Authors: Jennifer Estep
A KARMA GIRL CHRISTMAS
An e-story in the
Sexy superheroes. Evil ubervillains.
Smart, sassy gals looking for love.
A KARMA GIRL CHRISTMAS
Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Estep
Copyright © 2007, 2008, and 2011 by Jennifer Estep
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to fictional characters or actual events, locales, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The fictional characters in this story have no relation to any other fictional characters, except those in works by this author.
All rights reserved by the author.
To all the fans of the Bigtime series who wanted more stories, this one’s for you.
A KARMA GIRL CHRISTMAS
“You want me to babysit a bunch of toys?”
“It’s not just a bunch of toys, Carmen,” Henry Harris said. “They’re the toys for Oodles o’ Stuff’s annual Christmas charity drive—the biggest holiday event in Bigtime. Here, I’ll show you.”
Henry leaned forward and started typing away on one of the computer keyboards surrounding his chair, along with three monitors and twice as many servers. He hit a final button on the keyboard, and a film screen dropped down from the ceiling at the opposite end of the room.
We sat at a round table in an enormous library containing every sort of book, magazine, and encyclopedia one could possibly imagine. Volume after volume filled the floor-to-ceiling shelves, while maps dangled from the walls and globes gleamed in the corners of the room. Thick rugs covered most of the floor, giving only a glimpse here and there of the beautiful hardwood that lay underneath. Just strolling through the library, you’d never realize it was located deep underground—and that it had another function besides being a place to relax with a good book.
A second later, images began to flicker on the film screen. I leaned back in my chair and watched the montage, which had been set to a medley of cheery holiday tunes.
The first image revealed a humongous pile of toys. Dolls, stuffed animals, trains, building blocks, basketballs, jump ropes, art supplies—every conceivable kind of toy flashed by on the screen. The next few showed volunteers putting the toys into boxes, wrapping them, and handing them out to kids. After that, there were shots of the kids tearing into the colorful paper, pulling out the toys, and playing with them. And finally, a little girl hugged a doll to her chest, a huge grin on her tiny face, before the screen went black and the music faded away.
“See? Isn’t it heartwarming?”
Henry beamed at me. The light from the monitors made his dark hair and mocha skin take on a faint silver tint, while his glasses gleamed on his face. The monitor’s glow also brought out the white polka dots in the red bow tie he wore over his green-plaid sweater vest. Just looking at him sitting amid all those keyboards, monitors, and wires, you’d probably peg Henry for the computer geek that he was—but you’d never guess that he was also Hermit, a technological whiz of a superhero.
“You want me to babysit a bunch of toys?” I asked again.
Maybe I was being dense, but usually, things were a little more life and death in the superhero business. And that’s what I was these days—a bona fide superhero. I even had a costume and everything.
By day, I was Carmen Cole, a society reporter for
, one of the biggest newspapers in Bigtime, New York. By night, I was Karma Girl, the newest member of the Fearless Five, the city’s most powerful and popular superhero team. The Fearless Five, along with the city’s other superheroes, spent their nights fighting crime and foiling the schemes of the many ubervillains that called Bigtime home.
My being a superhero was more than a little ironic, because not too long ago, I’d used my skills as an investigative reporter to expose the real identities of heroes and villains. But getting dropped into a vat of radioactive goo will change a girl’s perspective on a lot of things—and give her superpowers.
A delicate sniff interrupted my thoughts, and I looked at the woman sitting across the table from me. Fiona Fine was a tall, leggy blonde with long, flowing hair and intense blue eyes, the perfectly gorgeous sort of woman that men tripped over themselves to talk to. The perfectly gorgeous sort of woman that made every other woman around her feel exceptionally dull and plain, including me.
Most folks knew Fiona as one of Bigtime’s premier fashion designers with a flair for bold colors, bright patterns, and dramatic styles. But to me, she was also Fiera, a member of the Fearless Five with incredible strength and the ability to shoot fire out of her fingertips.
Fiona had just returned from an evening patrol of the city, and her orange-red spandex Fiera outfit left little to the imagination, although she’d taken off her flame-shaped mask, because it was just us superheroes here in the library. Sexy fashion designer or sultry superhero—I never could decide which persona fit her better.
“It’s not just toys,” Fiona said. “
happen to have donated some fabulous children’s clothes for the charity drive. Some of my best designs done in a variety of spectacular colors and hip styles. Bella donated a bunch of stuff too. Of course,
decided to give the kids coats, boots, and winter gloves, instead of great sweaters and jeans like I did. But we all know how practical she is that way.”
The Bella she was talking about was Bella Bulluci, another Bigtime fashion designer and the sister to Fiona’s fiancé, Johnny Bulluci. Fiona liked Bella, but she just couldn’t understand why the other designer seemed to prefer a muted, black-and-white color palette over Fiona’s more flamboyant fashion choices.
Fiona sniffed again, then reached down and picked up a triple bacon cheeseburger—the fifth one she’d eaten since entering the library an hour ago. That wasn’t all that Fiona had inhaled. She’d also polished off three bags of onion rings, a tub of fries, and five cherry pies, along with the two peppermint milkshakes she’d used to wash it all down. It looked like she’d stolen all the burgers and fries from some fast-food restaurant and had decided to eat all of the evidence, leaving nothing behind but empty wrappers, flattened ketchup packets, and crumpled napkins.
Fiona’s fiery superpowers made her metabolism burn at an incredible rate, meaning she could eat whatever she wanted to, whenever she wanted to—and never gain an ounce. Really, Fiona had to constantly eat to keep up her strength; I still envied her more than a little for that particular superpower. I could have put a hurt on some milkshakes myself, if they wouldn’t go straight to my hips.
Sighing, I looked at the man sitting beside Fiona. He had the same blue eyes that she did and a kind, middle-aged face.
“And let me guess,” I said. “The Bigtime Police Department is involved in the toy drive as well.”
“That’s right, Carmen,” Chief Sean Newman, aka Mr. Sage, said in his Irish brogue. “The police department chipped in a nice sum of money to help buy toys, clothes, food, and even some school supplies to benefit needy kids and their families.”
“I get what a great cause it is, but I still don’t understand where I fit into all this,” I said.
“The owners of Oodles o’ Stuff ask the Fearless Five to safeguard the toys every year,” another male voice cut in.
My gaze went to the fifth and final person sitting at the table, a gorgeous man with black hair and the most beautiful gray eyes I’d ever seen. Sam Sloane, aka Striker, the leader of the Fearless Five—and my husband.
Sam’s eyes softened as he looked at me, and I knew I had the same sort of dreamy expression on my face. We’d been through so much together, and I still couldn’t believe how much I loved Sam—and was even more amazed that he loved me just as much in return.
Fiona noticed us gazing at each other and snorted. “Oh, give it a rest, you two. You’ve been married for
now. It is definitely time to get over the honeymoon phase. Or at least stop doing it where anyone can walk in on you. I so do not need to see Sam’s naked ass again.”
Sam winked at me, and a hot blush spread across my cheeks as I remembered exactly what we’d been doing when Fiona found us in the upstairs living room last week. Heat filled Sam’s eyes, making them gleam bright silver, and I knew he was thinking what a shame it was that she’d interrupted us.
Henry cleared his throat. “Anyway, it’s only three days until Christmas, which means all the toys and other donations have come in and are on display inside Oodles for everyone to see. Every year, we take turns watching over the toys on Christmas Eve to make sure that everything’s there when the kids and their parents come to the store on Christmas morning to get their presents.”
Fiona stuffed the last bite of cheeseburger into her mouth, then balled up the empty wrapper with one hand. A second later, her fist erupted into flames, and the paper disintegrated into ash. Fiona dusted off her hands, then pointed her finger at me.
“And since you’re the rookie superhero on the team, you get to guard the toys this year,” she said. “Especially since I covered for Sam last year when he wanted to spend the night with you instead of doing his job.”
Sam shrugged and gave me a guilty, slightly sheepish look.
“I’m not a rookie,” I muttered. “I’ve been a member of the Fearless Five for more than a year now. Besides, do we really need to do this? Because stealing toys from a bunch of needy kids would be pretty low, even by ubervillain standards.”
The other superheroes just looked at me.
Right. Dumb question. There was nothing that ubervillains wouldn’t do, and the more outrageous and over-the-top their scheme was, the more maniacal pleasure they derived from it. Ubervillains were exceptionally creative, in an ultimate evil, city-leveling, world-domination sort of way.
My eyes dropped to the
insignia carved into the wooden table. The overhead lights made the symbol gleam with a soft golden glow, until it almost seemed like an eye staring steadily at me, reminding me that I’d decided to become a superhero to serve the greater good and make up for my past mistakes. Even if the job wasn’t always fun or glamorous.
I sighed again. “All right, all right. I guess toy patrol is a job for Karma Girl after all.”
Fiona gave me an evil grin. “You’d better believe it, rookie.”
Our evening briefing over, Fiona, Henry, and the chief headed back into the city to their apartments for the night, while Sam and I turned off the lights and closed the doors to the underground library that served as the Fearless Five’s supersecret headquarters. Then, we rode the hidden elevator up to the wine cellar and went into the part of the house that was aboveground—if you could call Sublime a mere
Sam’s mansion on the outskirts of Bigtime looked more like a museum than a place where someone actually lived. Paintings, sculptures, suits of armor, and other art objects could be found in every room, along with antique furniture in a variety of styles. Gilded mirrors hung on the walls, all the better to reflect back the soft white light cast out by the glittering crystal chandeliers high overhead.
I’d been living here ever since Sam and I had gotten married back in May, and I just couldn’t quite get used to all the grandeur. Every day, I found something new to take my breath away, and I still wasn’t comfortable sitting on most of the furniture, no matter how many times Sam told me that’s what it’s there for.
Sam and I ate a quick dinner of five-cheese lasagna, garlic bread sticks, and a garden salad we’d had delivered from Quicke’s restaurant, then went upstairs to our bedroom.
I lay on the king-size bed and watched Sam carry his suitcase out from one of the closets. We each had our own walk-in closet, but the clothes inside couldn’t have been more different. Sam was all about his business suits, while I went for faded comfort with my jeans and T-shirts.
Sam put the suitcase on a settee at the foot of the bed, then went back into the closet and started carrying out shirts, socks, ties, and everything else he would need for his trip.
“I wish you weren’t traveling so close to Christmas,” I said.
“Me too,” Sam said. “But it can’t be helped. I want to get the merger done before everything shuts down for the holidays.”
In addition to being a superhero, Sam happened to be one of the richest men in Bigtime, with business interests all over the world. One of his London-based companies was in the process of taking over another, smaller company, and Sam needed to be on hand to make sure the deal went through without a hitch.