a magical romance
from the files of the Fairy Godmothers' Union
Greg Roberts has been in love with the girl next door since they were both twelve, but Gloria Torkinson is engaged to marry someone else. Greg can only respect her choice in the matter - until his fairy godmother pops in with a different idea. As a mysterious, masked superhero Greg can appear to Gloria in a whole new light and win her love. But super-heroing is trickier than Greg knew, creating its own problems and uncovering inimical forces in his world that he never suspected. He'll have to discover the true hero in himself before he can set things to right and win at love.
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It had to be a dream. If only. If only she had the refuge of unconsciousness as the bug-eyed monsters lifted her up and the earth fell away below. She had nothing but sympathy for the heroines of old movies who would swoon in the face of danger, but she couldn’t give up. She had to fight for all she was worth. She twisted and tore at the clutching limbs until more creatures secured her arms. She kicked against resilient abdominal segments and scaly exoskeletons. Thrashing wildly, Gloria shouted outrage when she wasn’t screaming in terror.
At least, she struggled until she looked down. The lawns and sculptures spread like a map below her. Far, far below. A fresh wave of vertigo dizzied her. Even if she managed to escape the clutches of her captors,she’d only be dashed to death on the tiled paths or the massive curves of the Henry Moore bronze now directly below. The scene shifted and spun, and now it looked like the Calder would be a good bet for impaling her. The whirling of the scene made her stomach swim in sickening waves. She closed her eyes and stiffened, ceasing her struggles, though she still cringed from the huge limbs holding her.
When she grew still, her captors steadied in flight. With steadier movement and the rush of cool wind in her face, her vertigo eased. She dared to open her eyes again. The mosquitoes, flying in unison, leveled out at last and bent their path as if to head south. Oh, God. Now would be a good time to faint. Where were they taking her?
A figure in gold and green blazed toward them from below.
Wonder Guy! Gloria’s heart leapt in her breast.Oh, thank heaven. Oh, crap. Her hair must look like hell,whipping and tangling around her face in the wind.
In the next instant, with a series of sharp popping noises and a smell she remembered from summer evenings near a bug zapper, the giant mosquitoes lost their holds on Gloria’s arms. She rejoiced and despaired again immediately, falling free toward the earth below. Her stomach lurched,dropping even faster than she fell through the air. The wind dragged at her hair and clothes, stopping her breath. The pervasive drone of wings fell silent and empty husks of giant mosquitoes filled the air, falling with her. The sharp black point of the Calder sculpture’s support rushed to meet them. Gloria screamed.
Strong, gentle arms scooped her up, and she threw her arms around the hero’s strong neck, burying her face in the warm crook below his clean-cut jaw, trembling in relief.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s gonna be okay.”
They swooped through the air, but this was totally different than flying in the grasp of the giant insects. She lost all fear of falling.Wonder Guy cradled her gently against his solid chest, one strong arm hooked under her thighs, the other holding her tightly to him. She clung fiercely,arms clutched around his neck. How could she feel so--contented? blissful?happy?--in the midst of this craziness? Her face pressed close to the bare flesh where his lower face and jaw emerged from his mask. His scent filled her like the breath of home, human, familiar and safe. She checked the urge t onuzzle him, to nibble her way up to his ear. She relaxed, molding herself to the solid wall of Wonder Guy’s body so warm against hers.
They neared the ground, the sound of insect wings growing louder as they descended. The shrill whine, like police sirens on helium,surrounded them.
“Hold on,” Wonder Guy told her, transferring her grip from his neck to what proved to be the stalk of the giant cherry on which she now stood. His arms freed, Wonder Guy turned to face the army of horrendous mosquitoes closing in around them.
Gloria shivered without the warmth of her hero’s arms around her. Oh. The mist of water spraying from the top of the cherry’s stalk might have something to do with her sudden chill. The drone of a thousand insect wings drowned all other thoughts. She clung with a desperate grip to her cherry stem as Wonder Guy flashed from place to place, always between her and the swarming army of mosquitoes.
Like mindless drones, the creatures seemed to have forgotten everything and everyone else to gather their forces and throw themselves against the hero in a determined assault. Their objective seemed to be to get through him, or past him, or around him to reach--her?
This was crazy. Why would these impossible monsters be after her? Gloria trembled in every limb, wet, miserable and frightened out of her wits. If not for the cold of the metal stalk against her cheek or the slick surface beneath the soles of her sandals, she might think it all a dream. This day had become a living nightmare. Only the hero, decimating the onslaught of monsters as she looked on, kept her from giving in to despair.
He moved more swiftly than her eyes could follow. Now in front of her, now above, now to one side, then another. He seemed everywhere at once, and everywhere he turned the mosquitoes died. They fell from the sky like so many giant bags of trash. Luckily, everyone below had already found shelter.She didn’t know how he did it and didn’t care. He faced them and they died, to fall as dry husks to the earth below. They died, but more keptcoming.
So many. Some he only blocked by placing his back directly between Gloria and the mosquitoes’ thrusts. Their stabbing proboscises broke against the impenetrable barrier he made of himself.
Her heart stuck in her throat. At least, she assumed the idiom had been coined to cover her present state of breathless, choking anxiety. Her head told her the swarming, bloodthirsty monsters surrounding them couldn’t harm Wonder Guy, but how could anyone keep up this dizzying defense against such a seemingly endless barrage of the enemy?
Gloria lost track of time. Her arms ached from clinging to the giant cherry stem. Her legs wobbled, trying to keep her perch on the scanty, slippery footing afforded on the slick aluminum. Her grip slipped and she lurched near falling while struggling to regain her hold. At last, the cloud of whirring wings thinned to reveal stretches of clear, cerulean sky and the incessant drone faded from a thunder in her ears to a thinner whine. Dead mosquitoes littered the lawn below, clogged the pool, draped across sculptures or piled up around them.
As he flashed like lightning from one point to another, Wonder Guy had been drawn further and further from her position. Now a contingent of the mosquitoes moved quietly below, creeping out of hiding from among the corpses of their fellows, moving in coordination as if controlled by a single mind.
Oh God. As they rose in unison, moving arrow-straight for her, Gloria screamed, mind numb with horror. She shuddered at the thought of them touching her again. Worse, this time they might be out for blood. She pressed close to the cherry stem, squirming around to keep its solid steel between her and the approaching monsters, but they came from every side.
Wonder Guy arrived in the instant, put his broad, impervious back to the squadron of mosquitoes stabbing at them and wrapped his arms around her. Standing behind her, holding her pressed into his chest, the whole length of him held tight along her backside, he gave new meaning to guarding her back.
The shock of impact echoed through his flesh to hers as the first wave of assault broke upon his back.
She realized he’d spoken.
“Let go.” He plucked at her arms, still clenched around the cherry stem. Gladly she released it, turning at the urging of his hands to transfer her hold to him. She clasped her arms around his neck, and in the instant her eyes met his, looking out from behind his mask, she forgot her fear and her weariness. A bolt of exhilaration shot through her, an inexplicable joy.
Gloria grinned, letting the world drop away below them. She hardly registered how they’d shot into the sky, leaving mosquito hordes far below. She might never have this chance again. The belly dancers of the world might surround him as soon as they returned to earth, the way they’d done when he’d stopped that rogue elephant in Uptown.She’d have to go back to her life and her work and responsibilities.Right now this magnificent man’s arms wrapped tightly around her and his gaze stayed locked with hers. For the moment he was hers.
His masked face drew close, his breath warm on her mouth.Gloria leaned in, brushed her lips across his chiseled, slightly parted ones,thrilled as they softened and opened beneath her light touch. She bore down,parting her own lips to kiss him in earnest.
Oh Lord. If they weren’t already up among the clouds she’d be flying now. Who knew a kiss had the power to unlock such a rush of sensation, become a whole new dimension of delight? It had never worked that way before. His mouth met hers with equal fervor and with a tenderness melting her from crown to toes.
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