|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
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Shay drummed her fingers on the taxi's vinyl seat as she stared out the window beside her. Flashes of blue lightning lit the tall buildings in the distance, and people ran by the cab in waves. Men with briefcases and women clutching shopping bags pushed and shoved each other in attempts to flee the disturbance a few blocks away.
A boom rattled everything in the car, including the contents of Shay's stomach, and she turned toward her sister. As always, Evie looked super-professional in her power suit and killer heels. Not one strand of hair strayed from her sister's tightly wound bun as the woman typed away on her cell phone's screen. If Evie paid as much attention to her surrounding as she did her appearance, they might not be sitting in the back of a taxi going nowhere during a riotous commotion.
Another crowd of people ran by the taxi. They pointed at the sky while snapping pics of something Shay couldn't see. She let out a huff, but didn't gain a reaction from her sister. A loud throat clearing and a nudge to Evie's arm didn't work either. Evie's infatuation with the statistic reports on her cell phone's screen would go on all night if Shay didn't take drastic measures.
She brought her lips inches from Evie's ear, bit back a smile, and yelled, "You're gonna miss it."
Evie jumped in her seat. The cell phone slipped from her hand and clanked to the floor. "Rude. Are you sixteen or six?"
"This traffic isn't going to budge." Shay picked the fallen cell phone off the sticky floor mat and handed it to Evie. "The superhero spot-it map just dropped a pin on Park and First. The comments say there's a full-on superhero smack down. It's only one block over."
"Right." Evie tossed a twenty into the front seat. "Thanks, sir. We'll walk from here."
Shay waited with her cab door open until Evie nodded at her. Then, she climbed from the car. Evie's perpetual confidence, and the woman's unwavering courage, hadn't transferred into Shay. The panicked screams that echoed off skyscrapers still stung her ears, and the shivers running beneath her skin continued to raise the little hairs on her arms. She ran to Evie's side. When Evie reached out for her, she automatically latched onto her older sister's arm.
"You good?" Evie asked in her momish tone.
"Yeah." Shay yanked her hands off Evie's arm, then pushed her sister away to cover her scaredy-cat behavior. She turned toward the sounds of an explosion, and face-planted into a hysterical woman's chest.
The lady didn't stop her ear-piercing shriek, or slow her mad-dash down the slightly quaking road. Shay jumped to the side to keep from getting mowed over by the frantic woman and banged her knee against the taxi's steel bumper.
Of course, her sister had seen the entire thing. Evie crossed her arms as she looked at Shay with a rather smug expression, and snarky comments brewed within Shay's mind. Before she could unload them, Evie grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her down the crowded street.
Together, they ran past the cars lined up on the boulevard, weaved around the many people who stood stunned in the street, and headed toward the flashes of blue light.
Although Shay would never admit to it, she was happy her sister held her hand tight. A girl could be trampled if she didn't have a big-bad Evie to plow through a crowd. Plus, it helped with the whole scared out of her mind thing.
Elbows struck Shay's chest as she maneuvered through the mob scene. The ground rumbled beneath her shoes and a low growl vibrated the air. She looked up as a streak of fire cut across the sky. Within the flames, two men fought each other. They punched one another inside a speeding ball of fire, right up until the moment they crashed into Liberty Bank.
The bright lights that lit each window in the towering skyscraper flickered out. Chunks of stone and pointed glass rained down onto the sidewalk as a burst of fire blew from the fresh hole in the now dark building.
Every person who'd crammed into the street around Shay either cowered, screamed, or scurried to find shelter. Not Evie. Evie whipped out her cell phone.
"Seriously," Shay yelled, flinching every time a piece of Gemini City's premier financial institution slammed against the pavement beside her.
"I need pics." Evie stood firm in her high heels. You'd never guess giant hunks of skyscraper were crashing to the ground all around her the way she held steady, snapping pictures.
Shay was steady too, though not by choice. Fear had clutched onto her body and rooted her in place. Only her stare moved, bouncing between Evie and the two men who pounded each other's bodies as they plummeted from the hole in the bank fifteen stories above her.
"Watch it," a man shouted.
Somebody gripped Shay by the shoulders and pulled her backward. A car flew through the air right in front of her face, close enough for her to see the shock in her own eyes reflected off the car's shiny fender. The large sedan sailed like a toy across the street, then smashed like a wrecking ball into the coffeehouse.
"Jeez, kid. Don't you know to watch out when the super-freaks are fighting?"
"Yeah, yeah." Shay waved the guy off and hurried back to Evie's side. She peeked at her sister's cell phone, reading its display. Firestorm using excessive powers, destroyed Liberty Bank. Mr. Amazing showing blatant disregard for human lives by tossing vehicles.
"This is great, isn't it?" said a woman with a wide smile as she weaved to see beyond the ever-growing spectators. "Just like a movie."
"Great?" Evie barked. "These jerks are wrecking the city."
"Who else is gonna save us from the villains?" The woman flipped Evie off then walked away, just in time for Shay to see Electric-Luxie zap Antiserum.
Electric-Luxie, and all her awesomeness, knocked the supervillain to his back with her thick bolts of lightning, which also split a one-inch fissure down First Avenue.
The people cheered, and the crowd shuffled closer to the three superheroes who stood over the downed villain.
"Ridiculous," Evie said, continuing to work on her incident report.
Super-people brawls had become a common occurrence the last ten years. The bad guys would do something bad, then the good guys would wreck everything to punish them.
The repercussions of super-battles had affected Shay deeply. If she were as old as Evie — if she could remember her parents as anything other than casualties to superhero violence — perhaps she'd be scornful toward the display. But she wasn't. The wonder of witnessing the only five people known to man with super-powered abilities still enthralled her. She hated herself for the excitement she felt, for the awe she held toward what the masses called heroes and villains, but she couldn't help herself. It really was like a movie.
"Don't you wanna watch?" she asked, glancing at Evie.
Evie looked up from her cell phone, for half-a-second, then continued typing. "If I file this report first, I'll be assigned as lead adjustor. A superhero claim this size would net one hell of a commission."
The cheers intensified, the crowd grew thicker, and Shay climbed atop a trash can to get a better view. Beyond the sea of heads, and amid the flaming hunks of broken skyscrapers, Mr. Amazing pulled Electric-Luxie close. The two superheroes gazed into each other's eyes. A hush befell the hundreds of bystanders, even Evie held her breath. Then, they kissed.
A collective gasp rolled over the crowd of onlookers. The intense romance generating between the two superheroes brought a smile to Shay's lips, though she'd blame it on the people's predictability if anyone asked.
"Get down from there," Evie said while typing on her phone's screen. "I'm a government indemnity agent. How's that look?"
Shay jumped to the sidewalk. By the time she looked back at the fire and rubble beside Liberty Bank, the trio of heroes and the battered villain were gone. The people dispersed quickly, leaving police and firefighters to gawk at what could only be described as a war scene.
"What are we going to do tomorrow morning?" said an older man in a fire chief get-up while rubbing his forehead.
Evie stepped closer to the uniformed men and women who'd gathered to stare at the smoldering rubble around them.
"I've already filed an incident report and contacted Emergency Superhero Reparations." Evie pulled her wallet from her purse and flashed her golden badge. "I'm Evie Sinclair, an agent with Gemini City Indemnity."
"A claims adjustor!"
The police swarmed Evie, shaking her hand like she was some kind of rock star, and Shay snickered. This happened every time her sister whipped out that badge. It seemed insurance agents were more popular than superheroes these days.
"Should I send out a press release on the evening news cancelling schools and businesses tomorrow?" asked the police captain, who practically knocked people over to stand before Evie.
"The east-wing of Central Hospital got hit with a fireball," a paramedic cried out.
"Electric-Luxie fried the downtown power grid, again."
"But rush hour," the fire chief yelled. "Day breaks in six hours and there's a mini canyon running down First Avenue."
Voices rose and right on cue, the shoving started. Evie's weary gaze veered away from the supposedly trained emergency response professionals who bickered like children and landed on Shay.
In that moment, Shay could see the exhaustion chip at her sister's flawless veneer. Her heart ached for Evie. Once turning eighteen, Evie became Mom, Dad, and cleanup crew for both Shay and Gemini City. The last ten years of that chore had snuffed the sparkle from her sister's eyes. And the worst part, Shay couldn't help. She didn't have a single clue how to fix this mess, which used to be Downtown. There were sporadic fires, charred hunks of building, and injured people everywhere. It made Shay want to run home and curl under the covers.
Evie hardened her stare then turned back to face the rabble. "No statements to the press. Have the wounded redirected to Southbend Hospital. The ESR will be here within the hour, they'll coordinate debris removal, traffic rerouting, PR, as well as structural and electrical repair."
The way Evie took control, without hesitation, and the fact that strangers twice her age jumped at her commands never failed to impress Shay.
"My flower shop was destroyed," a woman cried out while tugging Evie's arm. "Please, come, add it to the report."
"The coffee shop," said an older man. "Don't forget about the coffee shop."
"Don't worry." Evie backed beside Shay and took a firm hold on Shay's hand. "I'll include every incident in my report and file it tonight. I just need an officer to escort my sister home."
"Evie," Shay whispered, since the news cameras had zeroed in on them. "I wanna stay, help you."
Since tact was one of Evie's specialties, she turned and shielded Shay from the spying lens. "You have school tomorrow, and an essay to finish on the economic ramifications of extraordinary powers."
"Come, on." Shay almost stomped her foot then remembered ... the cameras. "Home's not safe, you know that."
"You're getting too old to use that excuse. Now, trade shoes with me before you go."
"What?" Shay looked at her ratty sneakers and then at her sister's posh heels. She'd never worn those type of shoes before — the ones that cost more than an average family's weekly food budget — and hadn't ever planned on it.
"Your shoes? That's my consolation prize for action banishment?"
"I am not walking around a superhero incident scene in Josepha pumps. Hurry, your police escort is waiting."
Shay eyed the hunky policeman in his crisp blue uniform. The man tipped his hat and a giggle burst from her mouth.
"Here." She handed her sneakers to Evie then grabbed the heels by their thin leather straps. "Text me every hour."
"I will." Evie slipped on the sneakers, kissed Shay on the cheek, and then hurried off into the crowd of frantic people.
Shay knew the drill. Hanging at superhero incident scenes had become a regular event since Evie got promoted to claims adjustor. Still, it never got any easier to leave her sister in the middle of a wreckage. At least something good spawned from this evening's adventure. She got to put on a fabulous pair of shoes and strut out of there with a hottie policeman.
The heels added about four inches to Shay's height and somehow doubled the grit in her spine. She felt unstoppable, until she tried to walk.CHAPTER 2
Shay hurried across the lobby of her apartment building holding Evie's heels. The glossy floor chilled her bare feet. It was a welcomed sensation after attempting to parade around on the stilts her sister dared to call footwear. Those shoes were beautiful, and completely impractical for everyday use.
In a rush to catch the elevator, she bumped into the cat lady from 2D. That woman could gab an ear off, and smelled a little funky. While avoiding eye contact, Shay quickly apologized and ducked into the elevator.
The door creaked closed, shutting her in the tiny box ... alone. She'd spent a lot of time alone the last three months, and hadn't particularly enjoyed it. Evie was either gunning for another promotion at work, or had a secret boyfriend. Since her sister was no fun, it had to be career-driven.
Shay pulled her cell phone from her pocket, typed Home alone, again, and hit send. The elevator rocked to a stop on the top floor. Before its door could slide all the way open, her bestie, Ollie, popped his head inside.
"I saw you on Channel 3 News," he said, grabbing onto Shay's arm. "Twice."
"I just texted you. How'd you get to my floor so fast?"
Ollie pulled his cell phone from the waistband of his pants, swiped its screen, and then tucked it back in place. "I was on my balcony, saw you roll up in a cop car. Scandalous."
Shay bumped past Ollie and headed for her condo's door. "You know Evie. No one's gonna legal guardian better than her."
"Don't front, you like it."
Of course Shay liked being cared for, protected, but she didn't need it.
"Whatever," she muttered, pushing open her condo's front door.
The television blasted from the brightly lit living room, its glare reflecting off the wall of windows.
"Oh, Shay. Your blatant waste of electricity is shameful." Ollie walked inside, like he owned the place, and plopped onto the sofa. "Half the city is in a blackout, this is just rude."
"We left in a hurry." Shay kicked the door shut behind her, tossed her keys on the kitchen counter, and collapsed on the sofa beside Ollie. "Evie's, like, a glorified ambulance chaser slash aftermath god. There's no time for shutting things off."
"There's an app for that." Ollie dropped the television's remote control he'd been clicking and snatched the satin pumps from Shay's hand.
"Ooh. Where'd you get these? Did Electric-Luxie drop her shoes like Cinderella?"
"No," she snorted. "They're Evie's, we traded kicks."
Ollie held one shoe in his palm, turning it from side to side. "Beautiful. The new Josepha ankle-strap sandal pump. Baby goat leather with golden-tinged satin accents. I wanna try 'em on."
"No you don't. They're impossible to walk in."
"Please, girl. I can work heels."
Shay giggled as Ollie squeezed his big feet into the tight shoes. "Don't break them," she said through a snicker. The sides of his wide feet stretched the tiny shoe's straps, and his heel extended far past its back. "Those are probably expensive."
Ollie traipsed around the living room. It looked like he'd mastered heels a long time ago the way his steps glided. Plus, he scored mega bonus points for pulling it off in bright pink tights with a graffiti patterned top.
"You can't put a price on this." He stopped in front of the floor-length window to admire himself. "I feel like a diva galore, but technically they cost one thousand forty-five dollars."
A gasp flew from Shay's mouth before she could stop it. That was far more than one week's worth of groceries.
"No wonder Evie wanted to snag this job tonight. My sister's a shoe addict."
"Aren't we all?" Ollie continued to walk along the windows, striking random poses. "You think Firestorm would like me in these?"
"Firestorm is not gay." Shay held up her hand, as if that could somehow block Ollie's flights of fancy from invading her thought process. There were many, many videos on the internet proving Firestorm's frisky hetero behavior. She was not going to get into this argument again because one blogger posted an unfounded article.
"Yes, he is. Did you see what he was doing when Amaza-Luxie kissed?"
"Hold up." Shay sat tall on the couch, but that didn't help her comprehend Ollie's babble. "Amaza-Luxie?"
"Yeah. You take Mr. Amazing and Electric-Luxie, smooch them together and you get Amaza-Luxie."
"Umm. That's just ... No."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Superheroes Suck"
Copyright © 2018 Jamie Zakian.
Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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