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The Guardians (MORE Trilogy)
 

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The Guardians (MORE Trilogy)


  Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Glossary of Terms

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Book 3 Preview

  Also by T.M. Franklin

  About the Author

  Acknowledgments

  The Guardians

  Book 2 in the MORE Trilogy

  By

  T.M. Franklin

  First published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop, 2013

  Copyright © T.M. Franklin, 2013

  The right of T.M. Franklin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000

  This work is copyrighted. All rights are reserved. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  All characters and events in this Book – even those sharing the same name as (or based upon) real people – are entirely fictional. No person, brand or corporation mentioned in this Book should be taken to have endorsed this Book nor should the events surrounding them be considered in any way factual.

  This Book is a work of fiction and should be read as such.

  The Writer’s Coffee Shop

  (Australia) PO Box 447 Cherrybrook NSW 2126

  (USA) PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168

  Paperback ISBN- 978-1-61213-171-9

  E-book ISBN- 978-1-61213-172-6

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.

  Cover image by: © Depositphotos.com / Francesco Cura

  Cover Artist: T.M. Franklin

  www.thewriterscoffeeshop.com/tmfranklin

  Glossary of Terms

  First Race/The Race – Ancient people who’ve lived alongside humans throughout history. They are more advanced technologically than humans, have superior physical and mental abilities, and devote themselves to helping humanity grow and evolve. They are considerably fewer in number than humans, so maintain secrecy above all else in order to protect themselves.

  Guardian – Race member who has broken away from the Council. Guardians disagree with the Council’s stand on Half-Breeds and devote themselves to helping Half-Breeds escape the Council, learn to control their abilities, and live peacefully either in a Colony or back in the human world.

  Guardian Colony/Colony – Group of Guardians living together in hiding from the Council. A Colony is a safe haven for Half-Breeds.

  Half-Breed – A person of mixed human and Race heritage. The Council sees them as a threat to Race secrecy because they are often unable to control their Race abilities.

  Heterochromia/HC – A difference in color in two structures that are usually alike in color. In the MORE trilogy, HC refers to the Race trait of having two different colored eyes.

  The Law/Race Law – The highest governing force of the Race. The primary tenet of the Law is to aid in the development of humanity, but to never endanger the Race or compromise its secrecy.

  Mimic – person capable of imitating a Race imprint after only brief contact with the subject.

  New Elysia – Race city in the Rocky Mountains, approximately fifty miles from Kalispell, Montana. Seat of the Race’s Ruling Council.

  Protector of the Race/Protector – Race member entrusted with enforcing the Law, primarily through hunting down Rogues and Half-Breeds under orders from the Council.

  Pyrokinesis – The ability to set objects or people on fire or to supernaturally project fire from one’s own being through the concentration of psychic power.

  Race Imprint – A kind of electric shadow left behind by a Race member. Also known as a Race Signature.

  Rejuvenation cube/R-cube – A small, grey, gelatinous cube that helps restore Race power when it’s been depleted by use. An R-cube is a supplement made up of, among other things, vitamins, protein, and electrolytes. It tastes like plastic.

  Rogue – Race member who rebelled against the Council and lives for pleasure. Rogues don’t care about keeping the Race a secret, and in fact often flaunt their abilities and use them to gain power. The Council sees them as the greatest threat to the Race.

  Shifter – Race member with the ability to teleport.

  The Ruling Council/The Council – The five-member ruling body of the First Race. The Council is charged with maintaining Race Law, protecting the Race, and resolving conflicts within the community.

  Telekinesis – The ability to move objects with psychic power.

  Tracker – Race member with an enhanced ability to follow even a minimal trail.

  Veil – Camouflage that hides a Race member’s true appearance, making them appear ordinary so they can fit in among humans.

  Chapter 1

  A loud crack overhead was the only warning. Ava’s head snapped up, and she caught a glimpse of black and blue before a thick branch fell toward her. She threw out a hand—more reflex than out of any real need—and the branch shifted its trajectory, landing several feet away on the spongy forest floor.

  “You’ll have to do better than that,” she said quietly, well aware he could hear her.

  She continued down the path, every sense on alert. The call of a crow in the distance obscured the faint crunch and splinter of debris underfoot.

  Is that—

  A rustle of movement to her left had her ducking behind a tree trunk, peeking around the edge into the thick forest. She caught the faint whooshing sound behind her and spun just in time to stop the large rock hurtling toward her. She smiled, bouncing the rock up and down a bit in the air, testing the limits of her telekinetic ability.

  Show off, she heard whispered through the trees.

  With a smirk, she sent the rock shooting back through the forest in the direction of the voice, laughing at the surprised yelp in response.

  “Come on!” she shouted. “You going to hide in the trees all day or fight like a man?”

  Ava stood with her feet braced apart and head thrown back, listening intently. For a long moment, only the quiet sounds of the forest met her ears. She closed her eyes, focusing on her enhanced hearing, listening deeper . . . farther.

  There.

  The faint in-and-out of breathing grew louder as she focused on it, and she opened her eyes, turning in the direction of the sound. Pushing her eyesight beyond normal human levels, she spotted him hiding behind a tree—a peek of denim, a glimpse of pale blue cotton.

  She ducked behind her own tree, heart pounding as she considered her next move. There was no way she could catch him. She wasn’t fast enough. She could try to throw something, though.

  She glanced around frantically for something—pinecones were useless, the scattered sticks too small. A boulder several feet away was too big—she wasn’t sure she could even lift it, let alone force it between the trees. She’d need to try something else.

  Ava took a deep breath and closed her eyes, focusing her mind as Caleb had taught her. She pictured the tree where she saw him hiding and tried to will her body to shift to that very spot.

  Visualize your body . . . your very cells dissolving, dissipating into the air. See them coming together where you want them to be.

  Easier said than done.

  You’ll feel yourself growing lighter, almost float
ing, and before you even realize what’s happening, it’s like you’re there . . . but you’re not.

  Ava frowned. Caleb didn’t always make much sense.

  She forced herself to breathe slowly and evenly, blocking out the sounds around her and focusing on her own heartbeat. She pictured herself floating, coming apart in the air. A tingle worked its way across her skin, now easily recognizable as her Race power coming to life. Her pulse quickened. Maybe she could do this.

  Strong arms imprisoned her—one across her neck, another at her waist—not tight enough to cut off the air supply, but she was definitely immobile.

  Ava cursed under her breath.

  “So what now?” a low voice growled in her ear. “You going to try and push me? Throw some rocks at my back?” His arm tightened slightly, making her gasp. “I’ve got you right where I want you.”

  “You cheated.”

  He laughed, loosening his hold to step back. “I did not!”

  Ava turned and leaned back against the tree, glaring at the sight of his bright blue eyes sparkling with mirth. She crossed her arms over her chest. “You did, too.”

  Caleb grinned and reached out to tweak her earlobe. “And how exactly did I cheat?”

  “Well, I’m sure there’s a rule against . . .” Ava scrambled for an answer, then smiled smugly. “Distracting me. It’s very dangerous to distract me when I’m trying to shift. I could end up inside a tree or something.”

  He laughed. “That wasn’t going to happen.”

  “You don’t know that.”

  “Yes, I do.” He stepped toward her, toying with the strings on her hoodie. “You weren’t going to shift, Ava. I would have felt it.”

  She deflated, knowing he was right. “Why can’t I do it?”

  “Not everyone can.”

  Ava exhaled heavily. “It would just be so cool, you know?”

  He smiled and leaned in to kiss her lightly.

  Ava felt the familiar tingle of his power meeting hers.

  “You can do lots of other cool stuff,” he reminded her.

  She could. Since her, for lack of a better word, breakthrough at the Rogue lair, Ava’s telekinesis had proven to be a powerful gift, and one she was getting better about controlling. The same could be said for her enhanced senses, another Race trait that was becoming second nature to her. She no longer had to concentrate quite so hard to access her superior vision and hearing. If anything, it had become more instinctual. She had tuned in to conversations across campus, for example, before she’d even realized what she was doing. She felt kind of bad about that, to be honest. Just because she was a superhuman being didn’t mean she had a right to be rude.

  But shifting continued to elude her. Caleb made it look so easy, disappearing and reappearing without breaking a sweat. Long distances were more challenging, but Ava was still a little jealous of his innate gift. It would be so handy on those mornings she overslept and was late for class.

  Caleb was quick to remind her that not everyone was the same, and although Race members all shared certain traits, things like shifting and telekinesis were hit and miss. She knew she should be happy with what she could do, especially since she seemed to be more powerful than many others already. The face-off with the Council had proven that.

  It wasn’t that she wanted more, really. She simply wanted to be prepared—prepared if the Council came after her again or if the Rogues staged another attack. She knew, deep inside, that it wasn’t over, and Caleb agreed, even though he’d never said as much out loud. He’d been true to his promise to train with her, pushing her limits and working to develop her gifts. He could also become easily distracted, however—as he seemed to be at that moment.

  Caleb propped a hand on the tree behind her, nuzzling along her neck and placing a soft kiss behind her ear.

  “We’re supposed to be training,” Ava said, a little breathless and maybe a bit distracted, as well.

  “Too much training isn’t good for you.”

  She laughed. “Oh, and where did you hear that?”

  He trailed kisses down her neck, sucking lightly at her collarbone where it peeked out from under her shirt. “Common knowledge,” he said into the hollow at her throat. “All work and no play . . . blah, blah, blah.” Caleb waved an idle hand as he scraped his teeth lightly against her skin.

  Ava gasped. “You make a valid point,” she said, her voice trembling, revealing his effect on her.

  He lifted his head with a victorious smirk. “I knew you’d see it my way.”

  “Cocky.”

  His response was muffled because Caleb chose that moment to kiss her properly.

  It had been months since the first time Caleb kissed her, but Ava still had yet to get used to the electrifying sensation. It wasn’t only the physical act, the press of lips to lips, which was spectacular—all hot and wet and demanding and . . . hot—but kissing Caleb also sparked a mingling of their power. She recognized it now, the electric tingle of Caleb’s Race gift sizzling along her skin, penetrating into her very center, and slowly—deliciously—wrapping itself around her power, the two weaving together in a sensual dance that left her dizzy once he pulled away. It was why she always fought it when he tried to stop.

  She felt a little pathetic about it, as though she had absolutely no control over her own body. She didn’t, at least when it came to Caleb. Still, it was more than lust—more than simple physical attraction. Ava was relatively sure she was in love with Caleb, although she had yet to say the words out loud. Maybe it made her a coward, but she was an old-fashioned girl and wanted him to say it first. Or maybe old-fashioned had nothing to do with it. Maybe she just didn’t want to make a fool of herself.

  It was possible.

  She couldn’t complain, though. They’d only grown closer since they had returned from the Race city of New Elysia three months earlier, even with Ava’s newly tapped power still wild and erratic and both of them unsure what the Council’s next move would be. He’d succeeded in his goal as her tutor to help her pass physics, and even though she no longer had need of him in that capacity, he was just as patient when it came to helping her with her Race skills. Even if most training sessions eventually devolved into make-out sessions.

  Not that Ava fought it too much. Kissing Caleb was incredible. The way he touched her, and that thing he did with his—

  A vibration in her pocket brought Ava out of her thoughts.

  Caleb pulled back slightly but kept his body pressed up against hers as she took her phone out of her pocket.

  “My mother.” Her head fell back against the tree as she groaned, thumb hovering over the Ignore button.

  Caleb laughed. “You know if you don’t answer, she’ll just call back.”

  Ava shrugged, punching the button and stuffing the phone back in her pocket. “Maybe not. Maybe she’ll leave a message.” She wrapped her arms around Caleb’s neck, tugging him closer and twisting her fingers in the dark hair at his nape.

  He smiled against her lips, his warm breath sending a shiver down her spine.

  The phone rang again and Ava grumbled, tugging Caleb forward stubbornly when he tried to pull away.

  “You might as well answer it,” Caleb said, untangling himself to reach into his inside coat pocket and pull out his glasses.

  He didn’t need them, but they helped him fit in at school and made him less noticeable. Also, Ava liked them, to be perfectly honest. They were cute.

  He took her free hand in his. “We should be heading back anyway. It’ll be dark soon.”

  Ava frowned, but answered the phone and allowed Caleb to lead her down the path to the edge of the woods. “Hi, Mom.”

  “Sweetie, I wanted to check and see what you’ve decided about spring break,” her mother said, a little distracted, as if she was doing something else at the same time. It wasn’t unusual. Sarah Michaels was nothing if not a multitasker. “You know we’d love to see you. And Caleb, of course.”

  Her voice had softened on Caleb
’s name, and Ava couldn’t help rolling her eyes.

  Caleb smirked, obviously hearing it as well.

  Her parents adored Caleb and had since they first met him over Christmas break. She hadn’t actually intended for them to meet, but Caleb had insisted on accompanying her home to Oregon for her own protection. With wide, innocent eyes, he’d promised he would keep his distance if she wasn’t ready for him to meet her parents yet. Of course, Ava couldn’t very well tell him the idea terrified her, so she’d shown up on her parents’ front porch with Caleb by her side. The smile on his face had been more than a little smug, if she hadn’t been mistaken.

  In the end, it had been a blessing having him along. In addition to the obvious benefit of having him sleeping down the hall in the guest room and unlimited access to him during the day, he’d helped her investigate some of the questions that had come up after she’d learned of her Race blood. She’d always known she was adopted—abandoned nineteen years earlier at a local church when she was only a few days old—but being back home had given her the opportunity to try and find out more about what had happened.

  One afternoon, they’d visited the priest who had found her. He’d long since retired and moved to Coos Bay, but with Caleb’s shifting ability, they’d made the distance in an afternoon, and with his power to push—a mild compulsion gift that helped him get what he wanted—they’d talked their way into the retirement home and sat with Father Gallagher for about an hour.

 
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