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Friday, November 13, 2015

Losing Emma (Divisa 0.5) by J.L. Weil

Alternate Cover Edition

Emma Deen was no stranger to being the new girl. The word roots weren’t in her family’s vocabulary. So when she found herself a junior at Hall High the last thing she had expected was to be drawn to the magnetic Travis Winters. Those turquoise eyes and irresistible dimples tugged at her heart.

Dancing used to consume her world until Travis.

Being half-demon was no picnic in the park. Friends were sparse, his love life was tricky, and he was always in constant danger. Even though Travis tried to keep his distance, Emma made it impossible for him to ignore her anymore. And his life took on a new meaning. Hopeful. Tempting. Love.

Travis’s dark secret would not only throw them in danger, it would also change their lives. Neither of them knew what being together would lead to.







Chapter 1



A teeny snowflake landed on the tip of Emma’s nose. Spreading her arms out wide, she spun in circles, face uplifted to the sky. The first snowfall of the year, and it was glorious, pure and untouched. The chilly flakes cooled her flushed cheeks. When she saw the flecks falling from her bedroom window, she knew she just had to dance in the white wonderland.

Laughing, she couldn’t imagine a more perfect first day of winter.

Her strawberry blonde hair was bold against the wintry white surrounding her. Glancing at the snow capped treetops, she felt like Snow White without the dwarfs. What would it be like to be a princess in a frozen castle? Emma loved winter. Emma loved fairytales. And she loved to dance. For the first time in a long time, she felt like a dancing princess in her own fairytale.

Man was she lame, she thought to herself grinning.

Normally, she felt like an army brat, moving from place-to-place without any real friends or a real home. The hazards of her dad’s job, which she had yet to fully understand what that entailed. He was gone before sunrise and often returned after dusk when she was tucked away for the night. She saw so little of him that her own father often felt like a stranger. A disciplined, hard, unyielding man with his suffocating rules. He was worse than a military lieutenant.

She had seen more of the country than any girl her age should. Sure she was well diverse in different cultures, but all she had ever really wanted was to belong. To have a best friend, slumber parties, or a boyfriend she wouldn’t have to break-up with because she was once again moving across the globe.

Emma sighed and hugged her arms around herself, her bright emerald eyes shining. The sweater she wore offered little comfort against the gentle breeze of winter, but she didn’t notice. It felt exhilarating and freeing to be out in the open with the untouched world at her feet.

They only had lived here six months, and Emma was already afraid it wouldn’t last. Just this once she wanted to stay long enough to graduate with people she knew and knew her.

Two years.

Was that too much to ask for?

She was surprised how much she loved Spring Valley, Illinois. Out of all the places she’d lived there was something cute, charming and settling about the quaint town. She loved the old house, with its wrapped around porch and large rooms.

So much space. Her house was surrounded by trees with more privacy then she was used to. It was hidden from the busy bustle of the city.

She wanted roots. Here.

There was a small dance studio in town where she gave lessons to little girls. Her first real job and it was rewarding watching the impressionable girls open their world to the love of rhythm and music. She didn’t really consider it work. How could she when she loved it so much. Everyday after school she went to the studio to either teach or practice.

She constantly walked around in her iPod listening to the beats of music and composing routines in her head. When she got to the studio, she would put the routine to movement.

Dancing was the only thing that never changed. New city, new friends, new houses, but dancing was the same no matter where her parents forced her and Abigail next.

It never mattered how much she pleaded or begged. None of it made a flying pig of a difference. She finally just stopped. Resigning to her parent’s control, at eighteen her life would then be hers, with the freedom to do and go or stay as she pleased.

She felt sad and pity for Abigail, who at three years didn’t have the foggiest idea what she was in for.
Glancing out at the tree line, she caught the very distinct color of topaz. Squinting, she thought they looked like a pair of eyes, but there wasn’t another house for miles. A little apprehension snuck in her belly.
Who would be nuts enough to hike in those woods? In this weather?

Walking towards the twin glowing globes, she was more confident that they were eyes. Behind her, a rustling in the trees had her jumping like a ninny. A bright cardinal flew from a tree, boldly red and beautiful against all the fresh coat of white.

Sighing, she turned back to the woods in front of her. The golden light was gone, making her question whether it had ever been there. Scanning the immediate area, there was nothing, no one but her.

“It was probably just an animal,” she mumbled to herself unconvincing. She was just so sure. Emma wasn’t the kind of girl prone to illusions, fairytales yes, but not hallucinations.

Rubbing her hands up and down her arms, the chill of the wind finally sunk in. Heading towards the house, she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that someone was watching her.

~*~

Travis descended deeper in the towering trees with their canopy white tops. Steadying a hand on the trunk, he gripped the bark.

That had been close. Too close.

He blew out a breath, watching the cold fog rush out. She had seen him, and his blood had rushed excitedly to the surface. It hadn’t been the smartest idea, hanging out in the woods behind her house, but he just wanted to make sure she was safe. And you wanted to see her, said a voice in the back of his head.

True, he just had needed to see her faerie-like features. Just one glimpse he had told himself, but then she had come outside and danced. To danced in the freshly fallen snow, with big white flakes falling from the sky, and landing in her hair. Her beautiful green eyes stood out like glittering gems.

Enchanting.

He was damn lucky that she had noticed him when she did. He had been on the brink of doing something utterly foolish and stupid, like exposing himself from his hiding place, or one of the other crazy thoughts that had been controlling his body.

That would have been just stellar. She would think he was a raving lunatic, a stalker and who knows what else. Definitely not the impression he was looking to make.

Obviously he hadn’t been in control, and that was a problem.

Where Emma was concerned, his demon was always too close to the surface. And that frightened him, as much as it intrigued. Never before had there been a girl who affected Travis the way Emma did. Most importantly, she didn’t treat him like a leaper, or shrink from him like most people did.

Wasn’t it bad enough that he had reduced to peeking through her windows just to make she was safely at home? This fanatical obsession for her safety couldn’t possibly be healthy.

It probably bordered on neurotic.

Just great, he was turning into a freaking neurotic stalker. How the hell had he let this get so extreme? It had to stop.

For god sake, he hadn’t even really talked to her. She probably didn’t even remember his name. Wouldn’t that be his luck?

Seeing the soft yellow glow of her bedroom light, he turned to head home. Lex was probably having a hissy fit over his missing dinner… again. Well he couldn’t help it.

Just as he was about to go all demon light speed, he got the tingling down his spine, the warning of trouble. 

The nasty kind.

A lesser demon.
Joy. Won’t this be fun?
His own fault, he scolded.
Ugh. Why had he let himself become so consumed with the snow princess? It was going to cost him dearly now.
Totally worth it, he thought smirking. But then he remembered how close he was to Emma’s house.
Not cool. His blood froze.
The demon was on Travis like white on rice, and man was he ugly. Travis had barely enough time to defend off the attack. He had just figured out that he wasn’t alone in the woods when the lesser demon in a bitch move pounced on him from behind. The impact took them both to the frozen ground. Pine needles stuck him in all kinds of uncomfortable places from under the newly packed snow.
This was going to be dandy, just the thought left a metallic taste in his mouth. The ground was slippery and was going to make keeping the upper hand on his opponent difficult, if not nearly impossible. On a good day, he wouldn’t have a problem with just one lesser demon, but these weather conditions did nothing in his favor.
The sickly grey skin demon hovered above him. “Let’s play half-breed.”
Man he had a warped sense of fun, but Travis was game. “Bring it,” he taunted. Two could play this game.
In one smooth motion, Travis flipped the demon off him, sailing him through the forest into a nearby tree trunk. It cracked with the sound of thunder at the impact. Lower demons in their true form were brawnier and heavier falling like a giant.
“Is that all you got brute?” Travis asked, cocking his head.
With lighten speed the demon was in his air, pounding his rock solid fist into Travis pretty boy face. His head rocketed back from the force, little stars danced behind his radiant eyes. Spitting blood, Travis’s eyes glowed like fireworks on Fourth of July.
“There’s more where that came from. That’s a promise,” the demon spat.
That’s what Travis was afraid of. Dodging the next blow, he got low and bum rushed the being from hell. With a roaring grunt, he slammed him full force against an oak tree.
Christ. He was like an ogre cracked out on speed. He just kept coming and coming. Travis rammed his fist into the gut of the demon like a bullet. The skin on his knuckles broke, and blood gathered at the joints. But he ignored the pain.
The forest quickly began to darken, and Travis welcomed the biting breeze, flexing his muscles. His strength only increased with the darkness. Like most things evil, night was when the demon he had inside thrived. Giving up most of his humanity, he let his demon swim to the surface keeping just a thread of his human self in-check.
Switching tactics, Travis backed up, putting a little distance between them. What he hadn’t expected was to lose his footing under the slippery wet snow. A fatal, stupid mistake and it was going to cost him his life.
Falling to the stiff earth, Travis cursed his luck. It was too much to expect that the lesser demon wouldn’t take full advantage of his screwed up misfortune.
Of course it was.
In a blink, Travis found himself immobilized and shit up a creek. The demon had one dirty hand around his throat and the other wrapped around a hematite blade.
“That little strawberry back there… I’ll enjoy every last drop of her life.” He licked his black lips sneering. 
“Tasty,” he hissed raising his blade for the kill strike.

Travis saw nothing but red at the image his words caused.
Red.
Hot.

Rage.
Emma. His body vibrated with her name. He had to save her. But first he had to save himself. It was time to open a can of whoop ass.
Surged with adrenaline, Travis waited, counting each precious second before he made his move. It had to be precise and accurate, or his was a goner. As the lesser demon arch the shining blade over his head, Travis reached for the ruby dagger embedded in his boot. Hand secured around the hilt, he twisted and sent the dagger home, in the demon’s back nanoseconds before his blade struck Travis. He had been able to avoid the demon’s knife only to have it scrap over his shoulder. A better option than his heart, as far as Travis was concerned.
The demon in all its horror glory erupted into a shower of ash, spraying Travis with its remains. Breathing heavily, he laid on the ground letting the innocent snowflakes melt on his heated face. His shoulder throbbed, and he could feel the sticky substance of blood. It was only a matter of waiting for it to heal on its own. By tomorrow there wouldn’t be a trace of the fight he had barely walked away from.
Rickety on his feet, he forced the wave of hurt down and took off at incredible speeds to his house. Lexi was going to kill him if he got blood on the carpet.

Life threw many curve balls, and in 2009, I stared at my computer and began to write my first book, Luminescence. I felt so ridiculous, but at the same time, it gave me this incredible sense of purpose. I started to look forward to that time at night when my kids were asleep and I could lose myself in the world I created. The characters popped in my head at all hours of the day...and night.

I went through the whole querying process with no success, and I let it get to me. Luminescence sat on my computer untouched until 2011. I was cleaning up my PC and opened the file for fun. Rereading the story, I fell in love with Brianna, Gavin, and writing all over again.

So, for the next few months I edited, rewrote, edited, rewrote again and again. It became a pattern, then I self-published my first book. Without you guys, I wouldn't have had the courage to write another book. It was my readers that encouraged me, and made me feel like, hey, I can really do this!!

I love you guys!!

Currently, I live in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Like Friday the 13th? Yep you got it. I don't think my town is at all related to the movie, but it's kind of cool and creepy.

My household is filled with my hubby & our two boys ~ Dakoda is 16 & Isaiah is 12. Being the only girl in a male household can be somewhat challenging. I know more about Call of Duty (my boys say I am still a noob and a camper) & video games in general than I ever thought possible.


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