Authors: Krista McGee
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Religious, #Christian, #General
“So you really think we’re all here just because we want to go to prom with the handsome Mr. Jackson?” Kara raised an eyebrow.
“Well . . . yes.” Addy shrugged. “Aren’t you?”
“I’m not going to lie—he is a whole lot cuter than the boys in my high school. But I’ve got much bigger plans than going to prom.”
“Really? What are they?”
“I’m going to be a world-famous actress.”
Addy gave a slow nod.
“Listen, missy. I know nothing, and that wasn’t a nothing nothing. That was a something nothing. So spill it.” Kara leaned in. “You don’t think much of actresses, huh?”
“How can you get that from one word?” Addy sat up and hugged her knees to her chest.
“Why are you avoiding my question?”
“We’re all entitled to our own dreams. Yours is to be an actress. That’s great. I wish you luck.”
“Could you be more condescending?” Kara crossed her legs. “If I do nothing else the entire time I am on this show—which will be the entire show, including prom with the young Mr. Jackson—I will get you to talk, Miss Davidson. So you can talk now, or I can keep talking until you talk. What’s it gonna be?”
Addy shook her head and bit her lip to keep from smiling. “Forget acting. You should be a lawyer.”
“Whatever. Stop changing the subject, smarty-pants. You don’t think highly of actors because . . . ?”
Addy took a deep breath and looked at Kara. “What’s the point? I mean, really,
you make it—and that’s a huge ‘if’—you’re hounded by the press and every aspect of your life is scrutinized. And how many actors are normal? No drug problems, no messed-up marriages, no botched plastic surgeries? Other than the money, what’s so great about it?”
“What’s so great is that it’s what I want to do more than anything else in the whole world.” Kara waved her long, graceful arms all around the already-crowded trailer to make her point. “I want to move people. Actresses can be part of something bigger than themselves. We can make people think. We can make statements. We can change the world.”
Addy laughed. She liked this girl.
“What are you laughing about, Addy?”
“Sorry.” Addy coughed. “You’re just so . . . dramatic.”
“Thank you.” Kara took a bow.
Suddenly, a voice at the door barked that the viewing would begin in forty-five minutes. They needed to be out on the lawn “pronto.”
“C’mon, roomie,” Kara said. “It’s time for our close-up.”
Ready or not
here I come
ddy, you’ve got to see this.” Kara was shaking Addy awake, pulling on her arm so hard Addy had to sit up or fall out of bed.
“What in the world are you doing? I’m tired.” Addy wrenched her arm free and picked up the alarm clock on her nightstand. “It’s six thirty in the morning.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Kara laid her computer on Addy’s lap. “Look.”
“Chad Beacon?” Addy stared at the computer screen. The
America’s Next Star
winner had his mouth wide open in a shot from last night’s show. He had sung “The Book of Love” at the premiere.
“Oh, sorry.” Kara grabbed the computer and stared. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he? I mean, look at him. I hate to say it, but he’s even cuter than Jonathon. That blond hair. All those muscles. And he must be, what, six foot three at least?”
Addy groaned. “Yes, he’s cute. You really needed to wake me up at six thirty to tell me that?”
“No. I’m talking to you about the show. I just got sidetracked.”
Addy rubbed her eyes. “Your point?”
“People started blogging as soon as the show ended.
The Book of Love
was the hottest show on television last night. Over fifteen million people watched. Fifteen million. Do you have any idea how huge that is? Of course you don’t. Let me just tell you, it’s
. No show has those kinds of numbers on the first night. Most shows are happy to have half that. A third is great. And get this, they loved it.
it. All the major websites have our pictures front and center. I have fifteen hundred friend requests on Facebook.”
Addy yawned. Why couldn’t she have been given a roommate who was mute? And comatose. But without all the machines making beeping noises.
“Addy. Did you hear me? Snap out of it. We’re famous!”
“I heard you. People in Kentucky heard you. And, again,
I don’t want to be famous
. I want to be asleep.”
“Too bad,” Kara chirped, grabbing her laptop and setting it on Addy’s bed. “Because
, my reluctant celebrity, are
sound bite from last night’s show.”
Kara tapped her computer and Addy heard herself talking to Jonathon through the tinny speakers.
“Hello, Jonathon. My name is Addy Davidson. I have no desire to be part of this ‘competition,’ and I suggest my name be the very first you take off the list
She lay back down and threw the blanket over her head. “No, no, no, no, no . . .”
Laughing, Kara ripped off the blanket. “Addy, this is everywhere. People love you. Or hate you. But who cares! They know your name. Look, I just Googled
and there are 85,641 hits. Listen to this: ‘Addy Davidson might just be the smartest eleventh grader in the country. While the other girls were prepared with flowery words and blinding smiles, Addy hit below the belt. Jonathon Jackson might have been shocked, but America is in love.’”
Please let me still be sleeping. Let this just be the world’s worst nightmare
“Addy. Say something.”
“I think I’ve said enough. This is crazy. Why me? I don’t want this. I want to go home and fill out college applications and read books.”
Addy shut Kara’s computer, walked to their tiny bathroom, and slammed the door behind her. She turned to the mirror and examined herself. Her hair was all over the place—completed by a huge bump around the center of her head where her hair had been in a ponytail the day before. Her eyes were puffy and her face had lines from her pillowcase imprinted on it. Not the prettiest sight to see.
And now that face and hair were being broadcast all over the Internet. People were logging on to see her and comment about her and criticize her.
Addy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Why was this happening to her? Why couldn’t
be the “sound bite”? She would have loved it.
The rest of the morning went by in a torturous blur. Hank called to demand that Addy make an appearance so the press could get a shot of her. She walked into The Mansion with a bodyguard to protect her from the hundreds of cameras, newspeople, and screaming teenage girls who either thought she was their hero or cursed her for being such a jerk to “Jahhhhnathuhn.”
After lunch—an orchestrated event at The Mansion with twenty-five girls who tried desperately to make the cameras look at them—Hank called Addy in for a private meeting.
Without cameras around, Addy knew Hank would not be in “cool older brother” mode.
Pacing in the spacious sitting room, Hank raked his hand through his pseudo-sun-bleached hair and sighed. “I was afraid of this.”
“Afraid of what?”
“This. You.” Hank motioned toward her like she was a deadly virus. “Who’s helping you, Addy?”
“You heard me.” Hank crossed his arms and glared at her. “Someone told you to say that to Jonathon. Who is it?”
“N-no one. It was a mistake. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry that you’re the front-runner or sorry you’re all over the Internet? Funny, for someone who swears she doesn’t want attention, you sure are getting a lot.”
“I didn’t want any of this to happen. Honestly.”
Hank growled, “I spent half the night talking with parents. Parents who have been playing by my rules and are now feeling cheated because you come along and do your thing and their kids are barely even noticed.”
Addy stiffened. “Hank, what do you want me to say? I’m sorry. I didn’t plan this, and I certainly wasn’t coached to do this. I’m sorry you’re angry, but it isn’t my fault.”
“It most certainly is your fault,” Hank yelled, then calmed himself before continuing. “Let me make one thing crystal clear: this is
show. I’ve worked long and hard to get here. I am the host and I am a producer—and I call the shots. Me. Not you. Do you understand that?”
Addy refused to say another word. Hank stared at her and she stared right back.
“Look, I have no choice but to keep you on another week.” Hank raked a hand through his hair again and grunted. “But that’s all you get. I’m still willing to work with you. I know potential when I see it, and you’ve got it. But only if you understand that you work for me, and not the other way around. I don’t want you to sneeze without checking with me first. Got it?”
Before Addy could even consider a reply, Hank stormed off.
Walking into The Mansion’s living room, Addy thought things couldn’t get worse. She wanted nothing more than to go back to her trailer and call Uncle Mike. He would know what to do. He would at least be a friendly voice. Instead she heard Hank’s voice addressing the contestants.
“Girls, I want all of you to gather in the living room for some casual shots. Just sit and talk, act as naturally as you can. Be careful on the couches, though. Only two or three on each, the rest can just stand behind them. Don’t sit on the floor. You are young
,” he added. “And hurry up. We need to get the other groups in for
Cameramen swarmed in from all directions, blocking the exits. Lights and boom mics crowded the ceiling. The girls, each applying more layers of ultrashiny lip gloss, vied for a spot in front of the huge gilded mirror above the marble-topped table in the foyer. They were all chatting about how beautiful everyone looked, how much they liked Dawn’s eyes and Lila’s hair and Hannah’s shoes. Eyes darted to the cameras after each compliment.
“Dan, no mics on this. We’ll be playing music under these shots. Cameras only.”
The girls suddenly switched tactics. Smiling toward the cameras, they moved en masse to Addy. “So, Addy,” began one of the girls, a southerner with long blond hair and a big mouth, “how long did it take you to come up with that line the other day?”
“Yeah,” piped in another contestant, a beautiful Latina, her hazel eyes flashing, “we didn’t know we’d have to start playing the game so early. You think you’re pretty smart, huh? Well, you’ve messed with the wrong girls. Just wait until those cameras are off. We’ll—”
Addy was shocked at the contrast between how they looked and what they were saying. Suddenly Kara pushed her way through the crowd, smiling and yelling at the same time.
“Leave my roommate alone or I will make your beautiful faces look like a scene from a horror movie.”
Addy couldn’t help laughing as she watched Kara—always smiling her thousand-watt smile—turn the angry mob into a group of frightened little girls.
Maybe actresses aren’t so bad after all
. . . A
nd the worst part is that I’m in the Top Thirty, Uncle Mike.” Addy had finally gotten some free time, so she returned to her favorite spot in the woods and called her uncle as soon as she cleared the paparazzi.
He laughed his deep, husky laugh. She could picture him smiling through his salt-and-pepper mustache, his hazel eyes dancing.
“Addy, my girl. This is a good thing. Really. Remember what James tells us: the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
“Uncle Mike,” Addy whined. “I don’t want perseverance. I want out.”
“How are you handling things? Getting angry, frustrated, biting people’s heads off?”
“What, are you hiding in the trailer?”
He laughed again. Even at her most upset, Addy was reassured by that sound.
“I just know you, girl. You’re just like your mama. She would get like that when she was trying to handle difficult situations all by herself. And do you know what our daddy would tell her when she got like that?”
“He’d sit her down, put his arm around her, and say, ‘There’s one God, baby, and you’re not him.’”
“Are you asking for his help, Addy?”
She sighed. “No.”
“Are you reading his Word?”
Addy winced. “No.”
“Then you’re not handling things well. How can you expect to get through this if you’re not talking to God about it?”
“What does he care about this stupid TV show?”
“Absolutely nothing. But he cares a great deal about you. He also cares about those other girls. And Jonathon. Even Hank.”
“Aw, Uncle Mike, you
Another laugh. “Don’t get so caught up in what’s happening around you that you forget what’s going on above. God has a plan for everything. He’s not looking down and saying, ‘Oh man, what in the world has that Addy Davidson gotten herself into now?’ He put you there. For a reason. You don’t have to go around preaching. Just be a light. Be Jesus to those people. And remember, it’s the meanest ones who need him the most.”