Talk Nerdy to Me Character Interview: Olivia

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.

Now on to the interview!

So, you have a very unique career path, can you explain what you do?

Sure. I studied costume design and history, and now I’m a dramaturg. Basically, that means I work as a sort of researcher for directors, scriptwriters, and playwrights to ensure that historical details like dialog, clothing, and more are historically accurate. I love research work and putting things into historical context, so it was a natural choice for me.

That sounds interesting. Speaking of costuming, you have your own side business around that. What made you want to start Cosplaymates?

I’m just a hardcore costume nerd. I love coming up with different designs and seeing people embody characters.  

How did you get into costume design?

I’ve been a part of theater in some aspect since high school, either backstage or on the stage. It was an osmosis effect, really. Costumes, and even every day outfits, give us a chance to step out of our lives, or to play a part. 

What’s your favorite cosplay outfit?

To wear, I’d say female Indiana Jones. So far, my favorite cosplay outfit I’ve ever made is an extravagant Marie Antoinette costume. 

Last question, and it’s a personal one. You were super reluctant to date someone, but you are now. How is your relationship with Dustin?

It’s amazing. We both had some commitment issues to overcome, but we’re getting there day by day…and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us. 

 

On that very happy 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.

Teaser from Nerdy Words

Today I’m sharing a teaser from book one in the Talk Nerdy to Me series, Nerdy Words. If you like cosplay and romance novels, this is an excerpt you’ll want to read!

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

“Do you even know who I’m supposed to be?” I asked. I hoped he didn’t think I’d just come to the bar in this get up. I mentally crossed my fingers that he’d figure it out without any hints from me.

“Of course, I know who you are, Lady Indy. Your costume is perfect,” he praised as his eyes raked over me.

“Well, you can thank Jamie. She let me borrow her hat, pants, and belt.” My cheeks heated under his appreciative stare. I guess I had my answer as to whether or not Dustin would like my outfit.

“Hmm. Maybe she deserves a raise. Thanks to her help, I get to indulge in a fantasy.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“You’re making a lot of assumptions tonight.” I made a tsking sound, even though my pulse leapt. The thought of learning Dustin’s fantasies was a total turn on.

“I can’t help it. All I can think about is peeling those clothes off and worshiping your sexy body,” he said as he pulled me closer. 

He planted a kiss on the side of my neck. As his mouth traveled lower his thumbs stroked the base of my throat. I rolled my lips inward and stifled a moan. God, I wanted him. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this night. I was already becoming rapidly turned on.

Dustin pulled back and cupped my face. Our gazes held and his eyes looked soft. I shifted my gaze to flicker over his face. His expression was gentle and a little hopeful. 

“You haven’t ever let anyone in, right? Because your mom told you how important it was to stay single, so you didn’t repeat her mistake? Well, I’ve not let anyone in since Madison. Since you’ve been told to avoid relationships, you probably don’t know how to let someone in. I’m rusty, since it’s been so long for me, but maybe we can take this slow and figure out how to let each other in?”

My skin prickled with fear. What he’d said was sweet and, in a way, I wanted to let him in. In another, very real, very strong way, I wanted to get out. I wanted to leave and not look back. Dustin’s heart had been scarred badly. I didn’t want to add to that wound, but worried that somehow, I would. Even if my intentions started out good, deep in my bones I knew that I’d add to the battle scars on his heart.

“I…I don’t know if I can, Dustin, and I realize that’s an incredibly shitty thing to tell you after you’ve shared so much with me. It’s just a lot of pressure to put on someone who has no relationship experience.”

He shifted, pulled away from me slightly. His expression turned darker. I thought I read hurt and maybe anger on his face. He turned and I watched his jaw flex. “Can you at least think about it? Think about whether what we have when we’re together is worth taking a chance?”

His expression softened, the anger gone and replaced by tenderness. He trailed his fingers down my arm and I resisted the urge to let out a shiver. His touch made my resolve slip. Damn it, was that enough? The physical thing we had going on, was that enough to take a risk? I didn’t know the answer. All I knew was that I wanted to both lean into his touch, bask in it, and flee this situation. God, I was a chicken shit. But, all he’d asked me to do was consider it. I could at least do that. I owed him that, after he’d bared so much of himself to me. 

“I can think about it, Dustin. I want it to be worth it, I do…”

“I get what you’re saying and also what you’re not saying.” He moved his hands from my body and shifted, putting distance between us. I straightened my hat and tried not to get the wrinkles out of my blouse. Dustin busied himself straightening the office. It seemed like he was doing it so he didn’t have to speak or even look at me. I probably deserved his reserved behavior, but it still stung a little. 

“Maybe I should take off. We’ve been back here a while. I should let you get back to work.” I fiddled with the fedora on my head, feeling more than a little ridiculous wearing the get up now. Somehow the mood between us had shifted and I didn’t know what to say or how to make it better. I couldn’t tell him that, yes, I’d give us a chance. I didn’t know how I felt about that. It would be unfair to make a promise before I knew what I wanted. “I’ll call you.” I hated the way the phrase sounded, lame and like I was making excuses. 

“Yeah, okay,” Dustin said tightly.

Want to read more about Liv and Dustin? Get Nerdy Words now at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AUAmazon CAAppleB&NKobo.

Talk Nerdy to Me Character Interview: Jamie

This is the second character interview from the Talk Nerdy to Me series. Read the first one from Dustin here.

Nerdy Thoughts blurb

Jamie Kurt is the most popular bartender at Nerdvana, the hottest bar in Cascade Falls. Her outlandish cosplay outfits, wicked wit, and flare for whipping up cocktails make her a target of one-sided crushes from the Nerdvana clientele. So when a customer named Les Wyatt captures her attention, she’s torn between wanting to know more and fighting the urge to stay away.

Les  is a shy, sweet political cartoonist and larper. Jamie is vibrant, complicated, and allergic to commitment. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and Jamie’s convinced he shouldn’t get involved with her.  

Despite their obvious differences, neither of them can deny their fiery attraction and combustible chemistry. Les asks Jamie to give him a chance to show her how good they can be together through a casual relationship. As they continue to date, and feelings grow, Jamie throws up every defense she has to try to push Les away. 

But Les is determined to have Jamie any way he can and once he gets her, he has no intention of letting her go.

Now on to the interview!

What made you want to work at Nerdvana?

It’s such an awesome place. The vibe, the theme. There’s nothing like it.

How was it coming up with mocktail recipes for Nerdvana?

I loved it! I’m always up for a challenge and coming up with tasty alcohol free drinks was honestly the tits. And, best part? They’re all totally Instagram worthy, too. 

What’s your favorite cosplay outfit?

I’d have to say my Catwoman costume. I always get hella tips when I wear it. (laughs) I mean, of course I do, it’s a black leather bodysuit with stiletto boots.

How are your goals coming along with school and work?

It’s going great! I love being part of the management team at the bar, and I’m getting closer to finishing my degree. I have a business idea that I’d love to make a reality one day in the not so distant future, but I’m not going to say anything else about it right now.

How did Les make you better?

*laughs and lets out a happy sigh*
How much time do you have? (laughs) Serious answer? He made me face some of my demons. He made me realize I was running from my past and he helped me own my BS. And, he’s the absolute sweetest. I love him so much. 

On that very happy 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.

Talk Nerdy to Me Character Interview: Dustin

With less than a month to go until book two in the Talk Nerdy to Me series releases, today I’m sharing the first of what will be an on-going series. In these short interviews with the characters of the series, readers will get to know a little more about Dustin, Olivia, Jamie, Quinn, Sara, and other characters as each book comes out. 

The first interview is with the man behind the genius that is the Nerdvana bar. If you’re not familiar with the bar, it’s basically a haven for geeks and all things geekery.  The Talk Nerdy to Me series combines cosplay, comics, video games, and hot romance in a fun nerd-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.

Now, on to the interview!

 

What made you take the leap and open Nerdvana?

I just got tired of dreaming about it. One day I woke up and decided it was time to take action. It probably sounds cliche, but life is too short to do anything other than exactly what you want. 

Why do you think the bar has been so successful?

That’s an easy one. Scarcity makes something more valuable. Simply put, there’s nothing like it in Cascade Falls. Like, no shade, but I know I was sick of going to clubs where people tried to flex by ordering the bottles with the sparklers coming out of them. On the flip side of that, if a bar wasn’t upscale it was almost too dive-y, you know?  I opened Nerdvana honestly because I’ve always wanted a place like that to hang out.  

How is it working with Quinn? 

She’s my best friend…she’s also a pain in my ass sometimes (laughs). No, seriously, she’s great. I’d be lost without her. Quinn has the best heart, plus she had lots of experience in the bar industry, which I totally lacked. We recently added another partner at Nerdvana. It’s my cousin Chase. He’s basically a serial entrepreneur and I know having him on the team is going to blow shit wide open at the bar. 

Really? That sounds like something we won’t want to miss. Can you spill the details about any fun happenings coming up at the bar that we should keep our eye out for?

We’re working on opening up a new space in the lower level of the bar. It’s dedicated to RPG (role playing games). There will also be an additional bar there with a custom drink menu, and a DJ three nights a week. Once we get that going we’ll be doing some special events at the bar. It’s going to be epic. We’re aiming to keep the experience fresh and exciting, even for our regular customers. 

We can’t wait for that. Switching gears, one final question. It’s personal, so hopefully that’s okay. Before dating Olivia you’d been single for years. What was it about Olivia that made you let down your guard and let her in?

I’d always thought of her as the one that got away, you know? Oh, I tried to pretend otherwise, but you can only lie to yourself for so long. And, she’s just the best (blushes and smiles from ear to ear). Everything about her intrigues me and simultaneously pushes me to be more, do more, to grow as a person. That’s a potent combination. 

Swooooon, right? 

If you want to know more about Dustin, or 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.

Book two, Nerdy Thoughts, is out 4/13/21!

Nerdy Words is Out Today!

Nerdy Words, the first book in my new series Talk Nerdy to Me, is out today!

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.

A Small Town Escape

I’ve talked about how I’m finding more quiet time away from the city lately, and spending that time in nature has made me nostalgic for the days when I lived in a small town. Sure, there are drawbacks from living outside of a city, like not having access to arts and culture like museums and theaters. But, the allure of wide open spaces and the sweet serenade of birds over traffic and construction noise are powerfully persuasive.

Although I have no immediate plans to leave the city, I can visit a small town (based on the one I grew up in) called Clear Lake and so can you. Good With His Hands is about a hot small town mechanic and the reluctantly relocated journalist who fall for each other despite their differences and amid some small town gossip drama 😀

Here’s an excerpt if you’d like to know a little more about Jake and Gabby.

book cover with shirtless man in foreground with hot rod vehicle in backgroundEvery woman wants a man who is good with his hands…

He’s a sexy bad boy mechanic with a reputation. She’s a guarded reporter with too much to lose to play with fire. She tries to resist him but one touch from him changes everything. 

Recent college graduate Gabby Richards has big plans for her life. At the top of those plans is landing a job for a major magazine in Chicago. While Gabby is busy mapping out her career as a journalist, her father gets seriously injured. Upon hearing of his accident, Gabby drops everything, including her career plans, and heads home to her small, rural town of Clear Lake, but vows to return to Chicago as soon as her father is well.

On her first day back in her hometown she has a run-in with the town’s sexy new mechanic, Jake Harrison, and meeting him turns everything upside-down. Despite her wishes to remain single, she doesn’t see the harm in going on a few dates with him. Soon Jake is helping Gabby confront her past and bringing out a side of her that has remained hidden for years. Even though she wants to remain focused on her career and return to her city life, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to have it all—career, her dream life in Chicago, and Jake Harrison.

 

“Sorry, do I have something on my face?” Gabby asked him earnestly.

Jake merely chuckled and shook his head.

“Then what’s wrong? Why are you staring and how come you’re not eating?”

“I love how you’re always so subtle,” Jake said with a laugh. “I was just wondering why you don’t like Clear Lake. What is it about this place that you claim bothers you so much? I say claim because from the way you’re chowing down on that sandwich, and the sparkle I saw in your eyes when you talked about your stories, you seem pretty happy to me. I think you’re determined not to like this town, for some reason, but it’s not working.”

Gabby felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach and she put the half-eaten gargantuan sandwich on her plate. Despite the fact that she didn’t like where Jake was going with the conversation, she felt he deserved some kind of answer. She didn’t know if she wanted to tell him the truth. It was so personal. She lifted her gaze from her Big Henry up into his concerned blue eyes. 

“There are a lot of things about Clear Lake I’d rather forget. When I look around, I don’t see anything but a lot of bad memories and things I wish had never happened. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you, but it’s the truth,” she said as she threw her napkin down next to her plate.

“So you don’t have to worry about bad memories in Chicago? To you, it’s safe, in that respect, that’s why you’re so determined to run back there the first chance you get,” he said matter-of-factly.

Gabby was shocked at how rude he was being. She opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t know what to say to him. Jake could never understand what it felt like to lose a parent, to watch them suffer and waste away and know there was nothing you could do to help them or stop it from happening. 

She felt tears spring in her eyes, and at the risk of having Jake see her cry, she bolted for the restroom, while muttering an ‘excuse me’ over her shoulder. She nearly bumped into their waitress in her hurry to reach the bathroom. 

Gabby leaned over the sink and took several deep breaths, determined not to cry. She wanted to get angry at Jake, she wanted to march straight out to their table and give him a piece of her mind. She wanted to tell him what an ignorant comment he’d made and that their date on Saturday was off.

However, she didn’t want to make a scene in the dining area and be the talk of the town for weeks. If not months, she thought sardonically. She decided the silent treatment would be better and probably a lot more effective.

When she went back out to the booth, Jake was throwing some cash down on the table to pay their tab. Gabby headed for the door and was waiting inside the hot truck for him when he got outside and cranked the engine to life.

“I’m sorry if what I said upset you.”

Gabby sat staring out the passenger window, feeling all her resolve to tell Jake off fade away. “It’s not just what you said Jake. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to know what it feels like to lose a parent. You probably can’t even imagine the pain of driving by the hospital where your mom spent weeks lying in a bed under fluorescent lighting when she should have been at home, gardening, cooking dinner and living her life. 

“I don’t expect you to understand how everywhere I go and everything I see is overtaken by memories. I don’t expect you to know what it’s like to not only be haunted by what has happened, but also what could have been,” she wiped a tear that had rolled down her cheek and faced Jake. “So, you’re right in one respect, Jake. Chicago is safe, there are not bad memories, there are not good memories. It’s just a place. It’s some place I can just be Gabby, not poor Gabby who lost her mom to cancer, not a sob story, I’m just me. Like I said, you probably can’t get that.”

Jake let out a long sigh and Gabby thought to herself, I sure told him.

“It’s funny you say that I wouldn’t understand Gabby, when I understand perfectly. I lost my mom too. Not to cancer, a car accident. I don’t know what’s worse, watching your parent slip away, little by little, or to have her suddenly taken away, like my mom was. 

“I know exactly what you’re saying about the memories, Gabby. I felt the same way after my mom died and I had to pass by the stretch of road where she was hit. It was like a knife in my stomach every time I saw that spot. Then my grandpa died and when I found out my dad didn’t want to take over the business and move here, I jumped at the chance. 

“I left my hometown for the same reasons you’re trying to leave yours, Gabby and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I have. Sooner or later the pain resurfaces, I may not have to see the spot where my mom died every day, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s not around anymore. Maybe you can find a way to still be connected to your mom. I started running as a way to connect with mine, when I’m running, it’s like…I can feel her presence.”

He reached for her hand and pulled her toward him across the bench seat. 

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, I was only trying to help,” he said as he stared deep into her hazel eyes.

“It’s not your fault, Jake,” she said in a husky voice. 

She was so close to him she could smell the shop fluids on his uniform, and feel the heat radiating from his body. She felt Jake remove his hand from hers and she experienced a pang of disappointment. When he placed his hand on the back of Gabby’s bare neck, her heart raced. Jake angled his head toward hers and she parted her lips in anticipation of his kiss. 

Gabby grasped his shoulders and felt Jake’s surprisingly soft embrace. Maybe it was the emotions of the moment, but his kiss wasn’t as insistent as it normally was. Despite it being a mellower kiss, her heartbeat accelerated, her anger totally evaporated now. She let out a contented sigh and was about to wind her fingers through his hair when someone honked their horn. Startled, she and Jake broke apart. 

“Way to go, Jake,” a man called from a vehicle nearby. 

He continued to grin goofily at the couple as he walked into the barbeque joint. Gabby felt her cheeks flame in response to their audience. So much for keeping her dates with Jake a secret and not being the talk of the town.

Interested in more? Find Good With His Hands at  Amazon, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

 

A Little Fun to Get You Through the Week

Hi! I’m writing this post without wearing pants. I also haven’t brushed my teeth or hair yet today. Welcome to week 856 of quarantine!

I think I’m actually in like week nine of quarantine, but who the hell knows, tbh.

Anywho, I figured you could probably use something a fun to get you through the rest of this week and I have a solution. It’s a snippet from my novella Wild Ride, a story about a shy quiet girl who embraces her rowdy side.

Read on for an excerpt, and if you enjoy it, please share this post with someone who could use a fun read!

She’s in for one Wild Ride…

Fresh from being dumped for being too boring, shy and geeky Cynthia Goode decides to shake up her dull life by entering a provocative contest at a popular country western bar. She doesn’t win first prize at the Naughty Nightie mechanical bull riding contest, but she does win the attention of sexy biker Brody Cruz.

Living out what she thinks is a fantasy, she lets Brody take her home for a night she won’t forget.

Cynthia stripped down and butterflies swam in her belly. She’d greatly underestimated how scary walking across a bar and onto a raised circular stage would be dressed only in a corset, lace panties, stockings and heels. Nevertheless, she strutted toward the emcee, the spotlight tracing her movements as she walked. A series of howls and whistles erupted when the man helped her gain her footing and straddle the bull. 

They think I look hot. Well, at least if I plummet off the bull right away it’s good to know I’ll look sexy as I fall flat on my face.

The emcee reiterated the rules to her and Cynthia tried to concentrate on what he said. 

“Keep your clothes on. Hold on to the pummel with one hand. Keep your other hand raised high. Try to add some personal flare. Aim to ride for eight seconds. Have fun, sugar.”

With that he smacked the side of the machinery and gave a nod to the man controlling the device. The bull started up, the base spinning in a slow circular motion while the saddle rocked front to back. Cynthia gripped the pummel with her right hand and lifted her left hand high in the air. She gazed out into the crowd and flashed a smile. Several cat-calls and shouts rang out. 

I can do this.

The device started to speed up, the movements becoming rougher. Cynthia undulated her body as she’d seen the other contestants do. She rocked forward as the bull tilted back and used her knees to grip the wide body. A shrill whistle sounded from the crowd around her and she smiled. She thought back to the look on Paul’s face when he saw her wearing the corset. 

“Cynthia? Did you lose a bet?”

What an asshole. Not every man thought the way he did, thank goodness. From the shouts, some of the men in the bar found her attractive. Determined to put on a decent show, she tossed her hair. 

Or she tried to anyway.

The small movement made her lose visual focus. Suddenly the machine bucked at the same time that it spun to the left. She tried to recover, but her body slid to the side and she fell onto the mat in what she worried was an ungraceful heap. 

“Let’s give contestant five a big round of applause, everybody,” the emcee said. 

Two bouncers rushed forward to help her off the mat so the next contestant could take her place. When they got her off the stage and let go of her, Cynthia smiled and tried to take a step forward. She wobbled and the room spun. Drinking, bull riding and stilettos so did not mix well together.

“You good?”

“I think so,” she clutched his massive forearm. She blew out a breath and tried to walk again. “I think I’m okay now.” 

The bouncer led her out of the cordoned off area near the mechanical bull and then let go of her arm. She scanned the bar, trying to find Nina, but it was still difficult to focus. She craned her neck, but she didn’t see Nina at the bar where she’d left her before the bull ride. Someone pinched her ass and she let out a yelp at the sting. Where the hell was Nina with her skirt? 

Panic crept in like a fog. What the hell was she even doing? She was standing in a bar in her underwear. No, not her underwear. If she’d been wearing her standard skivvies it wouldn’t be nearly as mortifying. Her usual full-coverage briefs, what Nina insisted were granny panties, would’ve at least kept her from showing off her ass cheeks like two prized melons. 

“I’m so stupid,” she said softly to herself. Scanning the bar again for her friend, she still didn’t see Nina anywhere. Straining her neck every which way, she took a step forward without watching where she was going and wobbled, crashing into a solid torso. 

 “Easy there, sweetheart.”A pair of large hands cupped her shoulders.  “Why don’t you lean against me? I don’t think you’re ready to walk just yet.” 

Cynthia nodded, knowing the kind stranger was right. She only wished she wasn’t wearing her undergarments. 

“Thanks for the help—”

She looked up into the man’s face and her mouth went dry. He was tall, even in her stilettos he towered over her. His dark hair was short on the sides and long on top. Her gaze trailed lower, to the way the black tank hugged his broad chest. How could such a simple garment look so outstanding? Maybe it had nothing to do with the construction of the  plain cotton and everything to do with the man wearing it. 

“It was nothing. I’m Brody. And you are?” He asked with his mouth near her ear.

She had half a mind to give him a fake name, something exotic. But then she remembered that she was a horrible liar. She’d never get an alias out with a straight face. 

“My name’s Cynthia,” she shouted above the hoots of the observers and the emcee’s announcements.

His gaze landed at her throat and her fingers flew to her pendant reflexively. The word GEEK was stamped on its surface. She wore it with pride, because damn it, she was a geek at heart and had no shame in it. What would a guy like Brody think of her geeky ways? 

“That’s a cool necklace.” His gaze connected with hers again and she let out a little giggle. Had she heard him right? He thought her geek necklace was cool.

“Thank you. I made it myself.” 

“Really? Awesome.”

She felt her face flush under his praise. Her jewelry business wasn’t something she told people about. Even when someone complimented her on one of her pieces. It was always something she shied away from telling people about. 

“Well, Cynthia, I feel compelled to see you safely out of this area.” He leaned closer while tightening his hold on her. Surprised, she inhaled sharply. Her nose was filled with a rich, sexy cologne. “This place is a wolf den tonight. I wouldn’t feel right leaving you now. That okay with you?” 

She glanced around at all the men nearby and then back to him. Her gut told her she could trust him. She nodded. Brody steered her away from the throng of males, his hand riding low against the curve of her hip. In a weird way, she liked the way he took control and led her away from the crowd. 

“Do you think you could help me find my friend?” Her words were drowned out by hoots from the rowdy crowd. She turned and caught sight of the next contestant on the bull. The woman wore an aubergine teddy that set off her dark skin. As she undulated on the machine, the filmy material billowed around her like a purple cloud. The DJ had put on a provocative song and the contestant was milking the song lyrics, incorporating the suggestive words into her ride. 

“What? You’re gonna have to get real close to me so I can hear. This crowd’s going ape shit.” He’d stopped walking, tightening his grip on her so she would halt too. Brody pressed his body against her and leaned down, so his mouth was near her ear. He swept her long hair off her shoulder. His breath was a warm caress against the skin on her neck. “See, I bet you can hear me much better now.”

She nodded. Her pulse pounded in her ears, and lower, she felt the beat thrumming in her core. Their gazes connected, held. The strobe light circled and limned his irises. His light brown eyes were flecked with gold. She swallowed hard and with trembling hands she gripped him by the shoulders and gently urged him downward. He lowered his head toward hers. 

Oh, God, does he think I want to kiss him?

She did, of course. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t? He was gorgeous and seemed captivated by her. She turned her head and angled her mouth toward his ear. Instead of speaking, she froze, her fingers tightening around his muscled shoulders. For the first time since arriving at the bar, the intensity of the erotic atmosphere threatened to overwhelm her. 

The heavy bass strumming from the speakers. The humid air and male bodies pressed in close. The catcalls and shouts from the men cheering on the contestants. And, damn it, the lyrics of the 90s R&B song where the sexy male voice promised that his saddle was waiting and commanded a woman to jump on it. Maybe that was good advice. Maybe she needed to jump on it. Well, not on Brody’s…saddle, but she could at least capitalize on the situation. What possible harm could come from a little flirting with this handsome stranger?

Want to know what happens next between Cynthia and Brody? Get Wild Ride for just 99 cents at  AmazonAmazon AUAmazon CAAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboPlayster, and Scribd.

Get Ready! Tropical Heat Will Steam Up Your E-Reader on 7/11

It’s been forever since I’ve had a new release, but I’m happy to announce that I have a short story releasing this Tuesday! Tropical Heat is a HOT short about a vacation fling.

And speaking of heat…I’ll be promoting the release as well as my back-list on The Romance Studio‘s party site for their Heatwave Party!

heatwave_2017

As part of the party, I’ll be giving away one copy of my short story Leather and Lace to one lucky winner, so be sure to stop by and enter to win!

Tropical Heat Cover copyThey have one night together, but that night promises to be as steamy as the tropical heat of Jamaica…

Rayne Willows is an artist from the Pacific Northwest looking to shake up her boring life. A trip to Jamaica sounds like the perfect way to let loose and rekindle her passion for photography. When she meets local man Marcus Greene on the beach in Ocho Rios, sparks immediately fly. Marcus offers to show Rayne around his beautiful hometown, but during the sightseeing tour, the two quickly realize the passion they have for each other can’t be held back. They decide to make their one night together a sexy experience neither of them is likely to forget.

Are you following me on social media? I’m sharing sexy teasers from Tropical Heat on my Facebook, Twitter and Instragram, so be sure to follow me!

March Madness…Romance Author Style

I can hardly believe it’s March. Hello? It feels like Christmas, was like, two weeks ago.

Needless to say I’ve been quiet here and on social media for months now. I’ve been working on projects off and on and just generally, trying to decide what to do with a book series I really, really hope sees the light of day. But…more about that later.

This month I’m attempting to get into the swing of things, promo-wise, by participating in a couple of reader events online. The first is The Romance Studio’s St. Patrick’s Day party.

The party will run online all next week, beginning Monday, March 13 and ending on Friday, March 17. I hope you’ll join me and the other authors blogging at TRS for the party. There will be lots of giveaways, like free books and gift cards, so be sure to drop by.

Also, later this month, on March 25th, I’ll be participating in The Romance Reviews’ sixth anniversary party. There are prizes every day of this giveaway, but on the day of my event, I’ll be giving away a copy of my short story Special Delivery to one lucky winner!

To enter to win, all you’ll have to do is play a quick, easy Q&A. Here’s the direct link to the event: http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php again, my Q&A will be live on March 25th only, but feel free to enter the other giveaways each day!