FREE READ, THREE YEARS DEAD, A SUPERHERO URBAN FANTASY
Click to read the first chapter THREE YEARS DEAD CHAPTER ONE
Click to read CHAPTER TWO
Click to read CHAPTER THREE
Click to read CHAPTER FOUR
Click to read CHAPTER FIVE
Click to read CHAPTER SIX
Click to read CHAPTER SEVEN
Click to read Chapter Eight
Click to read Chapter Nine.
Marek turned to me, his expression intense, his eyes dark as sin. I felt his gaze like a physical touch and clenched my hands tightly, hating that my body could still react this way.
â€śHow did I not know you worked for this man?â€ť
My mom was like a giddy teenager and I couldnâ€™t blame her. Not really. I knew how potent Marekâ€™s charm could be. Too bad it was tinged with poison.
â€śWorked,â€ť I said stiffly, â€śas in past tense.â€ť I raised my eyebrows so she knew I meant business, and I spoke real slow, just to be sure. â€śAs in over three years ago.â€ť
Her eyes narrowed. â€śI know honey but still, I had no idea you knew such anâ€¦interesting man.â€ť
â€śI was at The Devilâ€™s Gate when you were on marriage number four or maybe it was five.â€ť I shrugged. â€śI donâ€™t remember. You were on a permanent vacation for years.â€ť
She ignored my sarcasm and smiled up at Marek. â€śShe gets her snarky attitude from her father.â€ť
According to mother, my father was a hockey superstarâ€”arenâ€™t they allâ€”whoâ€™d come to town to play for the Niagara Flames for one season. Heâ€™d done more playing outside of hockey than in the arena. A real hellraiser. When his contract was up they dropped him.
He left and two months later sheâ€™d found out she was pregnant.
Iâ€™d never met the man and as far as I know sheâ€™d never contacted him after I was born.
Marekâ€™s gaze never wavered from me. There was a stillness about him, a dangerous edge that lingered in the air.
Why was he here?
I swallowed and turned to my mother. â€śI donâ€™t want to sound like a bitch or anything but I really need you to leave now.â€ť
A fleeting shadow crossed her face and she blinked several times in quick succession, before glancing away nervously. Something was up and, wait! What the hell? Were those tears?
â€śI canâ€™tâ€¦I mean Iâ€¦â€ť
My gaze fell to the large pink leopard print bag on the floor. It was a weekend bag and filled to the brim by the look of it. Like maybe with a weeks worth of clothing.
Itâ€™s funny how sometimes things that are unclear become like crystal right before your eyes.
I swallowed dread. I sweated bullets in seconds.
And I wished I had a bottle of whiskey handy because maybe if I downed the entire thing I could handle what my next thought was.
Holy, shit. She wasnâ€™t planning on leaving.
â€śCan I talk to you mother?â€ť I glanced at Marek. â€śIâ€™ll deal with you in a minute.â€ť
She followed me into the kitchen.
â€śWhy the bag?â€ť I glared at the damn thing. â€śWhatâ€™s really going on?â€ť
Her cheeks were pink, her eyes downcast, avoiding my gaze. Shit. I knew it! Something was up and it wasnâ€™t good.
â€śHaven, Iâ€¦â€ť she began.
Marek had wandered to the window and stood staring out into the storm while I weathered my own, right there in my kitchen.
Mother cleared her throat and fingered the tassels that hung from the denim jacket she woreâ€”80â€™s retro. Her long nails were chipped, the paint ruined. I frowned at that. She always looked mint.
I had a bad feeling I wasnâ€™t going to like what she had to say.
She looked up suddenly and I was shocked at the emotion in her eyes. They glittered with un-shed tears which deepened the colour to liquid denim. My mother was a very attractive woman who looked after herself and sheâ€™d always used her beauty to get what she wanted. What she needed.
An uncomfortable feeling settled in my gut. I wasnâ€™t used to this side of her and from the looks of things the blush was finally off the rose. I just hoped the hell the honeymoon wasn’t over.
She exhaled slowly, her bottom lip trembling and as I took a step closer I realized the uncomfortable feeling was the need to comfort. That thought stopped me cold, and I stared at her, hands clenched at my sides, a frown on my face.
â€śI donâ€™t have anywhere else to go.â€ť Her voice was barely above a whisper.
â€śWhat?â€ť I was incredulous. â€śWhereâ€™s Greg?
Her eyebrow shot up. â€śSteve.â€ť
Christ it was hard to keep track of all her men.
â€śWhat happened to Steve?â€ť
She shrugged her shoulders. â€śHe decided he needed a breakâ€¦â€ť
In that second I had the picture. Loud and clear. Heâ€™d decided he wanted a break with someone else.
I stared at her in silence. This was so not the time to for me to entertain a roommate. Especially my mother.
â€śI wouldnâ€™t have bothered you,â€ť she glanced toward Marek, â€śbut I had nowhere else to go.â€ť
It took a lot for her to admit that, I could tell, but it didnâ€™t make the situation any less tricky.
â€śI justâ€¦I donâ€™t have the room,â€ť I began, â€śIâ€™ve got so much going on and I donâ€™t thinkâ€”â€ś
The look in her eyes shut me up right quick. Panic made her face white, her mouth tight with worry.
I glanced down at the bag once more. â€śI guess you could crash in the computer room. Thereâ€™s a futon. Itâ€™s not really comfortable but itâ€™s all I have.â€ť
Her arms were around me before I could blink. It was strange. Sheâ€™d never been the touchy, feely kind of mother. Her perfume, a soft, subtle scent was fresh. She was warm and it feltâ€¦kinda sorta nice.
My chest was tight. I pushed her away.
â€śWhy donâ€™t I go out and get some groceries?â€ť She smiled like the world was filled with puppies and rainbows. â€śI donâ€™t mind and it will give you some uh,â€ť she nodded toward Marek, â€śalone time.â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t have a car and itâ€™s raining buckets out there.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll call a cab.â€ť She grabbed her purse off the counter and smiled. â€śNo worries.â€ť
â€śNice meeting you,â€ť she said to Marek as she walked to the door. She paused and turned to me, â€śUh, Haven?â€ť
I rubbed along my temples. The headache that had been knocking was circling my skull and wasnâ€™t going anywhere.
I knew what she wanted even before she asked.
â€śCan I um, borrow your debit card?â€ť She laughed nervously. â€śSteveâ€¦well, heâ€™s being an absolute prick and deactivated mine.â€ť
I had the feeling there was a lot more to the story but didnâ€™t push it. She accepted my card and disappeared, promising to take her time as she did.
The door closed behind her with a solid thud.
Now to deal with Marek.
He turned, his dark brooding form silhouetted against the window. â€śYour mother is not what I expected.â€ť He moved, the shadows receding as he stepped into the light. Iâ€™d forgotten how tall he was. How muscular. How lethal.
My fingers tugged the ends of my robe together and I didnâ€™t like the smile that played around his mouth as he followed my actions.
â€śI donâ€™t want to talk about my mother with you.â€ť I moved and put the counter between the two of us. Traitor cat jumped onto it and I sank my fingers into his soft fur, rubbing gently as he purred wildly and leaned into my touch. â€śWhy are you here?â€ť
â€śWhat? No offer of a drink?â€ť He smiled and moved closer, his scent, tangy and crisp in the air.
â€śYou heard my mother. I have nothing to offer and even if I did, Iâ€™m not in the mood to do drinks with you.â€ť
â€śThere was a timeâ€”â€ś
There was no way in hell I was taking a trip down memory lane with Marek Oden.
â€śCut the crap, Marek. Tell me whatâ€™s up and then leave. Iâ€™m getting sick of running into you everywhere I turn and the home visits? I want them to stop.â€ť
His eyes glittered and he moved with purpose until only the counter was between us. I tilted my head in order meet his gaze.
â€śDo not look for Payne.â€ť
I think my mouth fell open and for a second my mind went blank, but when it came to life, it did so with a fury. I was pissed. No, I was more than pissed. I was so goddamn mad I wanted to hurt something. Anything. I must have squeezed traitor cat a little too hard and he hissed sharply as he slipped from my touch and jumped from the counter.
â€śWhat fucking planet are you living on?â€ť I pushed away, suddenly filled with a dirge of energy. â€śCause it sure as hell isnâ€™t the same one I exist in.â€ť I laughed, a short, harsh. â€śYou mean nothing to me, Marek, and your opinion even less.â€ť
His expression was closed but I knew my words had hit a nerve. I watched the muscle that rippled across his cheek as he clenched his mouth. He was pissed.
Join the fucking club.
â€śIâ€™m not here to force my will upon you.â€ť He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. They were black, as was the leather coat he sported. Some things never change.
â€śThen why the warning?â€ť I sputtered. â€śHow can I not look for Payne? Heâ€™s my boss for Christ sakes.â€ť
â€śThis goes way beyond the scope a reporter for The Tattler can handle.â€ť He shrugged. â€śYou might not believe it, but Iâ€™m concerned for your safety.â€ť
Who was he kidding? I shook my head, â€śI donâ€™t believe you. Since when do you care about me?â€ť
Marek moved so quickly, his body was a blur of black hair, leather and denim. No longer was the counter between us, there was only air and the sound of my heart beating.
â€śI care.â€ť He said throatily, â€śmore than Iâ€™d like to.â€ť
My breaths fell heavily against my chest. He was too close. And he smelled too damn good. I pushed him away but he grabbed my wrist. A shudder rolled over my frame leaving a rash of goosebumps in its wake.
His skin was hot, rough, and an ache tugged at me. It had been so long since Iâ€™d been touched. Since Iâ€™d allowed anyone to get close.
For a second my reality faded into fantasy. My gaze slid to his lips, to the square jaw that held the faintest whisper of stubble. I saw the pulse that beat at the base of his neck and thought he was made of flesh and blood.
But he wasnâ€™t.
A flash of red swam before my eyes and images hit that Iâ€™d buried three years ago. I pushed them back. It was enough. I wasnâ€™t going back there. I wasnâ€™t going to fall apart, especially not with him here.
I yanked. Hard.
â€śYou only care about yourself and donâ€™t want me anywhere near the truth.â€ť
His eyes narrowed but he did nothing to stop me as I put some distance between us. I tightened the sash at my waist and wished like hell Iâ€™d put pajamaâ€™s on beneath the pink fuzz.
â€śI think youâ€™re afraid Iâ€™ll find a connection,â€ť I continued.
â€śA connection?â€ť Marek growled, but remained where he was.
I nodded. â€śBetween you and whoever has brought that bitch angel into my city.â€ť My eyes narrowed. â€śWhere did you disappear to last night? I noticed you were missing right before everything went to hell.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m surprised you noticed anything considering you had Payne and Jake Keegan lapping up every word you spoke like puppies at their motherâ€™s tits.â€ť
Interesting that he was on a first name basis with the detective.
Interesting that he thought Keegan and Payne were interested in me. In that way.
I chose to ignore his comments. â€śDid you leave because you knew what was coming? Because you knew that those,â€ť my face twisted, â€śthose things were going to crash the party and kill all those people? Take the Mayor?â€ť
His lips were clamped together so tightly, they were white. He was beyond pissed and the energy that surrounded his body manifested into something physicalâ€”if only for a split secondâ€”but the power was scary.
â€śI left because I was called back to the casino. A problem came up that I needed to deal with.â€ť
â€śThat was pretty convenient,â€ť I said roughly.
He leaned down until only a whisper separated us. I felt the heat from his skin against mine and felt like Iâ€™d been dipped into fire. My mouth was dry and I tried to swallow, but made a weird noise instead, and barely avoided choking.
â€śIf you think for one second Iâ€™d leave you there, alone with no protection, with those beasts on the prowl youâ€™re not as smart as you think you are. Or observant, and those are two qualities Iâ€™d expect to find in a reporter whether they worked for a respectable paper or The Tattler.â€ť
His hands found their way to my shoulders. I thought he was going to kiss me and god help, I think, in that moment, Iâ€™d have let him.
â€śYou have no clue whatâ€™s really going on and if you continue to dig, youâ€™ll wind up dead.â€ť
â€śI know more than you think,â€ť I spat.
â€śNo, you donâ€™t.â€ť
I hated that he was treating me like a child. I was a grown woman with super powers. Hell, I could kick his ass all over this apartment if I wanted to. Of course he could do the same to me and that would kinda take the joy out giving it to him good.
â€śI know that youâ€™reâ€¦â€ť I paused, an abrupt stop that was glaring.
â€śWhat do you know?â€ť
Donâ€™t do it. The whisper was panicked, but it was one I chose to ignore. I was like a train chugging full steam ahead and about to pull a full-on derailment.
My face twisted as the anger inside me exploded. There was a lot of hurt and betrayal in me. It wanted out.
I stepped back. â€śI know youâ€™re not human.â€ť
For once he was speechless, his face filled with surprise and a hint of uncertainty. Score one for me.
The door opened and my mother blew in, her laughter nervous as she set her purse down. â€śThe grocer was closed,â€ť she apologized, â€śso I was only able to get a few basics at the variety store on the corner. With all the damn crime in the city no one stays open past nine anymore.â€ť
â€śIs everything all right?â€ť She was staring at me like Iâ€™d grown two heads. Maybe I had, only stupid me would have done what I just did.
â€śItâ€™s all right mother, Marek was just leaving.â€ť
Marek shook his head. â€śWeâ€™re not done.â€ť
I nodded toward the door and moved aside so he could pass. â€śYes we are.â€ť
â€śIf you get in too deep, I wonâ€™t be able to help you.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t want or need your help.
Marek stared me down for several long moments before turning. He paused at the door and nodded curtly to my mother who looked as confused as sheâ€™d ever been.
One more glance my way. â€śI hope youâ€™re right.â€ť
He left without another word.