Name: Jenny Kaczorowski
Title of manuscript: THE ALTERAE
Description: 16-year-old Emma must master her unwanted ability to manipulate emotions to destroy a creature known as a Soul Eater and save Alex, the boy she loves.
Emma nudged the porch swing back and forth with one foot, the other tucked under her. A warm, intoxicating electricity crept along her skin and she smiled expectantly.
“Hello, Alex,” she said, turning to face him. He stood at the top of the stairs and pushed back the hood of his coat, shaking the rain from his hair.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked.
“I always know when you’re near.”
He sat beside her and the wooden swing creaked.
She laid her head against his arm and felt the emotions rolling through him. “You heard something?”
He nodded. “I have to go back to California. I leave in the morning.”
“Is it something I did?”
He laughed. “No, Emma. If anything, you proved you don’t need me. Whoever you are, whatever your role is in this dark world, we all underestimated you. You’ll be fine, with or without me.”
She laced her fingers through his. “Do you have a new mission?” she asked.
He let out a puff of air. “Not exactly. I have more training.”
“You sound surprised.”
“It’s an honor,” he said, but he spoke with resignation.
Emma squeezed his hand. “We both know you’re meant for more than West River.”
“I don’t want to leave West River,” he said, brushing his thumb over the back of her hand. “I don’t want to leave you.”
“I don’t want you to leave.”
“It won’t be forever,” he said. “And no matter where I am, my heart will always be here,” he laid his hand against her chest. “With you.”
“And I will always wait for you to come home.”
The sky brightened as the fresh, rain-soaked air brushed the clouds aside.
“Are you tired?” Alex murmured. “It’s almost morning.”
“No,” Emma said. “I don’t want to lose a minute.”
He pulled her into his arms and they held each other, feeling closer than they’d ever felt before. The bond they shared went deeper than words could express and in the silence, they said more than a thousand conversations could hold.
The sun rose in a brilliant burst of color. The somber cooing of mourning doves broke through the silence. Soon the whole morning came alive with song.
Alex stood at last and Emma followed him to the edge of the porch. He turned on the top stair to face her.
“Do you know what my first thought was when we met that day in the woods?” he asked.
“No idea,” she said with a faint smile.
“I hoped I’d never have to say goodbye to you again.”
“Then don’t say it.”
A smile blossomed across his face, lighting his dark, inscrutable eyes.
“I’ll find you when I come home,” he said with a grin.
He leaned in to kiss her, the kind of kiss that would burn in her memories for the rest of her life. She opened her eyes and he was gone, like a beautiful dream fading in the morning light.