Author’s Note: This is a relatively short introductory chapter to an ongoing story line I would like to write. There is no sex in this chapter–that will come later.:) The purpose of this chapter is to introduce you to the main characters, and hopefully pique your interest. Feedback and comments are very welcome! Please let me know if you’d like to read more about Midnight . . .
She heard the screaming in the alley . . . just in time. She was about to head back to her apartment, strip off her costume, and take a long, hot bubble bath. She hadn’t expected to encounter any problems tonight—she envisioned just taking a quick, easy swing around town to get in a good workout, keep her timing sharp. It had been quiet lately, crime was down in the city. With a certain sense of pride, she liked to think she had played a part in that.
She hurled the grappling hook toward the ledge of the office building across the street. It gripped tightly, just as she knew it would. Once she had trained long enough, hard enough, once she deemed herself ready, she was determined never to miss. And she hadn’t.
Leaping off the rooftop of the old paper mill, Midnight swung across the street, a lithe form in the glow of the streetlights. If there had been passersby, they would have witnessed a world-class acrobat, a fearless athlete, at the peak of her abilities.
But there was no one. Just the blacktop, still wet from the evening’s passing shower, the blinking yellow traffic light, the dark store fronts in this old, crumbling, seedy section of the city.
She landed perfectly, exhibiting the perfect combination of balance and strength. But she didn’t have time admire her skills. The screaming below was coming and going, coming and going. Angry men’s voices kept saying, “Shut up! Shut up, you bitch, or we’ll fuckin’ kill you!”
From here, it was a ten-foot leap to the sidewalk. No problem. Midnight had jumped from structures two times that height. She didn’t hesitate. She jumped, and in one motion, hit the ground running—toward the alley, toward the crime being committed. The screaming had stopped, but she still heard the men talking, swearing, laughing.
She arrived at the mouth of the alley. A dim lamp attached to the side of a building gave off just enough light for her to see. Two men, big, burly, were assaulting a woman. One of the men was behind her, his hand covering her mouth, the other arm pinning her against him. The woman was struggling, but obviously wasn’t strong enough. The guy’s pants were down, and even from twenty feet away, she could see his erection.
The other guy was on his hands and knees, his mouth covering the woman’s privates. His hands were extended up to her breast, which were freed, her top and bra tossed to the side. The site made Midnight want to vomit. Vermin like those men deserved to be punished, tortured, even. Nothing she could do to them under the law was severe enough.
She raced toward them. It was the woman who saw her first. Her eyes bulged, and there was a pleading in them, an alarm call for help.
The guy pinning the woman saw her, too. He scowled.
“Hey, what the fuck?” he said.
The other guy, the one who was feasting on the woman’s pussy, turned around. Midnight didn’t hesitate. She kicked him in the face. The feel of her boot-heel meeting his nose was satisfying, especially the resounding crack that told her his nose was broken. Blood gushed forth, spilling onto the potholed pavement.
“Fuck, you broke my nose, you fucking bitch,” he said, and rose to his feet. By now the other guy had tossed the woman aside, and faced Midnight. Two against one. She liked those odds.
She eyed her opponents, waiting for them to make the first move, to telegraph their punch, their intention. She figured the one with the broken nose would try something first. He wanted revenge.
And he did. He picked up a jagged piece of glass, the remnants of a beer bottle someone must have tossed into the alley that morning or the night before, or the night before that. He charged her, aiming the jagged glass at her face. It was child’s play to sidestep his clumsy attack, stick her foot out, and trip him. He landed with a thud on the pavement, and dropped his weapon.
“I’ve read a lot about you,” the other guy said. Midnight noticed that the woman had put on her bra and top, pulled up her pants. But she was glued to the spot. Midnight didn’t like that. She should be running away! One of these bastards might grab her again, use her as a human shield. She needed to deliver the knockout blow quickly, before they had the chance to try anything like that.
“You must think you’re one tough broad,” the guy said. The other one, the one with the broken nose, was just getting back on his feet. “What the fuck you think this is, bitch? A fucking comic book? I mean, look at you! Fucking wearing a mask and a skin-tight body suit. Nice tits, though, baby. Maybe I’ll let you live long enough for me and my buddy to fuck you. You owe him one, after bustin’ up his nose.”
The woman let Çeşme Escort out a squeal, and Midnight shouted at her, “Get out of here! Run away, now!”
But the woman stayed put. She was riveted. Damn.
The guy who still had a nose in one piece lunged at her, throwing a haymaker. She ducked underneath and kicked him in the balls, all in one fluid motion. He collapsed in a heap, his hands cupping his groin.
“Ahhh,” he croaked. “Fuck.”
The other guy charged her again. She jumped into the air and kicked him in the nose again, before he could react. He dropped immediately, and she approached him.
“No,” he said, holding out a shaking hand. “No more.”
She grabbed his hair—greasy, sickening to the touch—and yanked him up. She didn’t like the fact that the woman was still hanging around. But since she was, and since these guys had had the fight knocked out of them . . .
She led him to the woman, who still had those deer-in-the-headlight eyes.
“Apologize to this lady,” Midnight instructed.
The guy said nothing, and she elbowed him in the ribs. He screamed.
“You want another one, buddy? Next time it’ll be somewhere more sensitive.”
“No more,” he pleaded. The front of his shirt was soaked in his own blood, which still streamed out from his mangled nose.
“You have three seconds,” she said.
“I’m . . . I’m sorry,” the guy said. “Good,” Midnight said. “Now go fuck a cockroach!” She threw him down, and he collided with the brick wall of the building behind him.
The other guy still held his balls in his hands, but she wasn’t through with him, either. She pulled him up by the shoulders—he had no hair—and led him to the woman.
“You tell this lady you’re sorry, scumbag, you got it?”
“You must be fucking dynamite under the sheets,” the perv said, and she greeted that remark with a forearm to his face. He toppled over, but she didn’t let him stay there. She yanked him back up again.
“You got two seconds, you worthless piece of shit. Now you tell her you’re sorry.”
He did, and she tossed him aside like a sack of garbage.
“You want to press charges?” she asked the woman.
The woman shook her head, apparently just wanting to forget about this, put it all behind her. Midnight understood, but seethed. That was the trouble. Bastards like these two guys too often got away free. But then, that’s why she was here. That’s why she had finally launched her crime-fighting career six months ago. To deal with the scumbuckets who managed to escape the law.
“C’mon, then,” Midnight said. “You need to get out of here.”
They walked out of the alley, turned the corner onto the deserted street. It was brighter out here, and Midnight got a better look at the woman. She was pretty, blonde hair, frail, petite build. And young. Probably no more than twenty-one.
“You live close by?” she asked her.
The woman nodded.
“I’ll walk you home,” Midnight said. “It’s the least I can do. What’s your name?”
“I guess you know I’m Midnight,” she said. “Sorry we met under these circumstances. Forgive me for being so blunt, but those two bastards didn’t actually . . .?” She couldn’t bring herself to mouth the words.
“No,” Zoe said. “No, you got there before they had a chance to . . .”
Well, thank God for that small favor, at least.
“Are you going to be okay, Zoe? If you need someone to talk to . . .”
The woman shook her head, offered a sorry excuse of a smile. “I’ll be okay.”
Would she? Midnight wondered. This young woman appeared frayed at the edges, and not just because of what had happened tonight. She needed someone in her life, someone to trust, someone to be a friend. This was the hardest part. Meeting the lost and lonely ones, the ones she could only help in a superficial way.
They arrived at a tenement building, the façade worn and smeared with graffiti. The woman turned to enter the building.
“Thank you,” she said. “You probably saved my life tonight.”
Midnight smiled. “You just make sure you’re okay, you hear? And if you change your mind about needing someone to talk to . . . just go to the police, okay? They’ll let me know.”
“Okay,” Zoe said. But Midnight knew she’s never hear from her again. She didn’t hear from any of them again. “Thanks.”
“Take care, Zoe.”
She looked at herself in the mirror. The black costume, hugging her substantial curves, showing off her tall, athletic figure, the long legs, the graceful form. The mask, which covered the top half of her face, down to the bridge of her nose, was also black—midnight black. In the back, her light brown hair was wrapped into a pony tail. She had considered making her mask more substantial, covering her mouth and hair—but the thought of that was claustrophobic. The half-mask was sufficient—no one would recognize her, figure out that she was really Jennifer Hutchins, studious technical writer who worked at a software company on the east side of town. Still looking in the Çiğli Escort mirror, Midnight unfastened the mask, pulled it off.
“Hello, Jen,” she said to her reflection. She always felt weird talking to herself, but it was a habit she had started as a little girl, and had never gotten over. Besides, sometimes she wondered who she really was anymore. Jennifer Hutchins, girl next door? Or Midnight, the after-dark crusader whose mission was to protect the weak, to fight on behalf of those who couldn’t fight for themselves?
She undid the pony tail, and her long hair, freed, billowed out behind her, cascading over her shoulders like river water, cool and brown in the woodland shadows. She examined her face, the first faint hints of creases forming on her forehead, the smile lines around her mouth perhaps a bit more pronounced than in years past.
“Welcome to your thirties, kid,” she said to herself. She had just turned thirty last week, and there had been a big party with family and friends. She appreciated it, surely, but at the same time, was thirty really something to celebrate? She felt like her life was frittering away, like sand in an hourglass. She lived alone, had no boyfriend. She didn’t like to admit needing a guy in her life. She felt like she should be above that. But she wasn’t. When she went to bed every night, alone, she thought about what it would be like to have someone beside her, touching her, holding her . . .
“Oh, get off it,” she snapped. “You’re acting like an idiot. You don’t have time for a relationship, and you know it.”
That was definitely true. Not to mention the fact that she now had a new secret identity to protect. How could she allow anyone to get close to her? What would she do if she fell for a guy, but too often had to cancel their planned dates? Say she couldn’t make it, that she had to change into her costume and go prowling around the city, looking for trouble? Yeah, that would go over well. And she couldn’t risk having her identity revealed. As soon as someone she helped to put behind bars or someone she had beaten the crap out of learned who she was, she’d never be safe anymore. What’s worse, her own family wouldn’t be safe. They’d become targets. No. She couldn’t allow herself to get in too deep with anyone.
But still. What about some old-fashioned, casual sex? She did have needs. Maybe a FWB was what she needed. Hell, even a one-night stand. . .
She remembered what Janice, her friend at work, had said last week, about a Web site she had discovered. Janice was as sex-starved as any woman she knew, so she had brushed the suggestion off. But maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Janice had said you could create an anonymous profile with a screen name of your choosing, and that it was free to join.
“Oh, come on, a sex site?” Jennifer asked the mirror. She had by now stripped out of her costume, and was looking at her naked body. She had to admit, she was in great shape. Years of martial arts and acrobatic training and athletics had sculpted her. And now, beginning her crimefighting career, she had whipped herself into the best shape of her life.
“Not bad for thirty,” she said, with a smile. She was glad, too, that, even though she was toned and had six-pack abs, she had been able to maintain her feminine softness. Her ass was curvy and tight, her breasts high and ample. She wore a 34C bra.
She prepared her bubble bath, and luxuriated for over an hour, enjoying the warm water, feeling the stress drain out of her body. As she sat there, she found, with some surprise, that her fingers had worked their way to her pussy, and she was pleasuring herself. She rubbed her clit, her fully shaved mound, stuck her fingers inside her vagina.
“Mmmmm,” she purred. That sex site was sounding better and better. It had been years since she’d been with a guy.
“Why am I so horny tonight?” she said to the empty bathroom. She didn’t get it. She had just roughed up some would-be rapists a little while ago, for crying out loud. How could she be thinking of sex at a time like this? Need, she supposed. She just had a need. She couldn’t deny it. And now that she was thirty, she was feeling more horny than ever. She had always heard that women reach their sexual peak in their thirties and forties. Maybe that was true.
After towling off and throwing on a bathrobe, she went to her PC, flicked it on. The first thing she did was check her e-mail. One from Mom, rambling about the sewing club she was in and gossiping about the other ladies. One from her younger brother, Richard, who lived across the country, on the West Coast, and who rarely contacted her, or anyone, for that matter. E-mails from him were treasures. He wrote that he was doing well, and that the California weather wasn’t up to snuff lately. Only 75 degrees yesterday with a bit of a chilly breeze. Yeah, real funny, Richard. Ha ha. He knew damn well that she was stranded here in the Northeast, and that it was October. Last night there had been a frost warning. Tonight was overcast and warmer, Foça Escort but soon enough there would be snow in the forecast.
Other than that, there was the usual assortment of junk mail, which she deleted without reading.
Then she logged on to the Web, and visited the sex site Janice had told her about. On the Sign Up page, a twentysomething in a blue lace bra smiled at her.
“Charming,” she said, and then felt a warm, furry body rub up against her shin.
“Hey, Mitsie, did you finally wake yourself up to greet your mama?” Mitsie purred as she pet the cat behind her ears. She’d had Mitsie for five years now. She discovered her on her front steps one morning, and took her in. She’d had no collar, no tags of any kind. She was skeletal at the time—a skin-and-bones gray and white tabby. Now she was full and healthy, and totally spoiled.
“Now don’t watch what I’m doing, okay? I’m being kind of naughty here.” But Mitsie, oblivious, plopped onto the floor, cuddling up with Jen’s foot.
She needed to create a user name. Hmm. Something sexy but not trashy, not desperate. Callmecallme6969, she chose. She giggled, keying that in.
Then she created her password, and pressed Enter. She now needed to fill out her profile. God, what was she getting herself into? Well, she wouldn’t put a lot of effort into this. She was just doing it for the hell of it.
Under the Describe Yourself section, she wrote, “Single, sexy, and wanting to have some fun. Think you can keep up with me? Tell me about it.” There, simple, and to the point.
Under the “Ideal Person,” who-she-was-looking-for section, she wrote, “Be single, I’m not going to help you cheat. Be under forty and over twenty-one. Be in shape, and be ready to have some NSA fun.” There. That would do.
She filled in the rest of the profile, and then noticed the Upload Photo button. Uh oh. Should she? Well, why not? A couple of body shots wouldn’t hurt anything. Besides, this felt kind of sexy.
She grabbed her cell phone, removed her robe, and snapped a handful of pictures. Three of her chest, one of her butt, and one of her shaved mound. God, she felt like a slut. But they were just body parts. It’s not like anyone would know it was her pussy. No one would see her face. And why shouldn’t she show off her body, anyway? She had worked so hard on herself, dedicated herself more thoroughly than most professional athletes, she was certain. Why not have guys drool over her?
She uploaded the photos, and voila! Her profile was up and running. The site told her it might take up to twenty-four hours to approve it, though, so she logged off and decided to go to bed. It was Friday night, so she didn’t need to get up early tomorrow, but she was exhausted. She could use a good night’s sleep.
When she drifted off a few minutes later, she wondered if her profile would get approved overnight, and if she’d have any messages waiting for her in the morning. . . .
Julian P. Covington logged into his account to see if he had any mail. He didn’t. Damn. He’d sent out a dozen messages yesterday, too, and even tried to personalize them, based on what the profiles actually said. Women. Tough to figure out sometimes.
Not that his experience on the site had been all bad. He’d joined three months ago, and had met five women for sex. Most of them weren’t very good—fatter than they had let on, or older, or uglier. But one woman was pretty good. She orgasmed three times with him, and said she definitely wanted to see him again. He’d e-mailed her a bunch of times since then, and nothing. Nada. Maybe her husband had found out. Oh well. She wasn’t the only one out there.
He clicked on his New Matches icon, and scrolled through the candidates. Most looked like spambots—he had an eye for the fakes. The others didn’t look too inspiring, for one reason or another. He was about to close out when he spotted someone intriguing.
Callmecallme6969. He chuckled. Cute. Real cute. And her display photo showed off an awesome rack to boot. He clicked on her, and her full profile opened up.
He went through her pics. She was a hard body, all right, assuming the pics were real. He sensed that they were. They didn’t have that studio feel to them. Looked like pics snapped from a phone. Hmm . . . great ass. Damn sexy! Thirty years old, single, looking for NSA fun. Hell yeah! That’s what he was talking about!
He clicked on the Send Me an Email link, and began to craft his message. He wished he could send along a face pic, but he didn’t dare. He was a reporter for the Herald, and a high-profile one at that. Half the city knew his name, and his face. He couldn’t just send his picture out indiscriminately. But he was sure to include a healthy dose of dick shots on his profile. He was proud of his dick. Eight solid inches of throbbing man-meat. What wasn’t to like?
As he wrote his message to CallmeCallme6969, his mind wandered . . . Sexy as she was, she wasn’t the woman he desperately wanted to meet. No, that would be Midnight. Ever since she had donned her form-hugging Spandex costume and embarked on her vigilante style of justice, he had been trying to figure out who she was. He’d written editorials about her, arguing that the city had a right to know her identity. It was dangerous having an anonymous citizen taking the law into her own hands.