Title: Sweet Disaster
Series: Stupid Awesome Love #1
Author: Ceri Grenelle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2018
Sophieâ¦has stupid awesome sex with a stranger.
New York City summers are hot and sticky, which only makes what Iâm feeling for the asshole in my new building even messier. Usually, I quietly reserve my opinions for my news articles, but when Tony argues with me, he tempts me to give in to my crazy. I yell back. He smiles. Something in me melts.
It was only supposed to be one time, but we canât get enough.
With Tony Iâm a new person, brave and unashamed. But anything between us can only be a fling. Heâs offered a job in Rome. Thatâs good, right? With a long history of unreliable relationships, messy emotions are a complication I donât need.
Tonyâ¦has a sexy new neighbor.
Iâve worked my ass off to climb the ladder at my company, even threw away my passion to prove Iâm worth something. When they offer me a high position, I should be focused on my work. But no oneâs ever spoken to me the way Sophie does. She pushes buttons I don't know I have. Forces me to confront a dream I gave up long ago.
In two months, we go our separate ways. No hurt feelings. No misunderstandings. Thatâs the deal. She doesnât need to know Iâll be playing for keeps.
Sophie moves into a new building. There are sexy assholes.
The first time we argue, I feel alive. Iâm sweating, my bloodâs pumping, and my hair is sticking to my face in the stinking New York City humidity. I donât know what life really is until some asshole starts screaming at me to move my van from his spot, because it feels so damn good to yell right back at him.
âGet your U-Haul out of my parking spot!â
This guyâs hollering at me from across the street.
âExcuse me?â I call back, convinced he isnât speaking to me. No one ever yells at me. Iâm unassuming and introverted. Iâm a wallpaper ninja, blending so well people canât even find me to yell at me.
But the guy across the street sees me, clear as day.
âAre you deaf?â he yells with slow and exaggerated articulation. âGet your damn moving van out of my spot.â
Iâm not the type of person to engage in a verbal fight. Iâm quiet-even when someone pisses me off. I roll with the chaotic nature of my beautifully harsh city: a strand of seaweed in the ocean, riding the tides. But after surviving the day from hell, only to be accosted by this bear of a man? I fight back, like I never have before.
âLast time I checked there are no spots assigned to people on this block, or anywhere else in Brooklyn.â
âItâs an unwritten rule.â
I mimic his earlier tone, hitting every consonant and unleashing my New York accent to embellish the attitude. âIf you couldnât tell, Iâm moving into the building and thereâs an actual written rule that if I double-park the U-Haul, Iâll get a ticket.â
âThatâs not my problem, baby.â He steps into the street, waiting for a break in traffic to cross. âFind a new spot.â
I nearly drop the moving box in outrage before remembering it has wine glasses mom sent from Napa. Breaking them would be a crime. Iâll need them before this shit day is over, especially after getting a look at the man charging at me like a bull chasing red.
As he crosses the street I expect to see a guido with a beer gut, and while I imagine heâs got a decent percentage of Italian heritage, there sure as hell ainât no beer gut. Instead Iâm greeted by a fit and trim physique, tanned skin, and biceps I could drool over. The muscles in his arms tense and roll with every word, every wild gesticulation. He levels with me on the sidewalk and removes his sunglasses, revealing dark eyes flecked with gold. Heâs shockingly handsomeâlike runway model handsomeâ combined with the grittiness of a rock star and the best parts of a native New Yorker. Iâm wearing the tank top I slept in last night, a ratty old sports bra, and shorts I havenât washed for two weeks.
This day is the pits.
âBecause of your stupid van, I had to circle the surrounding blocks for twenty minutes to find a spot for my pickup truck. A paid, limited-parking, spot.â
âHow is your poor car choice my fault? Who in their right mind has a pickup truck and lives in Brooklyn? Youâre just asking for endless nights searching for parking. What do you do when it snows?â
The challenge in his eyes is like a book I have to devour. One flexed bicep, an arched eyebrow, and Iâm hooked.
He shoots a disparaging glance at my van before asking, âYouâre moving into this building?â He points at my new place.
Iâve propped the outer foyer door open and there are boxes preloaded onto a dolly at the top of the stoop.
âNo.â I lay the sarcasm on thick. âIâve come here to unload this van with the sole purpose of pissing you off. I thought, âwho in all of New York can I make the most miserable today?â â I raise one arm in a fist pump. âI won!â
His eyes widen like he canât believe Iâm not backing down, and I might be hallucinating from the heat, but I swear I catch a smile before he starts laying into me again, our voices getting louder and louder.
âI donât care what youâre doing; I need this spot for my truck, and you need to move.â
âI will move my truck when Iâm good and ready.â
âYouâll move now.â
âNo? Thatâs it?â
âThatâs it?â I repeat, dumbfounded. As if the world revolves around this assholeâs giant ego. âIâll tell you whatâs it. Itâs ninety-eight degrees outside. I had to take a day off work to move because the management company of this stupid new building insists I move one week after signing the lease, much to the dismay of my boss, who was kinda pissed I didnât come in today.â
He opens his mouth to speak and I cover it with my hand, unwilling to break my stride. I havenât unloaded like this in years.
âAnd then the rental company loses my reservation for the van, and proceeds to send me to two consecutive branches 'till I found one that has the size I reserved. Two branches.â
His eyes narrow as he crosses his arms, but he doesnât stop me. Iâm on a damn roll, releasing pressure built by an awful day, and years of containing my opinion to the written word. I keep my hand on his lips, not because it feels nice or anything, but because I need to get this off my chest and heâs the unlucky bastard whoâs gonna hear it. Not even an introvert of my level can keep it cool after the shit storm of my day.
âThe Task Rabbit guys I hired to load the truck were an hour late and on the drive over no less than three cabbies-three-cut me off on the bridge, and Iâm pretty sure I heard one of my boxes fall over and break as I swerved to get out of the way. And now, to put the icing on a great big turd of a cake, a loudmouth jackass is ordering me to move my van after getting a spot directly in front of my new building. He wants to shit on the one good thing thatâs happened to me today. You want to know whatâs it?â Iâm panting itâs so hard to get the last words out.
âThatâs fucking it.â
Iâve lived in various spots around New York City my entire life but until this moment Iâve never adhered to the loud-mouthed-I-donât-need-a-filter culture. With this guy and his amber-streaked hair and gold cross around his neck-I let go of all my insecurities and worry over what people will think and just let it fly. Over a parking spot, of all things.
A freakinâ parking spot.
When he takes my hand away from his mouth, cradling my wrist with an almost shocking tenderness, making my skin itch, I ask, âWho the fuck do you think you are?â
My yelling draws the attention of passing pedestrians. I think I see a smartphone or two recording us. He sees them too, a frown pulling his features into severity. It transforms his smooth edges into a creature of rougher origins, a true piece of him I find both unnerving and intriguing.
âI think Iâm the guy who needs you to move your van, so I can park my pickup truck here, in the only spot on this block that fits it.â His voice is low, but thereâs a definite heat behind it. Whether itâs the same annoyed tone from before or something new I canât tell, and after the scene I just made, I donât think I want to know.
Heâs still holding my hand, swiping his thumb back and forth across my wrist.
âDo you verbally attack every unsuspecting person who parks in your spot, or am I just lucky?â
âBaby, you donât know what lucky is, but Iâd be more than happy to show you.â
That might be a warning or a come on...or both.
I advance on him, my bravado knowing no ends today. âDonât call me baby, asshole.â
He matches me step for step. âTill you move out of my spot, Iâll call you what I want, baby.â
I want to kick him, but the way he says baby flashes through my body like a heat wave. A deliciously sexy heat wave.
Actually, I should kick myself to get my good sense back.
His hand is still holding my wrist. Iâm starting to think I donât want him to let go.
âWhy donât you go cool off with a walk around the block, go pump some iron, take some steroids, or do whatever it is you guido types do.â
âYou say guido like itâs a bad thing. Where are you from that you can cast aspersions on my character?â He laughs when my eyebrows shoot up, casually leaning toward me as if I didnât just spit my entire day up on him.
He finally lets go of my wrist, and I feel the loss of his heat, even in the humid air.
âGuidos know big words too, baby.â
God, why does fighting with him feel so good? I should want to smack him, and I do, but having his lips so close to mine makes me want different things. Sinful, sexy, and dirty things.
âYou perpetuate that stereotype yourself. Youâre doing it now, yelling at me like an Italian thug.â
His hand clutches his heart. âYou wound me, baby. I should take you inside, throw you over my knee and teach you a lesson.â
His immodest threat makes me blush, but not because Iâm scandalized, but because now I know I kinda want it. And God, he sees it. He sees the shift from anger to lust. He sees my skin flush in color from something other than fury, and he grabs hold.
âYou canât tell me to move the van,â I say before he can interject with another baby.
âI can tell you whatever I want; itâs up to you to behave and actually do it.â
âWho says I need to behave?â
âThe laws of decency.â
âYouâre screaming at an innocent woman like a madman, and you have the balls to call me indecent?â
âI have balls for many different scenarios. I keep them in a velvet-lined drawer and take them out when such occasions arise.â
Donât laugh. Donât fucking laugh.
I open my mouth to start another round, but before I can get a word in His Almighty Dickishness turns on a dime and flashes a roguish grin, the asshole gone in a flash. The result is devastating. His body is all fully-grown man, but his smile is whimsical and childlike, more open than what Iâm prepared for. I was raised on cynicism and sarcasm. Pure honesty is alarming.
âListen, the longer we stand here, the hotter and crankier I get. Iâm gonna speed this up for us. What floor you movinâ into?â
He runs his hands through his hair, seeking an outlet. I know the feeling; Iâm as jittery as kid with A.D.D. âIâm gonna help you move so you can get your ugly van out of my way.â
His offer, combined with the sudden change in his demeanor, throws me so far off balance I answer without thinking, âThird floor.â
âWhat a coincidence. Iâm on the fourth. Welcome to the building. Câmon, baby, show me what you need moved.â
âYou live here?â
âYes.â He peers into the van, seeing all the boxes and furniture pieces I could cram into it. âWere you gonna move that loveseat by yourself?â
âYou live here.â I point at my new address, making it obviously clear which building I mean because I need to know absolutely, without any doubt, that the man Iâve just screamed at, like a an unashamed weirdo, like Iâm never gonna see him again, lives one floor above me. âAt this building.â
âYes. This building.â He grins, his teeth accompanied by a sparkle.
It is singularly unfair that a man so annoying can be so profoundly attractive. Heâs checking all my boxes. Which only makes me angrier.
âI donât need your help.â What I donât need is this big gulp of man in my apartment. âIâm stronger than I look.â
He sighs, leans against the hated van with his arms in his pockets. Unassuming. Harmless. Ha!
âIâm sorry I yelled at you earlier.â
I dip my chin and stare at him with an eyebrow arched in sarcastic doubt.
âOkay, I am sorry I made your day harder. Let me make it up to you. Let me help you move in.â
He doesnât wait for me to accept, of course, just turns back to the open van, eyeing it like a mountain to be climbed.
âWhat do you want moved first?â
Heâs genuine. Heâs actually offering to help me, after spending a good twenty minutes making an ass of himself by demanding I move for his benefit. And all of sudden heâs helping me, like this is who he was all along. Like Iâm not the only one whoâs had a shit day.
âHow about the ones labeled kitchen? Thatâs the best room in my apartment.â he chuckles to himself. I figure it must be an inside joke until he proves heâs gotta have the single most massive ego in all of Brooklyn. âItâs only the best due to my superb cooking. Do you like linguine?â
âYes,â I mumble automatically, unable to deal with the shift in his demeanor. Iâm practically out of breath from hollering at him, and my body is on a knifeâs edge, tempted by this hunk of man, and heâs talking about fucking linguine.
âBaby.â Thereâs that word again. âYou havenât had linguine till youâve had my linguine.â
Oh, I want his linguine.
Without another word he gathers two boxes, one on each shoulder. He looks like a textbook illustration of an ancient Roman hauling cement blocks to build a great structure.
He catches me staring and winks.
I will not let Lord Linguine show me up. I will prove I can do this by myself, and maybe that will make him go away. I grab a box, then another, and another, balancing them and forcing myself to smile. These boxes weigh nothing. Iâm not killing myself in the heat to prove anything. I perform heavy lifting on a regular basis.
âIâm fine,â I grunt, hobbling up the steps to the building, the weight of the boxes turning me slower than molasses.
The elevator is out of order-donât cry, donât cry-so itâs pointless to use the dolly. Weâre forced to take the stairs.
âAre you sure?â he asks.
âStop asking me,â I grunt.
Christ, this hurts so much. Iâm going to die. My knees will break, and Iâll crumble in on myself, forced to listen to Lord Linguine laugh as he steps over me.
My foot catches on the top step, and the boxes start to tumble. Before I can even cry out, heâs there, deftly placing his boxes down to help me, making sure I donât fall. One hand on my waist, the other supporting the three boxes.
âThanks.â The adrenaline from the near fall pulses through my veins as I look up at him. Weâre close, barely a breath apart, and I canât catch my breath. I canât stop looking into his eyes.
Is it possible for a manâs gaze to smolder and shine at the same time?
He sounds normal, no longer filled with false bravado, almost kind.
âWhat would my Ma say if I let you land ass up?â
Thereâs the idiot Iâve come to know.
We make it to the third floor, and I almost collapse when we reach my door.
âIs it unlocked?â Linguine asks, shuffling in front of me.
He slides the door open, sets the boxes in the kitchen where I direct him to, as if theyâre light as a feather, then comes over and takes all three of my boxes away. He doesnât so much as grimace from the weight, and I hate him more than ever.
âLetâs take a break-â
âShut up, thereâs still more.â
I ignore his deep chuckles as we go back to the van.
I donât repeat my earlier folly, but I make him carry the heavier stuff to pay him back for being so smug. He doesnât complain, just lugs another two boxes onto his shoulders and places them where I tell him.
I trail behind him each time we go back down the stairs to the first floor. His back muscles flex with every step, on display through the thin, white tank top. Itâs a nice view, and I donât stop myself from raking my gaze down his waist to what I can only describe as the most delicious bubble butt ensconced in pants tailor-made for his ass.
He faces me once he hits the sidewalk, a self-satisfied smirk highlighting a mouth and cheekbones Iâm slowly starting to obsess over in my head, and I think he knows Iâve been looking. I donât care. Iâm taking full advantage of the view while I can, except when he calls me on it.
âYou looking at my ass, baby?â
âNo,â I say too quickly, cursing my lack of finesse.
âI can feel your eyes on me.â
âYouâre hallucinating.â We get to the van, and Iâm surprised by how little is left to move.
âDonât worry, Iâve been looking at yours too.â
âYou son of a-â
âIâve got time for one more trip,â he says, his arm brushing mine as he reaches for more boxes.
Electricity shoots through my body. Our eyes meet. He licks his lips. I canât have him in my apartment anymore, filling it up with his raw energy and body so beautiful Iâve come to appreciate it for the work of art it is.
âYou can stop right now, I didnât need your help when I started, and I donât need it now.â
He ignores me, grabbing another two boxes.
âI said I donât need your-â He grabs two more boxes and runs up to the building, like a puppy stealing a shoe, trying to instigate a play session. Except this is a grown man who I can barely look at without thinking dirty thoughts. â-what a freaking asshole...â
Weâre in my apartment again, the space getting smaller and smaller with every second Iâm near him. Weâre so close to each other, yet a million miles away.
He sets the boxes by the entrance and runs his fingers through his hair as he straightens from a crouch, his slacks stretched taut over muscular thighs.
His hair looks soft. Does he highlight it to get that color? Beautiful amber streaks piercing through pitch black.
I push my hands through my curly, pixie-length haircut, mussing it up to distract myself. I gnaw at my bottom lip and press down till I feel a pinch, a reminder not to stare at him. Itâs just so damn hard.
He catches me looking again, and I glance away, coming down from the high of strong emotions and physical exertion. But itâs not enough. I feel anxious and incomplete, like Iâm missing something.
Like whatever is passing between us isnât over.
âIâd say thank you, but I donât think you helping me makes up for your dickishness earlier.â I shrug, unrepentant.
He doesnât move, just keeps looking at me as his hands slowly lower. No other response. My heart beats a little faster when he licks his lips, and wet heat that has nothing to do with summer humidity blooms between my legs.
âYou can go now.â I donât really want him to go. I want him to stand in the middle of my apartment, so I can stare at him a while longer. The last time I was near a man so beautiful was for an article I wrote on the trials of the male model life. Those guys are paid to be gorgeous, but theyâve got nothing on Lord Linguine.
He nods, as though he hears and understands, but makes no moves to leave. He just keeps looking at me, and now heâs touching his bottom lip with his thumb. Dear Lord, his mouth is sumptuous. No, not just sumptuous. Itâs fat and thick, made more tantalizing by the way it plumps whenever he bites down.
Who is this guy?
Heâs been carrying my heaviest boxes up and down the stairs without a drop of perspiration, like some Greek god. Iâm sweating worse than a roasted pig and am most likely still flushed and red after our argument-thanks, Irish coloring. My clothes are wrinkled and gross, and I canât recall if I brushed my teeth this morning.
But I know the look heâs giving me, like thereâs nothing in the world he wants more. It should scare me. I donât know him at all, and yet...and yet...that itch in my skin is all from him. One argumentative word from my new neighbor and Iâve unleashed more personality on the world than in the past five years.
Male desire emanates from his gaze like the sun at high noon; no doubt Iâll get burned if I donât protect myself. I would usually feel uncomfortable, wary even, if someone I donât know keeps staring at me like he does, but after spending the last hour with himâfeeling his hand on my back when I nearly missed a step on one of our ascents, staring at his ass, watching his muscles tense and roll with every step, watching his lips like my favorite TV showâall I feel is an intense need.
The realization slaps me in the face so hard I nearly take a step back.
I want Lord Linguine. I want his beautiful body covering mine. I want his lips on places that havenât felt the touch of a man in longer than I care to admit. I want him inside me. I want him to use my body till Iâm wrung out and this awful day is erased.
But all I say is, âSee you around the building.â
Again, no response, just staring, with the occasional lip licks or flickers of his gaze. Heâs looking at my body the same way Iâm looking at his. Seeing him want me only makes me want him more.
Proof of his humanity shows as moisture drips down the side of his tanned face, tripping over a thin layer of manicured stubble. Shit, heâs beautiful, in a brutal, New York City way. And considering the way he shifts, his tight-fitting trousers stretching taut, a long hard line now highlighted at the front of his pants, Iâm pretty sure heâs thinking the same thing about me.
I bite my bottom lip deliberately to see what he does. He watches the move then finally speaks. His voice is as far from the riotous nature of our initial encounter as it can get.
âI could stay, help you unpack some stuff.â
I nearly prevaricate, but decide to stick to honesty. We both know whatâs happening here.
âThatâs not what would happen if you stayed.â
âItâs your choice. If you donât want me to stay, Iâll leave. Weâll nod at each other as we pass in the hallway, like this was an unremarkable encounter. Weâll go back to being strangers. I donât want that, but I promise Iâll leave if you do.â
âOh, now you care what I think?â Stalling. Stalling, I am so stalling.
âIâve been hanging on your every word for the past hour, and in no world would I ever want to make a woman uncomfortable, so yeah, I care a whole fucking lot.â His body is tense, practically vibrating, yet he stays put. Waiting for me.
âTell me what you want, baby.â
Do I want what heâs offering?
âIâll make you feel so good.â
Uninhibited sex between strangers?
After the day Iâve had?
He takes a step forward. Weâre nearly on top of each other now. My hands itch to touch him. âSay yes.â
Fuck yes, I do.
Ceri is the author of quirky and sexy contemporary romance novels. She has a major weakness for sappy cuddle moments as much as hot and steamy sex scenes, and a penchant for writing snappy and sarcastic dialogue. She loves romance that isn't afraid to be awkward and uncouth, and thrives on flawed characters with big hearts.
A New York native, Ceri now lives in California with her two cats, Mercy and Eugene Fitzherbert, who should be very thankful she didn't name him frying pan. She is a proud functioning introvert and lover of all things geeky. You can find her haunting the Twitter machine or posting pictures of her ridiculous cats on Instagram.
Want exclusive content, bonus scenes, and more? Sign up for my newsletter.
BBBf-sizzlereads-bestbookboyfriends & L.A.B.B