*This is not the final edited version. Story content may change before this book releases. Sign up for newsletter updates to get a message when Teardrop Moons (The Song of Everywhen, #2) becomes available.
A new thief is born.
Time travel objects are missing, and Chascadians are being blamed.
Silvie’s legacy and family reputation are at stake.
Will she be able to find and stop who’s responsible?
And will it be enough to convince the worlds?
Rose fabric whipped in the wind.
Feminine laughter cut through excited chatter and the tinkling of plates and glasses. A young man looked up from his plate of grape leaves stuffed with rice. Squinting, he wiped his fingers on a cloth napkin.
The voice had come from outside, through an open café window.
A figure wearing a hooded cloak waved, then walked closer. When near enough to peer inside the window, the figure smiled. The young man’s eyes widened at how the person’s plump, rounded lips curved at the edges. Her lips and chin, and overall stature were decidedly female.
But he couldn’t see her eyes. A hood draped well past her nose. He wondered how she’d seen him well enough to have waved.
The young man cleared his throat. “Do I know you?” he said, his words thick with the inflection of Chascadia.
When he received no answer, he swiped a hand across the side of his head, along hair smoothed back, ending in a tail that burst into a cascade of dark curls.
“Are you hungry?” he said.
The figure shook her head back and forth.
“Will you sit with me?”
Finally, a nod.
The young man waited while she walked through the entrance and appeared before his table, all the while wondering how she could see where she was going.
“Are you well?” he said, gesturing for her to sit down.
She pulled at a chair, and silently landed on its pillowed seat.
The young man cleared his throat. “I’m Julian. Welcome to my family’s restaurant.”
The figure smiled. “Julian Nakos?”
Despite the sweetness of her voice, he paled. “How did you know my name?”
Laughing, she pointed a finger at a menu on the table. In scripted letters across the top, it said Nakos Kitchen.
His cheeks colored for the faintest moment before he joined her laughter.
“Of course,” he said. “Have you been here before?”
She shook her head.
“You don’t say much, do you?”
Her lips twisted into a smirk.
Julian exhaled a shaky breath. His gaze flickered to his plate of half eaten food. “If you’re not hungry, is there some other business you have here?”
“How may I help?”
She exhaled, then placed a square package, wrapped in paper, on the tabletop.
“A delivery for the restaurant?”
When she shook her head, he pointed to himself. “For me?”
She gave him a wide smile, displaying a brilliant set of teeth.
With creased brow, he reached for the package and slid it toward himself. Given her lack of response so far, he didn’t bother asking what it was. Not knowing its contents, he was unsure whether he should express gratitude.
He squinted at the package, then slipped a finger inside a folded flap.
At the sound of her chair’s screech against the floor, he looked up again.
She was already at the door.
“Wait!” His own voice echoed in his ears, but she didn’t look back.
Frowning, Julian sliced through the wrapping paper, which held a wooden box. He lifted the clasp that connected the box’s lid to its base, then sucked in a breath.
A gemstone, the size of his fist, shone from inside a lining of black velvet. With trembling fingers, he pulled the gem free. Light blue, and shimmering, the object had been shaped like an anatomical heart.
Julian peered through the object, admiring its workmanship and its clarity. He could see through it perfectly. His lips wrinkled at how his fingers left prints, smudging the beauty of the object.
He lifted a clean napkin from the table and smeared the fingerprints. With the napkin as protection, he cradled the object in his hands. Why would anyone give me such a treasure?
He had no idea what it was. Or what it could do.
The café door slammed open.
Julian lifted his eyes from the gemstone. Two men, dressed in official garb, had entered the building and were barreling toward him. One had several medals attached to his sash, the other had eyes that were on fire. The man with the medals pointed to Julian’s hands.
“There it is—the object we’ve been looking for,” he growled. “Arrest him.”
Before Julian could react, the man with the fiery eyes had twisted Julian’s hands behind his back. Cold metal enclosed both wrists.
“It was a gift,” said Julian, his voice choked.
A gift from someone I don’t know and who wouldn’t tell me her name. A sinking feeling seized his gut as he realized his foolishness. He shouldn’t have touched the object, accepted it from a stranger.
He’d been trapped.
“Gifts like this aren’t given to men like you. This is a disgrace to Chascadia.”
Julian paled. “What have I done?”
“You are in possession of stolen property, an unofficial travel object of time.”
* * *
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Read the beginning of Silvie’s story in Darker Stars (The Song of Everywhen, #1)
Read the beginning of Calla’s story in Travel Glasses (The Call to Search Everywhen, #1)