This week has been pretty awesome. And it’s only Tuesday.
First of all, author friend Stacey Cochran sent me a blurb for The Last Superhero and it’s pretty mind blowing:
“Cruz’s voice is the most authentic to emerge from the Caribbean in the digital age. Edgy, smart, tough, she writes with inspired confidence.”
– Stacey Cochran, author of EDDIE & SUNNY.
And no, I didn’t put a gun to his head or anything! I couldn’t speak for a while after he wrote to me and even when I’ve read it and reread it a couple of times I still can’t believe he’s talking about me. 😀
Then, something wonderful happened this morning. The print proof of The Last Superhero arrived in the mail!
I love it. I love everything about it and I will sleep with it hugged to my chest tonight.
And I know I have lots of friends and family wanting to do that too so I’m selling autographed copies. Yay!
Click here if you’d like to buy one and I will love you forever!
If I keep smiling like this my face will hurt. So here I give you Chapter 2…
It’s been a week since the incident and I’m chatting with Daphne – my right-hand, store clerk, and all around guardian angel who has worked here for free for far longer than I care to admit – about hair colors. She’s punk and has purple and white streaks in her hair and keeps trying to convince me about dyeing mine any color I choose from the rainbow.
“I’m trying to run a bookstore,” I reply.
Well, it’s not my bookstore, it’s my mother’s, but I’m the one who runs it for her thanks to people like Daphne who believe the written word isn’t dead.
Anyway, that’s another story.
“Blue would look perfect on you,” she says, eyeing the customer that’s just walked in. “It might help us attract a younger crowd and less of those.” She nods the customer’s way.
I give a jump.
“What?” Daphne frowns. She doesn’t know.
She doesn’t know the old dude’s back and he’s here to kill me.
He glides through the bookshelves, like some cat.
“I’ll be outside,” I say, rush through the back door.
He’s on my tail and I hear Daphne trying to stop him.
“I just want to talk,” he says once we’ve both made it outside, closing the door on poor Daphne.
“It’s okay, Daph, I’ve got it!” I cry, praying it makes it through the door seams and to her. Address him, “You don’t want her calling the police.”
He opens the door again and there’s Daphne holding her phone to her face.
“It’s okay,” I tell her, my arms crossed over my chest to hide my trembling. “He’s a friend of Mom’s.”
“Oh,” Daphne lowers her phone.
“I’ll be back in ten.”
She shuts the door.
This is it. This is where I die. Next to the dumpster. So classy.
“Please make it quick.” My voice quivers, breaks. “And don’t let Daphne see my dead body, she’s squeamish.”
“Look, I didn’t tell the police it was you, just some Good Samaritan that then ran off. The surveillance cameras haven’t worked for years, so there’s no evidence.” It’s difficult to speak, but I push through. At least let me explain myself before he kills me off.
His brows furrow, every time a little deeper.
“The guy’s in the hospital. He has no family or anything so no one will miss him.” I can hear him breathing hard. “And I think you should know I’m an only child and this bookstore is my mother’s, so maybe you’d like to dump my body somewhere they can’t find me.”
“What the fuck are you going on about?”
“You’re here to kill me, aren’t you?”
“I’m not.” He looks around, exasperated.
“What are you here for then?”
He brings his hands to his head. “This is fucked up.”
“I’m not here to kill you and it wasn’t my intention to injure that man.”
“It’s not like you haven’t done it before.”
His stare is so intense, I step back and bump into the wall behind me.
“What do you know about me?”
I feel my knees buckle and lean on the wall to remain vertical.
“That your name is Steven Waldorf.”
“That…” Should I say it? He’s pressing me with those menacing hazel eyes… “You’re the last superhero to roam the Earth.”
His face falls for a second before he steps back, away from my quaking self.
I know too much and now he knows I know and he’ll do to me what they do to all the people who know too much.
“I’m not here to kill you.”
I brave a glance at him and he’s standing next to the dumpster, his head down.
“No, I’m not. What made you think that?”
“Apart from all the glaring and the sneering?” And the fact that I witnessed you almost murder someone?
He runs his fingers through his graying hair. “Look, I’m sorry I was rude to you.”
“Are you even real?”
“Of course I am.”
“And you are Steven Waldorf.”
“I go by Steven Dennis now.”
“Oh.” A pause. “You’re supposed to be dead.”
“Yes. And I would appreciate if you didn’t tell anyone that I am not.”
“Okay.” Sure. Or you’ll kill me. I get it.
He’s about to say something, but it dies in his throat. His face’s softened and giving him a second look, he’s not that old or bad looking.
It takes a depraved mind like mine to think such a thing in a moment like this.
Something drives me to talk. Maybe it’s that same thing that made me get out of the car and read the plaque.
Step closer to the boogeyman so he can slash you straight.
“Were you looking for something? Is there anything I can help you with?”
Now he softens further and there’s the ghost of a smile on his lips.
“I came to buy more books.”
“Okay. Follow me.”
Don’t touch him in case he’s startled and then kills you.
We walk back into the bookstore and I signal Daphne that all is okay. She gives Steven an ‘I’m watching you’ look that he doesn’t notice.
He’s got superpowers, yes, but not all of them. I think there’s a rule about that; you only get one or two, not more. He’s got telekinesis. It explains why the hobo flew through the air. He pushed him with his power.
We’re in the poetry section and I try to interest him in some crime novel that just came out.
“Don’t read crime.”
Of course you don’t.
A long, elegant finger settles on a particular poetry compilation that happens to be one of my favorites and pulls it out.
The guy seems to know. “Great choice.”
“One of my favorites.” I’m regarded with a quirked eyebrow and a satisfied nod. “I must ask…”
And here I was thinking he’d softened.
Why am I following him, I don’t know.
Well, maybe because he’s the last fucking superhero in the fucking Earth and, right now, I’m the only one who knows he’s still alive.
When I turn around, he’s staring at me.
“Can you read my mind?”
That makes him burst out in laughter.
“Not funny.” I give him an about face and his hand lands on my shoulder, startling me.
“Sorry,” he says.
Daphne’s checking on us from a distance.
“Got any naughty thoughts you don’t want me knowing about?”
Is that humor? Must be.
That amuses him.
“I’m taking this one but only because you said it was your favorite.” He hands me the book.
“One of my favorites. I’ve got many.” I lead the way to the register, where Daphne’s sitting.
She’s quick to slide off the stool and run for cover.
“Then I shall come back for the rest.”
Am I getting hit on by a man twice my age? From murder to flirting. This is new and unheard.
He’s smiling. It makes him look less menacing. Almost nice.
Apart from the murder thing.
He pays, I bag the book, give it to him.
“What’s your name, by the way?”
It hits him, something, don’t know what, then says, “Beautiful.” And it’s as if it physically hurt him.
A slight bow and he’s out. Out the door but not my mind.
“What did he want?” Daphne approaches me.
“I don’t know,” is my reply and I have to shake it off. “I’m getting lunch.” Hit a button on the cash register and see there’s not enough.
“I’ll get it.” She pats my shoulder and is off the same way Steven was seconds before.
I bend over and hit my forehead on the counter.
“Fuck everything and everyone, dead, alive, or about to die.”