We have an epic way of kicking off the week: a short story from Not in the Script, one of my favorite contemporary books from last year.
It's a part of the If Only blog tour, which is sharing interviews, short stories and bonus material from this awesome Bloomsbury imprint! (Seriously, if it's an If Only book, I know I'm going to love it.)
Read on for this bonus short story on Emma and Jake, and also for your chance to win a complete set of the books and more!
I loved Emma and Jake in Not in the Script, so I'm super stoked to share a short story featuring my favorite couple!
We're sharing two formats for the story: a Scribd plug-in, or plain text. Read on for a tale from the most epic of couples!
JUST FRIENDS . . . MOST OF THE TIME
by Amy Finnegan
A bonus scene to Amy Finnegan’s novel, Not in the Script— part of the IF ONLY romance line of books about wanting what you can’t have!
Jake, Emma, Brett, and Kimmi are principal cast members on the TV show, Coyote Hills. Like Not in the Script, this bonus scene is told from both Jake and Emma’s POVs. It can be inserted into the book starting on page 236, and contains only minor spoilers for those who have yet to read the story.
The blinding lights in the hair and makeup room are usually the worst possible way to start my day, but this morning, their assault on my eyes is only reminding me of why I’m so tired. And I can’t stop smiling.
After Emma and I ran a few miles last night, we messed around along the riverbank until three. Then even when I noticed what time it was, we still walked back to her townhouse slowly and talked a while longer at her back door.
Yeah, it was sorta irresponsible of us to stay out so late when we both had such early call times, but it’s hard to regret a single minute I get to spend alone with her. And it’s only after dark that Emma doesn’t worry so much about us being seen together.
Besides, working with Brett Crawford pretty much guarantees that on any given night, he will do something stupid enough to take away unwanted attention from the rest of us. And since he just showed up at the studio with purple hair, today is no exception.
“I swear I wasn’t wasted,” he promises our producer, but McGregor continues to stand dead still in the doorway, as angry as I’ve ever seen him. “I lost a bet.”
“It’s lavender.” McGregor’s thick Scottish accent makes these words sound like he growled them.
Brett spins around in his salon chair to face him straight on. “It looked a lot cooler last night.” He brushes his floppy bangs to the opposite side of his face. “Then I washed it twice, and this is what was left.”
He switches his bangs again, as if rearranging them enough times might change his hair back to blond. It’s sorta killing me not to laugh.
“Donna just left to get a special kind of bleach,” I tell McGregor, referring to our hairstylist. “But you should’ve seen her expression. It would’ve been perfect for an overacted horror movie.”
“So I heard,” McGregor says, his narrowed eyes still locked on Brett. “Mr. Crawford, did you happen to consider while you were participating in such shenanigans that all three scenes we are shooting today center around your character? That, perhaps, I do not wish to change the title of this episode to The Little Purple Pansy?”
“No pun intended,” I say.
Brett chucks some kind of spiky brush at me.
McGregor’s attention shifts to the hallway, where the rapidly-approaching sound of clicking heels can only mean one thing: Kimmi just heard about Brett’s hair. In her slippery shoes, she nearly slides past us on the studio’s concrete floor before latching onto McGregor’s arm to steady herself. Then her face lights up like I’ve never seen it do before.
“You look like a rotten Easter egg!” she tells Brett.
He glares at her, but before he can fire anything back, Kimmi shouts down the hallway. “Emma! Get over here!” I can hear her running toward us, too, but in sneakers. Then Kimmi ushers her into the room with the fanfare of a surprise birthday party. “Behold, your award-winning, but completely idiotic, costar!”
“What . . . in . . . the . . . ?” That’s all Emma gets out.
I usually have to fight a grin whenever I first see her at work, but there’s no need right now. I doubt I could’ve resisted today anyway, not with her hair pulled into a messy ponytail, her baggy sweatshirt turned inside out, and a hint of yesterday’s mascara under her sleepy eyes. It’s impossible for her to look bad in any condition, but it’s probably a good thing we aren’t expected to be ready for the cameras as soon as we get here.
Her laughter fills the room, so my smile grows even wider.
“Go ahead and say it,” Brett tells Emma. “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.”
“The dumbest thing you’ve ever done?” she replies. “Not even close.”
Brett thinks this over, then turns back to McGregor. “She has a point. If there was an official list—which, knowing the internet, there probably is—dying my hair purple wouldn’t even make my top five hundred. So it could’ve been worse.”
“This will put us at least two hours behind schedule,” McGregor snaps back at him, “so you should have considered your crew and castmates as soon as you realized the color didn’t wash out. Even a little warning would have allowed the rest of us to stay in bed a while longer.”
“And that would’ve been nice,” Emma mutters.
“You obviously just rolled out of bed anyway,” Kimmi tells her. “Or did you mean to wear your shirt inside out?”
Emma is long past the point of taking Kimmi’s snark as a personal insult, so there’s a few moments of silence before she realizes Kimmi isn’t joking and glances down. “Of course I did,” she replies. “I’m really fashion forward that way.” She makes a beeline for the large supply closet in the room. “But . . . um, please excuse me for a sec.”
“You might want to grab some makeup wipes too,” Kimmi calls after her.
“Just because she doesn’t look like she robbed a Tiffany’s on her way to work. . . .” Brett says, gesturing to the gobs of diamonds dangling from Kimmi’s ears.
“Oh! I have an idea!” Emma says from the closet. She throws the door open and holds up something hairy.
“Is that my head?” Brett asks.
“Not exactly. It’s the wig that’s used for your stunt doubles.”
“Brilliant, lass!” McGregor says. “Let’s give it a try.”
Brett fiddles with the wig once it’s in place, but no matter what he does, it doesn’t look right on him.
McGregor’s scowl returns. “These things are only meant to be seen from a distance.”
Kimmi snatches the wig off Brett’s head and replaces it with another one—one with long, black, wavy locks. Emma’s hair. “Better?”
Brett arranges the tresses so they spill over his shoulders. “It’s perfect,” he says, and runs his fingers through the hair as if it’s attached to Emma’s head instead of his own. He gives her one of his stupid Hollywood-playboy smiles. “I think I’ll wear this all . . . day . . . long.”
Emma grimaces. “You’re sort of freaking me out right now.”
And I’m sort of thinking I might punch Brett in the face.
McGregor eyes me like he’s reading my thoughts, so I have to throw him off. “I’d say it’s definitely an improvement,” I tell Brett. “But if you were tall, dark, and handsome like this all the time, people might mistake you for me.”
“Nah,” he replies. “I’d have to pack on twenty pounds of muscle, bathe in sacred oils, and wear a permanent pretty-boy pout. Not my thing.”
I shrug, take out my phone, and pretend to take a selfie. “Someone’s gotta make duck lips look good.”
My screen lights up with a text from Sophie. I open it to find a photo of her, Devin, and Mark . . . in front of the studio? Now? “I think a few of my buddies might be outside,” I tell McGregor. “Do I have enough time to say hello?”
His smile lasts all of two seconds before he says, “One hour. And if they enter the studio, they’ll need to sign confidentiality agreements.” I nod, so he goes on. “No photos, no spoilers. And no one is allowed in this room. Mr. Crawford has received enough attention for the day.”
Brett groans. “My other option was a mohawk, just so you know.”
I reply to Sophie’s text, telling my friends to stay where they are. “Anyone else want to come along?” I ask, hoping Emma takes the hint.
“Sure!” she says.
Kimmi doesn’t bother replying.
“I would join you as well,” McGregor adds, “but I’m afraid I’ll be busy in my office, writing Mr. Crawford off the show.”
He turns and leaves before Brett catches on to what he said.
Jake and I follow McGregor out of the hair and makeup room, but our producer moves at his usual torpedo speed down the hallway, so he’s far ahead of us when Jake twirls a stray lock of my hair and says, “I’m pretty sure I just experienced wig envy.”
My skills as an actress have become completely worthless around him. It’s impossible to hold back a smile. “I did too, actually. I was thinking how nice it would’ve been to just throw that thing on this morning.”
“How’d that work out with your sweatshirt?”
I gape at him in mock disbelief. “I love how you’re taking no responsibility whatsoever for my state of sleeplessness. You were the only one with a watch, remember? Didn’t we agree on midnight?”
“Yes, but then you started talking and wouldn’t stop.”
Flirting is a dangerous pastime at work, but I still push him into a wall. “Who’s the one who gathered at least a thousand twigs so he could build a miniature fort?”
“That you stepped on.”
“I didn’t mean to!”
He shakes his head. “You’ll have to help me build it all over again.”
“Tonight?” I say, because as stupid as it is, I continue to find excuses to make this nice little mess I’ve found myself in even messier. “And maybe . . . tomorrow night?”
“Jeez,” he replies. “You sure ask me out a lot for someone you ‘aren’t dating.’”
I have yet to find a word that describes the relationship I have with Jake. We’re floating somewhere between “just hanging out” and “I can’t stay away from you,” and all in secret because too many people will flip once they know. But I like the isolated world we’ve created for ourselves, and the more time that passes, the more I want to keep everyone else out of it.
When we reach the studio entrance, Jake pushes open the double doors, and we both shade our eyes from the early Arizona sun. It’s already eighty, at least. I love Tucson.
We cross the parking lot and find Devin, Mark, and Sophie standing by a car that’s parked outside the gates. Sophie is holding a bright pink poster above her head, and starts jumping up and down with it.
Jake reads the words in a slow, stunned tone. “Marry me, Jake!”
The rest of us are laughing.
“What?” Devin asks. “You don’t like our poster? We worked on it for hours.”
“I drew those glitter letters myself,” Mark says.
Sophie smacks his arm. “Liar.”
Once the gates open, Jake snatches away their poster and stuffs it into a trashcan. Then as we all pass the security booth, he tells the guard, “Sorry about my crazy fans. They’ve been stalking me for weeks.”
No matter how hot Jake is, or how successful he becomes, I knew from the moment I met his friends over Labor Day weekend that they’ll never let his ego explode. I love that about them, and I know Jake does too. I’m also glad Sophie is truly just his friend, because she’s ridiculously adorable.
She wraps an arm around me as we walk. “Sooooo . . . change your mind yet?”
I’m confused. “About?”
Heat spreads across my face when she inclines her head toward Jake. And he notices.
“Hey, that topic is completely nixed,” he says. “Especially in here. You’ve never met her before now, okay?”
Sophie stops walking. “Wait! We just came by to say hello on our way to Tombstone. You’re actually taking us inside the studio?”
“Don’t you want me to?” Jake asks.
“Yes!” they all say. Then Devin adds, “We just figured it would be off-limits. Like that topic Sophie brought up.”
“But while we’re on the subject,” Mark says, which causes Jake to exhale loudly. “Devin came up with the wild idea of heading on a road trip from Phoenix late last night, but by eleven we were already tired of driving and stopped by your place to ask if we could crash there. And we could hear your cell ringing in your condo, but guess who wasn’t home? We even waited until one before we left for a hotel. So, are you two still saying you’re not ‘together?’”
I don’t mean to, but my eyes shoot straight to Jake, who is looking right back at me. Then Sophie gasps and tells Mark, “Maybe he wasn’t with Emma, you idiot.”
I summon an expression of what I hope is only mild interest, but can now see the shared smiles between the three of them, and wonder if they’ve cornered us on purpose. Jake raises a brow at me.
“See what you’re doing to my reputation?”
I sigh. “Okay, we were together, but just at the river. Building a fort . . . out of twigs.”
Devin nods at Jake, impressed. “That’s slick, man. I’ve never tried that approach with girls before.” He glances at Mark. “You?”
“I haven’t dared.”
“What can I say?” Jake replies. “These Hollywood types are hard to impress.”
I feel my cheeks flare up again. “Anyone else think it’s time to go inside?”
“Yeah, we better get into some shade,” Devin says. “Emma’s getting a sunburn.”
“But, strangely, it looks a lot like blushing,” Mark adds.
I resist the urge to throw my hands over my face, and roll my eyes instead. I then open the doors for everyone. “You’ll all need to sign confidentiality agreements.”
“Oh!” Sophie says. “Have your managers said that’s necessary? We’ve already promised to not tell anyone about you guys.”
Jake laughs. “She meant before you tour the studio.”
I have a feeling these guys won’t stop prodding us until we make some sort of public announcement, like on the cover of People magazine.
Once they’ve all passed through the doors, Jake turns back and gives me a smile I doubt I’ll ever get enough of. “Sorry about that,” he says. “They drive me crazy, but I can’t seem to shake them.”
“I totally get that,” I reply. Who could blame them for hanging on?
Here's the synopsis!
Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending years performing on cue, Emma can’t help but wonder if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her romances. She’s been burned by heartthrobs (and the press) one too many times, but there’s something about Emma’s co-star on her new TV show Coyote Hills that is irresistible. Jake Elliott is gorgeous, smart and actually cares about Emma’s charitable foundation. But she’s sworn off on-set relationships. They always end badly . . . don’t they?
This third novel in the deliciously fun If Only romance line proves that the best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script.
Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Goodreads
(Seriously. You want them. They are swoony and perfect!)
Check out the rest of the tour!
July 22 – Jessica Burkhart Interview / Lost in Literature
July 24 – Just Like the Movies / Mostly YA Lit
July 27 – Not in the Script / The Reading Nook Reviews <- Hello! :)
July 29 – Mandy Hubbard Interview / Love at First Page
July 31 – Red Girl Blue Boy / The Daily Dahlia
About the author:
Amy Finnegan writes her own stories because she enjoys falling in love over and over again, and thinks everyone deserves a happy ending. She likes to travel the world—usually to locations where her favorite books take place—and owes her unquenchable thirst for reading to Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling. Not in the Script came about after hearing several years of behind-the-scenes stories from her industry veteran brother. She’s also been lucky enough to visit dozens of film sets and sit in on major productions such as Parks and Recreation and Parenthood. This is Amy’s debut novel.
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