Playing Her Secret Crush(3)

By: Casey Griffin

A trumpet blast in her headphones announced a response from Alex. Lunging for the mouse again, she clicked on the message to open it.

Sure, I’ll head over once we finish playing. There’s actually something I want to talk to you about, too.

What could that be about? They talked at least once a day. Sometimes it felt like she already knew everything about him.

While she waited for Alex and Penny to resume the game, she grabbed a magazine from her dresser. She flipped to the dog-eared page in the middle and scanned it like she was cramming for a test. But this was way more important than a test.

How to Hook Your Guy:

1. Look your best

2. Act confident

3. Be flirty

4. Stand out

5. Show your sexy side

6. Try new things

A car door slammed outside, startling Katie. She peered between her curtains and down to the driveway. It was a moving van next door. The house had been up for sale since spring. A Sold sign appeared only a few weeks before.

Katie spied for a while, watching a couple around her mom’s age begin unloading the van. She was about to turn away when a thunderous roar erupted outside.

She squished her face against the windowpane to get a better look. After a moment, the noise transitioned into an aggressive rumble and a motorcycle appeared. It rolled down the neighbors’ driveway, the identity of its mysterious leather-clad rider hidden beneath a full helmet.

The tires chirped as the bike cut onto the road. Another growl and it sped off, leaving the couple shaking their heads. Katie, too. She scowled, pushing away from the window. Idiot.

Sure, she felt like she defied death on a regular basis by joining Alex on his adrenaline junkie adventures—part of his new lease on life—but they were always in a controlled environment. Totally safe. Messing around on motorcycles? The guy must have a death wish.

The deep purr of the engine faded into the distance just as Penny’s voice came through her headphones. “Okay. I’m all set.”

“I’m ready, too,” Alex said. “Let’s get into those mountains. Anyone happen to know how to kill a dragon?”

Katie blew out a breath and plopped into her desk chair. “The only way we’re going to beat it is if we focus our efforts. Trevor, do you think you can paralyze this guy before he takes flight again?”

“I can hold him down,” he said, “but for something his size, that’s about all I can handle.”

“Good enough.”

Pizzalover’s aura began buzzing with energy. Her eyes turned inky black. As she laid her hands on the earth, a pulse shook the ground beneath Fairy_gurl’s feet.

Dark walls rose up around them, shifting and swirling like oil on water. When they joined at the top, it formed an orb, trapping them inside with the dragon. Their fates were entwined.

With a few taps on her keyboard, Katie’s fairy took to the air. “I’ll draw the dragon’s firepower. Penny, get ready for a game of piñata.”

“Already playing!” she said as the ogre charged the dragon and gave it a couple of shots to the belly with his mace. “Gimme some candy!”

“Alex, can you help her?” Katie asked. “We need to find its weakness by trial and error.”

“That’s why you’re the idea girl.” The dark elf drew his curved dual blades before racing toward the creature.

While the others searched for a weakness, Katie flew Fairy_gurl around the dragon’s head. She zapped the beast with a barrage of spells, keeping the enemy’s focus—and occasional blast of flames—on her.

As she raced around the dragon, it stretched its swan-like neck to snap at her. That’s when Katie saw it. The light flicker beneath its jaw, quivering down the length of the neck, pulsating: a heartbeat.

Opening her weapon inventory, Katie equipped a bow. Steadily, she nocked an arrow, held her breath, and hit the button to fire. It struck the center of the beating pulse and sank into scaly flesh.

The dragon choked. The constant glow of fire sputtered and died in its throat.

“There!” Katie cried out, pointing for the others to see. Then she realized they couldn’t see her pointing at the computer screen. “The scales are thinner on the neck, just below its jaw.”

Katie gave a little whoop of success, but it was cut short when the dragon darted forward, razor teeth chomping down on the fairy’s wings. Her avatar cried out. The beast whipped its head back and forth, shaking her like a ragdoll. The Eternal Plains spun on the computer screen, making Katie dizzy.

Alex gasped. “Fairy_gurl!”

She tried everything, space bar, Ctrl, shift, W, A, S, D, but her avatar didn’t budge. “I can’t get free.”