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.

Advertisements

Excerpt from One Little Problem

Here’s a sample from the beginning of One Little Problem, available on June 16 and for pre-order now.

Ryan

OH WOW, MY LIFE IS SO TERRIBLE BUT AT LEAST THERE’S A HOT GUY TO LOOK AT WHILE EVERYTHING GOES TO HELL. ALSO, I’M A SPAZ.

Just figured I’d put that out there. Draw people into my story, make my life relatable and not totally perfect because who wants to read about someone who’s got everything and having the time of their life? Well, hopefully someone is interested in that… I certainly am.

Because, yeah, my life rocks. But don’t go anywhere! It didn’t always rock. I used to have only one friend and everyone hated me because I was the lone out gay kid in this Midwestern conservative farming town, which was totally  unfair because if they actually got to know they’d see I have several other qualities that others might call annoying, but I called charming, and hate me for those instead. But no, they didn’t even take the time to hate me for who I am, so rude.

There was just me and my one friend Alicia and my dad and I had no love life, no life of any kind. But then Luke Chambers came into my life and now? Things were pretty good now.

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, holding my hands up to stop Luke from talking more even though he might not have a clear view of that because he was driving. “I refuse to be associated with Post Malone in any way.” I felt very strongly about that; it was a matter of principal.

This was very serious business. The last Big Relationship Decision—or Luke and Ryan Being Disgusting as our friends called it; our friends were tools—was deciding nicknames. Now we needed a song. Why? Because relationship. That’s why.

“What about the new Jonas Brothers song?” I asked Luke.

Luke didn’t even think about my suggestion. “Even you aren’t that gay,” he joked, keeping his eyes on the road. He was driving, I wasn’t, so I happily put my eyes on him. He wore a blue t-shirt that hugged his shoulders, and his aftershave smelled woodsy and intoxicating.

He was gorgeous, but I glared at him anyway. “How dare you imply there are limits to my gayness?”

“You’re right,” he conceded. “My mistake.” He looked over at me for a moment with a goofy smile that showed off his dimples.

One Little Problem

Ryan Miller knows how to handle life when things go wrong, but what about when things go right?

He hasn’t quite figured that out yet.

Ryan has a bright future ahead of him and a great boyfriend in the present. Luke Chambers is the total package, a blonde, green-eyed baseball player who is incredibly fun to tease. Life seems almost perfect. What comes next? A break up.

See, there might be a tiny problem. Their families don’t approve of the happiness this nerd and jock found together. With summer approaching and bringing new changes, a fake break up might provide the opportunity Ryan and Luke need to escape disapproving parental figures and enjoy their relationship.

This all sounds perfectly logical in Ryan’s head.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ryan and Luke are about to find out.

One Little Problem is a silly and sweet young adult novel that features romance, gay characters, snark, and hand holding. This is the third book in a series, but the novel can also be read on its own.

Get the book here.

You were right

Here is a little snippet from One More Problem, available for pre-order now. It will be released on June 16.

Ryan was under me and I had his hands pinned above his head, trying to wrangle him into submission, but he would not be swayed. He pouted his half insane/half ridic pout. “One more time. Please?” He relaxed into my hold a bit, as if trying to convince me he was docile and innocent. Yeah right.

But I gave in anyway. “Fine,” I sighed, my breath releasing on an exhale against the skin below his ear.  “You were right.”

“Oh my god, you should always be whispering those words in my ear.”

Well, that was nice to hear, so I did it again. “You were right,” I whispered and paused to nip at his ear and then he made a noise that was also really nice to hear, so I did it again and then said, “This worked.”

“Yay.” He looked smug and happy, like a cat lying in the sun. Now that he was getting his way, he did stop fighting me, actually relaxing and letting himself be praised and kissed. I should probably do something about this soon. His smugness would know no bounds, growing and growing until he thought he got to make all our relationship decisions, until it threatened the planet… Eh, I’d worry about it later.

Book Review: Never Do a Wrong Thing

When it comes to blog posts, I often have trouble knowing how to start. I’m a stare at the blank page kinda person. I love the opening of Never Do a Wrong Thing. So, let’s start at the start (that’s a song right?) it’s a very good place to start (that’s totally a song).

When things start going awry is when the story starts, no sooner, no later. That’s what Mrs. Bartkowski told us in her Creative Writing workshop, but frankly, that doesn’t help me all that much if I can’t say for sure when things started going awry. If I were to ask you, Tom, you’d probably say things started going awry the day I was born, and you’d think your blunt force humor was very clever.

Great opening and it gave me a chance to use the quote thing.

Summary: Tim is in love with best friend, who will never, ever like him back.

I didn’t say stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but there you are, rolling your eyes and telling me yeah, yeah. I’ve heard this one before. But you haven’t! It’s not a besties to more thing. The story goes the perhaps more realistic route of what happens when that person you’ve had a crush on forever doesn’t like you back. Worse than that, when that person you love not only doesn’t love you in the right way but doesn’t love you at all, just because of who you are.

Very serious reviewer comment: Tim being interested in Tom is weird. Pretty much only because there was a Tim and Tom a few grades older than me in school and they were twin brothers. So that’s what I think of when I hear the names Tim and Tom together and then it’s like, Tim, no, that’s your brother!

But this isn’t Flowers in the Attic.

The Plot: Liking someone you can’t have. Yeah, it’s as simple as that. The story still covers a lot of ground though. At the beginning of the book, Tim can’t imagine ever telling his best friend certain truths about himself and doesn’t want to risk jeopardizing their friendship.

The full quote in the title is “never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one.” And as the story goes on, having to keep part of himself private, never getting to be himself to protect someone else becomes more and more difficult.  He starts realizing who he is and becoming okay with that, even if means he might have to give up the thing that once mattered the most to him.

What Makes it Unique: The story is told as if the main character is explaining everything to his best friend. So some of it is first person and other parts are him addressing his best friend. The different style really makes it interesting and fun to read and because it’s all about the friendship between Tim and Tom, this way of telling the story really works and feels natural. It’s Tim saying all the things he can’t to Tom.

There’s also a lot of stories out there where the central conflict is parental strife because they can’t accept their children and while realistic, it isn’t the only way parents react. So, I like stories where the parents are pretty supportive and this fits that bill.

What I liked: This isn’t just telling the story of a young adult discovering who he is, it really captures the mindset of someone innocent. There’s a vibe of everything being new and strange and scary but good too. The pace is just right, it’s an exploration of what someone coming to terms with their sexuality might go through, fully exploring the topic without being too much or not enough, it’s just right.

What you may not like: I was tempted to put a what I didn’t like part but then it would feel like a cop out because the answer is ‘nothing!’ I enjoyed the whole thing. Though, the focus of the book is pretty narrow. I don’t feel like that’s a bad thing but if you’re looking for a larger world and more conflict, this isn’t the right book for you. It’s coming of age and all the angst is centered around one part.

The Romance: This book isn’t centered around romance, so there’s a little bit of a love story but it’s not the main focus. The relationship in this one is sweet and cute, basically what you’d want for your first boyfriend.

Other: I just wanted to say that I didn’t make it all the way through Cupid Painted Blind, so its kinda weird that I loved this one so much and didn’t care for that one but anyway, I might have to give it another shot because I really enjoyed Jack in this one.

I actually would have liked Jack and Tim together, but I think there was an age difference, and I thought they had good chemistry and they challenged each other and both made the other think. And I just like Jack, okay. Love me a tortured bad boy and Jack and Tim had good dialogue.

Final Thoughts: A great easy read with a lot of heart. There’s simple, engaging writing that flows well and has moments of beauty and deepness and humor.

Also, I googled it, the song I was thinking of at the beginning was Do Re Mi.

(Abridged) 20 Questions

This is an excerpt from my YA M/M romance called Like You a Latte.

Owen sat up straight in his chair and met my gaze with a forceful look. Oh boy, I prepared for a doozy. Something deep and philosophical maybe. Or something incredibly invasive and personal. He took a breath and then asked, “Glass half empty or full?”

At the very least, I was expecting some stoner paradox. I saw a 4/20 pin on his apron one day. If Chuck Norris can beat everyone, could he beat Chuck Norris? I didn’t know whether this was an improvement on that question or not.  “Do you want more time to think of a question?” I asked him.

“I’m the one asking now,” he told me primly. “Kindly answer.”

There was probably a mathematical equation to figure it out. Find the circumference of the glass and then- “I’d have to see the glass,” I told him once I spent a few seconds pondering it.

Owen nodded. “Chicken or egg?” he asked next.

I blinked at him. “Which is my preference?”

“Which came first?” he clarified. There wasn’t a way to win this game the way we were playing it, but he was definitely losing. And it was his choice to go easy on me and not ask anything personal but that didn’t mean I had to do the same.

The chicken or the egg. Just as trivial as glass half empty or half full. Simple at least. “Scientifically—”

“Journey or destination?” He cut me off to ask.

“I didn’t get to answer the second question fully,” I protested.

“Trust me,” his tone sounded drier than the blueberry muffins on sale today, which wasn’t hard because they were very moist, but his tone was still pretty dry. “That one word was enough.”

“And you wasted your questions.” And again, not that this was a competition, but if it were, I would so totally be winning. I was going to kick his ass with my questions.

“No, I’m getting a pretty good idea of how you see the world.” He held up his hands in a frame shape as his eyes skated over me, like he was getting the full Spencer Sharp picture.

“Those questions told you something you didn’t already know?” If so, I might have to question my evaluation of his intellect.

“I’m confirming my hypothesis,” he said with a smirk. “Isn’t that something you smarty pants types care about?”

I suppose. Him saying hypothesis was mildly arousing. I shook it off. My turn to question him. “What’s your least favorite subject in school?” His favorite was English. Was he a thoroughly right brained person and hated math or did he have a proficiency but not interest in the numbers and sciences?

“No, you didn’t answer my last one yet. Journey or destination?” He rested a hand on his chin and looked at me expectantly, like he was dying to know the answer.

Oh, well that was simple. “Destination, obviously.” The journey was the necessary steps you had to take in order to complete your goals. An equation. A formality. The instructions. Or the recipe. But the point wasn’t about how to make a pie, it was about eating the pie.

Owen rolled his eyes but smiled as he said, “Obviously.”

I understood as I wanted to roll my eyes too as I said, “And you disagree obviously.”

While I still maintained his questions were stupid, this was fun and lighthearted, exactly what I needed. Maybe that was why he didn’t ask anything difficult. He was good at reading people. He had that thing I used to think was made up, but I’ve since come to terms with me just not having it, emotional intelligence.

“You never told me your least favorite subject,” I said.

“Spanish,” he answered.

Hmm, that was another right brained discipline. Fascinating. “Interesting,” I mused.

“I don’t like the teacher,” he elaborated.

“Fair enough.” I thought about another question. “Hogwarts house?” I could be whimsical sometimes.

“Okay, I’m happy to answer but maybe not now.” He waved a hand. “That’s a whole thing. A big discussion. We’ll have to devote a different night to it.” He looked excited about it. Him taking the house he’d be sorted into so seriously was a little silly… I should find it a little silly. It was actually kinda hot. And I liked when he made references to seeing me in the future. The small hints that he liked having me around and wanted me to stay in his life.

“I’ll defer that question for a later date,” I concluded formally, feeling a smile form on my face when he snorted at my tone.

“One more.” His eyes danced with something I couldn’t make out in the low lighting. The hazel depths just seemed warm, happy, and I couldn’t tell if there were any flecks of green there, but I liked the hint of something a little mischievous and challenging in his gaze. “Make it good,” he challenged or encouraged.

Whichever it was, it worked. “Last boyfriend?” I asked. I had done a very good job with this friendly/flirty dance we’d been doing, considering I didn’t usually do this. I usually knew what I wanted and what I was getting. And now the perfect opportunity presented itself where I could test the waters. I couldn’t resist.

And the waters were… murky.

Owen blinked and his mouth dropped open like I surprised him. “Oh, uh.” He fidgeted and laughed awkwardly. His fingers twitched on the table and he looked down, not knowing what to say.

Shit. What if he had a bad breakup? I probably would have reacted the same way if put on the spot about Lucas and I didn’t know if I’d share. While it wasn’t a school course, Lucas and my last relationship were definitely my least favorite subject. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer if—”

“No, it’s fine.” It didn’t seem entirely fine. He met my eyes and gave me a weak smile. “I just. I’m not really the boyfriend type,” he said quietly.

“Oh.” I guess that made sense. He didn’t make a lot of plans for the future, he didn’t seem like the type to be tied down. I couldn’t quite process my feelings about his admission. I should have suspected as much. Still. Having it said was something else. I regretted asking this question.

“I mean,” he amended. “I haven’t been, in the past.” He still looked a little nervous, but there was a gentle, hesitant smile on his face. Was he afraid of how I’d react?

I didn’t regret asking this question. “So, you’re saying—” I started to ask and then trailed off. He might be open to it with the right person? I tried to make my posture open, to seem nonjudgmental. I didn’t want to scare him off.

“I’m saying that I don’t know.” He shrugged, looked down at the table. Good because I couldn’t hide a wince. That didn’t sound very optimistic. “It’s not that I’m opposed,” he continued. “I just haven’t been in a serious relationship. I’m usually more casual.”

So, like the opposite of me. I already knew that. I probably needed to say something.

He spoke again before I could formulate a response. “But remember, I’m the one of us who likes trying new things.”  The gentle smile was back on his face, hopeful. Oh. And that, that definitely sounded optimistic to me.

I didn’t know if I should smile back, maybe I should just be neutral and supportive, but that hopeful look made my insides all soft and warm and I had to smile at him. “Yeah,” I said lightly but with a bright smile on my face. “I guess you are.”

The book is available here.

Excerpt – Gay Teen Romance

I know that you can read an excerpt from the beginning of the book anyway on Amazon, but it just feels wrong to start posting snippets and not start at the start. So here is an excerpt from Like You A Latte, a story spanning the junior year of a brainy, bookish student who meets a laid back guy in a coffee shop.

Others behind the counter were rushing around frenzied, but now that I noticed one of the baristas in particular, I saw that he was different. It took more than an afternoon rush to rattle him. He smiled at each person who came up to the counter and I was struck by how genuine it seemed. There’s no way he could be so friendly. Not while cranky teenagers and adults poured in here for a caffeine fix, rattling out orders and huffing impatiently. Yet he was easy going, the calm in the center of the storm.

Lately, my life held a whole lot of storm and not much calm, so someone like that held a certain amount of appeal at the moment. Even if otherwise he might not be my type. I wondered if his brown hair would feel as soft as it looked and what it felt like to have a posture that relaxed.

Maybe he was an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arms that he hadn’t quite washed off and eclectic wristbands on one arm. One of bands was a rainbow, which might be why Quinn assumed he played for my team. And the once over he gave me when we finally made it up the counter made me agree with her hypothesis.

After diving into school, no one else had caught my attention in a while. I felt the first spark of attraction in my gut and my pulse sped up. The angst and despair of my breakup had faded and the fog of academics obscuring everything else lifted somewhat and I just stared at the boy in front of me. The novelty of it left me speechless for a moment while I remembered that guys existed. Guys like this boy before me who were fun to look at with soft hair I wanted to touch. I savored it, that feeling of interest, after going without it for so long.

Which meant that for a few moments, it was just him and I, eyes locking as I finally made it to the front of the line. He had hazel eyes. The light caught them just right and almost made them sparkle. I shouldn’t let his smile get to me, he gave that exact smile to everyone, but I wanted to believe it meant something different when it came to me and I almost convinced myself it did as his eyes stayed on mine and—

“Are you going to order?” said an impatient female voice behind me.

Oh right.

“Oops,” the guy said with a soft laugh and smiled sheepishly at me. It was even more captivating than his earlier smile.

You can get the rest here.

 

 

Faking it

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.

Ryan
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.

 

~~~

OLW Excerpt

In One Little Word, Luke needs to use Ryan to get out of trouble. Ryan wants to get Luke back for an old grudge. And then they fall in love? Maybe, but there’s a bunch of other stops along the way. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Luke

I almost got suspended yesterday. Today wasn’t shaping up to be any better. I grudgingly convinced Ryan to sit with my friends at lunch today, now I hoped my friends would be okay with it. I had to tell two of them the whole story so they could help me with the other guys. Zach and Joey looked at me like I was a pod person when I said Ryan Miller would be hanging around us. Then they laughed their asses off.

“No wait, let me get this straight,” Zach said, eyes dancing with mirth as we walked through the halls to the cafeteria.

“You mean let me get this gay,” Joey corrected.

“You know what? I’ll accept that,” Zach decided, offering his fist for Joey to bump. “Good one, Joey.” Why were these two my closest friends? Assholes.

“Oh, come on,” I begged.

“No, you come on,” Zach responded. “Your plan is to fake date Ryan, but secretly, so no one finds out.”

I nodded. “Right.” What was so weird about that? Alright, a lot, but still. It could work.

“But you want the administration to find out somehow.” Zach looked at me like I was a moron, but he did that a lot, so it didn’t really mean anything.

“This is so gay,” Joey interjected.

“No, it’s secretly gay,” Zach quipped.

I sighed. “Come on, guys.”

“Sounds like you want to spend time with this guy,” Joey muttered.

“No, I barely know him.” And Ryan seemed pretty unpleasant. That was probably being unfair as I was asking a lot of him, but I didn’t think there’d be much chance of us becoming “besties,” or whatever words my little sister would use to describe true friendship.

“You want to get to know him?” Joey questioned.

“I want him to help with this, and you two to help me with the other guys,” I explained.

“What’s in it for us?” Joey asked and Zach nodded. “I’ll do it for 20 bucks.”

“I don’t need money,” Zach said quickly, “But I would take a date with your cousin Ashley.”

I stared them both down. “I guess we’re playing hard ball then.”

It took a little more convincing, but I got them to come around to my side of things. They were especially supportive once I threatened them with a few secrets they wouldn’t want out. They weren’t exactly helping though once we met up with the other guys.

“Why did you invite that loser to sit with us?” Joey asked. He actually knew why, so I stared at him, dumbfounded. Maybe he forgot. Zach smirked at me like what did you expect? Joey wasn’t too bright, but he wasn’t the only one to complain at the news.

Lunch would be the first time Ryan and I were around each other in public. I was nervous about it all day. Almost like butterflies in my stomach before a date. Oh god, this was terrible. I wasn’t some asshole. I didn’t hate gay people, but I didn’t like the idea of being thought of as one.

“He’s not that bad,” I said, trying to glare Joey into submission. His dull eyes just stared unhelpfully back at me.

“What if he tries something with one of us?” That was Zach, the other one who knew. The curly headed brunette smirked as he asked the question. Unlike Joey, Zach was just having fun with this. His smirk turned into a grin when the other guys nodded along with him.

“He won’t,” I said with force, staring Zach down.

“Well, you can handle him if he does,” Zach said smoothly while we entered the cafeteria. Eyes turned to us. We were the best looking, big shots, only outshined by the seniors, so people normally watched us. Plus, I made captain as a junior, that was a big deal. I normally liked the attention, but I didn’t want an audience for any of this.

“Ew, no I’m straight.” Was that something I even needed to say? Shouldn’t that be obvious?

Zach laughed. “I meant you can menace him with your big muscles.” He raised an eyebrow, silently saying interesting where your mind went.

We went to our table, but I grabbed Zach to whisper, “You don’t want your parents to find out that it wasn’t your brother who put a dent in the car, right? Because it sounds like you want me to tell them.”

Zach grinned, that shit-eating, lazy smile that got him girls. “I was just teasing.” To everyone else, he said, “We all know who you really have eyes for and she is smoking hot today.”

Our eyes all went to where Lydia Smith entered the cafeteria. She had black hair, like Megan Fox, and could eat lesser guys for breakfast. She was stacked and glamorous and gorgeous, not like a lot of girls in this town. The rumor was that she was also very skilled with her mouth. Unlike most girls I’ve been with, she was playing hard to get. I hated it and loved it.

I was too caught up in staring at her that I didn’t notice Ryan until he was at our table. What. The. Hell.

“Hey boys.” He flounced over, shaking his hips and doing some queer motion with his hand. He was never that out there usually. He was doing this to mess with me. It was working. Half our table was uncomfortable and looking anywhere but at him while the other half was staring at him in horror, mouths open, unable to look away.

I was surprised the school didn’t make him go home and chance for wearing shorts that short. They were obscene, the material clinging to his thighs. Ryan was a tall guy with surprisingly toned calves, currently showing off miles of long legs, so I looked away. I didn’t need that visual seared into my brain. He had a pink top on with the word “fabulous” in rainbow letters.

If I murdered him, would it be a hate crime? I hated him alright. Not because he was gay, though, because this was humiliating. “What are you doing?” I hissed at him.

“Eating lunch with you cuties,” he grinned. “You invited me silly, remember?” The guys gave him a wide berth while he sat, and we watched him start eating his lunch, unconcerned. The table was silent, except for Zach, who was doing a terrible job of disguising his laughter as a coughing fit.

One Little Lie

I’m hard at work on One Little Lie, the sequel to One Little Word. My writing process isn’t very glamorous, it’s just a lot of flailing internally, telling myself to write faster, and curling into a ball and crying because I really hate editing.

I’ll be sending out early copies to beta readers who want to provide feedback, and you can sign up for that here. I’m sending out the beta copies in August even if that means emailing them at 11:59 pm on Aug. 31. I  also hope to post a preview soon on Amazon.

For now, I’ll just post the beginning of One Little Lie.

~~~

“Hey, gay boy!” The taunt came as I walked briskly through the school doors. What a way to start the day. Small town bullies had so few targets when almost everyone in our farming community was the same, so the out gay kid known as me was a perfect choice.

Rural Lake Forest (which had neither lake nor forest) was a small city that unfortunately for me felt like a small town. But I didn’t have time to cater to this moron heckling me today. “Hi there, repressed jock,” I replied breezily while attempting to stroll past him.

“Where are you rushing off to, princess?” the bully asked with a sneer, stepping in front of me.

I smiled thinly. “You should really be careful about what you say. You never know who might overhear.” And there’s no way I was pretending to date this guy. You might wonder if that was even an option. You’d be surprised. But that was a story another day.

He scoffed. “I don’t need life lessons from a fairy.”

Being negative so early in the morning would surely earn him bad karma, but it wasn’t my job to stick around and teach him to be a better person. Was that uncharitable? Did my unwillingness to be kind even to those who were mean to me ensure that I would have bad karma too?

Screw it, it was too early for karma.

I resumed walking and the guy jumped out of my way so that he wouldn’t have to get up close and personal with the queer kid. Also because I had two coffees in my hand and he didn’t want to wear them. As I passed him, he said, “We weren’t done yet.” The jerk actually sounded a little sad; he was probably happy to catch me alone.

Now that I hung around with the captain of the baseball team, Luke Chambers, there was less bullying. Reduced bullying and fewer hostile stares meant more me time, which was great since me is my favorite person in the world. Though Luke was quickly gaining ground.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, pausing for a moment against my better judgement. My boyfriend Luke was turning me into a softie as I almost felt bad for ruining this asshole’s fun. Remaining cynical and jaded by the world when dating such a dreamboat was a challenge. Oh god, did I use dreamboat in my inner monologue? I’ve been corrupted.

The bully snorted. “Whatever, fag.” Yep, no reason to feel bad.

“That’s the spirit,” I said and tried to go on my merry way.

“You aren’t even going to play along?” he asked with a frown. “You used to.”

True but that was a defense mechanism as I used my words to fluster bullies and then run away. I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of strength. I worked on our family farm, sure, but my diet consisted mainly of sarcasm and root beer and I spent my free time in my favorite science teacher’s classroom.

I told the jock, “I have more important things to do now.”

“Like being queer?” he smirked and held up a hand for someone to high five him for his verbal genius before realizing his friends weren’t around.

“Is everything okay here?” The words were said by a sharp voice. After the quick click of heels, the owner of said voice, the aptly named Mrs. Sharp, was standing next to us and viewing us with keen eyes. She came by too late to hear anything, that was how it usually went, but she made an educated guess that we weren’t best buds.

The stature of this teacher in her early 30’s wasn’t intimidating, but her no-nonsense attitude, cold stare, and hair always pulled tightly into a severe bun made her the instructor that students never dared challenge.

The wannabe bully made a quick getaway and I wanted to follow, but Mrs. Sharp stopped me with her soul sucking gaze and I stood frozen while contemplating the best way to lie to this teacher who could snap me in half with just the powers of her mind.

What a way to start the day.