Stuff that totally won’t go wrong

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

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

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

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

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

~

Luke

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

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

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

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

“But—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thanks.” I grinned, totally unashamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Go away, Lydia.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Flirting! Yay!

Luke probably came out in the wrong order. Because he didn’t even know he was bi until long after having a boyfriend and claiming to be gay. So yeah. In hindsight, knowing you like boys is an important step to do before a clumsy, spazzy guy stumbles into your life and makes you feel all confused. In his defense, Luke has played baseball all his life and been part of a team, so he knows how to follow instructions. But when there’s no rule book or steps to follow… that’s when things get messy.

But in One Little Problem, not only is Luke aware of his sexuality and his feelings for a particular dude, he’s comfortable with those things. Ryan, the aforementioned spaz who caught Luke’s attention, is very pleased by this development. Not everyone has reached the acceptance stage, like Luke’s parents, but let’s not worry about that now.

In this scene, Ryan and Luke are holding hands at school and then they flirt… yeah, that’s what happens. And you already know the relevant information, so okay. Here’s an outtake from the novel.

~

Ryan

“Should we stop holding hands?” I asked. We weren’t always so touchy-feely. Lately, it seemed like Luke didn’t mind, but I wanted to be sure.

Luke just shook his head. “Guess there has to be some downsides to having an awesome boyfriend. I don’t care what people say to me.” Then his expression turned serious. “But if anyone messes with you? Tell me and I’ll kick their asses.”

“Say that again but this time take off your shirt.” I crossed the fingers of the other hand that wasn’t holding Luke’s.  Come on early morning strip show… that would be pretty weird, but I still wanted to see it.

“Some downsides in addition to you, I mean.” He smiled like he was cute. He happened to be cute, but still.

“You’re sleeping on the couch tonight,” I informed him.

“We don’t live together.”

Maybe one day, my brain said, and I told it to shut up.

“Want to come over after school and pretend we do?” I waggled my eyebrows in a way experts would deem excessive. “We’ll play house.”

“Roleplay already?” he asked but didn’t say no.

Oh. “Do you have a French maid’s outfit?” I could get into that.

“Okay, I’m leaving now.” Luke gave me a quick peck on the lips and we went our separate ways.

Luke recently had an identity crisis of sorts. Hopefully not a midlife one because his lifespan needed to be much longer than that. More of the sexuality crisis kind. It took him a while to figure things out and it might not always have been the most fun, but I was a supportive boyfriend and stuff.

If there was any evidence to the contrary, then I didn’t remember it and didn’t want to be reminded, but Luke was on the other side of that now. He was cool and confident and awesome. Stronger.  Comfortable. Way hot. He was always that one, but in a new way.

He was here, he was queer, he was used to it.

If only everyone else could be used to it too.

No one dies in this book!

Horror movies are not something I enjoy. Doesn’t really matter if the subject is actually frightening to me. If there is ominous music and something jumps out of the shadows, I will jump too, except I’m jumping due to terror.

Every time I have watched a horror movie, my first thought is, why am I watching this? Then, as it begins, I generally spend a few moments going, hey, this is nice, why can’t it just stay like this?

Because at the beginning of the scary movies, there’s calm, happy people just going about their day. Excited to go camping or to a house that totally isn’t haunted. I like those parts. And maybe it’s a lot less interesting if people just have a pleasant day and nobody dies, but I’d be okay with that.

Naturally, this doesn’t have a lot to do with the point of this post. This is a snippet from One New Start. It’s from the beginning, where life is going right. There are no monsters in this book, but there may be other challenges. Eventually. Just not in the beginning where everything is great.

Ryan

The stars were up there above us, filling the night sky like they were meant for private viewing by us and us alone, as if we were in our own private planetarium. We were laying out on the hood of Luke’s car, and he had his arm stretched out behind me, so it was my pillow. A solid, unyielding pillow that would never sell in stores because it was odd and misshapen. No one would buy it except me, who would purchase every last one.

We shared a few quiet moments just gazing up at the sky. Together.

“I’ll keep on keeping on,” Luke said. “Being boring me while you take a normal thing like having new experiences and find ways to make it extreme or scary.”

There was no guarantee I would do that! Unless one counted past experiences and my personality as a guarantee.

“I want new experiences!” I defended. Being not crazy could be part of that.

“You’re still going to be the same person while you’re having them,” he reasoned.

“I guess.” I did like me. But there were so many options out there. “Unless I can be Cher? Can I be Cher?” I crossed my fingers and held them up so he could see them.

“Don’t want to date Cher,” he replied. Aww. Sweet.

Also, that wasn’t a no, so maybe I could be Cher… then again, one of the only things I had going for me that Cher didn’t have was that Luke Chambers wanted to date me, so I wasn’t giving that up.

“Nicholas Cage?” I offered instead. He was another guy.

“Even worse.” His disgusted face was so cute.

If the opportunity presented itself to be Nick Cage, I would totally do that just to freak Luke out, but otherwise I would be me. That sounded just fine actually. I had great people in my life, great things to look forward to, and a really great boyfriend.

This was going to be an incredible year.

A brief oral history of farming and other more interesting things

Can you call something an oral history if it’s in someone’s mind? An oral mental history.

Hi. Hola. Bonjour.

(I don’t know how to spell bonjour, and the spell checker thing offered ‘bourbon instead, which I know is wrong, but I was tempted to put anyway.)

Now that we got the greetings out of the way, here’s some fiction! Some of this is in One Little Lie, and some of it is extra.

I don’t think you need a lot of background information to understand this scene, but just in case, Ryan and his dad are going to build a barn. Maybe. Ryan’s dad is trying to teach him things, and because Ryan is Ryan, it’s not going great.

 ~~~

barnrainbow

It was a nice spring afternoon. My father and I stood outside in the light with nothing around to provide shade, but the sun felt nice on my skin. We were out back on our property, surveying the spot where our old barn used to be. Did this count as exercise? I was totally going to count this as exercise.

My dad’s family used to have their own farm, but it took a lot of work. The Miller operation used to be family owned and run, so there wasn’t a big budget to hire new staff with once the number of family members dwindled. Grandpa came from a bigger family, but Dad only had a brother who didn’t live in the area anymore. I was an only child, and Mom had died when I was young.

We didn’t have livestock anymore but that could change once we had a barn again. Dad had traded favors with a bunch of guys he knew to help knock the old structure down after he, Luke, and me attempted it ourselves, and he paid a crew to remove the remains.

There were some supplies at our feet like a big sketch pad, pencils, a tape measurer, and even a freaking protractor that was metal and different from the one I had to get for school. My dad owned a protractor. I really needed to mock him for that.

Before I could, he turned to me and asked, “So what’s the first thing we should do?”

“Go inside and order a pizza?” I suggested even though I didn’t have much hope the answer would be yes.

Dad sighed, though it was more for show than out of true annoyance. He had a pretty high tolerance for annoyance, which he had me to thank for. “I’m going to force this knowledge into your brain one way or another,” he informed me. “So you could at least cooperate.”

Learning about blueprints and construction probably wasn’t the worst idea in the world. I already had some experience as I built a dunk tank for a science project, and there were all kinds of engineering jobs out there in the mythical Real World for science nerds like me that might require these skills.

Still, being totally obtuse made this way more fun for me. I feigned obliviousness. “It’s a barn. Build a big square and put some dividers in it, how hard could that be?”

Dad smacked me lightly on the head. “You can’t even understand how dumb you sound right now.”

Father of the Year, right there.

 

More on Mondays: Now with More Puppy

My dog didn’t get a lot of exercise or outside time today because it’s been gloomy and rainy all day, so perhaps I should have expected when we went out on the deck and it started raining. As I’m in the process of moving in and outside, and this is the second time I’ve done that while trying to write this blog post, I’m not even gonna try to connect what I’m saying now to anything relevant.

Sometimes I say something and then immediately contradict myself, which is a Ryan thing. Ryan is from the novel I’m about to share an extended scene from. See, now the random stuff I’m talking about is related!

Additionally, it’s hard to think of stuff to say when there is a nearby dog barking her head off. Not really sure what she’s barking at, because she’s looking up. She does bark at birds, but there aren’t any birds, or planes, or flying men with capes.

She doesn’t like stay inside days. I’d say she gets crazy, but really she gets crazier, which is also a Ryan thing.

Have I posted a picture of my dog yet? I’m asking in a rhetorical manner because I’m totally about to regardless of what the answer is.

img_20190809_192106022

This sums up her current mood pretty well.

img_20190809_192034450

But this works too.

Okay, only one more I swear, I need one where she doesn’t look miserable.

img_20190809_192052803

Man, she’s great. Even though she’s barking again.

Without further ado, unless I think of more ado, here is something from One New Start. Available now! Which is new development, which is why exclamation. !!!

In this part, Ryan and Luke are boyfriends about to have an adventure. The adventure involves devious behavior and being up to no good. There are many reasons Ryan would be a bad criminal, and some of them are mentioned here.

~~~

Ryan

Still not going along with the incognito part of the plan, or being very bad at it if he was, Luke used his turn signal and still hadn’t cut the lights as we approached our destination. Yet he told me, “We probably shouldn’t talk when we get out.”

“I’ve been practicing my whispering voice!”

I didn’t try to whisper that, so it’s okay I said it at a volume that made Luke wince.

“It’s still too loud,” he assured me. The car slowed down.

“You haven’t even heard it.”

“Still, I’m right, aren’t I?” he replied without taking his eyes off the road.

… My vocal chords just weren’t capable of whispering. Luke didn’t have to be so accurate. “Stupid Luke,” I grumbled.

“You said that out loud,” he pointed out.

“I’m aware, stupid Luke.”

“May be stupid Luke, but I’m your Genius.” Oh pet names, my only weakness besides all the other ones. Luke slowed the car and parked, giving me a grin.

I glared. “No, this is dangerous and wrong and hot, not sweet!

He shrugged. “Can’t help being sweet, just who I am.”

We got out of the car.

The plan was to go in, get the job done, and get out. Smash and grab. Well, no grabbing. We would save the grabbing for later, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. We’d just smash. Wait, that was dirty too, wasn’t it? Everything was dirty these days, what was wrong with people?

This might not have helped with the tough, ruthless thing I was trying to do, but Luke and I held hands while we worked our way through the darkness. I could try going it alone… I’d fall over a zillion times. Also, Luke’s hand in mine. I may be a criminal now, but I wasn’t gonna turn down a good thing.

Books, bowling, boys, and possibly even more B words!

One New Start is available now!

I’m so proud of myself! Not for writing a book, I mean, I guess for that too. Mostly because I’m actually posting on the day it’s released. I’m a serious author, don’t I always do that? Cue the nervous bisexual laughter.

Anyway, let’s focus on the positives. Like One New Start! Available now.

Here’s an excerpt. Ryan and Luke are on a double date at a bowling alley. Ryan has never bowled before but that’s not going to stop him from dominating. (it probably will stop him but shhh, he believes)

bowling-596766_960_720

Ryan

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

Awkward turtle. Do people still say that?

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

Doing it.

IT!

You understand. That’s enough.

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

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

Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

You’ve already posted this quote before, I’ve told myself multiple times. Are you sure, I ask me next. Pretty sure, I reply. I should check just in case, I decide and then I agree with me. And then my dog tells me to pay attention to her or I see something outside or whatnot and I get distracted. Until today, when I finally see that, no, I have not yet posted this quote.

The quote is from Summer Romance, and it’s available on Amazon.

fnmanningsr

This is a terrible segue: Hey, it’s summer! You know what takes place in the summer? Summer Romance by F.N. Manning.

fnmanningsrNeil and Carter work at the grocery store and sparks fly over the avocados. Or something like that. Here’s an excerpt:

“Why do people think you’re cool? You have a cat named Princess.” I wiped tears of laughter away from my eyes. The soccer star, the guy the ladies loved, the confident guy who strolled through the halls of high school? That guy had a cat named Princess.

“Says Corny the Klutz,” he responded, but the words didn’t hurt as he gave me a mock scowl and a good-natured shove.

However, he became nervous after he said the words, obviously afraid he went too far. Normally, I hated even the reminder of that nickname. It didn’t hurt as bad now. Hearing it from my cute friend’s lips soothed away any sting.

I let him stew about his faux paus for a moment until I smiled slyly. “I still think yours is worse, Princess.”

His expression was priceless. “Princess isn’t my name, it’s the cat’s!”

Solving World Hunger

Here’s an excerpt from One Little Problem. The series follows Ryan and Luke, high school sweethearts, and their mocking friends.

Ryan POV

“I’ve solved all our problems,” I announced to the table.

There was a pause as everyone stopped their individual conversations and focused on me. “Like, of the people sitting at this table or globally?” Alicia asked.

Lydia watched me with an amused, superior little smile. “I’m particularly interested in your solutions for world hunger, our current president, and people who take up two parking spaces.”

Zach rolled his eyes. “Smaller scale guys, he’s totally talking about him and Luke.”

Oh yeah, I was at a table of people who wouldn’t hesitate to mock me, which could be bad sometimes when there was stuff about me that was mockable but also this was totally where I belonged, so I had to endure it. However, maybe I didn’t need to share this idea with group. “No, I totally got an idea for that world hunger thing.” Um… “More food.” Nailed it.

Luke nodded. “Good idea, babe.” Way to be supportive. He looked at my plate. “You gonna donate that pizza?”

I eyed him knowingly. “Donate it to you?”

Exaggerated realization played across his face, like that thought had just occurred to him as I said it. “I am pretty hungry,” he admitted, putting on his best innocent face. Not sure how well it worked, but I’m pretty sure all higher brain function ground to a halt whenever he showed me the dimples, which he was doing, so I was a goner.

I slid my plate towards him and he took the pizza off it. “You’re lucky your cute,” I told him.

He smiled. “So are you.”

“I’d argue but I can’t.” Our shoulders brushed against each other companionably, occasionally nudging playfully as we smiled at each other. I liked having a group of people to sit with at lunch but sometimes it would have been okay if it was just Luke and me.

“You can have my food now,” Zach offered to Luke. “That put me off eating.” See, there he goes proving my point.

“We have a game today, choke it down,” Luke ordered.

Zach raised an eyebrow. “Are you that romantic with your boyfriend?” Zing. He may be insulting us but that was still a good one.


You can read the whole story here.