Copyright © 2016 Miranda Star
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
First Published, 16/10/17 Wild*Star Books
Pierce swung away, cursing intently even as he kicked the crap out of his opponent. Sure, he could usually disguise his injuries, but it was better if he didn’t have to.
Especially since Vancouver had become a battleground for gangs and corporate sharks alike.
Blood. Pain. Vigilantes.
The vigs around here, he thought grimly, were underdogs fighting a losing battle. Even after the Alliance of the Righteous, most fought solo. Few fought in duos, and teams were far rarer. Not that he faulted them for it.
After all, we all have secrets, we all fear betrayal.
Once he was done with the idiot he was fighting, a weary Pierce grabbed his cellphone. Tapping the keys as he walked away, he reported what he’d seen, who he’d fought and where he was headed for pickup.
“Damn it, Ally’s gonna be pissed.” He muttered as he walked down the street. Ally, his wife, thought he was participating in fight club to keep his sometimes uncontrollable rage in check. Not true, but he knew she’d freak if she knew what he was up to.
Brody, his mentor (and Batman to his Robin) met him at the bar where some of their comrades hung out. Luckily, one of those pals was a middle aged doctor.
Pierce sank into the chair in the staff room, wincing when Sara, Brody’s woman, stalked in. Sara and Ally were close, close enough that she’d listen to anything the other woman said- to a point.
“You need to tell her.” Pierce scowled at the brunette, hissing out a breath between his clenched teeth when Doc started cleaning up his face with antiseptic. Doc tutted, castigating his patient with the ease of long acquaintance
“Pierce, young man, your girl is one on a million, you can’t let her go without a fight.”
Fuck. They were right. Things weren’t so great at the minute, between him and Ally. She wanted him to be more careful with his fights, but how could he be when he was often the only backup Brody had?
Shaking his head, Pierce made his way home a little later, letting himself in and tucking himself into bed beside his wife, who rolled over into his arms.
A few weeks later, Pierce came home early, to find his wife upset.
“Ally?” He moved to stand beside her, shocked when she flinched away from him, further shocked when she looked up at him with broken eyes
“When were you going to tell me? Were you ever, or was I going to find out when they called me from the morgue?”
Swallowing, Pierce tried to breathe so he could explain
“I couldn’t tell you. You’d worry, and I hate making you cry.” It sounded weak, really, but it was all he had, all he had to explain why he hadn’t told his wife what he was doing.
She stiffened and spoke slowly, as if tasting her own words
“Sara… she told me. Told me about some of the less harrowing situations, because I couldn’t hear about this and the worst in one sitting.” She breathed, and then ordered
“You will survive this, Pierce. It would be hypocritical of me to ask you to stop when I didn’t object to fight club, but I am still angry I had to hear about this from Sara. I haven’t stopped loving you, I’m just really pissed. Leave me be for a day two, and then we’ll talk.”
Dumbstruck, he nodded, something like fear and relief battling in his chest.
A week later, he and Brody fight their way through a hostage situation alongside the police, getting trapped underground with a pair of rookie cops. They didn’t get hauled out for hours, by which time, both Brody and Pierce were thoroughly tired of their bickering.
Though Pierce didn’t miss the envy in their eyes when Ally, Sara at her heels, bounded towards him as he sat getting checked by a paramedic. Well, Sara beelined for Brody, fussing over the other man with nothing less than relief on her features.
Ally sat beside him, whispering in his ear
“I’m not mad anymore.”
Well, let’s just say Pierce got lucky that night.
Veronica Desmond- Clash
[* This is a snippet from a story that will appear in the collective Halloween volume from Wild*Star Books, Samhain, which is more about things happening on Halloween and themes pertaining to Samhain, All Hallows Eve and Halloween than about things that go bump- though there IS that too! *]
I sighed when I came face to face with a pouting Keisha. The young black Canadian woman had hoped the I would be travelling with her for Halloween, but I had been offered (and accepted) the chance to travel to Montreal to spend time with another student’s family before she asked.
Not that Keisha was angry. No, Julien is cool for his age, but I’d had been her housemother for a couple months, and she liked having an older sister of sorts. Well, actually, an aunt of sorts, since Akane Takahashi filled the elder sister role well.
Not to mention, Zack Durham, Akane’s boyfriend and our only male housemate, was the overprotective older brother she’d never known she wanted. So yeah, she was a little envious that Julien got to have her housemother for the weekend. At least she had Neil (who, despite being her Dad’s driver, seemed like a pretty good friend), and her Dad was happy to see her. Happy enough to send her stepmother Elise to the spa so they could have a weekend together.
Smiling now that my charge had cheered up a little, I resumed packing, keeping an ear open for any disturbances- such as Zusa and Akane arguing or Zach sneaking treats into the house. I was excited for the chance to see Montreal, but not that excited to have to rely on the miniscule French vocabulary I’d picked up for dealing with Julien. He was a good, kind boy, but he spoke French as his first language, so it could be hard to teach him at times.
Hmm, and now that I thought about it, Keisha certainly adored her father’s driver Neil, Zusa and Akane were excited about their brother Masaki coming to stay, and Garrick had been over the moon when one of the kids had asked for a Halloween celebration.
Shaking my head, I reviewed what I knew about Haven House. Aside from being a literal haven for the gifted, I’d later found out that many of the more affluent graduates and sponsors also kept an eye out for the more unfortunate of our brethren, sending them either here, to Haven House, or to Carrington Manor in the States.
It’d hadn’t been that surprising, really. Garrick Jackson, our director, is quite like a younger Professor X, and who was I to complain when I got meals, food for the soul, responsibilities and I was gaining my education? Yes, it was an unconventional post, more counselling and recommending resources than actual teaching, but I was happy. Happier than I’d been in a long time.
It was just my luck, actually, that I was jogging down the stairs when Garrick and a fairly tall Asian man came through the door. Zusa and Akane, who’d probably been watching from the window, zipped past me to greet the visitor. Upon a little thought, I realized the chances of this not being their older brother Masaki were slim to none. I was actually kind of dismayed that I’d agreed to travel, he was pretty handsome.
I greeted Garrick with a casual
“Hey Boss, what’s up?” He smiled, grabbing me into a hug before towing me over to his guest as he spoke
“Just fine, Amanda, I was just bringing Masaki over to see his sisters and meet you.” I frowned.
“Why would he need to meet me? I’m just a housemother.” Masaki heard me, whirling around to point out
“A pretty one that Garrick talks about all the time, and my sisters, too.” I think I blushed, but I ended up getting through the semi-awkward meeting, teasing the girls that I should start threatening to tattle to their Ni-san if it would get them to behave. Akane shrugged it off, but Zusa started freaking out that we’d start dating or something.
That, I laughed off before saying goodbye to Masaki, Garrick and the kids, on my way to Montreal.
Vigilantism, now sanctioned by the government, is rampant. One such man faces the thing all vigilante men fear: their wife finding out and how she reacts. Pierce, that man, must face it if he is to have a hope in hell of saving his marriage. He's afraid of how his wife Ally will react. But maybe she'll surprise him? *Includes a snippet from Veronica Desmond's Samhain contribution (author of the Amanda Appendice)