See shiny new redraft in #22 !
Ok, genre is alternative history. Here's (potentially) the opening 251 words of the novel. It’s 1888, Berlin, and the gender roles are different here. Is any of that coming across here? More importantly, would this pique your interest without confusing you terribly?
“My God, look at him!” The clerk grinned at the child in Otto’s arms, “You’ll need to lock him up in a few years’ time. The young gentlewomen will be breaking down your door!” Seating herself down at the desk opposite, the clerk adjusted her ink-stained mittens. She took a sip of cold coffee. Over the cup’s chipped rim, Otto saw her looking him up and down like a cat eyeing meat, “But then, I suppose the boy takes after his Papa. His comely, exotic Papa.”
In twenty-three or so years of receiving these compliments, Otto had never acquired the knack of accepting them gracefully.
“Thank you,” he murmured, uncomfortably aware of the phrase coming out sullen instead of grateful. Otto’s looks often made strange women try to give him things he hadn’t asked for. Free drinks. Cat-calls. Sweets. Compliments. Themselves. Mostly it was just embarrassing, Berliners whistling at him in the street over his singular Turkish complexion. And the clerk was entirely right that Tobias here was already receiving the same treatment. Strangers routinely stopped Otto in middle of the Tiergarten park, or on his way home to Mierendorff Street, just to coo over his son’s gorgeousness. Tobias had his father’s black eyes, his mother’s sharp wits, and a sweetly trusting disposition he frankly must’ve acquired on his own.
The clerk set her grimy coffee-cup down upon her desk, heedlessly sloshing watery brown onto the documents there. She sighed.
“I fear little has changed since we last spoke, Herr Müller.”