QueryTracker Community

Queries and Agents => First Five Pages => Topic started by: roseydreamerx on September 16, 2021, 07:35:32 PM

Title: YA Paranormal Romance
Post by: roseydreamerx on September 16, 2021, 07:35:32 PM
Hello all!

Looking for some feedback on my first five pages! Happy to hear criticism! I am trying to learn more about the craft.

Chapter 1
There was a man following me. Lights shone in every direction on the busy London street, people and cars breezing by in the chill night air. All the bustle made it hard to focus, but I was certain that the figure in a long grey coat had been behind me for three blocks now. I clutched my plastic take-out bag tighter, though I doubted someone dressed that nicely was after my honey chicken.
The flat I shared with my mother was to the left, but I took a sharp right at the next corner. As I counted to thirty, I matched my breathing to the pace of my boots hitting the side-walk. This street wasn't as busy, and the lights weren't as frequent. Glancing back my stomach dropped; he was still behind me. Breath quickening, I took the next right again. This wasn't my first time being followed. Another right. Power walking through the short alley way, I'd looped back to my original street. If he was still behind me, I was definitely being tracked.
I glanced back. Still keeping a distance, the grey coat was ever present. There were plenty of people about — one of the buildings was a café with outdoor seating. Swallowing and squaring my shoulders, I spun on the spot and began marching towards the figure.
Suddenly busy with whatever was behind the closest shop window, the man didn't pay me any mind. Not even when I came to a sudden stop right in front of him, puffing out my chest, in what I was sure was a sad attempt at making my five-foot frame intimidating.
"Why are you following me?" I demanded.
My breath caught. The twenty-something man that turned to face me was ridiculously handsome. Wisps of blond hair framed deeply chiselled cheeks, and rosy lips stood out against luminescent pale skin. I staggered back a step, half from being dazzled, half from ice cold terror that leached through my insides.
The voice that spoke both delighted my ears and chilled my blood. "I'm not following you." His voice was a deep purr, designed perfectly to lull me into a false sense of security. His brow furrowed as if my accusation upset him. "I apologise if I've caused you alarm but this is a misunderstanding."
The distress on his face made me want to apologise, which in turn made me angrier, knowing I was being manipulated. This was far from the first time I'd found myself in the sights of a warlock — there was no feeling quite like the chill their gaze gave. It was a witch's instincts telling her to run, while everything about the warlock tempted her to stay.
"I don't believe you."
A polite — and beautiful — smile spread across his lips, as though he found the whole thing amusing. My chest tightened and irritation warmed my face.
"Perhaps you can help me then."
"I doubt it."
He chuckled. I flexed my hands into fists.
"I'm looking for a witch by the name Lucinda Wicks."
All the remaining warmth drained from my body. It felt as though my soul escaped my body and was watching from the outside. The warlock's eyes glimmered and I was certain my reaction hadn't escaped his notice.
"Why?" Fear choked all the volume from my voice. 
"A man by the name of Joseph Knightly asked me to track her down."
I scowled. That had to be a lie.
"No one aligned with the sentinels would ever send a warlock—" I spat the word as if it were poison "—after a witch." The sentinels as an order protected witches and unsuspecting humans from supernatural dangers. Hunting warlocks was one of their favourite sports.
"I assure you, I'm not here to hurt you. Mr. Knightly simply asked me to send his regards and remind you that his offer still stands."
I took a deep breath, waiting for some of the terror to pass before I spoke again. "You're not his usual carrier pigeon."
He chuckled to himself again. Instinctively I gravitated towards the velvety noise. I caught myself before I took a step towards him.
"Meredith has been given... A vacation from this particular project."
Part of me was relieved. Meredith had been following me across London since the day I turned sixteen. The unpredictability of my powers meant that mum and I moved around a lot. Leases were broken, security deposits were never to be seen again, and often I ended up on the 'do-not-re-employ' lists. Mum says it started when I was a baby — that a tantrum would send books flying from shelves and light bulbs shattering overhead. One of the many things I inherited from my father.

Growing up I didn't know there was anything different about me, though I didn't have many friends. I thought it was normal for your toys to fly to you when you wanted them, or for spills to clean themselves off of the floor. It was when I started school that things changed. The other kids didn't like what they called my 'fairy stories' about dolls that really drank their tea and hair that grew a foot overnight, if you wished hard enough. After coming home in tears over a teacher putting me in timeout for telling tales, my parents decided it was time to explain that I was different. Not every little girl could make their plastic horses gallop across the room. Ordinary people found the extraordinary hard to understand, sometimes even frightening. From there I was careful not to use my magic in front of others on purpose, but unfortunately it seemed to have a mind of its own.

Dad used to say that sometimes big powers are put into small bodies and that makes them hard to control. I suppose he thought I was going to grow into them, like he did. Sometimes I wonder what he'd think now I was older. If he'd say the same thing.

He died when I was twelve. I hated how people changed when they heard the news. For a few months even the meaner kids laid off of me. I wished they'd just continued. At least that would have been honest.

Everyone at school thought my father was killed in a building fire, but he died at the hands of a warlock, burned beyond recognition. And now one of them had the audacity to stand before me.

"Well, you can tell Mr. Knightly and Meredith and everyone else at the order that I want nothing to do with them," I spat. Turning on my heel, I kept my head high and my shoulders square, but my hands were shaking. I kept my eyes forward for a few minutes; I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of looking back. When I finally did look, he was gone. I ducked into an alleyway, sinking down to the cold, dirty ground.

Tears streaked down my cheeks as I shook silently, hugging my knees to my chest. I didn't want anything to do with my magic after dad passed away. I think mum was relieved by that. We went about our lives with a constant empty place, suddenly a much more mundane family than we'd ever been before. If it wasn't for my occasional (if I was honest, frequent) magical outbursts, we would have lived normal lives. The last thing I wanted to was to invite more magic into my life.

I rubbed my eyes and finding my search for a tissue fruitless, wiped my snotty nose on my sleeve. I'd just have to put it in the wash.

Mum was already at home. I didn't tell her that the sentinels had found me again. She didn't need another reason to worry. Besides, I was hoping that would be the last I'd see of the warlock.

It wasn't.

Chapter 2
It was just over a week later when I saw the warlock again, just when I was beginning to think I'd gotten off easy. I was settling in for a bus ride across London, diving through the digital pages of some trashy romance fic. Just as I'd lost track of where I was, a cold chill ran down my spine, the hairs on my neck prickling alert. We were at a stop and a man had taken the seat across from me. There was no forgetting that face.

My chest seized, fight or flight instincts choosing a hidden third option to freeze. His eyes were on mine. It'd been too dark to really see them before. They were a peculiar colour, a golden yellow that momentarily dazed and threatened to pull me in.

"Hello, Lucinda."
The unnatural tone of his voice sent a shudder down my spine. It thawed my stun enough that I remembered to breath.

"Still following me?" I hated that my voice gave away my fear.

The warlock gave an apologetic smile. "It's my job."

I shifted closer to the window, putting as much distance between us as possible. Anxiously I glanced at the driver. I'd be safe enough as long as there was someone else with us, right? I almost laughed at my own naivety. What was the life of one, measly human to a warlock? Especially when she stood between him and a witch.

"I'm not here to bother you, I'm here to —,"

"Keep me safe. I've heard it before." My eyes narrowed. "It's a little hard to believe."

Something flashed across his face — anger probably — but he composed himself too quickly to be sure. He crossed his legs, though his posture remained too straight, and averted his gaze out the window. It was raining, the sound of droplets on the windows mingling with the sounds of traffic. I went back to my phone but only pretended to read. There was no way I could focus with him next to me. It would be like trying to sit an exam with a lion breathing down your neck.

Getting off the bus, he followed a few feet behind. I tried to act like he didn't exist, though I did check to see if he was still there once I got to my interview. At some point he must have strayed off, but it was far too late for my composure. My powers and nervous energy were a bad mix. While I waited in the interviewer's office, her mug of coffee spontaneously began to boil over. Of course, that rose my stress levels and in turn, the mug exploded. I left before the interviewer could return and find her papers destroyed  and mug shrapnel all across her pristine office. There were only so many publishing offices in the city that I could be banned from. When I realised I could work in publishing, with writers and books, it seemed perfect. I loved it and how many accidents could you cause in an editor's office? Apparently a far few more than I'd thought.

By the time I'd gotten home, my blame and anger had shifted to the warlock. If he hadn't shown up today of all days I wouldn't have been shaken. Of course, my heightened emotional state just caused more accidents. I fought with my umbrella for a good five minutes while it turned itself inside out (inside, with no wind). After shoving the soaking fabric into it's stand, I gave it a kick for good measure.

Mum watched my performance from the couch, where she was curled up with her laptop. I got my ginger hair and green eyes from her, but dad gave me everything else. She used to say she picked the colour palette and dad picked the design, but she doesn't mention him much these days.

"I'm guessing the interview didn't go so well, huh?"

"You could say that."

She shut the lid of her laptop and patted the couch for me to sit. I was not above curling into a ball next to her and sulking for the evening. She clasped her arms around me and gave a squeeze.

"It probably didn't go as bad as you think. You might be surprised."

"It was pretty bad."

"Ice cream bad?"

The tradition in our household if one of us had a bad day was to put on a film (most likely starring either a Julia Roberts or a Hugh Grant,) and eat ice cream straight from the tub.

"Ice cream bad."

"You pick the movie, I'll get the sweets."

I knew now that I wasn't getting rid of the warlock easily. It didn't surprise me when I spotted him following me home from the supermarket two days later, or when he casually strolled past me in the park three days after that. He seemed to have an easier time finding me than Meredith did; probably some freaky warlock sense I didn't want to know about. He seemed to try and keep his distance, though, staying in my peripheral but not the foreground. Meredith never gave me such graces.

I supposed some people might have been flattered to get such attention from the order; but it was my powers they were protecting, not me. I was useful, or at least, I could be. Maybe I'd lost some interest from them over the years, seeing as they had apparently sent a warlock to protect me. I still had Meredith's number stuffed in a drawer somewhere. I'd almost gone looking for it to check his story, but if he was telling the truth, that might be exactly what they wanted.

From what Meredith had explained, the order believed my powers to be a bright, shiny target for trouble. Demons and warlocks could sense that kind of thing, and it made them hungry. It drew them in like moths to a flame. Despite that, I'd had surprisingly few encounters with either in my life. Meredith said it was because the sentinels had been protecting me, even when I didn't know they were there.

Three days after the park, getting ready to eat at a cafè, I felt the (unfortunately) now familiar chill come over my neck again.