New YA writer Emily Meadows has her first romance out. We’re featuring it here today!
About “Love Begins in Hell”
For some, love begins when you least expect it. For Elana, falling in love begins in Hell. When twenty-one-year-old Elana is kidnapped and finds herself in Hell of all places, she discovers something unique in her ancestry. She’s a werewolf and she’s fallen in love with someone unexpectedly Dante, the young demon who agrees to help her escape.
Excerpt from “Love Begins in Hell (The Moon Journals: Part 1)
As the large figure came into view, I exited the closet, took aim and threw the first knife of several across the room. I stood behind the massive bed, using it as a bunker. This demon was not going to take me alive.
The figure grunted, slumping slightly to the ground.
I heard the weapon I had thrown at him fall to the floor.
My aim was bad and had not found the demon’s heart. I was at a great disadvantage. “You stay back, demon!” I shouted, hoping to sound far more threatening than I’m sure I appeared to be. “I’ve got more where that came from!” I was maybe one hundred pounds. Cold, scared, and weak from hunger, I was half of that I was sure. Or at least I felt like that. Adrenaline and self-preservation would have to see me through.
“Do your worst,” the tall figure announced. “However, I’d like to ask if I may turn on a few lights before you continue your attack. If you don’t mind?”
He mocked me, which should have infuriated me even more, but I held my position and watched as he illuminated the room. He flipped a few switches by the door frame, and the room took on a blue hue as if it had been bathed in the soft, gentle lights from beneath the sea.
I looked up at the ceiling just as the wooden beams filed away to two corners. “How did you do that?” I gasped, forgetting my defensive stance all together.
“I can’t handle fluorescent lighting, so I had these installed. Blue and green are my favorite colors actually, even though I wear a lot of black. Here let me show you one more thing. I just had this done.”
He raised his well-toned arm upwards and pressed a button at the top of the door frame.
I blinked my eyes several times, getting used to the various colors I saw forming on the ceiling. An image was being constructed.
The lighted design was magnificent and astounded me. A variety of shades of blue, green, and purple illuminated behind the picture of a fierce dragon. The dragon, with its head held high and proud, stood on a set of rocks jutting out from the edge of a cliff. A strong image of a strong creature preparing for battle. Why would a demon have such an image promoting such a great warrior animal like the dragon fashioned on the ceiling of his bedroom? It didn’t make sense.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. Is that you?”
“More or less. My friend, Orlando created it and installed it for me. I’m not really an admirer of art or paintings. I’m more interested in books, mythology really, but Orlando thought this would dress up my bedroom. I mainly like it for the quiet motivation it gives me. Each day is a test and it challenges me to focus on what is important. It helps me remember, despite everything, who I could one day become.”
“A dragon?” I blurted out. “Surely you don’t mean that. You’re a demon.” I had never heard of demons being shapeshifters. This guy had as much chance of shifting into a dragon as I did of shifting into a bar of chocolate.
Instantly he crossed the room towards me. He had his large hands wrapped around my elbows before I could grab another knife. I was pinned against his solid chest. The minute our eyes met, a bolt of lightning felt like it had ricocheted through my body. My eyes widened as he let me go and I wrapped my arms tightly around my body, so I wouldn’t fall. He staggered for a moment too as if he’d been hit by the same burst of energy.
The immediate recognition of a soul mate was something that did not occur outside the pack. It had to be a mistake. But was it? It felt so real. In that second, I re-evaluated my course of action.
“I’m not a demon. I’m a warrior,” he replied as he put some distance between us. “My mother is human, so I’m only half-demon.” He retreated to the table and sat down. He remained quiet for some time. Finally he added, “If you must know, I prefer to be called a warrior above all else.”
I thought about asking a second question like ‘Who kidnapped me?’ but I remained silent. It didn’t really matter as long as I found my sister and aunt, and we made it out. They had been missing for weeks. I had heard of a demon mating with a human and bearing a shape-shifting child, but I didn’t think it was possible. Just a myth. Werewolves were the only shapeshifters I knew of. My disbelief in his dragon warrior dream seemed to have gravely offended him, and I didn’t want to upset him again. Instead, I wanted to comfort him. Why would I want to do that? He was the enemy. I opted to be nice. My sassy attitude would get me nowhere with him.
“I like the ceiling painting,” I offered.
“Thank you. It’s very nice, isn’t it?”
“Do you have a name?” I abruptly stopped before I insulted him again.
I waited for him to ask my name. He studied the table instead.
“Elana.” He repeated my name slowly and carefully as if it was a foreign word he didn’t want to forget.
“Your name is very unique.” A few compliments couldn’t hurt. “What does Dante mean?”
“I’ve never thought to look it up. I don’t know.”
I watched as he drew a few curves and lines along the table, absent-mindedly tracing something. “If my memory serves me right, I think Dante means protector.”
Knowing I’d probably upset him again if I said it too loud, I mumbled under my breath as I attempted to process the realization. “Dante, the demon protector. Wasn’t that an oxymoron?”
“No, it isn’t,” he answered. “You forget. I have excellent hearing too. You don’t have to insult me. What does your name mean?”
I threw the second knife flew and watched as it slammed into the wooden table, a few inches from his hands.
He didn’t flinch one inch.
“Freedom,” I announced as I swiftly bent over to retrieve another knife lying on the bed.
“Well that’s good. Freedom for Elana. I like that.” There was a trace of laughter in his voice. He paused for a moment before he continued. “I’m sure you do too.” A few more moments of silence passed, then finally he said, “I know this is highly unorthodox, and you’re in an extremely frightening situation. But before we go any further, I want to put your mind at ease. I’m not interested in harming you. I know you are a werewolf and probably of great importance to your people. I’m going to try to get you out of here, but you’re going to have to trust me. It’s as simple as that. Do you think you can do that?” He yanked the knife from the table and with an ironically tender touch, he bent the blade into a slight arch, disabling it so it couldn’t be used for another but holding a bunch of grapes or large orange. I swallowed hard so my mouth wouldn’t fall open. This demon could kill me in an instant.
Suddenly a vision from my wolf state hit me. I recognized his voice. I’ll help you get out of here, but you’ve got to trust me. I closed my eyes and relived the moment again. Over and over again, that voice. A ripple of awareness surged through me. His voice was the same as the man who had come to me to console me in my agitated wolf state. It was deep, almost sensual, yet tranquil and protective. This demon before me had calmed me. “The wolf chant. That was you?”
“What did you say?”
He paused for a moment, digging his long nail into the wood of the table. “You were very upset.”
“What did you say?”
“That’s not really important, is it?”
“I insist,” I replied with my polite tone I used when I wanted it to be known I expected to get what I sought.
He chuckled. His laugh was low and throaty. “I’ve seen pomp and circumstance from my father. You don’t have to take that tone with me. There is no need for us to be enemies.”
I attempted to soften my insistence. “I’m sorry. Please then.”
“Don’t apologize. Let’s keep this on a level playing field. I’ll treat you as an equal, and you treat me as one. Okay?”
His confidence was infectious. He didn’t have the disposition of a demon at all. My aunt had said they were horrible creatures with no feeling, no remorse, and no compassion for others.
“Fair enough,” I whispered, only realizing a second later that I had not fully enunciated the words. Clearly this young man had not kidnapped me so why was I in his presence? Did he know who had kidnapped me? Maybe he could lead me to the person? Equals? Why would he say we were equals? My father, the Werewolf King, certainly didn’t think like that. Dante’s words and actions of kindness and hospitality thoroughly confused me. As a sign of good faith, I placed the weapons down before me on the bed, noticing in passing the letter ‘D’ carved into the blade of each knife.
“A beauty like no other. So beautiful. Calm yourself. Calm yourself, my sweet. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
“I’m sorry? What did you say?”
Dante repeated his words for my benefit. “A beauty like no other. So beautiful. Calm yourself. Calm yourself, my sweet. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
No demon would know how to practice Wolfen Magic,” I replied. I observed his new nervousness. His mood had shifted, and he refused to look at me as he continued to scratch at the table.
“I’m not a demon. I’m a warrior.” He glanced at the ceiling, looking again at the lighted design of the dragon. “I thought we covered that?” His tone was very gentle even though I saw the muscles in his jaw twitch a few times.
“Dante, the protector, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” I curtsied, trying to appear more of a lady than I felt as well as lighten the mood.
Emily Meadows writes Paranormal Fantasy and Romance books for Young Adults. She’s an optimist, a movie buff, and a fan of the fang including everything from cats and dogs to vampires and werewolves. Emily lives in Texas and spends her time between studying, writing, reading, and dreaming up her next adventure in the Moon Journals. Contact Emily – Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
Cover art by Ally Thomas.
Novel premise idea provided by Ally Thomas.