Tori Lewis can hardly wait for her Christmas Eve wedding to handsome Joe Clarke. Joe expected to be a happy superhero bachelor for years to come, but he is determined to marry Tori, the woman he saved on Halloween. But she doesn’t know who he really is. How can he explain his life to a woman who doesn’t believe in superheroes? Meanwhile, the city is going through a Christmastime crime spree. Will it all come together without ruining the perfect Christmas wedding?
TWO things always surprised Joe Clarke in December: the weather, and the people of Double Bay.
Some years the snow would start falling by Halloween. Thanksgiving would be a day to have a plan B in case you couldn’t make it to Grandma’s house due to blowing and drifting snow. And Christmas would be both beautiful and frustrating with every outing marred by icy roads and fresh piles of snow to clear off the car.
Other years, like this year, there were a few snow showers, but hardly any of the snow stuck to the ground. The ski slopes were covered with machine-made snow. Shopping and traveling were a breeze.
And tracking potential home invaders proved more difficult.
Ah, yes, the wonderful citizens of Double Bay constantly surprised him. The young man he tracked now — that is, that his alter ego Superhero X tracked — really put the “dumb” in dumbed down. Not only was he peeking in windows in the fading light of the afternoon rather than waiting for the full dark that would fall over the city by dinnertime, but he wasn’t paying attention to the security signs.
This particular yard sported a bold red and white sign near the front door — MGV Security. The sign wasn’t hidden by snow either. What, did the guy think it was a Christmas decoration? Superhero X shook his head and waited. When the young man took out a pocket knife and pried the screen off one of the windows, Superhero X moved closer and cleared his throat.
The man jumped and dropped his knife. His eyes widened as he looked up — way up — into the superhero’s face. “Oh! I-I-I was just…I mean, I…I live here…”
X raised his eyebrows skeptically. “What’s your address?”
“It’s, uh, let me think, I just moved here and…” The man looked around the yard and at the other houses nearby, searching for a helpful clue.
Taking a long black zip tie from a pocket of his super suit, X gestured. “Hands.”
The man sighed heavily and sagged against the siding. “You’re not going to call the cops, are you?” He held out his hands. “I didn’t take anything.”
X tied the man’s hands, then pressed a button on the wrist of his suit. “Superhero X to dispatch,” he said. He gave the address, dispatch assured him that a police car would be there soon, then he marched the would-be Christmas thief to the sidewalk.
Pressing another button, he winced at the time. He’d have to hurry home to change after the police picked up the wannabe burglar. His fiancée, Tori Lewis, would be waiting for him — that is, for Joe — to pick her up from her last day at work. He didn’t live far from here since this was his regular patrol neighborhood, but he still wanted to hurry.
Superhero X kept his facial expression impassive, but on the inside he could feel a grin. In five days, on Christmas Eve, he would finally marry the girl he rescued Halloween night. He could hardly wait.
Afraid a smile would break through and spoil his stern superhero expression, he brought his mind back around to work. He pressed a different button on his wrist and recorded a message with the time, the date, and the address of the house that had been broken into. Someone at MGV Security would get the information and call the homeowner to make a report.
“Someone” who was not Joe Clarke. MGV Security was a real security firm, but it was also Joe’s cover job. A cover job from which he was technically on vacation for the next two weeks. Owned and operated by Joe’s friend and fellow superhero Mickey Valient, a.k.a. Tick Tock, MGV provided professional security services to all of its clients, but there were also more…discreet…services they provided the city.
A snowball whizzed overhead.
Superhero X turned to look down the sidewalk. Two boys around eight or ten years old stood frozen in their snow suits, mouths gaping. They’d collected what little snow was on their lawn and made a half dozen little snowballs, piled at their feet. X smiled and gave them a little salute. They whooped and jumped up and down. X grinned. He loved his job.
A Double Bay police car pulled up to the curb. Time to finish up work for the day and hightail it over to get his girl.
TORI Lewis felt butterflies square-dancing in her stomach. In a few minutes, she’d be off work to finish planning her wedding — and then she’d be away on her honeymoon. It almost didn’t seem real.
For the last ten years or so, she had lived a quiet, semi-solitary life. Her mother Dixie and older sister Lexie were living proof that women in her family didn’t make good choices when it came to men. Dixie’s marriage to Tori’s biological father had ended so badly that Dixie was still angry about it nearly twenty-five years later, even though her second marriage to Danny Lewis was filled with love and respect. Lexie had finally turned her life around a few years ago and found a “good” man to share it with. Then he broke it off and left when he found out she was pregnant. With those examples always on her mind, Tori had been afraid to chance the heartbreak and disaster she was sure would accompany a profession of love.
Kitty Bucholtz grew up forty miles east of Traverse City, Michigan—a town that is a smaller but surprisingly similar version of Double Bay, Michigan, the setting of this book. As far as she knows, there are no super villains in Traverse City, but they have super pie.
Twitter name is @KittyBucholtz