Living the Fantasy
September 12, 2012
PR representative Alicia Flores is fed up. Her job is a dead end, her love life is nonexistent and life is pretty muchwell, boring. So when she’s unexpectedly offered a chance to play a character from a video gamethe warm and sensuous Queen Guineverefor a promotional tour, Alicia decides to toss her shy-gal personaand play her new part to perfection!
What she’s not expecting is sinfully delicious video-game guru Ken Johnsona rare breed of nerd who is hot, successful and damn sexy. And he knows just how to coax the sexy vixen in her out to play!
As late-night pleasures take center stage, Alicia finds herself pulled further into Ken’s sinful world of make-believe. But can she give up the fantasy when it’s time to return to the real world?
Ali Flores laughed as she looked at the text message from her best friend, Elisa. Apparently some guy had hired Elisa’s modeling agency to find an actress for him but he couldn’t verbalize what he was looking for. Go figure. A guy who didn’t know what he wanted in a woman. What were the odds? Ali was smiling as she texted back.
I’m still coming for lunch. Have to get out of here!
She’d just hit Send when her boss popped his head into her cubicle.
“Hey, Ali, did you proofread that brochure?”
“Right here,” she said as she handed over the document. “But I really think the photos could be better”
“Great. I’m having a terrible time getting those promotional pens out of China. Can you call their customs department for me and get it worked out?”
“Because I speak such good Chinese?” Not.
“Because you’re the best. Thanks!” And off he went with a wave. She wanted to scream. How the heck was she supposed to navigate Chinese customs? But she didn’t say a word. Instead, she grabbed her phone and typed out another quick text to Elisa.
My boss knows exactly what he wants: me, chained to my desk. Until I DIE!
She had to get a new job. Truthfully, she had to get a new life, but what? And how? She dropped her chin on her hand and stared at her computer screen. And as she glared at the blinking cursor, she imagined a knight in shining armor stepping up to her desk to rescue her. He’d take her away to his castle, he’d shower her with jewels, andand he’d probably ask her to mother his seven screaming brats from a previous marriage.
Ali groaned and started pulling up all the correspondence with the Chinese factory. But as she worked, her mind kept churning on her own life problems.
Ali believed in happily ever after. Perhaps that was the problem. She didn’t just believe in it, she ached for it. She obsessed about it. She wanted it with a hunger that filled her fantasy life to overflowing.
But she needed some way to shape her dreams. It wasn’t like knights in shining armor were wandering around Houston looking for her. And she wasn’t really a damsel in distress. Truth was, she didn’t know who or what she was.
She’d been a quiet child growing up, buried in books because that’s what she liked. She and her single mom had been happy up until she was ten. Then suddenly her mom up and married a guy with two sons, both younger than Ali. And if that weren’t enough, Mom got pregnant just a few months later.
Ali went from the girl who liked to read to the girl who changed diapers, did laundry and screamed at the boys to stay out of her room. In the end, she escaped to college only to quit when the money ran out.
She’d got this job as a secretary to the head of PR in a hospital. Talk about being unimportant. The hospital saved lives. Her boss kept the hospital looking good so it could save lives. And what did she do? She made sure their booth at a health fair was well stocked with promotional pens. Sure, she wasn’t screaming at toddlers anymore, but she was working just as hard screaming at customs or tracking UPS shipments or doing whatever menial task her boss threw at her. Other people had passions, they had goals and a purpose. She had fantasies about handsome pirates not because she liked pirates but because she didn’t know what she did like. And she wasn’t going to find out sitting here filling out customs forms.
It was time to make a change. So she whipped out her phone and texted Elisa.
Lunch NOW. We’re going to find me a new life.
Ken Johnson was searching for a queen. And for some ridiculous reason, he couldn’t find one. Maybe because Queen Guinevere didn’t exist in Houston. Still, he was determined to try. He was now at his seventeenth modeling agency praying that the woman he sought walked through the door. But so far, he’d been sorely disappointed.
Ken was CEO of Quirky Games, Inc., and he was about to launch a new adventure game that he hoped would take the geek world by storm. But in order to do that, he had to throw a huge publicity campaign that included gaming conventions, comic conventions and even a theme-park opening. And after years of experience in the geek gaming world, he knew that every event hinged on one thing: the actors who played the characters.
Any model could strap on a corset and a sword. Put a babe in a brass bra and kids would look, but they wouldn’t necessarily buy. These days, players needed more than a hot chick before they invested the hours to get fluent in a game. They needed a goal, a challenge and, most of alla queen.
His queen needed to be divinely beautiful but so approachable that boys would immediately want to talk to her, be with her, play the game for hours just to spend more time around her. She needed to be reserved enough to seem mysterious, and yet so warm that you believed she could strap on an apron and serve chocolate-chip cookies. Sex goddess and Betty Crocker, all rolled into one.
That was the queen he wanted, and damn it, she was nowhere to be found.
“I need a break,” he said, shoving up from his chair. He was in the primary conference room of the last modeling agency on his list: OMG Action! But just as all the others, every woman who’d strutted, shimmied or swaggered in front of him had left him cold. Not just cold, but vaguely nauseated. They were certainly beautiful, but the personalities beneath the flawless skin and high cheekbones were arrogant or just plain over-the-top.
The agency owner, Marilyn Madison, pushed out of her chair and teetered on her ultra-high heels. “Mr. Johnson!” she cried, panic in her voice.
Then her assistanta very sweet young woman named Elisaoffered him yet another folder of pictures. “If you could just tell me what look you’re going for, perhaps in this pile”
“I don’t care about a look,” he said for what felt like the billionth time. “I need the woman to feel right, and these girls just don’t.” And with that he stomped out the door. He didn’t stop until he’d pushed through the doors of the elegant glass foyer, but as the office was on the thirty-seventh floor, he ended up standing in the hallway near the elevator bank.
He toyed with the idea of just leaving the building. He could be at his favorite comic-book store in twenty minutes. Except, of course, he was an adult today. He had a company andmore importanttwenty employees who needed him to make Winning Guinevere into a multimillion-dollar success. Their jobs and his life savings depended on it.
Eight years ago, he’d been fresh out of college with a computer-science degree and a hunger to make it rich. He had a cool game written, and he and his best friend, Paul, had marketed the heck out of it and sold a zillion copies. Quirky Games, Inc. was born. But that was eight years ago. Since then, they’d launched one game after another to only middling success. Winning Guinevere was their last hope, and Ken was pouring everything he had into it. Which meant he had to find the right Guinevere. Without her, he might as well declare bankruptcy now.
He took a deep breath and tried to think. Maybe there was a compromise somewhere. He ran through different scenarios in his mind, but every one just made him sigh. Everything hinged on the woman. He couldn’t compromise there. It would compromise everything.
He was on the verge of muttering curse words in Klingon when the elevator doors dinged. He didn’t look out of curiosityhis eyes were just focused in that direction. But since his eyes were aimed at the elevator door, he could hardly fail to notice when she walked out. Normal height, nice curves and thick dark hair pulled back into a neat ponytail. He caught a flash of flawless skin, high cheekbones and enticing legs that had enough muscle to be strong and enough softness to be sexy. She wore a dress of muted blue and a sweater that covered her curves but didn’t hide them.
And none of that made him leap off the wall until he heard her chuckle. Low, throaty and so damn sexy, he felt his jaw drop in shock. It seemed to fill the air and vibrate in his soul. Sexy and warm. Chocolate-chip-cookie warm. Oh my God, had he just found his queen?
He pulled himself togethera lot harder to do than it should have beenand scrambled for a way to introduce himself. Meanwhile, she turned out of the elevator alcove and headed down the hall toward him. Her eyes were trained on her cell phone. That was apparently what had made her laugh because a second later, she did it again.
Wow. He felt this one in his spine, and every part of him leaped to follow her. The words were out of his mouth before he could think twice.
“Excuse me, miss.” he began, but then his voice trailed away. What could he say to this woman?
She looked up, her eyes going wide as she realized she’d been so focused on her phone that she hadn’t seen him there. “Oh!” she gasped. “I’m sorry. I should look where I’m going, huh?” She immediately folded up her phone.
“No, no. My fault. Iuh” He tried his best smile, his mind scrambling. The problem was that as smart as he wasand frankly, he was considered very smarthe’d never been very good at communicating with girls. He wanted to be suave and ended up just looking like a tongue-tied geek. Which was exactly what he was. “I was just admiring your phone.”
She blinked and looked down at the cell in her hand. Ken noted with dismay that it wasn’t a cool phone. It wasn’t even a smartphone, which made it a virtual dinosaur.
“This phone?” she asked.
“Um, no. Actually I was just looking for a way to talk to you.”
She smiled. “Bad luck then, choosing to talk about my phone. I’m just grateful it can handle text messages.”
He stared at her, lost in her face.