I mean ‘teasing’ in a very non-creepy, authory way. Don’t worry. I have a book coming out in September and you might like a small nibble. Just a tiny one, to see if it suits your palate. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your appetizer of The Sidekick and The Supervillain. Picture Michaela, innocently at work checking temperatures and taking blood pressure readings, when into her Urgent Care walks one of the biggest supervillains in Smallcity. He’s got robots everywhere, he knows things about super heroes before they know themselves, and as a sidekick she is absolutely a juicy target. And if he recognizes her . . .

“This time he gave her a real Bane grin. Cocky, overconfident, sexy as all hells. She’d never known the color of his eyes or how amazing his bone structure was, not through the obnoxious Evil Bane mask he wore. But the mask only covered the top half of his face. She’d always thought he’d left it like that deliberately to show off that handsome square jaw, because yeah, he knew he was handsome. And oh, she knew that seductive grin.

       Without her approval, her traitorous insides fluttered and her mouth turned up in an answering smile.

       “I’ve got it,” he said abruptly, his eyes lighting up. “I remember. You’re the Amiable Acccom—”

       She straightened her hand flat in front of his nose. “I am not the accomplice, or an accomplice, or an amigo, or a buddy. I really think you have me confused with someone else. I need to ask you to stop, sir. You’ll get me in trouble.” Darting over, she peered out the small window in the examining room door.

Dr. Imark was approaching down the tiled hallway, shoes tapping on the tiled floor. Michaela had seconds.

She dashed back, leaned closer, and lowered her voice. “Everyone knows you can’t trust Empowered to work in a hospital. They might accidentally hurt someone or attract a villain. Everyone knows that. Please, Bane. Let’s just focus on your injury.”

Their eyes locked. He looked unconvinced and she could not have that.

Normal Michaela instinct hunched her shoulders, muscles twitching in preparation for turning away. She refused. This job was important to her. Everything in her needed to stay, to help people, and for that she had to keep her status as Empowered a secret.

“Please, Bane. Just forget what you think you know.” Her heart boomed in her ears once, twice, three times. Everything shrank to the two of them, bolted together, waiting to see who would break first.

Finally, he gave her one tiny nod.

       “What do we have here, Michaela?” Dr. Imark’s big, booming voice entered the room even before she did.

Sound and color flooded back into Michaela’s peripheral, like someone had hit the button to un-mute the room around them. She blinked and tried to focus, grateful the pulse oximeter wasn’t on her finger.

“Ahhh…oh, it looks like…a deep partial-thickness burn. Combined with some laceration.” She pointed at Bane’s wound, avoiding his gaze once more. “Some edema at the edge of the burn here. Blistering here and here, see. Patient’s blood pressure is normal. Heart rate a little elevated. I already gave him a topical shot to numb the area but we might want to give him one more.”

“And who are we treating today?” Dr. Imark gave The Evil Bane a friendly smile as she moved to the sink to wash her hands.

       “Ivan,” Bane told her. “Ivan O’Reilly.”

       Michaela snorted involuntarily and clapped a hand over her mouth. She had skimmed right over that part of his chart. His abs had been a tad distracting. But of course he wouldn’t check into the facility all barefaced under his evil name.

Ivan O’Reilly. Her side twinged from holding in the laugh that fought to burst out.

He looked like the furthest thing from an Ivan or an O’Reilly and of course that’s why he’d chosen it as his alter-ego.

Both of them stared at her, Doctor Imark with amazement and Bane with one side of his mouth tucked up. His cheek dimpled, which she considered deeply unfair to females and fems everywhere and herself in particular. She dropped her hand to her side and calmed her expression. 

       “All right then, Ivan, let’s get you fixed up,” Dr. Imark said, giving Michaela a do-you-need-to-go-on-break-now look.

Behind Dr. Imark The Evil Bane winked and Michaela gave him an unimpressed look, even though she could feel the heat of a blush brushing her face.