Authors: Sonya Clark
Tags: #romance, #action, #superheroes, #transhuman, #female superhero
Copyright 2016 Sonya Clark
Runaway. Experiment. Superhero?
The streets were the safest place for Dani,
until the night she was caught by traffickers who sold her to a
laboratory. She survived five years of experiments: biotech
implants, gene therapy, and other things she could barely
comprehend. The pain, though, that she understood. The lab pushed
her body past its limits, drove her mind to its darkest corners,
but somehow her spirit remained unbroken. She escaped, and sought
refuge on the streets once again. But this time she doesn’t run
away from cries for help. Now, she runs toward them.
Playboy. Dilettante. Sidekick?
Kevin Moynihan is the youngest son of Point
Sable’s most wealthy and storied family. A permanent fixture in the
society pages, he’s known for his good looks, his charm, and his
aversion to an honest day’s work. His life is a whirlwind of fast
women, faster cars, all night parties and endless champagne – until
his latest drunk and disorderly charge lands him a stint doing
community service in the roughest part of town. The part of town
where someone is always screaming for help.
A chance meeting will bring two unlikely
people together – first as reluctant allies, then friends, and
A ragged voice screamed for help somewhere in
the night. Dani ignored it. She’d worked hard to shoplift this
meal, she was going to eat it, by God. A sandwich with some kind of
chicken salad type substance smeared between two slices of stale
bread, a chocolate candy bar, a little bag of chips, and a can of
warm soda. A veritable freaking feast. On top of that, she had a
prime spot staked out in an abandoned building, out of the chilly
spring rain. Dry cardboard to sleep on.
Hell if she was moving.
Another scream, same voice, closer this time.
Dani dropped the sodden sandwich and swallowed a long drink of
soda. It tasted like old battery acid, but there had been a camera
near the cooler with the bottles of water. Tomorrow she would find
a store with easily accessible water, and a better place to spend
the night, too. A building with more walls left intact, windows to
block out the rain and the noise. Maybe see if the shelter had any
empty beds, though it might be too much of a risk. She just wanted
off the streets for one night. A shower. God, to be clean again.
She hadn’t realized it but she’d gone soft in some ways during her
years in the lab. Gotten used to a bed and regular meals and being
clean and dry.
She’d paid for it, though. What little
comfort she’d found there, she’d paid for dearly.
This time the scream came from almost
directly below, in the alley. Dani swore. She was getting tired of
doing this. Sure, it offered a certain satisfaction. It also had
the potential to draw attention, and that was the exact opposite of
what she needed. What Dani needed was to disappear, like she’d
never existed. Never come to this city. Like she’d just melted away
into nothing, because you couldn’t find nothing and she was pretty
sure there had to be people looking for her.
“No, please, don’t!”
Young. Female. A chorus of laughter was the
only answer to her plea. Two men, older and bigger. Goddamn it.
Dani took another drink of soda then stood. She crossed the room to
peer out a busted window at the alley below, ignoring the debris
that littered the floor.
The smaller of the two men had the girl
pinned to the brick wall, holding a knife at her throat. The other
man was laughing, his hands at the fly of his jeans.
Dani spent a few precious seconds surveying
the alley, then pulled up her hoodie and hoisted herself out the
window, dropping the four stories to street level. Training and
muscle memory kicked in as she landed kneeling, feet apart, one
hand stretched out on the ground. The impact rattled her from the
soles of her feet to her teeth. She raised her head to see the two
men and their would-be victim staring at her. She stood slowly,
keeping her muscles loose and relaxed.
“Wanna try that with someone who can fight
The knife flew at her, cutting through the
air with a faint whistle only Dani could hear. She leaned far to
one side, the blade passing over her chest and clattering against
the opposite wall. Before either man had a chance to fully register
what had happened, she rushed the big one and took him out with a
hard kick to his knee. The force of the blow bent his leg at an
unnatural angle and he went down screaming.
The other guy stood gape-mouthed, staring
stupidly at his partner on the ground. Dani punched him in the gut
twice in rapid succession. He doubled over, covering his stomach
with his arms and swearing.
The young girl snapped out of her shock and
ran. A car pulled up to the curb outside the mouth of the alley.
Dani cocked her head and listened carefully. Swift footsteps
running around and away from the car – that was the girl, getting
away safely. The vehicle’s engine idled smoothly, indicating a much
better ride than what normally rolled through this neighborhood. No
other sound came from the car. A gentle rain pattered on the
concrete, background noise to the mix of cursing and moaning coming
from the guy on the ground.
“You.” The other guy straightened, one hand
still over his midsection. “Bitch.” With his free hand he reached
around to the small of his back.
Dani didn’t wait to see what kind of weapon
he had. She threw her weight forward and rotated her body, legs
snapping out in a flying kick. Her boots made contact. The faint
but satisfying crack of bones sounded, punctuated by the guy
screaming as he collapsed.
Dani hit the ground in a heap, scraping her
palms on the rough concrete. The actual flips and flying kicks were
easy for her; it was the defying gravity and landing gracefully on
her feet part that she still couldn’t manage despite the hours of
practice. She rolled and hopped up, feet spread and fists up in a
“Hey, can somebody give me directions to the
Lee Street shelter?”
Damn it. Dani risked a look behind her,
cursing herself for missing the sound of the car door. At the top
of the alley, a man stood next to the idling car.
“The shelter? On Lee Street?” He pulled a
bill from his pants pocket. “I don’t mind paying.”
The car was black and sleek and belonged on
the other side of town. So did its driver. Tall with a slim build
and expensive clothes, his hair gleamed like dark gold under the
yellow streetlight. No way did this guy need to spend the night in
a homeless shelter.
The nearest assailant landed a kick on her
ankle. She wobbled just enough to give the guy another shot at her.
This time he got a solid punch to her calf, just below the knee.
She spun on her heel and kicked, sending his head snapping against
the alley’s brick wall. She kicked him several times in rapid
succession. It took a moment for her to realize he was
. Stop. Don’t kill him.
The one on the ground clutching his knee
stared at her, fear shining in his dark eyes. Dani looked away, a
mixture of rage and shame churning in her gut. Rage that these
assholes had attacked someone in the first place. Shame that she
still couldn’t control her own anger, that she always went just
enough too far to regret how much she’d hurt someone, even though
it was a bad guy. She tamped down on the emotions and reminded
herself of one good thing: the young girl these guys had tried to
prey on was safe.
Satisfied neither could stand and follow her,
she turned and strode to the street as she tugged her hoodie closer
to keep her face hidden. Mr. Uptown stood by his fancy car, still
holding a folded bill aloft.
He said, “Is there a problem?”
“Nope.” Not one that was any of his
“So can you give me directions?”
“Yeah.” Dani snatched the bill from his hand.
“Get back above a hundred and tenth where you belong.”
She didn’t look back but she could feel his
eyes on her until she ducked into the next alley. By the time she
got back to her spot, rats or God knows what had eaten her
Goddamn it. She had to stop doing this.
Kevin Moynihan sipped his orange juice and
kept his bloodshot eyes hidden behind sunglasses. The longstanding
tradition of a monthly Saturday brunch with the family could be a
real pain in the ass sometimes. He’d much rather be home in bed,
sleeping off the late night. Instead, he’d have to endure crap from
his mother and siblings.
At least the food would be good. Mrs. Bernal,
who’d worked for the family since he was a boy, placed an
omelet-filled plate in front of him. “That looks fantastic, Mrs.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d want food or my
special hangover remedy,” she said, not unkindly.
He grinned. “No hangover today. I just didn’t
get enough sleep last night.”
She patted his hair with affection. “I don’t
want to know why you weren’t sleeping.” She laughed. “You take care
of yourself, Mr. Kevin. I’ll see you next time.”
“You leaving already?”
Mrs. Bernal nodded. “My granddaughter’s
visiting so I’m taking a few days off. But I’ll have my phone if
your mother needs me.” She may have started out a maid years ago
but now she ran the household and was indispensable to Dorothy
Moynihan. Serving brunch had long ago ceased to be one of her
duties but she did it anyway to check up on the kids she loved as
much as her own.
Kevin stood and kissed her cheek. “Next time,
then. Have a good visit.”
Mrs. Bernal left. Kevin dropped into his
chair and attacked his omelet. While he ate he thought about the
previous night, and the night ahead of him. It didn’t take long for
those thoughts to curb his appetite.
The French doors opened. Sean, his older
brother, walked out onto the veranda and took a seat at the table.
Kevin shrugged and pushed his plate away.
“Still upstairs, I guess.”
Sean propped his tablet where he could read
it then poured himself a glass of orange juice. “Olivia won’t be
here today. She’s at the clinic this weekend.” Middle child Olivia
was a pediatrician who had her own practice and volunteered at a
free clinic one weekend every month.
“How about Grace and the kids?”
“Spending the weekend with her parents.” Sean
finally deigned to glance at Kevin. “Have you slept?”
And like magic, the omelet congealed into a
cold, unpleasant lump. Kevin pushed his plate away. “Some. Not
One corner of Sean’s mouth turned down. “You
went out partying? Please tell me you at least showed up for your
community service before hitting the clubs like some zombie frat
Anger burned through Kevin. He covered it
with a smile. “I did my four hours. Don’t worry, you won’t be
getting any bad phone calls from my probation officer or the lawyer
or whoever it is you’ve got reporting on me.”
four hours,” Sean said.
“Only thirty-six more to go. For crying out loud, Kevin, don’t
treat this like a joke.”
Kevin broadened his smile and raised his
hands in the air. “Hey, who’s laughing?”
“The tabloids. Not your family.” Sean closed
the cover on his tablet, a sign that he was warming up to a real
barnburner of a lecture. “You’re not a kid anymore. You can’t keep
living like this. Don’t you want to do something more meaningful
with your life than date models and go to parties?”