Monday, February 15, 2016

Teaser: Estelle, Hunky Biker and Cliffhanger from my New #Superhero Romance


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Tagline: Fledgling superhero, fights villains, seeks answers and finds a superpal.
After the first morning, their rides became a daily routine. Sometimes, Estelle heard the motorbike in the distance and guided the mare away from the noise of the engine. She didn’t always evade the sullen biker. One cool morning, Spotty was cantering along a straight stretch of lane and halted abruptly at the intersection with a broader gravel road.

The black motorbike leaned on a tree trunk at the side of the road. Clad in jeans and a sleeveless black shirt, Toby crouched on one knee and peered at the tires. Wary of the stranger, the mare snorted and pawed in the dirt. Wiping an oil stain from his cheek, Toby stood up and gazed at the horse and rider. His surly expression lightened, and he drawled, “Estelle! Hey babe, ain’t seen you for days. You avoidin’ the city gangster?”

Smiling at his acute question, she rolled her eyes and fluttered her lashes. “Hi Toby. I like it quiet.” He looked good, long legs, lean waist and broad chest with the cat tattoo stretched over his biceps.

Toby stepped to the mare’s side and stroked her neck. To Estelle’s surprise, Spotty stood still and tolerated his touch without even twitching an ear. His masculine scent of gasoline and sweat wafted to Estelle, washing a warm tingle into her body. She stifled the urge to run her fingers over the tattoo on his muscular arm.  

“Pretty mare,” he said, patting the long neck. “Saw her in the Gossetts’ field by the road. Did she jump the fence again?”

“What of it?” Estelle stiffened, anticipating a rebuke.

Instead, he grinned. “You look good together. Two long haired blondes.”

She blushed, disconcerted by his casual complement. “The poor mare needs some kindness. She’s so thin.”

“Yeah, I know about the Gossetts. They don’t look after their animals. The mare would be happier under your care.”

“I can’t look after her at home in Atalanta. We live in the suburbs and I have to go back in two weeks when my classes start.” Estelle groaned at the thought of sitting in lecture halls all day instead of riding in the woods.

“Where’re you going to school?”

“Goldman University. I’m a freshman.” The premier academic institution in Atalanta had been renamed after a prominent donor some twenty five years ago.  

His browns met in a frown. “College kid eh? You look too young.”

“I’m nearly eighteen!” she cried, her voice shrill with indignation. Noticing how his lips twitched into a lopsided smile, she said, “You’re teasing me, right?”

Cocking his eyebrows, Toby drawled, “Babe, you’ll be a star. No kidding.” He looked along the track in the direction she was heading and said, “Fort McPhee owns land that way. Take care where you ride. Don’t trip in a bomb hole.”  

“I’ll take care.” Estelle turned the mare’s head, and kneed her flanks. Toby slapped the mare’s hindquarters and Spotty jumped forwards into a trot.

“Bye, Toby,” Estelle called as she rode off. She was too annoyed by his teasing to wait for a reply.

Searching for a fresh view of the countryside, Estelle nudged Spotty onto an unfamiliar trail. Tree trunks rushed past as they cantered down the shady lane. Estelle bent low to avoid the lower branches, clinging on with her knees and one hand gripping the mare’s mane. Strands of the mane brushed over her face. Noticing a fallen tree across the path, Estelle gasped, Jump!”

Spotty leaped lightly over the tree trunk and galloped on. The lane divided in two and the mare veered left along a narrow winding track. Soon Estelle lost track of the direction, seeing nothing she recognized.

The track ended abruptly at a tall fence of weathered wood slats. In one section, the slats had bent to the ground. Spotty jumped over the broken fence into an overgrown field. She cantered across the long grass towards the small trees on the far side.

A large black cat leaped out of the bushes, hissed and struck out with its claws.

Spotty reared in alarm. Slipping from the saddle, Estelle tugged on the mane and righted herself, her heart pounding in fright. The mare darted away from the snarling cat, her ears folded back in distress. They raced through the brush and leaped over a wire fence into a bare, muddy area, almost devoid of vegetation. The mare slowed to Estelle’s relief. They trotted over the muddy ground scattered with clumps of yellowed grass. A loud crack plunged the horse into a faster pace. Catching her hoof in a hole, the little mare stumbled and recovered. She darted off again, more frightened than before.

A post with an orange sign, tilted at a forty five degree angle, caught Estelle’s eye. She read, “Danger! Keep off. Army Firing Range.”  

Estelle screamed. She yanked at the rope looped round the mare’s neck without decreasing their breakneck speed. She could only cling tightly to her terrified horse, hoping to avoid potholes.

The mare raced forward, straight into a blaze of green fire. Light exploded around Estelle, white light threaded with swirls of eerie green. Thunder boomed in her ears.

Horse and rider flew backwards.

Slamming onto the ground, pain flooded her mind and Estelle lost consciousness. 

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