The Fill-In Boyfriend Page 2

“Sister.”

“Perfect.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“You get to be my date.”

“Uh . . .” His mouth opened but that’s all that came out.

“Do you live close? Because you can’t go in there in jeans and a T-shirt. Especially one with a telephone booth on it.”

His eyes flickered to his shirt and then back to me. “A telephone booth? Seriously?”

“Do you at least have some dark pants and a button-down shirt? Maybe a tie? A teal tie would be awesome to match me but I’m not holding my breath about that.” I tilted my head. He really didn’t look like my type. My friends would know this. “And do you happen to own contacts and some hair product?”

“I’m just going to roll up my window now.”

“No. Please.” I put my hand on top. Had I ever had a night where I felt so desperate? “My boyfriend just broke up with me. I’m sure you saw. And I really don’t want to walk into my senior prom alone. Plus my friends didn’t think he existed. Long story, but I need you to be him. Two hours. That’s all I’m asking for. Besides, you’re just sitting here anyway waiting for your sister.” Crap. His sister. Was she going to yell his name across the gym and ruin this for me? We’d just have to avoid her. Or let her in on the secret. I hadn’t decided yet. “It will be way more fun than sitting in a parking lot.”

He was still looking at me like I was crazy. I felt crazy. “You want me to pretend to be Captain America?” He pointed toward the street.

I was confused at first but then realized that’s what he was calling Bradley, whose build was on the beefy side. “They’ve never met him, so they have no idea what he looks like. Besides you’re . . .” I gestured toward him without finishing the sentence. I tried to think of a different superhero to compare him to but nothing came to mind. I wasn’t well versed in superheroes. Were there some who were on the thinner side? Spiderman? That didn’t seem like a compliment.

He just sat there, staring at me, waiting for me to finish the sentence.

“I can pay you.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I’m sure there are services for that. Maybe you can try calling 1-800-HOOKERS or something?”

I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help the smile that came with it. “You know that number well?”

He let out a single laugh.

“Fine. If you feel weird about taking money, I’ll owe you.”

“Owe me what?”

“I don’t know. . . . If you’re ever in need of a fake date, I’ll be there for you.”

“I’m not exactly in the habit of requiring fake dates.”

“Well, fine. I’m glad you can get a real date whenever you want, but I can’t. Well, I mean, I usually can, but obviously not right now in the middle of an empty parking lot.” Was I going to have to pull out some fake tears to get me a fake date?

“Fine.”

“Fine?” I was surprised even though I’d really hoped he’d say yes.

“Yes. I live six blocks from here. I’ll go change into something more prom worthy.” He rolled up the window while muttering something about how he didn’t believe he was going along with this. Then he drove away.

I stood there for five minutes wondering if that was just his way of getting out of this whole thing. He probably texted his sister and told her just to call when she needed a ride home. And if he only lived six blocks away, why was he waiting in the parking lot anyway? Shouldn’t he have driven home and waited there?

I pulled out my phone and checked Instagram and Twitter to make sure Bradley hadn’t said anything about our breakup. There was nothing. It didn’t surprise me; Bradley wasn’t online that much. Another reason Jules thought I’d made him up. I sent off a tweet about how prom was going to rock and then tucked my phone back into my clutch that matched my dress perfectly.

Another ten minutes passed and I was sure he wasn’t coming back now. I started thinking of all the excuses I was going to give my friends when I got inside. He got sick. He had to study for finals for his college classes on Monday . . . because he’s in college.

I sighed. This was pathetic. The truth. I needed to tell the truth. He broke up with me in the parking lot. My eyes stung with tears over that thought. Bradley broke up with me in a parking lot. I’d screwed up and lost him and now I might lose more than just him. Would this be the final piece of evidence my friends needed to believe the claims Jules had made? I knew the look I’d get from Jules right away when I told the truth. It would be the yeah-right-he-doesn’t-exist look. The look she gave me every time I mentioned Bradley. It was the look that always made me tell more stories. Too bad I’d told so many that even my other friends had started to question his existence.

We’d met in a café at UCLA when we were there for a film festival my older brother was involved with. Alone in the café, Bradley had thought I was a student there. I didn’t correct him because I was actually going to be a student there next year. I’d just gotten my early acceptance that very weekend so I had been feeling quite collegiate. We’d exchanged phone numbers and texted for a while. And what started off as mere attraction became more. He told stupid jokes and knew so much about so many places from all his traveling. He was interesting. A couple of weeks later, I came clean about my age. By that time, we liked each other. The main problem was that I lived three hours from UCLA. So he’d only come up a couple of times in the two months we’d been dating and hadn’t met my friends. And now, it was over.

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