Heart Eyes and Hustle

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I, Lacey MacKenzie, am literally dead. Not only am I standing in my crush's kitchen wearing a Sandy Cheeks costume, but I just wrecked his sister's birthday cake. And, yes, when I say Sandy Cheeks, I mean the anthropomorphic squirrel from SpongeBob SquarePants. How did I—a slightly awkward but painfully normal girl—get myself in this mess? Let's just say my brilliant idea to start a side hustle has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I'm a whiz with a contouring palette. I can utterly transform myself with a swipe of a makeup brush. But when I turned my hobby into a business, I never imagined this.

My plan was to get paid for attending parties dressed as princesses and iCarly characters. But when Mrs. Walker asked me to attend her daughter's birthday as a cartoon squirrel, I couldn't say no. I didn't think her son Landon, the super-dreamy lacrosse team captain, would be here, though.

I also didn't think I'd trip over my moon boots and plunge my hand into the side of the cake, but here we are.

I glance at the door. Mrs. Walker squirreled me away in here—pun totally intended—until they finished the party games. I was supposed to take selfies with the kiddos afterward. But when she finds me knuckle-deep in this cake, I am soooo fired.

Okay, maybe it isn't that bad. Maybe no one will notice. Biting my lip, I slide my fingers free. Crumbs scatter across the counter, leaving a crater-sized hole. Yikes. They are definitely going to notice.

The door swings open, and Landon walks in, eyes wide with shock. Because, duh, no one expects to find a human-sized squirrel in their kitchen, destroying their sister's cake.

I'm about to start crying from sheer mortification when I register Landon's outfit. His polo is tucked into his cargo shorts, and he has a giant, stuffed claw on either hand. Be still my beating heart. Landon is dressed as Mr. Krabs.

"If you could not mention this," he waves a claw, "to anyone at school, that would be awesome."

I blink. Landon knows I go to his school?! Squeeee! Okay, Lacey, be cool.

I smooth a hand over my hair. "Sure. As long as you don't tell your mother I demolished the cake."

Landon laughs. "Deal."

"Really?"

"Why not?" Landon shoots me a smile that has me melting all over the tile floor. "The bathroom's around the corner if you want to wash up. You, uh, smeared frosting in your hair."

"Right." Thank goodness I'm wearing enough makeup to hide my blush.

"Hey, Lacey?" My heart stops beating inside my chest. Landon Walker knows my name!!! "You want to hang out after the party?"

I must be having an out-of-body experience because I'm floating as Landon sticks his crab claw into the hole I made in the cake. He's taking the fall for me like a knight in shining cosplay. Swoon!

I grin. "I'd love to.

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