Cover & Excerpt Reveal
A Time for Everything
by Ann Gimpel
Sam pulled the draw cords of her hood tighter, squinting against driving rain. She shivered, willing her legs to move faster. Even in the northern latitudes, it got dark eventually during what passed for summer, and the light was definitely fading. One foot sloughed into a hole. Cursing roundly, she yanked it out, noting the mud added what felt like ten pounds to her tired leg. Going on a ramble—as the locals called it—by herself had seemed like a good idea earlier in the afternoon. Now she wasn’t so sure. It had been hours since she’d seen another soul. The air felt heavy—and threatening, somehow.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she scolded herself. “My imagination’s off the clock, working overtime.”
A flash off toward the river was followed almost immediately by a rumbling crash. It started raining harder. The sky lit again, casting the wet greenery and surrounding mountains in a macabre glow. Thunder sounded so loud it made her ears ring. The next lightning flare sparked off a rock not twenty feet away. Sam’s heart sped up. She stared at the mountains ringed about her. Why wasn’t the storm up there? Lightning was supposed to be drawn to high points, not meadows saturated with water.
As if determined to prove her wrong, another flash struck the ground off to her left. She threw her hands over her ears but the thunder reverberated in her brain as if someone had struck an anvil right next to her. Shaking her head to try to make her ears stop hurting, she started walking again. Lightning struck inches from her feet. Sam lurched to a stop, blinking to clear the afterimage. Even as wet as it was, the air felt electrified, thick with sharp edges. She could almost see marauding electrons reaching for her, hungry little mouths wide open.
Fear raced along her nerve endings, making her feel as if she’d downed half a dozen double espressos in a row. The breath whooshed out of her and her head spun crazily.
The storm’s trying to kill me.
Oh, please, she answered herself. Sam hated her tendency to engage in two-way inner dialogue, but she’d done it all her life.
An excruciating twenty minutes and half a dozen lightning strikes later, she thought it might be safe to move. It was raining like a son of a bitch, but after striking what looked like a circle around where she stood, the electrical part of the storm had left as quickly as it had come.
Guess the storm gods didn’t want me, after all.
Why should they? No one else does.
Sam sank into a funk. Shit, could I possibly be any wetter? Weather in the British Isles had been particularly wretched this summer. “Yeah, sort of like the rest of my life,” she muttered as she tried to assess if she’d be better off staying on the track or cutting cross-country toward where she thought a roadway was. Resolutely, she struck out for the road and promptly stepped into calf-deep water. It ran over the top of her boot and soaked her thick, woolen sock before she could jerk her foot back to solid ground.
So much for that idea. Obviously, there’d been so much rain the ground on both sides of the track had turned into a bog. She’d never seen one before this trip to Scotland. They were hideous. Miles of saturated ground with water deep enough to reach her knees in some places. Sam glanced at her watch and groaned. She’d been walking for close to five hours. No wonder it was getting dark. The village she was aiming for shouldn’t actually be all that far away. In fact, she should have been there long since. About to tuck her watch back under her sleeve, she took one last look at it and realized the second hand had stopped. She tapped the crystal with her finger but nothing happened.
Crap! Wonder when it quit? Must be the damp.
Yes, another less pleasant voice piped up, it also means I have no idea how long I’ve been walking. Peering through mist-shrouded countryside, she looked for some signs of Beauly Village but all she saw were sheep.
Sam told herself to keep walking. It wasn’t as if there was anywhere she could even sit to consider her options. Everything dripped water. Her jacket and pants, which had always provided adequate protection from the elements back in the States, were woefully inadequate here. She was afraid to pull out her cell phone. Electronics and water definitely weren’t compatible. Yeah, just look what happened to my watch. Dark thoughts crowded her mind. Why had she thought it would be romantic to spend a year in Scotland?
You know why, an inner voice—the nasty one—sneered. It was your infatuation with Clint. Sam gave her resident maven a point for accuracy. Clint, with his spiffy Scottish intonations, dreamy blue eyes, and red-blonde curls, had sweet-talked her into bankrolling a trip to his home. Between his ever-so-broad shoulders, washboard abs, and nice, tight ass, he’d barely let her out of bed for a month. By the time she’d figured out the reason he had so much time on his hands was because he didn’t have a job, it was too late. She was head over heels in love. And hoping desperately that this time it would lead her to the altar. After all, it wasn’t as if he had to work. All he needed to do was treat her like a queen. She had plenty of money for both of them.
Eager to grant her prince whatever he wanted, she’d readily agreed when he’d talked longingly of going back to Scotland for a while. Except he’d had a personality transplant practically the second they’d landed in Glasgow. In the month-and-a-half since they’d arrived, she’d scarcely seen him. He was always off with his mates, as he called them, drinking or climbing. There were weeks when he hadn’t returned to their rental flat in Inverness at all. Worse, she suspected some of those mates were gay. When she’d asked him if he swung both ways his eyes had turned to blue ice chips. He’d twisted away and slammed out of the house. That was the last time she’d seen him.
Water ran off the bill of her hood. Some of it dripped into one eye. “Oh to hell with it,” she snarled. “I’m catching the first plane out of here—without him.” She sighed, feeling sad and angry by turns. Clint was far from the first man who’d taken advantage of her. As soon as they found out she was an heiress to a whiskey fortune, they promised her the moon and then fleeced her for everything they could get. She’d gotten pretty cagy in the years between sixteen and her current twenty-five. She’d even rented a modest apartment in Seattle and pretended she lived there when she met someone new.
Eventually, though, when she thought a guy might be different, she took him to the Capitol Hill mansion she’d more-or-less inherited after her parents relocated to one of their many other homes. No matter how promising a relationship looked, the truth of that rambling mansion was always the beginning of the end.
Be on the lookout for Ann's next release coming December 31, 2012 - Gabrielle's Cauldron