This excerpt is from Unto Dust (A Mindfire Prequel), my current work-in-progress. The scene features Steve Hamilton (Crusader, the co-leader of the AR-MEN superhero team) and his then-girlfriend, Angela Merrick. It is set in 1992 in Digby, California.
NOTE: There might be changes to this scene by the time the book is published, due to the editing process. But this will give you a good first look.
“You really want to break up with me?” she had said, sitting with her torso turned to him in the passenger seat of this car. She had looked at him with hurt in her emerald-green eyes as she folded her arms across her waist line.
“It’s not that I want to break up with you, Angela,” Steve had replied. “I just think that it’s best. You know what almost happened today. You could have been killed.”
Though it was a fine Spring day outside, within the parked car, their storm was raging. It was as if they were in a separate space from the world around them.
“You protected me,” she had countered. “Isn’t that what matters?”
“Angela, Togarr is a barbarian that I take seriously. He’s from another dimension and he’s a killer. Clever, strong, and experienced. When he had you, with one arm wrapped around your waist and his axe blade an inch from your throat, I was terrified for you. If I didn’t have super speed, I wouldn’t have been able to fly in, disarm, and K.O. him. You would have died.”
She had looked down, as though reliving that moment. “I know,” she replied softly.
“The fact is, I protected you this time. I might not always be able to do that,” he had added. “And what if one of the AR-MEN’s enemies learned you’re my — Crusader’s — girlfriend?”
Angela had lifted her head and made sharp eye contact with him again. “This is because I don’t have powers like you,” she had interjected bitterly.
Steve had sighed and hung his head. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”
She had looked down, balled her hands into fists, and cursed under her breath. Then she locked eyes with his, sadness and fury warring within.
“We have something good, Steve! We’ve been building this relationship. I know it hasn’t been that long, but I want a life together with you,” she began. “I may not have a suit of armor like John or fox powers like Dana, but I’m intelligent and resourceful. Most of the time, I can take care of myself very well. I can stay out of sight or get out of the way when you go into action. I can learn how to use a gun.”
Even though her eyes were misty, and her face was reddening from stress and anger, she conveyed a confidence that surprised Steve. He shook his head. “Please, don’t buy a gun. That could just as easily be used on you.”
“Fine,” she huffed. “This is more important anyway: I understand you. I can be there for you and give you a perspective you need.”
What she was saying had made sense to him. He knew she was right, and he wanted what she wanted. But over the next several seconds, his responsibilities and fears lashed against his hopes until he couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Don’t you get it?!” he roared, venting his frustration. “None of that matters if they hunt you down and —” He had stopped himself from going further, but he knew he’d already said too much.
Angela was visibly stunned, but only briefly. “None of that matters,” she repeated numbly. She closed her eyes and he could see her own tension build until it erupted. “I can’t believe this! You want to throw away what we have and kick me out because of the chance that something might happen to me?!” she raged, her voice filled with resentment.
Steve looked at the dashboard, then downward at the car door next to him. He could look anywhere but at Angela. Every time he did, he saw that her face was brimming with frustration and disappointment. And that made him regret doing this, despite how firm he was in his decision.
“Do I really mean that little to you?” she said in a near-whisper. He had heard the tears in her voice, and it tore into him. He held his breath and tensed up.
He had turned his head to face her, starting to reach over to offer some kind of comfort. But before he could speak, she had opened the car door and stepped out.
“Fine. I’ll go get my things and pack them into my car. Don’t even think about helping me,” she had said, standing next to the car with the door still open. She paused a moment, then poked her head into the car with daggers in her eyes. “Oh, and you can keep the bed.”
After that, she slammed the car door and walked away furiously.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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