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
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
It had rained here earlier, wherever “here” was. JB could smell it in the air when the car door opened. He unfolded his cane and stepped out, and sure enough, he stepped in a puddle. Water splashed onto the bottom of his expensive new pants and dampened his socks. He was probably going to make squelching sounds when he walked now.
“Here,” Eddy grunted, taking his arm. Others were getting out of the car, too, their splashing footsteps all around. Eddy guided him up a step onto a sidewalk, and they started walking.
“Do you, uh, know who we’re taking you to?” Eddy asked in a low voice.
“Blueblood,” JB answered. He’d known for days.
“And you know about him?”
JB shrugged. “He’s a supervillain. Can kill people by touching them. And he’s actually blue or something.”
“I’m talking about the important stuff.”
“The fact that he can kill me just by touching me isn’t important?” Continue reading