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Playing Hooky with the Hottie

Playing Hooky with the Hottie

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She's supposed to look like she's having fun with the school's party boy. She's not supposed to be having fun.

Hazel's killing it on the swim team. But the dating pool? That's another matter. First, the guy she likes calls her 'one of the guys.' Then she finds out that no one sees her as anything but a serious, driven athlete. It's clear her image needs a major overhaul...

Enter Will, the hottie slacker who lives to party and tease. He'll help her shed this good girl image, all right. But it turns out being bad isn't as easy as she thought. Especially when she falls for her tutor in trouble...

Main Tropes

  • Bad Boy / Good Girl
  • Tomboy Heroine
  • First Kiss


He's supposed to be making her look fun. She's not supposed to be having fun.

Miss Serious...

Hazel's crush thinks of her as one of the guys. How does she know? He told her so, right after informing her that she was one of the most serious, driven people he's ever met. The swim team phenom is focused and she's definitely driven...she's not ashamed of that. But there's more to her than just beating her best time and winning the next meet. She knows how to let loose. Sort of. It's not like she's never heard the word 'fun' before. 

When her friends convince her that the best way to show her crush the more fun-loving side of her personality is to give her online presence a major makeover, she grudgingly agrees. After all, it's just a few photos. She's always been a little uncomfortable around the photographer—a party-going wild card who views everything as a joke. But he's got skills and for some reason she can't explain...he wants to help her. So why not? It couldn't hurt to have fun for the camera...right?

Meet the King of Fun

Will's had his eye on the oh-so-serious swim team captain since he transferred to Lakeview High. Now he finally has a chance to get close, to learn what she hides behind that stoic, unreadable expression. The urge to tease a smile out of her is irresistible, and to hear her laugh? Well, that's his new life mission. He's never had to try so hard before, but for Hazel he's about to go to bat.

But when feelings crop up, their arrangement gets complicated. He's not so sure this'll work. Because for Will, it's all fun and games...until somebody falls in love.

Intro Into Chapter 1


The shouts of the crowd echoed off the tiles as I pulled myself up over the edge of the pool.

“Good work, Daly,” my coach said, his voice booming over the sound of splashing behind me.

I gave him a nod as I leaned over, my hands on my knees as I caught my breath. Adrenaline was still ripping through me as my competitors followed in my wake.


I grinned down at the ground. I won. I closed my eyes and let myself revel in the sensation as a pleasant heat spread from the center of my chest to my limbs and gave me a momentary buzz better than any drug.

I took another deep breath and let it out slowly. I won.

I freakin’ loved winning. 

I stood upright and started to stretch as one of my teammates handed me a towel. 

Mine was the last event of the meet, and most of my team were half-clad in track pants over their swimsuits. 

The bleachers to the right were still packed, but the family and friends who’d come to support us were already standing, getting ready to leave. 

I spied my best friend Emma and our friend Lulu in the stands, and they were both waving and cheering wildly.

I smiled and lifted my hand in a little wave just as a flash went off in my face. I blinked twice and jerked back at the sight of a camera in my face.

“Nice work out there, Haze,” the guy behind the camera said.

I blinked in surprise again, but this time because no one ever called me Haze, not even my best friend. 

He dropped the camera, and I was faced with...Will Lansing. 

Empirically hot with a tall, lean body, dark hair, and sharp features, Will seemed permanently amused by the world around him. He was the epitome of ‘chill.’ 

Which meant he was an enigma to me.

He winked.

I took a step back. 

It was nothing personal. I just wasn’t a fan of having my picture taken, and as the photographer for the school paper, that was Will’s job.

He was gone, heading toward the bleachers before I could blink again, and I turned to walk back to the locker rooms. My teammate Cara rushed over to my side to say congratulations, and then a couple others joined us until there was a small group of us heading that way. 

We’d almost reached the girls’ locker room door when my name was called again. “Hazel!”

I spun around because...that voice. I knew that voice well. 

I couldn’t move as Justin Howard headed toward me. The other girls kept going, and by the time my smiling, sweet, driven, amazing co-captain reached my side I was alone.

Well, in a giant room with a crowd of spectators and a coach who was shouting out words of praise to my teammates, but other than that...I was alone with Justin Howard.

Do not freak out, I ordered.

My body didn’t listen. 

I totally freaked out.

My limbs seemed to take on a life of their own as I fidgeted. Crossing my arms, uncrossing them, shifting from foot to foot like I was standing on hot coals and not my slip-on sandals.

“Great work today,” Justin said as he dazzled me with his smile.

“Thanks. You too.” 

At six feet, Justin towered over me, and I was eye level with his perfect chest. 

Perfect didn’t begin to cover it. Serious swimmers had amazing upper bodies and holy crap, Justin’s put all others to shame. 

My mouth went dry as I tried not to look at that chest. Focus. 

I managed to maintain eye contact, but not without a struggle. 

“You did great, too,” I said.

He shrugged. Always so modest. That was just one of many things I liked about him. 

Do not think about the fact that you like him.

And just like that, it was all I could think about. Like trying not to think about a pink elephant, my brain was now fixated on the fact that I liked this guy.

My heart started racing like I’d just finished a race, and my hands clenched and unclenched with the excess adrenaline. 

“You were a killer out there, Hazel.” Justin’s best friend Bobby clapped a hand on my shoulder, and some of my tension eased now that Justin and I weren’t alone. 

It wasn’t like he and I talking one-on-one was a big deal. It shouldn't have been. As captain of the boys’ swim team and me being captain of the girls’ team, we interacted often. We were basically partners. 

Talking should not have been a big deal.

And it wouldn’t have been if this stupid crush would just go away already. I had no time in my life for something as silly as a crush, but I wasn’t sure how to get rid of it. It was a nasty cold that I couldn’t kick no matter how many vitamins I took.

“You gonna come celebrate with us tonight?” Bobby said, his arm around my shoulders.

Justin shoved his arm away as some of the other guys from the boys’ team joined us. 

Is he jealous? I hated that the thought even occurred to me. 

“Um, I don’t think—”

“You know she doesn’t party, man,” Justin answered for me. 

I stiffened. I didn’t party. But Justin did, and part of me wanted to go out with them for once. Just to see what all the fuss was about.

And okay, fine. That was this stupid crush talking because, yes, some part of me was always looking for an excuse to get closer to this guy while another part of me was trying to avoid him.

If this was a crush, I would go on record as saying that crushes officially sucked. 

“Too bad, because Genevieve’s having a party tomorrow night, and we’ll all be there,” he said.

Justin rolled his eyes, giving me a little shake of his head like he and I were in on this joke at Bobby’s expense. 

“At least come out to the diner with us tonight,” Bobby said. 

“Come on,” Justin said. “A few of the girls from the team are coming. Nothing rowdy, we’re just grabbing a bite to celebrate today’s wins. And you should be there with the way you crushed it tonight.”

“Oh, um….” I have big plans with my TV tonight. Somehow that didn’t seem like a good answer, and for the life of me I couldn’t think of a lie. Plus, my heart was doing this ridiculous pitter-patter thing because...holy crap, Justin really wants me to go!

I didn’t normally do the post-meet celebrations, mainly because they usually turned into parties, and I didn’t do parties. But some food at a diner…

That I could do.

“Yeah, okay,” I said, adjusting the towel around my shoulders.

“Yeah?” Justin looked so excited I thought maybe I’d accidentally just agreed to something way more exciting than a burger at the diner.

Also, his excitement...did that mean something? 

Probably not. Justin was a really nice guy. And we were friends. That was all it meant.

“What about the party tomorrow night?” Bobby asked. The rest of their friends were talking amongst themselves, making fun of one of the guys on the other team, by the sounds of it.

“Um, maybe,” I said.

An arm went around my shoulders again. This was not a crazy event in and of itself. As a team, we tended to be affectionate. 

But this time, the arm around my shoulders belonged to Justin. 

There was an intimacy between the boys’ and girls’ swim teams that most other sports didn’t have since we swam together nearly every day. This affectionate touchy-feely relationship came with being in close quarters and showering and changing near each other all the time. 

But that still didn’t keep my heart from freaking out because this was Justin’s arm, and he smelled so freakin’ good. 

I mean, he smelled like chlorine, but beyond that, he smelled amazing. 

“No pressure, Daly,” he said.

I cringed a bit inwardly. He called me by my last name a lot, just like the coach did. I might not have known much about boys or romance, but I had a hunch that referring to me by my last name like he did all his guy pals wasn’t a great sign.

I gave him a little smile all the same. Only Justin would think to add ‘no pressure,  Daly.’ He knew I wasn’t big on group hangs. Not that I didn’t like my teammates, I just didn’t really fit in outside of practice. 

Justin was the only one who was as serious about swimming as I was, and everyone else treated it like a casual hobby. 

He gave me a little wink, and once again I blinked because…

Two winks in one day. First Will, and now Justin. Was something going on that I should know about? Were winks back in style?

I would have liked to believe this particular wink meant something, but I knew better. 

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