Title: THE ALTERAE
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 64,000
Sixteen-year-old Emma Hawthorne agonizingly hides her ability to pick up people’s emotions and memories like a radio signal. But when she discovers her best friend’s lifeless body floating in the river, her own grief makes resisting the constant bombardment even harder.
With her ability spiraling out of control and an unshakable conviction that the drowning wasn’t an accident, she launches a search for the truth. When her investigation attracts attention from an enigmatic guy, Patrick, she might have the lead she needs. But getting answers from him won’t be easy—he’s the only person she’s ever met whose emotions she can’t read and he’s just as terrifying as he’s intriguing.
In the midst of this uncertainty, her childhood friend, Alex, comes back into her life. Despite spending years apart, their connection is stronger than ever and their friendship kindles into something more. However, Alex is holding back and his rejection pushes Emma toward Patrick.
When Emma unearths Patrick’s disturbing link to her friend’s drowning, he proves even more dangerous than she imagined. Patrick, part of an underground society of supernaturally altered humans known as the Alterae, feeds on the souls of others—and Emma’s empathic soul is an irresistible morsel. If she wants to escape Patrick’s deepening hold, she’ll have to join forces with Alex and figure out how to use her ability as a weapon to fight back before she loses her sanity – or her life.
Lights flashed through the night, painting the woods in red and blue long after the sirens fell silent. Water dripped from Emma’s hair, trailing down the blanket wrapped around her and collecting in a puddle at her feet. She clutched her knees to her chest, captivated by each drip.
Her wet jeans clung to her legs and her thin tank top left her too exposed. She shivered, as much from shock as cold, and the rough wool of the blanket scratched at her raw skin.
She pulled the blanket tighter, as if it could ward off the sting of the emotions pressing against her. Her freakish sensitivity picked up the disappointment of the EMTs for arriving too late, the drive of the police officers to find answers, the shock of the few bystanders clustered behind the crime scene tape, mostly neighbors still dressed in pajamas but unable to ignore the spectacle.
Even if she hadn’t found the body, the overwhelming rush of emotions would’ve been too much. Even if it hadn’t been her best friend.
Emma snapped her head up and stared at the police officer. “What?” Her eyes burned, but she refused to cry. She couldn’t give in to her own emotions or she’d lose it completely. Better to feel nothing, to absorb nothing, than to let the emotions surrounding her take over.
“Why were you in the woods this late at night?” he repeated. Even crouching, he towered over her, the dark blue of his uniform blending with the night.