Authors: Aria Glazki,Stephanie Kayne,Kristyn F. Brunson,Layla Kelly,Leslie Ann Brown,Bella James,Rae Lori
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authors’ imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
Copyright © Susan Renee Page, 2015.
“Cat-ch Me If You Can, Batman” © by Stephanie Kayne.
“Goldstar” © by Layla Kelly.
“In Love & Lore” © by Rae Lori.
“The Whedonite” © by Aria Glazki.
“Love in Armor” © by Kristyn F. Brunson.
“The Grand Tour” © by Leslie Ann Brown.
“Finding Our Way” © by Bella James.
All stories printed by permission of the authors. First publication, original to this anthology.
Cover and Book Design by Scarlett Rugers
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
First Edition, November 2015
ISBN-13 (paperback): 978-0-9967816-0-2
ISBN-13 (ebook): 978-0-9967816-1-9
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America
Kristyn F. Brunson
Leslie Ann Brown
I’ve been a fan of romance since my friend Lindsey asked me to ferry a few books for her. Bored, I picked up
The Dark Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning and have been hooked ever since. But before that I’d been solely a comic book geek and proud of it.
Before collecting the works of Sabrina Jeffries, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Eloisa James I was eagerly waiting for the next issue of
, and Bill Willingham’s
. My first heroes were actual superheroes like Batman, but it was no hardship to start loving Regency lords.
Unfortunately, as much as I’d begun to love Romance, Romance didn’t seem to love me or the type of person I identified with: a geek.
Sure there were geeks in a few stories and even some main characters, but the majority of portrayals were unflattering until the inevitable makeover that was necessary to become appealing. To me it seemed like in Romance, geeks couldn’t be loved as they were.
And I was tired of it!
Thus “I <3 Geeks” was born, an anthology celebrating geeks finding love and. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Be proud. Be.geeky. Be you.
Be the Cat. Be the Cat.
Julie Ward repeated the mantra as she stepped through the open elevator doors and out into the comic convention chaos in the hotel lobby. She stood by the elevator looking for a path through the groups of people.
Be the Cat. You can do this. Be the Cat.
Head held high with feigned confidence, she walked through the crowd. Most people were dressed in costume, which helped to alleviate the ridiculousness of walking around in a skintight black body suit with clawed gloves and heeled boots.
Why had she ever let Kit talk her into this? Oh yeah, Julie wanted to get over her fear of crowds and according to her best friend, Kit, coming to this comic convention was the best way to desensitize herself.
Speaking of Kit. Where was she? The plan was to meet up and go over plans for the day.
Be the Cat.
Julie searched the sea of costumed bodies. Where was that blasted woman? The crowd parted and she saw him.
Dressed in a gray bodysuit and blue cowl with matching boots and cape, he looked every inch the heroic do-gooder. The yellow utility belt with its multitude of pouches completed the look. Her arch nemesis, Batman.
Her focus on him, she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and sauntered forward dodging cosplayers in her path.
Be the Cat
She walked up to him and ran the back of a curved claw in a swirling pattern down his arm. “Tell me, Batman, do you have any catnip?”
He grabbed her wrist in a gentle grip. “Drugs, Catwoman?”
She took a step back and smiled. “It’s not for me; it’s for a friend. I’ve gone—” She wrinkled her nose. “—straight.”
He grinned, and she wanted to melt into a puddle of goo. Batman had the sexiest dimples. “It’s wonderful to see you as a productive member of society.” He held out his arm. “May I buy you a saucer of milk?”
Julie placed her gloved hand on his arm. “That sounds purrrrfect.”
He led her through the growing crowd to the coffee shop, away from the press of people. Julie squeezed his arm. She could get through this. Taking a deep breath, Julie concentrated on not panicking. The feel of his hand in hers helped. If she focused on that, she’d be fine. At the counter, he ordered them both a small milk. He handed her the beverage, placed his hand on the small of her back and motioned to an empty table.
The relative quiet of the coffee shop let Julie relax. She sat and took a sip of her milk. “I don’t see Robin with you.”
“He’ll be joining me tomorrow.” Batman smiled and took a drink. “I’ve not seen you at this Con before.”
“It’s my first time,” she replied.
“Are you enjoying yourself?”
“So far, but it’s a bit overwhelming.”
Batman nodded. “Are you here with anyone?”
“My best friend blackmailed me and a few coworkers into coming.”
He looked around. “And where is this blackmailing friend?”
Julie surveyed the people around them. “Around somewhere. We couldn’t agree on which fandom to play, so we’re all doing something different. Kit suggested we find people in our fandoms and chat with them.”
“To get to know the—” Julie did the air-quote thing “—scene.”
Batman smiled. “I’d be honored if you’d spend the afternoon with me.”
Julie bit her lip. “Are you sure? I’d hate to take you away from anything.”
Batman reached over and took her hand. “It would be my pleasure.”
The feel of his gloved hand over hers sent her imagination soaring. Both of them naked wearing nothing but gloves… mmm yum. But no, while it was a lovely fantasy, it was much too soon for skin, perhaps tomorrow?
She tried to stifle her giggle and failed.
His head tilted to the side. “Something amusing?”
Julie bit her knuckle, trying to suppress her smile. “Sorry, inappropriate thoughts.”
“Sounds intriguing,” he leaned forward. “Do tell.”
Heat flooded her cheeks. “Um…”
Be the Cat
. “Perhaps later,” she replied.
“Does it involve anything nefarious?”
Julie shook her head and took another small sip of milk to give herself something to do. “Of course not! I’ll have you know that I’ve been good… mostly.”
Those darned dimples reappeared. “Mostly?”
Julie stuck out her bottom lip. “It’s challenging to go straight when all one knows is a life of crime.”
“I’ve never thought of that before.”
Julie looked both ways and leaned forward. “To be purrrfectly honest, living right is boring.”
Batman laughed, eyes twinkling beneath the mask.
Her phone beeped.
Where r u? Meet me at the elevator
Kit had the worst timing. Leave it to her roomie to interrupt getting to know her nemesis.
“Sorry, Batman, I’ve got to go. My blackmailer is waiting for me.”
“So our afternoon is off?”
Julie hesitated. “There’s a panel I want to see. Can we meet after that?”
“Sure, shall we meet at three in front of the elevators?”
He stood when she did and took her hand in his, placing a soft kiss on the back of her glove.
“It was a pleasure, Catwoman. See you at three.”
She grinned, trying to ignore the butterflies dancing in her tummy. “I look forward to it.”
Julie sauntered toward the exit, putting a slink in her step in case he watched. At the entrance to the cafe, she turned, smiled, and waved her clawed fingers. He blew her a kiss.
Julie turned the corner and through the shifting crowd, spotted Kit waiting for her by the elevator. Kit wore a long white satin gown with a headdress of rhinestones that sparkled in the light as she moved her head. A long gold chain draped around her neck.
Concentrating on Kit, Julie waded through the sea of bodies.
“So, Dale Arden, did you ever find Flash?” Julie asked.
Kit scowled. “No, but Rick decided it’d be funny to play Ming the Merciless.”
Julie tried not to laugh, knowing that their friend Rick had the biggest crush on Kit, who was completely oblivious. “We need to go upstairs for a minute. I need my lactose pills.”
Kit led the way into the elevator. “What happened?”
“I, um, had a drink with my arch nemesis.”
Kit pressed a hand to her chest, her brown eyes wide. “You? You had a drink with Batman?”
“Did he approach you?”
Hands on hips, arms akimbo, Kit pressed for details. “So what, exactly?”
“Well it was crowded, and you know how I am. I saw him there, and he was kind of cute in a goody-two-shoes sort of way, so I walked up to him and asked him if he had any catnip.”
Kit pulled Julie into a hug. “I’m so proud of you!”
“You walked up to a perfect stranger to flirt!”
Julie grinned. “I did, didn’t I? When I saw him standing there with his bright yellow utility belt and blue cowl, I couldn’t resist. It was like the spirit of Catwoman invaded my body and I was along for the ride. Besides, you said the whole purpose of coming here and dressing like this was to get me out of my shell.”