Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend
- Book info
- Author updates
Winnifred Gobaldi and Byron Visser are not best friends.
Yes, they’ve known each other for years, but they’re not even friendly. Winnie considers them more like casual, distant acquaintances who find each other barely tolerable, especially when he's being condescending (which is all the time).
The truth is, they have nothing in common. She’s a public school science teacher with stars in her eyes, and he’s a pretentious, joyless double PhD turned world-famous best-selling fiction author. She loves sharing her passion for promulgating women in STEM careers and building community via social media, and he eschews all socialization, virtual or otherwise. She’s looking for a side hustle to help pay down a mountain of student debt, and his financial portfolio is the stuff of fiduciary wet dreams. So why are they faking a #bestfriend relationship for millions of online spectators?
When a simple case of tit-for-tat trends between non-friends leads to a wholly unexpected kind of pretend, nothing is simple. Sometimes, it takes a public audience to reveal the truth of private feelings, and rarely—very rarely—you should believe what you see online.
Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend is a full-length, complete stand-alone adult contemporary romantic comedy.
Release date: April 12, 2022
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Listen to a sample
Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a spectrophotometer has innumerable uses.” The words left my mouth just as the unmistakable and unexpected sound of the front door opening met my ears.
I glanced at the clock on my phone while carefully cloaking my confusion. Two voices sounded from the entryway. My roommate, Amelia, home from work way, way earlier than usual, had brought someone with her. No big deal. I was almost finished with today’s live video. All that remained was the wrap-up.
“For those of you who’ve tuned in before, you already know Mable.” I lifted the spectrophotometer with both hands, showing it to my audience. “I picked Mable up on eBay for a mere twenty-five dollars. She’s a Fisher Unico 1000, if any of you want to use the same instrument when you replicate this experiment with your own sports drinks at home.” The tan plastic of the spectrophotometer had scratches and dings, but it worked just fine. “Mable is an older model, but I find value in doing some things old school, you know? If old school isn’t for you, the newer ones are Bluetooth compatible and much smaller. The readouts will sync directly to the app, saving you from having to record your findings with these prehistoric tools.” Giving the live audience a wry grin, I lifted my number 2 pencil and college ruled notebook paper.
Most of my videos were done in the kitchen of the one-bedroom apartment Amelia and I shared in First Hill, a neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle. Our center-of-the-old-house-top-
As it was not yet May, today was not a sunny day, but the kitchen still had the best light.
“Win? Are you here?” Amelia’s voice carried to me, which meant my viewers could hear her as well.
“That’s my lovely roommate, so unless Go Direct wants to sponsor this account and send me a brand new SpectroVis Plus Spectrophotometer—which, for the record, I would name Brad and love with all my heart—I guess that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson. Or—” I winked at the camera “—at the very least, you’ll think twice before picking up any red sports drinks.”
“Fred is here?”
I stiffened, unable to halt or conceal my visceral reaction. Only one person called me “Fred.”
What is he doing here? I hadn’t seen him in weeks.
The swirling in my stomach demanded I forgo my planned wrap-up spiel in favor of ending the live video as soon as possible. Lifting my thumb to the screen, I rushed to say, “’Til next time, this is the Chemistry Maven signing—”
I was too late.
Byron had jogged up behind where I stood, encircled my wrist with one of his big man hands, and pulled it away from my phone. The light, warm scent of his pine and sandalwood aftershave battered my senses. I felt my lashes flutter, but I did stop myself just short of sucking in a startled breath as his face came into view next to mine.
On my phone screen.
During my live video.
Byron bent and placed his chin on my shoulder, his clean-shaven but somehow perpetually scruffy cheek sliding along mine, his stomach and chest brushing against my back. He’d randomly started doing this kind of stuff about two years ago—brushing against me, gently pushing my hair off my shoulder, touching my hip as he passed behind—like he knew how much the benign contact flustered me when he was the one doing it. Everywhere he touched scorched my skin, incidental or purposeful, it didn’t matter how long it had been since we last saw each other or how little we actually spoke.
I ignored another twist in my stomach, irritated with my body for being entirely predictable.
“What are you doing, Fred?” The question was a rumble. A dark, thick slash of an eyebrow arched over a pale blue-green eye as he inspected the image of us captured by my phone’s screen. His hands lightly slid to my hips and he stared at us for a moment while my mouth opened and closed unproductively, mind blank, chest hot, cheeks pink.
I was a people person! I loved hugs and cuddles, and I was generous with physical affection. If a different person had come in here and placed their chin on my shoulder, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. My friends had labeled me “the touchy feely one” as I freely cried at movies, poignant greeting cards, or excellent commercials. I was good on my feet, good under pressure, good at improvising.
I knew I would spend the rest of this afternoon feeling like a goofus for being so entirely rattled and incapable of forming words the moment Byron had stepped behind me.
Darn it all to heck!
While I wrestled my brain, he squinted, flinching away at the emojis erupting around our faces. “Wait. What is this?”
The thinly veiled disapproval in his tone smacked me out of my daze and I fought against an eye roll—at myself—but I did grit my teeth. “Everyone, say hi to Byron. Byron, say hi to everyone.” My statement was met with a plethora of waves, shocked faces, and heart-eyes emojis. I quickly read the torrent of new comments as heat climbed up my neck.
Who is that?
He’s soooo hot.
He has the prettiest eyes
Wait. That’s Byron Visser. HOLY SHIT!
OMG! Is that Byron Visser??!?!
Is that your boyfriend?
How the hell do you know Byron Visser?
THAT’S BYRON VISSER!
Do you actually know Byron Visser?
I LOVE YOUR BOOKS BYRON!!
Ask him when the third book will come out. I NEEEEED IT!
Only mildly surprised by the deluge of love Byron received for saying exactly nine words, I quietly lamented my inability to obtain ten total comments in thirty minutes from the same audience. My audience. My followers.
I was jealous.
Just a little bit. I shouldn’t have been. Comparing myself to Byron Visser was like comparing an exceptionally helpful, productive, and positive customer service call to the experience of a hit Broadway show. Both might be awesome once-in-a-lifetime events, but for different reasons.
Yes, these lovely people tuned in to watch my monthly scientific experiments. Some were hobbyists, some were parents learning how to safely perform their own experiments at home with their kids, some were nonscientist science teachers looking for resources for their classroom.
But I hoped most of my audience was comprised of young women who felt curious about engineering, chemistry and physics and biology, mathematics, technology, and their everyday applications, and why science, technology, engineering, and mathematics might be relevant to them. Teenage girls and women of all ages who didn’t feel welcomed by traditional STEM academic settings were why I’d started this account in the first place. I was happy to be a resource, no matter who was watching or whatever their reason, and I knew my followers appreciated me.
That said, I doubted they’d recognize me on the street. If they did, I doubted they’d ask for an autograph.
Whereas Byron Visser was not only indisputably and enormously talented and intelligent, he was legit famous. Social media famous thanks to a fan video that had gone viral just after his first book was published, and real world famous thanks to his books being instant best sellers. And that movie deal. Plus the rumors of him dating supermodels. Also that hot shirtless photo spread of him in the one—and only one—magazine interview he’d ever done.
So, yeah. Famous.
But I knew the real Byron though. Real Byron was sarcastic and standoffish. He was not a people person. Our friend group since college—which he’d only tangentially been part of during my undergrad and then not the year after I graduated because he eschewed all group gatherings—had labeled him “the reclusive genius one.” I wasn’t sure he knew any of our names other than Amelia’s and Jeff’s. By his own admission, he didn’t like people in general.
Case in point, instead of saying hi to my live audience—which seemed like the appropriate thing to do, especially given that he’d interrupted my video and the comment feed erupted with praise for him—Byron being Byron, scowled at the screen, grunted, then walked out of view.
I exhaled slowly and silently as he departed, taking the five-o’clock shadow of his jaw and the warmth of his body with him. An explosion of LOLs and heart emojis followed in his wake.
My face heated. “Okay, thank you Byron for your truly fascinating addition to today’s conversation. Thank goodness you were here to chime in. What would we do without you?”
Byron leaned against the wall in our tiny dining room, settling in to observe and judge, glaring at me. The right side of his full upper lip always seemed poised to curl. That paired with his dark wing-like eyebrows over his oddly colored eyes gave his face a permanent dissatisfied, disapproving expression, no matter what was happening or where he was.
Ignoring his unnerving presence, I forced a smile for the camera and continued brightly, “And yes, for the record, that is the author Byron Visser, avid recluse, eschewer of shirts, and serial grunter.” Perhaps I was riding high on a wave of indignation, or perhaps irritation was an excellent lubricant for my brain because—even though I knew he was watching me—I didn’t trip over my words.
Another grunt sounded from Byron’s direction followed by a hearty laugh from Amelia. He could grunt all he wanted, nothing I’d said was untrue. I’d known the dude for over six years and he never called me by my real name and barely said anything to me that wasn’t critical.
Not allowing myself to be distracted by the tsunami of comments, most of which were related to Byron’s hotness and talent and the prettiness of his eyes—and all of which I had to wistfully admit were true—I returned my thumb to the top of my screen, letting it hover over the End Live button, and forced my hand steady.
Since he’d already interrupted the video, and since I was feeling uncharacteristically brave in his presence, I decided to deliver the spiel I’d originally planned. “Tune in next time. We’ll be talking about the naming conventions of chemical compounds, but I promise this is super interesting and relevant to the rest of your life. Haven’t you ever wondered what those ingredients are in your food and cosmetics? Leave me a comment with an ingredient that freaks you out or sounds weird and scary, we’ll be drawing out the compounds so you can see and know what’s going on. Knowledge is power, my friends. Be powerful. Oh! Also, leave any and all questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them during the month. Here’s your science joke for the week: What do you do with a dead chemist? You barium! Ha! Okay, okay. Sorry. That was bad. Anyway, this is the Chemistry Maven signing off.”
I ended the video, smile dropping, and gave myself a few seconds to catch my breath. Removing my phone from the stand, I clicked through screens in order to save the lesson to my account, all the while endeavoring to ignore the weight of Byron Visser’s gaze and the erratic beating of my heart. It drove me bonkers that he always put me on edge, no matter what mood I’d been in before his arrival.
“Sorry! We just got back from lunch, and I thought you’d be out.” Amelia walked past my mess of open sports drink bottles, pipettes, and test tubes scattered all over the kitchen peninsula. After lifting the lid and inspecting the water level, she flicked on the electric tea kettle.
“It’s no problem.” I waved away her apology, glancing at Byron and then immediately returning my attention to my phone. A burst of heat spread from the base of my spine to my fingertips. Our eyes had connected. I hated it when that happened.
I sensed him push away from the wall, heard his footsteps move further into the apartment. I imagined he was probably scrutinizing my paltry collection of houseplants and found them lacking. Or perhaps he’d slipped on a white glove to test the cleanliness of our shelves.
Why is he here?
I hadn’t seen him in ages. Even though he’d always been a good friend of Amelia’s—they’d grown up together in Eastern Oregon—he and I never interacted in any meaningful way. I tended to avoid him, and when I couldn’t, he was like a menacing thundercloud on an otherwise sunny day.
“Do you want some tea, Win?” The scrape of mugs being moved pulled my gaze to my roommate.
“Yes, please. I just picked up some of that Sexy Peppermint from Serena’s booth at the farmers’ market.” I motioned toward the pantry. “But I already put it away.”
Amelia and I called it “Sexy Peppermint,” but it was actually called Passionate Peppermint. Our friend had started a side hustle as a tea maker, and she branded her boxes with contemporary bodice-ripper illustrations. I also enjoyed Carnal Chamomile and Lusty Lemon & Ginger.
“Oooh, sounds good. I’ll have that too. Byron?”
“What?” His voice rumbled from somewhere behind me. My spine straightened, my stomach tensed, and I grit my teeth at the involuntary reflexes.
Placing a hand on her hip, Amelia sent a look over my shoulder. “Do you want some tea?”
“No. This Sedum morganianum needs more sun,” he said. “And if you want it to grow down vertically, you need to put it in a hanging planter.”
Working my jaw, I almost laughed. Almost. I’d been right, Byron had been scrutinizing my houseplants and he found them lacking.
“That’s the sunniest spot in the apartment,” Amelia mumbled, closing the cabinet door and then turning for the pantry as she lifted her voice with a teasing lilt, “Not all twenty-somethings can afford to buy a house in Seattle, Byron.”
“Or rent an apartment with windows, apparently,” he drawled.
Amelia merely chuckled at his comment. How she could stand him, I had no idea.
“The mysteries of the universe are vast and plentiful,” I muttered.
“What was that?” Amelia asked, placing our Passionate Peppermint tea bags into the mugs.
“What? Oh. Nothing.” Finished typing out the caption and saving the video, I placed my phone on the counter and started cleaning up the bottles and beakers littering our beige Formica countertop.
I felt my roommate track my movements as she said, “You look really pretty today. I love your hair like that.”
“Oh, thank you.” Absentmindedly, I smoothed a hand down my long auburn hair, currently worn in waves over my shoulders. I didn’t usually get a chance to do anything with it other than pull it back in a ponytail or braid, but I planned to bleach it blond soon during a live video for my channel. For science!
“Hey, how’d your video go?”
“Good. I mean—it went well.” I pressed my lips together, reprimanding myself for the use of good instead of the grammatically correct well. Byron had never corrected my grammar out loud, but I suspected he did so in his big, brilliant, pretty head.
“That’s great! I can’t wait to watch it later.”
“You don’t have to . . . watch it.” Ha ha! Take that! Who has two thumbs and doesn’t end her sentences with a preposition? This girl, that’s who.
“I want to see it,” she said, and I felt her gaze move over me, assessing.
I smiled tightly. She knew I avoided Byron whenever possible, but we’d never explicitly talked about why. I hadn’t wanted to admit how clumsy I felt around him and, really, I knew I was the problem. I knew it, but I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
He barely spoke to me and, here I was, putting uncharitable thoughts in his mouth and brain. Why am I this way? I usually thought the best of people. Why did I have to work so hard to think the best of Byron?
“Sorry again for interrupting.” Amelia placed a mug in front of me, her eyebrows pulling together. “I didn’t know you’d be here. I thought you had something at the school.”
“Oh, no. That meeting got canceled.” Today was the Friday before the public school’s spring break. “They want us to come in tomorrow instead.”
“You work weekends?” Byron’s usual dust-dry tone held a hint of loftiness and censure.
I breathed in. I breathed out. About this one topic, I actually did know what he was thinking.
In college, I’d witnessed Byron attempt to talk Jeff Choi—Byron’s roommate, one of the sweetest guys ever, and a member of our larger friend group—out of becoming a teacher so many times I’d lost count. Byron had said teaching was an underpaid and underappreciated profession. He’d said it drained the life out of people. He’d said the system takes advantage of teachers and sets them up to fail, so why would any intelligent, reasonable person with an aptitude for science or mathematics or engineering ever willingly accept a teacher’s salary to do a teacher’s job?
Byron didn’t like my career choice. He’d made no secret about it any time the subject arose, like now. The fact that I’d chosen teaching despite having to carry a hefty student loan debt probably meant he considered me stupid.
I didn’t care what he thought. Or, more precisely, I don’t want to care. But since he was indisputably one of the smartest and most successful people I’d ever met who donated a buttload of money to charity every year and seemed to be a walking encyclopedia about literally everything, this was easier said than done.
“Yes, I work weekends,” I said finally, answering his question but not adding that every single teacher I knew worked weekends. Of course we did. When else would we get any planning or grading done?
“They pay teachers to work weekends now?”
I’d guessed the question was coming, but it still made my chest tight with embarrassment. “No. They don’t pay teachers to work weekends.”
“Then you shouldn’t,” he said, like it was so simple. “You undervalue yourself when you work without payment.”
My throat burned to say that there were more considerations than just payment, that I loved teaching. I loved my students, I cared about them and their successes and failures. Deeply. Thoughts of them kept me up at night, plotting how I might help one of them understand a tricky concept better, or what to do about a brilliant student who had a terrible home life, or how I might hint to another kiddo that they had a gift for engineering without making them feel self-conscious in front of their classmates.
A paycheck was necessary to live, obviously, but it wasn’t why I was a teacher, it wasn’t why I worked so hard at the school and on my social media accounts.
And now my heart hurt, and I was sweaty and sad, and—once again—I hated that I let him make me feel this way.
“You know what?” I wiped my hands on a towel and meticulously folded it, leaving it on the countertop. “I don’t think I want any tea. I think I’ll go for a run.”
Amelia sent me an apologetic smile and I gave my head a little shake, hopefully communicating that it was no big deal. We’d been roommates since college when we’d randomly been assigned to live together in the dorm. Even if I could afford a place of my own, I’d still want to live with Amelia. Living with her had been the first time in my life I’d felt free to be completely myself. She’d been a premed major at the time and my major had been chemistry; like oxygen and hydrogen, we were destined to bond.
I loved her. She was the best. It wasn’t her fault I allowed one of her oldest and best friends to make me feel foolish and tongue-tied every time we shared the same space. That was on me.
And so what could I do other than leave?
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...