Crazy About Love: An All About Love Novel

Crazy About Love
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Loveswept Ebook Original

Copyright © 2016 by Cassie Mae

Excerpt from
Flirty Thirty
by Cassie Mae copyright © 2016 by Cassie Mae

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

L
OVESWEPT
is a registered trademark and the
L
OVESWEPT
colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
Flirty Thirty
by Cassie Mae. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

ebook ISBN 9781101968307

Cover design: Diane Luger

Cover photograph: Kiuikson/Shutterstock

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v4.1

ep

Part One
Alec

18 MONTHS, 24 DAYS AGO: 10:12
P.M.

“I think I might love you.”

Imagine a wrecking ball made of words crashing through an apartment kitchen, knocking into the side of the most gorgeous person you’ve ever laid eyes on, and that’s where I’m at. I don’t let words like that just fall out willy-nilly. I’ve felt love before. Several times. But
I think I might love you
isn’t something you tell one of your best friends. Relationship 101.

“I mean…,” I mutter, trying my best to backpedal this whole thing. “Well, yeah. I think I love you.”

There they go again. Spilling from some bright red door in my brain that I usually keep locked and guarded. What in the bloody hell?

My eyes drift to my right hand, fingers clutching an empty shot glass.

Oh…right.

Holding my liquor isn’t my strong suit. If it weren’t for Lizzie, out of all our group of friends I’d be considered the lightweight. They all love to get a kick out of getting me wasted, because the very few times it happened, I ended up confessing a lot of things. This confession, however, is one that I was able to keep locked up in my mind, so it’s a bit surprising that it’s making an appearance now, after only a couple of tip-backs.

I shove the shot glass across the kitchen bar and bury my head in my hands. “I’m drunk,” I say through a muffled laugh. “Drunk and stupid and don’t pay any attention to me.”

Theresa pushes her own glass so it rests against my abandoned one, her nails lightly scratching across the countertop. I don’t dare look up at her face. I prefer the inside of my hands.

“Usually drunk people are honest.”

“I’m a damn liar when I’m drunk.”

It’s complete bullshit. She knows it. I’m not a liar
in general,
come to think of it. Maybe I should consider the way of deception, because lying just now felt pretty good. Avoidance will be my new goal in life.

Theresa laughs—and understand that when this woman laughs, the entire world stops turning on its axis, throwing my ass off balance and making me want to say those wrecking-ball words all over again. My jaw clenches so tightly I’m in fear of cracking a molar.

She grabs our shot glasses, a bottle of tequila, and then my hand. I know I’m an adult and I’m not supposed to insta-sweat when a woman touches me, but that’s all my body knows how to do when it comes to her.

She pushes my ass into the couch cushion and plops down beside me. I smell cookies and booze. Not a bad combination.

“I hope you’re not too drunk,” she says, blowing off my confession. I play it cool, half grateful and half confused, but drunk enough not to care. “This episode is supposed to be intense.”

I smirk at her—what I think is a sexy smirk, but since my body is barely functioning the way I want it to, who knows—and she swings her legs up onto my lap.

These legs…they are part of the reason I’m in love with her. Not for the normal reasons (well, those too) but mainly because these are the legs that dance around in the kitchen to some classic rock song. They’re the legs that bounce under the table when she gets nervous. They’re the legs that always find themselves kicked up somewhere—on the dash of my car, on my coffee table, on my lap…

I clear my throat and move my gaze to the TV. “Aren’t they all intense?” I ask as the opening music for
The Walking Dead
comes on. My best friend, Landon, got me hooked on the damn show when he decided to write and direct a parody of it. I also give him credit for the Sunday nights I have with Theresa
alone
. Because there’ve always been five of us: Landon and Lizzie, Jace, Theresa, and me. When Landon and Lizzie are off doing couple stuff, it leaves the three of us. Not that Jace isn’t awesome or anything; we get along fine. It’s just…he’s the funny one, and I can’t say it doesn’t gut me every time Theresa laughs that world-stopping laugh at his jokes.

Now that Landon’s started filming on Sunday nights and, as luck would have it, Jace has the lead role, Lizzie takes advantage of having her place to herself, and Theresa and I take advantage of watching
The Walking Dead
together without having someone talk through the whole thing.

Theresa presses pause and throws the remote at me. “Okay, let’s get it out now.”

A small laugh pushes from my throat. Because this is our thing: without our chatty friends around, neither of us says a damn word while the show is running, so we get all our conversation out ahead of time. If one of us does say something, that person has to massage the other’s feet, calves, and/or shoulders for the remainder of the show. Sometimes I cheat and open my mouth just to have an excuse to put my hand on her leg.

“I think I’m good,” I say. I’ve already said what I didn’t want said and I’m not saying it aga—

“Are you really drunk?” she asks. Her eyes stay on mine, and I hold her gaze because I love her. That simple. I love her, so I want to look into her eyes. Other girls, I never really look at their eyes and stay; I drop my glance or look somewhere else. Theresa never drops her eyes from mine either, and maybe that’s why I feel a little lucky tonight.

Lucky…but not brave enough to repeat myself.

“I’m coherent,” I promise her, though I’m not sure if it’s entirely the truth. I hide my uncertainty with a grin. “You can hide in my ribs when it gets too intense for ya,” I tease.

Her pink lips part in a small gasp, and I brace myself for the punch I know is coming. Theresa is proud of her ability to handle blood and guts without a shoulder to duck behind. So yeah, seconds later her fist connects with my arm. It’s not hard. It’s a flirt punch. I don’t get as many as Jace does, or even Landon, but when I do get them, especially from
her,
I feel like the king of the world.

Somewhere someone is thinking of
Titanic.
(Me in another dimension, maybe.)

“I’m pressing play now,” I tell her as I point the remote at the TV. She slumps back into the couch, sliding her legs farther across my lap. Her ass bumps against my upper thigh, and I can’t help but let my hand drop to her knee. The remote becomes slick in my palm, and I swallow hard, wondering if she’s sobered me right up or made me drunker.

It’s the season premiere, so we’ve made guesses about who’s going to die. If someone on our list gets nixed, the other has to drink. So far during the series I’ve gotten smashed in the first twenty minutes, and Theresa has made it through every episode under three shots.

When the first character bites the dust, I give a fist pump and jab my finger at the shot glass in front of her. “Drink up!”

Her face contorts into a very not-sexy and yet
completely
sexy grimace, then she grabs the shot and swigs it in one swallow. Next thing I know her leg is in my face.

“Massage,” she says.

I drop the remote, because my hand is so damn sweaty, and she sits up, bringing her face close to mine. The air gets sucked out of the room by imaginary vacuums and I can’t breathe, but I’m somehow smelling her hair and her soap and her perfume and all things Theresa, and when her fingers clasp my shoulder so she can balance while she retrieves the remote, the door in my brain whips open, and the words come out again.

“I think I might love you.”

She pauses. She pauses right there right by my face just after I say the words I shrugged off a few minutes ago. Her eyes hold mine, like they always do…and I wuss out.

“See?” I say with a laugh. “Drunk.”

A strand of her long red-brown hair falls in front of her face just as her eyebrow tilts up. She studies me long and hard, and I smile like a dimwit until she leans back and laughs with me.

“You better hope that none of my guesses are right this episode,” she says, laying the remote on her soft stomach as she settles back into the couch. “One more drink and you’ll be proposing.”

I chortle, exhaling in relief while my eyes fall to the leg that’s pushing into my palm. Oh, right. Massage.

I don’t know how the hell I pay attention to the show while I rub her calves. Theresa is smooth and soft and a little cold, but the friction between our skin warms her up after a few minutes. She used to use this really amazing scented lotion after she took showers, but now she uses a medicated kind. Sometimes her night terrors have her practically scratching her skin off in her sleep. The new lotion doesn’t smell bad—it doesn’t smell like anything—but it makes her skin feel really creamy, for lack of a better word.

My thumb presses into her leg, right by her inner knee, and she jumps at something on the TV.

“No!”
She sits up and scoots to the edge of the couch, bright brown eyes locked on the screen and the horde of zombies about to take down her favorite character.

She’s beautiful. Not the character, though Hollywood would probably argue with me. I mean my best friend, with her full lips parted in shock and the rise of her shirt exposing the small of her back. Beautiful. I can’t stop thinking it. It happens every time we’re together, alone or in a group. This girl is the most gorgeous woman to ever grace the planet. And I have to act normal around her, pretend I’m not madly in love with her.

I scoot to the edge with her, forcing my eyes to the screen. Even when I’m watching the intense scene, I’m more in tune with her. The way she breathes (
in….out…in…out…in-out…in-out…in-out
), the way she bounces her leg (
up…down…up…down…up-down…up-down…up-down
), the way she digs her nails into the couch cushion (
scratch…pull…pull…scratch
). All of her is so much more intense than zombies chasing an unarmed actress on-screen.

“Oh…oh!” she says, voice getting louder, hand abandoning its post on the couch cushion and clutching at my sleeve. I had this character on my list, but it looks like she’s getting away.

“Oh, thank God,” Theresa sighs, shoulders relaxing and fingers loosening their hold on me. She’s made starburst prints on my shirt.

“I think I might love—” I start to say, and before the rest of my sentence can make it out, Theresa pushes a warm hand over my mouth.

“That’s it, Alec. I’m making you coffee.”

She pats my head, mussing up my already unstyled hair, then makes her way into the kitchen. I don’t even have to tell her I prefer no sugar, little bit of cream. I only had to tell her that once and she’s remembered ever since. Probably another reason why I’m in love with her—people don’t really remember Alec Tucker, but she does.

A choking cry comes from the television, and I hear Theresa cuss by the coffeemaker. “Pour me another shot,” she says as the second character on my list is devoured.

After she gets me coffee and swigs her liquor, we settle back into the couch together. She’s soft and warm and it’s like all our other nights, but it feels different somehow, and I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m buzzed or if it’s the fact that I’ve told her I love her three times tonight and took them all back. I’m in deep, dark, crazy, freaking love with one of my best friends and I want to say it again, but this time I want to mean it, though I’m not sure how to do that now that I’ve cried love all night.

“Hand me that blanket?” she asks, nodding to the quilt tossed over the arm of the couch. I lean up so I can get it for her, then she unfolds it and throws it over the both of us.

I could kiss her.

Maybe.

I’m not sure if I possess the ability to make a move. I’ve never done it before. Girlfriends, sure…once I knew they were into me, I was all over that. But making the first move when I’m so unsure of the outcome has never been my forte. It’s why I don’t try out for anything, even when my teachers, friends, and family all push me to audition for Broadway or big-time shows, or even the small stuff like off-off Broadway or my best friend’s low-budget movie. Putting myself out there feels like jumping into a shark-infested pool with a paper cut on my finger.

But with Theresa, I want to risk it. Because, hell, I could kiss her.

“Well, that was a bust,” she says, snapping me out of my head. She clicks off the TV and frowns at her list. “Not a single one of mine got the ax tonight.”

I smirk. “Give it a couple episodes. I bet they’ll all be gone by next season.”

She nods, covering a yawn with her arm as she stretches it high to the sky. Her very blessed chest sticks out, and I know she isn’t wearing a bra, and I know if I look for more than a second, I’ll be taking that image back to the bedroom tonight.

“Well, I better get going.” I stand up, knocking the quilt to the floor.

“You can always sleep here, you know.” She grabs our glasses. That’s the offer she makes nearly every Sunday when I’m over. But I know what will happen if I spend the night. She’ll say, “Just sleep in the bed with me,” and I’ll say, “I’m really good on the couch,” because if I sleep in the bed with her it’ll be nothing but an eight-hour boner and lousy attempts to talk it down. And then if I end up on the couch, it’ll just be tossing and turning and walking halfway down the hall to her room and then changing my mind before turning back.

“Yeah…it’s not a good idea,” I say with a chuckle, which abruptly ends when I realize what I just said out loud.

Her captivating brown eyes narrow in confusion. “Why not?”

Oh, shit. “Because I think I might love you.”

Then she does the worst possible thing…again. She laughs.

“Man, I thought we had you sobered up.” She shakes her head and sets the glasses in the sink. “You aren’t driving anywhere.”

She spins around, resting her ass against the kitchen counter, and I hold on to the wall because my heart’s about to pound clean out of my chest. My hand’s shaking and I can’t see straight and, hell, maybe I am drunk, but it doesn’t matter.

“Theresa…I’m being serious.”

“So am I.” She smiles. “You’re wobbly, Alec.”

“Yes, I am,” I tell her, and her smile fades a little. Her eyes hold mine and I see her gulp. The air around us snaps. “I’m drunk and stupid and…”

She tilts her head slightly, watching with intense concentration as I take a step toward her. “And…?”

The words get caught.
Now
they get caught. Because they are way real and she knows it. I can see it in her eyes, and I’m not sure if I want to say it but I’m going to anyway.

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