Chapter 1


Jess had been going to castings for four days already and hadn’t landed a single gig. If things didn’t change soon, there was no way she would make her summer target. Law school wasn’t going to pay for itself.

After what felt like ages, Hiro lifted his gaze to look at her—though they were both standing, Jess was still a good head taller than he was.

“The client wants you to raise your arms and turn in circles,” he said.

Jess cocked her head to the side. This was the modeling industry. People usually asked her to demonstrate catalogue poses, not windmill impressions. On the other hand, it was Tokyo: a girl never knew quite what to expect in this market. Jess reached for the sky and began spinning. As she turned, she couldn’t help but wince at the sight of the two girls seated behind her.

There was a reason the client’s toilet paper had enormous eyes and his plunger was smiling. It was the same reason all the city’s fashion magazines had names that sounded like cartoon series—An An, Cutie, Pinkie, and why hundreds of teen girls arrived in Harajuku every Saturday dressed like they’d escaped from some rich toddler’s doll collection. The Tokyo fashion industry was crazy for cute.

Sitting on Jess’s left was a girl with wavy dirty-blond hair and round honey-colored eyes. A green portfolio was balanced on her lap along with a thick pile of composite cards—as usual the client hadn’t even bothered to take one. Though Hailey looked like the love child of a Disney prince and an anime schoolgirl and should have cleaned up in the city, the girl always managed to do something daft that completely turned off the client. Today’s gaff: she had asked the man at the desk where the bathroom was. Hiro had told her three times already that clients didn’t talk directly to models. At least the girl had an excuse: it was her first trip and she was obviously lost. Blake was another case altogether.

A platinum blonde with puffy red lips pulled into a bored pout sat fidegiting with her phone next to Hailey. Typical. Blake spent every casting either glaring at the client or staring off into space. She might have gotten away with that kind of attitude in Paris or Milan but not here. Japan liked their girls looking as perky and cheerful as smiley face emojis. The client had dismissed Blake even faster than he had Hailey. Jess didn’t know what that girl was thinking. She was obviously no rookie considering how many tear sheets she had in her book. Was she so cocky that she thought she could get away with it or was she trying to destroy her career on purpose?

Importing girls to Japan wasn’t cheap. The agency paid for everything upfront—the plane


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