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Almost fifteen-year-old Caleb Hart is a Cadaver-Manipulator in the year 2025. When teens receive a government-sanctioned pharmaceutical cocktail during school, paranormal abilities begin manifesting... making the teens more powerful than the adults.
After Caleb discovers he has the rare, Affinity for the Dead, he must do whatever it takes to hide it from a super-secret government agency whose goal is exploitation.
Caleb seeks refuge in his new girlfriend, Jade, until he realizes that she needs as much protection from her family, as he does from the government.
Suddenly, Caleb finds that hiding his ability while protecting Jade and his friends is a full time job; can he escape the government, protect Jade and lose the bullies that are making him miserable?
Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, dystopian
Ignoring his question, I said, “You're not supposed to be beating on people.”
Brett gave a spastic shake of his head, holding his chest with both hands. There was no love lost between the two of us but he thought I was insane to take on his dad.
The dad stepped toward where I stood in the doorway. When he was younger, he may have been athletic, but the muscle was submerged in the hundred pounds he had on me. His gut hung over stained blue jeans, covered by an equally disgusting T-shirt. His fists were loosely clenched but ready for action.
I took a few steps back out into the yard. But then I stopped. I refused to run. I had no plan except that I didn't want to watch some kid my age—even a dickhead like Brett—getting the crap beat out of him by a grown man. Brett’s dad stalked toward me, all shadows and menace. Brett followed.
Without thinking, I let out the thing that was always curled tightly inside me. I didn't mean to, but like a caged animal suddenly freed, it responded to my distress signal. I was in trouble, with no plan whatsoever.
My power responded like a dinner bell.
Little dirt mounds in the lawn exploded, geysering like miniature volcanoes erupting. Clumps of crappy lawn and dirt rained down on all of us.
Brett's arms fell to his sides, and he dropped to the ground, sitting on his butt. The breath I was holding slid out of me in a long line of relief. The whispering had stopped, and the lawn had blown up, and I was feeling... fine.
I heard a noise behind me and spun around.
“Look.” Jade pointed at the yard.
All around the lawn, moles—big ones—stood at attention, their reflective eyes like small silvered coins staring at me.
“I killed all you,” Mr. Mason shrieked at the animals. “You're dead!”
Priceless, of course they were dead, you dolt. I could hear their thoughts. They were waiting for me to tell them something, to issue orders.
Mr. Mason pointed at Jade. “Aren't you that upstart LeClerc girl? The one that gave her daddy all the trouble with them cops?” He glared at her.
She shrank back from his words and moved to stand behind me.
The slug started making his way to where Jade and I were standing at the edge of the cracked sidewalk. The moles stood vigil, watching me.
“You two are in my boy's class, a couple of losers from what I’ve heard. And I know how to take care of that. Yes indeedy, I do. I'll clean that attitude right out of ya both.”
Mr. Mason moved forward as if to grab me.
I let a little juice funnel through to the moles. They swarmed across the grass as one unit. Wait a second. Those weren't moles. They were... I searched for the name—gophers.
I was jerked out of my reverie by a hand clenching the front of my hoodie, my toes clearing the sidewalk. I didn't struggle but hung like a dead weight. Jade squealed and yanked me back until I felt as if I were the rope in a game of Tug of War.
I appreciated her efforts, but Mason had the manic strength that only the truly drunk have. I was betting he would be hella sore tomorrow, but for beating up teenagers, he was about inebriated enough to make a go of it.
A gopher sailed across the remaining two feet, leaped, and landed on the back of Mason’s neck. It made a tight C shape with its body and sank its teeth into Mason’s exposed skin.
Mason dropped me like a box of rocks and attempted to jerk the gopher off his neck. I could feel the gopher thinking with solitary purpose: Protect the boy. All it knew was that I was its master, and it would be torn asunder rather than allow harm to come to me.
I turned. Like an invisible string, my power slid out, finding eager recipients. The other gophers jumped onto Mason. He did a little dance, hopping around and trying to get the gophers off. They were single-minded, biting and nipping any part of him they could reach.
I swayed, feeling as if I held a great baseball in my hand with the absolute knowledge that the perfect pitch was within reach. Jade's hand pressed against the small of my back. The gophers made satisfied mewling sounds as their teeth connected with flesh.
I was in the zone.
“Caleb, stop it!” Jade said, voice raised above the crunching and gnashing of teeth. “You'll kill him.”
Instead of being filled with the expected horror of Mason’s death at the teeth of my gophers, I felt a distinct satisfaction.
Brett appeared beside me. “Please,” he said, one hand on his chest where his dad had hit him, “he's bad, but he's still my dad.”
Brett the poet, I thought in a languid stupor.
I made the ginormous effort to rein in the power. For a moment, nothing happened. It was pulling on taffy that never came. I was suddenly scared my power was bigger than I could manage. Then something clicked into place, and I was in control again. The gophers looked at me, some of their teeth glistening wetly black with Mason’s blood.
Rest, I thought and gave a mental shove of juice that felt like turning off a big humming battery.
The gophers—my gophers—swung their heads to consider me one last time before swarming back to their mounds and melting back into the ground like water finding a cleft in a rock.
About Tamara Rose Blodgett:
Tamara Rose Blodgett is the author of over forty titles, including her NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling novel, A TERRIBLE LOVE, written under the pen name Marata Eros. Tamara writes a variety of dark fiction in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, romance and erotica. She lives in South Dakota with her family and enjoys interacting with her readers.
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