“You’re going to want to look hotter than that,” Sarah informed her conspiratorially.
“What?” Jamie looked down at herself, slightly breathless from running to catch the flight. “Why?”
“Check out Mister First Class.” Sarah waggled her eyebrows, and Jamie frowned. They did not often have a Mister First Class, a man for whom first class seats were not enough and who therefore bought out the seats surrounding him for a buffer zone. Mister First Class was usually super gross. Like, really gross. The grossest. She peered down the aisle to see who she might mean.
He was gorgeous. He was beyond gorgeous. He was so gorgeous that Jamie almost had trouble looking at him. He looked like he’d been photoshopped, somehow, with a soft glow filter and everything.
“His eyes are like… like… cheap margaritas.”
“I was going to say ’emeralds’, but yours is good, too.”
Jamie tried not to keep staring. “Are you sure you don’t… you know…”
Sarah snorted. “Even if I wanted to cheat on my husband – and Lord knows, he’d understand if I showed him a picture – there’s no way I’d have a chance.” She took Jamie by the shoulders, her gaze intense. “Do it, Jamie. Do it for all of us. Live the dream.”
After the plane had leveled off, Jamie took drink orders from first class. She’d gone for sort of a Megan Fox thing. It wasn’t her favorite form, but it had the most luck with men. She thought she might have to start borrowing this guy’s face to use with women. Maybe he could finally overtake the success of Kristen Stewart.
“And what can I get for you, sir?” she asked, leaning over in what she hoped was a provocative pose.
“Nothing,” he said immediately, not even looking up from his phone.
She hesitated. She looked toward the front of the plane, where Sarah gave her a thumbs-up. She definitely looked super hot. “There’s… nothing I can do for you?” she tried again.
Mister First Class did not just sigh, but groaned, as if he had never been so irritated in his entire life. “Look, lady,” he said, still not looking up from his phone as he held up a staying hand, “any other time I’d be happy to let you touch my dick, or whatever it is you’re hoping for, here, but I’m kind of busy right now.”
Jamie straightened. She walked, stiffly, back to where Sarah was waiting. She closed the curtain so that no one could see them, and immediately went full Terry Crews.
“He’s gay?” Sarah asked, surprised.
“No,” Jamie said, crossing his arms. “He’s an asshole.”
“Oh, no,” Sarah sighed. “We should have known. Mister First Class always sucks.” She looked Jamie over appraisingly. “You’d better hope he’s not a bisexual asshole.”
“Ugh.” He peeped through the curtain to see if Mister First Class was still on his phone. He was. “For the first time in my life, I really hope that hot guy doesn’t swing both ways.” Sarah patted his arm with a giggle.
“… didn’t you used to be a white lady?”
Jamie did his best to look impassive. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, sir.”
“Yes, you do,” he persisted. “You’re the hot chick, from before. I can smell it. Why do you look like the guy from the Old Spice commercial?”
Well, this had taken a turn for the creepy. “Sir, I am going to have to ask you to please not smell the flight attendants.” Jamie did his best to look intimidating, which was not currently difficult.
“I’m serious,” he said. “Are you a shifter? Here, sit down.” He pulled his bag off of the seat next to him so that Jamie would have room to sit, if only barely. He was, after all, very large at the moment. Jamie hesitated. “Look, I’m sorry about the, ah, dick. Thing. Earlier. I’m a little stressed out right now, okay? I promise I’m not hitting on you.”
Well. He had said he was sorry. Jamie looked around to be sure that Sarah and the others didn’t need his help before sitting, settling in awkwardly beside the literal handsomest man in the world. “How did you know?” he asked, because no one had ever figured him out that quickly before.
“I told you,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, “I smelled it on you.” He held out a hand for a shake. “Hasan Kaya.”
“Jamie Flores,” he introduced in return, resisting the temptation to crush the much smaller hand in his. Good lord, his hands were soft.
“That’s a good name,” Hasan said, impressed. “Never have to change it! Clever. Happy accident, or deliberate?”
“That’s a little personal,” he said, shifting in his seat.
“Right, right. Sorry, that’s my bad.” Hasan was charming, but he was charming in the way that a used car dealer was charming; he set Jamie’s teeth on edge. He felt like he was being sold something he couldn’t afford. Maybe he wouldn’t have even noticed it if he hadn’t been so rude earlier. That face made it easy to overlook things. “Look, this is going to sound weird, but I think we can help each other.”
Jamie narrowed his eyes. “How, exactly?”
Hasan smiled, and the smile was dazzling; Jamie actually leaned away from it, as if it could hurt him. “It’s like I said before, ” he explained, “I’m a little stressed today. Work is great, life is great – generally, you know, things are great. Except for this one little thing. This party I’m flying out to right now.”
“You need a date,” Jamie ventured, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, god no,” he said with a little laugh. “I have no trouble getting dates, trust me.” It would have been a lot easier to believe before he’d opened his mouth. “I just don’t want to go. I’m… I don’t know, a workaholic. I’m supposed to go to these parties – company parties, you understand – and I’m supposed to eat all this fancy food and drink all this wine and flirt with all these pretty people and generally, you know, let loose.”
“That sounds awful,” Jamie deadpanned.
“I know how that sounds,” Hasan sighed. “I mean, it was fun! The first time. And the second time, even. But I’ve been doing this for years now. It gets worse every time. The same people, basically the same party, the same gossip. I’ve got shit I could be doing. You know? Maybe I’m just getting old, I don’t know.”
He sure as hell didn’t look old. “You could just not go,” he pointed out.
“Career suicide,” he said, shooting the idea down immediately. “I could whip my dick out and piss in the punch while everyone watched, and it’d still be better than not going. Not going is like… the ultimate insult. You know?”
He really didn’t. “You’re asking me to go in your place,” Jamie said instead of asking, because this was not the first time he’d had this sort of request.
“It’s win-win,” Hasan said, not denying it. “Look, not to be insulting, but: you’re a flight attendant. Right? This job doesn’t pay well. You take a job like this, you love to travel, see the world, right? I can tell I’m right. This is your chance to go to a real bigwig party. Rub elbows with the rich and famous. Drink some thousand-dollar glasses of wine, eat caviar. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t act like me. These people only see me once a year, and they’ll blame it on the drink, anyway. You have fun, I save time, everyone wins.”
“This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen,” Jamie said. “There’s a catch you’re not telling me about. Are you supposed to give a speech? What’s the catch?”
“No speech,” Hasan promised. “Rich people are awful and you don’t get to punch any of them. That’s the catch.” He started to dig through his bag. “Look, the party is tomorrow, okay? I’ll give you my card and let you think about it. Call me, email me, whatever. No, on second thought, email me. Don’t call. You need time to think, you have more questions, you go right ahead.”
Jamie accepted the card, trying not to be drawn in to that smile. “I’ll think about it,” he said slowly.
“Please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.”
Jamie started, spinning around on his heel towards a voice that had clearly been directed at him. He thought he’d been doing a very good job of being Hasan, so far. He had the voice right and everything. But he was still very nervous, sweating at the slightest hint that he’d been found out. “Excuse me?”
“You’re not Hasan,” they said, crossing their arms, “so I’m hoping that you’re about to tell me that Hasan is on his way, and you’re just buying him some time.”
Jamie’s stomach sank down into his very nice shoes. He recovered with his best smile, which, because it was Hasan’s, was a wonderful smile indeed. “And what makes you think I’m not me?” he asked, teasing, as if he were humoring this absolutely correct individual.
“Oh, fuck me,” they said, grabbing his elbow with more strength than their slender limbs seemed like they should have possessed, dragging him toward a less-populated area of the ballroom. “You’re too pretty to be Hasan,” they explained, and Jamie frowned.
“I really don’t think I am,” he said, and they shook their head.
“That’s because of the glamour,” they explained. “Hasan’s not bad looking, but this…” They waved their hands to indicate the entirety of Jamie’s person. “If this is what other people see, it’s no wonder that asshole is so popular.” Despite seeming to be well aware that this was not the person they knew, they flicked Jamie’s ear with obnoxious familiarity, making him flinch. “And you forgot the points. Someone here’s going to notice that. Fix it. No, too long. Less Spock. Yeah, sure that seems about right.”
“You’re right,” he said, changing tactics. “Hasan is on his way, I’m just supposed to make sure no one knows he’s late.”
“Don’t lie to me,” they said, flicking his ear again. “Never lie to a witch, don’t you know that?”
Jamie looked from the daisies in their afro to the daises embroidered on their pastel blue kaftan. “A witch,” he repeated, and this time he recoiled before they could flick at him again.
“I like daisies,” they explained with a huff, adjusting their clothes with a haughty tilt to their nose. “Don’t lose sight of the big picture, Mister Whoever-You-Are.”
“What’s the big picture?”
“Have you noticed,” the witch asked, taking Jamie by the arm and gesturing to the room, “an overabundance of twins at this party?”
He hadn’t. But now that they were pointing it out, there did seem to be a lot of very similar people. Except that one of them always seemed to be much prettier than the other. “That… seems… weird…”
“They’re supposed to be going home. All of them. Switching places, going back where they belong. But someone,” they said, jabbing a finger into Jamie’s chest for emphasis, “is a selfish moron,” they said, jabbing again, “and is going to get you killed.”
Jamie’s blood ran cold. “What?” His voice had a slightly more feminine pitch. He didn’t understand all of what was going on, witches and twins and trading places, but he definitely understood killed.
“And worse,” they added, “he’s going to get me fired.”
“Killed?” Jamie repeated.
“Probably not on purpose,” they added, as if that would make him feel better. “He never paid enough attention when it came to this kind of thing. Having too much fun with, I don’t know, the internet. Tempura rolls. They don’t have those in the faewilds. You’ve never seen a man eat so many tempura rolls in one sitting. He’s probably eating some right now. Thousands of years of tradition and treaties, all down the toilet because of shrimp. I always knew it would be shrimp.”
“Is there a way for me to… not… die?” Jamie asked, not particularly interested in the witch’s vendetta against shellfish.
“Mmm, I’d say you have about…” They stopped, lifting their wrist to look at it despite not wearing a watch or even a bracelet. “Five hours,” they declared, “to find the guy who tricked you into wearing his face.”
“Five hours? He could be anywhere by now!”
The witch patted his arm, which would have been a lot more comforting if their touch hadn’t felt like peppermints. “I suggest starting with the sushi bars.”