When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal…
…having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.
It makes you a One.
Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.
If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.
Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.
Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.
A few lone fireflies flit around a bit too early. The top three-quarters of the sky are only slightly dark. I reach out to swipe one from the air and watch as it staggers across the back of my hand, testing its legs after a stretch of flight.
I wish walking felt more foreign to me than flying.
It flicks its wings out, and they tremble. Green-yellow light sparks at its back end. It pulls them back in, waits to be encouraged by the slightest bit of wind. A breeze curls through the air. The bug pushes its wings out and is off, victorious.
Nice work, I think at it.
I look over at Elias, and he’s doing the same thing, catching lightning bugs and letting them go. The tendons in the back of his hand flex lightly, coaxing the one teetering there to fly. He looks up at me, his eyes gentle.
“Hey. You know how to smile,” Elias says, and there’s something different about his voice, something distracted.
“You knew I could smile,” I say, leaning and nudging into him with my shoulder. I sit up straight, my back rigid, as soon as I realize what I just did.
“You’re right. The drums made you smile for sure. Now I just have to figure out how I can do it.”
For a second, I can’t find my breath. A few ideas flit through my head about how he could make me smile, but they are vague and terrifying — Elias’s arm around me, his lips against my skin, his voice speaking softly in my ear.
Our breathing is the only sound besides the crickets’ chirps, and I try to force my breaths into a steadier, slower pattern, one that shows a calmer me than my erratic heart rate would betray.
We sit silently for a while. The harsh shadows have softened into a burning golden light that sets the tips of Elias’s hair on fire and casts a glow over everything — the porch, the glass walls of the house, and the waving wheat and rigid cornstalks in the fields beyond.
“Wanna walk?” Elias asks.
No. I want to fly. “Yeah,” I say and hoist myself up from the step before he can help me up because I feel like touching him, just having his skin against mine, would really put me over the edge. What edge, I don’t exactly know. But I’m terrified of finding out.
“Let’s head down this road. The fields are beautiful this time of year.” Elias motions down the dirt road that passes his house, framed in barbed wire that I always thought was ugly. But now that it’s glinting gold-orange, it’s actually breathtaking.
The fields call to me, too. I’ve imagined soaring over them a million times, how the burning gold of the sun would scoop down into the husks and bounce back in curves, how the lazily turning turbines would shrink to the size of pinwheels.
Someone’s bonfire, miles away, scents the air with a sharp smokiness. A chill settles over everything as the sun retreats, making way for frost. For the first time this year, I realize it’s solidly autumn, and I shiver, fighting it.
He’s so close to me, so very close. Maybe a foot away. I really feel it — his closeness — but it’s not scary. The slender shape of his body feels familiar, feels just like mine. Only a foot and a half taller.
“Is there a reason you still won’t tell me?” he asks.
Our hands swing past each other as we walk, not brushing but close. I want to memorize the arcs they make through the darkening light.
“What else do you really need to know about me besides my mad drumming capabilities?” I push my eyebrows up at him and smile a tight-lipped smile.
“There’s more to you than being a drummer,” he says, watching his hand too, not moving closer. “Yeah, you’re cute and smart. Everyone knows that. You’re also angry, and I get that. But I want to know more.”
He stops dead in his tracks, and so do I, turning to face him as if by instinct.
“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,” he whispers.
I can’t tell if it’s a tease or a challenge, so I press my lips together, waiting for his face to tell me what to say next.
He looks down, right at me. There’s this weird feeling in my chest, and I’ve honestly never felt it before. It seems ridiculous, even to me, that a sixteen-year-old girl never felt her heart beat like crazy, but I am not kidding, this is the first time. I stare back at him. My mouth hangs open, waiting for my heart to fly out of it.
He drops his gaze to the ground. I thought that was all I wanted him to do because at least it would stop my heart from running circles inside me, but now the damn thing thuds to a stop and drops into my stomach. Now I’d give anything for him to look back at me, say anything. I honestly think my life depends on it.
“I float,” I say, and he turns to look at me again, but oh my God, now he’s looking up at me because I’m freaking floating. This is the first time this has happened in forever, and it’s because I let my stupid head get away from me and my stupid heart drop into my stomach and this stupid, stupid boy get to me. “I just…”
And then he reaches his hand up to me. His fingers make a ring around my wrist. They barely touch my skin, but where they do, there’s this electricity, warm and melting and vibrating through my skin. And then my face follows his up because now he’s floating, too.
Praise for One
One balances a fully imagined, super world with deep, well-crafted characters and took me on a heart pounding, heartbreakingly authentic journey I hated to see end.Trisha Leigh, Author
Exciting, edgy, romantic and beautifully written, ONE is a book from an incredible new writing talent that will leave you longing for more!Emma Pass, Author
I opened One and didn’t put it down. On the surface it’s a fast-paced superhero story combined with all the wonderful and terrible aspects of teenage life, but beneath that is the story of a girl who only wants to be more than she is. It’s a fun adventure cloaking a simple but powerful truth of the human condition.Francesca Zappia, Author