Stuff that totally won’t go wrong

Do fake relationships ever happen in real life? Maybe! I mean… probably not, right? My guess would be no, but I’m the one who asked you the question, so I don’t have to have the answers.

And I’m talking, like, romcom pretend boyfriends scenarios only, where a successful professional has to go to their exes wedding but can’t get a date for zany reasons and must pretend to be in love with their sworn enemy. Less bearding because the world is terrible and more Hallmark movie plot stuff where everybody falls in love at the end.

The fake boyfriends trope is used in One Little Word. Then there’s a fake girlfriend and a real boyfriend in One Little Lie. So naturally for One Little Problem, it was time to switch it up. Fake break ups! Is that a thing? In real life or in fiction? Whatever.

Okay, so Ryan wants to pretend to break up because the natural answer when your parents don’t approve of your significant other is ‘lie about it.’ I think I started that sentence with sarcastic intent, but actually, that is so the logical answer. Especially if you’re a teenager and in a romcom, which is a yes to both for Ryan.

Ryan’s boyfriend Luke isn’t as sure about this plan. So this is him debating.

~

Luke

On the way home from the game, the last light from the day disappeared while the bus carrying the team headed back to school. Zach and I had a spot in the back while Joey sat across from us, asleep and stretched over his whole seat.

I thought about sleeping too until Zach spoke. “Maybe Ryan isn’t as bulletproof as you are these days.”

Huh, where had that come from? “He’s been handling haters way more than I have.”

“And maybe that’s taken a toll,” he suggested.

“But—”

“Doesn’t have to seem like it has.” He gave me an important look, like he would know. Guess he would, him and Ryan were the same way. Pretending like nothing bothered them, both much better at it than me. I was only good at it when untested. But it didn’t seem like that with Ryan as much because he let his guard down around me a lot more than Zach did.

“Maybe he just wants to enjoy being with you or something lame like that,” Zach said with a frown like just the thought of it was too sappy for him. “This could be a way to do that.”

“You think pretending to break up is a good idea?”

Zach shrugged. “No opinion, really. Might be entertaining.” I rolled my eyes. He continued. “But you might be focusing on the wrong thing. The method is breaking up, but the point is being together with less hassle.”

“So then why didn’t we do that before?”

“Might not have been able to handle it.” He sneered a little like he couldn’t help it as he said, “You guys seem totally disgusting now.”

“Thanks.” I grinned, totally unashamed.

“And pretty stable. Just, I think he means well with this suggestion? Maybe consider it? Yeah, you don’t care what anyone else thinks. Your parents will come around or they won’t. Nothing can hurt you. Maybe because you’re on the baseball team and you have a bunch of friends or you have both your parents alive but just because Ryan talks a good game, maybe it’s not as easy for him.”

Guess that was possible. Maybe I felt confident and like nothing could stop me because this whole coming out thing had sucked so much and I still survived it, but Ryan had come out a while ago. No been outed. By me. He hadn’t been ready for it either. Super annoying that Zach might have a point but just because Ryan had been dealing with haters for a while that didn’t mean it was the same when the haters in question were our parents.

I might understand that pretty well. I’d never not had my parents in my corner. Until now. Maybe it was worse for Ryan, because it was only him and his dad. This could be a really stupid idea, no it probably was, but I guess I didn’t blame him. Not getting along with your parent or parents on something so big was rough and if a little lying could change that…

I sat in my room by myself after I got home, staring at my phone. Here I was, sitting here considering it. Hadn’t done anything else once since I got home. Wasn’t really a breakup, but the idea still made me nervous. We’d talked about this once before and Ryan was so against it then. But that was back when I didn’t know I was bi and we wanted my parents off my back because they didn’t know I was bi either and now we all knew. Knowledge was power. I’d heard that before, so it must be true.

There was a knock on the door. “Do I need to come in there?” Lydia asked.

Zach told her? “You don’t think it’s a terrible idea?”

“I think I’m not having this conversation with a closed door… even though its probably about as smart as you.” Lydia never missed a chance to take a shot at me, which meant that she didn’t think this was the most terrible idea in the world or she wouldn’t have hesitated to tell me so.

“Go away, Lydia.”

I took a long, deep breath and leaned back in my chair. Idly glancing around my room, I realized my mom had been in here. She did that sometimes to get my laundry, but no, it was still there in the corner. She had definitely been in here though or my dad had. Some of the posters I had on my wall were gone. The ones that were just a baseball player like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Come on, Manny Machado wasn’t even attractive! He had a certain charm, I guess, but he was no Bryce Harper.

…I didn’t even realize Harper was hot until right now, but yeah, I wanted that posted back. And also the one I had of Chris Evans as Captain America, which, huh. Maybe I always found him hot and just didn’t know it.

Alright, I had to do my own laundry now and maybe get a lock so my parents couldn’t come in and try to de-gay everything. Maybe getting my parents off my back would make things easier not just for me but Ryan too and he was the one who wanted to do it.

Ryan had, like, 90 million thoughts bouncing around his head at any given time, so while he’s super smart, sometimes he doesn’t verbalize everything into words I understand, but it’s okay, because I’m learning how to read him. I didn’t like thinking about Ryan leaving for the summer. He probably didn’t either. And we couldn’t do anything about that, but there was this other problem and he wanted to fix it. So then, the him leaving thing would still suck but maybe suck less because we would get to spend more time together before the sucking part happened.

…I should not have thought of it like that. I wanted the sucking part to happen but the good sucking part, not the bad sucking part—you know what? I’m just going to call Ryan.

 

Acting is as hard as having a fake boyfriend.

Putting on a production worthy of the stage, Ryan and Luke are fake boyfriends acting in a very weird show for dubious personal gain. And they’re actually really bad at acting, but since I’m tying this into the theater it sounded better to say they were stage worthy.  No, it still works. A comedy of errors is a thing, so that’s what they are.

It only now occurs to me that I don’t actually have to reference the theater because this story takes place after the characters see a play, but it is, you know, after that. So fake boyfriends Ryan and Luke are at an after party where Luke thinks thoughts.

While I wouldn’t say Luke was straight until Ryan came into his life, I would say he had no idea liking guys was an option for him until, well, not this part. He still doesn’t know that, but it’s helpful information to know to avoid being as confused as him.

So Luke is at a party and nothing makes sense, which is par for the course of his life lately. This scene is sort of in the book One Little Word, but this is a different version.

Luke

I expected Zach to watch the spectacle of me and Ryan like it was quality entertainment. I wasn’t even surprised when he brought microwave popcorn to lunch one day, the perfect snack while he watched the show. He was around laughing at my expense, but I secretly appreciated that.

Zach and Joey knew this wasn’t real, hell half the school probably believed the true rumor Alicia and Lydia started, but they didn’t know for sure. It helped that Zach did, that there was someone who knew it wasn’t like that and treated me just the same, like I was there to amuse him.

So while him being a total jerk comforted me in one sense, I also appreciated a break from Zach at the play. The theater wasn’t what he considered quality entertainment. Ryan and I hadn’t really gone together, but Lydia didn’t respond to my texts, so the two of us technically went together.

I had to figure out a way to get Lydia while pretending to be with Ryan. I was meeting with the scholarship guys, I would get on their radar, and hopefully things would go from there. They wouldn’t have to know I was dating Lydia; I was getting good at hiding things.

No, that was being unfair. To myself. Maybe I was having a conscience. I had no time for anything pesky like that. My family wasn’t rich, so I needed scholarships as much as anyone. And I was an ally, I was part of that whole LGBT+ thing, right? So, I counted. I knew this should be wrong. Why didn’t I feel that guilty about it?

This was the perfect time to make something happen with Lydia, but I ended up babysitting Ryan.

Maybe that wasn’t fair. He was normally pretty entertaining, but he was hilarious when drunk. I’d get distracted and turn back to Lydia, but Alicia was keeping her company, so I’d make sure Ryan didn’t accidentally kill himself somehow. He broke his leg totally sober, so it could happen.

Lydia and Alicia were giggling about something on one side of me, and Ryan’s head fell on my shoulder. We were supposed to be dating, so I let it happen, but the moment felt weirdly intimate as a slower song started to play.

Well, it felt weirdly intimate for a second or two, until a third wheel stood in front of us.

“Zach!” Ryan yelled right in my ear, the full force of that dopey drunk grin now turned on my best friend.

What was he doing here? “You didn’t even come to the show,” I pointed out.

“Gross,” he said. Then he nodded to Alicia. “No offense.”

“I had to sit through a baseball game for these two.” She gestured to me and Ryan. “I totally get it.”

“That’s like a party foul,” I insisted.

“I brought booze,” Zach added, holding up a dark-colored bottle of something he purchased with his fake I.D. It wasn’t like he could steal liquor from his house. Oh yeah.

He really should know this, but in case he didn’t, I informed him, “Muslims aren’t supposed to drink.”

He sent me an incredulous look. “No one here is supposed to drink. We’re all minors.”

So as I understood it, “That makes you, like, double wrong.”

“Ignore him,” Lydia said to my best friend while keeping her eyes on the alcohol. “You’re totally welcome.”

 

Being friends with your boyfriend is important. Maybe.

Luke Chambers is captain of the baseball team as a junior. That’s pretty cool. Starting with a positive is better than not starting with a positive, because of science, so that’s the good part. His personal life is a lot more complicated due to his grumpy boyfriend.

Wait, he’s straight. His boyfriend is not straight, but that’s okay because Ryan is actually his “boyfriend.” They get along really well, if you say it like this: Ryan and Luke get along “really well.” While that is not the biggest problem in Luke’s life right now, he thinks it’s the only issue he can solve.

So in this scene from the new edition of One Little Word, Luke is trying to smooth over the animosity between them so they can be friends. You cannot say it like this: Ryan and Luke are going to “be friends.” Because when put like that, it sounds like they won’t really be friends but are something else instead, it’s almost suggestive, and that is very bad.

~

Luke

I drove Ryan home after my baseball game.

“Can we at least try to get to know each other?” I asked. Might as well take this opportunity to clear the air while he can’t run away.

“What’s the point of making nice? You’re just using me to get out of trouble.” Ryan spoke while staring out the window, wanting to ignore me as much as possible.

“Well, have you ever heard about making the best of a bad situation?”

“Yeah, it’s called high school and I do that every day. Though you’re making it especially challenging lately.”

“Maybe you’d have a better time if you weren’t so busy trying to embarrass me,” I reasoned with more patience than I felt.

“That’s the only good part.”

I reminded myself I wanted to make peace. “If we tried, maybe we’d get along. Who knows what we have in common?”

“Nothing,” he responded immediately.

Patience wearing thin, I snapped, “How would you know if you never stop for two seconds to find out?”

“Let’s see, I enjoy microbiology, hot guys, and embarrassing straight jocks with big mouths. How many of those interests do we share?”

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There was no need to answer. I obviously wasn’t a fan of the last thing, and science confused me and wasn’t my best subject.

“I don’t understand why you have to make this so difficult,” I said instead. “Why even do this?”

“For my dad.”

“Even though you clearly hate me and spending time with me?”

“Duh.”

Which wasn’t a great answer for me, but I stopped being annoyed with him. He lived to torment me, yet now I remembered he didn’t hate everything. He really cared about his dad.

“Well, I appreciate what you’re doing for me,” I told him with as much sincerity as I could.

“Does baseball lead to brain damage? I told you, it’s not for y—”

“I’m still grateful. Did I ever thank you? Thank you, you’re a good son.”

~

 

Luke is always the last to know

If it seems like I’m posting a lot about the first book in my gay romance series, One Little Word, the reason is because… I am. If you like these posts, awesome and I love you. If you don’t, then sorry and it won’t last forever.

At least in this instance, there’s a method to the madness. The method is celebrating the release of the new edition. Or maybe that’s the madness? It’s either the method or the madness.

Here’s a summary and a quote from the book.

One Little Word

Luke faces trouble of monumental proportions. The straight baseball player has one chance for salvation… a plan that includes “dating” another boy. Yikes. Luke is (reluctantly) ready for every possibility involving a fake boyfriend except what happens if he falls for the guy.

Ryan the awkward science nerd is the only openly gay kid in their small town. He’s smart enough to know that crushing on a straight jock is a terrible idea… even if Luke is painfully attractive.

From innocent kisses that turn scorching to holding hands and never wanting to let go, what started as a fake relationship feels shockingly honest and genuine. But Ryan fears what they have can’t be real. Luke’s afraid it’s already too real.

Will this unexpected couple step up to the plate and go to bat for each other, even if it might mean striking out?

 

wordswag_1580680270674

I’m single and ready to mingle. Wow, that sounded incredibly lame. I would never say that out loud.

I couldn’t keep a grin off my face as I walked down the halls. Maybe a few people shot me weird looks, but who cares? I had a lot to smile about. Namely, I no longer had a boyfriend.

What a weird sentence. At least for me, a straight guy.

Dealing with Ryan these days had gotten… Wait, he’s not a bad guy. He’s really nice, for a snarky jerk. I like him. Platonically! Not romantically because I’m straight. Some other guy will go crazy for him and those weirdly nice legs of his. Just not a straight guy like me.

 

Performance Art or Something

If I haven’t mentioned before that I’m updating One Little Word, then I’ve at least mentioned it now. I’m working on getting a print version done too.Which means that it’s relevant for me to post stuff from that book. I was going to anyway but being relevant is cool.

And when I say I’m working on updating it, I mean it is updated. There’s new cover art, hopefully better editing, and expanded scenes. Hooray!

The book is a gay romance about fake boyfriends, and there’s a scene where they go to a high school play together. I’m not really sure why I decided the play should be A Midsummer Night’s Dream because that might be the only popular Shakespeare play I haven’t read but whatever. On the other hand, “what fools these mortals be” could basically be the summary for the entire series, either that or “boys are dumb.”

Here is some art and an excerpt from the theater date.

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Ryan

LUKE AND I ATTENDED THE DRAMA CLUB’S fall presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together.

He got to pretend he was an out and proud athlete, and I had someone to go to the show with, so I refrained from complaining. However, I couldn’t stop myself from flailing internally at how date-like it seemed, but I covered pretty well, I thought. Good thing my not-date was fun to laugh at.

We were early, so we stood in line and waited to be let in while I watched Luke with a bemused expression.

“The play takes place in the woods, right? You’re sure one of them doesn’t wander off and die?” he asked hopefully. “It’s the perfect horror movie scenario.”

“This isn’t a horror movie, it’s a comedy.”

“They should have done Romeo and Juliet instead,” he muttered.

His acting chops weren’t great, but they were good enough for people to believe our act, so maybe he would make a good Romeo. With passionate green eyes and dimples, I could see how any naïve young Juliet would follow him to certain death.

I felt nervous and excited just from the awkward hand holding we were doing.

“You like Romeo and Juliet?” I questioned.

“I like swordfights and death. It’s the Shakespearean version of an action flick,” he reasoned.

“Well, this is the Shakespearean Hangover.”

His eyes narrowed. “No way.”

I shrugged. “Everyone wakes up confused in a forest and there’s a donkey instead of a tiger.”

While not completely convinced, he decided, “I guess I’ll give it a chance.”

“You’re so uncultured,” I teased.

“Hey, don’t be mean. I’m your boyfriend,” he teased back, but I couldn’t handle hearing him say those words.

“Shut up.” I removed my hand from his suddenly.

Luke frowned. “I’m joking.”

“You suck at it.”

He doubled down, clutching a hand to his heart and imploring, “Oh, I’m so sorry, baby. Can you ever forgive me?”

I did not melt. I fought a smile while saying, “Pretty sure you’re hopeless.”

He grinned. “But you love me anyway.”

The words caught in my throat.

Everything is awkward, a true (fake) high school story

Previously on One Little Word, a totally straight boy and a not-at-all straight boy kissed each other to convince a teacher they’re dating, because a series of contrivances made this necessary. And now everything is awkward.

Only one of them knew the kiss was coming, which is part of the problem because the surprised boy can barely handle stuff he’s expecting when it comes to this fake dating arrangement. And also the two boys like each other, which is most of the problem. One boy doesn’t think mutual affection is possible and the other one doesn’t even know about his crush on a conscious level.

Because I feel like it would be annoying and boring if I posted the same summary every time, I instead make something up when necessary. So I’m not sure if that summation is confusing, but it at least sets up this deleted scene from One Little Word very well.

Side note: If for some reason I had to sum up One Little Word in five words, then “And now everything is awkward.” would work really well.

~

Ryan

1littleword - smallI could face Luke. Definitely. If he even showed up.

I sat at our usual table in the library in the corner farthest away from the librarian. The table was crammed in between shelves that housed history tomes no one ever touched.

I tried not to worry over whether Luke would be here or not. We usually met in the library and goofed around more than studied, but he hadn’t shown up the last few times after our kiss.

We were friends, I reminded myself. My attraction wasn’t real. Or it was, but it was also chemical. I understood that. I could get past that.

Dopamine production increases with attraction and makes the body loopy. Butterflies appear, feelings become more intense, and dopamine triggers similar responses to what crack cocaine creates.

Seriously, love was a drug, and it needed to be freaking outlawed so I would avoid overdosing and totally embarrassing myself.

I used my science brain whenever I could to make the mess of my life more palatable. There was herd mentality, which was why I was reduced to the sidelines of school. And survival of the fittest, so I hoped I never broke a bone again because I definitely wasn’t very fit.

Not like Luke.

While a little delirious and in a lot of pain, I possessed vague memories of him catching me when the loft floor collapsed. I remembered being pressed against his solid chest. Or maybe I’d dreamed about it so much it seemed like a memory now: those arms cradling me and holding me up.

Shit. Dealing with my insane crush seemed difficult enough when no one noticed me. Now everyone had seen me and the most popular guy in school making out.

I felt like an exhibit in a zoo as people kept staring at me. Normally, I’d have some witty comeback to make them blush and look away, but I was too lost in my own thoughts.

How should we handle this? Was there a way to handle this where I could still have Luke as a friend? Doubtful.

I’d been working myself into knots about this mess all day. Just when I was ready to let myself relax because Luke wouldn’t show up, there he was.

He looked as delectable as I remembered.

Dropping down in the seat next, he pretended everything was normal and he hadn’t been keeping his distance. I couldn’t blame him. I blamed Lydia, not that she noticed or cared about any of my frosty looks at lunch.

Had I been aware Luke was going to kiss me to avoid Mrs. Sharp’s wrath, I would have talked him out of it. I knew it would cause him to freak out, but he hadn’t consulted me. Lydia had somehow convinced him not to. She wanted Luke obviously and he wanted her too. Everyone knew that, so why was hurting me a necessary step in the process?

I tried to conceal a dreamy sigh as I got to drink in the sight of Luke up close once again. His blonde hair looked soft as ever, and I thought it was getting a bit longer. He wore a blue, long-sleeved shirt that stretched over his broad shoulders. He looked frantic but still smiled at me. I went lightheaded for a second. He looked so good and the dimples hadn’t even made an appearance.