The Secret Supers Series
Fantasy adventure & romance. Teen superhero, Starrella,
and her flying horse combat alien killers.
“Fun Exciting Read. This story has it all, a young woman who becomes a super hero: A super villain, mysterious boyfriend from another planet, conflict between good and evil, and trying to do the right thing helping others.”
“Fun and fascinating! This is a fun, supernatural adventure that takes readers into a new realm of super heroes and adventure.”
“Star power. Wow, great story. I was hooked from the beginning.”
Book 1: Super StarrellaBook 2: Starrella FallsBook 3: Gargoyle Hunt
Excerpt from Super Starrella:
“Why do I have to stay at the farm?” Estelle Wright grumbled, toying with a slice of buttered toast. “I’d rather be at home in Atalanta.”
“No more arguing!” Mom snapped, slamming the dishwasher closed. “I don’t want you to get in trouble while your dad and I are away. No running about with that awful boy with the steel earrings.”
“Sheesh, Mom! I haven’t seen him for months.” Estelle pouted. Mom had caught her kissing the goth boy in the local gang and had punished her with a six pm curfew for two weeks. Pressing her fingers to her lips, Estelle hid a thrill of amusement. Mom had no clue how often she sneaked out her bedroom window at night.
Wiping crumbs from the kitchen counter, Mom continued her rant, “And your friend Diane will drag you into some prank.”
“Diane’s away. She’s traveling through Europe for the summer.” Estelle heaved a sigh of regret. “She’s so lucky. I’d love to do something exciting.”
“Diane’s parents can afford to pay for her holiday. Our funds will be stretched sending you to Goldman University in the fall.”
“Yeah, I know.” Estelle and her two best friends, Diane Stewart and Veena Chandra, had been accepted into the top local college. Changing her tactic, Estelle asked, “Can’t I go with you and help Granny?”
“You’d be bored silly.” Mom groaned, “Tons of paperwork and sorting through all her belongings. But, I’m glad she decided to move into a retirement home. The old house is getting too much for her. Anyway, you’ll enjoy living at my brother’s place in the country. You love animals, and helping on the farm will be an asset if you want to become a vet.”
Dad wandered into the kitchen, carrying his empty coffee cup. “What’s the matter, Laura?”
Throwing up her hands, Mom exclaimed, “Estelle is whining again. She wants to stay home instead of going to Maisie and Andy’s farm.”
Slipping his arm around his wife, Dad said, “You’re only seventeen, Estelle, and while you’re living with us, you must obey our rules. I’ll drive you to the train station this afternoon.” He had a way of silencing arguments, although he made impartial decisions and did not always agree with his wife.
“Okay, I’ll finish packing.” Estelle stifled a groan of complaint and escaped upstairs to her bedroom. Stewing with resentment, she imagined four weeks in the sweltering summer on the farm with its smelly pigs and chickens. She stuffed shorts and T-shirts into a backpack, unaware of the excitement brewing in the back streets of the city.
“This is how we found her.” The city trooper gestured at the woman’s body sprawled on the grass behind the dumpster. “Nobody’s moved the body. We’ve taken all the photos. A purse was found eight feet from the body. No evidence anything was removed. Cash, credit cards, license, phone still inside.”
Frowning at the expression of terror frozen on the dead woman’s face, Inspector Parkins said, “Not a simple theft turned ugly.”
“When was the body found?” Parkins asked.
Consulting his notes out of habit rather than necessity, the policeman said, “A passerby called at 9:15 am. Man toting a bag of trash to the dumpster. The dispatcher sent me here immediately and I called your office when I saw the wounds.”
His face glistening with perspiration, he offered an opinion, “Body’s stiff. She’s been dead several hours.” Looking straight ahead, the officer quoted from the forensic textbook. “Presumed cause of death is a severed carotid artery.”
Inspector Parkins nodded. “I’ll wait for the report from Pathology.” He crouched on one knee to examine the corpse. Her skin was flaccid and dry. Blood had gushed from her neck, leaving red streaks on her pink shirt. He did not bother to touch the body. The skin temperature would hold no clues in the sultry heat of the Atalanta summer. Parkins grimaced. The irregular gash across her throat was horribly familiar.
Glancing at the officer, he noted the name on his badge. “Look at her neck, Trooper Cagle. Seen anything like it before?”
With a grunt to acknowledge the Inspector’s request, Cagle leaned over the body and frowned. “It’s strange, now you mention it. I didn’t notice at first. The cut appears to have been made by a weapon with a serrated edge. I’ve never seen a knife with serrations that big.” He stared at the Inspector in alarm and whispered, “What is it?”
“Wish I knew.” Standing up, Parkins made a fast decision, warning, “Keep an eye on the streets. I’ll file a request for more troopers on night patrol. This death is the second case I’ve seen in the last three weeks with the same type of injury on the neck.” He glowered at the startled officer. “We may be looking for a serial killer.”
“A serial killer,” Cagle repeated slowly. He shook his head and murmured, “With that weird slash, it may be time to call in the Secret Supers.”
“They’re an urban legend,” Parkins snapped.
The trooper tilted his head and asked, “How long have you been in the city, Inspector?”
“Six weeks on Monday,” Parkins replied, running his fingers through his thinning hair. His thoughts were elsewhere. He stepped aside and beckoned to the ambulance crew waiting with a stretcher. “Take her to the morgue. I’m ordering an autopsy.”
Suppressing a shudder, Parkins guessed what the medical examiner would find. A body drained of blood like the first murder case. Not a normal killer. He could imagine the careful wording of the official police reports for public consumption. Maybe they did need the Secret Supers. Whoever, or whatever, they were.
On the evening of the same day, about a hundred miles from Atalanta, Estelle lounged in the darkened living room with her aunt, watching TV as the sole entertainment in the old farmhouse. She anticipated a boring, uneventful summer on her uncle’s farm. Aunt Maisie sat in the rocking chair, staring at the ten o’clock news, while she knitted a sock for her eldest daughter’s new baby. Curled in an armchair, Estelle stifled a yawn and wondered what Veena and Diane were doing. Almost certainly, they had more exciting plans than staring at TV.
During the commercials, Aunt Maisie made sporadic comments. “It’s a shame your Granny has to move into one of those retirement places. Still, she shouldn’t be living alone at her age. Why, she must be over eighty.” She paused and looked at Estelle.
Answering her unspoken question, Estelle muttered, “She’s eighty-two.”
“Laura and Steve will have plenty of work, moving your Granny’s stuff and tidying the old house for sale.”
“I wanted to help,” Estelle grumbled. Mom and Dad had rejected her offer to help. Instead, they had dumped her at the farm for the summer. She’d never forgive them.
“You’re better off here than staying home by yourself,” Aunt Maisie said brightly. “I enjoy the company and you’re good with the animals.”
Estelle was silent. Her parents didn’t trust her to stay in the house alone, even though she was almost eighteen and would start university in the fall. Dad wasn’t so bad, but Mom was awful strict. Mom would ground Estelle for a week if she came home five minutes later than her curfew. What a nag!
The Atalanta skyline flashed on the TV and drew her attention to the news. The reporter’s voice switched to serious, very serious. “This morning, another dead woman was discovered on the streets near Goldman University. The young woman was assaulted with a sharp weapon. Reports claim the injuries were the same as for the last death. Police are warning of a new serial killer. They advise people to avoid the back streets at night.” The TV screen showed the map with two red dots marking the places where the bodies had been found.
“Look at that, Estelle!” Aunt Maisie’s voice was shrill with alarm. “Those poor girls were killed right near your university. Two of them so far. I hope they find the killer before your classes start.”
“Horrible!” A cold shiver crept down the back of Estelle’s neck. Would a psychopath be lurking in the shadows when she walked home at night? Swallowing her fears, she faked confidence. “I’ll be fine. My classes don’t start until next month and they’ll have found the killer by then.” Firming her chin, she said, “I won’t let some crazy killer stop me going to college.” She had to prove her independence if she wanted to move into a dorm room instead of staying at home next year.
Placing her knitting on her lap, Aunt Maisie blinked for a moment, before saying, “Your Mom will complain, though I think you’re right. Laura fusses too much. City streets are never safe. Watch out for trouble, but carry on with your life. That’s what I always say.”
Estelle smiled. She liked her aunt. Maisie Dawson was a placid, cheerful woman with an occasional acute insight.
* * * * *
Early the next morning, Estelle leaned over the fence, glaring moodily at the piglets. Tossing the bucket of scraps over the fence, she sighed in disgust. She was stuck on the farm for four miserable weeks and her aunt insisted she help with the chores. Under her resentful gaze, the piglets scrabbled in the mud, squabbling over the potato peelings and carrot stalks from yesterday’s dinner.
The black and white cat, Hewie, ambled across the yard with his tail held high. He circled Estelle’s legs, rubbing against her and purring. Stooping to tickle behind his ears, she reconsidered. She loved the friendly cat and the old cart horse. Even the little pigs weren’t so bad. Noisy and smelly, but their curly tails were cute. She liked most animals. Maybe she should become a veterinary doctor. Her farm chores were easy, feed the pigs and chickens, and fill their troughs with water. Aunt Maisie was kind to her and a super cook, although her reclusive uncle had few words for anyone.
She missed her friends, and worse, her cell phone had no signal at the farm. Her uncle kept the only internet link in the farmhouse in his office and he wouldn’t let her use his computer. Estelle felt isolated. She decided to walk into town and see if she could get wifi or a phone signal. Anything to get on the internet and check what was happening in her social world.
Finishing her chores as fast as she could, Estelle dashed into the house to wash. She changed into shorts and a tank top with a small shoulder bag for her purse and phone. Jumping down the stairs from the bedroom, she shouted into the kitchen, “Aunt Maisie, I’m going for a long walk. Don’t worry about me. I’ll grab lunch in Lost Springs.”
“Dinner’s at five. Make sure you’re back in good time.” Busy chopping vegetables on the counter, her aunt scarcely glanced at Estelle.
Estelle walked sedately to the gate, slipped through, and paused in the lane to decide which way to go. Straight ahead, the rutted farm lane led to a paved road running to the small town of Lost Springs. On the left, the narrow track angling under the trees enticed her with its promise of cool shade. She chose the wooded path, although it added a mile to her journey.
Tree branches arched overhead, forming the roof of a green tunnel over the dirt track. Eager to reach the town and connect with her friends, Estelle increased her pace to a steady jogtrot. At that rate, she could run the three miles to town in less than an hour.
A mile further on, she heard an engine in the distance. The drone of the motor loudened to a roar and Estelle halted. She backed onto the verge of the path under the tree trunks and waited for the vehicle to appear.
A mud-stained motorbike shot into view, the rider bent over the handlebars. The bike screeched to a stop a few feet away, spraying clouds of dust from the wheels. The rider’s steel-toed boots dug into the dirt, and he looked at Estelle. The biker was a stud of a man, a little older than Estelle. He wore a sleeveless black shirt, accentuating the muscles of his broad chest. The tattoo of a black cat leaped up his bare biceps. His long black hair was tied in a ponytail, his mouth angled in a sullen down curve, and his dark eyes glowered under thick brows.
Estelle’s eyes widened in appreciation. A good-looking hunk, his whole attitude reeked of a tough gangster. Not someone to oppose lightly.
For a long moment, they stared at each other in silence.
He spoke first, “You’re new around here. What’s your name?” His voice had an attractive nasal twang.
Cocking her head, she said, “Estelle.” She hated her name. Estelle sounded like somebody’s grandmother. She pointed along the track. “I’m staying at the Dawson’s farm.”
“Estelle’s a sweet name. Makes me think of stars.” His lips quirked in a sudden smile, transforming his face from sullen to handsome.
She flushed pink. “What’s yours?”
“Toby.” He grimaced. “Old fashioned name, ain’t it?”
She grinned at his woeful expression.
“Do you run here often?” he drawled.
“Yeah, most days when I’m staying at the farm,” Estelle admitted, unsure if she wanted to meet him again. She preferred to jog on quiet trails without disturbances from rough strangers on noisy bikes.
“Want to come for a ride?” He cocked an eyebrow and patted the seat of his motorbike invitingly.
Estelle shook her head, wary of riding with a stranger. “No thanks. I’m jogging for the exercise.”
His dark brows lowered. “Not scared are you?”
Jutting her chin, she snapped, “No way!” Glaring at his comic expression of dismay, she sniffed, “Bye.” Turning away, she trotted down the dirt track.
The engine roared and he drove the motorbike in a tight circle around her, throwing up clouds of dirt. Then, Toby zoomed off and disappeared behind a bend in the track.
Estelle stomped out of the dust cloud, coughing and shaking the dust off her clothes. She glared in the direction he had gone. Stupid boy! Did he think his antics and noisy bike would impress her? Gradually, the rumble of the motorbike faded into the distance, restoring peace to the countryside. Her annoyance eased.
She walked away, considering her new acquaintance. Arrogant attitude, but Toby had a nice smile. And, she loved the black cat tattooed on his muscular biceps. For a second, she imagined those strong arms wrapped around her and Toby murmuring in her ear. She snickered. Not likely! He probably spent half his time exercising in the gym and the rest disposing of gang rivals. Mom would be horrified if Estelle brought a tough biker like Toby home for tea. Mom would hate his tattoos. Shaking off his disruptive influence, she ran down the narrow lane and resolved to forget the hunky biker.
The wooded lane ended at the paved road leading to the town, and Estelle stopped to check for cars. More likely to be tractors on this stretch of road, she thought. Farm fields extended in both directions, a crop of soybeans grew in the adjacent field, and a fenced pasture was on the opposite side of the road.
Noticing a patch of white behind the fence, Estelle crossed the road to investigate. A horse stood in a muddy patch of dirt in the corner of the field. The pretty little horse had a gray coat and long straw-colored mane and tail. Tawny, coil-sized spots dappled her hindquarters.
Pushing through the brambles to the fence, Estelle leaned over the barbed wire for a closer look. The mare’s head drooped, her ribs protruded from thin flanks, and her whole stance suggested misery. “Poor thing,” Estelle murmured, noticing the ugly red scrapes on the mare’s neck. “How did you hurt your neck?”
The mare gazed at Estelle out of sad brown eyes, and then swung her head to look down the field. Two donkeys grazed at the far end of the pasture. A vivid picture swept into Estelle mind. She saw the donkeys baring their chunky teeth and chasing the poor mare away from the grassy area. “Do they bully you?” Estelle asked.
The mare did not move. Shaking her head, Estelle dismissed her dramatic imagination. Still, the mare was clearly skinny and alone. Estelle felt sorry for the poor outcast. She also had been abandoned by her parents.
Offering a handful of grass to the mare, Estelle crooned, “Come here, little horse.” The skinny mare twitched her ears and stared at Estelle. She stumbled over to the fence, poked her head over the top wire and mouthed at the green gift. Estelle stroked the mare’s soft pink nose and tangled blonde mane.
“Poor horse,” she murmured. “You’re such a sweet animal. I wish I could clean your scrapes and comb your mane. Your dappled coat is so pretty. I’ll call you Spotty.”
Offering the horse another bunch of grass, she said, “Next time I come, Spotty, I’ll bring you an apple.” After petting the mare for several minutes, Estelle said goodbye. She trotted briskly along the road to the town.