Title: His Work of Art
Author: Shannyn Schroeder
Series: Hot & Nerdy (#4)
Word count: 35,000 (novella length)
Heat level: spicy (r-rated)
Web site — http://www.shannynschroeder.com
Twitter — https://twitter.com/SSchroeder_
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/shannyn.schroeder
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.
Reese Carter is definitely not your average college girl. She’d prefer to spend Saturday nights playing Hero’s Crusade than attending a wild frat party on campus. When she bands together with Adam, fellow comic enthusiast and illustrator, it appears that Reese has formed a dream team sure to propel her writing into the comic hall of fame.
Adam Hayes has never met a girl like Reese. She’s sassy, smart, and loves talking comics, although he can’t see why she’d choose DC over Marvel. He’s thrilled to finally put his artistic chops to use in their upcoming comic project. But this relationship is strictly professional. Or so he tells himself. When the two combine forces, they churn out magic in more ways than they had planned; they never expected to develop a steamy romantic sub-plot of their own…
“Where are we going to work?”
“I have drafting tables in my bedroom.” He stopped midstride, as if realizing what he’d just said. “Unless that makes you uncomfortable. Then we can work in here on the floor.”
“I’m fine wherever. I think I can trust you to behave yourself. Or have you been secretly doing all of this work on my comic as a ploy to get me to your bedroom all along? Maybe it’s not even a bedroom, but a dungeon and you plan to chain me up.”
He laughed, but it was one of those uncomfortable, you-sound-crazy kinds of laughs. He shoved a door open. “Totally normal bedroom.”
She sighed. “I’m a little disappointed.”
She couldn’t stop the smile. “I know. And you like me anyway.”
“Yeah, I do.”
She stepped into his bedroom and he hadn’t lied. His bed was pushed into a corner to make room for two drafting tables on the opposite wall. A cheap nightstand stood beside the bed. A small bookcase sat behind the door, but that was it for furniture.
Reese dropped her bag beside one of the tables.
“Oh, shit. Hang on.” Adam left the room and returned with a chair. “It was either this or the little stool Hunter uses for his drums.”
“That’s fine.” It was a battered, old dining room chair and looked far from comfortable, but she could always sit on his bed and talk. He needed the desk more than she did.
Adam sat on his stool, one that spun in circles and sat on rollers, but didn’t appear much more comfortable than the chair she had. She pulled her notebook out. “I reworked the story for the first book featuring Lyrid. I wrote in the mentor. It’s up to you to decide if I got it right.”
She flipped to the page and handed him the book. Again, she found herself waiting while he read. She should have sent him the story ahead of time to be more efficient. Waiting was painful.
Luckily, Adam was a fast reader. He set the notebook on the desk and spun to face her. “It’s missing something. There’s not enough action. You’ve introduced the mentor, who still doesn’t have a name, but all he does is watch. He’s not a mentor yet. We don’t know who he is, and that’s all right, but other than Alexis freaking out and doing her mind-control stuff, nothing happens.”
“Stuff happens.” She grabbed the book and scanned for examples. While she reread her work, she tried to imagine it on the page, what each panel would show. Two pages in, she knew she’d messed up. “Damn. How did I screw that up so badly?”
“It’s not screwed up. You just cut so much from the earlier draft, the flashbacks, that you lost all action. It’s like this is a continuation of her origin story. We don’t need that now. What if we just skip to the part where she decides to use her powers for good? Or at least decides to use them at all?”
Even as he spoke, new ideas entered Reese’s mind. She saw plot points as pictures. Excitement sparked just like it had when they’d first discussed her writing an origin story for Lyrid. She grabbed her notebook and began to scribble description and dialogue for each panel. As soon as she had a panel written, she ripped the page from the notebook and handed it to Adam to start sketching.
For an hour they worked seamlessly, barely saying more than a few words to each other. They’d reached the climax of the story, where Alexis would meet her mentor. Gunner. That would be his name.
She set the notebook back down and waited for Adam to sketch, but he moved too slowly. Snaking her right hand around his left as his pencil shaded something, she created a text box and wrote, “Gunner watches Alexis from the shadows.”
The sensitive skin on the inside of her arm skimmed along Adam’s. His warmth spread across her and she focused on the letters in front of her.
“What are you doing?”
Reese tilted her head and looked at him from under her lashes before going back to her lettering. “You’re taking too long. He has a name.”
Adam’s hand stopped moving on the page, and she missed the friction against her own skin. They sat shoulder to shoulder and she felt Adam’s eyes on her.
“In my defense, sketching people takes longer than writing a few words.”
“I know. I’m impatient.”
Adam flipped his pencil deeper between his fingers and used his tips to push her hand away. “Gunner, huh?”
“Why does he only watch from the shadows?” Adam asked.
His breath whispered across her cheek. Her voice lowered as she spoke. “Because he knows her. He sees her even though she tries to remain invisible.”
“When does he come out of the shadows?”
Reese tilted her head slightly and her eyes rose to meet Adam’s. “When he sees she needs him. He likes the shadows. He likes to watch, to keep his distance.”
“Until he can’t.”
Her heart thumped in her chest. The dark gray of Adam’s eyes was nearly swallowed by his pupils. Oxygen leaked into her lungs. She nodded in understanding—both for the words he said and the action she hoped he’d take.
His movement was infinitesimal as his gaze swept over her face and landed on her lips. Her eyelids fluttered. She wanted this so badly.
Adam said nothing as he closed the remaining distance between their mouths. His full lips caressed hers before opening and interlocking with hers. She sighed with relief and enjoyment. He shifted and tilted to change the angle, but made no other movement to touch her.
She surged forward, dropping her pencil and turning her body to fully face him. Opening her lips, she swiped her tongue against his. Oh man, did he feel good.
- A digital copy of one of the first 3 Hot & Nerdy novellas – Her Best Shot, Her Perfect Game, or Her winning Formula (3 prizes) – INTL
- A digital copy of the first Hot & Nerdy anthology (1 prize) – INTL
- A $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N (1 prize) – INTL
- A Keeper Kase filled with autographed cover postcards for the O’Leary series and Hot & Nerdy series (3 prizes) (US only)