Heat Wave is the explosive finale to the thrilling and “uproariously funny” (Sophie Gonzales) Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!
Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City.
An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero.
Heat Wave will be available on July 19th, 2022. Please enjoy the following excerpt, and make sure to pre-order and submit your receipt to receive an enamel pin inspired by the cover!
Near dusk, shadows stretched like reaching darkness, the heat from the summer day like molten claws to the chest, digging into the beating heart of a city under siege. Steam (and brown water) leaked from manhole covers, creating a wet fog that smelled like desperation and a complete lack of infrastructural understanding.
People scurried on the sidewalks, sweat dripping down their faces in streaks like tears, silently crying out for someone to save them from themselves. Horns honked in steel gridlocks, fists shaking angrily out the car windows. Darkened buildings loomed, towers of the rich and powerful, holding the populace in the palms of their diabolically malevolent hands. Neon lights snapped and crackled, burning against the coming dark, illuminating the faces of the damned and the forgotten. Wavy heat lines rose from cracked asphalt, a reminder of the extreme temperatures that had descended upon a city of steel and glass.understanding.
“Who will protect us?” the people wailed as they darted their gazes up toward the darkening sky in fear. “Who will be the champion we so desperately need? If only there was someone out there who could be the hero we deserve! Nay, the hero we require.”
This was a city filled with disease, tumors growing in the bones and connective tissue, spreading with no hope for a cure. This was a city trapped in a war for its very soul, a thin sliver of light threatening to be smothered by the shadows of evil, the scales of truth and justice tipping dangerously toward chaos.
But the city was not alone. She had someone who loved her, someone who would lay down his very life to ensure her survival.
Atop a small building that had once been a yogurt shop but was now a hipster coffee lounge with logs instead of chairs because what, a figure sat perched on the ledge like a stone gargoyle watching hundreds of years of history pass by in the blink of an eye. This figure shifted slightly, the white lenses on his helmet flashing as the exposed mouth twisted into a furious snarl. “This is my city,” he growled dangerously. “And I will do everything I can to protect her people.” His head jerked up at the sound of a scream in the distance. “Hark! There’s crime afoot.” The figure looked off into the distance, the light of a nearby cell tower blinking red as if to say, I am the pulse of Nova City, weak and thready. If only my light could burn forever.
“Yes,” the amazing figure breathed. “I hear you. I see you.” He rose slowly, the strong muscles of his body shifting sexily underneath the costume, a symbol of freedom and hope and justice. He breathed in deeply. “And I can smell you . . . but also . . . taste? Oh my god, what the hell is that? Holy crap, it’s everywhere.” He gagged. “It’s coating my throat. Did someone die and then their body fell in the water and now it’s a bloated mess filled with gases and ballooning organs that will soon explode in a burst of—no. Focus. Darkness has found its way into—”
“Seriously,” another voice said. “I love you, but you’ve been narrating out loud for the past fifteen minutes, and while I appreciate your creativity, we probably should get a move on before the thieves get away with all the jewels.”
The Extraordinary known as Guardian squawked as he lost his footing and fell off the ledge backward onto the roof. He landed roughly on his back, blinking up at the night sky. A moment later, the sky disappeared as a familiar face appeared above him, curls of dark hair hanging down around his face. He wore a sleek costume, black with red piping that ran up the length of his legs and torso. Across his chest, a symbol of a flame, the mark of a hero.
“Pyro Storm,” Guardian growled, voice modulated deeply through his cerulean-blue helmet. He pushed himself up off the ground, ignoring the helping hand reaching toward him. “I knew you’d be here.”
Seth blinked. “I should hope so. We came together. It’d be weird if I wasn’t here.”
“Would it be weird?” Guardian hissed. “Or would it be all part of your plan to get me alone so you can have your way with me?” He took a step back away from the Extraordinary. And another. And another. And then the back of his legs hit the ledge of the roof. He turned around, bending over, hands flat against the ledge as he looked back over his shoulder. “You’ve trapped me, Pyro Storm. I answered a call thinking it’d be a citizen in need of saving, but instead, it’s you. You, with your righteousness and your face looking like it does. My body is tense with pleasure and thrumming arousal.”
“Uh-huh,” Seth said, a black-and-red helmet dangling from the fingers of his left hand, the lenses dull in the low light. “You sure seem to be shaking your ass a lot for someone who’s not sure.”
“Villain!” Guardian cried. He moaned loudly, arching his back. “How dare you speak to me as if you have any right to!” He gasped dramatically, the voice modulator making it sound as if he smoked fifty cigars a day. “Don’t you dare think of using your fire powers to burn away my costume, leaving me nude and helpless, though more than willing to participate because consent is important, even during role-play, and I don’t want you to think I don’t want this when I actually do. Also, my safe word is charcuterie, and no, you don’t get to ask why.”
“Because you like varied meats and cheeses served to you on a cutting board?”
“Nick, you can’t just—” He coughed.
“Nicky, you need to—”
He coughed again, this time much more forcefully to make a very serious point. He hoped Seth got it this time because it was making his throat hurt.
Seth rolled his eyes. “Guardian.”
Success! “That’s better. Thank you. Remember, we talked about this. When I’ve got the costume and the helmet on, I’m not Nick anymore, I’m Guardian. But if I have the costume on and the helmet off, I’m Nick because you can see my face. Or, if I’m not wearing the costume or the helmet and am very, very naked, you can call me whatever you want.”
He winked over his shoulder.
And then remembered Seth couldn’t see his eyes because he was wearing his helmet.
“I just winked at you,” he said. “In case you were wondering.” “Oh,” Seth said. “I wasn’t, but thank you for telling me. That changes everything.”
Guardian lifted the helmet off his head, the sharpness of the world around him fading. The lenses inside his helmet were strong, letting him see farther and more sharply than he could without it. He never wanted to take it off, but apparently he wasn’t allowed to wear it whenever he wanted, which was bullshit. Setting the helmet on the ledge, Nicholas Bell turned and faced his boyfriend. “It wasn’t fifteen minutes.”
“You’re right,” Seth Gray said, a quirk to his lips. “It was actually closer to twenty. I’m not sure if a hero should spend that much time narrating his plans out loud. What if there was someone listening in?”
Nick winced. He hadn’t thought of that. As per his usual, he’d been so wrapped up in being Guardian that he’d let it go to his head a little. Probably more than a little.
It’d only been a month since he’d come home after Gibby’s graduation and found a package waiting for him on the kitchen table. Inside had been a note from Miss Conduct, the drag-queen Extraordinary with acerbic commentary known to fry a man as thoroughly as her electric powers. She wore bangles and had legs for days. Nick could never pull off bangles, and his own legs were pasty and thin, with knobby knees and that one weird hair on the left side of his right knee that grew obscenely long, which was bullshit, seeing as how he couldn’t get any hair to grow on his chest.
The note, while sweet and wonderful, hadn’t been the best thing. No, that had been the costume she’d created for him with help from Nick’s friends. A costume of blue and white with a helmet to match.
And here he stood in said costume in all his glory, though glory might have been a bit of a misnomer. You see, when one decides to become a real Extraordinary, one must wear a skin-tight costume to be taken seriously. The problem with that, however, was that Nick had learned his body was strangely shaped, and things that should have bulged—arm muscles, chest muscles, and yes, the groin—did not bulge at all.
(The second time Nick had tried the costume on, he’d stuffed a folded sock down the front of the tights and nodded in the mirror. “Oh, this?” he’d said to his reflection, nodding down at his crotch. “Don’t worry about that. Just my penis. Yeah, it’s big.” His father had come in without knocking. The silence that had followed had been absolute before Dad backed out of the room slowly. They had never talked about it, and Nick hadn’t
tried to put a sock over his junk again.)
So: there was a reason Nick didn’t like wearing what amounted to a full bodysuit of spandex. It left nothing to the imagination.
“Bend over,” Nick demanded. Seth squinted at him. “What?”
“I want to show you something. This isn’t about sex stuff.
“Yeah, see,” Seth said, “the last time you told me to bend over and said it wasn’t about sex stuff, you said, and I quote, ‘It looks like someone ordered cake from a sexy bakery.’”
Nick snorted. “I’m funny. And erotic.”
Seth sighed. “It would’ve been funnier and maybe more erotic if you hadn’t said it while my aunt and uncle were standing three feet away.”
Nick scowled, grateful the encroaching dark hid the furious heat blooming on his cheeks. “How was I supposed to know they were going to be in the living room of their own house? Martha really didn’t need to get out sandwich baggies and begin to make dental dams right then and there. That was uncalled for. I blame her. And Dad.” Mostly his dad, though, because he’d been the one to show the Grays the wonders of DIY sexual safety.
Seth shook his head. “Just be grateful she hasn’t started crocheting the harness she wants to make for some horrific reason. Ever since she went to that sex shop for learning purposes, she hasn’t been the same.”
Nick groaned. “Oh my god, I hate everything. Now stop distracting me and bend over.”
Seth hunched his shoulders, his chest and stomach making a half circle. “Like this?”
Nick nodded. “Now rub your hand along your chest and stomach.”
Seth’s eyes narrowed. “This sounds like a sex thing.”
It really did, but he wasn’t to be deterred. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Gray. You’d know if this was a sex thing.”
“O . . . kay.” Seth ran his hand along his sternum, down to his stomach, stopping just above his groin before going back up to his chest. “Now what?”
Nick—always and forever Nick—short-circuited a little at the sight of his Extraordinary boyfriend touching himself, the tip of Seth’s black-gloved fingers pausing against his broad chest. All the porn Nick had consumed in his life paled in comparison to the sight before him: Seth with his dark curly hair and a jaw that could cut glass. Nick knew that objectification could be seriously problematic but come on! Look at him.
“Yeah,” Nick muttered. “Just like that.” “Nick,” Seth said pointedly.
“I’m not thinking sexy thoughts!” Nick said. “I’m just . . . admiring the scene before me!” He frowned as he bent over the same way Seth had, rubbing a hand over his chest and stomach. “See? What the hell!”
“Uh, what am I supposed to be looking at?”
“This!” Nick said, glaring as he hunched over. “When you bend over in your Extraordinary costume, your stomach is flat because you’re ripped. When I do it, you can’t even see the abdominal muscles that are probably there even though they weren’t this morning. I thought being an Extraordinary was supposed to make me have noticeable washboard abs!”
“Hoo boy,” Seth said. “That’s not how any of this works.” “Says you,” Nick retorted, glaring down at the gentle swell
of his stomach as if it had betrayed him. “You became an Extraordinary and you turned into a sex god. I became an Extraordinary and it gave me body issues. Yes, I had nachos for dinner last night, and yes, there wasn’t enough cheese so I added more, but still! I ran last week, Seth. For a quarter of a mile. And I only had to stop twice to catch my breath.”
“I know,” Seth said. “I was there, remember? You complained the entire time.”
Nick sniffed. “Yes, well, running is pointless and you should feel bad for making me do it.” He poked his stomach a final time before standing upright. “I may need to consider a redesign of my costume. What do you think about layers? I took a test in Cosmo, and the result said I have a body made for layers.” He frowned. “It also said that I was a free-spirited woman who won’t be constrained by society, but still. Layers.”
Seth chuckled, walking toward Nick with a strange heat in his eyes. He set his helmet next to Nick’s on the ledge before leaning in. Nick’s heart sped up a little. It always did when Seth was around, but when he was so close Nick could count the faint freckles across his nose and cheeks? Man, did Nick enjoy the hell out of it.
Seth kissed him slowly, lips slightly chapped. Nick returned in kind, his tongue sliding against Seth’s as sweat trickled down his neck. The heat wave that had settled on Nova City a few weeks ago hadn’t let up. After a bitterly cold winter with storm after storm of heavy snow followed by a wet spring, summer had come to the city with a vengeance: blazing hot, the humidity almost unbearable. If Nick wasn’t destined to become an Extraordinary, he’d have stayed inside with the air-conditioning on until senior year started up in the fall.
Senior year, he thought distantly as Seth’s lips worked over his. The end of one life, and the beginning of another one entirely. On his best days, Nick wasn’t a fan of change. His ADHD— while mostly under control with the new meds he was on— required routine in his life, order to keep things from spinning out of control. Sure, chaos often reared its head and laid waste to his plans, but Nick was trying, something he’d decided he had to do in order to live a double life of a mild-mannered student who moonlighted as an Extraordinary.
Sort of. In the month since he’d been gifted the costume and become Guardian, he hadn’t done much with it. Dad said he wasn’t ready to save the day on his own. No matter how much Nick begged to go out as Guardian, Dad stood firm, telling him he had to ease into it, to take things slowly. “Besides,” Dad said, “you’re still the leader of Lighthouse. That’s just as important.”
Being a hero was vastly more complicated than he’d expected it to be. Not only did he have to worry about saving-the-day shit, he also had to focus on being Nick Bell, too. He didn’t understand how the comics made it look so easy. He was supposed to wear a skintight costume while also worrying about getting into college? He needed to fret over the fact that Seth might not get to go back to Centennial High (home of the Fighting Wombats!) because he revealed himself as Pyro Storm while at the same time figuring out how the hell he was supposed to take AP History and survive? Gibby was going to NCU in the fall, so they were already down one person. Was it just supposed to be him and Jazz at school for months on end, all while rumors swirled around them about what had happened the night of the prom?
He didn’t know how he was going to do it. Everything felt too big. While grateful it was June, he knew that eventually he’d have to face the very real fact that things were changing, splintering, and there wasn’t much he could do to stop it.
“You’re thinking too hard,” Seth murmured against his lips. Nick sighed as he pulled back. “Yeah, I know. Sorry. You know how it is. I have thoughts and then those thoughts have
Seth smiled. “I know, Nicky. Anything you want to talk about?”
“Just the same crap as always. Everything and nothing all at once.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Seth said, reaching out and squeezing Nick’s gloved hands. “But we can talk more about it later. Tonight, we focus, all right?”
Nick nodded as he relaxed. “Right. Focus. I’m with you.” He had something to prove tonight, to show that he was capable.
Seth stepped around him, going to the ledge and looking down at the alley below. “Good. Now, tell me what you think we should do.”
Nick turned and stood next to Seth, hands resting on top of his helmet. He followed Seth’s gaze down to the alley. Across the alley was another building, a little shorter than the one they stood on. An old air conditioner rattled and groaned next to a metal roof-access door.
“Could go through the roof door,” he said. “Avoid any windows that could give us away.”
“Door’s bolted and locked,” Seth said. “How do you get in if you want to avoid as much property damage as possible?”
He paused, looking at the air-conditioning unit. His gaze traveled along the length of the roof, toward the side of the building closest to them. Sitting near the top was a vent covered in a metal grate. “There,” he said, pointing. “Could go through the vent.”
Seth nodded. “Think you can fit?” “Rude.”
Seth rolled his eyes. “You know that’s not what I meant.” He bumped his shoulder against Nick’s. “You don’t want to try something like that, only to get stuck. Think, Nick. What should you do when you have to enter a building you’ve never been to before?”
“Powers,” Nick said automatically. “Make my own door.” Images flooded his brain of him standing before a brick wall and waving his hand, causing the bricks to shift and break apart, making a door.
But Seth nipped that right in the bud, shaking his head and saying, “Without powers. You can’t always count on them. There may come a time when powers could work against you.” He paused, considering. “Or, when you don’t quite have control over them.”
Nick scowled at him. “I totally have control of my powers. Watch.” He looked around, trying to find something he could use. Near the far corner, a plastic bucket sat as if forgotten, the handle rusted, the side cracked. Taking a deep breath, Nick raised his hand, and in his head, a light sparked, warm and sweet. He held on to it as tightly as he could and pushed, a shiver of not-quite-pain rippling through him.
The bucket wiggled from side to side before rising slowly off the roof, floating five feet in the air. “See?” Nick said, a trickle of sweat sliding down his forehead. “Easy. I got this. I’m so good at—”
The spark pulsed in his head, and the bucket shot through the air, arcing high before it landed three roofs away with a faint clatter.
Nick sighed, dropping his hand. “Okay, so there might be a few kinks to work out, but still! What’s the point of being an Extraordinary if I don’t get to be extraordinary?”
“There’s more to it than that,” Seth said, and it wasn’t the first time he’d told Nick this, or the tenth. “While having powers is all well and good, you can’t always rely on just your powers. You have to think, too, Nicky. And since no one thinks like you do, you’ve got this. Come on. Can’t go in through the front or the roof access. Doors locked. How do you proceed?”
Nick brightened. “Lighthouse.”
“Exactly.” Seth nodded toward his helmet. “Get to it.”
Nick lifted his helmet from the ledge and put it on. The moment the helmet settled on his head, bright lights exploded inside as his vision sharpened. Lines of code ran like cascading water before they disappeared, replaced by two words, blin ing in cerulean blue.
He grinned despite himself. That would never not be the coolest shit he’d ever seen. Gibby was a goddamn genius when it came to all things tech, and she’d outdone herself.
“Lighthouse,” Guardian said, voice once again modulated. “Do you copy?”
Guardian frowned, tapping the side of his helmet. “Lighthouse, this is Guardian. Do you read me?”
“What the hell,” he muttered. “They’re supposed to be—” “Lighthouse here,” Jasmine Kensington said in his ears, voice
crackling. “We read you loud and clear. Sorry about that. Gibby was punching the bag Seth has hanging in the basement, and then she started sweating and you know what that does to me.”
“They’re having sex in the secret lair,” Guardian told Seth. Seth threw up his hands.
“We are not,” Gibby snapped. “It was just foreplay. Trust me, Jazz would sound more out of breath if it was sex, because I can do this thing with my fingers that—”
“What in the good goddamn shit, Gibby,” Guardian growled. “Stop fornicating when we’re supposed to be stopping a jewel heist! I need the schematics of the building.”
“On it,” Jazz said, ever the professional. “What’s the—Gibby, you’re going to get us in trouble. Oh. Oh. That’s . . . wow. Do that again!”
“Schematics!” Guardian bellowed.
Seth sighed. “So much for the element of surprise.”
“Schematics,” Gibby said, and Nick could hear the eat-shit grin in her voice. “We’ll get them for you. What’s the address?” Guardian looked at Seth, who shrugged and said, “What is it? You need to pay attention to these things, every single little detail. You’ll never know when you need to call for backup, and you shouldn’t always rely on the tracker in your suit. What if something disrupts it? An Extraordinary who could cause a blackout and knock out your locator as well as the comms?
What do you do then?”
“Right,” Guardian muttered. He moved to the ledge to his right, looking down at the street below. People walked along the sidewalks, unaware that an Extraordinary watched them from above. Cars lined the road, traffic backed up, horns honking obnoxiously. There wasn’t any place like it in the world, and though Nova City had bitch-slapped him more than a few times, he’d always do what he could to keep her safe. “We’re at the corner of Tenth and Marketplace.” He glanced at the numbers on the buildings across the street. All even. Numbers going up to the left, down to the right. He thought back to their arrival. He’d seen the street number of the building, hadn’t he? He’d glanced at it. What was it? Think, think, think—ah! He grinned. “1757 Marketplace. No, wait, that’s the building we’re on. 1759 Marketplace.”
Seth squeezed his shoulder. “Good. Nice one, Guardian.” “1759 Marketplace,” Jazz chirped in his ear. Through the speakers in his helmet, he could hear her fingers flying over the keyboard in the basement of the Gray brownstone. “And here . . . we . . . go.”
Guardian blinked against the brightness of the screen in his helmet. The light faded slightly, and when he could see clearly again, a three-dimensional schematic of the building they needed to infiltrate appeared before him, spinning slowly. “Any way in that doesn’t involve doors?” Guardian asked. “And would avoid alarms?”
“Gibby, you got anything?” Jazz asked.
“There,” she said. “You see a vent near the top of the building?”
“Yeah,” Guardian said, heart thumping in excitement. “Big enough for us to get through?”
“Should be,” Jazz said, and the schematic zoomed in to focus on the venting system. “Might be a tight squeeze, but both of you should be able to get through it. Hold on. Gibby, do that line thing.”
“That line thing,” Gibby said with a snort. “I love you so much. Yes, I can do the line thing.” A moment later, a red dot appeared at the start of the vent before extending in a line through the ductwork. It took a right, a left, two more rights, before it stopped in the middle of the building. “There, that should lead you to a grate in the ceiling. Gives you the drop on anyone inside.” “Security system?” Guardian asked, staring at the vent access. “Old,” Jazz said. “Looks like a simple system that only registers the front door opening after hours. Hasn’t been updated
Guardian nodded. “Good. The city calls for me. I hear her cries and will do whatever I can to save her.”
Guardian tapped the side of his helmet again. “Did you get that?”
“We did,” Jazz said. “We didn’t know if there was going to be more like there normally is. Don’t you usually say something about diseased hearts and the writhing morass of—”
“No time!” Guardian cried. “It’s time to take out the—no, I can’t use that one, because I already used the word time. Dammit. Okay, hold on. I’ve . . . almost . . . got . . . it. Just . . . one . . . more . . . second and—ah!” He squared his shoulders. “You want to try and take jewels that don’t belong to you? See how well you do when I kick you in the jewels!”
He waited for thunderous applause. None came.
Guardian deflated slightly. “Oh, come on, really? That was awesome.”
“Is that what we’re considering awesome now?” Gibby asked. “My bad. Gay gasp! You’re so good at this superhero thing. I’ve never seen such a—”
“I hate everyone,” Guardian mumbled.
Seth slid on his own helmet, the lenses flashing an ominous red as he too came online. “Lighthouse, this is Pyro Storm. We’re going in. Be ready. It’s time to burn.”
“What the—I wrote that catchphrase. Why does it sound so much cooler than mine? I demand you come back and give me compliments about kicking thieves in the jewels!”