- A Serialized Novel -

This isn't a superpower. It's a curse.

Doubts in the Quiet

Brady got what was coming to him. He deserved all that he got—the costumes, the kick in the balls, the smack to the face, and more—and we made sure he got it before letting him go. He was fine, and I doubt that any of it really got through to him. Larabee put a tracking device on Brady in case the people using him contracted him again or he contacted them.

So we were set there. Brady had finally been handled.

It was what came after that, though, that was harder to deal with…

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“Do you feel like you were… coerced?”

April looked up from the sink, reaching for a towel from the rack next to it. She wiped off her hands, watching him in the mirror. “What are you talking about, Clayton? And what’s with the hovering in the doorway thing? You know I hate when you do that.”

“I just… Do you feel like you didn’t have a choice? Like you… had to be with me? Like it was… arranged? Orchestrated? You were going to meet me and date me and even marry me, and you never really had a choice in the matter. Do you think that it was all fixed? Everything? I mean, if that guy did create me to use me in his experiments—maybe this is still an experiment. They’ve arranged and manipulated my childhood in foster care, in college, in the job, and now you—”

“Don’t,” April said, moving to his side, touching his face. “Even if they pushed us towards each other, even if they did orchestrate so many other things in your life, one thing they cannot do is say how we feel. Even shoving Brady at me over and over again didn’t make me love him—don’t say it’s just because he’s scum that no one could love—it’s not like seeing a person a lot automatically makes them the love of your life or anything even close to that. I love you, and that is not something they could fix or arrange. They could try, and I bet they did, but they didn’t make it happen. Only you could do that, by being the man you are—the whiny loser and the hapless superhero but really the man that’s so much more than what you’ve thought you were all this time, that one. That’s who you are and who I love and that is all that matters, do you understand?”

“After what Brady did to you,” Clay began, shaking his head. “I don’t—I hate that they’ve done this. I hate that you’ve been hurt because of me. If they really killed your parents because they wanted to bring you close to me or to Brady or—”

“Then we will make them pay for that, but we are not letting that guilt destroy you. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you know that. Even if they manipulated you, if you were created in some experiment, that wasn’t you. That’s not something you have to feel guilty about.”

He leaned his head against hers. “What now, then? We dealt with Brady, but I don’t know what we’ll do now. I should, right?”

“I don’t know. You’re very close to all of it. Maybe you need a bit of distance to plan.”

“Or I’m making someone else do all the work again.”

She wrapped her arms around him. “You’re stressed. Try and calm down a bit, and then maybe you’ll have a plan then.”

Clay took a deep breath. “I thought… Well, I couldn’t help thinking about what my boss has said to me a few times—that I have potential. That I could be an asset. He has to know what I can do, right? He wants to use it, one way or another. I think it’s time we know which way that is.”

“Yes, you’re right.”


“The anger has worn off, and the fear’s back, trying to take over,” she said quietly, tightening her hold. “You’re… all I have. I don’t want them to take you from me.”

“You’d find me, kick the crap out of them, and look beautiful doing it—all without one of Larabee’s costumes,” Clay told her, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “I’ll be okay. I know I have you to come for me if anything goes wrong.”

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