PW #336: Young Adult Contemporary: LOOK NO FURTHER

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Emily Martin
Mentee: Amelia Diane Coombs
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 80,000

Zoe’s journey to Graceland isn’t about Elvis—she’s tracking down her bio-mom, even if it requires traveling with an outlaw motorcycle gang. After witnessing a heinous crime, she escapes with Johnathan, a young, karma-touting ex-biker with a weakness for quirky roadside attractions. But when she discovers the real reason behind Johnathan’s exile, starting over may mean saying goodbye to the boy she loves.

These are the nights I lie to myself. String together deceptions and convince myself I have the guts to run away. Stranded in a podunk town without a car—or license—isn’t ideal, but opportunities to escape guys like Levi Cadge are rare.

I hover near the motel bathroom clutching my JanSport backpack and study the cadence of Levi’s rising chest. The slow, slurred way he breathes when he’s blacked out. Earlier at dinner, I was vigilant with my task of getting him drunk. So drunk he brawled with townies, got a solid punch to the nose, and passed out before eleven.

“Levi?” I whisper hoarsely. Nervous sweat pricks my skin, my tongue coats with salt. The nauseating snores continue, and I say his name again, a decibel louder. He doesn’t stir. My gaze settles on the Rolex clasped around his wrist. Pawning the watch could fill my empty wallet.

My combat boots leaden my movements, but I tiptoe to the bed where Levi’s facedown. He’s young compared to the other Free Riders, but at twenty-eight, he has a decade on me. Shirtless, his expansive back tattoo is on display—the inked eagle skeleton linking him to a brotherhood of outlaw motorcyclists.

Levi’s left hand dangles off the edge of the mattress, blood and dirt shoved under each fingernail. One wrong move and that hand will lunge for my throat, wrapping tight until the world turns black.

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