Book information
Author Meg Cabot
Alternate titles
Publisher Scholastic
Publication date March 2010
Pages 310
ISBN 9780545040600
Series information
Series Airhead
Book in series 3
Preceded by Being Nikki
Followed by

Runaway is the third book in the Airhead series by Meg Cabot. It was first published in March 2010 by Scholastic.



Trapped at Brandon Stark’s vacation house in South Carolina, Em Watts is forced to deal with her separation from Christopher, press scrutiny over her relationship with Brandon, and the newly-revived Nikki Howard, who antagonizes Em and continues to demand her old body back. One evening, Christopher appears and asks Em to escape, but she refuses to go without the others. He, Lulu, and Frida subsequently stage a physical intervention, using Brandon’s private jet to transport Em, Nikki, Steven, and Mrs. Howard back to New York.

Upon her arrival, Em hides the Howards in Gabriel Luna’s apartment and meets with her parents, who confront her about her declining school grades. They express their intention to break the Stark contract and release her from Nikki’s body, but she persuades them to let her find a solution. As she leaves, Em notices that she is being tailed by a Stark security man and calls Christopher for help; during their escape, he kisses her. They visit Felix and inform him of Nikki’s discovery that Stark Enterprises has been uploading data from Stark Quark laptops. Felix retrieves the data, most of which belongs to young, healthy people soon to go abroad, all part of a mystery scheme known as Project Phoenix. As they leave, Em confronts Christopher about their kiss, but he brushes it off, claiming he has lost interest in her. They return to Gabriel’s apartment, where Lulu gives Nikki a makeover, significantly improving her appearance.

The next evening, as Em prepares for Robert Stark’s New Year’s Eve party, Christopher calls her in a panic, telling her that she is Project Phoenix. A disbelieving Em hangs up on him, but becomes suspicious when Stark introduces her to several aging company shareholders, all wearing bracelets with a phoenix charm. Realizing that the bracelet gives access to a mystery presentation, she sneaks in to view it with Brandon's help. Em discovers that the presentation is an auction, and that Project Phoenix involves selling the bodies of the people whose Stark Quark data was collected to the shareholders, who will have their brains transplanted into the youthful bodies - just as Em was transplanted into Nikki. She begins recording video evidence with her phone, but is caught by Stark, who destroys her iPhone and threatens to have Frida killed.

After leaving the party, Em pulls out her bugged Stark phone, revealing that the footage is safe, and gives it to Nikki and Lulu to bring to Felix. She completes the Stark Angels show, worrying about Frida’s safety, and rushes to the afterparty at the Stark Sky Bar, where she finds Christopher and Frida alive and well. At the party, Nikki - now under the alias of Diana Prince - reveals her true identity to Stark. As they celebrate the New Year, Christopher kisses Em, and Project Phoenix is revealed on CNN. Before Stark can confront Em, New York police enter the scene and arrest him and the shareholders.

In the epilogue, it is revealed that Stark has been jailed without bail. Brandon is successful as the new CEO of Stark Enterprises, hiring Christopher and Felix as the heads of its now-improved IT department. Frida goes to prom with Felix, Mrs. Howard returns to Gasper, and Steven returns to the Navy, but maintains a relationship with Lulu. Nikki, having embraced her new persona, enrolls in college, begins dating Gabriel, and becomes Em’s new agent. The novel ends with Em and Christopher on a dinner date. He presents her with a necklace engraved with her real name, to which Em replies, “as if I could ever forget, with you around.”

Character appearances

See also