TITLE: Beautiful Woods
GENRE: YA Dark Fantasy
It was her laugh that first caught Mecca’s attention. The opposite of the sharp, giggles normal teenage girls break into when they tell secrets. This girl’s scratched deeper, huskier, like she’d recently recovered from a cold. She’d coughed a little too, and Mecca couldn’t resist stepping from her hiding place to sneak a glance at the girl’s face.
Breath caught in her throat. The girl was perfect. Perfect. She had the same Mayan tan complexion, big brunette eyes, and pixie-shaped face. The hair was wrong, but that could be fixed. She was even the right age. Mecca bit her lip and blew air hard through her nostrils. She looked just like Laila. She could be her.
Mecca had been following the girl for almost an hour while she shopped with her friends, stared at jewelry and boys, laughed, held hands, and tried on clothes. They’d finally stopped to catch a film, bogged down with shopping bags and Icees, popcorn and candy. It was dark in the theater, but Mecca could make out every detail.
She’d already separated the girl’s scent from the three girls and memorized it, listening only for the tone of her voice above the others. She watched for her to move an arm, check her phone, flick her hair, anything. It was a game. When she moved, Mecca would inhale. If she leaned over to whisper to her friends, Mecca would exhale.
She had to have this girl. None other would do.