My World of Empaths
So we all know that paranormal romance seems to be dominated by shifters and vampires. And while there isn't anything wrong with that, when I wrote my young adult paranormal romance, Soulmated, I wanted to explore something else.
I'd been marveling one day at how perceptive and sensitive my mother always is. So naturally, my writer-mind wondered what it would be like if empaths (people who read emotions like mind-readers) really existed.
Unlike mind-readers, where the thought is simply "heard," I'd wanted my characters to have to work at sensing emotions. So, in my world, empaths actually feel the emotion they sense as a mental metaphor expressed within a particular medium, like water or air. My main character is an Irish empath who senses through the medium of water. So, as an example, if he senses someone's extreme fear, his mind might create a fake memory of him drowning.
Read an excerpt below in his POV and see if you can spot all the empath interpretations!
Two souls. One Fate. The power of choice.
All eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan—an Irish royal empath—wants to do is stop the frustrating search for the elusive girl he's expected to become soulmated with. The rare union will cement his family's standing in the world of empath politics and give the couple legendary powers.
But Liam wants to choose his own mate.
All eleventh-grader and Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia wants is freedom from her traditional mother's ultimatum: graduate early and become a doctor, or have her marriage arranged.
But she just wants to pick her own career and not have to think about marriage.
When a gorgeous and charming Irish boy moves in next door, Laxshmi is torn between the expectations of her culture and the freedom to follow her heart. For Liam, Laxshmi's captivating eyes draws him to her like no other, but if he can't prove she's The One, will he have to give her up? And if he can, is he ready to protect her from a dark and ancient group seeking to destroy them?
Or do they have another choice?
My mind wandered to a vision of what Laxshmi’s eyes would look like if I kissed her. It caught me by surprise, making me cough. Grand. Now I was the one with the concentration problem. If I kept this up, I’d have a hard time blocking out my classmates’ feelings. I stretched my legs a bit and tugged at my jeans.
Jaysus. Was I thirteen again?
Keeping other people’s emotions out of my head was like blocking calls on my mobile. Normally, most empaths had about a ten- to twenty-foot reading range, so it wasn’t too taxing on me, having been an empath since childhood. Unless my concentration was shot to hell, blocking was as simple as breathing. Soon, staying open to Lucky meant she’d have her own ringtone in my head, and I’d be able to lock on to her feelings without having to do anything at all.
When the class bell rang, Lucky bent to pick up a small pile of textbooks from the floor. I hoped she wasn’t one of those geeks who carried her books around with her all day. Then again, maybe she was avoiding her locker because of me. The thought left me frowning.
As she got ready to leave, I waited for her. “Going to your locker?” I pointed at her books.
Her surprise came over to me in a gentler ripple than had her other emotions. The gentleness reminded me of a calm day on Galway Bay—the sand, small waves nipping at my toes, and the sun, glorious on my back. The surprise felt like a warm ocean spray I hadn’t been expecting.
“Yeah,” she said with a sheepish grin.
“Brilliant. I’m heading there too.”
She bit back a smile, her excitement feeling like a frothy surf tickling my toes.
When we approached the door, she rushed to catch it before it shut, almost dropping her books. Most girls would’ve stood back and waited for me to make a dash to open it, making sure I was being attentive. Lucky didn’t seem to want any such nonsense, and I felt a bit off, like I’d put my trainers on the wrong feet. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being in unchartered waters.
She stepped to the side and held the door open for me—for me—and I had to dive forward to help her steady the load of books threatening to fall.
“Here,” I said. “I’ll help you carry these—”
“No. I mean, that’s okay. You’ve got your own to carry.”
I sensed a genuine concern from her, as if she were afraid to be imposing on me, not something I’d been expecting. I stepped closer, meaning to convince her to let me help, but then her eyes snapped up and met mine. The softness and sincerity in them froze me to the spot. Lighter and more vibrant than the other brown eyes I’d forced myself to stare into—all in the name of being romantic— her eyes drew me in like a kaleidoscope, with amber and black flecks peppering her irises. A soft gasp escaped her lips, and I understood how she felt. With each blink of her long eyelashes, it felt like an eternity before I’d see her eyes again. I had a strange urge to brush my finger over the tips of her lashes.
I swallowed against the dryness in my throat. “I–I just have one book. In my bag.” Jaysus Christ. What is she doing to me? I couldn’t get sucked in. I wouldn’t. If I expected anything, it’d only turn into another disappointment.
Shaila is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her debut paranormal romance, Soulmated, won first place in the Young Adult category of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online.
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