Influencers, icons, and multimedia stars.On camera, the high-profile voice actresses for the Flavor Princesses media empire represent every aspect of the American Dream. However, when the cameras turn off, their smiles drop and the secret work begins.
Repo woman "Mindy" Jones discovers Strawberry Sherry's magical flavor profile in an abandoned car rental. The profile needs her help. More depends on Mindy's decision than she knows. Striving to help, Mindy dives headfirst into a secret world beyond her wildest dreams.
If you love outsiders stumbling into hidden magical societies, this book is for you!
The New Strawberry Princess, by C. Beth Walker & Ezekiel James Boston, takes us to a world of influencers, icons, multimedia stars...and magic. Repo woman "Mindy" Jones discovers Strawberry Sherry's magical flavor profile in an abandoned car rental. Striving to help, Mindy dives headfirst into a secret world beyond her wildest dreams. – Jamie Ferguson
Prologue: Strawberry Sherry is Dead
Consciousness returning, Sherry couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Was she dying? Was she already dead?
She didn't feel like herself.
Why couldn't this have happened in one of the five-star hotels that she was accustomed to? Instead, she was in a crappy, cold motel room in an Arizona whistle-stop, twenty-five miles southeast of Boulder City. Sprouted to support the large, and poorly named, Gas, Motel, and Lottery service station, the community didn't even have a name.
If she did die here, she'd be yet another celebrity found dead in a no-name motel.
And that wasn't happening.
She opened her eyes to find darkness filled the small motel room.
Barely too dark to see the marred walls, trammeled carpet, and grimy-cushioned wooden chairs with lacquer peeling away, the shape of the chairs registered darker. She also couldn't see the Hawaiian Breeze air freshener next to the rattling wall-mounted air conditioning unit under the window, but it was doing its job of masking most of the room's musk.
She glanced at the drawn blackout blinds that were outlined with dim fluorescent lighting instead of the beaming summer sun.
The red digital alarm clock digits on the nightstand next to the soft and slouching bed read 1:44 a.m. The red light highlighted many small scratches on the nightstand.
How long had she been out? Was it the night of her saving Lemy, her husband, or the following night?
Since her room was on the back side of the motel, facing the desert instead of the highway, there wouldn't be—shouldn't be—people out there to witness her stumbling to her rented Chevy Tahoe. While it was infinitely better to be seen stumbling out of a seedy motel than being found dead in one, Sherry wanted to avoid both.
The rumbling of a semitruck leaving the service station and getting back on the road carried around the motel.
She had to get on the road, too.
The fiery bullet burn path that had gone in the right side of her abdomen and out the left was still there.
Sherry reached to her right. The backpack with the front pocket half full of strawberries was there. She reflexively thought about putting one in her mouth to recharge her mana stores, but they were already on full.
Why wasn't her magic healing her?
She went to sit up.
The burn path washed her vision white and clenched her teeth. Her entire torso above the wound also lit with pain as did her legs down to her calves.
Not only was she not healing, she was getting worse.
She was dying.
Sherry grumbled, "Not. Here." The weakness of her voice bothered her. That was supposed to be a galvanizing statement.
Through the pain, she reached to the right of the bed. Her fingers lit on the hilt of her katana. She would've liked to have a proper walking stick but the large strawberry mystic stamp on her chest that she had received when she was eight—and had grown with her over the last twenty-three years—didn't feel like it was a part of her. Not anymore.
Biting back profanity, Sherry rolled onto her side toward the sword and used it, and the little momentum she had, to sit up and swing her legs off the bed.
She wanted to lie back down. Badly.
"Not." She focused her will and tightened on the sword grip. "Happening!"
With a woeful groan and a world gone white with pain, Shery got to her feet. The keys of the rental and motel room jostled and jangled in the loose pocket of her black sweatpants.
She told herself, "Keep moving."
And she did.
Small steps of abdomen-searing pain. But still, steps.
It felt like forever to make it around the bed to the door, but the clock read 1:58 a.m.
Again, she told herself, "Keep. Moving."
Sherry considered doubling back to get the backpack. At her core, an understanding that she had a finite amount of movement registered. A lifetime of eating strawberries for magic resonated a deep want for the strawberries in the backpack, but she couldn't afford the steps.
She opened the metal motel door.
The warm, gasoline-scented summer night felt good on her face. Something other than the cold room and pain.
Her Tahoe was backed in right at her door. There were two cars a few doors down to the right and a U-Haul truck way out to the left. Beyond the parking lot, the night-dark desert spanned who-knows-how far under a star-dotted sky and a full moon. Outside, the occasional noise of cars zooming down US 93 on the other side of the motel traveled around the building.
Legs growing weak, Sherry reached into her pocket, found the Tahoe key fob, and pressed the button to open the rear.
The back of the Tahoe yawned opened.
She hustled her baby steps and sat on the tailgate. The blankets, crackers, jerky, and gallons of water she had bought to help Lemy recover from his ordeal were still there. There was also the large, empty, drab olive-green army bag she brought to carry any clues about why the attack took place and, hopefully, who was behind it.
When she had bought them on her rush out, she hadn't thought that she might be using the supplies. Or, that the army bag would still be empty.
Her legs were too weak to stand again. At least not right then.
Sherry recalled the doting car rental guy showing her the automatic folding rear seat before she had hurried him away so she could get on the road.
If her legs weren't going to support her, she'd crawl through the back to the driver's seat when she had the strength.
Setting her sword inside, Sherry stifled a groan as she hauled her legs in.
She pushed the auto close.
A wave of cold overtook her body.
In an attempt to get warm, Sherry pulled the blankets over her. But the cold kept coming. When she balled up for warmth, the pain in her body had grown faint.
So had the sounds in the night.
As did the fluorescent lights.
The hot pain was gone.
And so was she.