Level Up by Annabeth Albert Tour

 

 

Title:  LEVEL UP

Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Annabeth Albert

Release Date: May 17, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

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Synopsis

 

Landon can’t believe he’s let himself

get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features

tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material

and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one

bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.

 

However, Bailey ends up being not quite

what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s

persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and

they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.

 

A tentative friendship is born, but the

road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must

decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be

enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the

line.

 

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously

released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers

universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a

guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no

on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

 

LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first

kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!

 

***

 

Bailey was the type who moved a lot as

he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always

liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting.

His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with

good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which

was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was

more than a little turned on.

 

“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey

laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d

gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up

over the years.”

 

“Totally. And speaking of art, let me

find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game.

He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried

with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at

the latest screen shots and promo teasers.”

 

“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon,

Bailey went to sit on the couch.

 

“You want a drink while I’m in here?”

Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve

got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”

 

“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.”

Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.

 

He really did not look at all like any

photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why

photography? You said you could have done game design?”

 

“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the

art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever

since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking

pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports

myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship

to the art institute in Portland.”

 

“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had

a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked

like he lived for weekend games of some type.

 

“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey

shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.

 

“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with

him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff

on the TV screen while you have your drink?”

 

“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of

tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full

mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink

it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.

 

Landon queued up the pre-release trailer

Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as

on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with

ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and

detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already

watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.

 

“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked

suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”

 

“I know, right? Now look at the in-game

screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite

Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this

with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his

boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his

regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.

 

Somehow, as he shared more video clips,

he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t

a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon

wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not

nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed

to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth

video that he realized that he was aroused.

 

Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand,

holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.

 

“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself

without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t

realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.

 

“Ow,” they said simultaneously.

 

“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey

reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the

skin?”

 

“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away.

Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his

head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but

he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he

stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a

chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been

since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah

goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last

LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet.

Arousing.

 

Bailey leaned in again, way slower this

time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s

beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not

aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed

like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s

mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to

take his time learning the lesson.

 

Landon was the first one to take things

further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted

sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar

yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing

could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan

of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.

 

Not content to let Bailey be the one

exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower

lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip.

Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely

registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want

it to ever end.

 

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Meet the Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<![endif]–>

 

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance

novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in

the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf,

she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series

joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers,

#PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on

next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or

connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be

sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests.

The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus

content and exclusive contests.

 

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny

stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding

happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights

supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a

rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter |

Goodreads | Instagram | Annabeth’s Newsletter | Annabeth’s Angels

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