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"NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY is funny, heartfelt, and super sexy!"—Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author
How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.
Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he's not sure he wants her to dump him.
Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who's focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she's determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.
Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.
Thankfully, the server arrived at the table before drool hit her lips and slipped down her chin. Jack confirmed they wanted to have the wine pairings, and that raised Hannah’s hackles a little bit.
It must have shown up on her face, and he must be astonishingly perceptive, because he laid a smile on her that had probably magically disappeared panties all over town for years. She couldn’t stop the smirk that hit her lips at thinking about Jack and what she wanted him to do inside her panties—after at least three dates, of course. And if he didn’t stop looking at her like that, she wouldn’t last the full three. At this point, she would be lucky to make it through two and half dates before going boots up on the closest available sturdy surface.
“You’re full of shit.” Despite her denial, her skin flushed, and she smiled at him. “Or, if you’re trying to seduce me, you’re certainly doing it the wrong way.”
“Well, the thing is, I’m not trying to seduce you.” She hadn’t expected him to say that.
“You’re not?” She looked around the room, at all the well-heeled and quiet couples and foursomes scattered across the ultramodern decor. “Why would you drop almost a thousand dollars on dinner if you weren’t trying to seduce me?”
“I got them some coverage—viral coverage—for their reopening, and the sous chef owes me.” He shrugged, but it was faux modesty. He was cocky about his influence, and—God save her—she kind of loved it.
“But you aren’t trying to seduce me?”
He shook his head. “I’m trying to show you that I’m taking this seriously.”
“You don’t even know me.” The fact that men who had known her for years couldn’t take her seriously as a long-term romantic prospect rode her hard and blew her doubts up to giant-sized.
“I know you well enough to know that I like you more than a cheap seduction.”
“What would you do if this was a cheap seduction?”
“You really want to know?”
She bit her lip. “Yes.”
This whole dating thing was so strange, because she needed it to lead to more than sex with Jack. But sex was heavy in the air between them and would explode. She shouldn’t be goading him into telling her how he would seduce her, because this thing between them couldn’t go there right now. It was as though she was lactose intolerant and just popping into an ice cream shop. If only she didn’t have to convince him that she was girlfriend material for the sake of her career, she’d be able to indulge.
But she wanted to hear about Jack on a mission for a one-night stand. Something she desperately wanted in that moment, but couldn’t have. It wouldn’t hurt to hear about it.
“I wouldn’t bring you someplace this quiet.”
“I’d bring you someplace loud so that we’d have to sit really close together.”
She wiped the side of her mouth, checking for phantom drool. “Using the pheromones, eh?”
“Nah. I don’t believe in that shit.” Of course he didn’t. He would only believe in the power of his own magnetism. Cocky. Sexy. He crossed his arms and leaned back. “I would want to be close enough so that I could whisper in your ear.” She could almost feel his breath against the skin behind her ear, and it made her shiver. He rubbed his chin and her gaze followed; she wanted to trail over the stubbled surface with her tongue. And she hadn’t even had a single wine pairing yet. She was so, so screwed.
“I’d have to rest my hand on your thigh so I could hear what you were saying.” She could actually feel his thigh under her palm as she said it. “What would you say?” she asked.
“I’d tell you how much I wanted your hand six inches higher, and how much I wanted to kiss you.”
“But you wouldn’t kiss me?” She tried to keep her tone light even though her skin was hot and she felt suddenly breathless.
“Not in the loud restaurant.”
“Not into PDA?”
“With you? Yeah.” He paused. “But I remember the first time we kissed. I need a lot longer. I need more.” Inside, she was screaming for the scenario that he’d just described. She wanted to have his hands on her more than she wanted to eat the most exquisite food on the planet—and that was saying something considering that food was extremely important to her. “It would be a short dinner.”
“Not three hours and eighteen courses?” she asked.
“The only thing I’d need eighteen courses of would be you, Duchess,” he said with a shit-eating grin.
“But not tonight?” She couldn’t quite contain her disappointment, knew he could hear it on her voice.
“We’ve got time.”
Hannah struggled not to roll her eyes when she caught a glimpse of herself in the glass doors of the hockey arena. She wore painted-on jeans and a jersey so tight her nipples were likely to bust through at the first hint of a breeze off the ice.
“The same reasoning from the seminal film Clueless stands today,” Sasha had said. “You want to make him think as much of sex as possible, but not give him the sex, so that he has to keep calling you if he thinks he can get to the sex. And to get him to think of sex, you need to be as close to naked as possible.”
“Why wouldn’t he just get on an app and swipe?” Hannah had asked.
“You have to give yourself more credit.” Her best friend appeared to get a little bit exasperated with her. “He has a taste—like, literally—for you. But he hasn’t dipped his wick, yet. As long as you make him wait, he’s not going to be on the hunt for anyone but you.”
Hannah thought the whole thing was entirely too complicated, which was one of the main reasons she’d opted out of dating after Noah and the subsequent false starts. One of the things she’d liked about Jack was that he seemed unpretentious, and he wore his emotions on his face. All of this overthinking about him, the fact that she’d raised the stakes by trying to manipulate him into sticking around, was making her think that maybe Jack’s unguarded emotions and the easy way he had about him were all part of his game. And that perhaps he was an especially adept liar and manipulator.
But she had to set all that aside and implement the strategy she and Sasha had devised after the whole oral-sex-on-the-first-date thing. Because Jack hadn’t actually gotten off, the damage was probably minimal. The smiley face and multiple thumbs-up emoticons that Jack had sent her along with a picture of his ticket to the game conveyed that he wasn’t going to be weird about the fact that she’d come all over his face after one—admittedly very nice—dinner and then skipped out after meeting his mother.
This time, she’d come prepared. She was wearing super-uncomfortable clothes to the game, which would make her so self-conscious that even Jack’s annoying habit of being sort of perfect would not get her in the mood. And she’d rubbed one—well several ones—out in the days since their first date, including a couple of times after the very weird second date. She wasn’t going to trip up again and end up riding his five-o’clock shadow like a pony at the state fair.
She felt fairly confident as she walked through the turnstile and had her ticket scanned and her purse searched. Her plan seemed foolproof when the guy checking her purse for weapons or contraband snacks called her boobs “ma’am.” She was positively jaunty, and her body thrilled with power as she walked to the spot where she’d told Jack to meet her.
And then she saw him standing next to the concession stand with two beers and a giant tray of nachos. He wore a T-shirt with a thermal underneath, and jeans that had a dick print that she’d need to scrub out of her memory methodically, over years, from this day forward.
That wasn’t even the worst part. The way he looked at her, under his lashes, with a smirk on his face that said he knew where all the buttons to drive her wild were located, made her have to lock out her knees and stop a few feet away from him.
Even from three feet away, with people rushing past and a couple of them bumping into her—seeing as she was standing in a busy spot and the game was going to start any minute—she could smell that he was freshly showered. And then she couldn’t stop thinking about him in the shower. Not getting into the shower with him. Couples showers were awkward and never sexy, but she would pay good money to watch that man shower. Although she hadn’t borne witness to his abs, he must be going by the same wardrobe edicts she was, because he was definitely operating by a similar rule—tighter is better.
And she was here for it.
Like an idiot, she raised a hand and might have danced around on her feet like a little girl. “Hi.”
“’S’up?” His smirk grew into a full-on grin. He totally had her number.
She didn’t even care as she approached him and the din of their surroundings disappeared around them. When she got near him, something clicked into place and gave her the kind of calm she’d been looking for her whole life. A voice inside her, the small, soft one she endeavored not to listen to because it was her heart—and her heart had only ever gotten her in trouble—was telling her that he was special and different and wouldn’t break them both.
“I hope beer and nachos is okay.”
Her stomach rumbled at the smell of processed cheese and hops, although she probably had about three gulps of beer and one chip before her jeans popped. “Better than okay. Beer and nachos are fantastic.”
She was glad he found it in him to break the moment, because she would have been content to stand on the concourse of the arena looking at him, smelling him, and grinning at him like an idiot the whole night. They made their way to their seats shortly before the puck dropped.
There was this way that couples sat together that Hannah had always craved. As though they could just barely tolerate being out of contact, but still had their minds on propriety. She’d never had that. But the way Jack was sitting, as close to her as he could get without her sitting in his lap, was that kind of sitting. The whole side of her body was warm, and she took a sip of beer to cool off and marshal the wherewithal not to look at him and giggle. His nearness made her giddy.
The only thing that burst her bubble of smittenness was when he started talking. “So, that guy is the center—” He pointed at the guy poised for the face-off.
She knew that, but another part of her strategy was not being a bitch to Jack for the next few weeks. And correcting his misconception that he might know even a scintilla of what she knew about hockey would be off-putting.
If playing dumb so Jack could feel good about himself kept him asking her out until her company Halloween party, she’d do it. She gritted her teeth and said, “You’re so smart, Jack.”
“What they’re doing right now is called the face-off.”
“Where did you learn so much about hockey, Jack?” Oh dear Lord give me strength. She bit her lip to keep from telling him that she’d learned everything there was to know about hockey and most of the things she knew about blow jobs from the captain of the high school hockey team. They’d been study buddies and then friends with benefits—as long as it had stayed secret that he was having his sexual needs met by the weird smart girl in his AP European history class.
When she’d gotten a five on the exam, and he’d gotten a three, he’d called things off. He hadn’t been able to deal with hard evidence that she was smarter than him. Jack and his condescension about hockey were doing a good job of reminding her that—however much she liked him and his naughty mouth—he was just another dude.
And it might even be a good thing that a little bit of his perfect, woke-bae façade was slipping. That way, every time the way he smirked at her in a tight T-shirt crept into her mind, she could simply think about him mansplaining a game she’d been watching since she was four years old.
“So, the point of the game is for them to get that flat black disk into the other team’s net, which is called a goal.”
“Mmmm-hmmmm.” She tried to remember Sasha’s admonishment that guys like to the be the expert on things and tend to gravitate toward women who made them feel smart, but she was so close to turning the corner into Bitchville that she didn’t have it in her to gush about his frankly elementary hockey tutorial.
“And hockey is played in three periods, not four quarters, like football.”
At that point, she was either going to kill him or find a way to make him shut up. But doing so in a way that wouldn’t make him dump her immediately would require some finesse. Which she didn’t have because she’d never found a use for it until now.
If only he had an off switch of some sort.
An idea so inappropriate and diabolical popped into her head that she couldn’t resist giving it a shot. It would abide by the theme of the night—offering sex without delivering it—and it would either confuse or turn him on so much that it would break the cycle of mansplaining.
Thinking about it any more would probably yield a reason why she shouldn’t do it, so she went ahead and rested her hand gently over Jack’s cock. She didn’t even take her eyes off the ice because the puck had dropped, and she wanted to pay attention to the game.
During the first break, she looked over at him. His mouth was open, and he stared straight at her, then glanced down to her hand and back to her face. He opened his mouth to say something, but then she squeezed a little bit. She smiled at him, diverted her eyes back to the ice, and went back to her gentle cupping.
About Andie J. Christopher
USA Today Bestselling author Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance featuring heat, humor, and dirty talking heroes that make readers sweat. She grew up in a family of voracious readers, and picked up her first Harlequin Romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before she started writing her own stories — her first heroine drank Campari and drove an Alfa Romeo up a winding road to a minor royal’s estate in Spain. Andie lives in the Nation’s Capital with her French Bulldog, Gus, a stockpile of Campari, and way too many books.