By R.W. Shannon
Dawn, the beautiful captain of the comic book superhero team, G-Force, comes to life one stormy night and finds herself locked inside a comic book shop in Alexandria, Virginia.
The superhero, who can manipulate the weather at will, was sculpted by the owner of the comic book shop, Chase. Chase, a handsome, ex-Army ranger who opened the shop after his tour in the Middle East ended, had always been in love with the superhero and sculpts her from clay.
When she comes to life, after he places a magical turquoise necklace around her neck, Chase offers his dream woman a place to stay with the hope that she'll never leave.
Can these two star-crossed lovers conquer the odds to fall in love in the real world?
It was a gloomy January in Arlington, Virginia when Chase Donovan closed down his business, Darkest Dawn Comics, for the evening. His store sold all-things comics: from books to novelty items to memorabilia. He did well, pulling in quite a few customers from the nearby Pentagon. He had three employees, plus Paulie. Paulie was a neighborhood college kid who acted as Chase’s assistant. Officially, Paulie wasn't anything other than a cashier. It was two years ago to date that Chase opened his business after returning to the U.S. from his third tour of duty in the Middle East. Chase had been a lifelong comic fan. The store actually started as a shrine to his favorite characters in the G-Force. Well, maybe not the whole league. But just one member in particular: Dawn.
And on a normal night, Chase would be going home to sip beer and chat with his online friends about Dawn. But tonight he had a date. He gritted his teeth. When he caught himself straightening the already organized G-Force display, he stopped. The restaurant was a half hour away by Metro, but he was stalling. By now it was too late to cancel the blind date his best friend, Mitch, had set him up on. The forecasted blizzard was his only hope of backing out.
Just in case, he’d compiled a list of excuse to duck out early. His imaginary dog was sick. He had to get up early in the morning. He’d left the oven on. While adding to the list, he paused at the center column and dimmed the lights. A second glance out the window confirmed his suspicions. Weather girls were idiots and could only predict snow if it were already falling.
Chase shook his head as he made his way to the backroom. It wasn't that he didn't want to go. Well, it was. He just didn't want to spend the evening trying to chitchat with someone he wasn't sure he’d like. Once again, thoughts of cancelling popped into his mind. He moved around the boxes of back merchandise to make his way to his office. The Darkest Dawn had been his dream to open since age thirteen. It was around that time that he discovered the G-Force.
Sitting heavily behind his desk in the closet-sized office, Chase sighed. He had one very important reason to not go out with…what was her name? He shrugged. It didn't matter.
Yes, I have met someone.
Thinking about his heroine, he smiled. Dawn was strong. Sexy. Beautiful. She was the first person he thought about when he awoke and the last person he thought of when he closed his eyes. If she was real she would quite possibly be the love of his life. But the situation was…complicated.
On his desk was his collector copy of this week’s G-Force comic. The copy no one, himself included, was allowed to touch because it was going under a plastic cover. But he couldn't help himself. Chase picked it up and held as though it were gold. Though Dawn wasn't featured in this episode, there was a drawing of her. He opened the comic to that page. In the frame, Dawn was speaking with a student. Her black and blue streaked hair was held away from her face by a headband. A black tracksuit hugged her athletic frame. Chase stared at Dawn’s blue eyes and mahogany skin, wondering what words of wisdom she was giving her pupil.
From the moment a pre-teen Chase saw Dawn, the G-Force’s sexy co-captain and weather manipulator, he’d known she was who he would spend his life trying to find. This was why this date was so unfair to what’s-her-name. He’d already found the perfect woman but she was just a two dimensional character. What would he do if he ever ran into a life sized Dawn? Probably crush her to his chest and just hold her in his arms. At six–foot-three with an athletic frame, sandy blond hair and hazel eyes, Chase was nothing to sneeze at. It was crazy for him to even daydream about this.
He looked at Dawn. The Portal Comics website, he often visited, listed her stats as five-foot-nine inches and one hundred and twenty pounds. Her blue hair hung in waves to her waist. She had bright blue eyes, tawny skin and a body that caused him to lose sleep most nights. In the real world, she’d be considered a brick-house. But she didn't exist in the real world. And that was precisely the problem.
Chase leaned forward and rested his head on his forearms. Perhaps he was mad. Maybe a few cards short of a deck. After his marriage ended, he’d dated some but those women never measured up to the feeling he got when he saw Dawn. He leaned back in his chair, trying to figure out when he crossed the line between fantasy and reality. Was it when he started comparing every woman to her or when he built the statue?
When Chase lifted his head to check the time on the Batman clock above his office door, he noticed his coat hanging on the doorknob. And the length of gold chain sticking out of his pocket
In a rush, he stood and grabbed the necklace from his pocket. He then headed for the storage area. His destination was a former closet that he had converted for his creation. After a night of heavy drinking and reeling from another failed relationship, Chase had been compelled to make a life-sized Dawn. Maybe compelled wasn't the word, but whatever. His hand shook as he flipped on the light switch. In the middle of the small room, on a platform he’d also built, stood Dawn.
Not the real Dawn, of course, but the replica he’d carved with his bare hands. Even motionless she was beautiful. Chase was no artist, but he’d done a pretty damn good job. At first, he was going to use her as part of a G-Force display. But not now. He had started building her shortly after opening Darkest Dawn. Sculpting tools still littered the area around her feet, though he had finished her a month ago. Breathing slowly, he stepped over a hammer and chisel to get to her.
He had carved Dawn with her true build and height. He had clothed her in a white leather zip-front jumpsuit with gold knee high white boots and gold cape that he’d found online. The white and gold combination illuminated her dark skin. Her expression was serene but there was fire in her painted blue eyes that made him swear she was alive. Dawn stood in a classic pose with her hands on her hips. Chase’s heart fluttered as he stood before her. In his hands was a turquoise locket he’d bought from a guy on the Metro before Christmas. The guy said it had magical powers, but Chase—the skeptic that he was— didn't believe him. Still, he thought it would look amazing on the statue of Dawn.
Chase slipped the locket over her head, adjusting the center so it rested within her cleavage. “I hope you like it.”
Oh great. Now he was talking to her. It was likely his imagination, but Chase swore the necklace sparkled. No. It was just a reflection. He glanced at his watch, wishing he could stay with her all night, but that wasn’t possible. After all, this Dawn was a statue and his live date was waiting for him. He’d get through the date the way he had in Afghanistan when it was his turn to guard the compound: a minute at a time. Gathering Dawn in his arms, he rested his forehead on her shoulder. He held her and wished for the millionth time she was alive.
“I don’t want to go,” he confessed. “One drink. Then I’m going home.”
Stepping back, Chase paused to search her face, then released her. It was irrational, but a part of him had hoped she’d come to life one day. It was a childhood fantasy he couldn't shake. But he had to face the fact she was a comic book character and wouldn't suddenly step off the page and into his life. It was time to let go of the idea of Dawn existing in this world and move on. Starting with the statue. He would sell it and use the money to renovate the shop. Comic-book nerds would pay a lot for a life-sized replica.
With a sigh, Chase turned away from the statue and left to meet his date, whose name he still couldn't remember.