We know how it is. You spend your money and your time on a new series because you love the cover, or the reviews are awesome, or whatever but it’s just not for you. It happens. No single book is going to appeal to every reader. We get it. Which is one reason we’ve made the first book in Wendy Sparrow’s Servants of Fate series, Stealing Time, totally free. It’s our way of introducing you to the world, the characters and Wendy’s writing style without requiring you to spend a single dime. We can’t do anything about that time investment thing though… if only we knew a son of Father Time 😉

Here’s an idea, read the first chapter below. That will give you an idea as to whether this book is a good fit for you even before you spend the time to download it.

Enjoy!

Stealing Time

Wendy Sparrow

CHAPTER ONE

Hannah Lyons was living a charmed life—she’d escaped death thirty-seven times in the last three hundred and fifty-seven days. But Time was about to catch up to her—Time or, in German, Zeit, was nearly upon her… and about to give Hannah back her scarf which she’d dropped nearly as many times as he’d saved her life.

Zeit snapped his fingers as he approached the sweet brunette stumbling through the snow. All around him, shoppers froze, and the air went still. Snow hung in place like a fog. Hannah shouldn’t be out on the streets on the day before Christmas. It was too busy. Too crowded. Hell, it was too easy—she made it easier to kill her than to keep her alive on days like this.

He could feel the pull of the Fates as they attempted, once again, to steal her from him. His beautiful conundrum was standing too close to the curb again and about to hit a patch of ice. In another fifteen seconds of mortal’s time, she’d have slipped on the ice, as that woman carrying the terrier brushed by, knocking Hannah out in front of the snow plow.

Messy.

“You’re getting gruesome,” Zeit called to the Fates.

He stopped in front of the pink-cheeked mortal.

“Thirty-eight times now, Hannah.” Thirty-eight times he’d stopped the clock for her.

Snow clung to her eyelashes, and her red lips were parted, probably in shock that she’d, once again, dropped her favorite scarf. Her hand was poised at her neck, feeling for the crimson scarf he held in his hand.

She was relatively short with probably average features. He’d never really tried to tell mortals apart until he’d met Hannah. Chances were, few of the people she saw today would think she was anything out of the ordinary. She was ordinary and then she also wasn’t. Not to him. To him, she was as different and as delicate as a snowflake and just as beautiful. It was irritating as hell.

He unwound the scarf from his fist as he shook his head. “You’re going to catch your death.” Zeit draped the scarf around her neck. She liked it wrapped once and then one end tossed over her back and the other end over the same shoulder in front. “Although possibly not if I get to you first.”

He lifted her up by grabbing her waist—which put her mouth in close proximity to his—something he could ignore, if he concentrated. Her soft, shoulder-length hair brushed his lips, and he blew it out of the way as he carried her farther away from the curb and the lady with the yappy dog. He’d moved her quite a lot this last year, sometimes for great distances. She was seeing a mortal doctor about that—if only she knew that was the least of her worries. She’d gone to see Hoover Dam and nearly caused a bloodbath.

“You’ve got a week,” he told her, setting her down on her feet like a giant posed doll. She could be a doll—with her cheeks rosy like this, and her eyes glassy from the bite of the cold air.

One more week should be long enough to get her out of his system, and that was what he was going to do. No more slipping into the shadows of her life. He’d see what made her so singular and beautiful—reason out why she’d captivated him, and then on New Year’s Eve, at midnight, he’d steal the rest of her hours as he’d been assigned to do almost a year ago.

He brushed a finger along her cheek, even as he felt the push of hours. They shoved at his back like a strong gust of wind. Time wanted to march on. But he was master here. For now. Though that might end if he didn’t kill Hannah this time. The year end’s sacrifice demanded a lifetime and, last year, fortune had favored him with that heart attack a few feet from his Hannah as she’d been counting down the minutes at the ski lodge.

The Fates had not been amused by the substitution. Snippy old bats.

He traced her jaw. She did look like a doll. Even those puffy red lips of hers belonged on a porcelain figurine. His gaze shifted from mortal to mortal around her. There had to be someone else more interesting and less… marked for death. But no. Just Hannah. The others slipped from his thoughts as he looked away—their features indistinct memories of noses, eyes, lips and so on, whereas he could spot Hannah a mile away from behind.

Admittedly, she did look good from behind.

Zeit stared for one last mortal minute into those dark brown eyes of hers. This was insane. He was insane.

And yet…

“Stay out of trouble, Hannah.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear—he liked her ears. Every day, there was more and more about her he liked. It was a shame. A damn shame.

In a general sense, time was not on her side but today, Time definitely was, in fact he wanted to be wrapped all around her. But, in eight days, he’d kill her at midnight and the Fates would let another year go by without damning everyone’s luck.

He stepped back from her and, after one last shake of his head, walked away and snapped his fingers again.

It was impossible not to glance back over his shoulder—she had that much of a hold on him.

Her gaze met his. She narrowed her eyes.

Zeit stared back. He was memorable and they’d bumped into each other one too many times for her to believe it to be a coincidence. Nodding, he winked at her before turning and going on his way, leaving a very irate Hannah swearing as she wrestled with why she was hopping from location to location.

It couldn’t be helped, not if he was going to keep her alive long enough to steal her life.

~*~

“Jeanie, you think I’m crazy, don’t you?” Honestly, if she didn’t, she might be the only one.

“So, there was this guy—wait, a hot guy?”

“What does that matter?” Seriously, the whole thing was freaky. Hannah stabbed her straw into her vanilla shake. Why on earth had she gotten a milkshake when it was a million below zero outside?

“It matters.”

“Yeah, he was hot. He had this carnally intense thing going for him, and he looked like you’d expect him to fight vampires. He was dressed in a black trench coat over all black clothes. Dark hair. Dark eyes. Really tall. A scary sort of hot.”

“I like that sort of hot. Did he have stakes for killing vampires?”

Hannah stopped jabbing her milkshake to give her friend a flat glare of death.

“Okay, fine… joking. But he was staring at you when you found yourself in a different spot?”

“He wasn’t there a second before, and I wasn’t there. I was near the curb, and there was this woman carrying a tiny dog, coming straight at me. And then I was next to the window with my scarf back around my neck and him there. He winked at me before walking off. And that’s not the first time he’s been around lately with my… episodes.” Outside of the doctors, Jeanie was the only one who knew about how bad this was getting.

Jeanie sipped the steaming hot chocolate she’d bought. Hot chocolate was so much smarter. Plus, it was the day before Christmas and so the last day she was allowed to have candy cane hot chocolate. What had she been thinking? Ugh. Her life was a series of bad choices lately.

“So, at least he returned your scarf,” Jeanie said finally.

Hannah groaned and dropped her head onto the wrought iron table in the mall food court. The food court décor was meant to convince them they were outside, somewhere tropical, not in Idaho in December. Lush greenery hung all around, spruced up with an occasional red ribbon or white twinkling lights. Too-small café tables were wedged tightly together so all of Boise could be in the mall today doing last minute shopping or supporting their best friends who were doing last minute shopping.

A toddler wearing a plush velvet dress screamed her way by them, carried by a mother who looked on the verge of running as if the child was a live grenade. The little girl screeched at the mall stand-in Santa like he was Satan.

People around shifted and looked away.

Even Jeanie said, “Tough break, kid. At least you got a candy cane.”

Not Hannah. Hannah sighed… pathetically. Her heart twinged a bit to go with it. Kids. Families. Jeanie, her last remaining unmarried friend, was getting married on Valentine’s Day. “Sometimes I feel like time is getting away from me. Like the clock is ticking too fast.”

Jeanie reached out and ruffled Hannah’s hair. “Uh oh. I just got vanilla shake in your hair or hair in your shake, depending on how you want to look at it.”

Hannah groaned again as Jeanie wiped the milkshake off the tips of her hair with a napkin. This was par for her life. A few days ago, her heel had broken off, and she’d nearly catapulted down an open manhole, but then she’d come to her senses on the other side of the manhole with her heel in her hand—and she’d seen a black trench coat walking away. “I swear this is not my year. First these weird absence seizures and then…”

“That’s what they’ve decided?” her friend interrupted. “The doctors decided they’re seizures?”

“Well, I think everyone is on the fence as to whether it’s something medical like that… or I’m genuinely off my rocker. They said it’s rare to have an onset of seizures in adulthood and that walking really far is unlikely, but I’ll have more testing after the holidays are over. Another EEG. Another MRI. Something is making me forget bits of time, but everything keeps coming back clean. I’ve never been so irritated to have medical science proving I’m fine. The neurologist brought up absence seizures and to watch for a consistent trigger. Though, sometimes these have been so bizarre it’s hard to believe there’s anything consistent. That time when we went to visit Hoover Dam was freaking odd. Even you have to admit that.”

“Yeah, I’m not really sure why or how or what happened there. I went to the bathroom—and I wasn’t in there that long, but fifteen minutes later, you’re calling me from a couple miles away like you’d hitched a ride the second I’d gone inside. Will seizures make you do crazy things like that? Maybe you’re insane, and there’s also something else wrong with you.”

Well that made her feel better. Being both crazy and having a medical condition would fit the pattern of her life this year. She wanted to bang her head against the table, but she settled for closing her eyes and pretending it was after Christmas.

Christmas was a heinous time of year. It was a time for families.

“I have no idea what caused that. I nearly checked myself into a psych ward after that. I’m never going back to Hoover Dam.” Hannah cleared her throat as she lifted her head, opening her eyes. “Actually, seizures are the least scary things they mentioned. They brought up a few really freaky things, but they want a family history.”

Jeanie winced as she reached across and smoothed Hannah’s hair down. “I didn’t get all the shake out. Did you tell them good luck with that?”

Hannah bit her lip. “I don’t know. If this doesn’t stop, and all the new tests show up clean too, I might hunt down my mom. She was in a commune in New Mexico, last time I knew, trying to find herself. If she can’t even find herself, I don’t know how she’d track down the guy she slept with when she was stoned more two dozen years ago.”

It was aggravating—she might have a father out there who would have liked being a father if he’d known a random hook-up had created her.

Hannah stabbed her straw into her shake some more. It wasn’t nearly as appetizing now that her hair had been in it. “And my grandparents disowned her so she won’t talk about them.”

“I can’t imagine not being smothered by a monstrous-sized family. My mom insisted I go to some second cousin’s baby shower last week—and I’m not entirely sure I am related to that person. Mom might’ve just wanted me to start thinking about having kids, and she found a random person to reinforce it.” Jeanie shuddered. “I’m soooo not ready to have kids. What are you doing for Christmas?”

Hannah wrinkled up her nose. Even the word annoyed her. “I’m doing the same thing as last year… though, really, my trouble all started when that guy dropped dead beside me at midnight on New Year’s Eve.”

“You’re going back to that same lodge? Why? You don’t even ski.”

Hannah shrugged. It was hard to put into words, but the place was like being in a family, without having to participate and with none of the drama.

“Maybe your mysterious vampire hunter will follow you up there, and you can give him a place to hammer his… wait, never mind, there are kids around. Pretend I didn’t say that.” They both glanced around at the people who were practically sitting on their laps—it was so crowded.

“It’s weird that I keep seeing him. He’s not there before I lose time and then he is… and he’s always walking away. The doctors mentioned that some people get like auras or something. Maybe he’s my brain’s gift to make up for dropping the ball.” Here you go, Hannah, have this hot stud of a hallucination.

“Even if you’re crazy, maybe he’s the sexy version of the white rabbit,” Jeanie said, getting up. “Next time, you can say, ‘Hey, baby, why don’t you show me your Wonderland?’”

All around them, conversation stopped, and several parents looked appalled. Hannah cheeks heated-up—the first time they’d been warm all day.

“Merry Christmas!” Jeanie said with a grin. Then, she turned back to Hannah. “One more store and then I’m off to drag Ken to my parents’ house, and you’re off to play ski bunny with a black jackrabbit.”

Or just sit in front of a warm fire and read a book until January 1st… when the world went back to normal…

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