Excerpt: Your First Pancake

So one night in April, some of the #romanceclass writers and I were talking about tropes. You know, how some guys fit certain tropes? We talk about that. We like talking about that. Then discussions turned into ideas, and ideas turned into this little thing that we announced in October.

(And yes the STD says January but no, it’s not January)

One wedding. Six Couples. Different tropes. All fake dating. Let’s see what happens!

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In case you missed it, Mina V. Esguerra posted an excerpt of her story, Thirst Date, on her blog (here!), and now you’re here reading mine! I’m calling this Your First Pancake, and that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.

Your First Pancake (Excerpt)

“Why am I being invited to a strangers’ wedding?”

We’re being invited,” Harry quickly corrected her. “Rachel and Gio are my college blockmates. They’re getting married in Cebu.”

“And they decided to invite your neighbor…just because?”

“I may have told them I was dating you, isn’t that hilarious?” He asked so quickly that there was barely any time for breath between words, laughing nervously as Lily’s expression turned from confusion to annoyance. He realized it was also the same look she gave him the first time they met, when she found him with the last stick of Golden Gaytime six months ago.

“What?”

“What?” his voice was oddly high pitched, and he couldn’t help it, he was just a little bit terrified at Lily’s reaction.

“Harry.”

“Lily?”

“Harry!”

“Fine, fine, I’ll start from the beginning,” he said, taking the invitation from her hands before she tore it into shreds. He’d seen her do that before when she was stressed, and he was sure there was some kind of rule against shredding someone’s wedding invitation. “My college friends are great. Really great, really fun people, I love them to pieces—“

“But?”

“But they’re a little…concerned for my lovelife, or lack thereof. So to get them off my backs, I may have told them that I was dating my neighbor, a fun, slightly scary girl who didn’t mind me asking for help with cooking rice, and stole my ice cream every chance she got. Named Lily Capras. So when the invitations came out, they obviously wanted me to bring you, because they want to meet you.”

It had been the easiest lie he’d ever told, telling his friends that the girl next door was his girlfriend next door. He hadn’t been able to help himself, and beyond the tiny detail of them not actually being in a romantic relationship, nothing else he’d told them was a lie. They spent a lot of time together, for platonic neighbors.

“I suppose you told them you flirted first,” she sighed deeply.

“Uh…”

She tossed a wad of tissue at him. “I will punch you. I will punch you in your pretty face.”

“So you think I’m pretty?”

“HARRY.”

“Come to the wedding with me, Lazy Lily. Please,” he took her hands, placing them together so it looked like she was praying. “I need you to be my fake girlfriend.”

Lily gasped, her eyes wide as they bore into his. Fuck, he was a bastard. He knew the exact words to use to make Lily agree to come with him, and he’d just said them to her. Despite her irritation at her siblings, Harry knew that she loved being an older sister. She would never abandon someone who needed her. She loved being needed, and that was what Harry was shamelessly taking advantage of.

This was exactly why they were just friends.

“I’ve never had a boyfriend,” she announced, untangling their hands and immediately put hers on her lap, hiding them away from the table.

“Oh,” he said, and he didn’t know why he felt so utterly crushed. “So get one.”

“Oh sure, because it’s that easy,” she rolled her eyes. “Harry, I want to help you, I really do. And a free vacation in Cebu—“

“Free?”

“How can I say no? But the second your friends see us, they’ll know this isn’t real, because I’ve never done this before. I’m a twenty nine year old spinster—“

“As you keep reminding me.”

“I wouldn’t know the first thing about being the perfect fake girlfriend, is what I’m saying.”

“I don’t want the perfect fake girlfriend, I want you,” he said immediately, and shook his head. when he saw her jaw drop in surprise. “We can treat this like a fake relationship, both ways. I get to tell everyone that you and I have been dating, you can practice your future girlfriend skills on me.”

“You say that like I’m expecting a man to fall on my lap anytime soon.”

“I don’t doubt it. You’re the most caring and loving person I know, Lily. Anyone who doesn’t realize that is an idiot.”

“Now you’re just buttering me up,” she rolled her eyes.

“How am I doing?”

“A little better,” she conceded, placing her arms back on the table, drumming her fingers on the cheap linoleum as she considered his proposal.

Harry realized that this was the most nerve-wracking thing he’d ever done, waiting for Lily to make her choice. He was used to nail-biting stuff—he’d seen the penalty shootout between Russia and Spain at the World Cup and lived to tell the tale—but this was on a completely different level.

If Lily said no, it would definitely drive a wedge between their friendship, because let’s face it, Harry had crossed a line.

If Lily said yes, this could still end in disaster because, let’s face it, Harry crossed a line.

He was regretting stealing the ice cream from her right about now.