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Funny Romance Teens & Young Adult

"No"


"Please?"


"No"


"Please, Declan," I flutter my eyelashes in a way I know he hates, "please, please, please-"


"NO!" He slams the book back down on the shelf, nearly crinkling it's jacket. "No, we're not dating and also I hate you."


"You know what you wouldn't hate? A hundred grand. Each. Straighten out that jacket before we get fired.”


I can see the gears turning in Declan’s eyes, because he is a robot incapable of human emotion, as he fixes the jacket. There’s enough for those extensive student loans, and maybe even enough to get rid of that tip jar he hates, the one with “Declan’s Trip to Ireland,” scrawled in my messy handwriting. 


“Are you screwing with me?” He finally asks, and I scoff, leaning against the erotic vampire novel section, because I will only sit on those certain books I despise. 


“What kind of person do you take me for?” I ask, “I wouldn't joke about this.”


“You joke about everything.”


“That’s because I’m the funny friend” 


“You can’t be the funny friend if we’re not friends”


“I’m the funny coworker”


His silence is victory enough. 


“What do I have to do?” he asks heavily, and I squeal with delight, digging out the pamphlet that the suited lady handed to me. 


“Basically they lock us in a mansion for a couple months with six other couples, and the losers that are voted the worst by the audience get kicked out every week or so. All we got to be is the cutest couple so we don’t get voted out.” 


“So we have to actually date,” he looks sick at the idea, and I try not to take offense. We get it, Declan. You’re hot. You have standards. 


“I am so sorry,” I whimper mockingly, “that you have to pretend to like me for a hundred thousand fucking dollars-”


“Only if we win,” he reminds me like the wet blanket he is. 


“I’m literally the coolest person I know, and you’re pretty. We got this.” 


***


We do not got this, because even though Declan is hotter, by far, than everyone else here, they’re all pretty. And worse, most of them are the nice pretty, not the arrogant asshole pretty. 


“Oh my god,” I whimper after Luciana, a tall leggy girl with sunlit bronze skin and dark hair so perfect she must be some sort of hair model walks away to join her equally beautiful girlfriend. “They’re so nice. We’re not that nice. We’re gremlins.” 


“We’re fucked,” Declan mutters, fingers digging into my waist. His words come out in a quiet, angry growl despite his gentle smile. You’d think he was the theatre major here, not me, based on how well he’s acting. 


“Kiss me.”


“What?”


I giggle, lifting my hand to stroke his pale cheek, using my eyes to point at the red blinking camera aimed right at us. Declan huffs out a breath, smiles all fake, and leans in until our lips are barely a breath apart.


“You owe me so much.”


“One. Hundred. Grand. What are you waiting for? Your breath stinks”


He hums softly, “We’re having a moment. Don't rush it”


“How would you know what a moment is-” 


Well, he’s kissing me. It had to happen eventually, I guess. And it must be good, because he’s dipping me down a little, and one of the girls is cheering us on, and is now a good time to reveal that I’ve never been kissed before? No, stage kisses and sucking face with Eric Yoon under the bleachers in grade nine doesn’t count. This is a real, really good kiss. 


Whatever, it’s great, his lips are warm, blah blah blah whatever. My stomach totally isn’t on fire right now. 


He steps back with a soft smile, nuzzling his cheek into my hand, and say what you want about him, but he’s committing to the role. Maybe I’m rubbing off on him. 


“That was adorable,” one of the girls gushes, a pretty Desi girl with a New York accent who’s name I think is Diya, “You are such a cute couple! We might have trouble winning this after all.”


“Maybe,” Declan grins, tucking me under his arm. I open my mouth to chime in, but some harried intern butts in. 


“Come with me, now,” she snaps, and we have no choice but to follow her, leaving Diya and her boyfriend behind.


“So,” I start, but Declan cuts me off with a sigh.


“Wait until we get to the room, okay?” he says shortly. 


The intern slams open a green door labeled with a three, and all but shoves us in. 


“Your camera crew will be in to brief you. You got the group date tomorrow, and the single date after that.” she slams the door before we can get another word in. 


“Christ,” Declan sighs, collapsing onto the luscious looking couch and putting his face in his hands.


“I think that went well.”


“Went well? Went WELL????” He glares at me, and eyes shouldn't be allowed to be that blue, “My back hurts from carrying this damn relationship.”


“I’m sorry!” I retort, “I’m trying my best! I told you to kiss me, remember?”


He throws his hands up in the air, “I want vodka. Is there any vodka?” 


“Go check the fucking cabinets. God, we’re so screwed,” I moan, “Oh god, what are we going to do? There’s wlws! How are we supposed to compete with that?”


“What the fuck is a wuhluhwuh?”


“It’s a lesbian, Declan.” I stare at myself in the mirror. Dumpy, short, stupid hair. They all look perfect. Even Declan cleaned up, dressed in a crewneck with his collared shirt poking out, tight jeans, and even some shoe called an ‘oxford’, whatever the hell that is. I look like I just crawled out of the dumpster behind a thrift store. 


“They gave us clothes, yeah?” I ask, and Declan shrugs as I duck into the bedroom. There is, in fact, a wardrobe filled with clothes, and I tug on the first nice top and pants I can find, ending up in a pastel sweater vest over my old white blouse, and a pair of plaid pants. I run my fingers through my hair until it lies as nicely as it will go. 


“One hundred grand,” I remind myself, and turn around. That’s when I spot them. 


“Here, catch.”


Declan catches the little packet I toss him, squints at it, and then throws it across the room in disgust.


“Why did you toss me a condom?”


“Because have you ever met a not-horny nineteen year old?” I say, crossing my arm, “We can do a bit about it, if it falls out of your pocket or something.”


“No.” Declan deadpans, “Maybe leave the storylines up to me, okay?” 


“Not you touting your English major again.” I huff, plopping myself onto his lap. He lets out a wheeze that does nothing for my self esteem.


“Get off.”


“No. You were mean.” 


“Are we interrupting something?” A syrupy voice asks, and I turn around to see the camera crew, a stocky man, a tall woman, and between them, another woman who looks like she just walked out of Vogue. 


“No,” Declan says, “I assume you’re the crew?” 


“Valentine Cawthorn,” the woman sticks her hand out, “I’m the director. We’re going to sit down for an interview now.” She looks me up and down, and her nose wrinkles, “Is that what you want to wear? You know there’s a closet, right?”


“Yes.” I reply with the fakest smile I’ve ever put on my face, “I do.”


“You look great, darling,” Declan says with a gooshy smile and I hate that I don’t have to pretend I like it. His eyes are a warning, though.


Don’t do what I think you’re about to do


He knows me too well, I guess. 


“So,” Valentine all but shoves me off Declan’s lap, arranges our hands and limbs together, and perches herself on the opposite loveseat. “How did you two meet?”


“College,” we answer in tandem. I laugh nervously as Declan picks up the story.


“We took the same class, Intro to Shakespeare,” he explains, “and then we found out we worked at the same bookstore, it all went on from there.”


Valentine smiles, clearly dissatisfied. “Alright, where did your first date happen?”


“The observatory,” I jump in, “We both also took Astronomy 101-”


“Smile wider,” Valentine snaps, and I bare my teeth almost on instinct. She nods, “Again.”


“We were at the observatory,” I repeat, trying not to grit my teeth, “To work on a project together. He ended up kissing me instead.”


“Why don’t we let Declan answer this one?” Valentine says, “His voice sounds better over the recording.” 


The interview devolves from there. I can barely restrain myself from breaking Valentine’s pretty nose as she flirts ceaselessly with Declan, who seems blissfully unaware. Only my incredible talent keeps me from yelling or crying until the camera crew has left us so we can get ready for the double date. 


“Fucking hell,” I snap as soon as the door shuts. “Thanks for the help, Declan.”


“What help? You did fine” he says from where he’s perusing the bookshelf. I almost tell him that they’re all fake books, just out of spite. 


“Of course I did fucking fine!” I’m crying a little bit, because one can only be told so many times that their voice is grating or that they need to angle their body so they “don’t look obese” before they crack. “What the fuck was that?”


“What do you mean?”


“Nevermind,” I spit, “I bet you had a fucking blast.”


“Are you crying?” 


“No. Leave me the hell alone.” 


“Jesus, Isla, what do you want from me?” 


“Just-” I inhale sharply, nails digging into the palms of my clenched fists. “Just, I know you hate me and all, but-”


“I don’t hate you.”


“You get mad at me all the time, you refuse to say we’re friends. Remember New Years, when you invited me to hang out and none of your friends knew who I was?”


He cringes, “They knew who you were.”


“Yeah, well, then, why did they refuse to talk to me the whole time-”


“Because my friends are assholes and I told them not to flirt with you.” he snaps, “They’re good people, but they treat their girlfriends like shit, and I knew you’d get hurt. Trust me. They knew who you were.” 


“Jesus Christ, Declan,” I sigh, “I really wish you’d been that weirdly and out of context protective of me during that fucking interview.”


“A hundred grand each,” he reminds, “I wanted to say some awful things to her, but a hundred grand. Stick it out for a hundred grand.” 


“A hundred grand,” I mumble, and for the first time in a while around me, he smiles for real. I ignore the butterflies. 


For the double date, we’re paired up Luciana and Dominique, the dark haired girl and her girlfriend from before. Valentine is there, yelling at interns to clean up the set and shooting furtive glances at Declan the whole time. 


“Your boyfriend is quite nice,” Dominiqua gushes, her French accent curling her words beautifully, “So smart.”


“Thank you,” I angle my eyes over, and cringe at how Valentine is nearly hanging off Declan’s arm while Luciana watches in obvious discomfort. “Luciana is so sweet, I’ve never met someone that nice.” 


“Oh, she’s my angel,” Dominiqua sighs, flipping her hair back with an elegant, dark finger, “we met at la Musée de l’Orangerie, and I thought she was more beautiful that any painting there,” she cringes slightly, “Is that awful? I don’t want to seem too...much.”


“It’s lovely,” I reassure her, “I fell in love with her when you said that,”


“Back off,” Dominiqua says playfully. I open my mouth to ask another question, when Declan’s shout makes us jump. 


“What!?” he roars, and I nearly trip over my feet in my haste to get there. 


“What? Declan, what happened?” I babble, eyes checking him over just in case he busted his knee again or something. He’s not hurt, I note with relief, just fuming. 


“What the hell are you on?” he grits out at Valentine, who has her nose stuck in the air snippily. 


Merde,” Luciana shakes her head, “Get her, Declan.” 


“What happened?” I repeat, gut sinking. Declan snorts coldly, eyes piercing. 


“Valentine seems to think I should be dating someone...prettier. Like her.”


“Oh,” Is all I can say, hurt surging up to form a lump in my throat, “I see.”


“Oh please,” Valentine spits, “As if he’s really dating someone like you. I bet you’re just in this for the money. He deserves to date someone who actually likes him.”


“Luciana, angel?” Dominiqua says faintly.


“Yes, love?”


“Make sure I don’t hit this bitch before Isla gets a chance.”


“Besides,” Valentine continues, “He is way out of your league. Look at you.” 


“Shut the fuck up,” Declan hisses, cutting her off, “You don’t know anything. Isla is ten times more beautiful than you will ever be, inside and out. She’s clever, and funny, and the best person I’ve ever fucking met. I don’t want your prize. I don’t need it. She’s enough of a prize.”


“Go white boy, go,” Luciana cheers as Valentine flushes bright red and stalks away. Declan turns back to me, chest heaving, and I can’t help but note that he looks like a painting, red splashed across his high cheekbones, eyes bluer than the sea. Prettier than a painting. 


“I knew you thought I was the funny friend,” Is all that comes out of my mouth. Declan stares at me like I’m a frog. 


“Oh my god, Isla.” 


His hands cup my cheeks gently, and his lips press to mine. It’s glorious, like singing in the rain, and dancing in a thunderstorm. It’s awesome. It’s fucking spectacular. 


“Oh my god,” I murmur faintly as he steps back, “I’ve had a crush on you this entire goddamn time, haven’t I?” 


“I sure hope so,” he breathes, and he kisses me again as Luciana and Dominiqua whoop and cheer. This kiss is even better. 


Maybe I don’t need a hundred grand. I’ll take a hundred kisses instead. 


Someone clears his throat, and I look over to see the cameraman pointing a camera at us, winking. I hide my face in the curve of Declan’s shoulder as he laughs, pulling me close. 


“Can we do that again?” I mumble into the fabric, my face on fire. I feel his laugh rumble in his chest as the assistant director comes to direct us to our seats.


“Anytime you like, darling.”


***


We watch Dominiqua and Luciana get crowned as the best couple from the bookstore, while Diya and her boyfriend Marcus cheer them on from second place. Declan pulls me close as I cheer too. We went home after the second week. It doesn't matter to me though. I got my hundred kisses and then some.


I tuck another dollar bill into the Ireland Fund tip jar, now covered in red Sharpie hearts, as Valentine's sour face pops up again on the screen as she congratulates the couple.


"Cheers," Declan toasts to her visage, handing me the mocha after he takes a swig. I hold it up too, smiling as Dominiqua dips Luciana, and Declan pulls me closer to his side.


"Cheers"

November 06, 2020 23:06

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4 comments

Tenise Boyd
04:41 Nov 15, 2020

Ah my heart was on fire and my cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much! Romance is my favorite writing genre and boy did you deliver a wonderful story that made me very happy. I enjoyed that they pretty much knew everything about each other and it seemed like a fun friendship at the beginning too. It was so wholesome and gosh all the jokes landed it with me; especially the WLW haha. Great work on this!

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Adelaide Brenner
07:29 Nov 15, 2020

I'm so glad you liked it!!

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Baylie Grace
16:59 Nov 19, 2020

This is my favorite submission I've ever read, honest. My cheeks are HURTING from smiling and laughing! Great story! I loved it.

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Adelaide Brenner
02:39 Nov 22, 2020

Thank you so much :)

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