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Vada's To-Do List:
- Turn 18 (check!)
- Register super name
- Order supersuit
- Attend superhero indoctrination
- Graduate high school
- Start kicking criminal tail
Vada Lawson can't wait to be a superhero. Born into a family with special powers, she's been training to fight criminals and villains her whole life. But her indoctrination into the underground super community is derailed when normals start breaking out in superpowers themselves.
Not trained to control their new abilities, the normals are frightened and vulnerable. Then their mutilated corpses begin turning up all over town. What the heck?
Somehow, with the help-and hindrance-of an annoying newly-minted super named Orion, Vada has to stop the chaos before it destroys her and everything she holds dear...and ruins her superhero debut.
|Publisher:||Limitless Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Early morning light poured into the bedroom when Vada opened her eyes. The first thing her gaze fell on was the One Direction poster that hung on the opposite wall. She had meant to take it down for months now but just couldn't bring herself to do it. Sure, the music group was no longer together, but even a superhero could cross her fingers and wish for the best, right?
The moment she began to stretch her legs, she heard a slight noise coming from the corner of her room. She froze in place and darted her eyes to the area in question. It was empty. The only thing there was her bookshelf, filled to maximum capacity, and her computer desk with the chair neatly tucked under it. Everything looked as it should be.
But Vada knew better. She might not have the ability to read minds or see heat signatures like some other supers, but she could tell when her younger brother was attempting to scare her. You could call it a hunch or just years of practice. And she knew just what to do about it too.
Without moving anything other than her eyes, Vada focused her power on the clothes hamper beside the door. All it took was a single thought and in one swift movement, the hamper rose into the air and flipped upside down. Dirty shirts, pants, and socks tumbled toward the floor, but some of the clothes stopped halfway down as they rested on the invisible figure standing there.
"Vada!" Garret whined as he materialized and found a pair of his sister's shorts hanging over his face. "You cheated somehow! I didn't make any noise this time."
"Nice try, buddy." She smiled and slid out of bed, dodging the shorts that her brother threw in her direction. "What have I said about coming into my room?"
Garret's cheeks and ears turned red. He looked at the floor and shuffled his feet as he murmured, "Don't come in your room unless the house is on fire or I'm being abducted ..."
"That's right. And is the house on fire?"
"Are you being abducted?" she asked, while slipping a blue fitted t-shirt over her head.
"Not right this minute, but —"
"Then why are you —"
Vada stopped when she heard her name being called from downstairs. Her mother must be home, which was strange considering both of her parents usually left for work long before Vada's alarm clock, or brother, ever woke her.
"It's Friday. Why is Mom home?"
Garret just grinned and turned toward the door. Vada changed into a pair of jeans and started to follow, but paused in the doorway and turned back to the mess she was about to leave behind. She called her power and used her mind to quickly pick up the scattered clothes, returning them to the hamper.
Once everything was back in order, she strolled out of the room and down the stairs of their family's two-story suburban home. From the outside, you'd never know that a family of supers lived in these walls. Even most of the inside was unsuspecting to anyone without a trained eye.
Garret had just taken a seat at the kitchen table when Vada rounded the corner and stopped in her tracks. Her parents, dressed in business suits that they wore on the commute each morning, looked up and smiled at her. Both of her parents were home? Why?
Then Vada noticed the cake on the table, frosted in white with colorful balloons and sprinkles piped on it. It answered her question and put a smile on her face. They'd stayed because it was her birthday, something even a super couldn't get out of celebrating.
Sure, she was happy to turn eighteen, but not for the reasons most teenagers were. It hadn't even crossed her mind that they might get her a cake because that was such a typical thing for a normal family to do. Her family wasn't exactly normal.
"There she is!"
Michelle Lawson, a.k.a. Comet, hurried around the kitchen island, short heels clicking on the tile floor. She ignored her perfectly pressed jacket and scooped her daughter into a tight hug that left Vada's feet hovering above the ground. It might be hard to believe that her mother didn't have super strength from this show of affection. But Michelle's focus power was actually flying. And she was really good at it too.
Her husband, however, did have super strength. William Lawson, known in the super world as Siege and most others as Bill, stepped forward next. Vada's feet had barely hit the floor when her father lifted her for a hug while squeezing her a little too hard.
"Dad!" Vada wheezed and chuckled when he dropped her like a sack of potatoes.
"Oh, sorry," Bill said, laughing. "I just can't believe our little muffin is no longer a baby."
"When are you going to stop calling her that? She's an adult now. Isn't that right?" Michelle flashed her daughter a smile and a wink, then turned toward the table to pick up the cake.
Vada started to answer, but words slipped from her mind when she saw the frosting inscription. Happy Birthday, Majestic. Vada's chosen superhero name. She'd taken the name from her favorite all-girl rock band from long ago, but it also reminded her of the fantasy books she liked to read. There was just something whimsical about the word. It was a little fanciful and a little quirky. Just like her.
"Aww! You used my super name!"
"We thought it was fitting since you can now use the name yourself." Bill leaned forward and kissed Vada's forehead. "Your mother and I will register it in the system as soon as we get to work."
Vada ignored the snorting laugh that came from Garret while he zipped up his backpack at the table. He liked to tease her about her name, but she knew that her brother was just as anxious to pick his own super name. That wouldn't happen for another seven years, because he was only eleven.
Choosing a name for your super identity was something that most supers reflected on from the moment they learned what they were. And most powers manifested before a super's fifth birthday, so there was plenty of time to brainstorm and eliminate names before their eighteenth birthday arrived.
A hero or villain's name wasn't just a second identity, it was the title that would be attached to all of a super's accomplishments — and failures — until they drew their last breath. It would become a part of history of the supernaturals and live on for eternity.
Of course, normals — people with no superhuman powers — would never know half of what happened in their own world. Supers would make headlines several times each year, but the majority of fighting happened behind the scenes, unbeknownst to most normals. They simply lived in their little bubbles and only cared about the battles between supers when it affected them directly.
Luckily for them, there was a worldwide organization dedicated to preventing super occurrences from spilling over into the public and causing mass chaos. The S.U.C., Superheroes UnderCover, monitored the comings and goings of villains and heroes, limited the exposure to the public, and cleaned up the harrowing messes left behind.
Bill and Michelle Lawson worked for the S.U.C. as Defenders, active supers who battled criminals of all shapes and sizes. That included offenders without superhuman powers and villains who did possess menacing abilities.
"We've got to get going," Michelle said, glancing down at her watch. "Crime doesn't sleep when the sun comes up, you know."
Vada used her power to lift and float her mother's briefcase across the room and right into the waiting woman's arms.
"Thank you, pudding," Michelle said before turning toward the door.
"And you lectured me for calling her muffin," Bill murmured. He ruffled Garret's hair as he passed and followed his wife out of the house.
"Need a ride?" Vada finished off her brother's orange juice and carried it to the sink.
"With you and Red Hen?" Garret scoffed. "No, thanks. I'll walk."
Garret had called Henley, Vada's best friend, that pet name for months now. Henley had stayed over and caught Garret playing on her phone, draining the battery. She'd gotten angry and her face turned red as an apple. Garret penned her as the Red Hen and had enjoyed pestering her ever since, clucking every time he walked by her. So it was probably for the best that he walk or hitch a ride with someone else. His school was only two blocks down the street, anyway.
"See ya!" Garret chirped, slamming the door behind him.
The house was silent while Vada cleared the table. She gathered her jacket and phone, placing them by the door. Then just like every morning, she grabbed a frosted honey bun from the pantry and scarfed it down while waiting for her ride to pick her up. The sweet and gooey goodness made her moan out loud.
Sugar was Vada's weakness, in the guilty pleasure sense. Well, one of them. She also had a thing for cheesy action films, motorcycles, and gummy bears. All together? They were like Vada's own kryptonite, if that were a real thing instead of comic book lore.
She'd just polished off her honey bun when a car horn sounded. She grabbed her stuff, locked the door behind her, and bounced down the porch steps.
"Hey!" Henley Abernathy leaned across the center console of her green four-door Nissan and shouted out of the passenger window. "I need to stop for gas, so we gotta go!" "You're always running on empty."
"Yeah well, I had to wait until my Dad stopped by to drop off my allowance."
Vada rolled her eyes as she slid into the car and closed the door. "You mean your second allowance?" "Whatever."
Henley's parents were in the middle of a pretty awful divorce, and their idea of helping their daughter cope with the separation of their family was to bribe her with lavish gifts and cash. Henley even quit her weekend job at a burger joint because she no longer needed the spending money. Though, she would have more of it if she stopped spending every penny on new purses. It was her current obsession. She always seemed to have one.
They made small talk on the short drive to school, discussing gossip and graduation. When they pulled into the busy parking lot, Vada hopped out and leaned on the door while she applied a fresh layer of lip gloss and waited for Henley to get out.
"Do you like this dress?"
Henley spun around to show off the turquoise sheath that was a little too short for school. She would likely get sent home for wearing it. But Vada didn't dare say what she really thought. This was just another of Henley's antics of late. The girl was always trying to push the boundaries. Vada loved her rambunctious friend, but had noticed Henley's behavior had become more outrageous since her parents announced their divorce.
"It looks nice. I like that color on you," Vada replied, guessing that it was a safe response.
"Ugh ... I don't want nice. I want hot. Smoking hot. Hot enough to melt loverboy's gorgeous face off!"
Vada chuckled, then noticed the familiar black jeep pulling into the lot. She nodded toward it. "Speaking of loverboy ..."
They both turned and watched the jeep stop in its spot with a lurch. The door opened and a blond-headed teen jumped out wearing dark jeans and a bright white t-shirt. He slammed the door behind him just before he was surrounded by several of his fellow teammates. They slapped hands and backs in an informal male greeting while laughing about something Vada and Henley couldn't hear from this distance.
Nicholas Grayson was a force to be reckoned with. Or admired, in Henley's case. His father was Cyper City's elected district attorney for the third time running, and his mother had been a well-liked singer before her untimely death several years ago. Nick excelled in sports, nearly every one of them, and with his athleticism came automatic popularity.
His charm and family name were only two of the reasons Nick Grayson was destined for greatness, however. His tall, trim frame was not that of your average lanky teenage boy. He was an avid kickboxer, according to rumors, and his toned arms and chest definitely supported that piece of gossip. To add to his devastatingly ridiculous handsomeness, Nick had inherited his mother's bright blue eyes and thick golden blonde hair. He was almost too damn pretty to be a boy.
Unfortunately for Henley, Nick wasn't available for the taking. His girlfriend of two years, Scarlet Linux, was just as prominent on the social ladder. She was the daughter of a former Miss Cyper City and destined to attain the title herself, according to her.
But whereas Nick had a mostly pleasant personality, Scarlet was a viper in heels.
Vada had experienced the snake's fangs when she stole Winter Princess right out from under Scarlet's grasp at the eighth-grade winter dance. Sure, it had been a meaningless title, and years had passed since that night, but Scarlet's hatred for her had only grown throughout their high school years. These days, Vada had more important things to worry about than a ridiculous feud with a poisonous teenage girl.
Think of the devil and she may appear, Vada mused.
Scarlet flaunted over to Nick in a tight red dress that gave Henley's own a run for her money on the inappropriate-for-school scale. Vada wondered which of them would get called to the principal's office first. She was just about to make a snarky comment about Scarlet constantly wearing her namesake color when suddenly the girl looked their way. And the moment Scarlet caught sight of Henley and Vada's glares, she flung her arms around her boyfriend and pulled his head down into a kiss that was much too heated for a high school parking lot.
The first bell rang at that moment, reminding them as to why they were there in the first place, and it wasn't to watch a couple making out between cars.
"I swear to you," Henley growled, "I will save Nick from that witch's clutches."
"If you say so."
"I will. Mark my words. I will steal him away from her before graduation."
Vada was doubtful that anything, or anyone, could come between the royal couple of Guillotine High School. Yes, the school was unfortunately named after the ancient execution device. But at least they no longer had a dark-hooded executioner as their mascot anymore. It had been changed to the much tamer, yet boring, Wildcats.
Instead of starting a discussion they didn't have time for, Vada just shrugged and headed off toward her first class.
By the time second period came around, Vada was ready for lunch. Math was, by far, her least favorite class. She knew the basics and scraped by on the rest, but didn't see the point in doing all of the extra work that a calculator could do for her.
Besides, she didn't expect to need this particular skill in her future day job. Catching criminals wouldn't require stopping to figure out what "x" means. Now, teaching her how to read a police report? That could come in handy. Alas, it wasn't part of the curriculum. She forced herself to pay attention as Mr. Matthews droned on and on about something she had already forgotten about.
When the clock struck 10:30 a.m., Vada rose from her seat and politely asked to go to the restroom. Mr. Matthews barely acknowledged her, gesturing to the hall pass on the wall. She grabbed it and practically flew out of the room.
She passed by the bathrooms and instead slipped into the janitor's closet.
"There you are."
Vada gently closed the door and turned to see Jameson. He was wearing his usual jeans and tee with a video game or cartoon on it. James' dark brown skin made him almost disappear into the darkness of the closet until he switched on the light from his phone. That's when Vada saw that today's shirt was black with an Assassin's Creed logo in the center. It was a new shirt too, which didn't surprise her.
He was a gamer in every sense of the word. He even had several of his games signed by their designers and had been a beta gamer for most of them. All of his t-shirts were either gifted to him by gaming companies or won online in some sort of player's tournament. Vada sometimes had serious envy of the free swag that he received.
"Sorry," she replied. "I had to wait for Ms. Bell to walk down the hallway so she didn't see me. So what's our status?"
James lifted his arm and flicked his watch into action. He was a supertech, able to do amazing things with nearly every piece of technology he touched. His superpower, like Vada's, was hidden when in his normal identity or around others who weren't supers. Sure, people knew he was a wiz at computers. But what they didn't know was that he could actually create his own tech gadgets from scratch and infuse them with super abilities.
Because of his skills and longtime friendship with Vada, he had become her personal tech agent. Of course, this was entirely off the books, since neither of them actually worked for the S.U.C. James couldn't even officially register as her agent.
Until today ...
James jerked his head up. "Oh, yeah. Happy Name Day!"
Excerpted from "Masked"
Copyright © 2017 J.D. Wright.
Excerpted by permission of Limitless Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite Masked by J.D. Wright is the first book in the Superheroes Undercover series. Vada is finally eighteen, which means she can register her superhero name, order her suit, and begin working as an actual superhero. She's been trained since birth to be super, to follow in both of her parents' famous hero shoes. She has everything she needs: her own agent and her first target. Her superhero debut is derailed when a new superhero called Orion starts to show up wherever she goes. When normals – people without superpowers – develop powers and show up dead, Vada must turn to new heroes to form her own team that unfortunately includes the annoying Orion. Vada is strong-willed, independent, and snarky, everything you could want in a hero. All she's ever dreamed of is following in her parents' footsteps and embarking on her own destiny as Majestic. She's an ordinary girl in a modern world, but she's also this powerful and strong hero. So while she does follow her parents' rules, she's also able to fully defend herself and save others. Orion is a snarky and pesky new hero that, when paired with Vada, maintains a witty banter and a fun romantic comedy vibe. He has an important role in the story and he flips the stereotype of the popular guy by showing that he's grounded and geared toward being a hero. Vada has a fun journey as she finally gets to have her solo hero career with just her agent/best friend guiding her, and then she gets thrown into a team. She must learn to work with and trust Orion and heroes Gypsy and Vortex. I'm excited to see more of Vada's superhero teammates when her adventures continue, along with more scenes of her agent, James, and her brother, Josh. There are so many characters that you will completely love and will be anxiously waiting to know more about them. The primary villains are classic supervillain types with their eccentricities and slightly flamboyant personalities, but they're also as grounded as the heroes and fit perfectly into this world. These may be superpowered people, but they're also human beings and J.D. Wright does a fantastic job of showing their humanity. A fun romp through a superhero world, Masked is an all-round good time that's fast paced, addictive, and action-packed.