Gamed (A Standalone Romance Novel) (Bad Boy Romance)


Claire Adams


book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are
products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not
to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual
events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.


© 2015 Claire Adams


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face on the magazine
cover kept eclipsing my textbook. I recognized him from high school, junior
high school actually, and the thrill of seeing him again was more exciting than
gross anatomy. I tried to tell myself it was the magazine that was grabbing my
attention. I had obsessed over the new hit multi-player online game
Dark Flag
since it came out. Owen Redd
was rising to dominance as the game's first clan leader. He was a star in the
gamer community.

my sister's boyfriend
, I reminded myself.

I never understood
how he put up with Sienna. She had wanted to change him from the moment they
met. My perfect sister, with her stellar G.P.A. and her driving ambition to be
a surgeon, wanted her boyfriend to be more than a gamer. I always suspected she
started dating him as a challenge. Sienna was always trying to improve,
perfect, and control the world around her. Owen struck me as another project
she took on – change the school's most popular rebel into the prom king. She kept
a framed picture of their prom court on the desk in her dorm. Owen's crown was
crooked, but he and Sienna were still together.

I wondered if she
knew he was on the cover of a magazine. Sienna would not be impressed, but it really
was a big deal. I reached for my phone.

"The studying
going well?" my roommate asked.

"Can you
believe the professor gives us a quiz at the start of every class? Seems
cruel," I said.

Darla shook her
head and laughed. "I heard he charts the quiz scores on a board."

I groaned. My
sister's name was on the top of that board and I could not help but look at it
every time I sat down to struggle through another quiz.

Darla gave my long
hair a sympathetic tug. "Have you ever considered changing your major? I
know nursing is a noble profession, but as far as I can see, you don't like
anything about it."

"I like
it," I said. "It’s just a lot of memorizing and papers and sitting
around studying new research. There's not a lot of, I don't know, action to

"Well, if
you're looking for action, I heard there's a
Dark Flag
party over in the basement of the Mathematics lab,"
Darla said.

My roommate was
the opposite of me in many ways – an art major with a concentration in textiles
– but she was also a gamer. I stood up to lead the way out the door.

"Wait, you
forgot your phone," Darla stopped me. "Ugh, I think your advisor is

I looked at the
caller ID and bit my lip. Alice
had a sixth
sense about when I was going to do something fun instead of study. There was no
reason I couldn’t let the call go to voicemail, except my father's nagging
motto: never put off for tomorrow what you can deal with right now.

"Ms. Alice,
how is your evening?" I asked. Darla shrugged her shoulders and left
without me.

"Quinn, I'm
glad I caught you. I mean, I'm not glad, I'm just grateful you answered your
phone," my advisor said.

"If this is
about skipping class last week, its sounds much worse than it was. I was
actually volunteering my time down at the blood drive. I just forgot to get a volunteer
form signed," I said.

class again? That's the fourth time this month. That's once a week. Quinn, I'm
concerned. I know this isn't the time to discuss it, but–" her voice
cracked. "I'm not sure how to do this."

"I can make
up all the work, I promise. I'm studying right now. Literally, the book is open
in front of me. I love nursing, I really do. I've just been distracted
lately." I stopped myself before I started talking about the new game. My
college advisor would not be impressed to hear how dedicated I was to a new
online game.

"When was the
last time you went home? Spent any time with your family?"

"I don't
know, fall break? So, well, I guess about a month," I said. "But I'm
going home for Thanksgiving. Sienna wants to stay on campus, but I agreed to go
home. I'm in charge of making the gravy. Sienna makes the best stuffing, but
she's only staying on campus to get a head start on studying for finals. She's
pre-med and wants to be a surgeon."

There was silence
on the other end of the line. Finally, when I had held my breath long enough to
see a few stars creeping around the edges of my vision, my advisor said,
"I know you look up to your sister, but I hope you have considered finding
your own path."

I could feel dread
hanging over the conversation. Ms. Alice's words were heavy and she struggled
to speak. The same weight settled over me. "Am I getting kicked out of the
nursing program?"

my advisor asked. "No. I mean, I don't know, the skipping class is getting
out of hand. I just think now is a good time for you to consider what you
really want to do. You shouldn't stick with a major just because of family
expectations. Instead of following in your sister's footsteps–"

"Ms. Alice,
are you alright? Maybe I should make an appointment during your office
hours," I said. "I'm going online right now to put in the request. I
don't want to take up any more of your time this evening."

"Wait, Quinn,
I'm calling late for a reason," my advisor said. She cleared her throat
and paused again.

"Oh no! You're
right. I didn't know how late it was! I promised a friend I would cover his
shift at the front desk of our dorm. I
go, Ms.
Alice. I'm sorry. Thanks for your concern. We'll talk soon!" I hung up the
phone and put it down as if it burned my hand.

I was never rude
and I never lied, but I had been both to Ms. Alice for no discernible reason. Something
in her heavy tone and her pauses made me nervous. I looked at the clock. It was
past ten o'clock on a weeknight. My stomach twisted. Why would my college
advisor be calling so late?

I stood up and
brushed my hair back, doing my best impression of my sister's hair flip. Sienna
never let other people bother her. My sister would have cut the strange phone
call short twenty seconds after it started. On the other hand, I was wracked
with guilt. I felt as if Ms. Alice was trying to tell me something and I had
not done a good job of helping her spit it out.

Despite the guilt,
I brushed my hair and got ready to join Darla at the gamer party. I moved
quickly and was out the door before I could even shut my abandoned textbook.

"Oh, sorry. Excuse
me," I said.

The taller of the
campus security guards held up both hands. "Whoa, slow down. Are you Quinn

My stomach turned
sour. "Yes?"

"Your advisor
is Alice
?" he asked.

"Yes. Wait,
what's going on?" I asked.

His rotund partner
shoved his hands in his pockets and scowled. "Your advisor needs you to
meet her at Alton Tower. We're here to give you a lift. That's all we

"Please come
with us, Ms. Thomas." The taller guard stepped aside and ushered me past.

I took a step
before I saw the sharp look pass between the two men. "What is this all
about? Has something happened?"

Neither said a
single word more. I fought the urge to run and instead walked downstairs and
out the front doors. The fat guard waved a thick hand towards the campus
vehicle. My feet froze and an angry buzzing started in my ears. The taller
guard stepped around me and opened the passenger side door, relegating his
partner to the backseat.

"Where are we
going?" I asked.

The lanky man
folded himself into the driver's seat. Instead of answering, he turned the key
in the ignition. I tried to close my eyes and take a calming breath, but an
incessant flashing of lights stopped me. An ambulance drove past and joined the
whirling lights of a police car not far away.

Alton Tower. That's
where the guard said my advisor was waiting. I knew it because it was my
sister's dorm.

The campus vehicle
bucked the curb and drove right onto the lawn outside Alton Tower. Another
campus security Jeep, the police car, and the ambulance blocked the front door
of the dorm. I sat in the car, not sure where I was supposed to go.

Ms. Alice
appeared, skittering around the front of the police car. She ran up to my door,
and I could see she was talking before she opened it. "Quinn, I'm so sorry,
but I was afraid you wouldn't answer if I called back."

"What is
going on?" I asked. I gripped the side of the passenger seat and refused
to get out.

"There's been
a… Um, well, an accident," my advisor said. She reached for my hand.

"My sister? Is
Sienna alright?" I slapped away Ms. Alice's hand and vaulted from the
security vehicle. The rotund security guard tried to stop me, but he was too
slow getting out of the backseat.

"Wait, Quinn,
stop. Let me tell you what happened," Ms. Alice said.

The raw agony in
her voice made me stop, but I could not turn around. She slipped around to
stand in front of me and held out her hands. I crossed my arms tightly and
waited for my advisor to speak.

committed suicide tonight."

I laughed. The
sound fired out of me. The two security guards backed off as if I brandished a
gun. "That can't be right. Sienna would never do that."

"Quinn, I'm
so sorry. Her roommate came back from the library and found her in the bathtub–"

"She slit her
wrists?" I asked. The world was spinning away and getting smaller. It felt
as if everything around me was shrinking onto a television screen and some
terrible after school special was on.

Quinn, come sit down," my advisor begged.

I yanked my arm
away from her reaching hands. Before my thoughts returned to my body, I had
started running. I dodged around the ambulance before the fat guard could catch
up. His lanky partner tried to cut me off on the front steps, but I spun out of
his reach. The guards keeping the front hall clear were too shocked to move. I
slammed into the stairwell and ran up two steps at a time.

Sienna lived on
the second floor at the end of the hall.

"Quinn, no! That's
her sister," Sienna's roommate cried as I ran past where she sat wrapped
in a blanket in the stairwell. The EMTs in the doorway called out, but I could
not stop.

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