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The Love Fakers

The Love Fakers

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She’s on the fast track to valedictorian. He...may or may not have been napping in class. 

They say opposites attract? Well nerdy Anna and rebel Zach are on a mission to prove them wrong. For science, of course. 

As partners in a psychology class project, their job is to fool a dating app into thinking they’re a love match. A few fake dates, some online interaction, and everyone walks away with an A. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong. This lab experiment? It’s about to blow up in their faces. 

Main Tropes

  • Bad Boy & The Nerd
  • Fake Dating
  • First Kiss


As partners in a psychology class project, nerdy Anna and rebel Zach's job is to fool a dating app into thinking they’re a love match.

A few fake dates, some online interaction, and everyone walks away with an A.

Except...their first date involves Anna joining Zach while he works on his car. And, turns out, Anna is a total geek when it comes to cars...

With each passing date, it becomes more and more clear that for two opposites with nothing in common...they're kinda meant for each other.

And if this experiment teaches them anything, it's that there's no denying chemistry.

This is the first standalone novella in the sweet YA novella series.

Intro Into Chapter 1


There’s one thing I learned in my three years at Coleridge High: Don’t get between Edie and Dane when they’re arguing.

“You’re just saying that because the app set you up with Danielle.” Edie said Danielle’s name in the sort of sing-song tone typically reserved for middle schoolers.

Dane leaned back in his seat with a smirk. “Jealous much?”

“Ugh.” Edie’s look of disgust was actually kind of funny, but I knew better than to laugh at Edie.

Edie scared me. 

It wasn’t that she was mean or anything. She was one of the few people in this school who stood up to bullies and protected all us underdogs. She was actually a pretty nice person. 

But she was also intense. 

There was absolutely nothing laid back about Edie Zindell.

Dane, on the other hand…

“Come on, Edie,” he said, holding his hands out wide and rocking back so far in his chair that I was certain he’d fall backwards. “You can admit it, Edie. You have a crush on me. It’s no big deal.”

“Ew.” Edie leaned over and tried to shove him and his chair over, but Dane caught himself quickly, and with a laugh, like he’d totally seen that coming.

He probably had.

After a lifetime of going to the same school, we all could have predicted that move.

“Could we try and stay on task here, guys?” Leave it to Jessica to be the voice of reason. She and her bestie Jonathan Rexman—better known as Rex—were sitting side by side behind me in our little cluster of desks.

Mr. Portman had split our psychology class into two groups for a class project. We had one month to either prove or disprove the theory that love could be quantified. 

It was a ridiculous assignment, and my guess was this was one of Mr. Portman’s attempts to “make learning fun.” But as he was a notoriously tough grader, and I was working my butt off to be valedictorian, this project was bad news. I was great at studying, and taking tests? That was my jam. But a group project with nebulous rules about how the grading would go down? 

The very thought made me nauseous. Anxiety had my stomach churning as I worried about whether or not I’d be expected to present something in front of the class. 

Mr. Portman could have done what he’d done last semester and given us an exam that made half the class cry and the other half beg for a D so they didn’t fail. That’s what I’d been expecting. That’s what I’d been hoping for. But nooo. Mr. Portman wanted us to have “fun” with psychology and he thought it would be neat to make our class centered around love and romance since we were in the countdown stage to the school’s big Valentine’s Day dance.

As if V-day wasn’t already traumatic enough for us single people. Now we had to base a class around it?

Not cool, Mr. Portman.

Not. Cool.

“Jessica’s right,” Rex said. “Let’s just focus on the assignment and get this over with.”

It was no surprise that Rex was speaking up to side with Jessica. The two of them had been best friends since grade school and they pretty much always had one another’s backs. Together, their point seemed to have been made.

Edie pursed her lips and crossed her arms, but she stopped bickering.

Dane? Well, he just smirked at her like he’d won.

I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the last we heard on this topic. 

Honestly, I had no idea what Mr. Portman was thinking putting the two of them in the same group. And then, he had the idiotic idea that we should pick our own group leader. 

Ugh, yeah, that wasn’t a stupid idea or anything. 

He might as well have put some boxing gloves on these two and sounded a bell. 

For the first time since class started—actually, maybe the first time since the semester started—Zach Stoker spoke up. “Why don’t we just say you’re both team leaders?” His voice was low and lazy, like he was super bored by this whole conversation.

Slumped down in his seat, his dark hair hanging in his face and his eyes all heavy-lidded and drowsy—he looked like we were interrupting his naptime. 

I let out a little sigh and turned back to the others. Dane and Edie were eyeing each other steadily.

“Yeah, okay, that works,” Edie said.

Dane shrugged. “Fine by me.”

And there you had it. We were officially taking advice from the school’s biggest slacker. These were dark days, people. We’re talking the end of times if the school’s biggest overachievers were taking advice from a guy whose yearbook photo would best be titled, “most likely to end up in jail.”

“So,” Jessica drawled, toying with her long blonde hair. “How do y’all want to do this?” Despite the fact that she’d moved to California about ten years ago, Jessica’s voice still had a hint of a Southern twang.

As if being a gorgeous leggy blonde didn’t make her appealing enough, she also had the whole Southern belle vibe going for her. She would have been easy to hate if she wasn’t so dang nice.

And yeah, dang was a word that Jessica used regularly and somehow managed to pull it off. Anyone else would have sounded like a dork, but she made it work. She was also smart and a good athlete, if her role as varsity captain of the girls’ basketball team was anything to go by.

Me? I had all the athletic prowess of a penguin. 

I was smart, though. Like, I was on track to be valedictorian kind of smart. But that was about all I had going for me. I wasn’t about to win any beauty pageants with my totally-average plain-Jane looks. I sported wire-rimmed glasses, had the stick-straight body of a girl who hadn’t hit puberty yet, hair that was somewhere between dirty blonde and light brown, and my eyes were a boring shade of mud. 

Maybe it would have helped if I dressed sexier, or whatever, but button-down cardigans were my go-to uniform. Mainly because my stepmom kept me stocked in pastel sweaters of every shade, but also because they kept me warm. As someone who was permanently cold, sweaters were sort of a must. 

“What’s our angle going to be?” Rex asked.

Edie and Dane exchanged a long look. I swear somewhere in the distance I heard the ominous whistle at the start of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

“We’re obviously going to prove the app is wrong,” Dane said. 

Edie shifted and her expression looked like she’d tasted something sour. “I agree.”

“They agree on something? You guys, it’s a Valentine’s Day miracle,” Rex joked under his breath.

Jessica snickered and I had to smother a grin. I glanced over at Zach. He had his head down and there was a very good chance he was asleep.

“Of course we agree,” Edie said with a roll of her eyes. Edie was another one of the pretty ones in our class. Long dark hair and high cheekbones…she was also the school’s biggest go-getter. She was student council president, head of the debate team, and the leader of just about every other school-pride related group you could imagine.

Dane was sort of her male counterpart, I supposed. They had totally different personalities, but Dane was equally hot with short sandy-blonde hair. He was the captain of the swim team, and pretty much the most beloved guy in school. You’d think they’d be friends, actually, since they ran in the same popular crowd. But make no mistake—they were not friends.

I didn’t think they really hated each other either, it was just that they were so very similar. Each of them was used to being the alpha dog. I guess maybe you could say they were frenemies. They never seemed to agree on anything, but apparently when it came to creepily invasive apps, we were all on the same page. Even Edie and Dane.

See, here was the thing. About a year ago some kid from Upstate New York invented this app called Love Quiz and got crazy rich from it. It was designed as a matchmaking app and was supposed to have weirdly awesome results. He’d gotten the idea off of some study about how love could be quantified. 

Now, as a science geek, I could totally get on board with that thesis. What I had a problem with was an app that integrated into my every movement. The app worked alongside all your other social media and tracked your likes, your habits, your whereabouts, your interactions.

I know, right?

Big brother, thy name is Love Quiz.

But even so, it was wildly popular among high school students and college kids. It was the new hot app and everyone had it.

Well, not everyone. I didn’t have it. Honestly, did I really need an app telling me that my most compatible prospect at Coleridge High was Danny Derkman, the other uber nerd in our class who was better known for eating his own boogers?

No thanks. 

My romantic prospects at this school were bleak enough without data backing it up.

Mr. Portman started this whole lesson by posing the question ‘what is love?’ on the chalkboard. Could it be measured and predicted or was it something deeper and more intangible that couldn’t be calculated with an app?

It seemed our group was a bunch of romantics. 

Well, not me so much, but I wasn’t a fan of the app so I was all for proving that it wasn’t all that. It was pseudo-science of the worst order. I’d rather get love advice from a horoscope than from some app that only knew what you told it. Everyone lied on social media, everyone knew that. So the app was based on faulty data, at best, and at worst could be easily manipulated to get desired results.

The fact that this was supposedly based on scientific research felt like a personal attack on scientific-minded people everywhere.

“I think it’s obvious how we proceed,” Edie was saying. “We purposefully trick the app and prove how easy it is to manipulate data.”

“Right,” Dane said, making every one of us gawk at this rare moment in history when Dane and Edie stood on the same side. “Meanwhile, as group leaders, Edie and I will analyze the data and use our own information based on a lifetime of going to school with you guys to make predictions of our own and—”

“Wait a second,” Rex said. “‘You guys?’ You mean…you want to experiment on us?”

Dane and Edie exchanged a look that seemed to be some form of telepathy. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as I realized that these two being on the same side could potentially be a disaster. I mean, alone they were each powerful forces to be reckoned with in this school. But together…?

We may have created a monster.

“Of course,” Edie said. “How else could we prove our thesis?”

“Right,” Dane agreed. “So first we should pick people who the app would automatically link together…”

As one, Edie, Dane, and I turned to look at Rex and Jessica.

“What?” Jessica said, shifting in her seat. “Why are you guys looking at us like that?”

Dane crossed his arms. “Do you guys have the app installed?”

To my surprise, Jessica’s cheeks turned pink and Rex was avoiding all eye contact as he scribbled in his notebook.

“Just as I thought,” Edie said, her tone smug. “You two got each other as your love match, didn’t you?”

After a brief silence they both started talking at once.

“It doesn’t mean anything—” Jessica said.

“Of course we were paired together. We’re always together.” The normally laid-back Rex sounded more annoyed than I’d ever heard him.

Clearly, the fact that these besties had been paired together was touching a nerve.

“It’s so stupid,” Jessica muttered. 

“No, this is perfect,” Edie said. She was grinning at Jessica and Rex like a proud teacher. “You two will be perfect examples of how the app gets it wrong. Dane and I will set you guys up on dates with other people—”

“Like who?” Rex interrupted. 

“Doesn’t matter,” Dane said. “The point is, you guys will go about your everyday lives like you always do—joined at the hip—and Edie and I will be your matchmakers. By the time Valentine’s Day comes around, the app will still be predicting you two because you’re…” He waved a hand in their direction. “Because you’re you. And we’ll prove that we know you guys better than a stupid app that can only track the superficial.”

Rex and Jessica exchanged a wary look.

Yet again, I was fairly sure that telepathy was going on here…or at least, I would have thought that if I believed in that sort of thing. 

“I don’t know,” Jessica finally said. “I feel weird having my love life be part of a school assignment.”

Rex grinned at her. “What love life?”

She gave him a fake scowl as she leaned over and smacked his arm so hard that he flinched. Turning back to Edie and Dane, she exhaled loudly. “Yeah, okay, fine. Why not?”

Rex was smiling as he rubbed his arm. “You’re telling me to ace a class, all I have to do is date some girls you guys set me up with?” He scoffed. “I’m in.”

I smiled down at my textbook, relief replacing anxiety as I realized that my part in this wouldn’t be so hard after all. I could offer to write the final paper. Maybe do some research to back up our hypothesis and disprove whatever pseudo-science research the app developer had used. 

I let out a long sigh of relief at the thought of flying through a class so easily. Rex had made a good point. Every other class I had was advanced—some were worth college credit. None of them were ever this easy. All I’d have to do was sit back and watch Rex and Jessica go on some dates and then—

“And then there’s you two,” Dane said.

My head snapped up because…yeah, he was totally looking at me.

I glanced to my right. And Zach.

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