This fiction is a part of the Love Me Like a Villain superhero romance universe, coming July 2020 to an Amazon near you 😉
Penelope sat at the end of the wooden pier, legs swinging over water as her thoughts chased themselves. The student newspaper, the Hodgepodge Hedgehog, had issued a contest. Write up a secret about Mosaic University, and receive a coupon for 1 free pizza. The pizza was nice, but what had hooked her was the second part; the top three voted on by the newspaper staff would be published in their next issue.
The problem? It had to be absolute. No well-known, open, or unspoken secrets would cut it.
“Most students already know about the library mice.” Penelope ticked off a finger. “Ms. Elizabeth’s uniform was dated, and the post office let women wear trousers instead of skirts in the 1960s, so everyone knows she’s dead except her.” Which was useful for keeping the post office open at all hours, but not so useful for Penelope’s unwritten article.
On the gentle surface of the lake, Penelope spotted a small floating branch. Letting out a gusty sigh, she focused on it, her elemental connection causing it to spin toward the pier. As it came closer, she felt the presence of a large wooden mass underneath it, about a meter from where she was.
“That can’t be right,” she said, getting up and rubbing sweaty palms on her jeans.”There shouldn’t be anything there.”
It could be a secret base. Within the Hero and Villain majors it wasn’t unknown for students to create a secret hideout.
“I should probably let someone know about this.” Penelope turned to leave, but paused mid-spin. “Wait a second. I’ve just been handed what I want on a platter, and I’m going to give it away?”
She turned back to the lake.
“Hell no.” A twist of her wrist sent a wave of talent down into the depths, sketching an outline wherever there was wood. There was a LOT of wood, and much of it was leading to a hidden tunnel beneath the pier. She took a deep breath. “Okay, this is either going to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, or the most awesome.”
The weekly edition of the Hodgepodge Hedgehog was snatched up the second it was delivered to the cafeteria, and Penelope groaned as she scanned the first page. A musical tree at the north end of campus, a pathway that moved on rainy moonless nights, and a claim that the ducks could talk. Simple secrets, and nothing about an underwater base with bottles of alcohol from the 1930s.
She crumpled the newspaper and looked up.
“Davi Vels, the head editor for Hodgepodge Hedgehog?!” Now the dark-skinned man in front of her had her full attention.
“I see you didn’t like this week’s issue,” he said, eyeing the wad crushed in her hand. “Any reason why?”
Penelope opened her mouth, then bit her tongue. Maybe he hadn’t gotten her letter. Maybe it had been thrown away by mistake, or too much coffee had spilled on it. She bit her tongue instead, and his smile grew wider.
“Our contest had a different purpose, one that you passed with flying colors.” He tapped the side of his nose with a wink. “We wanted someone who was willing to go the extra mile, to hunt down a story no matter where it took them.”
She frowned, unsure where this was going.
“I’d like you to show me that lair you found, and while we’re there, we can discuss your apprenticeship to the newspaper.”
Blood drained from her face.
“We have an opening, and after looking through that slush pile of letters, it was unanimous. You’re going to fill it.” Davi cocked his head to the right. “If you still want it, that is.”