Manhattan Ten, Book Three
This is one diva with killer moves…
Belle Fabian has worked her toes to the bone to become an internationally renowned ballerina. When the curtains rise on her career-making performance of Giselle, she brings down the house—literally.
Mid-dance, she manifests a superpower that nearly destroys the Metropolitan Opera House, wiping out a line of chorus girls and sending the audience dashing for the exits. As she flees the theater, she assumes the worst. Her hard-won career is over.
The Manhattan Ten’s leader is playing hooky with his new lady, so it falls to Red Ruin toround up the super-powered danseur. It’s just one small, bird-boned woman hiding in a convenience store. How hard could it be?
Their first encounter generates sparks that border nuclear and their chemistry sends Belle’s powers into overdrive, but their perfect storm of passion is marred by her suspicion that Ruin is holding back. That secret that could turn the sweet burn of Ruin’s lightning into a permanent scar on her heart.
Warning: Contains one lightning-hot hero and a not-so-blushing ballerina. May cause third-degree burns and spontaneous tango.
Copyright © 2014 Lola Dodge
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
The responsible thing would be to surrender. I owed it to the few hundred people I’d just freaked out, and probably to the public in general, but when I peeked out of the market, a lot of guns came out of holsters.
“Please stay inside, ma’am.” A policeman’s voice crackled over his megaphone. “We’re sending someone in.”
I retreated to the bakery and licked the frosting off a few cupcakes before a wave of nausea ended my binge. Who were they going to send? A SWAT team? Or maybe a bomb robot?
I kept waiting for whatever this was to stop, but every time I twitched, something got destroyed. Whatever the power was, it had to be temporary, and if I were patient enough, it would disappear as quickly as it showed up to ruin everything.
Any minute now.
I jumped at the voice. I’d known it was coming, but my landing shook the building.
Expecting to see a team of big, burly men in Kevlar, I peered past a bushel of baguettes. Just one guy.
I craned my neck and…sweet Jesus.
He wore a leather jacket that fit like sin. Tanned, but not a Guido. Dark, styled hair, but not douchey. Like an actual person instead of the cover model-stereotype he should’ve been.
Someone was obviously using pheromones to take me down easy. Good thing I was covered in chicken drippings, frosting and powdered cheese. I always did know how to impress a man.
“Belle?” He stepped into the store.
“Unfortunately.” This was so not my shining moment. I should never have run. “In the bakery section.” And it was too late to hide all of the cupcakes I’d licked.
He approached with his hands open, like I was some startled animal. He couldn’t be a cop in those civilian clothes, but he had to be someone important. He was tailored in that understated money kind of way, and I got the vague sense I’d seen him somewhere before. A billboard?
“My name’s Ryan Lamborne.” He stepped forward again, all sincerity. “Most people know me as Red Ruin. I’m with the Manhattan Ten.”
Didn’t they sell upscale real estate? Or… “Wait. That superhero group?”
“That one.” He leaned against one of the bread racks. “We’d like to help you deal with what happened earlier.”
With what happened?
“You mean the part where I destroyed a landmark and blew the performance of my life?” It was Giselle for Christ’s sake. And who knew how many other dancers I’d taken down? It wasn’t enough to ruin my own career. I had to shatter a few other people’s lives while I was at it.
No one would hire me again. Might as well become a stripper, or a call girl, or a sample pusher at the Food Lion.
“I know you’re upset,” Ryan, or Red Ruin, said. What kind of name was that? “You had no reason to think you’d develop powers, especially so la—”
Powers? “Not possible.” Obviously, the market hadn’t destroyed itself, but this was a temporary thing. Maybe a curse from the dance gods.
“Why not?” He moved closer and held out his hand. Rings of red lightning jolted around his fingertips. “My power’s electrical.”
The color was the purest scarlet. “Can I touch it?”
I brushed a fingertip against Ryan’s hand. It was warm and tingly, but more like a first kiss than an electric shock.
“On the tape it looked like you were manipulating kinetic energy while you danced. That’s why we need to—”
“But no one in my family—”
“Listen.” Ryan’s lightning cut and he set his hand on my shoulder. “No one in my family had powers either, so I know how you feel. You might not want to believe it, but there’s no other explanation, is there?”
I squinted up at him. Those stellar hazel eyes were the last straw. “I’m almost positive you’re a hallucination.”
Expression flat, he picked up a cupcake and mushed it into my forehead. “Would you hallucinate that?”
My jaw dropped. “You did not just…” Scraping the mess away with one hand, I grabbed for a cupcake with the other, but as soon as the cake neared him, it evaporated in a puff of red lightning.
Ryan tsked. “You think it would be that easy?”
I would’ve started a full-on food fight, but an expensive car rolled through the broken doors and parked next to the cash registers. “Cavalry’s here.” A blond man in a blazer hopped out. “Though you two seem to be doing fine.”
“Belle, this is Thunder. He’s another one of the M-Ten.”
Thunder? My gaze flicked between them. “Shouldn’t your name be Lightning, then?”
Thunder chuckled and clapped Ryan’s shoulder. “How many times have I said that?”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “You just want to see me in a spandex sidekick outfit.”
“Damn straight.” Thunder’s grin lit his exquisite green eyes. “Don’t you too, Ms. Fabian? Loved you in La Sylphide, by the way.”
My mind fixated on Ryan in spandex, until the mention of ballet clicked. “You saw it in London?”
“The costumes were breathtaking. And not to throw anyone under the bus, but you totally upstaged that clown who played James. Who even cast him?”
“Right? He was such a d—”
Ryan cleared his throat. “Should we have a tea party? We’ve got scones right here.”
“Could we get out of the bakery?” All the shattered glass reminded me how badly I’d screwed up. I strode for the car.
One stride and a wave of energy surged into Ryan and Thunder, knocking them into a display of soup cans. With a flash of lightning and a matching boom, they righted themselves, but the backlash from their powers collided with mine, sparking something like an accidental nuclear bomb.
The shockwave shot me back into the bakery, and I crashed into a display of snack cakes. Ow.
My body was already turning into a big bruise. Boxes spilled everywhere and a package of Devil Dogs tumbled off my head.
I grabbed it. Spoils of war.
“You okay, Belle?” Ryan ran over, Thunder close behind him.
“I don’t think they’re going to let me shop here again.” Did markets blacklist people? If they did, I was going to be number one on the list.
The guys eased me out of the rubble, and I hugged the box of cakes to my chest. I shouldn’t move again. At all. Ever.
Ryan tossed Thunder his keys. “Take the motorcycle back. I’ll drive her.”
Thunder blew a kiss on his way out. “Try not to smash my car.”
“I’ll try.” But I couldn’t exactly promise.
“Let me,” Ryan said.
“Let you wha—” He swept my feet off the ground and carried me to the car like I weighed nothing. While he shifted me to open the car door, I pressed my forehead into his chest. “There’s frosting on your shirt.”
He chuckled and maneuvered me into the seat. “I probably deserve that.”
I reached for the seatbelt, but he beat me there and snapped me into place. Wasn’t I just made out of glass?
He shut the door and moved around the car. “Ready?”
“I guess.” I popped open my box of Devil Dogs, but I didn’t have the heart to unwrap one. I wasn’t hungry anymore.
“Take this.” Ryan stripped off his jacket and offered it to me.
“Thanks, but I don’t really—”
“Duck down and put it over your head.” Ryan looked over his shoulder as he backed the car out of the market. “There are about fifty news channels out there that want a shot of you.”
“Lovely.” I put my head between my knees and ducked underneath the jacket.
I’d always wanted fame, but it was supposed to be on the stage. After today, I doubted that anyone was going to remember me for my dancing.
- Giselle Act I: Final- London Symphony Orchestra
- Mustang Nismo- Brian Tyler, Slash
- Qué Sera Sera- Pink Martini
- Strangeness And Charm- Florence + The Machine
- You Don’t Want to Dance with Me- Monarchy
- Dance Yrself Clean- LCD Soundsystem
- Walk it Out- Unk
- Roc Me Out- Rihanna
- Blown Away- Carrie Underwood
- Fly- Ludovico Einaudi
- Save the World (Radio Mix)- Swedish House Mafia