The Fine Art Of Pretending

Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on September 18th, 2014

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

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SNEAK PEEK

Chapter One Sneak Peek Coming VERY SOON!

Excerpt:

Aly doesn’t see me coming. She’s staring up at the stars in a simple tank top and shorts, her hair piled on her head in a messy ponytail. She’s sexy as hell.

Damn.

“Hey,” I say roughly.

She jumps. Hand to her heart, she looks at me and says, “Holy cannoli, Brandon, you scared the crap out of me!” She takes a deep breath and lets it out on a laugh. “If I wasn’t before, I’m definitely awake now—hey, is that pizza?”

I grin and hold out the box. She scoots over, patting the space next to her on the hammock. When I lower myself down, my weight causes her to sink against me. We’re pressed together, shoulder to thigh. She leans over to grab a slice, and the tips of her breasts glide across my stomach. I clench my teeth, holding back a groan.

The slight breeze carries the sound of chirping crickets and distant cars. Wisps of hair blow around her face. I grab a slice and invert it to gnaw into the stuffed crust. “Having fun?”

Aly plucks a pepperoni into her mouth. “Yeah, the girls are sweet and totally think I know what I’m talking about. I feel like Yoda.”

She grins and kicks her foot out to swing us. It only makes me more aware of how close her body is. Grabbing onto the distraction, I say, “Well, we are getting old and wise. We’re gonna be seniors on Monday.”

“I know. Can you believe it?” Aly slaps my chest excitedly. “Before you know it, we’re gonna be at A&M.”

“That’s the plan,” I say, handing her the last slice and tossing the box on the ground. “But let’s get through this year first. Fast-forward too much and you’ll miss that road trip you’ve been planning forever.”

For as long as I’ve known her, and that’s been a while, graduation for Aly has meant a nationwide road trip. She has a huge map of the United States tacked on the back of her door with all the places she’s read about and wants to visit highlighted in a rainbow of colors. The thing’s practically covered. I have an open invitation to join her, but there’s no way I could swing that. Who’d cut the grass, take out the trash, and cook when Mom works?

I wouldn’t know what to do, leaving my responsibilities behind for an entire summer.

Aly grins and kicks her foot again. A mosquito crawls across my bicep. I brush it off, and my fingers graze her smooth arm. Without thinking, I skate my fingers down to her wrist and lift her hand, noticing how tiny it is inside my own. How soft it feels against my rough skin.

I look up into her wide blue eyes.

Aly exhales a shaky breath. She glances at our joined hands and slowly slips hers away. “I-It’s late,” she whispers. “I better go inside.”

That’s what she says, but she doesn’t move. She stays lying next to me, temptation snapping between us, and I’m glad. I don’t want her to move. I want a replay of the other night. My heart pounds so loud I know she hears it. We’re so close I feel her quickened breaths on my face, and I’m seconds away from taking her.

She places her hand on my chest…and pushes to her feet.

Big blue eyes gaze down at me. Aly worries her lip between her teeth, and everything in me clenches, wanting to mimic that very gesture. The sound of the crickets grows louder in the heavy silence until she finally says, “Goodnight, Brandon.”

Her voice is soft, unsure, and if I tried, I know I could convince her to stay. But that would be wrong. Our friendship is too important. “Night.”

Aly’s eyelids lower to my mouth and the skin burns, feeling her phantom lips on mine. She steps back, turns, and walks back to the house.

The back door closes with a decided click, and I throw myself against the hammock, the force of it rocking me back and forth.

What in the hell are we doing?

I look at the endless sky, fighting the urge to run after her. I search for constellations, one of the few things Dad taught me before he got sick, but I’m not thinking about astronomy. As my eyes trace the lines of the Big Dipper, I imagine I’m tracing the lines of Aly’s body. I replay the last few moments she was out here with me and fill in the gaps of what could have happened had she stayed.