Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: LemonPress Publishiing
Date of Publication: August 20, 2014
Number of pages: 388
Word Count: 96K
Cover Artist: Tamara Sands
“Her world, her mission…is about to change. What do you choose when your blood is on the line.”
A world where your life is a mission and to succeed you must have resolute devotion to duty.
Seventeen-year-old Anna Hasdiel is a noviate at Hope Academy, a secret school for young angels where she and her sister, Amalie, train to become Warrior Legites with the duty of protecting humans from Demons for the Legion United.
Anna's devoted to the angelic cause.
She's always known she would be a Warrior for the Legion. Her world is about to change.
Noviates have been disappearing from Angel Academies around the world. No one knows why. They just hope they won’t be next.
The Powers send in Legite Nathaniel Deror for protection. Legite Deror is strong, fierce and mysterious. He seems to have it in for Anna one second and the next he’s rescuing her. He makes her feel things she shouldn’t.
They must travel to the home of the fallen Archangel Lucifer, where they will fight past a host of deadly enemies. Where do loyalties lay?
She never planned for this. She never planned for him.
I was enveloped in darkness. I tried to run, but my limbs were frozen. I tried to scream, but couldn’t. Invisible icy fingers squeezed my throat shut.
It was happening again.
The darkness slowly lifted like the curtains on a stage. Only this was anything but. My surroundings materialized. Large mounds of black rock encircled me. There were three gloomy, sinister tunnels ahead of me. Orange light flickered from a few torches held in the mouths of metal brackets on the stone walls. The shadows they cast licked the sides of the room while air whistled around stone stalagmites protruding from the ground. I envied the wind. It was free to move, free to leave. I wasn’t.
The high back of a scarlet chair with eagle talons for feet faced me. I tried to shut my eyes. I didn’t want to watch. Like any nightmare I was afraid of what I would see.
But, a stronger force was making me watch. Too bad that force wouldn’t get a life.
A demon hurried around the corner. I studied him as best I could. He wore all black from his chin to the ground obscuring his feet. The skin on his bald head appeared pasty white, out of place in the darkness. His head was bowed. I couldn’t see his face. He was shaking. It made me pity him. It made me think of somebody having a violent seizure.
Unexpectedly, a cavernous voice came from the chair and filled the space giving it an oppressive quality that felt both hot and curiously thick. It made my skin crawl. I couldn’t see the man responsible for striking fear into the creature. He was faced away from me. The demon was trying hard to control his movements, I could tell by the jerking of his arms.
“Shamir, I was beginning to wonder if you would ever come,” I could practically hear his jaws grinding together.
The pale demon looked at the voice in the chair, and I was immediately drawn to his bottomless eyes. The sorrow I saw made me want to cry and run like a coward.
But, I quickly realized I had no control in this room. Not of myself or the unfolding scene. I never did. If it were a normal stage, I’d have the ability to run onto it, but this wasn’t normal.
Shamir was gruesome. His face was concave: he had a prominent forehead; six fingers high, and eyebrows that dipped into his forehead. The nose was small and curved inward. His chin was also flat, but with an outward curve like a dirt bike ramp. Deep wrinkles and heavy lacerations marred his already awful features. His thin lips were tightly stretched into a grimace. Shadows slithered in his mouth. After an arduous moment, he spoke in a mournful voice.
“Sire, I came when I could. There is chaos in the Dark World, but,” his hands crossed in front of his stomach, he fiddled with his thumbs. His nervous energy was a buzz against my skin.
The suddenly irate voice from the chair interrupted him. “Silence! Why do I give such a pitiful creature as you a place on my council? Can you answer me that, Shamir?”
“Because, Sire, I am your loyal servant,” he sounded both afflicted and distant. I saw millennia of anguish in his eyes that had me shaking in my slippers.
“That you are Shamir... Do you know why I called you to me?” The voice paused momentarily and then began again, “it is time Shamir. Do you know what time it is?” Every word dragged on.
“How can that be sire?” Shamir remained composed; distant, yet, his eyes took on a fiery glow like an inferno.
“You must find…”
A moment of ringing silence passed and my stomach knotted. I strained my ears and eyes to catch the words... images that blurred at the edges, but it was useless. My time was up.
Not yet! I thought furiously, Just a little longer! I need to hear more... just a little more!
Ring! Ring! Ring!
I swung my arm around and hit my alarm clock. Sweat beaded down my head and my clothes were practically drenched -- I'm sure I looked like I’d been lying in a steam room all night.
I peeled my down comforter off my sticky body, planted my feet on the carpet that felt soft and reached I for the spiral bound notebook laying on my end table. I began jotting down notes about the dream… or... nightmare. My mother told me it would help me understand them, but it hasn’t. Night after night I dreamt about the voice in the chair. It made the hairs on my arms stand at attention and my toes curl. The person in the cave sometimes changes, but the voice from the red chair never does.
“We’re going to be late, Anna!” My sister shouted from the other side of my paper-thin door. Her voice as different than his as night is from day. It warmed my skin like sunshine.
I shuffled sleepily into my bathroom. I glanced in the mirror and was slightly horrified, to be perfectly honest. It’s not like I’m the super girly type, but this took things to the other extreme. The damn thing was mocking me. My face was shiny, (in the 'I just ate four cheeseburgers' way) and my hair was an absolute freaking rat’s nest. I quickly turned on my straighter - a present from my sister – (she would be disgusted by my appearance). It took a while to heat up. In the meantime, I jumped into the shower that desperately needed some bleach. Small mounds of black residue sat in the corners of, the otherwise, pristine shower. It wasn’t much, but enough. I’m a teenager. Cleaning is not my strong suit. This was only a problem because the Academy was a lot like a military school. Cleaning the floors with a toothbrush wasn’t far off.
I love steaming hot showers. My usual shower was about five minutes. Five minute showers were something that we, my sister and me, learned about by the time we were four. My mom always told me, “showers aren’t supposed to fun.” Blah, blah, blah. Thus, I had to learn to love and enjoy the hot, relaxing water, quickly. For me showers helped drum out the constant thought collisions in my mind. I jumped out of the shower; I started the slow walk to my shoebox of a closet and was greeted by the crisp, clean scent as fresh as spring air from an open window.
I looked casually through my wardrobe that offered a slim selection of worn and practical clothing. As I sorted through my clothes the feeling of wool, cotton, and denim rubbed against my hand. I plucked a ball of lint from a violet shirt hanging crookedly on a wooden hanger and tossed it in the plastic trashcan. I chose a black long-sleeved V-neck shirt and my favorite pair of loose black cargo pants. They were comfortable and practical.
The only problem left was my crazed hair. It looked like a cat had thrown up a fur-ball and it landed on my head. I took a small chunk of it and began the irritating straightening process. Gradually, my silky, blonde hair transformed into something slightly easier on the eyes. I was relieved to see that my skin was clear, and sighed. My mother always told me that my fair skin was a blessing, but I couldn’t help the jealously that ate me when I thought of the other girls’ tan skin. Suddenly, my train of thought was interrupted.
“Anna, hurry up woman!” Of course, my sister, Amalie, would be up and chipper at this time in the morning. She was the spirited one. I envied, and sometimes disliked her for that.
I grabbed my heavy, black coat. When I inhaled the little hairs from the synthetic fur hood tickled my nostrils and caused an unladylike sneeze to erupt from my body as I ran downstairs to the dorm lounge, the free area for noviates. The sound of cutlery clattering against a table and the murmur of conversation greeted me in the stairwell.
I smiled so wide my cheeks hurt. Just the look of my little sister put me at ease. Mom said it was a miracle that two sisters could be best friends. It’s understandable that mom didn’t have a close relationship with her sister
— Aunt Trisha. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that she was a fiend — or close to it. We never talked about Aunt Trisha.
The dorm lounge was like everything at Hope Academy: white, immaculate, and dreadfully boring. There was a large kitchen with a dozen small, round, white tables dotting the room. They each had a metallic napkin dispenser in the middle that reflected the sunlight streaming in through the large bay windows. Old bookcases lined the perimeter of the room. Every book a noviate could ever want to read was in the Academy somewhere, or at least I thought so. I hadn’t exactly looked to see if that was a fact, but I wouldn’t doubt it. That was something that I truly appreciated—books. Books were my escape. A desperately needed escape from the excellence demanded by the Academy and that I demanded from myself.
“What took you so long?” she griped.
I didn’t respond to Amalie. I was still consumed by the dream. The voice haunted me in my sleep, and started to haunt me when I was awake. After a moment she chucked a granola bar in my direction. “Earth to Anna,” she barked.
“Sorry. My hair refused to cooperate.” I noticed Amalie’s hair always cooperated. Amalie, unlike me, had dark, thick hair. It wasn’t quite black, but it wasn’t just brown, sort of chestnut. She was sitting at the kitchen bar with a notebook open. Amalie was an avid artist. You’d never guess it, because she hid it so well.
“What’s the topic today?” I asked referring to the artwork of the day…or week.
She glanced down at the page that had various black lines running across it and shook her head. “Nothing special,” she told me. I didn’t believe her. The depth of her eyes told a different story. Amalie could see the beauty in even all the fine, straight lines of the Academy.
“Okay then,” I muttered.
She closed the book and stood up.
She was a slender, short girl at just over five foot. I had almost six inches on her. Her eyes gleamed a sapphire blue and changed to an almost indigo color when she was upset about something. They were a little indigo now. She always dressed fashionably. Today, she had outdone herself. She looked beautiful in a glistening white blouse—with just a bit of her nearly non-existent cleavage revealed — and tight, skinny jeans with knee high black boots. A poet in Chanel surrounded by robots in Gortex.
“What’s the occasion? Are you going to a modeling gig?” I asked, laughing.
“Well, actually, no. You forgot didn’t you?” She was disappointed, chin down down.
“No... no... I didn’t forget.” I said awkwardly, and too late. I had forgot, and wished I still did. With my birthday just under a month away, Amalie had been begging to take me to the new club—the Inferno—and her persistence finally beat me down. “I'm excited,” I said, trying for glee, but it came out strained, so I gave her a reassuring smile. Amalie had the attention span of an ant. That worked because she usually forgot what she was mad about pretty quickly.
“You did too forget. Lucky for you, I worked way too hard on this outfit to let it go to waste.” She twirled a few times, watching me, hopeful.
I grabbed her arm, stopping her from twirling and gave her a big hug. “You’ve worked hard on every outfit you’ve worn this week. But yes, this one is, by far, the best.” I stood back like a spectator at an art show and took another good look at my best friend, confidant, and sister. She smiled back and then pulled me to her. We held each other briefly. Noviates started passing by and Amalie released me and went back to her food.
“Thanks, sis. We're going to have so much fun at the Inferno. I wish were going this weekend! Everyone says the Inferno is off-the-wall.” She continued to speak; in a language I didn’t fully understand, while pausing every few words to shovel in a spoonful of oatmeal. The Inferno was her kind of place, carefree and fun. “I just can’t believe we haven’t gone yet—”
“Eat much?” Taylor came around the corner and pulled up a stool on the other side of the island stroking the white counter with a finger capped by a perfectly manicured nail. Bleh. Taylor was a superficial beauty even though I hated to admit it. She had short, brunette, spiky hair, and foxy green eyes that held a spark my dull, green eyes lacked.
“Don’t be mad ‘cause I'm skinnier than you, Taylor. Be mad 'cause I don’t need anorexia to pull it off,” Amalie shot her a haughty look that would make any big sister proud.
Taylor was slender, but a bit curvier than the rest of us, and had a darker complexion too. Everyone envied her for looking exotic in a place that made me, and the rest of us, feel so ordinary. That was probably why she was so popular, that, and she was reputedly the biggest slut for hundreds of miles. We live in Hope, Alaska for Power’s sake.
Amalie scanned Taylor from head to toe with predatory eyes thinned to slits. Amalie had taken it upon herself to be my sidekick when it came to Taylor, who had insisted on being my arch nemesis for as long as I could remember.
“You’re not skinnier, just without essential curves, if you don’t mind my saying.” She then shifted her attention to me and said, “Only twenty-five more days till I leave for Bethel.”
She and I were in the same class at the Academy. Her birthday was before mine, by two days, and she never let me forget it. When a noviate turned seventeen, they were sent to Bethel, capital city of The Fourth Dimension, where The Powers resided for a pronouncement hearing. When noviates returned, everyone else at the Academy looked him or her at in a new light. It was our first step toward success. It was our equivalent to a human getting their driver's license. Except if the noviate failed their “driver’s test” they could never show their face at the DMV again.
The Powers were the authority of the Archangels and lower angels. The Archangels, unlike other angels, protected mankind from evil spirits, also known as demons. There's more. I can explain it, but politics aren't my thing. Plus, we were taught to do our jobs not ask questions.
There are seven angel-training academies around the world; one for each of the seven Archangels that no one ever actually sees. They are as much a mystery to us as humans, but we know they exist. They are among the superiors in the Legion United, the elite fighting force made up of the best angels from the Nine Choirs. The Nine Choirs were split between three spheres. The first sphere was the Counselors: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. The second sphere was the Governors: Dominions, Virtues, and the Powers. The third sphere comprised the Harbingers or Warriors: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. Everyone was a part of the whole, and vital to keep the machine operating smoothly. The smallest wrench could cause disaster.
We were taught that God created the seven Archangels, then removed Himself and put the Angels in charge.
She pursed her full lips with a deeper cupids bow than could possibly shoot an arrow. “I’m more than ready. Are you?” she baited.
When an Angel Noviate (AKA angel in training) became a junior, he or she went to Bethel where The Powers would determine if the noviate would continue until graduation, or if they would have their wings clipped.
A thin-lipped smile was my answer. She hung on my last nerve.
Since we are all born into this life, it only made sense that we were kept close track of by the Powers, who supervised all the Lower Choir angels to ensure dedication and purity, meaning that no angel used their abilities against another angel, or any human. It was uncommon for a noviate to have their wings clipped. Every angel was needed in the war against demons. However, no one was immune to that outcome, either. If the noviate’s wings were cut, they would be forced to spend the rest of their days in the human world, living a mortal life. I cringed at the thought.
We were constantly at the mercy of The Powers.
About the Author:
Gemini Emery is a horse trainer living in Colorado with two yappy dogs and a few quirky horses.
A life-long reader, Emery has always had a special affection for the urban fantasy and paranormal romance realms.
When not riding horses or writing, she likes archery, hiking and shooting. She reads until her vision blurs, spends time with family and drinks an excessive amount of chai and coffee.
Devoted is her first novel.
signed copy of Devoted and book swag open to US Shipping