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Having a Ball!

The Wild Rose Press

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 80,550
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Danner Tenley’s stroll through a thrift store nets her a fortune-telling ball that reminds her of her youth. It’s all fun and games until it starts using her name and giving her very direct messages. But that’s nothing compared to the completely rude gnome with a perma-smile who pops out of her wall to tell her how to use the ball. On top of that, a troll has threatened to take over Danner’s life if he doesn’t get a certain book.

Toby Nelson, Danner’s friend and landlord, doesn’t know what he’s being roped into, but if she needs help, he’ll be there for her. Meeting a gnome is quite the experience, and fighting a troll is something he’s not looking forward to; falling in love with his best friend isn’t even on his radar.

In a race against time, Danner has only a bad-tempered gnome and her hunky landlord to help her. How bad can it be?

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After lugging myself off the floor, I rubbed my elbow. I’d cracked my funny bone on the wall as I went down. It wasn’t funny. Ouch.

Had I hit my head, too? I could have sworn the ball had said “what’s up” to me and used my name. But how was that possible? Maybe the creaking sound I heard as I got up was my brain resettling back into place. Maybe trying to be Creative Danner had finally taken its toll on my poor, sad mind.

I reached for the ball where it rested with its top facing up. No eight graced the top, but now that I looked closer there was some sort of tree burned into it. Before my fingers connected with the wooden surface, I pulled back and sat down on the floor next to it, looking at the kitchen tile. Uh, yeah, I needed to mop in here sometime soon.

Back to the matter at hand. My cleaning, or lack thereof, was not nearly as important as figuring out what had happened a couple minutes ago. What if the ball really had used my name? That would be very bizarre. And as much as I’d thought I wanted some changes in my life, for something to “give,” as I vaguely remembered saying, I didn’t think I wanted a ball that could spell out my name and talk directly to me. Whatever happened to the good old days of vague responses like MAYBE?

Then again, I’d probably just had too much to drink and was so excited by the response to my Toby question that I’d imagined the whole thing. Yeah, I was going with that option. Apparently, I had been way drunker than I had originally thought. It was the only halfway decent excuse for the state my mind was in right now.

I turned my focus back on the ball. “All right, ball, I just want straightforward answers of the absolute vanilla kind.”

“Well, that’s not going to happen, stupid human.”

Who the hell was that? The voice wasn’t coming from inside my head; I’d never called myself a human in my life. I placed my hand on the ball, but it felt cool. When I turned it over, the white cube didn’t come to the surface at all.

Which meant someone else was in my apartment. Crap!

In my haste to get away from whatever was in the room with me (I watched Supernatural and saw all the creepy things out there), I cracked my elbow again.

“By the way,” the sneering voice spoke again. “They call it a funny bone because it’s funny to everyone else when you hit it.”

“Aaaahhhhhhh!” I scrambled back, holding onto my poor, abused body.

“Your screaming is useless, human. If you’re concerned I’m going to hurt you, don’t be. I wouldn’t waste my valuable energy on your pathetic hide. Why do I never get the smart humans?” He lifted his gaze to the ceiling. The fact that these pithy statements were coming from a dwarf who looked like something straight out of a fairytale didn’t make it any easier to believe what was happening. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention that the horrid little thing couldn’t seem to take the smile off his face no matter how venomously he talked. “Why not one with even half a working brain?”