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.
“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!”