Genre: YA Fantasy
35-word Pitch: In an alternate universe where perfumes are drugs, a young socialite travels to Parise to take vengeance on the Count of Grosmith, the man who forced her mother into a life as a courtesan.
First 500 Words:
I stare down at my white knuckles, the same color as the creamy envelope they clutch. This letter holds the last bit of guidance my mother ever gave me. Once this move is made, the rest of her vengeance will be up to me. A vengeance I spent years preparing for.
My whole life has led to this.
“Focus, Em." Darcane's voice pulls me back to the carriage. "Remember why we’re here. This is the first step to taking back what’s yours.” Darcane sits in the seat across from me. He’s hidden by shadows, except for the outline of his tailored jacket and auburn hair, but I know he’s staring me down, criticizing every inch of me in the best and worst ways.
“Don’t you mean what was hers?” I slip mother's letter back into my clutch.
“You’re the heir to her fortune. Now it belongs to you.” Darcane’s words curl around the truth, bitterness dripping from that last syllable. When mother made me her beneficiary instead of her favored employee, as she promised, it was a blow to his pride.
His fury is too good not celebrate with a grin.
Darcane shifts forward, the glare from the window highlighting his unfortunately gorgeous grey stare. It digs into me, mapping my weakness, and his jaw dances as he presses his molars down on unspoken words.
"Don't be so quick to laugh, " he says. “You inherited everything, including the debts she never paid and the enemies she made. We both know how long that list was.”
Long enough to drive us from London.
I fall back into the cushioned seat. That coal-coated city never offered me much kindness, but it would’ve been nice to have a say in my address. Instead, Darcane and I fled as soon as he forged new identity papers. I don’t miss wondering if I’d be gutted by some Black Tips’ lackey or offed by some desperate soul indebted to my mother, but the choice to stay is one more check mark on the list of things stolen from me.
A Skyrail engine sounds its horn from above. I slip a finger beneath the window curtain to peek at the street outside, craning my neck for a glimpse of their infamous speeding cars. All I see are the ornate store fronts Parise is so famous for. It's beautiful. I understand why mother loved it. She was happy here, once. Before the Count betrayed her.
I wonder if the Count knows how black he turned her soul.
The curtain slips from my fingers. We aren’t here to sightsee. We’re to ruin the Count of Grosmith by stealing his business’ secrets and wringing his heart. Today is the first move. I need to persuade the Count's head Perfumist to make me a potion off the books. That isn’t a simple task. Darcane has a job to do too, and I’m nervous about his ability to pull it off. I don’t like being dependent on other people.