I don’t think I ever read about a Heroine who’s a role-game developer, and it’s very refreshing and new. And the cover is great!
Crushing It by Lorelei Parker will release June 30 in the Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance genre.
In life, as in gaming, there’s a way around every obstacle . . .
To pitch her new role-playing game at a European conference, developer Sierra Reid needs to overcome her terror of public speaking. What better practice than competing in a local bar’s diary slam, regaling an audience with old journal entries about her completely humiliating college crush on gorgeous Tristan Spencer?
Until the moderator says, “Next up, Tristan Spencer . . .”
Sierra is mortified, but Tristan is flattered. Caught up in memories of her decade-old obsession as they reconnect, Sierra tries to dismiss her growing qualms about him. But it’s not so easy to ignore her deepening friendship with Alfie, the cute, supportive bar owner. She and Alfie were college classmates too, and little by little, Sierra is starting to wonder if she’s been focusing her moves on the wrong target all along, misreading every player’s motivations.
Maybe the only winning strategy is to start playing by her heart . . .
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The spotlight was soft, not blinding, but beyond the golden radius, I could only make out the edges of the tables closest to the stage and the distant bar, an island of its own light. It gave me the impression I was only speaking to a couple of people. I found a friendly face subdued by shadows and opened my journal.
My stomach knotted, and I breathed in and out like Alfie had advised.
“This is from a writing class I took about ten years ago.” A frog caught firmly in my throat.
“Speak up.” The disembodied voice came from out in the blackness. I squinted as if I’d be able to see who’d spoken.
I leaned into the microphone and apologized. The speakers emitted a high-pitched squeal like an external representation of my mounting panic.
I took another calming breath, then repeated my opening statement, louder now.
“This is a journal from a writing class ten years ago.” I continued.
“The question I asked myself today was this: In the event of an apocalyptic catastrophe that wiped out humankind while somehow sparing my comm class, would we be able to repopulate the earth?”
A burst of laughter surprised me, and I smiled. Maybe I could do this.
“I mean, biologically, it would be feasible. The ratio of boys to girls in our class might be low, but if we’re only talking numbers, the men could spread their seed widely. It only takes one stallion. But that assumes these guys are studly enough to attract even a single woman.”
I swallowed and shot a glance over at Alfie, lit from behind at the bar. He leaned forward on his elbows, listening intently. He raised a hand and flashed a thumbs up. Relieved, I soldiered on.
“It’s a simple question of physical attraction. How many people in the class are instantly doable?
“As it turns out, a large class filled with college kids would be the ideal resource for repopulating the earth. My comm class is packed with so many pretty girls, I have to wonder if my participation would be required at all. Maybe the boys in the class would have such a luxury of options that I’d manage to remain single even when I was practically the last girl on earth.
“In my hunt for my post-apocalyptic fuck buddy, I returned time and again to the one boy in the room who could probably single-handedly repopulate the planet. With or without the apocalypse.”
I stole a glance at the lady I’d picked as my friendly face earlier. She had a smile plastered on, so I took that as a good sign. My mouth was beginning to feel like cotton, so I gulped more water.
“Tristan Spencer is the prettiest boy I’ve ever seen. I’d have Tristan Spencer’s post-apocalyptic babies, and he wouldn’t have to ask twice.
“We’ve been in classes together before, but I’ve never had the nerve to talk to him.
“Maybe the world will end tomorrow.”
I closed my notebook and stepped away from the mic with a sigh of relief.
The speaker popped once, and then for a moment silence descended. I’d done it. My mouth had gone completely dry, I needed to pee, and my hands still trembled, but I’d stood in front of a roomful of strangers and shared a personal anecdote. My heart hadn’t exploded. I hadn’t vomited. I bit my lip and risked a small smile, satisfied with myself.
The audience clapped. I hadn’t fallen flat on my face or somehow managed to pour water down my shirt. I’d done it! That hadn’t been nearly as humiliating as I’d expected.
In fact, reading my old writing, I was proud of my former me. Where had that spirit gone?
I wound through the tables toward the bar to the applause generated when Miranda asked the audience to give me another round. “Remember that Sierra was contestant number thirteen. You are voting for contestant number thirteen.”
I caught Alfie’s eye, hoping for some signs of approval from my new ally, but he had a pinched expression, like the nurse just before she explained I had a UTI—concerned, slightly horrified.
My God. I’d never checked to make sure my fly was zipped. My hand flew to my crotch before I thought to take a more surreptitious examination or remembered I had on a skirt. The wheels of my imagination began to turn.
Had my mascara run down my face under the flop sweat? Did I have pit stains? I pushed my way back to my barstool as the contest continued on behind me.
Before I could ask Alfie why he looked like my nipple had popped out of my T-shirt, Miranda announced contestant number fourteen.
“Everyone please welcome Tristan Spencer.”
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