By: Noelle August


To Lisa, my first literary agent, my constant reader,

and my best friend. Love you, Blister.

And to Brenda, for all you do,

and for your big, gorgeous heart.


To Lolo, who wrote half of this, but still.

You are wonderful.


Chapter 1


Q: Have you ever had a one-night stand?

On the single most important day of my life, I wake with the thought: Oh crap, where are my panties?

I think this because I also happen to wake in the bed of a stranger, with a wicked shaft of lemon-hued LA light bisecting my bare thigh and not a shred of underwear or any other garment in sight.

This is so not me, and yet here I am, tangled in warm sheets that are most definitely not my own.

Vague snippets of the night before push through my hangover-muddled brain. I remember sitting at Duke’s after my interview with Adam Blackwood, wired with anticipation and the feeling that, finally, I was set to launch. I’d be able to finish my film about Nana, turn it in, and say sayonara to college. And I’d turn this internship with one of the biggest media companies in the country into a real film career where I could find myself, find my style, not just the styles I’d been parroting during my years in school.

I almost remember the guy too. Broad shoulders, an easy manner, and that feeling of heat and possibility. But that’s about it. No face. No name. No idea how this—this minor miracle of actual real-life sex—came to pass.

Sadly, this mystery may remain unsolved. I’ve got to get going.

I struggle up, gingerly tugging strands of my curly hair from beneath the shoulder—the toned and nicely tanned shoulder—of my new friend. My head feels like the inside of a blender set to frappé, and the taste in my mouth suggests something crawled in there and died.

Swinging my bare feet onto the cool concrete floor, I rise, willing away the queasiness that threatens to grab hold.

Thanks a bunch, Patron Silver.

I creep around the bed to see if I’ll have better luck finding my underwear—or really, any item of clothing—on that side of the world. And, I’ll confess, I’m dying to take a look.

My curiosity is most definitely rewarded. Even though the guy’s face is mashed against his pillow, and his short caramel-brown hair lies matted against his head, he is about twelve kinds of hot. He has a strong, beautifully sculpted jaw with just a hint of a cleft, full lips, and the kind of dark sweeping eyelashes that girls need to gob on mascara to achieve.

Stretched out with just the barest corner of sheet covering him—my bad for hogging the blankets—his feet almost dangle off the bed. Which means he’s tall. And even in sleep, his face holds an interesting furrow-browed intensity, like he’s dreaming about saving the world. I know he has to have a stellar personality or there is zero chance I’d have woken up in his bed.

I don’t see any condom wrappers, which makes me wonder what, exactly, did happen last night. It’s definitely not like me to be reckless. So maybe nothing happened? But again: no panties.

While I puzzle over this, my glance drifts over to his bedside clock. The numbers 8:02 a.m. carve their way through the haze, and adrenaline floods my every molecule.

My internship at Boomerang—the answer to becoming more than the daughter of a famous photographer, to stepping into my real life and preserving the life of the dearest person in the world—kicks off in exactly fifty-eight minutes. And I have no idea where I am or where my frickin’ underwear went.

“Crap, crap, crap.” I push my hands through my hair, do a quick inventory of the room, and decide the clothes must have landed elsewhere.

This should be fun.

Hurrying down a narrow hall, I catch glimpses of sports photographs and motivational posters with soaring eagles and mountaintop sunrises. One says, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” which means my life is definitely beginning. Right. Now.

I find myself in a living room with the expected lumpy bachelor sofa, smudged glass coffee table, and giant-screen TV that blots out the sunlight attempting to pour in through two tall Pendleton-blanket-covered windows. It’s also got the requisite single-guy funk: booze, sweat, and a kind of dead-possum tang for the kicker. Books and magazines lie scattered over most surfaces, along with a host of remote controls that suggest an underground lair somewhere; a laptop that looks old enough to belong to Fred Flintstone, and various articles of clothing—a sweatshirt, gym shorts, and—score!—my dress from last night.

I snatch it off the floor and inspect it. It’s so wrinkled it looks like a dump truck backed over it, and it’s stiff in spots, with a V-shaped stain spreading over the top.

Trying to shake out the creases, I wish I had chosen something a little less slinky for my meeting with Adam Blackwood. But I went with this, and he’ll get to see it again today. Only this time it’ll look like I wrestled it off a hobo.

I hear a creak of bedsprings and then a door opening and closing, followed by the rush of water from a shower. So, the guy’s awake. Great. Maybe he can give me a hand with Mission Impossible: Underwear Edition. There’s no way that will be awkward, right?

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