Playing For Her Heart - Megan Erickson

Chapter One

He was the perfect Breck.

There were other Breck cosplayers around the convention but on every one, something was off—whether it was the shade of blue of his shirt, or the way his sword was hung.

This guy, though…this guy’s shirt was the perfect blue, that brilliant color that was so noticeable in the Aric’s Revenge video game. It was a blue that was almost purple. Chloe had even looked it up, and she’d determined it was #2a23ff. Which she recognized was pretty damn dorky, but why cosplay if she didn’t go all in?

This Breck had blond hair that was the exact length of the character. Was it his normal cut, or had he gotten it done for the convention? She wasn’t sure which one she preferred. An actual, real-life Breck in the wild was like finding a four-leaf clover.

The man shifted where he stood leaning against a wall, and the muscles in his arms rippled beneath the thin linen cloth. He had a strong jaw and full lips. A sharp, straight nose. He was perfect in those tight tan breeches, his sword hanging at the perfect angle on his hip.

Chloe’s hands self-consciously went to the corset of her Sari costume, and the satin fabric was slick under her fingertips. She stepped forward, her skirt swishing around her bare legs and brushing along her lace-up, knee-high boots. She’d sewn the ribbing into her gray corset and laced it herself. She’d agonized over the beige skirt, making sure the dirt patches matched up to Sari’s in the game.

Cosplay was…well, it meant everything to her. It wasn’t Halloween. She didn’t cut holes out of a sheet and throw it over her head and declare herself a ghost. Oh no. This was Comic-Con. And this year’s star attraction was Aric’s Revenge, the wildly popular video game turned into a wildly popular movie that had made buckets of money.

She was dressed as Sari, an enslaved ex-princess who was held prisoner alongside Evelyn, the wife of the main character, Aric. In the game, Sari had fallen in love with Breck.

Which was exactly what she planned to do that night. Minus the love part.

Chloe wasn’t the type of girl who met guys in a bar and made small talk about their lives and the weather and their jobs. No, she was the type of girl who dressed up and pretended to be someone else for one night of wild passion.

And then before he saw the real her, she left, back to her life in her lonely home office in her bare apartment. A life where she had a reclusive, damaged brother, and dead sister.

A life where she was destined to fail everyone.

She let herself feel the crowd around her, keeping an eye on Breck. There was an energy in the air, one that was fueled by a sense of belonging, and Chloe fed off it as she always did, smiling when she heard the exclamations of thrilled kids and adults.

The Comic-Con, held in Philadelphia at a large hotel convention center, was well attended, the crowd a mix of cosplay and people in street clothes. Chloe had arrived the night before, checked into her hotel room, and finished up the last-minute fixes to her costume. All around her was excited chatter, the soundtrack of video games and movies blasting from the various booths.

She’d waited all year for this, especially because of the presence of the Aric’s Revenge creators. In fact, she’d just listened to Austin Rivers give a beautiful speech about his involvement in the making of the game. It was her favorite of the year—the graphics were stellar, the storyline tight, the cast diverse.

And now she was here, as Sari, and had finally found her Breck.

As she drew closer to her target, he raised his head, and blue eyes as brilliant as his shirt pierced her. She had to check to be sure her false eyelashes were still on, that her corset hadn’t unlaced, because those eyes…well, she swore for a minute that they saw through her disguise to the boring, freelance computer-debugging geek underneath.

She wasn’t that girl. Not tonight. She needed a costume to approach gorgeous men like the one in front of her, whose blue eyes were now tracking down her body, all the way to her toes and back up.

But then her vision was no longer full of Breck, because a man had stepped in front of her, blocking her view.

She craned her neck and moved to go around the man, but then he sidestepped,