A Different Kind of Role Playing by Avery Flynn + Excerpt + Giveaway
When it comes to romance books and role playing, dressing up as a character from a game and acting out a battle in a public park isn’t usually the first thing to come to mind. However, in Designed for Murder, that’s exactly what’s going on. But rather than me trying to explain it. Here’s the set up (and an exclusive excerpt) from heroine, Mika Ito.
“So four people you know have been mugged recently,” said Tony Falcon, Maltese Security’s owner.
“More than mugged—they were attacked,” Mika said. “Two of the guys only had a few bumps and bruises from getting smacked around. Chuck ended up with a broken wrist when he refused to give up his costume. He wouldn’t let go, lost his footing on the slick pavement, and stopped his fall with his wrist. Josh ended up with a badly sprained ankle when he fought back.”
“What makes you think it’s the same guy targeting your friends?” Tony asked.
“Everyone gives the same description. Tall guy, muscular, black ski mask. Plus all he wants is our costumes. It’s weird enough for one person to want our Magic Battledome costumes, but four different muggers? That wouldn’t make any sense.”
“What’s so special about these…” Tony looked down at the sheet of paper in front of him. “Halloween costumes?”
She blinked back the red creeping into her vision and inhaled a deep breath before she unleashed her frustration on Tony—something she’d failed to do with the cops when they interviewed her last week, if two minutes of bored uh-huhs could be called a police interview. Controlling her impulsive streak took practice and patience. Right now she was short on both, but she needed Maltese Security’s help. Giving Tony a snarky lesson in LARPing, like she’d done with the officers, wasn’t going to accomplish anything. She slowly let the air out of her lungs.
“Not Halloween costumes,” she said, proud her voice came out calm. “LARPing costumes.”
“What’s lurping?” asked the guy from the bar who’d introduced himself as Cam.
She swallowed her groan. Okay, she was going to have to start from scratch here. “With an A, L-A-R-P-ing. It stands for live-action role-playing.”
“Like at a Renaissance Faire?” Tony asked, his tone even and without the mocking judgment she was used to when she talked about her favorite hobby in front of non-players.
“Sort of,” she replied. “It’s a game based on the characters from the online version of Magic Battledome. You create a character, dress up like her, and then go out and physically act out the game according to a plot written by the game masters.”
“And the costumes? What’s so special about them?” Tony asked.
“Players work for months on their costumes. They build suits of armor, create custom-made character outfits, and forge their own weapons. My court all has matching vestments that I designed and sewed. I’m a textile designer, so it’s not that much of a stretch to create a vestment.”
Cam pointed at his plain black T-shirt. “This is about as design as I get. What’s a textile designer do?”
“I work with fashion designers to create textiles that they’ll use to take their designs from paper to real life. They imagine it, and I make the perfect pattern happen.”
“So how does that translate into these costumes?” Tony asked.
“I get fabric at cost because of all of the designers and textile wholesalers and importers I work with, which allows me to produce the patterns for less than my court could on their own,” she said. “The vestments are a deep aubergine purple with threads of real silver sewn in to form the Silver Queen’s crest. That’s what the thief keeps taking. He leaves the rest of the costume.”
“Real silver,” Cam said. “Could he be targeting them for that?”
“That’s a lot of work for minimal payout.” Tony looked down at the initial police report she’d filed last week before turning to Cam. “You know who we need on this.”
“Not sure if he’s gotten here yet.” Cam gave her a pointed stare. “He had an exciting night. I’ll go look.”
The blond giant stood up and strutted out the conference room door.
“You’ll like this guy. He’s one of our lead investigators,” Tony said. “With his background, he’ll be a perfect fit for your case.”
“What kind of backgrou—” The word died on her lips when Carlos walked in the room, looking just as delicious in the black T-shirt and dark-wash jeans he wore now as he had this morning with his white sheets twisted around his lean hips.
Tony stood up and handed the case file to Carlos. “Mika, this is Carlos Castillo.”
If her brain had hiccupped when Carlos had walked into the room, it went into hyperdrive when Tony said Carlos’s full name. Anyone with the slightest affiliation with Magic Battledome knew exactly who he was.
“The Carlos Castillo?” She nearly fell out of her chair. Every community had its heroes, its best-of-the-best. For Magic Battledome players and LARPers, that person stood before her. The guy’s legend had grown even larger when he’d suddenly vanished a year ago. She’d spent the night with him and hadn’t known… Of course, it wasn’t like they’d done much talking. Shit, she hadn’t even known his last name. “You’re Zephyr?”
“Not anymore.” His jaw hardened and he turned away as if he’d never seen her before in his life. “Tony, Cam, can I talk to you outside?”
She flinched as if he’d slapped her, but she wasn’t about to sit quietly and politely like he obviously expected.
“Is this because of last night?” Mika sipped her steaming cup of coffee as if her temper hadn’t gone from zero to a bazillion in the past eight seconds. “You don’t have to worry, I’m not a stage-six clinger or anything.”
“Last night?” Tony asked, a confused wrinkle forming between his eyes.
Cam jerked his chin toward the door. “It might be better—”
“We had sex,” she interrupted. “A one-night stand. It was hot and fun and not something that’s going to cloud my ability to work with Carlos. You’re right, not having to explain every aspect of the LARP world would be helpful for the investigation.” She stared at the trio of men, refusing to kowtow to the muscle-bound bros packing heat. “Look, I have bigger problems to deal with than any kind of weird funkiness you three want to put on a woman who is perfectly comfortable with her sexuality. I’ve seen his dick, but that’s not going to blind me to what we really need to be focusing on: finding out who’s stealing my court’s costumes. The police aren’t taking it seriously, but I thought that you would. Was I wrong?”
So what do you think, is there a little LARP-style role playing in your future? Don’t forget to enter the Sexy Suspense Amazon Kindle & $40 Gift Card Giveaway below!
Some fashion statements can kill...
Mika Ito combines her two favorite things in life--textile design and live-action role-playing (LARP)--by creating costumes for her fellow Magic Battledome gamers. Lately, someone's been assaulting LARPers and stealing their costumes. Concerned for the safety of her friends, Mika hires Maltese Security...only to discover that the lead investigator is the super-hot stranger she just hooked up with.
Carlos Castillo is all too familiar with Magic Battledome. A former legend in role-playing circles, he was all about gaming, until things went very, very wrong for him. Now he's forced to return to the game undercover--as Mika's boyfriend--to find some answers. Only playing "boyfriend" with his gorgeous one-night stand is more temptation than a guy can withstand...
Someone wants the costumes enough to kill for them. And when it comes to murder, nothing is what it seems...
“To be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel
Carlos Castillo surveyed the Thursday-night crowd at Feeny’s hole-in-the-wall bar. It was a step above a dive bar and several stories below what most people in Harbor City would call a respectable establishment, which made it perfect for Carlos and the other guys from Maltese Security when they needed to blow off a little steam after closing a case. It also happened to be the site of his impending public humiliation at the hands of his fellow investigators who’d come to Feeny’s with him.
“Don’t even think about pussying out, ’Los.” Cam Hardy tapped his shot glass against Carlos’s. “You lost the bet, you pay the price.”
Fuck. What human being could eat fifteen pickled eggs that had been sitting in a jar on the bar for God knew how long? Apparently Cam, who’d chalked up his success to the fact that neither he nor his live-in girlfriend, Drea, could cook for shit and his taste buds had gone into hiding.
“What about one of them?” Will Roscoe asked, nodding toward the trio of women in a corner booth.
“The redhead’s hot,” said Alex Lee before taking a long draw from his beer.
Carlos tossed back the last of his shot before he said anything he’d regret about redheads. The last redhead he’d dated had nearly killed him—literally—and he’d had to return the favor.
“Not his type,” Cam said.
Unlike Roscoe and Alex, who were relative newbies to the team, Cam knew the real reason behind Carlos’s aversion to redheads. While Cam would shame Carlos into embarrassing himself in a bar full of people, he wouldn’t say anything about the shooting that had changed Carlos’s life forever.
Cam nodded toward the women in the booth. “The girl on the end is more his speed.”
Right at that moment, the woman in question slid out of the booth and stood up. She couldn’t be more than five-five even in the thigh-high leather boots with their wicked high heels. She wore skin-tight jeans that clung to her legs like they were made for her tight body and a top made out of some sort of shimmery material that caught the dim lights when she walked, drawing his attention to the way her tits moved as she strutted across the bar like she owned the joint.
The full-body profile view was enough to make him reach for another shot, but then she pivoted at the bar, turning so she faced their table, and he couldn’t do a damn thing but stare. Almond-shaped brown eyes, full pink lips, and more than a hint of trouble in the way she tossed her long light brown hair and laughed at some undoubtedly lame joke from the bartender.
“Roll your tongue back in your mouth, ’Los.” Cam shook his head and finished his shot. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you still spent all of your free time pretending to be a warlock or some shit on the computer.”
The verbal nudge was more than enough to bring him back to reality. After the shooting, he’d replaced Magic Battledome role-play online gaming with the gym and had spent the past year working to make the team at Maltese realize there was more to him than just amazing computer geek skills. And as tonight’s celebration of a job well done proved, he’d done it. He worked cases in real life now, not just at the keyboard.
Carlos settled back in his seat, keeping his gaze locked on the woman as she carried three beers back to her booth. The change in direction gave him an ideal view of her curvy ass. “Like most of the guys in this bar wouldn’t pretend to be a wizard if that’s the game she wanted to play in the bedroom.”
“I would find a cape right fast.” Roscoe raised his shot glass in salute before downing the whiskey.
“Well then, I’d say you found your target.” Cam smirked. “Go get her, ’Los.”
As far as challenges went, it was friendly. But it was still a challenge. And Carlos never backed down from a challenge.
For the past year, there hadn’t been a single one the Maltese team had issued that he hadn’t met head-on—and he always would. This was who he was now; the former geek supreme didn’t exist anymore. He’d pushed that guy and his guilt for pulling the trigger so far into a closet that he would never see the light of day again.
“One dance?” Carlos pushed back his chair and stood, already primed for action—just like any time Scarlett’s ghost came haunting.
“Yep. The longest slow song you can find on the jukebox,” Alex said, barely keeping his laughter in check. “And then she has to buy you a beer.”
Carlos took one last swig of his beer. “You’re all a bunch of assholes.”
Not bothering to stick around to hear their responses, which no doubt would just be an agreement, he strode across the bar, his sights set on the hot brunette with a body made for the best kinds of trouble.
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Avery Flynn is an award winning romance author. She has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.
She was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.
Find out more about Avery on her website (averyflynn.com), follow her on Twitter (@AveryFlynn) and Pinterest (pinterest.com/AveryFlynnBooks), and like her on her Facebook page (facebook.com/AveryFlynnAuthor).
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Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she'll be your best friend for life.
Contact her at email@example.com. She'd love to hear from you!