First off, I accidentally skipped a week on my secret code so, here’s a double dose….
“My clock stopped and it’s been stuck on 3:03 for days.”
“It can’t be 1:15 already! Your watch must be fast.”
And now, on to the main event 🙂 Here is a teaser from my new novel A Book Without Dragons, featuring Willow.
Willow Ayers heard the news station’s ‘breaking story’ jingle, and promptly abandoned the simulation he was running on his computer. He crossed the cozy bed and breakfast suite in a few less-than-graceful strides and crouched in front of the little television, breathing shallowly, eyes wide and terrified as they locked on the news lady reporting that the hostage situation in Boise was finally under control.
“Now that the hostage has been rescued,” the anchor announced, “authorities have confirmed that it is not the Unitime engineer, Willow Ayers.”
Yes, but is the hostage okay? Willow thought desperately as the reporter summarized the story for the benefit of those who hadn’t been following it all day. Is he hurt? Will he recover?
“It is unclear as to whether the hostage-taker was aware that he captured the wrong man, or if he thought a look-alike would similarly accomplish his goals.”
Is he alive? At least tell us that much. Willow felt dizzy from holding his breath. He didn’t know anything about the actual hostage, but if that guy died because of him, Willow would never forgive himself. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. He should be the one with some maniac waving a gun in his face, and yet here he was sitting on a plush carpet miles away from any danger. Please be okay. Please.
“Officials have reported that the hostage has been taken into protection, and while he sustained minor injuries from the ordeal, he is reported to be in good health.”
Willow let himself breathe normally again. It was over now. Everything was okay.
But the fact that it had happened at all was a failure on his part for not fixing Unitime quickly enough. The demands of the hostage-taker had been outrageous: nearly a billion dollars in return for not blowing ‘Willow’s’ skull apart. The frightening thing was how nearly the ransom had been paid. Willow shuddered to imagine he was that valuable to anyone.
Well, not him. Just his brain. He was the only living creator of Unitime, after all, and the world was convinced that without him the failing system would simply never get fixed. Not only was this a tremendous amount of unwanted pressure, but apparently now there were individuals looking to profit from the situation.
But Willow refused to focus on that; it made him too sad. Today was a victory. The hostage got out alive and well.
As a picture blinked onto the screen, Willow got his first look at the man who had endured such a miserable day because he looked like him. Willow frowned at the screen, thinking that the similarities weren’t all that impressive. Sure, the hostage had curly-blond hair and pale skin, but he was also taller, younger by at least a decade, and altogether more important-looking than Willow had ever managed to be.
Willow was short, slump-shouldered, and chubby enough that it was difficult for him to look serious even when he was trying to be. His curls spilled around his face in an unpredictable pattern. The color was uneventful, diluted, vague in its attempt, and the curliness had the same problem of lackluster performance.
“The real Willow Ayers still remains in hiding,” the reporter continued. “Officials are standing by their statement that having his whereabouts known to such a small group of people is in the best interest of society. However, as we have received so few updates on the status of these Unitime glitches over the past few days, many are wondering—”
Willow turned the television off before it could ruin his good mood with a reminder of how the general public viewed his retreat into solitude.
Thanks for reading! We are steadily creeping up on the release date. My Advance Reader Copies will be in my hands any day now, so I’m really excited about that. I haven’t personally read the story in a long time (on purpose – I wanted to wait until the ARC), so that will be an interesting experience.
If you enjoyed this teaser, you maaay want to Join My Newsletter, because there will be a special teaser available only to the newsletter subscribers 🙂