Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons #4)(10)

Clark found the two of them in front of their stand, staring down the road. “You guys saw that, too?”

Carlos put his hands on his hips, shaking his head. “Is very dangerous.”

“Do you know what kind of car it was?” Cruz asked Clark. “It wasn’t shaped like a Lamborghini. Maybe an Aston Martin? Or a Maserati?”

Clark shrugged. “It wasn’t a Ford F-150, that’s for sure.”

“I heard a Maserati can go one-eighty, easy. Do you know how sick that is? I’d probably get a speeding ticket every day.” Cruz was in awe of anything flashy and American. Fancy cars. Big, gaudy houses. Blockbuster movies and celebrity gossip. Clark knew from talking to the kid over the years that he longed to one day leave the fruit and vegetable stand behind. To get out of Kansas and pursue a career that would give him a shot at some sort of fame.

Carlos flicked his son’s ear good-naturedly and motioned for him to get back to work. Cruz rolled his eyes, then went over to a table of green apples and began rearranging them.

Seeing Carlos and Cruz made Clark think of Gloria. They were related. She’d even spent the summer after her freshman year working at the stand. “I’m curious,” he said, recalling what Gloria had told him at school. “Do you guys know anything about…people disappearing?”

Carlos picked a dead leaf off a tomato. “Oh, yes, of course,” he said, nodding. “But some young people…” He turned to his son and said something in Spanish.

Cruz listened to his dad before turning to Clark. “My dad says people are making high wages with the Mankins Corporation. More money than they’ve ever had. And some of them go to Metropolis to gamble and buy things. He says it’s a very bad idea.” Cruz grinned and said in a quieter voice, “Personally, I don’t see how making a little cash is so wrong. I’ve been thinking about working for Mankins myself.”

Carlos said something else to Cruz, who then turned to Clark, adding, “He’s keeping his eyes open, though. He’s not sure how safe it is for us in Smallville right now.” Cruz glanced at his dad before telling Clark, “Me, though? I’m not scared of anyone. I say, ‘Bring it.’?”

Clark appreciated the kid’s audacity. “What about the police?” he asked, thinking of the proposed law. “They’re not randomly stopping anyone, are they?”

Carlos looked genuinely bewildered. “No, no. It is the same as before with them.”

This assurance made Clark feel relieved. “All right, then.” He saluted his friends. “See you guys around.”

The three of them smiled and waved, and Clark continued down the open road.

* * *

About a half mile later, just as Clark was passing the big white church that stood alongside the highway, he heard the hum of the red sports car coming up behind him. He stopped and turned around, readying himself for more static. But when it got close to Clark this time, the driver hit the brakes, and the car screeched to a stop beside him.

It sat there idling for several seconds, smoke rising up off the tires.

Clark tried to peer through the passenger-side window, but the tint was so dark that he couldn’t see a thing. And when he tried to use his newfound X-ray vision, nothing happened. He knew that a normal person would feel fear at this point, but he’d never been very good at fear. He was mostly just curious. The car definitely looked expensive. He didn’t even recognize the logo on the front grille. Whoever was inside had to be rich—and wanted everyone to know it.

“You just gonna hide in there all day?” Clark shouted.

The passenger-side window began slowly motoring down, and Bryan Mankins poked his head out. “Clark,” he called. “You okay? I tried to tell Lex not to buzz you like that.”

“Bryan?” Clark looked past him, to the driver’s side and this Lex guy. But he couldn’t get a good view. “You almost ran me over.”

Bryan smiled uncomfortably. “Sorry, man. He thinks shit like that’s funny. But I made him come back so we could offer you a ride.”

“I’m fine walking,” Clark said, irritated.

Bryan mumbled something to the driver before turning back to Clark. “Seriously, hop in. We’ll take you wherever you want to go.”

Clark hesitated at first. He didn’t even know Bryan. Or this Lex joker. And he definitely didn’t appreciate the stunt they’d pulled earlier. On the other hand, he was a little curious about the car. “I’m going to the library downtown,” he said.

“Shit, man, we’re headed in that direction anyway. Come on.”

Clark climbed past Bryan, into the cramped back seat. He took off his backpack and set it in his lap and latched his seat belt. Then he glanced at the driver, Lex, by way of the rearview mirror. He was a young white guy, not much older than Clark and Bryan, but he was dressed like some kind of important businessman. A sport coat and collared shirt. He had wavy hair and wore a pair of expensive-looking designer sunglasses.

He was the kind of guy Lana might describe as good-looking.

He was the kind of guy Clark would describe as soft.

The inside of the car was every bit as showy as the outside. Leather seats. Digital everything. A massive touch screen that took up more than half the dash. It was the nicest ride Clark had ever seen. Actually, it seemed more like a spaceship than anything else. He wondered if it was one of those cars that could drive themselves.

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