Putting on a show, in different ways

While their significant others pretend to date each other, two friends try to hang out and not think about the bearding shenanigans happening elsewhere. This is an extended scene from One Little Lie.

~

Ryan

Another weekend without the boo meant I was spending time with my bestie instead. We were at my house on Saturday night, sitting at the kitchen table. We had our books open, but we hadn’t gotten around to doing much studying yet. We could have done something more fun like watch a movie or something but that left too many opportunities for either of us to stop paying attention and worry about… other things.

In a silent, unspoken agreement, we weren’t mentioning our significant others and what they were currently doing while we sat at the kitchen table and pretended everything was fine.

“Haven’t decided who I want to be in Alice in Wonderland,” Alicia told me and I made an effort to tune back into the conversation. The good thing about our silent agreement: we didn’t have to talk about it. That meant she didn’t have to know how badly I was failing at not thinking about what we weren’t supposed to be thinking about.

Just, how was their latest sham date going? What was Luke wearing, were her parents totally scary, when would it be over? No, I had to get a grip…  What was so great about a stupid fair anyway? If I put on a wig, could I pass as a girl and then could Luke and I date without worry?

Anyway, Alicia! Theater. Was there a better, more exciting topic? Of course not. We had started making props for Alice before rehearsals started because we needed to do something in set design class and there were a lot of props to make. Mushrooms, trees, flowers, signs, and more. For a play everyone thought of as ‘the one that’s a great big acid trip,’ it was surprisingly involved.

Luke probably hadn’t seen the new movies. We should watch them. He would hate them. No, Alicia was talking about her part in Alice. Wait, I didn’t know a ton about theater, but I got how auditions worked. “Doesn’t the director pick out your part for you?”

She held her chin up in the air. “I can make sure they’re inspired to go in the right direction.”

“Aren’t you obviously the Red Queen?” She had the hair already. And who wouldn’t want to be the person who sentenced others to death? Off with their head! Who wanted to be a superhero when royalty had better powers?

Alicia shrugged. “I was a queen before in Midsummer.”

“So what? The fairy queen and a fairytale queen are…” Okay, they sounded pretty similar. “Totes different,” I finished lamely.

She shrugged. “I don’t think I have the correct vibe anyway.”

“You know someone who does.” If Lydia started shouting ‘off with their head,’ the world would be in grave danger. She had a lot of gravitas; people might be compelled to listen to her.

“Yeah,” Alicia sighed happily. “Lydia’s so great.”

Technically, Alicia brought up one of the people we weren’t mentioning first. I only alluded to her. That meant it was only fair that I got to talk about Luke a little. Before I could, Alicia continued. “I thought about being Alice but I don’t know. I’m not a tiny blonde ingenue.”

She was a curvy, gorgeous badass and maybe I should channel some inner stereotypical gay best friend persona and tell her she was fierce and could slay and throw in some yasses for good measure. I went with, “You’re an actress. You can be anything. Isn’t that the point?”

Alicia considered that for a moment before shaking it off. “There’s other people trying out that fit better. Cara Lewis is into drama now.” We both frowned. “She was an extra in one play and she thinks she knows everything. Plus, she looks at the rest of us like we’re totally beneath her the whole time.”

I meant to keep reassuring her that she was awesome and could do anything she set her mind to and whatever else Barney and Elmo and our childhood puppet mentors taught us, but instead I said, “Cara Lewis hit on Luke the other day.”

Alicia looked down at the book in front of her. “You know what? We should probably study.”

“Did you hear the piece of gossip I just gave you free of charge?” I was tempted to feel her forehead and see if she had a fever. Did I already tell her about it?

She smiled wryly. “The charge is you freaking out for the rest of the night about what it means.”

“No, Luke doesn’t like her like that,” I said sensibly. Nope, I couldn’t drop it that easily. “But she did it right in front of me.”

Alicia rolled her eyes.

With supreme will, I said, “We can talk about other things.”

She looked at me kindly. “I really don’t think it’s a big deal.”

“Yeah, totally, of course.” I knew that! I just still wanted to slap Cara a little bit.

“You’re agreeing too much,” Alicia informed me.

I grinned. “You’re absolutely right.”

“Smartass.” She laughed, then realized something. “Hey, didn’t have we have an unspoken agreement to not mention Lydia or Luke?”

I literally covered my mouth with a hand while I said, Technically, you brought them up first, so you’re the party at fault here, because I knew that was the wrong to say and I couldn’t stop myself, but I could stop her from hearing it. She just watched me evenly while I acted weird; that’s why we were besties.

Luke and Lydia were pretending to be a happy couple right now and that’s why we weren’t mentioning them. But the conversation I had with my father came back to me. Totally casually, I shared a random, no big deal thought with Alicia. “Hey, my dad said that I talk about Luke too much. That’s crazy, right?”

She didn’t immediately agree and start discussing whether my father needed to be committed into a mental institution or not. She didn’t look at me directly or say anything.

“What the hell, Alicia? Seriously?” She was a traitor and we weren’t besties anymore.

At least she looked apologetic while saying, “He does sort of have a point.”

“Don’t tell me that.” I buried my head in my hands and made a pathetic noise.

“Okay, I won’t tell you.” She paused, then murmured, “But he does.”

Nope, I wasn’t that person. I couldn’t be that person who was relationship crazy. I was too interesting! Had my focus really shifted so completely from myself to Luke? I didn’t even want to think about it… which probably meant it was true.

“I get it,” Alicia consoled. “Honestly, Lydia is pretty much always on my mind too. Are we pathetic?”

Yes, completely. I had so many great qualities… humility not being one of them. How could Luke have taken over my life? Aside from him being soooo cute and sweet and sexy and— Dammit, I was doing it again.

I tried to put on a brave face. “It’s our first relationships,” I reasoned with Alicia. “We’re allowed to get a little carried away.”

“You really think so?”

“Let’s tell ourselves that,” I said firmly.

“Did you ever think you’d actually get to date in high school?” Alicia asked me.

“Hell no.” I didn’t even have to consider the question.

“Maybe that’s why. I mean, you got this opportunity, it makes sense to make the most of it.”

My life had never been flat out miserable but perhaps it was a little lonely. I had one parent, few friends, and no love interests at all. I did the best I could, I laughed at everything, was quick with he jokes and got impeccable grades so I’d be able to leave this town behind. I’d been content. But not exactly happy.

Until Luke came along and didn’t just make me happy but freaking ecstatic.

Of course I took the opportunity to be ecstatic. I deserved to feel like that for once in my life. I just got a little carried away. That was one of the few faults I had.

Alicia drew me from my thoughts.  “Maybe we should go do something,” she suggested. Yeah, I wasn’t really in the mood to study anymore. “Wanna go hang out as besties?”

We could go to the diner and eat our feelings away. “French fries?” I suggested. “Oh, or pie? Ohhh, French fries and pie?”

She nodded. “And no discussing our love lives.”

“Didn’t we already try that?” It didn’t matter who I was talking to, Dad or Alicia or someone else, my thoughts always drifted back to Luke.

“That was an unspoken agreement,” She reasoned. “This is spoken.” Would that be enough? She thought about it and added, “There could be penalties.”

“If we mention our significant others, we can kick each other.” I couldn’t kick myself, there was no way I had that coordination, but kicking Alicia would have to do.

“Food and violence,” she mused, then nodded. “What a great combo.”

We went to the diner and ordered a bunch of junk food.

I didn’t really do things by halves. I threw myself into things, of course it would be like that with a relationship. Luke was going to be a big part of my life. But he wasn’t my whole life. And I needed nights like this every so often to remember that.

My supportive best friend powers kicked in once we had snacks. I told Alicia. “If you want to be Alice, you should go for Alice.”

“I might not get the part,” she answered back. I’m afraid I won’t get it, I translated.

“Like I said, that’s not up to you. But you can try. And if you don’t get it, you’ll be an amazing Queen but at least you gave it a shot. There’s nothing more you can do.” See, I was such a wise, excellent at giving advice person. I deserved lots of attention from myself and anyone would be lucky to have me. I would be lucky to have me.

Alicia made a thoughtful noise. “Hey, at the risk of being kicked, you should take your own advice.” I sent her a puzzled look and she elaborated. “Isn’t that part of the reason you’re talking to everyone else about Luke so much? You aren’t talking to him.”

Huh. So, if I took my own advice, I just needed to tell him my concerns. That was all I could do and maybe we would get somewhere.

“You’re right,” I told her. “Or no, I’m right. Obviously.” I couldn’t solve things on my own. At least I could give it a shot and tell him what was wrong. I needed to do that but was a little worried about it. I confided in Alicia. “I just want to go back to that happy little bubble we were in not that long ago.”

She acknowledged that with a nod but said, “Maybe there’s something even better waiting for you after this rough patch.”

Hmmm. There was only one way to find out.

The Eternal Question

April showers bring may flowers, right? That’s a saying and all sayings are true. Kind of seems like that means it’s supposed to rain a lot in April and then possibly stop raining in May? That hasn’t happened yet here, so it’s kind of hard to believe summer is fast approaching, but May is when school ends and that always says the beginning of summer to me. So, I’m going to start posting some graphics for my summer books.

Hey, if all sayings are true, maybe it’s a good thing it’s raining a lot here. Because I’ve seen some nice rainbows and there must be a pot of gold at the end of them, right? I’m about to be rich!

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I sure picked a scintillating quote to start with. I’m nailing this blogging thing.

Summer Romance

Neil’s summer plans consist of wearing an ugly uniform and working at a local grocery store. It’s not glamorous, but it becomes interesting when Carter Ford starts working there too. The nerd and the popular boy never crossed paths before, but they’re equals at the store. Coworkers.

And maybe more?

With Carter around, Neil’s boring summer job might turn out to be perfect.

But it’s not permanent.

The summer will end. Will their relationship end with it?

~

This short story is a YA M/M love story featuring opposites who attract, secret relationships, and adorable boys with hidden loves of cats and cheesy pop music.

Pool Boy

pbI tried and somehow managed to release three books for the summer. The latest one, Pool Boy, made it to the number one new book in LGBT Romance for teens. Getting that little orange sticker (even for a moment) feels great. I captured the moment for posterity of course.

Thank you to everyone who got the book!

 

Mood board

A mood board for the characters Max and Cal from What Love Means.

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“It didn’t matter if it all went wrong later. I wanted this, to have him like this, even if it was only for a moment. It felt like I could do anything, face anything. I was stronger because whatever happened, at least I had this once.”

The book is currently FREE on Amazon.

Vocab

book-3259352_960_720Do you own a dictionary? I’m not sure I do. The internet takes care of that for me. The only problem is that you can’t flip to a random page of an internet dictionary and start looking for challenging words. You need an idea of what you want to look up. Typing in “hard words” just gives you the definition for ‘hard’ or ‘words’.

This was my super serious predicament when writing What Love Means where spelling bees serve as a backdrop for the action. Luckily, vocabulary.com was around to help me out. That might be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said and I have a few seasons of Star Trek on DVD.

Apparently, the site does more than help authors find challenging spelling bee words.  I think you’ll be happy to know that at least one queer book is popular/important enough to have a vocab list on the site.

Way to go, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. You’re official. You can see the vocab here or here.  It’s split into chapters and includes the word, definition, and sentence the word was used in during the book.

In the spirit of list, I made my own little vocab list for What Love Means.

Dumbass
A super stupid person, usually Max.

Her parenting advice normally involved stern words and phrases like ‘stop being a dumbass’ and ‘make smart decisions because I’m not paying for bail.’

Yuppie
Cal Winthrop-Scott. That’s all. That’s the whole definition.

Cal looked preppy and chipper in the afternoon light. He’d look like a perfectly modern yuppie tool if he had a sweater tied around his neck to complete the picture.

Marijuana
An illicit drug.

What would it be like to kiss Max after he smoked? Would I get a contact high from probing my tongue into his mouth? Maybe I should buy some pot and smoke with him. Oh god, I was addicted. All it took was one puff. Marijuana really was a gateway drug!

Flirting
What Cal and Max can’t help doing with each other.

I wasn’t entirely comfortable with him hitting on me here in the light of day while I was stone sober and at my old prep school, until he closed off for a second and left me bereft. I apparently didn’t like him not flirting with me either.

Frustration
dissatisfaction due to an unresolved problem.

I wanted to throw my body on him and bruise him, get all my frustrations out with my lips and teeth and have him do the same to me.

Feelings
Max’s  biggest foe.

I shouldn’t lose my cool again and act all… emotional like a person with feelings, a guy with a heart just waiting to get it broken.

Nerd
What everyone but Max is. Usually, this is a bad thing. Usually.

Cal was so cute when he was being an uptight nerd, and it was fun to get him to loosen up. Shit, I had it bad.

This has been your vocab lesson for the day. I’m sure you’re much smarter now. You’re welcome.

Get To Know Cal

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I’ve chosen some questions from one of those ‘get to know me’ surveys for Cal from my book What Love Means to answer. They’re written from his point of view.

Get to know Cal Winthrop-Scott

What time do you wake up most mornings?
Around six for school. Earlier if I forgot to iron my clothes for the day. I mean, six, and never earlier because my family has a maid that does the ironing. I totally don’t even pay attention to ironing and have no preferred way for my slacks to be creased. What 17-year-old boy does? Definitely not me.

What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?
What is this ‘relax’ you speak of? I don’t think I’ve heard of it before and I know many words since I used to compete in spelling bees. At the end of a stressful day (everyday), I thank whatever gods are listening the day is over and count down the days until I can legally consume liquor.

Where did your last kiss take place and with whom?
I don’t remember the specific logistics, but it had to be with my ex-girlfriend Katie. And– no, the less said about this the better.

Do/did you get into trouble a lot at school?
Of course not! I’m on the honor roll.

Do you often pick up on double entendres and innuendos?
Yes, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t as I have a friend… acquaintance… associate? A, um, Max who makes many innuendos. Well, I don’t have him, he’s not mine or anything, I. Next question.

Have you ever been offered drugs but declined?
Just say no. I’m above the influence and straight edge and all that. I’m all kinds of straight, all the kinds of straight one can be.

Have you ever met someone who has completely altered your way of thinking?
No one comes to mind. Most people I know are like me; they go to the country club and come from good families. I certainly don’t know any leather jacket wearing rebels that are so comfortable about themselves and who they are, who make we wonder how to do that.

Have you ever been offered drugs and accepted?
Of course not! Wasn’t that already asked? Okay, maybe there was an occasion. It was just a puff or two of marijuana. Max and all his friends were around; they’re bad influences! Peer pressure is a real thing, okay?

I mean, I’m going to politely decline to answer this question.

Tell us something weird that turns you on.
There’s nothing weird, I’m just a totally normal guy who likes girls. Not leather jackets or a hint of stubble and a smoldering stare–

Um. No comment.

When did someone last admit romantic or sexual feelings for you? Was the feeling mutual?
Good lord. Absolutely no comment.

What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately?
College decisions. How closely I want to follow in my parent’s footsteps. Certain brunettes. Shit, how about some easier questions?

 Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.
This is definitely not easier.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?
There, perfect. I eat whatever the cook makes. Okay, it may not have yielded a very exciting answer but really this was a much better question.

When did you last swallow your beliefs to avoid an argument or confrontation?
Swallowed my beliefs? Isn’t this a bit harsh? So maybe I haven’t been as vocal as I could about wanting to attend Stanford, but it’s not that simple. My parents went to Princeton, their parents went to Princeton, so I’m just waiting for the right time to broach the subject. It’s strategic. Smart. Shut up.

Do you usually initiate hugs?
I’m a wasp. Wasps don’t hug.

Are you a very affectionate person?
I will refer you to the above.

 Do you think you’re a good person?
Who is to say what good means? I don’t murder anyone or play music without earphones in the library. I would say that I follow the rules and do whats expected of me and I generally try not to be a terrible person, but am I actually kind to people? Caring? Happy? I mean, good? I don’t know. Are these questions meant to be an emotional powder keg or is it just me?

What are you looking forward to?
Being done with high school. Starting my future. Being away from my parents. No, that’s far too harsh. Being an adult and making decisions for my self… And though I would absolutely deny it if asked again, maybe when Max isn’t around, I might look forward to seeing him again. Maybe. Just a little.

What Love Means release!

After much excitement and anticipation, What Love Means is officially available! Yes, a lot of the anticipation and excitement was from me. It still counts. Thank you to everyone who downloaded the sample. I hope you enjoy the book! It’s more than 300 pages and is on Kindle Unlimited too.

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Max is a walking bad boy cliché; Cal shouldn’t want anything to do with him. Cal is everything Max hates about rich people, but he comes in the prettiest package.

Can you spell sexual tension? They can. Can you spell love? Okay, that’s a pretty easy word to spell. Cal and Max can spell it, but they don’t what it means. They’re about to find out.

Available here

 

 

 

 

This is also the last day to enter my contest for 10 queer YA books, so enter while you still can!

Here’s a snippet from the book:

The purr of the motorcycle sent vibrations up my thighs. The wind whistled in my ears as I shot around a corner. I leaned into the motion and tightened my grip on the handlebars. A jolt of adrenaline zinged down my spine as I relied on skill and luck to carry me through. I felt invincible as I raced down back alleys and reveled in the soaring sensation that came from rushing down the road.

I parked my motorcycle at the latest worn-down, abandoned warehouse that had turned into a party spot for vagrants like me. While I hadn’t had anything to drink yet, the ride made me feel buzzed and on top of the world. I guess that’s what people meant by a natural high. Huh. I normally go for the unnatural highs when offered, but being on a bike almost beat anything drugs or alcohol could do.

Almost. It depended on whether a guy was pressed up behind me on the bike or not.

The lot held bikes and beat up cars along with some kids I recognized from school, but the Lexus’s, Audis, and BMWs made me sigh. Even in the dim light they sparkled. Some rich kids from a prep school must have wrangled an invite to see what the kids from the ‘other side of the tracks’ got up to. My friends loved scoring with the yuppies who did things with them no self-respecting girls could do with their boyfriends while the girls loved hooking up with someone their parents would disapprove of.

Too much hassle for me. Besides, I gave up girls years ago.  I didn’t know the preppy kids at this party and didn’t care about them. Until I saw him.


 

 

Contemporary Gay Teen Romances

The best love stories are unexpected, which may be why there’s so many great YA contemporary LGBTQ stories. The protagonists aren’t looking for romance, they’re just trying to get through high school when a potential Mr. Right appears. Between coming out, falling for the last person they’d expect and high school drama, it’s easy to […]

via 10 Amazing Contemporary Gay YA Romances — Hella Gay YA