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Fake Dating the Hometown Deputy

Fake Dating the Hometown Deputy

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What's the use of being gorgeous and successful if everyone in your hometown still sees you as the awkward nerd? 

Coming home has never been so humiliating...

Years of perfecting her look, her attitude, her style, and it's all led to this. Vanessa Shea is back in Cyrano to teach her old schoolmates a thing or two about the ugly duckling who ran away from this town and never looked back.

Only problem? Being back makes her feel like she's never left. She's Loch Ness Monster once more and no one will let her live it down.

No one except Deputy Trent Arnolds.

Of course, that's probably because the beloved quarterback doesn't recognize her...or remember her. Nope. Nothing mortifying about that.

Main Tropes

  • High School Crush
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Fake Dating

Intro Into Chapter 1

Vanessa squinted down at the menu in her hands—not that she really needed to read it. Like the small town of Cyrano itself, nothing about this menu had changed in the seven years since she’d been away. 

“You know,” her friend Addison said from the other side of the booth. “You could probably take those sunglasses off now that we’re inside. It might make the menu easier to read.”

Vanessa sighed as she shut the menu. The only thing worse than being a coward was being called out on it. She snapped the oversized designer sunglasses off her face and tried not to be too annoyed by Addison’s amusement. “Did you really think those sunglasses would make a good disguise?”

Vanessa shrugged. “It worked for Clark Kent.”

“He wore regular glasses,” she said. 

Vanessa frowned. Well, that wouldn’t work for her. She’d worn regular glasses when she’d lived here. That would be a dead giveaway. 

Addison seemed to be reading her mind. She tilted her head to the side so her dark blonde ponytail swung like a pendulum. “No offense, Vanessa, but I don’t think a pair of sunglasses can make you unnoticeable in this town.” She wrinkled her nose with regret. “I don’t think anything can.” 

Vanessa sighed again. Her friend was right. Cyrano was a small ski town tucked into the Rocky Mountains and it was fueled by winter tourism and local gossip. The fact that one of its prodigal daughters had returned after jet setting it around the world and living in the big city…? 

It was news, whether she liked it or not. 

“Here you are, Nessie!” Barbara McKinley, the lovely, plump, silver-haired lady who’d owned this diner since before Vanessa was born, set down a large brown mug with a thud. 

Vanessa stared at it in horror. “That’s a lot of whipped cream.”

And that was putting it mildly.

She peeked up to see Addison battling a laugh and failing as a snort escaped. Her friend clapped a hand over her mouth, as if that helped. 

“Just the way you like it,” Barbara said with pride. 

Vanessa smiled up at her—because really, how could one not smile when Barbara’s round pleasant face was beaming at you like that? “Thank you, but, um…” 

I no longer drown my emotions in junk food. 

I haven’t let real sugar touch my lips in nearly a decade. 

I’m no longer Nessie, or Loch Ness, or any other stupid nickname!

Her smile faltered as she realized she couldn’t say any of those things to sweet, kind Barbara. “Thank you,” she said again. “But I go by Vanessa now.”

“Oh, of course you do,” Barbara said, patting her shoulder like she was a child. “And it’s so fitting.” She eyed Vanessa from head to toe—not easy to do when half her body was hidden beneath the table. “Look at you, so grown up.”

Vanessa tried to smile but it felt forced. She had to assume that by ‘so grown up’ she meant ‘so much slimmer.’ Or maybe, ‘so much less of a dork without the ugly glasses and the frizzy hair.’

“I barely recognized you when you walked in,” Barbara added. 

Vanessa held her hands out wide and said what she’d been saying these last two weeks whenever she ran into someone who recognized her and felt the need to comment on her new look. “Late bloomer, I guess.”

“I guess,” Barbara agreed with a laugh. “Who knew you’d grow up to be such a beauty?”

No one. Certainly not Chip, the boy who’d broken her heart once upon a time. Though he had yet to see the new Vanessa, and the anticipation of that particular run-in was killing her. She didn’t know whether she wanted to see him or not. 

No, that wasn’t true. 

She wanted to see him. She definitely wanted to show him all that he’d missed out on when he’d so callously broken her heart. 

“Late bloomer, huh?” Addison said as Barbara walked away from the table. “How many times are you going to use that line?”

“It’s catchy,” Vanessa said. As a marketing and PR professional, she lived to find a quick, efficient, sellable response. A one-liner that would answer the question without leading to even more questions about what she’d been up to these past seven years. 

“It’s corny,” Addison said with a laugh.

“Maybe,” Vanessa agreed. “But it’s also the truth.” She had been a late bloomer. It wasn’t until her freshman year of college that her body seemed to figure itself out. True, the dieting helped, but so had a growth spurt and the onset of curves. Suddenly she wasn’t fat and round, she was tall and svelte, with curves in all the right places. 

Add in contacts, learning how to straighten her hair and make it shine, and she’d been a veritable ugly duckling-turned-swan. Her only regret was that the transformation happened too late. All the bullies who’d taunted her, and the guys who’d never seen her, the mean girls who’d made her miserable…they hadn’t witnessed the transformation.

Chip hadn’t seen the woman she’d become, and it was him more than anyone that she wanted to make pay. Not in a mean way, just in a ‘see what you missed out on?’ sort of way. 

Was it petty? Perhaps. But she’d spent a lot of time and energy becoming this new version of herself, and what was the point if the boy who’d broken her heart didn’t regret it?

The door to the diner swung open and Vanessa slid down in her seat. Hiding was a horrible reflex—a habit she’d long ago broken but which had made a comeback the moment she’d stepped foot in Cyrano.

She let out a sigh of relief. It wasn’t Chip. The guy who walked in was instantly recognizable though. Trent Arnolds. He’d been the senior star quarterback when she was a junior and every girl in the school had been in love with him.

Well, everyone but her. Sure, she might’ve had a little crush on him when she was a kid—who hadn’t? But she’d outgrown it just like she’d outgrown fairytales and the Easter Bunny. He was just as much of a fantasy, especially for a dork like her. 

Besides, she’d been too infatuated with Chip to pay much attention to Trent. 

Trent had lived in his own little orbit of popularity. He’d been just like all the other popular rich kids in town—spoiled, entitled, and lucky. Unlike most of the others in his world, he hadn’t acted like a pompous jerk. Which, oddly enough, made him worse, in her opinion.

The fact that Trent had always hid his giant ego behind that dazzlingly white smile made her irrationally annoyed. She preferred honesty over fake politeness any day of the week—one of many reasons why she’d loved living in New York.

She eyed him warily now as he went up to the counter to order something to go. He looked exactly the same. Frustratingly, annoyingly, breathtakingly the same. Still handsome in that all-American classic way with short blond hair and a square jaw. Still all smiles with eyes that crinkled up at the edges as if he really meant it. Still polished and perfect, like the wealthy brat he’d always been.

“Who exactly are you hiding from?” Addison asked, sipping her cocoa, which was not buried under whipped cream as she studied Vanessa with a mix of amusement, pity, and affection.

Vanessa tore her eyes from Trent and sighed for the millionth time as she pushed herself upright. “I’m not hiding.”

Addison arched her brows in disbelief. “You literally just tried to hide under the table right now.”

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