Time Weaver: Heart of Cogs (Time Collector #1)
Author: Jacinta Maree
Genre: YA Supernatural/Steampunk
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
I have a clock for a heart…and the man who put it there tried to take it out.
Time Collectors are modern day genies capable of exchanging wishes for time. Elizabeth Wicker lives within a steampunk world riddled with the supernatural. Among the stories of witches, Bacts, and other monsters, Time Collectors remain as the greatest hushed secret among the noble families. They are temptation’s greatest tools. A contract with a Time Collector is a guaranteed death sentence, and for some the price isn’t worth the prize. But when Elizabeth is struck down by a fatal heart attack, she finds herself trapped beneath a Time Collector’s blade. With no time left to offer, she makes a desperate sacrifice for a second chance at life. If there’s only one truth, it is a Time Collector will always come back to collect.This place as meant for them. An empty ballroom framed by mirrors on one side, glass windows on the other. Cracks in the roof scattered sunlight across the hall. Vines climbed the corners, turning stone pillars into trees.
A private garden: the harsh white of marble warmed by dirty, earthy tones. This was their secret spot. The centre of his life. Nikolas gutted the ballroom when she first fell to the taint. The torn curtains bunched together on the floor. The smashed mirror left in pieces at the feet of its frame. The red lounge they shared had been destroyed. He promised the next time he returned it would be to set it on fire, but instead he brought her.
What remained was a single chair for him to sit and a makeshift bed for her to rest, positioned carefully away from the windows. Soft blankets. Large pillows. Fresh clothes. A tea tray with a boiled kettle was placed within reach from her bed with a lemon wedge tucked beside the cup. He watched her sleep silently from across the room. The taint coloured her white skin with rashes, climbing up her wrist into the bend of her elbow. He took a pained breath. He must be a monster, for everything he touched started to rot.
Elizabeth woke. Birds chirped overhead. Soft white surrounded her. She touched the sheets beneath her body. Soft, silky, not the bed at Harry’s and not the hard floor of the furnace room. All she could remember was pain. It momentarily dazed her, tilting her off centre as she grabbed desperately at her waist. The pain spiked where she moved. She shuddered and collapsed.
“What happened?” she asked.
“You were attacked.” Elizabeth glanced sideways at Nikolas, poised on a faded blue, cushioned chair. Dirt marred his usual clean suit, scuffing his knees and elbows. “Stabbed, three times,” he said.
She tried to sit up, but buckled beneath the pain. She flopped back into the soft mold of the bed sheets. “Why did you bring me here? Shouldn’t I be in a hospital?”
“This is your hospital. You’ll recover here, out of the eyes of the public. Can’t have Arthur Beaumontt finding you.”
“Didn’t know you cared.”
“This isn’t caring, this is…convenience.”
“For how long?”
“For as long as it takes.”
“Well, no point throwing a hook out there if I don’t have any bait.”
“No, I mean why? Why are you doing all of this for me?”
Nikolas glanced at her. The truth was too dangerous. He could be shattered and rebuilt by her words. With just her smile, his world could cease to exist. Nikolas took a deep breath.
“Because…you asked me to.”
“And you do as I say now?”
“Only if it suits me.”
Elizabeth’s voice waivered. “But…my time cannot be touched so…” he followed her eyes down her arm where the rash had spread. She touched it gingerly, understanding the weight it carried.
“Did someone die to save my life?”
Born in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons and Japan. Published in 2012 to USA publisher Staccato Publishing, Jacinta writes a variety of genres from YA paranormal, steampunk, horror and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and best selling author, Jacinta writes to answer all of her absurd questions and to explore themes and characters not often seen in main media.