One Little Lie

onelittlelieCOVI’m trying out a new cover for One Little Lie. That is literally all I have to say about that, but then this isn’t a very exciting post is it? In honor of the new cover, or me not having anything to say, or you being pretty, in honor of something, here’s an excerpt from One Little Lie.

Sometimes instead of going and getting the book description and copying and pasting it, I challenge myself to come up with a new blurb instead. So, if you want the professional, polished summary go here. My improvised summary is this: two giant spazzes date each other and everyone mocks everyone else. Yay? Although really, one character is a giant spaz and the other character likes to think he’s cool, but he’s maybe an even bigger spaz.


Ryan

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.”

I smiled and looked away to deal with the sudden rush of affection I felt for him. I tried to glare sternly. He had to get his own pet name. His chest puffed up, like he was proud of himself while he grinned at me and I tried to decide my next move but then suddenly we weren’t alone.

The rest is available here!

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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.

 

 

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.

One Little Word Prologue

Here’s the prologue to One Little Word. Enjoy!

Luke

My mother raised me right. She would say that everything good about me came from her and my less pleasant qualities were inherited from my father. It’s not that they’re divorced or that they don’t get along. She’s teasing him. They’ve been together 20 some years and they do that, tease and joke and then kiss right in front of me. It’s pretty disgusting.

But I am a good guy. And I mean more than just good to look at it. Not that I’m a slouch there. I see the way girls look at me when I walk through the halls. It could be my sandy blonde hair or the muscles and trim body I’ve developed from lifting weights and playing baseball. Maybe it’s my vibrant green eyes or just the confident way I stroll through school, like nothing and nobody can stop me.

It’s precisely that attitude that got me in trouble. It was a few minutes before school started. Me and some of my buddies from the team walked from the gym after doing our morning weight training routine. We’re sweaty and tired, not just from the exercise but at having to get up so freaking early, though a few guys shoved each other and messed around in their typical fashion.

“My grandma can bench press more than you, Ahmad,” said Joey Wilson, a great catcher whose IQ was much lower than his batting average, which was saying something since his batting average wasn’t that great. My best friend Zach Ahmad didn’t look over at Joey. I don’t even think his eyes were open.

“Got nothing to say to that, Ahmad?” smirked Ted Summers, our team’s back up third baseman.

“If you expect a response from me before 9:00 a.m.” he started haughtily, “come up with something worth the effort of replying to.” He leaned into my shoulder and let me guide him down the halls. Lazy asshole.

“You didn’t have to come work out,” Ted pointed out.

Zach swung his arm around my back, clapping me on the shoulder. “The captain here said I should show initiative.” The last words dripped with disdain.

“I will drop you,” I warned.

He opened one eyelid to peer at me. His tired blue-grey eye projected a surprising amount of menace. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“How did you make captain anyway?” Joey asked me, switching targets. “My little sister can bench press more than you.”

I scoffed at the catcher. “One, you don’t have a little sister.”

“Okay, your little sister can bench press more than you,” he corrected.

I carried on like he hadn’t spoken. “Two, that was basically the same insult.”

“Whatever, you queens.” Joey gestured to Zach and me limping down the halls together. “Going to take each other to prom?”

“How would they decide who gets the fancy crown?” Ted snickered.

I considered thanking Ted because if we got a crown that meant we won something, but I directed a question to the leech on my shoulder instead. “You got anything to say to this?”

He lifted a finger in Ted’s general direction. “Blah-blah, you’re a girl.” Then he pointed towards Joey. “You’re gay, blah-blah-blah.” Zach positioned himself more firmly on my shoulder. “You make a surprisingly comfortable pillow,” he told me. “Why don’t I sleep on you in Spanish class?”

“You’re a vain bastard who’d never do this in front of anyone else?” I guessed. The guys watched, thinking that might get a response. Zach opened his mouth, then shrugged and closed it, conceding the point.

“You’re so gay,” Joey said, laughing at us.

“Better than being a retard,” I responded instantly.

Remember, my mom raised me right. I don’t swear in front of my grandparents or act rude to ladies and I take my cap off for the national anthem. But in front of the guys, it’s different. I may be the most popular guy in my grade but part of that is because I fit in. Juvenile, off-color remarks are the only things Joey and a lot of the other guys understand. I guess I could not say anything, but okay, maybe I’m a macho idiot jock who can’t be the bigger person because I just can’t let the comments slide.

“At least I’m not a pussy,” Joey said. Zach snorted on my shoulder because the catcher basically conceded to being a retard. I mean, mentally challenged.

I responded back as I’m expected to, not even thinking about it, trying to remember if we had any homework in algebra that I forgot to do. “Whatever, you fag,” I said. No points for originality, but I flipped him off too for good measure. He huffed and rolled his eyes, opening his mouth to respond, probably with something witty and original along the lines of I know you are, but what am I.

Except then I heard a sharp intake of breath and a stern voice behind me. “Mr. Chambers. Head to the principal’s office.”

Fuck.

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.

Scene from What Love Means

IMG_1107-1371.jpegMy novel What Love Means is about boys and spelling bees. This is a scene from the beginning after Max’s sister April wins a small spelling competition at her school and wants to train for the harder bees.

This excerpt contains a little bit of material from the book but is mostly an extended scene that didn’t make it in the final version.

***

After April won, I walked over to where she stood with a crowd of her friends. She had a gold star sticker on her shoulder for winning. I gave her a high five. Her friends scattered. They had a hard time being in my direct vicinity without blushing to death.

“Will you help me prepare?” she asked.

“The real thing is different. It’s a lot harder,” I warned. These were easy vocabulary words that anyone who studied had a shot at. It was different when there was a whole dictionary to choose from and kids who wanted it just as badly.

“I want to do it,” April said firmly.

“Kids study a lot for it. It’s all they do,” I warned.

“Give me a word,” she ordered.

“What?”

“Give me a challenging word. Come on,” she urged.

We had a mini stare-off before I relented. “Alright… how about ‘sputnik’?”

A boy near us giggled at the word but she didn’t even hesitate. I thought a little harder this time, then tried again. “Salve?” My favorites had been Salvic, German and Old English languages because I thought they were the most fun to say.

April got it again.

“What about shrieval?” Okay, maybe that one was a stumper. It was an old English word used for sheriff.

She nailed it without hesitation and smiled confidently at me.

“How do you know that?”

“I’m smart,” she said like it should be obvious.

“I never doubted it,” I assured.

“Good, then I should have no problem competing.”

It dawned on me. “You stole my old workbooks,” I accused.

“Borrowed.” She waved that off. “I’ve been training.”

“You didn’t tell me.”

“I knew you wouldn’t like it.”

Well, she was right. I stared at her as she tried to stare back seriously without grinning. Crap. I didn’t want to give in. We both knew I would.

“Alright,” I relented. “It looks like you’re going to be a spelling champion.”

Check out the full book here.

Real or Fake? M/M romance

The breakup scene from a supposedly fake relationship:

We need to talk,” Luke told me. A classic break up line. He couldn’t even be creative about it?

“I don’t have time,” I said, shutting my locker and walking away. A small, stupid part of me actually wanted him to let me walk away, wanted this charade between us to continue.

pexels-photo-176162

“Yeah, you never seem to have enough time for me,” he told my retreating back.

I spun around dramatically, intending to add flair to this scene. “We’re going to do this here?” I asked skeptically like we shouldn’t do this in public, but I raised my voice to catch more attention.

“We have to do this here because you’ve been avoiding me for days.” He sounded annoyed and I wondered if it was genuine. I had been avoiding him.

“You’re being dramatic,” I scolded.

“I’m the dramatic one?” He scoffed. “You love being the center of attention.” We were definitely the center of attention now: a crowd of eager onlookers had formed around us. Some looked uncomfortable while others were enjoying this, but they all seemed interested. I saw our friends Alicia and Lydia among the rest.

“Says the guy who is literally at the center of every baseball game,” I retorted.

“I’m the pitcher,” he said, exasperated, and a few of the guys on his team nodded at that.

“Don’t bring the bedroom into this!” I couldn’t help it.

Luke’s expression went confused for a second, trying to figure that out while the crowd murmured. I probably lost most of them with that one, but I had to fight a grin as I watched Alicia and Lydia dissolving into laughter and trying to hide it, turning towards each other and giggling helplessly.

Thrown off track, Luke went in a different direction. “I know what’s really going on here. Do you think I’m an idiot?”

I raised one eyebrow. “You want me to answer that?”

“You’re interested in him,” Luke spat out. I regretted not coming up with a plan. I hadn’t known the reason he’d give for our breakup.

“You’re jealous?” I asked, trying not to fidget.

“Hard not to be when my boyfriend is checking out someone else every time I turn around.”

There were a few football players in the crowd who had been watching in horror, unable to look away, but now they nodded after what Luke said. Luke was already more popular than me and better looking, and I was the cheating partner. He’d win our breakup.

It shouldn’t matter. I should just get this over with but I wanted something. I wanted to win. He was going back to being straight and likable, and I’d be the gay cheater whose social status plummeted impossibly lower. And everyone would wonder how I could be dumb enough to cheat on the captain of the baseball team when I was lucky to have him in the first place.

Luke smiled and started to turn away. Nope, he wasn’t going to leave me here humiliated and alone. “I’m sorry,” I started and he paused, looking unsure about whether he should trust the apology.  Good instincts. “But maybe I have a problem being a phase for you.”

There were gasps.

“Dude, what?” he said quietly, just to me.

I kept talking. “You’re more comfortable dating girls and you know it.”

“But—”

“I’m not the only one looking elsewhere.” I pointed to Lydia, feeling a little bad about dragging her into this.

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Luke tried. “She doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Lydia had an untapped talent for dramatics. She jumped in at that. “How can you say that?” she gasped. “You told me you loved me!” She inserted herself between us for a second and slapped Luke across the face. She stared me down fiercely for a few seconds, then grinned saucily and stormed off while the crowd parted to let her through.

“You got so caught up in having a boyfriend, but you spent no time actually being in this relationship. I need more,” I said bravely, pretending that I was fighting back tears.

“Don’t do that. You’re not into me. That’s what this is really about,” Luke said weakly, trying to get the power back. It was the wrong thing to say.

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?”

Luke’s face went through a series of emotions too fast for me to interpret. Man, he really was a better actor than I thought, but my heart hammered in my chest too hard to pay attention. Tears welled up in my eyes, no longer fake.

“I think we need to break up,” he said quietly.

“I don’t think so.” His eyes widened. I thought I heard people gasp again. “I know it,” I said, head held high. “We’re over.”

People cleared the way to let me through. I think a couple people even applauded. I just kept my eyes ahead and concentrated on walking down the hall and out of Luke’s life.

Our relationship had been fake, but that breakup seemed real.

This is an excerpt from One Little Word, 

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

The Magicians Best Tricks

magic-3315128_960_720“Is the trick being lamer than humanly possible?” asked my little brother while we watched a magician pull a never-ending scarf from his wrist. My brother Eli was only 10 but even he had seen that one before.

“Stop it,” I muttered.

“I’m just saying, if that’s what he’s trying to pull off, I’m impressed.” Some of his friends laughed at him and the magician took a little bow. I found him online. He went to a different high school and was an amateur; everyone had to start somewhere.

He pulled a quarter from behind someone in the front row’s ear. I hid a laugh when the magician frowned after the kid took the quarter and wouldn’t give it back.

“You wanted a magician for your birthday,” I reminded him. I wasn’t sure why I’d been the one tasked with handling his party. Mom said something about being a good big brother. Dad said something about proving I was responsible if I wanted a car. I think they just didn’t want to do it themselves. Eli was a tough critic.

“I wanted the guy I saw on TV,” he complained.

“Sorry we couldn’t book Criss Angel,” I muttered sarcastically. My parents hadn’t given me much of party budget. My present to my little brother was trying to pretend like this was quality entertainment.

“Or someone like him.” He looked at the spectacle in front of him with open disgust. “Not this.”

It wasn’t the magician’s fault he was an only child. Or at least his siblings weren’t the right age otherwise he would know that this 10-year-old crowd was too old for the bendy magic wand gimmick. Still, the magician had a smile that never wavered when met with this tough crowd. He also had curly dark hair, rich brown skin, and vibrant eyes. I don’t know. I kind of like him.

Wow. Did he have an actual rabbit for a pet or did he buy a rabbit for his act? Okay, he was a little cliché. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. If he was cliché, maybe he’d get me flowers and candies.

The rabbit was smart. The girls at least perked up when the adorable white bunny appeared from the top hat. Eli wasn’t swayed. “It would be better if he pulled that rabbit out of his-“

“Hey now,” I interrupted.

“I need a volunteer for this next trick,” the magician said. “How about the birthday boy?”

“My brother volunteers as tribute,” Eli said quickly.

The magician looked at me and butterflies appeared in my stomach. See, he was good.

I moved to the front and was instructed to pick a card. “Tough crowd,” the guy whispered to me.

“You’re doing great,” I encouraged.

He smiled shyly. “Maybe you could help me practice later.”

Our hands brushed as he took my card and inserted it back into the deck. Electricity. The trick hasn’t stared yet, but I’m already astonished.

via Daily Prompt: Astonish