Mute (Muted Trilogy Book 1)

BOOK: Mute (Muted Trilogy Book 1)
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Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Prologue

CHAPTER ONE: Life As We Know It

CHAPTER TWO: Muted

CHAPTER THREE: One Week

CHAPTER FOUR: Compensation

CHAPTER FIVE: Adjusting

CHAPTER SIX: A New Normal

CHAPTER SEVEN: Communication

CHAPTER EIGHT: Changes

CHAPTER NINE: Moving Up

CHAPTER TEN: Voices

CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Morning After

CHAPTER TWELVE: Striking

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Only Me

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Not Just a Dream

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Talk

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Why Us

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Testing 123

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Unknown

CHAPTER NINETEEN: Next

CHAPTER TWENTY: Security

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Meeting

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Watched

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Soundless

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Same

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Not Really

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: To Meet You

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: Ties

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: Action

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Consequence

EXCERPT:

Listen

Acknowledgments

About the Author

 

Mute

by

Nikita Spoke

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Text copyright © 2015 Nikita Spoke. All rights reserved.

 

Cover design © 2015 by Laura Lynne Ellis.

Stock photography for cover:

©iStock.com/Antonel

©iStock.com/Tadeusz Przybył

©iStock.com/ElinaManninen

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

 

Copyright © 2015 Nikita Spoke

All Rights Reserved.

ISBN-13: 9781511871808

ISBN-10: 1511871806

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to my family and friends and to my wonderful husband who told me I should write a book.

Mute

Some people think it’s a government conspiracy. Others are sure this is just a fluke, some quirk of science or nature that happened and will pass.

Personally, I’m not sure of anything right now. I can’t talk to my husband about it, can’t tell my daughter that everything’s going to be okay.

There’s so much we don’t know. I do know that this is hard. I know that it was unexpected. Did anyone anywhere really see this coming?

I’ll be continuing to report until this is over, if it is ever over. Until then, though, we would like to hear from you:

Where were you yesterday before everything changed?

—Katie Brink, Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE:

Life As We Know It

 

Jemma sighed as she pulled the phone from her ear to text a reply to her mother.

Got your message. See you at 7.

“As always,” she added under her breath. She shoved the phone back into her pocket and left the staff room, making her way to the circulation desk.

“Sorry,” said Jemma. Susan, a curvy redhead and one of just two other employees at this small branch of the library, turned from the computer to face her. “It was my mom.”

“Of course it was,” Susan said, smiling. “It’s Friday, isn’t it?”

“Don’t know why she thinks she still has to remind me,” said Jemma. “It’s been six years since we started having dinner every Friday. I don’t mind the dinners as much as the voicemail reminders.”

“Families, huh?” Susan grimaced. “At least you don’t have to worry about in-laws yet. Even if they’re halfway decent, you’ve still got two sets of family obligations to juggle. Two months and I still haven’t recovered from all the drama we had to deal with for the wedding!”

“True,” Jemma said, grinning. She glanced at her watch. “Speaking of family, you’re off the clock. Go home.”

“Thanks, Jemma,” said Susan. She turned and walked toward the staff room.

Jemma looked around. It was a normal Friday afternoon, the library nearly deserted. One man browsed the fiction section. On the balcony, standing near the railing, a woman leafed through a dark volume. The gentle, persistent tapping at laptop keys signaled that at least one patron was using one of the tables upstairs. The building was quiet enough to hear the employee door shut as Susan left.

Jemma smiled to herself, enjoying the quiet that embodied the last two hours of her work day. As usual on a Friday, her thoughts were drawn to her family.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like her family. They were supportive and enthusiastic, both her parents and her younger sister, Jill, who was seventeen. It was more that at twenty-three, Jemma still felt like she hadn’t really ever been on her own, hadn’t accomplished anything outside of school. Sometimes she wished she’d moved farther away, chosen a school farther from her family so she could figure out what she wanted to do with her life, but when it came down to it, this was home. It was a part of her, and so were her parents, whether she saw them once a week or not.

Their strong personalities, though, made this harder to remember at times. Their house was usually loud, and her mother detested closed doors, so privacy and time alone to think were rare and valuable things. It wasn’t too surprising, really, that Jemma had been drawn to the idea of being a librarian. She’d heard her parents brag about her, as proud as they could be that she’d gone her own way rather than following in their footsteps and teaching. A noisy classroom, though, had never really been an option for Jemma; she knew she lacked the firmness required to keep thirty students from getting out of control.

She closed her eyes, lifting her face to the sun that streamed in through the windows, listening to the tapping of keys, the rustling of papers, the distant whistle of a bird that had made its nest near the main entrance.

At the sound of approaching footsteps, Jemma opened her eyes, smiling at the man who was walking up to the desk.

“Find everything you wanted?” she asked.

“Sure did,” he replied, placing two books on the counter and tapping the top one excitedly. “I didn’t think this came out until next month. I’m glad you put it on display.”

Jemma glanced at the book as she scanned the library card he handed her. It was a new one by an author she favored when she was in the mood for a thriller.

“Oh, you’ll love it,” she said, scanning the books and putting them back on the counter, where the man eagerly retrieved them. “It came in before the release date, so I stayed a little late a couple nights this week so I could read it.”

“I can’t wait to get it home,” he said, still smiling. He nodded, then left, letting Jemma return to her thoughts in the quiet library.

***

Jemma knocked on the inside of the wooden door as she opened it.

“Mom? Dad?”

“They’re in the back yard,” called Jill as she walked into view, her blonde hair shining while her blue eyes sparkled. Jemma smoothed her own short, brown hair absently.

“Hi, Jilly. How was your week?” she asked her sister, closing the door behind her.

“Did you hear about what happened with Frank?” Jill asked, continuing without waiting for a response. “So, he wanted to go out with me, right? But then he ended up going out with Kimmy instead, who’s
such
a better fit…”

Jemma did her best to listen, but her sister hadn’t gotten far before names and dates started blending together, so when her mother came in from the back of the house, she quickly moved to give her a hug, and her sister retreated to the living room.

“Hi, Mom. How’ve you been?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Classes are getting off to a good start, and everyone’s getting to know each other. Come help me with dinner.”

Jemma followed her mom into the kitchen. Carolyn Tyler was dressed in her normal clothing: clean, comfortable jeans and a button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

“I’ll never understand how you keep so clean when you’re out in the garden,” Jemma said. “I swear, I so much as look at dirt and I’m covered in it.”

“It isn’t too difficult for me. You excel in your own ways, Jemma. You know I could never be in a library all day. I’d be kicked out after five minutes. Hand me a spatula.”

Jemma dug into the closest drawer and produced a spatula, handing it to her mother, who used it in browning the ground beef in front of her.

“That’s not quite true, Mom. You made it ten minutes before Cecily started glaring, last time you came to visit.”

“That woman!” Carolyn dumped the meat in the strainer in the sink, then returned it to the pan. A jar of premade spaghetti sauce quickly followed. “She wouldn’t know fun if it bit her in the behind.”

“Mom,” protested Jemma. “The library is supposed to be quiet. She was doing her job.”

“She enjoys it a little too much, if you ask me. The part where she gets to tell people to be quiet. She doesn’t talk unless it’s an absolute necessity!”

Jemma sighed.

“I know, I know,” her mom said, turning her attention from the stove to her daughter. “I said I’d stop complaining about that. It’s okay for people to not want to talk all the time. Variation is what keeps the world interesting.” She grinned. “Which doesn’t mean I can’t spice it up in my own way.”

“You do that so well.” Jemma’s father, Matthew Tyler, had come around the corner into the kitchen and was leering appreciatively at his wife.

“Oh, shush,” she told him, winking before turning back to the stove. “Get the garlic bread cooking, would you Matt?”

“Will do.” He ruffled Jemma’s hair in greeting before putting the pre-sliced bread in the toaster oven.

“Jilly!” Carolyn yelled without warning, and Jemma winced. “Time to set the table!”

“Okay, Mom!” Jill yelled back.

After a chaotic few minutes, dinner was ready, the table was set, and everyone was seated.

“This is good, Mom. Thanks,” said Jemma after her first bite.

“Yeah, thanks,” said Jill, picking up her phone from her lap and typing on it with one hand.

“Jilly, what have we said about phones at the table?” Matt raised an eyebrow at his younger daughter.

“Sorry, Dad,” she said. “But Jennifer’s going out with Roger tonight, and—”

“Oh! Are those two finally going out?” Carolyn leaned forward, dinner untouched.

“Yeah, and Jennifer is totally nervous because, well, I mean, it’s Roger, right? He’s super hot.”

“He’s one of my best students, too,” added Carolyn. “I’ve seen them trying to be sneaky about texting each other.”

“Kids,” said Matt, “thinking they’re subtle just because their phones are on vibrate.”

“You don’t see nearly as much of it as I do, I’m sure,” said Carolyn. “Middle-schoolers still don’t have as many as we get in high school.”

“You’re too nice about it,” he said. “That’s why you get so many students using their phones in class.”

Under the table, Jill continued typing on her phone.

“Well,” said Carolyn, “as long as they get their work done and at least
try
to be subtle about it so that I don’t have to take the phone away, I don’t really see that it matters.”

“When the world has lost its ability to socialize in person rather than via technology,” he said, pointing a fork toward his wife, “I’m blaming you.”

“You go ahead and do that, sweetheart,” Carolyn said with a smirk.

Jemma looked quietly down at her dish, letting the noise wash over her. This was something she needed to practice, she decided. The noise wasn’t going anywhere, so she may as well get used to it.

BOOK: Mute (Muted Trilogy Book 1)
12.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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