Authors: Myra Mcentire
Tags: #Love & Romance, #Parapsychology, #Body; Mind & Spirit, #Juvenile Fiction, #Philosophy, #Paranormal, #Space and Time, #General, #Science Fiction, #Psychic Ability, #Fiction, #Metaphysics, #ESP (Clairvoyance; Precognition; Telepathy)
First published by Egmont USA, 2012
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 806
New York, NY 10016
Copyright © Myra McEntire, 2012
All rights reserved
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For more about the Hourglass world:
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Timepiece / Myra McEntire.
Summary: When vital research about the time gene is stolen, Kaleb must join Emerson and the Hourglass team to find the criminal, who could be anywhere in time.
ISBN 978-1-60684-145-7 (hardcover)—ISBN 978-1-60684-332-1 (ebook) [1. Space and time—Fiction. 2. Psychic ability—Fiction. 3. Science fiction.]I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher and copyright owner.
To Ethan, Andrew, and Charlie,
the lights of my life. I love you all the time, no matter what,
and I’m so glad you are mine.
To CJ Redwine and Jodi Meadows.
I can’t list all the reasons why,
because some of them aren’t appropriate,
but we know. We know.
Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Okay, definitely a bad idea. At least the pirate part.
I stared openly at the girl standing in line next to me, who did everything she could to avoid looking in my direction. Her mouth was a masterpiece, the lower lip slightly fuller than the top. Or it could’ve been a pout. Either way, it was the kind of lip that begged to be between my teeth. I had no idea how she got that ridiculously curvy body into a skintight golden cat suit, but I was all for helping her get out of it.
I leaned toward her. “Meow.”
Best come-on line ever.
She assessed me through a slim, black mask. “If you ask to rub my belly or make any of the obvious body-part jokes, I’ll steal your sword and you’ll leave here needing a peg leg. Or worse. Got it, sailor?”
“Aye, aye, Captain.” I gave her an enthusiastic salute.
She turned her back to me and stood on her tiptoes, craning her neck to check the progress of the line. The rear view was so spectacular, I considered not saying anything else to her until we were inside so I could enjoy it in peace.
But she caught me looking.
“You are dressed like a cat, right? Or a tiger?” I said quickly, the words slurring a little. Everything in my line of vision shifted to the left. “Are you here for the masquerade?”
“No. I regularly walk the streets of Ivy Springs dressed like a jungle animal.”
“Rawr.” I pretended to swipe her with imaginary claws and hissed.
I rested my back against the rough brick wall, pulling the pirate wig off my head to scratch my scalp before putting it back on. It felt cockeyed. Or maybe that was just my brain.
“They aren’t going to let you in looking like that without asking questions.” Tiger Girl eyed my dreadlocks warily. “How much did you have to drink? Are you going to puke on my shoes?”
I wanted to close my eyes because my head was spinning, but I couldn’t stop staring at her. I let my mind loose for a second, trying to get a read, but the alcohol had done its job.
“I won’t puke on your shoes,” I told her, while promising myself to get my hands on those curves. Giving in to the dizzy, I closed my eyes for a second. “I’ve just had one hell of a day.”
“And I guess now you’re going to tell me about it?”
There wasn’t really any good way to tell a girl I’d never seen before that my dad had recently come back from the dead, my mom was in a coma, and an entire battalion of Civil War soldiers had appeared on my front porch that very afternoon. “I’m more of a doer than a talker.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”
I winked suggestively. “By any chance, would you be a doer?”
“Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?”
Hurt blistered into anger, sizzling beneath the surface of my skin. She didn’t know. It wasn’t intentional. Her eyes told me that she’d seen evidence of my temper, and I pushed it down, hard.
“The line’s moving.” I inclined my head in the direction of the doors, fighting my own emotions harder than I’d ever fought anyone else’s.
To my relief, the girl followed the crowd into the Phone Company.
The inside was transformed. The Phone Company was no longer a classy, upscale restaurant but a garish, fall-themed explosion. Huge webs with hundreds of tiny fake spiders hanging from the spun cotton strands adorned the walls, and a scarecrow graced every corner. Ghosts strung up on invisible wires swooped through the crowd at random, leaving shrieking laughter in their wake.
There were pumpkins everywhere, and an ungodly amount of candy corn, but what would’ve truly scared the partygoers were the things they couldn’t see.
A veil shimmered on the stage. Veils were gateways that served as holding places, lobbies to the future or past, where travelers stood before they entered the bridges that took them to other times. They looked like walls of sunlight shining on water.
Wherever there was a veil, there was usually a “rip.”
A rip—or ripple—was like seeing the same scene from a film on a loop, over and over, except it’s a person stuck in time and superimposed on the present. Not corporeal, and not visible to anyone who didn’t carry the specific time travel gene.
Until lately. Because now, I could see rips, too.
Which probably explained the jazz trio people kept walking through. When Em appeared and walked
the trio toward me, my rip theory was confirmed.
From the expression on her face, I was about to get hell handed to me on a platter.
“Kaleb Ballard. I should kick your ass.”
No one as tiny as Emerson Cole should have so much power over me. She dropped her parasol on an empty table, pushed her hoop skirt to the side, and did her best to wrestle me into a sleek leather booth. I put my fingertips on the edge of the table to gain equilibrium, but I was too unsteady on my feet. I sat.
“I thought we’d cured you of your drinking problem.” She punched my bicep. Twice.
“Ow.” She could hurt me physically, too. “I thought we’d cured you of your violence problem.”
With her blue silk dress, white gloves, and blond hair curled into perfect ringlets, she looked like a deranged escapee from
Gone with the Wind’s
Tara. Or from a Southern-themed wedding party whose bride really hates her bridesmaids.
“Seriously, Kaleb.” Her concern sliced the cut a little bit deeper. “Why?”
“You know why.” At least part of it. I breathed in, blew out a deep sigh, and lowered my forehead to the table.
“Seeing the rip after school freaked me out, too. Although I guess it was seeing
see the rip that freaked me out. But I went for a run. You knocked back a fifth of … what? Lighter fluid?”
“Cut me a break, please.” I looked up at her with what I hoped was effective pleading. “You know it’s different for me than it is for you. I didn’t know what else to do.”
“Getting trashed wasn’t the answer.” She plucked a glass of ice water off a passing waiter’s tray and pushed it into my hand. “We all need to be alert—all the time—until we figure out what’s going on.”
“I’m not trashed. Just buzzed.” Unfortunately. I took a long drink of water and eyed her outfit. “Why are you dressed like Scarlett O’Hara?”
“It’s a private joke,” she said.
“Are you going to sit down?”
She frowned and pointed to her huge skirt. “I haven’t figured out how yet.”
I shook my head and took another drink, letting my laugh escape into the glass, but I couldn’t hide from Em.
Instead of allowing her fist to hit my arm again, I caught it in my much bigger hand and held on for a fraction of a second too long. A tall shadow fell across the table.
Em pulled away from me, turning and rising up on her tiptoes to greet Michael with a kiss. The light above us dimmed for a millisecond, and my stomach dropped. I focused on the tabletop as the rush of angry heat in my chest made its way to the tips of my fingers. Since they’d become a couple, the “setting off sparks when they saw each other” side effect had started to become a problem. I made sure all my major electrical appliances were plugged into a surge protector. I hadn’t yet found a way to protect myself.
Once the lights stopped flickering, I sensed silent communication. I caught Emerson imitating a guzzling motion, her hand curved around an imaginary bottle.
“So … Yeah,” she said. Michael, presumably dressed as Rhett Butler, gestured for her to sit. She looked down at her skirt and shook her head. “Kaleb might be taking the pirate thing a little too far. You know. With the rum obsession.”
“It wasn’t rum,” I argued. “It was bourbon. I found it in my glove compartment.”
Michael slid into the booth across from me and leaned close, speaking in a low voice. “Drinking and driving
an open container?”
“Listen, Clark Gable, I didn’t drink and drive because I didn’t drink until I got here. There isn’t an open container anymore, because I drank it all. And also, I recycled the bottle.”
A telltale vein pulsed in Michael’s forehead. I could feel his anger, too, ripe and unyielding, which meant the three shots I’d taken in the Jeep were wearing off.
Emerson sounded a warning in her throat. “Don’t make a scene, please. My brother is watching, and I don’t want to upset Dru.”
Thomas, dressed as Gomez Addams, stood with his wife, dressed as Morticia, next to the bar. Probably double-checking IDs. Em had told me that Dru was pregnant. She didn’t have a baby bump yet, but her hand always rested on her belly. Her emotions exuded a fierce protectiveness I recognized. Mama Warrior. You don’t mess with that. My mom had been just like her.
My fingers flexed, itching for a bottle.
“Kaleb, hand over your keys right now, and we’ll give you one free pass. But if it happens again, I’m talking to your dad myself,” Em said.
At least Em cared. Just not in the way I wanted.
“You’re vicious.” I met her eyes and slid my keys across the table. Michael pulled them from my hand before Emerson could touch me, giving them to her.
“I’m also short. Which means it’s that much easier for me to take you out at the knees.” She tossed the keys up in the air with one hand and caught them with the other. Making light. “I’ll hide these puppies. Try not to kill each other while I’m gone, and if you’re going to argue, get under the table to do it.” I watched her walk away, her hoop skirt swinging from side to side, hitting ankles, knees, and chair legs. I didn’t look at Michael.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
I snapped my head toward him. Neither one of us had seen his apology coming. “What?”
“About this afternoon.” He frowned before he ran his hand through his hair and slouched back against the booth. “Em told me.”
I didn’t want to think about the uniformed soldiers posing for a picture on my hundred-and-fifty-year-old porch. A porch that had suddenly appeared to be so new I could smell sawdust.
“If Thomas hadn’t caved and let Em come to the Hourglass school…,” I trailed off. “I don’t know how I’d have handled the ripple on my own. She only had to touch one soldier, and then everything dissolved.”
“I’m glad she was there for you,” Michael said. I could hear the underlying “don’t get used to it.”
Leaning back, I crossed my arms over my chest. “She said it was the same kind of rip she saw the night she went back to save you from the explosion in the lab. A whole scene.”
“Like you stepped into a painting.”
“I can’t explain it, Kaleb. I can’t explain the ones I’ve seen myself.”
“Why should you explain anything to me?” A quick glimpse of skintight gold fabric caught my attention from across the room. I didn’t have anything else to drink, but the next best distraction was making her way to the dance floor. “You aren’t responsible.”
“We don’t know who’s responsible.”
I gave him a scathing look. “Yes, we do.”
He disregarded the statement. “Did you tell your dad what you saw?”
“No.” Dad had enough to worry about. “Maybe you should tell him. He’d take it better from you, anyway.”
“You and Em have fun. I’ll find you later for a breath check so I can get my keys.”
“Kaleb, wait,” Michael said, but I was already up. Shaking off the conversation and any responsibility, I took a deep breath, adjusted my sword, and went with my gut.
And took a wide step around the jazz trio to get to the dance floor.
I banished any thoughts of Em and Michael, or Michael and my dad.
Tired of being on the outside looking in. In both cases.
I followed Tiger Girl onto the dance floor. I had way more than dancing on my mind, but I had to start somewhere. She’d almost reached a group of girls in a circle when I caught her by the hand. She turned to face me.
“Try to contain your excitement.” I gestured to the crowd around us. “I wouldn’t want you to cause a scene. Riots can be very dangerous in this kind of situation.”
“Right,” she replied in a monotone, pulling her hand away. “I’ll bring it down a notch.”
“I thank you, and the Ivy Springs Public Safety Department thanks you.” I bowed slightly. When I stood, wearing my most winning smile, I saw only her retreating backside. “Wait!”
Stopping, she dropped her head. After a couple of seconds, she looked at me over her left shoulder. “What am I waiting for? You to stop being so conceited? Because I don’t have that kind of time.”
My earlier anger licked at the edge of my vision and I blinked. I usually didn’t have to try so hard. “I wanted to ask you to dance.”
She pivoted on her heel and faced me.
“May I?” I extended my hand, pushing the anger away and pulling out the smile again, this time with increased wattage.
“Will you take no for an answer or will you bug the piss out of me until I say yes?”
“I like to think of it as persistence.” I made the mental stretch, looking for amusement behind her words.
“One dance,” she said, relenting. “Then we go back to our separate corners.”
“You might enjoy it so much you change your mind about that.” I was either going to have to work extra hard for this one or move on to an easier conquest.
“And monkeys might fly out my butt, but I wouldn’t bet on that, either.”
An easier conquest it was.
To speed up the rejection process, I pulled her toward me and slid my hands down to cop a quick feel of what was truly the finest ass I’d seen in my entire lifetime, and I’d been paying attention.
She reared back and smacked me. So hard my ears rang.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
It poured out of her, with no mental stretch required from me to read it. “I don’t care how much you’ve had to drink, you douche bag, no one touches me like that without my permission.”
Part of me felt like turning that rage around on her, letting all of it go, and something black and vicious clawed its way up my throat. At that exact moment, a loud whine came from the sound system. Everything went dark.