Awkward turtle. Do people still say that?

Ryan Miller and Luke Chambers do everything they do in the most terrible and awkward ways, including, well, you know… it.

Doing it.

IT!

You understand. That’s enough.

SEX! Sex was the it in that case. In case you weren’t aware.

One Little Change features Ryan and Luke navigating intimacy and a long distance relationship. Here are some outtakes involving Ryan’s feelings about all of this.

Ryan

First experiences were always weird. Right? Right. I think so. Especially if I was involved. Things would only get better! I had to remember that. Just, it was difficult. Since this was the last memory before I left.

I didn’t want to worry but freaking out and jumping to conclusions was my natural state. I had so much experience with it and much less with being calm and not panicking. This was why we had a plan. It might suck but we could get through it. Who knew that would apply to our first time?

No, don’t think about that. Just, the plan was for me leaving. Oh god. I was already leaving but at least I had been leaving on a high note. Except now. I was leaving on a not high note. An awkward note.  It might suck but we can get through it. We can handle it. I hoped that was still true.

I was the rightest person to ever right and everyone should always listen to me because I could do no wrong, but my powers were too great. The common folk feared my gifts and never heeded my advice. Too bad. Cause see, I told Luke we should freak out first. So we could get it out of the way. Granted, that was about me leaving, not about—

We definitely should have freaked out beforehand. Because I was so going to freak out now.

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Luke is totally not afraid of horses.

Here’s some fiction about people riding horses. Literally, not in a euphemism way. Should I make that sound more exciting? Here’s some fiction about people riding horses!

Nailed it.

Again, not in a dirty way.

This is a scene I didn’t end up using from One Little Change. I took out anything other than vague references to the plot, so this isn’t spoilery and you also don’t need to know anything about the characters.

Enjoy! (Or don’t, you do you.)

Luke

This was the awkwardest experience ever. Happening right now. Around me. Under me. That sounded weird. I was on a horse. It was awkward.

Maybe it wasn’t that weird… it was just also really weird.

“Slow down,” I suggested to Lydia while tightening my arms around her waist.

“You are such a baby.” Swore she sped up while she said that.

“There’s a branch up ahead!” I warned.

“Stop backseat horse riding!”

We were at the camp where Alicia worked, picking up my little sister Lily. Camp was over for her group, but there were still counselors around and they’d soon be getting ready for the next batch of kids. No one seemed to care or question us when we went to the stables and checked out the horses, all the employees too excited for the downtime between cycles, so I followed Lily and Alicia’s leads.

Lily decided we were going to go riding, which I didn’t really know how to do, but she seemed comfortable getting the horses ready.

While Ryan and I patching things up was good for my heart and mind and soul and everything, maybe it was good for my body too. The Millers didn’t even have horses yet, and Ryan and I were in no way married, but my little sister Lily was acting like their imaginary horses were as good as hers.

Our family didn’t have a barn of our own, and the ranch I worked on had different livestock, so I’d never ridden. Maybe a few times at the fair when I was a kid and then horses seemed girly. Why? Yeah, girls liked horses. Sometimes to a scary degree. But the animals were giant and they had strength and what about them was girly, and even if it was, what about that was girly in a bad way?

I told the girls they could ride and I would just wait for them, maybe go back to my car. And now somehow I was behind Lydia on a horse.

The horse Lily rode had a chestnut coat, was obviously named Chestnut, and was fast, as she charged ahead and lost us pretty much immediately on the path.

Alicia’s tan horse, Blondie, they didn’t dig too hard for names, looked like it had the ability to catch up or at least get close to Lily’s horse even though it moved at a slower pace to accommodate me and my steed.

My horse was named Button and had a white coat with grey spots. No idea if its coat was always like that or that just happened when a horse was, like, 90 years old. If he tried to go as fast as Chestnut, he would probably die.

I liked Button. He was an old guy that was just doing his best.

While I probably wasn’t in any danger, I clung onto Lydia for dear life.

“Just be careful,” I told or reminded her.

“Stop telling me what to do.”

“I will if you be careful.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Yeah and so had Button, 900 times, and I think he’s had enough. It’s a big job carrying two people.

~

One Little Deleted Scene

Perhaps this is a medium length scene at least, but I’m doing a thing. Because of the titles, get it? This is a deleted seen from One Little Lie. If you haven’t read before, Ryan and Luke are dating, and Luke is pretending to date Lydia for the sake of both their parents. Ryan is trying to figure Luke out, and that’s what you missed on Glee... or whatever.

Also, hey, let me so casually slip in that the third book, One Little Problem is available right now! Hooray!

~~~

My life was really almost perfect. I had no problems. Except for boyfriend problems. Life had never gone so smoothly, only one area was wrong, but it wasn’t a little area. It didn’t matter that everything else was fine, having that part off screwed with the entire system. It made it feel like everything was wrong.

“I think something’s off,” I started, mostly talking to myself while I graded freshman quizzes for Mrs. Reynolds and she hopefully was doing something academic and teacherly on her computer instead of taking personality tests while I did TA stuff. That had happened before.

“If you mean with the bio quizzes, I know, they’re dumber than usual.” I glanced up at her, my look telling her that was inappropriate. I mean, she wasn’t wrong but still I’d hate for her to get in trouble; it was too late for me to find another favorite teacher. She continued, “Just grade and don’t despair for the future of America.”

She turned back towards her computer then seemed to think of something and looked back at me. “But If you mean there’s something wrong with your personal life, please continue.” To her credit, she acted super professional and teacherly during classes and in front of most the student body and faculty. But when she was just with her little cadre of science nerds, her filter greatly diminished.

“It’s with Luke,” I confided. “He seems happier and likes being around me, when he isn’t busy with Lydia, but he won’t really tell me what’s going on.” These freshmen quizzes were bad too, but I’ll own up to being a terrible person. I cared more about myself right now than the future of the country.

She made an acknowledging noise and said, “You should probably talk to him.” Was she listening? I tried, but he shuts me down.

But maybe he had nothing to share? I couldn’t tell if it was me or him. “Normally I just wait him out and he gets himself together eventually. But things just feel different. Only then I wonder if I’m just not being supportive.”

“You could find out,” she started.

I kept going. “But it’s hard to be supportive when he’s keeping me at arm’s length.” I didn’t feel like a priority anymore. But see that was about me, so was I just being needy or something when this was about Luke?

“You should let him know your concerns.”

“Once when we were texting he told me he hoped his mom got strawberry jam from the store instead of grape,” I reminisced while slashing a red mark through an answer on the sheet in front of me. “And then I couldn’t text later, so he called me on the phone just to tell me she got the strawberry. And now there’s this whole thing we suddenly can’t talk about? That’s not right.”

“So—”

“I have no idea. I can only do so much of this on my own.” I could keep going back and forth on whether I was crazy or not, but it didn’t really matter. I was only one side of the equation and I couldn’t figure anything out without input on his end. Which meant…

“Which is why you should talk to him,” Mrs. Reynolds said as I said, “I have to talk to him.”

“Yes, finally,” she told me. “Thank you for listening.”

“What?” She couldn’t steal credit! “I came up with that on my own.” Five bucks said she wasn’t even doing anything important on her computer.

She raised an eyebrow and said dryly, “You’re so lucky you’re my second favorite student.”

“What? I’m your favorite.” I would slap Shelly Michaels if she’d edged in front of me.

“This conversation has caused me to evaluate my priorities.”

I held up the papers in front of me to her. “I can let you grade these.”

“Look at that, you’re my favorite again.” Damn right.

“What are you doing anyway?” I leaned over to look at her computer screen and she tilted it away before sighing and letting me look.

“I really need to know which District I would be in if life were the Hunger Games,” she filled me in as I glared at her. “You can take it next!”

Apparently, I would be in District Seven. I didn’t even care.

But why District Seven? That was so unfair that I apparently belonged in a forest since I lived in a flat, Midwestern plain. And who cared about District Seven, anyway? It was such a boring district. …Though, Johanna Mason was a badass and that was just a fact. Okay, I cared a little. But mostly, my mind was on Luke.

Luke had been good about sharing with me, up until recently. But maybe I hadn’t done the same. I had concerns and didn’t tell him. I thought I had a good reason for not voicing them but… I don’t know. I could be wrong. I hate being wrong. Oh well, I’d have to talk to Luke and get things figured out.

Deleted Scene: Summer Romance

This contains spoilers for Summer Romance. The scene is between a couple, one person wants to come out and the other one doesn’t.

This was kinda weird. I was in a hospital room having a relationship discussion. Sort of. Carter’s dad had his procedure and Carter got his dad settled into his room or whatever while I went and got some lunch from the cafeteria for us and I hung around, letting him do whatever he needed to do and then his dad was asleep and we were on the floor of his hospital room, not talking much, but whispering when we did so that we didn’t disturb his dad.

His phone was obviously on silent, but it sat next to us on the floor. He’d answered it for a while, responding to people’s text but had given up for now. It keep flashing and lighting up, floods of messages pouring in.

“Everyone always loves you,” I whispered.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“Maybe it is.”

“What so I should have no friends like you?” He winced immediately after he said it. He opened his mouth to apologize but I grabbed his hand and squeezed it. I looked at him, trying to gauge if that was okay. He glanced at his dad but then just sighed and squeezed my hand back.

It was hard to hold a few harsh words against a guy when you were keeping him company in his dad’s hospital room.

“I don’t see why I should want people to dislike me just because it builds character or something,” Carter said.

“The thing is, there’s always going to be something about you people might not like. You can hide negative stuff by being popular and friendly but it’s still there and maybe those people aren’t worth being friends with if they only want you to be perfect.”

Deleted scene from What Love Means

This bit comes from the end of the story What Love Means, so it’s got some spoilers.

I ultimately decided to leave Cal’s situation with his parents more open ended, but this is the outline I had of how a conversation between Cal and his father might go.

___

My parents were used to getting their way. The only thing I could think of to get any financial support  would mean I needed to be willing to lose it all. I didn’t like this plan. But it was all I had. It wasn’t about Max. Or Princeton. It was about my family always calling the shots. I could barely picture a life without them or their money, but I needed at least some control in my life.

I had opening notes prepared for this discussion with my father but instead I asked, “Did you say you were proud of me for a moment and ease up because you realized it would be easier to get me to go the Princeton that way?” It could have been he was proud of me for standing up to him. It could have been his way of changing tactics.

Father didn’t do anything so juvenile as roll his eyes, but I had the feeling he wanted to. “I’m not the villain from a bedtime story. There’s no plotting against you. I thought you could use the encouragement. I didn’t know it would inspire…” he trailed off, lips curling down.

“I was seeing him before that.” Very helpful addition to his conversation I scolded internally.

“Is this really what you wanted to talk about?”

“No, I wanted to discuss our impasse.”

“There’s no impasse. If you want to go to school-“

“Mom likes our image a lot. Every Christmas card mentions that I’m at the top of our class and don’t pretend like you haven’t already boasted to your golfing buddies how your son’s going to your alma matter. Me not going to college, how would that look?”

He stared at me for several moments. Instead of trying to school my features, I let my frustration show and fidgeted. He always saw the minute movements anyway, so why pretend I was calm cool and collected? I’d rather show him that I was the opposite of all those things and still pushing forward anyway. Maybe he would slaughter me in the boardroom. No, definitely. But negotiations with family were different.

“It would be worse for you,” he said eventually. “Especially if you didn’t have any money.”

“I don’t care.” I raised my head defiantly.

“You haven’t worked a day in your life.”

I didn’t point out that I’d organized PTA bake sales and fundraising drives for water polo. That might not count in his view.  “I’m not backing down.”

“Your boyfriend is worth that much?”

“No. Having some say over my life is worth that much.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“I’m willing to put Princeton on the table.”

“Oh, you’re willing to spend my money to—”

“Or maybe I won’t go to school. I’ll take a gap year, maybe several.”

“I was going to remind you the time for negotiating is over, but your opening gambit amuses me enough to let you continue.”

“I could manage without school. Maybe I’ll devote myself to my boyfriend and spend the whole time posting pics of me and him online. Maybe I’ll run an ad in the paper.”

“With what money?”

“Then I’ll go door to door.”

“What are you proposing?”

“A negotiation.”

“I have the power position.”

Cal shrugs. “We both have things we want from each other. And I’ve never been in a boardroom. I’m young and dumb enough to stick to my guns even if I shoot myself in the foot.”

“That’s why I’ve never taken you hunting.”

“Are  you ready to hear me out?”

“Let’s hear your opening offer.”