Genre: YA Speculative Fiction
Word Count: 80,000
Trapped in an dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a
quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks.
With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi
seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school.
Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader,
announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who
reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her
worse than her father.
Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses
and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural
strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi
unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has
power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi
must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without
The sink looked odd next to our front door. My mother had it
installed after I kept tracking in dirt and fertilizer. I washed the
soil off my hands with the warm water and used a file to clear the
dirt out from under my nails. Then I exchanged one dirty pair of ugly
tennis shoes for a pair of clean ugly tennis shoes and made my way
into the kitchen.
Paint on the cabinets peeled away in white curls. A single light bulb
gave enough light to cook but not enough to read a recipe. My mother
stood by the tiny window, her bottle blonde hair twisted in a bun on
the back of her head. She wiped her hands on her apron, then smoothed
a stray hair from my braid. I knelt down to tie my shoes, anything
to avoid her touch. Physical touch burned, even something as little as
a finger brushing my forehead.
“Wash your face. We have guests for dinner.” My stomach knotted. I
tied and untied my shoes three times, wondering how to respond. Years
ago my father had closed our home to visitors. No one crossed our
threshold. And I was allowed to leave only to go to school and to
church. Well, if you want to call it that. I’ve watched movies in
school and I went to the Baptist church until I was eight and our new
church, Crusaders of God, was a bigger shock than no more pants.