April Daniels on Dreadnought ~ Exclusive Excerpt

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Title: Dreadnought
Author: April Daniels
Publisher: Not Listed
Cover Artist:
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Trans
, Young Adult
Release Date: 01/24/2017

Blurb:

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father’s dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny’s first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Chapter 3

It’s full dark now, and I’m still hidden here behind the tree near our driveway. How the hell do you explain something like this? Well you see, Father, I was out buying nail polish to wear in secret because I’ve been half the colors of the rainbow for years now, when the greatest hero of the age fell out of the sky, gave me his power, and died. Somehow this turned me into a girl. Anyhow, I’m off to buy some bras and panties, ta-ta! Come, Mother, and show me the wonders of the tampon aisle!

But maybe that’s getting ahead of myself. Here’s the real problem: are they even going to recognize me?

My phone buzzes. A text from Mom: Danny, we talked about this. Where are you? Come home immediately. Your father is upset.

I send a text to my best friend, David: I screwed up and missed my curfew. My parents are pissed.

His reply comes almost instantly: Shit. Are you still out?

Yeah.

Okay, it’ll be all right, but you need to go home. It’ll get worse the longer you’re out.

I’m scared, I type.

It’ll be okay. Text me later if you need to.

He’s right, of course. David’s always there for me. But this time I feel like it’ll be different. What with the girl thing and all. How can I explain that in a text message? I bite my lip, bounce on my toes. Eventually I give up trying to type out a coherent reply and walk slowly up to our front door. My keys shake in my hand as I turn the lock. I slip the door closed behind me and try to set my feet down quietly. It’s an old house, with wooden floors and a fireplace that doesn’t work anymore. If I can just make it to the steep, narrow staircase, maybe I can slip sneak past them and get up to my room before they notice I’m back. And then…and then.

Master of the cunning plan, am I.

Mistress. I mean mistress of the cunning plan. I start giggling halfway through the living room, and that does it. Cover blown.

Mom comes around the corner. Mom’s a smallish woman with deep worry lines. She’s wiping her hands on her apron, and there’s that tightness around her eyes I’ve learned to take as a warning. “Danny, where have—who are you?”

“Um…hi.”

Mom’s face goes to stone. “I’m sorry, but you need to leave; Danny shouldn’t have—”

“Mom, wait!” She looks like someone slapped her. I keep going before she can stop me. “I’m Danny.”

Mom opens her mouth, blinks, closes her mouth. It was hard to get a clear look at my reflections in the windows I passed on the way home, but I saw enough to know I still resemble my old self. Same short blond hair, same basic face, but softened by the puberty I should have had, not the one I got. “What?”

“Something happened. I, uh—”

“Roger. Roger, get in here,” says Mom, not looking away from me. She’s twisting her apron in her hands. Her fingers have gone white.

Well. This is going swimmingly.

My father enters. He’s got a receding hairline and a voice made for shouting. Which is real convenient, because he shouts. A lot. “Who the hell are you?” he snaps. “Get out.”

“Hi, Dad.”

“Wh—I don’t have a daughter.”

“Um, you do now. I’m Danny.” My posture folds inward. My arms cross across my stomach, and I can’t look him in the eye. I hate how I always wilt like this, but, well, it’s easier this way. Sometimes even this isn’t enough. Sometimes it pisses him off that I’m a coward. But it’s not like there’s an alternative.

“Danny put you up to this? You tell him he’s grounded until—”

“I am Danny, Dad.” I put as much defiance as I dare in my tone, which I admit isn’t much. I’m not looking him in the eye, because I never do that when he’s angry. It’s not safe. “Something happened today. Didn’t you hear the news?”

“I don’t know what kind of joke you think you’re playing, young lady,” Dad says, his voice rising. “But you’re trespassing and you need to leave! Now!”

“Dad, I live here. I’m Danny.” My voice is faltering. I’m collapsing in on myself. He’ll start yelling now, and then there will be nothing to do but wait him out. Of course it’s going this way. I can’t imagine why I thought it would go any other way.

“No! I’ve had enough of this bullshit!” His voice seems to shake the room. “You get out, and you tell my delinquent son—”

“Roger,” says Mom. Her voice is shaking a little, but she steps to my side, and I love her more now than I ever have before. “This is Danny. Look at…well, look.”

My father’s eyes get wide. His face goes the color of spoiled milk. “What did you do?” he asks, quietly enough to scare me.

“I didn’t do anything! It just happened. Dreadnought was fighting someone, and there was this flash of light, and then…I was this.” My cheeks are burning. It’s not really a lie, right? I brace up and get ready for it.

For once, Mount Screamer doesn’t detonate. “Danny? Oh hell, what happened to you?”

“I don’t know. There was a superhero fight. And I was nearby, and then…this.”

“Don’t you worry.” He draws himself up, as tall and proud as he can, like he’s about to be magnanimous. “We’re going to make this right. I love you. You’re my son.”

I take a half step back. “Well…not anymore.”

We’ll go to doctors. We’ll get this looked at,” he says. Dad doesn’t sound like he’s all here anymore. He’s not really looking at me. He’s looking past me, toward some kind of pathetic optimism where he doesn’t have to deal with who I really am. “Hell, we’ll talk to the Legion if we need to. If it was done, it can be undone.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works, Dad. I’m a girl now. Maybe”—I lick my lips—“maybe we should just accept that.”

He seems to come back to the here and now with a jolt. He sets his jaw. “Don’t say that. We’re going to get through this, okay? I will find a way to fix this. You have my word.”

“Uh, sure. Thanks.”

And then he sweeps me into one of those rough, manly hugs he’s so big on. A healthy masculinity, he calls it, over and over again. I am suddenly filled with contempt. It takes an effort of will not to peel him off me, and I shiver with disgust. I don’t care what he says. I don’t care what he wants. I don’t care what he thinks. I am a girl. I am free.

And I am never.

EVER.

Going back.

 

Links

Dreadnought on Goodreads
*Not Listed
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

April Daniels was born in a military hospital just before it was shut down for chronic malpractice—in hindsight, that should have been an omen. After various tribulations in childhood and the frankly disconcerting discovery that she was a girl, she graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in literature, and then promptly lost her job during the 2008 stock crash and recession. After she recovered from homelessness, she completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for well-known video game console and has been writing ever since. Visit her online at www.aprildaniels.com.

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