‘I promise I’ll be quick,’ Olivia Abbott told her sister. She kicked the snow off her fuzzy wool boots outside the east entrance to the Franklin Grove mall.
‘As long as I don’t have to spend my morning surrounded by crazy, screaming fan girls,’ Ivy replied. The doors slid open and blasted hot air in their faces, sending Ivy’s black hair and matching scarf flitting behind her.
As they walked inside the mall past all the familiar stores, Olivia said, ‘We’re more than an hour early. How busy can a book signing be?’
She checked her reflection in the window of Trudy’s Beauty Palace. She was wearing her favourite jeans, pink-and-white striped sweater and rhinestone belt. It had been over a week since she’d last seen her movie-star boyfriend, Jackson, and it would be at least another week before she got to see him again – so she wanted to look her best.
Since the film set of The Groves had left town a few weeks before, Jackson had called her every day and visited at weekends whenever he could. It was hard dating from a distance, and it was going to be even harder tomorrow when Olivia and Ivy left for Transylvania for a week’s vacation.
Olivia picked up a noise, a hum of voices that got louder with each step. The twins turned a corner and Olivia couldn’t believe her eyes. They stopped at exactly the same moment, shocked by the roped-off line of girls that wove across most of the huge atrium in the centre of the mall. The bookstore wasn’t even open yet, but it looked like an entire prom was waiting outside.
Ivy looked at the huge line. ‘Tell me this line is for free ice cream day.’
Olivia crinkled her nose. ‘I don’t think so.’
One girl at the front was clutching the entire set of Action Jackson dolls, and the girl behind her had a photo of Jackson on her T-shirt. The next girl was dressed up as an ice skater, the love interest in Jackson’s first movie, and the girl after that was holding the Caulfield Collection DVD box set of Jackson’s first six movies which, Olivia knew from personal experience, was very hard to get hold of. These girls weren’t waiting for a chocolate-dipped cone; they were waiting to gawk and giggle at and get autographs from Olivia’s boyfriend. It made her feel like a wet pom pom.
‘Revenge of the glitter zombie hoard,’ Ivy said, flinging her hands up like a cheesy horror movie actress.
‘It’s fine,’ Olivia said, pulling out her cell phone. ‘I’ll call him and we’ll say a quick hello before the doors open.’
She dialled Jackson’s number but it went straight to his voicemail.
‘Um.’ Olivia hadn’t prepared for this. She had told him last night that she was going to come to see him before the signing. Why hasn’t he left his phone on? She took a deep breath. ‘No big deal. I’m sure Jackson’s told the security guard to expect us.’
Olivia led her twin past the crowd towards the front of the line.
‘The glitter zombies are looking at us,’ Ivy whispered, pulling on Olivia’s sweater, still pretending to be afraid.
‘Don’t make eye contact.’ Olivia plastered her sweetest smile on her face and kept going. But she could feel four hundred eyes watching her every step.
They reached the store entrance. The windows were covered with pictures of Jackson and pink and red hearts.
‘Be Jackson Caulfield’s Valentine,’ the sign boasted. ‘Buy his book and get it autographed!’
But I’m his Valentine! Olivia thought.
A security guard with an earpiece stood in front of the door with his arms crossed.
‘Good morning, sir,’ Olivia said, knowing that a little politeness could go a long way. But, like a secret-service man at the White House, he didn’t even flinch.
Olivia refused to give up easily. She took a step forwards and put her hand on the door.
The security guard thrust his arm across the door, right in front of her face. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’
‘I’m here to see Jackson,’ Olivia replied.
‘Yeah, you and every other girl in this line.’ He didn’t move his arm.
She didn’t want to have to do it, but she didn’t have a choice. ‘Really, you should let me in.’ She leaned closer. ‘I’m Jackson’s girlfriend.’
‘You can’t be!’ shouted the girl with the action figures. ‘I’m his girlfriend.’
‘You are not.’ The ice-skating girl looked ready to spit sequins. ‘I am!’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ put in the girl with the photo T-shirt. ‘Last month, he autographed my magazine “Love, Jackson”.’ She thrust a crumpled magazine under the other girls’ noses. ‘See? I’ve got proof!’
Olivia felt like she’d tripped flat on her face during a cheer. She didn’t know what to say.
Ivy leaned in and said to the security guard, ‘Look, Jackson really is expecting to see us today. Can’t you . . . uh . . . check your list?’
‘There’s no list, young lady. Just that line behind you, filled with two hundred of Jackson’s “girlfriends”.’ He pointed to the end of the line, which had doubled in size since they’d arrived. ‘Everyone has to wait their turn.’
‘You’d better not be trying to cut in line,’ said the girl with the action figures.
Ice-skater Girl glared at them. ‘We’ve been waiting here for hours! Who do you think you are?’
‘Uh, I, um –’ Olivia didn’t know what to say. If she told them that she really was Jackson’s girlfriend, she could get lynched. I must be the only girl in the world who has to line up to see her own boyfriend, Olivia thought.