And then she heard Daniela ask, “What about Mr. Roberts? Is he going to oversee rehearsals?”

Seri’s teeth started gnashing again.

Classic, she thought. That was pure classic right there, the play-dumb-act to make a man feel more important, and now she was starting to realize why her gut reaction to Daniela was to hate her.

Everybody knew that art directors like Mr. Roberts had nothing to do with rehearsals. Instead, this was the sound director’s domain—-

Almost on cue, she heard Marshall, the sound director, say through the speakers, “Ready in five, please. And we’ll be starting with page 20, everyone.”

Seri forced her mind back on her job and mentally enumerated the things she needed to remember about her character. Shy was number one, she thought. Aya, her character, was very shy, but she was also exceedingly smart, and that was her character’s second most important trait.

Papers rustled as some readied their scripts while others tapped on their microphones for a sound check. Marshall had chosen a scene involving the main cast, even if it was one of the middle episodes. It wasn’t a usual thing to do, but Seri had gone through it several times in the past, so it was no surprise for her.

It was, however, for that girl.

As soon as Daniela spoke her line, Marshall said through the speakers, “Cut. Let’s start with the top.”

Unfortunately, it happened two more times, forcing the sound director to call for a timeout.

Vassi looked at Daniela in amazement. “You are seriously bad at this.”

“Shut up,” Daniela snapped.

“I’m not kidding. You are crazy bad at this. How you even got this job is beyond me.”

While I’m just plain crazy, Seri thought. She knew she should be happy that Vassi was insulting the other girl, but she wasn’t. If it had been Misha, she would have understood. It would have been normal. But this Vassi, and the Vassi she knew was the type to always wear a mask with other people.

That Vassi was charming to everyone and only annoying as hell to her and the other boys.

But this Vassi?

Either Vassi was different, or it was Daniela Martin who was different from all the other girls in his life.

It’s working, Daniela mouthed at him.

Even as he ignored Daniela, he couldn’t stop himself from slightly turning his gaze towards Seri.

She had a glassy look in her eyes, the kind she usually did whenever she wanted to cry.

His fists clenched.

Two months ago, nothing would have stopped him from taking her to his arms upon seeing that look.

But now—

Now, he could no longer trust himself when it came to her.

Rehearsals resumed, and Vassi made himself concentrate on the job. Daniela had somewhat improved, but her voice was still so damn bad Vassi had to wonder if she was faking it.

But for what purpose, he wondered.

It was a question worth considering, but not now. As soon as rehearsals ended, Seri mumbled an excuse before rushing out of the studio, leaving everyone to stare at him in askance.

He said without hesitation, “It’s her boyfriend. They’re having problems.”

“Maximilian Rockford, right?” one of the minor role actresses asked.

About to leave the room himself, he stopped and turned at the question. “You know him?”

Sandy rolled her eyes. “You mean, who in the world doesn’t know him? Someone secretly took a photo of him when he picked Seri up yesterday, and it just went viral. People refer to him as the hottest aspiring scientist on the globe.”

“Is that so?” Vassi managed to keep his tone casual even as he wanted to smash his fist into the face of the hottest aspiring scientist on the globe.

“Your little sister has good taste,” Daniela said slyly.

Smiling down at her, he said pleasantly, “Shut up.”

Daniela’s laughter trailed after him as he went out. After asking a guard about the direction Seri took, he went straight to her dressing room, knowing that it was the only place she could be.

He knocked on the door. “I’m coming in.”

Panicking at the sound of Vassi’s voice, she hissed at Davey on the phone, “Just play along, okay?”

“Play with what?” Davey asked blankly.

Vassi came in, and Seri laughed. “Oh, Max, you’re so funny.”

Vassi slammed the door shut, a look of indescribable rage on his handsome face.

Good, she thought even as her heart thundered against her chest in a mixture of fear and not a little excitement.

“Yes,” she told Davey in a sugary sweet voice. “I promise, I’m coming straight home. I miss you—-what?” She pretended to blush.

Over the phone, Davey said, “You’re scaring me.”

“See you soon, babylicious.”

Davey sighed. “Visit a doctor first, please.”

She managed to end the call just as Vassi reached her. He snatched her phone from her hand—-

“Vassi!”

Oh my God, if he saw the most recent name on her call list, it was all over.

—-before throwing it against the wall, causing the phone to smash into pieces.


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