Excerpt & Giveaway: Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Oh, boy. I’m so excited for this book and for everyone to get their hands on it. Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren comes out June 6, 2017 (tomorrow!) and it’s a standalone contemporary romance. No need to worry about catching up on previous books! It’s set in the world of Hollywood talent agencies and has a heroine that I absolutely love.

Here’s the books description:

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

It’s a great romantic comedy and we also have four (4) copies to give away to some lucky readers. But first, we have an excerpt.

This scene is particularly tragic, as an uneaten doughnut meets an early and unexpected demise.

A smart woman would leave a workout like the one I’ve just had and go get something healthy for breakfast. An egg-white omelet, maybe. Or something whole grain. A smoothie.

Apparently, I am not a smart woman. I go straight to Sidecar Doughnuts and order three butter-and-salts and a giant latte. But I am smart enough to leave two of the doughnuts on my desk, bringing only one to the team breakfast meeting scheduled for eight a.m. in the conference room.

Coffee: check. Sugar and carbs: check.

Adjusted attitude: in progress.

My stomach—and attitude—plummet when I walk in and find Carter already there. I was really hoping I’d have at least a few minutes more to rally. He glances up, does a slight double take, and attempts a smile that looks a lot like a sneer before looking back down at his phone.

After yesterday, I don’t even know how to handle myself in a room alone with him. My heart is pounding, my lady parts on high alert, and my free hand gets all tight-fisty and punchy at my side. Confusing as hell. Plus, I’m suddenly very aware of the doughnut I’m holding, and the fact that Carter is having nothing but sparkling water for a breakfast meeting. Water. I hate him.

He’s flanked by two empty chairs, but I ignore them, pointedly taking a seat on the other side of the table. Battle lines drawn.

I can hear the buzzing hum of the overhead lights. Carter’s pen makes an exaggerated scritch-scritch sound in a notebook as he pulls his attention away from his phone long enough to seemingly jot down a flurry of ideas. I’d bet solid money he’s really just scribbling down the alphabet or a manifesto about all the ways he plans to be underhanded in the coming months.

The room fills as the rest of the department slowly filters in. Breakfast meetings are the worst; no human alive is in a hurry to spend an hour first thing in the morning with Brad.

We all look toward the door at the sound of our boss’s booming voice and see Kylie jogging in her four-inch stiletto heels to keep up behind him. With barely a glance at me, Brad looks down at my doughnut and wordlessly swipes it directly from the tabletop into the trash can just beside my feet.

I hear a strangled gasp come out of my mouth. “Wh-wh—?”

“Come on, Evie,” Brad says as he pulls out his chair. He looks up and catches my horrified expression. “What? Are you depressed? Trust me, you don’t need that.”

I have no idea what to say to this. A storm seems to build in my chest and I can feel my face turning red. “Except that was my breakfast.”

He doesn’t answer, just sits down and quietly tells Kylie to get the laptop set up. I think I hear Rose mumble something about a son of a bitch, but otherwise there’s only stunned silence from the rest of the table around me.

“We’re having some food brought in,” Kylie squeaks. “So . . . you’ll get something then. Like fruit and organic bars and stuff.”

I don’t want fruit or an organic bar—I want the motherfucking doughnut I brought in.

No, what I really want is to lift my coffee and toss it at Brad, right in Mr. Congeniality’s face.

But I can’t do that, either.

Looking down to regroup, I see that two buttons on my top are open, revealing my pink bra beneath. I gasp, quickly fastening them closed again.

I know this hasn’t recently happened. I know that it’s been like this since I first walked into the room because I realize in hindsight that I felt the draft on my chest for the last few minutes. Carter is right here, across from me; we were the only two people in the room. It explains his double take and sneaky little smile, and it also explains why I’m going to kill him later.

My pulse is a booming drum in my ear. I stare at the side of Carter’s face so hard I hope his cheekbones begin to ache under the force of it.

As the woman from catering comes in pushing a cart laden with fruit and fat-free, taste-free bran muffins, I think of my delicious doughnut and wonder what everyone would do if I just reached into the trash can, brushed it off, and went to town. I’m so hungry I’m tempted to try. Instead, I abandon hope of sugar and delicious carbs since, by the looks of it, we’re all about to be subjected to Brad’s fifty-year-old-man breakfast. Great.

Of course, everyone is too polite to go get anything to eat until Brad does first. And he seems to be in no immediate hurry.

My stomach gnaws at itself like a starving wolf . . . so, fuck it. I stand and walk to the food, bypassing the muffin-bricks to pile a bunch of berries on a small paper plate. When I return to the table, Brad is eyeing me like I’ve just broken a cardinal rule. Rose’s smirk is aimed at her hands folded on the table. Rose and I don’t always have the same sense of humor, but I know that if we make eye contact right now, she will lose her shit.

“Let’s get started.” Brad taps a few papers in front of him and leans back in his chair, glancing at Rose. “How did it go with Tom on Monday?”

“Good,” she tells him. “Paramount contract’s signed. Everything’s moving along.”

He nods, pleased. “Carter, what’s going on for the Vanity Fair shoot?”

Carter slides his eyes to me. “All set.”

“Who’s doing the photography again?”

Hesitating, Carter pretends to need to look at his notes before he says, “Ah, it’s Jonah. Jonah Aaron.”

“No relation?” Brad asks distractedly. Assuming.

“Relation. Brother.”

Brad looks up and considers Carter frankly for a few seconds. “The photographer is your brother?”

And this is it—this is when Carter will finally get what’s coming to him. I didn’t overreact. This entire situation is bullshit. And the best part is that I won’t need to do a thing because Brad will do it for me.

Doughnut incident forgiven, I settle into my seat, wishing I had some popcorn instead of berries for the show.

Carter’s face slowly blooms red. “That’s right. My younger brother. I assure you he’s fully qualified.”

Brad’s expression remains unreadable and I think I can hear Carter sweating. I could kiss Brad for this. Come to think of it, I think I missed Bosses’ Day. I make a mental note to send Brad a card.

“You might have even seen some of his work in Rolling Stone,” Carter continues. “I can get you a list of references if you’d like.”

Silence. You could hear a pin drop and I gleefully swing my eyes to Brad, waiting for the explosion. Here it comes . . . any minute now . . .

But it doesn’t. Instead, a smile worthy of the Grinch slowly spreads across Brad’s face, until I can see every one of his perfectly capped teeth.

“Now that is what I’ve been talking about!” he says, and slaps a hand on the table.

Son of a bitch.

“Carter rallying the troops and giving us an inside edge.” Brad all but leaps across the table to give Carter a bro-pal high five. “I’ll tell you something, I am not surprised. Everyone watch this guy,” he says, pointing around the table. “This is how you get shit done.”

I sink down in my chair, furious. We already had a photographer, so I’m not sure what, specifically, Brad thinks has gotten “done.” Carter shouldn’t have made the switch without asking me, and he knows it. That Brad is now giving him a verbal hand job is infuriating. It sets Carter apart in a way Brad never has before at these meetings. There is an unspoken pecking order in agenting, defined primarily by who brings in the most publicity and money—and this year, that is likely to be me.

But there are other factors, too. Such as: having a penis. Apparently that’s a big one.

There’s some awkward shuffling around the table—either people don’t like being told to emulate the newest newbie around town, or they agree with me that hiring your brother for a cover shoot is a screaming mile past Sketchy Town—but I make a point of not looking up, refusing to make eye contact. Taking a calming breath, I lift my coffee to my lips, truly enjoying it as I imagine it scalding Carter’s lap instead of my tongue. I glance down when my phone buzzes with a text.

Text fro Carter: Can you make sure to follow up with Seamus about the start time next week?

I blink, staring at the screen. Brad has moved on from his gushing over Carter, and now Ashton’s voice is a nasal lull in the background.

Text exchange. Evie: Did you send this to the wrong person? Carter: Is this Evelyn Abbey? Evie: Why would I forget to follow up with my own client? Carter: I was just making sure

Text from Evie to Carter: Just contact Jess with the list of information you need.

Beside me, he snorts out a dickish little laugh and shakes his head, sliding his phone onto the tabletop.

Livid, I type one more thought.

Text exchange between Evie and Carter: Evie: You could have given me a heads up that my shirt was unbuttoned. Carter: Your shirt was unbuttoned? Evie: You’re sitting right across from me. It would be impossible for you to not have noticed. Carter: Well, I didn’t ;-)

Holy shit. Did Carter just type the bird-flip of smiley faces? Did Carter just give me the smiley-finger?

My heart is pounding so hard, I can barely hear what Ashton is saying. I’m sure I look like a mouth-breathing wrestler, but my thoughts won’t budge away from how much I despise Carter this very second.

I’m not entirely sure what this feeling is, because I’ve never had it before . . . but I think it’s unmitigated rage.

I think my brain has just declared war on Carter Aaron.

Let’s all pour one out for Evie’s doughnut.

Now to the really good part: the giveaway!

We have four (4) copies of Dating You/Hating You to give out!

Standard disclaimers apply: We’re not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to U.S. residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and ready to collate your face off! White Out should never be used as nail polish, even in desperate times. And please, return my stapler when you’re done with it. Comments will close Friday 9 June 2017 around noon EDT and winners announced same day.

To enter, leave a comment with either your favorite workplace romance or an awesome prank story! Or both!

Good luck, everyone!

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