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You've Got Fail by Celia Aaron (1)

1

Willis

It started with a simple email.

I really enjoyed meeting you tonight. I put your number in my wallet, but I’ve since misplaced it. I’d love to buy you dinner sometime. My number’s in my sig. Hit me up.

Todd

Dated four nights ago.

I cocked my head at my monitor, the sun slanting through the wide glass windows of my apartment, and flicked through the last few days in my memory. Four nights ago, I’d stuffed myself with Chinese food while watching college football reruns with my best friend Elias. Both of us had been firmly planted on my leather sofa, our feet kicked up on my battered coffee table.

There was no Todd involved. There was, however, the flu. I’d come down with it that night and had been living in hell until this morning. I coughed and took a test sip of my coffee. It stayed down. All was well.

While I’d been ill, my unread messages number had ballooned to terrifying proportions. My blog—usually a well-tended hotbed of discussion and witty posts (the latter made by yours truly)—had been bopping along without me, though there were quite a few messages from concerned readers with “get well soon” notes.

I stared blankly at the email, my brain fuzzed with a leftover Nyquil haze. Todd must have entered his intended recipient wrong, though how he could cock it up badly enough to turn it into [email protected] was beyond me.

I deleted Todd’s errant overture and continued scrolling through my emails. A couple from my editor who was working on review quotes for my upcoming book, a dozen or so from blog fans, and one from my agent wanting to know what we were going to do about the whole “you’re a guy pretending to be a woman on a blog that’s an international hit” issue. Apparently, going to signings in drag wasn’t a particularly wise move. I had no answer for her, so I kept moving down the line. One from the New York Daily News caught my eye.

Ms. Rocket,

It was so great to meet you at the Celebrity Gala this weekend. When can we get together for that interview we discussed?

Jina Feinstein

Lifestyle Blogger

New York Daily News

What. The. Fuck? I sat back in my chair and stared at my laptop as if it had grown tentacles. First, there’d been no Todd and second, I’d never discussed a damn thing with Jina from The New York Daily News. I searched Jina’s signature, found her number, and grabbed my phone. Then I slapped it back down on my desk. What was I going to say? “Hi Jina, I’m the real Scarlet Rocket. Just ignore the fact that I’m obviously a man, and also the fact that there is no actual Scarlet Rocket.

I scrubbed a hand down my face. Maybe this was flu-induced insanity. Little flu minions invading my brain and turning my gray cells a sick shade of green. That was a thing, right?

Pushing away from my desk, I rose and strode to the bathroom and splashed some cool water on my face. After days of being sick, it felt good just to move around the house without wanting to lay down and die. My reflection told me I needed a shave and a shower, but I had no fucks to give on those points.

My eyelids drooped as fatigue washed over me. The flu was already winning the day, and I hadn’t even written a single word in my blog yet. And worse, I was caught in some sort of weird reality where Scarlet Rocket, my blog personality, was a walking, talking person who was apparently capable of flirting with a Todd and nabbing an interview with the Daily News. It occurred to me that Fake Scarlet was doing a better job than I was at relationships and publicity. Well, shit.

My phone rang. Actually rang. Someone was calling me. What sort of maniac would do such a thing? I returned to my desk and saw Elias on the caller ID. I waffled on answering or letting it go to voicemail, but decided to put on my big boy pants and actually speak to another human being today.

“Yeah?”

“First, you sound like shit. Second, have you seen page six?” He munched something in my ear.

“Not yet.”

He snorted and took another bite of what sounded like a crisp apple. “How can you be this queen of gossip and dating advice yet not keep up with page six?”

“King, not queen, as far as you’re concerned.” I opened my bookmarks and clicked over to the gossip section of the New York Post. “I’m there. What am I looking for?”

Elias whistled. “Redhead, leggy, black dress, smoking hot.”

I searched down the page until I came to photos from the weekend’s Celebrity Gala at the Four Seasons. The woman Elias had described stood with a champagne flute in her hand, her head tilted up with an air of confidence while she spoke to a man in a tux.

“So?” I took another drink of coffee to try and clear my mind.

“Read the caption.”

Scarlet Rocket, of the synonymous love and advice blog, makes her debut to the New York elite, pictured here with real estate tycoon Todd Mathers.

“The fuck?” I re-read the sentence in case I’d hallucinated.

“Yeah.” Crunch. “This level-ten hottie is out there pretending to be you. Or, I guess more accurately, pretending to be Scarlet Rocket, who is also you.”

I leaned forward and scrutinized her profile. Red lips, button nose, thick lashes. Pretty, but not familiar. “Who is she?”

“I don’t know. Hey look. I have to go. Meeting with the president of the company later this morning.”

“Going to pitch him your idea?” I clicked through the rest of the photos from the gala, hoping to find another glimpse of the hot imposter.

“Yep.” Confidence rolled out of him, though I knew well enough to sense the trepidation lying beneath the surface.

I tried for a supportive tone, but it came out nasal thanks to the lingering flu. “He’s going to green-light you. Just wait. I’ve never heard a better idea for a, um, a…”

“It’s a dildo that squirts its own lube. The SquickyLube? Remember?”

My memory fired. “Yeah. A dildo on crack, right?”

“No, you’re thinking of my rear entry device with additional vibrating fingers. This is more of a smooth-talking dildo, eases right in.”

Have I mentioned that I met Elias through my blog? He worked for the largest manufacturer of personal pleasure items in the world, and served as the main advertising contact for me. Jizzlywinks ad dollars paid all the bills in Scarlet Rocket’s early days and still managed to provide me with some cushy side income.

“Right. SquickyLube. That sounds like a winner if I’ve ever heard one, and I can’t wait to see it in the banner ad on the site.”

“Thanks, man. I’ll text you later. And I’m proud of you for answering your phone, you fucking anti-social basket case.”

“Shut up.”

“Fuck you.” With his usual sign off, he hung up.

My eyes glazed over with a tired fuzz, but I forced myself to prioritize and get at least something done.

Fake Scarlet simmered away in my mind. I needed to find her and tell her to fuck right off. But how? I decided to let my subconscious chew on the problem while using my active brain to write a few blog posts.

I opened my most recent article-in-progress and skimmed through what I’d written pre-flu. “Analyzing Anal” looked pretty promising, so I continued where I’d left off.

“For this girl, the key to anal play, as with so many other worthwhile things, is preparation.”

My email notification went off. I moved to turn off all my alerts so I could focus on the complexities of anal delights, but I caught the subject line: “Ticket Confirmed.”

Ticket for what? I clicked on the email.

“Ms. Rocket, the Musee de Arts Sexe welcomes you to its second annual fundraising gala.” I scrolled down. The event was set for this Friday. Leaning back, I ran my hands through my messy hair and stared at the email. Fake Scarlet would be there. Fake Scarlet, who was running around town pretending to be me. Fake Scarlet, whose photos I may have glared at a little too long. Redheads were my kryptonite, but I couldn’t let that distract me.

My eyes narrowed. I’d worked for years to build my blog, and this imposter was schmoozing along on my hard work. Not cool. I had to do something. Beyond the principle of the thing, what if Fake Scarlet was a total numbnuts? What if she were giving my blog a bad rep? I couldn’t let that go on. In a few short years, my blog had become my life. Scarlet Rocket was a part of me, and I wasn’t going to let a sexy phony destroy the real Scarlet. (Who wasn’t actually real… Yeah, I know, but you followed what I was saying there.)

I opened a new email to the Musee de Arts Sexe. “Ms. Rocket would like to add a plus one to her ticket. Her date will be Willis Halloran.”

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