Home > Date Me, Bryson Keller

Date Me, Bryson Keller
Author: Kevin van Whye

PROLOGUE


   It all started as a dare. Of course, at the time I didn’t know the dare would change my life. But that’s the thing about change, isn’t it? Like love, it just happens, never seeming to announce itself. Instead, it’s just one “oh shit” moment happening after the next. Or in my case, one capital “OH SHIT” moment, which, if I’m being honest, is what 95 percent of being a closeted gay teen is like.

   It was a week before school reopened, and we were all at Brittany Daniel’s New Year’s Eve party. Brittany has been my biology partner since the start of senior year, and for once I’d actually been invited to the party by name, and not just as a tagalong for my best friends, Priyanka Reddy and Donny Duckworth. (I know, Donny’s name is his cross to bear, but at least people know his name.)

   I was standing in the corner near a bookshelf, trying to look casual as I scanned the spines for titles I recognized while secretly searching the room for my MIA best friends. I never know what to do at parties. Seriously, what do I do with my hands? Do I shuffle my feet to this song?

       I didn’t intend to eavesdrop, but Bryson Keller has a voice that carries, draws you in. He’s the captain of the boys’ soccer team and the most popular kid at Fairvale Academy, so it was no surprise he was holding court.

   “High school relationships don’t matter,” he said. “We’re in our senior year. Most of us are going to end up at different colleges, and it just feels like a waste of emotional energy to commit to something that is destined to end. Why even bother?”

   “How romantic of you,” Priya drawled.

   Curious, I stepped into the kitchen to find my best friends among the überpopular crowd—the athletes and the wealthy.

   It made sense for Priya and Donny to be there. Priya is captain of the girls’ soccer team, and Donny is one of the richest kids in school, which means he doesn’t have to play sports to be invited to things. I, on the other hand, am always their plus-one.

   Priya took Donny’s hand in hers. Their fingers interlocked. “You could very well meet the one in high school.”

   It’s been six months since my best friends started dating. I’m still getting used to it. I’m happy for them, honest. It was clear to everyone but them that they were perfect for each other. They always had my blessing to take their friendship to the next level. But sometimes I end up feeling like a third wheel, standing at the edge of the crowd. Literally.

   Bryson shook his head. His light brown hair looked a shade darker under the fluorescent lighting, and shadows danced across his sharp jaw. His pale blue eyes looked darker in this light, too.

       “Well, my mom and dad were the ‘it’ couple of their high school,” Dustin Smith said. He looked at his best friend. “You know, Bryson, it’s funny that you’re giving out hot takes on relationships when you’ve never even dated.”

   “Are your parents strict or something?” Donny asked.

   “No,” Dustin answered. “They would be fine with him dating.”

   “Yeah, it’s my choice not to,” Bryson explained with a shrug. He looked down at the red cup in his hand. “I just don’t see the point in high school relationships.”

   “Maybe it’s that he can’t find anyone to date,” Isaac Lawson teased, his white smile flashing. Isaac is also on the soccer team and happens to be the person I have had a very secret crush on since the start of junior year.

   I edged farther into the circle.

   Bryson snorted. “C’mon. No offense, but I could probably date someone new every week if I wanted.” He took a sip from his cup as Priya rolled her eyes.

   “Prove it,” Dustin said. “I dare you.”

   “What?” Bryson asked.

   There were oohs from the boys, and the girls around them laughed. Bryson shifted uncomfortably, not loving being put on the spot.

   “Prove to everyone that you can date someone new each week,” Dustin said.

   “You’re seriously daring me?”

       “Yep,” Dustin said. “Are you scared?”

   “Fine. I’ll do it.” Bryson looked up and our eyes met. I looked away. “But if it’s a game or dare or whatever, then there should be rules. Kai, what do you think?”

   It took me a heartbeat to answer. I hadn’t planned on participating. “Um, maybe it should only last the school week,” I said nervously. “Monday through Friday.”

   “Nice.” Bryson nodded. “I don’t want to sacrifice my weekends for this.”

   “Nothing physical,” Natalie da Silva suggested. “This is a game, and everyone’s boundaries should be respected.”

   Bryson looked even more relieved. “And only seniors. I don’t want to be gross about it.”

   “Agreed. Only seniors are allowed to play,” Dustin said. He looked around. “Is that all?”

   “You’re not allowed to ask anyone out,” Priya added. “Or else it’s too easy.”

   “Wait, what?”

   “The dare is this, Bryson Keller,” Priya said with a wicked glint in her eye. “You will date the first person to ask you out each Monday until the final bell Friday. You are forbidden from asking anyone out. And if someone fails to ask you out, you lose.”

   “Oh, I like that,” Natalie said. “Girls can totally ask boys out.” She held up her hand for a high five, and Priya happily obliged.

   “You also lose if you get tired of dating,” Dustin said. “I know you, dude. I don’t believe you have this in you.” He patted Bryson on the shoulder.

       “And what happens if he loses?” I asked.

   Bryson shot me a look like he’d been hoping no one would mention a punishment. I shrugged with a smile. How often would I get to see Bryson Keller squirm?

   Dustin knew what would hurt the most. “You have to ride the bus for the rest of senior year.”

   Everyone laughed. We all know just how much Bryson Keller loves his white Jeep. It’s arguably the cleanest car at school. He washes it at least once a week—I’ve seen the shirtless pictures on his Instagram feed.

   “Shit, okay,” Bryson said. “But there needs to be a time limit on this. I’ll do this for three months and that’s it. If I lose, then after spring break I’ll start taking the bus. But when I win—and I will win—you won’t doubt me ever again.”

   “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Priya said. “You will be a legend.”

   “Bryson Keller. The man. The myth. The legend. I like that,” Bryson said. He chugged the rest of his beer. “Let the games begin.”

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