Cassandra Rocca shares an extract from her new novel, Crazy Stupid Love, which deals with the fine line between friendship and love.

He went upstairs to his own apartment and began to undress, heading for the bedroom. Ten minutes later he emerged wearing a stylish pair of jeans, a blue shirt and a sweater of the same color. It was the best he could do at such short notice.

As soon as he had left the building and flagged down a cab, he began to think about what his friends had said, and he sighed deeply. They were right: when Zoe Mathison called, he went running like a lightning bolt.

But he wasn’t a doormat, the way they all thought – he was just a good friend. If someone he cared about was in need of a helping hand, he was always there for them. After all, dinner with his friends wasn’t such a rare event, especially since Danny and Kevin lived in the same building as he did. They had an evening of pizza, beer and board games at least once a month in any case, without needing a special occasion to celebrate. Zoe, however, would die of boredom if she had to spend New Year’s Eve alone with her large, conventional family.

She needed him more than those two single nerds who would quite happily spend their New Year’s Eve eating junk food and watching Star Wars for the thousandth time without him. That’s why he was running off to save her.

“Oh, who the hell are you trying to kid?” he snorted mentally, staring at the bright panorama that flashed by outside the window. If he went running off like a madman every time Zoe snapped her fingers it was because he was crazy for real: crazily in love with her.

Kevin had a point: ten years pining after a woman who held his emotions in her hands, albeit unwittingly. It was his own fault for having gotten her used to it, for spoiling her like a child, initially hoping to prove something to her, and later because he simply couldn’t help himself.

He didn’t know quite why Zoe had so much power over him. Yes, she was beautiful, charming and sultry and possessed every conceivable physical gift, of course, but what attracted him to her was something else. Under that glowing patina of perfection, Zoe was also sweet, sensitive, sometimes insecure, and had an immeasurable need to feel loved. A need Eric could have fulfilled for a lifetime and beyond, with all the love he had inside him.

Zoe, however, had no idea of this, even though he felt as if he had a flashing neon sign on his forehead. Perhaps because she looked at him with the same attention as she might some weird bug, or because she deliberately ignored the issue. In any case, the result was the same: apart from as a friend, she was not interested in him, and Eric had by now resigned himself to being exclusively her official confidant.

All things considered, he accepted the situation with good grace. Or at least, he did until he found himself face to face with her. When he arrived in Soho and rang the doorbell of the Mathison residence, it was Zoe who opened the door. Eric only managed to stop his jaw from falling right to the floor because she had mentioned what she was wearing when they spoke on the phone.

That red dress was… woah! It wasn’t that it was vulgar or flashy, it was that she managed to turn it into something breath-taking with her shapely figure, cat-like eyes and smile that could have put a demon on the path of righteousness… or made a devil out of an angel.

“Finally!” she exclaimed, grabbing his hand and dragging him into the house. “I told them that there was someone coming, but I didn’t tell them who, just in case you had a mishap or changed your mind or something.”

“And how would you have explained the sudden absence of the mysterious guest if I had?”

“Oh, trust me, I would have found someone… even if it meant going from house to house knocking on every door and begging any available man on my knees.”

Eric didn’t answer, but he clenched his teeth. He had no doubt that such a plan would succeed: Zoe would have been able to convince any man within a one mile radius to go along with her just by batting her eyelashes.

“Well then, why did she call you?” asked a voice inside his head.

Maybe because it was easier. It wasn’t necessary for her to promise him anything in order to convince him to help her.

Are there written rules on how to find a soulmate? Or is it better to trust the hands of fate? .

After enduring a string of dead-end relationships, Zoe Mathison has made a decision – to find a man who truly appreciates her. But this is turning out to be more complicated than she expected. Fed up of being surrounded by insufferably happy couples in love, her mission to find the perfect man starts to become an obsession.

Eric Morgan is pushed to his limits. Hopelessly in love with Zoe, who sees him as nothing more than a best friend to lean on, he can’t bear seeing his hopes of romance crushed every time the sculpted pecs of a younger man comes along. But when a new girl appears on the scene, he is determined to prove that he can push his infatuation aside and move on. But is it as easy as it seems?

In the romantic and bustling city of New York, will Zoe and Eric’s hilarious misadventures attract Cupid’s arrow?

Cassie Rocca is a writer of Sicilian origin who has lived in Genoa since the age of three. In everyday life she is a child-minder, a job which gives her plenty of ideas for her modern fairy tales.


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