Cover art by Catt Ford
My new novel Right On Time releases Wednesday, May 14. Hooray!
It continues the love story of Barnaby Rosenthal and Charleston Meeks Jr. that began in my time travel short story One Constant. It’s set in the year 2020 and begins about a month after Charleston’s thirtieth birthday party. At the party he received a painting Barnaby had done of him and a brochure from his father detailing an upcoming art show where he could find the man he loved…if he wished. Check out the blurb and excerpt below.
Blurb: Throughout his life, successful artist Barnaby Rosenthal has been rescued repeatedly by his one constant, Charleston Meeks. But it’s been seven tumultuous years since he’s last seen the temporal agent outside of his dreams and paintings. Recently retired from his father’s Restore Point Program, Charleston’s ready to approach Barnaby in their present year of 2020 and discover if the two of them can build a future on their harried past. Standing between them is a conservative senator determined to erase the people saved by the RPP, and much of her rage is focused on Barnaby. For the senator, time travel goes against God’s plan, so with the help of her hired guns, she intends to correct the program’s meddling by any means necessary. For the first time, Charleston may not be there to save Barnaby.
Excerpt: He had no idea what he’d say to Barnaby. He knew what he wasn’t supposed to tell him (covert government operations and all), but he considered that more of a guideline than a ticket to twenty years in federal prison. Would he walk up to Barnaby’s front door and knock? Pretend none of it had ever happened? Could they start something together right here in 2020? What would Barnaby tell his family? He grinned and sighed. I’m getting ahead of myself.
His last step to “save” Barnaby had left him literally falling apart, and recuperation had taken some time, during which a friend and colleague had been busy on his behalf, digging up whatever she could about the artist. Speaking of said colleague, at that moment Jeri Sato strode up to their table, the ever-present cherry lollipop in her mouth. She looked around and startled the couple at a nearby table by commandeering their extra chair, dragging it over, and dropping into it, effectively joining the conversation.
“Hey,” Charleston and Leaundra said.
Jeri grabbed Charleston’s drink and downed it, then delighted them with a long, drawn out grimace. “Bleh!” She withdrew her lollipop and frowned at it as if it had betrayed her. “Okay,” she said after catching her breath and putting the candy back in her mouth, “I have the info on Rosenthal.”
“How’s it look?”
“Sato. Charleston,” Leaundra said, getting to her feet, “I’m going to leave you to this. Plausible deniability and all. Plus there’s some shit going down at RPP I have to deal with.”
Charleston snorted. He didn’t think he’d ever heard her curse before. “Really? What’s happening?”
She paused as if considering what to say but clearly thought better of it and extended a hand to him instead. “By the middle of next week, you’ll be fully back on the grid, son. Best of luck.”
Jeri was oblivious, busy typing on her tablet as he bid his former team leader farewell. She walked to the waiting SUV, and the soldier behind the wheel whisked her away.
Back on the grid, huh? Charleston Meeks Jr. would soon be out there for any and all to find. As a temporal agent, he’d enjoyed virtual anonymity, existing enough to pay bills and own property, but not enough for his name to show up in any web searches beyond Goodland, Kansas—nongovernment searches, that is. With his retirement, nearly his entire history would be searchable on the Internet and appear to any and all who wanted to find him. The details of his federal service would remain suspiciously vague, however.
He leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out in front of him, the picture of relaxation, while at his side sat Jeri, sucking on her lollipop like it was the last one on Earth and unconsciously bouncing her legs with pent-up energy.
For the short time he’d known her, this was her default setting. Always several steps ahead of everyone else, nothing in this world seemed to move fast enough for her, and she was forever in danger of being bored. In sharing her reasons for helping him complete an unauthorized time step, she’d said, “I don’t have enough to do, and that usually leads me into trouble.”
He smiled as he watched her work on what appeared to be a standard-issue, though bright-purple, data tablet, but he knew she had probably added memory, encryptions, code-breaking software, and God knew what else to it. She had named it Alohomora.
“Okay, here’s the rundown,” she said, ready to give her full report on the man Charleston was desperate to see again. “After your last Rosenthal step, at the church—”
“I remember, Jeri.”
She glared at him. “Don’t interrupt me. Talking it out helps me keep track of things.”
“Since then, Rosenthal did go to art school and earn his degree as he’d planned, but….” Charleston raised an eyebrow as he watched her quickly scan the data on the tablet. “Well, he had a rough time of it.”
She sighed. “The first year or so, he did well, but after that he began to struggle.”
“But he’s so talented—”
“—and depressed and a possible alcoholic and temperamental and a loner and… did I say depressed?”
“You’re still interrupting. Now listen. He is a successful artist—albeit one clinging to the older mediums—but more importantly, at least to you, there haven’t been any stable, long-term relationships over the past seven years.” She tapped her tablet and scrolled the page. “His longest relationship to date is the one he’s in now with—Oh, oops,” she said, looking at Charleston. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay. Go on.”
She looked back at her tablet. “With Rossom Bailey.”
“What the fuck is a Rossom?”
“He’s a model.”
“Of course he is.” Charleston sighed.
She studied the tablet. “Mmm, he’s lovely…,” she mused, then gave her candy an obscene suck as she yanked it from her lips with an audible pop. She glanced at him and grimaced. “If you like the type.”
She turned the tablet toward him, and he rolled his eyes. “What type?” he asked. “The beautifully perfected type?”
“The type with dicks.”
Charleston chuckled bitterly and turned his attention to the people rushing by (now in the opposite direction of earlier), their lunch hours apparently over. The sunshine wasn’t as pleasant, seeming harsher now, glaring and uncomfortable. “Well… if he’s happy, then I guess—”
“Looks like the portrait Plump—”
“Plumb. Her name is Dr. Plumb.”
“—got you was one of the last,” she continued. “He stopped including paintings of you in his shows about two years ago. Around the same time he….”
She glanced up from her tablet. “Was hospitalized for ‘exhaustion.’”
“Exhaustion?” Charleston frowned. “Are you saying he had a nervous breakdown?”
Jeri shrugged. “There aren’t any details available for the general public, but I could probably dig up his medical records… maybe even doctor’s notes?”
“You can do that?”
“Chuck, I can do just about anything with a hot spot.” She reached out and pretended to snatch a handful of air. “It’s all out there for the taking. You just need to know where to look.”
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“What’s your point?”
“Don’t call me Chuck.”
There ya go. I hope you enjoyed that. Right On Time is currently available for preorder at Dreamspinner Press, or you can buy your copy on May 14 and learn what’s in store for Charleston and Barnaby.
Have a great week, people!