At Any Moment (Gaming the System #3) by Brenna Aubrey
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2014
It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!
Mia Strong never expected to be deciding the rest of her life at age twenty-two. Is she willing to become a human lab rat? Does she need to write a will? Does she ever want a family–and if so, with whom? She can’t dodge the tough questions–not if she plans to live to see twenty-three. With her life hanging in the balance, Mia wants nothing more than to rely on Adam Drake, but he’s hurt her before.
You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth…
Adam Drake knows that he’s made mistakes, but when he discovers what Mia’s facing, he realizes how much those mistakes could cost him. Now he has to choose between being the man who can save Mia’s life or the man she can love. No matter how much it tears him apart, Adam knows he has to put Mia first…even if it means he’s out of the picture entirely.
Will their love survive this epic battle or is it game over?
She waited to answer me, keeping her gaze glued to the sky. “I can’t find Draco.”
I looked up again. There were no stars to be seen. The black of night was completely covered by the dull gray of low coastal clouds. She took in a shaky breath and then shot me a look before her eyes darted away like skittish birds. “You told me that Draco is always in the sky—no matter what time of night, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere. You can always find it. But I can’t see it tonight. What does that mean?”
I reached out and touched her smooth, cool cheek with the back of my knuckles. She was trembling so slightly that it was almost impossible to notice. “You can’t see Draco because you can’t see any stars tonight. It’s the marine layer.”
The breath shivered out between her lips and she closed her eyes. I continued to stroke her cheek. “I want to see it. I need to see it.”
“You just have to trust me. You can’t see it, but it’s there, I promise. Do you trust me?”
Her head sank as she lay back flat on the sand. I bent over her, looking upside down into her eyes. Our gazes locked. Suddenly it was hard to breathe. I stroked her cheek again. Her eyelids fluttered like butterfly wings. She was as delicate as one of them. As fragile. And I’d never thought of her in those terms before.
She was vulnerable. And in many ways she was at the mercy of everyone around her. Including me. My throat tightened. She watched me for long moments, reaching up and hooking her hand around my neck as if afraid I would pull away. “You know what I love most about your eyes?” she asked. I frowned, confused at the abrupt change of subject.
Her thumb moved across the back of my neck and I tried to ignore the tingling her light touch evoked. I wanted to pull her hand away but she was so breakable.
“They are so beautiful—your eyes. And so different.”
I sighed, tried to laugh it off. Emilia’s intensity was unusual but not surprising. It didn’t take a genius to understand why she’d be feeling somber tonight. “Men don’t like being called beautiful…”
She grimaced at me and I saw a glimpse of my Mia return. “Whatever. Deal with it. Your eyes are beautiful. In a totally manly way, of course.” I smiled but didn’t reply.
She tightened the clamp of her hand around my neck, pulling me closer to her. Our eyes were inches from each other but I didn’t look away though intensity of her gaze made me feel like I was staring into a 1000-watt spotlight.
“They are so dark, so mysterious. I used to think of them as curtains, or shutters. To close off what was going on inside. But tonight I think of them as…mirrors. Reflecting everything. I can see myself in there.”
My breath stuttered a little. “Oh…” I answered in the smallest whisper that seemed to get swallowed up in the ambient sounds around us, the regular lap of the water on the shore, the distant hiss of the freeway even in the early morning. “Oh, you’re in there, Mia. You are most definitely in there.”
And then without thinking, just feeling, my mouth sank to hers. I was bent over her, our heads facing different ways, my top lip sealed over her bottom lip, and she opened to me and I tasted her. I was kissing her upside down. And this kiss held more than passion, more than a declaration of desire. It held love. My love. Her love. They collided like waves crashing against a barrier that prevented them from meeting. Like that rugged, unmovable jetty that protected the harbor from the worst of the weather on the south-facing coast.
“Spider-man kisses,” she murmured against my mouth. I kissed her chin, her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She referred to the famous kiss Spider-man shared with Mary Jane in the first Marvel movie. Completely unaware that Spider-man was her next-door neighbor, Peter Parker, Mary Jane had peeled back his mask from the bottom half of his face and passionately kissed him in the rain as he dangled upside down from his web. Spider-man kisses.
But was I as disguised to her as Peter Parker had been from Mary Jane? In many ways, I was. I wore a mask because this wasn’t the time for us to deal with all the bullshit that had gone on between us. My lies. Her lies. Our respective secrets. They’d created that barrier between our hearts and there was no telling if they were surmountable.
A thin, silvery tear leaked from the corner of her eye. I pretended not to notice, pulling back, stroking her cheek.
“I’m sorry…for everything,” she whispered.
“I know. I’m sorry for everything too.”
Brenna Aubrey is an author of New Adult contemporary romance stories that center on geek culture. Her debut novel, At Any Price, released December, 2013.
She has always sought comfort in good books and the long, involved stories she weaves in her head. Brenna is a city girl with a nature-lover’s heart. She therefore finds herself out in green open spaces any chance she can get. A mommy to two little kids and teacher to many more older kids, she juggles schedules to find time to pursue her love of storycrafting.
She currently resides on the west coast with her husband, two children, two adorable golden retriever pups, two birds and some fish.
Brenna’s short story “The Love Letter” was the Grand Prize winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest. As such, it was included in the anthology of the same name (Ballantine, 2011)