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Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Harri knocked on the door of Aisha’s loft. When no one answered, she punched in the keycode. The pad flashed green, and she rolled back the door. To her left, Aisha’s dining table had been commandeered by a sewing machine and loads of fabric. A dressmaker’s dummy stood guard over the organized chaos. To her right came Molly and Monica Reinhold’s voices. It sounded like another mother/daughter squabble. Harri locked the door and headed down the hall.
“Mom, you’ve got to eat something.” Molly wasn’t whining, but there was a subsonic burr in her voice that grated on Harri’s nerves. It also meant the superhero known as Nix was about to lose her temper.
“I didn’t ask for you to babysit me,” Monica snarled.
“Would you like to stay at Grandma’s?” Molly shot back.
Whatever Monica was about to say to her daughter was silenced with the snap of her teeth at Harri’s appearance in the doorway to Aisha’s spare bedroom. The normally immaculate supervillain Miss Purrception lay limply in the twin bed like a rag doll that had been run over a few times by Julio and his garbage truck.
“How are you feeling today?” Harri asked.
“I’m just peachy, counselor,” Monica sneered.
“That’s good because I have a headache.” Molly stormed past Harri and out of the bedroom.
“What do you want?” Monica pushed her dark, dirty locks out of her face. Flecks of silver and white shone along her scalp. The vain supervillian had been on the run at least a month if she hadn’t bothered touching up her roots. She hadn’t given anyone much more information other than her own mother Margaret Reinhold, AKA Rue Liberty, had shot Monica after Rue had killed Byron Trubble, the former head of the black ops organization known as Corvus.
Harri leaned against the doorjamb, crossed her arms, and watched her former client. Her own emerging gray hadn’t bothered her. She let Jeremy or Leo color her damn hair every six weeks just to get them to shut up about it.
“Molly’s right,” she said. “You need to eat.”
“So you can send me back to Mauvaises?” Monica mocked.
“We both know you’ll be dead within a week if I do that.” Harri sighed. “But if you don’t eat and do your physical therapy, you’ll never be able to escape the Lechuza Building and rub it in Tim’s face.”
“Sometimes, I don’t know whose side you’re on,” Monica spat.
“That makes us even since I’m never sure which way you’ll jump in a given situation,” Harri responded.
“Then what do you want?” Monica leaned back wearily on her pillows.
“Would you happen to have any more bullets like the ones you were shot with?”
“Just the ones Serena pulled out of my chest and gut.” Monica’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”
“They were designed to fragment upon impact—”
“And tear up the target.” Monica sighed. “Those things are available at any ammo store in the U.S.”
“Tim thinks there was something inside the ones you were shot with,” Harri said. “Something that’s impeding your super healing ability. You should have been up and around—”
“And escaping?” The smile on Monica’s face was only a whisper of her usual sly smirk.
“At least five days ago,” Harri finished. “That’s accounting for both the damage and Serena’s initial attempt to heal you.”
The physician’s assistant at the end of the block had nearly burned out her superpower in trying to help Monica. Harri wondered if the supervillain even appreciated what Serena had done for her.
“All I wanted from the kid was a patch job and enough painkillers to get me down to Mexico.” Monica wouldn’t look at Harri anymore. Instead, she stared at the steel rafters overhead. “I didn’t ask her to heal me. Or to call O’Brien.”
Doctor Hannah O’Brien ran the neighborhood clinic where Serena worked. Both Harri and Rey made regular donations to keep the clinic open since most of the folks in the Canyon Block didn’t have health insurance. If they could only get a dentist on this side of town…
“I’m the one who called O’Brien if you want to get pissy,” Harri said dryly. “And if Rue wanted you dead, she would’ve shot you in the head, then decapitated you.”
“She tried the head shot.” Monica lifted a section of lank hair by her left temple. What looked like a fresh burn scarred her scalp. “I got lucky, or she’s getting old. Either way, she missed.”
Barely, but Harri kept that opinion to herself. “If Rue has developed bullets that can hurt supers like you—”
“Of course, she has.” Monica squeezed her eyes shut. “It’s always been about power for her. She’s got to be top dog.”
Her act almost made Harri feel sorry for the woman. Unfortunately, Monica had lied too many times for Harri to ever trust her again.
“I’ll say it again,” Harri said. “Cut a deal with the FBI. Consuelo has cleaned up her office—”
A sharp bark of laughter erupted from Monica that led to a coughing fit. Harri didn’t try to assist the supervillain. Not that she didn’t have any compassion for the injured woman, but she knew Monica would respect her attempt if she did.
When Monica’s fit died and she collapsed back on her pillows, Harri said, “So you’d rather cough out a lung, then to help us stop your mother?”
“Tell Tim, there’s modified bullets in one of my old safe houses.” Monica smirked. “The first one I let him see.”
Harri wanted to beat the smirk of the supervillain’s mug. She didn’t have to ask why Monica left the bullets in that particular place. It was her little dig that she had her claws in Harri’s husband long before they got married.
“Thank you for your assistance,” Harri said. “Are there any new booby-traps he doesn’t know about?”
“No,” Monica said. “But he might want to take Steve with him. Tim’s getting a little slow in his old age.”
“So are you if a senior citizen got the drop on you, Miss Purrception.” Harri pivoted and strode out of Aisha’s spare bedroom before she said or did something she’d regret.
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Jeremy Harkness examined the business plan his husband Leonardo had set on the counter while he chopped mushrooms for their breakfast omelets. The idea was sound, but… He set aside the knife and looked up at Leo who perched on a stool on the opposite side of their kitchen island. “But why, darling?”
“Why, what?” Leonardo frowned.
“I don’t understand why you’d want to design for the hoi polloi, baby doll,” Jeremy answered.
“The general public is not the hoi polloi, and no offense—” Leonardo hesitated a moment before he blurted, “I want a little something to call my own. I hate feeling like I’m riding on your dress train.”
“You’re not—” Jeremy started to protest.
“If we don’t promote Elaine, she’s going to leave to start her own salon.” Leonardo pantomimed trading one thing for another. “Besides Rey already set aside space for us in the new Canyon Block shopping complex.”
Rey Garcia, aka the superhero Black Falcon, was generous to a fault. He, or rather his attorneys, finally managed to close on the city block that had housed Canyon Industries, Canyon Pointe’s largest employer until the company collapsed nearly three decades ago. Rey was making sure the homeless folks he knew had jobs and places to live since he had been one of them not so long ago.
Not to mention Rey made Jeremy’s foster sister Aisha so damn happy. It was hard to hate the man for being good-looking and a total sweetheart, too.
Jeremy nodded. “All right. We can withdraw the money from one of our money market funds—”
“No.” Leonardo held up his right palm. “I’ve already set aside the capital I will need.”
“Leonardo Chen Harkness!” Jeremy laid his palm on his chest. “You have secret money I don’t know about?”
“Quit being a drama queen.” Leonardo scowled. “I’ve been squirreling away money in my fun account for years.”
Jeremy sighed and bit his lower lip. He’d been the one to insist they have separate accounts for their own personal use so neither of them had to justify such spending to the other spouse. His bio parents had some rather nasty fights over Dad’s race track betting and Mom’s shoe shopping before they tossed Jeremy out of the house. He sighed. The ’rents probably still had those same fights.
Assuming they were still together. Jeremy hadn’t bothered checking up on them.
“Don’t give me the sigh of disbelief,” Leonardo said crossly.
Jeremy leaned his elbows on the counter and took Leonardo’s hands in his. “It was the sigh of self-disgust that I was on the verge of acting like my bio ’rents. And for that, I sincerely apologize, my love.”
Leonardo flashed a sweet smile. “All’s forgiven.” He leaned closer and pecked Jeremy on the lips.
“Can I see some of your designs?” Jeremy asked when they parted.
“Not yet,” Leonardo said.
A little twinge of anxiety raced along Jeremy’s nerves. He knew it was a stupid reaction to what Ryan had done to him fifteen years ago. And it definitely wasn’t fair to compare that asshole to Leonardo.
“I’m actually working with Susan Kennedy,” Leonardo continued. “She’s been designing jewelry on the side.”
“She is?” Jeremy blinked, but he didn’t know why he was surprised. His foster sisters’ law partner was a fountain of odd talents. “Wait a minute! Was she where you came up with the idea for the earring comms for the supers who wear jewelry?”
Leonardo nodded. “I said one set she showed me was big enough to hide Timmy’s equipment, and we got to talking.”
Jeremy was a big enough queen to admit his feelings were hurt, but he also wanted his husband to be happy. “Just make sure you have someone look over any partnership papers before you sign anything.”
Leonardo’s eyes widened. “Do you really think Susan would screw me over?”
Jeremy chuckled. “Only if she really wants Harri and Aisha to pound the crap out of her. But this is your baby, and I’ll stay out of your way, muffin.”
His phone chose that moment to dance along the surface of the island’s granite countertop to the tune of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” Even odder was the caller ID showed Melanie’s personal number, not their alter ego, Ultramegaperson.
He tapped the answer icon. “What’s up, doll?”
“I have a personal question for you and a request,” the throaty voice of the world’s most powerful super said. “Remember that producer Dale I’ve been dating?”
“You’ve mentioned him.” Jeremy grabbed his phone and stepped back to lean against the sink counter. Leonardo pulled the cutting board towards himself and started mincing the garlic.
“He wants to know if my designer would like to be involved in a nationally televised reality show where eight designers for superheroes would compete to dress twelve brand-new supers.”
“Mel, you know I like my privacy when it comes to designing supersuits,” Jeremy said.
“Which is the reason I’m calling you instead of my boyfriend Dale calling you.” Mel gave an exaggerated sigh. “You know I’d be the last person on the planet to out your secret designing skills, but since you design for a large number of other heroes, he really wants you to participate in his show.”
“What’s the catch?” Jeremy said.
“One of the twelve people the contestants will be designing for is a supervillain.”
Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Also, I hate to say this, but I'm glad Invasion! didn't go live when it was supposed to. I finished it shortly after my mom's funeral, and...
Let's just the last four chapters made no flipping sense. There were sentences where I didn't have a clue of what I was trying to say. So I've been fixing the ending of the damn book, and hopefully, I'll finish before the Super Bowl on Sunday. That's assuming I get taxes done by Saturday night.
I'm still plugging away on Death in Double Mocha, but that had to get kicked to the side when I realized my Amazon links were no longer working last Thursday. The third party I used to connect to ALL the Amazon stores shut down without warning on either January 31st or February 1st. So I need to go through all my books and websites to fix links. It's not hard, just time-consuming.
Also, I need to get my ass moving on Queer Eye for the Super Guy. So much for taking March slow.
Next week, I'll start posting chapters for Queer Eye, so y'all have something to look forward to. Until then, stay warm, hug your family, kiss you pets, and dream of an early spring!