35-word pitch: Teen bounty hunters, Annora, Hellion and Carina, learn that one of them own is wanted. They must cross the savage desert and return to the home they deserted before the hunters become the hunted.
First 500 words: The callous eyes of a thief, a smuggler and a murderer stared up at the two young women who, despite the sweltering heat of the bazaar, were huddled together. Shoulder to shoulder, they leaned over a rickety table to study the men they’d soon be hunting.
Name: Nicole A. Brake (@nicolealana)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: A Bounty Of Runaways
35 word pitch:
Teen bounty hunters learn one of them is wanted for a past she refuses to speak of. They must cross the savage desert, returning to the home they fled, before the hunters become the hunted.
Annora was in no mood to hunt. The bazaar was alive with rowdy market traders, each and every one of them hell-bent on fuelling Annora' migraine. Her body was one giant bruise following their last job, but if the last three months had taught her anything, it was this: you can always find new ways to hurt.
Beside her, Hellion leaned over the rickety table to study the men they’d soon be hunting. She jabbed a finger at the crude portrait of the man wanted for murder, smudging the ink on the tattered parchment. “I want that one.”
“Of course you do. He’s the one most likely to cut our throats.” Annora erased the trickle of sweat inching its way down her neck with a swipe of her scarred hand. “Just once, let us choose the simple job. We have enough money to keep a roof over our heads for the next week or so; there’s no reason to take unnecessary risks.”
Hellion snorted. “Where’s the fun in that?”
The wind picked up, blowing red desert sand into both of their faces. Annora yanked her headscarf lower, concealing all but a hint of pale freckled skin.
“Simple doesn’t pay a thousand opeza’s.” Hellion underscored the price on the man’s head with a slash of her finger. “Besides, it’s been days since I broke a sweat from anything but baking under the rutting sun. C’mon.” Hellion knocked her hip into Annora’s. “It’ll be fun!”
Annora shook her head, reaching for the notice featuring a common horse thief— a perfect gent compared to Hellion’s target of choice.
“Or.” Hellion took an exaggerated breath. “We could go home. I mean, it’s been three months. Maybe we’ve played the runaway teenagers card long enough.”
Beneath the folds of fabric, Annora gritted her teeth. She didn’t need another reminder of the mess she’d left behind her. She snatched up the murderer’s portrait, shoving it at Hellion’s chest. “One day that trick will fail to work on me.”
“But today is not that day.” Hellion’s smile dazzled the sun.
With her eyes on the array of crumbling cupolas punctuating the peach and raspberry skies, Annora tried to banish the guilt before it could unfurl in the depths of her stomach. She tried and failed. Every day she waited for someone to show up to try and drag her back home. Every day she pictured the worry and disappointment carving itself into her father’s brow, and every day she had to see her ruined hand, and be reminded of why she’d left. She flexed her remaining fingers, the leather glove shifting on her sweaty palm.
“So, do you wanna grab the horses, and go track down his ugly mug?” Hellion held the murderer’s portrait below her chin as she pulled a ridiculously twisted face.
Smothering the beginnings of a smile, Annora cleared her throat. “Not so fast.”