Vic Braunson has learned to live with the many and varied superpowers he receives from his lover, Matt diLorenzo. Most of the powers come and go, and Vic can take them or leave them. It’s Matty he loves, not the abilities his lover gives him.
Officer Kendra Jones is determined to talk Vic into joining the police force. With his powers, he would make a formidable cop. But Vic doesn’t want to put anyone in danger, least of all himself.
For Valentine’s Day, Matt has the perfect evening planned. But Kendra interrupts, soliciting Vic’s help in finding an autistic boy who wandered away from his family campsite days earlier. A wintry storm is set to plunge outside temperatures into the teens. If the boy can’t be found before the weekend, chances are he won’t survive.
The timing couldn’t be worse -- Vic’s arsenal of superpowers are nowhere in sight, other than his default telepathy and strength. Despite all the odds, can Vic save the boy as well as the romantic evening with Matty?
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Vic narrowed his eyes. Kendra never just ‘stopped by.’ She always had something up her sleeve. He could’ve read her mind and been done with it, but he respected her too much to do something so invasive. Part of learning to deal with his telepathic ability had been drawing boundaries -- both for himself and for others. The only person he had no boundaries with was Matt.
Still, he didn’t need to be a mind-reader to guess why she had ‘stopped by.’ “If this is about joining the force,” he started.
She didn’t even try to deny it. “There are a few spots opening up next month. One of our officers is moving up to detective, and they’re posting more rank and file positions, too.”
“You make it sound so glamorous,” Vic said with a smirk.
“I think you’d be a great cop,” Kendra insisted. “We could really use someone like you on the force. With your powers -- ”
“You know I can’t control them,” Vic interrupted. “It’s luck of the draw, or Russian roulette. Not all of them can be used to fight crime. Hell, I’m not a damn superhero.”
Kendra shook her head. “But you are, Vic. Your heart and soul knows what’s right, and you fight for justice when you have to. You don’t ignore the powers -- you couldn’t if you tried. I know Matt doesn’t like you to use them --”
“He doesn’t want me to get hurt,” Vic said. “They’re his powers, and he thinks if anything happened to me because of them, it’d be his fault.”
“But you can’t not use them!” Kendra argued. “I’ve seen you -- you can’t turn your back on someone who needs help, anyone. What about Sadie?”
“What about Sadie?” Vic countered, but he knew what she meant. Vic had found the dog that had taken over his and Matt’s lives so completely one afternoon while driving to work. A bunch of kids were teasing the stray, throwing rocks and trying to hurt the dog, or worse. If Vic couldn’t stand seeing anyone hurt, that went doubly so for animals, and he’d stepped in. When he called Kendra to press charges against the boys, she’d told him the truth of the matter was that the dog would probably be put down. Matt had been angling for a pet, and one look into Sadie’s chocolate eyes melted the hardest of hearts. Vic had no choice but to bring her home.
Vic shook his head. “No, okay? Just no.” Kendra opened her mouth to respond, but he cut her off. “Look, even if I could convince Matty I wanted to be a cop -- which I don’t -- most of the time my powers wouldn’t be of any use to you guys. Today I can speed-read. Big deal. That doesn’t mean I’m going to quit my job and take up copyediting. Tomorrow it’ll be something else ... and I don’t know what yet. It could be mundane or it could be destructive. It might even be something that is too hard to hide from everyone else, so I’ll have to call in and miss my shift. I’m not reliable, Kendra. The powers aren’t reliable.”
For a long moment, she studied him, lips pressed tight together, eyes large and wide beneath her blonde bangs. Finally she sighed. “But the telepathy is always there, right?”
Vic shrugged a little and nodded grudgingly. “I can tune it out now but yeah, it’s there. Like a radio playing softly in the next room.”
“And the strength,” Kendra pointed out. “You’re the strongest man I’ve ever met. How much can you bench?”
Vic felt a proud grin stretch across his face. “Before the powers, I could do three-fifty, no problem. Now? The gym doesn’t have enough weights for me to find out.”
“See?” Kendra crowed in triumph. “That right there makes you a more likely candidate for the force than anyone else in the whole city. Even without any other power, the telepathy and the strength combined will make you unstoppable. You’d --”
“Stop.” Vic held up a hand and shook his head again. “Just stop, okay? I said no.”
“But why --”
“I don’t mind helping out when I can,” Vic told her. “If I see something going down, you know I’ll step in. But I couldn’t do it every day. I won’t. I’m sorry.”
It wasn’t just Matty’s feelings on the matter; Vic didn’t want to see the underbelly of the city on a daily basis. It was bad enough he caught glimpses of it now and then -- muggers and rapists and thieves. Accidents on the interstate that left cars and people mangled beyond repair. House fires and stolen vehicles and shattered lives. He’d had his fair share of the worst the city had to offer, and each time he’d been called to help out, he had stepped up to the plate. But Vic didn’t think he had it in him to face crime day in and day out. Worse, to get paid to combat it. He didn’t want to profit off the misery of others, even if he were the one in the right.
No, his bus route held all the excitement he wanted out of work. If Kendra asked him to help out on a case -- and she had in the past, so Vic was sure she would again -- then of course he’d say yes. But he wouldn’t go out looking for crime to fight. No matter what she might think he wasn’t a superhero.
He was simply Vic, a man whose strange super powers came from making love to his boyfriend. No, his fiancé. The ring on his finger was proof of that.