Lisa is a card-carrying, book-loving Gryffindor. Solid. And that’s why everyone knows she’s awesome. Well, except for her crush, Matt. He only ever sees her as a friend. Plus, he's got his eye on another girl. Oh well, plenty of fish and all that.
Good thing Lisa just read a book on the “wedding ring phenomenon”—you get more attention when you’re already taken. What if Lisa pretends to be Matt’s plus one? Maybe it’ll help Matt get his girl and Lisa can hook her own fish.
After the plan works, Matt suddenly claims he doesn’t like the view from the friend-zone and wants her instead… But she isn’t interested in being anyone’s second choice. If this guy wants to earn her attention, he’ll need more than some silly “phenomenon.”
He’ll need to go all out...
Disclaimer: This book contains multiple nerd-girl references, cute puppies, and snarky humor that will make you LOL!
Each book in the Dating Dilemmas series is STANDALONE:
* The Dating Debate
* 99% Faking It
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About the Author
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and several furry beasts.
She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. You can find her online at www.chriscannonauthor.com. Subscribe to her newsletter at http://www.chriscannonauthor.com/connect/ to be notified about new releases.
Read an Excerpt
Matt walked toward me with an easy grin on his face. He'd finally started to relax around me now that he realized I wasn't going to throw myself at him. Not that I hadn't entertained the idea, because he had chocolate-brown eyes and dark wavy hair and broad shoulders and ... wait ... where am I going with this?
Right. I wasn't throwing myself at man-candy-Matt because he'd made it clear that he thought of me only as a friend. And at first that had sort of sucked, but I was a big girl and I could deal with it. He made a good friend. We had fun together.
At one time, I may have held out hope that he would turn to me and say, "Lisa, I was wrong. You're exactly the short, nerdy girl I've been looking for." But it had been a few months and now I was over it. At this point in my life I wasn't sure any guy was worth the trouble. Until some new guy showed up and took my breath away, I was declaring my life a drama-free, date-free zone.
Matt sat down next to me at our normal lunch table in the Greenbrier High School cafeteria and opened his brown paper bag. "Are you and Nina getting your nerd on tonight?" he asked.
"Is it Friday?" I said, like it answered the question, because it totally did. Every Friday night my best friend Nina and I engaged in Nerd-girl Festivities. We went to Books-A-Million to find new treasures and then hung out in the coffee shop afterward talking books and boys and anything else that came to mind. "What about you?" I asked. "Any exciting plans?"
He shrugged. "Not sure yet."
"Someone has commitment issues," I teased in a sing-song voice.
"Hey," Matt said, "I'm just a guy who likes to keep his options open."
"Please. You have a pathological resistance about committing to plans. You always wait until the last second."
"Right." Matt took a bite of his sandwich. "Just because your mom's a therapist doesn't mean you're qualified to analyze me."
"My mom's job doesn't have anything to do with it." I popped the top on my soda and took a drink. "I've seen you try to pick out a donut at Krispy Kreme."
"It's not my fault they all look good."
"Yes, but most people have a favorite." Maybe that was his problem with dating. All girls looked good and he couldn't pick one. "Let's try an exercise my mom does with her clients. If you could do anything tonight, no matter how impractical, what would you choose?"
Matt's gaze flicked over to the table where his younger sister sat with her best friend Jane and then he glanced back at me. "That's a stupid question."
Busted. I leaned in so no one would overhear us. "I didn't ask who you'd do."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Matt's tone was a little too defensive.
"Nothing." Jane had a steady boyfriend, who happened to be drop-dead gorgeous, and they appeared to be very much in love. That didn't stop Matt from staring at her whenever he thought no one was looking. Since I used to spend a fair amount of my time checking out Matt while he was otherwise occupied, I recognized the game he was playing. It was a no-win situation.
Nina picked me up to go to the bookstore a few hours after school. "So you and Matt seemed awful chatty at lunch today. Anything I should know about?"
"Nope. I'm still living my life in the friend zone." I tilted the air-conditioning vents down so the air didn't hit me in the face. Short girl problem 101. Whatever normal-sized person who'd sat here last had left the vents aimed so the air blew my hair all around my face. Since I wasn't modeling for a shampoo commercial, this was not an ideal setting.
"I know you still like him," Nina said.
"Wrong. That ship has sailed."
"Are you sure? West said Matt talks about you when you're not around."
I froze for a second and then took a cleansing breath. "Please tell me you're not discussing my past crush with your boyfriend. That would be in direct violation of the best friend code."
"Wrong. It doesn't count if he's the one that asked about you. He said Matt talks about you almost as much as he talks about Jane."
"Does he realize Matt is into Jane?"
"I don't think so and the better question is why does Matt have a crush on a girl who is obviously so into her boyfriend? And no offense, but not many people could compete with that guy."
"It's kind of karma that she isn't into him," I said. "He'll just have to move on, like I did."
"Fine. If you've moved on, then who are you interested in?"
"No one, for the moment," I said. "Although I'm actively looking for a new book boyfriend. Hopefully, I'll find a fabulous new guy at the bookstore."
"This is totally selfish, but you need a real boyfriend so we can double-date."
I laughed. "So my love life should revolve around yours? Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes," Nina said. "And I'd appreciate it if you'd get with the program."
"I'll get right on that." I knew she was joking but part of it rang true and that kind of bothered me. Is this what life was going to be like from now on? If my best friend has a boyfriend I'd better find one, too, or soon I wouldn't have a best friend anymore? Because that would suck.
"Hey," Nina said. "You know I'm joking, right?"
"I know." I sighed and slid lower in my seat. "I have to tell you I don't have a lot of trust in the male half of the species." Given that my mom was a family counselor, it was the irony of ironies that my dad had abandoned her when she'd told him she was pregnant. They'd been married less than a year, and I guess the idea of being a parent had freaked him out. My mom said one day she came home from work and he was gone. No discussion. No warning. Just a bunch of empty drawers and a note about how he wasn't ready to be a father. She'd received divorce papers in the mail before I was even born. I'd never even met the guy and pretty much thought of him as nothing more than a sperm donor and a complete douchebag.
"Given your situation, that's justified. But look at your mom now. She's been dating the same guy for years."
"Yeah, Tony is great," I said. "But I don't think it's a coincidence that they've never even discussed marriage."
"Maybe he has his own reasons for not wanting to get married," Nina said.
"It's weird. I've overheard his cell calls to an insurance company about some woman's bills and prescriptions. I'm kind of afraid of what that might mean."
"Okay. So either he's cheating on his sick wife, or he's stayed married to someone he doesn't love so his insurance will cover her medical bills?" Nina pulled into the lot of the bookstore and parked in the front row. "That's either terrible or tragic."
"I've almost asked my mom about it a few times, but if she's okay with the situation then it can't be too shady." Everything my mom did was above board. Her motto was Honesty is the best and only policy. "Maybe it's his sister or his mom or something." I unbuckled my seatbelt. "I'm done with all this stressful real life crap. I'm ready to get my happily ever after on. Let's go buy some books."
We entered the bookstore. I inhaled the scent of coffee and ink-covered pages, my two favorite fragrances, and suddenly all was Zen in my world. A new display of Harry Potter shirts and bags caught my eye and sucked me in like a tractor beam.
I ran my fingers down the strap of a messenger bag with an owl pattern on one side and Platform 9 ¼ on the other. It seemed to be calling my name. I opened the flap. The bag was divided into two compartments and even had loops for pens. "I love this."
"It's cute," Nina said. "I don't really need another bag."
"Since when does need have anything to do with it?" I had what some might call a purse problem. I liked to think of it as an eclectic collection of geek-girl handbags.
"Didn't you tell me not to let you buy any more purses?"
I hugged the messenger bag to my chest. "I have no recollection of that conversation."
"Do you have room in your closet for another purse?"
I pictured the shelf in the top of my closet. My handbags were lined up facing out like they were on display because seeing them made me happy. There wasn't much room left. "If I put the Darth Vader bag inside the Tardis bag I could fit this one up there, too."
"I would point out that the Darth Vader bag is bigger than the Tardis," Nina said. "But I know what your response to that statement would be."
"It's bigger on the inside." I grinned. While Nina didn't share a love for all my geeky fandoms, she did at least understand and appreciate them. I ran my hand over the bag. "But cross pollinating fandoms might lead to a disruption in the space-time continuum, so I could just keep this bag on my dresser."
Nina snorted but didn't bother responding. Then she picked up a pair of socks with an owl and wand pattern. "You can never have too many pairs of socks and they take up much less room."
I sighed and checked the price on the bag. It was more than I wanted to spend. So, I reluctantly set it back down. "Don't worry, dear. I'll be watching for you to go on clearance." I grabbed a pair of socks decorated with the Sorting Hat and Harry Potter spectacles and checked the price tag. "These are cute and much more budget friendly."
My job at Crazy Crafts kept me in yarn and books with a little left over for fun money. I crocheted scarves and sold them on Etsy, so in a way one of my hobbies paid for itself.
Now that we were headed into warmer weather, my scarf sales would drop. That was okay. I could crochet and stock up for next winter.
"Good choice. I declare tomorrow Harry Potter sock day," she stated like it was a new holiday.
"Works for me."CHAPTER 2
Lisa wasn't wrong about me waiting to make plans until the last minute. It wasn't because I couldn't commit, it was because I liked keeping my options open. West would make plans for us, and I could sit back and chill out. Why work when someone else would take care of it? Work smarter, not harder was a motto for a reason.
Not that I was afraid of hard work. I worked with my dad in our family landscaping business. I could dig up old hedges and shovel mulch all day, as long as I was outside breathing fresh air. When it came down to it, I wasn't a people person. I mean I liked some people, but loud, crowded places weren't my favorite.
I checked the kitchen clock. Jane was coming to pick up my sister Haley soon. I wasn't going to fall all over myself staring at her, but I wanted to say hello. A few months ago, I would have made sure to wait for Jane on the porch swing so I could intercept her before she came into the house and talk to her while Haley was getting ready. I was done playing that game, which is why I was in the kitchen warming up a hot pocket when Jane knocked on the door. It's not like I had some sort of radar that let me know when she was close. I saw her walking up the front porch through the picture window.
"Come in," I hollered.
She opened the door. "Hey, Matt."
"Hey." It was best to keep conversation to a minimum. "Haley's up in her room."
"I could have guessed that." Jane headed up the stairs as my fraternal twin brother Charlie came down. They nodded at each other and then he joined me in the kitchen. My phone vibrated with a text. I checked the message. "West says he's meeting us at Clarissa's."
"That's the plan."
"Cool." Charlie's girlfriend had a big backyard, which was perfect for barbecues. Even if there were a lot of people, it would be outside, which was better than being crowded into someone's living room or basement.
Once we reached Clarissa's, I found a lawn chair on the far side of the patio and surveyed my options. There were half a dozen couples and a few single girls. No one I was interested in. Too bad Lisa was off doing nerd-girl activities. She was always fun to hang out with.
West showed up and sat by me. "So how much fun are we having tonight?" he asked.
"I think you should text Nina and tell her we're at a Harry Potter party and that chick who played Hermione is here, and she wants to meet them."
He grinned. "Yeah, that would get them out here."
"Seriously," I said. "How long can they look at books?"
"For hours. Thank God they have a cafe in the bookstore. I've learned to go grab a coffee and wait while I read on my phone."
"You read on your phone at the bookstore ... where they sell books?"
"You've seen my house," West said.
West's mom was a hoarder. They'd tried to find her help. She'd seen several therapists, but that didn't stop her from filling their house from floor to ceiling with random junk. West's dad was OCD, so he organized all the crap in plastic tubs. Sometimes I wondered how West kept it together.
Two blondes came toward us. "Hey, West," blonde number one said.
"Hey," he responded.
"Are you still dating your neighbor?" she asked.
"Too bad." She giggled and walked on by. Blonde number two's cheeks were red. As she walked past me, she said, "Being a wingman can be embarrassing."
I grinned and nodded. She smiled and kept on walking.
"Go talk to her," West said.
I shook my head. She was cute but I wasn't interested.
"Why not?" he asked.
Time to change the subject. "Is it my imagination or do more girls flirt with you now that you have a girlfriend?"
"Seems like it."
Charlie and Clarissa came toward us with a guy I'd never seen before. He definitely wasn't from around here. He looked like he thought he was trying out for the role of a rock star or a rebel in a movie. His hair was short on the sides and long on top so it flipped over and almost hid one of his eyes. His ripped jeans screamed, I'm trying too hard.
"Hey guys," Clarissa said, "this is my cousin Trey."
I held out my hand. "I'm Matt."
Trey shook my hand. "Charlie's twin brother."
I nodded. "And this is West." They shook hands.
"Trey just moved here," Clarissa said. "He's a little obnoxious, but once you get past his hair, he's okay."
Trey laughed. "You wish your hair was as cool as mine."
"Right," Clarissa said.
"Please tell me this isn't all there is to do in this town." Trey gestured at the patio and everyone sitting around it.
"If you're looking for excitement, you came to the wrong place," I answered.
"I was afraid you were going to say that."
"What are you talking about?" Clarissa said. "You can go see a movie, go out to eat, hang out at barbecues, or go play golf at the country club."
"Do I look like I golf?" Trey asked, like he was disgusted by the idea.
I laughed. Maybe this guy wasn't so bad.
The smell of hotdogs drifted through the air.
"I can't believe I'm about to say this," Trey said. "But those hot dogs smell awesome."
"Watch out," Clarissa said. "You wouldn't want anyone to think you liked being here."
"Don't worry," Trey said. "I'll scowl while I eat."
They headed over to the grill.
"Do you want to go grab a pizza?" West asked. "Because I had hot dogs for dinner almost every night this week."
I knew his mom didn't cook, but that was sad. "Sure."
The Slicery was crowded, but we only had to wait about ten minutes for a table. We were halfway through our sausage and pepperoni thick-crust pizza with extra cheese when Nina and Lisa walked in the door.
Nina spotted us and headed over with a big smile for West. Lisa followed along behind her like she knew the situation was inevitable.
"Did you know we were coming here?" Nina asked as she sat down next to him.
"No," West said. "I was trying to avoid hot dogs."
Lisa sat in the chair beside me. "So, what did you guys do tonight?"
"Barbecue ... it was kind of boring," I said.
"You should have come to the bookstore," Lisa said with complete sincerity.
"Because it's never boring at the bookstore?" I asked.
"Nope." She shook her head. "Never."
The waitress came over and asked if they needed a menu.
"No," Lisa said, "I want iced tea with lemon and a small meatball pizza."
"Meatballs on a pizza?" I said. "That's just wrong."
"Pizza is Italian," she countered. "Meatballs are Italian. How can that be wrong?"
"Meatballs go on spaghetti," I pointed out. "Not on pizza crust."
"You're wrong." She grinned. "Then again, you're probably used to being in that position, so who am I to argue?"
"Hey, Miss Overachiever, I may not always know the answer but that doesn't mean I'm wrong."
She squinted at me. "There's the right answer and then there is the one that is the opposite of right. Wait ... what do they call that? I know ... wrong."
"Not caring about the questions doesn't make me wrong. It just means that it's a game I don't want to play."
"So you're opting out. That's kind of lazy."
I cracked my knuckles. "I like to think of it as conserving energy."
"I'm pretty sure that's another word for lazy," Lisa teased.
"Nope. I just conserve my effort and spend energy on things that are important to me."
"How short is that list?" she asked.
"Pretty short," I admitted.
"Am I on it?" She batted her eyelashes at me, which made me smile.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "99% Faking It"
Copyright © 2019 Chris Cannon.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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