Read an Excerpt
Playing for Her Heart (Gamers)
A Gamers Novel
By Megan Erickson, Edited by Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Megan Erickson
All rights reserved.
He was the perfect Breck.
There were other Breck cosplayers around the convention but on every one, something was off — whether it was the shade of blue of his shirt, or the way his sword was hung.
This guy, though ... this guy's shirt was the perfect blue, that brilliant color that was so noticeable in the Aric's Revenge video game. It was a blue that was almost purple. Chloe had even looked it up, and she'd determined it was #2a23ff. Which she recognized was pretty damn dorky, but why cosplay if she didn't go all in?
This Breck had blond hair that was the exact length of the character. Was it his normal cut, or had he gotten it done for the convention? She wasn't sure which one she preferred. An actual, real-life Breck in the wild was like finding a four-leaf clover.
The man shifted where he stood leaning against a wall, and the muscles in his arms rippled beneath the thin linen cloth. He had a strong jaw and full lips. A sharp, straight nose. He was perfect in those tight tan breeches, his sword hanging at the perfect angle on his hip.
Chloe's hands self-consciously went to the corset of her Sari costume, and the satin fabric was slick under her fingertips. She stepped forward, her skirt swishing around her bare legs and brushing along her lace-up, knee- high boots. She'd sewn the ribbing into her gray corset and laced it herself. She'd agonized over the beige skirt, making sure the dirt patches matched up to Sari's in the game.
Cosplay was ... well, it meant everything to her. It wasn't Halloween. She didn't cut holes out of a sheet and throw it over her head and declare herself a ghost. Oh no. This was Comic-Con. And this year's star attraction was Aric's Revenge, the wildly popular video game turned into a wildly popular movie that had made buckets of money.
She was dressed as Sari, an enslaved ex-princess who was held prisoner alongside Evelyn, the wife of the main character, Aric. In the game, Sari had fallen in love with Breck.
Which was exactly what she planned to do that night. Minus the love part.
Chloe wasn't the type of girl who met guys in a bar and made small talk about their lives and the weather and their jobs. No, she was the type of girl who dressed up and pretended to be someone else for one night of wild passion.
And then before he saw the real her, she left, back to her life in her lonely home office in her bare apartment. A life where she had a reclusive, damaged brother, and dead sister.
A life where she was destined to fail everyone.
She let herself feel the crowd around her, keeping an eye on Breck. There was an energy in the air, one that was fueled by a sense of belonging, and Chloe fed off it as she always did, smiling when she heard the exclamations of thrilled kids and adults.
The Comic-Con, held in Philadelphia at a large hotel convention center, was well attended, the crowd a mix of cosplay and people in street clothes. Chloe had arrived the night before, checked into her hotel room, and finished up the last-minute fixes to her costume. All around her was excited chatter, the soundtrack of video games and movies blasting from the various booths.
She'd waited all year for this, especially because of the presence of the Aric's Revenge creators. In fact, she'd just listened to Austin Rivers give a beautiful speech about his involvement in the making of the game. It was her favorite of the year — the graphics were stellar, the storyline tight, the cast diverse.
And now she was here, as Sari, and had finally found her Breck.
As she drew closer to her target, he raised his head, and blue eyes as brilliant as his shirt pierced her. She had to check to be sure her false eyelashes were still on, that her corset hadn't unlaced, because those eyes ... well, she swore for a minute that they saw through her disguise to the boring, freelance computer-debugging geek underneath.
She wasn't that girl. Not tonight. She needed a costume to approach gorgeous men like the one in front of her, whose blue eyes were now tracking down her body, all the way to her toes and back up.
But then her vision was no longer full of Breck, because a man had stepped in front of her, blocking her view.
She craned her neck and moved to go around the man, but then he sidestepped, right into her path. She glared at him. Or rather, she glared at ... Doc Ock.
A Doc Ock who was leering at her.
For God's sake.
He twisted at the waist, so his metal octopus arms clanged together. Leaning into her, he pulled a string near his head so a claw snapped in her face. "Need a hand untying that corset, baby?" He held out his hands so that all four of his metal arms lifted. "Because I got six."
This was what was keeping her from Breck? A Spider- Man villain? She raised her eyebrows, emboldened by her costume so she could say what she never could without it. "Seriously? That's your come on?"
He blinked at her. "Uh, yeah I guess so."
"That's the best you could come up with?"
His lips twisted to the side. "Well, uh, how about, are you afraid of spiders? Because I can protect you."
She rolled her eyes. "Spiderman already beat you once and —"
And then her world tilted as someone gripped her waist and slung her over a hard shoulder. Then she was moving as the body who held her began walking. She protested with an umph and raised her head, watching Doc Ock stare after them with wide eyes, his metal arms clanking.
Chloe tried to get her wits together, remembering this was cosplay and she was Sari and how dare this guy pick her up? She turned her attention to her kidnapper. Or rather, his back. His blue-shirt-clad back. "Hey, put me down."
He did with a thunk, and once she righted her skirt and brushed her hair out of her face, she got a good look at Breck. Her Breck.
Her incredibly hot rescuer.
She placed her hand on her hips and tried to keep the breathiness out of her voice, because damn. "I was doing just fine back there."
"I know you were," he said in a deep voice that skittered down her spine like fingers. "But I wasn't. Had enough of watching that guy trying to hit on you." Those full lips, so full they were almost feminine, twisted into a smile. "I wanted your attention. Because you're the best Sari I've seen today."
Chloe sucked in a breath. Oh yes, he'd do.
She smiled, grateful for her heavy makeup — black-lined eyes, rouged cheeks, and red, red lips. "You're an okay Breck, I guess."
He laughed, a short burst of sound that made her grin even wider.
"Okay? Only okay? Damn, woman, you're a tough audience. I hand-dyed this shirt, I'll have you know."
Never in her life did she think a man talking about dying his shirt would make her wet. But, oh God, she was a little turned on right now. "Ah, but did you slice your finger open on the plastic boning while sewing it into your corset?" She had a small bloodstain on the inner lining to prove it.
She'd never seen a man whose face was so expressive. He twisted it from humor to one of mock sympathy in an instant. "Oh my God! The horror! Did you see the healer, my dear Sari?"
He was so good, slipping back into character. Which worked for her, because he'd never learn her real name if she had any say over it. "A dab of ointment and a bandage and I'll live to see another day."
He held out his hand and she studied it. Not too calloused. Nails short and well maintained. He had a rather muscular frame, but she assumed that came from a gym. She took one step closer and placed her injured hand in his.
His fingers closed around hers briefly, his gaze on her face, then his eyes dropped to her hand. He studied it, twisting his wrist, until he found the injury on her forefinger. She'd placed an honest to God white bandage on it she'd made from an old bed sheet. A Band-Aid would have ruined her look.
His mouth quirked up at the corners as he took it in, and then he lifted his gaze, lowered his head, and pressed a kiss to her finger.
She held in a gasp as his lips brushed her skin, the warmth spreading through her limbs like wildfire.
The first time Breck touched Sari in the game, she'd just picked the lock of her cell with a dagger hidden in her skirt. With several other prisoners at her heels, she'd taken off at a dead sprint in the catacombs of the dungeon, only to run headlong into Breck, who was there with Aric. He'd hauled her over his shoulder and she'd fought him the whole way, pounding his huge muscled back while he ignored her like she was a fly.
He'd smacked her ass, told her if she didn't stop, he'd lock her away again.
And Sari, who was no dummy, stopped.
Chloe thought maybe she should be kicking and screaming. That maybe this Breck was a little too much for her to handle, with those laughing blue eyes and sensual lips. But she wanted to know what was under that blue shirt, what was behind the laces of his breeches. She wanted to know what else those fingers could do, the ones that were currently massaging her hand.
Plus, she had her armor. Sari would protect her. Sari would speak for her.
Sari could do what Chloe never could. Be who Chloe could never be.
His lips left her skin and then he tugged gently on her arm. Another step brought her against him, so the breast cups of her corset brushed against his chest.
"Do I have to haul you over my shoulder to have dinner with me, or will you come willingly?" he asked quietly.
So blue, his eyes. He was like a walking Ken doll. Chloe had only played Barbies because her sister had forced her to, and when Chloe did play, she always ended up with Ken and Barbie on the roof of the Dream House naked.
She wanted this Ken doll naked, too. But without that weird smooth plastic crotch.
"I'll come willingly," she responded.
He tilted his head and his eyes sparkled. "I might need to frisk you for daggers. I'm not sure those are allowed in the establishment I'm taking you to." His eyes sparkled.
She licked her lips, tempted to tell him to forget dinner, a bed was all that was needed. But instead, she nodded. "You can frisk me."
He raised an eyebrow as he slipped a hand beneath the waist high slit on her skirt. "What will I find, Sari?"
Those fingers started at her outer thigh and then traced inward, along the soft flesh on her inner thigh. She sucked in a breath. "What do you think?"
He paused when he touched the leather of her garter. A smile tipped his lips. "Ah, my Sari, never without a weapon."
She stepped back then, away from his touch and swirled her skirt around her legs. "No man will have his hand up my skirt. I think we're safe wherever you plan to take me."
He paused, then held his elbow out. "I like a woman who can defend herself."
She slipped her arm in his and they began to walk. "Well then, glad you found me."
* * *
She was the perfect Sari.
Grant Osprey hadn't actually planned to pick out a Sari to go with his Breck. He didn't really discriminate when it came to these things. He would have been fine with a Wonder Woman or Poison Ivy. That steampunk Queen of Hearts two years ago had been a full house in bed.
But this Sari ... there was something about her. Plump red lips, huge cascading waves of chestnut-brown hair that brushed the top of her high ass. That was her real hair, he bet, not a wig. What he wouldn't give to wrap his fist in it while he took her from behind. She was a petite thing, and he imagined spanning her narrow waist with his other hand, watching the firm globes of her ass jolt with every stroke inside of her.
He was getting a little ahead of himself, but that's what these conventions were for him. Sure he dated here and there, but dating lead to complications that he simply didn't have time for. He was the owner of a gaming magazine and a stressed-out single dad. But here? He wasn't any of those things. He was Deadpool or Legolas or Breck.
He didn't have to fuck, but he sure as hell liked to, and if Sari's glimmering green eyes were any indication, she did, too.
He glanced around the crowded convention for a glimpse of his friend, Austin Rivers, and his girlfriend, Marley Lake. But they'd just made up after a big fight so he was sure they were in a hotel right now fucking like bunnies.
Good for them. Marley was the newly appointed editor of Gamers and she was the only thing that made Austin happy. And it seemed the feeling was mutual.
Grant's eyes drifted to Sari's chest. The tops of her rounded breasts peeked out of the top of her corset. They looked soft and smooth and perfectly lickable. He had the urge to lay his head on them, run his fingers along the smooth satin fabric of her corset, listen to her heartbeat.
He led Sari to a small restaurant that had been set up near the Aric's Revenge stage. He glanced around but now that the presentation was over, the area was less crowded and he didn't see anyone he knew.
The inside of the restaurant had been made to look like a medieval tavern. Faux stone covered the walls, and the lighting was dim with electric sconces on the wall, which flickered to look like real firelight. A gas fireplace lit up the corner, a bearskin rug on the floor in front of it. There was an aisle down the center with large rectangular wooden tables on each side, about five deep, with benches for sitting.
The acoustics were terrible, but it settled Grant into the role, making him feel like he'd just completed his mission and was now dining with his spoils: Sari.
Grant ordered them some red wine and hot beef sandwiches. Sari sat with her legs crossed, the garter holding her dagger visible on one pale thigh. He wanted to drop to his knees under the table and shove his face between her legs, but he needed to have some modicum of decorum. This wasn't actually the Middle Ages.
Plus, he didn't know what she wanted. Flirting didn't mean she was going to get naked for him.
Her lashes were incredibly long, and he wondered if they were fake or real. His daughter, Sydney, had never been into makeup and was only getting started now that her high school friends were encouraging her. So Grant didn't know what to look for with these things. All he knew was that Sari was gorgeous. Stunningly so. Her shoulders were bare and slender. She wore an iron cuff on her biceps in the shape of a dragon. He had the sudden desire to see her calves, ankles, and feet hidden in her knee-high boots.
Grant had always been able to fall back on his charm. He flirted shamelessly with anyone with a pulse. But this woman tied up his tongue in knots. He took a sip of wine to lubricate it.
"Should I call you Sari or ..."
She blinked slowly over the rim of her pewter cup. "Sari's fine."
Why did that make his dick hard? "Guess I'll remain Breck then."
The sandwiches were placed in front of them by a winking wench. Grant grinned back, and Sari laughed.
Grant poked at his sandwich, which oozed juice as it sat on a wooden trencher. They had cloth napkins but no silverware. He took a bite and savored the seasoned meat. "Tell me about where you're from."
He watched the tip of her tongue slip past those red lips and swipe at a bit of juice that had escaped out of the corner of her mouth. "Well, as you know, I'm a Princess."
Grant grinned, glad this was still the game. "I do, your Majesty."
"Your highness," she sniffed.
He stifled a snort at her offended frown. "Apologies."
She brushed her hair behind her shoulder. "Avaria is quite beautiful, you know, with ..." Her voice faltered as she said, "butterflies and singing birds."
He dug his fingers into his thigh so he didn't burst into laughter. "You don't say. Butterflies and singing birds. Paradise, it sounds like."
"And meadows and lakes."
"Why, of course."
She licked her lips again, and they quirked at the corners, like she was trying to hold in a smile. "So when I was betrothed to an evil man in the neighboring kingdom, which was obviously dark and scary with no butterflies and singing birds ..."
He nodded emphatically.
"I ran away. When I was finally captured, my betrothed had died. So my brothers sold me into slavery as punishment."
"Horrible and cruel."
"Indeed," she said, sipping her wine.
"But I saved you," he pointed out.
"Well, I had planned to save myself. You just beat me to it. Just like back with Doc Ock."
Excerpted from Playing for Her Heart (Gamers) by Megan Erickson, Edited by Heather Howland. Copyright © 2015 Megan Erickson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.