(Paragon Society #1)
Publication date: February 20th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
A GIFTED ACADEMY DUET
Those are the words used to describe me. I’m an Idol who can’t see, and in this savage world where power is everything, being born with a disability makes me an aberration. Idols are the direct descendants of the gods. We’re supposed to be perfect.
My parents kept me protected behind walls most of my life. They fear I won’t survive in the real world. They have no idea what kind of power runs through my veins.
Stephan Silverstone—the most perfect Idol I’ve ever met—does. He’s cocky, annoying, and pushes my buttons like no other. But he sees me, the real person behind all the preconceived notions. Without effort, he’s breaking all my barriers; he’s claiming my heart.
When I’m with him, sparks fly. I want to be reckless and forget everything. If only things were that simple. We’re both keeping dangerous secrets that could tear us apart. War is coming, and I’m not sure if what we have will survive.
*This is a spin-off of Gifted Academy Series. This is not an RH romance.
The crowd is clamoring, calling my name. I can feel the vibration of their loud voices and violent energy from the locker room. I’m alone here. After so many victories in the pit, I’ve earned the right to privacy. Little butterflies flutter savagely in my belly. I’m not nervous; these are just the jitters before a performance. I curl my hands into fists, letting the power of my invisible chains run freely through my veins like a surge of electricity.
For a fleeting moment, I wonder what my parents would do if they found out their precious disabled daughter is fighting against the meanest and strongest Idols in the biggest underground tournament in Hawk City. They’d probably have a heart attack. For starters, my family is one of the most prominent and wealthiest in the country. We don’t mingle with the lower classes.
Yes, they’d be appalled, but mostly they’d be worried sick. Despite me being a high-level Idol, they think I’m defenseless thanks to my blindness. They know nothing about me, but they never made the effort either.
I push thoughts of my parents to the side and focus on the here and now. I’m the current champion in the pit, and as such, I’ll only step foot in the small arena when all fights are done. This is something new that management implemented. I’m facing whoever wins the rounds.
A smile blossoms on my lips as I remember my first time here. They thought I was an easy target. My disability was all they could see, never mind that I didn’t try to conceal my powers then. Strategy was not in my mind that first night. It didn’t matter. The fight was over before I could break a sweat.
Heavy steps approach from outside my locker room. It’s Dick Santos, the arena’s manager.
He knocks once before he opens the door. “It’s time.”
I jump to my feet, shaking my arms to loosen up. “Who am I fighting tonight?”
“The Boulder. Mean fella. Level fourteen. He can con—”
“Let me guess. Rocks?” I raise an eyebrow.
“Yeah, and he’s faster than most despite his size.”
“What are the odds?” I stretch my arms.
“Six to one.”
“Six to one? That’s it?”
“In his favor,” Dick continues.
My jaw drops, and it’s not an act. I’m genuinely offended. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. Our little performance last night worked. You’re the underdog again. But don’t worry, kid. He’s got nothing on you.” Dick puts his hand on my shoulder, which I promptly push off.
“I’m not worried. I’m pissed.”
He laughs from deep in his belly, grating on my nerves. “I’m not. Tonight, I’m making bank.”
Yeah, you and the guys.
I stride out of the room, focusing on the fire burning in the pit of my stomach. What did The Boulder do to make people think he can beat me? I only received a couple of hits yesterday from Stone Man, and that was because Dick told me to.
It doesn’t matter. I’ll show them.
The two security guys at the end of the corridor tense when they see me approach. It’s funny how I can pick up subtle changes in people more easily than those who aren’t visually impaired. Without missing a beat, they open the double doors for me. I usually take a deep breath to get rid of the jitters. Not tonight though. I’m more than ready to do some damage.
When I step out, the crowd roars, “Blind Fury! Blind Fury!”
I don’t bask in the glory. Only one out of six think I have a chance to win. I’m surrounded by traitors everywhere.
There’s only one person I can trust.
Dick announces my name as the defending champion, and once again, people go wild. But when he mentions the name of my opponent, the cheers are louder. I search for Leroy and Ezekiel in the crowd, my fan club. It’s easy to locate them as I’m already familiar with their auras. At least they aren’t rooting for the other guy.
I let my chains loose so I can get a sense of The Boulder but keep them invisible for now. That’s how I see the world, through my chains. They pick up on the vibrations of everything around me: people, objects, obstacles. It’s not a perfect view, but it’s better than being completely in the dark. Quickly, I understand why the majority of those present think I’m going to lose. My opponent is massive, almost seven feet tall, and packing muscles. Now I know where his stage name comes from.
“This is the famous Blind Fury?” He laughs. “I don’t know how I feel about fighting a helple—”
I shoot my right chain out, wrapping it around his throat and cutting his tirade off. He chokes, clutching at the links in a vain attempt to break free.
“You were saying?” I yank the chain hard, bringing the cocky idiot to his knees.
Dick remains outside the ring. The first thing he told me when I stepped into the pit for the first time was that there were no rules. Losers can either forfeit, pass out, or die, and the choice always relies on the victor. The Boulder’s grunts tell me he must be getting purple by now. I could easily kill him, and no one would think less of me. On the contrary, the crowd would love me more. I’m tempted, and my chains are as bloodthirsty as I am.
This is not who you are, Andy.
At the last moment, I retract them. There’s a collective gasp of disappointment.
The Boulder is still coughing as he staggers back to his feet. But instead of leaving the pit, he pulls all his energy to his core. He’s going to attack again, even though the fight’s pretty much over. Son of a bitch. Some people just don’t know when to give up.
Strong vibrations concentrate around the man just before the floor cracks right under my feet. A huge mass forms in front of him. The fucker created a rock, which he launches in my direction. I have ample time to move out of the way, but I hold my ground. My chains form a protective circle around me, and in the next second comes the sound of rock shattering.
“What the fuck is that?” he asks, shocked.
I can’t tell exactly what he’s seeing, but when my chains are in full display, awe is the most common reaction I get. They must look badass.
He doesn’t get another chance to attack before I send both chains in his direction. One pierces his right thigh, and the other wraps around his body, squeezing him in a bone-crushing hold.
“Aargh! My leg. What did you do to me, bitch?”
Slowly, I walk in his direction, stopping when I’m in front of his collapsed form. “You should have forfeited when you had the chance.”
“Never. I’d rather die.”
It’s the first time I’ve faced someone with a death wish. I’d never truly considered killing anyone for sport, but today, the temptation is huge.
“Careful, buddy. I’m feeling quite murderous tonight.”
My chains squeeze him until the first crack of bone breaking echoes in the pit. The Boulder screams and curses, but he won’t relent. I won’t have a choice. If I don’t kill him, I’ll never be allowed back. The crowd will boo me out of the pit, if they don’t do something worse like ask for my head.
Suddenly, there’s no more resistance coming from him. Ah fuck. Did I kill him?
I listen closely, something hard to do when everyone around is talking and cheering. Then I hear it, the faint sound of his breathing. He’s not dead, simply passed out. Relief washes over me, but I can’t let anyone see. Maintaining the cold mask, I pull away and walk over to my side of the pit.
Dick tsks as he joins me in the ring. When his attention diverts to me, I sense the difference in his demeanor. He’s beaming, probably counting his profits already.
“What an evening, am I right, folks?” he addresses the crowd.
They respond with cheers and hollers.
“How about we make it even more exciting?”
The yelling goes up a notch, making me wince. Sometimes having enhanced hearing is a curse.
“Blind Fury has remained undefeated for five weeks straight. I’m doubling tonight’s grand prize. If there’s anyone here brave enough to challenge her, come forward now.”
Immediately, the noise lowers until only murmurs can be heard. I frown, glowering in Dick’s general direction. I didn’t agree to a final challenge. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s the fucking principle. I’m not his bitch to do as he pleases. I’d storm out of the pit if that wouldn’t brand me a coward.
Minutes go by without anyone stepping forward. Dick keeps egging on the crowd. I don’t know why he wants another fight so badly, but my patience is wearing thin. I stretch my arms and fake a yawn, ready to get the fuck out of here, when I sense a familiar presence nearby. My blood runs cold. I came here to forget he exists, to unleash my wrath on strangers, wishing it was him.
“I’ll do it. I challenge Blind Fury,” Stephan declares.
A myriad of emotions washes over me. Rage, longing, shame.
Damn everything to hell. What is he doing here?
USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.
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