Name: Rachel Stevenson (@whatshewrote)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Title: The Waterfront Girls
Pitch: Blackbeard’s ghost fleet threatens modern Charleston again. Skateboarder Shalayla and her girlfriends agree to help quiet businessman Guy prevent a blockade, but as descendants of Blackbeard’s rival, only their blood will satisfy the dead pirate.
Charleston smiles. Charleston nods when you pass it. Shalayla smiled and nodded now at weaving tourists. Buttercream pastel Rainbow Row skipped behind her back.
The gray-suited white guy wasn’t a tourist. Shalayla never saw him before. Didn’t matter. Nice view, she knew him, and he believed in pirate ghosts. He believed in the two-hundred-year old finger dangling off her throat.
His path wobbled as he skimmed the sights behind marching palmettos, glinting blue sunglasses, and his Starbucks cup. A car slowed as he wandered into the street, and he dashed to the curve, hand saluting an apology. He spotted her. His steps spread. His coffee’s shadow, visible through recycled paper thanks to morning sun, bounced in his grasp. Didn’t look like a nutcase. That complicated things.
Shalayla pulled her cap’s sweaty rim further over her eyes and leaned her back on bubblegum pink wall, stretching crossed legs and balancing, sitting on her skateboard.
“Hi,” said Guy Allamby Bonnet. He stood over her, his shadow tangling with the pink house’s, and offered a hand. Probably to help her up. Shalayla shook it. He pocketed his fingers awkwardly. “Um. Thanks for meeting me.”
“No problem. Don’t know why it couldn’t be at the candy shop, though.”
“It’d take too long.” Guy Allamby Bonnet ran a hand over his day’s worth of white man stubble. “Miss…”
“Shalayla, but sure as heck you don’t call me Shay, Mister Bonnet.”
“Sounds good, if you call me Guy. My grandpa’s house is not far from here, but I figured the pink house was an easy meeting place.”
“That’s fine.” Shalayla stood, slinging her board over her shoulder and ignoring his offered white hand again. “There’s one thing you gotta know though.”
“I’ll pay you want you want.”
“Not that.” Shalayla flung her orange braids behind her. “I’ve got friends. Four of them.”
“Oh, right. You mentioned Julia.”
“They’re in on this, and they will be the whole time, or no deal.”
Guy shifted on his leg and sampled his coffee. “Okay, deal. Now let’s go.”
He gestured for her to go first. Her skateboard’s silhouette swayed back and forth under her sauntering feet. Together they walked in I-just-met you silence under the palmettos, past a kissing selfie couple, Confederate flags, praline shops leaking cinnamon-sugared steam into the street. The Waterfront parted the buildings framing the streets like a curtain just ahead, but they turned into a gravel driveway.
Shalayla leaned on her skateboard as Guy fiddled with the custom iron fence, its bars a-swirl with pineapple patterns. Above them rose a Greek revivalist mansion, its white pillars and bubbling porches poised and polished.
“Ah ha.” Guy swung the gate open and let her in first. Gravel ground under Shalayla’s converses.
“So this is your granddad’s house?” she asked. The words were half out of her wire-corested mouth when something fluttered in an upper window. A curtain. A face. Shalayla paused and Guy passed her and rocking chairs to the door.“Yeah,” he said, scrubbing his feet on a scuffed Gamecocks welcome mat. The kind you buy at Walmart in the back of the store, where everything is motor oil reek and bike racks