Cinder & Ella – Bonus Brian POV scene

Hey guys!  With the read-along in the fan group, the cover re-design, the 2 year anniversary party, and writing the sequel, I’ve been in a Cinder & Ella kind of mood lately. I had originally decided that since I was doing a new cover for the book, it would be fun to finally give you guys the epilogue you constantly ask for. So I thought of an idea and started to write. Well…that epilogue quickly turned into a short story instead, which then evolved into more of a novella. By page 100 I realized I had to simply accept what was. Happily Ever After was not an epilogue; it was a full-length novel.

I figured no one would complain about the story turning into a novel even if that meant it wouldn’t be ready in time for the two-year anniversary party like I’d promised my reader squad. I know they’ll be patient a while longer in order to have a whole second book full of Brian and Ella awesomeness. Still, I didn’t like having nothing to give you wonderful readers at the anniversary party, so I decided to write a scene I’ve wanted to write for a long time. You know which one it is. Of all the scenes in the book, there is one in particular that I’ve always wished I had in Brian’s POV as well as Ella’s. It’s just too epic of a scene to only get one side of it.

We need Brian’s thoughts through this scene, so I sat down at my computer this week and started to write. My “scene” became almost thirty pages of bonus material. Apparently Brian had been bottling up a lot of thoughts all this time, and he was eager to finally have the opportunity to voice them.

Anyway, all that said, here is the infamous scene where Brian and Ella meet face to face for the first time. Enjoy!

 

***SPOILER ALERT***

The following scene is utterly and completely spoilerific. If you haven’t read Cinder & Ella yet, stop reading now and go read the book. Reading this scene first will RUIN EVERYTHING. Seriously. It will. No matter how tempting it may be to just keep scrolling down, stop now go read the book first. Then come back and read this. You won’t regret it. Promise.

 

“Say Car For Me – Brian POV Bonus Scene”

 

I had to cover a yawn as I settled into my seat up on the dais. Not because I was bored—I was genuinely looking forward to this discussion panel—I was just beat. As I’d suspected, Kaylee had dragged me to a party last night and I hadn’t gotten to bed until almost 3:30 a.m. But the lack of sleep wasn’t what was making me so tired. It was my damned fake fiancée wearing me out. Considering I couldn’t even have my own room during this convention, my nerves were shot, my sanity was gone, and I was down to my last shred of patience.

Someone sat in the chair on my right and slid a cup of coffee in front of me. “Is this boring you, son?” My father glanced out at the room that was quickly filling up. The crowd we’d gathered for this panel was incredible.

“No.” I shook my head and yawned again. “It’s Kaylee. She’s exhausting.”

Dad—who’d been a lot happier with me since I’d agreed to the Kaylee thing and had been bringing so much attention to his film—slapped me on the shoulder, laughing heartily. “I’m sure she is, you lucky bastard.”

I shook my head, rolling my eyes as I accepted the coffee my father had supplied me. He, like everyone else in the world, assumed Kaylee and I were hooking up through this escapade. There was no point in trying to explain otherwise. No one would have believed me, and even if they did, I’d have to explain why I wasn’t taking advantage of the situation to at least get some from the psycho if I was going to be stuck with her anyway. I wasn’t ready to explain Ella to anyone yet. Kaylee’s knowing about her had caused enough problems.

“It’s not that, Dad. It’s the nagging, and the whining, and the preening. I can’t stand it.”

Dad burst into roaring laughter. “That’s women for you, Brian. As soon as they catch the scent of commitment, they turn into sharks. Believe me. Your mother was the worst.” He shuddered. “Word of advice? Dump Kaylee the second the awards season is over. Never keep a woman longer than a couple months—three, tops—or they’ve have you on such a short leash it’ll take you years to escape and by then you’ll be lucky to get out with the shirt on your back.”

Great advice, Dad.

I laughed to myself. I definitely had a favorite parent and it wasn’t Max Oliver, but I couldn’t begrudge him his attitude toward my mom. As wonderful as she was, Dad wasn’t wrong about her. She was every bit the shark he claimed she was. She nagged like she’d invented the activity, and she definitely took him for all he was worth in the divorce.

My parents’ problem had been that they hadn’t loved each other. They got married for the party. The attention. Once the excitement wore off, they realized there wasn’t much to the relationship that wasn’t physical or strategic. Obviously they’d been doomed. I’m impressed they lasted long enough to have me.

Mom was different with her new husband. She was still an overbearing shark, but she adored my stepdad. Somehow the mild-mannered college math professor had won her heart. And he worshiped her. Mom nagged and bossed till she was blue in the face, and Douglas happily let her.

My dad always had plenty to say about Doug being completely whipped, but he hadn’t seen them together much. He didn’t see the small acts of kindness between my mom and Doug. He didn’t see the adoration in their eyes. He never spent months with them, watching them live in a happy, functional relationship.

I admired my mom. She may have grown up shallow and materialistic. She may have married my father for his money and his pull in Hollywood, but she’d changed when she met Doug. Love had changed her. Dad had laughed at the changes in Mom—still mocked her for them. But Dad was a douche, and always would be. He’d never have a clue what love was.

On the bright side, he wouldn’t know what he was missing. I, on the other hand, knew exactly what I lacked in life. Which made having to fake it with Kaylee that much worse. I wanted to strangle her for her nagging, but Ella could be as nitpicky and demanding as any woman, and I couldn’t wait to let her boss me around in person. Once it was safe to tell Ella the truth, she and I were going to be just like Mom and Doug. Ella was going to boss me around, and I was going to happily do everything she asked. I couldn’t wait for that day. Just thinking about it lifted my spirits.

Arms slid around me from behind, and a pair of soft lips pressed against my neck, shattering my fantasy. “It’s good to see a real smile on your face for once, baby,” Kaylee whispered, sounding so sultry I almost bet her next words would be an offer to find a janitor’s closet or a bathroom stall.

Dad chuckled at the desire in her voice. He smirked at me and then shot Kaylee a smile. “You are absolutely right, Kaylee. Whatever you did last night to make him so tired today and put him in such a fantastic mood, keep it up.”

I snorted when Kaylee’s jaw tensed. Last night she’d tried everything to get into my pants after the party. I’d told her to go find someone else and slept on the couch in our suite. She’d been pouting all day. She knew damn well she wasn’t responsible for my good mood, and it drove her crazy that she couldn’t get me excited.

I relished the flash of rage in her eyes before she smiled at my father. “Oh, Max, you don’t need to worry about that. I have no problem keeping things up.”

She followed the blatant innuendo with a slow wink. Dad laughed and his eyes filled with lust. Wetting his lips, he grinned back. “You’re not wrong, Kaylee.”

Good grief. I’d have been disgusted if I hadn’t already suspected that they’d slept together. Probably during Kaylee’s audition. How else could she have landed the lead in this movie? It was reasons like this that I’d stopped thinking of Max Oliver as my father a few years ago and started just treating him as a professional acquaintance.

Kaylee smiled at me as she took the seat on my left. “So about tonight. I was thinking we should…”

I zoned out. This panel was the last of my obligations here. Whatever I did after this wasn’t going to involve Kaylee. I was tempted to wander the convention. There was so much I hadn’t gotten to see yet. But after the last few days I’d had my fill of the public, and I’d be mobbed if I wandered around here. Unless I dressed up as something other than Cinder. Maybe I could sneak around incognito. I reached for my phone. Scott wouldn’t mind running over to my house really quick to pick up my old Lord of the Rings cloak.

My father’s low whistle distracted me before I could send Scott a text. I followed his gaze and my eyebrows rose up my forehead. A group had just entered the room dressed as characters from The Druid Prince. A lot of people had dressed like that, but these five looked like they’d raided the costume department on set. The costumes were professional quality and deadly accurate. They looked amazing.

“Twin Ratanas,” my father muttered, shamelessly ogling the girls. “Nice.”

I took a moment to drag my gaze across them too. They were beautiful girls—better looking than Kaylee if you asked me, but then, my opinion where Kaylee is concerned could be tainted. Dad was still staring at them, though, so maybe they were better looking than my supermodel co-star.

Watching the group slowly make their way to their seats in one of the first few rows, I elbowed my father. “I doubt they’re legal, Dad.”

He grunted and his brow creased. “If they aren’t eighteen yet, they will be soon enough. Give them a year or two and they’ll look even better. I should give them my card after the meet and greet. Maybe they’d like to be extras in the sequel.”

I rolled my eyes again. “Pervert.”

Dad laughed like I was making a joke. I wasn’t. But again, there was no point in trying to explain that to him. He wouldn’t understand because in his mind there was nothing wrong with a fifty-five-year-old man hooking up with an eighteen-year-old girl. That wasn’t uncommon in Hollywood. Hell, even I’d hooked up with a few women in their forties. But at least I’d never done it to earn a role in a movie.

As the group took their seats, both of the twins glanced my way several times. I noticed, but my attention had already moved on. Along with the Ratana twins there was a Queen Nesona, a Prince Cinder, and an Ellamara.

I smiled again. Another real smile. It looked like the Cinder and the Ellamara were a couple. My Ellamara would appreciate that. Hopefully the two would come up to see me at the meet and greet after the panel. I’d have to get their picture so I could send it to Ella.

I tried to get a good look at the girl dressed as Ellamara. She was the first person I’d seen dressed as the druid priestess, and I found myself completely intrigued. Why had she dressed as Ellamara? Was it because her other friends had already called the other costumes? Or had she wanted to come as Ellamara? I’d have to ask her when she came to talk to me. My Ella would want to know.

I couldn’t tell my Ella about this girl directly since I couldn’t tell her I was here. But Brian Oliver could say something about how much he liked Ellamara and was excited to see someone dress up as the druid priestess this weekend. Maybe she’d even take a picture with me. That would totally earn me some brownie points with Ella. Ella’s opinion of me—of Brian Oliver, I mean—wasn’t the shiniest. Maybe she’d think more of me if I showed her favorite character some love.

I watched the girl in the audience so long I was sure she had to feel my gaze burning a hole in her, but she never looked my way. Not once. She looked as excited as a kid in a candy store, but I had nothing to do with her giddiness. Her gaze was locked on L.P. Morgan, the writer of the novels. That made me smile again.

It was hard to tell what she looked like. She was wearing her cloak and had the hood pulled up over her head, but even from my distance I was sure she was a striking young woman. She had a beautiful light brown skin tone and dark hair hiding under her cloak. And her smile was gorgeous.

She was pretty, but the best thing about her was the way she hugged a book to her chest. It was a hardback copy of The Druid Prince with the original cover, not the new one with the cast of the movie on it. I knew because I had two at home just like it—one signed to me, and one signed to Ella.

Someday, when I finally met Ella in person, I would give her that book and she’d look every bit as giddy as the Ellamara in the crowd. Maybe I’d have to scrounge up an Ellamara costume for her, too. Until now, I hadn’t realized how pretty of an outfit it is, and it would be fun to come to FantasyCon together next year dressed as Cinder & Ellamara.

I shook my head to clear it. I hadn’t even met Ella yet. I needed to stop planning out our future together. For all I knew, she wasn’t even interested in dating me. She never seemed like it, anyway. Sure, she said she loved me all the time, but it seemed more of a friend thing. I was convinced I could change that when we met, but still, plotting out the rest of our life might be premature.

Hell, I’d only just gotten her to start speaking to me again yesterday. When I finally told her the truth, she was going to be pissed. And I knew how she felt about guys like me. About me even. We might be in for a rocky start.

The moderator got the crowd’s attention, bringing the panel to a start. I had to focus on work again, but my gaze kept going back to the girl in the Ellamara costume. I couldn’t help it. She reminded me of Ella.

After the discussion was over, they played ten minutes from the movie. I hadn’t seen any of the finished footage yet and I’d been excited to watch the clip, but even then, my attention drifted back to the stranger. Watching her, it was so easy to picture Ella seeing the movie.

I hated that I was going to have to go to the premiere with Kaylee. Hated it. From the very moment I got the role I’d had this dream that I would tell Ella who I really was, and I’d ask her to be my date to the premiere. It would be so perfect. Instead, I was stuck in a fake engagement with Satan’s Mistress and was going to be forced to see The Druid Prince with her. It was so so so wrong.

As I watched the girl dressed as the druid priestess watch my film, I imagined Ella watching the film. This girl was so engrossed in the screen she didn’t even notice when the guy dressed as Cinder put his arm around her. I laughed to myself. That would definitely be Ella and me. If I took her to the movie, my attention would be on her and hers would be on the film. I’d be desperately trying to hold her hand, or pull her close, or sneak a kiss, and she wouldn’t have a clue I even existed.

The guy leaned a little closer to the girl and pulled her against his side. I nearly laughed out loud when the girl jumped, startled because she’d finally realized what had happened. A moment passed between them, he cocked an eyebrow at her in some kind of question, or maybe it was a challenge. Maybe they weren’t an official couple, then. Maybe this was just a date. The beginning of something. Must be nice.

The guy’s move worked. After only a moment’s hesitation the girl relaxed and turned her attention back to the screen. The guy grinned to himself as she snuggled against him. I envied the guy. He clearly liked his date. I loathed mine.

A roar of applause snapped me back into focus. The clip was over. It was meet and greet time. I never minded talking to fans. Meeting them when it was controlled like this could be fun. And this time a lot of them would be fantasy geeks, specifically Cinder Chronicles fans. That was cool.

Cinder Chronicles fans were my people and I had no doubt the Fabulously Dressed Five were Cinder Chronicles people. Well, the girl dressed as Ellamara was, anyway. She was obviously a die-hard fan. The Ratana twins might have only been Brian Oliver fans, and the Cinder guy seemed like he was only there for Ellamara. I couldn’t guess the Queen Nesona. She was a mystery.

As if to prove my thoughts, the group stood and instead of making a b-line for my and Kaylee’s lines, they headed toward L.P. Morgan. One of the Ratanas pouted, shooting longing glances my direction, but the rest of the group all pointed at the Ellamara girl. Ratana lost out and they headed for the writer. That should have bruised my ego a little, but I found it awesome that the Ellamara girl was more excited to meet the book’s author than me.

“What are you grinning at?” Kaylee snarked in a whisper as the fans started lining up. “I thought you hated this.”

“I don’t hate my job.” Truth. “I only hate having to do it with you.” More truth.

She glared at me. “You are such an asshole.” Quite possibly also truth.

I laughed. “You’re right. I am. You should break up with me. Tell the whole world what an immature, egotistical prick I am and break off the engagement. I’ll accept my defeat gracefully. Promise.”

Her glare turned ever more severe, but before she could snipe at me some more a couple of the nerdiest guys I’d ever seen—total Dungeons and Dragons gamer types—arrived in front of Kaylee, and a super hot chick in a Xena Warrior Princess costume stepped up to me. I looked back and forth between her fans and mine and gave her a big toothy grin. “Yep. I definitely love my job.” With a wink, I turned my smile on my waiting fan. “Xena! I love it! I’ve seen every episode.”

“Seriously?” the woman asked, surprised. They were always surprised when I revealed my inner fantasy geek.

“Oh yeah. I’m a huge fan. I watched it faithfully every week when it used to play back-to-back with the Kevin Sorbo Hercules series. Talk about an awesome hour of TV. But I have to say, as much as I love Lucy Lawless, you my dear, make a much prettier Warrior Princess.”

The woman blushed and Kaylee rolled her eyes as she quickly signed headshots for the two socially awkward guys standing in front of her staring down her shirt.

It took forever for the Fabulous Five—yes, I’d totally given them a superhero name—to arrive in front of me. I don’t know why I was so anxious to meet them. I guess talking fantasy with so many people for the past half an hour had been awesome and I was curious to see what the biggest Druid Prince fan—as I’d dubbed the girl dressed as Ellamara—thought of the movie clip.

I also wanted to know what she’d talked to L.P. Morgan and Jason Cohen for so long about. It had seemed like a lively discussion, and I really wished I could have been part of it. As awesome as it was to be involved in the project, part of me just wanted to be a fanboy.

“You five look incredible!” I blurted a little too enthusiastically. I took a breath and tried to dial it down a notch. “By far the best costumes I’ve seen all year. I hope you entered the competition.”

I could feel Kaylee’s eyes on me and I knew it had everything to do with the totally hot twin Ratanas standing in front of me so, just to piss her off, I pulled a Maxwell Oliver move and shamelessly dragged my eyes up and down the girls’ bodies. “Twins,” I said in my best bedroom voice. “You fair maidens are the most beautiful Ratanas I’ve seen since the convention started.”

Kaylee’s jaw clenched, but it was the snort of laughter in front of me that caught my attention. My head whipped toward the sound, and I met the gaze of the girl in the Ellamara costume just in time to watch her blush a pretty pink. The shyness surprised me because the laugh had been rather obnoxious.

I was about to tease her, but she looked away too quickly. “Sorry,” she muttered to her two Ratana friends. When they both glared at her, she apologized again with a little more sincerity. “I’m sorry. Of course he’s right. You know you’re both gorgeous. I was just laughing at the cheesy line.”

I nearly choked on surprise. Did she just…mock me? I couldn’t believe it. This woman was so much like Ella. “Cheesy line?” I asked.

I gave her my best pout but she didn’t buy it for a second. In fact, my act seemed to give her a boost of confidence. She shrugged a shoulder, looking both sheepish and unrepentant. “Yes,” she said. “It was cheesy. And I’m sure you’ve probably said that exact same thing to every girl you’ve met this week. I find it amazing that you can still deliver it with a straight face.”

For the first time in my life I was speechless. I blinked at the woman, utterly astonished. She was totally right, I had said that same line to just about every woman in costume no matter who they were dressed as, but I never dreamed I’d be called on it. No one ever made fun of me. Not ever. Well, besides Ella.

A thought flickered in the back of my mind that made my heart skip a beat. I pushed it away immediately. That wasn’t possible. This woman couldn’t be Ella. She just reminded me of her so much, and she was dressed in the Ellamara costume. But she couldn’t be Ella.

Ella would have told me she was coming to FantasyCon. In fact, she’d been whining to me for weeks about how she was so close this year and still not going. I’d nearly sent her tickets a billion times except I didn’t know her address and since we lived in the same city now I was too chicken to ask for it.

During the whole birthday surprise thing I’d nearly sent her an email as Brian Oliver telling her I’d have tickets to the discussion panel waiting for her at the entrance. But I’d chickened out because I’d worried that if I figured out who she was, I’d never be able to keep my identity secret, and I had to keep that secret. I’d pissed Kaylee off so much this weekend—albeit intentionally because I really am a bit of the immature asshole she claims I am—if Kaylee met Ella now, she would destroy her.

There was no way I was going to let Kaylee ruin my first meeting with Ella, so I’d restrained myself from bringing Ella to FantasyCon. Hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. How I was going to manage not to fake-break things off with Kaylee and bring Ella to the premiere in December instead was still a mystery that needed solving.

Kaylee pulled me out of my thoughts with a laugh. “What do you know baby? Someone else who’s not impressed with your bullshit.”

The Ellamara girl’s eyes widened slightly with surprise, but she didn’t seem intimidated by Kaylee. Or me for that matter. That was so rare I had to take advantage of the opportunity for some banter. “She wouldn’t be dressed as Ellamara if she were easily susceptible to charm,” I teased, unable to take my eyes off of the woman standing before me.

Now that I was really looking, it was easy to see how truly striking she was. Her friends were hot, sure, but they were like every other blond bombshell in the world. Typical Southern California girls. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great appreciation for their type—but I’d dated a million of them. Hell, I had the queen of them sitting right next to me. The girl in front of me was different.

The stranger’s eyes narrowed slightly at my flirty remark, presenting an irresistible challenge. “I meant the compliment, though,” I told her. “Your friends really are two of the most beautiful Ratanas I’ve seen this weekend.” Curious to see if could rile this woman up a bit, I winked at her friends then shot her my best panty-dropping smile. “Just as you are the loveliest Ellamara I’ve met so far.”

The smile—one of my greatest weapons—had no effect on her. Zero. None whatsoever. She snorted again and rolled her eyes. “I’m probably the only Ellamara you’ve met.”

Damn. She’d called me out again. If I weren’t already in love with an Ellamara of my own, I’d be in love now with this woman. My grin widened so far my face hurt. “You’re still enchanting. Those eyes…”

They were beautiful. Stunning. They were big, round, and as blue as the sky. They popped in contrast to her skin the same way Ella’s did.

My stomach clenched up again. Seriously. This was too coincidental. I’d seen several pictures of Ella. She’d posted them on her blog from time to time when she and her mom met different authors. I’d always loved that she looked Latina and yet had beautiful blue eyes. It had made her stand out. She was uniquely beautiful. I hadn’t thought about it before, but this woman looked like she could be half Latina, and she had amazing big blue eyes. But were they the same blue eyes? Could this really be her?

My mouth went dry. “Have we met?”

I don’t know why I asked that. I hadn’t ever met Ella. She wouldn’t recognize me as Cinder. But I couldn’t just be like, “Hey you aren’t the woman I constantly stalk online are you?”

“Ha!” She laughed. “No. We haven’t met.”

What the hell could I say that might give me a clue? The blog! I—Brian Oliver, I mean—had read her blog. Brian could conceivably have seen her picture on there. After all the tweets and everything yesterday, if this woman was my Ella, she’d admit that it was her blog. I picked the obvious feature that Brian Oliver might recognize from those old pictures on Ella’s blog. “Are you sure? You look familiar. I swear I’ve seen those eyes before.”

There was a moment of hesitation, possibly even a spark of fear—which made no sense at all—but then the woman laughed again. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember meeting a famous movie star.”

My face fell before I could stop it. That was a no then. Ella would have mentioned the blog. She’d have thanked me for it or something. Knowing her, she’d probably try to pump me for information on Cinder’s identity.

“Especially one who uses such cheesy pick-up lines.”

I laughed despite my disappointment. For a split second I’d been sure it was her. But I was just being an idiot. I wanted it to be her. More than anything in the world I wished this woman and my woman were the same person. I wanted it so badly I was mentally turning this woman into her. I was seeing things that weren’t there. I swear I was even hearing a slight Boston accent. Ella’s had been gradually softening the longer she lived in Los Angeles, but could it have softened so much that I wouldn’t notice it without listening for it?

I grabbed a permanent marker, needing to move this along. This woman was messing with my head, and if I wasn’t careful, I was going to go home after this, call Ella, and demand we meet no matter what Kaylee threatened.

The reminder of Kaylee brought me crashing back to reality in an instant. I grabbed a headshot and uncapped my marker. “All right, I give. What’s your name, beautiful?”

She blushed. It was adorable.

She pointed at the picture I was waiting to sign and shook her head. “That’s okay. I don’t need one of those. I just wanted to bring you this.”

I wasn’t surprised when she handed me a copy of The Druid Prince. The publisher had recently released a new paperback edition of the book with the cast of the film on the cover. People had been bringing them for me to sign all week. “And who am I making it out to?”

“I don’t want you to sign it,” she said. “I want you to read it.”

I squinted up at her. “Come again?” There’s no way she’d said what I thought she’d said.

She sighed. There was something insultingly condescending in the gesture. “You’re playing one of the most cherished characters of all time. I don’t care how many academy awards Jason Cohen has won for his writing; there’s no way the screenplay could do the book justice. I know it’s too late to help you with the first movie, but there are four more to go. I really, really want you to understand who Cinder is, so I’m begging. Read the books. I swear, they’re worth it.”

Her obnoxious—and might I add highly judgmental—speech made me reconsider my earlier doubts. Who else would be so unfazed by a celebrity as big as myself that she’d have the nerve to tell me how to do my job? Which, of course, meant she lacked the faith in me that I’d done my research before playing the part. It was such an Ella thing to do. I could just imagine the rant she’d have on her blog after meeting Brian Oliver and having him confess he hadn’t read the books. Well, whether this woman was my dream girl or not, proving her wrong and stomping out some of that self-righteousness was going to be fun. “You think I haven’t read the books?”

“You mean you have?” She shot me a look that screamed I don’t believe you.

Bring it, woman. “Why do you think I demanded to play the role? I agree wholeheartedly that Cinder is one of the most cherished characters of all time. I couldn’t let someone else play him. I can’t wait to film Reign of Glory. That was my favorite book in the series.”

Her look of astonishment was priceless. It took all of my willpower not to laugh in her face. But once she recovered from her shock, she quickly recognized a kindred spirit and flashed me an excited grin. “Reign of Glory was good,” she agreed. “But The Druid Prince is still my favorite. I’m a sucker for a good origin story. Cinder’s is so tragic and moving, yet it brings such a sense of hope to a desperate kingdom. Not to mention the mystery of who he is was done masterfully in that book.”

It was my turn to agree. “No doubt. The Druid Prince is my second favorite. But I love it when Cinder finally gets to go back home, not as a useless farm boy, but as a kick-ass druid warrior. The dude lays the smack down like a master. The action in Reign of Glory is epic.”

“Battle scenes,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “You are such a guy. I bet you love what the movie producers have done with Princess Ratana’s outfit, too.”

HO. LY. SHIT.

It was her. It was really her. I was absolutely certain now. One hundred percent. The Ratana’s Outfit rant was the clincher. Only Ella. Seriously.

To prove it to myself, I gave her my cockiest smirk, knowing how much my ego drove her nuts, and looked the twins up and down again. Now that I was thinking about it, these girls were totally Ella’s stepsisters. I’d known they were twins. How had I not remembered that before? “I definitely didn’t complain,” I said in the douchiest voice I could manage.

I got exactly the reaction I knew I would. The reaction I’d gotten a million times in the last three years but had never actually seen before. Ella threw her head back and groaned at the ceiling. Seeing her irritation made me giddy. I’d imagined the different looks she was giving me every time I made her moan in disgust. It was every bit as amusing as I knew it would be. Her cheeks turned all ruddy, and she crinkled her nose up. Adorable.

This woman was Ella. My Ella. Really truly the woman I was madly in love with. I had no doubt the shock of it would hit me later, but for now, this game we were playing was too fun. Since she had no idea I was me, I couldn’t help pushing her buttons now that I’d succeeded in aggravating her. Clearly my fame meant nothing to her. Just how far would she go in yelling at a big celebrity if her beloved Ellamara’s honor was at stake? “Tell me something,” I said, coping a chauvinistic attitude that would make my father proud. “Why did you dress as Ellamara? Is it because she’s covered from head to toe? Are you some kind of prude?”

If she figured out it was me before leaving the room, I was going to be so incredibly busted. A part of me really hoped she put the pieces together. A huge part of me. Like 99% of me.

She scoffed so hard it had to have hurt her throat. And one of her stepsisters slapped her palm to her forehead. “Oh great. Now you’ve done it. She’ll be griping about this for weeks.”

I almost burst out laughing again. For as many times as Ella had complained to me on this issue, she must have gone off on her family and friends just as much.

Ella finally snapped. “I am not a prude. I just don’t appreciate Hollywood sacrificing the integrity of something just to get perverted guys like you to buy tickets. In the books the Princess Ratana was a warrior, but she was still a princess. Your dad turned her into some useless, slutty bimbo. It’s so demeaning to women! We can be beautiful while fully clothed, you know.”

Her accent got a lot thicker when she was mad. She clearly sounded like she was from Boston now. Inner city Boston, even. She sounded like she was ready to throw down with me. My thoughts were running in an entirely different direction. “As I see,” I responded with a look so intense I was sure she felt the heat of it as I studied every inch of her. My eyes lingered on every curve I could see beneath the beautiful white dress she was wearing.

She was perfect. And now she was going to be mine. She was here, in arms reach, and I didn’t care if Kaylee or the entire world saw, I was going to claim this woman. Right here. Right now. Fate finally brought us together, and I wasn’t going to waste this miracle. Ella was not leaving this conversation without knowing whom she was really talking to.

“So why Ellamara?” I asked again.

“Because she’s the greatest character in the books.”

Ella’s stepsister, recognizing the oncoming of another lecture, tried to push Ella aside. “Okay Ella, there are still other people waiting. We don’t want to take up all of Brian’s time.”

Speak for yourself, blondie. Ella could have as much of my time as she wanted. She could have my every waking minute. No doubt, after this, she would own all the sleeping ones.

Kaylee chose that moment to join the conversation. I’d forgotten all about her even though she was sitting right next to me. “She’s right, Brian. Just sign the girl an autograph and send her on her way.”

Yeah. That was so not happening. Ignoring the Shrew, I shot Ella a challenging look. “You think Ellamara is the greatest character in the books? What about Cinder? He’s the hero. He saves the entire kingdom.”

Ella didn’t miss a beat. “Sure he does—because he had Ellamara to guide him. Without her, he would have been nothing.”

If I didn’t know she had no clue it was me, I’d accuse her of trying to piss me off on purpose. Ugh. She could be so infuriatingly obtuse. “Nothing? He had his magic. He still would have rocked it.”

“Yeah, but he would have come into his power and become just another self-entitled, snobbish, idiot prince, drunk on his own power.”

Oh! She was so talking about me right now. She wasn’t even trying to hide the subtext. Grr. I was tempted to reach over the table and flick her on her adorable little turned-up nose. Excuse me, who is the one being snobby right now Miss High and Mighty?

“As it was,” she continued, throwing more condescension into her voice than even Kaylee had ever used with me, “he still chose to marry the hot chick when he was truly in love with Ellamara.”

“But Ellamara became a priestess. She took a vow of celibacy.”

“She became a priestess because Cinder rejected her. He broke her heart!”

Unbelievable. We’d had this argument a million times and she still couldn’t get it through her thick head that Cinder did what he had to do. “He didn’t have a choice! He may have loved Ellamara, but she was a commoner. Ratana was Crown Princess of the Flatlands. Their union created peace between the two kingdoms. Cinder did the noble thing, putting his own feelings aside for the good of the kingdom.”

“Noble?” Ella groaned again. “What he did wasn’t noble at all. It was an act of cowardice. He did what was expected of him because it was easier. A real man would have fought to be with the woman he loved—social class be damned.”

Several of the die-hard fans that had gathered to watch our heated discussion gasped at Ella’s declaration. Even I was shocked at that one. Maybe I’d pushed her buttons a little too far. Probably should try to calm her down a bit or she really would kill me soon—whether she figured out who I was or not. “I thought you just said Cinder was one of the greatest characters of all time.”

She pulled her shoulders back and stuck that cute little nose of hers in the air. “Every great character makes mistakes. Cinder was wise by the end and able to rule over his people only because Ellamara taught him how to think beyond himself. He was a great character, but—”

“I know, I know,” I interrupted with a playful sigh. We’d been through this fight so many times, there was only one way out. I had to let her win. “Ellamara was the real hero.”

I didn’t realize what I’d done until she froze. I’d simply been caught up in the argument. But it was clear from the sudden change in her expression that my all-too-familiar surrender had just given her the clue she’d needed. She knew the truth.

Now my heart really did stop. She looked at me and this time she was seeing me. She was seeing Cinder. Adrenaline shot through me. I’d been so tired when I’d walked into this room, and now I was so alive I wouldn’t need to sleep for months. I was practically shaking with excitement, but I had to keep my cool. She knew. That was enough for now. I didn’t need to blurt it out and inform the entire world. Maybe now we could have some time to talk before the world went to hell in a handbag around us. I could explain myself and warn her about Kaylee. This was perfect.

“What made you say that?” Ella whispered. She looked as if she was one second away from dying of shock.

I had to wipe the smug smile from my face, and shrugged my shoulders. “It was what you were going to say.”

“Yes, but how did you know? Why did you say those particular words?”

Speaking of particular words, there was one I’d absolutely love to hear from her right now.

She knew the answer to her question—how I could know exactly what she was going to say. She was trying to deny it because it seemed impossible. If she needed help accepting it, though, I could manage that. I leaned forward, anticipating her reaction so much I could taste it, and whispered, “Say car for me.”

I don’t know what I’d expected. I knew she’d be surprised, but the amount of shock she displayed was startling. She looked almost…afraid. Her face drained of color, and she stumbled backward as if her legs were going to give out at any moment.

The guy dressed as Cinder caught her, and something clicked in my brain. The dude I’d been envying earlier was the freaking athlete. Rob. What the hell kind of name was Rob, anyway? This guy was the stupid high school punk that was trying to steal my woman from me. And now he was holding her. He’d caught her when she stumbled and he hadn’t let her go yet. He jumped on the opportunity Ella had accidentally given him, and slipped his arms around her. The bastard!

I wanted to kill him. I was so close to jumping over the table and tackling the guy to the ground. How dare he put his hands on her like that. She was mine. Could I say anything though? No. Because technically she wasn’t mine. Technically, we were just Internet friends who’d never even met. Technically, I was the guy who’d refused to meet her and claim her as mine when she’d given me the chance. Her friend Vivian had warned me about Rob, and had invited me to take his place. I’d said no.

Damn it! I was the biggest idiot on the planet.

Mr. Fantastic may not have understood who I was, but he was definitely feeling the vibes I was sending his way. His eyes narrowed on me, and his grip on Ella turned possessive. I clenched my jaw and balled my hands into fists beneath the table. I couldn’t lose it here. Not like this. Not only would it make a spectacle that would be played on the news for days, and Ella really wouldn’t like that, but I had no right to be angry. She wasn’t my girlfriend. Not yet. But that was going to change, damn it. The second this meet and greet was over.

Now that I’d seen her—met her, interacted with her—there was no way things could go back to the way they were. Ella was absolutely perfect in every way.

Glaring at me, Mr. Fantastic ducked his head next to Ella’s ear and said, “Are you okay, Ella?”

I wanted to punch him again because he sounded worried about her. It shouldn’t be his damn job to worry about her. And what was there to be worried about? It was just me! I opened my mouth to tell the punk to mind his own business, but then I realized what he’d said. He’d called her Ella. Her stepsister had called her that earlier too and I hadn’t realized what that meant because it was the same thing I’d always called her. Could that be her real name? Completely derailed from my rage, I met her eyes. “Ella?”

She nodded slowly and blinked a couple times. She was still in a daze from learning my identity. But why? Her shock was starting to get concerning. True, it had to be insane to learn that your secret best friend was a movie star, but I would think that would be fun news. Exciting on some level. And come on, I’m rich and gorgeous. Those aren’t exactly bad things. Why did Ella look so sick to her stomach?

“Ellamara,” she whispered in a shaky voice. I’d forgotten the question until she added, “My mom really loved the books, too.”

Ellamara? Her real name was actually Ellamara? I couldn’t believe it, but I loved it. It was just too perfect. I’d always loved calling her Ellamara. I loved that it was a connection we both shared. I’d loved the significance of it. That it was a character from my favorite book and the whole reason I’d even found her in the first place. I’d gotten so used to calling her that, that every time I wondered what her real name was I got sad at the idea of having to call her something else. I loved that I’d never have to. I loved that I wasn’t going to lose that detail about her. Ella. She really was my Ella. My Ellamara. It was a beautiful name. She was beautiful.

Man was I ever in love with this woman.

I was staring. Mooning even. The happy grin on my face kept getting bigger and bigger. Other people were starting to whisper. But I couldn’t look away from her. I couldn’t do anything but sit here and soak up this moment. I’d wondered, fantasized, dreamed about her for years. I’d wanted this meeting—no, needed it—for so long and here it was. Here she was. Both of our lives had just changed. I was sure she could feel it too.

“Brian!” Kaylee’s whispered shriek snapped me out of my moment. “Baby, you’re starting to cause a scene. Stop flirting with her and sign a damn autograph already.”

The next moment happened in slow motion. Ella’s eyes flicked to Kaylee and she put the pieces together. I watched the facts click in her brain. Ella thought I was engaged to Kaylee.

After the knowledge sunk in, Ella swallowed. And then she broke. Not outwardly. To anyone else, she just looked flustered and a little upset about something, but I could see it. I saw the utter devastation in her eyes when she forced a smile at the shrew next to me and choked out the words, “Congratulations on your engagement. I’m sure you’ll make a beautiful bride.”

I realized something then. Something I hadn’t dared to hope before now. Ella was every bit as in love with me as I was with her. When she said those words to me, she meant them the same way I did. She was doing the exact same thing I’d always done—saying them in a way that could be taken as platonic…just in case we weren’t on the same page. But we were.

I loved Ella more than she’d ever know. And right now she was telling herself that I would never feel that way about her. She was mentally replaying all of our interactions since we’d been reunited. I could see it in her eyes. They were bouncing from side to side so fast it was dizzying to look at her. She was thinking back, and remembering how I’d told her I liked that we’d never met. She was remembering every word I’d said when I told her I couldn’t meet her. When I’d said she didn’t belong in my world and I’d begged her to be content with the friendship we’d had.

I exhaled like the wind had just been punched out of me as another realization hit me. I’d broken her heart that day. That’s what that fight we’d had was really about. If she’s been in love with me this whole time, then I crushed her that night. She hid it like a pro, but I could see it all now. Standing in front of me doing everything she could not to start crying, I could read all of her emotions on her face. None of them were good. I did that to her. Was doing it to her.

How the hell could I fix this? Would she even give me a chance? No wonder she’d looked so shocked when she realized who I was. She’d been putting together the mystery of me. I’d kept so much of myself from her over the years. I’d been purposefully vague about my personal life. She knew I was doing it. She’d asked me why from time to time but had never pushed when I’d dodged her questions. I’d been uncomfortable and private and she’d just accepted that about me. She’d accepted it and taken whatever I could give her.

Now, all of the gaps in my stories made sense to her, and she was painting a picture in her head of who I was. That was not a picture I wanted her to create on her own. I needed to explain myself. I needed to tell her why I’d held back and how I really felt. I needed to stop hurting her.

“You okay?” Rob asked, startling us both from the trance we’d fallen into.

At the sound of his voice, Ella snapped out of her shock and whirled around, burying her face in his chest. My heart broke as I watched her tremble in his arms. She shook her head in response to his question and my stomach rolled. No. She wasn’t okay.

So many people had hurt her in her life. So many had disappointed her. Abandoned her. Broken her heart. Abused her. And now I could add my name to that list.

“I need to get out of here,” she muttered. There were tears in her voice.

Rob didn’t hesitate. He turned her away from me, and the other girls followed, no questions asked.

Shit. “Ella, wait!”

Shit again. Everyone in the room was watching me now. I’d called out to her in a panic. I’d sounded desperate. I was desperate. If she walked away from me now, like this, she’d never speak to me again.

Ella met my gaze, her beautiful blue eyes shining with a layer of moisture that pierced my heart. How could I have done this to her? How could I fix it? I needed to talk to her. But with the crowd of people watching us, I couldn’t say anything.

After scrambling for a solution, I saw the stack of headshots in front of me and quickly scribbled a note onto the top photo.

I can explain.
Meet me at the Dragon’s Roost. Six P.M.

-Cinder

 

I held up the photo and breathed a huge sigh of relief when she stepped back up to the table. She reached for the picture with a confused frown gracing her heartbroken face. I wouldn’t let go of the headshot until she looked down. She was hurt enough that I was afraid she’d rip up the photo and throw it in the trash without ever seeing what I’d written.

Her eyes fell to the picture and  widened before meeting mine again. I silently begged her for understanding and forgiveness. I begged her to take pity on me and meet me for dinner. Still holding onto the picture, I forced a smile on my face and said, “It was truly a pleasure to meet you, Ella.”

It wasn’t nearly enough, but it was all I could say at the moment with so many people watching. But when she looked at me again, fear and confusion in her gaze, I mouthed the word please.

Something flickered in her expression and after a moment she muttered, “Thanks.” Then she turned around again and let Mr. Fantastic Soccer Dude escort her away from me.

I hated watching her leave. I wanted to chase after her but I couldn’t. I had a few last impatient fans still waiting for their turn to talk to me, and I’d kept them waiting quite a while now.

I flicked my gaze to the new group of people standing in front of me, and they stared back with stunned and curious expressions. It took me a moment to switch gears. I had to compartmentalize. I had to put Ella away and be Brian Oliver the Movie Star again. Usually that wasn’t hard for me to do, but right now I was more shaken than I’d ever been in my life.

I forced the group a smile and said my flirty hello, but all I wanted to do was run after Ella. As I signed autographs, I glanced her direction again. Her party was at the exit now and Ella didn’t look back as she walked out, but the twins and the redhead all did. They all saw me watching them leave. Did they know who I was? Had they figured it out? Would Ella explain it? Would they make her show up to meet me?

I didn’t know if Ella would come, but if she didn’t, I’d stalk her until she had no choice other than to talk to me. I prayed it wouldn’t come to that. The longer we went without speaking, the longer she would hurt. If she’d let me, I could take away all of the pain I’d caused her. I could make it up to her. I’d spend the rest of my life making it up to her if I had to. She was the one. I knew it with every fiber of my being. We belonged together. I couldn’t lose her. I wouldn’t.

Glancing at the pissed off shrew of a woman next to me I sucked in a breath. It was time to man up and take back control of my life. Screw Hollywood. Screw the Oscars. It was time for this prince to claim his real princess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Good Book Needs a Narrator

Kirsten Leigh was the narrator for Cinder & Ella. She graciously agreed to an interview as part of the 2nd Anniversary party. Thanks for giving us some insight into what you do, Kirsten!

 

How did you get started in the narrating business?
I went to school for acting and have both a BFA and MFA and one of my grad school classmates was working at Brickshop narrating books and asked if I’d be interested coming in for an audition for a book they were having trouble casting. So I sat down in front of a mic and read the audition and booked the job. And I booked the next job and the next one, etc…. It’s pretty much turned into my life.

What advice would you give to folks just getting started in audiobook narration?
The advice I’d give is to constantly be talking to yourself. Say things in different voices. Listen to the way other people sound and what makes their voice distinct. Try to mimic them. Talk along with the TV or other audiobooks. Don’t be afraid to sound like an idiot. Most of the business is acting out love scenes with yourself in different voices in a dark box. It’s weird. Embrace it.

How do you prepare for a book narration?
I prepare by reading the book (I use an iPad and the program GoodReads), marking notes where needed and recording each new character’s voice on an audio note on my phone. That way I have a point of reference, especially if the book is a part of a series and characters return.

How many hours a day can you perform?
I’m usually good recording 4 hours at a time. I reach my limit at 5 hours. It’s a lot of work for your vocal cords and brain.

How do you keep your voice healthy and happy?
I drink a LOT of water. Like, a crazy amount. I steer clear of yogurt and cheese and anything creamy before recording because I get phlegmy, and I try to keep a full stomach so it doesn’t growl while I’m recording.

What is the funniest thing that’s happened while recording?
OOOOOHHHHH man. so much funny stuff happens in that booth. In one of my first books I had to narrate a love scene in which a man lovingly licked his partner’s armpit. That was fun. I’m constantly snickering and the types of food used on people’s bodies while “making love.” The many words used for genitals still make me giggle.

What was your favorite scene in Cinder & Ella to narrate?
Oh man. It’s really hard to pick a favorite scene in this book. It has very special meaning to me. My mother, whom I was very close with, passed away unexpectedly last summer. She was an avid audiobook listener. I never told her my pseudonym because I’ve read some pretty hot and heavy stuff, but Cinder & Ella was recommended to her by Audible and when she called me to tell me that in the first minute she knew it was me, and absolutely loved the book and was so so proud of me, I was really glad she got to hear something I’d done. So yeah, this book holds a pretty special place in my heart.

Do you have any favorite audiobooks?
I actually like Jon Krakauer’s audiobooks. Into This Air is amazing. I know, I know, I guess because I read romance all day, I listen to the opposite. But reading off the page is my all-time favorite.

Which book that you’ve narrated is your favorite?
Like I said, Cinder & Ella is very special to me. I also really enjoyed reading Staci Hart’s Bad Habits series, and anything Sawyer Bennett writes is fun/steamy to read.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m in the middle of The Price Family books (a series) by Nadia Lee and the Please Series by Willow Summers as well as the verrry end of the In The Shadows series by PT Michelle. All fantastic reads.

Who is your favorite narrator?
Favorite narrators have got to be Lee Samuels and Ryan West. I am paired with them a lot and I love their voices and styles. They perfectly complement mine… 😉

Cinder & Ella Deleted Scene

Hey everyone, I’ve got a special treat for you because my reader squad is awesome and they have earned it!

In case you aren’t aware yet, in less than 2 weeks I’ll be celebrating the 2nd anniversary with a day-long Facebook event. It’s going to be awesome. We’ll be doing games and giveaways. We’ll have some exclusive bonus content. I’ll be revealing a BRAND NEW COVER for Cinder & Ella. (That’s right, the book is getting a makeover!) And of course this…

14440943_10154023570263877_7211722529925692409_n

I will be announcing some big exciting huge awesome fantastic Cinder & Ella news during this party. If you want to know what it is, you gotta come party with us! (And I mean us because Brian Oliver himself is hosting the party and I know at least he and Ella will be there.)

Click HERE to join the party!

ce2anniversarygraphic2

Click HERE to join the party!

 

Now… on to the DELETED SCENE GOODNESS!!!

You’re all getting this deleted scene today because I started a Thunderclap campaign for the 2nd anniversary event and I promised my reader squad if they got me to at least 100 supporters, I would give them this little gem I found on my laptop the other day.

A thunderclap campaign is like a social media flash mob. If you “support” my campaign, then you will be one of my mobbers. No sign up or creating any accounts is required, you simply click the support button for twitter, Facebook, or tumbler, (or all three if you use all three platforms). Then on the day my campaign is set for, a single post that I created about the anniversary party will get posted to all of my supporters’ profiles. Awesome, right? And EASY. Takes 10 seconds. SO, we reached out 100 supporters, but the more we can get, the bigger the flash mob and the more people hear about this awesome party and hear the awesome amazing huge fantastic announcement about Cinder & Ella.

If you’d like to join my social media flash mob and help me spread the Cinder & Ella news, you can do that here: SUPPORT KELLY

or here:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/47426-cinder-ella-cover-reveal/embed

 

Thank you so much for all the support! Can’t wait to see you at the party! Until then, enjoy this deleted scene.

 

A little setup: A I was explaining to the Reader Squad in our Cinder & Ella read-along last week, the original first draft of Cinder & Ella didn’t have Brian’s perspective. It was told completely from Ella’s point of view. Needless to say, that version was lacking something. It took me a while to figure out what I needed, but once I added Brian’s POV, everything changed. It became a whole new book and was finally the story I’d been trying to tell all along.

When I added in Brian’s chapters, there were some scenes that had to be cut from the original draft that were told in Ella’s POV because with Brian’s POV in there they’d become repetitive. The following deleted scene is one of those instances.

 

****SPOILER ALERT****

If you haven’t read Cinder & Ella yet, I suggest you stop reading here!!!

 

This is the scene at FantasyCon that originally took place immediately after Brian and Ella met. I like it, but when I went back and was finding places to add Brian’s POV into the book, I decided we REALLY needed to hear his thoughts after he met Ella. We got to hear her thoughts while they were meeting, so it was his turn. However, since I cut to him, and he took us to the restaurant where he and Ella talk, the following scene was deleted from the book.

(also… this was like a RAW first draft. Like ZERO revisions… as in… not polished and up to my usual writing quality yet…please keep that in mind!!!)

Enjoy!

***************************

The doors to the conference room where the panel discussion took place hadn’t even fully shut behind us before Anastasia stepped in front of me, a scathing look of pure hatred on her face. “What the hell was that?” she demanded.

“What was what?” I wasn’t trying to play dumb. I was just still too dazed to think straight.

“She means why did Brian Oliver look like he wanted to take you home and make you his eternal love slave?” Rob grumbled, grimfaced.

I blushed so hard it hurt.

“Because it’s him!” Juliette squealed. To me she said, “Can you believe it?”

Anastasia stomped her foot, annoyed that she was still in the dark. “Him who?”

“Cinder,” Vivian said with a dreamy sigh. Obviously she’d picked up on the connection too. “It all makes so much sense now.”

I watched realization hit Anastasia like a pile of falling bricks. “The Internet guy?” she cried. “Brian Oliver is your Internet boyfriend?”

“Why don’t you announce it to the whole convention?” Vivian hissed, ushering us away from a group of water sprites who’d been in line behind us to meet Brian, and were now obviously eavesdropping on our conversation.

When we got back to the main exhibitor hall, we stopped. Rob looked around. “Where to now, birthday girl?”

“Ugh,” Ana groaned. “We met Brian Oliver already. Can’t we just go home now? We’ve been here all day!”

I looked down at the instructions on the photo in my hand again and my heart wrestled with my head. Go home where it was safe and things could go back to normal, or stay and let everything change?

Could I really meet Cinder? Could we really be normal real-life friends now? Friends who did things together, and hung out at each other’s houses?

The word beautiful jumped out at me over and over again, and I remembered the look I’d seen in Brian’s eyes right before he’d written it. Had he really been attracted to me like Rob said? Could we be more than just friends now?

The idea of someone like Brian Oliver wanting someone like me was too insane to accept even if I could make my brain understand that he was the guy I’d known for years.

“Hello? Ella?”

Vivian snapped her fingers in my face and then plucked the photo from my hands because I’d been staring at it. Her eyes got huge as she read the inscription. She pinned me with a determined look and wordlessly handed the photo to Juliette. Juliette promptly squealed. “Oh my gosh! We have to! What’s the Dragon’s Roost? Where is it? Find it on the map!”

Vivian was already looking at the map. “It looks like it’s a restaurant in the South hall.”

“Dinner!” Juliette shrieked. “He wants to take you to dinner! It’s a date! Ella, you have a date with Brian Oliver!”

“Juliette, stop informing the whole world!” Vivian hissed. “I’m pretty sure he wanted to keep it private since he wrote it like a freaking secret code instead of just asking her.”

Juliette immediately tried to put a lid on her excitement. “Right, sorry.”

Ana snatched the photo from Juliette and then gaped at me with scorn. “Are you going to meet him?”

Well, now that was the question of the hour wasn’t it?

“I—”

“Of course she’s going to meet him!” Juliette said.

Anastasia looked as if she were about to scratch my eyes out. “Last night at dinner you said you wouldn’t want to go out with Brian Oliver. You’re here on a date with Rob!”

Juliette rolled her eyes. “Oh stop being jealous, Ana. You know exactly why she’s changed her mind, and you can’t blame her. Even Rob can’t blame her. Can you, Rob?”

[ROB REACTION… WHAT IS IT?]

She checked the time on her phone then scanned the large room for signs of the South Hall. It was all the way at the opposite end of the building. “Come on, we only have fifteen minutes to get her there.”

I let them drag me across the convention center without much fuss, but the second I saw the banner of a fire breathing dragon hanging over the restaurant’s normal sign, my heart tried to punch its way out of my chest. I froze, attempting to stave off the panic I felt.

It took everyone a few steps to realize I’d stopped walking. Vivian was the first to notice my absence. She whirled around frowning, but smiled sympathetically the moment she saw my face. I must have looked pretty bad. I felt sick and was starting to sweat.

“What’s wrong with you?” Anastasia asked. It was the first thing she’d said to anyone on the entire walk over. She was doing some serious pouting.

My eyes drifted back up to the restaurant. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Anastasia scoffed.

“Of course you can,” Vivian said.

Juliette just frowned at me as if I’d grown a third eye. “Why not?”

A crazed laugh bubbled up from my throat. “Why not? Because he’s Brian Oliver! He’s America’s favorite Bad Boy! He’s dating Kaylee Summers for heaven’s sake!”

Vivian snorted. “Oh, yeah, because that was obviously a healthy relationship.”

“Guys like him do not hang out with girls like me, Vivian.”

“But he’s Cinder! He’s your best friend.”

“Because he doesn’t know me!” I let out a long breath. “It’s different online. If I meet him now, everything changes. What if he’s disappointed and I end up losing my best friend?”

My eyes started to burn. I swallowed a wave of emotion but everyone realized how close I was to crying anyway. Ana rolled her eyes, but Vivian put her arms around me. “There’s no way he’ll be disappointed,” she promised, “but if he is, then I’ll be your new best friend and we can feed him to the flesh eating worms.”

I smiled a little at that and took another calming breath. It sounded good in theory, but it was still terrifying.

“The guy’s obviously nuts about you.” Juliette added. “He was flirting like crazy with you even before he figured out who you were.”

I groaned. “He flirted with everyone. It’s his job to be friendly with his fans.”

This time the scoff came from Rob. “That was way beyond friendly, Ella. The guy was seconds away from jumping over the table and punching me in the face just for standing next to you.”

As if Rob’s accusation hadn’t made me blush enough, Ana muttered, “You mean hanging on her. You may as well have peed on her.”

I blanched.

“Ana, don’t be such a bitch!” Juliette yelled.

“I’m not the bitch here! Ella’s been stringing Rob along for weeks because of her precious Cinder, and now she doesn’t even want to meet him!”

“Of course I want to meet him!” I snapped.

“Then what’s your freaking problem? Obviously he wants to meet you too or he wouldn’t have asked you to come.”

“I hate to agree with Ana,” Juliette said, “but he did ask you to meet him, and he didn’t have to do that. If you don’t talk to him, you know you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

I finally gave up. It was hard to keep fighting the idea when I wanted it so badly. “Okay,” I said, trying to calm myself down. “Okay.”

“Good girl,” Vivian teased and then gave my head a patronizing pat. “Go in there and win your man.”

“What about you guys?”

Juliette answered before Vivian could, and her wicked smile made me nervous. “We’ll just head home. You can take as long as you want. I’m sure Brian won’t mind driving you home in that beautiful Ferrari of his.”

For a second I was surprised to hear that Brian Oliver drove a Ferrari, because that was what Cinder drove too and what were the odds? Then I mentally smacked myself upside the head for being an idiot. It was going to take a while to get used to Cinder being Brian.

Then I realized what Juliette said and I freaked out all over again. “No! You can’t do that. Please don’t leave me! I swear I won’t be long. Can’t you guys just have dinner here too and we can all leave after? That way, if things don’t go well, I’m not stranded.”

“How could things possibly not go well?” Vivian asked. “There were so many sparks flying at that meet and greet I started to wonder if the panel discussion had it’s own fireworks show.”

I blushed at that but the knot in my stomach was too big to let her distract me. “He doesn’t about know me. I’ve never gone into detail about my accident. He doesn’t know I’m… I’m…” Monstrous. Hideous. Deformed.

I’d shocked everyone into silence. The looks on their faces ranged from pity (Juliette), to sad (Rob), to sympathetic (Vivian), and then of course there was Ana’s very satisfied smirk (bitch).

“You never told him?” Vivian asked quietly. “Even after all this time?”

I wanted to cry as I shook my head. “Cinder was the one person who I never had to talk about my condition with, so I didn’t. I didn’t think it would matter. I didn’t think I was ever going to meet him.”

Juliette shook her head. “It won’t matter,” she decided. “He’s going to love you anyway.”

Anastasia laughed. “Sure he is! He’s going to give up Kaylee Summers for you. It’ll be the real life version of Beauty and the Beast only backwards.”

Everyone yelled at her, but it was Rob that silenced her. “Shut up, Ana! I’m so sick of your shit!”

Anastasia looked so shocked to be yelled at by him that I wondered if any guy had ever dared do it before. Probably not. Only Rob didn’t stop there. “You want to know why I didn’t ask you to the dance? It’s because it doesn’t matter how hot you are, every time I look at you all I see is a cold-hearted bitch!”

All of us were stunned stupid. We were helpless to do anything but stand there and watch Anastasia’s eyes fill with tears. She stalked off without another word. I almost felt bad enough for her to chase her down, but I never got the chance. The second she left Rob whirled around and took my face in his hands. His touch was surprisingly soft considering he still looked so angry. It took him a minute to drop his glare, but the passion didn’t leave him. “You are beautiful, Ellamara,” he growled. “And I am jealous as hell right now because you are going to go in there, and make Brian Oliver fall madly in love with you. I have no doubt.”

Rob stared into my eyes as if willing me to believe him. Then he crashed his lips onto mine in a short but passionate kiss. When he pulled back he didn’t explain himself or apologize. He just smiled and said, “Go get him.” Then he gave me a gentle nudge toward the restaurant.

You’re Invited to Brian Oliver’s C&E 2nd Anniversary PAR-TAY! (Party info and blogger sign-up)

Hey Fellow Bookish Peeps! Brian Oliver here.

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Remember me? (You should, I’m only the hottest star in Hollywood under 25 right now, AND the star of the blockbuster hit The Druid Prince.) 

Raise your hand if you miss Ella and me.(You know, Ella, my seriously sexy half Latina all snark girlfriend…)

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Remember her? (Again, you should. She only made the entire world fall in love with her  when she became my real life Cinderella. Plus, she’s a brilliant, hilarious entertainment review blogger who you should totally be following.)

Raise your hand if you want more of us! *RAISES HAND*

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(You should all have your hands raised now.) 

Great. Now that we’ve established that you miss us and want more of our awesomeness, I’m here to let you know that WE MISS YOU TOO. This much:

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It’s been two years since our story went down and I think it’s high time we celebrate. So I’m throwing a PAR-TAY, and you’re all invited!

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It’s gonna be epic, people. The Who’s Who of Kellywood will be there. (Douchebag attention-seeking rockstars included because Ella says I have to. Sorry.)

Here’s the deets:

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Sounds awesome, right?

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JOIN ME NOW PEOPLE. Here’s the link:

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE PARTY

Kelly (wresting control of the blog back from Brian): *shakes head* I should never have given Brian the password to my blog… ANYWAY… As a lot of you know, Brian and Ella are in PARTY MODE. The new cover for Cinder & Ella comes out on October 1st, and Brian wants to celebrate. You’re all invited!

This is a 1 day long Facebook event in conjunction with the book’s new cover reveal and a blogger book blitz. There will be games, giveaways, exclusive bonus content posts from Kelly, and a very special super amazing surprise announcement.

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(I can totally work the gifs too!)

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS!

If you have a book blog and haven’t already received an email from Brian, please fill out this Google form (https://goo.gl/forms/iMFoOWPdPO3qT8yi2) to join in on the cover reveal & book blitz. You know you want to.

Both: See you there!

Cinder & Ella: Happily Ever After!

What’s this???? A NEW CINDER & ELLA STORY????  OMG!!!!

Cinder & Ella is quickly coming up on its 2nd anniversary, and I’ve decided to celebrate the 2 wonderful years of AMZING love I’ve received for this book by giving back to its loyal fans.
That’s right! You guys have asked for an epilogue or a short story of more Cinder & Ella so faithfully for so long now, I’ve decided it’s time to listen to the masses. Here’s a TINY taste of what you’re in for…
(Teaser from the upcoming novella Cinder & Ella: Happily Ever After)
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Cinder458: I miss you already.

I snorted. He was such a goofball. Shaking my head, I couldn’t help typing a response back.

EllaTheRealHero: Ha! You’re such a dork.
Cinder458: I’m serious.
EllaTheRealHero: That makes you even more of a dork.
Cinder458: No, it makes me romantic. You’re such a brat.
EllaTheRealHero: And you’re annoying. Leave me alone. I’m busy.
Cinder458: But I miss you. I need you. Right now.

*********************************************************
I’m not sure how long this story will be yet, but one thing is certain: I’ll have lots of Brian and Ella epicness with cameo appearances from Kyle Hamilton & Virgin Val! I have no official details on this story yet other than it’s coming. But hopefully I’ll have more information by the book’s anniversary October 1st.

I’ll also be re-releasing Cinder & Ella with a new cover on October 1st in honor of the book’s 2-year anniversary, and am having a read-along with the fans.

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Starting TODAY the Kelly Oram Reader Squad (my official fan group) is starting a Cinder & Ella Read-Along. I’ll be reading along with the fans and joining in on the discussion, and answering questions. During this read-along I’ll also be letting the fans weigh in on several cover concepts I have for Cinder & Ella’s new look, and they’ll get an exclusive sneak peak at my new story Cinder & Ella: Happily Ever After.
Come join us and talk about all of your favorite Cinder & Ella moments with other fans! We’re going to have a blast. And who knows, we might even have a few celebrity appearances…

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE READ-ALONG

 

Ryan POV from Jamie 3!

Ryan POV from Remember Jamie Baker — Scene from the airplane when Ryan takes Jamie to meet up with the ACEs and they go to the Colorado base…

The following Content is from Remember Jamie Baker and is: SPOILERIFIC! READ AHEAD AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

While Jamie went to take a long hot shower, I wandered through her house. Considering the damage to the living room, there must have been quite a standoff here. I had mixed feelings about that. Part of me was glad Visticorp found Teddy. Part of me hoped he was being tortured for all he was worth. But I knew, deep down, that was just the anger talking. If it came down to it, I wouldn’t really want that. I might hate him and hope we find him so that I could punch the daylights out of him, but I would never really wish true harm on a person. Jail sure, but a lifetime of torture and human lab testing? I didn’t know about that.

Not wanting to dwell on Teddy, I pulled out my phone. Major Wilks picked up on the first ring. “Status report?”

“We’re safe, she’s calmed down, and she’s agreed to come check out the base.”

Major Wilks let out an audible breath. “Good work, Romeo.”

“Thank you, sir.” I grinned, feeling ridiculously proud. The ACEs had let me join their team, but that was only because I knew Jamie so well, and Tyson and Abiodun had refused to join without me. I’m young and inexperienced, and don’t have much to bring to the table on such an elite military team. That was hard to swallow, but now that Jamie was back, I felt like I was genuinely needed. No one knew Jamie the way I did, and Jamie isn’t exactly a low maintenance girl. Major Wilks wouldn’t stand a chance of winning her over without my help. I grinned to myself, grateful for Jamie’s volatile, stubborn nature.

“We’re pulling into the Las Vegas base now. We’ll be ready to take off in ten minutes.”

“All right. Hold the plane for us, Major. Jamie’s soaking in a hot shower. We’ll meet you at the base as soon as she’s ready.”

“Try to hurry. I don’t like you two out there with no back-up.”

“Yes sir. We’ll be there soon.”

Slipping my phone in my pocket, I glanced down the hall. I could hear the water running in the shower. Normally that would drive me crazy, but it was hard to have those kinds of thoughts about her right now when she was so black and blue. She’d given worse than she got in that fight with the supersoldiers, but she still had to be really sore. The hot water and alone time was probably exactly what she needed. I wasn’t going to interrupt that or try to rush her.

With time to kill, I wandered into the front yard where her sofa was turned upside down on the desert floor. I flipped the couch back over and flopped down on my back. It had been a long day, and I could use some downtime myself.

The sky above my head had an orange, purple, and pink hue to it. The sun was setting. I gulped. The last time I’d watched the sun set in the desert had been the single best moment of my life. I’d stood there, with Jamie in my arms after she’d just whisked me away from my life. Two minutes later I proposed to her. We were so happy. It had been so perfect.

And then I lost her.

Memories of those dark times, especially those first couple of weeks when I wasn’t sure I had anything left to live for, flooded my mind. I quickly pushed them away in the same manner I always did when my dark and depressing thoughts tried to take over—by humming “You Are My Sunshine” to myself. Jamie would think it was so cheesy, but the song had become my anchor.

After a minute, I relaxed and even smiled at the scenery. Jamie was right about the desert sky. The sunsets here are beautiful. It’d been so long since I was able to watch a sunset at all. But now Jamie was back, and all was right in my world again.

I glanced toward the house and smiled again. I still couldn’t believe I’d found her. I couldn’t believe she was safe, and she was right here with me. She didn’t remember me, but that didn’t matter. She was still herself. She was still my Jamie. She’d realize that soon enough. Memory or not, she couldn’t resist me. As long as she got to know me, she’d fall for me again. I’d convinced her not to run for now, and that’s all I needed.

I’d just started to drift off when Jamie quietly cleared her throat behind me. As I climbed to my feet and smiled at her, I was hit with shock all over again. She was really here. I’d really found her. It all still felt like a dream. Part of me kept waiting to wake up, and the rest of me hoped I never did.

She was so beautiful, even just in jeans and a T-shirt with her wet hair pulled back in a ponytail. Though, the fact that it was a Punisher T-shirt was very, very sexy. She always did like the badass, darker, tortured superheroes best.

I resisted the urge to tell her exactly how hot she was. It was hard to do, but I didn’t think she’d appreciate it. The way she was standing there, I could tell she still felt very vulnerable. So far, she’d seemed to hold it together best when keeping things almost professional, so I swallowed the compliments and kept it simple.

“You ready?”

She nodded.

“I called the major a few minutes ago. They just got to the base in Las Vegas and are holding the plane for us.”

She’d been assessing the damage to her house, but her eyes came back to me. “Plane?”

“Yeah. ACE headquarters is in Colorado, and Major Wilks wants you checked out by our doctor and no one else.”

I suddenly wished I had a medical degree.

When Jamie wrinkled her nose, I wondered if she guessed my thoughts. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure it out considering I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Luckily, her mind was focused elsewhere. “We have to fly? That’s so slow. Couldn’t we just meet them in Colorado?”

I laughed. Only Jamie would think flying was slow.

It probably would have been fine to meet the guys at HQ. In fact, Major Wilks would probably be happy to have Jamie to the doctor sooner. But I knew once we got there, Jamie would be snatched up by Dr. Haggerty and then she’d hole up in a room somewhere to sleep. And after that, I’d be hard pressed to steal any of her attention because Major Wilks would be dying to pounce on her. Knowing Jamie, she would use him, and the pressing matter of Donovan, to avoid me. I needed the time on the plane with her.

“It’s a short flight. Come on; you can sleep on the plane.”

She didn’t fight me, though she looked as though she considered it. “All right. To Las Vegas, then. You ready?”

She held out her hand to me. It took everything I had in me not to look surprised. She seemed awfully calm about having to kiss me. I must have looked confused, though, as I waited for her to scowl and say something snarky about frying me if I got too frisky, because she said, “You’ve done this with me before, I assume?”

It was also weird that she was just fine with sharing her powers. Even if I’d gotten past her reluctance to kiss me, she’d never been comfortable passing me her energy. “Only a couple of times. You used to worry pumping me full of mutant energy would hurt me. It took a long time to convince you it was okay.”

She frowned as if the thought had never occurred to her. “Huh. Weird. I never noticed any side effects with Tony.”

My stomach twisted. “You shared your energy with Teddy?”

“Of course. All the time. It was too convenient not to.”

Rage swept through me. I couldn’t stand the thought of that nerdy little punk touching Jamie, much less superkissing her. I take back what I said about not actually wanting real harm to come to him. I was going to find that traitor just so I could kill him myself.

After seeing the way Jamie frowned at me, I took a deep, cleansing breath. I had to get a grip on this. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t remember me. I couldn’t fly off the handle every time she reminded me of her relationship with Teddy. It would scare her or turn her off to me. No way was I going to let Teddy ruin my chances with my fiancée. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

She waited a second, kindly letting me regain my control, and then held out her hand to me again. “Okay, then. You ready?”

My anger melted away as I realized I was about to kiss Jamie. It wasn’t even the fact that I was dying to feel her again that had me so confident all of a sudden. It was the memory of what happened any time we kissed. Jamie and I had a connection. From the very first kiss, we’d both felt it. She wasn’t sure of me right now, but this was my chance to show her exactly what she’d been missing. I had no doubt, superkissing and all, that she’d never kissed geek boy the way she kissed me. This was my chance to show her how much I loved her, and I was not going to waste the opportunity.

I took her offered hand and used it to pull her close. The second she was in my arms, my head swam and my control snapped. She was mine, and I needed her now. I slipped my arms around her waist and crushed her against me so firmly that she gasped. She shivered, and I laughed. That was my girl. The one I could melt with a single touch. But she did the same thing to me, so I figured it was fair.

My gaze dropped to her mouth and I could hardly breathe. I’d missed those lips more than I can tell you. “I’ve been ready for this since the second I got you back.”

In my head we were already there, locked in the most intense, incredible superkiss we’d ever shared. But when I leaned in to claim what I needed so badly, Jamie startled and wrenched her head back. “What are you doing?”

Why did she always insist on playing so hard to get? I tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and whispered, “Kissing my fiancée.”

Apparently mentioning our relationship status was the wrong thing to do. I said the word fiancée and promptly got zapped. Her glare was so much like old times that it made me laugh. “I guess some things never change.”

“What are you doing? Why did you try to kiss me?”

What? Why was she so mad? This was what we were supposed to be doing right now. She was the one who asked me if I was ready. “Um…because that’s how you pass your energy.”

Understanding sparked in her eyes and then a series of emotions washed over her—mostly embarrassment and annoyance. Without word, she took my hand and pushed her power into me. I recognized the feeling, the tingly warm energy that made all of my senses come alive. When Jamie juiced me up, I always felt as if I normally experience the world like an old silent movie in black and white, and Jamie’s powers bright me into Wonderland.

It’d been so long since I’d experienced this that it nearly brought me to my knees. Having her pump it into me this way was also more intense than when we kissed. Well, intense in a different way. The kisses were still unlike anything I’d ever felt. The kisses, along with the power they gave me, were magnetic. Hypnotic. This was just an extreme rush of power. Very cool, but not nearly as fun or pleasant. Or hot.

When Jamie let go, I caught my breath and blinked at her. “When’d you learn how to do that? You mostly just used to zap people when you tried that before.”

“Practice.” She shrugged and her face fell flat. “I had a lot of motivation.”

At my questioning look, she rolled her eyes. “Tony kept finding reasons he needed to use my powers, and I was tired of kissing him.”

She was forgiven for not letting me kiss her just now. That had to be the best news I’d heard all day. “Well, that’s comforting,” I teased. “You promised me once that the superkisses were only for me.”

She smirked as if she hadn’t ever heard the term before. I was glad Teddy never told her our name for those kisses. It made me feel like they were still ours. Like he hadn’t stolen those from me.

My mood lifted a little more and I couldn’t help teasing her. “You know…just because you have the control now doesn’t mean you can’t still do things the fun way.” I laughed at the dry look she shot me and sent her a wink in return. “Just something to think about.”

Personally, it was all I could think about. I was going to get that girl to kiss me soon. I’d find a way. I had to or I was going to explode. She didn’t seem to have the same trouble as me, though. She rolled her eyes, grabbed my hand, and we took off for Las Vegas.

I made her stop and let me wait out the nausea caused by the superrun. Jamie might have had no problem running at warp speed, but it was killer on my equilibrium. I managed not to throw up but I was green and shaky and didn’t need to show the team that I had a hard time handling Jamie’s powers. I’d never hear the end of it.

Surprisingly, Jamie didn’t tease me. She even went as far as to tell me that I handled it better than Teddy did the first time, and told me it would get easier. I found that encouraging because that meant she assumed there would be a next time.

Once I was ready, we came to the gate of the Air Force base and the soldiers drove us out to the tarmac where the plane was waiting for us. She stiffened up again when Major Wilks met us at the door. I couldn’t blame her. He came on way too strong, and looked way too excited to have her here. I’d have to talk to him about that later. Jamie was beyond paranoid and had no love for the government or authority of any kind before evil mad scientists captured her and she lost her memory. Spending the last six months in total seclusion with someone even more paranoid than her couldn’t have helped, either. If Major Wilks wanted her to stick around, he was really going to have to tone it down.

“Glad you decided to join us, Angel.”

She accepted his eager handshake but met his smile with a flinty glare. “I haven’t decided anything yet.”

Major shrugged off her hostility. “Well, hopefully we can change your mind about that after a good night’s rest and a tour of the base in the morning. For now, just buckle in and take it easy. The men will leave you alone until you’re feeling better. Right, men?”

I grinned at all the crestfallen pouts of the guys as they nodded. They were dying to get to know Jamie. I couldn’t blame them. Not only had I talked her up so much, but thanks to her time as Chelsea’s Angel, she really was an honest-to-goodness real-life superhero. For them, this was like finding Wonder Woman.

I was anxious to show her off to them and let them all meet her because they were going to love her as much as I did, but considering the small sigh of relief that came from her at the Major’s order, it would have to wait. Jamie when she’s in a good mood is someone you have to love. Jamie when she’s grumpy or feeling threatened, well, that’s hot, but it’s also dangerous.

On the bright side, I wasn’t included in the major’s order to leave her alone. He’d put me on Jamie duty earlier, and I planned to take my assignment very seriously. I grabbed her hand and laced our fingers together as I dragged her to a couple of empty seats. I wasn’t sure how handholding was a necessary action for Jamie duty at the moment, but I was sure I could come up with some kind of reason if needed. I didn’t have to defend my actions, though, because Jamie didn’t protest when I took her hand. That worried me. Jamie always protested. “How’s your head?” I asked as we buckled our seatbelts. As I took a better look at her, I realized she was paler and more exhausted than I thought. “The superrun didn’t make it worse, did it?”

She closed her eyes and shook her head as she massaged her temples. “It’s better than it was, but it’s still pounding like crazy. I’m sorry if it’s been making me such a grouch today.”

I was as surprised by the apology as I was that she thought she was being grouchy. Compared to back when she was the Ice Queen of Rocklin High, and considering the fact that she was almost killed by supersoldiers and was worried that the military had discovered her, she’d been an angel today. Besides, she wasn’t the only one who’d been grumpy today. “I should be the one apologizing,” I said quickly. “I completely freaked out on you earlier and you didn’t need that. It won’t happen again. I promise.” That was the truth. I still couldn’t believe it happened in the first place. I’d just been so shocked. “I’m pretty sure I got it all out of my system.”

Jamie slid me a glance and the side of her mouth turned up into that cool smirk she’d given me the day I asked her to kiss me so I could win a bet. “It was a rather impressive temper tantrum,” she teased. “I thought I held the title on those, but now I’m not so sure.”

I laughed. Even if I’d completely lost my head and nearly broke my knuckles punching the truck, my loss of temper was nothing like hers. Not even close. “Oh no, babe, you definitely have me beat in the drama department. It’s just, if I have one weak spot in my otherwise unshakable calm, it’s Teddy.” And with good reason.

My comment made Jamie blush, though I wasn’t sure why. She distracted me with a question before I could ask her about it. “Why do you call him Teddy?”

I knew the distraction was intentional, to change the topic from whatever had embarrassed her, but I let it slide and answered her. “His real name is Teodoro Vivenzio.”

If she was going to start talking to me and ask questions about our past, even if it was on the subject of Teddy, I wanted to go there. I wanted her to be so curious about us that she couldn’t stay away from me even if she was desperate to do just that.

Jamie had always fought her feelings and attraction to me. She wouldn’t be any different now. But I’d always managed to keep her coming back. Thanks to her memory loss, it would almost be too easy to make myself irresistible to her. Winning her over this time was going to be a piece of cake.

“Tay-oh-what-o?”

I almost laughed. Without her memory, she was still reacting to everything the same way she had the first time around. It gave me the advantage in a major way. She was still the exact same girl. She might not know me, but I knew everything about her. Yes, this was going to be beyond easy. “Exactly. You never could say it right, so you started calling him Teddy and it stuck.”

She considered this and then nodded slowly. “I guess I could see it. Teddy…”

She thought about it a moment longer and then sighed. “I have to get him back.”

The confession was a slap in the face. Could she really care about Teddy? She sounded like she cared very much. In all of my plotting since I found her, I hadn’t even considered the possibility that she liked Teddy. She hadn’t when she met him before. But back then she’d already been in love with me. This time she hadn’t had an awesome boyfriend to compare him to. She’d had no one to compare him to. She’d been alone with him for six months. And I’m sure the slimy little weasel doted on her. Could it be possible that she loved him? She said they’d broken up, but that didn’t mean she didn’t care about him. “You want him back?”

I wasn’t sure I wanted the answer to that, but I had to know at the same time. Thankfully, she shook her head. “Not like that. I’m so mad at him I could kill him.”

She wasn’t the only one.

“But it’s my fault he was captured. You said they could trace my phone, and that’s how they found me. Well, I’m assuming they could trace whomever I called, too. Tony, I mean Teddy, was always so paranoid. He warned me a million times that I couldn’t break the rules or Visticorp would find us. But I went to the doctor anyway, and now he’s gone.”

She glanced at the back of the seat in front of us and chewed on her bottom lip. She was so worried. “They’ve taken him to do who knows what to him. He lied to me, but no one deserves to be caged up and experimented on.”

I hated that she was stressed over him. He didn’t deserve her worry. But I understood her guilt. Guilt was often irrational. I’d felt guilty for losing Jamie since the day she and Teddy took off together. Guilty that I couldn’t do more for her. That he was more prepared to help her than I was. That I couldn’t stop the men trying to take her. That I wasn’t strong enough, powerful enough… I never measured up when it came to Jamie. And after she disappeared, I’d felt so helpless. I still didn’t measure up. I wasn’t good enough for her in so many ways, but I was just selfish enough to claim her anyway. I always felt guilty about that, too.

But for all the ways she was stronger than me, and all the ways I couldn’t measure up, there were some things I brought to the relationship. She may have been stronger than me, but she still needed me. She needed my emotional strength. She needed my support mentally.

Chelsea’s Angel might not need me that much, but Jamie Baker did. Thanks to my stepdad Gene, and a lot of my own easygoing nature, I was exactly the type of guy Jamie needed to calm her crazy life. She needed a little steadiness. She needed unfailing support. And she definitely needed some optimism. Those were things I could give her. So, as much as I wished I could knock Teddy into a deep abyss never to be seen again, I forced a smile on my face and said, “We’ll find him, and we’ll get him back.” Thinking of Betty and Natalia I added, “We’ll get them all back.”

Supporting her was the right move. At first she seemed shocked, and then she got all choked up. It was as if she’d never felt support from anyone before. But how was that possible? Teddy was so infatuated with her; he had to have given her everything she ever wanted.

Just as I was trying to find a way to ask her about her life the last six months, the plane took off and Jamie freaked. She jumped, sucked in a huge breath and clenched the armrests of her seat with white knuckles. I’d have thought it was adorable if she didn’t lose control of her power too and blitz the electronics in the plane. We did not need her to fry this thing now that we were airborne. “Whoa, Jamie, relax. Babe, I’m not sure frying the plane would be the best thing to do.”

“Sorry.” She sucked in another breath. “I just lose control when I’m freaked out.”

Yeah, no kidding. It was the reason she was freaked out that surprised me. Of all the dangerous situations she’d thrown herself into without blinking an eye, this scared her? “You’re a nervous flyer?”

She shrugged but never released her death grip on the armrests of her seat. “I guess so. I’ve never done it before.”

I hadn’t thought about that.

When the plane lifted higher into the air, she let out a tiny squeak of fear and started trembling. The lights in the cabin flickered again. All the guys were now staring our direction. I could see fear on their faces. Actual fear. If we didn’t do something, she was going to crash this plane, and everyone was looking at me to fix the problem. I’d been wishing to feel like I deserved my place on this team since the moment I showed up. Looks like I got my wish. Great. So…since it was up to me to calm her down, what could I do…

I needed to distract her. I wondered if a kiss would… I shook off the thought before I got too tempted. As much as I loved that distraction, kissing her always got her flustered. And she released lots of energy when she kissed me. Way more than she was giving off right now. I might not mind crashing to my fiery death if I was locked in a superkiss at the time, but I didn’t think the rest of the team would appreciate that.

The only other thing I could think of was distracting her with memories. She seemed to want those badly, and I was pretty much an expert in that department, so I quickly said, “Hey, did you know that your favorite place in the whole world is the Grand Canyon?”

The question worked. She flinched at my voice, but once she’d processed my statement she closed her eyes, took a deep breath and managed a small smile. She even relaxed her grip on the chair. Score one for me. Eat your hearts out elite military squad of ACEs. Ryan Miller has the situation under control.

“I actually did know that,” she admitted, letting her body relax even further. “I used to go out there whenever I needed to get away from Teddy or our situation, or just whatever. The sunsets there are the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”

My mind automatically went back to one particular Grand Canyon sunset—the only one I’ve ever seen. She was right about it being amazing. Though, I could be biased considering that moment was so much more than a simple sunset.

This was exactly the type of conversation I’d been hoping to have with her on this plane ride, so I took a chance and got personal. “Did you know that’s where we were the last time I saw you? It’s where I asked you to marry me.” I remembered the moment and laughed. “Well, I guess, technically, you asked me first. You asked me to spend the rest of my life with you. But I was the first one to actually say ‘marry me.’ And I already had the ring, so I think I still win.”

The story did not have the effect on her that I was hoping for. Pain so deep it seemed to drown her, etched across her face. She closed her eyes and smashed her hand against her chest as if trying to clutch her heart to make it stop hurting. After a hard swallow, she started rummaging through her purse and found her engagement ring. I was relieved to see it. I’d wondered where it was, but hadn’t figured out if it was okay to ask about it yet.

“I think this belongs to you.”

She was trying to give it back? I don’t think so. She was so not getting away with that. Giving her my best smile I said, “Actually, it doesn’t. It’s yours.”

She thrust it at me again, more insistent this time. “Please take it.”

I pushed her hand back to her lap without taking the ring from her. She didn’t have to wear it right now since she couldn’t remember me, but I wasn’t going to encourage breaking up. Not a chance. And besides, it was hers. I picked it especially for her. I had it engraved for her. Even if we never actually got married, I’d still want her to have it. “We don’t have to be engaged, but I still want you to keep it.”

“I don’t want it!” she snapped, suddenly, meeting my gaze with a spark of malice. “I hate it!”

She wasn’t yelling at me. It was more of a desperate outburst, but the force of it stunned me. She absolutely, one hundred percent, without a doubt meant what she said. She didn’t want my ring. She hated it. Hated what it stood for, and wanted nothing to do with it. There was both fear and loathing in the way she looked at it as she waited for me to take it.

The anger wasn’t necessarily directed at me, but the rejection was real, and it was impossible not to take it personally. It speared me through the heart and left a gaping hole in my chest. For a moment I couldn’t breathe. My stomach churned and I worried I might throw up.

Since the moment we suspected Dr. Rajeet’s amnesia patient was Jamie, and I figured out she wouldn’t remember me, I’d imagined a thousand scenarios of how our meeting could go. I’d anticipated all kinds of reactions from her when she learned about me. But I never dreamed I’d be met with contempt, or bitter resentment. Ice Queen or not, she’d never treated me that way. That wasn’t Jamie. It couldn’t be. This wasn’t happening.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered when she realized I was freaking out. “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but this ring means something entirely different to you than it does to me.”

She paused, and I hoped she planned on explaining, but I couldn’t ask. I couldn’t even look at her. I was still struggling to regain control of myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my emotions off my face, and I didn’t want her to know how scared I was that I was going to lose her.

“This ring is a manacle for me,” she said. “A prison. It’s the thing that’s kept me so miserable for the last six months, which, since that’s all I can remember, is basically my entire life. Now, it’s also a reminder of how betrayed I was. When I look at it, all I see is a lie. All I feel is anger and heartbreak. Please take it back. I need to be rid of it. I need to be free.”

So this was about Teddy. Why did that scrawny jerk have to keep ruining my life? Things had been perfect until the day he showed up. He’d come to Sacramento with the intent of stealing Jamie from me, and now, it seemed, that by doing whatever he’d done to her since the explosion, he’d finally succeeded.

My disappointment was replaced with fear. Jamie was the strongest woman in the world in some ways. She’d never let a guy push her around or destroy her self-confidence. And she definitely wouldn’t let him lock her up in a prison—even a metaphorical one, which is what I suspected Jamie meant. I’d seen her distraught before, broken before. But she’d long since been healed. How could Teddy break her again so thoroughly in just six months? What had he done to her?

Setting my disappointment aside, I took a few breaths to calm myself. Jamie needed me. I had to be strong for her. We’d been in similar positions before. When I’d discovered her powers, she’d been so vulnerable and scared. This was no different. I’d been what she needed then, and I could be that now.

When I was sure I could speak calmly, I met her wary gaze and said, “Will you tell me about it?”

I didn’t think she would. She’d always been hesitant to open up, and we weren’t alone on this plane, but I must have looked a little desperate because guilt bled from her expression and she forced herself to talk. “When Teddy found me after the explosion, I didn’t know who he was, but he knew me. He told me that I was his fiancée.”

“And you believed him?” I sucked in a deep breath. I’d known this already, but just the thought of that scrawny little arrogant jerk lying to her like that… Ugh. He was just so… How could she fall for it? Memory or not, she didn’t find him attractive. She’d never been interested. He was just not enough man for her on so many different levels.

My question embarrassed her. She looked away from me, and with pink cheeks muttered, “I was wearing his ring.” I wanted to correct her, but I knew what she meant. “He brought me home to a house filled with clothes that fit me. He had my ID. He knew about all my different abilities—he was the one who explained them all to me and helped me regain my control of them. I had to believe him.”

I could picture it so clearly. I’d seen the crater in Las Vegas. I could picture Jamie waking up after the explosion in the bottom of that hole, not knowing what happened, where she was, or even who she was. I couldn’t imagine the fear she must have felt. She must have been completely panicked. And then along came this guy who had all the right answers. Of course she believed him. How could she not?

“My heart never bought it, but my brain had no choice.”

I pulled myself out of my internal Teddy-is-a-dead-man rant. “What do you mean by that?”

Jamie shrugged. “I never loved him.”

HELL. YES. There was the light at the end of the tunnel I needed.

“I tried to,” she continued, not noticing the way I perked up. “I tried so hard to make myself want him the way he wanted me.”

Well, that was less exciting, but okay. I could deal with that. In fact, it was good news for me. The harder she’d tried and failed to love him, the more she’d see how special our relationship really was. Because soon, she’d be trying so hard to make herself not want me. And she’d fail at that too.

“At first, he was so patient and sweet.” I resisted the urge to scoff. I’m sure he was. He must have known that was his only chance with her. He had to have been thrilled with the situation. “He was kind and sympathetic. He really helped me through the whole terrifying ordeal of knowing nothing.”

Okay, maybe he didn’t have to die. Maybe he just deserved a good beating. Yeah, he’d lied to her, but he’d kept her safe from Visticorp, and he was there for her when she really needed someone. I wish that could have been me, but at least she didn’t have to wake up and deal with all of this alone.

“He was all I had—all I knew—and he wanted me so much.” Her voice quieted again and became haunted. “He loved me, and I just kept disappointing him.”

Jamie’s eyes misted over and I finally understood why she was so upset. She was tough, but in some ways she was so sensitive, too. For all her hard exterior, she’s got a huge heart. It’s why she can be so vulnerable. She’s selfless and giving and altruistic.

She felt indebted and grateful to Teddy for everything he’d done for her, and then she felt guilty for letting him down. She probably drove herself crazy over it. As if to prove my thoughts correct, she said, “I tried to be the girl he told me I was, but I just couldn’t.” Because she wasn’t the girl he told her she was. “He was my best friend, my family, but I could only ever love him like a brother.”

It took everything I had in me not to let out a giant breath of relief, or punch the air with a celebratory fist, or say something really rude about Teddy. But I resisted because Jamie was getting really upset. She didn’t need me making this worse for her.

“I let him down over and over again, until he started to resent me. I couldn’t understand why things had changed so much, but I refused to give up because I was wearing that stupid ring, and I thought that meant I’d loved him once.”

My anger was starting to come back, but I didn’t have time to let it simmer because Jamie collapsed against me in a heartbreaking heap.

My anger vanished. The second she leaned against me, crying and needing comfort and support, Teddy no longer mattered. He was in the past. He was gone, and I was here for her now. I couldn’t change what he’d done, but I could reverse the effects he’d had on her. I could take away her pain. End her suffering. I wrapped her in my arms, donning a mental pair of blinders. No more thoughts of Teddy. He no longer mattered. The only thing that mattered was Jamie.

“I wasted so much time trying to be who he wanted me to be—who I thought I was supposed to be—and now I find out that it was all a lie from the start.” She pulled back, breaking from my embrace, and looked at me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “He let me torture myself over his feelings. He let me force myself to be in a relationship with him. He lied to me about everything, and then he got mad at me when I didn’t love him back. How could he do that to me?”

Because he’s a selfish bastard. I closed my eyes and took a few more breaths. Teddy didn’t matter anymore. He didn’t. There was no use being angry. No reason to let hate grow in me. I didn’t need to focus on him. Only Jamie matters. Only Jamie. Only Jamie. I repeated it like a mantra, but I couldn’t calm down. He just made me so angry… the thought of him…

I grabbed Jamie’s hand, needing her comfort as much as she had needed mine a moment before. Without thinking, I brought her hand to my lips and then placed it against my cheek. Jamie. This is about Jamie. She needs me to be calm. Confident. Her hand in mine, soothed me enough that I could squash my rage again. At least for now. “I’m sorry you had to go through that, Jamie, but you won’t have to anymore. It won’t be like that with us.” I tried to sound as reassuring as possible. She may not know yet, but I knew it. “I promise you it won’t. You never loved him, but you did love me.”

I hadn’t even realized I was holding her hand so intimately until she yanked it away from me as if startled. “There is no us,” she said. She tried to smile as if to soften the blow of her rejection, but she could only manage a grimace. “I’m sorry. You seem like a nice person, but I can’t do that to myself again. I can’t live like that anymore. I can’t be the girl that you want me to be.”

Before I could tell her that she didn’t need to be anything but herself, she shook her head and said, “I can see how much you love me every time you look at me, and it makes me sick to my stomach with anxiety.”

I willed myself not to react. Not that I knew how to react to that statement. But it certainly didn’t feel good.

“My amnesia is permanent,” she continued, determined to get her point across. “I’m never going to remember you. I will just end up hurting you over and over again, like I did Teddy.”

The rejection didn’t hurt like it had the first time. She was only doing it to protect me. She knew I cared about her and she was afraid of hurting me. I could work with that. “I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit. You’ve never disappointed me. We were strangers once before and it turned out okay. We’ll be fine again.”

She shook her head, frustration creeping into her expression. “We can’t go back to the way things were. That’s impossible. Please don’t ask me to try. Don’t pressure me to feel the way you do. I know from experience that it will never work. Try to remember that you are a stranger to me. You might love me, but I only just met you today.”

She was right. As impossible as it was to wrap my head around the situation, I was a stranger to her. She’d met me for the first time no more than a few hours ago. I needed to remember that.

It was too easy to think of her as my fiancée because she was still so much the same woman I fell in love with years ago. But at the same time, she wasn’t that woman anymore. Not exactly. Now that she had me thinking about it, there were some subtle differences.

She was right that we would never be able to go back to the relationship we used to have. Not when she couldn’t remember it. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t still have a new one. I’d be perfectly fine with that, if she was up for it. Time to figure out if she was wary of dating in general, or just wary of dating her fiancée. “Okay. Lets say—hypothetically—that some random guy on the street asked you out tomorrow.”

I stumped her. She hadn’t expected the topic change, but it was distracting her from any more tears, so two points for me. “Okay…?” she said, stretching the word out as if she was afraid to ask it.

I tried not to laugh at her skepticism. She was sure she was walking into some kind of trap. I forced innocence into my voice. I wasn’t trying to snare her. Necessarily. “Would you go out with him?”

“What do you mean?”

“Would you go on a date if someone asked you out?” I glanced around the plane and pointed to Eyes. He was the closest to our age and was somewhat of a ladies’ man. “Eyes, for example. Eyes has never met you before. If you’d sat next to him instead of me, and over the course of the flight you got to talking and he asked you to get a cup of coffee together when we reach Colorado, would you go out with him?”

Jamie glanced at my Hawaiian comrade and really considered it. It was promising that she didn’t just shut the idea down.

“Yeah, I think I might,” she finally said. “It would be nice to get to know someone who didn’t know the old me and had no preset expectations. You don’t understand what the pressure is like to have to try and act like myself when I don’t know who that is.”

I’ll admit her answer surprised me. This was one of those differences I mentioned. The old Jamie would have said no. This new Jamie seemed less afraid of living. She seemed more comfortable with her powers, and she had a lightness about her that was different. Maybe because she didn’t have all her bad memories tainting her attitude, she’d be less pessimistic now. Hopefully her guilt over killing her first boyfriend, and feeling like a burden to her parents would be gone now. A Jamie Baker without the wariness and sadness that always plagued her would be amazing.

The idea of a new Jamie was intriguing, and I found myself excited to get to know all of the changes in her. I was just as excited for her to get to know me, too. I wasn’t the same guy I was before she disappeared, either. The last six months had changed me. I’d grown up. I’d always known what I wanted, but now that I knew what it was like to lose it after I had it, there was no way I was going to let it slip through my fingers again.

Game on, Jamie Baker 2.0. I’m ready for round two. You’re still mine. You just don’t know it yet.

 

Jamie Baker Cast Pics

Ahh, casting. The absolute hardest part of my job. No joke, I have such a hard time picking actors to go with my characters. They’re like real people in my head, so how do you put someone else’s face on them? But, it never fails that this question comes up with every book I write, so I try to do the best I can. Also, I just don’t watch enough TV. There are probably a lot more actors out there than I’m aware of that would be better for the role. If you have any suggestions, by all means, let’s here them. I love seeing who you guys would pick!

First up, JAMIE BAKER.

How in the world does one cast Jamie Baker??? She’s got to be the most emotional character on the planet, hitting every feeling on the spectrum at least once in every chapter. So I need someone who not only looks the part, but can pull off her badass/snarky/moody/scary supergirl and still be vulnerable and likeable all at the same time. Plus she has to be super hot. So, that said, I’ve got two choices and both of them aren’t exactly right in my mind, but they’re kind of close. (Also, with all of these picks, we’re totally going to ignore the age thing because I couldn’t choose from actual teenagers. I couldn’t find any.) I’m going with Emma Stone or Victoria Justice. Emma has the right Sass, and Victoria has the right look. I think either of them could do a decent job.

Emma Stone:

 

Victoria Justice:

 

Next, we have RYAN MILLER.

Come on, ladies, let’s be honest, there’s really only one, and he’s on the pages. BUT, if I must…again I have two choices. And this is because I think they’re both perfect for the role in different ways.

One of my choices for Ryan is Bradley James. This cutie pie won my heart on the TV show Merlin. I’m really casting Prince Arthur more than I’m casting Bradley James. Seriously, watch the show. He’s got the ego and the charm down. He could totally pull off Ryan Miller.

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My other choice (and I say other because it’s not second; they’re tied for first) is Chris Evans. Be still, my beating heart. When did this guy win my heat? I don’t know, the second he was born? Seriously, though it had to be either the movie Push or Fantastic 4 that made me loose my senses and go gaga for him. Chris could TOTALLY do Ryan Miller. (Of course, I think he could do anything…)

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See? Perfect! Right? (And you’re welcome!)

 

Now, for Teddy…

He’s the guy you love to hate. He’s Geek Chic. He’s lovable and too smart for his own good, and throws a hell of a temper tantrum. I needed someone who could pull off the look and the innocence and the diabolical psycho act. So… my two options for Teodoro Vivenzio AKA Teddy AKA Tony are Milo Ventimigla or Callan Mcauliffe.

Milo is my first choice. He fits the Italian I’m-cute-enough-that-I-could-fool-you-into-thinking-I’m-not-evil look perfectly.

If I had to have an understudy, though, Sam from I Am Number Four could play the role well. Callan’s a cutie too. And he does a great computer geek genius!

 

Dave Carter: Tabloid king turned hard-hitting Journalist

Since the very beginning, I’ve always only had one man in mind for Carter, so I’ve only got one choice for him. I think he’s perfect for this role. He’s exactly what I see in my head and he’s got that dry grumpy sarcastic attitude that Carter always has. I’m going with Nicolas Cage.

 

Blake “Mr. E.” Edwards

This one was hard for me, like Jamie. I think Mr. E. is a hard character to really nail down. He’s that young, fun, cool, charming teacher that all the high school girls crush on. (Like what’s his name in Never Been Kissed). But he’s also an ex-Visticorp scientist who needs to be able to do a little creepy. So, I’ve only got once person I can think of who could fit this role for me. I’m going to go with Captain America’s BFF Bucky. I’ve seen Sebastian Stan do both charming and dark. He could be my charming, intelligent, slightly psycho Mr. E. Plus, he’s just pretty to look at, and I always say, when it comes to the movies, the more eye candy the better!!!

 

James Donovan

Ah, Mr. Donovan. The Mastermind. The man behind the curtain. The Billionaire philanthropist with too much vision and not enough scruples. I have a couple of guys I really like for this roll. First is Daniel Day-Lewis, and second Hugh Laurie. They both have that sophisticated, come-from-money, air of self importance look. Plus, I could totally see them both having a seriously creepy sociopathic dark side. Haha.

Daniel Day-Lewis:

 

Hugh Laurie:

Stan and Linda Baker (AKA Jamie’s Mom & Dad)

Okay, Leslie Mann and Jeffery Dean Morgan fit the idea I have of Jamie’s parents perfectly. Jamie’s bear of a dad who can be stern but is also a big old softie and a sucker for his girls. Jamie is such a Daddy’s girl and I can just picture Jeffery Dean Morgan not being able to say no to her.

Leslie Mann is the perfect Jamie’s mom. She’s such a girly girl and so cute and bubbly. Plus she can do the emotional thing like Jamie. I can definitely see Leslie as an ex small-town girl beauty queen cheerleader.

Becky Eastman and  Mike Driscoll

So Becky are only side characters too, and they aren’t really big players at all in the final book, but they’ve been with us from the beginning so I decided to cast them as well.

For Becky I’m choosing Dove Cameron. Becky is Jamie’s bubbly sweet cheerleader BFF. She’s grown up being besties with Ryan Miller, so you know she’s got to be darn near perfect. She’s beautiful and genuine a lot like Ryan. She’s cute and total sorority material, but she’s also fun and spunky enough that she can also be snarky Jamie’s best friend. Dove, to me, is perfect for the role.

For Mike, I pick Marshall Williams. Mike isn’t as clean cut nice guy as Ryan. He’s a more typical popular high school jock. As the Captain of the high school football team, and a linebacker, I was looking for someone who could be the hot guy but also play the full of himself bully. I needed a guy that I thought could play the meathead type. (I’m not saying you’re a meathead, Marshall, I promise!! I just think you fit the picture in my mind for Mike Driscoll and I think you’ve got the acting skills to pull him off.)

 

The Visticorp “Subjects” (AKA the other super humans!)

We vaguely meet these guys in Jamie 2, and we get to see them a little bit more in Jamie 3. (Supernames and superpowers are top secret till you read the book!) I’ve had Tyler and Abiodun in my head from the beginning but had to think hard on the other two.

Tyson

62981be45d970e0166ff78badda2069eHe’s a fun kid with a bright disposition who’s always trying to be older than he is. He wants to be a trouble maker and a kickbutt superhero. He’s got a sense of innocence in him because he’s young but at the same time he needed to be someone who had a serious side to him as well because the time he spend in the Visticorp labs has taken it’s toll on him. For me it’s always been Nick Robinson. He’s such a cutie, and he could totally pull off the different sides of Tyson!

 

 

 

 

Abiodun

He’s the father figure of the subjects. Very serious, quiet, and reserved. He can be terrifying by outward appearance, and tough as nails, but inside he’s kind hearted and loves fiercely. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has always from day one been my Abiodun!

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Natalia

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Natalia is hard because she’s so young. She’s eight in the book and a pale and sickly little Russian girl. She’s sweet and childlike, but has been stripped of her childhood and knows the big bad monsters of the world exist thanks to James Donovan and his experiments. She longs for a normal, safe life, but is broken in a way. Emily Alyn Lind is suck a cute little actress. I think she fits. I’d love to see her play Natalia. Of course, she’s already too old, but this gives you an idea of what I have in mind for the character.

 

 

 

Betty

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I like Judi Dench for the role of Betty because she could pull off that grandmother thing and be sweet to Natalia and Tyson. But she can also be stern and fierce. Betty’s one tough old lady, and though she’s been held prisoner as a Visticorp subject. she’s still got some fight in her. Anyone who can handle James Bond is cool enough to be in my superpowered family!

That’s all I’ve got for you today! In the book you’ll meet a group of military soldiers and I’m sure you’ll love them too, but I’m not going to cast them now since you haven’t met them yet, and this post is already as long as the book itself. Maybe someday I’ll cast the ACEs. Then again, wouldn’t it be awesome if Hollywood cast them someday?

As an author I have ZERO control whether my books get made into films. But Until the day Hollywood wises up and comes knocking on my door, for now, you can support the cause by voting for it on the IfList and picking your very own casting choices!

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT JAMIE BAKER ON IFLIST

 

 

Jamie Meets Ryan (Again and again and again…)

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DELETED SCENES FROM JAMIE 3

Hope you’re all enjoying the Jamie 3 release party!! If you’re catching this post via my blog or one of my other social media channels, there’s still time to join the fun and enter some of the giveaways! The party’s on Facebook so skip on over and check it out. CLICK HERE TO PARTY!

As you know, as I’ve explained many times before, Jamie 3 gave me so many headaches. I have 11 different versions of the first third of the book on my computer. Some are completely different from the others, while some are slight variations. But in all, this is by far the most rewritten book I’ve ever done.

What happened was, I always knew where the story would end, but there were so many different ways I could have my characters reach that ending and I wasn’t sure which way I liked best. In some versions, Jamie teams up with Mr. E. to try and get her memories back. In some versions she teams up with the government. In other versions she’s on her own, and still, in some she finds the other Visticorp subjects and teams up with them.

I’d start out writing the story one way and I’d get about 100 to 150 pages in and then decide I didn’t like it, or it wasn’t working, or that a different way would be better. So I’d scrap the pages I’d written so far and start over. I’ve got more deleted scenes for this book than any book I’ve ever written. In fact, if I were to compile them all into their own book, it would be longer than the book itself. (Now do you see why it took me 4 years to finish this one? lol)

Anyway, I figured it would be fun to sort of show you some of the different deleted scenes, but it was hard to find some that wouldn’t confuse the heck out of you or give away spoilers. I finally decided on a cute scene where Jamie and Ryan meet up. Then I realized I had like eight different versions of this scene. I’m going to post three of them just for fun so that you can see some of the different ways this novel could have gone. You’ll see some similarities through them all and some vast differences. And if you try to figure out all the plot things in each scene you may just give yourself a headache, so don’t try. lol.

As for which version of this scene is closest to the one that actually ended up in the final draft…you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Enjoy!

Version A: From a draft of the manuscript where Jamie teams up with Mr. E. (AKA Blake Edwards) at first to try and find answers.

My list of superpowers doesn’t end with the ability to manipulate electricity. Along with the superspeed I used to break Blake out of prison, all of my physical senses are amped up—sight, sound, smell, taste, strength, and agility. Basically, I’m somewhere in between Captain America and Superman.

Most of the time its awesome being me, but sometimes my powers can overwhelm me. I’m used to the world coming at me in epic proportions, and I’ve got some control over my powers when I focus, but I can’t ever completely shut them off. Sometimes I get headaches or bouts of nausea when the world around me is too stimulating.

With all of its sights, sounds, and smells, New York City is the most over-stimulating place I’ve ever been, but it’s so worth it. On my list of likes, shopping and clothes are both near the top. I love fashion and appreciate beauty.

Blake was right about me when he said I was a sucker for the clean-cut pretty type. I definitely have a weakness for good-looking, groomed, well-dressed men. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to develop any romantic feelings for Tony. He’s cute enough that he could pull off the geek-chic look if he tried, but his idea of “well-dressed” is jeans and Ed Hardy t-shirts.

Blake, I was happy to learn, had a fashion sense worthy of his handsome features. He happily let me drag him into some of the nicest men’s clothing stores in the city and never complained when I piled outfit after outfit into his arms. Maybe he was just enjoying his first day of freedom in over two years, or maybe he liked shopping as much as I did.

We were in our third store and Blake was in a dressing room with enough clothes to keep him busy for half an hour. I was on the hunt for a good blazer to go with these killer jeans we’d found him when the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. I’m not sure if it was some kind of girl-with-a-secret sixth sense, or just Tony’s paranoia rubbing off on me, but I knew I was being watched.

Could Visticorp have found us already? But how?

Pulse pounding, and my electricity on standby, I glanced across the store at the dressing rooms and took a breath. Blake was fine.

I scanned the room while listening for anything out of the ordinary with my superhearing. The only thing I found was a boy, maybe about sixteen or so, watching me as he pretended to peruse a display of pants. I startled him when I caught him looking at me, but he quickly flashed me a guilty smile. The kid was just checking me out.

I laughed at myself. I was going to lose my mind.

The boy picked up the first pair of pants he could get his hands on and held them up against his body. “What do you think?” he called out to me. “Sexy?”

I raised an eyebrow at him and took a moment to look him up and down. He wasn’t a bad looking kid. Average, I’d say. He had brown hair, brown eyes, a light dusting of freckles on his arms. I bet he did just fine with girls his age. The confident smile and the Australian accent worked for him. The pants he was holding however…

“I’ve never been a fan of skinny jeans, personally.”

“Now that is a real shame,” a smooth voice behind me said with a chuckle, “because you would look amazing in a pair of tight jeans and some tall boots.”

I whirled around, startled by the nearness of the voice, and almost bumped into the broad chest of a guy around my own age. All I could do was blink up at him.

Move over Matt Damon. I’d just found my new poster child for gorgeous! The guy was around six feet tall, with golden blond hair and big, beautiful eyes that I instantly found myself lost in. It wasn’t just that they were the color of a clear blue sky; it was the way they drank in the sight of me as if they’d never seen anything more beautiful.

My mystery flirt was looking at me as if I was the goddess Aphrodite and had majestically enslaved his heart for all eternity. The longing in his expression was truly startling.

“Hi,” he breathed. He sounded as if he’d had the air knocked out of his lungs.

I took a step back, unnerved by this guy’s reaction to me. He may have been hot, but he was clearly insane too. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that,” I warned him. “I could have killed you.”

The guy snapped out of his trance and surprised me with a cocky smirk. “I’m pretty sure you could never hurt me.”

It was playful banter, not an insult, and it made me smile despite all my efforts to keep the scowl on my face. “Don’t think so?”

“Nope. You’re too attracted to me. You’d rather kiss me than kill me.”

Was this guy for real? His ego was the size of Manhattan, and yet I was drawn to him. Before I realized what I was doing, I leaned in close to him and looked up at him through my lashes. We weren’t touching, but our faces were only inches apart. “And what if I could do both at the same time?” I whispered.

Mr. Ego gulped, and then licked his lips as he stared down at my mouth. “Pretty sure it would be worth it,” he mumbled.

I almost kissed him. The guy was a total stranger and I was seconds away from jumping him right there in the store. What was wrong with me? Never in all my life—or in the year I could remember of it at least—had anyone had such an affect on me.

 

Version B: From a draft where Ryan had teamed up with the other Visticorp subjects in order to track down Jamie.

“Don’t do it!”

I whirled around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. Blake spun too, confirming that I hadn’t imagined it, but there was no one there.

“Who said that?” I demanded. I didn’t think anyone would answer, but I still felt compelled to ask. “Who’s there?”

“A friend,” the voice said. “Don’t destroy that equipment if it can really help us find others like us.”

Blake and I glanced at each other. The voice had come from somewhere near the back door of the house, but there wasn’t anyone standing there. That’s when I realized that the voice had said others like us.”

There was someone else like me here! Someone who could make himself invisible! He sounded like Hugh Jackman—or rather Hugh Jackman if the Wolverine were going through puberty. He didn’t seem like a threat. I was dying to know who he was, where he came from, and how he found me, but the only way he could know I was here was if he worked with Visticorp.

My body responded to the threat automatically. My energy has always responded to my emotions. When I feel threatened or angry, it kicks into high gear. It rises to the surface of my skin essentially giving me a whole lot in common with a live electrical fence. Anyone who touches me when I’m amped up like that is in for a nasty surprise. The weirdest thing about it though, is that my hair goes crazy and my eyes start to glow. Neon green tornado hair and glowing yellow eyes…it’s really freaky looking.

Going into super mode gave me a burst of energy despite my concussion.

“Show yourself!” I demanded.

I could hear the smirk in the boy’s reply. “Turn off the psycho supergirl stuff and I will.”

Yeah, right. That was so not happening.

I concentrated on the spot where I’d heard the voice. I couldn’t see anyone, but there was definitely someone there. I pushed past the ache in my head and concentrated on my other senses besides sight. I could hear his heartbeat and whoever he was, he was wearing enough cologne to drown a cat.

Trusting my instincts, I moved without warning. I tackled the open air and felt a thick body crash to the ground with me. He still hadn’t shown himself, so I gave him a friendly nice-to-meet-you jolt of electricity.

“Jamie, no! Stop! He’s a friend!” a new voice shouted.

Startled, I looked toward the sound…and nearly swooned, but not from my head injury.

Move over Matt Damon, I’d just found my new poster child for gorgeous! The guy who’d shouted at me was about my own age, around six feet tall, with big broad shoulders. He had golden blond hair and big, beautiful eyes that I instantly found myself lost in. It wasn’t just that they were the color of a clear blue sky; it was the way they drank in the sight of me as if they’d never seen anything more beautiful.

I let go of the invisible boy, who had already materialized beneath me, and sat back to catch my breath. My gaze immediately went back to the drool-worthy stranger. When we made eye contact, the look on his face changed from concern to one that turned my stomach inside out. He was looking at me as if I was the goddess Aphrodite and I had just magically enslaved his heart for all eternity. The longing in his expression was truly startling.

“Hi,” he breathed. He sounded as if he’d had the air knocked out of his lungs.

He took a step toward me and I quickly scrambled back. Hot or not, I was unnerved by this guy’s reaction to me.

For a brief second Mr. Beautiful’s smile faltered, but he recovered quickly and grinned down at the kid I’d fried who was still lying on the ground. I say kid, because that’s what he was. Sort of. He looked that way standing next to Mr. Beautiful anyway. He couldn’t be more than sixteen. He was a little stocky with brown hair, brown eyes, and a light dusting of freckles.

The boy groaned as McDreamy helped him to his feet. The hottie chuckled. “Stings, doesn’t it?” he asked the kid. “I told you she wouldn’t hesitate.”

I gasped when I realized these people knew me. Or, at least Blondie spoke like he was familiar with me. I’d already decided they couldn’t be with Visticorp because they would have just shot me with tranquilizers by now like they had Tony. But how could anyone else know me?

My defenses came back up. “Who are you people?”

They both flinched in surprise. “Amnesia?” the boy guessed while the hot one gasped.

“Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

The news seemed to make as much sense to him as it had to Blake. That meant this guy must have known more than just my identity. He knew me on a personal level. I hated that I had no idea who he was. I glared at him and asked again, “Who. Are. You?”

It was Blake who answered. “They’re friends, Jamie.”

I cut Blake a sharp glance. His voice sounded defeated and his face was grim. “You don’t sound too excited to see them,” I pointed out.

He sighed again and gestured his head toward the hot stranger. “Say hello to Ryan Miller.”

“Ryan Miller…”

I had to think a minute before I placed the name. The guy met my eyes again with that disconcerting intensity he’d first looked at me with and I finally got it. The emotion I saw in his eyes now made sense. This hottie was in love with me.

I gasped. “You mean this Ryan Miller?” I asked, holding up the engagement ring on my right hand.

Ryan flashed me a smile so bright it was nearly blinding. “The one and only.”

As I sat there gaping at him like an idiot, he closed the distance between us and grabbed onto my hand as if to help me up. A surprising surge of pleasure rocked through me when our hands touched. I nearly gasped from the warm tingly sensation. It was shocking! I mean, not, like, actual sparks. I hadn’t literally shocked him, I didn’t think, but I was stunned by my reaction to him. Yeah, he was the hottest guy I’d ever seen, and yeah, I knew he had a major thing for me which both terrified and thrilled me, but even still. I was not the kind of girl to go completely gaga over a guy.

I swear!

I know I didn’t make any kind of face as I climbed to my feet, but Ryan smiled at me like he knew exactly how fast he’d made my heart was flutter. I tried to pull my hand out of Ryan’s and step back but Ryan wouldn’t let me go. He brought my hand up between us and gently pulled off the engagement ring I was wearing. “You’ve got this on the wrong finger, Sunshine,” he said and slipped it on the ring finger on my left hand.

 

Version C: From a draft Where Jamie is completely on her own and Ryan has teamed up with Carter in order to find her.

I fled to New York City. The reporter who claimed he’d been kidnapped by Visticorp and rescued Chelsea’s Angel worked for CNN in New York City. The men who’d attacked me at Gran’s had called me Angel. If I was Chelsea’s Angel, and I’d really saved this reporter’s life, then hopefully that meant I could trust him. It was a huge risk, and probably a mistake, but I needed help and was out of options.

I felt on the verge of collapse by the time I got to New York. My head had stopped bleeding, but I was seeing double, my mind was sluggish, and I’d thrown up several times since escaping Coyote Falls.

I crashed onto a bench outside CNN’s New York office and dialed the number I found on the Internet for CNN.

“CNN New York. How may I direct your call?”

“I’m looking for one of your reporters. Dave Carter.”

“One moment please.”

There was a click and a ring and then, “Carter.”

He was in the office. There is a God. “Is this the man that was rescued by Chelsea’s Angel during the Visticorp explosion?”

When he answered, his voice was hard, suspicious. “Who is this?”

“Was that you?” I demanded. I didn’t have time to divulge my life story.

“Yes.”

“In that case, you owe me a favor.”

I heard a gasp. “Who is this?” Carter asked again.

“I’m hoping you can tell me.” Big black spots started clouding my vision. I had to lie down. “Outside in the plaza,” I mumbled as my eyes fluttered shut against my will. “Bench next to the hotdog stand. I’ll be the unconscious one.”

Hushed voices pulled me from a dreamless sleep. “Ryan, your dinner’s getting cold, man.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“She’ll be okay.”

“It’s been nine hours. We should take her to a hospital.”

“You know we can’t. Whoever did this to her will be looking for her there.”

“No hospitals,” I croaked.

“Jamie?” Someone squeezed my hand and brushed the hair off my forehead. “You awake, Sunshine?” Whoever it was, there was a hitch in his voice as he whispered, “Come on babe, open your eyes for me.”

Maybe I wasn’t awake. Maybe I was dreaming.

I forced my eyelids up and had to blink several times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

Move over Thor, I’d just found my new poster child for gorgeous! The guy was about my own age, with big broad shoulders, golden blond hair, and big, beautiful blue eyes that I instantly found myself lost in. It wasn’t just that they were the color of a clear sky; it was the way they drank in the sight of me as if they’d never seen anything more beautiful.

When we made eye contact, the look on his face changed from concern to one that turned my stomach inside out. The stranger was staring at me as if I was the goddess Aphrodite and I had just magically enslaved his heart for all eternity. The longing in his expression was truly startling.

“Hi,” he breathed. He sounded as if he’d had the air knocked out of his lungs.

I had no idea how to respond to him—his intensity was unnerving—so I didn’t say anything. I sat up very slowly, taking inventory of my body one limb at a time. I felt stiff, my throat was dry, and I had a massive headache, but I felt stronger than I had before. The nausea was gone too, which was a plus.

Another guy sat in a wheelchair near the foot of the bed. He was kind of cute I supposed, though nowhere near as good-looking as the guy sitting next to me. He had a decent enough face but he was a little too meaty for my taste. His neck was thick and his biceps were huge. I guess since he couldn’t use his legs he felt the need to work out his arms twice as much.

“Hey,” he said, staring at me like he couldn’t quite believe I was really there. “How are you feeling?”

I glanced back and forth between the two strangers then finally took in my surroundings and gasped. The room I was in was Zen paradise. It made me feel like I was back at the really expensive day spa Teddy took me to once when he decided we needed to get couples massages. The furniture was streamline, the bed low to the ground and covered in a tasteful sage bedspread. There were potted plants everywhere, and a modern-looking fountain in one corner that looked like a rock stream and actually had a few goldfish swimming in the pool at the bottom. One entire wall was made of all windows that let in a ton of natural light. The rich, warm green and beige tones of the room made it feel earthy, homey. It was more than beautiful. It was breathtaking.

I looked from the perfect room to the gorgeous guy sitting on the bed beside me, staring at me as if I were the sun and the moon, and finally put the pieces together. “I’m dreaming.”

There was no other way to explain it.

Mr. Beautiful laughed. “I promise you you’re not,” he said then leaned in like he planned to kiss me.

I scrambled out of the bed before he could touch me. “Whoa, okay, asleep or not, there’s this thing called personal space, buddy, and you’re totally abusing it. Touch me again and you’ll learn what a TV dinner feels like.”

Shock flashed across the guy’s face, followed by a look of hurt. “Jamie?” he asked.

This wasn’t fun anymore. I felt my panic start to rise again. “Why are you calling me that? Who are you? Where am I, and where the hell is Dave Carter? I called Dave Carter.”

 

Jamie Baker Playlists!

For today as part of the Remember Jamie Baker release party, let’s take listen to the book shall we? So, soundtracks or book playlists… I generally have a soundtrack or playlist for all of my books that I will listen to over and over again as I work on a project. I need quiet when I’m doing the actual writing part, but I still wear my playlists out all other hours of the day. It’s usually a combination of things that will draw a certain song to a book playlist. Whether it’s a sound, or a line of lyrics, or it reminds me of a certain scene or character.

For some reason, though, I’ve never had more than just a couple of songs that made me think Jamie Baker. Originally I only had three songs on my personal Being Jamie Baker soundtrack. Those songs were Brooklyn is Burning by Head Automatica, Girlfriend by NSync, and Miracle by Paramore. So after the book came out I asked my readers to help me out and then chose some songs from those that I think really fit the book best. They didn’t let me down. I can’t find the entire original playlist so I can only tell you the ones I remember-the ones that really stuck with me. And here they are…

Being Jamie Baker & More Than Jamie Baker playlist

BSB What Makes You Different (Makes You Beautiful) – Backstreet Boys
Brooklyn Is Burning – Head Automatica (totally Jamie’s theme song!)
Your Love Is My Drug – Ke$ha
My Life Would Suck Without You – Kelly Clarkson
Cooler Than Me – Michael Posner
Kissin U – Miranda Cosgrove
Girlfriend – *NSync
Miracle – Paramore

For More Than Jamie Baker I just listened to the Jamie 1 soundtrack over again, and never really added any new songs. It still felt perfect. But For Jamie 3 I had a few to add to that list. Still, I liked having fan pics on the first list, so I opened it up to my Reader Squad to submit suggestions to add to the list, and again, they totally nailed it. It was hard to narrow the choices down!  (I used 4 of my personal picks. When Did Your Heart Go Missing by Rooney, It Girl by Jason Derulo, Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, and You Are My Sunshine by Elizabeth Mitchell.)

Remember Jamie Baker Playlist! 

When Did Your Heart Go Missing – Rooney
It Girl – Jason Derulo (Definitely Ryan’s theme song to Jamie!)
Cardiac Arrest – The Bad Suns
Ain’t No Sunshine (when she’s gone) – Lighthouse Family (Or you could go with the original Bill Withers version but I like this version a little better.)
Everybody Talks – The Neon Trees
Shine a Light – McFly
Ultraviolet – The Stiff Dylans
Stand by You – Rachel Platten
Unstoppable – Rascal Flatts.
Brighter Than the Sun – Colbie Caillat
Happy Ever After – He is We
Steal My Girl – One Direction
Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
You Are My Sunshine – Elizabeth Mitchell