Beneath

By: Cambria Hebert


A Heven and Hell novella



(Heven and Hell #3.5)





Dedication



For Kaydence,



The reason I can write about an angel who fell but never, not once, lost her grace is because I modeled her after you. Always hold your head high and dream big because those wings of yours are going to take you wonderful places.





Acknowledgements



Many of the fans have told me that one of their favorite characters in this series is Gemma. I can see why. She’s strong, mysterious, and there is some forbidden romance surrounding her that we can’t really get enough of. But I gotta tell you… I was shaking in my shoes to write this novella because I felt like I had to really make her great or I would disappoint a lot of people. No one likes disappointment.



So when it came time to write this, I felt I needed an extra push. That’s where a couple super hero writers I know came in. Cameo Renae (In my Dreams and Hidden Wings) and Amber Garza (Shatter and Prowl Trilogy) and I came together and decided to do nightly check-ins. Basically, we set a daily word count goal and then wrote our pretty little fingers off every day to make the count. Every time I wanted to give up, I thought about having to check in with them and not having my words done. So, it was you ladies who kept me writing, and I cannot thank you enough for that. I banged this short out in mere days and it was a real boost of confidence for me. The support to a writer, especially from other writers, is so important. It truly keeps me going. So here’s to us, ladies. Writer Power!



I gotta also acknowledge Gemma. Yeah, yeah, she’s a character, but she’s real to me and always will be. She made this easy. One of the most straightforward characters I have had the pleasure to write. I really thought the wall she built around herself was going to require some ninja skills to get around, but when I asked, she let me in. She told me everything I wanted to know. So, thanks, Gemma.



I also must mention my inspiration behind Gemma and her beauty. Kaydence, when I first met Gemma, it was your face I saw in my mind. I hope I created a character that can live up to everything you are and everything you will be. I always wanted a daughter, but you have surpassed everything I thought you would be. You are so much more.



To my son, Nathan, your turn on a cover is coming, bud. That ornery face of yours is begging for the spotlight. Keep being you because no one else on earth could ever come close.



As always, to Shawn, guess you aren’t the only “model” in the house now, but I still think you’re hot. Thanks for the support and listening to me go on and on about these characters when we are in bed and supposed to be sleeping.



To my book doctor, Cassie McCown, for cleaning up my writing and for being here from the very start of the series. It’s a relief and an honor to be able to count on you, not just for editing, but for a smile too. And of course, appreciation to Regina Wamba at Mae I Design. Do you ever get tired of me gushing over your covers? I’m so glad I came across your name and designs because it’s been pure pleasure working with you.



To the Heven and Hell fans who have read everything I have written and always showed me support. I don’t think I could ever really tell you what it means to me. Even a writer sometimes fails to find the words when people turn out to be far more awesome than you ever thought they would be.





Beneath





Gemma



Before I Fell



The water here was cold. It rushed through and around my fingers with eagerness, like it was flowing somewhere important and couldn’t be interrupted. The sound it made as it rolled over rocks and against the uneven bank was almost rhythmical, so beautiful that everything else around it grew quiet to leave more room for the song it was singing.



I liked it here.



It seemed that maybe I shouldn’t like it as much as I did, especially when I came from such perfection. There was certainly something to be said about perfect because it was, well, perfect. With perfect, you always knew what to expect; each day was bright and full of joy. There were never any tears; there was never any pain.



But lately, I was beginning to realize something else about perfection.



Perfection was sometimes boring.



I wiggled a little on the fallen tree I was lying on and stretched my arm out farther to plunge my entire hand into the hurrying stream. The cool silk of the water wrapped around me, tugged at me, invited me in. A small silvery fish swam near and I held my fingers out, keeping them still as it swam a little closer. It nibbled at my fingertip, testing me out as a snack, and I giggled. The fish darted away, disappearing into the shallow depths of the stream.



I pulled my hand out of the water and rested both arms against the rough bark of the log and looked up. Trees bright with green canopied the water, growing alongside it and sometimes right out of the bank, and arched up and over, creating an almost secret place. Large rocks of all shapes jutted out of the earth and were covered in blankets of soft, green moss and fallen leaves. The sun’s warm rays peaked through where they could, lighting up sections of the water, and butterflies flapped their brightly colored wings among the wild flowers that dotted the grass.

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