New Release, Release Day

Happy Release Day to Cock Tales: The Cocky Collective by various authors! @jennw23 @socialbutterflypcllc

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Cocktales, a limited-release anthology of original, never before published material, from some of your favorite bestselling authors is available now!

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Each story was specifically written for this anthology.

The goal of the Cocktales Anthology is to raise funds to fight against obstruction of creative expression. Specifically, what we believe are obstruction attempts through the trademarking of common (single) words for titicular use in books / or as a book series (eBooks, print, and audio).

Cocktales will only be available May 26th-August 26th.

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Download your copy today:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2InBckG

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/Cocktales

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2rUn33i

iBooks: https://apple.co/2IoO7CM

Nook: https://bit.ly/2k0i25J

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2IIixiH

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2ImisBR

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/CockTalesGR

Contributing Authors Include:

Nana Malone, USA Today Bestselling author – Foreword

Dylan Allen – ‘Cocked and Loaded’

Jana Aston, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Double Cocked’

Whitney Barbetti – ‘Cocksure Grin’

Author Sawyer Bennett, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘A Wicked, Cocky Plan’

K.f. Breene, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Magical Cock and Bull’

Ruth Clampett, Amazon top 20 Bestselling Author – ‘Don’t Get Cocky’

L.H. Cosway, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Illusionist Seeks Neanderthal’

Mariah Dietz – ‘Landmines’

Amy Daws, Amazon Top 25 Bestselling author – ‘Cock and Balls’

BB Easton, Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author – ‘Cocky BB: Two Boys, One Prom.’

Jaymin Eve, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘The Cockier the Dragon, the Harder They Fall’

Emma Hart, NYT and USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Tricky Bond’

Staci Hart, Amazon Top 10 Bestselling author – ‘Cockamamie’

Jessica Hawkins, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cocky Couture’

Julie Johnson Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author – ‘Culinary Cock-Up’

Karpov Kinrade, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Crimson Cocktail’

Adriana Locke, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Swag’

Lex Martin, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Love & Hate at the Stallion Station’

Aly Martinez, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Going Down’

Katyi McGee – USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cocksure Co-Star’

Corinne Michaels, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cockblocked’

Liv Morris, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Getting It Up’

Red Phoenix, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Her Cocky Russian’

Daisy Prescott, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Confessions of a Cockblocked Wingman’

Jessica Prince – ‘A Cocky Corruption Engagement’

Meghan Quinn, Amazon Top 20 Bestselling Author – ‘Fight or Flight’

CD Reiss, NYT and USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cocky Capo’

Penny Reid, WSJ and USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Beard and Hen’

Julie Richman, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘The Color of Love’

Aleatha Romig, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Aligned’

Kennedy Ryan, Top 40 Amazon Bestselling author – ‘All’

Kylie Scott, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Short Story with Mal and Anne from The Stage Dive Series’

Sierra Simone, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Until the Cock Crows’

Tara Sivec, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Chocolate and Cockup’

Kate Stewart, Amazon Top 30 Bestselling author – ‘The Golden Sombrero’

Leia Stone, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cocky Alpha’

Karla Sorensen – ‘Tristan & Anna: A Bachelors of the Ridge short story’

Rachel Van Dyken, NYT, WSJ, USA Today Bestselling author – ‘Cocky Mafia’

April White, Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author – ‘Code of Conduct’

*ALL* net profits will be donated to:

Authors already impacted by creative-obstruction (10%), and Romance Writers of America (RWA) (90%) as a general donation intended for their Advocacy Fund.

*Disclaimer: This anthology is not being conducted on behalf of RWA, nor does RWA endorse this anthology or effort. They have, however, graciously agreed to accept the funds.

For more information, visit: https://www.cockyauthors.com

Excerpt, Giveaways, New Release

Happy Release Day to Wendy Gold’s Second Star to the Right! w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @WendyGoldberry @wgoldberry #contemporaryromance

Wendy Gold is stopping by to celebrate the release of SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: SECOND START TO THE RIGHT

Author: Wendy Gold

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Second Star to the Right:

Peter Michaels, Hollywood stuntman and sword fight choreographer, harbors a secret—he’s the real Peter Pan, the boy who in fact grew up. Far from Neverland and forced to hide his secret, he distances himself from others for fear of being rejected for who he truly is. That is, until he meets Vivien Kelly.

 

Viv, A-list Hollywood royalty, is determined to branch out into directing, but her steampunk version of Peter Pan is doomed. If bratty kids and demanding studio executives weren’t bad enough, and Peter’s generous nature and easygoing attitude is distracting her from her work.

 

Soon Peter starts to melt her heart and Viv fantasizes about a fairy tale ending of her own. But will Peter’s secret tear them apart? Will he leave her for a world of fairies and pixie dust when Peter knows that saying goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting each other forever?

Get Your Copy Today:

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Nook

Exclusive Excerpt:

“Jack, I’ll clean up here. Why don’t you head out early for the night? Go take your girlfriend out somewhere nice. It’s a Friday night.” Peter’s voice boomed around the studio as he walked out of the supply closet, his scabbard buckled back into place. He walked past Viv, his stare focused on his office door where Jack emerged. He hadn’t seen her.

“You sure?” Jack’s voice echoed back.

“Yeah, I’ll meet you on set Monday. And bring your cup. Erin’s a sadistic little brat. She’d take a hard poke at your balls and call it an accident.”

Viv bit her cheek, trying not to laugh. The little girl would do something exactly like that. And with her big, blue eyes, everyone would believe it really was just an accident.

Jack laughed. “All right, man. See you Monday. Have a good weekend,” he said as he walked out of the studio, the door closing behind him.

Peter watched Jack shut the door before he slipped a longsword from a scabbard mounted along the wall, the silver metal gleaming opal in the light. This was no pirate swashbuckler sword. This was one of hard medieval lines, belonging to a knight or a king.

The tip of the sword rose above Peter’s head, the hilt trapped between his strong hands. He wielded it with such grace and ease. Silent. Powerful. Each swish and thrust into the open air part of a deadly dance.

His movements flowed, like water ran through his veins. These movements were different from his sword fight with Jack. These were slow, almost delicate. The blade sliced in perfect precision, as if Peter battled an invisible ghost.

Viv’s heart thudded in her chest, the only sound she heard besides the whooshing of Peter’s weapon. She stepped forward, mesmerized by the sword’s dance.

“I was wondering when you’d come out of hiding.” Peter’s voice broke the spell. His sword continued to split the air around him, his gaze focused on the blade rather than her.

Viv jerked back to reality. In her trance, she’d stepped onto the mat, a dozen feet away from Peter. Her blush pricked at the back of her neck, disappearing somewhere below her ponytail. “Sorry, I was just leaving.”

“No, you weren’t. Pick up the sword over there.” Peter pointed somewhere across the room, his eyes still focused on his invisible opponent.

Viv walked around the mat and saw another sword, similar in fashion but with different details. Long. Thin. Her hand wrapped around the hilt and lifted it.

Heavy.

She grasped the hilt with both hands and struggled to raise the metal sword upright. How did he wield this like it was as light a feather?

“Now come out onto the mat.” He lowered his blade and turned to watch her, their gazes locking as Viv moved.

Her arm muscles cried out in protest as the weight of the sword wobbled from one hand to the other. “You make it look easy.”

She let the weight of the sword tug her arm down, the tip thumping against the foam mat as it hung useless in her hand.

“Hold on.” Peter held out his hand to take her sword. “I have a better idea.”

Viv offered the sword to him, the tip still on the ground. He picked the sword up from her grip and held both longswords in one hand, raising them and resting the dulled edges on his shoulders before smirking and walking back to the storage room.

“Showoff,” she said, her voice bouncing around her.

Peter’s laugh echoed like deep chamber music. “I’ll be right back.” He disappeared into the tiny room. A minute later, he returned with two long fencing rapiers. “These should be easier.” He tossed one to her.

She caught the edge of the handle, but it bounced off her hand and clattered onto the mat beside her. She blushed again as she lifted the sword by the hilt. Thin. Flexible. And much more lightweight. She lifted it with ease, raising it in front of her.

Peter circled around her, his own sword in hand.

Her body honed in on his every movement. Every shift of his feet. Every tilt of the sword. Every flicker of his eyes. His gaze burned into her, stripping her bare as she stood rooted to the floor. She couldn’t move if she wanted to. His piercing stare locked her in place. Her heart thumped hard in her chest and she wondered if he could hear it too. Butterflies yawned and woke in her belly, tickling her from the inside.

“You’re ready for me,” he smirked, stopping in front of her before taking two steps back. He raised his sword, the thin blade blazing orange in the setting sunlight.

Viv raised the blade to match his. She lunged.

He struck her blade with his, moving it out of the way with no effort. His smile twitched into a wicked smirk. He lunged for her.

Viv flung her sword upward, the blades catching on one another. The light caught in the middle of the swords, a large metal X locking over them. Peter stepped closer, pressing more of his strength into the blade.

Viv’s grip slipped a bit, but she pushed her arms forward to keep the blades pressed together.

“Clever girl,” Peter growled before his sword sliced through the air and cut his words. He stepped back, eyeing her. Waiting for her next move.

Viv slid to the side, but Peter’s sword blocked her blow with ease, his smile teasing her. She knew this was child’s play for him. She wanted to make it a bit more difficult. “Don’t go so easy on me,” she panted. Her lungs burned from the exertion and her muscles hummed like a bow playing over violin strings.

“Darling, I’m only just getting started on you.”

 

 

About Wendy Gold:

Wendy writes the three “S”s: Smart, Sassy, and Sexy. Her sensual stories leave readers with fluttering hearts and wet panties.

When she’s not home enjoying a Ménage à Trois (the wine not the act), Wendy likes long walks through her gritty neighborhood in the heart of Philly or blasting heavy rock music in her house. Her readers love her, but her neighbors do not.

Connect with Wendy:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Enter Wendy’s Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover reveal, First Chapter, Teaser Excerpts

Cover Reveal and Chapter Reveal for Sweet Disaster (Stupid Awesome Love #1) by Ceri Grenelle! @givemebooksblog @cerigauthor

 

 

Title: Sweet Disaster
Series: Stupid Awesome Love #1
Author: Ceri Grenelle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Sofie Hartley, Hart & Bailey Design Co.
Release Date: June 7, 2018

 

Blurb
Sophie…has stupid awesome sex with a stranger.
 
New York City summers are hot and sticky, which only makes what I’m 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 can’t get enough.
 
With Tony I’m a new person, brave and unashamed. But anything between us can only be a fling. He’s offered a job in Rome. That’s good, right? With a long history of unreliable relationships, messy emotions are a complication I don’t need.
Tony…has a sexy new neighbor.
 
I’ve worked my ass off to climb the ladder at my company, even threw away my passion to prove I’m worth something. When they offer me a high position, I should be focused on my work. But no one’s 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. That’s the deal. She doesn’t need to know I’ll be playing for keeps.

 

 

Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

 

Excerpt
Chapter One
Sophie moves into a new building. There are sexy assholes.
The first time we argue, I feel alive. I’m sweating, my blood’s pumping, and my hair is sticking to my face in the stinking New York City humidity. I don’t 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.
 “Get your U-Haul out of my parking spot!”
This guy’s hollering at me from across the street.
“Excuse me?” I call back, convinced he isn’t speaking to me. No one ever yells at me. I’m unassuming and introverted. I’m a wallpaper ninja, blending so well people can’t even find me to yell at me. But the guy across the street sees me, clear as day.
“Are you deaf?” he yells with slow and exaggerated articulation. “Get your damn moving van out of my spot.”
I’m not the type of person to engage in a verbal fight. I’m 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. 
 “Last time I checked there are no spots assigned to people on this block, or anywhere else in Brooklyn.”
“It’s an unwritten rule.”
I mimic his earlier tone, hitting every consonant and unleashing my New York accent to embellish the attitude. “If you couldn’t tell, I’m moving into the building and there’s an actual written rule that if I double-park the U-Haul, I’ll get a ticket.”
“That’s not my problem, baby.” He steps into the street, waiting for a break in traffic to cross. “Find a new spot.”
I nearly drop the moving box in outrage before remembering it has wine glasses mom sent from Napa. Breaking them would be a crime. I’ll 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 he’s got a decent percentage of Italian heritage, there sure as hell ain’t no beer gut.  Instead I’m 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. He’s shockingly handsome—like runway model handsome— combined with the grittiness of a rock star and the best parts of a native New Yorker. I’m wearing the tank top I slept in last night, a ratty old sports bra, and shorts I haven’t washed for two weeks.
This day is the pits.
“Because 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.”
“How is your poor car choice my fault? Who in their right mind has a pickup truck and lives in Brooklyn? You’re just asking for endless nights searching for parking. What do you do when it snows?”
The challenge in his eyes is like a book I have to devour. One flexed bicep, an arched eyebrow, and I’m hooked.
He shoots a disparaging glance at my van before asking, “You’re moving into this building?”

He points at my new place. 
I’ve propped the outer foyer door open and there are boxes preloaded onto a dolly at the top of the stoop.
“No.” I lay the sarcasm on thick. “I’ve come here to unload this van with the sole purpose of pissing you off. I thought, ‘who in all of New York can I make the most miserable today?’ ” I raise one arm in a fist pump. “I won!”
His eyes widen like he can’t believe I’m 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.
“I don’t care what you’re doing; I need this spot for my truck, and you need to move.”
“I will move my truck when I’m good and ready.”
“You’ll move now.”
“No.”
“No? That’s it?”
“That’s it?” I repeat, dumbfounded. As if the world revolves around this asshole’s giant ego. “I’ll tell you what’s it. It’s 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 didn’t come in today.”
He opens his mouth to speak and I cover it with my hand, unwilling to break my stride. I haven’t unloaded like this in years.
“And 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.
His eyes narrow as he crosses his arms, but he doesn’t stop me. I’m 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 he’s the unlucky bastard who’s gonna hear it. Not even an introvert of my level can keep it cool after the shit storm of my day.
“The 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 I’m 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 that’s happened to me today. You want to know what’s it?” I’m panting it’s so hard to get the last words out.
“That’s fucking it.”
I’ve lived in various spots around New York City my entire life but until this moment I’ve never adhered to the loud-mouthed-I-don’t-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 freakin’ 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, “Who the fuck do you think you are?”
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.
 “I think I’m 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.” His voice is low, but there’s a definite heat behind it. Whether it’s the same annoyed tone from before or something new I can’t tell, and after the scene I just made, I don’t think I want to know. He’s still holding my hand, swiping his thumb back and forth across my wrist.
“Do you verbally attack every unsuspecting person who parks in your spot, or am I just lucky?”
“Baby, you don’t know what lucky is, but I’d be more than happy to show you.”
That might be a warning or a come on…or both. I advance on him, my bravado knowing no ends today. “Don’t call me baby, asshole.”
He matches me step for step. “Till you move out of my spot, I’ll call you what I want, baby.” 
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. I’m starting to think I don’t want him to let go.
 “Why don’t 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.”
“You say guido like it’s a bad thing. Where are you from that you can cast aspersions on my character?” He laughs when my eyebrows shoot up, casually leaning toward me
as if I didn’t 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.
 “Guidos know big words too, baby.”
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.
“You perpetuate that stereotype yourself. You’re doing it now, yelling at me like an Italian thug.”
His hand clutches his heart. “You wound me, baby. I should take you inside, throw you over my knee and teach you a lesson.”
His immodest threat makes me blush, but not because I’m 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.
 “You can’t tell me to move the van,” I say before he can interject with another baby.
“I can tell you whatever I want; it’s up to you to behave and actually do it.”
“Who says I need to behave?”
“The laws of decency.”
“You’re screaming at an innocent woman like a madman, and you have the balls to call me indecent?”
“I have balls for many different scenarios. I keep them in a velvet-lined drawer and take them out when such occasions arise.”
Don’t laugh. Don’t 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 I’m prepared for. I was
raised on cynicism and sarcasm. Pure honesty is alarming.
“Listen, the longer we stand here, the hotter and crankier I get. I’m gonna speed this up for us. What floor you movin’ into?”
“Why?”
He runs his hands through his hair, seeking an outlet. I know the feeling; I’m as jittery as kid with A.D.D. “I’m gonna help you move so you can get your ugly van out of
my way.”
His offer, combined with the sudden change in his demeanor, throws me so far off balance I answer without thinking, “Third floor.”
“What a coincidence. I’m on the fourth. Welcome to the building. C’mon, baby, show me what you need moved.”
“You live here?”
“Yes.” He peers into the van, seeing all the boxes and furniture pieces I could cram into it. “Were you gonna move that loveseat by yourself?”
“You live here.” 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 I’ve just screamed at, like a an unashamed weirdo, like I’m never gonna see him again, lives one floor above me. “At this building.”
 “Yes. This building.” He grins, his teeth accompanied by a sparkle. It is singularly unfair that a man so annoying can be so profoundly attractive. He’s checking all my boxes. Which only makes me angrier.
“I don’t need your help.” What I don’t need is this big gulp of man in my apartment.

“I’m stronger than I look.”
He sighs, leans against the hated van with his arms in his pockets. Unassuming. Harmless.

Ha!
“I’m sorry I yelled at you earlier.” I dip my chin and stare at him with an eyebrow arched in sarcastic doubt.
“Okay, I am sorry I made your day harder. Let me make it up to you. Let me help you move in.”
He doesn’t wait for me to accept, of course, just turns back to the open van, eyeing it like a mountain to be climbed.
“What do you want moved first?”
He’s genuine. He’s 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 he’s helping me, like this is who he was all along. Like I’m not the only one who’s had a shit day.
“How about the ones labeled kitchen? That’s the best room in my apartment.” he chuckles to himself. I figure it must be an inside joke until he proves he’s gotta have the
single most massive ego in all of Brooklyn. “It’s only the best due to my superb cooking. Do you like linguine?”
“Yes,” I mumble automatically, unable to deal with the shift in his demeanor. I’m practically out of breath from hollering at him, and my body is on a knife’s edge, tempted by this hunk of man, and he’s talking about fucking linguine.
“Baby.”
 There’s that word again. “You haven’t had linguine till you’ve had my
linguine.”
 h, 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. I’m not killing myself in the heat to prove anything. I perform heavy lifting on a regular basis.
“You got-
“I’m fine,”
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-don’t cry, don’t cryso it’s pointless to use the dolly. We’re forced to take the stairs.
“Are you sure?” he asks.
“Stop asking me,” I grunt.
Christ, this hurts so much. I’m going to die. My knees will break, and I’ll 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, he’s there, deftly placing his boxes down to help me, making sure I don’t fall. One hand on my waist, the other supporting the three boxes.
“Thanks.”
The adrenaline from the near fall pulses through my veins as I look up at him. We’re close, barely a breath apart, and I can’t catch my breath. I can’t stop looking into his eyes. Is it possible for a man’s gaze to smolder and shine at the same time?
“You’re welcome.”
He sounds normal, no longer filled with false bravado, almost kind. 
“What would my Ma say if I let you land ass up?”
There’s the idiot I’ve come to know. We make it to the third floor, and I almost collapse when we reach my door.
“Is it unlocked?” Linguine asks, shuffling in front of me.
“Yes.”
He slides the door open, sets the boxes in the kitchen where I direct him to, as if they’re light as a feather, then comes over and takes all three of my boxes away. He doesn’t so much as grimace from the weight, and I hate him more than ever.
“Let’s take a break-
“Shut up, there’s still more.”
I ignore his deep chuckles as we go back to the van.  I don’t repeat my earlier folly, but I make him carry the heavier stuff to pay him back for being so smug. He doesn’t 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. It’s a nice view, and I don’t 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 I’m slowly starting to obsess over in my head, and I think he knows I’ve been looking. I don’t care. I’m taking full advantage of the view while I can, except when he calls me on it.
“You looking at my ass, baby?”
“No,” I say too quickly, cursing my lack of finesse.
“I can feel your eyes on me.”
“You’re hallucinating.” We get to the van, and I’m surprised by how little is left to move.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been looking at yours too.”
“You son of a-
“I’ve got time for one more trip,” 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 can’t have him in my apartment anymore, filling it up with his raw energy and body so beautiful I’ve come to appreciate it for the work of art it is.
“You can stop right now, I didn’t need your help when I started, and I don’t need it now.”
He ignores me, grabbing another two boxes.
“I said I don’t need your-” 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. “-what a freaking asshole…
We’re in my apartment again, the space getting smaller and smaller with every second I’m near him. We’re 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. It’s 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 it’s not enough. I feel anxious and incomplete, like I’m missing something. Like whatever is passing between us isn’t over.
“I’d say thank you, but I don’t think you helping me makes up for your dickishness earlier.” I shrug, unrepentant.
He doesn’t 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.
 “You can go now.” I don’t 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 they’ve 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 he’s touching his bottom lip with his thumb. Dear Lord,
his mouth is sumptuous. No, not just sumptuous. It’s fat and thick, made more tantalizing by the way it plumps whenever he bites down.
Who is this guy? He’s been carrying my heaviest boxes up and down the stairs without a drop of perspiration, like some Greek god. I’m 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 can’t recall if I brushed my teeth this morning. But I know the look he’s giving me, like there’s nothing in the world he wants more. It should scare me. I don’t 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 I’ve 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 I’ll get burned if I don’t protect myself. I would usually feel uncomfortable, wary even, if someone I don’t know keeps staring at me like he does, but after spending the last hour with him—feeling 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 show—all 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 haven’t 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 I’m wrung out and this awful day is erased.               
But all I say is, “See you around the building.” 
Again, no response, just staring, with the occasional lip licks or flickers of his gaze. He’s looking at my body the same way I’m 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, he’s 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, I’m pretty sure he’s 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.
“I could stay, help you unpack some stuff.”
I nearly prevaricate, but decide to stick to honesty. We both know what’s happening here.
“That’s not what would happen if you stayed.”
“It’s your choice. If you don’t want me to stay, I’ll leave. We’ll nod at each other as we pass in the hallway, like this was an unremarkable encounter. We’ll go back to being strangers. I don’t want that, but I promise I’ll leave if you do.”
“Oh, now you care what I think?” Stalling. Stalling, I am so stalling.  
“I’ve 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.” His body is tense, practically vibrating, yet he stays put. Waiting for me.
 “Tell me what you want, baby.”
Do I want what he’s offering?
“I’ll make you feel so good.”
Uninhibited sex between strangers?
After the day I’ve had?
He takes a step forward. We’re nearly on top of each other now. My hands itch to touch him. “Say yes.”
Fuck yes, I do.
“Yes.”
Author Bio
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.
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