Billionaire on the Loose (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #5)(3)


by Jessica Clare

HaveAGoodTay: Nonsense! You have the game!

Sigmund: No, there’s only you.

HaveAGoodTay: And the guild.

Sigmund: They all hate me. I’m just here for you.

HaveAGoodTay: That’s not true. And we should really get back to raiding!

Before he could respond, she typed in the main chat, Hey guys! I’m back. Let’s get this show on the road. Around her, the characters emoted cheers and dancing, and then everyone got into position, ready to pull the boss. They wanted to raid, and since she was guild leader, she’d lead them on a raid, darn it.

Just as someone let loose the first arrow, her phone rang. Shit. She let it ring three times, hammering buttons as the screen lit up with explosions. When she’d unloaded her character’s arsenal, she clicked over. “Tech support, this is Taylor.”

“Tay? It’s me, Gretchen!”

“Oh, dang, hey, Gretchen. Now’s not a great time.” Trash mobs started to flood into the room, and Taylor clicked on her character’s Area of Effect spell.

“Oh, god, are you playing that damn game again?”

“Uh, which one? I play three of them.” Well, she had. Now it seemed to be all Excelsior, all the time, because of Sigmund. Ugh.

“The one with the thingies and the dragons. Whatever. Hey, I need you to pry your geek self away on Saturday afternoon.”

The boss lit up with a damage shield, and she automatically clicked on her own character’s shield. Put on the brakes! she called out in-game. If they hit the boss right now, they’d wipe. Everyone paused except one noob, and she made a mental note to give him some coaching after the raid. She watched as the boss smacked the guy down and he went splat. Well, that was what happened when you didn’t listen to the raid leader.

“Yeah, so on Saturday there’s a friend coming over and I want you to come hang out. He’s new to town and needs someone to show him around.”

Taylor groaned. “Can’t someone that’s good with, you know, people do that? I’m only good with video games.” The boss’s shield dropped and she typed CHARGE in all caps. Her guild surged forward, and the fight was on again.

“Well, that’s the thing. Greer’s in Vegas right now, Audrey’s baby is due any moment, Edie’s out of town at some sort of convention with Magnus, Chelsea has a roller derby bout, and Bron’s got charity shit. You’re the only bridesmaid I have left. I realize Gollum doesn’t like to leave his cave and all, but can you abandon your precious for like, two hours and come hang with my guest? Please?”

“I have a raid,” she said automatically.

“You said you would be able to squeeze me in if I gave you advance notice! This is advance notice!”

She was right, darn it. Taylor sighed even as the boss went down and gold showered her screen. Success.

Sigmund: We did it, sweetie!

Yikes, sweetie? Taylor recoiled from the keyboard. Sweetie? “You know what, G? On second thought, I’ll be there.”

“Yay! You won’t regret it! My place at two, okay?”

“I’ll be there. Bye, Gretchen!” She clicked off and another call started to roll in. Even as she picked up the new call, she typed a message to Sigmund.

HaveANiceTay: I need to go out on Saturday. Can you run the raid?

Sigmund: Well now my weekend is ruined. I was hoping to spend it with you.

Taylor gritted her teeth. A day away would be just what the doctor ordered for both of them.

***

Even though it made her anxious to leave her computer for the afternoon, Taylor went to Gretchen’s house on Saturday, just as she’d promised. She’d given herself a pep talk all morning: Going out for the day would be good, the guild would be just fine without her, and she could use a few hours out of her tiny apartment.

Honestly, she just wanted to get away from Sigmund and his smothering messages he kept sending her all week. If she was spending a few hours away from the computer, he constantly buzzed her cell phone, because he’d managed to look up her phone number. If she logged on to Facebook, he sent her messages there. And of course, in-game, he was constantly pinging her with little notes about how pretty she was, and how much he liked her, and did she think they could spend some time together?

In-game, of course. Sigmund never once suggested they meet in person, or talk on the phone, or sent her his personal information. Not that she was interested, of course. But maybe if she could have had a real phone conversation she could have gently let him down. Not that she was good at that sort of thing, either. But it was getting to the point that she had to try something. Anything.

Her phone pinged in the taxi all the way to Buchanan Manor.

Sigmund: So I think I’m going to tank in the raid today. You cool with that?

Sigmund: I hate that we’re raiding without you. It’s not the same.

Sigmund: 20 on the raid ok? Or should we go 25 people and really murder things? Let me know.

Sigmund: You’re not mad at me, are you? Tay?

Sigmund: Oh, god. I don’t think I could stand it if you were mad at me. Please say you’re not ignoring me, Taylor.

Sigmund: My world is over if you’re not in it.

Her stomach knotted horribly, and she reached for her bottle of Xanax again. He was stressing her out. These stupid games were supposed to be a fun time-suck, not a duty that felt ten times more stressful than her job. Yesterday she’d called in “sick” to work because Sigmund had wanted to raid the Fire Boss of Driza. He’d gone in with a motley group, they’d wiped out at the bottom of the dungeon, and then he’d spent all day freaking out. She’d had to talk him down off the ledge several times and she hadn’t been able to concentrate on her job. It was the third time she’d called in this month, and she knew her boss wasn’t happy.

But she didn’t know what else to do. With a frown, she picked up her phone and finally answered him.

HaveANiceTay: I’m here, but you know I’m going to be away for most of the afternoon, Sig. You can’t keep messaging me. I won’t be able to answer! I’m not mad, just busy.

Sigmund: Okay. Whew.

Sigmund: Kisses.

Sigmund: Just kidding.

Sigmund: Sort of.

Sigh. He sent all kinds of mixed messages; if he wasn’t declaring love for her from afar, he was threatening to hurt himself or demanding she spend time in the game with him. He was a mess, and even Taylor’s normally sunny outlook on life was getting bogged down by his neediness.