Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs teen book, Powerless, is now out in paperback! To celebrate, Sourcebooks Fire has given us an exclusive excerpt from the first book of The Hero Agenda and a summary of the second book, Relentless!
If I could have any superpower, right now, I’d choose the ability to reach through glass. One thin, little pane is all that separates me from bliss…of the midnight-snack variety, to be exact. The chocolate bar hangs halfway to freedom but refuses to take the plunge, as if the vending machine is mocking me, taunting me.
As if it knows I’m powerless.
Annoyed, I slam my palms against the glass. Everything inside shudders. My chocolate bar—pure Swiss milk chocolate dotted with toasted hazelnuts—doesn’t budge.
“Come on,” I beg as if the candy can hear me. “Just a little farther.”
No such luck.
Then again, when have I ever been lucky? I’m just glad no heroes are around to see me lose a battle with a vending machine. I would be the punch line to every joke for a year.
Thankfully, the lab is pretty much empty at this time of night. Even Mom went home two hours ago, leaving me to transcribe the notes from today’s sessions. I prefer to work when no one is around. My experiments fall into a gray area in the Superhero Code of Conduct, and even though I’m not technically a superhero—yet—I try not to piss off the powers-that-be. The last thing I need is to lose my lab privileges before I’ve perfected my formula.
Copying down Mom’s scribblings is like deciphering some previously unknown ancient language. It isn’t exactly the most glamorous summer job ever, but it pays okay and gives me access to the facility.
I’m almost done with tonight’s transcription from the digital white board Mom and her team spent all day filling with chemical equations for her newest power-enhancing formula. Maybe twenty more minutes, and then I can get back to my test samples.
My stomach rumbles in protest, reminding me that I skipped dinner. I really want that stupid chocolate bar. But since I just used my last quarters, my only hope is that one of the security guards upstairs has change for a ten.
I turn away from the vending machine alcove and start back around the corner to grab my wallet from the lab.
Right before I make the turn, I hear hurried footsteps. Not wanting a repeat of last week’s collision with Dr. Harwood—my favorite jeans still smell like sulfur—I hang back a step.
But the boy who rushes around the corner looks nothing like the balding, old scientist who works nearly as many late nights as I do.
No, this guy is tall and lean, but not too skinny. He’s got major biceps and I can see the outline of some pretty impressive muscles beneath his shirt. Yum. He’s probably about my age or a little older, eighteen or nineteen maybe. And everything about him is shrouded in black—his tee and jeans, his heavy-duty boots, his shoulder-length hair—everything but his eyes.
If we weren’t in superhero central, I’d say he looks like a stereotypical villain.
You’d think with all that darkness, he’d be nothing more than shadow. But he’s all angles: his cheekbones, his jaw, even the collarbones I can see peeking out from the low neckline of his tee. Light seems to reflect off him like moon glow at midnight. Surrounded by all that sculpted darkness, his icy blue irises burn like the hottest flames.
Our gazes collide, and though I know it’s vain, I instantly wish my hair wasn’t pulled back in a messy braid and that I was wearing something—anything—more appealing than my dad’s ratty old 1996 Stanley Cup Champions tee.
Hot guys in the underground lab are few and far between—Who am I kidding? Hot guys in my life are few and far between—so most of my wardrobe choices involve comfort and whether I mind if the garment gets ruined by acid, dye, or any of a million other compounds we work with every day.
If my best friend, Rebel, were here, she’d be doing an I-told-you-so dance because she’s been wanting to give me a makeover forever. That, and she’d already have his number and email address, and they’d be making plans for their date this weekend. Me, I can’t even manage a simple “hello.”
The fact that he’s scowling at me, those dark brows slashing low over those bright eyes, isn’t helping anything.
“The lab is supposed to be empty,” he says.
His voice is flat, but his comment almost feels like an accusation.
“I’m working late,” I answer, trying not to sound defensive. “What are you doing here?”
He lifts an eyebrow. “You’re working in the hall?”
“I needed a break to come get chocolate,” I say, gesturing at the vending machine behind me.
He nods down at my empty hands. “You don’t have any chocolate.”
“That thing hates me. Took my money and kept the candy bar.”
In a graceful movement that looks almost choreographed, Dark-and-Scowly steps around me and up to the greedy machine. He presses his palms to the glass, just like I did. Hey, maybe he has the power to reach through glass. After all, around here pretty much everyone but me has some kind of super ability.
When his hands don’t immediately sink through the surface, I say, “I tried smacking it already. Didn’t work.”
Moving his hands closer to the edge, he curls his fingers around the frame. Then, with his boots braced on the floor, he gives the whole machine a solid shove. The heavy hunk of metal rocks back once, then comes forward, its front legs hitting the tile floor with a sharp thud. On impact, the chocolate bar sails against the glass before falling into the trough below.
He turns to face me, a cocky smile twisting one side of his mouth. “Takes a special touch.”
I duck down and reach through the hinged door to grab the candy bar.
“You’re my hero,” I joke.
He snorts. “Right.”
Mark your calendars, Powerless in PAPERBACK hits shelves May 3rd!
Revenge is easy, but justice is worth fighting for…
Kenna is tired of being lied to—and hunted by the very allies she once trusted. Unearthing the dark secrets of the superhero world has not only endangered her life, now her boyfriend faces execution for crimes he didn’t commit and her mother is being held captive in a secret governmental prison.
Kenna is determined to stand up for what’s right and save those she loves from unspeakable fates. It’s time for the betrayal to end. It’s time for the real criminals to face justice.
But the truth is even more terrifying than Kenna could imagine. A conspiracy threatens the fate of heroes, villains, and all of humanity. If Kenna’s going to survive, she must draw on her deepest strength: her resilience. Because when Kenna’s pushed to the limit, she doesn’t break down. She fights back.
Mark your calendars, Relentless hits shelves June 7th!