To seventeen-year-old Ricktor Collor, stealing is an art form. A detailed grift or a graceful sleight of hand speaks to him the way fine wine does to connoisseurs. His lifelong dream is joining the Court of Thieves, the global crime syndicate his family rules from New York. But ever since Mom died during a heist, Dad’s hellbent on Rick finishing high school and living a normal life. That’s no way to honor Mom’s memory.
So when eccentric millionaire Jonathan Cat hires the Court to steal the Herald’s Staff, an artefact from Greek mythology, Rick knows this is his big break. If he steals the thing first, Dad will have no choice but to let him join the Court. If he fails, Dad will disown him, but no risk, no gain, right?
Except when Rick touches the staff, it vanishes in a flash of light.
Now, he has to get the Herald’s Staff back before his father finds out and the Court’s reputation is ruined. Only he might not get the chance. When Jonathan Cat turns out to be more murderous than eccentric, Rick must fight to protect everyone he loves, all the while uncovering an ancient, magical conflict and the truth behind his mother’s death.
WILD CARDS is a young adult contemporary fantasy complete at 96,500 words. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Linnaeus University in Sweden and have written articles for several magazines and newspapers. I’ve also freelanced as an English-to-Swedish translator.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
1. ROBOTS WITH MACHINEGUNS FOR HANDS
Mr. Fischer’s mind-numbing math class ends the most awesome way ever: a car explodes outside school.
Well, I don’t actually see it explode, but any native New Yorker would recognize the loud boom, complete with shrieking metal and blaring alarms. A small quake rattles the classroom. The benches jump, the windows shake. Mr. Fischer’s diploma, on the wall behind his desk, trembles right off its peg. He spins his chair around and catches it with practiced hands.
It’s been a few months since last time, but everybody knows what this means. My classmates pause, glance at each other. Nobody speaks. Nobody moves. They wait for the alarm.
Me? I lunge out of my seat and vault over desks to get to the window, Lucas and Matt hot on my heels. The three of us mash our faces against the glass, but the explosion happened around the corner, so we only see some billowing smoke, hear sirens closing in. Too bad, but it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna find out what’s going on soon enough.
“Ricktor, Matthew, Lucas! Get away from the windows!” Mr. Fischer barks. “It could—”
The rest of his sentence drowns in a series of loud pings and whirrs. The shelter alarm is different from the shrill fire alarm—a signal to stay inside, not evacuate. Everybody stands. Me and the guys peel away from the window, grab our bags, and let Mr. Fischer herd us in with the rest of class.
“Alright kids, you know the drill! To the shelter, nice and easy!”
Matt sidles up to his girlfriend, Dessie, as we file out of the room two-by-two. He’s such a doormat. Me and Lucas make gagging noises at his back, and he flips us off. Rude doormat. Mr. Fischer shuts the classroom door and follows close behind me and Lucas. Too close. I grin at him over my shoulder.
“Afraid I’ll get lost, sir?”
“Eyes ahead and behave, smartass.”
I’m about to tell him I always behave, but he might have a point. The corridor is stuffed, students spilling out of every classroom and moving toward the underground shelter. Teachers yell orders to stay in line over our heads, but they’re drowned out by the alarm and chatter about the explosion. Perfect. Mr. Fischer’s burning holes in the back of my head, but in the press of the crowd, he doesn’t see me unzip a small compartment on my backpack. Doesn’t notice when I nudge Lucas or whisper, “You coming?”
Luc is confused for half a second before his eyes widen. “No way, man! Mom and Dad gave me hell last time.”
The jerk shoves me sideways into a freshman, who squeaks and topples into one of her classmates. Perfect opening. I tip my backpack and pour tiny marble beads over the floor. The effect is instantaneous and hilarious.