Before I go any further, I have two announcements to make. The first is that TODAY is my oldest son's fifth birthday. I'm not sure how he got so big so fast but there it is. He won't be reading this post, well maybe in perpetuity, but let me just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Mommy loves you. Sigh. I'd better stop before I get completely nostalgic and start talking about his birth. All our male followers will run for the hills and I'll scare off any women considering ever having a baby.
Next, one year ago TODAY, my very first book released. It was Her Wolf: The Westervelt Wolves Book 1. Thank you Liquid Silver Books for taking a chance on me.
But that's not what I'm talking about today. Today, I am talking about Screw Superman, which released yesterday with Noble Romance Publishing.
Here is a blurb:
Wendy Warner is a bit of an oddball. Raised in an orphanage, she has found solace and friendship by watching the television show, Space Adventures, and participating in fan clubs related to the show. Every month, on the second and third Friday, Wendy comes to work dressed in a costume from the show that she wears to charity events. This has earned her the disdain of many of her coworkers but not from her boss, the president of the company, Draco Powers, who rather likes the way the uniform hugs all her curves in the just the right places.
Draco Powers is a real-life Superhero who told the world that, yes, Superheroes do exist, but, no, we won't work for free or without health insurance. Some people refer to him with derision as the "Capitalist Superman." Draco is being hunted by an organization called the Organization, whose motives are unclear and yet still cause death and destruction wherever they go.
The Organization has decided that Draco's biggest weakness is the way he cares about his employees and has picked Wendy out as their next target. To save her, Draco will have to come to terms with his real feelings for Wendy and why it is that he has so long resisted complicated relationships. But he's running out of time . . . .
And an Excerpt
Draco Powers sat, feeling incredibly uncomfortable, in his client's too-small-for-him flowery fabric lounge chair as he turned down her offer of tea for the third time. What gave with the tea? He didn't drink the stuff. Why push it on him? The whole living room, from ceiling to floor and everything in between, looked like a floral shop had thrown up.
The ceiling boasted badly stenciled roses. Daisies exploded on the carpet, and a different flower print covered each of the couches. Even his client, who looked to be around fifty years of age with graying brown hair and unremarkably dull grey eyes, wore lilacs on her housedress. If he spent too much time in this room, he was going to get hay fever.
Forcing himself to pay attention, he listened to the smooth rhythm of Wendy's voice as she asked the requisite questions of the woman who wanted to hire him. He knew, having worked with and counted on Wendy for years, she had done some version of this questioning over the phone when the case was first sent upstairs after the online request for services had been filtered and approved. It was unusual to have Wendy so thoroughly ask the questions again.
She'd expressed her concern that something felt askew with this woman's story, so he was inclined to let his little Handler have at the flower-wearing lady until Wendy was satisfied with the answers.
Little Handler? Where had his thought come from?
"Tell me again why you aren't using the police to investigate this issue, Mrs. Marckham?"
"I tried the police. For the first six months after Lael was taken, I waited and waited for the police to recover my son. Now, I'm pursuing other means."
Clearly, or they wouldn't be there. Draco looked at his watch. They'd shown up half-an-hour early so Wendy could do this, and then, assuming she let him take the job, he could find the child and still get home on time to go on his date.
"I guess I'm confused, Mrs. Marckham. Why do you think the Superhero route is your only option?"
Color rose in the woman's cheeks. Draco wanted to sink into the chair as her gaze met his and he realized what was bothering Wendy. Their potential client fancied herself in love with him. It wasn't the first time he'd run into this problem. All Superheroes did on a regular basis. But when this woman met his gaze, and her dull eyes lit up like stars, she made the 'crazy alarm' go off in his head.
Especially when she said, "The Superheroes can do anything."
Something about this woman was off . . . .
He would still find her son. Not the teenager's fault his mama was a whack job.
Wendy started to speak and he interrupted. "That's unfortunately not true, ma'am. If we could do anything then I wouldn't have a career. We would have long ago eliminated poverty, destruction, illness, and violence from the world." Making eye contact with Wendy, he nodded to let her know that while he was fully aware of what she sensed from their client, he intended to take the job anyway. The great thing about Wendy Warner was she understood unspoken signals. She nodded back.
He might even be able to use Mrs. Markham's Superhero infatuation to his advantage. "Why don't you tell me who you think has your son?"
"Not to me, I'm afraid."
He gritted his teeth. Years ago, when he and Ace had opened Powers, Inc., he'd been naïve in thinking he should feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction helping people. Now, all they did was annoy him. If the identity of her son's kidnapper had been obvious, would he have asked her the damned question?
"Aliens took him, of course." The older woman took a sip of her tea.
He closed his mouth, opting not to speak. This turn of events was almost too delicious to be real. He sat back in the chair and crossed his arms over his chest. This was why he had a Handler. So Wendy could speak at this moment and he could pretend he was a statue and stop communicating all together.
Wendy straightened in her chair. He could see she'd bit down for a second on her bottom lip. His super sight revealed two minute teeth marks left on the lower part of her lip. His cock stirred to attention, as it always did when Wendy was concerned. He wouldn't act on it. No, he'd resisted her appeal for years. Nothing had to change now.
"Why do you think aliens took your son, ma'am?" Wendy's Upstate New York accent slipped out. She was usually so careful not to show it but when she got really bothered, it flew out of her like they were sitting in Buffalo or Rochester instead of Allentown, Pennsylvania. At least he thought they were in Allentown. He flew all day, every day. Sometimes, he had a hard time remembering where he was . . . .
"Who else would take him?"
Wendy sighed. "Any number of people, I would imagine. Did your son have any enemies?"
"Enemies?" Sylvia Markham laughed. "No, of course not. Everyone loves Lael. Except for the Aliens, of course."
Wendy shot him a pleading look. He wanted to smile at her exasperation. She didn't really expect him to speak, did she? He paid her to handle types of situations.
She turned back to their Alien-obsessed client. "Let's all pretend it was not aliens who took Lael. Let's come up with some other ideas."
Maybe he should let Wendy off the hook and just drop Sylvia Markham. If she really thought aliens had Lael then she needed to find herself some alien hunters, if such people existed. And they might. Superheroes existed. Maybe alien hunters did too.
"I would think, Ms. Warner, considering your attire, you, of all people wouldn't object to the well documented facts stating aliens walk among us."
Wendy went very still. He had to give her credit; she could get control of her emotions faster than anyone he'd ever known.
"While I am obviously a staunch fan of Space Adventures, ma'am, with a great love for the ideals expressed on the show and the culture of charity and responsibility, I do not, as a rule, feel there are aliens walking around on our planet right now as we speak." She set down her cup.
"Then why are you wearing that ridiculous costume?"
Wendy clenched her hands at her side. "When I leave work today, I am doing work with my fan group at the local soup kitchen near my home. As a rule, we wear uniforms so people recognize us. A lot of locals in my area are not comfortable with strangers they don't know and will refuse help out of speculation of their motives. But, if they see us coming in our regalia, then they know we're safe. Since we had your appointment today, so late in the day, I will have to ask Mr. Powers to drop me directly at the soup kitchen, as he has done before, and I won't have any time to change."
She'd never explained her reasons for wearing the uniform before. Of course, most people just stared and whispered. She might never have had the chance to come right out and explain it. Something odd panged in his chest and he rubbed over the uncomfortable feeling, wondering what it could be. He'd never cared why she wore it. Wendy was everything he could have asked for in a Handler and then some.
Not to mention she looked hot in the outfit, and anyone who couldn't see that was blind.
Her brown hair fell just past her chin, and displayed next to the red of theSpace Adventures' uniform, it looked almost golden. The high collar of the costume accentuated her long, pale neck and slightly pointed features. Her stubborn chin matched the nature of its owner. It said to the world, I'm not a push over and I don't care what you think. Her nose was small and turned up a little at the end, in a way his mother would have referred to as 'pixie-like', and spoke of a Nordic heritage in her background. It wasn't hard to picture her ancestors as Vikings. Wendy would have stood on the mast of the ship, giving orders and being revered as a goddess.
The rest of her face was heart shaped, but her brilliant brown eyes held his attention. With them, she'd held his gaze when he'd interviewed her for the position four years earlier. Only twenty-two years old then, she'd been working for one of the Associates for three months. It had been gutsy for her to think she could get a job with him so soon after signing on with the company. Yet, here she was, his most valued asset.
He'd do anything to keep her.
Dressed in the uniform, the shirt pulled at her thin waist, showing her lush curves. Her breasts were more than a handful. They were maybe two or three handfuls, and he had big hands. Tailored to fit snugly, the pants showed off a rear end made for grabbing. More than once, he'd been tempted to reach out and squeeze.
Of course, he hadn't. He didn't date—or screw around with—Handlers. That was how you got into trouble. That's why Ace no longer showed his face in the office. He'd broken his Handler's heart. Of course, the woman should have known better. His brother had a reputation for using them and then losing them. Now, however, Ace's Handler was distraught and the man couldn't come near the office without her screaming and crying. The situation was incredibly awkward.
Relegated to working from home, Ace received no help from his Handler. You couldn't fire a woman you'd just dumped. Doing so meant a lawsuit, or a payoff, and horrible publicity. His brother wanted him to switch Handlers with him. Draco rubbed his chin as he thought about the suggestion for a second. His answer wasn't going to change. No way, no how was Ace taking Wendy from him.
"Well." Sylvia Markham was still discussing Wendy's attire. "It seems ridiculous to me."
He stood and the room fell silent. Even Wendy, who could usually read him well, looked at him questioningly.
"What Ms. Warner wears to work is nobody's business except hers and mine. I'll ask you to comment on it no further." He stretched his arms over his head and felt the fabric on his black Egyptian cotton turtleneck tear. Wearing clothes was an occupational hazard for him. At least once a week, he had to replace what he wore in the middle of the day after he'd made some simple movement and ripped another seam.
"Now, let's go and see the young man's room. I think it's best if you stay here, ma'am, while Ms. Warner and I check it out. Think about the aliens. Specifically, we're going to need a description of the creatures. How many heads, limbs, etcetera."
Without another word, he walked to the back of the house. They could both follow him—or not—but it was time to get this show on the road. He was bored. They'd been here too long, and he hadn't had enough action for the day to warrant sitting still.
The morning's job had resolved nicely without him having to exert himself. As soon as he'd walked into the room, the husband had decided to stop hiding the wife's inheritance and give over the bank information she needed.
The troublesome man had restrained himself but Draco still wanted to kick his ass. What kind of man abandoned his family and ran away with their money?
Draco could have laughed at the thought if it wasn't so familiar. He didn't have to look far for an answer; his father had been the kind of man to take off. In fact, if Draco went back through all his traceable relatives, men abandoning their families formed a long history. Maybe it was in the genes. The same biological, evolutionary circumstances making them Superheroes made them bad parents.
This was exactly why he would never have children.
Opening the door to Lael's room only added to his thoughts. If his mother's living room was a bad tribute to all things floral, then Lael's room was a shrine to fake Superheroes. Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern . . . .
He knew their fictitious stories, had read the comic books as a boy. They'd represented everything he'd hoped to be as a small child, and everything he'd resented as a teenager.
Life didn't work like fiction. No one was going to let him spend days working as a mild-mannered reporter, as he rushed around occasionally saving the world from mad men. It was an all or nothing deal, and, whether his critics liked it or not, Superheroes had to live under the same constraints as everyone else. The only way to do anything worthwhile with his so-called gifts was to charge money for them.
And fuck anyone who didn't like it.
Thanks for stopping by Paranormal Romantics today and best to all of you!