Title: The Mortal Coil
Entry Nickname: Hero by Default
Word count: 80K
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
When Covington Academy’s basketball team is found comatose during practice, seventeen-year-old Aiden Milligan goes from top of the class to top of the suspect list. With a brilliant mind, extensive disciplinary record, and grudge against the team, he’s marked as both the likely perpetrator and an ideal recruit for The Orphion Circle, the rumored anarchist group the police are investigating. Guilty until proven innocent in the principal’s eyes, Aiden knows he’s one misstep from expulsion and being thrown back into foster care — or worse, a prison cell. Losing his academic future, the one thing that separates him from every other parentless screw-up, is not an option.
Teamwork is torture for Aiden, but classmate Jessie Rivas is his only help in clearing his name. A crackpot conspiracist breaking into the world of journalism, Jessie drags Aiden into a mystifying investigation of mounting coma incidents around the city. When bloody symbols appear at the scene of the attacks, Aiden begins to believe Jessie’s theories about the mysterious Orphion Circle are true — they’re not an anarchist group but a coven of dangerous witches.
Stopping The Circle and clearing his name become one and the same for Aiden. Every move he makes jeopardizes his innocence, and with a detective all too eager to lock Aiden up, salvaging his reputation and his academic future may be impossible. But if he can’t uncover the truth behind the mounting coma victims before The Circle silences him, he won’t have a future at all.
Aiden Milligan was in the principal’s office. Again. And, for once, he wasn’t sure why.
He hadn’t skipped any classes. This week, anyway. And Ms. Maynard seemed more resigned than mad when he corrected the electron assignment in her molecular formula during Chemistry yesterday.
He sighed and stared down at Covington Academy’s infamous hot seat. He’d half-expected his name to be inscribed on it by now. He craned his neck to glimpse the back of the stiff wooden chair. Nope, no plaque. Shame, really.
Aiden straightened up as Principal Hadley entered the room and sat behind his impenetrable oak desk.
“Sir,” he muttered.
After two years at Covington, Aiden and Principal Hadley had become very familiar with each other — in the way a lion becomes familiar with a straggling wildebeest. Aiden was a problem that didn’t want to be solved, and Hadley took that as a challenge. The man was determined to churn out the future world changers for which the academy was renowned, like it or not.
Aiden begrudgingly admired that resolve. Or would, if it weren’t laser-focused on him.
Hadley ran a hand through thinning, dirty-blonde hair. “Thank you for coming, Aiden.”
Aiden raised an eyebrow. Like he had a choice?
Give me my slap on the wrist and hollow lecture and set me loose, ’cause you can’t risk losing your highest GPA student. Rinse and repeat.
“To business.” Hadley folded his hands on his desk. “This morning, there was an incident.”
Incident? Oh, damn, not good…
~ VERSUS ~
Title: All Intents and Purposes
Entry nickname: Alternative Facts
Word count: 68K
Genre: YA Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Adrian understands that genderqueer isn’t exactly an acceptable identity at her western Pennsylvania high school—never mind trying to explain why sometimes she prefers he/him, but mostly prefers she/her. That’s why she’s stoked to discover she can blend in as a boy with a group of friends she met online. Which is more than she can say for hanging out with her basketball teammates, who only see her as that girl who gets dressed in a bathroom stall. But when a rape scandal involving one of her teammates is plastered all over the news, Adrian and her fellow players find themselves swept up in the turmoil.
Escapism meets reality—and Adrian’s stomach drops into the sub-basement—when the accused rapist, Hunter, arrives at an out-of-town party. Hunter knows who Adrian is under her masculine appearance; he could out her with a single pronoun. Likewise, Adrian could reveal Hunter’s disreputable identity to their new friends. With both Hunter and Adrian holding aces, they hit a standstill.
Yet Hunter doesn’t seem all that interested in outing Adrian’s born sex. In fact, he seems captivated with Adrian exactly as she is, genderqueerness and all. As his trial date approaches, Adrian second guesses everything the media’s been saying about Hunter—and about the accusations against him. With her gut and the media sending conflicting vibes, she’s unsure whom to trust. She needs to figure it out soon, before her heart decides for her.
The bass thumped in Adrian’s ears, pulsing her temples to the beat of the overplayed top-40 hit. She would’ve crawled into bed an hour ago if the music—and Katelyn—hadn’t demanded her attention. Or if she weren’t so far from home.
A pang crept from her temples to her forehead, but she pushed on. Like hell would she waste this opportunity to pass as a guy for the night. Even if it meant feigning interest in a girl she met online.
She jerked her hips to the music as Katelyn popped her chest. Katelyn wrapped an arm around Adrian’s shoulder and brought their heads together, huffing shallow breaths into Adrian’s ear. They swayed, enclosed by the heat and sweat of the others dancing around them.
Adrian side-eyed the clock on Katelyn’s living-room wall. Almost one in the morning. She blinked slowly as her body danced on. One more song. She could do this.
Her head bobbed, more out of tiredness than to the beat. She reached around Katelyn’s waist to regain her bearings, grasping the flesh at the top of her hips. Katelyn whimpered in reply, and an uninvited spark shot up the short hairs on Adrian’s neck. Katelyn dropped a hand between their torsos, resting her fingers at the top of Adrian’s jeans.
Adrian hunched her shoulders forward, her pelvis back. No way could she let Katelyn shift her hand two inches down or six inches up. One wrong move, and Adrian’s number-one, very-important, do-not-violate-under-any-circumstances partying rule would be broken.