My future is with her.
Pretend To Love You, an all-new fake-relationship grumpy-sunshine small town standalone romance in The Donnellys of Dogwood Cove from bestselling author Julia Jarrett is available now!
My all-star hockey career is over. All because of a busted leg from one too many hits into the boards. Coming home to Dogwood Cove to heal and figure out my next steps feels like the best option I’ve got.
Then somehow the first step I take is to wind up in a fake relationship with my physical therapist, who also happens to be my little sister’s best friend.
It starts out simple enough. Lily needs a date to a family wedding, one that promises to be more torture than celebration. Now, thanks to an overbooked hotel with only one bed, two gossiping bridesmaids, and a three minute slow dance… the entire town, including our families, thinks we’re dating.
To save face we decide to keep the ruse going.
There’s just one problem: What I’m feeling for Lily is anything but pretend.
Falling for her wasn’t part of the plan, but she’s a ray of light that pierces through the dark clouds surrounding me.
She thinks my future is still in hockey, but I know differently.
My future is with her.
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When Jude Donnelly walks —well, crutches —into the clinic, I just about trip over my feet. I can’t remember the last time I saw the second oldest Donnelly brother, and I’m positive Kat never mentioned he was coming to town. Rallying quickly, my mind reaches the obvious conclusion that he’s here for his recovery. Makes sense to come home and be surrounded by his family who can help him heal.
His eyes zero in on me immediately, recognition giving a very brief and very faint lift to his scowl.
“Hey, Jude.” I give him a giant smile and a wink as I say those two words with a faint musical lilt. He’s used to the constant teasing over his name and the fact that his mother openly admits she was in a huge John Lennon phase when she named him.
Thick brows that cover his brown eyes furrow even deeper, which, of course, only makes me smirk. The man is sinfully gorgeous, even with a lot more scruff covering his strong jaw than I’m used to seeing. And his dark hair is long enough to curl under his ball cap, implying he’s overdue for a cut. Heck, even the deep frown covering his features doesn’t take away from the fact that Jude Donnelly is one hunky man.
Oh, Lord. One man’s voice should not be that powerful.
“You’ve got an appointment for your knee, I assume?” I ask, forcing even more upbeat energy than normal into my voice. Jude just nods.
“I see all the media training you must have had didn’t help expand your vocabulary much. Does the press like your grunts and nods?” I’m teasing and he knows it, judging by the way he cocks his head to the side and stares at me impassively. But I realize too late how it might sound to other people. Me teasing a hockey superstar.
“Lily. Stop bothering our VIP,” Gianni, the clinic supervisor, and technically my boss, hisses at me. I hadn’t even noticed him approaching. Crap.
“It’s fine,” Jude interjects, to my surprise. “We’ve known each other for years.”
Did Jude Donnelly just come to my rescue?
Gianni harrumphs, but Jude’s explanation seems to satisfy him. “If you’ll come with me, Mr. Donnelly, we’ll get started. By the way, I hear the Blaze has a game coming up in Seattle. Are you planning on attending? If you need anyone to accompany you, you know, to help with travel and stuff, I’m available.”
My jaw falls open. I cannot believe he seriously just propositioned Jude for tickets within thirty seconds of meeting him. Judging from the weary expression on Jude’s face, this isn’t the first time someone has tried it.
“I’m not going ”
Gianni’s mouth flaps open and shut like a fish, as if he can’t believe Jude shot him down like that.
“Can we get started?” Jude starts to crutch past, but he pauses when he’s next to me. “Good to see you, Lily.”
“Y-you, too,” I stutter out, turning to watch him head into the back gym area. My eyes naturally fall to his butt. It should be illegal, the way he fills out those sweatpants.
What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on a body like his.
For therapy, of course…Oh, who am I kidding? I’d like my hands on him for other reasons, too.
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