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Title: Birthday Girl
Author: Lily Kate
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Birthday Girl:Good things come in extra-large, smoking hot birthday suits.
Bad boy Cohen James has screwed up yet again. Star forward of Minnesota’s pro hockey team, Cohen’s made a name for himself—and not in a good way. So, at the insistence of his agent, he’s stuck volunteering at the local YMCA teaching introductory adult swim lessons for ten weeks. Ten weeks of torture.
What he doesn’t expect is her.
Annie Plymouth, star pupil.
Her ruffled green bathing suit might be the most ridiculous thing he’s ever seen, but after a few heated breaststroke lessons and some intense mouth to mouth, Cohen’s ready to get her out of the water and into her birthday suit… except she has a different game plan.
Is the pair destined to sink… or can they swim?
A few minutes later, he closes the door to the lifeguard office. It’s early Saturday morning, another snow softened day, the temperatures dipping just below freezing.
Cohen has his shirt off, swim trunks covering his legs, and it’s distracting. I wish I’d brought the robe with me so I could put it over his chest.
“What do you want from me, Annie?”
I’m startled by the question. “What?”
“What are you doing in my class?” Cohen’s face is unreadable, and I can’t tell if he’s upset, or just mildly annoyed at my presence. “You hate being here. You don’t want to get in the water, and clearly I’m your least favorite person in the world.”
“You’re not my least favorite person in the world.”
“Is that right?” He crosses his arms and leans against the desk. “Sure feels like I am.”
“You’re not my least favorite person in the world, but after last week, you’re close.”
“Who wins that award?”
“Billy Prescott. Pantsed me during gym class freshmen year of high school. Mortifying. Hitler takes a close second.”
He runs a hand through his hair, his muscles straining as he perches on the edge of the desk. “Contrary to popular belief, I’m not as big of a jerk as you might think.”
“You stole my noodle.”
“I brought you in here to apologize for last week.” He folds his hands before his body, looks down at his feet before raising his eyes to mine. “I shouldn’t have taken your floatation device away without warning. I’m sorry. I hadn’t realized you’d react like that.”
“I told you that I’m terrified of water!”
“Look, I said I’m sorry!” He straightens from the desk, his hands widening as he speaks. “I’m apologizing because I can recognize when I’ve made a mistake. I thought you were a little nervous of the water. Not deathly afraid! Either way, it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard the first day of class.”
I swallow, uncomfortable with the way his gaze has softened, his eyes roving my face, looking for signs of a crack in my exterior.
“What happened, Annie?”
“Nothing,” I say. “It’s no big deal. Stupid. Can we just get back to class?”
“You never answered why you’re here in the first place.”
“My mom’s getting married on July 7th.”
“Congratulations to her.”
“On a boat,” I continue. “As you might’ve guessed by now, I don’t have this whole swimming thing down yet, and she’s nervous I’ll die.”
“Couldn’t you just stay on the boat and not jump into the ocean?”
“Well, yeah. Try to get my mother to see things that way, though.”
He laughs, the crinkle around his eyes a pleasant change from the hardness that’s been there before. “If she’s anything like you, I’ll bet she’s stubborn.”
I cross my arms back, but he’s too close, and I brush against his bare chest as I do so. It’s hard, smooth, just like I’d imagined. “Maybe.”
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About Lily Kate:USA TODAY bestselling author Lily Kate works a pretttttty boring day job and writes books filled with heat, heart, and humor by night. Her debut novel, Delivery Girl, landed instantly on the USA TODAY list, thanks to all of her fabulous readers! :)
When she’s not writing books, you may find her watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving, eating whipped cream from the can, or hanging out with her family.