Mentor Name: Erica M. Chapman and Brenda Drake
Mentee Name: Jenny Chou
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 93,000
When Sasha’s jewel-thief father dies before completing his greatest heist, she and her brother resolve to pull off the job themselves. But their perfectly thought-out plans disintegrate into chaos. A girl resembling Sasha is accused of the crime, and Sasha discovers her father’s darkest secret. He stole more than jewels. He stole Sasha as well. To free her bewildered twin from suspicion, Sasha must unravel a knot of lies, and find a missing sapphire.
Ankle deep in musty, wet autumn leaves, I gripped the freezing rung of a ladder, the cold metal biting through my rock-climbing gloves. Raj held the front and guided me around the bushes. Rough waves on the nearby shoreline crashed against rocks, and one blue heron called to another, a raspy, bleak sound.
I stopped, my stomach twisting with fright. Raj stumbled at the sudden jolt. “It’s ominous here after dark,” I whispered.
Raj shot me his sly grin. Very little scared my brother anymore. “Let’s get on with it then.”
We crept through Signora D’Agnelli’s garden, filled with sweet-smelling crocuses that would hang on until the first snow. On the terrace behind her eighteenth century villa, we propped the ladder against a wrought-iron balcony. Raj set his overstuffed backpack on a table beside the swimming pool and wrested his laptop free.
The dim light from the single lamppost veiled the terrace with shadows. I pulled a dried leaf from my ponytail and looked out over the pool. At the far end, a three-tiered marble fountain had been shut off for winter, but I pictured it aglow on summer nights. Signora’s grandson must throw fabulous swim parties for all his mates from school.
“Sérieusement?” Raj said, cutting short my musings on too-adorable-to-be-real Luca D’Agnelli. “Sasha. Focus. This alarm is more of a parody than an actual alarm.”