I’m sorry to be writing this, but starting today I’m going to be putting Less Than Heroic on hiatus. I’ve been deliberating on this for a while, and frankly, I’m a little burned out. I’ve been doing LTH for almost three years now, in addition to working on other projects. I don’t feel like I can keep up with the schedule and do the story justice right now. I want to thank everyone who’s read along, and I hope you’ll come finish the story with me when it’s time.
P.S. If you’re interested in seeing what else I’ve been working on, you can check it out here: https://melissakmoore.wordpress.com/.
Lucia was waiting for him when he got to the cabin. Outside, in the battered blue armchair, a mug of something hot in one hand.
Brennan wrapped the ambient heat in the car around himself as he climbed out and trudged across the wet leaves to join her. It was cold today, and for some reason it made the ache worse than usual. Lucia waited until he stepped onto the porch to talk.
“Did it go that badly?” she asked. He didn’t need her powers to see how scared she was. Her fingers were white around the cup in her hands. “What did he say? Are we—”
“It’s fine,” he said. “I mean, it went as well as it could have gone. It was just hard.”
Brennan halted outside the door to the study, too afraid to go in. The muted sound of 80’s hair metal filtered through the study door. As he stood frozen outside the door, his mind raced ahead, running through all the ways this conversation could go disastrously wrong. He was on the verge of fleeing back to his room when the door opened. Dad shuffled out, muttering absently about protons.
“Morning,” he said as he glimpsed Brennan lurking in the hall. “Finally decided to get up?”
“Uh, yeah,” Brennan said, smoothing down his sleep-ruffled hair.
“I’m just on my way to warm up this coffee,” Dad said, brandishing a half-filled mug in the air. “Keep forgetting it’s on my desk.”
Even though it was late, the lights were still on when Brennan pulled into the driveway. He switched the engine off and sat in the dark car, staring at the living room window with indecision. The revelations of the evening had left him shaken, but the relentless worry about it hadn’t left him with any clarity about what to do.
We’re going to need help.
Selena’s suggestion that they approach Dr. Haley for help had gone over as well as he’d have expected. The tense discussion had quickly turned to argument. Molly left angry, Lucia had barely kept Carter from punching a tree, and it was only after he’d insisted they had to consult Ivy before he did anything that they agreed to take the night and think things over.
Brennan poked the logs in the fire and tried hard not to think. He’d wanted to keep searching for Aaron, but Molly had stubbornly insisted he needed to rest. Annoying, but now that he was sitting down, he had to admit she was probably right. The adrenaline that had kept him going all night had faded, leaving him cold and numb to everything except the sharp ache in his side.
Now there was nothing to do except wait.
He glanced toward the shore. Molly and Carter sat together on the big boulder on the shore, shadowed against the water. Neither of them seemed much the worse for wear, and Molly actually seemed to get more energy from taking a few hits. He felt a little envious, watching them talk and chuck rocks into the lake while he sucked extra warmth from the fire and tried not to fall asleep.
“Where are we going?” Tara asked after about twenty minutes of trudging through the trees. Even after they’d left town, none of her apprehension had lessened. Lucia couldn’t really blame her. If a stranger had tried to drag her into the dark woods alone, her first thought would have been to wonder if she was following a serial killer.
“I told you we’ve got a place, right? It’s not far. A little downstream of the dam.” She pointed with her flashlight, even though the trees were too dense to see anything beside more trees.
“Like a camp?”
“More of a cabin,” Lucia said. “Don’t worry; it’s abandoned. I’m pretty sure no one but us even knows it exists. But there’s heat there, and food. It’s not much further.”
The town wasn’t that big, but tonight it felt enormous. Carter shifted the girl further up his hip, and felt her wrap her arms tighter around his neck.
“You okay?” he whispered to her, and got a slight nod that he felt more than saw. Ethan panted beside him, doing his best to keep up.
They’d almost been caught twice, and Carter was pretty sure they’d circled back on themselves about a dozen times trying to avoid the patrols still cruising downtown. In the dark, Carter had to rely on memory more than sight—memory that was a little sketchier when it came to cutting through backlots and jumping fences.
“Do you feel that?” Aaron said, halting suddenly. Lucia stopped just ahead of him and glanced back. He crouched on the sidewalk, hands out like he was catching his balance.
“Feel what?” she asked. But as soon as the words were out her mouth, she felt a tremble through the sidewalk. It was barely strong enough to be more than a brief sense of movement, and if she hadn’t been paying attention she would have missed it.
“Ready to go?” Selena asked, pulling on her glove. Extra charge crackled through her skin as she flexed her hand. The fit was better, but the reinforced leather still felt bulky under the cuff of her jacket. She’d also strapped guards around her shins, plated with armor similar to what she’d made for Carter. She knew what happened to squishy things in fights.
Carter hesitated before climbing on behind her. “Mom would kill me if she knew I was riding this,” he said.
Brennan and Molly walked through town, looking for trouble. It was dark, and pretty quiet. After three days of relief efforts, most of the blockage had been cleared away. But even in normal times, the town was pretty dead at night, and these were not normal times.
“So why aren’t you patrolling with Lucia?” Molly asked. As restless as she normally was, she seemed unusually so tonight—walking on the balls of her feet and tapping her wooden sword impatiently against one leg. “I was surprised that she decided to go with Aaron.”
Brennan sighed. “We had another fight,” he said.
“Really? You seemed fine this morning.”
“We were.” He crossed his arms and glared at a passing alley cat. “Then we just—” He clenched his fist and took a deep breath. “Lately, it seems like all we do is argue.”