you want.”

I lurched my head back. “He’s your best friend. Why do you want to help me?”

“Because, would you look at him? He’s not acting like himself. I mean, I know he likes dressing in drag, but this is going too far. I want my friend back. I haven’t heard from him in two weeks and it’s because of her.”


Colin sounded a little jealous, but whatever. He was right. If I wanted to move forward with Lexie, I had to do something.

So I rolled over to her and literally grabbed her from him. It was time to spend some quality time with my date.




“What’s that asshole doing?” I spat, charging after them, but Colin pulled me backwards.

“Not so fast, sweetcheeks. Let the love birds alone.”


That shitty look on Charlie’s face said everything.

I just lost Lexie.



I tried to wriggle out of Colin’s arms, but even though he didn’t look like it, he was ten times stronger than I was. “Let go, damn it. Lexie said she didn’t want to be left alone with him.”

“I know, darling, but she’ll be fine.”

“And get your fucking hands off my boobs, pervert.”




It all happened so fast. One minute I was happily skating with Jenny, the next, Charlie grabbed me by the waist and we went sailing toward the exit. My heart fluttered in my chest.

“Is it okay if we get out of here?” Charlie asked.

Not even thinking, I nodded.


We rolled right off the rink and out the door. We didn’t even take off our skates!

After skating about the city streets, Charlie nodded toward the bay, so I followed. My knees were at the squishy, blubbery level and my stomach felt queasy, but I kept it to myself. I didn’t wan’t my insanity to screw up my chances with THE CHARLIE TSUI!

I still couldn’t believe I was actually talking to him let alone out on a date.


“I’m glad you’re not running away from me anymore,” Charlie said, finally, after both of us hadn’t talked in an awkward amount of time.


“Well, I can’t,” I answered. “I’m wearing these shoes of humiliation. You do realize I’m certifiably clumsy. I’ll trip at a moment’s notice. And being on wheels really doesn’t help.”


His dreamy eyes locked on mine. “Don’t worry. I’ll catch you.”

Did you see that? Butterflies fluttered all around as symphonies played love songs. I was in literal Charlie Tsui heaven.

When I didn’t say anything else, he asked, “So, have you always lived in San Myshuno?”


Shaking my head, I answered, “No…I grew up in Brindleton Bay.” Just saying the name made me wistful for its sandy beaches and the cry of seagulls in the salty air.

“Really?” he said. “My folks own a little place there. We would spend summers at the bay when I was a kid.”

I snapped my fingers. “So that was you–always doing cartwheels on the beach and singing, ‘Baby, Baby, Oh, Baby, Baby’!”

He laughed. “Funny. Honestly, that was one of our worst songs. I have no idea why it got so popular.”

I tilted my head and shrugged. “Maybe because it’s fun to watch you adorably sing and dance. I know I became a fan the minute I went to your concert. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t like the songs until then.”

“So you hate our singing?”

“I didn’t say that…”


“That’s exactly what you said…”

“I did not!”

“Admit it. You think we’re lame.”

“I don’t!”

“You do!”

We teased like that for a while until we stumbled onto a cute kiddie park.

“Let’s crawl inside,” I said, pulling his arm and bumbling in the grass toward a playland.

“But…we won’t fit. It’s for toddlers.”

“We’ll fit fine.” I pushed his cute tushie inside and followed after him.

We finally settled into one of the openings, and I asked Charlie how he got into singing.


He told me that he’d always danced his whole life and was actually thinking about becoming a professional ballet dancer. This floored me. But I thought it was kind of hot. I soooo wanted to see him in tights. And I knew he would have made a gorgeous ballet dancer, holding the girls, spinning them in the air.

My mind zoned out for a minute and went into dreamy-Charlie-land….

From out of the clouds I heard, “Lexie? Hey…is anyone home? Lexie?”

“Mmm?” I said, mesmerized.


“Did you hear anything that I said?”


“Uh…that you were a fine polka dancer and your sister pushed you into trying out for the Heartthrobs. Am I right?”

He laughed so hard, he coughed at the end.


“You’re such a bad liar,” he said, half grinning. “But I’ll forgive you. This once.”

He took my hand and rubbed my cheek. “Thanks for tonight. I’m really having a fun time with you.”

Squee! Warning bells went off in my head like a firetruck siren. Wee-oo Wee-oo! Alert! Lexie’s heart was about to explode in five seconds!


And before I could bolt right off the side of the playground equipment, he started to inch closer.


And that’s when my knees stopped quaking and my nervousness flew away. I melted into Charlie’s warm kisses in total and utter bliss.





















Chapter 5.23


Why did I have to show off to that moron, Silvan, and allow Lexie to meet Charlie? I wanted to upchuck the contents of my dinner just thinking about Lexie getting her Chucker fantasy. The moment Charlie swept her off her feet (and out of the bathroom) sealed my fate in the friendzone.

After we’d finished dressing for bed, Lex cornered me in the bathroom and gushed, “Jenny…I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you. I mean. GOD! THE Charlie Tsui is texting me! I can’t believe I’m living out one of the Heartthrob’s songs: Smush Me, Baby.”

Man, I knew our cheesy ass lines would come back to haunt me.


“Yeah, well…I’m happy for you, dollface.” My voice didn’t sound sincere. Hell, I was in a war with Charlie Tsui for this girl and it was like he was armed with nukes and I only carried rocks. It wasn’t freaking fair.


Her eyebrows rose in pity. “Oh…I’m sorry about your brother. And honestly, I was actually thinking about caving…”

This shocked me. “You were?”

“Yeah, but…now Charlie is actually going to ask me out. How would that be fair to James?”


“He wouldn’t care. If you would just give him a chance. He’s a lonely guy.”


She rubbed my arms and lifted the side of her mouth. “I’m sure there are a bazillion girls that would salivate at the chance to date him if he’s even a tiny bit like you. Now come on, babe. Could you play with my hair tonight and style it a bit more like me, but…what did you call it? Sophisticated? I want to use a new style for my date with Charlie. Well…when he asks me.”


I shrugged and sighed, following her to my vanity table.

Sifting my fingers through her hair, I gazed at her gorgeous green eyes. If only I’d told her who I was when we’d first met…maybe things would have been different?

“What’s wrong, Jenny?” she asked. “It’s a wreck, isn’t it? I’ve never been able to do much with it. That’s why I pull it up most of the time.”


“No…it’s…um…manageable. I’ll just lift some of it up and see how that looks.”


Twisting it into a tight knot in the back, I brushed her hair until all the tangles came out. “There, sweetheart. How’s that?”

She threaded her fingers through some strands and said, “Wow. You’re a genius. I love it.”

“You do?”


“I really do. I love you, babe.” Lifting her cheek to mine, she gave me a kiss.

She started calling me “babe” on our date tonight and she hadn’t stopped since. It was all I could do not to tell her who I really was, pull her close to me and give her a real kiss. But I knew that wouldn’t end well.


Guilt crashed down on me until panic beat on my chest. I had to tell her. I couldn’t keep doing this one more night. How could I explain it to her?


I couldn’t.

I was hosed.



Man…why did I open my big mouth? When I first started rooming with Lexie, I’d offered my whole closet to her, but it didn’t matter because she wouldn’t touch any of of my stuff. Said it wasn’t her style. Fast forward to her date with Charlie and now she wouldn’t wear anything else.


I didn’t realize the cut of some of my dresses were…


…revealing as holy hell.

They sure didn’t look like that on me. I guess it helped to have a real rack.


I kept thinking about how Charlie was going to get to be with her tonight. In a sexy dress with her sparkling green eyes mesmerising his.


“So, you’re not going to leave me alone, okay?” Lexie asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.


I sat on the bed and she followed. “You think I want to leave you alone with Chucker the…”

“Hey! No insults!” she cut me off. “I thought you’d at least be happy for me.”

“I am, sweetness. I just don’t trust him. He’s a man. They’re animals. All of them.” I should know.


Her eyes grew. “Is he…like a manwhore or something?”


“No…” Damn. Why couldn’t I lie? I’d been doing such a great job at it up to this point. One more lie wouldn’t make a difference.


“Then what’s all the ‘he’s-a-freaking-animal’ bit? It’s not like we’re going to sleep together the first night.”


“What about the second?”


“Jenny…come on. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re acting like…”

“Like what?”

“Like my overprotective dad. Seriously, I can take care of myself. I just need you to be my wingman. Okay? I know I’ll get nervous when I first see him and I really can’t take being alone with him. Not until I’ve gotten to know him better. Is that okay with you? You won’t want to be alone with your date that much, right?”


Damn straight. My date was my best friend, pop star, Colin Atwood-Baek. (Although his pop star name was simply CAB). He was even more famous than I was…well, I always joked that I had more merch, but he had the fanbase of a few more years. He was discovered on WooTube when he was seventeen, taken on by one of the famous rappers, Gold Tooth, and then he sold out at one of the biggest venues in San Myshuno the following year. They say his star was waning as he’s almost 23 now, but he still had tons of fans. And they weren’t as creepy as mine since many of them were in their twenties.

One thing his fandom didn’t know was the guy was gay. He wouldn’t mind pretending to be my date. And since we were friends, he’d have my back with the whole Jenny act.

I wasn’t looking forward to it, though. But I’d do exactly as Lexie asked. I’d be on her like our bosoms were glued together. She could count on it.



Believe it or not, I was nervous for this date. Lexie was very charming in our texts, but in person, she was a bit of a nervous nutcase. I’d hoped she could get control and be herself around me. Otherwise, our relationship was going to end tonight.

She’d asked that we meet up at her house and insisted on a group date. I actually was going to suggest this as it’d take the pressure off both of us. But since my bros were also Heartthrobs (plus a hugely famous pop star, CAB), we’d draw a crowd in seconds anywhere we went. I had to rent out a roller skating rink and wanted to surprise her. She’d told me she was very clumsy, and I thought it might be romantic catching her and holding her stable as we skated around.

When we arrived, James ushered us in. I tried to say hello when Lexie squeaked, “Oh. My. God. I’m gonna puke.”


James laughed and said in his ridiculous falsetto, “No you’re not, honey, just take a deep breath. Remember how we practiced?”

He was such an obviously manly girl, in my opinion. I didn’t understand how she couldn’t see through his mirage. And I felt put out by having to go along with his charade. What if she blamed me for knowing about it, too?


Then some deranged looking girl said with a creepy look in her eye, “It is the Ides of March! Gather thy blades!”

What the hell?


“Oh my god, oh-my-god…I can’t…I just…” Lexie looked as if she was going to hyperventilate.

Damn. She was losing it. I’d seen Chuckers cry, send me tearstained letters, but I never had one who had a “fear-of-Charlie” whenever I approached. It was so strange.

And disappointing.


“The Ides of March!” Nathan hollered behind me. “From Game of Bones! I love that series!”


“You do?” the deranged girl squealed. Well, at least someone made a match.

James looked thrilled that his girl was afraid of me.

“H-He’s right in front of me…Charlie Tsui…” Lexie went on.

Giggling, James said, “Yes, honey. And that terrifies you, doesn’t it? Well, we tried.”


Glancing at his smug face lit a fire in my gut. I wasn’t about to give up.

“Hey, whoa, Lexie…it’s okay. Can we just sit down for a second? We don’t even have to leave if you don’t want to.”


With a fearful nod, she took ten deep breaths and seemed to calm down.

And the look on James’ face put a grin on mine.
























Chapter 5.22


“This is going to be so much fun, James,” I said, emphasizing “James” so Silas would get the hint that this-dude-is-really-a-dude-so-stop-messing-with me. I didn’t know how I was going to pay back Jenny for allowing me to meet Charlie, but at this point, I was just soaking in the good luck rays.

Jenny whispered to me on the way over that she’d texted her brother to ditch. He was already out, so no worries. I felt kind of bad that I couldn’t meet him. Believe it or not, by now, I was a little curious. How was he next to Jenny–especially as himself? Ha! He had to have been a little cool to be good with what we were doing tonight. I had to give him props for that. Maybe Jenny could talk me into a date.

Oh what was I saying? No way in hell!

“Now let me lead once we get in there,” Jenny said. “The guys can get a little…skittish…with new people.”

I grinned. I couldn’t see Charlie as skittish. “Don’t worry, babe. We’ll hold back until you tell us.” I liked being able to call Jenny “babe”. It seemed to fit her.


My insides felt like I’d been riding on a lazy carousel. That was until we walked into the room.


I saw all of the Heartthrobs playing video games in this palatial area and…Charlie!



It was as if the carousel had turned into a spindle top going out of control. My stomach flipped.

“Guys…I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Hey!” Silas said. “That dude really is James Sanderson. What the fuck?”


“No…don’t mind me. I’m just going to puke right here,” I said, holding my stomach as it turned itself inside out. The Heartthrobs were walking over to us!


“So, guys, this is my girlfriend, Lexie Day, and these are her…um…friends. Silvan and…”





James had never had a date let alone girlfriend the whole time I’d known him.

And she was the girl who’d freaked out at our last concert.

“Hello, again,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you, Lexie.”


“Your idol just said hi to you, Lex,” one dude whispered in her ear. “Say hello.”

Her eyes popped and her mouth moved but nothing came out.


Finally, she squeaked, “I…gotta pee.” Then she bolted.


James wrapped his arm around me. “She’s kind of a Chucker.”

I was pissed. We’d talked about that girl and he called her anyway. Selfish bastard. Why was I surprised? James always thought of himself first, but this was pretty low, even for him.

“Of course she is,” Maddox complained, raising both hands and kissing the air. “Would it hurt if someone could be a Madd Hatter for once?”

“Dude, you’re just not that special,” Kaluha joked.

Nathan struck a pose. “No, guys, she’s crazy for the big N!”


Not in the mood for their peacocking, I pulled James into the kitchen to talk.

“What’s up, Charlie?” James asked once we were alone.


“You know what’s up. I thought we had an agreement.”


He laughed like that would make things better. “It just happened, dude. I didn’t mean for her to fall for me.”


“So…you just bumped into her, hearts flew, and she became your girlfriend?”


He gestured for me to sit down. I had to at least hear his excuses.

When Lexie’s friend had given us her phone number, we’d agreed not to call her since we both were attracted. It was James’ idea. He thought dating a fan wouldn’t work out and besides, we didn’t want to compete. So, I threw the number away. He obviously lied and called her anyway.

“It was purely coincidental,” he explained. “She happens to be the girl who is my roommate for the summer. I didn’t plan it.”


“So…a Throbber is your roommate? And you didn’t plan it? What kind of stupid asshole do you take me for?”


He giggled nervously. “Look…remember the WooTube act I put on as my ‘sister’ Jenny? I wanted a break from all the fans and shit, so I dressed as her and became this girls’ roommate not knowing it was…her. Seriously, bro. You’ve got to believe me.”


“So…she’s cool with you acting as Jenny and rooming with her when you’re a dude?”


“Um…she kind of doesn’t know.”


I shook my head. “What?”

He then told me a hard to believe story about how he’s bff’s with her as Jenny and in order to do her a favor, he’s “pretending” to be himself as her boyfriend for the evening. It was so bizarre it had to be true.

I thought this through. “Then you wouldn’t mind if I called her since you’re not technically dating her.”

Suddenly, a crash erupted from the bathroom.


James went for the bathroom door, but I figured Lexie must have tried to break out the only way in that room–through the window.

“Going somewhere?” I asked, trying to hide a smile. She was so busted it was cute.


‘I…uh…it…um…” she gulped. “I’m sorry about the window. Are you going to call the cops?”


“Not if you give me your phone number.”














Chapter 5.21


When I got home from work, Jenny was in full Barbie mode complete with pearls and pink satin. How was I ever going to convince her to act as her brother instead of her hooking me up with him?

There was no way out.

I’d have to beg…or promise her…the world.

“Just the dollface I wanted to see,” Jenny sang, wiggling in her chair. “Should I use pink magic dragon lipstick or this luscious magenta purrrrrl?”

I barely heard what she’d said. “Whatever you like, Jenny,” I whimpered.


“Magic dragon it is!” She uncorked the lipstick tube. My stomach felt like it’d uncorked…and was about to puke.


“Jenny?” I started as gnats seemed to writhe inside.

“Yes, sweetcakes, what’s up? Had a good day at work?”

“Can I ask you to do me a HUGE, GINORMOUS favor?”


She popped up and retorted, “Of course! As long as you’re ready to do me a favor in turn.”

Ugh. She was morphing into my nightmare already. I did NOT want to date James. Why couldn’t I think up a better lie?


“Look, can’t you for one minute do something for me without me having to go out with your brother?” Whining might work, so I tried it.

She dropped her hands on her hips and looked at me under hooded lids, “Oh, honey, this better be a 911 emergency.”


“It totally is. This asshole guy wouldn’t stop pestering me at work, so I just need you to act like you’re James tonight, say you’re my boyfriend, then go. Easy.”


“Sooo…why do I have to act like him when I can GET him for you…hmmm?”


“Well…uh…because you’re a really sweet roomie who knows I don’t like new people and wouldn’t feel comfortable acting like I’m head over heels for a stranger. So, I need you to act like him so we can make it look real. No way would I ever hold hands with James but I would with you. You know?”


She cocked her head. “And…so why won’t you owe me…I mean…James a date after that?”


I put my hand to my chest and flashed my eyes. “Because I’ll be your personal slave for the rest of the year if you do this one tiny favor for me. Please, Jenny! I mean, would you really want me to go out with James under duress? We wouldn’t have fun.”




Lexie had a point. If I forced her to go out with me, it’d be like she’d be going through the motions. Somehow, I had to get us to “meet” and then whisk her off her feet. So, I decided to cave to her demands. But being James as Jenny dressing up as James was fucking assinine. What was I thinking?

I glanced at Lexie in my makeup mirror.


Shit, this chick did not know how to dress. What the hell? I would never date a girl who dressed like Mary Poppins meets Mama Imelda from Coco.


But how to break it to her without hurting her feelings? For all her rugged exterior, she really had a gentle spirit that was easily snagged. She’d told me about her childhood and how she grew up for most of it without her dad only to find out her mom’s brother was banging him. It’d crushed her dreams. And then in high school, she’d been badly bullied so her selfesteem was for shit. I really was starting to fall for her…and loved who she was, but…no. I needed this butterfly to wriggle out of her cocoon and fly.


I walked over to her and said, “Listen, babycakes, you’re seriously beautiful…but…”


She glared. “But what?”


“Well…um… I like the way you look. I do…it’s so…er…you, but my brother just wouldn’t date someone dressed like that. He’s more into a sophisticated style.”


She winced. “This isn’t…sophisticated?”


“If you like the geeky librarian type.”

“Nice,” she hissed.

Shit. Way to be gentle, James.


I laughed, trying to play it off. “Just leave it to me, sweetheart. I’ll have you looking like my brother’s woman in no time.”


After I finished applying the last of her makeup, she scowled at me and said, “This is sooo not sophisticated.”


“Baby doll, you look like a model. What are you talking about?”


“I look like I should be milling outside the redlight district. Ho City? Ever heard of it?”


“Do you want this douchebag to leave you alone? Then we’ve got to make it seem real. After all, I’m sticking my neck out here. My hair is all knotted up under this hat, and I had to shave the sides to make it look like a short ‘do. You can at least stop complaining about how I styled you.”


She glowered, chewing on my reasoning. One thing about Lexie, when she didn’t like something, she let you know.

“Fine. But I take all this crap off the minute we leave the nightclub.”


“I don’t care if you strip right in the middle of the street afterwards, the paps will have their fill and will leave me alone for once.”


She jumped out of her seat. “Leave you alone? I thought you weren’t famous.”

Shit. Since I was dressed as me, I’d forgotten who I was supposed to be for a second.


I chuckled. “I meant my brother, of course. Just getting into my part, babydoll.”

She clucked her tongue at me and said, “Okay, but you’ve got to do something about your damned girlie voice or this will never work. Can’t you deepen it?”

I couldn’t lower my voice or it’d out me for sure. “He’s got soft sweet pipes and sings falsetto beautifully, huh? No one has to know his real voice is deep.”

She shook her head. “This shit’s never going to work.” She jerked on my hand. “Come on…let’s go.”


Being outside at a nightclub always made me tense. It usually didn’t take long before someone spotted me, screamed, then the mobs would form like a swarm of killer bees.


Lexie grabbed my hand. “What’s wrong? You look like Bambi who just watched his mother get killed.”


“Sorry…I-I’m nervous, sweetheart. I’ve never gone out as my brother before. He always gets trampled on by dozens of fans wherever he goes. What if they really think I’m him?”

Squeezing my hand, she said, “That’s why I picked this place. It’s full of geeks. No one will even have heard of the Heartthrobs let alone be a Flamer.” “Flamers” was what the media dubbed my fandom. They were the worst sort of psychos. Stalking me every chance they got, throwing their bodies in front of my limo to stop me, pelting me with used pads with my image on it. If you heard about some of the weird shit they’d said they wished I’d do to them, it’d make anyone want to dig a grave and hide.


But once we entered the place, I was shocked.


It really was full of geeks.



One of the goofballs walked up to her and said, “Hey, Lex. I told Silas you wouldn’t lie, but he didn’t believe me.” Then he winked and whispered, “I secretly have a Heartthrob song on my top playlist.” He nervously glanced at me then looked away.

Great. Instead of girl Flamers, I’ve got dudes.


And one creepy guy gave Lex a look I didn’t like.

Douchebag spotted.


“Is that the asshole?” I asked.

Lexie nodded. She spoke through a fake smile, “Yeah…make it look good so we can get out of here, okay?”


The jerk scooped her hands up and kissed them. “Hello, gorgeous,” he said without a glance my way. He was obviously trying to make me jealous. It worked.


In a sexy voice I’d never heard from Lexie, she said, “Hey, Silas, I want you to meet my BOYfriend, James Sanderson.” She waved her arm toward me. She shouldn’t have made the emphasis on boy…the guy might think I was my pretend-sister.


He smirked. “Hello…James.”

Oh shit. He didn’t buy it. Good thing that I WAS the real deal. He was going down in flames faster than a Christmas tree in front of a roaring fireplace.


I used my real voice only I made it even deeper to intimidate him. “Hello. Nice to…meet you.” I glared, hoping he’d see I didn’t appreciate his advances on my girl.


Not backing down, he stared. I regretted never touching a dumbell that weighed more than 20 pounds. The dude looked solid.

“So…you really are the face of the Heartthrobs, huh? I’d never believe it if I didn’t see you here with my own eyes.”


“Heh, yup, it’s me. I’m one of five Heartthrobs. Well, it’s nice meeting you, Silvan…”


“S-Silas…so if you don’t mind, my girlfriend and I better book it before the paps and the Flamers and the…”


“Oh my God,” he practically screeched, “you can’t go! Not before I get your autograph and some pictures. Oh wait, I’ve got a great idea. Do you know where the other guys are?”

“You mean, my band? Probably at the penthouse but I don’t know what…”

“Could we like visit there? If I could get all their autographs, it would really mean a lot to my twin sister. She’s a huge fan.”


Before I could say no, Lexie pounced. “Oh, PLEASE, Jenn, I mean James, baby, honey bear best boyfriend on the planet? You always told me I could meet the band, especially your bff Charlie! It WOULD mean the WORLD to me!”


And then I looked at that shithead’s face. He set me up. I didn’t know how he was onto me, but he sniffed out that this was a ruse like a freaking drug dog.



But I’d play this bastard’s game.

“So…I’m not sure if everyone is there, but yeah, okay. Let’s go.”


Before I could turn around, my beautiful girl wrapped her arms around me, nearly choking me to death. She whispered, “Oh, Jenny, you’re fabulous! I love you so much! Thank you for letting me meet Charlie!”


Chapter 5.20


I had to have a major talk with Jenny after the Sisterhood basically went into meltdown mode with her. Luckily, Dom had a heart and rescued her from Elara’s clutches. But according to Jenny, Dom had put Elara up to it. An unlikely scenario since Dom hated Elara’s evil guts. But still. Jenny must have really insulted them for everyone to be on Elara’s side.

I called a meeting and soothed over all hurt feelings. Honestly, I was surprised Jenny didn’t bolt. But I guessed she was still happy with our arrangement (she only had about two weeks left until she was going to move into her penthouse all the way on the other side of San Myshuno. This made me crazy and sad all at the same time! I was soooo going to miss her!)

I got up early to go into work. God, I loved my job.


The atmosphere encouraged creativity and I really liked my co-workers.


“Hey, Noah,” I said to the guy next to me. He was my best friend at work. I could always count on him to have my back.


“Hi, Lexie. Ready for the big meeting today?”


“I think so. Just a few more animations left to go over.”


But when I opened the file I’d been working on, I noticed none of my latest work had been saved. “What the hell?”


“Noah, did I happen to send you the animations I was working on yesterday? My file didn’t save for some reason.”


Oh shit. My boss was coming over no doubt to check up on me.


“Sorry, Lexie, you usually don’t until you finish.”


Unbe-FREAKING-lievable! I was sunk.

My boss, although amazingly talented, could be as nice as Mary Poppins or as mean as Cruella DeVil. And if I didn’t have my shit together, Cruella would show her very beautiful but very terrifying face.


“So, Lexie, let’s see what you have so far. I’m hoping to knock my boss’ ass off with this.”

My stomach gripped tight.


I clicked on something older from last week which was dreadfully undeveloped.

“Is this all you have?”

“Uh…” my mouth froze. I hated confrontation–especially with uppermanagement.


“How am I supposed to present this? What the hell have you been working on all week?”

“I-I’m sorry…I guess it didn’t save?”

“You better have something else to show by our 1 o’clock or a head will roll and it won’t be mine.”


She pushed away from my desk as my face lit up on fire. I tried to hold back tears and went straight to work. It shouldn’t be as hard to fix since I already knew how to approach the motions, but with all animation, things took time.

Before I could get into a groove of manipulating models, Silas Moon, the one person from Brindleton Bay who worked here, came over. He’d just gotten a job with Chicken Tooth Animation only a few months ago. We were childhood friends since my parents were friends with his. He was like a brother to me. Too bad from the minute he’d walked into the office, he’d flirted with me constantly. I’d tried to tell him in every way possible that I saw him as a friend only, but he seriously thought I should grovel at his feet. He’d been popular in high school and I was…well…not. And since we were now adults, he felt I was worthy of his manly presence.

Huge eyeroll.

“I see you’re in deep shit with the boss,” he said, sitting on my desk. “Want to shoot me part of your work and I’ll help you?”

That wasn’t a bad idea.


“Um…uh…sure, Silas. That would be great. Thanks!” Maybe I’d been too harsh on the guy.

He leaned in and said, “And then you’ll need to take me out tonight.”


I took that back. “Is this…extortion?” I didn’t look up from the screen.

“Call it one coworker helping out another. Seriously, Lexie, taking me out to dinner for saving your ass is not too much to ask.”

He wouldn’t leave me alone and I hated it. “No. That’s okay. I’ll die at that meeting first.” His middle name must have been pig. Or asshole. Or both.


Rubbing my arm, he said, “Aw…don’t be like that. We’ve been friends for so long. And we’re both single, so it makes sense we should at least go out once. What would it hurt?”

My skin felt as if someone was grating it like cheese.


What I should have done was told him how far to stick it up his ass, but instead I said, “I’m not single.”


“What do you mean? You’ve got a boyfriend? This is news!”


When I didn’t say anything, he said, “Really, Lexie, why play hardball? I want to do you a favor, and in return, I promise to show you a good time. I know you’re not dating anyone. Why do you have to lie like that? It hurts.”


Looking straight at him, I blurted, “Fine. You don’t know about him because we’ve had to keep it a secret. He’s…f-famous. Okay?”

Smirking, he asked, “Who is it?”

“James Sanderson, if you must know.”


Eyes widening, he said, “Of the Heartthrobs? You’ve got to be kidding me. Come on, Lexie, you can do better than that.”

“It’s true!” I screeched, sounding like the liar I was.

He looked as if he was rolling this unlikely fact in his mind. Then he said, arching an eyebrow, “Okay…how about this–I’ll help you with your animations and you and your famous boyfriend meet up with me tonight. Anywhere you like. If what you say is true, we’re cool. I won’t bug you anymore. But if not…you have to take me out. Deal?”

“Silas…” I stared into his blue eyes. He wasn’t going to give up. I knew it. It almost felt like Jenny wanting me to date her brother only she was terribly sweet about it. He was…just a  dick. “Fine. We’ll meet at Heroes Nightclub. At 7. Don’t be late.”

He lifted the side of his mouth. “Oh…I won’t. Send me your stuff. I’ll get right to work.”


He sauntered over to his desk as I face palmed.


“What the fuck have I done?”














Chapter 5.19


I tossed and turned that night. Images of me and James flooded my dreams. I was cowering on stage along with five screaming teenagers when suddenly, James pulled me to him and asked, “Will you marry me?”

Then I was transported to a nursery with five screaming kids. All ours. And I watched him on TV, girating like usual.

What a horrific nightmare!


I must have moaned because I felt somone shaking me. My vision cleared to see Jenny’s beautiful face. I gasped. “Thank God it was a dream.”

“What’s the matter, sweetheart? You were crying.”

Shaking my head, I said, “It was awful. I was married to your brother with five of his brats wailing around me. Oh my God, I hate kids.”

“That was a dream, honey. James wouldn’t want more than two.” Jenny stroked my back soothingly, helping to calm my erratic heart.


“You’ve got to promise to stop asking me to date him, Jenny. God…it felt so real.”

Looking down, she said, “Would it really be that bad? If you would just give him a cha–”

“NO!” I cut her off. Just thinking about the nightmare gave me chills. “I…I better get dressed for work.”


I didn’t like making Jenny sad, but that dream just told me James and I weren’t meant to be. I mean…who was I kidding? Even dating Charlie was out of the question. Marrying famous people just wasn’t a good idea. My grandmother suffered from my extremely famous great grandfather’s divorce. I couldn’t do that to any kid. So, I decided not to ask Jenny for even another chance to meet Charlie, and for sure she would never convince me to date her brother. That would be the end of it.

I was fine being one of the bazillion Throbbers who would fangirl from afar.



My plan to go out with Lexie was fizzling by the minute. That damned nightmare she’d had about me kicked me in the balls. Hard. There had to be some way I could sneak into her life as me. But it was complicated as shit since “Jenny” couldn’t be around. And I was running out of time, too. We were going on tour in two weeks. And then I’d probably never see her again. Story of my life. I finally meet the girl of my dreams and it was like we were strangers. My fame ruined everything.

With Lexie gone to work, I was under the gun to transform back into James and make a Heartthrob photoshoot by noon. Lexie usually acted as my PA and I couldn’t use my real one (I’d given him the month off), so I figured I’d pay one of the girls in the house to do it. None of them seemed to have jobs anyway.

“Domina, darling, just the girl I wanted to see,” I said, hoping to butter her up. Out of all the eccentric ladies of the house, Dom was by far my favorite.

“Yeah, Jenny? What’s up?”


“I have a sizzling opportunity for you. I think you’ll love it.”

“Oh! An opportunity!” the ever cheerful Brooke exclaimed. I didn’t know what to think about her. She was Jekyll and Hyde in real life. Well, that’s what Lex said.


Lifting her eyebrows, Domina answered, “Okay. What’s that?”


“I thought I might employ your services this morning.”


“My…services. This isn’t…kinky…is it?”


I laughed. “No…nothing like that. Let’s sit and chat, and I’ll tell you more.”


“If she doesn’t want the opportunity, you can ask me!” Brooke said eagerly.


I nodded. Couldn’t hurt having two of them getting my stuff done.

We sat on the couch and I explained, “So, since all of you don’t seem to have a job, I’d like to pay you to do a few little things for me this morning.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Since we don’t have a…job?”


“Yes, so I’d pay you 100 simoleons. I need my dry cleaning picked up by eleven, Simballs has my order ready for the exclusive Sapple Watch that just came out, and my car needs to be washed. Go to the one on 5th and Pike St. because any other place just doesn’t know how to clean chrome. Do you think you could accomplish all that before noon because I’m stretched for time?”


Domina waved her arm and said, “Let me get this straight…you think I just sit on my ass all day playing video games and that I’ve got nothing to do but run your errands. Is that right?”


“Well, I do see you sitting on your ass as you say and you do play a lot of video games…so…” I wasn’t sure if she was pissed or if she just wanted me to make things clearer.

“Brooke, you want to hear this?” Dom asked with a smile.


“Jenny thinks we do nothing all day and have gobs of time to fetch things for her.”


Just then, Reese came over and sat next to me. If Dom or Brooke couldn’t work maybe she would. “Well, Dom, it’s okay if you don’t have time. Any of you girls will do, I think.”


“I’ll be right back,” Brooke said with a weird look on her face.


Next thing I knew, Elara was glaring at me on the couch. “Tell Elara Shadowalker what you asked Lady Langosta.”


“Oh, honey, that get up is a scream!” I said, laughing. “You look like you walked right out of The Game of Bones.”

Reese laughed along with me. These girls were fucking hilarious.


“Uh oh, Jenny,” Dom said, drawing in a breath. “Now you’ve done it.”

Elara’s eyes shrunk into tiny slits. “Tell me. Now, fool.”


“Eheheh, you better tell her, Jenny,” Reese said, nudging me with her elbow.


I relayed everything (as if she didn’t know already–didn’t she have the same brain as Brooke?) Then Elara smiled and said, “I will do all that you ask, maiden, but first, I desire you to tour my…chambers…”


The look on everyone’s faces kind of creeped me out, but hell, I needed to get this shit done, so I was down with whatever they wanted. “Uh, okay then. Thank you!”


The next thing I knew, the freakshow locked me in irons and pulled my arms up uncomfortably. “What the fuck is this?” I asked, not even hiding my deep voice.


“We do not take kindly to people ordering us about like slaves. For your information, all of us have jobs. Important jobs. And what we do on our free time is not for you to judge.”

This girl was a nutjob. “I-I wasn’t judging,” I defended.


“You were. You thought that since Dom played videogames, she was doing nothing. But in fact, that IS her job. She tests them. And you assumed wrongly that Brooke did nothing as well, but SHE works at night as a festival coordinator. I am a highly sought after Empress of the Dark, so I do not need to stoop so low as to even have employment. Reese is a marketing rep at her firm, but she works from home. And Copper goes to school online. If you’d cared an elflock about us, you would have known that by now.

“Furthermore, if you wanted us to do a favor for you, all you had to do was ask as a fellow sister. But you didn’t. You asked as someone who thinks they’re better than us. This will not be tolerated in the Sisterhood. Any questions?”


“Yeah. One. Lexie, where are you?!”