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The Last Superhero – Chapter 3 and Launch!

Dontbreakhisheart-Quote

My heart was in Cruz’s expert grip throughout. Love, loneliness, grief, salvation, finely wrought drama and no-holds-barred fantasy… This book has it all.

– Walter Conley, screenwriter of Badderlands

Less than 36 hours to go for the book launch and I’m ecstatic, to say the least. Pre-orders are pouring in and the support from friends and family has been amazing. That doesn’t mean the work is over. Far from that, we’re just getting started!

If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, what are you waiting for?

My editor, Stacia Rogan, was nice enough to write a post about editing this book. A book we both thought she’d hate since she’s a ‘self-proclaimed hardcore non-reader of science fiction’. I was glad I didn’t have to stab her! 😀

Now, have chapter 3!

3

It’s one of those days when you don’t want to see anyone, but you have to because you have to go to work and run errands and talk to people.

Top it off with the fact that I was running late and you can see the picture.

Daphne had opened the shop.

That bookstore.

The only constant in my life, having been established by my mother before I was born, and the one thing that I was now carrying like dead weight wherever I’d go.

Landlord’s being an asshole again,” I say once I walk in, my eyes on the two coffees I’m carrying, my mind replaying that scene between Mr. Brownstone and me when he knocked on my door to remind me my rent was late, yet again. “He won’t leave me alone.”

Giana?”

I got you coffee.”

There’s someone here to see you.”

I look up and see him. Steven.

I don’t need this. I really don’t need this.

Hi,” he says all shy and charming and innocent like.

I can swear he looks even younger than before.

I give Daphne her coffee and offer Steven mine. “I can get another one.”

No, thank you. I already had my dose.” A smile.

Daphne scurries away and I’m left with Mr. Stalker.

Whatever. “Join me in my office?”

He steps aside for me to cross the store and into the back room we call the office. It’s more of a closet or a cupboard than an office, but it works.

He sits on the red armchair facing the gray desk inside the green walls. My mother has something for colors.

What brings you here today, Mr. Wal- Dennis?” I stutter, my hands busy unwrapping my scarf.

Are you okay?”

Don’t answer my question with another question. That’s rude.

Yes.” No. I’m not. Nobody cares. London Bridge falls every fucking day.

Problems with the landlord?”

I scowl. “He’s a moody old perv.”

What?!” He’s outraged.

Oh no, no, don’t go thinking… It’s just that he’s… He’s always wearing these old, stained clothes and he sputters when he talks, mostly when he’s angry. The spit sometimes pools in the edge of his lips…” I almost dry heave at that.

And I’m behind on my rent and he’s kicking me out, but I’m not saying that to his face.

He tilts his head to one side. “Would you like to take a stroll with me? Take your mind off it a bit?”

I sip from my coffee. I just got here and shouldn’t leave. At least not with him.

Then he’s looking at me, pleading. This isn’t so much for me as it is for him and I’ll be damned if I ain’t got a thing for pleading souls.

I wrap the scarf around my neck again and this time he leads the way out of the store.

Daphne sends me a questioning look that I respond to with a mouthed ‘I’ll be back.’

There’s a moment of hesitation when Steven hits the sidewalk. He’s unsure, thinking about it twice.

Would the park be okay?” he asks.

The park would be fine,” I say.

And we’re off.

He walks with purpose, as if not to be distracted. I fight to keep up with him.

Where is he taking me?

Has he changed his mind and is going to murder me?

There’s a lake in the park and heaven knows I never learned how to swim.

I’m not going to hurt you,” he says once we reach the entrance.

I open my mouth to protest. I know he’s not a bad person.

I know you’re not a bad person.”

His eyes change and I see him bite the inside of his cheek as we walk into the park, every step taking us farther into that area where the trees grow thicker and the crowd thinner.

Fewer witnesses.

Dear Mom, I’m only acting on what you told me so many years ago. Don’t take it out on me if this fails.

What are you thinking that is making you frown so hard?”

You wouldn’t believe it.”

Try me.”

We reach the lake and I’m glad to see there are people on the other side. It’s a large lake, but a scream would make it to them. I think.

My coffee secured in my hand, I tell him something I’d never told anyone.

My mother, she told me about you.”

Did she?”

Yeah. When I was little.” Sip from the coffee and yuck, it’s cold already. Wipe my mouth with the sleeve of my coat. “You saved her once from falling off a cliff.”

He raises his eyebrows and it’s clear he can’t remember. It must be awfully hard to remember so many people, so many faces.

She told me you were a good man. Misunderstood, but a good man nonetheless.”

His eyes are on his shoes, his hands buried in his pockets.

Misunderstood,” he whispers. “Maybe. But I’m not a good man, I’m not a good person.”

You saved me from getting mugged, that gives you some good-guy points in my book.”

For the first time, I hear him scoff. “Good-guy points. That’s new. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened to you were I not there. It’s not easy to talk your way out of a robbery, much less when it’s a junkie.”

I’ve been there before and managed to convince a couple of them to desist.” I turn my eyes to him and, oh, he’s amused. “I wanted to be a psychologist.”

Wanted?”

Yes. Wanted. Couldn’t afford it.”

Blergh. I feel like shit every time this subject comes up.

He doesn’t say anything.

Anyway. Thank you for being there that night.”

I start back for the trees when he touches my shoulder and I’m compelled to turn around and face him again.

His hand travels upwards, to the side of my face.

I see him so clearly all of a sudden. He’s smiling and says, “Don’t go.”

How can I not stay if he’s looking at me that way? Fuck. Can’t deny the fact that his features are more than agreeable, I’d even say he’s quite handsome.

Or is it the light? It’s such a beautiful day.

I like to come here.” He’s contemplating the lake, some deep, sad longing in his eyes. “It’s one of those places that makes me feel better, lighter, as if the world were still a nice place to live in.”

I stand beside him and, dammit, it feels so nice.

How long have you been hiding?”

Twenty-eight years.”

That’s a long time.”

It is.”

Ever feel lonely?”

All the time.”

I bet.”

I bet you don’t know about that.”

Now it’s my turn to scoff. “Watch out, mister. There are many of us lone wolves roaming around.”

How come?”

How come what?”

You’re… young.”

Is that a compliment?” He stares a bit too intently at me. “I like to think I still haven’t hit my prime.”

Hmm.”

What’s made you come out of the cave after so long?”

He ponders, brushes the grass with the sole of his shoe. So pretty, so green. “It was time I did.”

Good enough.

And when was that?”

A month and a half ago. Still trying to get used to it.”

Do you still use your powers? Apart from saving damsels from getting mugged?”

That was the first time I used them in a long time, hence the huffing and puffing afterward. It takes a lot of strength to do what I do.”

I thought it was an asthma attack. My mother gets them every now and then.”

Where is she? Your mother?”

In Spain visiting my father and, in the meantime, the Madrid Book Fair.”

I sip from the coffee and, as I swallow it, I let its warmth envelop my insides.

Oh,” he says.

You know, about that night with the thief, I’m of the thought that people meet for a reason, that nothing’s random.”

You believe us two meeting wasn’t a random thing?”

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.”

Good.” He’s facing me now, a smile on his face, a sparkle in his eyes. “I’d like to think that too.”

Why are you being so charming all of a sudden?”

Because you need a friend.” He takes a breath, filling his lungs with the oh so pure air around us. “Maybe we can have that coffee tomorrow?”

Sure. I always get mine from that coffee shop around the corner from the bookshop.”

Perfect. I’ll see you there around eight?”

Yeah.”

Another smile and is that my heart fluttering?

What I do feel all of a sudden is my feet hit the ground and I have to step back to keep my balance.

Steven’s hand is retreating from in front of my eyes, curling his fingers away from my forehead.

What the fuck?!”

He’s walking away.

Hey!” I feel the coffee in my hand and it’s cold as cold can be and the air doesn’t smell as pure as it used to.

I search for him, but he’s disappeared into the trees.

Goddammit!” I cry, frustrated.

Stupid me forgot his most controversial superpower: the ability to project fantasies into people’s minds.

You bastard!”

Hurling my already stale coffee only contributes to my anger as I encounter a ‘Do Not Litter’ sign that makes me squat to pick it up and throw it in the trash before exiting the park, swearing there’s smoke coming out of my ears as I go.

###

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The Last Superhero – How it came to be

TLS Twitter HeaderIt may sound absurd but don’t be naïve. Even heroes have the right to bleed.

Back in 2008-2009 I had an idea for a story focusing on a retired superhero. Songs like 3 Doors Down’s Kryptonite and Five for Fighting’s Superman inspired me to create a superhero character exploring a more intimate, human side of it. That’s how Steven S. Waldorf came to be. The last superhero to roam the Earth.

My friends and family liked the idea and a first draft was born. A first draft that was passed around and read and edited and I thought I had it so I started posting chapters on my Tumblr.

That was when one certain person told me to stop and rewrite the whole thing. To say I was angry is an understatement. If so many people liked it why couldn’t he?

Still, I do listen to this one person I shall not mention by name since he’s old and wise. I stowed the manuscript and waited, not for the world to change, but for my world to change.

Four years and a couple of books published later, I decided to revisit this story, rewrite it from scratch. My world has changed considerably. I’ve been married for 10 years and life has given me a bunch of lessons about love, family, friendship, and loss. All this, of course, spills into my writing and what was once a novella has blown up into a 93k words novel with not only science fiction elements but fantasy and thriller too.

THE LAST SUPERHERO was reborn with a vengeance. A story that has lived inside me for years grew to what I believe is its full potential.

So, what’s the story about?

An aging superhero marked by rejection and tragedy meets a young woman that will put her life on the line to save him from his nightmares. Literally.

Steven S. Waldorf is the last superhero to roam the Earth. He’s been living in seclusion for 28 years and only now is coming back out into the world. Giana’s a twenty-nine year old woman trying to keep it together while searching for a way to get out of a rut. They meet one night when he saves her from getting mugged and that sparks a relationship between them that will throw her right into the center of his continuous unknown-to-the-world torment.

See, Steven’s got the power of telekinesis and can project fantasies into people’s minds, this last one being his most controversial power and the culprit of his torment.

But you’re going to have to read the book to know more about it.

I like to call it a sci-fi fantasy story for the non-sci-fi fantasy reader. It’s, above all, a love story between two people who’ve been through a lot and are able to find solace in each other.

Roles are switched, and it’s the superhero the one that needs to be saved from his internal battles. It’s a psychology thing, using Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego theory and research on dreams from people like Carl Jung.

The writing style

Last year I published a short story called At the Corner of Mars and Neptune (FREE 11/25-11/26 2014). I’m going to steal Stacey Cochran’s term and call it a noir romance. With it I wanted to try out a looser type of writing than the one I use on The Caregiver Series, a more poetic one, resembling how I talk to myself (yeah, I do that… a lot).

Knock. Knock.
He looks at me. I look at him. We both know.
I stride to the door faster than he can reach an outstretched hand to me.
Turn the doorknob, hold my breath.
Open the door and the punch lands square on my face.
“Hey!” Noah exclaims.
I’m on all fours, trying to get up, when a foot kicks me to the side.
“He’s clear!” I shout when I see John closing the distance. “Don’t hurt him, he’s got nothing.”
“He’s a cop!” He’s pointing a gun at Noah’s face. “What the fuck is wrong with you, bitch? Bringing cops in here?”
I have to get up. Noah’s holding his hands in the air—so policeman of him. The pink straw pointing at his face, as if it was looking at him and telling him: you’re fucked.
“Leave him, John. He’s leaving now.”
“He better.”
“Go fuck someone else, John.”
“You,” he turns to point the gun at me now because I’m on my feet again, “stop fucking around.”
“I never fuck around.” I push the gun barrel out of my sight. “I said he’s leaving.”
John lets a couple of beats pass. Like techno, just the bass of his chest marking each one. He lowers the gun, turns to Noah. “Next time I see you ‘round here Imma a pop one in your skull, you fucking pig.” And exits like he’s some kind of warrior, looking down at us, flexing his chest muscles so he looks bigger.
Noah runs to me, checking my face. I slap his hands away.
“Go. Before he comes back.”
“Your cheekbone is busted.”
I touch it with my fingertips. Yeah, it’s open. “Whatevs. Just go before he comes back and kills you.”
“Meet me tomorrow. Ten. You know the Greek restaurant a couple of blocks from here?”
“Yeah.”
“There.”
“Okay.”
He gives me another look, his eyes stray to the place in my face sporting the open wound. Go, I mouth, shoving him out the door and locking it. Locking him out. Locking me in. And I don’t know why but I’m silently praying he makes it out in one piece.
~ At the Corner of Mars and Neptune – Chapter 3
That story got some nice praise from readers and fellow authors so I decided to give it a shot with this book too and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.
I park in front of his house and turn the car off.
Shiver again at the thought of that cop.
I’m not telling Steven. No.
Deep breaths.
It’s early in the afternoon and I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I need to see him.
And I’m out of cigarettes.
He ain’t got a phone so I can’t call him up and say ‘hey can I come over?’
So I get out of my car, walk up to the gate, and search for something like an intercom or even a bell.
Nope, no such luck.
Gate’s locked and the path to the door is pretty long.
How tall is this wall?
Do I really want to see him that bad?
Ponder.
Use the padlock, tap it on the gate a couple of times.
No answer.
I am not shouting his name and I am not honking either.
I’ve climbed walls before. And this one’s got some sturdy looking ivy branches.
Grab one, wrap it around your wrist, pull on it, think it’ll hold.
And it does. It will.
Move the fuck over Tarzan, ’cause here goes Jane.
Just like one of those rock climbing walls people are so amused by, only this surface’s flat and slippery, and I’m not wearing a harness.
Some small scratches on my hands and I’ve made it to the top.
Who’s awesome, eh? Who’s fucking awesome?
Get off before someone drives by and sees you straddling the top of the wall like it’s a horse.
Grab some branches and lower yourself.
Easy. Easy.
They say it’s the climb, man, but going down is nerve-wracking sometimes.
Crack.
Crap!
~ The Last Superhero – Chapter 8
I thought my editor would hate it. The style, the story, the characters, everything. Until she read it and told me “I can honestly say the most compelling story I’ve read in longass while has been yours.” That made me feel somewhat better. Here’s to hoping you all enjoy it as well.

The Last Superhero – Music ♪♫

I’m close to publishing my next novel, The Last Superhero, a sci-fi fantasy romance about the last superhero to roam the Earth and the young woman that turns his life around. It’s a superhero story with a twist, exploring the human side of things instead of the usual/fantastic. More on that in next posts, I promise!

Right now we’re working through the edits for a December launch. Yay! And I want to start writing about it, kind of get the ball rolling.

One thing I do when writing is listen to music that either appeals to the characters or helps set the mood for a scene. It’s something I’ve written about before so I won’t bore you with details, what I’ll give you, for now, is part of this book’s playlist. Enjoy!

There’s plenty of action in the book and for those parts I have my own special “war” playlist:

The Beast – Chapter 2 (Book 3 of The Caregiver Series) Teaser!

A/N: Due to the hard times my family’s been going through (I lost my sister on the 14th, later hubby and I lost a coworker, and yesterday we lost a dear and close friend) I’ve decided to postpone the launch of The Beast to mid-January. In return for your patience I’m posting teaser chapters for your enjoyment!

The Beast

Chapter 2

There was no chair that could contain me inside that hospital, nor a corridor long enough to stop my pacing. Millions of things were bubbling inside me.

We had all been questioned about the incident but Police Superintendent Rivero dismissed us. He was a good friend of Adrian’s and obviously affected by what had happened.

There was a Christmas tree next to the nurses’ station with colored lights flashing to high-pitched electronic carols. I was making my way towards it to rip it apart when Armand intercepted me.

Scarlett, you should eat something.” His hand landed on the crook of my elbow, dragging me to a corner with him.

You shouldn’t be here. I need to get you out of here; take you somewhere safe.”

Scarlett, calm down.” He held on to my upper arms, leaning over to level our gazes. “There’s nothing else you can do.”

He saved you.” I still couldn’t grasp what had happened.

Sit down with me. Let me get you something.”

He wasn’t the target after all. It was you. It was always you.”

They’d be very stupid if they tried to get me here with so many cops around.”

There was so much frustration inside me. I knew I had to calm down before continuing the conversation so I shrugged out of his grip and started walking away when Bobby came into sight.

He stretched out a hand to my shoulder but didn’t touch me, only caressed the air around it. I knew that gesture. He used to do that whenever he knew I was in distress.

This particular kind of distress.

The rifle was remotecontrolled. There was no one inside the apartment.”

Then we must get to that second hotel.”

No one there either. No documents, nothing. Superintendent Rivero will get us the CCTV videos.”

He glanced at Armand behind me but I pulled him back. “How’s Raakin?”

Devastated. Mahmoud isn’t exactly cooperating. How are you feeling?”

I’m not sick, just pregnant.”

You know what I mean.”

It was starting to dawn on me that I had been exposed to all of them beyond belief. I was feeling naked all of a sudden and there was no amount of clothes that could cover me up.

Like shooting myself.” I pushed him aside and stormed out of the corridor.

I heard Armand’s footsteps begin to follow me, then stop. Bobby must have been the one to bring him to a halt.

Maybe a walk would help me clear my mind. A walk that, if I let myself go with how I felt, would never end.

I didn’t get far though; Kathy had arrived with Eliza and Oksana and her arms went around me the moment I was within her reach.

I can’t, Scarlett…” She cried as she buried her fingers into my aching back. “I can’t lose him.”

I wrapped my arms around her and filed my thoughts for later. “It’s all right.”

He’s going to die, isn’t he?”

I shut my eyes for a second. “I think yes.” I was good at omitting information but never at lying, not in situations like this one.

She trembled and sobbed against me and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for making her go through this.

Sit down. We’re waiting for the doctors to come out and tell us how he’s doing.”

I gestured Eliza to get her into a nearby waiting room. However, when I pushed Kathy off me, she clasped my hand.

Don’t leave me.”

Kathy, I…”

Please?”

Dammit. I obliged. It was the least I could do. Armand was relieved to see me walk into that waiting room and sit next to Kathy, our hands entwined. Eliza sat on the opposite side and took her other hand. Bobby, Armand, Rhys, and Rooney each took a seat at the other end of the room.

I encountered Armand’s gaze the moment Kathy put her head on my shoulder. The amount of love in his eyes made me shiver. How could he look at me after all the shit that had been stirred?

George walked into the room, followed by Larry and, you guessed it, a doctor wearing scrubs and a face of pure defeat.

Everyone stood to hear the detailed explanation of the fatality of Adrian’s wound. I couldn’t listen; as much as I strained my ears no sound made it in. All I felt was Kathy’s hand squeezing mine before going limp and sliding down. I pulled her up with the help of Eliza and George and we set her back in her seat.

Adrian Lang was brain-dead. Breathing with the aid of machines.

A surge of anger ran through me and I tensed under Kathy’s half-dizzy wailing. She was pressing herself further against my chest, her face hidden under my chin and her hands making fists on the collar of my jacket.

I gathered her in my arms. For a moment I wished I could join her, that actual tears were forming in my eyes, but all I could conceive was an immeasurable anger. I couldn’t comfort her. I couldn’t comfort myself. I should’ve felt happy or, if not happy, at least okay with it. But death and murder have one unwavering characteristic: they never feel as you imagine.

The doctor asked if we wanted to see him and, of course, Kathy jumped to say yes.

I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to see anyone. Dead or alive.

Armand put a reassuring arm around my shoulders and I had to suppress the sudden need to duck away from it.

We were led into a room smelling of disinfectant. The constant beeping of monitors and the rhythm of the ventilator served as background music. Kathy kept an arm around my waist as we entered together, leaving the rest to watch through a glass window.

Her breathing hitched as we inched towards the man who lay on that bed. His blanched, lifeless face struck me. He looked so peaceful. Not even his signature frown was left.

The crying subsided when Kathy was able to touch him. I studied her profile and she bore no resemblance to the young woman who had sashayed her way around the party the first night after our arrival. No, this was someone else altogether. It was a woman who was slowly landing on the realization that there was an invisible knife stuck in her chest.

Adrian,” she whispered, her hand sliding away from me to caress his face.

There was movement outside and I saw Jin-Jing pushing through to peek into the room. I shot her a warning look, shaking my head, and she understood that it wasn’t the right moment.

He loved you.” I rubbed Kathy’s arm.

I know.” Then she turned to me. “He loved you, too. Even though he wronged you, believe me, he loved you. There were too many conflicted feelings inside him about you.”

I wasn’t catching her drift and, sincerely, I didn’t know if I wanted to.

We’d have a conversation about this later. It’d be more prudent to let the body get cold before we started hashing out truths about him.

I glanced at the window and there was only Jin-Jing now. Kathy saw her and beckoned her to come in.

The small dark eyes framed by the cascading black hair were filled with tears. She took a couple of shy steps then halted, obviously taken aback by the sight of the man lying on that bed. She exchanged a glance with me and I pressed my lips together into a thin line.

Kathy took Jin-Jing’s hand and gently tugged her forward. To this, I stepped back. Not that the latter complained. We were both trying to drop the snideness but failing miserably.

We were sharing a moment of silence when the door opened and a black woman in her late twenties sporting a beautiful mane of curly brown hair peeked in. The moment her eyes fell on Adrian she brought one hand to her mouth, the other to her chest.

Kathy smiled at the weeping woman. “Daniela. So glad you came.”

Reluctant, calculated steps took the woman from the door to the bedside, from where she stroke Adrian’s cheek with trembling fingers.

Bloody hell, you’ve got to be kidding me!

The Beast – Chapter 1 (Book 3 of The Caregiver Series) Teaser!

A/N: Due to the hard times my family’s been going through (I lost my sister on the 14th, later hubby and I lost a coworker, and yesterday we lost a dear and close friend) I’ve decided to postpone the launch of The Beast to mid-January. In return for your patience I’m posting teaser chapters for your enjoyment!

The Beast

Chapter 1

Arms. Around me.

Hands. Reaching out to me.

George’s face inching closer. Bobby’s eyes, wide as saucers, as he runs towards me.

Someone touched my shoulder and I cringed, even though I couldn’t feel a thing.

It didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t hear either.

Hands helped me to my feet, coaxed me to follow.

At first I wasn’t sure whose hands they were; all I knew was that they were warm, that they felt safe. I focused my eyes and it was Bobby who was dragging me away, walking against the current of police and paramedics rushing to the scene.

Ollie welcomed me into the van, sat me on a seat next to his, and covered me with a blanket without uttering a word. Then Armand climbed in with Bradley and we started moving. The rattling of the wheels on the cobblestones and the swaying of the giant metal cube added to my discomfort. I wanted to puke, to run, to scream, to snap in some way, but I had no strength.

The only time I lifted my eyes was to meet Armand’s. Even when I tried, I couldn’t get the tears to flow. It felt as if they were flooding the inside of my face but encountering a dam when they reached my eyeballs. He noticed and held me in a tight embrace.

Adrian Lang, my grandfather, was dead. My teacher and tormentor had given his life to save the man I loved.

I, on the other hand, hadn’t saved his life in return.

Meet the Characters: Scarlett Lang

I’d been wanting to write about the characters in my series, The Caregiver, for some time now, although I believe it’s a little too early to do so, don’t ask me why (maybe it has to do with the fact that I refuse to think of myself as an author). However, The Beast (Book 3) will be released into the wild soon and I thought it would be nice to give you some inside info about the main characters in the series (I may get to the secondary and tertiary too because I love them all so much).

Consider this something in the likes of loose character notes because these people tend to take matters into their own hands most of the time, leaving me as the mere channel through which they tell their stories.

So, let’s get this party started with the protagonist:

Scarlett Lang

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, USA, around March 1981 (don’t have an exact date but she’s an Aries) which makes her 31 years old at the time of books 1 and 2. Granddaughter to Adrian Lang, daughter to Daniel Lang and Margaret Lang. Became an orphan after her parents’ murder at 12 and went to live with her grandfather up until she was 17, when she married Xavi Pontevedra and moved to Puerto Rico. She didn’t become an active hit woman until after that marriage ended (only lasted a year) and she was taken under Rafael Cisneros’ wing back in Miami (right around 1999 – 2000). Rafael Cisneros was the one who coaxed her into becoming a nurse, all the while employing her as hit woman and helping her become the well-known assassin she is. Cisneros’ half-brother, Roberto, is another main character in her personal history, turning from childhood crush to lover around 2002 and keeping an on and off relationship with her until she’s offered the Interpol position within The Filius Project in 2005. The Gibraltar mission takes place in 2007, the Sayer mission in 2012.

      I wrote a post about face claims on my Tumblr and put up a collage with pics of the men in the series because it’s been so much easier to find male actors to fit my characters than female ones. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and like to think of every female character as an extension of myself, although the male ones are also extensions of myself… Or maybe it’s because I’m so jealous of them I can’t even… Emotions aside, I picture Scarlett a lot like actresses Emily Hampshire, Jemima Rooper, or Suranne Jones.
      I didn’t want to make her a sex symbol, nor a masculinized woman. A friend once commented on how much she liked to read scenes where Scarlett’s in a room filled with men and not have the situation turn into a sexual one (she was mainly referring to this vignette). Scarlett’s confident about herself and her abilities to the point of not having to prove them to anyone. And she prefers shirts and trousers rather than dresses, but I want to believe I’ve given her enough emotional balance to say she’s not a man with a vagina, or a woman with a dick, whatever rocks your boat. There is a lot of sex in Scarlett’s past. Part of it is revealed in Book 2, but Book 3 shows a tad more, and the possible prequels I’m working on thanks to the vignettes do have a heavy sexual component. There is the subject of BDSM, nevertheless, this is no Fifty Shades. I just wanted to show a female character that can walk into a dark alley and, although she’ll be scared shitless, can deal with the situation should she get mugged. And that, of course, enjoys sex as much as the next guy without feeling guilty about it.
      Also, I like that she’s got body issues like any other woman, to the point of even mentioning the fact that she can’t wear a gun between her thighs because she lacks the coveted thigh gap. This is also a loaded weapon in the hands of the wrong people. In Book 2 her new superior, DS Ethan Young, uses it when he tells her “I wasn’t aware that the Sayer mission was a deep penetration one. Romulus assured me you weren’t a honeytrap. Seeing you now I can tell what he meant. However, I know he was aware of the fact that Sayer was never a shallow man, unlike his colleagues.” The bastard. She may seem unfazed right then but, believe me, that kind of talk does hurt. And then he goes into slut-shaming mode in Book 3 and will keep it up in Book 4 because he’s a dickhead like that.
      Scarlett isn’t a complicated character, at least from my point of view. She’s pretty simple and even though she thinks she’s got a hold on life, she doesn’t. The situation she’s in is what’s complicated about all this and she’s trying to figure things out as well as she can. She’s made a lot of mistakes (haven’t we all?) and will keep making them until the day she dies.
      She’s no Cinderella. She’s a hit woman, for fuck’s sake. And even when she’s been dragged into this whole Filius Project shit, she’s never stopped being one of the best assassins in the world, which translates into a lot of money in the bank and a lot of traveling around. This being said, she’s no poor girl falling in love with a filthy rich prince. As a matter of fact, she may be one of the few that can look a drug lord like Armand in the eye when it comes to both nerves and financial stability. She doesn’t need anyone giving her anything, to the point where, in Book 3, she’ll be the one gifting Armand some pretty cool and expensive stuff. She has a life apart from him and his people and a lot of it will come to the light in Book 3.
      Even though she could be, she’s not alone. There are some revealing scenes in Book 2 where readers learn how Scarlett was abused as a child. This whole sad, dark past subject worked itself into the story. It was never my intention to do that but, somehow, it fit. However, this doesn’t mean she’s lived a secluded or estranged life, quite the contrary, she took it to herself to surround her persona with friends and allies that, although work related, regard her as part of their families and will do everything they can to help and protect her. Many of them don’t know what actually happened in her past (hence Bobby Cisneros’ reaction when it’s revealed) even when her grandfather, Adrian Lang, was also their acquaintance, yet that didn’t stop them from adding her to their circles. There’s Eliza Pontevedra too, who lived such abuses in tandem and acts as a sisterly safe haven when the past comes at them in waves. Then, when Armand comes into the picture, we can all see how she wins over his people and manages to bend them for her own purposes.
      “You seldom kill for your own benefit, Scarlett.” When Han, the Chinese Dragon Head, said this while I was writing Book 3 I had to pause and think for a while. There’s a scene in Book 2 where Scarlett has a bit of a breakdown after a very tense moment between her, Adrian, Bobby, and a very concerned George. But when Han spoke those words it all became so clear. Scarlett’s a hit woman. This means she’s paid to kill people that other people want dead, not her. Now the tables are turned and she’s finding out how different it is when you’re killing people you want dead yourself. It’s a whole other game she’s entering and it will prove not to be as easy as she thought.
All this said, I want to add that there’s a bigger character arc in the works between the vignettes/prequels and the books already in the series. This can be seen already in the vignettes (another one of those things that’s come as a surprise while writing them). The Scarlett pre-Gibraltar mission is very different from the post-mission one in a lot of ways. I like to think the pre-mission Scarlett would’ve never thought of getting married again, not even remotely, much less let herself get caught up in the illusion of planning a wedding and a happy ending kind of future…
But you’ll have to read Book 3 to know what happens with that!

Want to know more?

You can read THE CAREGIVER (Book 1 of The Caregiver Series) for free at The Caregiver Series Blog and Wattpad, or get it from Smashwords (free), Barnes & Noble (free), Kobo (free) and Amazon (99 cents).

TORN (Book 2 of The Caregiver Series) is available through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

THE BEAST (Book 3 of The Caregiver Series) will be available mid-January through Smashwords and Amazon (the rest of the retailers will come later).

The Last Superhero – Chapter 3

This is a WIP. Unedited, unbetaed, raw stuff. I’m also posting it on Wattpad.

Read Chapter 1, Read Chapter 2

Chapter 3

It’s one of those days when you don’t want to see anyone but you have to, because you have to go to work and run errands and talk to people.

Top it off with the fact that I was running late and you can see the picture.

Daphne had opened the shop.

That bookstore.

The only constant in my life, having been established by my mother before I was born, and the one thing that I was now carrying like deadweight wherever I’d go.

Landlord’s being an asshole again.” I say once I walk in, my eyes on the two coffees I’m carrying, my mind replaying that scene between Mr. Brownstone and me when he knocked on my door to remind me my rent was late, yet again. “He won’t leave me alone.”

Giana?”

I got you coffee.”

There’s someone here to see you.”

I look up and see him. Steven.

I don’t need this. I really don’t need this.

Hi.” He says all shy and charming and innocent like.

I can swear he even looks younger than before.

I give Daphne her coffee and offer Steven mine. “I can get another one.”

No, thank you. I already had my dose.” A smile.

Daphne scurries away and I’m left with Mr. Stalker.

Whatever. “Join me in my office?”

He steps aside for me to cross the store and into the back room we call the office. It’s more of a closet or a cupboard than an office but it works.

He sits on the red armchair facing the gray desk inside the green walls. My mother has something for colors.

What brings you here today, Mr. Wal- Dennis?” I stutter, my hands busy unwrapping my scarf.

Are you okay?”

Don’t answer my question with another question, that’s rude.

Yes.” No. I’m not. Nobody cares. London bridge falls every fucking day.

Problems with the landlord?”

I scowl. “He’s a moody old perv.”

What?!” He’s outraged.

Oh no, no, don’t go thinking… It’s just that he’s… He’s always wearing these old, stained clothes, and he sputters when he talks, mostly when he’s angry. The spit sometimes pools in the edge of his lips…” I almost dry heave to that.

And I’m behind on my rent and he’s kicking me out but I’m not saying that to his face.

He cocks his head to one side. “Would you like to take a stroll with me? Take your mind off it a bit?”

I sip from my coffee. I just got here and shouldn’t leave. At least not with him.

Then he’s looking at me, pleading. This isn’t so much for me as it is for him and I’ll be damned if I ain’t got a thing for pleading souls.

I wrap the scarf around my neck again and this time he leads the way out of the store.

Daphne sends me a questioning look that I respond with a mouthed ‘I’ll be back’.

There’s a moment of hesitation when Steven hits the sidewalk. He’s unsure, thinking it twice.

Would the park be okay?” He asks.

The park would be fine.” I say.

And we’re off.

He walks with purpose, as if not to be distracted. I fight to keep up with him.

Where is he taking me?

Has he changed his mind and is going to murder me?

There’s a lake in the park and heaven knows I never learned how to swim.

I’m not going to hurt you.” He says once we reach the entrance.

I open my mouth to protest. I know he’s not a bad person.

I know you’re not a bad person.”

His eyes change and I see him bite the inside of his cheek as we walk into the park, every step taking us farther into that area where the trees grow thicker and the crowd thinner.

Less witnesses.

Dear Mom, I’m only acting on what you told me so many years ago. Don’t take it on me if this fails.

What are you thinking that is making you frown so hard?”

You wouldn’t believe it.”

Try me.”

We reach the lake inside and I’m glad to see there are people on the other side. It’s a large lake, but a scream would make it to them. I think.

My coffee secured in my hand, tell him something I’d never told anyone.

My mother, she told me about you.”

Did she?”

Yeah. She used to talk to me about you when I was little.” Sip from the coffee and yuck, it’s cold already. Wipe my mouth with the sleeve of my coat. “You saved her once from falling off a cliff.”

He raises his eyebrows and it’s clear he can’t remember. It must be awfully hard to remember so many people, so many faces.

She told me you were a good man. Misunderstood, but a good man nonetheless.”

His eyes are on his shoes, his hands buried in his pockets.

Misunderstood.” He whispers. “Maybe. But I’m not a good man, I’m not a good person.”

You saved me from getting mugged, that gives you some good-guy points in my book.”

For the first time I hear him scoff. “Good-guy points. That’s new. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened to you were I not there. It’s not easy to talk your way out of a robbery, much less when it’s a junkie.”

I’ve been there before and managed to convince a couple of them to desist.” I turn my sight to him and, oh, he’s amused. “I wanted to be a psychologist.”

Wanted?”

Yes. Wanted. Couldn’t afford it.”

Blergh. I feel like shit every time this subject comes up.

He doesn’t say anything.

Anyway. Thank you for being there that night.”

I start back for the trees when he touches my shoulder and I’m compelled to turn around and face him again.

His hand travels upwards, to the side of my face.

I see him so clear all of a sudden. He’s smiling and says, “Don’t go.”

How can I not stay if he’s looking at me that way? Fuck. Can’t deny the fact that his features are more than agreeable, I’d even say he’s quite handsome.

Or is it the light? It’s such a beautiful day.

I like to come here.” He’s contemplating the lake, some deep, sad longing in his eyes. “It’s one of those places that makes me feel better, lighter, as if the world were still a nice place to live in.”

I stand beside him and, dammit, it feels so nice.

How long have you been hiding?”

Twenty-eight years.”

That’s a long time.”

It is.”

Ever feel lonely?”

All the time.”

I bet.”

I bet you don’t know about that.”

Now it’s my turn to scoff. “Watch out, mister. There are many of us lone wolves roaming around.”

How come?”

How come what?”

You’re… young.”

Is that a compliment?” He cocks an eyebrow at me. “I like to think I still haven’t hit my prime.”

Hmm.”

What’s made you come out of the cave after so long?”

He ponders, brushes the grass with the sole of his shoe. So pretty, so green. “It was time I did.”

Good enough.

And when was that?”

A month and a half ago. Still trying to get used to it.”

Do you still use your powers? Apart from saving damsels from getting mugged?”

That was the first time I used them in a long time, hence the huffing and puffing afterwards. It takes a lot of strength to do what I do.”

I thought it was an asthma attack. My mother gets them every now and then.”

Where is she? Your mother?”

In Spain visiting my father and, in the meantime, the Madrid Book Fair.”

I sip from the coffee and, as I swallow it, I let its warmth envelope my insides.

Oh.” He says.

You know, about that night with the thief, I’m of the thought that people meet for a reason, that nothing’s random.”

You believe us two meeting wasn’t a random thing?”

No. I don’t.”

Good.” He’s facing me now, a smile on his face, a sparkle in his eyes. “I’d like to think that too.”

Why are you being so charming all of a sudden?”

Because you need a friend.” He takes a breath, filling his lungs with the oh so pure air around us. “Maybe we can have that coffee tomorrow?”

Sure. I always get mine from that coffee shop on the corner from the bookshop.”

Perfect. I’ll see you there tomorrow. Around eight?”

Yeah.”

Another smile and, is that my heart fluttering?

What I do feel all of a sudden is my feet hit the ground and I have to step back to keep my balance.

Steven’s hand is retrieving in front of my eyes, curling his fingers away from my forehead.

What the fuck?!”

He’s walking away.

Hey!” I feel the coffee in my hand and it’s cold as cold can be and the air doesn’t smell as pure as it used to.

I search for him, but he’s disappeared into the trees.

Goddammit!” I cry, frustrated.

Stupid me forgot his most controversial superpower: the ability to project fantasies into people’s mind.

Bastard!”

Hurling my already stale coffee only contributes to my anger as I encounter a Do Not Litter sign that makes me squat to pick it up and throw it in the trash before exiting the park swearing there’s smoke coming out of my ears as I go.