Crazy Beautiful(Book One of the Crazy Series)

By: Penny Dee

For Amber and Jason





Acknowledgements

As I sit here, pondering what to write on the acknowledgment page my mind casts over the past nine months and all I can think of is the amazing support I have received from so many people. There are so many of you to thank. Most of you were a part of the creative process without even realising it. Just by being there, listening to me, encouraging me and taking me out to drink when I needed to function like a normal human being and not like the hermit writer I easily became. You all helped. And I am so thankful.

To my daughter, Amber. You are such a beautiful, lovely, kind, funny and insanely wonderful human being. Thank you for bringing so much sunshine into my life on a daily basis. Life is wonderful, because you are in it. You make everything worthwhile.

To my husband, my very own book hero. Jason. Thank you for putting up with the bad moods, the piles of washing and ironing, the cries of frustration as they drifted out from my desk and the constant requests for vodka. Lots of vodka. I am so thankful you walked into my life. You certainly picked someone a little bit crazy and insane to spend your life with, and for that I am so grateful.

To the entire CCU at my daytime work, especially Pete Willcox, Louise Tilley and Melissa Mackrell. Your daily support and encouragement certainly got me through some rough patches. Louise T, your enthusiasm for Heath and Harlow was such an amazing source of encouragement. And Pete, I learned so much from you and am so, so grateful for your help, advice and support. Mel, as promised, the cocktails are on me!

To Vaughan…for more than quarter of a century of friendship and for introducing me to the awesomeness of CCU.

To the fabulous Miss M (Mareldene). I discovered my writers voice through all those emails to you. Eight years of ridiculously funny emails full of italics and ellipsis. Talking to you certainly helped me find my voice (and humour) because you are so witty, sarcastic and brilliantly funny. One day we will make a book out of the hilarious emails we have written to one another … (insert winky smiley face here).

And to all those brilliant bands out there that create magic with their music. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There were so many songs that I listened to throughout the writing process that inspired me to take my story and make it real.

To the Universe for sending this my way. I’m so pleased I paid attention and followed through.

Finally, to you readers who take the time to read this story. Thank you. I hope you enjoy getting to know Heath and Harlow as much as I did writing them. You guys rock! ;-)




Chapter One


HARLOW


The day I flew to into California was Fat Tony’s birthday.

My cousin Bridget picked me up from the airport and we drove straight to Fat Tony’s Pizza Palace, where he was celebrating his special day by making pizzas. After fifty years of flipping pizza bases, apparently it would kill him to take a day off, even on his birthday. So his staff had taken matters into their own hands and gathered family and friends to The Palace to celebrate. The place was packed and as we walked in, I was hit with the delicious aromas of Fat Tony’s traditional pizzas.

Fat Tony was to be my boss for the next five months. When I’d asked my cousin if I could visit for the summer, she had convinced Fat Tony to give me a job, despite me never having worked a day in my life. He was giving me a job on her word, so I was determined to do my very best.

As soon as I met him, I loved him. Short and round, he spoke with a heavy Italian accent and favored using his hands when explaining things. He was friendly, kind and jovial, and pulled me into a quick hug when he was introduced to me, like I was long lost family. It was no wonder The Palace was full of people celebrating his birthday. He was one of the nicest guys on the planet.

Bridget was working, so I sat in a well-situated booth that overlooked the entire floor.

“Coralee, Piper and Joey will be here soon. You’ll like them,” Bridget said, wrapping an apron around her waist. “Can I get you a drink?”

I nodded and watched her disappear across the room towards the bar.

That was when I saw him.

Everything slowed down and went silent as he caught my eye across the pizzeria.

He stood talking to Fat Tony, a dimpled smile on a face so damn handsome my breath caught in my throat. He wore jeans over motorcycle boots and a belt slung around his hips, fixed at the front with a decorative belt buckle. His sleeveless shirt exposed thick, muscular arms covered in Celtic artwork and symbols all the way down to his wrists.

Behind him, two very pretty girls in barely-there tops and daisy dukes so short they were more fabric strips than shorts, giggled and tried to catch his attention with unsubtle flicks of their long hair. But if he noticed them, he didn’t show it. He continued talking to Fat Tony like they were old friends, those glorious dimples flickering either side of his beautiful mouth as they laughed over something he’d said.

I traced imaginary lines over the curves of the Celtic tattoo that curled over his well-formed shoulder, along his muscular bicep and down his thick forearm. Everything about him was spectacular.

Forgetting to catch my breath, I watched him raise his head. As if he’d heard someone call his name he looked around and scanned the room until his eyes found mine.

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