Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:
From Fame to Shame
Copyright © 2012 by Veronica Blade. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Crush Publishing, Inc.
Gardnerville, NV 89460
The places, characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by author.
Cover design by Rose Nomura
Edited by Sarah Billington & Robin Haseltine
From Fame to Shame (Twin Fame, #1)
Free e-Book Offer!
Free e-Book Offer!
Thrown to the Wolves: The Legend of Hannah & Eli | (Shapes of Autumn, book 0.2)
My Wolf’s Bane (Shapes of Autumn, book one)
Wolves at the Door (Shapes of Autumn, book two)
Dead Wolf Walking (Shapes of Autumn, book three)
Something Witchy This Way Comes
A Bite’s Tale: A Furry Fable
Blind Date, Checkmate
From Fame to Shame
Sign up for Veronica Blade's Mailing List
~ For Debra, April, Ashley and Julie — y’all make me feel like a rock star! ~
For a limited time, you can get a FREE copy of Thrown To The Wolves: The Legend of Hannah & Eli (Shapes of Autumn Prequel) directly from my website!
Simply go to VeronicaBlade.com for more info.
Immediately following the end of this story, please scroll to the next page for sneak peeks of other books by Veronica Blade.
Confirming the apartment number on the door, I inserted the key Jackie mailed me weeks ago and darted inside her condo without knocking. My twin sister jumped, jostling a glass near her hand — as if any paparazzi could sneak their way into her secure building. Her blue eyes sparked with recognition as her breath whooshed out.
“Sorry to scare you,” I said. “Got going early this morning since you said it's urgent.” I set my purse on the chair next to her. “Didn’t you get my text a couple hours ago?”
“Yeah, I’m just jumpy.” Jackie dropped the thick stack of papers — probably a screenplay from her agent — and it thumped onto the shiny glass tabletop. An instant later, she was hugging me. “I’m so glad to see you, Maddie.”
The stress of the two hour drive in LA traffic dissipated as I melted against her. My eyes scanned the spacious dining room and living room, landing on the window that stretched the length of the wall. No wonder Jackie had been so excited about her new place. The view of the hills made you forget you were in the city. The best of both worlds.
With Jackie’s seven figure paychecks, she could afford a Hollywood mansion. But she liked the idea of the doormen and security. She also didn’t want to hassle with the extra staff to keep up the house and grounds.
“You owe me big time.” I squeezed gently, then noticed who else was in the room. “Hi, Stella.”
Jackie’s loyal assistant wore a slinky black dress more suited for clubbing than working. But this was Hollywood and when you worked for someone like Jackie, you dressed the part. Stella did anyway. With her heels, she towered over me. Not that she needed any help. At five-two, most people dwarfed me. Probably why Jackie always wore those dangerous shoes that elevated her five inches.
Stella glanced from me to Jackie, then back again. “It’s weird seeing you two together. If you had highlights, Maddie, and straightened your hair, I’d totally think you were Jackie.”
Jackie always spent extra time on her hair and face. I’d skipped the makeup today and let my hair go naturally wavy, as usual. Well, not actually wavy. More like bent or crooked.
“Why don’t you take your lunch break now?” Jackie asked, handing Stella a fifty dollar bill. “It’s on me today. Give us a half hour to catch up.”
“You sure? I thought you needed me to—”
“I do,” Jackie said. “But it’s way past lunchtime. We’ll deal with that when you come back.”
Stella hesitated, then opened her mouth like she wanted to object. “You’re the boss.” Shaking her head, she flipped her blond hair before grabbing her bag and disappearing out the door.
“I’m sorry I made you ditch school,” Jackie said.
I raised my brows. “You went to my high school graduation two weeks ago. Wake up and smell my schedule, sis. College doesn’t start until the fall.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot. I guess I’ve had too much going on.” She stood near her wrought-iron chair as if rooted to the floor, her voice shaky — nothing like the confident, spunky girl who’d struck out on her own to become a Hollywood starlet.
“So, are you going to finally spill why you dragged me here?” I asked.
“You know I’d never ask you to leave Podunk for civilization unless I was desperate, right?” Jackie pressed her lips together, brows drawn.
Jackie was a lot of things — impulsive, sometimes reckless — but she wasn't manipulative. And she never relied on family to bail her out. I had thought the emancipation two years ago at age sixteen was a bad idea, and so did my parents. But Jackie had surprised us all and survived just fine. If she asked something of us, she had a damn good reason.
“That's why I'm here,” I said. “You should finish gathering whatever you want to bring, so we can be out of LA before rush hour.” Jackie made a big production out of packing, always paranoid she forgot something. If I didn’t push her now, I’d be stuck in town another day.
“Actually... I was hoping you’d stay.” She crossed her arms over her stomach, chin quivering as her eyes pooled with tears.
No way. Tears or no tears, Jackie was asking an awful lot of me, especially when all she had to do was slip into the passenger side of my car to escape whatever crisis she refused to divulge. Very little effort on her part if I did all the driving the whole way back.
I groaned. “Don’t you remember what happened last time I was here?”
Jackie gave a watery laugh. “Oh, c’mon, you have to admit that was fun.”
“Running from paparazzi and having to hide in a gas station bathroom, because they think I’m Jackie Bloom, is not my idea of a good time.” I rolled my eyes, then turned and made my way to the refrigerator.
“Please, Maddie." Her voice went tight. "I need you here.”
My spine straightened as I grabbed a can of soda. When I returned to the dining room, Jackie was sitting in the chair, her hands folded in her lap. She appeared so much more vulnerable. “What’s going on?” I asked.
A sob escaped her. “I’m done, Maddie. I can't take it anymore. I just need to go home.”
Done with Hollywood? Not in a million years. My twin sister lived to act, craved the attention and shined in front of the camera. It fed her soul. Even if Jackie had the urge to abandon her dreams, she’d surely be more miserable away from the limelight than she was now. She just needed some time to realize how much she missed it.
“Then let’s go.” The top of the can hissed when I popped it. “We can be on the road in five minutes if you get a move on.”
“I still have important contractual obligations here.” Jackie looked up at me with huge eyes. “If I break them, I'm screwed. But if I stay here I'll crack, Maddie. You have to pretend to be me. Just for a week or so...”
I snorted, leaning a hip into the dining room table. “Yeah, right.”
“Filming doesn’t start on Worlds Apart for a few weeks and Back in the Days is on hiatus right now. So there’s no acting involved, other than, you know, acting like me. I’m just committed to finishing the publicity for Breathless. If I don’t do it, my reputation in Hollywood is shot. All you'd have to do is show up to a few events and smile for the camera.”
Oh. My. God. She was serious.
I rarely wavered in my disdain for everything Hollyweird. What can I say? It's just not for me. Except for Jackie's sleek, black Tesla Roadster that starred in a few of my dreams as I whooshed down Pacific Coast Highway. Then there was her superstar boyfriend. Dreamland again. He’d been my fantasy guy long before Jackie ever moved next door to him.
Guys that hot were used to getting any girl they wanted and, to me, relationships didn’t have room for super-sized egos. No, Dallas Bines was strictly fantasy, just like the car. Besides, he was dating my sister.
Being Jackie Bloom, no matter how temporary, was out of the question. Staying in Hollywood would mean suffering through traffic, inhaling bad air, and being around too many damn people. But as annoyed as I was to be this far from the security of my parents’ house on the outskirts of Hemet, her quivering lip concerned me.
I softened my voice and moved to stand in front of her. “Turn it all over to your lawyer, then come home with me and drive back when you’re feeling better. Problem solved.”
“Maddie...” Her eyes glistened with unshed tears.
My eyes snapped to hers. “Impersonating someone else is fraud. There has to be another way.”
“Every other way out involves more humiliation.”
I set my soda on the table to bend down and touch her arm. “Tell me what happened.”
“There was this guy.” She wiped her cheeks with the tips of her fingers. “He was charming, funny and sweet. And insanely hot.”
“Wait. What about Dallas?”
She tilted her head. “What about him?”
“I thought he was your boyfriend.”
“Guess I forgot to tell you.” She choked on a sob. “He dumped me.”
“Oh, Jackie,” I said. “I’m so sorry.” I did my best to avoid the celebrity gossip pages, but it felt wrong that the rest of the world knew more about Jackie’s life than her own sister.
She waved it away with her hand, then lowered her gaze. “We’re cool now. He’s way too nice for me anyway. Still, getting dumped, even if I know it’s for the best, makes for serious damage to the self esteem.”
“Doesn’t he live right across the hall?”
Jackie shrugged. “Yes. Guess I shouldn’t date where I live, huh?”
“Hmm.” I grabbed the nearest chair and sat, scooting close to her. “So this new guy’s an actor or musician?”
She sniffed. “Musician. Older, like twenty-something. I should’ve known he was too good to be true.”
“Yeah.” Unfortunately, I did know. Not with musicians, of course. But I had my share of bad luck with guys who only wanted to date me, because they thought I looked like the famous Jackie Bloom. Now, I was extra cautious and rarely ever dated.
Jackie grimaced. “I had Pete over one night and Dallas saw us outside my door. Get this. Dallas knows him through a friend of a friend. So the guy who dumped me, Dallas, was the one who informed me that the new guy was married. How screwed up is that? Explained why Pete never wanted to be seen with me publicly. Jerk.”
“Ouch.” It wasn’t like Jackie to let a guy drive her out of town though. “So what else?”
She took a shaky breath. “Henley White is looking to cast his next movie, Winter’s Edge. It’s about a girl who loses everything — Scarlett O’Hara meets the Great Depression. Pretty intense. We’re talking, kill your own food and skin it, then use the fur to keep warm. A part like that would open the door for more serious roles.”
I brushed a soggy lock of hair off her tear-stained cheek and tucked it behind her ear. “What does this movie have to do with your bad taste in guys?”
“Somehow word got out that I was interested in that role and, next thing I knew, it was this big deal and everyone had an opinion. ‘Jackie Bloom is washed up.’ ‘Jackie’s not good enough for that part.’”
“Don’t listen to them, Jackie,” I said. “I don’t think Henley White would.”
“He wants his movie to be a blockbuster. Having a star who’s getting ridiculed isn’t going to help him sell tickets.” Jackie covered her face with her hands. “All the talk shows were making fun of me. God, Saturday Night Live even did a skit. They had me showing up to the set wasted.”
That was a little extreme. Sure, Jackie sometimes drank, like a lot of teens our age did. And, yes, she had one highly publicized drunken incident where she fell in a fountain. Other than that, she didn’t usually have more than one drink, especially not while she was working. Her career was too important to her.
Of course, she’d been known to date guys like rocker Jimmy Zee of The Hard Drivers who’d had a sex video leaked at the tender age of seventeen. With that in mind, her choices didn’t exactly discourage criticism. On the other hand, that tape was quite a sell. Judging by the covers of gossip rags, Jackie wasn’t the only one whose interest had been piqued.
“I had no idea all that was going on.” I stroked the back of her hair. “It’ll blow over. Just wait it out.”
“Yeah, they’ll forget about it eventually.” Jackie leaned over and cried on my shoulder. “But I won’t. I feel lost, Maddie, like a part of me is broken. Acting is all I’ve ever wanted to do, but apparently the tabloids think I should do something else.”
“Tabloids are part of being in the spotlight.” I stroked her hair. “You’re an awesome actress and you worked your butt off to land a hit TV show. Tabloids profit every time a celebrity makes a mistake. But no one’s perfect and other people understand that. You just need thicker skin.”
“It still hurts. Oh, Maddie, I’ve never wanted anything like I want that part. My agent heard Henley is considering Phoebe Owen. What if he decides on her?” Jackie said something else, but it got muffled in a sob. A couple minutes later, she lifted her head and wiped her eyes.
“Come home, sweetie. There’s got to be some clause or loophole to get you out of whatever they want you to do,” I said.
Jackie squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. “There isn’t. I checked. And if word gets out that I’ve breached a contract, I could kiss that role goodbye forever. Or any other decent role.”
“Jackie, this is just... the worst idea ever.” I stifled the rising angst.
“Please, Maddie. Be me for a few days. I’ll do anything. I’ll—” She froze and gripped my wrist. “I’ll give you my car.”
I inhaled and choked on a gulp of soda, bubbles fizzing up my nose. I stood up as an image of me cruising in the Tesla Roadster all the way to Hemet, wind blowing through my hair, flashed through my mind. I forced myself to mentally brush it away. I loved the car, but it wasn’t worth the hounding I'd endure from the paparazzi.
“It isn’t just me,” I said. “Mom and Dad need help at the store.”
“I can be you. Besides, I had that job and I know the difference between blue topaz and sapphire. A quick refresher on inventory and bookkeeping and I’m set.”
“You were fifteen and way more interested in boys. You sucked at that job.” I scrunched up my nose. “Sorry.”
Jackie’s scheme so wasn’t going to happen. I paced the dining room.
“Ouch.” She covered her heart protectively and faked a pout. “But if Mom and Dad don’t object, why should you? It’s their store. I’ll hide in the back, like you do. You’ll still have your phone in case your friends call.”
At least Jackie was thinking it through. Still... “No one but Mom and Dad would know?” I asked.
She gave me her Are you crazy? look that she did so well. “Being myself to anyone else would defeat the whole purpose of swapping places with you. Stella’s the only exception, since she knows every detail of my life and you’ll need her help.”
I thrust a hand up, palm spread. “Have you totally lost it? I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but your plan will never work. Too many things can go wrong. We just need one person to notice anything different about me — I mean you — and they’ll immediately think of me.”
“Why would they suspect anything? I’ve never told a soul, other than Stella, that I even have a twin.”
She’d never told anyone? My brows furrowed and my gaze drifted to the hardwood floors. I’d been too grateful for my privacy to question why none of the magazines ever mentioned Jackie’s twin. "Yeah, but secrets are harder to keep when you’re in the public eye."
Her eyes pooled again and she rose to meet my gaze, then held my hands in hers. "Please, Maddie. I'm begging you."