Excerpt from Nerdy Words

If you haven’t read any of the books in the Talk Nerdy to Me series, you’re in luck, because I’m sharing an excerpt from book one, Nerdy Words on my blog today.

If you don’t know, Talk Nerdy to Me is a book series set in a nerd-themed bar in the Pacific Northwest where the staff and customers end up falling in love over drinks, larping, comic books, and video games. Read on for the blurb and excerpt!

Blurb

When Olivia Sands walks into the hottest bar in Cascade Falls, she’s swept away by the cosplayers, gamers, and larpers. The atmosphere at Nerdvana is truly a haven for geeks, and Olivia can picture herself spending every weekend at the nerd-themed hangout. Or at least, she could before she finds out the bar’s owner is none other than Dustin Bradshaw, her first crush and the man who fled her life with no explanation four summers ago. 

Of course, the years have done nothing to eliminate the magnetic pull between them, and now that they’re thrown together again they’re helpless to fight their attraction. Between working on her bespoke costume business Cosplaymates, attending grad school, and planning her future, Olivia doesn’t have time for dating. But Dustin will stop at nothing to finally make her his, once and for all.

Nerdy Words is book one in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Excerpt

“Okay, I think I finally get why this place is called Nerdvana. It’s like a damn nerd wet dream in here.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

At the sound of the deep male voice close to me I jumped, nearly dropping my beaker in the process. I turned my head to address the speaker but had to drag my eyes up at least a foot to look him in the face. Once I met his stare, my mouth wouldn’t work anyway.

Momentarily stunned by his arresting pale blue irises, I opened and shut my mouth several times before any sound would finally come out. It’d been several years, but I’d never forget that face. I started to greet him, but he broke eye contact.

Before I could string together enough syllables to form a coherent sentence, he turned his attention to Jamie. It figured. Between her sparkling personality and brown almond-shaped eyes men—and women— constantly hit on Jamie. The fact that she was a D-cup probably didn’t hurt her chances either. But still, I wished the spark of recognition I’d felt when our eyes had connected had gone both ways. Of course, maybe he just didn’t recognize me. I’d changed a lot since that summer.

“Are you Jamie? My business partner let me know she gave you an impromptu interview earlier. I’m Dustin Bradshaw,” he told her and thrust his hand out toward her.

Dustin Bradshaw.

As if I could ever forget that name. I dropped my gaze to their clasped hands. It was only a professional handshake, nothing more, but I felt like an idiot, just standing on the sidelines watching the two of them. I shifted my gaze to the ink on the outside of Dustin’s right forearm. In what looked to be an homage to the original 1UP gaming system, he sported a tattoo of the gray square controller on his flesh. My brother was a gamer and I had to appreciate the details of Dustin’s tattoo. The depiction of the controller was accurate down to the twin green circles and blue cross-shaped button. Seeing it made memories come back in a rush.

I’d used my fingertip to trace the details of that tattoo on a warm summer night four years ago. God damn it, why was I thinking about what had happened between us when he hadn’t even bothered to spare a second glance at me? All this clearly one-sided reminiscing made me uncomfortable, like every inch of my skin was exposed under a microscope. The fact that Dustin hadn’t acknowledged me made it all that much worse. I wanted to run from this bar like the building was on fire. Of course, I wouldn’t.

Wanna keep reading? Get the book at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Talk Nerdy to Me Character Interview: Quinn

Nerdy Deeds Blurb

Quinn Whiteeagle, Nerdvana co-owner and burlesque performer, is falling for Jonah Stavropoulos, and that’s a huge problem. Not just because Jonah’s a customer and is developing the bar’s app. There’s something else about Jonah that makes a future with him a non-negotiable. It’s his dominant nature.

When it comes to Quinn, Jonah can’t help himself. He’ll forgo his safety, put himself in harm’s way, and make any sacrifice in order to have her in his life. Quinn resists his pursuit and that just makes him more determined to win her over.

After several dangerous encounters with a stalker, Quinn puts her pride and reservations aside and runs to Jonah’s waiting arms. He offers Quinn a safe place to stay, but makes no qualms about wanting to give her more than just temporary safety and shelter. Every protective instinct he has is activated and Jonah will fight like hell to keep Quinn in his life and in his care forever.Nerdy Deeds is book three in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Get Nerdy Deeds at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Now on to the interview!

How did you get into performing burlesque?

It was something I fell into, as weird as that may sound. My brother is a stage performer and he encouraged me to try burlesque, and by encourage, I mean he dared me to do it. I can never back down from a dare from my older brother, so I signed up for an amateur night at a club in Seattle. Once I was up there performing, it awakened something in me. I realized I was a natural performer, but also that by donning costumes I was able to embrace parts of myself that I never showed to anyone.

Sounds like an empowering experience. Speaking of dressing up, I love your look. Were you always drawn to the pin-up style?

I grew up idolizing the glamorous Hollywood icons from the 40s and 50s. Once I started dressing up on stage, I realized how much I needed to look that way all the time. The pin-up look is my calling card, but it’s more than that. I call it my armor. My pompadour, red lips, and vintage clothing make me feel strong, like a total badass. Like I could lift a car off a baby if I had to. (laughs)

Switching gears a bit, I want to talk more about Nerdvana. The nerd-themed concept is awesome. Coming from performing, how did you get into the bar business?

Yes, the concept is awesome, and I can’t take credit for that, it’s all Dustin’s, my business partner, creation. I worked as a bartender for years and when Dustin announced he was launching this project, he invited me to join him. I of course jumped at the chance, but really, bartending is just another way to perform. The bar’s it’s own special type of stage.

I can see that being true, especially at Nerdvana. Do you have a favorite area of the bar?

We’re working on a new space, the lower level is going to be amazing. We’ll have a special drink list, a DJ spinning a few nights and it’s a private gaming space for RPG and Dungeons & Dragons tournies and groups.

The lower level sounds super fun! Last question, and it’s a personal one. How are things going with Jonah?

It’s like a fairy tale. And I feel a little sappy saying that, but it’s true. It feels good to both in the same place, plus he finally stopped leaving carbs laying out around me (laughs). I really love him.

On that romantic note, if you want to know more about any of the other characters in the Talk Nerdy to Me series, keep your eye out here for more interviews. And, of course the best way to get to know everyone at Nerdvana is to grab the books!

Book one, Nerdy Words, is out now. Get it at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Find book two, Nerdy Thoughts, at Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU, and Amazon UKApple booksBarnes & NobleKobo.

Get book three, Nerdy Deeds at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Safe Haven, a Short Story Set During Thanksgiving

I’m a sucker for short stories this time of year, mainly because I’m usually busy until after the holidays are over. And reading short stories allow me to take 10 minutes here and there to read a romance. My short story called Safe Haven, is set during Thanksgiving weekend and follows the story of two people who reunite at their hometown bar only to learn they each nursed a crush on the other during high school. Even though decades have passed, the two are still just as drawn to each other as they were as teenagers. This short story is 10,000 words, so it’s a quick read, and it’s only .99 cents. Read on for a snippet and the blurb!

Blurb

When Roxanna Chase finds herself alone in her tiny hometown of Haven, Indiana on Thanksgiving eve, she decides to do the one thing she always swore she’d never do: attend Chatterfest, an unofficial high school reunion held every year the night before Thanksgiving at Haven’s busiest bar, The Watering Hole.

After a couple of cocktails and reminiscing with a classmate, Roxanna is overwhelmed, and a little turned on, when her old high school crush Nicholas Birch approaches her at the bar. He’s still as tall, broad-shouldered and sexy as he was thirty years ago. Since he’d dated her best friend in high school, Roxanna had always placed Nicholas in a box marked ‘hands off.’

When Nicholas admits he had feelings for Roxanna in high school, the two decide to leave the bar together and see what happens next. They quickly find that when old flames are rekindled, they can ignite into an inferno that refuses to burn out.

Snippet

“I’ve wanted to do this since senior year,” Nicholas said before he placed a searing kiss on her lips.

Roxanna let out an involuntary moan when he gently parted her lips with his tongue. She wrapped her arms around his waist while their tongues mated and stroked. Placing her hands on his broad back, Roxanna tried to pull his muscular body toward her own. It felt like she couldn’t get close enough to him, as though she couldn’t get enough of him. As though sensing her urgency, Nicholas broke his mouth free from hers.

“It’s these clothes, they’re in the way,” he told her with a seductive wink.

He pushed her cardigan off her shoulders and down her arms, allowing her to pull the garment’s sleeves off her wrists. Her camisole came next. Nicholas eased it slowly over her head. When she was standing before him in only a bra, skirt and stockings, he reached down to caress the material of her brassiere between his thumb and index finger.

“This is almost too pretty to take off. Almost.”

Get Safe Haven for just .99 at digital book retailers.

Nerdgasm Mocktail Recipe from Nerdy Thoughts

When I set out to write the Talk Nerdy to Me series, I knew I wanted to include drink recipes in each book. But, as I thought about it further, I realized I didn’t know how to develop a cocktail recipe, since I don’t really consume liquor.

Then, I had a great idea that allowed me to create drink recipes, but that also made sense for the series. In the books, bartender extraordinaire, Jamie, talks about how she doesn’t drink because alcohol famously lowers inhibitions and her wild self needs no help in lowering inhibitions (I love her!). As a result, she creates a mocktail menu for Nerdvana. Every one of Jamie’s mocktails are revealed in each book, and the recipes are dished here and on my social media.

I first shared about the Nerdgasm, a cran-apple fizzy drink in an Instagram Reel last summer when I was heavily promoting the book it appeared in, book two, Nerdy Thoughts. In that version of the mocktail, I made it with cranberry juice and a pear apple zero calorie bubbly water. The summertime version is tasty and it goes well with the lower calorie, lower sugar things we tend to consume in the warmer weather.

I recently revised the recipe slightly, to be more fitting for fall and winter. Since this is the time of year where we gather with friends and loved ones and lift a glass or two, I thought the mocktails in the Talk Nerdy to Me series are perfect for the holidays. After all, just because you have a lot to celebrate doesn’t mean you have to imbibe alcohol if it’s not your thing. Also, these mocktails are a great way for underage folks at social gatherings to feel like they get to partake in something special.

For the fall version of the Nerdgasm, I combined cranberry juice with sparkling pear-apple cider. This iteration of the mocktail is obviously sweeter than the summer version, but the core flavors remain the same, cranberry, apple, and pear, three fruits that I think compliment each other so well.

Here’s the official recipe, if you’d like to try the fall version.

Nerdgasm (Cran Apple Fizz) From Nerdy Thoughts

In a glass of your choosing, (hopefully a fun, pretty one), combine two parts sparkling apple cider to one part cranberry juice. If you’d like to up the aesthetic appeal of the drink, toss in some frozen cranberries to keep it nice and chilled. Enjoy!

If you make the Nerdgasm, I’d love to know what you think of it and of course, I wanna see photos (pics, or it didn’t happen, right?). Comment below or tag me on Instagram @thearielstorm and let me know how the Nerdgasm treats you this holiday season.

Midweek Morsel – Special Delivery

It’s Wednesday, Hump Day, that midweek slump. Today I’m adding some zing to your week by sharing an excerpt from my short story Special Delivery. Enjoy!

shirtless man with gift wrapped box with red ribbon

Who says good things come in small packages? Corina believes beauty isn’t about size—it’s about attitude—and Zach can’t get enough of her confidence or her curves.

Curvy and proud of it, photographer Corina Saunders seeks to empower other females by shooting boudoir photos of plus-sized women in her home studio. When a charity needs a photographer to photograph twelve sexy men for a hunk-of-the-month calendar, she gladly volunteers her services. Sparks fly during the photo shoot when she snaps pictures of sexy delivery man Zach Moreno’s strategically placed package. When they cross paths again at a charity ball and bachelor auction, Corina surprises everyone—including herself—by placing the highest bid on Zach, the sexiest bachelor up for grabs.

Thanks to the frenzied atmosphere of the auction—and the complimentary champagne—she’s helpless to fight the insane chemistry between her and Zach any longer and the two celebrate her winning bid. With a bang. Afterwards, Corina’s mortified that she had sex with Zach in a cramped supply room at the bachelor auction. How can she face him again? Then again, after bidding an incredible six-thousand dollars to win him at the auction, she can’t afford to skip out on the date. Besides, the sex was unbelievably hot, and she really shouldn’t deprive herself that one indulgence. After all, what harm could come from one innocent picnic in the park lunch date?

She ran her hands over his shirt, vest and tuxedo jacket. She wanted to rip the finery off his body and expose his chiseled form. He ended their kiss abruptly and pulled back to look her in the eyes.

As if reading her mind, Zach said, “God, I’d love nothing more than to tear that dress off your delicious body.”

He thought her body was delicious? The thought made her giddy and even hornier. “As much as I’d love that, this dress does have a zipper. It’s right here, you see,” she said pointing to the zipper that was hidden in a seam along the left side of her gown.

“That will take too much time,” Zach said as he edged the hem of her dress up her leg. “We’ll have to be quick, and neat,” he added, almost as an afterthought. Once he’d bunched the heavy-beaded material of the gown over her hips, he knelt in front of her.

“God, those are hot,” he told her as he ran his fingertips over the top of her thigh- high stockings. He placed a soft kiss at the top of her thigh, where the silky material of the nylons met her flesh.

Corina trembled at the feel of his hot, wet mouth on her skin. She used his hands, which were wrapped around the back of her thighs, for support. He moved his fingers up and gripped her bare ass, hard.

“Oh, my God, you’re wearing a thong,” he said around a groan as he pulled the flimsy piece of material down her hips. “You’re so beautiful, and not just here,” Zach told her and brushed his fingertips over her labia.

Her clit throbbed in response to his words and the softness of his touch. She leaned her head against the door when she felt him explore her wet pussy. His touch was slow and soft. It was as though he were testing her. Teasing her. Corina wanted and needed more. She writhed against his hand, craving a release. He must have sensed her urgency, because he used the pad of his thumb to stroke the hard pearl of flesh at the base of her sex. He circled the slippery bud in a deliberate stroke that caused her to cry out.

“Please,” she begged softly. She was dying to moan, but she couldn’t risk the two of them getting caught. “Zach, please…”

“Please, what?” He released his hold on her throbbing, wet flesh. Standing to his full height again, he slipped her thong in the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket. “Tell me what you need, Corina,” he challenged as he stared into her eyes.

“This,” she whispered as she reached for the waistband of his trousers.

Special Delivery is available for .99  at  AmazonAmazon CAAmazon UKiBooksKobo and Nook.

The Talk Nerdy to Me Series is the Perfect Summer Read!

Today I’m sharing a snippet from Nerdy Words, the first book in my series Talk Nerdy to Me! Summer’s here and if you’re looking for a new series to read, check out the Talk Nerdy to Me series. Learn more about it by reading this post.

About the series:

Imagine a bar where the wait staff dress up like their favorite comic book characters, where drinks are served in chemical beakers, where patrons can play a round of Dungeons and Dragons or other table-top role-playing games. Picture how fun it would be to hang with friends in big booths and play video games while sipping on an awesome craft beer. Imagine watching people in a glass enclosed room acting out dramas from their favorite live action role playing story lines. Imagine there’s a space for the folks who want to enjoy a drink while perusing their favorite comic books. 

All of that and more await the patrons of the city of Cascade Falls, Washington’s newest watering hole, the ultra-hip, geek-themed bar called Nerdvana. Talk Nerdy to Me is a series set around the romances that blossom between sexy, geeky heroes and sassy, smart heroines who meet in the geek-themed bar.

Nerdy Words blurb:

When Olivia Sands walks into the hottest bar in Cascade Falls, she’s swept away by the cosplayers, gamers, and larpers. The atmosphere at Nerdvana is truly a haven for geeks, and Olivia can picture herself spending every weekend at the nerd-themed hangout. Or at least, she could before she finds out the bar’s owner is none other than Dustin Bradshaw, her first crush and the man who fled her life with no explanation four summers ago. 

Of course, the years have done nothing to eliminate the magnetic pull between them, and now that they’re thrown together again they’re helpless to fight their attraction. Between working on her bespoke costume business Cosplaymates, attending grad school, and planning her future, Olivia doesn’t have time for dating. But Dustin will stop at nothing to finally make her his, once and for all.

Nerdy Words is book one in Talk Nerdy to Me, a series centering around the romances that blossom between bar staff and customers at Nerdvana.

Excerpt

“Come out with me tonight, Liv. You need to have more fun and I want to check out that new bar I’ve been telling you about.”

“Oh, yeah. What’s it called again, Nirvana? Is it some kind of spiritual place?” I asked Jamie. She was always on the cutting edge of the bar scene, and well, everything else. 

Nerdvana,” she corrected me. “As in, a haven for geeks and all things geekery.”

“Um, that could be…interesting.” I stepped out into the cool air and light drizzle the Pacific Northwest is known for. I readjusted the wool hat on my head, pulling it down further to keep my curly hair from frizzing. 

“I’m glad you said that because I’m on my way there now. Meet me at Nerdvana in twenty minutes?”

I stifled a sigh. “You assume I have nothing better to do.” 

“Come on. Don’t harsh my mellow.”

“Where is this place?” I asked around a laugh. 

“Evergreen Peak.” The neighborhood she referred to housed some of the city’s most prominent nightlife. 

“Okay, text me the address. I’ll see you there in about twenty minutes,” I said before hanging up. 

When Jamie’s text arrived on my phone, I put the address in the GPS and walked a couple blocks toward the bus stop that would take me to my destination. I took a seat and gazed out the window. I stared at the scenery that whizzed by. The lush greenery and historic architecture a subtle reminder of how much I loved the small city of Cascade Falls.

Despite the picturesque landscape, I couldn’t fully focus on it. Somehow Jamie always got me to do things I’d rather not. Like go out in public on a work night, even when the prospect of being among people sounded about as appealing as a cavity search. It wasn’t that I didn’t like people. I was just nowhere near as extroverted as my bubbly best friend. Forgetting about my intense desire to recoup and decompress at home, I shifted my thoughts to my evening. It would no doubt be fun. Just by being with Jamie guaranteed a good time. But still, the idea of my PJs and a starchy dinner had been the one thing that kept me going at work all day. So much for that dream.

My job wasn’t stressful, exactly. I wasn’t cut out for interacting with that many people day in and day out. My work study position at one of the university’s libraries was something I could scratch off my bucket list. I have always been drawn to the smell of old books and quiet spaces. The romantic in me thought the library would be the perfect place to marry those two loves. In reality, working at the library is nothing like that. On any given day there’s a constant stream of noise, the stereotype that library workers are dowdy curmudgeons who sit behind a desk and shush people all day couldn’t be further from the truth. But a big part of me loves it, and it pays the bills while I attend the Cascade Falls University. 

Realizing we were approaching my destination, I pulled the cord to request the driver to stop. I got off down the street from where my cell phone told me Nerdvana was located. After checking the cross streets at the intersection, I walked half a block until I stopped in front of a beautiful building rich with old architectural details. I craned my neck to take in the three-story structure. Sure enough, the neon sign that hung from the side of the building read ‘Nerdvana’ in red glowing letters. I looked left and right on the street and didn’t see Jamie, so I figured she must have already gone inside.

As soon as I crossed the threshold into the bar the soft sounds of electronic music greeted me. I nodded in time to the rhythm. The tune’s slow bass beat was heavy on the use of a soothing synthesizer. As I took in the sounds at Nerdvana, my eyes adjusted to the blue glow that bathed the bar. I scanned to the left and saw a group of guys sitting in a big, oversized booth. When a couple of them let out a whoop of excitement I realized where the bluish light that ensconced the bar was coming from. Half a dozen booths lined the side of the bar, and each booth had a flat screen mounted to the wall. Mario and Luigi bounced across the TV directly to my left. So Nerdvana was a video game bar? Quite a few were scattered around various Cascade Falls neighborhoods. 

As I walked toward the bar, I took in some of the other details and realized much more than video games took place in the space. It truly appeared to be a haven for geeks. To the right of the large glass and titanium bar was a wooden staircase that appeared to lead to a lower level. A basement in a bar? Interesting. A sign hung in the open doorway above the staircase that read “RPG leagues forming soon” and I knew just enough about the table-top role playing games to know they weren’t for me. 

I walked up to the bar and leaned on the shiny, silver surface and hoisted my barely five-foot frame onto a big, black leather chair. It was comfortable, but clearly the leather gaming chair had been modified into a bar stool. Clever. Between the oversized furniture and the overall gamer feel of the bar, I felt out of my element. I was much more bookish than game oriented. Give me a classic literary tome over a joystick or pair of dice any day.

When a pretty brunette dressed like Princess Leia in the gold bikini appeared behind the bar, I’d made up my mind. I’d hate it here. Scantily-clad waitstaff. Video games. The tech bro vibe. Why had my best friend brought me here? And where the hell was Jamie, anyway?

“What can I get you?” the Leia impersonator asked. 

I looked at the plethora of taps behind her. Nerdvana carried a wide variety of craft beer, but I was in the mood for something different tonight.

“I’ll take a gin and tonic.” 

“Do you want a beaker for two dollars more?”

“A beaker?” 

Her question roused me from my musings, and it caught me off guard. I wracked my brain. Beaker. What the hell was that? A nerd-themed tapas I didn’t know anything about? Leia held up a glass lab beaker and raised her eyebrows at me. Holy shit. For two bucks more I could drink my alcoholic beverage from a lab beaker. What the hell, as Jamie constantly reminded me, we only live once.

“Um, sure.” 

I glanced around again wishing Jamie would materialize and keep me company. The bartender placed my drink in front of me and I plopped my debit card down as a form of payment. I tipped my drink back and took a sip. The gin and tonic was nice and stiff, which was good since it set me back fifteen bucks. 

“Liv, you made it!” 

I turned toward the bubbly voice I knew and loved. The blue light in the bar made Jamie’s blonde hair glow almost platinum. At least the top half of her hair looked light blonde. The tips of her asymmetrical bob shone a bright hot pink. I’d always admired Jamie’s funky sense of style. 

“Hi, can I get a whiskey sour, but can you go easy on the alcohol? I don’t drink much,” she said with uncharacteristic sheepishness. Princess Leia nodded and offered her a beaker. Jamie took her drink in the larger container as well. The bartender passed the sour—light on the whiskey—to her. Of course my friend didn’t drink much, she didn’t need alcohol to loosen her inhibitions. I wasn’t even aware that she had any, honestly. Jamie and I clinked beakers.

“To nerd heaven,” I said with a wry smile. 

“Isn’t it awesome? Oh, good news! I think I might have found a job.”

“Great. Where at?” I asked as I sipped my drink. 

“Here.” She gave a saucy shake of her head, which caused the stud in her nose to gleam in the light.

Jamie went through things like jobs, college majors and lovers like most people went through underwear. It seemed like she was always trying something new only to quickly grow bored and pick up something else.  Life was too short for serious commitments, or so she believed.

“Really? That’s awesome.” I told her about the new job and meaning it. “Will you have to wear one of those barely there outfits?” I asked as I nodded toward Princess Leia as subtly as possible. 

“Please. When have you ever known me to give two fucks about a barely there outfit?”

“True.” I bit back my smile as I took another sip of my cocktail.

“Besides, you’re the last person I would expect to question wearing costumes.”

“You know I’m all about expressing yourself through clothes,” I indicated the rust colored vintage crushed velvet blazer I wore and my black top hat. “It just reeks of sexism to see a bartender wearing next to nothing.”

“Oh. My. God. Please don’t go down this rabbit hole.” She shook her head. “I’ll have you know that according to Quinn, it’s completely optional. I don’t have to dress up, but really, who wouldn’t want to get paid to dress in costume?” 

“And who’s Quinn?” I asked, feeling completely out of the loop. What was it about this place? It seemed like I’d stepped into a different universe ever since I’d crossed the threshold. 

“She’s one of the owners. She’s right there.” 

I trained my gaze to where she gestured discreetly to a woman that looked like a fifties era pin-up model, but with an edge. Her black hair was styled in a rockabilly pompadour, she wore a black dress with a cherry print, and her waist was cinched by a wide scarlet belt. Her lips were painted fire engine red, but even from across the room I could tell the color complemented her bronze skin and sloe eyes. Her left arm was covered in a full sleeve tattoo. 

Her fierce look had my attention right away. I’d always gravitated toward people who didn’t dress like the status quo. That was one of the things that Jamie and I had bonded over instantly. It was obvious that Quinn had a style all her own. I’ve always loved shoes, so I dropped my gaze down to her feet. Girlfriend was rockin’ adorable vintage black and white patent spectator pumps. 

“Damn, I want her heels.”

“Will you get off shoes for a minute and listen? This might be the solution to most of my problems. Remember, my parents, the ultimatum.” She paused and screwed her face up as if just saying the words had put a bad taste in her mouth. 

“Um, as if I could forget the stipulation that might rob me of my awesome roommate?”

 “Anyway,” Jamie said dismissively, swirling the liquid in her beaker. “I struck up a conversation with Quinn back by the larping room before you got here. She’s going to talk with her partner and give me a yes or no tonight.”

“The what room? You’re telling me there’s a room dedicated to larping here?” 

“Ah, I knew spilling that there’s a live action role playing room here would get you to focus on something besides shoes.” 

I just looked at her as though she had suddenly sprouted a second head covered with blonde and fuchsia colored hair. I wasn’t a larper, but I knew enough about it to be impressed that there was now a bar in Cascade Falls with a dedicated space for larping. 

“Come on, I’ll show you. Grab your drink.”

I gripped my beaker and wobbled behind her. As we walked through the bar I saw more booths with TVs displaying video games and gaming consoles from days gone by. It looked like every vintage gaming system was represented on the various TV screens, from Atari and Sega to Nintendo, Xbox, and Playstation. 

As we neared the back of the building, I spied a quiet corner that featured comfy-looking brown leather chairs and teak bookshelves built into the walls. The serene nook seemed more my pace. Until I noticed that a couple of people were flipping through glossy pages and sipping beers from beakers. 

“Are those comic books?”

“Yeah, isn’t it amazing? But look over here,” Jamie said and directed my gaze to a space in the left corner of the bar. “That’s the larping room,” she explained as she pointed at a glass area. 

The two-story room was completely enclosed in glass walls. I titled my head back and discovered there was no ceiling. Instead, a small cat walk and balcony stretched across the top of the glass room. A few people had gathered to peer into the larping room to watch the performance. A group of men were inside the glass room dressed in fifteenth century garb—complete with breast shields, swords, and capes—and they seemed to be acting out some sort of drama. 

“Okay, I think I finally get why this place is called Nerdvana. It’s like a damn nerd wet dream in here.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

At the sound of the deep male voice close to me I jumped, nearly dropping my beaker in the process. I turned my head to address the speaker but had to drag my eyes up at least a foot to look him in the face. Once I met his stare, my mouth wouldn’t work anyway. 

Momentarily stunned by his arresting pale blue irises, I opened and shut my mouth several times before any sound would finally come out. It’d been several years, but I’d never forget that face. I started to greet him, but he broke eye contact. 

Before I could string together enough syllables to form a coherent sentence, he turned his attention to Jamie. It figured. Between her sparkling personality and brown almond-shaped eyes men—and women— constantly hit on Jamie. The fact that she was a D-cup probably didn’t hurt her chances either. But still, I wished the spark of recognition I’d felt when our eyes had connected had gone both ways. Of course, maybe he just didn’t recognize me. I’d changed a lot since that summer.

“Are you Jamie? My business partner let me know she gave you an impromptu interview earlier. I’m Dustin Bradshaw,” he told her and thrust his hand out toward her. 

Dustin Bradshaw.

As if I could ever forget that name. I dropped my gaze to their clasped hands. It was only a professional handshake, nothing more, but I felt like an idiot, just standing on the sidelines watching the two of them. I shifted my gaze to the ink on the outside of Dustin’s right forearm. In what looked to be an homage to the original 1UP gaming system, he sported a tattoo of the gray square controller on his flesh. My brother was a gamer and I had to appreciate the details of Dustin’s tattoo. The depiction of the controller was accurate down to the twin green circles and blue cross-shaped button. Seeing it made memories come back in a rush.

 I’d used my fingertip to trace the details of that tattoo on a warm summer night four years ago. God damn it, why was I thinking about what had happened between us when he hadn’t even bothered to spare a second glance at me? All this clearly one-sided reminiscing made me uncomfortable, like every inch of my skin was exposed under a microscope. The fact that Dustin  hadn’t acknowledged me made it all that much worse. I wanted to run from this bar like the building was on fire. Of course, I wouldn’t. 

Want to know what happens next? Get Nerdy Words at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

It’s Time for Beach and Poolside Reads!

As soon as the month of May arrives, I start thinking about vacations and staycations. This year I have a couple planned, and of course I can’t think about my vacation without pondering what to read at the beach or poolside.

Photo courtesy of Barnyz, Creative Commons contributor.

Not only do I like to read light, fun romances, but I also like to write them. I’ve written a couple stories about falling in love while on a tropical holiday – Caribbean Caliente and Tropical Heat. But I also have a few stories that are just light-hearted and make for the perfect warm weather escape read, like Good With His Hands, (a small town blue collar hero romance) Wild Ride, (a good girl meets bad boy romance) and Special Delivery (a bachelor auction and curvy heroine romance).

Do you have a favorite trope or kind of story you like to read? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Nerdy Deeds is Out Today!

Today is the release day for Nerdy Deeds. If you’ve read book one and two in the Talk Nerdy to Me series, then I know you’ve been eagerly awaiting for Jonah and Quinn to finally get together.

Quinn Whiteeagle, Nerdvana co-owner and burlesque performer, is falling for Jonah Stavropoulos, and that’s a huge problem. Not just because Jonah’s a customer and is developing the bar’s app. There’s something else about Jonah that makes a future with him a non-negotiable. It’s his dominant nature.

When it comes to Quinn, Jonah can’t help himself. He’ll forgo his safety, put himself in harm’s way, and make any sacrifice in order to have her in his life. Quinn resists his pursuit and that just makes him more determined to win her over.

After several dangerous encounters with a stalker, Quinn puts her pride and reservations aside and runs to Jonah’s waiting arms. He offers Quinn a safe place to stay, but makes no qualms about wanting to give her more than just temporary safety and shelter. Every protective instinct he has is activated and Jonah will fight like hell to keep Quinn in his life and in his care forever.

Excerpt

Quinn

 “I read lips.”

 Why had those three words made me gaze at his mouth and think about all the wicked things I wanted to do to him? And the naughty things I wanted his mouth to do to me? His revelations had only reminded me that I found him so damned attractive. I leaned against the door and waited until I heard Jonah’s footsteps retreat down the noisy, decrepit wooden stairs outside. Involuntarily, my fingertips came up to my lips. I hadn’t meant to ask him for a kiss. The last thing I need right now is more shit to muddle my already complicated life. 

Kissing Jonah fell under that category. Still, the heat I’d felt under his gaze had been too hard to resist. Not only was being attracted to him not a good idea, since he was a regular at the bar I co-owned, getting caught up in him wasn’t smart for another reason. I’d made a promise to myself that I’d remain single and celibate until I knew for sure I could break old habits. Being attracted to Jonah was just proof that I was unable to get free of the destructive behavior that had gotten me in my current situation. I wasn’t naïve enough to think Jonah and Lance were the same, but there were enough similarities to make me want to run. Maybe I was wrong about that, but that was only another reason why I shouldn’t have kissed Jonah. Plus, somehow, Lance continued to keep a hold on me and until I could figure out how to break free from that hold, I didn’t need to make things worse by dragging someone else into the fold.

I dropped my duffle bag and purse on the floor. Turning, I engaged the deadbolt and then headed to my couch. I flopped down on the sagging piece of furniture. It creaked under my weight and I shifted around, trying to get comfortable, despite the springs gauging into my hip. I could probably afford to buy a new one, but I didn’t keep nice things here. Or anywhere, really. It was an old habit I couldn’t force myself to break.

My phone vibrated in my shirt pocket. After my performance and Lance storming the stage, I’d changed into black leggings and a long sleeveless tunic before leaving the club. I dug into the breast pocket and fished out my iPhone. After my stage costumes and clothes, my phone was one of my only indulgences in life. I checked the screen and saw the notification was a text from my brother.

Zeek: Bitch, I just killed it on stage! How did your performance go tonight?

I giggled. Rehashing my evening wasn’t high on my priority list, but as long as I didn’t mention Lance, or kissing Jonah, maybe I’d be okay.

Quinn: I performed to that song by The Weeknd, like you suggested. The crowd seemed to dig it.

Zeek didn’t reply, which was odd, especially since I’d just admitted that I’d used one of his ideas in my act and it was a success. My brother rarely missed an opportunity to bask in praise. His face appeared on my screen. He wanted to video chat. Damn. It would be a lot harder to hide all the things I was dealing with if he saw my face. Yet, I couldn’t ignore the call. He already knew I was awake and had my phone in hand. Zeek knew I had no life outside of my two jobs, so I couldn’t even make up an excuse like I was out with friends or that I had someone over to my apartment. I pressed the button and connected the video call.

“Hey, girl, heeeeey.” Zeek’s expressive, almost supernaturally beautiful face filled the screen.

“’Sup, fool.” 

Out of both my siblings, Zeek and I had always been the closest, despite our nearly ten year age difference. My brother and I had both felt the pull of performing on a stage. It had been our saving grace against resisting the addictions that ran rampant in our family. And, for Zeek, it had also been the place for him to find solace when our mom and mostly absent dad had given him shit for being gay.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing. My performance was…sort of angsty. Plus, I’m tired. It’s been a busy week at the bar.”

“Mmm-hmm.” Zeek pursed his lips and squinted his eyes at me. I stared into the dark almond shaped eyes rimmed in ebony liner that looked so much like my own. “Wait a mothafuckin’ minute.” He pointed an index finger at me. I spied some silver glittery polish on the nail. Shit, I knew that look, that tone. “You kissed someone.”

“What?” 

Damn it. The squeaky cry was as good as admitting he was right. How the hell did he know things like that? I’d always sworn that Zeek was psychic, but it wasn’t really that. He was just super perceptive and picked up on things. He’d had to be that way, always on his toes and watching himself, around our parents. At least, he’d had to be that way until he’d reached an age where he felt comfortable enough to tell them to take their homophobic views, roll them up, and shove them neatly up their asses.

“Your lips are swollen.”

“Nah, it’s just the camera angle.” I moved my phone around and hoped it would de-emphasize my puffy, well-kissed mouth. 

“Well, then how do you explain your smudged lipstick? ‘Cause I know my sister and that fire-engine red is always on point.” He quirked a perfectly arched black brow at me, his expression full of smug self-satisfaction.

“Fuck. You should’ve been a private investigator instead of a dancer.”

“There’s way too many cute boys on the stage to ever do anything else with my life. Don’t try to change the subject.” 

“Maybe I might’ve kissed someone.” I sat up on the couch and averted my gaze.

“Who is he? And I swear to Gucci if you say Lance, I will make the long-ass drive from Vegas to Cascade Falls with the specific purpose of throat punching you.”

“No, not Lance.” Despite that he’d brought up my pain in the ass ex, I laughed. Only Zeek could threaten me in a way that could make me smile. “It’s a guy who saw me perform tonight.”

“Oooooh, and he just, what, came up to you afterwards and y’all tongue-wrestled? Give me alllllll the dirty details.” He propped his chin on fist and peered at me.

“First, the details aren’t dirty.” Zeek scoffed. “Second, I kind of know him…from the bar.” I did a face-palm at the admission. Shit, was I crazy to have kissed Jonah? I didn’t see how things wouldn’t be super awkward the next time he came into the bar.

“Well, since I know that the only man that works at Nerdvana is Dustin, and there’s no way in hell you’re hittin’ that, this can only mean your dude is a customer.” He popped his neck in time to a rhythm only he could hear, his happy dance both annoying and hilarious. “You and a customer getting it on. That’s hot in a sort of forbidden way. Come on, details.”

“He was at the show and we talked for a bit afterward. He gave me a ride home.”

“Oh, I can just bet what kind of ride he gave you.” Zeek mimicked cheesy bom-chicka-bow-wow porn music. 

“No, I’m still celibate.”

“Ugh. I’ll never understand you. Anyway, continue.”

“He walked me to my door and…we kissed.”

Zeek gave me a withering glare. He opened his laptop and propped his phone on some sort of knickknack on his coffee table. He angled the phone so I could still see his face while he pecked at his keyboard. Fuck, I knew what my nosy brother was going to ask next. Despite his pushy demeanor, and me being uncomfortable about where this conversation was going, there was one thing about Zeek that might come in handy. His internet stalking skills were legendary. If there was some skeleton in Jonah’s closet, Zeek would find it. 

“What’s his name?”

Because he was working on an app for the bar, I knew Jonah’s last name. I’d drafted checks to him as he’d hit different milestones while working on the app. Despite his Greek surname, I remembered how to spell the vowel-filled last name.

“Jonah Stavropoulos.”

“Yeah, you’re gonna have to spell that last name for me.”

I let out a giggle and gave him the spelling. Zeek’s fingers flew across the keyboard. Then he let out a whoop.

“Well, hel-lo, Jonah. Looking like a hot as hell nerd with those glasses.” He popped his index finger in his mouth and made goo-goo eyes at his laptop.

“I guess you’ve found his social media?”

“Yep. Wow. He’s at your bar a lot. Like, a lot.”

“He works just a few doors down, so he and his coworkers come in for happy hour. Plus, he’s designing the app we’re creating for the bar.”

“Why does a bar need an app?” Zeek twisted his face in puzzlement.

“I don’t know. It’s techy and goes with our brand. This is something that Jonah and Dustin cooked up together. Honestly, Dustin could probably create it on his own, he just doesn’t have the time.” I waved my hand. “Anyway. I’m beat. It’s been a long, crazy day.”

“I honestly don’t know how you just stopped at a kiss with this dude.”

“Oh. My. God. You’re still creeping on his pictures? Stop, dude. That’s kind of stalkerish.”

“I gotta make sure he’s not insane. Plus, he’s so easy on the eyes.”

“And his social media pics tell you his level of insanity?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no pictures that show him holding up a dead kitty with, like, a caption that reads, gotta rid the world of kittens.”

“Um, pretty sure no one is that stupid. In my experience, the crazier they are, the better they are at hiding it.”

“Lance still coming around?”

I bit my lip, debating on whether or not I should admit that he’d been legitimately harassing me for months now. Although, Zeek kind of already knew. His damned psychic abilities and all that.

“Yeah. He showed up at Lettie’s Juke Joint tonight. That’s why Jonah gave me a ride home. He didn’t want me to be alone and possibly face Lance.”

“I’m liking this Jonah more and more. Don’t chase this one off. They’re not all like Lance’s crazy ass, you know.”

“I know. It’s…more than that. Look, I really need to go. Talk to you later.”

“Okay. Bye, sis.”

I ended the call and clutched my phone, staring at the screen for a few moments. Despite it being stalkerish and all kinds of wrong, I opened one of my social media apps. I went to the search option. My fingers tapped out the letters on the on-screen keyboard, typing in Jonah’s first and last name. I scrolled through his pictures and got an idea of what he was interested in. Beer. Video games. Technology. And being outside, which was kind of surprising, since it didn’t really go with his other three interests. Feeling like an absolute creep, I cleared my search and exited out of the app. I needed to take my stalker ass to bed.

Get Nerdy Deeds now at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Excerpt from Nerdy Deeds, Book Three in the Talk Nerdy to Me Series!

Nerdy Deeds drops in three weeks! Today I’m sharing the blurb and an excerpt from the book. Working on book three was so much fun and I really enjoyed the dynamic between Quinn and Jonah. If you want to know more, read the blurb and excerpt below.

Quinn Whiteeagle, Nerdvana co-owner and burlesque performer, is falling for Jonah Stavropoulos, and that’s a huge problem. Not just because Jonah’s a customer and is developing the bar’s app. There’s something else about Jonah that makes a future with him a non-negotiable. It’s his dominant nature.

When it comes to Quinn, Jonah can’t help himself. He’ll forgo his safety, put himself in harm’s way, and make any sacrifice in order to have her in his life. Quinn resists his pursuit and that just makes him more determined to win her over.

After several dangerous encounters with a stalker, Quinn puts her pride and reservations aside and runs to Jonah’s waiting arms. He offers Quinn a safe place to stay, but makes no qualms about wanting to give her more than just temporary safety and shelter. Every protective instinct he has is activated and Jonah will fight like hell to keep Quinn in his life and in his care forever.

Jonah

When the opening strains of Wicked Games by The Weeknd started, I shifted in my seat. The woman on the stage moved her body in leisurely undulations in time to the slow, grinding beat. Quinn ran her hands down both sides of her body, letting her fingers skim the hemline of her black and silver dress. Her moves were deliberate, and they went along the lines of the song, full of raw emotion with a dark edge.

Her gaze connected with a few people sitting in the front row, and I was happy I’d taken a seat a few rows back and off to the side. I didn’t want her to know I was here. When Jamie, my favorite bartender at Cascade Falls’ geek-themed bar Nerdvana, had let it slip a few days ago that Quinn was a burlesque performer at Lettie’s Juke Joint, I knew I had to see her dance. I’d been flirting with Quinn for a couple months now. Or at least, I’d been trying to. She always regarded me seriously and shot me down.

But, watching her move on stage, I guess it made sense that her act was more angsty than playful. She unbuttoned her dress and slid it off one shoulder, then the other. The crowd let out hoots and whistles, myself included. Hell yeah. I wanted to see her take it off, obviously, but I was equally enraptured by the way she moved. She utterly commanded the stage, as if she were born to perform. The dress slid to the floor, but Quinn wrapped an arm around her breasts. My gaze roved over the slender waist and flare of her hips. When the lyrics of the song commanded to let me see you dance, she spun and rolled her body, tossing a sultry gaze over her shoulder at the audience. 

God damn. Her silver thong glittered under the stage lights, and I imagined what the plump globes of her ass would feel like filling my palms. I shifted in my seat. Shit, I was hard as a rock. Quinn turned again and lifted her arms above her head, rolling her hips. Her glorious breasts were covered in black pasties with silver tassels that gleamed in the lights. With an almost unnatural grace, she lifted her hands, placing a tassel in each, and tugged lightly while biting into her red lip. She let go and dropped to her knees. Leaning backward, she shimmied her shoulders in time to the beat, causing the tassels to spin in a circle. Damn, I was hypnotized. The song ended and Quinn stilled her body throwing her arms above her head then rising to her knees. She gazed at a few people in the audience and took the bills they offered. As Quinn gathered her dress from the floor, she walked off to the right, which was the side of the stage where I sat. Shit, I hoped she wouldn’t walk toward me. 

I watched as a man ambushed the edge of the stage. The guy was over six foot and massive, like he’d played linebacker in college. Quinn’s eyes grew large and I saw her mouth form a single word. 

Lance

So, she knew him? She didn’t look happy to see him here. He didn’t look happy either. His jaw was clenched and his fists were balled at his sides. What the fuck was this guy’s deal? I glanced at Lance’s mouth, reading his lips as he spoke to her. 

I’ll be outside, in the alley. Meet me there in five. I’m tired of you brushing me off, Quinn. And for God’s sake, put some fucking clothes on, you look like a painted whore.

My blood surged. This asshole. Where the hell did he get off saying something like that to her? I glanced at Quinn. She looked crestfallen, her gaze downcast, she nodded. How weird. I’d observed Quinn a lot in the past two months, and I’d never witnessed a reaction like this. She always projected confidence and carried herself in a way that let people know she had teeth and she wasn’t afraid to bite. This version of Quinn was odd. There was no way I was letting her meet this asshole outside alone. She scurried off the stage and Lance stalked away. I risked a glance at him as he passed by my table. Fury was clearly written across his face. Damn, I didn’t like this. Not one bit. I ran my hands across my face and wondered how to handle the situation. 

Get your hands on this scorching read on Tuesday, March 22, 2022!