Sunday, February 19, 2017
1st 5 Pages February Workshop - Noelle Rev 2
Name: A L Noelle
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Title: When Shadows Refuse to Fade
Sixteen-year-old Raquel Alexander inherited all three Soleian powers of Light. She can Heal with a flick of her wrist, Give with the softest touch, and Protect with a single command. The problem—her courage died alongside her father, and being diffident in a world under attack by the Devati, a cruel family of shadow warriors, could prove deadly.
Raquel is hell-bent on conquering her fears by joining the elite Soleian Guard. During her inaugural Hunt, Raquel's world shatters after she unearths a trove of damaging information. Information making her a prime target, on both sides. Ignoring an ancient pact, she confides in her best friend, Kaia, unintentionally putting her in danger.
When the Devati Commander kidnaps Kaia as bait, Raquel must venture into their grisly world to capture him. She meets an unlikely ally, Adrian, the Commander's mysterious son, and along the way discovers true courage when she's faced with an uncomfortable truth—sometimes when histories are written, horrible things are conveniently forgotten.
To find Kaia, Raquel will have to confront her shadowy past and untangle a web of deep-seated lies. If she fails, Kaia will suffer a gruesome death at the hands of Commander Sloane and his dark-souled henchmen.
The shadow ahead should belong to someone, but the lack of a physical body in its vicinity causes me to panic. My ribs ache from the pounding of my heart. It raises a long, wispy hand in an eerie wave. Or salute. Or...taunt? I blink once. Twice. The shadow remains steadfast, even through the haze of heat bouncing off the asphalt. A sickening thought comes to mind—the owner is either Devati or invisible. I avert my eyes, praying for the latter.
"Raquel, pay attention!"
Ella's voice startles me, and I swerve, avoiding the back-end of a parked car. She braces herself, grasping the roll-bar of our open-air Jeep until I've safely maneuvered into a spot, then pulls out a compact and brushes on translucent powder, drying the sweat over her brow. The mirror is angled so she can see me. The reflection from my trembling hand flashes over the sleek surface.
"You're nervous." Her eye crinkles as she pushes a pair of harsh, rectangular glasses onto her face.
"Just distracted," I lie, glancing in the rear-view mirror before cutting the engine. "Honest." The shadow is gone.
She turns, exhaling in disbelief, and closes her compact with a snap. "Raquel, your nails are completely gone." She grabs my hand off the stick shift and waves it in my face. "And I've heard you at night. Your nightmares are back, aren't they? Mom would go crazy if she knew."
"Ok, I'm terrified." Hearing the words from my own mouth makes me feel vulnerable. "But I'm sure it's normal."
"Well, I hate to break it to ya," she pulls up my long sleeve and points out the non-existent shadow of my arm, "but we're not normal, even by Soleian standards."
I yank my sleeve down, grab my bag and hop out the door. Ella joins me, and together, we navigate the rows of parked cars.
"I know what's really bothering you." Her words slice my insides, opening the floodgates to seven years of bottled emotions.
Please, don't say it.
"It wasn't your fault."
Dad's face swims before me, and my temples begin to throb. "Says the good sister who stayed home like she was supposed to." I pinch the bridge of my nose. How am I supposed to be hunting shadows when I can't even free myself from the ones in my mind?
"Hey, it's a guided Hunt." Ella quickly grabs my tense arm and puts it around her shoulder. "Nothing like what Dad was doing, ok? You'll be fine. The whole Guard will be watching. It'll be like riding a bike with training wheels."
"Maybe for you. You aren't afraid of anything. You're destined to shine. Pun intended."
"Oh, come on. All you need is confidence." She gives me a side squeeze. "You're going to make it. And Dad will be watching from somewhere above, and you know what? He'll be damn proud!" She wraps her hand around my wrist, and immediately my spirits lift as every drop of anxiety is drawn out.
"Quit it," I say, only the words come out half-hearted.
"I can't help it." She shrugs a smile, then takes off after a friend, and my love for her swells. In our darkest days, she was the one who pulled us through. She's a Giver, and even now at fourteen, she uses her Giving well.
By the time I reach the curb, my pants are covered in bits of tumbleweed, and a drop of sweat has run down my temple.
A blue bench, cradled into the nook of a fully grown Desert Willow, sits outside the school's entrance. The tree is in full bloom, and it's comforting shade calls my name. Ironic, really. I sit on the cool metal, in a spot worn gray, and wait.
I scan the crowd of schoolmates, searching for the familiar flash of Kaia's chestnut-colored hair, but she's nowhere to be seen.Maybe I've missed her. A burning sensation sears my fingertip, and my mouth fills with a bitter, metallic taste. I don't remember putting my hand in my mouth, but I've gone too far, this time drawing blood. A smear of crimson oozes from my pinky. What if the shadow I saw was the real deal? What if the Devati have gotten Kaia, and she's hurt, or worse, dead?
Then I see her, and the knot in my stomach loosens. The bustling crowd separates, allowing me a glimpse of her cheeky smile. She flicks a wave and eventually plops down on the armrest beside me, one foot on the bench while the other balances on concrete.
"Biting your nails again?" She bends over, picking a goat head from the sole of her combat boot. "What's up?"
"Nothing." I shove my fists into my lap. "Just wondered where you were."
"Had to stop for gas, dingbat," she quips as the warning bell tolls. "You need to relax. Your imagination is running wild." She whips onto her feet in one fluid motion, offering a hand before adding with a sly wink of her eye, "Again!"
I accept her help, lugging my bag onto my shoulder while stabilizing myself on my feet. "At least I care enough to worry when you're late!"
"For ten seconds."
"What's with the outfit?" I raise a brow. Is confidence a superpower?
"Thought I'd go for 'bad-ass'. Do you think it works?" She puts one hand on her hip while throwing aviators on with the other.
Her black tank is cut sharp, and is tight, and I'm pretty sure someone sold her tattered rags claiming they were jeans. A dress code violation is definitely in her near future.
"It screams it."
"Good." She smirks, adding a strut to her step. "What's on tap for the weekend?"
"Nada," I grimace, walking along. "Mom has me volunteering." The lie tumbles out on auto-pilot, but this time, it's hard to hide the sarcasm. Luckily, Kaia is distracted by an argument behind us. Ciara, a sophomore with more attitude than all Glendale, stands near the parking lot while a small crowd circles around.
"What's the witch up to now?" Kaia asks.
"Probably beating up another Freshman." I roll my eyes. "But, if it's not my sister, then I stay clear. Come on, let's go."
"Do you see this?" Kaia moves her hands up and down her body like she's showcasing a prize. "This is my bad-ass outfit. Andthat," she says, pointing straight at Ciara, "needs a visit from this."
"Seriously, this is the last thing I need today." I grasp for her hand, hoping to steer her away, but she marches on, and I'm left tailing her in the dust. She breaks through the growing crowd with ease and I stumble after, bumping into the thick frame of a dark-haired boy.
"Sorry," I mumble, but he doesn't notice. He works his way forward, but before he's swallowed by the crowd, something falls from his half-zipped shoulder bag. A muffled clunk follows.
A glint of light catches my eye through the jumble of feet. He dropped his phone. A spidery crack splinters the glossy screen.
"Hey, your phone..." He's is nowhere in sight.
I crouch down and scoop it up. The phone dings, and a preview of a picture message pops on the screen. I glance out of habit, and a familiar face smiles back. My heart drops. It's a copy of the ID picture from my classified Soleian file, and five bold words are stamped across the top.
Target Compromised: Bang and Burn