Super Bad (a Superlovin' novella)

 

Super Bad

By Vivi Andrews

 

Copyright © 2012 Vivi Andrews

All
rights reserved. Without limiting the rights reserved under copyright above, no
part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written
permission of the copyright owner and publisher of this book.

This
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media and incidents
are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

 

 

Super Bad

When your mind is a prison, love can set you
free.

Ever since her supervillain father experimented
on her as a child, Mirabelle “Mirage” Wroth has been able to project
unbreakable illusions into the minds of those around her. But when a run-in
with an evil Mind Bender snaps a delicate thread in her psyche, she loses control
of her gift and can no longer tell where reality ends and illusion begins. Only
sanctimonious superhero Captain Justice is immune to her gift and can help her
find the truth again—if Mirage can trust another man to define her reality.

Justice is sick of saving damsels in distress–he
just wants someone to look beyond the cape to see him—but he can’t turn away
from the hauntingly vulnerable Mirage. Suddenly Justice is helping her hide
from the police, willing to be downright villainous to be her hero. But as they
work to save Mirage from herself, other forces are circling to threaten them
both. Tangled in illusions and mind games, can love be real?

 

Table
of Contents

Chapter One:
Running with Scissors

Chapter Two:
Sweet Little Lies

Chapter Three:
I, Houdini

Chapter Four:
Hero-In-Training

Chapter Five:
Faster Than a
Speeding Bullet, My Ass

Chapter Six:
Nice Men in White
Coats

Chapter Seven:
It’s a Trap!

Chapter Eight:
The Great Escape

Chapter Nine:
Safe and Of Sound
Mind

Chapter Ten:
Too Cocky to Fail

Chapter Eleven:
Kung Fu Kama Sutra

Chapter Twelve:
Midnight
Confessions

Chapter Thirteen:
Super Seduction

Chapter Fourteen:
The Voicemail of
Doom

Chapter Fifteen:
Post Coital
Cuddles

Chapter Sixteen:
The Demon You
Know

Chapter Seventeen:
Out of the
Frying Pan

Chapter Eighteen:
And Justice For
Always

About the Author

Also by Vivi Andrews

 

 

 

For Sean

Chapter One:
Running with Scissors

 

Mirage jerked awake in
a strange room, disoriented, a chilled sweat making the unfamiliar cotton
scrubs she was wearing cling to her body. No, not scrubs. Not medical. Institutional.
Her awareness seemed to stutter, like a poorly cut movie, jerking her from
moment to moment with no transitions. Something was wrong. Was she drugged? She
felt quickly along her arms and throat for IVs, needle marks, but found no
evidence.

The room was small. A
box with four white walls, a high, narrow window, and a sturdy door that held
another high window, the light from the hall shimmering off the thin bands of
metal reinforcing the heavy glass.
A cell
. Where was she? Did it matter?

Escape
.
The whisper came from inside her mind. It was her own voice, but there was
something off about it. It was too confident, too sure, when she felt nothing
but confusion and doubt. An outside force speaking in her own mind, in her own voice.
Kevin
. Mirage shuddered and quickly rolled off the bed and slid under it,
hiding from whatever cameras might be watching her.

No. Not Kevin. She’d
killed Kevin. Hadn’t she? Disjointed memories tripped over one another,
overlapping in impossible ways. Breaking Kevin’s mind. Slitting Kevin’s throat.
Listening to him scream. Banging his head hard against the floor. Yes, that
one. No, strangling him, smothering him, a silent death.

Were they memories? Fantasies?
He’d… done something. She shook her head, trying to shake some order into her
thoughts. Why couldn’t she remember clearly? Kevin had tricked her, used her,
bending her mind until she didn’t know where she began and he ended anymore,
but she hadn’t been the one he wanted.
Lucien
. He’d been after her
brother. Another fragment of memory surfaced—Lucien surrounded by Kevin’s
mind-controlled hordes, swarmed by them, too many, even for a man with
superstrength.

Had Kevin killed
Lucien? Another cold shudder ripped through her body. Why wasn’t Lucien here? He
would never abandon her. He would never leave her in a place like this and no
force on Earth could keep Lucien from getting to her if he lived. He was too
strong. He’d broken her out of Area Nine, the supervillain prison. She
remembered that much. He would have broken her out of here. Wherever
here
was.

Escape
.
The word came again. Sounding more right this time. Escape and find Lucien. Escape
and kill Kevin. Escape and shake the effects of whatever had her memories
looking like a mirror that had been shattered and put back together in the
wrong order, rough-edged pieces refracting back on one another in awkward,
impossible ways.

The sound of a key in
the lock was eerily loud, ringing in her ears. What fools held her that they
thought they could enter her room with impunity? Or was she the foolish one? Had
they given her something to inhibit her abilities? Were her disjointed memories
only a side effect of some new super-suppressing drug?

Mirage held herself
still under the bed, waiting, hoping to gather more information to fill in the
massive blanks in her head. The door opened slowly, soundlessly, and a pair of
legs entered her vision. Sturdy black boots, dark jeans, and the trailing edge
of a lab coat.

“Mirabelle, I know
you’re in here.” The voice was calm and soothing, with a careful lack of fear
or hesitation, like he was talking to a feral animal and trying not to startle
her with any sudden moves. “I’m Dr. Eisenmann, remember? I’m here to help you.
You can show yourself to me, Mirabelle. You’re safe here.”

Mirage ignored his claims
of her safety, focusing instead on his urge for her to show herself. He hadn’t
even tried to glance under the bed. He wasn’t looking, because he didn’t
believe he would find her. Dr. Eisenmann clearly thought her powers were still
fully operational.

It was all the go-ahead
she needed.

Mirage reached out with
her gift, the one part of her mind that was working properly, and plunged into the
good doctor’s perceptions. She couldn’t read his thoughts—her father had always
been disappointed that her gifts hadn’t developed in that direction—but she
could control what he thought he saw, felt, heard, smelled, all of it.

He was hers, for as
long as she could keep her focus tight. She let him see her, a decoy version,
standing across the room beneath the window, innocent and immobile, as her real
body slipped out from under the bed and moved toward the door.

“What do you want?”
Fake Mirage snapped.

Eisenmann turned toward
the window, tucking his chin in an oddly submissive gesture. “I only want to
help you, Mirabelle. You’re confused.”

“Where am I?”

“Trident Labs. The
Mental Rehabilitation wing. You checked yourself in after… do you remember
Kevin?”

Mirage made her fake
self give a jerky nod—it was the little gestures, the details, that were the
trickiest to replicate when she doubled herself, but Eisenmann gave no sign
that her illusion was anything but perfect.

“Prolonged exposure to
Mind Benders like Kevin can have lasting effects. We’re trying to help you
counter them.”

She reached the door,
more than a little surprised when the knob turned smoothly beneath her hand. Why
hadn’t he locked it behind him?

“You’re on the hero
side now, Mirabelle,” she heard the good doctor say as she slipped out into the
hall. Something dark shuddered through her soul. Now she knew he lied. The
heroes were the bastards who had stood by and let her world shatter without
lifting a finger. She would never join them.

She closed the door
silently and twisted the keys he’d left in the deadbolt on the hall side,
locking the doctor in, but keeping up the mirage of her other self in case he
had a way to sound the alarm.

Escape
.
The whisper in the back of her mind was back, insidious and dark. Was it her
whisper, or could it be something Kevin had planted there?

A strange double beep
sounded over the PA system and Mirage jumped.
Shit
. She’d forgotten
about security monitoring. Yet another sign something was very wrong with her. She
would never make such a careless, rookie mistake if she were in her right mind.
She dropped the illusion on Eisenmann and threw out a blanket perception-deadening
wave, pushing it out through the entire complex. It was hurried and clumsy, but
she didn’t have time for targeted finesse.

“Wroth protocol
implemented. Lock-down commenc—” The soldier-sharp voice over the PA broke off
as the wave finally reached him, sending him into the catatonic daze she held
over the entire facility—but not before he implemented his damn protocol.

Electronic doors
slammed home, sealing the hall as the fluorescent lights went out, replaced by
irregularly flickering red emergency lights. An intermittent siren sounded at
odd intervals. Damn it. They knew what they were doing. The more they changed
the environment, the less predictable they made it, the harder it was for a
chameleon like her to maintain the illusion covering it all.

Mirage ran to the end
of the hall and tested the door, but the handle didn’t even rattle under her
hands. She cursed softly. Closing her eyes, she picked through the dozens of
minds she held in sensory-deprived thrall, searching for the one with his
finger on the lockdown button.
False alarm. Undo it. Nothing to see here.

She was dizzy and
sweating with the effort of maintaining her hold on so many minds when she
finally found the right one. The siren cut off, fluorescent lights blinked back
on and the door popped open. Mirage ran.

If she could just get
outside before her powers burned out, she’d be home free. After she was out of
the building, all she had to do was make herself invisible to whoever saw her—that
was much less taxing. She’d run to Lucien’s. He would know what to do.
If
he’s alive

She didn’t know how
many wrong turns she took, but finally she tripped across a distinctive
glassed-in atrium. She stumbled a step, startled to see she really was in
Trident Labs after all. They were neutral, the Switzerland of
supervillain-superhero confrontations, espousing science above all, so why
would they be holding her prisoner? It didn’t make sense.

Nothing made sense
tonight.

Mirage threw open the
double doors and raced into the parking lot, pushing herself, her muscles
burning. When she was a hundred feet from the building, she let herself drop
the illusion and collapse to her knees, the sweat pouring off her skin chilling
in the cold night air as she tried to catch her breath.

More memories surfaced,
tangled and disorienting. Lucien shaking hands with Eisenmann blended and
morphed into Lucien being blown to pieces by an Apocalyptum bomb. Apocalyptum…
a substance lethal even to supers and developed by only one company. Trident
Labs. Was it Kevin who had killed her brother? Or Eisenmann? Were they working
together?

Rage and frustration
made the fragmenting worse. Her head throbbed, pain the only constant as
everything else in her mind shifted and rolled like clothes in a dryer. What
was happening to her? She would worry she was losing her mind, but all evidence
pointed to it already being gone.

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