Val met Blueblood for ice cream. The parlor was small, shabby, and deserted except for the nervous employee behind the counter. Part of the vacancy could be blamed on the end of summer and onset of cold weather, but not all of it. Val wondered what Blueblood had done to get the place to themselves. It really was just the two of them, as Blueblood had requested they both come alone. Val had brought some men anyway, hiding them in the coin laundry next door nearly eight hours earlier, in range for her to telepathically signal if something went wrong. She hadn’t sensed anyone of Blueblood’s, which probably meant he’d hidden them out of her range with a sniper rifle.
She wished Blueblood had dropped the charade and let them both bring minions openly, mainly because she wanted the chance to see JB again. Without Distortion blocking her powers, Val could get inside the head of his giant keeper and take care of things. She could also buy the kid some ice cream, which was the least she owed him.
Val selected a cup of something chocolate with cherries in it, while Blueblood showed an unshakable dedication to his theme and ordered two scoops of blue moon. At least, Val assumed the color was the reason he ordered it. That flavor tasted like corn syrup and fake fruit flavoring, and most people who enjoyed it were under twelve. They sat across from each other at one of the bright purple, plastic tables and started with small talk. You couldn’t jump right into plotting crimes and betrayals, of course. You had to ease into it.
“But the cameras love you,” he said as they talked about the fickleness of media attention. “You have a style that makes headlines, and you make it look so effortless.”
“Stop it. I’m blushing,” Val deadpanned.
“I mean it. It’s impressive. Shame your father doesn’t think so.” Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 5
Drum roll, please.
The Best Man, a short story prequel to Hero Status, will be released on March 31st. If you’ve ever been curious about Dave and Val’s wedding and whether they made it through the day without a supervillain attack (Hint: they did not.), then this is the book for you. Plus, Lady Nightmare has a big role, so if you read How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend and want more of her, this is a good place to start.
Check out the cover and blurb below.
Harris Holt has one job: to make sure his best friend’s wedding goes smoothly. But when his friend is a retired superhero marrying a former villainess, that involves more than just remembering the rings and making a good speech at the reception. Especially when a guy with a gun turns up at the wedding venue.
Now Harris has to keep a supervillain with a grudge from offing the bride and groom—and keep it quiet, or else the cops will crash the ceremony. With his own rusty superpowers and a murderous maid of honor for help, Harris needs to stop the bad guy before the happy couple gets cold feet…on their corpses.
The Best Man will be available on Amazon Kindle March 31st. Follow my blog by email for a reminder on release day!
Day two, and Dave was already going stir-crazy. He’d thought he’d at least make it to the end of the week.
He, Moreen, Puebla, and Agent Attwater sat around the coffee table playing cards, while Agent Chung took his shift to sleep. They were playing Canasta, which needed two decks, and while the first was a regular set of cards, the second was superhero-themed. Each number showcased a different hero. The kings all showed the Crimson Phoenix, his photographs touched up from when they’d been taken back in the fifties. Victory’s image graced the queens, and White Knight was stuck on all four jacks. He was in different poses on each card: mid-run on one, and standing triumphantly with his hands on his hips in another, but he looked like a dope on all four. Nobody had confessed to owning the deck, and they were all acting like it had spontaneously appeared in the hotel room.
“So, how exactly do you get your image on a deck of cards?” Puebla asked as he set down the jack of diamonds. It showed Dave with his arms crossed, unsmiling. The photographer must have told him to look intimating.
“Bachelor’s degree in criminology, two years training at the Academy, and a lot of luck,” Dave answered.
“You’ll note he didn’t specify good luck,” Moreen added with a smirk. Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 4
The most important decision was what to wear.
Okay, that was an exaggeration. Val had other important decisions to make: how much to threaten versus when to play nice, whether to demonstrate her strengths or trick them into underestimating her. But her wardrobe would make or break everything. No, really. It was true. There were few greater opportunities for a fashion faux pas than when meeting other supervillains. Show up in regular clothes when everyone else is wearing their costumes, and it’s like coming to a job interview in a torn T-shirt and ratty jeans. But arrive in costume when everyone else is in their civies, and you look like an idiot. You had to gauge your associates and the situation beforehand.
Fortunately, Val knew a little about Blueblood and the Fox Woman. The Fox Woman hadn’t worn a costume since her fortieth birthday, and Blueblood’s version of a uniform was a suit and tie. There was no need to don her mask and all the leather, especially not for a private dinner. Val wore a black dress, long-sleeved and knee-length. It would be perfectly acceptable for a business setting if not for the plunging v-shaped neckline that showed off her formidable cleavage. She completed the look with a necklace of black pearls and the most kick-ass heels she could find. They were mostly black except for the heels themselves, which were shiny metal spikes that ended in points sharp enough to pierce flesh. She wouldn’t be able to run in them, but she’d risk it to make a fierce first impression.
She rode in an elevator with Joey and two other of her father’s men, all of them in expensive business suits and smelling of aftershave. When the doors opened with a ding, Val stepped out into a restaurant. Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 3
I’m very happy to announce that my short story, “How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend” is the featured story in Issue 29 of Luna Station Quarterly. It was just released today, and you can read the full thing right here.
Lady Nightmare made a short cameo in Villainous, so if you’ve ever been curious about her, check this story out. It’s a fun little tale of action and romance, and I might have snuck in a deeper theme or two. The basic premise is a damsel-in-distress falling for the villainess who kidnapped her, and complications when a superhero comes to the “rescue.”
If you’re even remotely interested in science fiction and fantasy, I’d highly recommend you take a look at the other stories in the issue here. “How Lady Nightmare Stole Captain Alpha’s Girlfriend” is in very good company, and you’re looking at hours of free entertainment (or days if you go through all of Luna Station Quarterly’s back issues). Also, check out that cover. Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
So go. Read. Enjoy. You won’t regret it. 🙂
Dave and Moreen checked in at the long-term hotel using fake identities. When they finished, Dave asked the front desk to call room 231 and tell them Mr. and Mrs. Martinez had arrived, so they wouldn’t spook anybody when they unlocked the door. Agent Chung, Agent Attwater, and the witness had been holed up here for three weeks since the last attempt on the witness’s life. They’d be a little jumpy, to say the least.
After getting their keycards, Dave and Moreen went back outside to grab their suitcases and bags of groceries. The hotel was made up of two long buildings three stories high, and Dave had memorized the floor plan before coming. The gated pool by the parking lot hadn’t been covered yet, despite that autumn in Illinois wasn’t exactly outdoor swimming weather. Red, orange, and brown leaves floated across the water’s surface, fallen from the row of trees planted along the sidewalk. The parking lot was maybe half full, and a man dragged his suitcase towards the lobby, the sound of its wheels bumping across the asphalt echoing off the buildings. Dave kept one eye on him. Pudgy and balding, he didn’t look like the stereotypical image of a hitman, but real hitmen rarely did.
Moreen knocked loudly on the door of room 230 before swiping the keycard and pushing open the door. Dave edged past her to go in first, standard procedure since he was the bulletproof one. But it was an unnecessary precaution, because the only person inside was Agent Chung.
“Glad you guys could make it,” he greeted. Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 2
Val walked up to the old Victorian house, and the gun-carrying man by the door nodded at her as she went inside.
The interior looked the same as always: old-fashioned patterned wallpaper, decorative molding on the ceiling, and useless stuff everywhere. Fancy chairs that no one sat on were placed next to side tables holding vases of flowers. An antique cabinet of polished wood displayed knick-knacks of porcelain, stone, and glass. Oil paintings of scenes from the Civil War hung beside antique photographs and mirrors in gilded frames. You’d think the place looked exactly the same as it had a hundred years ago, and in fact, Val only remembered one thing in it ever changing. The old burgundy carpet had been replaced with hardwood floors. Probably because it was easier to clean up bloodstains that way.
Val found a maid engaged in dusting, which was probably a full-time job. “Where’s he at?”
“Out back, ma’am.”
Val went out the back door to the patio and pool. The landscaping made it look like a tropical rainforest was encroaching, and the pool itself was an enormous affair complete with a fake stone waterfall and a little bridge that led to a small island. Val had no idea why her father had it. He never went swimming. Maybe he liked the smell of chlorine.
His wheelchair was parked next to a table under a large umbrella, situating him in his own private shadow. He was dressed in the most casual, summery outfit he ever wore: a button-up white shirt, crisp khaki pants, and a vintage hat. A glass of iced tea sat on a coaster on the table, and his right-hand man, Joey Giordano, lurked only a few yards away.
He glanced up from the book he’d been reading when Val approached. “Val. Have a seat. It’s a lovely day outside.” Continue reading “Don’t Let David Puebla Die” – Part 1