Thanks to Sourcebooks, here’s an excerpt from The Geek Girl and the Scandalous Earl by Gina Lamm.
Her sword glittered as it swung in a wide arc, whistling as it cleaved the air. She smiled as the goblin bolted.
“Jamie, I need heals.”
Ignoring the call for help, she advanced on another goblin. The tide was turning now. Her allies had almost annihilated the threat.
With a wild cry, she loosed a spell on the disgusting creature. It staggered backward before recovering and charging on her in a berserk rage, eyes wild and fangs extended. Her next swing missed, and she took a critical hit.
“Jamie, for chrissakes, we’re dying here!”
Some quick spellwork took care of the goblin, and Jamie reluctantly turned her attention back to her allies. Whoops. Three of the guild’s portraits were glaring red, signaling their imminent deaths.
“Hang on, guys. I’m here.”
Targeting the leader, she cast her most powerful healing spell. The computer screen flashed: OUT OF MANA.
She fumbled in her bags for her mana-restoring potions. She’d just managed to find one, clicking to activate it when the screen went gray. YOU HAVE DIED. RESURRECT NOW?
The guild’s groans sounded through her headset as she slumped back in her seat.
“Jamie, where the hell were you?”
“Worst. Healer. Ever.”
“I wouldn’t use your heals for a paper cut, Jamie. That was pathetic. Haven’t you ever run this level?”
She shoved her long highlighted brown hair over her shoulder, glaring at the computer screen. “Of course I have. I can heal this run in my sleep. I just got a little carried away with the mobs. It won’t happen again.”
Kurt, the guild leader, let out an audible sigh over the chat channel. “Fine. One more run. Everyone ready?”
Jamie readied her character’s potions and spell rotation. Typical. They figured since she was the only girl in the guild, she should be the healer. She didn’t mind healing, especially in the more difficult dungeons, but she wanted to do her part to take down the bad guys too. It wasn’t fair. Men never took her seriously. That’s why she played these games. It was supposed to be a level field. But the game, like her life, was rarely ever exactly what she thought it should be.
The Lords of Discord guild cleared the dungeon run easily that time, with Jamie focusing on healing alone. She picked at the chipping mauve polish on her fingernails between fights, only needing to keep half an eye on the large computer screen.
“Great job, Lords.” Kurt’s voice held a ton of relief as he divvied up the loot.
After securing her share of the rewards, Jamie said her good-byes to her guild-mates, logged out, and switched to her other character, Killaz. A hulking Amazon melee class in a chain-mail dress with a huge two-handed sword, Killaz was how Jamie saw herself in her mind’s eye—kick-ass, tough, and more than a little bit intimidating. As she cut a swath through the forest full of giant spiders, she wished that she was anything like that in real life. If I was as tough as Killaz, then that jerk Logan wouldn’t have broken my heart and walked all over me like a dollar store welcome mat.
After an hour of grinding out daily quests, a vibration in the front pocket of her shorts made her jump. Her groan echoed through her junky living room when she saw the text: “Go help Pawpaw Milton with the antiques or I’ll sell your Comic-Con pass. Love, Leah.”
Jamie slogged up the stairs with a huge sigh, studiously ignoring the piano with half-written songs strewn across the bench. The last thing she wanted was to move dusty furniture and knickknacks in the triple-digit heat. But her best friend, Leah, had had enough of Jamie’s post-breakup isolation and had put her foot down where it hurt—right on the pop-culture fan’s trip to the Holy City.
As she drove downtown to the storage unit she was helping Pawpaw Milton clear out, she tried to believe that everything would go back to normal. Well, before-Logan normal. With Leah’s help and this part-time job, maybe she could get there. Maybe even start writing music again. And besides, she’d grown up a lot since the last time she’d worked at the antiques store. Her first summer job there had ended after only three days. The antiques were probably way less fragile now.
The resounding crack of glass echoed through the storage unit, making Jamie flinch. Pawpaw Milton had left her alone in the unit to go to an estate auction. The hundred-degree heat had her dripping with sweat—not the best condition for handling two-hundred-year-old crystal.
Jamie hoped that Pawpaw hadn’t noticed the pretty bowl tucked away in the corner. She carefully shoved the evidence of her klutziness into a large black garbage bag. What he doesn’t know won’t get me fired, she figured, though she couldn’t exactly shake the guilt.
Holding the end of her ponytail atop her head, she gulped from the giant bottle of water like a frantic desert survivor. This was hell.
Jamie pulled her phone from her pocket: 2:00 p.m. Another three hours to go before she could escape to her cave and take a shower. Oh well. It would be worth it in two months when she got to Comic-Con. Hopefully.
She unknotted the bottom of her tank top and dried her face and hands with the tail of it. Even in her thinnest tank top and shortest shorts, she still felt overdressed for this weather.
After carting out and cataloging a number of fragile items without incident, all that remained was the large furniture on the opposite side of the unit. Well, other than the big sheet-covered monstrosity behind the table. What is that, anyway?
Reaching up, she stood on tiptoes to toss back the corner of the dust cover for a quick peek. But she tugged just a little too hard, and the white fabric billowed as it floated down on top of her, dust and cobwebs coating her sweat-slicked skin. Arms flailing, she fought free of the cover, stomping it in a fit of frustration when it lay on the concrete at her flip-flopped feet.
“What the hell is your problem?” Jamie yelled at the innocent-looking mound of fabric. It said nothing, just laid there looking smug.
She turned her back on it to see what it had been covering.
The piece was a tall bureau, made of a rich mahogany that almost glowed gold from deep within the wood. It sloped outward in the middle, wider at its drawer-filled base than the top. Mirrored doors covered the upper portion.
She touched the wood lovingly. It was beautiful, cool to her skin even in the sweltering heat. When she’d reached up as high as she could, she sighed and trailed her thumb down the center of the shiny mirror on one door.
Her thumb dipped into the center of the glass.
With a gasp, she pulled, trying to free her hand. It wouldn’t move. She was stuck.
She yanked backward with all her strength. The mirror pulled on her hand, drawing her farther into the glass. She braced against the bottom of the bureau, using her legs to give her leverage. She was in up to her wrist now.
“Help!” she yelled, frantically scrabbling against the mirror’s hold. “Somebody, please!”
Using all her weight, she jerked backward, nearly dislocating her shoulder in the process. The mirror refused to release its hold. She whacked the slanted middle with the flat of her free hand in frustration.
With one last effort, she braced her feet against the bottom drawer and pulled with all her might. Without loosing its grip on her, the furniture tilted dangerously, almost tipping before she hit the floor to right it again.
Well, this sucks, she thought, slumping against the bureau. Her right ear was traveling through the mirror now.
So much for Comic-Con. So much for her place in the Lords of Discord guild. So much for showing Logan she could be fine without him. She hadn’t really been doing a good job of that anyway, but dammit, she deserved better than being consumed by antique furniture!
Once she gave up fighting, the pull went much faster. Within moments, the glass had swallowed her entire head.
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