by Ann Laguerre (@le_anntagonist)
Editor: Katie McCoach (@katiemccoach)
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Sixteen-year-old Laurette Henry is a hopeless romantic…when it comes to her dad’s love life. She’s never bought into the evil stepmom narrative and would do anything to have a mom—a full family unit at last. Yet, all of Laurette’s attempts to set her dad up have backfired. When her dad announces he’s found the one, Laurette is ecstatic. She commits to being on her best behavior for a chance at the family she’s always wanted.
That is, until she discovers her dad is dating the mom of her sworn enemy and school rival Kira Iwasaki. Laurette and Kira are dirty competitors: from grades, to school clubs, to debate team, and even boys. Dealing with Kira at school is one thing, but having her around for Laurette’s dad’s special Friday night dinners is unthinkable.
Kira and Laurette expect their parents’ relationship to crumble, but when Laurette’s dad invites Kira and her mom to move in with them, the girls have had enough. The teens become unlikely partners as they conspire to end their parent’s relationship. Laurette’s ready to do what she does best: meddling, and with Kira’s help they can surely end the relationship and go back to how things were.
Laurette’s desperation to break them up intensifies as Kira doubles down on making her life miserable in and outside of the house. But their attempts only manage to push their parents closer together. Fuel is added to the rapidly spreading fire when Laurette’s dad announces his intentions to marry Kira’s mom. With Kira and Laurette roped into proposal planning, the girls have the perfect opportunity to end this once and for all. But as they go on with their plan, Kira and Laurette discover they may not only be sabotaging a relationship, but the kind of family unit they both have longed for. Laurette must decide whose happiness she values most: hers or her dad’s.
NEMESISTER is a YA contemporary novel where the complex family dynamics of Cinderella meet the reverse plot of The Parent Trap. The full manuscript is complete at 70,000 words.
I’m currently pursuing degrees in Business and Financial Mathematics, respectively. I spend most of my time watching Disney movies and rom coms on repeat. I write because black girls, like me, aren’t often the main characters in stories. This led me not to see myself as the author of my own story. I want to change that for other little black girls out there.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
First Five Pages
It’s 1:10 p.m. on Thursday and Kira has declared war once again.
I glare at her name written in bold felt marker on the auditions sign-up sheet. I should’ve seen this coming. Kira’s never tried out for the spring musical before, or any musical for that matter. It was our unspoken agreement; she gets sports, I get theatre.
But Kira’s always been one to overstep boundaries.
“I’m surprised they didn’t just print both your pictures on a large poster with a ‘versus’ in the middle,” Trista says next to me laughing. We were on our way to class, but the audition sheet stopped me in my tracks. My name―Laurette Henry had been standing alone under the Cinderella title for weeks. Now Kira’s gunning for the lead role, and she made sure to write her name in all caps above mine.
“It’s implied.” I groan. I realize I’m pulling on one of my twists a little too hard and let go. Why can’t Kira stay in her lane? I don’t step into her sports world (and not just because I would lose).
I’ve been part of the drama club ever since I stepped foot in this school. Historically, our drama teacher, Ms. Davenport only offers lead roles to juniors or seniors. The only exception was Maria Sanchez who played the Little Mermaid as a sophomore. Thank god she graduated last year.
I’ve been waiting patiently. I went from helping with the lighting backstage to playing a random teapot in Beauty and the Beast in the span of months. Now I’m a junior and being the lead is the next step logical step. Kira’s not going to ruin this.
If I could scribble her stupid name off the list, I would. She’s making a mockery of musical theatre. “She could write her name in glitter for all I care, she knows nothing about drama—it’s a stupid move,” I say. I don’t even think Kira sings, so her trying out for something I have my claws so deeply imbedded in is absolutely ridiculous.
Trista hooks her arm into mine, dragging me away from the poster. “Why are you so bothered then, huh?”
“I’m not!” I protest.
Trista purses her lips in my direction. “I can hear it in your tone of voice. I know Kira wins most of your match ups but―”
“She does not! The score’s pretty even.”
Trista gives me a face.
She rolls her eyes.
“Okay 60/40 but that’s as low as I’ll go.”
“You don’t have to be worried about her beating you, you’re basically in charge of the club. You know the auditorium like the back of your hand.”
“Yeah, but just her being there would get on my nerves. What if she gets a minor role? I would still have to see her every day after school and interact with her.” I shiver dramatically.
“You won’t have to worry about that because if”—Trista recoils at the look I give her—“when you win, she’ll quit immediately. There’s no way she could deal with the humiliation.”
The image of Kira casted as ball guest number five and bowing her head in humiliation as she leaves the auditorium brings a smile to my face. There’s almost a skip in my step as I enter our English classroom.
Easton’s already saved us a table. When he spots us, he takes his long legs off the seats he was saving for Trista and me. Trista greats her twin brother as she sits on the left side of him, I take the other seat, Easton between us.
Easton turns to me. “I have a game today, are you coming?”
“Good morning,” I say pointedly. Easton never bothers with greetings. “Yeah, I can’t go to the game…”
Easton groans. I never go to his games. I’m a busy girl but also, I just don’t find them particularly exciting.
“No, I have a real excuse this time,” I say. “Don’t you know what today is?”
“I have a date with my dad and his new girlfriend tonight.” The words tumble out of my mouth so quickly I almost bite my tongue in the process.
“And Laurette didn’t even have to set it up this time!” Trista adds.
I laugh, nodding enthusiastically.
“You haven’t met her yet?” Easton asks. “By now I’d expect you to have already snuck through your dad’s phone, found out where she lives, and done some casual drop-byes in her neighborhood.”
I smack his arm. “Stop! I’ve been really good about it this time. I haven’t even asked any questions.” I lean back in my chair. “I’ve just let my dad tell me what he wants about her. All I know is her name and that she lives in our town.”
“I don’t believe you. You don’t know how to stay out of your dad’s business,” Easton says.
“I’m telling you, I’m a changed woman. Tell him, Trista.”
Trista shrugs. “It’s true. I haven’t been roped into any of the usual drama. No stake-outs or setting up dating profiles whatsoever.”
“Wow.” Easton shakes his dark curls with his hand. “What if she sucks, huh? You aren’t worried?”
“She can’t suck if my dad chose her. Trust me, I know how picky he is. If he’s introducing me to her, it’s the real deal. There’s no way I’d do anything to mess it up.”
“Just try not to put too much pressure on tonight. I know how much you want this.” Trista’s eyes have a look of pity in them, and Easton’s eyes imitate his sister’s. The twins have never looked more alike than they do staring at me now, like I’m a wounded puppy.
“Guys, I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. It’s going to be great.” I wave my hand dismissively.
I’m not putting pressure on tonight, I’m just putting in all of my hope. I’m meeting the only girlfriend Dad’s ever had—or at least the only girlfriend of Dad’s I’ve met, but I like to think those two titles are synonymous. If he were going on dates, I would know.
The final bell rings and Mrs. Kingsley, our English teacher turns to the class with a tired expression on her face. It’s our last period, everyone’s ready to go home, especially Mrs. Kingsley who has a new baby kitten at home, keeping her up at night.
From the corner of my eye, I see Kira flipping her long black hair behind her as she talks enthusiastically with Paula F. at her table. She’s probably going on and on about her latest soccer tournament victory, or how good she is at volleyball.
There’s a moment where she quickly glances in my direction before turning back to giggle with Paula. I can’t help but roll my eyes. The word humble was invented to be the antithesis of Kira.
“I want you all to continue to work on your essay projects, so everyone, get in your groups,” Mrs. Kingsley says.
I lean over to whisper to Easton, “I can’t believe you’re in a group with Kira.”
“I asked you first and you said no!” He defends.
“Technically. But you know it was Trista’s turn to be in a group with me, I’m always in a group with you.”
“Okay and this is my problem how?”
“You could’ve paired up with any of the other thirty people in this class,” I say. “I know for a fact Timmy doesn’t have a partner.”
“Timmy’s always high. He’s literally passed out at his desk right now.”
I look over to see that Timmy is in fact sleeping next to his bag of chips.
“Many poets took drugs you know.” I defend meekly, then sigh. “Okay, well can you please get out of here before―”
“Hey Easton!” Speak of the devil and she appears in the form of Kira Iwasaki.