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By Kay A. Austin
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2008 Kay A. Austin
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePompeii, Italy, 2005
Damn. Gil groaned as a gale-force wind hit him without warning, plastering him against the ancient stone wall like a bug on a windshield. The roar was deafening. And the festive café around him dissolved into a swirling puddle of color.
I'm a goner, he thought. But his life didn't flash before his eyes. Instead, out of the feral wind and mash of color, a body-a powerful, curvaceous, and lush in all the right places female body-materialized and bounced against his. She grabbed him and held fast.
Eye-to-eye, nose-to-nose, and chest-to-breast, Gil instantly knew the strange woman. They'd met before.
She returned his grin of recognition and offered him a thumbs-up sign. A-okay? she mouthed.
He was. The world around them might be going to hell in a handbasket, but Gil didn't care anymore. He was better than okay. He was terrific and fueled with cocky confidence now that this blue-eyed beauty held his fate in her hands.
Gil knew all the tornado survival protocols. Growing up in Texas he'd encountered his fair share of twisters and had known enough to take note of the warning signs, even here in Pompeii, Italy. The sudden silence, yellow sky, the air still as death, and the abrupt skedaddle of birds: Signs were signs. It didn't matter one iota that Italy didn't regularly host tornados. Gil recognized trouble; smelled it, in fact.
Rotten eggs? That smell was a kick in the pants reminder that Pompeii was home to a snoozing volcano. Vesuvius.
Gil admittedly didn't know the indicators of a pending eruption. The other occupants of the hotel eatery from which he'd just emerged had seemed unconcerned or oblivious. But Gil couldn't dismiss the knot in his gut or the raised hackles on the back of his neck or the ache in his trick knee. Trouble-smelly trouble-was definitely brewing.
He flexed his jaw and popped his ears but the invisible pressure continued to mount, rousing age-old fight-or-flight urges. Did "duck and cover" apply to earthquakes or eruptions? Neither seemed appropriate. Hightailing it outa Dodge did.
He had reacted on instinct. Kicking back from his table he'd thrown down money and backpedaled out of the restaurant until his rump rudely connected with a wall, cutting off his retreat.
A mistake? He didn't think so. Certainly not now, not with his back against the wall and this friendly female body pinned against him. Not even though wild winds howled around them and tore at their flesh.
Looking magnificent and utterly fearless in the midst of the roaring vortex, the beauty slapped a curious blinking badge on his arm. She wore a short-cropped ebony wig, which was askew, and her brow glittered with sweat. Her eyes were bright with excitement.
Ready? she mouthed.
It took Gil less than a second to decide. For a Texas cowboy who thrived on risk and adventure, who still craved the eight-second thrill of his bull-riding days, the answer was a no-brainer.
Whether she was the angel of death or the key to his salvation, he couldn't guess, but Gil wasn't quibbling. No, sirree. He'd already determined that whatever she was selling, he was buying-even if it was a one-way ticket to Hades.
Okay, maybe accepting a one-way ticket to Hades had been a bad idea, Gil decided as the lights extinguished and the bottom of the planet dropped out from beneath his feet. Getting sucked into a black hole and stretched like Silly Putty triggered a mondo case of buyer's remorse. But before he could barter with the black nothingness that surrounded him and beg for a refund, the next leg of his trip to hell commenced.
Whoosh. Another thousand-story elevator drop. Not pleasant.
The concluding slam dance against an invisible force, pinging fore and aft, thankfully didn't last long. Weightlessness followed.
Was he alone in this blacker-than-midnight soup? It seemed so, but then ...
Click, click, CLACK. A split-second image from his childhood flashed in living, breathing, Technicolor: a humid summer day on Padre Island, riding cousin Sandra Lee's filly along the beach, the salt-tinged air heavy with the scent of sweaty horseflesh.
Click, click, CLACK. Another image as vivid as the first: his college days, researching at the Alamo's archives.
Click, click, CLACK. Another: eating filched green apples.
The image assault continued. Each was a full immersion in a past event; a moment here, another there, this was a random seek-and-play selection from his entire life.
Faster and faster the images came. A barrage of smells, tastes, and sounds. Blisters that oozed and ached. Hot cinnamon rolls that melted in his mouth. New cars. Dead coyotes. Hugs from Grandma. Fistfights with his brother. He was slaphappy one moment and boiling over with anger the next. His brain felt like a giant Rubik's Cube with invisible hands twisting and matching the colored squares. Click, click, CLACK.
Another image. Her. His angel of death. The woman in the wig.
She was a knockout; the deliciously dangerous kind. Gil lapped up the image like a thirsty hound. Her lithe and powerful body was encased neck to ankles in a skintight electric blue bodysuit. This time her wig was long. That bullwhip-like ebony mane, a sleek and shiny faux ponytail, twitched like Lucifer's tail as she moved.
Hold on a dang minute. Her?
But the image was gone, replaced with another and another after that. He couldn't stall the playback or control his thoughts in any way.
Maybe I'm dying, Gil reasoned.
The DVD of his life ended abruptly. He was off again, sailing lickety-split through a yawning abyss, headlong into a great boiling cloud rumbling with thunder and flashing sparks of retina-searing cobalt.
This doesn't look good, he thought. It wasn't.
The landing was hard and merciless. His surroundings were entirely unfamiliar. One saving grace: He wasn't alone. The angel was with him.
"Is he going to make it?" she asked.
Silly female, Gil thought before passing out cold. After that ride, you're stuck with me.
Excerpted from Time Transit by Kay A. Austin Copyright © 2008 by Kay A. Austin. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have enjoyed the Shomi books till this one. So boring. Skip it and go straight to Twist.
In the twenty-second century TIME ROGUE Maude Kincaid is one of the best at insuring temporal rifts do not occur. On her last mission she met and was attracted to twenty-first century inhabitant Dr. Gil Gillespie, but knew nothing can come of her feelings. Instead his memories of her are deleted.------------ However, for whatever reason, perhaps love is too strong to erase, but Gil somehow remembers her. He is brought forward a century to her natural time, but learns she is to die in 2152. Meanwhile in Outskirt 13 of the sub-orbital tram station where it all began thirty or so rotations ago, Maude, having done her duty by eating a bullet in her gut to save CORE, her friends and the time line, is dying with no hope for help, thirteen miles from home. However, Maude never expected that her friends led by a frantic Gil refuse to allow her to die though they make unauthorized leaps through time as they believe they have all the time in the world to save her.------------- This sequel to the wild TIME ROGUES is a fabulous science fiction romance, in which dedicated heroes understand protecting the time line is more important than saving a friend, a loved one, or one¿s self that is until Gil makes a different plea to test time in order to save Maude. Gil and Maude are terrific protagonists who are ironically the ultimate star-crossed lovers as they have no time at all for one another yet all the time to try i they dare. Although the future world is never developed beyond the physics principals of time management, sub-genre fans will find this action-packed thriller worth the time to read it.--------------- Harriet Klausner