Under Control [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Natalie Damschroder
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Science Fiction/Science Fiction
eBook Description: Sloane Marshall discovers superheroes. Once she confirms they have ability, she trains them. Half the members of the guild are there because of her. But Tommy Idaho is unique, and she knows this before she even meets him. So does Magnus VanDein, the most powerful and untouchable criminal in the world. He also knows Idaho's weakness, and unless Sloane can convince the recalcitrant hero to embrace his powers and join the guild, they'll both wind up dead... [Genres: Science Fiction / Futuristic / Action / Adventure / Superheroes] Part of the The Lusty League AmberPax Collection
eBook Publisher: Amber Quill Press, Published: 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2007
14 Reader Ratings:
"5 Hearts!...Ms Damschroder has written an action-packed story with lots of adventure and a good mix of hot sex. This short is a great read that will certainly have the reader running for the ice box before it's over. Ms Damschroder has blended a great plot with a sensuous and sexy romance to give a good all 'round read."--Valerie, Love Romances
Sloane Marshall trained superheroes.
Discovering them was easy. There weren't many of them out there. For every two hundred leads she investigated--and almost always quickly dismissed--she found one potential. And not all of those had the attributes necessary to become super. It wasn't enough to have super strength or the ability to shapeshift. You had to be a leader. Confident. Humble. For every superhero she coached to infamy, six didn't make the cut.
She knew, before she even met him, that Tommy Idaho was special.
"Vodka sour," she told the bartender before swiveling on her stool to survey the room. Not that she needed to. She'd spotted Idaho right away, in a large circular booth in the back of the upscale bar. It was quiet, full of leather and dark wood, cloth table coverings and shining crystal. Just the kind of place a scientist would go.
Idaho didn't look like a scientist. Of course, many of them didn't once they'd removed their lab coats. But he was more football quarterback than microscope jockey, with broad shoulders, thick dark hair, and blue-green eyes that sparkled as he laughed at something the woman next to him said. If he weren't superhero material, he'd be exactly her type.
"He's gonna see you."
"Doubtful." Sloane didn't look at the kid who'd settled on the stool next to her. Her backer, Darren Cranston, had sent this old friend of Idaho's to meet her when the basic file had left her more skeptical than usual.
Tommy was an orphan, "strange" since birth, which meant his powers were intrinsic and not the result of chemical ingestion or radiation or experimentation or any other external factors. That in itself was rare.
He also reportedly had more than one power. Super speed and strength, which were common enough nowadays, relatively speaking. Fast healing, something often engineered since advanced medicine had made it possible for those with super bank accounts. There were suggestions of other things, unproven but if true, would probably render Tommy Idaho the greatest superhero who'd ever lived.
It wasn't possible. So she'd marked him off and gone to Russia to train a woman who could absorb life energy and use it to move, create, and banish things, all the characteristics of illusion or magic, but for real.
Then Percy Keller showed up. He lived in Massachusetts, so Darren sending him to Russia told her he believed in Idaho. A lot.
Percy was a wide-eyed kid who looked barely old enough be in this bar. But he'd graduated from high school with Tommy, and had been one of his best friends. His testimony had convinced Sloane to come to Amherst. She didn't have anything else on the schedule, and proving them false was almost as much fun as discovering them.
She hadn't expected to detect his power before she was even in the door.
Of course, it could be anyone in the bar, though the strongest signal came from that corner table. If Idaho wasn't the real deal, one of his colleagues was.
"He'll be mad if he finds out I told you about him," Percy muttered after ordering a soda. He kept his back to the room. "Why'd you want me to meet you here, anyway?
Sloane tossed a few nuts into her mouth, still watching Idaho. "You're going to help me test him."
Percy's inhale was audible. "Test him how?"
"Don't know yet."
"Don't you know enough already?"
Sloane spared him a glance. He really didn't want to be here. "Does Idaho have a temper or something?"
Percy shrugged. "No. Not really." He glanced over his shoulder, then quickly back at the bar, his shoulders hunched. Sloane watched him for a minute, wondering why his tune had changed. On the private plane back from Russia he'd been chatty, telling her story after story of things he'd seen his friend do. Now, she wondered if he was about to be caught in a lie. Or worse. What if Idaho was more super-villain than superhero?
She wouldn't have expected that. Darren had provided a file, and she'd done her own research, as well. Tommy Idaho had been an abandoned baby, just a few weeks old, found in a cornfield in Idaho. He lived in an orphanage for over a year. Two couples had sought to adopt him, but then returned him before the adoption finalized, citing an illness or strangeness they couldn't cope with. Doctors had been unable to find a reason for his uniqueness, though one medical report indicated his blood work had been strange, unlike anything the lab had ever seen. His development overall was normal, if slightly advanced, and if you ignored the parts about picking up chairs and running faster than the adults chasing him. Miles an hour faster.
Finally, when he was nearing what had been assigned as his second birthday, a couple from Massachusetts adopted him, and it stuck. The records Sloane turned up revealed a pretty normal couple, teachers in Amherst who owned a small farm, subsistence-level. No criminal records, steady employment, no other kids in the family. Active in church and community, blah, blah, blah. There were no red flags hinting at abuse or anything else dark and damaging, though such things weren't always evident. Sloane couldn't discount the possibility.
Five years ago, the Amherst newspaper had done a story on Tommy Idaho, who was graduating with a combined BS/MS degree from UMASS. One of the questions asked was why he didn't share his parents' last name, Rockner.
"We always wanted Tommy to know where he came from," his mother Ethel had said. "The orphanage discouraged it, said it sounded like a heavy metal guitar player. But we think it sounds like a man destined for greatness."
Corny, Sloane had thought. But she had to admit it had an alter-ego sound to it, like in the old comics that existed before real superheroes did.
Tommy's police record was sealed, but Darren had special dispensation to access such things, which meant Sloane did, too. She'd never asked how he got this dispensation, not sure it was really legal.
Idaho had been present at a surprising number of crime scenes, saved the day at accident scenes, and been charged with a dozen crimes for which the charges were dropped. All hallmarks of the real thing, and a noble character.
His school record was quieter. Top grades, no sports, only participated in yearbook committee and the honor society. He was obviously brilliant, getting both a bachelor's and a master's in four years, and now worked for a hush-hush scientific think-tank between Amherst and Pelham, Massachusetts. A think-tank Sloane suspected Darren owned, which might be how this guy came to his attention.
So far, in the five years he'd been working there, Idaho hadn't done anything remarkable. Except save some colleagues from a fire. And survive a beam falling on him when he'd absentmindedly walked through a construction area. He was low man on the totem pole in his department, though his reviews were good and he apparently did solid work.
Percy had learned Tommy's secret halfway through high school, and he said the things the kid had done were amazing. But instead of being reckless and show-off-ish, he'd hidden his talents unless they were needed, and only used them for good. Percy had sheepishly admitted to trying to use his friend, especially to impress more popular kids, and Tommy would have none of it. So he seemingly bought into the great power/great responsibility thing. That was good.
But he lived in the middle of nowhere. That wasn't so good. Sure, superheroes were needed everywhere, and she'd found one for most of the major cities in the States. But he chose to be nowhere, and that probably meant reluctance to use his gifts, and she decided that was a likelier reason for Percy's fidgeting right now. It would make her job more difficult, but that was okay. She liked a challenge. And people like him were more in control, which always made them easier to train.
That was the part that made her most excited about this job, now that she'd seen him. Comic books had always portrayed superheroes as super-gorgeous, and the reality was the opposite. Most were simply average. Some were downright homely. The hardest ones were the ones whose physical appearance belied their talents. That made it easier for them to hide their abilities, should they want to, but it also undermined the confidence factor.
Tommy Idaho was old-school. Sloane was enjoying just watching him talk, half hidden behind a table. Working with him would be one fine assignment. If he was the real thing. Sloane found herself hoping he was.
Time to find out.