Banging the Superhero
by Rebecca Royce
Banging the Superhero
Sexy Superheroes - Book 2
Available from Noble Romance Publishing
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Ace Hudson has worked for his brother, Draco, at Powers, Inc. since it opened. Spending his days trying to balance his job with taking care of his teenage brother, Lael, he uses his nights to overcome the overabundance of adrenaline in his body that makes him lose control. He also has a secret crush on a celebrity chef who makes home-cooked meals look sexier than anything he has ever seen.
Alice Styles runs an empire based on her ability to make people want to eat what she cooks. When she is nearly killed on live television in a situation straight out of one of her childhood nightmares, she reluctantly asks Ace Hudson to help keep her safe.
Starting out with instant dislike and finding their way to mutual pleasure, Ace and Alice do not have an easy path to love. But their egos and personal barriers are nothing compared to the looming threat just waiting for a moment to possess Alice.
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Ace Hudson flew through the open front door of his brother, Draco's, house at exactly seven o'clock at night. As soon as he landed on the front hallway floor, he took off his shoes as his sister-in-law, Wendy, had instructed him to do about a thousand times now, and lined them up in the corner of the room by the front hall closet.
Sighing, he loosened his tie and wondered how his life had become so mundane. He was a Superhero. Shouldn't he be doing exciting things? Taking down bad guys? Rocking somebody's rotten world?
"I still can't get over you in a suit and tie."
Ace looked up to catch the amused expression of his younger brother, Lael, who stood leaning against the wall, drinking a can of soda. If Wendy had been home, she'd have corrected the teenager for not using a glass, but since Wendy and Draco had tied the knot and departed on their honeymoon, Ace was left to take care of these issues with his younger bro.
Ace decided not to utter a word. Maybe Lael's behavior was an act of rebellion against all the new rules in the house. Maybe Ace just thought that at sixteen Lael should be able to drink from the can without being told not to. He shrugged. Either way, he just didn't care.
"Yeah, well, you know, now that I'm the face of the new Powers, Inc. I have to look the part." Or at least that's what Draco had told him when he'd taken him out to get fitted for suits.
Lael nodded, straightened and walked to the living room. Ace stared at the teenager's feet, glad to see him in his socks. As if Wendy and the floor had some kind of communal relationship, she knew if anyone had walked on it wearing shoes anytime since the dawn of time. He might have had to correct Lael if he'd still had on his sneakers.
"I ordered us pizza."
Ace nodded and followed his half-brother into the living room, noting, with some disgust, that the kid was watching cartoons again. Not just any cartoons either, no, he had a superhero program blaring from the set.
"Are you going to outgrow this sometime soon?"
Lael laughed. "Are you going to cut your hair?"
The answer was no. He'd never cut his hair, no matter how long the blond mane had gotten, and he probably never would. It was his signature. People who saw him and his long locks floating in the wind as he flew over New York City knew it was none other than Ace Hudson. Everyone had been after him to at least trim it. Everyone, of course, being Draco and the image consultant he'd hired to get whip Ace into shape, appearance-wise, so he looked more like the head of a corporation.
Presumably, Draco had put Ace in charge of the company so Draco could devote himself to taking care of and helping to mend Lael's psyche. Yet, here Ace was, running Powers, Inc. and hanging out with Lael.
Something seemed a little off . . . .
Throwing himself down on the couch, he picked up the remote before Lael could object. If his brother wanted to waste his time watching Superman and Batman save the world, he could do it on his own time. From seven o'clock in the evening on, Ace got to control the remote control in the living room.
Truth was, Ace didn't need to use the remote at all. With his unique super power, he could speak to machines, and they did as he commanded. If he'd wanted to, he could even change the channel when he was a mile away from the house.
But that was rude.
And his Mama had raised him better than that.
Stopping finally on the Food Channel, he leaned back into the cushions. If he was lucky, he got to catch the end of Alice Styles' program every night when he got home. Tonight, he'd have fifteen full minutes to watch her, "show the world what she's making for dinner." Unlike other cooking shows, Alice's was broadcast live. If she made a mistake—which she rarely did—the audience got to see it. That took guts, in Ace's mind. The woman had a lot of confidence in her skills.
Lael plopped down next to him and rolled his eyes. "Again?"
"I'd accuse you of having a crush on her if she wasn't so old."
Ace glared at Lael. Alice Styles is not old. She was probably not a day over thirty—exactly Ace's age—and quite possibly, even younger. Lately, it seemed everyone over twenty years of age earned the label "old" from the sixteen-year-old.
Ace had lusted after Alice Styles for months, ever since he'd first seen her on television. His sister-in-law had put her on one evening and he'd been hooked.
Not that he would ever meet her. No, she wasn't the type of woman who frequented the establishments he did. Somehow, he couldn't imagine her with her fastened-in-a–bun, brown hair and her buttoned-to-the-neck, white blouses donning leather and getting it on to loud, booming, techno music.
He could picture it now. Alice, wearing only her apron—the black one that didn't quite make it around her curvy, supple ass—her boobs peeking up just slightly from underneath as she moved and swayed on the dance floor. Her chestnut brown hair hanging loose, flowing every which way. He'd glide up behind her . . . she'd just know it was him, because who else would dare touch her on the dance floor when they knew she was his girl . . . and she'd turn to him. In her sexiest voice, which he'd hear with his superpower hearing over the music, she'd say, "Give it to me, Ace."
And he'd do as she asked, right there, on the dance floor . . . and his superpower wouldn't hurt her. She'd be able to take him and enjoy him, all of him.
"Dude! Check it out." Lael's voice ripped Ace from his sexual fantasy and he squirmed on the couch, attempting to hide the hard-on he'd got just from thinking about the cooking show hostess.
Lael stared at Ace.
"The machines!" Lael shouted. "They're flying everywhere!"
Turning to the television, Ace saw his brother was right. Alice's cooking equipment flew around her studio kitchen. She shrieked and hit the ground. The toaster detached itself from the wall, flying forward, its cooking tray opening and closing like a giant mouth threatening to eat her.
Just as suddenly, the blender whirred to life unaided, a dark concoction she'd been making spewing out all over the room.
"Help me!" As Alice shrieked, Ace jumped to his feet, still staring at the television.
"How far away is that studio?"
If the program was filmed in California, he might already be too late. His range was around one mile, two, at best, for controlling machines. Hell, why was he asking the kid?
"They film in New York; one of our Communication classes went on a field trip there."
Communication classes? That was quite a high school his little brother attended. Back in Ace's day, students were lucky if the teacher showed for English.
Narrowing his eyes, he concentrated on the machines attacking Alice—there was no doubt someone commanded them to do just that—and he pushed his energy forward. He could do the same with any machine as long as it was within communication range and he could see it, even if just on television.
He spoke aloud to the toaster first. "Relax."
It was odd; usually machines such as these were controlled by remote. Ace simply had to cut off the connection to the remote. This time, however, the signal seemed different.
"Wow." He laughed. Someone controlled the machine and not electronically. In the same way he communicated with machines using his mind, someone manipulated them. He fought, from a distance, with someone who possessed a similar power.
This had never happened before. Not ever. He grinned, enjoying the challenge.
Whoever made the other machines move must have been as startled as Ace was because he or she—Ace wasn't sure—faltered, and he managed to break the link to the machines.
Both the toaster and the blender dropped to the floor. Dead.
Alice continued to shriek. Ace blinked. Why hadn't the station gone to commercial?
Lael stood, his mouth gaping open like a landed fish, as he alternated gawking between Ace and the television set. "I guess she's lucky she wasn't using an electronic knife."
Ace nodded, distracted. It bugged him they hadn't cut to a break. What was going on down at that studio? Alice pulled herself up, covered in the brown concoction she'd been making. She was the most disheveled he'd ever seen her. But then he saw her only on television or in photo shoots.
"Um." Alice cleared her throat. She sounded more hoarse than usual, which was impressive, considering voice-wise, most of the time she gave Kathleen Turner a run for her money. "I'm not really sure what just happened. Let's get a word from our sponsors and we'll come right back."
Finally, the screen changed to a commercial, a scene of a woman holding a baby wearing a "different type of diaper". Ace swore before he realized he still stood next to Lael.
Looking at his brother, Ace grinned. "Sorry about swearing."
Lael shrugged. "I've heard it all before."
"Doesn't mean I should talk that way around you."
Lael pointed to the screen. "Who made that happen?"
"I don't know." Ace kicked the side of the couch, gently. Still, he managed to make a hole in it using the tip of his foot alone. Damn—he was going to be in trouble when Draco and Wendy returned.
He jumped from foot-to-foot. This was the problem with his powers. They required so much physical energy to control that to use them at all meant he needed an outlet in which to channel them. Exercise was becoming a less and less effective tool.
"Feel like flying down to that studio and finding out what happened?"
He glanced at Lael. If his brother wanted to stay here and eat the pizza that was coming, that's what they would do. He would find a way to make tonight work, somehow.
Lael smiled and, for a second, Ace had to shake his head in awe. It was Draco's smile. Sometimes when he looked at the kid, he caught an expression that was similar to one he himself would make, but most of the time there was nothing but Draco in him. They were an odd family, but family nonetheless."Does that grin mean yes?"
"Really, you'd bring me with you?"
"Don't tell Draco."
Without another word, he floated upwards. "Besides, if I don't teach you how not to bang into everything whenever you take to the skies, who will?"
Moving forward, he hovered for a second as he opened the front door. "Follow me."
Ace had to give Lael credit. He kept up even if his flying was sloppy. If Ace flew straight up, Lael zagged a bit before finding his path. As far as Ace could remember, he hadn't had that problem learning to fly. But then he'd been doing it since he was three years old to keep up with Draco. Lael had all but suppressed his powers, not knowing what the bizarre feelings were.
They moved together, Ace following the path his mind had taken to control the machines, until they landed outside the studio door. Lael stumbled and would have fallen, but Ace steadied him at the last minute.
Grinning, he gazed at his younger brother. "Great. We'll work on the landings."Lael's face turned red and Ace glanced away to give him a moment. Moving forward, he strode through the door to the studio.
Two guards rose as he walked in. "Sir, I'm going to need to see some identification," one guard said.
"Should you be here?" The other guard turned toward the first one. "I don't recognize him." He spun back to Ace. "You can't just walk in."
Ace nodded, pulling out his business card. "Tell your boss it's Ace Hudson from Powers, Inc., and I just stopped the machines in there from killing one of your hosts. He's going to want to see me."
The guard visibly swallowed as he picked up the phone. Inwardly, Ace shrugged. Most people knew him on sight—he'd been featured in enough tabloids to make that happen—but if someone didn't recognize him immediately, the person almost always felt terribly uncomfortable. Long ago, he'd decided intimidation was a good thing. When people feared you, they tended to get out of your way and let you do what you wanted.
"I thought he was going to wet himself when he figured out who you were."
Ace nodded at Lael's whispered remark. "I did too."
The guard hung up the phone. Looking up, the grey-haired, forty-something-year-old man smiled at Ace with what Ace long ago recognized as hero worship.
"Mr. Hudson, if you would just walk to those elevators." The man's hand shook as he pointed down the hallway. "If you and your sidekick would sign in first, Mr. Grayson McDowell, Alice Styles' producer, is waiting for you on the fifth floor."
Lael raised an eyebrow. "His sidekick?"
"Shut up and sign in." Ace moved forward and did as instructed.
Lael followed, even as he grumbled about doing it. Ace wasn't sure if his brother had an issue with having to sign his name or with being referred to as Ace's sidekick. In any case, if he didn't stop complaining he could stay outside and wait while Ace dealt with this.
They finally arrived on the fifth floor, which took much more time than it should have. Apparently this was one of those buildings where the elevators stopped on every floor regardless of whether someone pressed the button to call it or not. Ace decided he'd have a little chat with the damn thing on the way down and make it go straight from the fifth floor to the first.
"It would be faster if we flew."
"Faster, yes." Ace nodded. "But showing up at the windows of people who don't expect us tends to either freak them out or to piss them off. I'm in the mood for neither."
The elevator doors opened, they stepped out together, and were accosted immediately.
"Mr. Hudson! This is an honor, sir."
Ace smiled. "You're Grayson McDowell, I presume."
McDowell appeared to be in his late thirties, with just a touch of gray lining parts of his hair. His face was long, his eyes wide, and he carried twenty pounds on him he needed to exercise off. As he held out his right hand to Ace, his left hand shook. Ace pretended not to notice.
"I am and I can't tell you how relieved I was when the guard called upstairs and informed me you were here and that you had stopped the machines. It cleared up a lot for us. But I had no idea why they began or even less of a clue why they ceased. Needless to say, Alice is very shaken up."
Ace nodded as he took the man's hand. "I stopped it. I didn't start it. I don't know who made those machines move like that." To attack her, he wanted to say but didn't. It was best to assess who was in charge here before he made anyone crazed.
"If you have a moment, since you came down to the studio, perhaps you could take a look around?"
"I don't need to do that."
Lael spoke from behind him. "And he can't unless you pay him. It's the rule at Powers, Inc. Superheroes don't work for free."
"Oh, I see." Grayson narrowed his eyes. "All right, well, let's go see Ms. Styles and see what she says about engaging your services."
There were lots of things Ace had wanted to do to Alice Styles and her hot, full body since he'd first seen her show—none of his thoughts had to do with her engaging his services anywhere but in the bedroom.
Lael walked up next to him. "Are you going to ask her for her autograph?"
"No." Ace gritted his teeth. He really wished Lael hadn't remarked about the payment. Truth was, there were times when he did jobs for free and didn't tell Draco about it. If someone couldn't pay, it didn't mean they didn't need help. Also, how much money they had was never as important to Ace as to Draco.
They turned the corner and stepped over the threshold into a large dressing room. The open door had a star and the word Styles stenciled on the outside. Inside was chaos. Three women raced through the room, throwing clothes into suitcases. A man holding a hairbrush paced in front of a mirror, while Alice Styles sat calmly, practically statuesque, in a chair, flipping through a gossip magazine.
Ace froze. He couldn't move no matter how he tried, as if his feet were glued to the floor. Even with the abundance of disorder in the room, Alice's still figure held every ounce of his attention.
Without glancing up, she spoke to Grayson. "I told you. I'm not coming back until whoever was responsible for that stunt is put behind bars. I might have been killed—or at the very least badly burned—by that toaster."
"Well, I have good news. I've found you someone who can help."
He'd found her someone to help? Ace almost pointed out that he'd shown up on his own without an invitation from anyone, but then Alice spoke again and all he wanted, instead, was to listen to those sultry tones speak some more.
"You left five minutes ago. That was fast."
She closed the magazine and for the first time regarded Ace. He swallowed through the dryness invading his mouth, the same tension that threatened to overwhelm his entire body. The television didn't do her eyes justice. Usually, he thought them just a pretty brown. But, no, her eyes were deep chestnut and her gaze was strong.
From that gaze, he concluded one of two things had happened. She either had no idea who he was or she knew and she didn't think very highly of him.
Other than raising an eyebrow, she didn't move an inch. "This is supposed to be my help?"
"Yes, Ms. Styles. This is Ace Hudson, the owner and President of Powers, Inc."
Technically, Draco was the owner, but Ace felt no need to correct the misconstrued opinion. Whatever it took to earn this woman's respect, he was willing to do.
But her cool indifference remained, and Ace's ire rose with each passing moment.
Finally, Ace had to speak. "That's right. I stopped those machines from killing you from about a mile away. Any idea why someone would want you dead?"
She threw the magazine onto the floor. Now her eyes appeared heated and angry. "That's a preposterous notion. Yes, I could have been seriously maimed, or possibly died, considering what happened, but I'm sure it was nothing more than a prank gone wrong. I certainly don't need to hire professional help to solve it. I've already told Grayson to look into it."
Grayson stuttered. "Alice . . . ."
Ace interrupted. "I'm afraid if Grayson could figure out who was strong enough to do something like that, to control those machines using only his or her mind, he'd probably be dead immediately afterward. Don't minimize this. Make no mistake, whoever pulled your so-called prank intended to kill you."
Alice shot to her feet. "How do I know you didn't do it?"
Ace had the sudden urge to throw something—at her. Where was the sweet lady who made bread pudding in half an hour on television? This woman was the worst kind of shrew. "I assure you, I have better things to do," he said.
"He flew all the way here after he rescued you. He's a fan. He watches you every night." Lael stepped forward, red faced, his hands fisted at his side.
Ace wished he could throw the teenager out the window. Damn. He appreciated the kid stepping up to defend him, but why did Lael have to tell her that?
Her voice came out totally bland. "How nice, a fan."
"Okay, I'm leaving. You're welcome, by the way. It was no trouble at all saving your ungrateful ass."
Ace whirled around. He needed to put up with this as much as he needed to get blown to bits and put back together again. Besides, Powers, Inc. had way too much work lined up. The government was calling, missiles were aimed at the United States, rich aristocrats had missing pieces of jewelry, a madman had a vendetta against the makers of bubble wrap . . . and his brother was on his honeymoon for another two weeks.
This incident proved a good thing, though. At least now, he didn't have to waste his time watching her make spaghetti and thinking about how hot she would look going down on him. Alice might be attractive, but she was mean as a snake. Fuck that.
"Oh, Mr. Hudson."
Ace stopped moving and turned.
Alice settled back into her seat with a look of boredom. "The next time you and Boy Wonder there decide to leave the house, perhaps you'll put on more attractive socks."
He looked at his feet. He'd never put back on his shoes before he'd left the house.
Ace whipped around, grabbed Lael by the arm, and headed toward the exit before anyone noticed the heat that had flushed his face all the way to the tip of his ears. What a suckass night this turned out to be.