Genre: NA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 60,000
Word Count: 60,000
Pitch: Natalie just wants to get through college, maintain a healthy relationship with her Japanese girlfriend, and survive the lethally hostile spirit sealed under her skin. It's much harder than expected.
The taxi stopped in front of stone-carved stairs that ascended and disappeared into the forested mountainside. Assuming this was the destination corresponding to the address she’d printed out and shown the driver, Natalie sorted through her bank-new thousand-yen bills and paid the fare.
“Arigato gozaimashita,” she said, enunciating carefully. There was no way anyone would mistake her for a local, not with her pasty skin tone and generous body shape, but that didn’t mean she shouldn’t make an effort. Nobody had yet laughed in her face, so she clung to the hope she wasn’t mangling their language too badly. Maybe?
Oh, hell, why hadn’t she prepared more? Much as she wanted to run and hide, it was quite too late for that.
Please, please let it be worth it. Let it be magical and awesome and full of rainbows.
At the top of the stairs and beyond the giant red gate indicating the entrance to a Shinto shrine, the forest parted to allow space for a wooden building with a steep sloped roof. The way the trees framed the building, as if sheltering it, gave the feeling it belonged here, in this forest.
Reiko had mentioned that her family’s shrine was a place of power, but Natalie hadn’t realized she’d be able to feel the power humming against her skin. Maybe that was why there was nobody here; maybe the locals were too intimidated to linger.
Or maybe the place was deserted because it was haunted by evil spirits that slaughtered anyone fool enough to trespass and she was about to feature in her very own horror movie.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the ballroom, slumped over the piano, an arm extended off the Baby Grand as if reaching for something. A strip of what looks like leather is caught in his fingers, which are swollen around two discolored puncture wounds. Near his feet is a bronze medal featuring a winged Victory holding a shield and sword.