Shero is on fire over at Smashwords (use coupon code TJ66F for free purchase through this weekend). This weekend it’s a big Shero giveaway and people are grabbing it up like it’s a pair of Manolo Blahnik 2 for 1 sale. So, I thought I’d sample everyone another chapter, so you can make sure you KNOW you need to get your Shero on.
The second Shero returned to HQ, he stormed into his quarters, stripped off the offending unitard, and slipped into something a little more suitable—a silk skirt suit, satin cami, and Mary Jane heels. He looked in the mirror and sighed heavily in relief. He could finally breathe again. He felt at home. He felt himself.
He felt himself up.
No, wait… that’s another story.
Before he could get too comfy, the intercom chirruped. Shero tapped the talk button.
“Yes?” His voice was a bit on the apprehensive side.
“This is Collision. Please report to my office immediately.”
And that was it. No “hello,” no “welcome back.” No nothing.
Shero slipped on a pair of mules—sometimes casual was fun—and started off to Collision’s office. Immediately, in Collision vernacular, meant NOW!
When Shero stepped into Collision’s office, he found his boss sitting behind his desk with a look that would have put The Thinker to shame. The two men stared at each other for a moment.
“You’re not in uniform, Shero.”
Another moment of staring.
“Actually, I am.”
“No. Actually, you are not. I had a new uniform designed specifically for you. I want you wearing it when you are here or on assignment.”
More stares, with the added discomfort of silence.
“I’m sure you saw the reports on both my sim and the recovery of Destiny.”
“I did.” Collision was far too frank with his reply. “The results were not—”
“Pretty?” Shero smiled.
“No, they weren’t.” Collision didn’t return the smile.
“What’s going on, Collision? You’ve known all along who and what I am. It’s a part of my ability.” Shero was desperately trying to keep his emotions at bay. He was barely hanging on.
“What you are is a trans—”
“Transgendered male.” Shero cut him off before he could spit out what Shero considered an insult.
“You are a threat to the security of SSH.” Collision thrust his hands behind his head in an attempt to look at ease.
It felt like the wind had been kicked out of Shero. He knee-jerked and stood up. His mouth was hanging open in shock. “What? I’m a what?”
“I think you heard what I said, Shero. Your appearance brings undue attention…” Collision started in on the standard, “You don’t fit in” speech that Shero had heard far too many times from far too many people.
“Excuse me, Director. You may not be able to comprehend this, but who and what I am are very much interconnected. My abilities are tied to the fact that I’m a transgendered male. It may not be standard operating procedure for SSH, but it’s my standard operating procedure. And you can read about the direct relation between my appearance and my performance.” Shero picked up the report from Collision’s desk and thrust it at him. “You take away my dress, you take away my effectiveness.”
Shero dropped the report in front of Collision. The paper landed perfectly aligned with the rest of Collision’s desk. Collision didn’t bother looking at it.
“I’ve made up my mind, Shero. You will wear the new uniform at all times when representing the Society of Superheroes. If you do not, you will be relieved of duty. That is all.” Collision placed the button of closure on his brief monologue and went about the official business of signing papers. When Shero didn’t budge he looked back up. “I said, that is all.”
Shero stormed out of the office, his mules clicking angrily down the hall. One would have sworn Shero’s shoes were screaming, “Bitch!” as they clicked.
Sassy, sassy shoes.
In his current state of huff, Shero’s heels took him to his only outpost of relief among what he now saw as a steady stream of judgmental jackoffs. He saw every pair of eyes boring through his dress to reveal some heretofore unknown, naked truth. It was the first time since his arrival at SSH that he felt discomfort. He felt as if he were being mocked every step of the way.
He picked up his pace, trying to keep his shoes silent so as not to draw any more attention to himself. It didn’t work. Eventually, he stopped and pulled off the shoes so he could pad barefoot to Fiend’s office.
When he arrived, he could see by the look in her eye that Fiend knew exactly what had happened.
“I’m sorry, sugar. I really am. If there was something I could have done, I would have.” Fiend pulled him into a strong embrace, an embrace that would have normally brought comfort to Shero—not this time.
“Why is this happening to me?” Tears streaked Shero’s mascara.
“Oh, baby, sometimes you just have to play by the rules of corporate America. You know, the ones that say, “There is no ‘I’ in team,” and all that stupid bullshit. They don’t want you to stand out. They don’t want there to be anything that might bring them negative publicity.”
“But why now? This is who I’ve been for years, and there’s never been a problem.”
“Who knows, honey? Maybe some closed-minded, ignorant pervert saw up your dress during a battle and realized just what he was staring at. Man sees snake when he expects to see beaver… man can get a little irate.”
Despite the situation, Fiend managed to bring a laugh to Shero’s lips.
Fiend’s eyes lit up. “I have something special for ya. I’ve been working on this for a while.” Fiend pulled a small bottle from her desk. The bottle was silver, reminding Shero a bit too much of the sim room for his liking, and had a bubblegum-pink stopper. Fiend pulled the stopper out of the bottle to reveal a brush. “Give me your hand.”
“Fingernail polish? You’re going to give me a mani?” Shero chuckled a bit.
“This isn’t just any fingernail polish, girl. I’ve been working this number up for some time now. I call it Stunning Red.” Fiend must have seen the look of ‘say what?’ cross Shero’s eyes. “You fling a nail coated with this at someone, and they’re hit with a bad-ass poison that’ll take ’em down before they can say, ‘Oh, girl!’”
“Ooooh, I likee.”
“You’ll likee even more when I have this same formula done up in every color for every mood.”
“Fiend, you’re a life saver.”
“Well, darlin’, I had a feeling the brass was going to come down on you for the way you dress. And before you ask, I knew nothing about it. I just had a feeling. So I figured you could probably use a lit’ sum’in’ sum’in’ to bring a pretty smile to your face.”
“And to help me tolerate the uni they created for me. Have you seen the thing?” There was no effort to hide the disgust Shero had for the hideous uniform. “I’d rather be in khakis and a blue oxford.”
Fiend made a horridly drawn-up face.
“On second thought… nah, I’d rather wear the uni than go business-blah.” Shero placed his other hand down, hinting for Fiend to finish the manicure. She complied.
“So I guess you’re not going to fight them on this one?” Fiend questioned.
“I guess not. It wouldn’t do any good, anyway.” Shero blew on his nails. “I’ll just suck it up and make that damned unitard look damn good.” Shero’s chin shot up momentarily.
Shero started to walk away, blowing on each nail as he stepped. Before he could get too far, he turned and asked, “Any chance of getting that in a girly shade of pink?”
“I’ll have it ready tomorrow, baby.”
Fiend winked, and Shero turned and left.