Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss Page 1


“Your face is falling off.”

I reached up to my chin, where Grant’s eyes were glued, and felt the long piece of fake skin that the makeup artist had adhered to my real skin hanging by a thread.

“My face is supposed to be falling off. I’m a zombie.” I was a zombie! Acting in my very first movie role alongside Grant James. Superstar Grant James. We’d been on set for a week now, but I still couldn’t shake the excitement of that thought.

“I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that,” he said.

“My face is falling off,” I said, turning toward Remy, the director. He was behind a camera and a monitor with about ten other people.

The boom operator to my right groaned and moved the pole to his shoulder. This was at least our twentieth take of the scene; his arm was probably sore.

“Makeup! Leah!” Remy called. “We need a face fix!”

Even with the large light box blocking the direct rays of sun from the scene, the heat still radiated off the soil around us. It was hot in Los Angeles for September. We were shooting in a graveyard today, and if we were out here much longer, I knew I’d start to feel like an actual zombie, slowly melting away.

Leah hurried forward with her bag of supplies and got to work on my face. Remy stepped into the shot as well. “I need you both to add some chemistry to this scene. I’m not feeling anything.”

“I’m not either,” Grant mumbled.

We weren’t projecting chemistry? We’d had plenty of chemistry when we auditioned for the part. Guess my becoming zombified wasn’t helping.

I could fix that. I may have been the newbie on this set, but I wasn’t new to acting. I had been in a few commercials, a dozen high school plays, and had made four guest appearances in The Cafeteria, a long-standing television show. Sure, approximately three people remembered me being in the show, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t good. This movie was my big break. And my first real chance to prove I was star material.

I stayed perfectly still while Leah poked and prodded at my chin. Grant paced behind her, stepping over mounds of dirt and around fake headstones. He mumbled his lines, completely forgetting two. I didn’t say anything. That was Remy’s job.

Leah took a step back, gave my face a once-over, and said, “Perfect.”

I smiled. “I look pretty?”

She swatted at my arm playfully and then took her place behind the monitor again.

“Okay,” Remy said. “Places, everybody.”

Three hours later, Remy yelled, “Cut. That’s a wrap.”

Leah stepped forward to remove a premade section of my zombie face that she never let me take off myself (too valuable, she once told me). I started to say something to Grant, when, past the lights and monitors, I noticed my dad weaving his way through the crew, his eyes glued to Remy. I shook my hands, hoping that would help Leah move quicker. The second she was done, I rushed to intercept my father. I wasn’t fast enough. By the time I got there, my dad was talking about the appropriate number of breaks for an underage actress. Remy’s expression was unreadable.

“Dad,” I sang out. “You’re here. Again.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “I’ve been here for two hours, and there wasn’t a single break.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Remy said.

“Thanks, Remy,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hooked my arm in my dad’s and forced us both toward my trailer.

“Lacey,” Dad said. “I wasn’t quite finished.”

“Didn’t you have that talk with him yesterday?”

“And obviously nothing changed.”

“Dad, I feel great. We had plenty of breaks, I promise. Half the time, we’re just standing around waiting for the lights to get moved anyway.” We had at least two more months of filming. This could not keep happening.

“That’s not the same as an off-set break,” he said when we stopped in front of my trailer. He looked at the door, then back at me. “Aren’t you coming home right now?”

Right. Home. I was underage, which meant that I was the only lead cast member who wasn’t living in my provided trailer, which was towed to each location along with the rest of the equipment. I had to trek at least forty minutes (depending on where we filmed for the day) home every night to my dad’s apartment . . . a place that didn’t feel like home at all. It had been seven years since I’d lived with my dad full-time, and we were still getting used to it. When he’d offered to move down to LA with me, I thought he was finally supporting my acting career. What I didn’t realize until we were down here was that he just wanted to micromanage it.

“I need to get some homework done first.” I opened the trailer and stepped inside. He followed me.

“That reminds me—why did you tell Tiffany to stop coming?”

I sat down on the couch and unlaced my boots. “Who?”

“Tiffany. Your tutor.”

“Oh, right. I didn’t tell her to stop coming. She quit.”


She had . . . after having to wait two hours for me for the third day in a row. My daily call sheet may have spelled out my schedule, but sometimes we got behind.

“Yes, really. Besides, Father dearest, I don’t require a tutor,” I said in an English accent. “I can work on homework packets on my own.” My dad had found a school close by to sponsor my home studies. The semester started three weeks ago, before we began filming. When I was done, I would finish out my senior year back home with my mom and friends. That was probably why I wasn’t super invested in the homework or the weekly emails I got from my sponsor teacher.

“You’re right. A tutor wouldn’t be required if you actually finished the packets and turned them in all by yourself too,” he returned in his own English accent. I smiled. My dad was a bit of a nerd, who always dressed in khakis and actually parted his auburn hair to one side, but with a little effort, he could pull off a leading man. He nodded toward my homework on the table. “That’s why I hired you another one. Someone who I will keep updated on your schedule. Even when it changes.”

I dropped the accent. “What? No, Dad. I’ll get to my homework, I promise. I don’t need a babysitter. This is the biggest opportunity of my life. I’m focusing. Channeling my zombie nature. Zombies do not do independent study packets.”

He gestured to my zombified face. “Somehow I don’t think that this is the biggest opportunity life will afford you. And the amazing thing about school is that finishing it makes it so when opportunities get ruined, you have something to fall back on.” He held up my barely started homework packet. “He’ll be here tomorrow.”

“He? You hired a man to tutor me? That’s going to be weird hanging out with a strange man in my trailer.”

“He’s not a man. I hired a student this time, from your sponsor school. It will be good for you to hang out with someone your own age.”

“Don’t you think a guy my own age will be more of a distraction?”

“You think of the most creative ways to get out of things. No, I don’t think that. I know how your mind works. Boys will get in the way of your big dreams; I don’t remember the last time you gave one the time of day.”

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