Captain of the baseball team Luke Chambers never falters when he’s on the mound. He can make split second decisions without breaking a sweat. In real life? He might have just told a lie that he was dating the only out kid in school. He should stick to baseball. Get the young adult novel One Little Word here.
In this excerpt, Ryan and Luke pretend to date with varying results.
It was another wonderful day at school, being some kind of reverse beard for my amazingly attractive straight friend. My hand was casually linked in Luke’s while we walked down the hall. I still felt a tingle just touching him, but I worked hard to hide it while he tried to suppress whatever instincts told him this was too gay. We made an awkward, stilted pair that somehow people still didn’t figure out.
“You two look so queer.” Lydia watched us with an unimpressed look. I glared at her.
“That’s offensive,” Luke protested.
“Don’t let a teacher hear you say that,” I scolded. I couldn’t pretend to date Lydia too.
“I don’t mean queer as in gay,” she explained. “I mean as in weird.”
“You’re not very comfortable,” Alicia agreed.
“Well, everyone’s staring,” Luke protested.
Lydia rolled her eyes. “Please, everyone stares at both of you all the time.”
“Wait, shouldn’t we look queer as in gay?” Luke questioned.
“You should,” Lydia acknowledged. “But you don’t.”
I sighed. We stopped near my locker. I leaned on the metal instead of opening it as that would make this even more awkward since our hands were still joined.
Luke looked around, seemingly trying to gauge how much people were buying this. His calculations didn’t please him because it was like I could see a sign in his heading lighting up that said ‘drastic measures’ as he leaned in to me.
“Don’t kiss me again,” I warned. I couldn’t handle it. Both the hotness and that he then got all weird.
“Dude, we’re boyfriends,” he defended. Yes, a kiss was pretty effective at convincing people; it just worked a little too well on me. Especially now. I faced towards the windows at the end of the hallway while he faced away. Being lit by the sun made him positively glow, like a super-hot angel or something.
I pulled my hand out of his. “You need to relax. You’re trying too hard.”
“But this is… crazy.”
“Yeah, and you don’t let yourself stop thinking about that.” I looked to Lydia and Alicia. “Pretend I’m Lydia,” I said, grimacing.
He considered it for a second, then shook his head. “I can’t.” Thank God.
“Pretend you’re European,” Alicia suggested instead.
Luke nodded like that made perfect sense. “Yeah, okay.”
“That will work for you?” I asked.
Luke shrugged and nodded. “Europeans are weird.”
This was weird. Stupid. He was a terrible actor too, but I still got all nervous and weak-kneed at being so close to him. Luke shuffled his feet, and I prepared myself for insanity. He looked up and past me and something changed. All he did was take my hand and send me a flirty smile, but it seemed way more natural now. Was this him pretending to be European? Did he think Europeans gave bedroom eyes to everyone?
I felt light-headed. I could barely handle him struggling to be my fake boyfriend. I would die if he started to excel at it.
“Well now, this is better,” Lydia said in her version of an approving tone.
“I’m inspired,” he said while looking at me.
I couldn’t help blushing. This would kill me.
“Hey guys,” a new voice interrupted.
“Oh, hi Zach.” I turned my head to see him approaching from behind me. This was awkward, as close to a love triangle as I’d ever get. Holding hands with my fake boyfriend while an actual guy who was interested looked at us, his lips quirked up like this was hilarious. He didn’t seem to notice how weird this was.
“You guys can keep doing… whatever this is.” His smile grew, it was really cute. “I just wanted to see if we were still going to study tonight?” he asked me.
“Yeah,” I nodded and unconsciously gripped onto Luke’s hand tighter. He sent me an annoyed look that I ignored. I shyly looked up at Zach. “Yeah, of course.”
“Good.” He grinned at me, sent Luke another amused look, and went on his way.
“You’re studying with him?” Luke asked.
“It’s just studying.” I shrugged.
“That’s an obvious line,” Luke insisted.
“Who cares?” Lydia said, smiling. Her and Alicia took turns giving me a high five.