I’m so happy to be a guest here to talk about my new romantic suspense TWO CAN PLAY. I thought it would be fun to give you an exclusive look at the Real Life Lounge, the gamer arcade where the book is set--and where Lounge employees work and live as one big happy gamer family--by taking you along as Rena Novo, the book’s heroine, takes Gage Stone, the hot new hire she’s supposed to mentor, on a tour of the highlights of The Life. Make a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of two $15 Amazon Kindle gift cards to be awarded at the end of the tour. For additional chances to win, follow the tour and comment on each tour stop.
Rena has become more suspicious of Gage’s motives for joining The Life as the tour continued. They’re near the end now, about to go up to her Quarters, where she’ll have to resist the sexual chemistry that’s complicated her evaluation of the man’s character and intentions…
STOP 9 …AT LAST A VOICE RENA TRUSTS
Rena and Gage were nearly to the Residence Tower elevator when Rena’s phone buzzed. It was a text from Maya. Urgent news. Where are you?
Rena texted back their location and Maya told her to wait there. She would come down from the Blackstones’ Quarters in the penthouse to convey the news.
Perfect. Maya would totally read Gage. What a relief. Rena did not want to screw up with her first Recruit.
“Maya’s coming down with news for me,” she said to Gage. “She’s the person who recruited me.” She’d been like a big sister to Rena ever since.
“What does she do here?”
“She’s the Blackstones’ advisor. She was a psychiatrist in the Dead World. She looks after us.”
“How does she do that?”
“Mainly through Group.”
“As in therapy?”
“Kind of.” Rena couldn’t help but make a face. It was her least favorite aspect of The Life. “We meet once a week in the Dome to report how we feel and hash out arguments. It’s supposed to ease the tension of living and working together.”
“Not your thing?”
“No.” She sighed. “Maya says it’s like yoga—the postures you hate are the ones you need most.” And it was much better than in the Dead World, where you were on your own, sink or swim, with no one to throw you a rope before you glugged out for good.
“Sounds pretty progressive to have a shrink on staff.”
Checkmark on the good side for Gage. “It is. Plus we get free health care. There’s a NiGo clinic near every Lounge.
“For drug tests, right? Cheaper to run the labs themselves?”
“It’s for our general health,” she said. “Lounges are drug-free because we don’t need drugs when we have The Life.”
“Right.” He smirked. “You don’t need drugs when you’ve got Electrique. That stuff’s like an electrocution in a can. No wonder people try to smuggle it out. I’m surprised it’s even legal.”
“The place is filling up,” Gage said, looking around the arena.
“Always on Friday.” The air crackled with excitement like sparks from a carpet. She inhaled deeply, getting the rush, the lift to her toes. Gage was staring at her. “What?” she said.
“You love it here.”
“I’m sure I will.” Wrong answer. You fell in love with the place, played your heart out and got lucky if a Lifer noticed and recruited you. The guy who recruited Gage probably just wanted the extra points, since they were pushing to fill new Lounges with Lifers.
Before she could react, the elevator doors opened and there stood Maya. She was petite and dark-haired, with fierce eyes that didn’t miss a twitch. She’d get Gage right off, know if he wanted to expose The Life to ridicule or investigation. Maya was totally tuned to mood and attitude and emotion.
“Maya, this is Gage Stone, my Recruit. Gage, Maya.”
Maya shook his hand. “You are lucky to have Rena as your Mentor,” she said, her gaze stripping the man to his brain stem. “She’s one of our stars.”
“She’s taught me a lot already,” he said, not even flinching under Maya’s examination. Wow. Maybe Rena had misjudged him. Or maybe he was just well trained as an undercover cop or reporter.
“Gage has a lot of questions about us,” she said to Maya. “He thinks we’re addicted to Electrique, that we’re automatons doing whatever we’re told.”
“Is that true?” Maya turned to Gage. To Rena’s surprise there was a twinkle in her eye. She almost sounded flirtatious.
“As I told Rena, I’m a curious guy.” Damn, he was flirting back.
Something passed between the two of them Rena didn’t understand. It held challenge and respect and it made her doubt her own instincts. Eventually, Maya turned to Rena.
“Questions help us examine what we’re doing so we can be sure we’re on the right path, don’t you think?”
“I guess,” she said, feeling chastised.
“I’ll look forward to seeing you in Group,” Maya said to Gage. “It’ll be good to get to know you, to get your thoughts on what we’ve built here.”
“I’m happy to help,” he said. He sounded…sincere. “What I’ve seen so far is impressive.”
“We think so.” Maya went pink. This was too weird, but if Maya thought Gage was okay, she should cut him some slack, too.
“So…the news.” Maya turned to Rena and now her gaze honed in, shining and serious.
“You’ve been invited upstairs to meet with the Blackstones.”
“Would I kid about that?” Maya smiled.
“Is it for a Quest?”
“I can’t say.” But Rena could tell it was. An Owner Quest was a very, very big deal. “When?”
“You’ll get a call.”
“I’ll be ready.”
“See that you are.” Maya pressed a strand of Rena’s hair deeper into her braid and patted her cheek. Maya always made her feel better.
After Maya left, Rena stood there grinning, her feet not touching the ground. This was big. Really big.
“I take it that was good news?” Gage asked her.
“The best,” she said.
“We should celebrate. Hit the bar for a toast. I wouldn’t mind another V-Trique.” Even Gage had fallen for the Lounge’s signature drink of vodka with Electrique. But Rena had a better idea for how to celebrate. Now that Maya had approved of Gage, this might be the perfect time to show him all about Sex Points….
Live. Breath. And Believe—to Rena Novo there’s nothing better than being a part of the most popular virtual-reality game—EverLife…until she’s given a Quest to evict her best friend from the society she’s come to love. If she completes the job—she’ll rise to the top, but a sexy recruit is stirring a different kind of passion within her and making her question everything that makes her life complete.
Hunting for his missing sister, investigative reporter Gage Stone goes undercover in the gaming cult that’s taken over his sister’s life. But his biggest obstacle is the sizzling attraction between he and Rena, the extremely hot gamer assigned as his trainer. As their attraction builds, Gage realizes his sister isn’t the only one he can’t leave without. Now he must convince Rena the rhetoric the company’s pushing is just a plot that will culminate in the deaths of hundreds… before she turns him in and gets them all killed
Though I always wanted to be a professional writer, I wasn’t sure I had the stuff, so I graduated from college with a teaching degree and taught elementary school–second and third grades (the best)–and then began freelance feature writing for newspapers and magazines, local and national.
I left teaching to work in public relations–skills I use today in my job as a writer/editor for the Arizona Education Association.
I met my husband, David Weiss, my very own hero, in 1980, on an airplane. We made the “love thang” permanent in 1985, when we married taking our Hobie sailboat to San Diego for our honeymoon. Then in 1990, we welcomed a son into our lives. He continues to be the light of our life together.
My first romance credits were two stories in True Love magazine. I went on to write a sexy romance in 1983, which was rejected–sniff.
Years later–1996–I got serious about getting published. Though I endured some rejections as I honed my craft, in 1998, I sold the first of two short romantic comedies to Kensington Publishing–Getting Zack Back, published in December. In July 2000, Baby Makes Three was released. After coming in second among published authors in a Harlequin Duets contest, I sold to Harlequin in 2001, quickly selling another comedy. In addition to Duets, I write for Temptation, Blaze and, the new comedy line Flipside.
Most of my hobbies–sailing, scuba-diving, playing the piano (badly)–have gone by the wayside as I devote all my non-family spare time to writing. I live in the Phoenix area with my husband and son, who proudly brings my books to his teachers and swears he doesn’t read them–except for the funny parts.