Home > Top Notch Boyfriend

Top Notch Boyfriend
Author: Lauren Blakely





A red-hot, witty, feel-good, fake boyfriend novella from #1 NYT Bestseller Lauren Blakely! A delicious introduction to a series of standalone romances starring sexy athletes and charming Brits!


* * *


After falling too fast too many times, I’ve got a new game plan—play it cool.

Just like I do every Sunday on the football field.

I stick to that strategy when I meet a sexy and swoony Brit at a charity event, and I charm the pants off him. (Hey, I’m an equal opportunity guy—he charms mine off too.)

Turns out we’ve got more in common than chemistry—the English hottie’s been burned by love too and only wants a rebound fling. And, since I need a date for a weekend in Vegas, I make the wild suggestion that we jet off to the city of sin as . . . fake boyfriends. That’s a winning move in my relationship playbook.

Until I’m right back where I started—with my heart in his hands . . .






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I like to play the field: the actual field with grass and yard lines and goalposts.

The dating field? Not so much. Lately, dating feels a lot like getting clobbered by a safety—the wind knocked out of your lungs as your body hits the ground. Or worse—being intercepted right as you’re gunning for the end zone.

Dating can go wrong in a ton of ways, whether you’ve been friend-zoned, ghosted, or breadcrumbed.

They all amount to the same issue.

I want more; he wants less.

He, as in, all the guys I’ve dated lately.

So, I’m turning over a new leaf. When I look in the mirror, I’m saying goodbye to Mister Serious.

And hello to Mister Casual.

From here on out, I’m going to play it as cool as guys have played it with me.

My new plan will go swimmingly.

At least, that was the plan.






Consider the common house cat. With a soft coat and a potent purr, the cat is often cute and cuddly on the outside. But on the inside? Few creatures are deadlier than Fluffy.

Relationships are about the same.

They’re cats. Predatory and sneaky.

A relationship will lull you into a false sense of security, then lash its vicious claws down your back and rip out your throat. Then, it will play with you like you’re a toy.

I’m not dramatic. That’s simply what relationships do.

Like, oh, say, my last one.

But that’s okay. I’ve moved on. I’m firmly on the I’ve learned my lesson side of life, and I’m committed to not committing.

Or rather, I was.









I’m not a pie guy. This is a difficult concept for my friend Jason to grasp.

As we walk past the ring toss, he scratches his head. “Let me get this straight. You’re telling me you don’t actually like apple pie? Like, at all?”

“You are correct,” I say.

“Same goes for peach pie?”

I shudder. “I believe in au naturel peaches.”

My buddy rolls his eyes, then continues the pie-quisition. “Blueberry pie? I mean, come on. Who dislikes blueberry pie? There is literally nothing wrong with a blueberry pie.”

Wait till I blow his mind. I point my thumb at myself, then poke my chest. “This guy. Because there’s everything wrong with it.”

We walk past the Ferris wheel, the Golden Gate Bridge looming behind it in a majestic arc over the sea.

“What did pie ever do to you, Nate? Did you get into a fight with pie after school one day? Did pie take your boyfriend, cut you off in traffic, or boo you like our rowdy fans do when you don’t make a catch?” Jason asks.

Granted, he makes a few valid points and yet—cooked fruit. “Cooked fruit makes me want to gag, and I have an excellent gag reflex, thank you very much.”

Jason snorts, then offers a fist for knocking. “Dude, that’s a requirement.”

“Don’t I know it. And don’t I excel at it,” I say, then add a wink. I’m classy, I know. “Also, our fans only hate on me when you fail to execute on a pass,” I tell my quarterback since it’s fun to push the blame back on him. “But still. Who puts warm fruit in a dessert? Fruit salad, I get. Fruit in a pie should be outlawed.”

Jason seems to consider that as we pass the strongman game where a teen girl with green hair grabs a mallet and lifts it high above her head. “So, your issue’s not with pie then. It’s with fruit?”

“Yes,” I say as we cut a path through the fairgrounds, heading to the most popular row of games at the Alliance’s fundraising carnival—games that the city’s pro-athletes will participate in to help bring awareness to inclusivity in sports. “But the bottom line is I’m also just one of those people who doesn’t like pie.”

A twinkle lights Jason’s eyes. “Well, that’s going to need to change then. Because I signed you up for the pie toss. We needed a target. You understand.”

I groan in misery. “You tricked me. C’mon, Nate. Do the dunk tank. The dunk tank attracts the hottest twenty-something dudes in San Francisco. Trust me on this.” I give him a you-know-you-said-that stare. “I was more than happy to help on any other game. But you did not say step right up and let anyone and everyone throw the worst dessert ever at your face.”

“And you want to deny a bunch of teenagers the pleasure of hurling pies at you? You’re cruel, Nate.”

“No,” I grumble.

But still . . .

A line of hot men snakes around the dunk tank—hot men waiting to send other hot men into the water. Yes, please. “Yes, but just look at all those options for me. Why can’t I do the dunk tank?”

Jason thumps me on the back of my head. “It’s a carnival for charity. Not for you to pick up dudes.”

“Every outing is a chance for me to pick up dudes. I can multitask. It’s one of my great skills,” I counter.

Jason stops along the path, strokes his chin as a pack of teenage girls weaves past us. “Hmm. Since I’m kind of the carnival king, I could maybe arrange a backroom deal. I’ll get you in the dunk tank if you let yourself be pelted with pie after.”

I’m easy. I hold out my hand. “It’s a deal.”

Jason claps me on the shoulder. “Great. And I promise I’ll find some super-hot dude and send him your way to pummel you with pies.”

I roll my eyes. “That’s how I want to meet my next date. Getting slammed in the face with a coconut cream pie.”

He smirks. “Life is a metaphor, Nate. That might be a perfect one for you.”

I give him the bird. It’s literally required.

But I’m happy to be here, helping out and doing my part. Jason has been supporting the carnival for several years now, and when he asked his friends to volunteer, I raised my hand so fast.

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