Naomi Stone

 

Three Wishes / More Wishes / Wonder Guy / Spirited! / Clockwork Whalers / Love in the Land of Lakes
Team Guardian / Sweet Mercy / Safe Haven / Shining Hope

Wonder Guy

a magical romance
from the files of the Fairy Godmothers' Union


Wonder Guy

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.

Available through Kensington Books

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Wonder Guy

READ AN EXCERPT:

It had to be a dream. If only. If only she had the refuge ofunconsciousness as the bug-eyed monsters lifting her up and the earth fell awaybelow. She had nothing but sympathy for the heroines of old movies who wouldswoon in the face of danger, but she couldn’t give up. She had to fightfor all she was worth. She twisted and tore at the clutching limbs until morecreatures secured her arms. She kicked against resilient abdominal segments andscaly exoskeletons. Thrashing wildly, Gloria shouted outrage when shewasn’t screaming in terror.

At least, she struggled until she looked down. The lawns andsculptures spread like a map below her. Far, far below. A fresh wave of vertigodizzied 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 curvesof the Henry Moore bronze now directly below. The scene shifted and spun, andnow it looked like the Calder would be a good bet for impaling her. Thewhirling of the scene made her stomach swim in sickening waves. She closed hereyes and stiffened, ceasing her struggles, though she still cringed from thehuge limbs holding her.

When she grew still, her captors steadied in flight. Withsteadier movement and the rush of cool wind in her face, her vertigo eased. Shedared to open her eyes again. The mosquitoes, flying in unison, leveled out atlast and bent their path as if to head south. Oh, God. Now would be agood 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 noisesand a smell she remembered from summer evenings near a bug zapper, the giantmosquitoes lost their holds on Gloria’s arms. She rejoiced and despairedagain immediately, falling free toward the earth below. Her stomach lurched,dropping even faster than she fell through the air. The wind dragged at herhair and clothes, stopping her breath. The pervasive drone of wings fell silentand empty husks of giant mosquitoes filled the air, falling with her. The sharpblack point of the Calder sculpture’s support rushed to meet them.Gloria screamed.

Strong, gentle arms scooped her up, and she threw her armsaround the hero’s strong neck, burying her face in the warm crook belowhis clean-cut jaw, trembling in relief.

“Hey,” he said. “It’s gonna beokay.”

They swooped through the air, but this was totally differentthan 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 hookedunder 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 bareflesh where his lower face and jaw emerged from his mask. His scent filled herlike the breath of home, human, familiar and safe. She checked the urge tonuzzle him, to nibble her way up to his ear. She relaxed, molding herself tothe solid wall of Wonder Guy’s body so warm against hers.

They neared the ground, the sound of insect wings growinglouder as they descended. The shrill whine, like police sirens on helium,surrounded them.

“Hold on,” Wonder Guy told her, transferringher grip from his neck to what proved to be the stalk of the giant cherry onwhich she now stood. His arms freed, Wonder Guy turned to face the army ofhorrendous mosquitoes closing in around them.

Gloria shivered without the warmth of her hero’s armsaround her. Oh. The mist of water spraying from the top of the cherry’sstalk might have something to do with her sudden chill. The drone of a thousandinsect wings drowned all other thoughts. She clung with a desperate grip to hercherry stem as Wonder Guy flashed from place to place, always between her andthe swarming army of mosquitoes.

Like mindless drones, the creatures seemed to have forgotteneverything and everyone else to gather their forces and throw themselvesagainst the hero in a determined assault. Their objective seemed to be to getthrough him, or past him, or around him to reach--her?

This was crazy. Why would these impossible monsters be afterher? Gloria trembled in every limb, wet, miserable and frightened out of herwits. If not for the cold of the metal stalk against her cheek or the slicksurface beneath the soles of her sandals, she might think it all a dream. Thisday had become a living nightmare. Only the hero, decimating the onslaught ofmonsters as she looked on, kept her from giving in to despair.

He moved more swiftly than her eyes could follow. Now infront of her, now above, now to one side, then another. He seemed everywhere atonce, and everywhere he turned the mosquitoes died. They fell from the sky likeso 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 andthey 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 directlybetween Gloria and the mosquitoes’ thrusts. Their stabbing proboscisesbroke against the impenetrable barrier he made of himself.

Her heart stuck in her throat. At least, she assumed theidiom had been coined to cover her present state of breathless, chokinganxiety. Her head told her the swarming, bloodthirsty monsters surrounding themcouldn’t harm Wonder Guy, but how could anyone keep up this dizzyingdefense against such a seemingly endless barrage of the enemy?

Gloria lost track of time. Her arms ached from clinging tothe giant cherry stem. Her legs wobbled, trying to keep her perch on thescanty, slippery footing afforded on the slick aluminum. Her grip slipped andshe lurched near falling while struggling to regain her hold. At last, thecloud of whirring wings thinned to reveal stretches of clear, cerulean sky andthe incessant drone faded from a thunder in her ears to a thinner whine. Deadmosquitoes 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.

“What?”

“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. Shehardly registered how they’d shot into the sky, leaving mosquito hordesfar below. She might never have this chance again. The belly dancers of theworld might surround him as soon as they returned to earth, the waythey’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 hisgaze 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 cloudsshe’d be flying now. Who knew a kiss had the power to unlock such a rushof sensation, become a whole new dimension of delight? It had never worked thatway before. His mouth met hers with equal fervor and with a tenderness meltingher from crown to toes.

~*~


Naomi Stone
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