Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 65,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:
Zoe is trapped on an ocean liner being hunted by killers, which doesn't make sleeping at night any easier. But worse, somehow, is the fact that even if she survives, she'll always be in danger, because she'll always be someone her society treats as worthless. She's a poor servant girl from an ethnic minority (her secret attraction to girls doesn't help, either), and she’ll never be able to break out of those confines.
Sixteen-year-old Zoe is washing dishes aboard the magic-powered ocean liner she calls home when the sickness hits. Within a day, the passengers and crew are dying of a mysterious plague, and the ship is stranded.
Zoe thinks she's the only survivor--until she discovers the voyage's VIP passenger healthy and holed up in a cabin. Princess Savanna is scared of herself and everything else on the dying ship, thanks to unstable magical powers that force her to absorb others' fear. Those powers could kill Zoe if they spiral out of control, but she can't dwell on it as she helps her very important companion avoid infection. It's what any good servant would do, but the closer they get, the less distinctions like "servant" and "royal" seem to matter.
Until they find out the sickness wasn’t an accident. The people behind the attack are still on board, and they're creeping through the ship deck by deck, murdering the victims to steal the magic from their bodies. The one they want most is the princess rumored to be overflowing with power, and anyone who tries to stop them is a target. Especially an expendable dishwasher girl.
If Zoe wants to make it out alive, she'll have to choose between herself and the girl she's starting to love.
First 250 Words:
For the first time in my life, I’m going to sneak out of work early.
We’re almost done cleaning the dishes from lunch, and soon, the dining saloon will be overflowing with first-class passengers back for tea. We’ve reached the halfway point of our journey, which, for the passengers, is an excuse to put on their nicest clothes and stuff their faces. For the tiniest sliver of time, the cooks will be too busy flinging biscuits and bonbons around to notice if one dishwasher girl is missing from the galley.
“Zoe, I’m gonna shove this towel down your throat if you don’t stop humming.” Alejandro leans around the tower of plates between us and narrows his eyes. “You’re happy. Happier than usual, even.”
There’s no rule I could break that would scandalize Alejandro. He’s walked off with the most expensive wine glasses and wandered into work barefoot after throwing his shoes overboard in a drunken fit. I polish a fine china plate and lean closer.
“The purser. He takes visits from crew during teatime.” I raise my voice over the clatter of pots and trays on steel countertops. “I’m gonna sneak up to his office today. And I’m gonna ask him to promote me to stewardess!”
I grin uncontrollably. Every night for months, I’ve stared at the dark ceiling of my cabin and rehearsed the speech that’ll get me bumped up the ranks, arranging and rearranging the words to cover every reason why I’m perfect for the job. But humbly, because stewardesses are humble.