Michelle Rowen

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The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance

Running Press — December 2009
ISBN-10: 0762437812
ISBN-13: 978-0762437818

My story is titled “The Eleventh Hour” written as Michelle Maddox

Twenty-five stories of timeless true love

Time travel romance is not the same thing as sci-fi romance, though some stories may be set in an imagined future; it is romantic fiction set in various different eras, usually from around the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. A woman may fall asleep in Central Park in the present to wake up in the arms of a Scottish laird in the sixteenth century.

The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance contains 25 stories of adventure and love; settings include medieval Scotland, sixteenth-century England, the nineteenth-century ‘Wild West’. Some stories are set in the present and a few in the future. Stories include an Elizabethan nobleman whisked into the present day, a troubled young woman who lands in the sixteenth century able to break a curse of lost love.

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Excerpt from “The Eleventh Hour”

“Wake up.”

It was a command not a request. And when I ignored it since I was only semi-conscious, I felt the stinging pain as a slap resounded across my face. My eyes shot open and I gasped for breath.

I found myself seated in a hard chair and my hands bound behind me. The room was dark but there was a light shining in my face — a flashlight, I thought.

“What’s going on?” My mouth felt dry and the words rasped out.

“That’s a very good question,” a man said. I couldn’t see him clearly apart from a shadowy outline. “And something we’re trying to figure out as well.”

I pulled against my restraints but the rope bit into my wrists. “Who are you?”

“We’re the ones asking the questions.”

Panic gripped my chest. I’d been kidnapped. It was the sort of thing that happened all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Which was probably why I’d felt confident leaving the gallery after midnight by myself — something I’d done dozens of times before.

“Sophie Shaw,” he said. “Born December 17, 1983. Raised in Albany and moved to Manhattan to attend the New York Academy of Art. Never married, no dependents. Both parents deceased. Is that right?”

My mouth moved but no sound came out. How did they know me? What did they want?

He smacked me again and my head rang from the pain.

“Is that right?” he asked again.

“Y-yes, that’s right.”

“Dammit, Harris,” another voice said sharply. “There’s no need to abuse her, is there?”

“Just let me do my job.” I heard paper shifting together. “Date of death is listed as September 15, 2009.”

I stopped breathing for a moment. That was today’s date.

“What?” I managed. “Please, I don’t know what you want, I just want to go home.”

“That’s not possible, I’m afraid,” he said. “Tell me about the bus, Sophie.”

“Th-the bus?”

“The one that was supposed to end your life today.”

“I…I don’t know.”

“What happened?”

“I almost got hit but I didn’t. It was close.”

“Yes, so I’m gathering. Not close enough, unfortunately.” He sighed and it sounded annoyed. “You are causing me a great deal of paperwork, do you know that?”

I felt utterly confused and totally afraid. “What do you want from me?”

“Answers only. According to my papers you’re supposed to be dead. That bus, the one you avoided by the skin of your teeth? It was supposed to kill you. You were fated to die today. So what I want to know is why you’re not laying in a morgue right now.”

How could he say something so horrible with such a cool, detached tone? “Fated?”

“Yes.”

“I…I don’t understand.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do. I’ll let my associate explain the rest to you since he seems to have a problem with my bedside manner right now. He’s more than welcome to take over.”

Another man shifted partially into focus behind the light, but he was mostly a shadowy outline. I could see broad shoulders and the edge of a strong, stubbled jaw line as he turned to look at the other man. A glint of light brushed against his cheekbones and brow.

“It’s law that we explain it to you first,” he said. His voice was much more pleasant than the first man — less detached and cold. Unfortunately, a nice voice didn’t change my situation one little bit or lessen my fear.

“Explain what?”

“The Books of Fate. They’re…transcribed daily by seers. The names of people who die as well as those who are born. And they are rarely wrong — ”

“They’re never wrong,” the other man said.