YA Paranormal Noir with a Southern Gothic flair. Status: Complete at 72,000 words. Seeking representation.
Blurb + Excerpt
Ever since her mama drove her car into the Mississippi, sixteen-year-old Bria Dauphine’s made it her mission to leave behind her overbearing dad and get the hell out of New Orleans, before the city drives her mad like it did her mom. Since her daddy won’t pay for her to attend college outside the city, and leave her duties as heir to one of the oldest supernatural families behind, she decides to earn the money herself by becoming a paranormal investigator. For the world she lives in is full of strange and magical things—and most of them don’t play nice with humans. That’s where Bria comes in. Takes a clairvoyant to catch a, well, whatever.
There’s just one problem. The only cases Bria receives at first are requests from old ladies asking her to find their cats. And old ladies don’t pay much, if at all. So when the ruling body of supernatural creatures enlists her and Ty—a hot wizard with a past as dark as her own—to consult on a series of murders with ties to voodoo, Bria figures, with her abilities, this will be easy money. But when there’s powerful voodoo, there’s a bokor—a sorcerer who practices dark magic—behind it. And now that bokor knows Bria’s name. If Bria and Ty don’t stop the killer soon, they’re going to be the next ones dead, washed up on the riverbank.
So much for easy money.
At 72,000 words, I like to think of POSSESSION as Veronica Mars meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a dash of Southern Gothic. I believe it will appeal to fans of the aforementioned TV shows as well as those of Rosemary Clement-Moore’s YA novels, Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy, and The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett.
CHAPTER ONE – NEXT TIME, CALL A FIREMAN
I would’ve been back in bed hours ago if my nose wasn’t acting up, again. I kneel on the ground like I’m about to pray. Only, I’m not. I’ve prayed to St. Anthony three times tonight, yet seeing as I’m still here, cat-less, with less than two hours before school starts, it’s time to turn, once again, to magic. Another power that seems to fail me when I need it most.
The wind’s howl pierces the air as I’m kneeling in the middle of the park. “Here, kitty, kitty,” I squeeze my eyes shut and then open them to speed up their adjustment to the darkness. Thanks to my shifter dad, on a good day I can track a smell better than a bloodhound. However there hasn’t been anything good about this summer. My powers have developed a mind of their own, working when they please rather than when I need them to. My therapist said it’s my body’s way of grieving. I stopped seeing my therapist because, well, no duh. Google could’ve told me that.
Alright, come on Bria. Focus. What’s one little cat? I snort at my mental encouragement. One little cat has been leading me across the entire city. First it was the Warehouse District, then the French Quarter, and then all three St. Louis Cemeteries.
I shudder. Cemeteries, ew.
Now, I’m crawling on dog shit or something, “Come on, kitty.” I clap my hands; the sound echoes through the park. When I picked up the cat’s scent from the third cemetery, I got a vision of the City Park sign. I’ve been searching this park for the past hour. What’s the point of being clairvoyant if I don’t see complete images? I shake my head and stand.
I’ll just have to tell Mrs. Kato the truth: I am the worst detective ever.
I can’t even find a cat.
I spin around to head to my car, just as the wind picks up. A bit of dirt flies up my nostrils, and I sneeze. Shivers run up my spine and an image of a clump of live oak trees pops into my head. Their branches curl into low bows, and their leaves are a deep green. At the top of one of the trees sits the cat. Its yellow eyes gaze into the night as it calls out like a child, separated from its mother. I close my eyes, and the vision goes away. I grin. I’ve got you now, kitty.
I run towards the trees using the moonlight to guide me. I know exactly where the cat is. As a child I played hide and seek there with Mom. Her laughter had brightened the entire place; even Dad hadn’t been able to help smiling. I suck in a deep breath. Now isn’t the time to reminisce.
I skid to a stop, chest heaving. My eyes dart from tree to tree before stopping at one that rises a few feet higher than the rest. The kitten sits atop the tree’s tallest branch, shivering as a breeze blows through the clearing.
I roll my eyes. “Why’d you climb so high if you couldn’t get yourself down?” A growl escapes from my throat. I know. I shouldn’t be mad at a helpless kitten, but I’ve been searching for the past three hours without complaint. That has to win me some brownie points, right?
The cat cocks its head to the side, staring blankly at me. That’s what I get for searching for answers in the dark.
I rub my hands over my skinny jeans making them even dirtier. I bite my lip in frustration; I suck at this. I should’ve just taken the barista position instead of being so stubborn. Of course, coffee stains probably wouldn’t have been any easier to get out.
After tucking in my tank top, I hoist myself onto the tree. I half climb, half jump from branch to branch. Then I land, squatting, on a thick, curvy one. “Alright, kitty, hop on down.” The cat licks its paw. “Seriously?” I pound my hand on my leg and sigh. The branch shakes and I grab onto the trunk. That’s when I look down. My stomach lurches and the grass beneath me blurs into a mass of blackish-green. Taking a sharp breath, I lift my left foot and place it on a knob on the trunk. With my right hand, I reach for the cat. Just as I touch the branch my foot slips leaving me hanging, with only my sweaty palms for support. I try to reach for the cat again, but the branch snaps and we both fall faster than I can process what’s about to happen.
I scream as I smack into the ground. Pain shoots through my right leg. It throbs and my head aches worse than the time in ninth grade when I got a concussion. Luckily for me, thanks again to Dad, what would feel like numbing, head-splitting pain feels like getting slugged in the gut. It sucks, but at least I’m not dead.
I wince and push myself up with my arms then I glance at my legs. “Dammit!” Yellowish-purple bruises cover my left leg, and my right has snapped like a twig. Skin is already growing over the broken bone. My shifter genes allow me to heal at an accelerated rate, which means my leg is about to be permanently crooked. I take a deep breath, then, clamping my jaw until my teeth grind, push the bone back into place. I grab onto a chunk of grass and inhale deeply as my head stops spinning. I release my breath. Sweat streams down my face; my hands are quaking. I slick my hair back and peek at my legs. The bruises are gone from my left one and my right is caked with dried up blood, but there’s not a cut in sight. Hopefully the cat isn’t dead, but with a fall like th—
A snarling growl jolts me upright. I spin around, ignoring the pain still coursing through my body. My eyes latch onto two paws that are no more than a few feet away from me. Each is twice as large as the cat was. I lift my gaze, following the mass of black fur that stands a foot higher than I do. I gulp as I catch sight of two yellow eyes and a mouth of sharp teeth, dripping with drool. I back into the tree I fell from.
“Kitty?” The bakeneko or “changed cat” looks like a grizzly bear with a not-so-cuddly cat’s face. Adrenaline shoots through my body, and I take off through the park. Bakenekos are on the Council’s list of “forbidden and deadly” creatures, which means Mrs. Kato probably smuggled it from Japan (their version of the Council has laxer regulations). Unfortunately, whether it’s illegal or not won’t stop it from gnashing me to death. So much for helping an old lady. Next time, she can ask a firefighter. Most of them aren’t human anyway.
The bakeneko pounds through the park; its claws dig deep tracks into the dirt. The creature swipes at me. I scramble through a tree-made underpass. Branches fly, and I duck as one lands in front of me. With all of the noise, there’s only a matter of time until someone calls the cops. Hopefully a human officer doesn’t show up. Humans might know of the existence of supernatural creatures, but most of us are still in hiding, I can’t afford to blow my cover.
I hide behind a tree. My limbs quiver as my heart thumps faster. The ground shakes as a warning that the creature is closing in. Then, it stops. I swallow before poking my head from behind the tree. The bakeneko looms over me grinning devilishly as they like to do. It swipes at me again. I duck, but I’m not fast enough, and it scratches the side of my face. The flesh peels, and I cry out as I crumple to the ground.
The creature stretches its body out like a track star at the starting line. It growls then barrels toward me.
I dig into my pocket and pull out one of two weapons I always carry. I clutch my fingers against the trigger before looking into the creature’s eyes—one of the few remaining traces of the form it once held—then I look away and pull. There’s a loud pop and with a deafening thud, the bakeneko crumples to the ground.
Hands trembling, I wipe the blood off my face. The animal is back to its “cute and cuddly” form. A slender dart with a blue tip sticks out its butt. I knew those would be useful. Too bad that’s the last one.
I pick the cat up by its neck and frown. Mrs. Kato won’t be happy I tranquilized her cat, but the dart is witch-made. It won’t harm the creature. Besides, she should’ve warned me, it wasn’t a normal cat.
As I head to my car, I pass a flyer stuck to a bulletin board:
BRIANNE DAUPHINE—CLAIRVOYANT (in-training)
Freelance Detective. Cases Solved of the Ordinary and Not So.
Consulting. Advice. Low Rates.
No Fortune Telling, No Help Cheating on Tests, or Other Related Requests.
A photo of my face smiles back at me. I rip the flyer down with a snarl.
I am done finding runaway cats.