Screwing the Superhero
by Rebecca Royce
Screwing the Superhero
Sexy Superheroes - Book 1
Available from Noble Romance Publishing
Download for Amazon Kindle
Wendy Warner is a bit of an oddball. Raised in an orphanage, she has found solace and friendship by watching the television show, Space Adventures, and participating in fan clubs related to the show. Every month, on the second and third Friday, Wendy comes to work dressed in a costume from the show that she wears to charity events. This has earned her the disdain of many of her coworkers but not from her boss, the president of the company, Draco Powers, who rather likes the way the uniform hugs all her curves in the just the right places.
Draco Powers is a real-life Superhero who told the world that, yes, Superheroes do exist, but, no, we won't work for free or without health insurance. Some people refer to him with derision as the "Capitalist Superman." Draco is being hunted by an organization called the Organization, whose motives are unclear and yet still cause death and destruction wherever they go.
The Organization has decided that Draco's biggest weakness is the way he cares about his employees and has picked Wendy out as their next target. To save her, Draco will have to come to terms with his real feelings for Wendy and why it is that he has so long resisted complicated relationships. But he's running out of time . . . .
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Draco Powers sat, feeling incredibly uncomfortable, in his client's too-small-for-him flowery fabric lounge chair as he turned down her offer of tea for the third time. What gave with the tea? He didn't drink the stuff. Why push it on him? The whole living room, from ceiling to floor and everything in between, looked like a floral shop had thrown up.
The ceiling boasted badly stenciled roses. Daisies exploded on the carpet, and a different flower print covered each of the couches. Even his client, who looked to be around fifty years of age with graying brown hair and unremarkably dull grey eyes, wore lilacs on her housedress. If he spent too much time in this room, he was going to get hay fever.
Forcing himself to pay attention, he listened to the smooth rhythm of Wendy's voice as she asked the requisite questions of the woman who wanted to hire him. He knew, having worked with and counted on Wendy for years, she had done some version of this questioning over the phone when the case was first sent upstairs after the online request for services had been filtered and approved. It was unusual to have Wendy so thoroughly ask the questions again.
She'd expressed her concern that something felt askew with this woman's story, so he was inclined to let his little Handler have at the flower-wearing lady until Wendy was satisfied with the answers.
Little Handler? Where had his thought come from?
"Tell me again why you aren't using the police to investigate this issue, Mrs. Marckham?"
"I tried the police. For the first six months after Lael was taken, I waited and waited for the police to recover my son. Now, I'm pursuing other means."
Clearly, or they wouldn't be there. Draco looked at his watch. They'd shown up half-an-hour early so Wendy could do this, and then, assuming she let him take the job, he could find the child and still get home on time to go on his date.
"I guess I'm confused, Mrs. Marckham. Why do you think the Superhero route is your only option?"
Color rose in the woman's cheeks. Draco wanted to sink into the chair as her gaze met his and he realized what was bothering Wendy. Their potential client fancied herself in love with him. It wasn't the first time he'd run into this problem. All Superheroes did on a regular basis. But when this woman met his gaze, and her dull eyes lit up like stars, she made the 'crazy alarm' go off in his head.
Especially when she said, "The Superheroes can do anything."
Something about this woman was off . . . .
He would still find her son. Not the teenager's fault his mama was a whack job.
Wendy started to speak and he interrupted. "That's unfortunately not true, ma'am. If we could do anything then I wouldn't have a career. We would have long ago eliminated poverty, destruction, illness, and violence from the world." Making eye contact with Wendy, he nodded to let her know that while he was fully aware of what she sensed from their client, he intended to take the job anyway. The great thing about Wendy Warner was she understood unspoken signals. She nodded back.
He might even be able to use Mrs. Markham's Superhero infatuation to his advantage. "Why don't you tell me who you think has your son?"
"Not to me, I'm afraid."
He gritted his teeth. Years ago, when he and Ace had opened Powers, Inc., he'd been naïve in thinking he should feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction helping people. Now, all they did was annoy him. If the identity of her son's kidnapper had been obvious, would he have asked her the damned question?
"Aliens took him, of course." The older woman took a sip of her tea.
He closed his mouth, opting not to speak. This turn of events was almost too delicious to be real. He sat back in the chair and crossed his arms over his chest. This was why he had a Handler. So Wendy could speak at this moment and he could pretend he was a statue and stop communicating all together.
Wendy straightened in her chair. He could see she'd bit down for a second on her bottom lip. His super sight revealed two minute teeth marks left on the lower part of her lip. His cock stirred to attention, as it always did when Wendy was concerned. He wouldn't act on it. No, he'd resisted her appeal for years. Nothing had to change now.
"Why do you think aliens took your son, ma'am?" Wendy's Upstate New York accent slipped out. She was usually so careful not to show it but when she got really bothered, it flew out of her like they were sitting in Buffalo or Rochester instead of Allentown, Pennsylvania. At least he thought they were in Allentown. He flew all day, every day. Sometimes, he had a hard time remembering where he was . . . .
"Who else would take him?"
Wendy sighed. "Any number of people, I would imagine. Did your son have any enemies?"
"Enemies?" Sylvia Markham laughed. "No, of course not. Everyone loves Lael. Except for the Aliens, of course."
Wendy shot him a pleading look. He wanted to smile at her exasperation. She didn't really expect him to speak, did she? He paid her to handle types of situations.
She turned back to their Alien-obsessed client. "Let's all pretend it was not aliens who took Lael. Let's come up with some other ideas."
Maybe he should let Wendy off the hook and just drop Sylvia Markham. If she really thought aliens had Lael then she needed to find herself some alien hunters, if such people existed. And they might. Superheroes existed. Maybe alien hunters did too.
"I would think, Ms. Warner, considering your attire, you, of all people wouldn't object to the well documented facts stating aliens walk among us."
Wendy went very still. He had to give her credit; she could get control of her emotions faster than anyone he'd ever known.
"While I am obviously a staunch fan of Space Adventures, ma'am, with a great love for the ideals expressed on the show and the culture of charity and responsibility, I do not, as a rule, feel there are aliens walking around on our planet right now as we speak." She set down her cup.
"Then why are you wearing that ridiculous costume?"
Wendy clenched her hands at her side. "When I leave work today, I am doing work with my fan group at the local soup kitchen near my home. As a rule, we wear uniforms so people recognize us. A lot of locals in my area are not comfortable with strangers they don't know and will refuse help out of speculation of their motives. But, if they see us coming in our regalia, then they know we're safe. Since we had your appointment today, so late in the day, I will have to ask Mr. Powers to drop me directly at the soup kitchen, as he has done before, and I won't have any time to change."
She'd never explained her reasons for wearing the uniform before. Of course, most people just stared and whispered. She might never have had the chance to come right out and explain it. Something odd panged in his chest and he rubbed over the uncomfortable feeling, wondering what it could be. He'd never cared why she wore it. Wendy was everything he could have asked for in a Handler and then some.
Not to mention she looked hot in the outfit, and anyone who couldn't see that was blind.
Her brown hair fell just past her chin, and displayed next to the red of the Space Adventures' uniform, it looked almost golden. The high collar of the costume accentuated her long, pale neck and slightly pointed features. Her stubborn chin matched the nature of its owner. It said to the world, I'm not a push over and I don't care what you think. Her nose was small and turned up a little at the end, in a way his mother would have referred to as 'pixie-like', and spoke of a Nordic heritage in her background. It wasn't hard to picture her ancestors as Vikings. Wendy would have stood on the mast of the ship, giving orders and being revered as a goddess.
The rest of her face was heart shaped, but her brilliant brown eyes held his attention. With them, she'd held his gaze when he'd interviewed her for the position four years earlier. Only twenty-two years old then, she'd been working for one of the Associates for three months. It had been gutsy for her to think she could get a job with him so soon after signing on with the company. Yet, here she was, his most valued asset.
He'd do anything to keep her.
Dressed in the uniform, the shirt pulled at her thin waist, showing her lush curves. Her breasts were more than a handful. They were maybe two or three handfuls, and he had big hands. Tailored to fit snugly, the pants showed off a rear end made for grabbing. More than once, he'd been tempted to reach out and squeeze.
Of course, he hadn't. He didn't date—or screw around with—Handlers. That was how you got into trouble. That's why Ace no longer showed his face in the office. He'd broken his Handler's heart. Of course, the woman should have known better. His brother had a reputation for using them and then losing them. Now, however, Ace's Handler was distraught and the man couldn't come near the office without her screaming and crying. The situation was incredibly awkward.
Relegated to working from home, Ace received no help from his Handler. You couldn't fire a woman you'd just dumped. Doing so meant a lawsuit, or a payoff, and horrible publicity. His brother wanted him to switch Handlers with him. Draco rubbed his chin as he thought about the suggestion for a second. His answer wasn't going to change. No way, no how was Ace taking Wendy from him.
"Well." Sylvia Markham was still discussing Wendy's attire. "It seems ridiculous to me."
He stood and the room fell silent. Even Wendy, who could usually read him well, looked at him questioningly.
"What Ms. Warner wears to work is nobody's business except hers and mine. I'll ask you to comment on it no further." He stretched his arms over his head and felt the fabric on his black Egyptian cotton turtleneck tear. Wearing clothes was an occupational hazard for him. At least once a week, he had to replace what he wore in the middle of the day after he'd made some simple movement and ripped another seam.
"Now, let's go and see the young man's room. I think it's best if you stay here, ma'am, while Ms. Warner and I check it out. Think about the aliens. Specifically, we're going to need a description of the creatures. How many heads, limbs, etcetera."
Without another word, he walked to the back of the house. They could both follow him—or not—but it was time to get this show on the road. He was bored. They'd been here too long, and he hadn't had enough action for the day to warrant sitting still.
The morning's job had resolved nicely without him having to exert himself. As soon as he'd walked into the room, the husband had decided to stop hiding the wife's inheritance and give over the bank information she needed. The troublesome man had restrained himself but Draco still wanted to kick his ass. What kind of man abandoned his family and ran away with their money?
Draco could have laughed at the thought if it wasn't so familiar. He didn't have to look far for an answer; his father had been the kind of man to take off. In fact, if Draco went back through all his traceable relatives, men abandoning their families formed a long history. Maybe it was in the genes. The same biological, evolutionary circumstances making them Superheroes made them bad parents.
This was exactly why he would never have children.
Opening the door to Lael's room only added to his thoughts. If his mother's living room was a bad tribute to all things floral, then Lael's room was a shrine to fake Superheroes. Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern . . . .
He knew their fictitious stories, had read the comic books as a boy. They'd represented everything he'd hoped to be as a small child, and everything he'd resented as a teenager.
Life didn't work like fiction. No one was going to let him spend days working as a mild-mannered reporter, as he rushed around occasionally saving the world from mad men. It was an all or nothing deal, and, whether his critics liked it or not, Superheroes had to live under the same constraints as everyone else. The only way to do anything worthwhile with his so-called gifts was to charge money for them.
And fuck anyone who didn't like it.
But back to the matter at hand. Lael Markham and his apparent—based on the cartoon posters covering his walls—obsession with Superheroes.
"Wendy?" He called over his shoulder, knowing she would answer. She always did. Some day she might not. Some day she might get a different job, and, when she left, the office would be a cold, uninviting place he wouldn't look forward to going to anymore. Today, however, she was still his to call when he needed her.
"Yes, sir?" Wendy arrived in the room faster than he thought she would. She must have run.
"Thought you might like to see this." He indicated the pictures on the wall. "And don't call me sir." It really ate at him when she said 'sir'. He was six years older than she was. Hardly old enough to warrant such an address. It made him feel like he was approaching his dotage.
"Wow, he's a real fan of comics, isn't he?"
She smiled sheepishly and he wanted to smile back, which was exactly why he didn't.
"This kid's fifteen, right?"
She looked at the notes she'd taken from her computer. By now, he knew her routine, any facts she learned, she recorded. Wendy took type-A personality to a whole new level. Nodding, she looked up. "Yes, fifteen last September."
"Seems a bit old for a casual obsession with the comic book heroes." Something was buzzing his intuition. The reason he'd managed to live as long as he had without being killed was he'd learned long ago to not doubt his feelings.
"Could be he doesn't have many friends and clearly his family is, I don't know, off." Wendy sighed.
He narrowed his eyes, watching her wander the room, touching the posters on the walls with her fingertips. She seemed to have a strong visceral sense, touching where others might not bother. Whether she knew it or not, Wendy seemed to have a real need to feel things with all of her senses.
Another reason he was certain she was a tigress in bed . . . .
Nope. Inwardly, he shook his head. Not going there.
"Sometimes you turn to things because they are easy to lose yourself in when you don't have anything else. Things others might not understand or appreciate when they're not lacking what you are."
Was a need to lose herself what had drawn her to Space Adventures? He knew it was the perfect opportunity to ask, to delve a little deeper into what made Wendy tick. Only he wasn't going to. Not now, not ever. Once he opened that door, the one where they had more than a casual understanding of each other outside of work, he'd never be able to close it.
She'd hound him constantly with personal questions—as all women did—and he'd never have any peace. Eventually, he'd have to let her go if only to reset his equilibrium, and Wendy was far too important a member of his team to lose. Inwardly, he paled at the thought of having to train a new Handler.
"There is something, however, bothering me about this whole thing."
"Which part? The bit about the aliens or the floral explosion in the living room?"
Wendy blessed him with one of her rare laughs. He had long ago decided she didn't think he was funny, didn't get his jokes, or had no sense of humor. Recently, he'd started believing it was a combination of all three.
"The living room is a bit . . . much." Color shaded her cheeks from the laughter.
Draco had to admit, he found the additional blush stimulating. Turning away, he adjusted his pants, hoping she didn't see the reaction her brief merriment had caused. Pretending to look at the picture of Batman, he spoke to her with his back turned.
"Go on, what in particular bothers you about this missing teenager?"
"How are they paying for it?"
Raising his eyebrows, he turned to face her. His intuition dinged in his head, almost like a bell going off at the beginning of a horse race. "Continue."
"This house, while we might not like the decorations, is perfectly fine in a perfectly acceptable, compact, blue-collar kind of a way."
"And your point is what?" He already suspected he knew what she was going to say.
"Our clients, meaning specifically the ones who get sent up to you, aren't this type. Maybe they go to one of the other associates. When I worked for Colt, we would get sent to places like this. But you . . . ."
He grinned, amused by how clearly uncomfortable Wendy was. Her unease with the topic showed all over her pixie face. She bit down on her lower lip, as she looked everywhere but at him.
"So what you're saying is only the very rich avail themselves of Draco Powers?"
"Sir, our last job was in a penthouse apartment in New York City."
He shrugged. "The best always costs the most."
He wasn't surprised she was so off put at having to bring this issue to his attention. He read the newspaper; he knew what they said about him and the others who worked at his company. Ever since it had become public that people with superpowers really existed, everyone had been waiting for Superman to fly into the area and altruistically defeat Lex Luther.
He'd tried for a while. When he'd almost had to declare bankruptcy because he'd been so busy secretly helping everyone on the planet he couldn't get to work on time, and his brother had been evicted from his apartment because he couldn't pay rent, Draco had decided it was past time for his talents to help him pay the bills. People did it all the time. They were good at something and they made a business out of it.
So why was he constantly being criticized? Shaking his head, knowing he wasn't going to solve these problems today, and not caring for the direction his thoughts were going, he turned his attention back to the matter at hand.
"Clearly she can afford me or the credit department would have turned her down or insisted she see someone else."
Wendy flipped open her phone. After a moment, she spoke into the receiver. "Yes, it's Wendy. Uh-huh, I'm there right now." She paused. "I need you to pull up the financials on this woman. Yes, I know it's highly irregular but Draco wants it. Uh-huh."
Technically, he hadn't said he wanted it but he wasn't going to argue with her, not when she handled everything with the efficiency of a well-timed machine.
He walked to Lael's desk, looking around at the knick-knacks littering the top. The boy hadn't used the piece of furniture for studying, not with the amount of clutter on top of the display. It appeared he spent all his time reading comic books. Other than his reading material, the only picture of Lael resided in a folder Wendy had handed him before they arrived, and beside Lael stood an unknown older gentleman Draco couldn't identify. Lael's dead father, perhaps.
"Since when did we start taking donations from unknown charities? Yes, I'll hold, Denise."
Turning to Draco, her eyebrows furrowed, she rubbed her nose. "This is being paid for by a charitable organization. I guess Finance ran a check and the money's legit, meaning it's in the account and they didn't investigate further. She's going into the file to see if they have any other info, but no one felt the urge to look deeper since the money was in the account."
"An unknown charity?"
Hairs stood on the back of his neck as a scent wafted through his nostrils. The odor—the faintest trace of gunpowder—was undetectable by anyone but him. Focusing, he let his super sight direct him to the source. There it was; in the basement, a homemade, badly crafted, but still very live bomb.
Shit, he had all of three seconds before the bomb, which had been set to kill them, exploded the home into a million unidentifiable pieces.