More (More #1) by T.M. Franklin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Release Date: October 4, 2012
Amazon ♥ B & N
Ava Michaels used to think she was special.
As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn't so bad after all.
Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.
Because Caleb isn't quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one.
Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she's not actually normal . . . she's not even just special.
She's a little bit more.
When closing time finally came around, Ava shivered as she walked out of the diner, huddling deeper into her wool coat and tugging her scarf up over her mouth. She hoisted her backpack higher onto her shoulder before setting off down the sidewalk, quickly covering the two blocks to campus and only looking over her shoulder nervously a handful of times.
Maybe a dozen.
She hurried down the walkway toward the dorms, the dim path lights flickering little circles of yellow on the frosted concrete. The moon glowed slightly behind the haze of wispy clouds, and a shout of laughter drew her attention to a couple coming toward her, arms entwined. They were dressed as Romeo and Juliet, their costumes partially hidden under thick coats and mittens. They kissed, breath clouding around them, and began to run, smiling at her as they went past.
She couldn’t help smiling back.
Their footsteps echoed away until once again, the only sounds interrupting Ava’s quiet breathing were the crunch of her own boots and the squeak of her backpack straps.
And . . .
Ava stiffened, the peculiar feeling sliding over her once again. She scanned the landscape around her, facing straight ahead but her eyes seeking, carefully combing the surrounding shadows.
Still, she couldn’t shake that creepy sensation that someone was watching her. She quickened her pace, slipping off her right glove and reaching into her coat pocket to grip her pepper spray tightly.
Was that . . . ?
Were those footsteps?
Ava’s heartbeat quickened, her palms growing moist even in the brisk cold. She flipped the safety off the pepper spray, her thumb poised over the button. As she neared the bridge marking the halfway point to her dorm, she glanced over her shoulder quickly. Seeing nothing, she hurried over the bridge, cursing the burned-out bulb that left it in darkness.
Suddenly, a stifling feeling overcame her—like a dark blanket had been thrown over her head to suffocate her—and she whirled around, her backpack clattering to the ground as she whipped the pepper spray out of her pocket and held it at arm’s length. Ava gulped for air, eyes frantically darting about, and the trembling hand holding the pepper spray flailing as wildly as her gaze. She was sure someone was there. She swore she could feel them. She stood frozen with fear, waiting . . . watching.
After a few long moments, she shook her head, glad nobody had witnessed her desperate panic. With a heavy sigh, she pocketed her pepper spray, embarrassed at her own ridiculousness. She had to stop this nonsense. She was driving herself crazy. It was just a dream making her jumpy, nothing else.
Just a crazy, scary dream.
Ava bent to pick up her backpack, sliding it onto her shoulder as she scanned the horizon one more time. With a self-deprecating chuckle, she turned around to continue home.
Only to stop short in terror.
A man—a huge man—stood before her, mouth twisted in rage. He towered over her, at least six and a half feet tall, his shoulders wide, and arms banded with muscle. Shaved close to his head, his dark hair shadowed his skull, and his intimidating appearance was only enhanced by the jagged scar running down the right side of his face, from forehead to chin. He didn’t wear a coat, only a tight, black shirt and fatigues, black boots on his feet, and a wide leather belt with a mean-looking gun holstered at his hip.
It couldn’t be. But it was.
It was him. The man from her nightmares.
Ava scrambled back, but he reached out in a flash, gripping her upper arms and lifting her up so her toes barely brushed the ground. One hand slid to her throat, and he held her easily, pulling her closer to his frightening face.
“Please,” she begged, the word catching as she fought to breathe.
The man’s glare tightened, and Ava stared in morbid fascination at his mismatched eyes—blue and green—odd and vividly terrifying. She struggled, reaching for her pepper spray, only to have it slip from her fingers as she kicked out at the man.
He responded by laughing humorlessly, flipping her around and banding one arm around her torso. His grip was like iron, and she could barely breathe.
“Please,” she said again, dizziness closing in. “I can’t,” she gasped. A press of metal to her temple transformed her fearful trembles into horrified shudders. She had no doubt. She was going to die. Her eyelids fluttered shut in defeat as he cocked the gun, the loud click echoing off the trees.
Then, a flash of black, a gust of wind, and suddenly she could breathe again. The man’s grip loosened, but he didn’t release her.
“Damn you,” he growled. “Stay out of this!”
Ava pushed him, her efforts in vain, as he hitched her up in response, tucking her under his arm like a bag of groceries. She kicked her legs, flailing desperately as the man spun about, pointing his gun into the darkness.
“Show yourself, you coward!”
The same flash of black, another blast of wind, and Ava fell to the ground, her head cracking on the concrete. She curled onto her side, moaning, lifting a hand to the back of her head, and squinting in shock at the blood that came away, streaking across her trembling palm.
Low grunts and the crack of bone on flesh floated on the air toward her, muzzy with her disorientation. She tried to focus, but could only make out two dark figures exchanging blows. Ava tried to sit up, but collapsed back onto the icy ground, overcome by a shock of dizziness and nausea.
Suddenly, the two dark beings seemed to meld into one, and in the next moment, she felt herself floating. She blinked; a face took form above her briefly, the features cast in shadow.
“Do I . . . do I know you?” she mumbled, fighting for consciousness.
“I’ve got you,” a low voice replied, and Ava nodded as a cool palm stroked her forehead, and the darkness consumed her.
T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.
In addition to MORE, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, A Piece of Cake, which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology. The sequel to MORE, The Guardians, will be released November 7, 2013.