Chapter 3

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The moment the casting room door closed, Steven rounded on me with a thrilled expression.

"Well, that was a pleasant surprise," he beamed, rubbing his hands together eagerly. "Here we thought he had skipped out, and he ended up being the best audition of the day."

I closed my eyes against his praise, trying to decide how to word my response. It was obvious before even today that it was Harry who Steven and the entire production team wanted in the role. I suppose that was my fault, since he was the character I created. At least, in every way I had thought when I first wrote this story two years before. At the time, it had been merely a combination of passion meets fantasy, bringing my favorite singer into a world my mind created. It was a powerful feeling, taking someone so unattainable and making them into something else, something real and something entirely other. I had already devoured every Harry Styles fan fiction I could find online, and when I had run out of new stories to captivate me, I decided to try my hand at the keyboard.

Two years, more than one hundred million reads, a book deal and a crazy whirlwind later, I found myself sitting in on a casting for what was to become a Netflix adaptation of my story. And what was more, was sitting in on a casting to watch the man I had build my story around audition for the very role that had made all this possible.

Too bad he was nothing like the character I had created.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to be diplomatic. "Yeah, it was good to see how he would play Madden," I admitted, keeping the focus on the show and not Harry himself. "But I'm not sure if he is really right for the role."

I didn't need to look around to the other producers and assistants to know that everyone was looking at me like I had lost my mind. Steven's expression said it all, his dark eyes fixated on me in confusion, his hand stilled in the motion of stroking his beard methodically.

"What?" he said, his brow furrowing. "What do you mean? He is Madden, Kate. You wrote the story with Harry as the lead. He literally is the character, with only his name changed so he didn't sue us when the book went to print and the rights sold! How could you think he isn't right for the role?"

I sat up straighter, trying to seem more confident than I felt under the stares that burned holes into my flesh. I needed to make my stand, to fight for my story, even if that fight was fueled by more personal than professional means.

"I guess he just isn't like I imagined when I wrote the character," I admitted, keeping pieces of the truth to myself. "I created an Harry who was sweet and genuine, like he acts in interviews. Someone who made Layke stronger in his vulnerability. The real life Harry seems nothing like that."

"How so?" one of the producers asked from behind me. I turned to find her shaking her head with a confused expression. "You watched him do a read through of a scene, which has nothing to do with how he really is. In all reality, how he really is seems irrelHarryt. It only matters how he portrays the character, and he did a wonderful job. On top of that, your fandom and his have been begging for him to be cast. It is a complete storm on social media, and has gained so much attention for the show already. Surely you can understand this type of PR for a new production, especially one that hasn't even been made yet."

I nodded, agreeing with reluctance. Despite my own reservations after meeting Harry at the bookstore the week before, I couldn't deny how easily he brought my creation to life. He convinced even me that he was the Harry of my mind, even if the one I met was polar opposite. Not kind or guarded, not secretly hoping for the girl he loves to return the feeling. But arrogant and cocky, assuming that merely by his name and his looks he could sway anyone and anything to his whim.

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