All In by Erica Marselas

PROLOGUE

HOLLY

 

 

"What the hell did I get myself into?" I mumble to myself as I walk into the massive convention center and find myself surrounded by thousands of people dressed as their favorite comic characters. I dig through my purse to pull out my phone to call my friend when Superman bumps into me, pushing me forward. My phone bounces across the carpet floor.

“Great.” I bend down to retrieve it when a man dressed in a black and red alien suit with horns sticking out everywhere rams into me, knocking me flat on my ass.

“Watch it, lady,” he says gruffly before walking away

The nerve. Does anyone here have manners?

This isn't how my day was supposed to go.

I should be at work—as planned—going over cabinet colors and tiles for a client's half a million-dollar new kitchen remodel. Instead, I'm now getting ogled by a cyclops.

My roommate, Amanda, called me in a panic, telling me she got into a fight with her boyfriend and he left her stranded. So, she asked me to come to pick her up. Supposedly, I was her only option.

What she forgot to mention was she was at a sold-out Comic Con convention. I had to park five blocks away, pay the expensive day rate for parking, and now I have to hunt her down through this insane crowd gathered in the convention hall lobby.

I’m not allowed past the massive doors leading into the convention without a ticket, and I don’t see any sign of my bubbly roommate anywhere. Though it’s hard to make out who is who through the crowd of costumed people. Besides me. Who sticks out like a sore thumb looking more like Lois Lane than Black Widow.

I move to find a safe corner, away from all the chaos, and pull out my phone to call Amanda. “Holly. Hey,” she answers with a chirp on the third ring.

"Where are you?"

"I'm inside the Hilton.”

"Okay? That's where I am." And so are a thousand other people. “But where are you?”

"I'm the one dressed as Wonder Woman."

I roll my eyes. "There's literally like a hundred people dressed as Wonder Woman here. What are you doing at a Comic Con anyway?"

"It's a long story. Listen, there's a bar on the lower floor; meet me there. I’ll be there once I get Will Wheaton’s autograph."

"Alright. You can't miss me. I look like the average Joe among the superheroes. You know, the one who actually needs saving."

"Shut up. You’re fine." Amanda giggles.

"You think if I'm lucky, I can find myself a hot Loki?" I joke.

"If you do, find me his brother. I'll be down in a few once I get through this crowd."

The hotel bar is not as crazy as the upstairs, but I still need to weave myself through the crew of the Enterprise and two Princess Leias to find a seat.

I nestle myself on the stool of the long bar, grab the attention of one of the bartenders, and order a glass of their best mid-priced Merlot.

While I wait, I go through some work emails. I have tons of angry messages from my boss for leaving in the middle of a meeting and a few from the client. Hopefully, if I answer my client’s questions, making them happy, it will lessen the blow with my boss on Monday.

Doubt it though.

"Can I get a whiskey? Neat." A gruff voice comes from beside me, grabbing me away from my email.

A man with a red cape, golden locks, and biceps that should be illegal stands before me.

Well, I might not have found a hot Loki, but I did find his fine brother, Thor.

The bartender pushes a napkin to him as he slides onto the stool.

He hunches over, staring down at the bar looking like he has the weight of the world bearing down on his shoulders. His beard is slightly unkempt, while you can tell the rest of him isn't.

The bartender places his drink down, and he quickly picks it up and downs it. He slams the glass back on the counter and asks for another.

He glances over at me, and my cheeks heat from being caught staring at the Norse god. I’m grateful when my phone beeps with a new text from Amanda, though I can still feel Thor’s eyes boring into me.

Amanda: Brian found me and told me he's sorry. He’s going to take me home. Thank you for coming though. I owe you.

 

"Seriously," I scoff. I should’ve known. This is so typical of her. She always makes me come out somewhere and then leaves me.

 

I’m at the bar. You want to come by and say hi?

 

Amanda: We already left. :(

 

Are you okay?

 

I double-check just to make sure she is alright. Maybe Brian pulled her by her hair out the door, but I doubt it.

 

Amanda: I’m great, I swear. It was just a misunderstanding. You know how I get.

 

As long as you're okay.

 

Amanda: Yep. You’re the best roomie ever.

 

Wow. No thank you?

I stab the power button to turn off the offending screen, pick up my glass of wine, and down it, just like the man beside me did moments ago. I’m pissed. Beyond pissed. She cost me not only thirty dollars for parking but a day's pay. I should have known it wasn’t that urgent. She and her boyfriend are always butting heads, and then an hour later, they’re making up.

I should’ve waited before coming down here.

The bar fills with more cosplayers, and the energy and excitement of the place builds. Music pipes through the speakers and I hear someone mention karaoke. That could be interesting. So screw it, since I already paid for the day I might as well make my time of it.

I wave down the bartender. “Excuse me, can I get a shot of tequila. Lime and salt. Thanks.”

"Everything okay?" God of Thunder eyes me curiously. “Wine to tequila is a big jump.”

"Umm…" I shake my head. "No. My friend bailed after I came all this way to get her thinking she was deserted."

"Some friend," he snorts. “I know what that’s like.”

"Yeah. I left hours of work and an angry boss to come here." I sigh and lose myself momentarily in the haze of his chocolate eyes. "I'm sure you don't want to hear about my woes." I give a gentle smile.

You look like you have a million problems by just looking into your eyes.

“Let’s just say, you’re not alone in your woes.” He smirks. “I mean, I’m just dressed up as a superhero, drinking alone at a bar. Not a single friend around myself.” He shrugs and wraps his fingers around his newly refilled glass.

“Touché. I'm Holly, by the way." I brush my shoulder against his in a poor attempt to flirt.

He tilts his head back over to me, his golden wig slipping slightly revealing his brown locks. "That's a very Jolly name." He gives me a crooked smile as his eyes roam over me.

I roll my eyes. "You should really stick to trying to save Asgard rather than making jokes."

"I have always been told I'm shit at making jokes, but what’s the harm in trying."

“Sorry for the delay,” the bartender says, sliding my shot of tequila over to me. He lays the lime on the napkin beside it.

“Thanks,” I tell the bartender and then edge in closer to the handsome stranger beside me. “Well, are you going to tell me your name? Or are you going to make me guess? I’m pretty sure it’s not Thor.”

"The name’s..." He looks down at his glass of whiskey then back at me. "Liam."

"How come you sound so unsure of that?"

"Because…alcohol." He gives me a crooked smile, and I giggle. "Hey, I'm improving."

"You are."

"Cheers to that then." He lifts his glass of whiskey, and I raise my shot of tequila.

"Cheers." We clink glasses and then toss them back. “Whoo.” I shake my head as the tequila burns down my throat.

Liam picks up the lime and places it to my lips. “Suck,” his husky voice croons. My lips wrap around the lime, and I suck the tart juices, my eyes never leaving his as I do so. “I have a feeling it’s going to be a good night, Holly.” He winks, and his thumb brushes across my bottom lip. I pucker against it, and he smirks. “Oh, yes, a very good night.”

 

 

The liquor starts to flow between us, and my somber man loses the wig sometime between the fourth and fifth drink. It turns out Liam is actually funny as the night goes on. He has been keeping me in stitches, and the weight he was carrying when he came in appears to be lifting slightly.

I also haven’t felt this relaxed in months.

Never in a million years would I let myself get this drunk in a bar and on top of it all with a stranger.

I have been so worried about following rules, making plans, sticking to my routine, I never let myself be so reckless.

Tonight, I want to break all the rules I made for myself, live a little. Take a chance, especially with Liam, who has been spending the whole night making me feel like the sexiest woman in the world.

I can't say how many times he's called me beautiful or found a reason to touch me or run his thumb across my lips.

Every brush of his fingers makes my skin ignite, and I’m desperate for more.

“So, what exactly are you doing here alone? I’m sure it didn't start that way for you,” I ask as I roam my finger over his bulging biceps.

“I got left behind too. I thought I was coming here to have fun. I needed it. It’s been a fucking rough…rough couple of months.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” I offer an ear. I can tell he needs it. Every time he looks down into that brown liquor, I swear he just wants to drown in it.

“I wouldn’t want to bore you with my problems. Plus, we are having fun.”

“You won’t bore me.”

“You’re too sweet to get weighed down with my problems.” He brushes my hair off my shoulder and rests his other hand on my hip.

“I don't mind. I'm a great listener.”

“I can think of something much more entertaining to do than having some heart to heart.”

“Yeah?” My lips wet as he moves in closer to me.

He pushes my legs apart with his knees and stands in between them. “Oh yeah. Do you want to have some fun, Holly?” My heart pounds in my chest and words escape me. The scent of the whiskey on his breath overtaking all my senses. “Are you going to say anything?”

I shake my head. Talking seems so overrated right now.

He leans into me, only millimeters from my lips, and I grab onto the edge of his vest demanding him closer. “How about this then?” His arm slips around my waist and he lifts me off the stool. His tongue traces over my lips, demanding I open, and I submit, allowing him in.

He moans down my throat. “Fuck, you taste good.”

The sounds of hoots and hollers pull me away from him reminding me of our very public display. “I really shouldn’t,” I murmur against his lips and place my hands on his firm chest to push him back.

“I really shouldn’t either, but I really want to.” He takes my bottom lip between his teeth. "You fucking captivated me tonight. I need this. One night with you.” His brown eyes blaze into mine.

"Just one night?" I swallow.

"One is all we need." He smirks, his fingers tracing over the curve of my ass. “I promise to make it memorable. Come up to my room with me.”

If you say no, I’ll kick your ass, some voice within me screams.

I nod, not willing to argue with my inner voice while at the same time losing myself in his lust-filled eyes.

“I need to hear you say it," he whispers, pressing a kiss to the side of my lips.

"Yes," I murmur.

Liam tells the bartender to put everything on his tab, and before I can protest, he’s pulling me into another hazing kiss.

This isn’t me. I have never been the girl who throws caution to the wind. I’m not reckless and I don’t do things on a whim.

I, Holly Jenkins, do NOT have one night stands. Especially not with total strangers I meet at the bar.

I date and let my heart be broken the natural way.

However, as Liam wraps his hands around my waist and leads me to the elevators, it isn’t my brain leading the game; it’s my libido begging for an orgasm from a man who looks like pure sex. Whose arms I've been staring at all night and every time his biceps flex my panties only got wetter. I want to live dangerously for once. I want Liam to take me on every inch of his hotel suite. Liam’s lips attach to the side of my neck as we fumble our way into his hotel room. Clothes go flying before the door has a chance to latch closed. My mind abandons all other thoughts as Liam lifts me to the dresser and his mouth attaches to my achy core.

 

 

The sun rises on the next morning, and I wake up naked and alone. Beside me is a note laying on the wrinkled white pillowcase.

I pull the sheet tight to my bare skin and unfold the note. With messy scribble, it reads:

 

Sorry I had to run and get to work. Room is paid for till 12.

Thanks for a great night. Last night was fun.

-Thor

 

 

I crumble up his note and throw it onto the floor.

Asshole.

What did I expect though? I knew what I was getting myself into the second Liam asked me to come up here. I knew he was trouble. My body aches all over, and as I fall back down to the bed, the memories of last night fill my mind. It was all worth it. I shower, dress, and make my exit into the muggy morning, doing the walk of shame back to my car, five blocks away.