Smart, sexy, and downright hilarious – read an excerpt from Mr Wrong Number by Lynn Painter
 More about the book!

Penguin Random House SA has shared an excerpt from Mr Wrong Number by Lynn Painter – in which a steamy text to the wrong number has laugh-out-loud consequences …

About the book

Bad luck has always followed Olivia. But when a steamy text from a random number turns into the most entertaining relationship of her life, it seems things are looking up …

Colin has always considered Olivia his flatmate’s annoying little sister. Until she moves in with them, and he realises she’s turned into an altogether sexier distraction …

He’s determined to keep his distance, but it isn’t easy. Especially when he discovers she’s the girl he’s been secretly messaging.

Now, Mr Wrong Number must make a decision. Should he shut down the messages, before things get messy?

Or turn up the heat … ?


Read the excerpt:



It started the night after I burned down my building.

I was sitting on top of the fancy granite island in my brother’s kitchen, inhaling a bag of his pretzels while systematically knocking back the bottles of Stella that’d been in his fridge. And no, I didn’t have a drinking problem. I had a life problem. As in, my life sucked and I needed to fall into a coma variety of sleep if I were going to have any shot at formulating a plan for my future when I woke up.

Jack had agreed (after much begging) to let me stay with him for a month — enough time to get a job and find my own place — as long as I agreed to be on my best behavior and stay out of his roommate’s way. He seemed a little too old to have a roommate, if you asked me, but who was I to judge?

Big brother had given me a hug and a key and left me for fifty-cent wing night at Billy’s Bar, so I was home alone and bawling to Adele on his Alexa. It was already woe-is-me music, but when she started crooning about a fire starting in her heart, it made me think about the fire that started on my deck, and I totally lost it.

I was full-on ugly crying when my phone buzzed and halted the meltdown. A number I didn’t know texted:

So tell me exactly what you’re wearing.

A pervy wrong number? I wiped my nose and typed: Your mom’s wedding dress and her favorite thong.

No more than five seconds went by before Mr. Wrong Number texted: Um, what?

I texted: Seriously, babe, I thought you’d think it’s hot.

Mr. Wrong Number: “Babe”? Wtf?

That actually made me snort out a tiny laugh, the thought of some dude getting cold-showered via text. It was super weird that babe was where he was getting tripped up, as opposed to the monstrosity of an oedipal-lingerie suggestion, but he’d also used the tired what are you wearing line, so who could really say about a guy like that?

I texted: Would you prefer something less mommish?

Mr. Wrong Number: Oh, no — it sounds totally hot. You cool with me rocking cargo shorts, socks with sandals, and your dad’s jockstrap?

That made me smile in the midst of my full-on life collapse and resultant crying binge.

Me: I’m so turned on right now. Please tell me you’ll whisper dad jokes in my ear while we bonk.

Mr. Wrong Number: Yeah, baby jokes and weather anecdotes come fully loaded. And bonk is the sexiest word in the English language, btw.

Me: Agreed.

Mr. Wrong Number: I texted the wrong number, didn’t I?

Me: Yeah, you did. I hiccuped — the beer was finally kicking in — and decided to give the guy a break. I texted: But go get after it, bud. Land that bonk.

Mr. Wrong Number: This is the weirdest text exchange I’ve ever had.

Me: Same. Good luck and good night.

Mr. Wrong Number: Thanks for the support, and good night to you, as well.

Once the Stella started making me tired, I decided to shower — bye-bye, smoky hair — and go to bed. I dug through my duffel for clothes, but then I remembered — duh — the fire. All I had were the clothes that’d been in the bottom of my gym locker and some rando mismatched separates that’d fallen onto the floorboards of my back seat on multiple laundry days. I found a Cookie Monster pajama top, but discovered I didn’t actually own a single bottom; no pajama bottoms, no jeans, no shorts — the only pants I owned now were the stinky gym shorts currently covering my ass.

Was not owning pants my rock bottom?

Thank God I had clean underwear. I had one pair of neon-yellow boy shorts that said Eat the Rich across the back, and their presence in my life kept me dangling from the balcony that hovered just above Bottom.

I took a thirty-minute shower, tipsily smitten with the pouring-rain showerhead and Jack’s roommate’s expensive conditioner. I accidentally dropped the slippery plastic bottle, which made the pump top break off and sent the majority of the luxurious crème slathering out all over the slick floor of the shower. I knelt down and scooped as much as I could back into the bottle, setting it carefully on the shower shelf and hoping no one would notice.

Spoiler: They always noticed.

But two hours later I was still wide-awake, lying on the floor of my brother’s office on his squeaky old air mattress, staring at the ceiling through puffy eyes and replaying over and over again all of the terrible things that’d happened before I fled Chicago.

The layoff. The cheating. The breakup. The fire.

And then I said, “Screw. This.”

I got up, went into that shiny kitchen, cracked the seal on a bottle of tequila that had a smiley mustachioed sun on the bottle, and I made myself the world’s biggest night night toddy. I might have a headache in the morning, but at least I’d get some sleep.

“Livvie, it’s mom. I thought you were coming over today.”

I opened my eyes — well, only one would open — and looked at the phone my mother was shouting at me from. Eight thirty? She’d expected me to show up at their house at dawn? God, the woman was like some kind of sadistic, dog-torturing serial killer or something.

Why had I answered again?

“I was. I mean, I am. My alarm was just about to go off.”

“Well, I thought you were job hunting today.”

Adele started blaring through the apartment again — what the hell — and I yelled, “Alexa, turn off music.”

My mother said, “Who are you talking to?”

“No one.” The music still blared. “Alexa, turn off Adele!”

“Do you have friends over?”

“Oh, my God. No.” My second eye finally opened and I sat up, my entire forehead clenched in a massive ache as the music came to an abrupt halt. “I was talking to Jack’s stereo.”

She sighed one of her why-is-my-daughter-such-a-nut sighs. “So are you not job hunting, then?”

Someone please kill me. I said through wicked cotton mouth, “I am. The internet makes it okay to start at noon, I swear, Ma.”

“I don’t even know what you’re saying. Are you coming over or not?”

I took a deep breath through my nose and remembered my wardrobe problems. Until I could wash my bottoms, I was hosed. So I said, “Not. Until later. The job is my number one priority, so I’ll swing by after I get some apps put in.”

And also after I found a pair of pants.

“Is your brother there?”

“I have no idea.”

“How can you not know if he’s there?”

“Because I’m still in bed, and the door is closed.”

“Why would you sleep with the door closed? That spare room will get really stuffy if you don’t open it up.”

“Oh. My. God.” I sighed and rubbed my temple. “I will get out of bed in a minute, and if I see your other-gendered offspring, I will tell him to call you. Okay?”

“Oh, I don’t need him to call me. I was just wondering if he’s there.”

“I have to go.”

“Did you deposit that money yet?”

I pressed my lips together and closed my eyes. Leave it to my mother. The only thing worse, at the age of twenty-five, than having to ask your parents for money because you rolled into town on fumes and literally didn’t have a dime to your name, was having a mom who wanted to talk about it. I said, “Yes, I did it online last night.”

As if I had any choice but to deposit that mortifying parental contribution as fast as humanly possible. Because after the smoke cleared (literally) and it became apparent that my building was no longer standing, I’d had to spend what little money I had on survival items like an oil change, new tires, and a whole lot of gas to get me home to Omaha.

Thank God I still had one final paycheck coming next week.

My mother said, “You did it on the computer?”

I gritted my teeth. “Yes.”

“Evie’s husband said you should never do that. You might as well just give your money to the hackers.”

My head was throbbing. “Who is Evie?”

“My bridge partner, the one who lives in Gretna. Do you never listen to me?”

“Mom,” I said, contemplating pulling the old cutting out, I’m in a tunnel cell phone trick. “I don’t memorize your bridge partners’ names.”

“Well, I only have one, dear, it’s not that hard.” My mother sounded deeply offended. “You need to stop with the computer banking — just go see the teller in person.”

I sighed. “Should I have driven back to Chicago to deposit it in person, Ma?”

“There’s no need to get snippy. I’m just trying to help.”

I sighed again and clambered to my feet from the low, low air mattress that’d bottomed out every time I’d rolled over in the night. “I know and I’m sorry. It’s just been a rough couple of days.”

“I know, hon. Just come over later, okay?”

“Okay.” I walked over to the door and threw it open. “I love you. Bye.”

I tossed the phone on top of the desk and squinted as the living room’s natural light assaulted my eyeballs. God, the hangover. I had that equilibrium tilt going on, the one that let your body know you were still too boozed up to drive, and I stumbled in the direction of the Keurig, desperate for coffee.

“Well, good morning, sunshine.”

I froze at the sound and instantly felt like I was going to throw up.

Because Colin Beck, Jack’s best friend, was watching me toddle toward the kitchen. As if the universe hadn’t already beaten the living shit out of me, there he was, standing beside the fancy breakfast bar with his arms crossed, witnessing my walk of shame with an eyebrow raised in amusement. He was wearing his I’m-better-than-you smirk and dickish good looks while I traversed the apartment in underpants and a too-small shirt like some sort of Winnie-the-Pooh variety of dipshit.

I blinked. Had he gotten more attractive?

What a prick.

The last time I’d seen him was my freshman year of college, when I’d gotten kicked out of the dorms and had to spend the final month of the semester living at home with my parents. Jack brought him over for spaghetti on a Sunday, and Colin had found the story of my stray-dog rescue turned mauling of multiple dorm tenants turned subsequent fire-sprinkler deployment turned massive dorm-wide flooding dismissal to be the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Today he looked like he’d just come back from a run. His damp T-shirt hugged his über-defined everything, and some kind of tattoo snaked down his right arm.

Who did he think he was with that, The Rock?

Colin had one of those movie-star faces, with the perfect bone structure and a killer jawline, but his blue eyes had a mischievous spark that offset the beauty. Rowdy eyes. I’d fallen in love with that face briefly at the age of fourteen, but after eaves-dropping on a conversation where he’d referred to me as the “little weirdo” at age fifteen, I’d taken an extreme right turn into loathing and never looked back.


Categories Fiction International

Tags Book excerpts Book extracts Lynn Painter Mr Wrong Number Penguin Random House SA

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