Name: Sonia Hartl
Title: The Cry House
Genre: YA Gothic Romance
75 word pitch: Seventeen-year-old Faith is haunted by spirits from the Gilded Age, where madness lies dormant and killers hide behind the façade of polite society. She doesn’t need Logan’s help in dealing with the dead. She’s got this. But when Logan starts having visions of murder and revenge, Faith is caught between the ghosts that won’t let go and the guy she won’t let in. One loves her, one needs her, one wants her dead.
First 500 words: The sticky sweet closeness of death coated Faith’s senses like over-ripe strawberry jam. Someone was watching her. Shadows shifted across the desolate street. She peered over her shoulder at the Cry House. It stood in the distance, vacant and still. Not a single floating sheet or rattling chain in sight. She would have welcomed a moaning specter, something to explain the feeling of being stalked. She had a lot more to fear from the living than the dead.
Unable to shake the feeling that she was being followed, Faith took off running. Wind tossed her hair, scattering it over her eyes. A streetlight flicked on with an electric hum and pop above her head. The air grew damp and heavy with the approaching night.
Faith took another hasty scan of the house. Empty. Slowing down, she exhaled.
Get over yourself. No one is chasing you.
The sound of Logan’s voice made every muscle in her body tight. Oh God, kill me, kill me now. Closing her eyes, she waited a beat before reopening them, willing herself to disappear. He probably thinks I’m eight shades of crazy.
“Hey, I thought that was you,” Logan said as he hopped a low fence to catch up to her. “What were you running from?”
Irrational fear and shame burned her pale cheeks. Toeing at a weed that poked through the sidewalk crack, she tried to come up with a witty response.
“Figures,” he said.
When he leaned down to whisper something in her ear, she backed up a step. Logan crossed his arms and frowned, but kept his distance.
“Arm’s length,” he muttered.
Confused by his annoyance, Faith looked up through the swing of her bangs. Refusing to meet his eyes, she concentrated instead on the way his black hair curled against his jaw. Without meaning to, her gaze wandered to his full lips, slightly parted and damp, like they had just been... she heard her breath catch a moment before inhaling.
The slow spread of his grin made her curse her stupid involuntary reflexes. He gave a low and intimate laugh, causing her stomach to flutter in response. Willing to play along, she tried to give him a small smile, but the shape of her mouth told her it was closer to a grimace.
“How do I always manage to piss you off?” he asked.
“I’m not pissed, you just caught me off guard,” she said, folding her arms across her chest.
“Maybe I’m just always catching you off guard then,” he said, rubbing his chin between his finger and thumb.
Dropping her gaze to her feet, she shrugged.
Logan blew out his breath, ran a hand through his hair, and shifted his stance. “What are you doing tonight?”
“I’m on my way to Ollie’s house,” she said. “Girls night.”
She tried to relax her facial muscles enough to give a real smile, which she found much easier when she didn’t have to look at him.