Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Word Count: 57,000
Pitch: When 15-year-old Grace’s childhood sexual predator returns, her shield of faith and perfectionism shatters, leaving her one choice: heal with the truth but destroy her family, or self-destruct with the lie of misplaced guilt.
Like suck-ups who sit near the front of a classroom, I pick the pew ten feet from the Jesus-Watching-Over-Us statue, hoping proximity counts for something. We sit in our usual order – Mom, me, Dad, then my little sister, Mary Kay, who gets the aisle seat, so she doesn’t have to hold hands with some stranger during the Our Father. Gathering storm clouds mute the altar’s Thanksgiving golds and browns. Today, no rainbow prisms will splash through stained glass windows. I note the first hymn number posted up front. It’s not cool to sing in church, but I risk social exile, to look good in His eyes.
Mass begins. Prayers. Chants. Music. Readings. If I’m filled with these, forgiveness doesn’t seem out of reach.
When the service ends, I stack our books and spot my best friend, Rae, near the back. She was probably late. Like she always is. For everything. I’d die before I’d slink in after mass starts – too much like the death march to the bench, after a strike out. I sneak up behind Rae. “Boo!” I say. “Oops, wrong holiday.”
She turns. “Hey, Grace!” She yawns and stretches. “Was that the longest mass ever? I thought Palm Sunday was bad.”
“Uh, yeah,” I force a laugh. “Like we wanna be here any longer than we have to.”
Rae leans in. “Can’t complain about the view, though. Guess who sat in front of me.”
“How’d you know?”
I tap my chin. “The drool? Dead giveaway.”
MURDER MOST FOUL
Mr. Boddy is found on the floor in the billiard room clasping a pool stick in his stiff hand. By the thin, red burn mark around his neck, he looks to have been strangled. A cufflink with a cross etched into the gold is found under his leg.