Today I am so pleased to welcome Kris Ripper to Joyfully Jay. Kris has come to share an exclusive excerpt from zer latest release, The Love Study. Please join me in giving Kris a big welcome!
What do you get when you combine a goofy, commitmentphobic office temp with a thoughtfully non-dating YouTuber? The Love Study. Declan swore off dating after he left his last boyfriend at the altar, but Sidney isn’t interested in altars. They’re interested in humans. Specifically, they’re interested in Declan, who agrees to go out with people and discuss his dates on Sidney’s YouTube channel. Awkwardness, chocolate, and giggling ensue. The following excerpt takes place just after filming the first episode of The Love Study.
I had to defend myself. “I like the beach! I never said I didn’t like the beach! Just it’s often really windy and sand blows in your face and gets, like, everywhere, and sometimes you get cold and want to go inside, so—” I broke off. “Are you teasing me right now?”
That smirk again. Oh jeez.
“Maybe a little.”
I sat back in my chair and shook my head. “YouTube doesn’t see the side of you that gets off on me tying my tongue in knots. You know that only makes me want to provoke you, right?”
“You’ve only been on one show, I don’t think you can say what I show to YouTube.”
“Except I’ve watched a bunch of your videos, so I think I can.”
They froze. “Oh. You did?”
“Uh, yeah.” Who agrees to go on a show and doesn’t watch it? “Do your other guests not watch it?”
“I’m not sure. I didn’t think you would.”
I wasn’t sure how to parse that and didn’t want to lose the thread. “Well, I did. So I know a little bit, and I think you hide some of yourself. Which is cool, except I like that. Uh. This. Thing. Wait.”
They glanced up. “You like me teasing you? I could definitely do that on camera if you wanted.”
“Hang on. I think I had the upper hand for a minute here, but I’ve lost it now.”
“I’m pretty sure any impression that you had the upper hand was an illusion. How was it, though? Not too traumatic?”
I almost reassured them without thinking, but forced myself to stop. A lot of people asked questions without being invested in the answers, but if I’d learned anything in the last half hour, it was that Sidney really liked thoughtful answers. “Not traumatic. I guess parts of it were a little…awkward? When I remembered people were watching. But most of the time it felt like you and I were talking, which is super happy. Easy. Happy-making. Um.” Mayday, mayday. “Anyway, I showed you mine, now you show me yours—long walks on the beach? What’s your perfect vacation?”
“Oh.” They fiddled with their little wireless mouse, also red, like their glasses. “A bed-and-breakfast out in the country, somewhere that’s not in the US. Lots of space to walk, not too many people. Interesting ruins to explore optional but preferred.”
“God, that sounds incredible. Not the big commercialized ruins, though, right? The ones on the side of the road that you walk through feeling almost like you’re the first one to ever see it?”
“Exactly. You can have that fantasy that you’re going places no one else has gone. Even though you know it’s not true, it still sounds compelling to me.”
I nodded. “Maybe when you make your first million on YouTube, right?”
“It’s on my ‘made my first million’ bucket list. Travel, afford grad school. The usual things.”
A very slightly strained silence fell. Not super strained or anything. For two people who barely knew each other it was pretty comfortable, with just a whiff of strained.
“So,” I said. “I guess I’ll see you next week?”
“Sure, depending on when you can set up a date.”
Jeez, I’d almost forgotten I was going to have to go on dates in order to justify coming back to chat with Sidney each week. Downer.
“I think we should go with transparency,” they were saying, “which should be easy enough since your dates will be in some sense generated by the show. I’ll set up a basic profile and sort through whoever, um, applies? Signs up? Volunteers? I’m not sure what verb to use here that doesn’t make you seem like a fire truck to ride at the state fair.”
My jaw dropped.
“Sorry, that was awful. I didn’t mean ride.” When they tried not to smile it kind of softened their face somehow, as if whatever combination of muscles was required to not-smile rounded off the edges of their usual expression.
I made my voice very prim. “I’m not against being ridden.”
What happens when the search for the perfect date goes perfectly wrong? Don’t miss this charming romantic comedy from critically acclaimed author Kris Ripper.
Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.
And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.
When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.
The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.
Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and zir pronouns are ze/zir. Kris shares a converted garage with a kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
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