Gaming Dates

“Excuse us for a second,” Russel smiled at the well-dressed woman as he pulled Justin away from her. 

“Sure, okay,” the brunette returned his smile. Russel dragged Justin far enough so that she couldn’t hear them talk about her. They did not have to travel far, the bustling town made plenty of noise; but Russel turned a corner around the side of the inn. 

“Explain,” Russel said. 

“Our date was going so well that I didn’t want to cut it short and miss out on the bonus affection multiplier. The longer our date lasts, the better,” Justin replied with a shrug. “We can move gear between games so I thought, ‘why not NPCs?’.”

“Oh,” Russel chuckled. “She’s an NPC?” Russel peeked around the corner of the inn at the brunette. She stood patiently scrolling through her node. He had to admit she was very attractive. Her dark curls fell a bit lower than her shoulders. Her tan skin and athletic figure hinted at a lot of active time outdoors; she was definitely Justin’s type. Though her black cocktail dress seemed out of place against the drab peasant-wear of the rest of the townsfolk. However, in true NPC fashion, no one blinked an eye at the oddly dressed woman. She didn’t seem concerned with them either; not caring that she was no longer in a fine restaurant. 

“Well, I don’t have a problem with it, but we’ll see what the rest of the group says,” Russel shrugged, then headed back to Justin’s date. 

“Ready?” she asked eagerly once they two men were close enough. She stepped forward and hooked her arm into Justin’s. Russel wondered how she’d react once they reached the dragon’s lair. The thought of her fleeing the cave in heels made him smile. 

“Not just yet, we’re still waiting on a couple of the guys,” Justin replied. “Andie, this is Russel. Russel; Andie,” he introduced them and they exchanged a quick handshake. 

“How many more?” Andie asked. “Any chance there’s room on the team for me? I can go and -,” Justin and Russel interrupted her with laughter at the suggestion. Justin squeezed her hand and kissed her dark curls. 

“Don’t worry about it, babe. I wanna keep you warmed up in date mode as long as possible,” he said. 

“Oh,” Andie replied with a bit of disappointment in her voice. “Okay, I guess. As long as we’re together. I just like spending time with you.”

“Should we get her some cheap gear or something so she’s not helpless?” Russel offered. Andie burst into laughter.

“I’m not exactly helpless,” she said. 

“You tell ‘im, babe,” Justin laughed too, but directed his laughter at Andie instead of with her. 

“Well that sounds a little bit patr-,” her comment was interrupted by a mage that exited a black portal next to them.

“Sorry I’m late,” he apologized to Justin and Russel, then looked at Andie up and down. Golden stars flashed in his eyes for a second.

“Who’s this?” he asked. 

“Hi, I’m Andie,” Andie extended a hand and the mage shook it.

“Benny,” he introduced himself. 

“She’s my date,” Justin said proudly. At the same time he received a Whisper from Russel in his ear.

[She’s an NPC. Go with it. -Russ] Benny shook his head with a broad smile.

“No she’s not,” he said aloud. 

“I brought her here. I think I’d know whether she was my date or not,” Justin replied. Benny continued to chuckle to himself. 

“She might be your date, but she’s not an NPC,” 

“You think I’m an NPC?” Andie turned to look at Justin with obvious hurt in her dark eyes. 

“You’re not?” was the only thing he could say. 

“Oh my god! This whole time you thought you were playing me?” Benny and Russel decided it was a good time to get a drink from the inn and wandered off. 

“But.. we met on a dating server!” Andie scoffed. 

“Women play dating games too.”

“Right! C’mon,” Justin said. “You can’t tell me you didn’t think I was an NPC too.” He felt a bit of relief when he saw her nod.

“I did. For like an hour until I realized you weren’t acting like an NPC. I liked you.”

“See? That’s why I thought you were an NPC,” Justin replied with a softer tone as he hung his head. “Girls don’t like me,” he said. “Not real ones.” Andie wiggled her fingers at the air and created her own black portal. She sighed at him as stepped into the portal. He heard her voice one last time before she and the black hole disappeared. 

“Not with that attitude,” she said. 

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