The Total Knockout
Maisie Hawthorne doesn’t do boyfriends.
Or girlfriends. Or relationships. Burned in the past, the scrappy bartender knows better than to trust a pretty face. Dex O’Brien is gorgeous (with or without the scar). Pierced, tatted, annoyingly attractive. She knew he was trouble even before she saw him fight. Her mind told her to stay away—but her heart wouldn’t listen.
Dex O’Brien doesn’t do love.
Not the romantic kind anyway. Sure, he loves his family, would defend them with his dying breath. And yeah, he loves baseball and fighting too. But falling in love? No thanks. Too messy. Dex couldn’t care less, especially about the bookish bartender with the smart mouth and beautiful eyes.
She needs money to pay the bills. He needs a tutor to keep playing ball—even if he’ll never admit it.
When the Southern U Wolves recruit Maisie to tutor Dex, tempers flare and sparks fly.
This new adult sports romance features two scarred souls, one hot-and-hilarious case of enemies-to-lovers, and a sexy set of brothers guaranteed to make you swoon.
The #1 lesson they’ll both learn?
Love is the total knockout you never see coming.
I was doing a third pass of the crowd, trying to keep my anxiety in check, when I felt a presence behind me.
“Looking for someone?” a deep voice said.
Smooth like silk.
Edged with a hint of sarcasm.
The sound settled over me like a caress. A totally inconvenient caress. I knew who it was. Recognition came quicker than it should have, wasn’t like we’d talked a lot. Still, I knew the owner of that voice and decided to ignore him.
Or I tried to.
“No answer, huh? Guess I have to assume you’re here to see me.”
“In your dreams, O’Brien,” I said.
“Nah, in my dreams we’re alone, and there aren’t as many clothes.”
I bit back a laugh. “Nice. You practice that one?”
“Didn’t have to. Unlike how you must practice pretending not to like me.”
Again, I ignored him.
“Seriously, what’re you looking for?” he said.
“None of your business,” I replied.
“You just have to ask nicely.”
“I don’t need your help, O’Brien.”
“Suit yourself,” he said, and I could hear the grin in his voice, “though I got about a foot on you, shorty. Good luck finding anything in this crowd without me.”
The fact that he was right just made me loathe him more.
Begrudgingly, I turned…and found Dex O’Brien staring back at me. Piercing gray eyes. Granite cheekbones. Full lips. The grin was there as predicted, so was his ever-present scar that should’ve made him less attractive but didn’t. Yet another injustice in a world brimming with them.
“Okay, fine,” I said and crossed my arms. “Since you offered, I do need your help.”
“Sorry, can you repeat that?” he said.
My scowl deepened.
“Thought I must be hearing things.” He shrugged, crossing one arm over the other. That’s when I noticed the beer he was holding. Of course, he had a drink. Nearly everyone did. He was probably one of those guys who couldn’t have a good time without one. “It’s not every day the Maisie Hawthorne says she needs me.”
Rolling my eyes, I said, “Forget it, Dex. Sorry I asked.”
His lips stretched into a full-blown smile.
It should’ve been illegal for someone with Dex’s bad boy rep to have a smile that pretty.
“And she used my first name,” he said. “Sounds serious.”
“Whatever,” I muttered. “I should’ve known better. You wouldn’t lift a finger if I was dying in the middle of the street.”
He cocked his head. “Depends. What finger and what street?”
Before I could walk away, he placed a hand on my arm. I looked at it, taking in the blood-stained tape wrapped around his knuckles from the fight, then lifted my eyes to his.
“It was a joke, Hawthorne.”
Pulling back and rubbing away the warmth his touch left against my skin, I sighed. “I don’t have time for your jokes, O’Brien. I lost something important tonight.”
“What’d you lose?” he asked.
“My sister,” I said miserably.
Dex nodded. “What’s she look like?”
“Like a younger, happier version of me, I guess.”
“Ah Hawthorne, you’re breaking my heart.”
“So, she’s pretty,” he said.
I blinked. Did he just…call me pretty? Dex “I hate everything about you” O’Brien? Maybe he got hit in the head one too many times.
Seeing my look of surprise, Dex lifted a brow. “I meant in an uptight, straight-laced, no-fun-ever kind of way. Don’t read more into it.”
“I wasn’t,” I lied.
“Sure, you weren’t.”
Cookie O'Gorman writes YA & NA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE, NINJA GIRL, The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder, The Good Girl's Guide to Being Bad, WALLFLOWER, CUPCAKE, FAUXMANCE, and BOOKWORM are out now! She is also the author of NA sports romances, The Best Mistake, The Perfect Play, The Sweetest Game, and The Total Knockout.
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