Oops! I forgot to post the new chapter on Wednesday. Why? In a moment of fortuitousness and/or insanity (the jury's still out), we decided to buy a house.
DH and I had given up on looking. In our area of the country, reasonably priced housing goes in a flash. Plus, we have some specific requirements because we both work from home, and we have long before the COVID pandemic. We need separate offices, preferably on opposite sides of the house. As I've explained to several people, DH's customers don't need to hear me dictate a sex scene anymore than I want my recorder picking his voice explaining how to do a journal entry in the general ledger for the umpteenth time.
Well, we practically had a nearly perfect house fall in our laps, So, it's been fun trying to finish Hero In Camera
while filling out all the paperwork and arrange things. I told the bank if they insist on taking the first-born, they needed to go to Texas themselves to retrieve him.
Anyway, enjoy this snippet! Hero In Camera will be out on October 15th!
Aisha’s declaration worried Harri more than a little bit. Even Miguel and Arthur glanced at her partner with concern on their faces.
Harri cleared her throat. “Why don’t the rest of you get back to work? Aisha, Susan, and I need to discuss some partnership issues anyway.”
Susan groaned. “Can I please get another cup of tea before discuss your client intake meeting?”
“I need a mocha, too,” Aisha added.
“Well, if you’re all leaving Aisha’s office to get drinks, we will have this meeting in my office,” Harri said. “Where my coffee is still sitting on my handy-dandy coffee warmer.”
They had a decent amount of revenue coming in on Tim’s little device. The pre-orders for Christmas were already good when they’d advertised the coffee warmer in several business magazines as the latest must-have for busy executives. After a top-rated women’s talk show claimed it was great for busy moms, too, the pre-orders shot through the roof.
Everyone walked out of Aisha’s office. Tim glanced at Harri, but she ignored him, charged back to her own work space, and plopped in her chair. She took a sip of her own, still warm, coffee. She simply couldn’t deal with him and his former fuck buddy.
So many emotions mingled in Harri she couldn’t decide which one to focus on. Yeah, she was jealous of the supervillian because Miss Purrception was older than her and hot as fuck. On the other hand, Miss Purrception had been screwed over by her baby daddy Captain Mojave and her daughters had been taken by Trubble, which was the reason she turned to villainy to begin with. But the thing that pissed Harri off most was all the work she put in negotiating Miss Purrception’s reduced sentence and fighting the extradition attempts by other nations.
The cinnamon taste of her drink helped sooth her scattered feelings. Patty was right. A spoonful of syrup in black coffee made the morning a little brighter.
Susan strolled in with her steaming giant mug of tea. “Should we separate the Owls? They’re in the break room discussing plans on how to capture Miss Purrception.”
Harri rolled her eyes. “Trubble’s the one that concerns me. What the hell was Miss Purrception thinking? He won’t hesitate to kill her now that she’s got him and Black Death out of Mauvaises.”
“But why?” A crease appeared between Susan’s eyebrows as she sat on one of the visitor chairs.
“Why what?” Harri asked.
“Why escape now?” Susan set her mug on Harri’s desk. “Trubble and Black Death have been in prison for nearly a year. Trubble and Miss Purrception hate each other. What would make the two of them join forces? And why do escape now?”
Harri leaned back in her chair. Those were very good questions. Why the hell would Monica Reinhold even consider working with Trubble after he did everything to her? Harri met Susan’s gaze. Time for a confession.
“One of my worries when Miss Purrception surrendered was she planned to kill Trubble in prison.”
“And if she killed him inside the prison, she’d be lucky to get a life sentence with her extensive record,” Aisha growled while she closed the office door and stalked across Harri’s office with her cup of pixie barf. Even worse, Aisha was back to wearing her designer stilettos.
“Therefore, get Trubble out of the prison,” Susan continued. “Kill him somewhere else and dispose of the body.”
“And how’s she going to do that?” Harri asked. “Black Death is tagging along as Trubble’s bodyguard.”
“That’s what Hard Knock is for.” Aisha sat down in the other visitor chair. “He distracts Black Death. Miss Purrception takes care of Trubble.”
“That’s…” Harri stared out her window. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic had picked up along 6th Street over the past year. Rey had become a community leader in the Canyon Block neighborhood in ways Tim couldn’t in his grief.
Maybe she’d bought into the kid’s natural optimism. Part of her wanted to believe Miss Purrception was trying to change. Without her, Aisha wouldn’t have been able to save Rey last year. Professor Paranoia would have used Rey to kill Aisha and her unborn child.
Most of all, Harri wanted to believe for Rue Liberty’s sake. The retired superhero deserved to se her daughter become something other than a notorious supervillain. And Sourpuss and Nix needed their mother.
Harri turned back to her partners. “That’s a possibility. But what if something else is going on? Something bad enough Trubble and Monica would consider joining forces?”
“It’s a possibility—” Susan started to admit.
“Who cares!” Aisha’s voice rose, which wasn’t like her. “We should be thinking about the firm. We represented a supervillain who has escaped. Do you have a clue of what kind of PR nightmare it’s going to cause?”
“If we don’t figure out what’s going on and why, the lives of everyone in this building are danger,” Susan spat back.
“Do you want to quit?” Aisha’s eyes narrowed. “You knew what you were getting yourself into when we offered you a partnership.”
“Technically, you are my client, too,” Susan snapped. “I don’t want you going off half-cocked on a crusade to capture Miss Purrception when the real dangers are Trubble and Black Death. Or have you forgotten what happened at your wedding reception?”
Harri jumped to her feet and banged her fist on her desk. “Stop it! Both of you! It scares me when I’m the one being sane and reasonable and both of you are losing it.” She took a deep breath and released it while her parents were looking at her with their mouths hanging open.
“I’m sorry,” Susan said quietly. “You’re right.”
Aisha didn’t look half as embarrassed as Susan. Instead, she quietly said, “Fine. What do you suggest? We’ll be getting calls from reporters once this gets out.”
Harri relaxed and sat back down. “Tell Nella and whoever else calls we are cooperating fully with authorities, and how disappointed we are Miss Purrception choose this course of action. Susan, can you start making discreet calls to our other clients? See if they can shake any info from their street sources.”
“In the meantime, I’ll call Carol Inunza and see if she caught any hint of what Miss Purrception planned,” Harri said.
Susan cleared her throat. “Before we start dealing with the Miss Purrception mess, what did you say to Mother Defiant?”
“Only that I had to discuss taking her own with the entire partnership.” Harri made a face. “She was rather adamant about talking to you directly. She claimed she wanted to apologize.”
Susan folded her arms and looked at the floor for a moment before she raised her head with an evil grin. “Thanks for making the bitch sweat.”
“It was my pleasure.” Harri grinned back before she turned to Aisha. “If we take her on, she’s going to be a handful. Susan vastly undersold her bitchiness. And she’s currently dating Blue Racer.”
“Ouch.” Aisha winced. “If they break up, or worse, get hitched, that’s going to cause some major ethical issues. We already have enough of those on our collective plates.”
“No shit,” Susan muttered. “And I have no doubt she will use them against us.”
“What did she say about a change in branding?” Aisha asked.
“She was a little resistant to it,” Harri admitted. “She wanted to know if the suggestion was due to her faith.”
“I tried to talk her into rebranding two years ago,” Susan murmured. “I agree with Aisha though. Mother Defiant doesn’t get that people view her the same as pop singers who cavort nearly naked with religious imagery in their performances.”
“So, she really is that tone-deaf and not deliberately courting controversy?” Aisha asked.
“Yes,” Harri and Susan said at the same time.
Aisha looked over at Susan. “What if we give her that chance to apologize to you, but at the same time, we’re honest with her?”
“You mean get her to change her mind about us so it seems like she’s rejecting us?” Susan asked.
“If we coddle her now, she’s just going to keep pushing us,” Aisha said. “Tell up front, brutally if we have to, we’re not going to put up with any of her shit.”
“Are you suggesting a trial period?” Harri said.
“I wasn’t, but that’s not a bad idea.” Aisha looked at her thoughtfully.
“So a full partnership meeting with her?” Susan asked.
“It’s an excuse to write off a dinner at Nolan’s.” Harri grinned.
“All right,” Susan said. “But not until Wednesday. Make her sweat a couple of days.”
“I was actually thinking of calling her on Thursday,” Harri confessed.
The intercom buzzed and Harri pressed the appropriate button. “Yes?”
Patty sighed. “Nella Lopez is on line one.”
“And that’s my cue.” Aisha stood. “I’ll call Blue Racer, too. See if I can’t get more of a feel for what we need to do to make any relationship with Mother Defiant work.”
“Aisha?” Harri called.
She turned around to face Harri. “Yeah?”
“Don’t take off without letting me know.”
“If I get a lead, no promises.” Aisha whirled and stomped out of Harri’s office, which meant she was concentrating to keep from floating through the reception area. Flying had become her default setting since she got her superpowers.
Susan waited a few seconds before she said softly, “That’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
“If we end the day with only one actual disaster and one potential disaster, we’re batting better than usual,” Harri answered.
Susan stood and pointed at her fancy computer watch. “Girl, it’s not even ten a.m. yet. Given this firm’s past performance, we’ll be hitting a thousand for disasters by happy hour.”