Hate the Player, a slow burn and hilarious romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe, is available now!
“Roses are red, violets are blue, stay away from Andrew Watson’s *ahem* because no other women ever do.”
That’s quite the way to start a conversation at a casual lunch, huh? Grilled chicken, French fries, and pelvic-fatigue, oh my!
And that’s not even the worst of it.
My friend Raquel didn’t pull any punches when she warned me about my brand-new co-star and his notoriously player-esque ways. Apparently, my most important mission on my first role in a feature film is to stay immune to his charms.
Are you kidding me? Production costs on this movie are in the hundreds of thousands a day, and staying away from a panty-whispering, vajayjay-charmer is supposed to be at the top of my list? Pfft. Puh-lease.
It doesn’t matter that he’s annoyingly attractive, uber rich, crazy famous, and lusted after by ninety percent of the female population; Andrew Watson is trouble with a capital T—especially for a woman like me.
As a preventative measure, I’ve decided to go ahead and hate him.
Don’t worry, you guys, I’m completely in control. There’s absolutely no way I’m going to do something stupid like fall in love with him.
I can hate the player but still secretly love his addictive game.
I’m sure of it.
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True to my name, I’m about to take fucking flight. At least, I would if I could.
In this moment, it really would have been helpful if my trainer hadn’t successfully eliminated all the extra flappy meat on my upper arms. Surely, if I got them going fast enough, the wind beneath those bat wings could have carried me up and through the ceiling of this place.
C’mon, you big baby, I coach myself. You can do this.
One cavernous breath into my lungs and then another and another, and eventually, just before my vision turns tunneled, I will my feet to move away from the door.
Gleaming marble floors, golden statues, and a freaking fountain in the center, the lobby of Capo Brothers Studios is everything I should have expected and more.
If everything is bigger in Texas, then everything is most certainly richer in LA.
I check in with security quickly, my voice only a little croaky thanks to the frog in my throat, and head for the elevator bank at the far side of the lobby.
I’m to head to the fifteenth floor, I’m told, and then go straight down the hall to the glass doors on the left at the end. There, I’ll find William Capo’s office—the head honcho and only surviving brother of Capo Brothers.
My cowgirl boots are noisy on the marble floors when I do as instructed. The sound you make when you walk is such a small detail—one I don’t normally think about—but the echo of their clack today makes my heart feel like it’s knocking into my rib cage and each step across the ornate floor is merely a sound effect.
Fifteen floors eclipse quickly—clearly, they’ve spared no expense on their elevator—and the hallway that leads to William’s office seems strangely one-directional. Like once I go down it—once I take this step—there will be no going back. Which is probably why, after forcing myself to go the distance to the end, I pause at the open door, the points of my booted toes just shy of crossing the line.
“Good morning.” A pretty assistant dressed in a white power suit greets me before I’ve even cleared the threshold of the door, and all thoughts of escape are dashed. Like it or not, I’ve just been shoved over the line. I will my feet to do the same as she continues to speak. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Birdie Harris,” I answer and have to swallow hard against the dryness threatening to close my throat. “I have an audition.”
My nerves are so obvious, the assistant offers a sympathetic smile.
If she were from my childhood hometown in West Virginia, she’d most likely be thinking Bless her heart.
She taps something across the keyboard of her iMac and places her hand to the Bluetooth at her ear. “Mr. Capo, I have Birdie Harris here.” Immediately, she looks away from the computer and meets my eyes. “They’ll be ready for you shortly. You can take a seat over there.” She points behind me, back through the door and across the hall to what I’m assuming is a fancy-schmancy waiting room of some sort. I haven’t encountered a place in the building that doesn’t have some sort of gilded or marble inlay, so I highly doubt I’m going to step through that door and into a room styled by the set designer for Saw. Though, I can’t say some sort of torture device wouldn’t be completely misplaced right now. I’m already doing a pretty good job of mentally waterboarding myself with worry.
I offer a little nod, keeping my twisted, sicko thoughts to myself. I doubt they’re interested in hiring a woman on the brink of a hysterical episode.
The secretary quirks a brow, and I realize, though I’ve nodded my affirmation of understanding, I’ve yet to move.
Good God, Birdie! Go sit down.
Annoyed with myself, I turn on my boots and march across the hall so violently, it’s like there’s an invisible person helping me along with a heavy hand at the nape of my neck.
When I cross into the room, a man is sitting on a swanky leather sofa with his booted feet up on the coffee table. He glances up briefly before returning his eyes to the phone in his lap. Embarrassed, I smooth my clomps instantly.
You’re a gazelle, Birdie, not a herd of buffalo, I coach. Move like it.
With his attention occupied, I survey him more closely as I move to take a seat across from him. He’s wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt, and his jawline would make steel beams look weak. Seriously. Confronted with an earthquake, I would seek shelter right under the eave of his jaw.
I’d love to get another peek at his eyes just to study the color, but fearing the eye contact that would require, I’m careful not to make any overt noises that might draw his attention again.
When he smirks, a devilish proposition-like smile at the screen of his phone, I don’t have to wonder anymore.
Oh no. I know exactly who this man is.
The very man Rocky warned me about and I subsequently Instagram stalked. A laundry list of different women dotted through his timeline, it confirmed everything Rocky told me and then some.
All relaxed and cool, he sits on the white leather sofa with one arm outstretched across the back. Confidence and charm ooze from every freaking cell in his body. No doubt, Andrew Watson is more than capable of commanding the attention of everyone in the room, no matter the situation.
No wonder he’s one of Hollywood’s most famous actors.
The only time I have that kind of quiet confidence is when I’m onstage, singing my songs, lost in the music I created.
Just play it cool, Birdie.
On a deep breath, I force the uncertainty and unease out of my shoulders and settle my ass into the sofa across from him. He shifts again, crossing one ankle over the other and casually adjusting the denim at his crotch.
My eyes are immediately drawn to his bulge, and thanks to Rocky’s colorful descriptions of his favorite appendage, a little penis-shaped soldier is burned in my brain. After a few seconds of imagining the shape of his helmet and intensity of his salute, I jerk my gaze away in a panic.
Jesus. As if this audition wasn’t screwing with my head enough! Now I have Saving Ryan’s Privates, a military-themed porno my head just made up starring Staff Sergeant Dick Richardson, complicating things even more!
I must make a noise I don’t realize—the sound of my saliva gurgling in my throat while I choke on it, perhaps—because Andrew looks at me with curious eyes. I try like hell to keep my calm and act like I haven’t just gone to mental war with the soldier in his pants, but there’s only so much hysteria containment my mind is capable of.
“Uh…hi,” I say, trying so dang hard not to glance back down at his crotch that I start spewing diarrhea of the mouth about goddamn military-themed movies. “I never saw A Few Good Men, but I hear Tom Cruise was good in it.” When I realize what I’ve just said makes absolutely no sense to him—punctuated perfectly by his eyebrows drawing together noticeably—the gurgling saliva turns into a full-blown choke, and suddenly, the only way to breathe is through a hacking cough.
Holy shit, I’m too anxious to be around other humans right now! Also, I’m going to kill Rocky for putting this crap in my head about this guy’s penis.
“Are you okay?” he asks, and I hold up my hand in some kind of gesture. I’m not sure of its technical name, but its meaning is clear—please forget I exist right now.
He asks me once more, but I nod, and once the embarrassing coughing fit passes, I meet his piercingly gray-blue eyes—seeing their color is strikingly unavoidable now—and I offer a halfhearted smile.
“Sorry,” I apologize. I didn’t mean to drag him into an impromptu SNL sketch where I choke on spit and say ridiculously inappropriate, off-the-wall things. “I guess you could say I’m a little nervous.”
His responding smile gleams so bright, I have to wonder if he has an endorsement deal with Crest toothpaste. His mouth would make a dental hygienist get on their hands and knees and thank the Lord above.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. There’s no need to be nervous around me,” he responds, punctuating his words with a wink.
If my mind were a screenplay, the nerves would be exiting stage left.
Did he seriously just wink at me after assuming that I’m nervous to be in his presence?
Surely, I’m hearing this wrong. No one is that obsessed with themselves…right?
“Excuse me?” I ask, and his megawatt smile is still ever-present.
“If you’d like me to sign an autograph or take a selfie with you,” he enunciates slowly, as if my being able to understand him clearly was the problem. “I can probably sneak that in before I have to head in there.”
His autograph? You have got to be kidding me. He sure is a cocky bastard—and for the first time today, I’m not even talking about his dick.
Like the tip of a match being swiped across the edge of a matchbook, aggravation bursts into my veins.
“I’m here for an audition,” I assert.
Unfazed, he quirks a brow as if to say, my invitation for an autograph still stands.
Attractive or not, this guy is one of the biggest asses I’ve ever been around.
“I’m Birdie Harris. I’m auditioning for the role of Arizona Lee.”
And I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna land this acting gig just to spite this prick.
About the Author
A duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.
Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.