Treat Yo’ Self

December is the time when most people start shopping for others as various holidays encourage gift giving and thinking of your fellow man and peace on earth and whatever. That’s great and all but don’t forget about yourself.

I’m just a concerned citizen with no conflict of interest or agenda of my own, telling you to think of you. How might you do this, you ask? I’m happy to tell you!

tys
This has nothing to do with anything really, I just love Parks and Rec.

In case you want to treat yo self (shout to Tom and Donna), here’s a couple suggestions that are on sale this week:

What Love Means – A prep school brat and a biker have a complicated past and an uncertain future. Plus, spelling bees!

Then There’s You – Kissing in costumes always makes things difficult.

Both these stories are on sale from Dec. 10- 17th. Get them for 99 cents while you can!

Not only do you get great books to read while it’s snowing and you’re stuck indoors, but they’re on sale so you can still get presents for others and yourself.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I posted a while ago about the book When Katie Met Cassidy and how it was front and center at a local library in the recommendations section. I was amazed to see how far Kansas had come, displaying queer content so publicly, that definitely wouldn’t have happened when I was a kid.

I don’t live in a rural part of Kansas, but I’m still from Kansas, so a lot of the people are more conservative than not. Sure, we have a democrat or two in various smaller offices, but we’re still Kansas. We’re never a swing state, people always know how Kansas will vote. We’re consistently a red state.

If anyone’s been feeling down lately about politics and our nation’s leaders, this is a quick message to not loose hope. I was proud of Kansas for displaying a gay book. Little did I know what the election would bring. I’d say I never expected to see the day a woman who is both Native American and a lesbian would be elected in Kansas, but I hadn’t even considered someone like her could be an option here. Most of our leaders are white and male. But Kansas elected Sharice Davids to congress and another woman to serve as governor. And they’re both democrats.

That might not seem like a lot depending on where you live, but just, it’s crazy. Two women politicians who are democrats in Kansas. Not only ran but won. Kansas!

Just goes to show that anything is possible.

Nicknames are serious business

This is an excerpt from One Little Lie, which will be released on Oct. 20.

It was after lunch and Luke and I were discussing very serious matters.

“I think you’re just going to have to accept the reality of the situation,” Luke told me.

I frowned and leaned against his locker. “That really doesn’t sound like something I would do.”

Luke stood opposite me in a red shirt that hugged his shoulders perfectly. “Aren’t you all science-y?” he asked me. “That’s about facts and…” he trailed off.

“Go on,” I challenged. “Name one other thing.”

“Science,” he said decisively, like he wasn’t a big idiot.

I wasn’t fooled. “Science is about science? I’m dating a genius.”

His face brightened. “Oh, I am alright with that being my new nickname.”

Genius? “Like hell!”

He tutted at me. “You’re not being very accommodating and aren’t relationships about compromise?” Whatever, he wasn’t the relationship expert; I already called it.

“Lemon drop is mine,” I insisted.

He inched just a bit closer and in a low voice said, “Yeah, he is.”

~

Riding With Brighton Review


It’s hard to imagine anyone could find fault with Riding with Brighton. It’s a great character piece and a lovely romance too.

Summary: Jay Hall sees his life from a fresh perspective and finds himself wanting. He wants to change everything and knows just the person to help him: Brighton Bello-Adler, who is just about the coolest person in the world. They spend a few days together and go on an adventure of self-discovery and romance.

About Jay: Jay is unhappy with his life because he’s unhappy with himself. He’s good looking, popular, and an athlete, but he’s not impressed by his friends or any of his accomplishments. Because he’s been living with a part of himself he was too scared to acknowledge. But things are changing.

Jay’s been getting to know someone in one of his classes, Brighton. He likes talking to Brighton but feels really inadequate compared to him. Brighton is a shameless flirt with everyone, charming, an artist, and openly gay. He’s seems very confident and sure of who he is. And Jay wants to be like that. So he thinks.

It becomes pretty clear that it’s not hero worship Jay feels but a crush. It’s really sweet watching Jay gushing about Brighton in the safe context of a role model. He thinks he wants to be like Brighton, but he really wants to be worthy of catching Brighton’s attention.

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It was a sharp right turn, backward a good mile and a half, around corners, down hills, through a forest, and across the universe from where I really wanted to go.

About Brighton: In addition to Jay, there’s Brighton. Brighton is kind of a perfect angel who does no wrong but he’s still a strong character with his own voice. Jay’s the star of the show while Brighton is a supporting player, but again remember that this happens over the course of a few days and Jay has enough drama going on that it would have been too much to add more conflicts for Brighton.

What’s really great about Brighton is that he’s just a normal guy. He’s not boring but his life is going pretty well. And while that might not be great from a story perspective, it’s refreshing and a much needed portrayal of a gay teen in today’s culture. There’s no angst or depression. He has loving friends and a supportive family and being gay is just one part of him. He’s a good counterpoint to Jay and a realistic ,sometimes seldom seen, type of gay teenager.

The romance department is the only area lacking in Brighton’s life. He wants to be a normal kids who goes and dates and takes someone to prom. But there’s not a lot of dating options in his town. And he’s very attracted to Jay. He’s torn between the strong pull he feels for him and keeping his distance while Jay figures stuff out. He doesn’t want to get his heart broken but he can’t help the more attracted he becomes the more Jay shows of himself of Brighton.

What makes it unique: This is an interesting story because all the action takes place in the space of a weekend. It’s like a crash course in Jay’s psyche and emotional development as he dives head first into issues he’s never been able to confront before. The book provides a really in-depth character analysis and there’s lots of upheaval and revelations as Jay fits the coming out process into the span of a few days.

The Romance: The action is both the story of Jay finally being honest with himself and those around him and getting to know Brighton better. They can’t really help falling for each other the more time they spend together. They develop a real connection and a very supportive partnership.

There’s a lot of fun and flirty banter and swoon worthy moments. The book has the feel of a whirlwind romance, something intense and all consuming. But it’s not an artificial, insta-love kinda thing because the main characters get to know each other very deeply in a short amount of time and there’s both big romantic moments and more tender elements where the characters discovering each other and falling hard.

Favorite Part: The prose. The prose is just, really, really good.

My thoughts: Haven Francis wrote a beautiful book that should probably be read more than once in order to fully take in and appreciate everything. It’s life affirming and lovely but also doesn’t solve everything.

Excerpt from One Little Word- YA LGBTQ Fiction

Boyfriends Ryan and Luke prepare for a doubt date at a gay club.

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We decided to dress up for maximum gayness. I had a shirt with a unicorn and Alicia had bought me a feather boa as a gag gift, so I was going to wear that too because why not. I wasn’t dressed yet because I was too busy laughing at Luke.

He faced away from me but glared at me through the mirror in front of him. “Ryan, stop laughing and just tell me which one of these shirts makes my eyes pop!”

I turned my head into the bedspread, giggling helplessly. I had started getting ready, then found that watching Luke worry about what to wear was much more important, so I lay on his bed and enjoyed the show. When I composed myself, I peeked up to see Luke was now glaring at the two shirts in his hands while holding them up to his chest one at a time and trying to decide.

I smiled sweetly. “Baby, I think you look good in anything.” Sure, my tone was still at least 20% sarcastic, but that’s my baseline.

And right now he just scoffed, sounding unimpressed with my answer. “Stop being a weirdo,” he said, eyeing the shirts critically.

We were road tripping to a bigger city called Fairview and heading to a gay club having an all ages night. Luke acted like a contestant in a beauty pageant, putting all of his focus into what to wear.

“I’m a weirdo for you,” I cooed.

Teasing was the only option if I didn’t want to combust into a puddle of hormones and fondness. He seemed like a big jock most of the time, and he could be confident and charming, but he was mostly an earnest goofball. Like now when he acted like the most important decision in the world was finding the right thing to wear.

He turned to look at me and said, “You do realize this might be the only time I ask you for fashion advice?”

Well played. I put him out of his misery. “Wear the red one.”

Luke frowned. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, moron, I’m sure.”

I loved him in that color and who cared about what anyone else thought of him? He was my bf, he should look good for me. I tilted my head and idly wondered how I’d get him to agree to the glitter body paint. We’d said we were having a super gay evening, so how did we achieve that without body glitter? We didn’t. He needed to be a team player. Even if he didn’t officially bat for a particular team. Other than his baseball team of course.

Hey, could moron be Luke’s pet name?

He held the chosen shirt up one more time and nodded decisively. “Thank you.” A serious look crossed his face again and he turned to face me. “Your pet name for me is not going to be moron.” Then he turned around again.

Wow, had we become that in sync? Maybe we developed a psychic connection. Probably the first one but just to be sure I concentrated on thoughts of Luke’s ass. “What am I thinking about?”

“My ass,” he said without hesitation.

“You are psychic,” I marveled.

“I can feel and see you staring at my ass,” he said meeting my eyes in the mirror with a laugh. Then he started messing with his hair.

One Little Lie will be released on Oct. 20 and can be pre-ordered here.

Perils of Fake Dating

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:

Ryan

My fake relationship seemed to be working out great for my boy toy, but it was pretty inconvenient for me. Time to balance things out. Besides, I could argue it was practical to show up and embarrass him in front of his coaches. I mean interact with him in front of his coaches since he wanted some type of sports scholarship. They should know all about their star athlete and his boyfriend.

I went more subtle than showing up in a cheerleading uniform this time. I wore a pink sweater as it was cold and pink earmuffs for a little flair. Most of the guys had left the field, but Luke was talking to his two coaches at the pitcher’s mound. One of them was older and also the Economics teacher, and the other was younger, probably playing baseball in college.

I jogged up to Luke, giving him a noisy kiss on the cheek and throwing my arms around him. “Hi honey bunny, are you done with practice?”

The two coaches looked at us, blinking and seemingly trying to process. I kept my arms around the rigid jock and smiled enthusiastically at the men.

“Uh, just talking to the coaches… babe,” he said with false cheer. “Give me a second.” He stared into my eyes, telling me get the hell out of here. He didn’t understand me last night, so I ignored him now.

“You’re the cheerleader,” said the older coach.

I had showed up in a cheerleading uniform to his game one time. I guess that made an impression. “My friends call me Ryan, but Lukie calls me his little lemon drop,” I gushed. Technically, it would make more sense for Luke to be the lemon drop: he had blonde hair while I was a brunette, but it was the first pet name I thought of.

Lukie, I didn’t know you had a boyfriend,” responded the younger coach. He grinned and Luke flushed while I soaked in the embarrassment.

“Then you’re the only one,” the other coach grunted. God, even teachers had seen the video?

“What?” the younger one asked.

“Nothing,” Luke said quickly. “It’s nothing you need to see.”

His eyebrows raised.

“We’re an internet sensation,” I said proudly. “Don’t be so modest.”

“We’re hardly a sensation,” Luke argued. He’d pried my arms off him and was holding my hand, gripping it tight. I didn’t back down.

I patted him on the chest. “Let’s not fight in front of your coaches.” I turned to the men with an indulgent smile. “You know how he can be.”

“He’s a great player, keeps the guys focused,” said the older coach slowly, not really sure what was happening.

“Oh, so you just fight with me? I guess I’m special then.”

“So special,” Luke agreed.

I narrowed my eyes. “I didn’t like your tone just then.”

“What?”

“I know you said not to do this in front of them, but I can’t help it. That hurt, Lukie.”

“Oh my god,” he huffed, face red again.

“Well, apologize to your… fellow, Luke,” the older coach said. I fought not to grin as he took my side, looking at Luke expectantly.

“He’s just joking,” Luke assured him, sounding nervous.

Perfect. “Oh, so my feelings are a joke to you?” I raised my voice.

“Luke, come on,” the younger one pleaded. They probably hated dramatic scenes when girls were involved; being around a dramatic gay scene was even worse.

“Son, you’re just going to make it worse,” the older one said.

“Your coaches are smart, you could learn something from them,” I told him, not hiding the grin on my lips.

“Ryan,” he started but I opened my mouth. “Lemon Drop,” he said through gritted teeth, and I let him continue. “I’m sorry.”

I sniffed, turned away. “I don’t think you mean that.”

“I mean it, come on, please,” he begged. I should have captured this moment on camera.

“I can’t stay mad at you,” I exclaimed, throwing my arms around him again. The coaches used it as an excuse to leave.

“I’m going to kill you,” he whispered while awkwardly embracing me back.

“Don’t be like that, honey bear,” I quipped and skipped away.

 

~~~

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.

 

~~~

Night at the Theater

A pretend date from One Little Word.

Ryan

Luke and I went to see 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 the show with, so I didn’t complain. I flailed internally at how date-like it seemed, but I covered pretty well, I thought. Good thing he 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.

“It’s set in the woods. 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 that good, but they were good enough people bought our act, so privately I thought 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, but I didn’t say any of that. “You like Romeo and Juliet?” I questioned instead.

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

“Well, this is like the Shakespearean Hangover.”

He narrowed his eyes. “No way.”

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

He didn’t look convinced but said, “I guess I’ll give it a chance.”

“You’re so uncultured,” I teased.

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

“Shut up,” I said, removing my hand from his suddenly.

Luke frowned. “I’m just 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.”

“But you love me anyway.”

The words caught in my throat.

~~~

Carnival Contest

Fake boyfriends. Sarcasm. Hand Holding. Find it all in One Little Word. Here’s an excerpt.

Ryan

Luke stared down my grinning form, his arms crossed against his chest, a reverse of our earlier position. Except his arms were more impressive, muscles bulging and straining against the material of his shirt. I teased him to avoid the distraction.

“Now you’re the one who’s a sore loser,” I said. I held a cake wrapped in plastic in my hands. It was white frosting with sprinkles and funfetti cake. Luke tried to get me to pick brownies instead, he was so weird. Funfetti was the best.

He wasn’t impressed. “That was entirely luck based.”

“There was no rule there had to be skill involved.” The possibility of winning sweet treats kept him from complaining when I selected the cakewalk, but he probably didn’t expect me to win. Maybe I had good karma stored up because I always won cakewalks.

“You’re at least sharing that cake with me,” he argued.

“Keep dreaming.”

Luke had given me a root beer when he won the ring toss, which was unexpectedly sweet. Not that he gave it to me, he was probably trying to bribe me into the dunk tank but that he remembered my beverage of choice. I might share my dessert, but he didn’t need to know that yet.

We did basically every event, jostling and trash talking each other at every opportunity. Things that weren’t even really a competition we turned into one, like the duck pond. Except we got into an argument about what actually constituted winning, getting a higher number or drawing a duck that earned two candies instead of one.

It was almost time to head back to our booth. We had time for one more game, where the objective was to knock down cans with bean bags. This was another game where Luke had an advantage, but Alicia was manning the booth for community service credit, so maybe she would help me out.

She just stared at us when we stepped up to her table. “Isn’t this game a little too easy for you?”

Luke nodded. “For me, but I have to give Ryan a fighting chance.”

“Tell that to duck pond, jackass,” I told him hotly.

I won the duck pond, not you.”

Before we could get into it further, Alicia held up her hand. “Yeah, this and the duck pond are for kindergarteners. You know that, right?”

We looked around. The cans were regular empty pop cans, and the bean bags were about half their size, so it did seem pretty simple. Unless you were six and could barely aim. And the people in this line were especially young and all of them had parents holding their hands who were looking at us in exasperation. The little competitive bubble Luke and I were in burst.

“Oh, I guess we shouldn’t do this one then,” Luke said, sounding as silly as I felt. It had been so easy to get absorbed in trying to beat him, everything else was in the background. There was a lot of trash talking and bragging when one of us won with petulant whining from the loser. I wouldn’t admit I hadn’t minded being in Luke’s presence for the moment, that it was almost fun.

“No, don’t let that stop you. By all means, play the angriest game of Can Knock Down the world has ever seen.” Her sarcasm skills were almost as good as mine.

We retreated from her booth as she laughed at us for being giant children. I wished I hadn’t drank the root beer Luke gave me. I could have chucked it at her.

“So, who won?” I asked.

I’d stopped keeping score at one point, just wanting to beat him so he wouldn’t be so smug. Plus, maybe he had this ridiculous pout whenever he lost that I wanted to kiss away. Ugh. Being attracted to someone I hated was difficult. I’d feel the urge to punch him one moment and want to shut him up with my tongue in his mouth the next.

“I’m not getting in the dunk tank again,” Luke declared. He looked like he had a bad spray tan, but even orange he was still hot. I didn’t think I could pull off that look so well.

“What if I promise not to accidentally dunk you?” I offered.

“That doesn’t stop everyone who tries to hit the bullseye.”

I smiled. “I may be able help with that too.”

“I knew it!” He rounded on me in anger for a moment. “You’re such a cheater!”

“Do you want to cry about it or do you want me to rig it?” I asked.

He stopped and paused. “Definitely, definitely rig it.”

~~~

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.