Welcome to Swoon Sunday where you get to meet some of our swoon-worthy heroes. Today we have a visit from Michael Bennett from Ascendancy (The Van Winkle Project, #2) by Karri Thompson
Michael, why don’t you describe yourself to us?
I have blue eyes, brown hair, I’m 6’1” and weigh about 180 pounds. I exercise fairly regularly at the gym at GenH1, a genetics’ hospital. I can handle the resistance bars set at maximum, so I guess I can say that I’m pretty fit.
What’s your profession?
I’m a physician and geneticist. I know that’s hard to believe since I’m only twenty-one years old, but I’ve been groomed for this position since birth. My DNA donor was a genius in the medical world and in the field of genetics, so much is expected from me now. I have a lot to live up to. Until recently, I loved my job and my calling, but now I’m not so sure. I mean, I wouldn’t have met Cassie if I hadn’t been specifically cloned when I was for this duty, but at the same time, I’ve seen and experienced true evil now, and the experience hasn’t been pleasant.
Where do you call home?
My home is in Region One. I live at GenH1 – hell I was raised there, since I was specifically cloned for the single purpose of becoming the lead geneticist of The Van Winkle Project. Not the best place to grow up. But in terms of where GenH1 is located, I could go into detail about which sector and subdivision, but that wouldn’t make sense to someone living in the 21st century. I can tell you this though. One thousand years ago, my home subdivision would have been referred to as Los Angeles.
Right now, I really don’t have a home. Cassie and I have been on the run for weeks. And GenH1 never felt like home anyway. I hope to be able to feel like that someday though and share that feeling with Cassie at my side.
What kind of music do you listen to? (What song are you listing to on his iPod right now?)
I wish I had time to listen to music. I was always so busy at the hospital that I never really had time to just sit down, relax, and search my Liaison Band (L-Band) for some good tunes. I don’t wear an L-Band anymore, so now music isn’t available to me. But it’s a good trade off. Now I can’t be tracked. Now no one can listen to my conversations or contact me when I don’t want to be contacted. If there were only some kind of small, portable device that’s only function was to play music – but there isn’t, at least not in the Regions. Maybe something like that exists in Tasma. I’ll have to find out once, or I should say “if” we finally settle there.
What’s your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is not telling Cassie from the very beginning about role the team had planned for her once she was awakened. If I had just told her about everything within two days after she entered our world, it wouldn’t have taken her so long to completely trust me. At least I think she completely trusts me now. Sometimes she looks at me with narrowed eyes like she’s still trying to gauge my true intentions. I can’t blame her. I did keep a lot from her. Yeah, I was just doing my job, following instructions from the team, but my gut told me that Cassie needed to be privy to everything. I should have followed my gut. I can only hope I’ve made up for all of my deceptions.
Describe your idea of an ideal date.
I’ve never been on a real “date.” I know. Pretty sad. Due to the circumstances in Cassie’s life and mine, we became a part of each other’s lives, but due to the circumstances that followed, I haven’t been able to take Cassie out on a real date. One time she told me about something from her century, something called a “prom.” Because she died in 2025, she missed hers. She said that even if she had lived, she wouldn’t have gone anyway though because she had been home schooled, and she didn’t really know any boys who could take her.
So my ideal date would be to recreate a prom for Cassie. I’d do some research on the old tradition and make sure I had everything just right. There are limos on Tasma, so I’m sure I could get access to one and hire a driver. I’d take her to dinner and then dancing somewhere with all of our new friends.
Describe the craziest thing you have done.
Does killing someone count as crazy? Now don’t judge me too harshly yet. It had to be done. It was either her or me. Yes, I said “her.” Again, try not to judge me. If you knew the circumstances, you’d understand why I took her life. It bothers me. I try not to think about it, so I’m not going to go into any more details. Sorry.
What is the one thing that no one knows or could never guess about you?
No one would ever guess that I’m still a virgin. Yeah, I said it. I’m not embarrassed about it though. I mean, I’m a guy and I’m twenty-one, so I realize that I’m a rarity in that department. But it’s not like I don’t have a sex drive. It’s just that I was raised pretty much in isolation and for one purpose, so I didn’t get around much. I was schooled at GenH1 by the doctors who worked there. I was never with girls my age until I met Cassie. Cassie. I love her. I want her to be my first.
If you had to describe yourself as an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
I don’t eat ice cream very often. In fact, lately I haven’t eaten regularly very often. The last decent bite I had was at the Governor’s mansion, and I don’t want to talk about what happened there or why I haven’t had a decent meal since. Anyway, there’s an old- fashioned ice cream flavor I really like called Rocky Road. I love chocolate, and although I love the smooth feel of ice cream on my tongue, I prefer some texture, too. The nuts and gooey marshmallows give it just that. But I picked Rocky Road for more than just the flavors. Lately I’ve been on a rocky road. There hasn’t been a smooth run in my path. It’s full of bumps to avoid and hills to climb. The good thing is that I haven’t been alone. Cassie has been with me, and in the end, only good can come from all of the trials she and I have experienced – I hope.
Thank you so much for joining us, Michael! Now, here’s an excerpt from Ascendancy for our readers…
We traipsed though the dank forest, holding our infinity lights low, my body hotter from wearing my tunic again. While keeping the rolled E-Paper secured under my sleeve, I used the sharp end of my spear to scrape notches at waist level along the trees we passed, their soft bark easily cut.
Water splashed against the side of my face and neck, dripping to soak my tank top. Something powerful and half submerged in water violently thrashed; the churning of water, like the crash of waves in a winter storm, rocked the calm, night air.
Michael’s infinity light flew from his hand as he back stepped, falling against me. His arm slung around my waist to keep me stable, and as his light twisted mid-air, its beam spinning, a pair of orange eyes, low to the ground, flashed and disappeared when the light hit the ground.
“Keep going. Back, back, back,” I screamed, waving my infinity light behind me. My leg smacked against something hard, something that didn’t give with my weight, and as the rest of my body fell forward with the momentum, I saw what I hit—a large rock, slimy with leaf rot. My spear fell from my hand, landing among a tangle of vines.
Ignoring the pain in my calf and left wrist, I wrestled myself from the mud and into a sitting position. With my back against the rock, I rotated until I was face up instead of face-down and shot the beam in the direction from which I had come.
The orange eyes, the aggressive swish of a scaled, knobby tail, the blaze of white, sharp teeth against the beam of light. I knew exactly what it was. Pushing backward was futile. My back cracked against the boulder. Closer and closer it came, its torso swinging side to side, its mouth agape. I dug my hand into my pocket, but my gun wasn’t there.
I saw Michael’s spear before I saw Michael. He gave the beast a whack between the eyes, but the spear’s pointed end did little more than cause the croc to blink. He hooked his arm around my waist and just as the croc’s teeth would have clamped on my ankle, he lifted me from the ground, pulled me up against his side, and carried me to safety.
About the book:
I’ve been lied to, deceived, and manipulated—again. You’d think I’d be treated with dignity and respect. I’m the one who’s supposed to save humanity, right? I’m the one with the power to re-populate this dying world. But the clones want to control me, force me to give birth over and over again. And my daughters will face the same fate—unless I change it.
My awakening into this future should have been a chance for a new life, but it just promises a living death. With Michael on my side, though, maybe I can save us. He’s the only person I can trust.
I hear rumors of others… A secret society is growing. Tension is building.
A rebellion is imminent.