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    In This New Story, A Guy Falls For His Best Friend While Helping Her Flirt With Another Man And Their Journey To Love Is Hilarious

    A match made in rom-com heaven.

    One of the reasons I love movies like When Harry Met Sally and 13 Going on 30 is because they're about friends falling in love.

    Columbia Pictures

    Sure, the instant chemistry thing is great, too. But when two people who know each other inside and out — who can trust each other and just be themselves — stop denying their feelings and fall in love??? GIVE IT TO ME!!

    Well, what if there was a story about a guy who makes his first genuine female friend and denies his attraction to her because she's the sister of his best friend's girlfriend. Then to convince both her and himself that he doesn't have feelings, he helps her date a different guy.

    Sound juicy?

    Then may I present to you: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey!

    Avon

    In this upcoming novel, king crab fisherman and notorious flirt Fox Thornton helps his best friend Hannah — who is inconveniently immune to all his charms — woo the colleague that she's had a hopeless crush on for years. Only, Hannah is crashing at Fox's place for the time being, and the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to deny his growing feelings. Now, Fox has to tackle his inner demons and prove to his best friend that he's the love of her life. 

    Read an exclusive excerpt of Hook, Line, and Sinker below!!

    Hannah tore her wistful eyes off the man she’d been crushing on for two years, and saw Fox crossing the parking lot in their direction, his striking face a mask of alarm. “Hannah?”

    Her mind made a scratchy humming sound, like the one a record makes in between songs. Probably because she’d communicated with this man every day for six—no, nearly seven—months now, but never heard his voice. Perhaps because his identity had been whittled down to words on a screen, she’d forgotten that he commanded attention like a grand finale of fireworks in the night sky.

    Without turning around, she knew every straight woman had her face pressed up against the windows of the bus, watching the maestro of feminine wetness cross the road, his dark blond hair blowing around in the wind, the lower half of his face covered in unruly, unshaped stubble, darker than the hair on his head. With that pretty-boy face, he really should have been soft. Used to getting his way. Maybe, possibly even short. God, if you’re listening? But instead he looked like a troublemaker angel that got booted out of heaven, all tall and well-built and resilient and capable-looking. On top of everything else, he had to have the most dangerous job in the United States, the knowledge of fear and nature and consequences in his sea-blue eyes.

    The relief of seeing Fox practically bowled her over, and she started to call out a greeting, until she realized the fisherman’s gravitational-pull eyes were honing in on Sergei, setting off a tectonic shift of plates in his cheeks.

    “What happened to her?” Fox barked, bringing everything back to regular speed. Wait. When did her surroundings go into slow motion to begin with?
    “I just fell on the bus,” Hannah explained, prodding her bumped head and wincing. Great, she’d split her skin slightly as well. 

    “I’m fine.”
    “Come on,” Fox said, still bird-dogging Sergei. “I’ll patch you up.”

    She was about to raise a skeptical brow and ask to see his medical degree, but then she remembered a story Piper told her. Fox had once given Brendan makeshift stitches for a bleeding forehead wound. All while keeping his balance during a hurricane. Such was the life of a king crab fisherman. Couldn’t he just be super short? Was that so much to ask?

    “I’m fine,” she said, patting Sergei’s arm, letting him know she was okay to stand on her own. “Unless you have a cure for pride in your first-aid kit?”
    Fox licked the seam of his lips, brows still drawn, and his attention slid back toward the director.

    Photography By Charlotte Trotman / Getty Images

    “We’ll take a closer look when we get home. You have a bag I can carry or
    something?”
    “I . . .” Sergei started, looking at Hannah as if there was something new about her and he wanted to figure out what it was. “I didn’t realize you were . . . so close to anyone in town.”

    Close? To Fox? Seven months ago, she would have thought that a stretch. Now? It wasn’t exactly a lie. Lately, she’d been talking to him more often than Piper. “Well—”

    Fox cut her off. “We should get that bump looked at, Freckles.”

    “Freckles,” Sergei echoed, checking her nose for spots. Was something afoot here? Both men were inching toward her subtly, like she was the last slice of pizza.

    “Um. My bag is in the luggage compartment of the bus.” “I’ll get it,” they said at the same time. Was her head wound releasing some kind of alpha pheromone?

    Fox and Sergei sized each other up, clearly ready to argue about who was going to get her bag. The way her day was going, it would probably ensue in a tug-of-war, the zipper would break, and her underpants would rain down like confetti.

    “I’ll grab it,” Hannah said, before either one of them could speak, hotfooting it away from the masculinity maelstrom before it affected her brain.

    Roberto Pangiarella / Getty Images/EyeEm

    She turned for the bus just as Brinley glided down the stairs, giving Fox a curious look that Hannah was amazed to see he didn’t return. Those sea-blues were fastened on her bump, instead. Probably trying to decide which needle to use to mutilate her.

    “Sergei,” Brinley called, twisting her earring. “Is everything okay?”
    “Yes, totally fine,” Hannah answered, beelining for the luggage compartment and attempting to open it. Everyone watched as she jerked on the handle, laughed, yanked more forcefully. Laughed again, then slammed her hip into it. No luck. Before she could try a third time, Fox reached past her and opened it with a flick of his tan wrist. 

    “You’re having a shit day, aren’t you?” he said for her ears alone.
    She exhaled. “Yeah.”
    He made a humming sound, tilted his head sympathetically. “Tell me which bag is yours and I’ll bring you back to my place.” Gently, he tugged on a strand of her hair. “Make it all better.”

    It was totally possible she’d hit her head and ended up in an erotic sex dream with Fox Thornton. It wouldn’t be the first time—not that she would admit to that in a court of law. Or even to her sister. There was simply no way to combat the subtle transmissions he gave off that screamed, I’m good at sex. Like, really, really good. She was powerless against it. 

    Thing was, that went for every other woman he came into contact with, too. And she had no interest in being one of thousands. That’s why they were friends. Hadn’t that been established? Why was he hitting on her?

    “How . . . ? What do you mean by that? That you’ll make my day better. How are you going to do that?”
    “I was thinking ice cream.” He gave her a smile that could only belong to an irreverent rascal—and, Lord, she’d forgotten about the dimples. Dimples, for crying out loud. “Why? What were you thinking?”

    Hannah had no idea what her reply was going to be. She started to stammer something, but the view of Sergei and Brinley strolling toward the harbor together made the words catch in her throat. He didn’t glance back once. Obviously she’d imagined the new spark of interest she’d seen in the director’s eyes. He was just being a good boss by making sure her head injury wasn’t serious.

    Tearing her attention off the pair, she found Fox watching her closely. After falling and being escorted off the bus by Sergei, she must have been in a state of distraction. Now that it was just the two of them—although Angelenos were beginning to file off the bus—a bubble of gratitude and fondness rose up in her middle and burst. She’d missed this place. It held some of her most treasured memories. And Fox was a part of them. 

    Gruizza / Getty Images

    His text messages over the last seven months had allowed her to hold on to a piece of Westport without intruding on her sister’s bliss. She appreciated him for that, so she didn’t second-guess her decision to hug him. With a laugh, she simply walked into his arms and inhaled his ocean scent, smiling when he laughed as well, rubbing the crown of her head with his knuckles.

    “Hey, Freckles.”
    She rubbed her cheek on the gray cotton of his long-sleeved shirt, stepped back, and shoved him playfully. 

    “Hey, Peacock.” No one was hitting on anyone. Or pulling alpha moves.
    Friends. That’s what this relationship was. She wasn’t going to mess that up by objectifying him. 

    There was more to Fox than a chiseled face, thick arms, and an air of danger. Just like there was a lot more to her than being a coffee holder and note taker.

    Fox seemed to notice the glumness eclipse her joy, because he picked up the only black bag in the pile—correctly assuming it was hers—and threw his opposite arm around her shoulders, guiding her toward the apartment building where he lived, across from the docks.

    “You let me fix your noggin, I’ll throw in a cookie with that ice cream.”

    She leaned into him and sighed. “Deal.”


    From Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey. Copyright © 2022 by the author and reprinted by permission of Avon.

    Want more? Be sure to pre-order your copy of Hook, Line, and Sinker, out this spring. In the meantime, read the first book in the series, It Happened One Summer, out now!

    Avon

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