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Untitled YA novel excerpt

I've been on and off working on a young adult (YA) novel focusing on well known mythologies (gods of death/war/love/etc) but set in the modern day. 

Below is an excerpt from the first draft. It takes place at the start of the book. McKayla was convinced by her parents to interview for The Academy, an elite school that had taken an interest in her. Though skeptical of its validity she eventually agreed to interview for a place. On her way to meet the interviewer she was intercepted by another man claiming to be from The Academy and offering to guide her to the interview location. Soon after reaching the location she discovered the man was not who he said he was and attempted to leave. Events turned sinister as they tried to stop her. She was knocked out as a rescue attempt by unknown people began.


Her head pounded, a fresh burst of pain shooting through her temples in time with her pulse. The back of her skull felt like I fell down a set of concrete stairs head first. Her neck felt tender and warm like someone stabbed me in the neck with a syringe. McKayla groaned and tried to force open her eyelids. She was lying propped up in what felt like a large armchair. Though awake, her arms and legs were leaden. Even her head stayed still, unable to make her neck muscles move it.

"You're awake. We thought it would be a while longer before you came to."

It was a man's voice, but all she could see were human shaped blurs in the room, no features would come into focus making it impossible to identify the speaker. Her vision swam like a mildly concussed person coming out of a drug induced coma.

"One day I'll get the hang of similes."

The shapes shifted.

"Probably concussed," the voice said.

"You sure? Even if she wasn't dropped on her head as a child that last fall more than made up for it," a second voice drawled.

"Aren't you a little ray of sunshine," McKayla said, intending it to be a sharp comment but it came out as a drug addled mumble.

"Mightn't be a lost cause after all," the second voice said.

The voices moved away talking in whispers. McKayla lay on the chair trying to drag her mind into coherent thought. Where was she? No idea. Who were they? No idea. Maybe this wasn't the best train of thought. The last thing she remembered was Not-John-Warren jerking the needle out of her neck and falling down a stairs. Now, here. Wherever here was. She could feel the panic rising. She was incapacitated, in a building God knows where after being attacked by well dressed scumbags.

"What the hell is going on?" she said, panic rising behind her voice. The people in the room paused.

"Maybe she wasn't worth -" the second voice got cut off by something she couldn't see. Moments later a door slammed.

"You should try to sleep the rest of the drug off" the first voice said. "Don't worry, you're safe. My name is John Warren. You're at the Academy."


McKayla woke but didn't open her eyes. Keeping her breathing even and body still she tried to figure out her surroundings. She could feel the armchair beneath her and though her limbs felt heavy it was from an uncomfortable night's sleep rather than a cocktail of drugs. She could hear the faint buzz of electricity nearby and the underlying sound of muffled voices. Not from this room she was sure. Maybe next door, maybe the hall. If she strained her hearing she might be able to make out what they were saying.

"You're not fooling anyone with that."

McKaylas eyes shot open. There was a man standing beside the chair, peering down. He wore a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled over his elbows and dark jeans. He had what looked like a bunch of bracelets on his left wrist. Looking up, McKayla decided man was the wrong word, he couldn't be much older than her, late teens maybe early twenties. He was pale with a shock of messy black hair and-

"I've seen you before."

"At least your memory seems intact." He straightened up and walked to the other side of the small room, settling into a single chair.

McKayla sat up and looked around. She wasn't in an armchair after all but an uncomfortable looking, and feeling, couch pushed against one wall of the small room. Across from her were a row of chairs and a small corner table. On the wall was a large tv screen playing Sky News on mute. To her right was a blank wall with more chairs. The sound of a door opening came from her left, jerking her head around to see it, pain radiated from her neck.

"You shouldn't do that," the guy said, "it's probably still sore."

"Thanks for the heads up," McKayla growled holding her neck that felt bruised and swollen. She didn't need a mirror to know it was showing a rainbow of unhealthy colors.

"I didn't think you needed to be told that when you get injured, it hurts. Since you probably haven't figured it out yourself yet those bold people in the suits yesterday? They're the baddies." Ignoring the insult, McKayla glared at him. She wouldn't rise to that.

"Have we met before?"

"Met? No. But you did spend nearly half an hour staring at me yesterday."

"What? No I didn't, I -" McKayla paused, now that he mentioned it he did look familiar. But it wasn't that he stood out, he was more of a cliche. Moody, tall, handsome…

"You were that guy at Trinity."

He settled back into the chair, folded his arms and stared at her. McKayla flushed with embarrassment. It was one thing to glance at a gorgeous stranger you'd never see again. Another to find out you'd spent a half hour gazing desperately at them, hoping to be noticed and they'd known the whole time.

"Were you following me?"

No response.

"Are you some kind of stalker?"

No response. He stayed perfectly still, looking at McKayla his blue eyes unblinking.

"What? Do you hide behind pillars keeping tabs on random girls?"

At this his mouth twitched into a bemused grin.

"Are you John Warren?"

"Do I look like John Warren?"

"Do I know what John Warren looks like?"

Laughter came from the doorway. Looking over McKayla saw a man leaning on the door frame. Short and well built with a good natured grin on his face.

"I see you two are getting along famously," he said walking into the room. Extending his hand he moved to McKayla. "I'm John Warren. The young man who's been keeping you company is Than Miles."

McKayle shook his hand and looked over at Than who was still sitting with a bemused look.

"Than, like short for Nathaniel?"

"Something like that." Standing, he nodded at John and moved towards the door. "I'll leave the rest to you."

Without the threat of death by embarrassment McKayla started to relax. Testing her legs first she slowly pushed herself off the couch and stood up. Flexing her arms and stretching her neck she smiled at John Warren who was patiently watching her from the other side of the room.

"So, what the hell is going on?"

He smiled. "That's a pretty long answer. How about we grab some breakfast first?"

Smoothing down her clothes, McKayla quickly ran her hand over her pocket. No phone. Her bag was lost in the miscellaneous office block but her phone should have been in her pocket.

"I'm late for my shift, I should probably be going," she said trying to move towards the door but John was in the way.

"You could do that, or I could tell you why a group of people rented a building specifically to try to abduct you. How they knew you were waiting at Trinity and, in short, what the hell is going on." He moved forward, standing nearly on top of McKayla. He reaching over her and McKayla tensed. "It's your decision."

A moment later he stood back holding a phone connected to a charger. Removing the cable he offered it to her.

"Smartphones have horrible battery life especially when they're ringing nonstop. We thought you'd like it to have some juice so you could call your dad when you woke up."

McKayla smiled and took the phone. "You mentioned breakfast?"

Jen Carey