THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “AMERICAN ANGER,” BY H.L. HIX AND “CHILDREN OF HAMELIN,” BY DAWN SINCLAIR, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHORS PAGE.
PUBLISHED IN: 2017
THE AUTHOR: Tara Lynn Thompson
THE PUBLISHER: CreateSpace
SUMMARY: Samantha Addison is embarking on a night that, if she lives through it, will change how she views everything about herself and everything about the man she loves.
In the first installment of The Another Series, Not Another Superhero, we meet Samantha at the beginning of a hair-raising week of near misses. People were out to kill her and she had no idea why. During it all, a man in a black-hood kept stepping in to change her fate. Now, a month later in Just Another Sidekick, Samantha is still in pursuit of answers and kismet, it seems, is in pursuit of her. She’s having a night that just won’t end and, around every corner, is another natural or strange event trying to end her life. Now, instead of people out to kill her, it seems Mother Nature has taken over. What is happening and, more importantly, how will she survive?
More than anything, Samantha wants one question answered: can she trust the man she previously knew only as black-hood guy? As the strange, death-defying experiences continue mounting, so does the evidence against him. Who she thought she could trust with her whole heart, she’s now uncertain if she can even trust with her life.
There are answers to be found, but they are all waiting on the other side of the biggest risk of all. What’s coming will test the quirky friends she meets on this adventure, while also testing her to the very point of death.
Can she trust the man who has won her heart? Before the night ends, she’ll know the answer. And it may be more than her heart can stand.
THE BACK STORY: Just Another Sidekick, the second in the series, dives into the struggle to let go and trust. Not just others, but also ourselves. To follow our weaknesses, our doubts, and our hopes without trepidation. To give our-selves, as well as those on this journey with us, a kind of mercy for when we or they stumble.
This all fits into the overall framework of the trilogy, which is really a funny, sarcastic, and adventurous romp into the very essence of love. What it really is, the joys but tests. And how it requires so much more from us and out of us than what we usually realize.
What is love ultimately? It’s sacrificial. While also being beautiful and life giving and, wow, taking us for a wild ride.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title, Just Another Sidekick, deals with the inner-struggle of the heroine, Samantha Addison. She was physically hurt during a tragic event seven years earlier. When her body never completely healed and left her with physical limitations, it caused her to start living her life from the shadows. Instead of taking the lead, she chose to be as invisible as possible.
Now, with simply surviving taking every once of strength, intellect, and wit she’s got, Samantha is being pushed out of her self-imposed limitations and back into living. She’s got to decide whether she’s strong enough to live as – and/or with – the hero of her story, or be just another sidekick.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I grew up in the 80s, a time when entertainment was truly just for the pure pleasure of the adventure. Well, a lot of it, anyway.
There wasn’t any political points to be made, no underlying social issues to address, no push for a certain ideology, and, mostly, never seeking the element of shock simply for shock’s sake. Entertainment wasn’t heavy and burdensome. It was enjoyable. Characters weren’t dark, they were charming. Humor was actually funny, not just crass. Romance was more about the joys of falling in love and the electrical charge of the chemistry than about only sex or sexual attraction. There was heart in it.
Getting into an adventure was actually an escape. You got to relax, unplug, and enjoy the experience of los-ing yourself in the story.
That’s what I write. It’s an escape. It’s fun, but not shallow. It’s sarcastic, but not mean-spirited. It’s roman-tic, but not salacious. It’s for pure pleasure. Entertainment should not be attached to regret or cynicism.
We’ll get enough of that in life all without any extracurricular help from us. Instead, entertainment should be a safe place where you can be thrilled and enchanted with your whole heart open.
If you love a fast-paced story, lots of twists and turns, an adventure that keeps you guessing, a world where more than the impossible can happen, and characters that come alive with their quirks and dialogue, along with a story that will bring introspection and hope, then you’ll love Not Another Superhero and Just An-other Sidekick, the first two books in The Another Series.
Fun, exciting intriguing can’t put it down novel
Just Another Sidekick gets 5 stars, hands down! Fun, exciting intriguing can’t put it down novel! Samantha is someone you can relate to and her humor is laugh out loud funny!!!! The book doesn’t miss a beat as a fol-low up to Not Another Superhero. If you haven’t read either one, get both because you will want to pick up Sidekick IMMEDIATELY after reading Superhero. The 3rd book can not get here fast enough! Love, love this author!!!
Scary and laugh out loud at the same time.
I absolutely could NOT stop! Be prepared to read “Just Another Sidekick” by Tara Lynn Thompson straight through!
From the first clap of thunder, from the rain storm, I was hooked and submerged, like a fish who had been caught. I kept being pulled in. No matter if I needed to stop, I had to read just one more page!
Samantha Addison is still alive from the first book “Just Another Superhero.” I have no idea how, after so many hits on her life.
“Just Another Sidekick” begins with Samantha in a rain storm, and being saved from a monsoon by a sup-posed bystander. The book gradually becomes more mysterious and scary. The only time I came up for air was through Samantha’s smart and witty humor, and occasional romance! As for romance, Jackson Christy, keeps me intrigued and guessing. What is he? Who is he? I know he has an interest in Samantha, but is it love or something else? Is he out to hurt her? As the night progresses and Samantha faces many challenges, she begins to question a lot of things, not only about others, but about herself, and the power she has.
Tara Lynn kept me guessing! I don’t normally read fiction, but I absolutely could not stop. And I never would of believed there could be a book that scared me, and made me laugh out loud at the same time. This is an extraordinary book. I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WAIT for the next one!
Thank you for the GREAT read!
I cannot wait for the next one!
AUTHOR PROFILE: Fiction has long been considered a passageway out. Out of wherever we are or whoever we are or whatever we know. We turn the page, turn the knob, and a private world beckons us to, ‘Come on in. Watch your step. This is nothing like what you expected.’
In my youth, I found one of those worlds in the back of my hometown library. It was a low-level rack shoved against a support beam and hidden behind a bookshelf. It’s possible that Emilie Lording collection had been sitting there – hot off the press – since 1942.
There was nothing about the covers that drew me. They were faded and dulled and the style outdated. They were also about history I wasn’t yet familiar with, a time I knew nothing about, and an area of the country I’d never even seen.
I devoured every one of them. Twice.
This was a world that fascinated, yet puzzled me. What was the difference between a roadster and a car? Between a frock and a dress? Were there really that many independent, single women in America becom-ing wealthy heiresses from unknown, dead relatives?
What a world!
What I eventually came to understand was that fiction didn’t take me out of my world, it brought other worlds into mine. It challenged me to look beyond the story I lived, the only story I knew, and imagine the story of possibilities.
That’s how Samantha Addison and her journey, which starts in Not Another Superhero, came to me. She was a person who challenged me to think beyond the stereotype of a strong heroine. Who says vulnerability doesn’t take strength? Can you have unwavering self-worth but also struggle with self-doubt? Can you be broken by life, but still have your hope and heart redeemed? Mostly, can sarcasm be more funny than it is caustic? And can you use it a lot? Like, a whole lot?
In Not Another Superhero, we meet Samantha in a world of funny banter that isn’t naive but may be ridicu-lously hopeful. It’s a place real enough to believe but delightful enough to daydream about. It’s a world that will accept you, welcome you, and tell you to take off your shoes, but, seriously, still watch where you step. As she continues her journey in Just Another Sidekick, we’re again challenged to question but hope, chal-lenge but embrace.
In the end, I hope that Samantha brings you laughter and questions, that she baffles and sometimes even annoys you, but that you still relate to her. I hope you invite her world back into yours. And that the two of you sit down and figure out the difference between a roadster and a car. Because, seriously, I still don’t know.
When you’re on a date with destiny, never order the gumbo.
Stay limber. Stay light. Eat for mobility. You never know where destiny will take you. It’s best to stick with lean meats and healthy fats. Toss in a few carbs for energy. And never, I mean never, eat sausage.
“This could get bad.”
Water splintered through the cracks of my Jeep’s driver’s side door. Cold floodwater crept up to flirt with my ankles in a noncommittal kind of way. I gripped the steering wheel, released it, and gripped it again,
working the rubbery coating like a stress ball. Turning it was pointless since I wasn’t going anywhere, so I squeezed it to death.
“Badder, I mean.”
Outside, rushing waves bullied forward like water with somewhere better to be. Rain slid down the Jeep win-dows, pinged against the hood, and slithered across the darkened road. Splashes from the collecting flood-water slapped the glass to let me know they would find a way in somehow.
I couldn’t hide in here forever. I had to escape my vehicle before I drowned inside it. But if I did escape, I would likely drown outside it. My Jeep and I were in over our heads. Or would be soon if the water kept rising. Fate or Mother Nature or just dumb luck had us submerged in a flood near Seventy-Eighth Street off Saint Louis Avenue. And fate or Mother Nature or just dumb luck meant at least one of us would remain here.
I told myself I could survive this, but I didn’t believe me. I can always tell when I’m lying.
“Just so not good.” I pulled my sopping feet out of the water and into my seat. “And cold. So bad and so cold.”
Talking to myself wasn’t getting me anywhere, but someone had to say something.
“I should have listened to Sarah and stayed at the restaurant.”
Earlier in the evening, my sister-in-law, Sarah, and I had been happily spending our Friday night overeating at Marty’s Gras, a Cajun restaurant on the east side of town that boasts strong drinks and a bottomless-gumbo special. She had escaped my brother’s “guy night” happening around their eighty-five-inch home theater by stocking the fridge with chips and beer and fleeing.
When the rain hit somewhere between our second and third bowl of gumbo, Sarah suggested leaving the restaurant to get ahead of the storm. But those bowls kept refilling themselves. No one knew how.
“There’s no better way to eat okra,” Sarah said during dinner, while digging into her gumbo and unaware a piece of corn dangled off her chin. I didn’t tell her about it to amuse myself.
“Except fried.” I wiped at my chin in case she was doing the same.
“There’s no better way to eat sausage, either.”
Neither of us realized the deluge on the way. We’re native Oklahomans, the descendants of hearty pio-neers, the legacy of trailblazers, the lineage of people who either survived on their own or died when the weather took them out.
Mother Nature knows this about Oklahomans. This is why she has to put on the dog to get our attention.
Instead of watching the radar on our cell phones and making our ancestors proud, we dived into the rau-cous Louisiana atmosphere inside Marty’s and joined a table of AARP members on the dance floor.
They bopped and boogied to the accordion, violin, and mandolin Cajun sounds, showing my generation how to seize the moment without obsessively posting everything on social media. While they twirled under a stuffed alligator, I snapped their pictures and uploaded them to Instagram.
Meanwhile, Harold, the owner, flitted his meaty middle from table to table like a bee pollinating his glutton-ous garden. He spoke to everyone as if we were all part of the same conversation, one he had started with-out anyone knowing why or when or what we were talking about. His nimble hands, weathered and dark skinned, tossed a white cloth over one shoulder with the same effortlessness he wore his appeal. For most of the night, Harold walked the tables passing out free samples of concoctions he mixed at the bar or fried in the back. When he offered anything, you did not question what it was. You ate it or drank it and were grateful. Which means, at some point tonight, I’m fairly certain I consumed pig intestines.
Fluttering around Harold were his waitstaff, whom I called “water fairies” because of their intense job of keeping us all hydrated. Marty’s air conditioner is subpar, making the atmosphere authentically humid and as clingy as a moist towelette. Add dancing, and you had a room of gluttons effectively being steamed.
I stuck with water, since I was driving. Sarah, on the other hand, knows about Marty’s reputation for having the best mint juleps in town, and she’s a big supporter of local talent.
After the first hour, Harold switched the tunes to 1960s classics, and the dance floor filled with tipsy baby boomers. They sang along to “Age of Aquarius,” time warping the restaurant back to 1969. If I walked out-side and looked up, I was certain Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins would be waving from Apollo 11 on their way to the moon.
I didn’t blame the gumbo for my current mess, but when you threw in unlimited refills, blame got tricky. It kept us at Marty’s past a reasonable window of escape. Sarah and I didn’t drag ourselves out of there for nearly three hours, plenty of time to eat our weight in pulled pork and for the clouds to form a battle plan.
When we did leave, we left under hazardous conditions.
The rain didn’t fall. Or cascade. It neither drizzled nor sprinkled. The sound didn’t patter or rhythmically pour. It wouldn’t rock a baby to sleep or inspire cuddles on the couch. This rain howled. It screamed. It dropped to the parking lot outside Marty’s like a military strike.
“Maybe we shouldn’t try it.” Sarah fought her raincoat sash while we both stood under the restaurant awn-ing.
I surveyed the enemy territory. Marty’s inhabited a sliver of a shopping center space jammed in beside an optometrist office. Next door, three rows of eyeglasses in the window display followed our moves with their empty sockets. Beyond the optometrist, we had a solid parking lot to traverse before reaching my Jeep. While we worked up our courage, a young couple leaving Marty’s breezed right past us and into the battle zone. Sadly, they didn’t make it.
“We either go home or go back in.” I nodded toward the “Age of Aquarius” sing-along happening inside. “Can you survive another hour of the sixties?”
Sarah defeatedly looked back. “I can’t say no to Harold. And I can’t get fat right now. I’m dieting.”
“I could tell.” I snapped open my red umbrella, and the metal frame cupped backward into a tulip shape.
“That’s a crap umbrella. It should be bent the other way.”
I twisted at the frame, bending it back. “Thanks, Sarah.” I strained against the metal until one spoke snapped off. “That clears up a lot of confusion for me.”
“I’m just saying.”
With the umbrella back online, I reached over and tugged the strings on her hood. She was too intoxicated to fight me off.
“Mark texted. Said we shouldn’t be driving in this.” She stood still while I tied the hood around her face un-til only her eyes and mouth could be seen. The string knot rested on her chin. “That feels a little tight.”
“It’ll keep the rain out.” And amuse me. “We’ll be fine. Your sister-in-law is an incredible driver in severe weather.”
Sarah looked worried. “I think Mark makes a valid point.”
“He thinks you take unnecessary risks.”
“Maybe if we wait just a little…”
I had no intention of doing anything my brother wanted, so I shoved her into the rain. “Run for it! I’m right behind you.”
Drenched but back in my Jeep, we headed southeast toward calmer skies and Sarah’s house. The drive was calm, quiet, and relaxing, as all are with Sarah after she’s been drinking.
Once on the road, Sarah pounced. “Why won’t you tell me what happened?”
She’d waited all night to ask me about a certain gentleman in my life. Now was her last opportunity and, flood or no flood, she wasn’t going to waste it.
I kept my eyes on the road. “Nothing”—much—“happened.”
“I don’t believe you.” Sarah’s head moved left, right, left, right to the same rhythm of the windshield wipers. “Do you see that vehicle?”
“The one directly in front of me with their lights on? Yeah, I think I can see that.”
Bourbon never agreed with Sarah’s nerves or IQ. She returned to the questioning while scrubbing at the windshield with her finger, trying to decide which side the rain fell. Give it a minute. She nearly had it. “I don’t get it. I saw you guys dancing at the Durant Ball.”
I took a deep breath as silently as possible. “I know you did.”
“You were blushing.”
One more breath should do it. “I know I was.”
“Something happened that night. Or since that night. I know it. You haven’t mentioned his name since. Not once. And when I bring him up, you change the subject.”
“No I don’t. By the way, when did you start dieting?”
“It’s been a month since the Durant Ball. Have you seen him?”
“Overruled. Calls for speculation.”
“Have you kissed him yet?”
“Badgering the witness.”
Sarah huffed. “I can’t tell if you’re refusing to answer because you have or you haven’t. Just don’t do that avoidance thing you do where you run from anyone who gets close.”
As our progress slowed, I turned down the wiper blades to let Sarah’s head catch up.
“I’m not avoiding him.”
She leaned in closer to the windshield. “Look out! We’re approaching an intersection!”
I could take only so much of her anxiety. “What? An intersection!” I jerked the steering wheel enough to make the Jeep shimmy. “What do I do now? What could that red light possibly mean?”
Sarah yanked her seat belt strap tighter as I slowed to a complete and full stop. “I thought you and Jackson were friends.”
“We are friends.” We’re two people who know secrets about each other, which is a mutually assured de-struction kind of friendship.
“That night at the ball and the week we stayed at his house, you two were becoming more than friends. You won’t convince me otherwise.”
“I just agreed with you.” I cleared my throat to buy myself a moment. “We’re friends.”
“If after a month that’s all you still are, it has to be your fault, because I’ve seen the way he looks at you.” Sarah scrutinized the cross street as the light turned green, and I accelerated through. “Whatever has you keeping him at a distance is a big fat lie, because I’ve seen the way you look at him, too.”
The water peed through the door to mark its territory. I got the point. My vehicle no longer belonged to me. If I didn’t get out of my vehicle in the next few minutes, my life would no longer belong to me, either.
“I take it back. I’ll never listen to Sarah again. If I hadn’t let her talk me into coming out tonight, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Totally her fault. Totally.”
It wasn’t her fault. It was no one’s fault, unless you count Mother Nature. Or the GMC Yukon driver who shoved me in here.
After dropping Sarah at her house, I headed home along Saint Louis Avenue. It’s one of my favorite streets in the city. It curves up and down, down and up. It gives what could be a boring drive home a sense of fun and fluidity.
Homes of the more ornate and costly nature cheer you on from mile to mile with their jagged peaks and haughty rooflines. Curves and constructed dwellings divvy up the horizon into unbalanced proportions. Lights from the occasional window here, television there, calm the darkness. Getting the jump on everyone this holiday season, one house outlined their guttering in green Christmas lights.
Roughly two miles from my house, a hill crests higher than the rest, seeking applause for the effort. Then, it plummets. If there are no cops around, I gun it to make my stomach flop, because roller coasters are rare in the adult life.
This evening, because I’m not an idiot, I didn’t do that. The rain, in the torrential category after I dropped off Sarah, had morphed into a solid mass. Driving had become a contact sport. Outside, the world looked like the bottom of an aquarium.
As I topped the crest, I braked hard.
Floodwater rushed over both lanes of Saint Louis Avenue in the hollow below. The neighborhood reten-tion pond hadn’t been enough. Coupled with the deluge streaming down the hill, the water looked like black, taunting rapids. Along the north side where a bridge railing protected vehicles from a usually dry riv-erbed below, water now gushed through the obstruction and screamed all the way down, eventually joining with other tributaries on their march to the Arkansas River.
Time to turn around and not drown—a catchy phrase, courtesy of the highway safety office. When I shoved the Jeep in reverse, the driver of the GMC Yukon either didn’t see me or had issues with lazy iambic pen-tameter. The vehicle rammed into my back bumper hard enough to send me hydroplaning down the hill and into the flood.
For one optimistic moment, I attempted to drive through it or reverse out. Both ideas died when the engine did.
Once you check into floodwater, you can never leave. Ask the Eagles.
“Here’s the thing, Debbie. It’s not that I don’t trust him. I do.” With some things. “It’s just that he keeps so much to himself.”
Debbie was the 911 operator who had gotten my distress call. She had a fabulously tranquil voice with enough resonance to be a sensational cigar smoker. A Southern lilt mixed in had me automatically adding colloquial phrases to her responses.
“Men often do, Sam.” I reckon. She spoke over the babble of other conversations in the 911 dispatch cen-ter. “Now, how are we doing with that window?” Sugar.
I paused with my hand on the manual handle. “I nearly have it open.” I fiddled with the knob because I ab-solutely had no intention of leaving my vehicle. There had to be a better exit plan than bobbing around in the dirty, irate water.
Once the engine died, my Jeep had been slammed repeatedly against the bridge’s concrete railing, as if the waves were practicing speed-bag drills. As the depth rose, the pressure wedged my Jeep into a stationary po-sition against the bridge. We were definitely not driving out of here, but it could have been worse. I could have been turning in the water like a pig on a spit.
“I can’t get a handle on this guy. He’s one of the most gentle, kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. But something about him frightens me, too. He’s…I don’t know…untamed? That may not be the right word. I get the feeling there’s not a thing on this planet that could domesticate the man. He’s choosing, of his own free will, to temper himself, which means he could choose to release whatever wild thing lives inside him, too. Does that make any sense?”
Debbie paused. “Not really.” Bless your heart. “Is the window down now?”
“Yes.” I grabbed the handle and cranked it down quickly to keep her satisfied. Rain slushed inside and satu-rated my left pant leg.
“Good. Now you need to exit the vehicle, Samantha. No more stalling.”
Debbie had been urging me to leave my vehicle for the past five minutes. Help was on the way, but, based on the current water status, her estimates of rescue personnel arrival, and the National Weather Service’s flash flood warning, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting. She instructed me to swim to safety before the flood-ing increased.
I hadn’t decided whether or not I would be cooperating.
“Right, right. Exit.” A potted plant of petunias, obviously washed off a nearby front lawn, banged against my door. The yellow petals, vibrant in the murky water, proved you can bloom wherever you’re planted. “One other question, if you have a minute.”
“When you want to be with someone, do you have to tell them everything? I mean, like the things about you that you wish didn’t exist. Or your personal failures. You can keep those things to yourself, right?”
At every pause in our conversation, the background chatter increased in volume. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Debbie was taking 911 calls from courtside seats at an NBA game.
“I thought you said you trusted him.”
“I do.” Mostly. “He’s a complicated person to feel close to, Debbie. He often seems like two totally differ-ent men to me.” And for good reason.
“Then, you need to decide if you can trust them both. You can’t have a relationship without trust. The most frightening thing you’ll ever trust to another person is your heart. All your heart, not just the pretty parts.”
So they say.
I fiddled with the knob on the handle again. “Thanks for the advice. Guess it’s time to get out there.”
“Are you exiting your vehicle now?”
I glanced at the water ramming against my Jeep. It sounded like a thousand aggravated people saying, “Shh.”
“Good. Now, remember, don’t take anything with you.”
I scanned my interior for anything I needed to take. I threw on my favorite hoodie and slung the strap of my purse across my chest. I picked up the broken umbrella. Stay or go? Stay or go?
“You’re going to be tempted to crawl onto your roof. Don’t. The vehicle will start tipping forward soon. The heaviest part will dive under first. Meaning the engine. You could get thrown, trapped, or taken over the railing. It’s not safe.”
While she talked, I crawled onto the roof. “Got it.”
“Swim hard and fast. Keep your feet in front of you to protect yourself from rushing debris.”
“Tell your man how you feel. And trust him with it. Life’s too short to keep your feelings to yourself.” Fish or cut bait, darlin’.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on TaraLynnThompson.com. (Not Another Superhero is also available on walmart.com. Just Another Sidekick, however, is not available there, yet.)
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can find me on Facebook at AuthorTaraLynnThompson or via email at TaraLynnThompson@gmail.com or on my blog at TaraLynnThompson.com.