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Friend Zone to End Zone

Friend Zone to End Zone

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Dating Coach Rule Number 1: Don't fall for your client, especially if he's your best friend.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to Lovers
  • Cinnamon Roll Hero
  • Drunk Kiss
  • Practice Date
  • He's Been in Love With Her for Years
  • Sports Romance

Synopsis

Cole

I don’t suck at dating. I suck at getting over the girl who friend-zoned me back in college.

But I have a plan: Let her set me up. Bomb the dates.

Then she can be my dating coach and I can finally show her I’m the one for her and not that jerk boyfriend she’s always crying on my shoulder about.

Arianna

I’ve had the same boyfriend for three years, which practically makes me a relationship expert.

So when my famous best friend asks for my help, I know turning him into boyfriend material will be a piece of cake.

I’ll tell him to get a haircut, maybe open a few doors here and there and the guy will be golden.

I mean, with all those muscles and jaw-dropping good looks, it really should be no problem.

There’s just one thing I didn’t expect: to want him for myself.

Friend Zone to End Zoneis a standalone novel in the Rich and Famous series. Perfect for readers who enjoy sweet contemporary romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, passionate kisses and endearing characters.

Chapter One Look Inside

“You know this whole thing is happening today because of me, right?” I said to my best friend, Arianna, who was sitting next to me at her brother’s wedding reception.

“Emerson and Vincent got re-married all because of you?” She arched a dark eyebrow, looking away from the happy couple as they glided on the dance floor that had been set up in the middle of their backyard. “And how do you figure that?”

I shrugged. “I accidentally matched with Emerson on that dating app you said I should sign up for, and voila! They’re married.”

Sure, their four-year-old son was the one who had accidentally swiped right on his mom’s photo when I came across her profile on Meet Your Match one day. So technically, he should get some credit for getting his parents back together again. But I’d created the somewhat anonymous profile that she’d liked enough to swipe right on, so I was basically an accidental matchmaker.

“And how many piña coladas have you had tonight?” Arianna asked. “Because I’m pretty sure Vincent and Emerson are the ones who deserve most of the credit for reclaiming their happily-ever-after.”

“Whatever. It was totally all me.”

She shook her head and laughed, her long, dark brown curls bouncing around her face with the movement. “For all your bragging about being a matchmaker, you seemed to have forgotten to actually use that app for yourself.”

And here we were again. Back to her teasing me about being one of the only single guys on the Denver Dragons NFL team.

But sadly, this time around I couldn’t claim the excuse of being too busy to date, since it was the off-season and the only thing I had going on were my morning workouts with her brother: the quarterback to my wide-receiver and good friend, Vincent Lake. So I picked up my drink, swirled it around a bit before raising my eyebrow and saying, “I just haven’t matched with anyone interesting enough to tempt me.”

Arianna’s jaw dropped immediately, and I had to work to keep a grin from my face because I knew exactly what she was going to say to my arrogant-sounding statement.

“Excuse me?” she said, the shock in her voice every bit as obvious as I expected. “Did you seriously just say that?”

“Say what?” I gave her my most innocent expression, feigning ignorance.

She just stared at me with her big brown eyes. “I never thought I’d see the day when you got too big for your britches, Cole Kekoa.”

“Too big for my britches?” I looked down at my navy-blue dress pants. “Have my butt-sculpting exercises been working then?”

“Seriously?” She smacked my arm. “I was talking about the whole ‘no one is handsome enough to tempt me’ line you just said.” Arianna shook her head. “You sound just like Mr. Darcy at the ball in Pride and Prejudice.”

Yeah…I knew I did.

Normally, a professional football-playing, deep-sea fishing, ax-throwing, manly man like myself would pretend not to know who this Mr. Darcy character was that Arianna was referencing. But since I was best friends with a woman who was obsessed with romance movies—and I frequently let her talk me into watching them with her since her jerk boyfriend couldn’t be bothered enough to meet her halfway on their movie nights—I had seen pretty much every film adaption of Jane Austen’s famous book.

And yes, I also knew the quote she was referencing by heart because my brain couldn’t help but remember stupid information like that.

So instead of denying the fact that I knew exactly what she was talking about, I said, “I think the exact quote is, ‘She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.’

Arianna put a hand on her hip. “So you won’t meet any of those girls you’re matching with because they’re single and have a reason to be on the dating app in the first place?” 

“I only said that because I knew it would rile you up.” I gave her a mischievous grin before taking another sip of my drink. “I wasn’t actually making a dig at the girls on the website. I’m sure there are a lot of great women on there.”

“And yet you signed up for the dating app like four months ago and still haven’t even met one girl for coffee.”

I shrugged, the sleeves of my suit coat tightening with the movement. “Coffee is gross.”

“Fine. Then tea, or one of those Dole whips you love so much.” She let out an exasperated sigh. “I’m sure there are girls out there obsessed with pineapple just as much as you are.”

Arianna and her brother always made fun of my obsession with pineapple-flavored anything but having been born in Hawaii and growing up with my Hawaiian dad, I couldn’t help love the fruit. It must have been in my half-Polynesian blood or something.

And since I really was a walking billboard for all things pineapple, I took another sip from my piña colada and said, “But don’t you understand that me not having a girlfriend is actually only a good thing for you?”

She crossed her arms and pressed her glossy pink lips together before saying, “And how do you figure that?” 

“Well, if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn’t be hanging out at this table with you right now. And you would be sitting all alone. So really, me being lazy only benefits you.” 

I had expected her to laugh, or at least smile since we’d been joking around all night, but when her expression turned serious instead, I realized I’d hit a nerve.

She folded the teal paper napkin in front of her on the table and said, “Well, if Chad hadn’t forgotten about my brother’s wedding and agreed to go to Tallahassee for work instead of being my plus-one, I wouldn’t need you to entertain me.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “Bad reasoning on my part.”

“It’s okay.” She set her elbows on the table and rested her delicate chin in her hands, the position and the way her silver bridesmaid dress fell over her slender shoulders making her look even more petite than usual. “Obviously, I’m still a bit mad at Chad for not being here.”

She and Chad had been dating for three years, and while I really wanted to point out that even after all this time, Chad still only thought about Chad, I didn’t. Me pointing out the many flaws I saw in the guy always put Arianna on the defensive, and I really didn’t feel like letting her boyfriend ruin what had so far been a pretty fun night.

“Anyway,” she said, sitting up taller. “We were talking about your love-life problems and not mine. Let me look at this app of yours and see if I can help you out.”

And since I just wanted to make Arianna happy and keep her mind off Chad, I unlocked my phone, opened it up to the dating app I’d only signed up for because of her, and handed it to her.

She looked at the screen for a minute, tapping it a few times. Then with her dark eyebrows knitted together, she turned to me and said, “You’ve been matching with tons of women but not messaging them. Why?”

“What?” I asked. “I’m supposed to actually message the girls?”

“Duh.” She sighed and shoved my arm. “How can you of all people be doing this wrong? I know you got like a 3.8 GPA in college and you haven’t had a single concussion since then.”

“Well,” I said, taking my phone back from her and slipping it into the pocket of my suit coat. “If someone would take time out of her busy schedule to be my dating coach like she promised, maybe I’d be doing better at this.”

“You don’t need me to help you get a girl,” she said. “I mean, if you simply uploaded a photo that actually showed your face instead of your back, or not hide your face behind a huge fish, you’d have every single woman from Denver to Vail swiping right.”

“Are you saying you think I’m hot?” I raised an eyebrow and shot her a flirtatious look.

She shoved my arm again. “Maybe if you would let me cut your hair, I’d say that.”

“Ouch.” I pretended to be hurt.

But in reality, I knew she only said that because she was a beautician and had been begging me to let her cut my long, curly black hair ever since we became friends three years ago.

It was just something, like my lack of having a love life, that I had claimed not to have time for.

I mean, once you started cutting it short you had to maintain it, and who had time to get haircuts once a month when you were busy playing football?

Okay, so maybe I was just a little lazy…

“You don’t even know what I look like with short hair,” I said. “What if I actually look worse?”

“Impossible,” she said. Then she held up a finger to quiet me, as if she knew I was totally about to twist her words into making it seem like she’d just said it was impossible for me to look worse than I already did. “With your bone structure, big brown eyes, and jawline, showing more of your face would not be a bad thing. In fact, I think you just keep the hair to spite me.“

“Not to spite you exactly…” I said.

She sighed.

“How about this,” I said. “You agree to give me those special dating lessons like you promised and I will let you cut my hair.”

“Really?” Her deep brown eyes lit up.

And even though I was probably going to regret letting her do it, I nodded. “I’m sure it will take a lot of work to turn me into Prince Charming, so I guess allowing you to cut my hair is probably a fair payment for your professional services.”

“Oh, you’re going to pay me for the haircut, too.”

I laughed. “Okay, fine.”

She took a sip of her champagne then scooted her chair away from the table. “And since I’m going to be the best dating coach you’ve ever seen, we’re going to start with dancing lessons right now.”

I groaned. Because even though I didn’t really suck at dating—I simply sucked at trying to date for reasons I couldn’t tell her—I really did need a lot of help on the dance floor.

But when she grabbed my hand and started pulling me toward the wedding guests who were currently slow dancing to Vincent and Emerson’s song, “Return to Love” by Andrea Boccelli, I let her—it was probably my one chance to dance with my gorgeous best friend without her boyfriend glaring at me from across the room.

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