The Starstruck anthology is available, including my story, the Ruby. I wrote about some of the inspiration for the story in a guest post on Annabeth Leong’s blog. (Thank you to the talented and generous Annabeth for posting it!)
Here’s a snippet from the story:
Already seated, chestnut hair falling over his face like a pony’s forelock, was Toby Rodriguez. He rose as they approached, eyeing Ezra from behind his fringe.
“Pleasure to meet you, Ezra, holder of the Ruby of Radiance. Please call me Toby.”
Toby’s fingers were warm and slightly sweaty. His eyes were a friendly light brown, framed with thick dark lashes over sharp cheekbones and full lips. A few improbable freckles broke out against his light brown skin. He wore khakis and an orange T-shirt showing a mountain goat riding an old-fashioned bicycle. The shirt had shrunk until it clung to him.
“Pleasure is all mine,” Ezra said, letting go a bit too quickly. His palms were sweating again.
“I ordered some bruschetta to start,” Toby added as they sat down. “Patti said you were okay with gluten and all that.”
Patti had arranged everything with ruthless efficiency. Ezra wondered if she was lurking somewhere nearby, ready to rescue her normally reclusive boss if things got too weird.
“Bruschetta is great. I was so excited when the Gremlin Mines expansion came out. I’ll try not to get all ‘fanboy’ on you, but I was determined to get the ruby so I could tell you how much I love it. The attention to detail—I swear I could smell the stale underground air.”
“Yeah. Ahh. Great.” Toby squirmed. His cheeks flushed, nearly matching his T-shirt. “I’ve been instructed to not talk about the game until the main course is served. So maybe, umm, tell me about yourself?”
Ezra felt his cheeks warm in response. “Me—um. Me?” He took a deep breath. “I work as a graphic designer at Hawes College. I have an ancient tabby cat named Sasha. I play Weird West a lot—why aren’t you supposed to talk about it?”
“I’m supposed to pretend to be well-rounded.” Toby’s cheeks were still red, but he sat up straighter, tossing his hair out of his eyes. “Fuck it.”
Photo credit: Rubies by John Morgan https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/5702026863/. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/