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No Rulebook for Flirting

By Laura Bailo


Published by JMS Books LLC at Smashwords

Visit jms-books.com for more information.


Copyright 2018 Laura Bailo

ISBN 9781634865753

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Cover Design: Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com

Image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License.

All rights reserved.


WARNING: This book is not transferable. It is for your own personal use. If it is sold, shared, or given away, it is an infringement of the copyright of this work and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts used for the purposes of review.

This book is for ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. It may contain sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which might be considered offensive by some readers. Please store your files where they cannot be accessed by minors.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are solely the product of the author’s imagination and/or are used fictitiously, though reference may be made to actual historical events or existing locations. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published in the United States of America.

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To my Friday night nerds; I still owe you a game.

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No Rulebook for Flirting

By Laura Bailo

Chapter 1

Gabriel

Gabriel swore and cursed his coworkers.

He’d wanted to be here earlier, but the meeting had run late and now he couldn’t find a single parking spot anywhere. He knew this would happen. The convention always attracted a lot of people, which was why he’d wanted to be here early enough to park his car without problems.

On his second lap around the lot, he saw a car reversing into the lane. He snagged the space, thinking about his good luck, when an angry honk—he had no idea a car could sound angry—came from behind him.

He looked back to see a blond guy in a small car leaning out of the window. “What’s the problem with you?” He scowled at Gabriel, his pale-colored eyes bearing an intent focus Gabriel couldn’t help but find attractive, in a moody sort of way.

Ah, so he was the cause of the honking. Kind of hard to believe a car so small could sound so fierce. Come to think of it, the guy didn’t appear all that big either, although Gabriel was sure that, if looks could kill, he’d be at least injured by now.

Gabriel got out of his car. “Excuse me?”

“You’ve just parked in my spot!”

“I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a name written on the tarmac.” Gabriel shrugged, a sadistic part of him enjoying how the guy’s face got redder in anger while another part of him—the more human one—sympathized.

“I was waiting here, I even had my blinker on.”

Gabriel had been so focused on parking in the free space, he hadn’t noticed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.”

“I don’t want you to apologize. I want you to remove your car so I can park in my spot.” He’d said the last part through clenched teeth, clearly furious.

Gabriel let out a short laugh. “I’m sorry, but not a chance of that happening, mate. You go make a round and find another spot.” He felt a bit sorry for the guy, but there was no way he was going to look for another spot.

He did his best to ignore the angry sputtering while making his way inside the building, amused by the whole exchange.

* * * *

He stopped at registration to pick up a nametag and his ID from the guys in charge, which would allow him to come and go from the convention and the use of every game they had. When he made it inside the great hall, he found the room already full of people. The convention had been held in the same place for a long time, in a big sports center with lots of space for all the different activities. The games stand, the bar, and the tables for gaming were all set up in the main hall. Gabriel remembered the year when there were only twenty tables set up and everyone knew each other, but since then, the convention had grown, with the number of both tables and people higher each year.

He’d signed up for playing as many games as possible during the next three days, so he approached the first table he saw with a few seats available and asked if he could join them. Some people were amenable to strangers playing with them, while some came as a group and didn’t want to be disturbed.

He got a few weird looks at the question, but after a moment of consideration, they just nodded.

Gabriel sat and studied the table in front of him. There wasn’t a board, but he saw mountains of tiles to the side and wooden figurines in the form of little guys. The gamers were playing Carcassonne, where players built the board with the tiles while using the figurines (called “meeples” or “followers”) to claim different spaces and gain points. He smiled; it was one of his favorite games and he was good at it.

With Gabriel bringing the table to five people, they waited for a sixth to start the game. Soon, the chair in front of him scraped the floor, and someone swore.

Gabriel looked up to see the guy from the parking lot, glaring daggers at him. Gabriel just smirked. Since the guy had already sat, he couldn’t leave the table; those were the rules. Well, not the rules rules—no one would stop him if he tried to leave—but it was definitely considered bad form to abandon a table, especially if you’d been the last one to sit.

The guy in charge of the meeples started passing them around, randomly assigning the colors to the players. Gabriel had been given the red set; he’d have preferred the black one, but wasn’t going to complain. Whatever the color, he planned to win anyway.

He clapped, the sound absurdly loud in the silence that covered their table, even with chatter coming from all around them. “Right, are you ready for me to kick your asses?”

The guy from the parking lot snorted and murmured something that sounded like “as if, all the while looking to his own blue followers. His nametag said “Aitor” and Gabriel thought that a bit weird. It was a Basque name, pretty common for this region, but he looked rather young. As far as Gabriel knew, it’d been a popular name when he’d been born, but this guy appeared at least ten years younger than him, if not more.

He shrugged, pushing aside the thoughts, and focused on the game.

He kept his followers to himself while they set down the river, but once the last tile of that lot had been placed, all bets were off. He claimed cities, monasteries, and fields. He put a cathedral on an unfinished city that wasn’t his own, then made sure the owner couldn’t finish it, which meant he’d get no points for it. The fact that said owner was the person sitting in front of him, whose face got redder every turn, just added to the fun.

“Again? First you invade my cities, steal my roads, and now this? What have I ever done to you?”

“I like causing chaos. It’s the best part of this game.” Gabriel made a gesture for him to lean in, then whispered, “Besides, don’t tell the others, but you’re clearly the best player in this group.”

Aitor groaned. “You’re an idiot.”

Gabriel shrugged again and watched Aitor set a meeple on a field that would soon connect to his. “You definitely know how to use your wood. That’s sexy.”

Aitor spluttered and blushed a deep red. Gabriel took one of his unused figurines and brought it level with Aitor’s face.

“You look almost the same color! Does this mean you’re mine now, too?” His cheeks hurt from smiling. He probably looked like an idiot, but was having too much fun to care.

“I’m not sure you could handle me.” Aitor swatted the hand holding the meeple and refocused on the game.

“Is that a challenge?” Gabriel was determined to make Aitor forget about their encounter in the parking lot, and if flirting and generally being a bit of an idiot could do that, he’d take it.

Aitor rolled his eyes, but a small tilt of his lips meant he was trying his best not to smile.

In the end, Gabriel won the game, with Aitor coming a close second, having gone after him once he’d clued in on what Gabriel was doing and sabotaging him at every opportunity that would also benefit Aitor.

Gabriel smiled at him. “Well done. You were close.”

Aitor crossed his arms over his chest and glared at him. “Imagine how good you’d have done if you’d focused on playing instead of making sure we failed.”

“But where would be the fun in that?”

Aitor opened his mouth to answer, but another voice interrupted.

“Whenever you two are done with this weird flirting you have going on, want to play another game?”

Gabriel gave him an enthusiastic “Hell yes,” and Aitor nodded.

Once the guy in charge started mixing the tiles again, Aitor looked at Gabriel. “Let’s make this more interesting. I bet you can’t win without obstructing anyone else’s game, just by your own merits.”

“You’re on. And you’re going to regret making that bet.” Gabriel had no intention of losing, though being unable to be a nuisance to the rest of the players would take away half the fun of the game for him.

Aitor smiled, which made him look even younger. “We’ll see. Loser buys the winner a drink after this game?”

“Deal.”

The game started again and Gabriel did his best to achieve points without interrupting anyone, but ended up coming in third.

Aitor came in first this time and smirked at Gabriel.

“I accept my defeat.”

Aitor nodded while they put their tiles back in the box. “It’s a shame we weren’t playing a stripping game, then I’d have enjoyed your defeat even more.”

Gabriel’s face heated. “Well, you definitely need to buy me a drink before I start stripping anywhere. A small one would do.”

“Speaking of drinks, do you want to pay that bet now?”

One player—Raúl, according to his nametag—who hadn’t said anything during both games, sneered at them. Or rather, at Gabriel. “Oh, my God, just go flirt somewhere else!”

Gabriel glanced down at his own shirt, but paid Raúl no mind. “Let’s go, Aitor. I have no interest in gaming with bigots.”

He felt the guy glaring at him all the way to the bar, but ignored him. “So, Aitor, what do you want to drink?”

* * * *

Chapter 2

Aitor

“Why did you say that guy was a bigot?” Aitor blurted, He wasn’t all that interested in the drink; he’d just wanted to rile up Gabriel a little, especially after the bastard had unapologetically stolen his parking spot. But then, he’d seen how Gabriel had genuinely enjoyed gaming, not just playing to win. If he’d been any different after the bet, Aitor would have told him to forget about the drink and gone his own way. Aitor hated to even think it, but he seemed nice, and had surprised him with that comment about playing with bigots.

“He clearly was. Did you see the way he sneered at me when he saw my shirt?”

Ah, yes. Aitor had also noticed the shirt. It was a bit strange, seeing someone wearing a Trans Rights Are Human Rights shirt at one of these events. And Gabriel had completed the outfit with a rainbow flag pin attached to his nametag. He studied the way the trans flag distorted a bit over Gabriel’s belly. He was curious, but he didn’t know if he should ask, or if the answer would be something that would make him feel worse.

Fuck it, he didn’t have to see this guy again if he didn’t want to.

“I’m curious. Why the shirt? Why wear it here, of all places?”

Gabriel shrugged. “I have a trans niece. My sister-in-law got this for me when my niece came out, and I’ve worn it to these kinds of events ever since.” He chuckled. “You should have seen me before. I wore the ugliest rainbow flag shirt you can imagine. I still think Clara got this one for me so I would get rid of that one.”

Aitor nodded. He’d been expecting something like that, and Gabriel’s reasoning seemed thoughtful and sincere. He found himself liking him a bit, to his chagrin.

Before he could say anything, the bartender forced them to change the topic.

“You didn’t tell me what you want to drink,” Gabriel said.

“I’ll have a beer.”

Gabriel ordered two beers, then raised his eyebrows. “Are you even old enough to drink? Are you even old enough to drive, for that matter?”

He knew he was being teased, but Aitor huffed. “I’ll have you know I’m twenty-seven.”

“You don’t look a day past twenty.”

Aitor thought of what he’d just learned from Gabriel, then looked around. They were still in the hall, surrounded by a lot of people, but right then they were the only ones at the bar, and no one could overhear their conversation with all the background noise the gamers provided. And what the hell, if Gabriel turned out to be nasty, Aitor could disappear into the crowd.


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