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PW #337: Young Adult Historical LGBTQ: A KISS OF BLOOD AND GUNPOWDER

Friday, 4 November 2016  |  Posted by Nikki Roberti

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Kip Wilson
Mentee Name: Kosoko Jackson
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Historical (LGBTQ)
Word Count: 59,000


For seventeen-year-old James Mills, traveling to Kosovo with his USAID parents is bad—but without his older sister, Anna? That’s cruel and unusual punishment. The letters James obsessively sends her share snapshots of his courtship of Tomas, a Brazilian expat. But it’s not until he and Tomas find themselves fighting for their lives in the midst of an ethnic cleansing that James unearths the truth Anna’s been hiding about their family.


For the first time since I got here I find myself thinking, I’m glad Anna isn’t here.

Here, meaning Kosovo. Specifically, under this tree. Anna would be good—no, great company. But Anna would’ve died days ago. This war would’ve made sure of that.

At least she’d be one of the lucky ones, her life snuffed out instantaneously. Something tells me the longer you stay alive, the more painful your death will be.

Talk about twisted survivor’s guilt.

The form sprawled out on my lap shifts, as if to say, That’s enough, James. Morbid time’s over. Tomas stirs, his body coiling around itself like a Mobius strip. I’d give anything to be like him, to be intertwined with him. In his bed again, teasing each other with our frozen feet and threatening the dumbest things between snickers. To be back in a world where jokes taken too far were the biggest fear.

Now I’m not even sure if I’ll make it out alive.

My cracked and bleeding fingers on my right hand move down, slithering through his coarse dark hair, raking against his skull, just enough to soothe his torment-filled sleep. If I had one wish, it wouldn’t be to whisk us away, but to give him one peaceful night’s sleep.

Tomas deserves that much. But for now, this will have to do.

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