Liam is the envy of all gamers as the lead developer for nZone Studios. Over time, he builds walls around himself, keeping people at arm’s length who only gravitate to him for his material possessions rather than who he is as a person.
With thick barriers around their hearts and their past looming in the shadows, Liam and Maci challenge each other by slowly peeling away their protective layers and seeing each other for who they really are. It doesn’t take long after their chance meeting at a coffee shop for them to become one another’s game changer.
Note: If a strong, quirky heroine makes you roll your eyes, If you hate sexy heroes who would rather lose a game than the woman of their dreams, if fast-moving relationships and hot sex aren’t your thing, if you can’t stand when humor is used to cover up life’s awkward moments, if cliffhangers anger you beyond comprehension… this series is not your cup of tea. This contemporary romance novel is the first book in the Playing Games series and contains adult situations meant for ages 18+.
He wasn’t kidding when he said the gamers at the university considered him a deity of sorts. Hell, they were damn near ready to roll out the red carpet for us once they saw him walk through the doors of the arcade lounge.
Once the gamer geeks left us alone, Liam eyed me sideways and smiled at me in a way I could only describe as deceptive and evil—in a very playful Liam sort of way.
“What?” I asked, backing up a few steps and feigning fear.
“You up for a challenge?” Just as the words spilled from his lips, his eyes darted toward a wall of classic arcade games.
“Oh, hell yeah,” I breathed, leading the way toward the wooden box with the words Mortal Kombat splayed along the top. The vintage cabinet was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but touch my fingers against the large, yellow dragon adorning the sides. “Won’t be much of a challenge though. I’ll kick your pansy ass in this game,” I nearly whispered.
Biting my lip to hide my smile, I watched with unabashed interest as Liam’s long fingers slid a few coins into the slots and began a game. “Ladies first,” he said, gesturing toward the controls. It didn’t take me long to choose Scorpion so I could lasso his ass for the undeniable fatalities that were in his near future.
“Not gonna go with Sonya, huh?” he blurted out as he did the predictable and chose Sub-Zero.
Rolling my eyes, I didn’t look at him as I spoke with a bit of a bite in my tone and said, “Why, so you can stare at her tits while you attempt to kick her ass? Plus, why do I automatically have to be the girl? Is it because I should like the pretty green color of her too-tight outfit?”
“No reason. I just wasn’t expecting you to choose Scorpion is all,” he said with a shrug as the game began.
Jerking my body as I dodged his first freeze blast, I said, “You better learn really quick that I don’t care for gender stereotypes, Liam.”
Failing at dodging my kunai, he sighed and laughed. “Point taken.”
It didn’t take long before the command to finish him blasted through the speakers, and I ripped his spinal cord clean through his frigid body.
“Fuck,” he cursed under his breath, and I couldn’t hold back my laughter anymore.
“You totally deserved that.”
Without saying another word, I continued to show him who was boss. After the third round and another epic fatality, he threw his hands up and said, “Okay, Maci. You done showing off?”
Crossing my arms over my chest, I gave him an I-told-you-so smile and nodded. However, it was then that I realized we’d attracted an audience.
I was suddenly worried he’d be pissed that I showed him up in what was supposed to be his territory. These kids looked up to him, and there I stood, holding his balls in a metaphorical vice. The smirk that tilted up on half his face told me he wasn’t mad… at least not horribly upset with me.
Leaning close, a little too close, he whispered in my ear. “I think these guys like watching you from behind while you play.” Before I could respond, Liam grabbed my ass, squeezed once, and winked before offering me his hand and adding, “Let’s go.”
As soon as we made it into the hall, out of geekdom earshot, I laid into him. “Did you seriously just grab my ass?”
“I had to even the score somehow and also show them all you were off limits. Their gawking was very distracting,” he said with a shrug, never letting go of my hand as I tried to tug it free.
“Well, you don’t get to grope me just to prove a point, Liam.” I wasn’t really as upset as I was sounding. Having his hand on me was exciting. But a habit like that could give him the wrong impression, and I’d be damned if I let a guy get away with pawing me in public like I was some piece of ass he had to stake claim to.
Using my hand, he pulled me closer and threw his arm around my shoulder like it was second nature for us to be connected. “I know, and I’m sorry. Their eyes were practically glued to your ass though. I was just giving them something to look at,” he said with a holier-than-thou smirk. “Hell, even the one chick there was nearly undressing you with her stare.”
Smacking his chest, I pushed him away and said, “Next time, grab yourself. I’m sure they’ll get an eyeful then.” But the smile on my face betrayed me and turned into a full-blown laugh that echoed off the marbled floors as we made our way toward the stairs leading to the theater.
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Rene believes that all fiction is based on some form of reality—otherwise we would never have the inspiration or knowledge to dream up the realistic situations we portray with our words. She is proud to say that her personal experiences have been inspirational, though perhaps not always identical to that of her fictional characters. Where reality and fantasy diverge, however, must remain her little secret…