- A Serialized Novel -

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

I can’t say I’m proud of myself or my behavior during the booth war. It wasn’t very superhero-like. It wasn’t even close to nice. I was… about as much of a brat as one of my younger forms could have been expected to be.

Larabee said he hoped that the booth war got the evil out of my system so that I could go on to be a real superhero, a good one. Someone who fought for all things good. That was still what he saw me as, though I was fairly convinced that I was more of a whiny loser than I would ever be a hero.

As for April, she hated me before, and she was not going to forgive me for any of it, not for a long time…

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“You’re Clayton, right?”

Clayton looked up at April’s boyfriend. He was wearing a suit and tie and had his hair all combed back neat, extremely out of place in the diner. This place was not meant for men in suits. Clay didn’t know why he was here. “You’re April’s boyfriend. Not sure why you’re here, but congratulations on figuring out who I am. I’m surprised. You didn’t look that smart.”

The other man shook his head, sitting down across from him in the booth. “Wasn’t hard to figure it out, really, since you were here, in the booth she claims as hers.”

“You know, you should have let me think you were smart. At least for a couple minutes,” Clayton muttered. “Not that I want you to stay or invited you to sit, but whatever. I suppose that you can stay because I can’t really force you to leave.”

“I guess I should be more impressed that you recognized me,” the boyfriend went on. “Unless, of course, you were there. Were you watching your brother with April and me or was that really you? Can you do what you say you can do?”

“Why? You want to perform a few tricks? Want to make me do flips and tricks and hold out a little hat for tips? Yeah, I’ll pass. Besides, it’s not interesting to watch.”

“But you can do it, right?”

Clayton frowned. He didn’t like this guy. It wasn’t just because he was April’s boyfriend. He was… annoying, and possibly creepy. This whole showing up without her, talking to Clayton, asking about his ability… There was something wrong with him. Had to be. “Are you asking for yourself or for April? I should point out that she can’t actually claim rights to this booth. Neither can I. The rights belong to the owner, and he hasn’t taken sides. This is just a convenient place for me to eat, and I’m not going to stop coming here no matter how she manipulated me to get the so-called ‘right’ to it.”
“I was curious. April has talked a lot about you. Mostly bad.”

Clayton smiled a little. “Well, that’s no surprise. She kind of hates me now.”


“Oh, she didn’t tell you, did she? The whole reason we’re fighting over the booth has nothing to do with—well, the thing is…” Clayton didn’t know that this would work, but he was going to do it anyway. He would do whatever he could to make April back off from the booth, and if she was low enough to send her boyfriend, then Clay would respond in kind. “It’s the make out booth.”

“The what?”

“The make out booth. You know, the place where you come to… well, make out?”

“You’re kidding, right? April did say she helped you out with a girl that was becoming too clingy, but there’s no way that she and you—”

“What, that she and I kissed?” Clay interrupted, liking the other man’s reaction so far. The boyfriend was starting to squirm. This could be good. Well, good was a relative term for it, but still… “Yeah, that did happen. Even April won’t deny that, if she decides to deny the rest. No, if she does try and say that we were never together, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I do think that she and I had something special. Here. In this booth.”

“You’re still kidding, right? This is one big joke to you, isn’t it? First you joke about abilities, then you try and convince me that my girlfriend has been cheating on me—with you, of all people—I am going to go now.”

“Fine, but I have one more question for you.”

“What?” the suit asked, looking back at Clayton. “Are you—”

“Did you give her that ring?” Clayton grinned when he saw the man’s expression. Confusion, maybe, or even jealousy. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

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“Excuse me, what exactly gives you the right to mess with my relationship?” April demanded, yanking on Clayton’s shoulder. “Bad enough you won’t respect the booth rights that you lost—fair and square—but that you had to go and tell my boyfriend that you and I were—I don’t believe this.”

“Why wouldn’t you? You stole my booth, you refuse to believe me—oh, and you told your boyfriend all about me? Are you kidding me? What gives you the right to talk about me to your boyfriend?”

She rolled her eyes. “Like you don’t talk about me to Larabee. Think about this, Clayton. Take a good look at yourself. You’re off the deep end. Manipulating your little brother like that? Making up stories and telling them to my boyfriend? Oh, and that little stunt with the—”

“Give me back the booth. That’s all I want. Look, you don’t ever have to see me again, you don’t have to believe me, but you got the bench. Leave me the one place I can eat in public without fear of exposure. It matters to me, but to you, it’s nothing.”

“You think it doesn’t matter to me? What exactly do you think I—Never mind. I don’t even want to know. You know nothing about me, though, Clayton Moore, and you had better believe that you won’t get your booth back. Not after this. You stay out of my personal life. Don’t you ever talk to my boyfriend again.”

“Don’t you think that it’s a little weird that he came looking for me? What does he want? You’re sure he’s interested in you?”

“Don’t start. You don’t need to—”

“I want the booth.”


Clayton held up the chain that had been around her neck, the one with the ring on it. She stared at it, her eyes wide and then burning with hatred. She lunged for it, but he held it out of her reach. “How did you get that?”

“Trade secret,” he answered, smiling. She’d never given a second thought to the toddler who had shown her his flower, and she’d accepted a hug never even noticing him slip it off her neck. He wasn’t sure he’d use it, not until just now, but there was no undoing it.

“Like hell it is. Give that back.”

“Then I get the booth.”

“You are such a jerk.”

“Agreed, but I still get the booth.”

“Fine, but give me back the necklace.”

Clayton gave it to her, and she smacked him right across the face. “You better hope we never see each other again.”

He watched her leave, frowning. Since when had he become such a jerk? Then the twitches came in his hand and he had his answer.

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