HER BEST SHOT
Layla Sharpe is definitely more math ninja than bikini babe. But she’s finally ready let loose over spring break—until her car breaks down, leaving her stranded in Georgia with a mouthwateringly hot pool shark. Layla knows enough about angles to learn the game, but when he offers her a place to stay, she wants him to appreciate her curves…
HER PERFECT GAME
Charlie Castle is an expert archer and a fierce warrior—in her favorite video game, anyway. Now she’s entering a “hackfest” over spring break, where she also hopes to meet the sweet gamer who’s been flirting with her online. Instead, she runs into Jonah, the hot guy who walked away years ago. Charlie can’t fight the desire that comes rushing back, and the feeling is more mutual than she suspects…
HER WINNING FORMULA
Chemistry major Felicity Stone knows everything about how chemicals interact, but when it comes to social interaction, she needs schooling. Abandoned by her friends, Felicity is faced with spending spring break alone—unless she accepts a gorgeous stranger’s invitation to pose as his girlfriend at a family wedding. Not one to turn down a research opportunity, Felicity never expected such breathtaking results—ones that could last a lifetime…
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Hot and Nerdy
By SHANNYN SCHROEDER
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Shannyn Schroeder
All rights reserved.
Layla Sharpe held her composure until she reached her car. She looked discreetly over her shoulder and then kicked off her heels and danced in the parking lot. Her pencil skirt rode high on her thighs, and after receiving a few stares, she grabbed her phone. Who to call first? Her parents or her best friends?
Her parents would still be at work, so she called Charlie and Felicity on a three-way call. When she had them both on the line and was seated in her car to avoid any more gawking, she blurted, "I had my interview for the summer internship today, and you're not going to believe this."
She paused for a deep breath. She wanted to remember the first time she spoke these words.
"And?" Felicity's voiced wobbled across the line.
"And what?" Charlie said. "We know you got the internship. They love you."
Layla's chest swelled with pride. "They offered me a job instead of the internship."
Her words were met with a high-pitched squeal from Felicity and a "holy shit" from Charlie.
"I can't wait to tell you guys all about it. You're both still going to be home for spring break next week, right?"
Charlie answered, "I never left, remember?"
Felicity added, "Well, that was the plan, but don't you think in light of your excellent news, we should celebrate? I think we should all meet up for a proper spring break. Let's go somewhere touristy and get drunk and have fun."
Layla straightened in her seat. Was that really Felicity talking? She would expect partying from Charlie, but never Felicity.
"Okay, who are you? Hey, Layla, are you sure you dialed right?" Charlie asked.
"Yes, she dialed right, smart-ass. Every year we talk about going somewhere and doing something fun. This is our last spring break. After this, we're all out in the real world. We might be scattered all over the country for our jobs. I heard a girl talking about going to South Padre Island in Texas. Let's go."
Layla considered her options. She'd always wanted to drive cross-country on a road trip. This might be her only chance for a long time. "I'm in. I'm going to drive starting right now."
"Great. I'll change my flight. Good-bye, Chicago; hello, Texas. What about you, Charlie?"
"I have a con planned for next weekend."
Layla rolled her eyes. Charlie and her damn comic book/superhero/ video game conventions. "So come for the first part of the week."
Charlie became suspiciously quiet.
"Charlotte, we hear you breathing. What's going on?" Layla asked.
"I don't want to take away from your exciting news."
"Spit it out."
"I think Ethan has something special planned for this week."
Ethan. What a jerk. Layla had no idea what Charlie saw in him. He believed her love of computers and games was a strange hobby that she'd outgrow. He had no idea.
"It won't be the same without you." It might do Charlie some good to get out of the house, away from games and from Ethan.
"I know, but you guys go ahead and have fun. I expect you to have my share of fun too. Especially Felicity. Get that girl laid."
"Hey, that girl is listening. What makes you think I need to get laid?"
Charlie snickered. "When was the last time you had an orgasm with someone other than yourself?"
"Some of us have discriminating taste."
"Yeah, and some of us are too shy to speak to anyone with a dick."
"Now, girls ..." Layla interrupted.
"Whatever, Charlie. Look, I'm going to book us a room. I don't know how easy it's going to be since it's last minute, but I'll find something and text you the info."
Layla thought briefly of her bank account. "Make it a cheap room."
"I've got you covered. Consider it a graduation present."
Felicity was the only one of the three of them who had grown up with money. They'd all met at the same prep school. While Layla and Charlie had been there on scholarship, Felicity's parents had paid full boat. Felicity was used to being generous with her money. Sometimes too generous.
"I can pay."
"I know you can. Let me treat you. In return, you can teach me to pick up men."
Layla felt her smile broaden. "Deal."
They said their good-byes, and Layla started her car. She'd only packed a backpack before leaving school. She'd spent the night in Maryland to be ready for the interview, but now she wasn't sure what to do. Should she just hit the road and buy a few essentials on the way, or should she return to school in Boston and pack properly?
All the nervous energy answered for her. She'd change into something more comfortable and hit the road. She had enough packed for a couple of days. She always overplanned that way.
Screw it. It was time for fun and spontaneity. Everything she'd been working toward was within her grasp. Graduating at the top of her class, a sweet job offer working in the field she wanted most, and now a surprise vacation. What more could she ask for?
If she hurried, she could miss rush-hour traffic and log some miles before stopping for dinner. She'd spend the night wherever she landed.
Her mother would kill her if she knew. She hated the thought of Layla's being so far away for school. The thought of Layla's driving halfway across the country alone would probably give her mother hives. Maybe she'd just confide in Dad and let him break the news to Mom. That was a plan.
Layla stopped at the first gas station she found, filled up, and changed into her favorite pair of jeans and T-shirt, one of her many geek-girl shirts. It said, Welcome to the Dork Side. We Have Pi. Right before she left for college, she had begun collecting math-geek T-shirts. They fit her personality, and they were always a good conversation starter. She couldn't begin to count the number of times a guy had asked her to explain her shirt (sometimes because he didn't understand; other times because he thought she didn't).
Plus, the shirts gave her an identity. She didn't have to worry about people trying to figure out which friend she was—the smart one, the pretty one, the friendly one; her shirt said it all. Layla grabbed a ginormous Coke and a Snickers bar and tried to figure out the best route to Texas. She sat in her car and played with the GPS on her phone. She wanted to take a scenic route, but not one that would put her in the middle of nowhere. She was a city girl, after all.
With her GPS programmed, she headed south. Miles flew by, and her mind enjoyed the peace. At least for a while. She planned how to tell her parents about the job offer. Although she hadn't accepted it yet, she would. As a sophomore, she had set her sights on working as a cryptographer for the NSA. It was the stuff of spy novels without the danger.
When she stopped for dinner, she called her parents, who offered cautious congratulations. She heard her mother's fretting at the thought of Layla's working so far away. Layla opted not to exacerbate her mother's nervousness and only told them that she wouldn't be home for spring break. She allowed them to infer that she was staying on campus. She told herself that the omission would be good practice for keeping government secrets.
After checking into a cheap motel for the night, Layla received a text from Felicity with the resort information. With thoughts of the beach and sexy guys, Layla slept for a few hours, but was woken by dreams of working in an office, shuffling papers, and staring at a computer screen in a cubicle, boring herself to tears. The office had no windows, just rows of partitions, where she could hear but not see other people clicking on keyboards and answering phones.
She took a quick shower to clear her head and decided to hit the road early. Once in her car, thoughts of the gray, dreary dream haunted her. There was no way her new job would be that boring, right? She would be faced with numbers and problems to solve every day. She drove and tried to think of sunnier subjects.
The tightness in her chest was a telltale sign of an impending anxiety attack. She hadn't had one since just before high school graduation, but she'd never forget the feeling. A tingling itchiness invaded her limbs.
Pulling over to the shoulder of the highway, Layla rolled down her windows to get some semi-fresh air. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Freaking out over graduating and starting a new job made no sense. This was part of life. Everyone did it. She shook her head, turned up the radio, and pulled back into traffic.
So growing up was a little scary. But she had this week when she didn't have to think about it. For spring break, she could be a girl without a plan, one who didn't know anxiety.
* * *
So much for not knowing anxiety. Layla walked down the busy street in Atlanta looking for the nearest bar. She needed a drink.
After a leisurely drive through the mountains and taking time to enjoy the beauty of rural North Carolina, Layla had been feeling better. Then she had pulled into Atlanta and everything went to hell. Her car just stopped. She probably shouldn't have ignored the clunking while she was in the mountains. She sat at the side of the road waiting for a tow truck for a couple of hours. Not that she didn't have offers, from a variety of good old boys, to take her wherever she wanted to go.
Because it was Saturday afternoon, the mechanic had told her straight-out that nothing would be done on her car until Monday, but he'd promised to call her with a diagnosis before the end of the day. She had barely stopped herself from telling him to just fix it no matter what. Although she didn't like being stranded in Georgia, she wasn't going to pay an exorbitant amount of money for her hand-me-down car out of desperation.
Pulling her backpack higher on her shoulder, she stood still for a moment and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dim interior of the first bar she found. It was a dive, but there was a decent-sized crowd. Unfortunately, it wasn't her kind of crowd. They were mostly men and mostly grubby-looking. Even the younger ones had a roughness about them.
Layla figured it was par for the course. All she wanted to do was drown her sorrows in some beer and then pass out until her car was fixed. Maybe she could salvage part of her break. She shot a text to Felicity to let her know about the car.
After ordering a light beer at the bar, Layla walked toward the back to drink alone. In the back, she found a few men playing pool at the two tables. She grabbed a chair and sat with her back to the wall so she could watch the players. No one seemed to take notice of her presence.
Within moments, one player easily stood out as the man to beat. He was tall, over six feet, with long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. He wore a T-shirt that looked intentionally too tight, showing off defined muscles, as if to say, "Don't fuck with me." He didn't chat with the other player. The only sounds he made were to call his shots. He was smooth and efficient, and fun to watch as he cleared the table.
Especially when he bent over in front of her. Maybe being stuck in Atlanta for the night wouldn't be so bad if all the guys were this nice to look at. With the eight ball sunk, the man stood and collected the money sitting on the edge of the table. The loser walked away, and another guy took his place, putting his twenty on the edge.
This second player was better than the first, but Mr. Nice Ass stayed ahead. After a while, Layla began to wonder if he was just toying with his competition, like a cat playing with its prey. He let the other man sink a few balls and then returned to clear the table. Again, he sank the eight ball and swiped the cash.
The man was a pool hustler.
After the second loser left, the man looked around, his gaze landing on her. His eyes, a gray-green, weren't pretty, but were mesmerizing. Something about the contrast against his olive skin.
He pointed his pool cue at her. "Are you going to sit there staring all night, or are you going to play?"
"Me? I'm not stupid enough to play pool with a hustler. My day's been crappy enough. I don't need to lose anything else."
He stalked closer to her. "I'm not a hustler. Hustlers pretend to be bad and then show their true ability to win big. Make no mistake. I'm always good."
"Thanks for the vocabulary lesson. I still have better things to do with twenty bucks than lose it to you, especially since I've only played pool a handful of times."
He took another step closer. Close enough that she could touch him if she wanted, but he kept enough distance so she wasn't crowded. "How about you buy me a beer, and I'll give you a lesson?"
She had nothing else going on, and a game of pool with a sexy stranger might be fun. "You're on. What'll you have?"
He tilted his head toward her bottle. "Whatever you're having is fine."
She grabbed her backpack and went back to the bar to buy a couple more beers. When she returned, he had the balls racked and ready to go. She placed her backpack on her chair and grabbed a cue stick. Layla handed him a bottle and said, "I'm Layla."
He took the bottle from her, allowing his thumb to brush over her fingers. "Thanks, Layla. I'm Phin."
The simple touch sent a jolt of pleasure up her arm and down her center. He took a swig of beer, and she watched his throat work as he swallowed. She licked her lips, and when he reached past her to put his bottle on the table, her mouth went dry. This man was like a walking orgasm. He didn't have to say anything, and she wanted to go for a test run.
"Let's get started." He moved back to the pool table. "Do you want to break, or should I?"
"Go ahead." She stood to the side, gripping her cue stick.
He leaned forward, and the roped muscles of his forearms flexed as he made his shot. He sank a solid-colored ball, but because she was too busy watching him and not the table, she didn't see which one.
"Do you know the rules?"
She nodded. "You sank a solid, so I have stripes. Call what pocket I'm aiming for and get the balls in. Don't sink the eight until the end."
"First rule, watch the table." He followed this with a warm grin that told her he liked to tease.
Two could play at that. He leaned over for his next shot, and she shifted closer to him and leaned on the edge. The muscle in his jaw twitched and he straightened.
He carefully set down his stick and walked behind her. Before she could register what was happening, Phin had picked her up by her hips and a squeal popped from her throat. He set her down a couple of feet back.
When she had her balance, she crossed her arms and looked up at him. "What are you doing?"
He cleared his throat before answering. "You can't lean on the table during another player's shot."
She gave him a wide-eyed look. "How else am I supposed to learn? I paid for a lesson, and if you think that watching you win is going to teach me, you're wrong. I might not look like much, but I'm pretty competitive. You'll beat me, but I'm a quick study."
"I'll keep that in mind. Now stay back." He pointed his stick in her direction. "Seven, side pocket." He tapped the pocket he aimed for as if she couldn't figure it out. The ball thunked in and he continued. "Three, corner pocket."
This time, as he leaned over, Layla strolled to the other side of the table. He didn't move his head, but she felt him staring at her. He struck the cue ball, but it angled and glanced off the three, missing his intended target. "Your shot."
Layla stared at the table, trying to decide what would be her easiest shot, instead of taking another peek at his ass. She walked around the corner to get a full picture of where the balls sat and where they should go. When she returned to Phin's side, she asked, "Fifteen in the corner. That's my best bet, right?"CHAPTER 2
Phin nodded. He didn't know what he'd been thinking, offering to play with this girl. She had trouble written all over her. He'd noticed her as soon as she had entered the room. First, this bar rarely had pretty girls walk through; second, she paid as much attention to the game as she did to the players, so he wasn't quite sure what she was looking for. Her short, dark hair was a mess, and she wasn't wearing any makeup. She wore her clothes comfortably, and he liked the Star Wars joke on her shirt.
The problem was he'd managed to avoid trouble for a long time.
She was different, and that alone caught his attention. Most women would feign interest in the game to hit on him. Not Layla. She walked around the table and attempted to set up her shot. Leaning forward, she awkwardly tried to balance the stick in her hands.
This was the part he loved most about helping a girl learn to play pool. He stood behind her and circled his arms around her body. With his left hand, he formed hers into a steady bridge and set the cue on it. Then he grasped her hips to straighten them. He forced his fingers not to linger.
A subtle shift of her shoulders let him know that she wasn't impervious to his touch. He leaned close to her ear while using his right hand to lower the back end of the cue. "Keep the cue parallel to the table. Go in on an angle and the ball will skip and hop. Use a strong, steady stroke. Follow through once you commit."
Her breath hitched a little on the way in, and Phin wondered if she would sound like that in bed. He didn't move, but waited for her to take her shot.
Excerpted from Hot and Nerdy by SHANNYN SCHROEDER. Copyright © 2015 Shannyn Schroeder. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Table of Contents
ContentsHer Best Shot, 1,
Her Perfect Game, 95,
Her Winning Formula, 187,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It was nice 3 short stories about three best friends and there spring break adventures.
This is an anthology of 3 books and the start of the Hot @nd Nerdy series. I always recommend reading series books in order to gain full understanding and enjoyment to the book. These stories can be read as a standalone novel, as each of them are their own story. While all 3 books are seriously fun reads, I want to concentrate with you to the first book in the anthology, if you please. This was just a fun and hot story. I found it a quick and easy read. Layla has a lot to think about and takes a road trip to meet her best friends in Texas, for Spring Break. Her car breaks down in Georgia, and she meets a hot guy in a bar there. He wants to help her after she runs into trouble and needs to stay in town a few days. Finn is a former gypsy and trying to figure out what he wants in life. He figures at this point, that might as well be the game of pool, and a tournament in Las Vegas. He teaches Layla how to play, and together they do well for themselves. This ended up a fun and sexy read. The hot times are HOT! The laughter and friendship they share is fun to read also. ***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.