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Dare to Love the Guy Next Door

Dare to Love the Guy Next Door

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A dating dare? It could turn out to be the perfect match or it could be worse than a slap on a sunburn.

Narrated by Lorana Hoopes

  • Neighbors
  • All grown up
  • Second chance
  • Celebrity athlete
  • Beach town
  • Dating dare


A dating dare? It could turn out to be the perfect match or it could be worse than a slap on a sunburn.

Me, little ol’ Paisley Jones, envisioned glitz and glamour with my movie star fiancé until a humiliating, public scandal explodes in my life like damp confetti. I escape to the family cottage with an ocean view and am not looking for love until a dare and a crazy seagull send me next door.

Griffin Sanders was a late-blooming goofball, but now, as a competitive surfer and business owner, not much stops him. However, when an injury keeps him out of the water, he’s stuck on dry land.

Turns out his teen crush is hiding out in the neighboring cottage.

That would be yours truly, but I don’t recognize him at first. Big waves. Big surprise.

Quirky and independent, I never quite fit in the celebrity world. I’m not sure where I belong until I get on a surfboard. But it’s hard to tell if the popular surfing instructor is just another guy seeking fame and fortune, the silly kid from my childhood summers, or someone I can ride the waves with.

Will we take the plunge or will our affection for one another drop like the tide?

Chapter 1 Look Inside

Chapter 1: Paisley

Things you don’t want to have to say when walking out
of a bathroom...naked:

“I cannot believe what just happened.” (I’ll get to that in a

“Nothing to see here. Move along.” (Nope. Nothing at all.)
“I am so sorry that you have to witness this.” (An elderly

“Please, look away, sir.” (The elderly man, craning over his
shoulder as he passed in the hall.)

If you’re wondering how and why I’m walking out of a bathroom naked, let me explain. I’m at the fitness center at the hotel
hosting the cast and crew of my fiancé’s latest movie. I wanted to get my pump on before I saw him—I read that it’s good for the arms and ego.

The truth is, I’m nothing like the women on set or Devona
Carl, his costar, and the most beautiful woman on the planet.

I’m not just saying that to be self-deprecating either. She won the popular vote. Jason, as in Jason Cobb, my fiancé (I know! I’m still pinching myself) was also voted sexiest man alive, so they’re like a celebrity power couple. Except they’re not a couple in real life—it’s just for the film.

As you can imagine, it’s a lot for me to live up to.

I could’ve changed in the locker room. However, because
I’m now in the spotlight (not directly but by proximity because of Jason), I didn’t want to bare my lady parts in public. Everyone and their grandmother have a phone and today’s plans do not
involve going viral on social media.

Imagine the headlines! The comments!

I already learned my lesson. Jason’s assistant called recently and asked me not to be seen shopping in the prepackaged snack and cookie aisle at the grocery store.

Apparently, I ended up on a
gossip page that had a strong opinion about my eating habits.
Jason’s publicist didn’t want the association made between him and “unhealthy garbage” because a green dining delivery company recently endorsed him.

He and I will discuss how cookies are a food group after we get married. There is no way the Girl Scouts of America are being banned from my doorstep during their seasonal cookie drive.

Back to the being naked in the hall thing. I left my bag, filled
with my change of clothes, on the bench in the locker room. I
figured it would be secure because only people with a key have access.

Without checking the contents of my bag because I assumed
they were exactly as I’d left them, I grabbed it and scooted to the bathroom in the hall for privacy.

The space was closet-sized so I undressed from my gym
clothes and tucked them under my arm then opened my bag.

You can imagine my panic when I opened it to BAG EMPTY.

Balanced on top of my sneakers because public bathroom floors are rife with germs, in my tizzy, I wobbled and my gym clothes slipped and dropped into the toilet.

We’re not talking an
oversized T-shirt and sweats. No, I was wearing a cute pair of
lycra bike shorts and a cropped tank top with built in support.

In other words, its bitsy teeny weeny gym clothes so I felt cute.

What happened next? Before I could perform a rescue mission, the automatic flush function opted for that moment to turn on and sucked the only garments I had into the hotel's plumbing.

To say it was a series of unfortunate events is an understatement.

Also, my bag was mostly empty. The thief didn’t touch my keys, wallet, the half full container of mints, ketchup packets
(fast-food restaurants never give me enough!), deodorant, a
stapler (I somehow ended up walking out of the office with it
and keep forgetting to return it)...this list is getting too long, but you get the picture.
In a hotel crawling with celebs, what I don’t understand is
why someone would take my non-designer clothing.

Seriously, it was an old pair of jeans (though they fit like a glove and I’d like them back, thank you very much!) and a shirt that says,

“Your birthday present.” I had it specially made for Jason. It’s a joke.

Kind of.

Today is Jason’s birthday, and I wanted to do something extra
special since he has to work. I planned a surprise party complete with confetti in his favorite colors, live music, food (don’t worry, nothing prepackaged!) his friends, colleagues, and even his
parents who I’ve only met once. My job as a lawyer pays the bills, but what really gives me gladness and giggles is party planning, organizing, decorating, and creating experiences and spaces people enjoy. My best friends always say I missed my

But how am I going to do anything while standing here
naked in a hallway?

To be fair, I’m hugging the brown plastic trash bin from the bathroom in front of me like a shield and holding my bag over
my bum so no one sees my bits and bobs.
In case you’re wondering, the bathroom had a hand dryer
only. No paper towels because you bet I would’ve fashioned
myself a mummy-esque wrap.
To minimize exposure, I’m sticking close to the wall as I
make my way toward the front desk.

I’d go to my room, but earlier when I checked in I was told it
wasn’t ready—another reason I figured I’d check out the hotel
amenities, so the lobby it is.

A mother and her young child approach. I hear them before I
see them and squeeze my eyes shut. Maybe they won’t notice me and think I’m part of the hotel décor—this place is very posh and modern.

Them: Look at the statue of that woman, so lifelike.

Me: No, don’t look!

Them: Wow! She even talks.
They get closer. My eyes remain shut. At a sharp intake of breath, their footsteps beat a hasty retreat.

I continue and turn a corner in this maze-like corridor,
following the signs for the lobby. Through the enormous
windows overlooking Miami Beach, I have a flash of inspiration and wonder if I could repurpose my bag to look like a bathing
suit. Blakely would know how to do something like that. I
consider calling her, but that would mean setting my trashcan shield down and crouching behind it for cover.

Nope. I won’t
squat in the nude.
I’ve made it this far. I must press on!

Heavy footfalls and the flip-flop sound of a pair of sandals
get near. Instead of hoping the person thinks I’m a decorative
plant, I hustle down the hall. If I move fast enough, maybe they
won’t notice me.

It’s not the most brilliant idea, but I have to strategize and
have little to work with. This is my first experience with public
nudity and definitely my last.
I cast my gaze down as if the plush carpeting is fascinating
and scurry by.

The flip-flop sound goes silent.
I freeze. Why? I have a disorder called mortification
magnetism. It’s when I know something embarrassing could
happen and instead of running in the other direction to prevent it,
I hesitate, lending the moment a chance to come apart. Yes, I
made that up, but if you do this too, you know exactly what I

Sensing eyes on me, I could do the smart thing and run in
the other direction to prevent whatever embarrassing thing is
about to happen. Instead, true to form, I hesitate and turn

First, I meet a pair of blue eyes that match the sky out the
window. Close cropped hair. Eyebrows pinched together in

“Uh, can I help you—?” Voice as deep as the ocean.

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