A few years ago, I got irritated with my husband John for not paying attention to me. Because I’m a writer, I made up a story in my head about a woman in a similar position who makes up her own hero in her head – and then he comes to life! It was silly and fun and friends said, “Write it!”
The story changed as I thought it through, and I asked John, “Can you help me do some research for a superhero story?”
He kind of scoffed at first. “Why would you want to write about superheroes?”
Well, then I had to tell him. Yes, despite nearly twenty years (since our second year of college) of me harping on him to stop spending so much money on comic books, I now wanted to read them.
After he rolled his eyes over the explanation of how I came up with my idea, John immediately became my comic books and superheroes teacher. He took me to a comic book store and started explaining everything. (Yes, I’m pretty sure he explained everything.) He bought me the graphic novel Kingdom Come – and as soon as I read it, I was hooked!
My story went through a few changes, but it stayed true to the one thing I really wanted for it: I wanted to write a story about after the wedding.
Love is wonderful, but marriage is hard. You’ve not only picked a roommate who is never, ever going to move out (and all the pros and cons associated with that), but you’ve also found someone to share your hopes and dreams and successes and failures with. Perhaps more than that, it’s someone who has agreed to stick by you through all of your ups and downs.
How do you preserve something so fragile, so precious? How do you keep hard times from destroying it, especially when the bloom is new?
That’s what I wanted to explore. But I also love love! So I wanted to write about a couple who is madly in love with each other. I wanted her to think he was her hero, but I wanted him to find strength in having her as his wife. What better arena to explore all this than a superhero world?
My new book, Unexpected Superhero, is a cross between romantic comedy and urban fantasy. It’s Mad About You becomes Mr & Mrs Smith. It’s about Tori – who finds out she has a super power upon returning from her honeymoon – and Joe, who hasn’t had the courage to tell his new wife he’s a superhero. It’s also about friends and family and finding a purpose for your life.
Here’s a taste to see if you like it:
Tori Lewis was out of M&Ms. None in her purse, none in the glove box. Even the emergency packet in her briefcase had been consumed during her pre-wedding jitters. After the job interview she’d just endured for Half TV, a local cable TV station, she needed a chocolate fix. Now.
“I know I’m supposed to go to you for comfort,” she muttered to God as she pulled into a parking spot, “but if you wouldn’t mind, a package of M&Ms would jumpstart the process.”
The bell tinkled over her head as the door of Ed & Eddie’s Corner Market closed behind her. Tori stamped the snow off her boots as her eyes adjusted from the deepening twilight outside to the bright fluorescent lights of the store. It took her a moment to notice everyone in the store staring at her. Including the guy with the gun.
Tori froze. She always assumed her love of the colorful chocolate candy might one day destroy her figure, but she never expected her addiction to end in gunfire.
The gunman swung toward her. His bulky open coat couldn’t hide the fact that the skinny boy was no man. A Detroit Tigers baseball cap covered most of his brown hair, but not his panicky eyes. “What do you want?” His voice came out higher at the end and he cleared his throat. “Well?” he asked, forcing the word out at a lower pitch.
“Uhh… M&Ms,” Tori said. It sounded like a question. Her brain was having a hard time getting up to speed in this unexpected situation. God, help me.
Her eyes darted around the small store. An older woman cried and held a nearly hysterical younger woman, shushing her to no avail. One of the men held a baby ensconced in a little pink snowsuit. Another nodded quietly at her as if to convey caution.
Situation confirmed. She was hip-deep in doo-doo. Where was her big, strong new husband when she needed him?
The armed boy-man cocked his head toward the candy aisle. Tori didn’t know if he meant for her to move out of the way or if he was just being unusually helpful by pointing her in the right direction. Erring on the side of caution, she forced a fleeting smile and mumbled “thanks” as she walked past him and down the middle aisle to stand in front of the M&Ms. Now what?
The gunman turned back to Eddie, the cashier and half-owner of Ed & Eddie’s. “Hurry up before someone else comes in!”
“Easy, dude, easy,” Eddie said, moving his hands slowly toward the cash register. Eddie wasn’t very old either, early 20s or so, but he was sadly experienced in the holdup category. Tori couldn’t remember the details, but she’d heard bits and pieces of stories. Come to think of it, why did she shop at a store with a record anyway? She remembered Eddie had played sports in high school. Something like baseball or wrestling or karate could come in handy right now. Hopefully his sport hadn’t been cross-country running.
Tori glanced at the M&Ms next to her. More than ever she needed to stress eat. Could she open a package now and pay Eddie later? Maybe two packages. Her hands started to shake. She shoved them in her pockets.
Today was only day ten of her new and fabulous married life. She hadn’t wanted to go out today anyway and now this. Only two days ago she and Joe had checked out of their Disney World hotel, blue skies and temperatures in the 70s, nothing on their minds but a long and blissful life together. Tori prayed now that she’d make it to day eleven of that life. They hadn’t been married long enough to do anything except have sex – which was awesome – but she’d hoped for more. After all, they figured they’d have the rest of their lives together. Neither of them thought the “death” part of “till death do us part” would happen until there was a lot more gray hair involved.
The sound of a crying baby registered. Tori glanced over at the well-dressed man in the expensive trench coat. He kept his back between the gunman and his child. A gesture Tori would normally find heartwarming. But today it was the action of a man who wasn’t going to get involved. Great. He wouldn’t be of any use. So this is where equal opportunity gets us. Tori considered offering to hold the baby so he could help the other men save the day. Her self-esteem would be fine with that. Maybe if she were comforting someone, she wouldn’t feel like crying herself.
Enough! Tori wiped at her eyes. She was not letting some stupid, scared boy dictate her life and death. She’d spent too much energy changing her life into just what she wanted to lose it now. She chewed on her lip. What could she do?
A movement from the corner of her eye. She saw one of the men – the one who’d nodded calmly at her – edging closer to the gunman. Yikes. Should she duck or help?
Kitty Bucholtz [http://kittybucholtz.com] is the author of the romantic comedy Little Miss Lovesick [http://amzn.to/18KpaZx] and the light urban fantasy Unexpected Superhero [http://amzn.to/146DwzL]. Though she grew up in Northern Michigan, the setting for many of her stories, she followed her husband to Australia twice. While he made a penguin named Mumble dance, she earned her MA in Creative Writing in Sydney. When she's not unpacking or repacking, she's working on her next book or chatting with readers on Facebook. [https://www.facebook.com/kittybucholtzauthor]