Are you ready to play a game?
Strap on your neurogear, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. In this world, the power is in your hands. You can become anyone or anything you desire. But tread cautiously. Your virtual world can easily become your reality.
Celebrity cosplayer, Ashanti Naga became a sensation overnight. For years, she has navigated through an industry filled with misogyny, racism, and fatphobia. But her love for the characters she embodies kept her grounded.
Then one night, everything changed.
In the aftermath of a traumatic event at a comic convention, Ashanti is trapped in a state of depression and severe anxiety. She shuts herself off from the world completely…until she discovers the VR game, Persona Esquire. Under the alias "Lady Ash," Ashanti becomes immersed inside the fantasy world, teeming with power beyond her wildest dreams.
Then she sees him.
Razor. The powerful guild leader of the War Beasts, who soon becomes the creator of her deepest desires. After earning her membership in Razor's prestigious guild, she finds herself face to face with the gorgeous beast himself, and ensnared in his savage seduction.
Ashanti wants to surrender to her passion for him, but can she get beyond her shattered trust?
**WARNING: Not suitable for the faint of heart, prudes or those easily bothered by strong language, urban dialect, violence, and descriptive love scenes.**
*Multicultural Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy, RPG Lit*
“Now then…” Razor stood before me, an arm’s length away. “I enjoyed watching you in there. You looked like you were having the time of your life.”
There was no way to hide it, especially while in battle. I loved the thrill. Besides, I needed this. Whenever I took out a reaper, I reclaimed a piece of myself. It was just a game to many. But for me, it was so much more. In this virtual world, I would find my way back to my old self. Or a new, better version of me.
“Not gonna lie, it was scary but so fuckin’ exhilarating. Don’t tell Hustle I liked it ‘cause he was ultra pissed when we got outta there.”
Rubbing at his goatee, he briefly licked his lips. “If he doesn’t know you get off on battle by now, he hasn’t been paying attention.”
An instant flutter emerged between my legs. Breath hitching, I ripped my eyes from his gorgeous face. I slowly backed away as I attempted to get ahold of myself. Damn, this man—I gotta stop letting him do this to me. “That’s kinda grimy. Don’t cha think?”
“What you said to Lady Flames—you’re trying to poach a player from an all-female guild. You don’t think that’s a grimy tactic?”
“Ehh, I like to get under Cannon’s skin. Makes her a lot more fun to battle against during guild wars. Besides, poaching playersbrought me you. So, it’s not a bad tactic to keep in my arsenal.”
What did he mean by that? My last guild had already disbanded by the time Razor sent me an invitation.
“Soo…you and Hustle, hunting together?” The sudden pitch of annoyance in his tone didn’t pass me by.
“Me, Hustle and Lady Flames,” I corrected him.
“How’d that happen?”
Either I was imagining things, or he sounded a bit jealous. “What do you mean?”
“You guys just showed up in the Badlands at the same time, or…?”
Aw shit. Dude definitely feels some kinda way. How funny! I suppressed the grin that threatened to claim my face. “I couldn’t sleep, so I popped on to do some hunting. Hustle and Flames were already running the catacombs, so we linked up.”
Folding his arms over his chest, he pulled his muscled shoulders back and gave me a hooded stare. “Uh-huh.”
“He knew I wanted to rank up, soo—hol’up, what is happening here? Are you jealous?”
“If you wanted to improve your ranking, why didn’t you message me?”
The slight whine in his silky voice made me snicker. “You’re totally jealous! That’s wild.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you two hit it off well and everything, but…” His posture stiffened as he pursed his lips and glanced away. “I just don’t understand why he was the first person you thought to reach out to.”
I laughed. “Oh my God!”
“You like him more than me, don’t you? Is it the accent? The brutish manner?”
“I can’t believe you’re pressed about this. And this is coming from the dude who told me to level the fuck up?”
“What does that have to do with you hunting with him?”
I fell silent and just gaped at him.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Dude, are you pressed for real, or are you playing?”
He released a deep, chesty chuckle. “I hear the words coming out of my mouth and I wanna vomit. But yeah, I’m jealous.”
I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt.
Devilish gaze deepening, he took a step toward me. “I see you find it amusing.”
“Just a little.”
“I know I’m being ridiculous, but I can’t help it. I wanna be the one you call on when you can’t sleep.”
“Aw, that’s sweet.” A stimulating tremor ripped through me. I wanted to scream. I slapped my hand over my chest. Felt like my heart was about to burst out of me. “For the record, you were the first person I thought to reach out to, but…” The quiver in my voice gave me pause. Why was I freaking out all of a sudden? “Like Hustle said, guild leaders don’t hunt in the lower sectors. It’s beneath them.”
“Oh please, woman! If you asked me to go air-blading through hell with you, butt-ass-naked on an ice board, I would happily oblige.” He took me by the hands and pulled me in close. His nearness sent a flash of heat soaring through me. “Without question.”
I snickered as the warmth flooding my cheeks grew hotter. “I wanted to rank up without facing any aces. And running with a GL, not to mention the King of Persona Esquire…”
“There you go, putting that crown on my head again.”
“…which ended up happening anyway because someone likes skulking around in the shadows.”
“I wasn’t skulking. I just wanted to be close to you, Ashanti.”
I suppressed a moan at the sultry way he uttered my name.
As his fingertips grazed up my arm, he tilted his head, bringing his lips closer to mine. He cupped my cheek and swept his thumb over my lower lip. “I’ve been imagining the taste of your lips.”
My breathing hitched. I didn’t know if I was ready to be this intimately close to him, but I damn sure knew I wanted it. I wanted all of it! I latched onto the sides of his trench. “Well, you can keep imagining, or…”
Something heavy and strong coiled around my waist like a snake. Took a second to realize what it was. “Uhm, is—is your tail hugging me?” I whispered.
A deep, throaty chuckle rumbled in his chest. He brushed his nose over mine. “Mind of its own.”
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