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Authors: Noelle August

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BOOK: Bounce
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Her big hazel eyes are a little wide, surprised, and her cheeks have a pink color, just a few shades lighter than her hair. She's blushing. And I feel like I'm on fire.

I can't believe I just kissed her.
Kissed her
kissed her.

What was I

I wasn't thinking. I got wrapped up in the scene and just
did it.

“Okay,” Mia says. “Guys, that was . . . ​wow. That was really good.”

Damn right it was.

Skyler finally looks away, toward Mia. “Was it?”

“Amazing, Skyler,” Brooks says. “Amazing. Give us just a minute,” he says, then there's the buzz of excited, hushed conversation over on that side of the soundstage.

“I think they like you,” I say.

“Oh.” She smiles. “Thanks . . . ​That was okay, don't you think?”

“Really good. You can sure fake-kiss.”

It's a completely asinine thing to say. Dickish, probably. But I'm a little shaken up by what just happened. This girl just took me down to the mat. She made me forget we were in a roomful of people. She made me forget everything.

And she was

That just ain't right.

Skyler frowns. “Thanks, I think. So can you.”

I shrug. “I don't fake-kiss. You just caught me off guard when you did the line. The
kiss me
one? You sold it.” I wink at her. “You're lucky we're not doing this again, or I'd be ready and bring the hea—”

“Okay, guys,” Mia calls. “We're going to do this again.”

“What?” we ask at the same time.

“Since we asked you to stand, we didn't have all the cameras set. And, um . . . ​you know, multiple takes are part of this whole movie-making deal. Right, Sky?”

“Right,” Sky says. Her lips turn up at the corners in a daring little smile. “What do you say, George? Ready to bring the heat?”

“How hot can you handle it, Emma?”

She doesn't have a chance to answer because we're given the cue to start.

We're braver this time around, the energy between us more intense. When Skyler puts her hands on my chest, I grip her wrists, pulling her close.

When she says, “Kiss me, George, I want to be happy,” I kiss her.

But happiness isn't exactly what I'm going for. I told her I would bring the heat, and I do. I crush her soft curves against me and sweep my tongue against hers. I kiss her like I would if I were into her. Like I would if she were

Skyler makes a little sound and rises up onto her toes, angling her head. She tugs me down, tugs me closer, and lust spears through me.

Maybe I brought the heat, but she's giving it right back.

I take her face in my hands. She arches her back, presses against me. We make a few more adjustments to compensate for the height differential, and we're legitimately, seriously, very hotly

She tastes cool and sweet, but her scent is warm. Floral and soft, like a nap in the sun.

I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be stopped any second, but it doesn't happen. Then I wonder if we're supposed to stop ourselves? That's never going to happen, not from my end. But now I'm thinking too much and that makes me draw away a little, and it makes her draw away a little, and that keeps going until we finally part.

I still don't hear anyone say “cut,” though, so I keep her close, and look right into her eyes. “You feel that, Skyler?” I say, studying her pretty face. Her skin is flawless. Her lips are full. “Me and you . . . ​we're meant to be.”

I have a vague recollection of reading lines to that effect earlier, but I don't know. I never made it past the kiss, or even to it, with any of the other girls so I'm just winging it now. Ad-libbing, as Brooks said. Freakin' Robert De Niro all of a sudden, because I don't want this to end. I don't want to let her go.

For the first time since we started the scene, Skyler seems to snap out of character. Her gaze narrows, a small line forming between her eyebrows.

Then Brooks says, “Cut!” and she steps away.

Mia rushes up. “That was a-mazing! You can
I had no idea, Sky! You've been holding out on me!”

“Well, I—” Skyler glances at me. “I'm kind of surprised, too, actually.”

“We talked it over after the last take,” Brooks says, walking up. “We want to bring you back for a read with Garrett Allen to see how you work with him. I already know you two are going to be awesome, though.”

Adam comes over, and Brooks keeps talking about how great it's going to be to get Sky with a real actor. How if she could manage to have so much presence with me, a pro is going to make her absolutely shine.

Skyler frowns a little as she listens, shooting glances at Mia, who gives her small smiles of encouragement. I can tell she's overwhelmed. I notice her fingers are drumming against her leg. She's nervous. I know my brother sees everything, all the unspoken communication, too. And I wonder if he's on to me. On to how freakin' frustrated and confused I am right now. That I'm here. That I have to listen to this discussion about how great it'll be for Skyler to kiss this other guy, Garrett Allen. To see if he's better. To see if
have chemistry. Hearing it feels unexpectedly shitty, like I just found out the girl I kissed has a boyfriend. I didn't ask for any of this. All I did was throw a party that got out of hand. But it's the capper on an all-around messed-up day. I'm really done this time.

I catch my brother's eye. “I'll be at the car.”

Then I'm outside, striding across the parking lot, the last rays of sunlight fading from windshields and mirrors. It's not until I reach the Bugatti that I realize something. I didn't call her
in that last line, my ad-lib line.

I used her name.


Chapter 8


float out of the audition space, like I'm one of those air hockey paddles, cushioned on a micron of air. Everything feels gauzy and surreal.

Who was that girl in there? The one who so completely
that part? The one who kissed—
and kissed and kissed
—a boy with no concern for the others standing around, watching?

I know her from my nights playing cello, slapping out a ferocious beat, playing with the audience, feeding off them, giving back my all. But I've never felt that without Beyonce or Christina in my hands. Without the movement of my bow across strings, my body given over to its real purpose.

And the guy, Grey.


I bring my fingers to my lips, which still seem to vibrate, faintly, from the feeling of his mouth on mine. The power of him surrounding me, sweeping me hard against him. So confident for a young guy, but with skills like that, he's right to be. The minute I breathed him in, felt his solid arms around me, I was a goner. We could have been in an audition or in the middle of a burning building, it wouldn't have mattered.

It was only when he said my name, called me “Skyler” instead of “Emma,” that it all came crashing back around me. Then it was some tattooed kid and me. A kid who can kiss like a champ but who left in an inexplicable huff.

They want me to come back again, to audition with Garrett. The

Me. With my weird pink hair and my six months of acting lessons.

I open the door to return to the waiting room, and, of course Beth is the first person I see. She gets up from her chair, smiling and hurrying over to me.

Me, I realize, with a best friend who really, really, really wants this part.


She looks beautiful—and nervous from sitting here while dozens of girls have their moment. Including me.

“You survived!” she says and sweeps me up into something that's half a hug and half a weird little jig. “How'd it go? Tell me everything!”

“Don't you want to hear about it later, after

She makes a
sound. “Hell no. I can't wait that long, and I think I'm the last name on the damn call sheet.”

“Guess they're saving the best for last,” I say, and it comes out sounding guilty and insincere, though I totally mean it.

“Well, duh.” She grins and leads me over to a low armless sofa that no doubt has a name like Flüg or Snöerkl. The scratchy tweed upholstery makes my skin itch, but that may be the adrenaline still coursing through my body, screaming for release. I don't want to sit. I want to jump up and down or pound my cello or spin around atop a mountain, singing.

Beth smiles with anticipation. “So . . . ?”

“Well, it actually . . .” I start, but the words stick in my throat. If I tell the truth, will it seem like I'm bragging? Or taking something from her? She works so hard at this. And I just waltzed in and nailed it.

Still, what choice do I have? I'm not going to lie to her about it. Just because it was amazing doesn't mean I'm getting a big part. And it sure as hell doesn't mean I'm getting
part. “It went . . . ​incredibly well.”

Her eyes widen, and her whole face brightens with excitement. “Really? Damn, girl. Now you
to tell me everything!”

“I just . . .”

What? There's something so indescribable about it all. “I just
it, you know? Like I got in there, and I did some lines with Grey . . .”

“That's the kid?”

I nod. “Yeah. Adam Blackwood's brother.”

“Well. Shit.”

“Yeah, but he's—” A really good kisser? Kind of adorable? “He was okay,” I say. “I mean, he gave a good reading. He was, um . . .” I search my new acting vocab. “Present.”

“Well, thank the Lord for small mercies,” she says. “How much did they make you do?”

“All of it?”

“Really.” She sits back and looks at me. “The whole scene?”

“Yeah, I mean everything we had. All the pages.”

“How many times?”

Another girl gets up for her turn, and I watch her cross the room. She's got long V-shaped sweat stains under her arms, and has wrung her script so hard it's barely recognizable. Poor thing.

“Just . . . ​I guess, twice. But that's because they made us stand the first time, and they didn't have the cameras set in the right place, or the lights. So they wanted to do it again.”

She nods. “To make sure they got it on camera.”

“Yeah.” I feel exhausted suddenly, like I do at 4 a.m., after I've dragged in from a show and from breakfast with the crew.

“Tell me how it felt,” Beth says.

“Bets, it felt fucking awesome.”

She laughs and sweeps me into a hug, so solid and lovely I want to cry with relief. “That's my girl,” she says. “I knew you'd kill it.”

“And I know you will too!” I tell her, and hug back, hard.

Other girls come and go, and then Mia enters the room with her clipboard and a giant smile on her face. “You're up!” she says to Beth.

“Finally!” Beth gets up, and brushes off her clothes, takes a few deep breaths, and shakes out her shoulders and arms to loosen up her body. “How'm I looking?”

“Like a star.”

“Guess we'll have a couple in the family.”

I don't know about that. But I call after her, “Break a leg.”

She gives me a jaunty wave and follows Mia into the room.

The door shuts, and it's just me in this cavernous waiting area. Now I've got my choice of Flügs and Snöerkls, but I just want to curl up right here and send good intentions through that doorway. I want Beth to have what she wants. I want her to become the star she was absolutely born to become.

And I want to feel more of what I felt during that audition. Suddenly, I'm hungry for it.

BOOK: Bounce
7.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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