Did you that sometimes it takes writers a REALLY long time to get a book out into the world? Sometimes an idea comes along and even though we know it’s something we want to see to completion, for whatever reason, sometimes it takes a long time for a writer to actually “birth” that book and put it out into the world.
For example, I spent six years dreaming about characters hanging out at a nerd-themed bar in the PNW. Last week, that dream was finally realized as Nerdy Words, the first book in Talk Nerdy to Me series came out! If you’re looking for a funny, lighthearted, and slightly angsty story, check out the excerpt below!
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.
When I arrived at Nerdvana the place was packed. A group of men and women were gathered around one of the booths nearest the entrance. They were letting out whoops of excitement and cheering each other on. I had to smile, even though I wasn’t into video games, their excitement was infectious. The joyous vibe of the bar also made me happy for Jamie. Maybe she’d finally settle in here and do well for herself. I glanced at the bar and spotted my friend right away. As always, she was hard to miss, even in a crowd.
She had on a cotton-candy pink cardigan, but the top three vintage pearl buttons were open, giving the patrons gathered around the bar an eyeful of her ample cleavage. Even though sporting a lot of cleavage wasn’t my style, I had to hand it to her. The girl really knew how to work with what nature had given her. I hoped she got a shitload of tips. Her two-tone hair and fuchsia lipstick should have looked out of place with the cat-eye rhinestone glasses she wore, but somehow, they didn’t. I pushed my way toward the bar to get a better look at her outfit.
She wore the conservative sweater with a pair of black short-shorts, fishnet stockings, and thigh-high stiletto boots in shiny black PVC. Only Jamie would think up an outfit like that. And only Jamie could somehow pull off wearing it without looking tacky. I squeezed into the middle of the crowd, trying to press myself forward and catch her attention. Listening to the provocative, and sometimes downright sleazy things being said around me, I knew there was no way the group of horny guys would move. Maybe I should’ve found the prospect arousing, but the throng of sexed up men made me feel claustrophobic. Someone moved directly behind me and placed their hand on my right shoulder.
“Just tell me what you’re drinking tonight, and I’ll get it for you.”
I turned, determined to politely and firmly decline the stranger’s offer. When my gaze swung up to the pair of sparkling blue eyes behind black-rimmed glasses, I almost forgot my promise to say no.
“Dustin…you don’t have to do that. I’m okay with waiting,” I looked at the crowd over my shoulder. The mass of people waiting for a drink could test my patience, but I didn’t want to receive special treatment just because my roommate worked at the bar. And because I’d almost shagged the owner once.
“It’s really no problem. If you don’t tell me what you want, I’ll just make up some random drink and then you could be stuck drinking something you don’t like.”
When he put it that way….but still. I needed to stand firm on this.
“No to either scenario.” He frowned and I lightened my approach. Maybe some humor could diffuse this situation.
“Really, I don’t care to wait. You know, I hear that delayed gratification can be pretty powerful.”
“Yeah, but I tend to think gratification shouldn’t be delayed at all.” He said in a voice so low that he’d had to lean toward me, with his mouth near my ear so I could hear.
My pulse leapt at his words. Whoa. That kind of talk would only lead me into dangerous territory. His words, along with his sexy tone of voice, reminded me of how much chemistry we’d had. Still did. I scanned his face, noticing his dilated eyes and the intense way he gazed at me. Was he trying to make me remember our chemistry? That was kind of underhanded.
“I’ll wait like every other paying customer in here.”
“But you don’t have to wait. In fact, it would make me really happy if you didn’t wait.”
“No, I’m perfectly capable of waiting on my gin and tonic.”
“Oh, so you’ve just given me one of your secrets, Olivia.” That low, seductive tone again. He didn’t fight fair. Heat pooled low in my belly and I hated myself for reacting. I knitted my brows and he smiled. “You told me what you like to drink.”
Sexiness aside, he was being annoyingly insistent on this, maybe if I ignored him he’d forget about making my drink. I turned again to gaze at Jamie, who didn’t appear to notice me among all the others gathered around the shiny metal bar. My musings were cut short by Dustin nudging my shoulder. He cocked his head and indicated for me to walk to the end of the bar. He stepped behind the bar and started making cocktails.
Dustin helped Sara and Jamie catch up on drink orders, while I hung off to the side and took it all in for a few moments. He seemed natural in the space. His movements were fluid and efficient, when he needed something and had to reach around one of the bartenders, the group of coworkers moved as though performing a finely choreographed dance. Jamie threw him a smile and wink over her shoulder as she poured a vibrant red-hued cocktail into a martini glass.
With anyone else, I’d say the move was flirtatious, but with Jamie, it was hard to tell. She was so at home in her own skin and owned her sensuality in a way that made an ordinary activity appear sexy. A gnawing sensation bit at my gut. I would not be jealous of my best friend. Dustin smiled at her and took a few other drink orders, making two drinks at once. Okay, so that was pretty impressive. I became enthralled, watching the three of them working behind the bar, losing track of time. Dustin grabbed a beaker and shot me a smile. It was irksome, that flirty grin of his, especially him flashing it now, when I was trying to put up clear boundaries. Still, I couldn’t help myself, and smiled back. After pouring what I recognized as a gin and tonic in the tall glass container, he presented me with my drink. I pulled out some cash, but he refused.
“On the house,” he said near my ear as he leaned across the bar. I stood my ground and flashed the money at him, but he pushed my hand away.
“What? No, Dustin, I’ve already told you, I can’t let you just give this to me.” I waved the bills in front of his face, exasperated.
“Consider it my way of apologizing. And I realize I have a lot to make up for.” I had a feeling I was gaping at him with a dumbstruck expression because he waved a hand in front of me. “I was an ass the other night. I’m sorry for not acknowledging you then, but it took me by surprise. You know, seeing you here.” He fumbled with the slices of lemon and lime, then brought his gaze back to mine. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
Shock had completely overtaken me and I realized the money was still crumpled in my hand, my fist poised near his face. He covered my hand with his and held my gaze. I hated the fact that my skin tingled beneath his touch. Never before had I felt so betrayed by my own body. He was still leaning across the bar, his face inches from mine, his hand still wrapped around mine. I felt trapped beneath his piercing gaze, unsure how I should respond.
Had he just admitted to being pleasantly surprised to see me in his bar Tuesday or had seeing me freaked him out? The old part of me that had fallen hard for him as a starry-eyed eighteen year old rejoiced. But damn it, I didn’t want to. He’d given me zero reasons to believe he’d changed. In truth, his touch and very presence lit a fire inside of twenty-two year old me. Determined to act aloof, I gave him a nod of thanks and pulled my hand from his grasp.
“You’re busy. I’ll make room for someone else here.”
“No, don’t be angry, Liv.” He covered my hand with his. I melted, briefly, at his touch and the use of my nickname. But I couldn’t keep looking at him, keep listening to him, so I thought of the nastiest thing I could say to him.
“I’m not angry. I understand. You don’t want my money like you didn’t want my virginity. Got it.” Looking him in the eye, I dropped a ten in the tip jar. I’d be damned if I was taking drinks for free. I turned from him and pushed my way out of the mob of mostly male bodies.
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A self-professed bookworm, Netflix junkie and all around story geek, Ariel Storm started writing as an adolescent and hasn’t looked back. In her late teens she picked up a paperback romance and was hooked. Her obsession with love stories stems from her desire to shine light and positivity into a negative, dark world.
Although she’s held almost every job imaginable, from working in a restaurant, a call center and public libraries, ‘writer’ is her favorite job title, and one she feels blessed to have.
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P.S. I’m giving away a copy of my short story Safe Haven to one TRS party goer.