Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Release of Stealing Time

Stealing Time is Finally Here!

After nine long years of hard work, Stealing Time is available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon Please check it out here http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00PJMWD6S. It is also available at the outlets below.




Synopsis:

As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Ronnie Andrews and her best friend, Stephanie McKay, scramble to prepare for the storm.

During the peak of the storm Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time. 


Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane but it quickly turns into a living nightmare as she is faced with losing everything. Stealing Time: Book 1 in the Stealing Time Trilogy.

Book Links:



Here are the 5 Star Reviews from Amazon:

The book has been out since December and I have all 5-star reviews. How awesome is that? If you read Stealing Time, please leave a review. This is the main way I can sell the book by having people give their honest opinion about it to help others make the purchase.




From the UK site:

5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me captive from cover to cover 29 Dec 2014
By m.e.s.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Stealing Time is everything I expected and more! A fascinating story-line, a cast of engaging characters 
that feel very much alive and compel you to love them or hate them and a well researched historical 
journey. All in all, a delightful book that kept me captive from cover to cover.

Two thumbs up from me for the debut novel of KJ Waters and I can't wait to read the next one from this 
promising author.

5.0 out of 5 stars Stealing Time, debut novel of the year!, 21 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stealing Time: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
This is an electricity driven tour de force of a novel. The characters are completely believable and draw the
reader in, to such an extent, they will not want to leave until the astonishing conclusion of this amazing book!
If you only buy one book per year, Stealing Time by the incomparable KJ Waters, is the book to buy!

5.0 out of 5 stars Smashed it into the ballpark!!!!!24 Dec 2014
By 
mR mE (london uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stealing Time: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
Wow, what a way to debut!!!! It's not very often that self-published writers are given the credit that they deserve
and so I take my hat off to K J Waters and urge everyone to buy this astonishing piece of storytelling. Keep up the
good work.
  5.0 out of 5 stars.

5.0 out of 5 stars
 Great original story11 Mar. 2015
By 
Simon (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stealing Time: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
Loved this, whilst most is set in an era of London I wasn't that interested in, I was quickly hooked. The story is 
fantastic, and characters engaging... love or hate them, I wanted to keep reading.
A well written original story from a female's perspective in an unforgiving time. I recommend to all.
Can't wait for more, and can't believe is her first novel! Keep writing please!


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars5 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stealing Time: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
Brilliant, a can't put down
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


From the US Site


on April 8, 2015
Format: Paperback
The first book in this trilogy opens with an idiot thinking he could outwit Hurricane Charley. 
Breathless opening sequence as the storm seeks him out, followed by an accurate and disturbing 
description of what happens to somebody caught in a hurricane.

This storm affects the people in this story very differently. Ronnie, the female lead, is somehow transported 
back to the eighteenth century. She feels the same but looks very different, and in this strange antiquated world, 
she has an angry and violent brother. There turns out to be a very good reason for her transportation, and it has 
a lot to do with a bracelet she wears. I loved the way the author makes us jump through time and back again, as 
we keep track of the storyline.

Going back in time is usually portrayed as an exciting occurrence, but not in this book. Ronnie has never been treated 
so brutally before, and the bloodletting scenes are brilliantly written. It’s not just Ronnie who has been misplaced, parts 
of history are not right either.

This book has it all. Mysterious circumstances, violent characters, historical facts, and more than a touch of the supernatural. 
Our heroine is subjected to an arranged marriage, a witch hunt and a little romance along the way. Her life is threatened more 
than once, and her struggle to live will leave you breathless.
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on December 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
KJ Waters is a first-class storyteller, who not only has the ability to pull you right into the story, but can keep you right in there turning the page. Stealing Time is a time travel adventure that has all the dramatic elements of a love story in the package of a fantasy thriller. Pulled back in time to another century during a crippling Hurricane, the heroine has to fight her way back to her own time before there are dire consequences. All the time she has to fight an antiqued world and system she is poorly equipped to face. A very clever concept, nicely executed by a wonderful storyteller. Stealing Time will have you on the edge of your seat!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Yay - a real PAGE TURNER! I love to find books that keep me interested in every character, every scene, every chapter: I can't wait for the next book to find out more about these people. I am glad I live in the time period I live in, I'll tell you that! This is a GREAT first novel!! MORE, PLEASE.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Stealing Time is a fast-paced and at times hilariously funny yarn about the awful things faced by a modern woman when she is ripped from her own time and plunged into eighteenth century London and the life of a stranger - only to fall foul of an amoral gentleman, crooked priests, lecherous old men and more, with only a (decidedly hot) German in-law to help her out of a situation nobody understands.

Sometimes historical fiction conveniently ignores the ickier parts of life in the past, leaving it a little bit wanting in gritty detail and believability. Not so Stealing Time: Waters has done her research, and heroine Ronnie is spared no discomfort as she negotiates all those things we take for granted, like dental hygiene and the lack of toilet paper, adding some unexpected touches that help us to identify with Ronnie and reinforce her modernness in a most alien setting.

Stealing Time gets pretty dark in places too - let's just say Ronnie is not in the past of her own free will, and she can be pretty blind about the company she keeps.

Stealing Time is a great read, and I'm looking forward to Book 2.

I was provided with an ARC copy of Stealing Time in return for an honest review.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Man I'm amazed by the literal skill that KJ displays in this wonderful and gripping novel, I await book 2 with baited breath!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Non-stop action had me holding my breath!!! Fantastic, believable story written with a talented descriptive style. I loved the historical tidbits incorporated into the story flawlessly! a smooth thrill that has me anxiously awaiting Book 2.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Roller coaster of a book that had me hooked. The 18th century London scenes are very well researched and written , and authentic in every detail. I really felt the past come alive. From the very beginning things go awry, and I was constantly wondering how the heroine was going to get herself back to the present. Great historical characters that were truly believable and in many cases hateful and cruel. I guess those were tough times!

Things just keep going from bad to worse. Waters mastered the pacing, drama and tension wonderfully. So many times I thought the worst was over for Ronnie and she landed right back into danger. Great story, right up to the end, and a fascinating hint at a mystery that will probably pan out in the sequels.

Super time travel book, especially if 18th century England interests you. Buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Incredible story, draws you in. First Kindle purchase and well worth it. #mustread & re-read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Kept my interest the entire book. Wasn't ready for it to end. Can't wait for sequel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Absolutely wonderful read only put it down when I had to,K J Waters has struck the perfect balance of science fiction, historical fact thriller with a wonderful sense of humor and even a little romance.I highly recommend that you stop what you're doing and pick up this book. I can't wait for the next book.Talent talent Talent😁😁😁
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very good read! I was hooked at the pro log and kept me riveted till the last page and that's saying something for me believe me! Can't wait for book 2! The books description above is very accurate - Worth a second read before book 2 comes out. I highly recommend!
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5.0 out of 5 stars

 Blown away!!!December 24, 2014
By 
mR mE (london uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stealing Time: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
Man I'm amazed by the literal skill that KJ displays in this wonderful and gripping novel, I await book 2 with baited breath!!!


Stealing Time 

Here are the first two chapters of the book to get you hooked! 



Prologue

Friday, August 13, 2004, Punta Gorda, Florida

It was three o’clock in the afternoon but day had turned to night. The hurricane’s grayish-black fingers descended—reaching, clawing, and greedily devouring the land.

The plan hatched in Scott's mind had been helped along by a little too much vodka. If he took a video of the hurricane and sold it to a news station he could make his Florida gig last a little longer. Scott had graduated from college in June and managed to spend most of the summer hanging out at the beach, waiting tables, and clubbing every night.

His mom's biting comment from their morning phone conversation still replayed in his head, “Scott, all your friends are starting jobs and you're down there partying like a loser on spring break!” She didn't understand. With work to look forward to the rest of his life, why not have a bitchin’ summer first?

With luck he could catch the eye of the storm by setting up in the apartment pool house to record the second half of the hurricane. It was a once in a lifetime chance. Charley was making a direct hit at nearby Captiva Island with 140 mile-an-hour winds. Here, only a half an hour from Captiva, the winds were whipping around pretty bad, but couldn’t possibly be anywhere close to 140, could they?

Power and cell service had been out for the last few hours but luckily his iPod still worked. He switched between the news and jammin' out to the Black Eyed Peas’ “Let's Get It Started.”

A loud crash rattled the front window and caused him to spill vodka on his pants. “Damn it!” He stood up and yanked open the blinds. His neighbor’s white plastic lawn chair clung to the window at an odd angle. It was crazy—he had seen the guy sitting in it only a few hours ago.

The chair fell off and tumbled away. The rain still came down in torrents but the trees flailed around less than before, didn’t they? Maybe the eye was approaching!

He flipped the iPod to radio to catch the latest weather report. “The eye of the storm is approaching southeastern Punta Gorda. The outer eyewall of the storm has the most severe winds so be prepared for more intensity as the center of Charley approaches. The eye may only last a few minutes so don't be …” Scott pulled the earphones off and dropped the iPod on his chair.

“Woooo hoooo!” he yelled, trying to psych himself up. It was now or never. He crossed the tiny living room, snatched his video camera from the kitchen counter, and shoved it in a Ziploc bag and into his cargo shorts pocket.

He grabbed his Detroit Lions windbreaker off the edge of the couch, put it on, and walked outside. The jacket soaked through in seconds but the hood protected his eyes from the driving rain.

Surprisingly, the wind was relatively calm outside the door—maybe the eye was here! Scott continued along the ground floor towards the side of the building closest to the pool.

As he turned the corner, the wind caught him full on, almost throwing him to the ground. Adrenaline coursed through his body and made his legs shake. Why was it windy again? It was supposed to be the eye of the storm. Fear began to worm its way past the booze and made his stomach clench.

He looked towards the parking lot where the rain blew at an impossible angle. He swore that it went upwards at times. The stronger gusts made the palm trees bend nearly to the ground as if a giant gorilla shook them. Buffeted by the wind he inched his way towards the pool. A section of metal roof as long as his apartment flew across the road and smashed into a car. The battering wind held it in place. Scott jumped at the noise that echoed in his mind like his mom's shrill voice. Fear weighed him down. He looked back towards his apartment. 
Don’t wuss out! 

The fence separating the parking lot from the pool kept him steady as he pulled himself along. A huge palm frond smacked him in the face and blew away. He touched his forehead and his fingers came away bloody. “Shit, back off Charley!” The storm threw the first punch, but it was just a scratch.

A loud crack sounded overhead. Scott covered his head in reflex and let go of the fence. The wind threw him to the ground and shoved his face in the mud. “Aaaaaagghhhh!” he screamed. A palm tree smashed down inches from his legs where it crushed the fence he had been holding.

Heart racing he looked back at the apartment building again. His brain screamed—STOP, GO BACK! His heart said—You're almost there! Rolling over, he crawled towards the pool house in a fight against the wind that wanted to fling him into oblivion. He grabbed a light post to pull himself upright.

All he needed was a few more feet to the overhang and through the door to the safety of the pool house. A red blur from the parking lot caught his eye. Scott turned in time to watch it slam into his chest. Pain punctured the vodka haze as the metal pierced his flesh. He tried to put a name to the red horror that trapped him, pinning his body against the pool house. Scott worked it out in his mind just before everything went blank, “Fucking stop sign!”


Chapter 1 – Stormy Weather


August 13, 2004 4:30 pm, Orlando, Florida

When Ronnie Andrews sat down on the red velvet couch, a cloud of particles let loose and floated in the sunlight like fairy dust. Her real name was Veronica, but she hated it with a passion and had changed it to the shorter version in high school to get away from the formal, stuffy sound. Now, the only time she heard it was when her mom was upset

“Seriously Steph, how can a hurricane hit here today on my birthday?” Ronnie said to her best friend Stephanie McKay. She was one of the reasons Ronnie had moved 800 miles away from her mom in Virginia Beach. “I've only been in Florida for three days!”

“Listen,” Steph said turning up the volume on the TV. 

“They're telling us where it's going to hit.”

“Hurricane Charley is completely devastating Punta Gorda on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida as we speak. Here is the current trajectory of the storm.” The suit-clad Terry James pointed at a map of Florida. Was he wearing a toupee? His hair didn’t look quite right. “Charley is projected to hug the coast moving north and entering Tampa Bay. Governor Jeb Bush has issued mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas surrounding Tampa. If you're in an unstable structure such as a mobile home or manufactured house you need to evacuate now.”

“Hey weather dude, tell us if it's coming to Orlando!” Steph shook her fist at the TV.

The power and danger of Charley intoxicated Ronnie who was both excited and terrified by the storm. Part of her wanted it to be a raging nightmare, just for the dramatic effect. The other part of her wanted to go back home and hide under her childhood bed.

“Steph, that reminds me. Jeffrey has to be at the lab all night to monitor the storm and he canceled on me.” Jeffrey Brennan, Ronnie's boyfriend, was the other reason she had moved to Orlando. They had been dating for the past year and a half. Last March Jeffrey moved to Florida for his job in a weather lab or an applied physics lab, or something like that. Her mind usually shut off when he began talking about it so she wasn't completely certain what he did.

“Jeffrey canceled on your birthday?” Steph made that familiar Scottish ‘auch’ of the Glaswegian variety. “Remind me again why I'm supposed to like him?”

“Steph, c'mon, I've moved down to be near you both. Can't you make an effort to be nice to him? You're the only two people I know here,” Ronnie said crossing her arms.

“I'm sorry, love, I just wish you'd find someone who isn't so …” Steph smiled at Ronnie. “You know.”

“What, smart and handsome?” Ronnie said. It really bothered her that Steph and Jeffrey didn't get along.

“No, I was thinking you should find someone who isn't such a tadger.” Steph's Scottish slang still took Ronnie by surprise, even though they had been friends for nearly seven years.
Steph sat down and put her arm around Ronnie's shoulders. 

“Listen, why don’t you pack an overnight bag and we’ll go to my house.” Ronnie’s cat Fluffy jumped on the couch wanting some love, too. Steph pet her long white fur. “It probably won't even hit here. Just some rain and a lot of stramash over nothing.”

“You remember what happened to me during Hurricane Isabel? I don't wanna to go through that again!” Ronnie said. That storm had hit her home town of Virginia Beach last September and power had been out for ten days with temperatures over ninety every day.

“Yes, I do. I was glad to be down here,” Steph said while giving Ronnie’s shoulder a squeeze.

The phone’s ring made Ronnie jump. She looked at the caller ID. “It's Jeffrey.” Steph made a face and turned away to focus on the cat.

Ronnie stood up and walked a few steps into the kitchen to get a little privacy. “Hello.”

“Hey baby, Happy Birthday!” Jeffrey said. “I'm sorry I had to cancel our dinner plans for tonight.”

“It's okay, I understand.” Ronnie said, not fully understanding but not wanting to sound hurt.

“Can you come here and spend the night?”

“You mean the lab? A few hours ago you said it was against company policy,” she said.

“Things have changed. I really need you here.”

“Oh, so now you need me there, huh? That's an interesting way to put it,” she said. “Steph invited me to her house.” 

Ronnie peeked around the corner and stuck her tongue out at Steph who rolled her eyes.

“But Ron, I have a special birthday dinner for you,” Jeffrey said. They were supposed to go to Del Frisco’s, a fancy steak and seafood restaurant for her birthday. Now it would probably be sub sandwiches or something equally uneventful. Not that it really mattered. “And I have a special present for you, too.”

The heat rose in her cheeks. “I thought I wasn’t allowed to be there.” She covered the mouthpiece and whispered to Steph, 

“He wants me to go to his lab.”

“He does? The wee bastard,” Steph said not looking up from Fluffy.

“Ronnie, you coming or not?” he interrupted.

“If you’re going to shower me with food and expensive gifts, I might consider it. But what about Steph?” She glanced back at her friend who looked away scowling.

“Come on, the lab is a lot safer than Steph's. It’s underground with its own generator, and I have all the supplies we need.” 

Typical of Jeffrey to miss the point about Steph's feelings.

“Hang on a sec.” She covered the receiver. “Are you okay with me going to Jeffrey's lab instead of your place?”

“I wish he’d make up his mind. He's on, he's off. Bloody hell,” Steph said.

Jeffrey always seemed to know how to get his way. “Yeah, I guess,” Ronnie said.

“So you're definitely coming over? You're coming here now?” he said.

“Yes, I just said I was coming. Why are you so worked up?” Usually he was cool, calm, and collected.

“I just need to know. I have a few things to prepare for you, babe.”

“I still don’t understand why you have to be at work today. Most companies are closed for the storm.” She was a little mad at him. He had hardly spoken to her since she set foot in Florida.

“Look, I've got one shot at testing the equipment with a storm this size and intensity. There is no reason you can't be here testing out my equipment.”

She laughed. “Oh, you're dirty!”

Steph set Fluffy down on the couch, stood up, and turned her back on Ronnie as she gathered her purse and the birthday gift she had brought for her.

“But babe, you've gotta leave now. I'm looking at the radar and the outer bands of the storm are really close,” Jeffrey said.

“Are you sure? We just watched the news. It sounds more like it is heading north of here.”

“Charley is wobbling right now so it's hard to say exactly what it will do. Listen, babe, I'll make it worth your while.”

Worried about Steph now Ronnie said, “I gotta go. Tell me how to get there.”

He gave her directions and they exchanged “I love you's.”

“So,” Steph said walking towards the door with her purse over her shoulder. “You’re going to the gobshite’s mysterious lab, are you then?”

Ronnie never completely understood her dislike of Jeffrey. 

“Steph, I'm sorry. Are you going to be okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Been through hunners of storms. Just don’t get yourself into a palaver over that man of yours.” She hugged Ronnie. “You'll get your birthday pressie from me tomorrow. And for God’s sake take the K-Y this time. You don’t want your fanny sore.” They had always laughed about that word, especially when anyone talked about their fanny pack. In Scotland it meant something different.

“You’re horrible!” Ronnie smacked Steph’s arm and laughed. 

“But you do have a point.”

“Love, I gotta get on the roads before the skies open up and drown me.” Steph opened the door.

Ronnie hugged her friend. “I’ll call you in the morning to be sure you’re safe.”

“You be careful.” She gave Ronnie one of those hard looks that made her feel like she had better listen.

“Ta-ta.” Steph walked quickly to her car. Her dark gray pencil skirt and crisp white sleeveless blouse flattered her hourglass figure. Ronnie wished they were parting on better terms.

The wind picked up and blew Ronnie's long blonde hair in her face. She waved at her friend, but Steph ignored the gesture and drove away. She was mad. Ronnie would have to make it up to her tomorrow.

The sky was spectacular—a third of it was clear blue and sunny. A dark boiling cloud took up the remainder like a science fiction movie with poorly done special effects. Every shade of gray swirled and raged looking like she could reach out and touch it. The edge of the cloud, one of the outer bands of the hurricane, appeared razor sharp as it cut its way through the sky.

A combination of panic and excitement buzzed around her head. Hurricane Charley was at her doorstep—she better get out of here. Ronnie went back into the apartment and found the small bag she had just unpacked that morning so she could fill it with a change of clothes and her toiletries. Fluffy looked at her with beautiful blue eyes framed by silky fur. What she needed was to be comforted rather than left alone in a strange new place. They had only been there a few days and Fluffy didn’t take well to change. Would Jeffrey let her bring Fluffy? Probably not. He didn’t really like cats.

For a second Ronnie considered waiting out the storm with her precious kitty, but the thought of Jeffrey's teasing words and tan chest convinced her otherwise. She quickly set up a safe place for Fluffy to ride out the storm, “Bye, sweetie, I’ll be back tomorrow. You be good.” Fluffy stared at her with her giant sad eyes. She shut the door and tried not to think of what a bad owner she was.

Ronnie climbed in her 1996 Thunderbird, set her overnight bag on the passenger seat and pulled out the directions she had scribbled on a scrap of paper. West on I-4—that was the one road she could find since the exit was right outside of her apartment. She backed up and nearly ran over a man, who flailed his arms angrily at her before trying to open the car door. In a panic, she leaned on the horn. This had the desired effect of startling him so he would let go. She jammed it in reverse and then peeled out of the apartment complex. When she looked in her rearview mirror she saw the man running after her.

“Well that was weird!” Ronnie said trying to calm down. Bad enough a huge storm was about to hit, but to have a crazy man attacking her car only made things worse. She turned on the radio for a distraction as well as an update of the storm. 

The weather report provided a snapshot of Armageddon so she turned it off while she fought to steer through the increasing winds.

On I-4 she drove towards Jeffrey’s lab and tried to shake the feeling of impending doom. A few large splats on the windshield startled her, followed by a gust of wind that shoved her car out of the lane. Ronnie overcompensated the turn and hydroplaned on the slick highway. “Crap!” She jerked the wheel in the other direction while the car fishtailed down I-4, barely missing a white Toyota and the guardrail. 

The driver honked at her and gave her the finger. Her heart nearly beat out of her chest. Panic returned in full force. Would she make it there without crashing? Did the lab have a covered garage to protect her car from the storm? How would Fluffy deal with the stress of the move and now the hurricane? Who was the weird guy and did he live in the same complex as her? The questions assaulted her and she was fully worked up by the time she pulled off the highway at Jeffrey's exit and called his cell.

He led her through a few turns to a huge building. A wave of excitement washed over her when she saw him—all six feet of his fit, lean body. His dark curly blonde hair plastered against his face from the rain and wind. It had been a month since they had been together and she felt giddy thinking of what they would do later.

She rolled down her window. “Hi honey, I'm here.”
“Hi Babe.” Jeffrey leaned in to kiss her, his face wet from the rain. He smelled great. “I'm so glad you made it. It's getting bad out here already.”

“I know. I almost got blown off the road,” she said.

“Blown, eh? That gives me an idea for later.”

“Jeffrey! You are such a perv!”

“Here scoot over, I want to drive.”

Ronnie climbed over the center console to the passenger seat and Jeffrey took the driver's seat. He reached a security gate and inserted an ID card in the box. He parked the car in the covered employee lot and took her in the back entrance using the card to open the basement door.

“I’ve paid off LT at the guard desk to turn off the camera just while I sneak you in.” He took her bag and hoisted it over his shoulder before grabbing her hand.

They walked quickly through several corridors and reached a metal door. Jeffrey used the keypad and his security key once again. The room was about the size of her apartment living room and full of computers, monitors, and cabinets. There were no windows and there was only one door in the back of the room. Out of place in the back corner, squished between the desk and the wall, sat an inflatable mattress with sheets, pillows, and a blanket. A TV on top of the desk had weather coverage on.

Terry James, the local weatherman, nearly frothed at the mouth with excitement. “We have a new trajectory. This is very important for those who have just evacuated from the Tampa Bay area.” His face was serious, but the mystery of toupee or not toupee as Steph said, was distracting. Jeffrey set her bag down near the bed as they both listened intently.

“The mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas for the Tampa Bay area are no longer in effect. The new trajectory is here.” Terry pointed to a cone-shaped path in red and orange covering a huge swath with Orlando in the center.

“If you are in coastal or low-lying areas anywhere in the path of this storm you need to get to a shelter immediately. This is a dangerous storm, in fact, it is one of the strongest to hit southwest Florida since 1960 when Hurricane Donna devastated the area.”

Jeffrey took her hand and kissed it. “Babe.”

“Shhhhhh!” Ronnie said. Excitement and dread bubbled up in her chest.

Terry continued, “Hurricane Charley has sustained winds of 145 and gusts up to 175 miles per hour. This makes Charley a Category 4 storm. We are expecting it to weaken over land but by the time it makes it to central Florida it will still be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane with sustained winds from seventy to 120 miles per hour.”

Jeffrey stood behind Ronnie and pulled her close, his arms around her waist while they watched. “A Category 2 storm would result in damage to roofs, and poorly constructed buildings. We can expect trees to be down with extensive and perhaps total power outages. There is a potential for loss of potable water as well so fill containers with clean water to last three days.” Terry went on to detail the areas that would likely be flooded and what kind of damage to expect. Ronnie drank it in, feeling the pull of the storm, the seduction of its power.

Jeffrey turned her around. “Do you know what this means, babe?” He hugged her and picked her up off her feet. “With a direct hit I can try out my equipment and see how it handles hurricane force winds!” He set her down and kissed her. He pulled away and muted the TV. “Babe, this is really big! I’ve only used lab-simulated hurricane-force winds. The original path of the storm was supposed to miss us.” He walked a few steps to his desk. “With a direct hit I’m going to get funded as long as the equipment holds up.” He picked up a bottle of champagne and opened it.

“I'm glad you're excited. It scares me, Jeffrey.” Ronnie jumped at the sound of the cork popping. “Dom Pérignon! Jeffrey, you've really gone all out!” Although it did seem like he was celebrating the storm as much as her birthday.

He handed her a plastic glass, filled another for himself, and lifted it, “A toast to the birthday girl.” Ronnie touched her glass to his. Plink. They laughed at the pitiful noise the plastic made. She took a big sip and the cool bubbly liquid slid down her throat, adding to the electricity running through her veins. “You go wash up and we’ll eat. I have a special dinner for us.” He nodded to the door at the back of the room.

Ronnie opened the door and found a small sterile bathroom with a brass drain in the middle of the floor. It smelled like paint and bleach. She closed the door behind her.

***

Jeffrey opened the desk drawer and pulled out a small medicine bottle and twisted the top off. He walked to the food that sat on the edge of the desk in take-out containers. Opening the Styrofoam lid, he took a plastic fork and gently lifted the crusty top of the twice-baked potato and emptied the contents of the bottle into the steamy pocket. He could hear the toilet flush. With his finger he mixed it around and gently put the potato back together. With his fingernail he marked an ‘x’ on the top of the Styrofoam and closed the tab on the container.

***

Ronnie washed her hands and dried them with the paper towels and opened the door.

“Here sit down.” He held out the chair. On the table sat carry-out containers from Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, the same place he was going to take her to before the storm interfered. He opened the box in front of her to reveal a feast of lobster tails, veggies, and a twice-baked potato.

“Oh man,” she said, “my absolute favorite. Thanks, babe.”

He leaned down to kiss her. “Yes, nothing but the best for Miss Andrews. Jeeves, get the lady more champagne.” Pretending to be a waiter, he poured her another glass, napkin draped over his arm.

This quelled some of her fears about moving so far from home. The awkwardness between them since he left Virginia started to evaporate. She could feel the knot in her stomach unravel a little. The champagne was helping, too.

They enjoyed the feast and talked about the storm and the new job she would be starting on Monday. Ronnie watched his hands and his mouth as he talked and ate and couldn't help but imagine them on her. After dinner Jeffrey handed Ronnie a small box wrapped in gold foil paper.

“What wonderful wrapping, did you do it?” she asked.

“What, are you kidding? Of course not. It would look like crap if I had. Open it.” He looked like the Cheshire Cat with a huge smile and mischief in his eyes.

She slowly unwrapped the box and opened it. It was the watch—a rose gold antique watch she found in London in June with Steph on her post-graduation trip. She had just finished her master's degree in business and wanted to tag along for Steph’s biannual trip to Glasgow, Scotland where her family lived. They had taken a long weekend and visited London. In a quaint antique shop they found this watch. She couldn't afford it but Steph had taken a picture of her wearing it.

“It is beautiful!” Tears stung her eyes while she moved to sit on his lap so she could hug and kiss him.

“Where did you find it?” she asked. “I can’t believe it.”

“I didn’t. I stole your picture and had a replica made. It's not exactly like the one you saw since all I had was the 2-D picture.”

“They did a great job, Jeffrey. It looks exactly like it.” She put it on her wrist and he helped fasten the safety clasp. “Definite brownie points, Jeff. When did you steal the picture?”

He smiled triumphantly. “I took it when you were in the shower the last time I was up in Virginia Beach. You didn’t notice it was missing, did you?”

“No, you sneak!” She kissed him again.

“I had the idea when you came back from your trip. I tried to get the one you saw in London but it sold before I could buy it. This one is better though—waterproof to eighty feet, extra clasp to make sure it doesn’t ever come off, and brand spanking new.”

“I wouldn’t want to swim or go spelunking with it on.” The rectangular face was made out of the rose gold as well. It was a beautiful piece.

“Oh, you can swim with it. It is not going to come off. I’d like you to wear it all the time, maybe not spelunking in a muddy cave, but all the time.” He kissed her softly again. “Think of it as part of me protecting you from the world. It's especially made to give you good luck!”

“Aw, that's so sweet. I'll wear it all the time.”
Neither of them were ready for an engagement. This watch was about the closest thing she could think of to a commitment. It must have cost a lot just in gold alone not to mention the price for someone to replicate it.

“Hang on, I have to check something.” He walked over to his computer and typed for a few minutes. She watched TV but they were just going over the trajectory again. She wondered how Steph was doing and remembered Fluffy. She felt a bit sick to her stomach. Was she freaking out? And what was Steph going to do during the storm?


Chapter 2 – Struck by Lightning


 “Ronnie!” Jeffrey said.

“What?” Ronnie saw his profile as he typed on the computer.

“You’ve only been here three days and you’ve already attracted a major hurricane. I've been here for five months and nada! How’d you do it?” He turned towards her and smiled.

“Ha! Rather bad luck I’d say.” Ronnie remembered the dread she felt earlier. “Jeffrey, what if something happens to my house? We postponed the closing because of this stupid storm.”

Jeffrey had talked her into buying a house instead of renting. Steph suspected that it was a twofold plan—first to keep her from moving in with him, and second to keep her in the area if her new job didn't work out. Ronnie had some insurance money from her father's passing five years before. Until now it had been too hard to spend it. But buying a house was a great opportunity to use her inheritance for a down payment and to also make some repairs on the house—a way to invest in her future, as Jeffrey put it.

“Ron, maybe that’s a good thing. If there is damage then you don’t have to sign the papers.”

“I never thought of that. But what about the owners?” she asked.

“They’ve got insurance and tons of equity on it. Aren’t they the original owners?”

“Yes, they bought it new in 1952,” she said.

“They could fix it and sell it later. Don’t be stupid because you feel bad for the old geezers. The market is hot and they'll have no trouble selling.” He turned back to the computer to type for another minute before finishing with dramatic staccato strikes at the keys, then stood up.

“I know. You’re right.”

“Come here and let me distract you.” He walked over to her with a smile playing on his lips.

“How are you gonna do that?” Nothing could distract her from the storm and the sense of impending doom.
Jeffrey wrapped his arms around her, his mouth pressing into hers, tongues mingling. He worked his way down her neck nibbling and licking, sending chills through her. He grabbed her legs and picked her up before setting her gently down on the desk.

“Well, that might distract me a little,” she said breathless.

“I missed you, babe.” He sucked on her upper lip and darted his tongue in her mouth. He then stepped backwards and unzipped her shorts.

“Oh looky here! You brought out the fancy panties for my enjoyment.” He slid his hand inside her shorts to feel the silky smoothness. She stood up so he could remove her shorts and looked down because she had forgotten what she put on—lacy pink see-through silk—his favorite because it barely hid her contours.

He pulled the shorts off and tossed them on the floor. “Let’s see if we’re matchy-matchy today.” He pulled off her shirt. 

“Oh, yes the full set!” He put his mouth on the pink silk bra and bit through a little. “Are you thinking about the storm right now?” The thrill of the storm had gotten her aroused, but his lips were taking it to another level.

“What storm?” She shoved his head back where it had been.

He deftly worked the clasp in the back so he could remove her bra and toss it on the floor. He took a step back and looked at her sitting only in sheer panties.

“What?” His staring embarrassed her and she resisted the urge to cross her arms. They usually kept the lights low and the bright florescent lights of the office seemed too revealing.

“You’re just so perfect. God, I could eat you up.” He made good on that a short time later with her still on the desk. She quickly reached climax with images of Charley’s grey and black swirls in her mind as Jeffrey’s mouth pressed into her flesh and caused a flood of pleasure.

They moved to the blow-up mattress where he removed his shirt and shorts. Her hands reached for his chest and her lips touched his warm skin. They devoured each other, lust taking over logic, passion and need pushing them to a fast and furious climax, much like the storm raging outside.

At 9:30 an alarm startled both of them.

“Everything okay?” she asked while shifting to climb off of him. Smacking her butt with one hand, he guided her nipple into his mouth with the other. Then he pushed her hips and she rolled off of him.

“Yep, just a warning. The storm is at its peak.” He grabbed his shorts and pulled them on, then walked across the room to his computer. Ronnie lay down on the makeshift bed and covered herself with the sheets to enjoy the cool cotton against her naked body.

Jeffrey turned up the TV. Ronnie could hear the storm coverage but couldn't see it. A reporter was on the phone talking about buildings damaged and trees uprooted. A few homes were damaged by fallen trees and streets were flooded. Power was out to the entire viewing area, but Jeffrey’s lab had electricity, thanks to the generators. She thought about Steph and hoped she was all right. Was her house damaged? What about the apartment and Fluffy?

A strange feeling bubbled in her stomach. Ronnie got up and slipped on Jeffrey's T-shirt and found her underwear in a pile of clothes near the desk. The feeling worsened. Was she going to be sick? Jeffrey was busy at his computer and she quietly made her way to the small bathroom and closed the door behind her. Was it something she had eaten?

The cold water felt good as she splashed it on her face. Ronnie looked at her reflection in the mirror. No outward signs of being ill. Too much champagne? She took a deep breath in an attempt to quell the rising nausea. The room spun and she sat down on the toilet, head in her hands. Sweat broke out on her face and she knelt down to lift the toilet seat. “Oh crap!”

A sudden change in air pressure overwhelmed her, making her drop on all fours. Her ears popped and she swallowed trying to clear them. Was the storm intensifying?

An agonizing bright light seared into her eyes and she squeezed them shut in an attempt to block it out, without success.

The building must have been struck by lightning! Struck by lightning. Struck by lightning. She could hear her father’s voice reading The Hobbit to her as a young girl. A pang of sadness added to the confusion.

A low vibration shook the bathroom tiles. A dark mist sucked away all light. Ronnie was flattened to the floor by some unseen force and couldn’t fight it. Strange smells assaulted her—horse manure, almonds, and wet soil. She pressed the side of her face against the cool cement floor in an attempt to stop the dizzy spin of the room.

What the hell was happening? A chill ran up her spine. Nothing about this was right. Fear choked out any rational thoughts. She tried to call out to Jeffrey but her body was paralyzed, her voice disconnected. It was a living breathing nightmare.

A gut-wrenching tearing ripped apart her soul. She tried to scream. Ronnie floated up to the ceiling to see a lifeless shape on the bathroom floor below, surprised to see anything in the dark. Holy crap, that was her own long blonde hair spilled across the concrete floor. She reached out to touch her arm but was jerked a million miles an hour upwards into the darkness.

Shadows engulfed her. A sensation of motion disturbed her equilibrium. She was hurtling up into the ebony sky and away from her body splayed in Jeffrey's lab. Her arms reached for something to hold onto, to make it stop, but came up empty.
Was she dying? There was supposed to be a calming bright light to head towards. Instead there was only emptiness, a buzzing that lulled her to an empty dark place similar to the twilight just before falling asleep—alert, yet fuzzy and drifting into oblivion. It sped up, she could feel the wind on her face, her hair whipped behind her, but now she was falling like a rocket returning to Earth, pulling her down, stretching her towards destruction.

Suddenly the back of her head struck the ground. Stars floated in a pool of blackness and pain overwhelmed any thoughts. Finally, her mind began to clear and it occurred to her if she were face down on the floor how did she hit the back of her head? Under her hands she could feel something soft and gritty but everything was pitch black.

Panic returned. What was happening … and what the hell was that smell?




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