Chapter 1

Julie watched Roger jot down a few more notes on a piece of scrap paper. He'd already finished his dinner chart for the week, each meal planned down to the last crouton, now it was a reminder on what needed to be dry cleaned in his absence. The light blue dress shirt, not to be confused with the cyan one, and the black slacks he had folded by his night stand. All of which she would have remembered on her own, but he didn't believe his long term girlfriend, regardless of what she promised.

After four years of dating Julie had gotten used to Roger's lists. If it wasn't a list detailing his meals, it was a list detailing the week's events, what gala they'd be attending, whose house they'd be dining at in order to keep up appearances. During the first few years it was all new and exciting. A life of wealth had been far out of reach for her ilk, until she'd met him.

Now his strictness only grated her nerves. With each little flurry of his pen she felt disgust swell in her stomach. It was only this year when she'd learned two things, that he obviously thought she had the mentality of a child, and the word 'No'. Those two things were slowly settng her free. Even now as she sat, coffee nestled between her elbows on the table, eyes watching him, Julie felt the chains that tied her to him begin to loosen.

Roger looked up. "Something wrong?"

"This is the second time this week that you're going out of town. I'm beginning to think you have separate family out there that you're not telling me about. I saw it on Oprah once where a man had two wives and two sets of kids. They were none the wiser for a while."

His lips twitched into what would have been a smirk. It pulled at the small scar near the corner of his mouth that always drew her attention. "I could say the same for you with all this bike riding you've been doing at night."

"It clears my head." She said quickly and almost defensively.

Roger put his note on the fridge, securing it with a banana shaped magnet. "And also annoys the neighbors." He moved the note to the center of the fridge door. It took him two tries in order to make sure the alignment was perfect. "Marget down the street says its making her dog bark every time he hears it pulling into the neighborhood. "

Julie rolled her eyes. "Dog's bark. She'll have to get used to it."

The handsome man moved around the table. The dress shirt pulled at his broad shoulders. From the way he looked at her, she knew he was thinking something he'd rather not speak. He did it often these days when he suspected...something. Julie wasn't sure if he knew she truly was keeping secrets, but she could only assume he was noticing her change before his very eyes.

When he reached out to her she wanted to recoil. He was going to touch her, make all the bravery she'd stored up melt away in one fell swoop.

"Say you'll miss me." Roger grabbed playfully at her chin. Somehow his strong hands managed to be gentle. Before she could answer he slid his thumb over her bottom lip. Heat flushed her skin in an instant. She didn't want to admit that his touch affected her but it did, and he knew it.


"I…" She could barely form the words. He pushed his thumb justly slightly into the warm, moist cavern of her mouth. For a second he let himself touch the very tip of her tongue. Lust blossomed inside her, forcing her to press her thighs tight together, as if that would stop the raw emotions.

"I'll be home late tomorrow evening." Roger's words were all business, but she knew the look in his eyes, the look that said he wanted to do it again before he left.

Julie could hear his voice in her head. "Take all of it, my sweet." She could also hear the ragged breaths he took just before he came and feel his thighs tighten beneath her touch.

Her cheeks reddened and she hated herself for it. For enjoying those bits of memories that begged her to stay with him. She wanted to fill her heart with disdain but all was lost now. Roger kissed her suddenly and roughly. Then, as quick as it began, he took a step back.

"I'll see you tomorrow." Roger fixed his wrinkled collar. "Be good, my sweet."

Her heart thundered beneath her shirt and desire burned between her legs. Of course he'd leave her like this. It was like Roger to make her want him and to abruptly leave, just so that he'd consume her thoughts for a time. It was how he sucked away all her courage.

"Always am."

When he left, the sprawling mansion quickly became eerily quiet. It had been naive of her to think this place would one day be filled with the voices of children, but that had been her first thought all those years ago when they'd moved in. Kids would have distracted her from his obsession with work, and with constantly leaving her behind. But fate had other plans for her, she told herself. She was barren, which meant there must be another plan for her. Surely there was a reason.

Julie moved from the kitchen to the back patio, passing Roger's lists and notes on the way. Night was particularly dark in their backyard. Thick trees perfect for shade during the summer cocktail parties blotted out the full moon she knew was hanging heavy in the sky. A soft, almost silent meow alerted her to the cat circling her feet. Tabitha, a name that was her late father's doing, was one of the few who knew her secret, her new found reason for living.

"Sorry, I thought he'd leave earlier. Normally he's more obsessed with being on time." And just like that Julie felt the person Roger had trained her to be slowly fall away like dead skin. Out here, while she conversed with The Forever Man, she was Warcat. An iron skinned woman. Fearless. Determined.

Julie saw a shadow move.

"Don't worry. I'm used to you being late." The deep, baritone voice was intimidating, almost just as intimidating as the man who belonged to it. Ever stepped out of the shadows and onto the back patio. The black man was tall and the navy jacket he wore barely contained the muscles she knew lurked beneath it. "And maybe if you hadn't distracted him in there he would have left when he should have."

The fact that he'd been watching from the lawn made her cheeks flush again, except this time it was out of embarrassment. "Don't get any ideas, I'm still leaving him."

Ever didn't respond, he only stood still and fixed his brown eyes on his protege, or at least that was what she hoped he thought of her.

She frowned, annoyed that she might not get him to believe her. "I am. Tomorrow night when he gets home I'm going to do it."

The retired Watcher knelt and greeted Tabitha with a gentle pat on the head. "You don't want to leave badly enough, yet. Maybe in a few more months, but not right now. You're still building your strength up."

A flash of anger swept over her. What did he know about relationships? Did he know what it was like to finally taste freedom at night only to come back to this prison during the day light hours? For the sake of not wanting to argue she reached for a new topic.

"What'd you need to meet about? I'd like to assume you're finally accepting my offer for a dinner date. There's wine still chilling in the fridge and I have leftovers."

"Nice try, but no. I've got something you need to look into." Ever pulled something out of his breast pocket. Like Roger, he too was nonsense. Not once did Ever take her offer to come inside and at least sit in the living room like civilized people instead of sticking to the shadows, much like another Watcher she knew. Then again with her luck Roger would notice some small detail out of place and she'd have to admit to having another man in the house. Oh that would be lovely.

Julie plucked the business card from his large hand. "Shimue Industries? Aren't they the company that makes medication for meta humans? The glorious miracle drug?"

Taking away the powers of someone who'd been labeled a metahuman, like herself, was impossible. But for those whose powers proved to be a danger, there was Zenphonol, a drug that allowed the user to be able to concentrate enough to at least begin to control their gift. Or curse, depending on how you saw it. It didn't work on some, but for others who wanted to feel normalcy again, it did wonders. At least that's what the commercials portrayed with their stick thin models smiling and high-fiving in front of a perfect sunset.

"They're drug pushers, Julie. I told you before. Don't believe a word they say." He stood once he'd had enough of toying with the cat. Now he went back to towering over her. "I want you to keep an eye on them, keep track of who and how many people go in and out. Surveillance isn't your forte, but this is something you should keep an eye on."

She thought about asking why but assumed he had his reasons, ones she'd not been experienced enough to see. "Fine. But I can't do it tonight. I've got plans." Julie tucked the card down beneath her shirt and into her bra. "Jackal and I are going to the Docks. From what I've gathered this week the Regulators are trying to set up shop there so we're going to -"

What came next was to be expected.

"Julie…I don't trust him."

"You don't trust anyone."

Ever frowned. "He's a drunk and more violent than he needs to be. None of which looks good for you to be around if you want others to take you seriously and if we want to follow through with our plan."

Ah yes, our plan.

Although Ever liked to pretend every once in a while that she was losing site of their real goal, not once did Julie not think about it. Even during the day light hours, it consumed her.

"And out of the twelve other Watchers he's the only one who's even remotely interested in keeping up a line of communication. When I tried to contact everyone else, like you told me to, all I got was silence. Except for him. He answered my call." It was true. Last month, when she and Ever both put word out that the new Warcat was interested in exchanging information on local gangs, it was only The Jackal that even bothered to answer back.

She should have let that fact go. Next week, during the Watcher's Council meeting her acceptance into the council would be official and she'd become Sector 8's, otherwise known as Lynn Heights, protector. The rest of them would be forced to acknowledge her presence then. Still their silence nagged at her. On television they were portrayed as a team for the people, but in reality they were an entirely different animal.

"He's one of the few that could track you down if given the right amount of clues, Julie."

"He's a meta human like me, and I know what his abilities are. When we meet I make sure to change my shampoo, soap, all that in order to throw him off. So cut me at least a little slack. Please."

He stepped into her, his body dangerously close. Ever took in a quick breath, smelling her hair. The light scent of cologne clung to his skin tonight which was out of the ordinary. Julie wondered what that meant. Was The Forever Man going on a date? Or was cologne part of his morning routine before he went to his office cubicle deep in the city? No. She couldn't imagine him at desk job. In fact she couldn't imagine him at any job.

"You should wash it again." His breath tickled her cheeks.

"Want to come inside and teach me how to wash my hair too?" She asked.

Julie looked up at him. Her eyes were unable to hide the lonliness that begged for company.

His eyes told her not to fuck this up.