QSFers Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt have a new MM Superhero book out: The Frogman & The Spy.
Spy vs Spy
Jim Calhoun and his sister Lori are just two Americans in North Abarra exploring their roots. They are definitely not off-duty CIA agents.
Enzo da Silva is the head groundskeeper on Princess Odile’s country estate. He is definitely what he seems to be – the guy who trims the hedge maze and measures oxygen levels in the national forest.
The Princess’s birthday bash is a major celebration every year. As the big day approaches, a series of accidents plague the preparations. It’s almost like someone wants things to go wrong. But it’s not as though two commoners like Jim and Enzo – with absolutely no super powers – can stop a rogue supervillian. And if Jim and Enzo keep showing up at the same crime scenes, it’s not because they can’t keep their eyes off each other.
Jim allowed himself to rise toward the surface, popping his ears to equilibrate the pressure. Once they were close enough to bodysurf in, he relaxed. He caught a wave and rode it till it broke, planting his feet in the sand and standing above the roiling water. Lori landed right behind him, lugging her bag of toys. Jim spit out his regulator and wordlessly caught the handle closest to him to help her drag it onto the beach.
They’d been promised rocks and trees and a small cabin where clothing and ID would be waiting. Everything came as billed, the cabin several hundred feet in front of them.
After pulling off their fins, they went quickly, silently, toward the cabin. Lori pushed the door open and Jim scanned the room with his flashlight. A pair of backpacks sat on an old cot, the only things not covered with a layer of dust. Jim checked the tags and picked up the one with his name on it. Waving to Lori so she’d stay put, he went back outside. The manuals didn’t mention this but wearing anything under a wetsuit usually gave him an embarrassing rash, so he’d skipped the bottom layer.
And stripping naked in front of any woman, especially his sister, was a hard no.
He found a pile of rocks some twenty feet from the cottage and set the backpack on it. He pulled out a pair of shorts and a tee, then propped his flashlight so he could keep an eye on things while he changed.
Removing scuba gear was harder then putting it on, complicated by the fact that everything was wet. He shrugged out of his tank and pulled off his mask. Peeling off the wetsuit took all of his concentration, so he didn’t notice the sound of someone approaching.
Which is how the stranger busted him in a full-body stretch, his personal expression of relief at having survived the water.
His one, rather major, lapse.
Jim blinked into the flashlight, both hands dropping to cover his junk. “Excuse me. Yeah. Hi.”
The flashlight’s glare prevented him from seeing who’d busted them, and for a heartbeat, Jim struggled with what to say.
“Hey Jim, did you…?” Lori came through the cabin door, fully dressed and smiling. “Oh hi! Are we on your property? I’m so sorry. We got a little off-course.” She laughed, as if being caught in his birthday suit would go down in Jim’s list of favorite memories.
“Go on in and change.” She poked Jim in the arm, and he took the opening. He scooped up the clothing and backpack and ducked into the cabin.
Lori laughed again. “My brother and I dared each other to make a night dive, and, well, we were supposed to get back to Lesroches but I guess we’re a bit lost.”
“You’re about five miles north of there.”
Jim parsed those few words. Mostly he heard confusion with maybe a thread of suspicion. On their own, neither he nor Lori had the kind of superpowers possessed by royalty in Abarra, but she could shoot the eye of a hummingbird from a hundred feet and he had an extraordinary sensitivity to the unspoken. If someone lied, Jim could tell as easy as breathing. And honestly, shooting a hummingbird was a neat trick, but hearing what lay behind someone’s spoken words had saved them almost as many times.
He left the tee shirt untucked because the shorts were a shade tight and there wasn’t a towel so the fabric stuck to his skin. Zipping up the backpack, he headed back outside, his own flashlight aimed at their visitor.
“I’m Lori Calhoun and this is my brother Jim.” Lori extended her hand in the direction of the flashlight, pushing forward so the man would either raise it or hit her in the chest.
Fortunately, he raised it, giving Jim a glance at possibly the handsomest man he’d ever seen. His mouth suddenly dry, Jim offered his own hand. “I’m Jim. Jim Calhoun.”
The man regarded them both without smiling, the flashlight giving his sculped cheekbones and strong nose a dramatic cast. He shook both their hands, and although he didn’t speak, Jim could feel the reluctance pouring off him in waves.
“I’m Enzo Da Silva, and I’m the head groundskeeper.”
“Oh wow!” Lori’s laugh made Jim clench his fists to keep from slapping her. “He’s your new boss, Jimbo.”
Jim plastered on a smile, doing his best to look like a harmless Jimbo and not like what he was…
A spy from the United States, here in North Abarra to protect their Princess before a team of assassins caused an international incident.
Liv Rancourt writes romance of all kinds. Because love is love, even with fangs. Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above. When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one. As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.