Maddening, p.1
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         Part #2 of Cursed Superheroes series by Jessica Sorensen
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Maddening


  Maddening

  (Cursed Superheroes, #2)

  Jessica Sorensen

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Author Note

  About the Author

  Also by Jessica Sorensen

  A look into my Mystic Willow Bay Witches Series

  Maddening

  Jessica Sorensen

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2017 by Jessica Sorensen

  This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  Any trademarks, service marks, product names or names featured are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.

  For information: jessicasorensen.com

  Cover Design by Najla Qamber Designs

  Created with Vellum

  Chapter 1

  Leader

  “Sir, I have news about the portal,” my intern says as he steps into my office.

  I lean back in the chair, overlapping my hands. “From your tone, I’m guessing it’s not good news.”

  He nervously edges further into my office, adjusting the stack of manila folders he’s carrying. “I’m afraid not.” He sets the folders down on my desk beside stacks of research data papers I still need to read through. “It looks like not one portal is opening, but three.”

  A nervous edge creeps up inside me, but I maintain a professionally calm demeanor. “Three you say?” I ask and he nods. “And how did you obtain this knowledge?”

  “From my paranormal airwaves data.” He fumbles to retrieve a map from one of the folders, along with a paranormal airwaves measuring device, which is known around the facility as a PAM. Then he opens the map, which ends up being the map of the city, and spreads it across my desk. “My PAM has been showing frequent spikes in high-frequency paranormal airwaves, here, here, and here.” He points to three small, hand drawn circles on the map. “At first I thought perhaps it was from an underground paranormal lair or club. So I sent a few agents to scope out the areas, and they reported that no lairs or clubs were located at any of these places.” He sets his PAM down in front of me to show me the airwave measuring charts, which are unsettlingly high.

  In fact…

  “These are the highest frequencies I’ve ever seen,” I mutter as I assess the data. “Are you sure these are correct?”

  He nods nervously. “I’ve checked them six times.”

  My nervous edge turns into a troubling uneasiness, but I’ve always been great at appearing calm even in the midst of chaos—something I can thank my past for. “Well, then, I think you’re right. Three portals are going to open underneath the city. But we have no idea when, or what, will come out two of them. Or what dimensions they’ll lead to.”

  “I’m not sure I’m following you, sir,” he says. “I thought portals led to the paranormal dimension?”

  I shake my head, trying not to be frustrated. But interns drive me crazy sometimes. “Not all portals lead to the paranormal dimension. There’s the Underworld portal. The Afterlife. The Wasteland. And those are just a few of them.” I tap the largest circle on the map. “The only reason we know where this one leads to is because I, along with five of my best researching specialists, have spent over six months researching the area, measuring data, and sorting through historical artifacts.” And forming my own team of paranormals to protect the area when the portal opens, but he can’t know about that. Only my closest colleagues can; otherwise we risk people and creatures finding out what we’re doing.

  And I don’t want anyone knowing until the time is right. Until my team is trained and ready to fight. And so far, I only have one member of the team. A half Grim Reaper, who can barely control her soul thirst, let alone take on an army of deadly paranormal creatures.

  “Thanks for the information,” I tell my intern. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make some phone calls.”

  Nodding, he leaves my office and closes the door.

  I pick up my phone and call the person in charge of my next project, the one for recruiting a Maddening. He answers after four rings, sounding very irritated, but that’s Maddening’s for you.

  “What do you want?” Caspian asks dryly. “Wait, let me guess. You’re checking in. Again.”

  “Sorry, but I need to make sure everything is going according to plan—she’s changing tonight, after all.” I use a polite tone only because Maddenings are one of the few paranormal creatures that unsettle me deeply.

  Their touch doesn’t kill or steal your soul. No, these creatures are worse than death. One touch can drive a person’s mind to the brink of insanity and keep them locked there forever.

  “I’m standing in front of her place right now,” Caspian replies with a hint of irritation. “And like I’ve said a hundred times, I’ll call you when I have her. But it doesn’t do any good—or make the process any quicker—for you to call me every damn hour.”

  “I understand that,” I say as patiently as I can. “I just want to make sure she’s not alone when her curse is collected.”

  “She won’t be,” he assures me. “Although, it probably wouldn’t be that much of a difference from how she’s lived her entire life.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “I mean, her parents have kept her locked in a cage for almost all of her life.”

  “How did you find that out?”

  “I went to a bar and chatted with her sister about it,” he says. “You know, humans can be quite chatty when they’re drunk. It’s strange and completely confusing.”

  “That’s because you’re not human.”

  “Thanks for reminding me.”

  I restrain an exhausted sigh. “I’m still confused, though, over why her parents would lock her up? Her powers haven’t manifested yet. They shouldn’t have since we haven’t injected her with your blood yet.”

  “They are the ones who got her cursed to begin with,” he says. “And, according to the sister, a Shadow Teller was present when the girl was cursed and warned the parents of what she would become. In fact, I think the girl herself believes she already possesses some terribly deathly touch.”

  “So what? Just because some Shadow Teller told a prophecy of her become a Maddening one day, they locked her away in a cage for all of her life?” I don’t get upset or disgusted very often, but her story hits too close to home.

  “Aw, does the professor of experiments actually have a heart?” Mockery dances in his tone.

  “I’ve always had a heart. I just usually choose not to let it control me.” I thrum my fingers on the top of my desk, thinking. “Be careful with this mission, Caspian. If what you say is true… Then she probably hasn’t touched another human in a long time. Or interacted with many.”

  “Yeah, so what? You act like that’s going to be a problem.”

  “She might be hard to handle. She might freak out when you try to take her, or she might be happy about finally having contact with another. And we both know how you can react to an overly happy person.”

  “I’ll be fine. I’ve handled worse.”

  “Just be careful,
okay?” I practically beg. “And make sure to let the curse play through. Without it, this won’t work.”

  “I understand what I’m supposed to do.” His annoyance grows. “I don’t need you to repeat it every time we talk.”

  I internally sigh. “All right. But be careful and call me when you’re ready to bring her in.”

  “Okay.” He hangs up.

  I let out a sigh, hoping upon hoping everything goes smoothly. Because without my superhero Maddening, my team won’t be complete and the world could be doomed.

  Chapter 2

  I’m locked in a cage in a room hidden beneath an old Victorian house, a place I’ve called home for fifteen years. I’m not a prisoner. I choose to stay inside the iron bar cage, to protect the world from what I could become, at least according to my parents. And it’s something worse than death.

  Despite the stories of me turning into an evil creature, I’m also a normal girl. Just one who’s been warned never to touch anyone. If I do, they won’t survive. I’m a killer of everything. Which is why I should be dead. If I had my choice, I would be. But after our parents passed away, I promised my older sister I’d stick around so she wouldn’t be left alone in the world.

  Sometimes, though, I question my choice. Like today, which has been a maddeningly silent and lonely day.

  Peering through the iron bars, I check the time and then the date on the calendar. Oh, would you look at that? Tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday.

  I sigh at the realization. Another year spent in a cage. How sad.

  But my thoughts soon drift elsewhere the longer the empty silence ticks by. Where is my sister? She usually has visited me by now. Maybe she’s finally gotten sick of me. I wouldn’t blame her. We can’t do much except talk through the bars. No hanging out, watching movies, or painting our toenails. My sister does tell me stories of what she does with her friends, so I don’t feel completely isolated. At least that’s what I tell her. Really, her stories make me think too much about the experiences I’ll never get to live.

  Maybe you should just give up. Perhaps your sister will understand.

  “What do you think, Mr. Spider?” I ask the tiny black critter scurrying across the damp cement floor. “Do you think it’s time for me to go and take my venomous existence out of this world?”

  The spider ceases the creeping and turns toward me. Hope sparkles inside me. Have I somehow attained the ability to speak to other venomous creatures?

  “Do you understand?” I ask, gripping the bars of my cage. “What it feels like to be feared by all? To be unwanted?”

  The spider stands in front of my cage for a split second before scurrying up the water stained wall.

  “Lovely. Now I’m talking to spiders who clearly don’t want to listen to me.” I release the bars with a sigh, the water from the leaky shower head dripping onto my forehead. My father installed it in the roof above my cage so I could have a way to stay clean. I also have a toilet for… Well, you know. Other than a bed, some clothes, and personal hygiene items, that pretty much sums up my lovely iron bar palace.

  Wiping the water from my head, I scoot back in my cage until my back brushes against the piles of new pillows my sister recently brought me. Honestly, I don’t get why I need so many—my small cage doesn’t have very much room. But my sister looked so excited when she gave them to me that I didn’t have the heart to tell her no thank you.

  “Well, at least they’re comfortable. Although, awfully frilly.” I sink back against the pillows and watch the clock tick.

  One, two, three hours drift by. I don’t have a window in my room, but I think sundown should be arriving soon. Which means all those evil, eerie monsters that go bump in the night will be coming out of their caves to torment the citizens of the town (again, this is all from what I was told by my parents). Creatures like me. My sister being a human is at great risk if she crosses paths with anything fanged or venomous. She could end up dead, like my parents. I miss them like crazy. Miss the way my mom used to read me bedtime stories, and when my father brought me an extra cookie from the kitchen. And even though they could never touch me, hug me, or hold my hand, they told me they loved me and that they wished things could be different for me, that I would’ve been born normal like my sister.

  After they died, my sister was stuck with the responsibility of taking care of me. I feel sorry for her even though she insists she’s okay with the situation. I can tell it wears her down, though. And who can blame her. She’s nineteen years old, in college, has a cute boyfriend—at least he looked cute in the photo she showed me—and a ton of friends. Yet, she comes to visit and take care of me, like a good sister. Every day.

  Except for today.

  “Where is she?” I mutter, eyeing the time on the clock. “She should’ve been here by now.”

  Maybe I’m overreacting. She could’ve decided to stay at a friend’s house or her boyfriend’s for the night. But I haven’t seen her since yesterday morning, when she brought me a day’s worth of food with the promise to come back today. My sister may be flaky, but she’d never let me starve.

  Something’s wrong.

  As soon as the thought crosses my mind, the doorknob to my chamber twists.

  I bolt upright and scoot toward the door of my cage, excited she’s here. And relieved. “I’m so glad you’re here. I was beginning to worry…” My jaw nearly hits the floor as the door swings open.

  The person standing in my doorway isn’t my sister, but a guy dressed in black jeans and a matching T-shirt and boots. He looks on the taller side, has fiercely teal eyes, heavily inked arms, and dark hair that hangs across his forehead and curls up at his ears. His brow and lip are pierced and a series of black rings cover his fingers. I don’t know much about guys, but I’d guess most girls would consider him extremely good looking. Well, except for the pissed off scowl he’s sporting. That takes his hotness down a notch or two, unless you have a thing for brooding guys.

  I eye him over, wondering who he is and why he’s here. When a strange scent of earth and spices burns at my nostrils, I tense, suddenly aware he isn’t human. I don’t know how I know this, though. Just like I don’t know what he is. What I do know is having an unknown, otherworldly creature in your room is never a good thing.

  Chapter 3

  I inch away from the entrance of my cage with my gaze trained on the intruder. “You’re not my sister.”

  His brow teases upward as he casually leans against the doorjamb. “Really? What tipped you off?”

  I haven’t interacted with anyone outside of my mom, dad, and sister and none of them are fans of sarcasm. But I’ve watched enough movies and read enough books, that I’m fairly certain he’s being sarcastic. From what I understand, the best way to deal with sarcasm is to match it.

  If only I knew how…

  Guess I’ll never figure it out until I try.

  I clear my throat. “Well, definitely not your girlie hair and facial features.”

  His arched brow plops down into a furrow. Then he stares at me hard, making me feel like a zoo animal.

  “That was my first try at sarcasm,” I explain, wondering if I missed the mark and he thought I was being serious. “I don’t really think you look like a girl.”

  “Thanks for explaining the obvious.” The crinkle at his brow erases as he straightens his stance and enters my room, his heavy boots thudding against the concrete floor.

  I open my mouth to warn him not to come any closer. Otherworldly creature or not, he deserves to know what my touch can possibly do to him. But the words get stuck on my lips as he nears my cage. No one has ever been this close to my cage except for my family, and they always hurry and drop food, clothes, and cleaning supplies before backing away quickly.

  I watch him in awe as his gaze skims the low ceiling and the water dripping down the walls. There’s a guy in my room. A stranger. Why do I feel so excited about this?

  When he’s finished inspecting my room, he turns to me with a smirk on
his face. “Lovely set up you have here.”

  Okay, I think he’s being sarcastic again.

  “Thank you.” I attempt to sound more sarcastic this time, hoping I don’t fail epically again. “My interior designer will be so pleased to hear that you like her work.”

  He stares at me unimpressed, but for the briefest instant the corners of his lips twitch. “Very funny.”

  “Um… Thanks?” I reply, unsure if we’re being sarcastic anymore.

  With an eye roll, he begins wandering around the outside of the cage, tracing his fingers along the bars. I have the strongest urge to reach out and brush my fingers along his, but I haven’t touched anyone since I was three years old when my parents informed me that one day I’d turn into a monster. They said we needed to take precautionary measures to make sure I never, ever hurt anyone and that’s when the cage became my home.

  Reminded of their warning never to touch anyone, I cower back in my cage and hug my knees to my chest. “You shouldn’t do that,” I whisper.

  He stops walking, but his hand remains on the bars. “Do what?”

  “Touch my cage,” I say quietly. “You shouldn’t even be in my room.”

  His fingers wrap around the bar. “And why’s that?”

  The amusement dancing in his eyes deeply confuses me. Why does he think this is funny?

  “Because I’m poison… If you touch me… something bad could happen.” I cast a panicked glance at the door. “How did you even get in here? Wasn’t the house locked? Or did my sister let you…” My body stiffens. “Wait. Did you do something to my sister? Is that why I haven’t seen her all day?”

  He stares at me for an unnerving amount of time before pushing away from the bars and crossing his arms. “How long have you been locked up?”

  “No. I’m not answering any of your questions until you answer mine first.” I kneel up in my cage and put my hands on my hips. “Did you do something to my sister?”

 
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