Guest Author: NJ Damschroder

Thank you to Vicky and Sparkling Book Reviews for inviting me back!

I’m so excited about my new duology. It started a really long time ago, when I read an announcement of a book by another author. I thought it said something like “A couple has to learn how to live together for the first time in their marriage…” and I thought that was a really cool twist. And then I realized it was the opposite (how to not be together) and I was even more excited. Because now I could write that story!

So More Than You Know was born! Because I’m me, I had to come up with a paranormal reason that Avery and Reed haven’t been together, and an action/high-stakes reason they now have to try to live with each other. The stakes can’t get much higher than a deadly allergy, a serial killer, kids in trouble, and oh, hey, how about how annoying someone suddenly is when you can’t get away from them? LOL

If you’re in central Pennsylvania, I’ll have copies of More Than You Know at Cupboard Maker Books on Saturday, October 10 from 1-3.

Avery Kale is a paranormal law enforcement agent in charge of rogue solars—people who use their ability to harness the sun to commit crimes. Her husband Reed is a teacher, helping young solars adapt to becoming part of the solar community. Their marriage has been a delicate equilibrium ever since their deadly allergy to each other nearly killed Reed, a balancing act neither is able to endure much longer. But Reed’s insistence on finding a better solution wars with Avery’s fear that trying could be fatal.Then Avery and Reed are enlisted for a multi-jurisdictional homicide case. Someone has been using heretofore unknown powers to kill using the sun. They need Avery’s unique ability to determine if their main suspect is a solar. Paul Adranian, a DC billionaire, is hiring a husband-wife bodyguard team for his kids, and Avery and Reed are the task force’s best option. The risk seems low: Get hired, get in, identify him, and get out. But the not-so-quick job drags on and gets complicated when Paul enlists them to clear his name, using an enticement they can’t turn down.Now not only are Avery and Reed targets of the most dangerous solar ever known and a danger to each other, being together every day has put a spotlight on problems they didn’t know they had. If they survive the killer and the allergy…is their marriage doomed anyway?

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Excerpt from More Than You Know

The most boring part of Reed’s day was the three hours the kids were in preschool. The teacher didn’t want their presence distracting her students, so she didn’t allow him and Avery in the classroom during most of the lessons. They stood sentry outside the classroom door, taking turns prowling the hall and the outside of the building. It gave him a new appreciation for the Beefeaters in London. But it also made him want to take a nap.

Today was even worse. They’d followed the kids around all weekend—a soccer game and gymnastics exhibition on Saturday, church and summer clothes shopping on Sunday—and Reed had wanted someone to shoot him in the head by the end of that. Both nights, they’d gone to the club where Alec was tending bar. Avery hadn’t detected any solars in either place, but some of the dancers didn’t come on until after eleven, so they’d had to stay late to make the visits completely worth it. Reed wasn’t used to keeping such hours. His most recent assignment, with Scott, had followed farm hours. Early bed, early rise, and nothing strenuous—for him—in between. He kept rocking in place, his eyes closing, when he wasn’t the one walking the perimeter.

Then there was the sex thing. They’d been too worn out to repeat their Friday night interlude, but it was still strong in Reed’s mind. He didn’t think it was appropriate to be thinking about it in a school, and trying not to was distracting him from his job.

“Stop yawning!” Avery covered her mouth as she copied him. “You’re making me sleepy!”

“I have nothing to do with you being sleepy,” he countered, but yawned again. “God, I need coffee.”

“Good idea. Go see if the lounge has any. The secretary told me last week we could help ourselves. And do a perimeter walk while you’re at it.”

Reed gratefully left his post. Even though Avery was staying behind, he glanced into the classroom window on his way by. The kids were all working on some kind of art project at two round tables, one for the three-year-olds, one for the fours. Josh’s back was to him, but he could see Emma’s tongue poking out as she concentrated. He smiled with affection. She glanced up and saw him, beamed, and gave him a thumbs-up. He returned it and continued down the hall, letting the warm feeling in his chest permeate the rest of his body.

He did the perimeter check first. The preschool used a handful of classrooms in an old elementary school that was no longer being used by the local district since a new, bigger school had been built. They planned to rent out additional space for offices, but currently the preschool was the only occupant. That made Reed and Avery’s job a little easier, without a lot of people coming and going to keep an eye on.

He went outside and checked the locks on the front door first. He varied his routine every time, in case anyone was watching, and tried not to develop any kind of pattern. While he crossed the front lawn to go around the left side of the building, he scoped out the parking lot. The six cars were the same as on his last circuit. Two teachers, two staff members, one parent’s car, left behind while they went shopping or something with another mom, and Avery’s. Usually Heather dropped them and the kids and did errands while they were in class, but today Avery and Reed had offered to give her a little extra time by taking the kids to school themselves.

He’d gotten to the corner and was about the check the door at that end when he heard a vehicle behind him. Staying close to the shrubbery, Reed watched a little Yaris pull up in front of the school. The driver left it running and got out, jogging up to the doors and yanking one. He was an unimposing man, at least half a foot shorter than Reed and a bit on the soft side, slightly receding hair, weak chin. He could be a parent, but Reed had never seen him before.

The man tugged all four entry doors and when none of them opened, cupped his hands around his eyes to peer inside. Nothing happened. Reed figured the secretary was in the bathroom or copy room or something, or she would have buzzed him in by now. Unless there was a reason she didn’t want to. Reed walked toward the steps, preparing to confront him.

The man looked at a folded piece of paper in his hands, flipped it around, looked to his left and behind him, then shrugged and stuck the paper between two doors. Then he started to jog back to his car. Partway there he spotted Reed and picked up his speed. Reed pushed into a run. The paper could wait. He didn’t think he should let this guy get away. He ran toward the car at an angle to cut off the shorter man, who was closer. They were going to reach the car at the same time, but the man had to go around it to get to the driver side. Reed bounced a ray of sunlight off the windshield into the man’s face, trying to slow him down, but the ray twisted away before it hit.

“Crap.” The guy was a solar. Reed pushed faster and reached the man just as he got to the car, but as he reached for him the guy leaped into the air and caught a sudden breeze that carried him over the Yaris and dropped him right next to the driver’s door. Reed cursed again and yanked on the passenger handle, but it was locked. A moment later the car screeched away. He quickly read off the license number while he pulled his phone out of his pocket.

“A-two-nine-C-three-B. A-two-nine-C-three-B. A-two-nine-C-three-B.” He punched it into the memo function and saved it, then speed-dialed his wife. When Avery answered he said, “Get inside with the kids. I’ll be right there.”


~~~
The second book in the duology, , is releasing November 1st and is available for preorder.

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