Essays, general essay

Death of the City Marshal is Coming Soon!

I am seriously excited to announce my May release, Death of the City Marshal. It’s the second in the Old Los Angeles series, featuring Maddie Wilcox.

City Marshal is based on the real shooting of City Marshal William Warren by his deputy Joseph Dye. At least, that part is real. I may have massaged the actual history just a bit to get a story out of it.

It’s October, 1870, and once again, violence erupts on the streets of Los Angeles. City Marshal William Warren gets into a gunfight with his deputy Joseph Dye, and is severely wounded. Fortunately, winemaker and physician Maddie Wilcox is on the scene to take care of the marshal. But the next day, she finds that the marshal has been smothered in his bed. The morning after the marshal’s death, red paint is splashed all over the front porch of his home, and a list of his sins posted on the front. The list of people with grievances against the fiery-tempered marshal is long. But then another prominent citizen has his sins posted and house front splattered. Maddie takes an interest in the vandalism in the hopes of finding Marshal Warren’s killer. But she soon finds out that she is up against a killer driven by a profound longing, and who is prepared to do the worst to keep that most basic of human desires: a home.

And now, here it is, the cover for Death of a City Marshal.

You can find out more about the novel and pre-order it on its landing page.

Vicissitude Alert

You may have noticed that posting has gotten a bit spotty. Well, Life Happened. Anyway, since I can’t do everything (who knew?), I’m having to take a bit of a break. I hope to be back by September with new chapters of A Nose for a Niedeman, new guests and more observations and even some cooking lessons.

Sign up for the Robin Goodfellow newsletter, and you’ll find out exactly when all this is coming back. And thank you for your patience.

Death of the Zanjero Launches Today!

mystery fiction, historical fiction, Old Los AngelesWe interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special announcement.

My latest novel, Death of the Zanjero, is officially on sale today. (I’m so excited!)

In Los Angeles in 1870, life was cheap and water could cost you everything. When the body of the Zanjero, or water overseer, Bert Rivers, floats up out of the irrigation ditch, or zanja, winemaker and healing woman Maddie Wilcox finds herself defending the town’s most notorious madam. To save the one person she knows is innocent (at least, of the murder), she must find out who killed Mr. Rivers, a chase that will tax her intellect, her soul and her very belief in humanity before she’s done.

You know how, when we were kids, our classmates would taunt us for bragging, ’cause that was, like, really bad? I’ve been having a terrible time because all I can hear are those bratty little fifth-graders in my head. I know, I know. I’ve been out of fifth grade for a very long time. But these things stick, right?

And the thing is, I’m really proud of Zanjero and hope that you’ll like it, too.

Please join us next week the next exciting chapter of A Nose for a Niedeman!

The Big Cover Reveal

Yes, it’s time once again for the latest major release. Death of the Zanjero is the start of a  murder mystery series featuring Maddie Franklin Wilcox in Los Angeles, 1870.

In Los Angeles in 1870, water was scarce and the most powerful man in town was the Zanjero, or water overseer. And he was often the most corrupt, as well. When Zanjero Bert Rivers turns up dead in the irrigation ditch, or zanja, leading to young widow Maddie Wilcox’s vineyards, Maddie has the odd feeling he was murdered.

Then the undertaker’s wife, Mrs. Sutton, confirms that Rivers was shot, and not just hit on the head. Maddie finds herself drawn into finding the killer, first to see justice done, and then to save the skin of the one person she knows did not do it – the town’s most infamous madam, Regina Medina.

Maddie quickly discovers that Mr. Rivers was not the kind, upstanding civic benefactor he presented himself as, but a most despicable man who preyed on the weak and vulnerable, and cheated everyone else. With nearly everyone having a reason to kill the zanjero, Maddie stumbles on more than a few secrets and ends up in a chase that will tax her intellect, her soul and her very belief in humanity before she’s done.

The cover was done by my wonderful friend and even more awesome artist, Ginko Lee (who I’m sure is seriously regretting suggesting doing a cover for me). But, dang, this one is gorgeous! And here it is.

The Next Fiction Serial Has Been Delayed


It’s a good thing I re-read the beginning of A Nose for a Niedeman before I posted Chapter One today. After fixing a plot hole later in the book, I found that I’d created an even bigger one in the first two chapters.

Yeah. Exactly.

I’m not sure when I’m going to get the story fixed. Should be by the end of April. In the meantime, here’s the cover:

Taking a Break

We’ll be back next week with a new fiction serial A Nose for a Niedeman. Thank you for your patience.

But World Enough and Time is Now An Ebook!

science fiction, time travelI’m pretty excited about this one. This novel means a lot to me because its genesis was hanging with the girlfriends and I got a lot of research done for me by my dear friend Stephanie Beverage. It’s also turned into quite a fun romp. You can go here to find links to your favorite ebook retailer.

Oh. Why isn’t it available in paperback? That’s the awkward part. You see, But World Enough and Time is the first book in a trilogy of novels. Part two, Time Enough, is being written now. And as I started Time Enough, I realized I needed to make a few tweaks to But World Enough and Time – nothing major – which was already being serialized on the blog. Since it’s a lot less costly to update an ebook as needed, I figure I’ll just wait until the trilogy is complete before releasing the books in paper. Unless sales for But World Enough and Time go viral.

And, speaking of, if you do buy the ebook, please do not forget to leave a review on GoodReads or Amazon or wherever. It really, really helps.


Chapter Twenty-Seven

This is the last chapter of But World Enough and Time. Come back next week to celebrate the book’s launch. Or pre-order the book here.

science fiction, time travel, science fiction serial, time travel serialThrough half-closed lids, Robin watched the room she was in slowly grow lighter as the daylight outside slipped in through the cracks in the drapes. She would have rather been sleeping, but her mind was far too full, in spite of her exhaustion.

She was home. Sort of. At least, she was back in her own time, although she wasn’t sure she felt like she belonged there. Elizabeth had given birth to Dean’s little girl. Robin’s niece. She was an aunt. She wasn’t sure that made any more sense than time travel. About the only thing Robin knew was that she wanted to do more traveling.

She rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. Robin looked at the little specks of light on the floor and guessed that it was later than early morning, but not midmorning yet. It was odd how she’d come to check the position of the sun rather a clock. Looking around the room again, she saw that there was a clock on the bedside table that appeared to be running. Eight a.m., or more precisely eight twelve a.m.

Fuzzy with sleep, she stumbled out of bed and went to the bathroom. That felt normal, at least. Still wearing her night t-shirt, she went downstairs and headed for the kitchen.

Yes, there was coffee. That felt reassuringly normal, too, even though she had lived over a year without a coffeemaker. But there was comfort in the former routine, and so she made coffee. Coffee in the eighteenth century was strong enough, but not always consistent. And for all she had made fun of pre-ground coffee from cans, the familiar consistent product smelled awfully good.

Mug in hand, she went into the living room. The timetron had somehow landed on the couch in all the rush and turmoil. Robin picked it up and turned it on and then off again a few seconds later. Within minutes, there was a knock on the door.

Robin was not terribly surprised to see Roger on the other side.

“Morning,” she mumbled. “Come on in.”

“Thanks,” said Roger as he followed her into the living room. There was an awkward pause as if Roger wanted to say more.

“Didn’t you say that machine is only accurate, like, days or something?” Robin flopped onto the couch and motioned for Roger to do the same.

He sat across from her on the nearest easy chair. “Plus, minus three days. I’ve actually been here for two. I saw you guys come in last night. I didn’t think Elizabeth was that far along.”

“She wasn’t.” Robin yawned. “Sorry. I just got up. I didn’t think you’d show up so fast when I turned on the machine.”

“It’s easy when you’ve got the time pinned. But she wasn’t that far along?”

Robin chuckled. “Yeah. We had a baby last night. A girl. She’s a little moose, actually. Full-term, as far as I can tell. But Elizabeth swears she counted only six months. We’ll take them to the hospital later. Elizabeth insisted on cutting the cord last night, so I figure there’s no rush.”

“You may not have to go at all,” said Roger. “I’ve got enough training to do an initial scan to make sure she and the baby are all right.”

Robin thought that one over. “Cool. I was trying to figure out how I’d help her get acclimated to this century before the baby came as it was. After last night, I think she could use a little breathing room before forcing an emergency room on her.”

“Good call.”

“I’ve just got to figure out how to get a birth certificate for the baby. I could call the county, I guess.” Robin sighed.

“That reminds me.” Roger shifted and pulled a packet out of his biker jacket. “Elizabeth’s papers. There’s a passport, copy of her birth certificate, a California ID card and a Social Security card.”

Robin opened up the envelope. “These look really good. How did you get them?”

“It’s very simple, actually. We do it all the time to establish a personna in a given time. And they are legitimate, so if Elizabeth loses her ID, or needs to change it, she can get new paperwork.”

“Wow.” Robin yawned and stared moodily at her mug. “Oh. Can I get you some coffee?”

“Sure. I’m guessing you haven’t had breakfast yet.”

“I’m not even sure there’s any food in the place. It doesn’t get used that often, so there’s not usually perishables in the fridge.” Robin lifted herself off the couch and stumbled into the kitchen. “How do you want your coffee?”

“Like I always do.”

Robin, turned, puzzled. “And how am I going to know that?”

He chuckled, guiltily. “That’s right. I’m sorry. I’ll drink it any way I can get it.”


He shrugged. “Side effect of spending too much time when you can’t get it at all.”

Robin handed him a mug. “Well, you’ve got it black. If you want sugar and creamer, they’re right here.” She pointed to the jars of powdered creamer and sugar next to the coffee maker.

She glared out into the living room, watching him take his first sip through the corner of her eye. He seemed pleasant enough. Light blond hair, hazel eyes that were slightly narrowed. He looked mostly Caucasian, but not entirely. His body was trim enough, not perfect, but no particularly bad rolls, either.

Then there was that calm. On the surface, he didn’t seem to give a damn about anything, but after a while, Robin realized he just didn’t worry. He reminded her of somebody who had lived a very, very long time. An old soul, she thought.

The stairs creaked. Robin looked across the half wall separating the kitchen from the open dining room to the stairway. Dean was slowly stumbling downstairs.

“Is Elizabeth awake?” Robin asked.

Dean looked at her through half-open eyes. “Yeah. Have we got any tea?”

“For you or for her?”

“Both,” Dean grumbled. “Oh. Hi, Roger.” He stopped at the entrance to the kitchen and yawned. “I thought I heard voices.”

“Is the baby awake?” Robin asked.

Dean nodded. “Elizabeth is feeding her. What about that tea?”

Robin began rummaging through the cupboards. There was tea. But Robin’s assumption that there wasn’t much else in the cabin to eat was correct. She volunteered to run get breakfast, and Roger volunteered to join her. The ride out to the nearby town’s small grocery was filled with meaningless chitchat that was, nonetheless, oddly comfortable, Robin thought. And as they waited at the checkstand to buy the Danish and other basic groceries, Roger’s hand slipped into Robin’s. Blushing, she pulled it back.

“Oh,” Roger said, suddenly nervous. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I’d done that.”

As soon as they got back, Roger asked to see Elizabeth and the baby, and Elizabeth agreed to let him up. Robin was astonished to see that even overnight, the baby had grown and matured.

“My lord, she looks like she’s a month old already,” Robin gasped.

“I know,” said Elizabeth, from the bed, where she was propped up by pillows. “Dean assured me, she was smaller last night.”

“I’m sure she was,” said Roger, who was holding up the baby’s hand and pressing it against a small hand-held screen. “Well, preliminary tests indicate she’s healthy. I’ll be able to get a better reading on any genetic pre-dispositions when I run the saliva test. The other good news is that her cells seem to have settled down, so she’ll grow more normally now.”

“Huh?” asked Dean.

“It’s a side effect of being in the drop,” Roger explained. “It excites cell growth. Elizabeth is the first person to go through while pregnant, but it doesn’t seem to have had any negative effects on your baby. It just made her grow faster, is all. Which probably explains why she came so early and yet was a full-term baby.” Roger looked over at Robin. “I wish I’d known about the baby before we got separated.”

“That. Well…” Robin sighed. “Roger, I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I was going to tell you. Only we got a little side-tracked if you’ll remember.”

“Too true,” Roger said. “And Donald made sure I knew that at least one part of the experiment had worked. That Elizabeth was pregnant.”

“Are we going to be running from this Donald for the rest of our lives?” Elizabeth asked.

Roger shook his head. “No. I can’t say more, but, no, not the rest of your lives.” He smiled as he handed the baby back to Elizabeth. “So what is your baby’s name?”

Elizabeth smiled as she looked up at Dean. “Her name is Robin Mary. Robin for her aunt and Mary for my mother.”

Robin felt her face grow hot. “Oh.” Tears filled her eyes. “Wow. That’s…  That’s….”

She never finished.

Dean laughed. “Aw, come on, Robin. How could we not?”

Smiling, Roger picked up Elizabeth’s free hand and pressed it to his small screen.

“Looks like you’re doing well, also, Elizabeth,” he said, looking over the read-out. “Goodness. You didn’t even get any vaginal tearing pushing that little moose out. Uterus is receding nicely.”

Dean looked at the read-out. “Geez, how can you tell all that from just putting her hand there?”

“It’s neuro-radiopathy,” Roger explained. “It uses modulated x-rays to tap into the nerve impulses and spectrometry to read blood density and things like that to spot problems. It’s reading completely normal on tissue soundness and pain, which it wouldn’t have if there had been any tearing. And the position it notes for the uterus is right in line with where it should be this many hours after childbirth. How are you feeling, Elizabeth?”

“Tired,” she said.

“How about emotionally?” Roger sat down next to her.

“I am fine,” she answered, a little stiffly.

“Really?” Roger asked. “Not feeling overwhelmed or frightened by all the strange things in this world?”

“In this time,” Elizabeth corrected, then fell silent.

Dean gently pushed Roger up from the bed and took his place. “Honey, it’s okay to talk about how you feel. It’d be weird if you weren’t all scared and messed up by things here.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I am here now. I want to accept it and learn to like it.” She sniffed. “It’s not so bad. Being in magic carriages and strange lights and everything. It’s not bad at all now.”

“I’m sure you’re doing very well,” Roger said, reassuringly. “But at the same time, having a baby and having to adjust to this very different time, that’s a lot to handle, Elizabeth.”

Robin smiled. “Roger’s right, Elizabeth. This world is pretty strange compared to what you’ve been used to. If you get scared or something, no one is going to think you don’t want to be here.”

Elizabeth smiled weakly. “I do want to be here. It’s only that if I keep thinking about how much all these strange things frighten me, all I’ll be is frightened all the time. You accept them as normal, so I’m trying to look at them the same way.”

Roger nodded. “That’s very brave, Elizabeth, and not a bad way to look at things. But if it gets to be too much, you do need to talk about it.”

Robin Mary squawked suddenly.

“I’m tired, now,” said Elizabeth, “and my baby needs to be fed.”

“Well, then we’d better leave,” Roger said.

He followed Robin out of the room.

“Isn’t that great,” he said, sliding his hand onto Robin’s seat.

“Roger!” Robin slipped away and glared.

“Damn.” Roger’s sigh was genuine and a little tortured.

“What’s wrong?” Robin asked.

“I can’t stay.” Roger hurried down the stairs. “I thought I was going to be able to, but it’s clear I can’t. Where’s your timetron?”

Robin walked over to the sofa. “I suppose hiding it from you wouldn’t work.”

Roger paused. “No. And you don’t really want to do that.” He held his hand out.

“A lot you know about it.” Sourly, Robin put the machine in his hand.

“You don’t understand, Robin.” He reached his hand out to her then self-consciously pulled it back. He used his finger to trace something on the top of the machine. “Things were…  Will be going badly. In my natal time. I can’t tell you right now. You just need to trust me.” He stopped and looked at her, his eyes penetrating, yet warm. “I need you to promise me two things. One is that before you do anything else, you’ll see to it that Dean and Elizabeth are well settled in.”

“What the hell else am I going to do?” Robin grumbled. She glared at him. “I’m not going anywhere or anywhen.”

“Yes, you are.”

“What?” Robin gaped, too afraid to believe that it could be true.

“Robin, this is serious. Things are very bad when I’m sending you. I wouldn’t do it, except that it was the best plan I could think of. I can’t tell you more.” Roger handed her the timetron. “But when Dean and Elizabeth are settled, I need you to go to the coordinates I entered.”

“You mean I get to time travel again?”

“Of course.” Roger smiled. “Robin, I wasn’t going to stop you. I just needed to get you trained. You’re good, but there are things you didn’t know and you needed to learn them. I mean, need.”

“Roger. That’s…”

His face became serious again. “I just don’t want you rushing off from here. It doesn’t matter when you leave, you’ll be right where you need to be, whenever you leave here. So make sure Dean and Elizabeth are okay, first.”

“They’re not in any danger, are they?”

“They’ll be fine. I promise.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Roger grimaced. “I can’t tell you. Just trust me.”

Robin folded her arms. “And what makes you so sure you can trust me?”

“I can’t tell you.” Roger smiled again and started to reach out to her. “Yeah, I’ve got to go. This a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Robin’s heart lurched. “Am I going to see you again?”

“I can’t…” He stopped and moved close to her. “What the hell. You’ll see me when you land. In fact, you’ll see me for a really long time. Many times.”

He put his hand on her cheek and kissed her long and deep and passionately. Robin almost felt her legs giving way.

“Now,” he sighed as he pulled away. “I’ve got to get the hell out of here before I cause any more trouble.”

He pulled out his own timetron, closed his eyes and vanished.

Robin stared at the empty space for several minutes.

“Robin?” called Dean from the landing. “We saw the lights go. Did Roger leave or something?”

“Yeah. He left.” Robin pulled herself together. “Everything okay up there?”

“Everything’s fine.”

“Good.” Robin took a deep breath. “Great. I’ve got some laundry to finish and if Elizabeth’s up to it, we’ll make some plans.”

“Great. We’ve already talked some things over.”

Robin nodded. She looked at the time machine in her hands, then slowly laid it back down on the couch. She would be time traveling again, very soon. But first, she had Dean and Elizabeth to take care of. There would be time enough for that.

Chapter Twenty-Six

We’re coming close to the end of But World Enough and Time. In two weeks, we’ll launch the book version (which, by the way, already has a few tweaks from the version here – very minor, but still tweaks). If you’d like to pre-order it or get your friends to, check out this link from And now, back to our story.


science fiction serial, time travel serial, serial science fictionIt was hard to tell which was worse, the bone-crushing sensation of the machine or the roar of noise that greeted Robin, Dean, and Elizabeth as they landed.

“Where are we?” Dean hollered over the sound of a jet engine taking off.

“Los Angeles International,” Robin yelled back. They were in the parking lot. “Lots of places we could go from here, just in case Donald finds a way to follow us. There’s the shuttle to the airport. Let’s get on. I’ve got to get to an ATM.”

The driver stared at the three as they boarded the bus.

“It’s a joke,” Robin said, nervously. “We belong to this living history club, and we’ve got this friend that’s coming in, and, well, he’s supposed to freak when he sees us, figuring he got the wrong era, and…  It’ll be funny. Really.”

The driver chuckled. “Sounds like a good one.”

Elizabeth kept her head down during the short ride. At the terminal, Robin found an ATM readily enough, got the money she wanted, then got change.

“Why?” asked Dean.

“We’ll need it for the trains so we can get back to Pasadena,” Robin told him. “Elizabeth, you okay?”

“I am all right,” she sighed. “It’s noisy and things move so strangely. But I’ll get used to it.”

“Trains?” asked Dean. “What trains?”

“Wake up, Dean,” Robin snarled. “Los Angeles has public transportation now. We’ll take the bus to the Green Line to the Blue Line to the Red Line to the Gold Line. There’s a stop about half a mile from my house.”

They got more stares from people as they waited on the various platforms for the electric trains. Robin got a fix almost immediately on the date and time – late morning, one day before the date she’d programmed. It was almost mid-afternoon when they finally got to the porch of Robin’s house. Robin unlocked the door quickly and jammed everyone inside.

“We’re not safe yet,” she told them. “How are you doing, Elizabeth?”

She smiled softly. “You keep asking me. I said I am fine.”

“Okay. Good.” Robin looked at Elizabeth again. “Geez, Elizabeth, your stays are really straining.”

“I know. My dress feels very tight.”

“I should have something upstairs that you can throw on until I can get you those clothes we bought before we took you back to your time.” Robin looked around. “I’m going to shower first, then head over to my office. That’s where I sent our luggage. Dean, you’d better start combing that flour out of your hair. If you try washing it out, it’ll turn into big sticky globs.”

Robin found an old t-shirt and athletic shorts for Elizabeth and then set to work combing out flour and getting showered. The worst part was that she knew she shouldn’t linger. But she couldn’t resist the glory of hot water running down her back after so many months without any running water at all. She also paused while toweling off, enjoying the scent of a clean towel. After getting dressed in jeans and another shirt, she stuffed her hair under her hat, then headed out.

“Robin!” proclaimed the receptionist, a young man named Alex. “I thought you weren’t going to be back for another couple weeks, at least.”

“I’m not and I’m not here,” Robin said, genially. “Would you get on the P.A. and let everyone else know I’m not here? I am merely a figment of everyone’s imagination.”

“Hey, Robin,” said Steve Wasserman, her partner. “How was England?”

“Great, and I’m not here.”

“Can we pretend you are and will you look at this little glitch that—”

“No! I am not here.” She looked over at Alex. “Make that announcement. Now.”

“Seriously, Robin,” Steve continued as Alex started the announcement.

“No way, Steve.” Robin moved quickly toward her office. “I’m just here to pick up some stuff that I had sent here from my trip and I am out of here.”

“But when are you coming back?” Steve remained hot on her heels.

Robin paused. It was a better question than she’d anticipated. “Uh, in a couple weeks or so, according to plan. I got back early from Europe to deal with…  To deal with some family stuff. I’m just going to pick up my boxes and get out. Okay?”

In the end, Robin needed Steve to help with the boxes, so she looked at the glitch, had a much longer conversation than she wanted over how to fix it, and then left, feeling slightly unnerved by the whole experience.

Back at the house, Robin gave Elizabeth her clothes. When Elizabeth had changed, Robin could have sworn that Elizabeth’s tummy had grown even since she had left an hour before.

“So what do we do now?” asked Dean, after he had changed into his modern clothes.

“We hide,” said Robin. “I’ve just called Dad and he said we could use his cabin for a while.”

“Yeah, but won’t what’s-his-name be able to find us through Dad’s name?” Dean said.

“Not really. Dad bought it under some corporation deal with that company that owns the patents on his inventions. It’ll be pretty hard to trace it to him. We can use it for free, which means we won’t have to use credit cards, which are traceable. And it’s pretty secluded, which means we’ll be able to help Elizabeth adjust more slowly.”

“We can’t stay here?” Elizabeth asked, grimacing slightly.

Robin shook her head. “Too easy for Donald to trace. But the car trip shouldn’t take that long.”

“I will be all right,” Elizabeth said, resolutely, although her face betrayed her fear.

They left shortly afterward. Robin was less than thrilled that their first meal back in their own time had to be fast food, but Dean wasn’t complaining.

“Aw, come on, Robin, these are the best burgers on the planet,” he proclaimed as they ate in the car.

Robin didn’t answer. She knew she should concentrate on driving, but all she could think about was what to do after they got to the cabin. And how they would explain Elizabeth to their mother. And whether time travel would be forever denied her. And when would Roger come?

The drive was not the most pleasant or easy. Rush hour traffic was in full force and while Elizabeth was amazed by the huge number of cars also on the freeway with them, at least, she wasn’t frightened by high speeds simply because Robin couldn’t get going any faster than twenty-five miles per hour. By the time the traffic had eased, Elizabeth was a little more accustomed to moving quickly, even twenty-five miles an hour being exceedingly fast for her experience. She even managed to watch out the window as the suburbs of Southern California flew past.

It was closing in on dark when they finally arrived at the cabin in Big Bear. Dean got Elizabeth inside and warned her about the lights, as Robin brought in the luggage. The cabin was more of a large house decorated in rustic mountain style, with a huge vaulted ceiling in the living room and a second story with three bedrooms.

“Woh, this place is pretty cool,” said Dean, looking around.

“Haven’t you been here before?” Robin asked.

Elizabeth suddenly grabbed the back of a sofa and groaned.

“What’s the matter?” Dean yelped.

“Nothing,” she gasped. “I’ve got to go to bed though. It’s too soon, but I’ve gotten so big suddenly. Maybe the baby will be big enough.”

“You’re in labor.” Robin looked at her in shock.

“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded, as the contraction subsided.

Robin swallowed. “How long?”

“Since before we left your home.”

“In labor?” Dean squeaked. “Why didn’t you say anything?’

“Because I knew I had time and we couldn’t stay there, anyway,” said Elizabeth.

“Great,” Robin grumbled. “How fast are the pains coming?”

“Fast. Oh, no. Here it comes again.” Elizabeth doubled over.

Robin checked her watch. “Hell, that’s less than two minutes. We’ve got to get you to a hospital!”

“I’m not going anywhere!” Elizabeth snapped. “Except to bed.”

“We can’t deliver a baby here,” groaned Dean.

“It looks like we’re going to have to.” Robin looked around. “Oh, hell, how do you do this?”

“You don’t do anything,” laughed Elizabeth. She grimaced as another pain took over. “Except catch it. I’ve got all the work to do. We’ll need something to wrap the baby in, some water to clean it with, and a good sharp knife.”

“A knife? For what?” Dean’s panic grew.

“To cut the cord.”

“No. We won’t do that,” said Robin. “But you’re right about the other things. Let’s get you upstairs. The master bedroom has a bathroom there. We’ll have all the water we need. Dean, give me a hand.”

Dean helped Elizabeth into the room while Robin turned down the bed and laid out some towels to protect the sheets.

“Dean, you’d best fetch that water,” Elizabeth said through clenched teeth as she sat down on the bed.

“We’ve got water in there.” Robin pointed. “And he’s staying right here. I can’t do this alone.”

“But he’s a man!” Elizabeth protested.

“So do I stay or go?” Dean asked frantically.

“Do you want to see your kid born?” Robin demanded.

“Well, yeah, but I figured I’d get to go to class first.”

“Class?” Elizabeth looked at them bewildered. “You have to learn how to have a baby?”

“I know it sounds ridiculous,” Robin said. “But you learn how to relax with the contractions, breathing and all that. And he learns how to coach you. I’ve heard it works really well. Anyway, fathers are always in the delivery room with the mothers. Let’s get you undressed.”

Elizabeth gulped. “In front of Dean?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Elizabeth, that’s how he got you this way!”

“Um, Robin, it wasn’t,” Dean said.

“Huh? Oh, never mind. Dean, go get some more towels. They should be in the bathroom closet.”

He left.

“All I need to remove are my drawers,” Elizabeth said.

She groaned, then pulled the underpants off. Dean reappeared, then grimaced with her as the next contraction took hold.

The pains came fast and hard. Elizabeth cried out again and again. Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead.

“When the head comes,” she gasped when she could. “Check that the cord isn’t around the neck. Oh, no!”

“Keep talking, Elizabeth.” Robin coaxed, although she already knew what to do from her first aid classes. Anything to keep Elizabeth’s mind off the pain. “Tell me everything I have to do.”

“Turn the head. Turn it to… to… the shoulders are right.” Elizabeth broke down in sobs.

Dean squeezed her hand. “Hey, it’s alright, honey. You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay.”

It was almost as hard on him as it was on Elizabeth. The pain was terrible, and he was helpless to relieve it. Yet, even so, as the labor progressed, he got calmer and focused on reassuring Elizabeth.

Elizabeth grunted, straining all of a sudden.

“Don’t push yet,” Robin ordered.


“Don’t push until you absolutely must. Whatever you do, try not to.”

“That’s right,” said Dean. “We’ve got to make sure you’re completely ready to have this kid.”

Elizabeth nodded and cried out as the contraction hit yet again. Dean mopped her brow with a damp washcloth, then gave her another to suck on. Robin went and washed her hands to the elbows.

Ten minutes later, Elizabeth strained again.

“Don’t push,” Robin ordered.

“I have to!” Elizabeth shrieked.

Robin helped her bend her legs, then swung a bright reading lamp around. She aimed it right where the baby would be coming. The contractions slowed down a little but remained just as hard.

“Okay,” Robin said. “Push with the next contraction and push for all you’re worth. Dean, you’d better start cheering her on. She’s bushed.”

“Help me sit,” Elizabeth ordered.

Dean pushed her up from behind as she strained even harder.

“Enough,” she gasped as the contraction died.

“That’s a good idea,” Robin said. “Try and rest where you can, Elizabeth.”

“I’ve no choice,” she murmured. Her breath caught. “Help up!”

Dean shoved her into place. “Come on, Elizabeth, push that baby out.”

Robin helped spread her legs. “Hot damn, Dean! I can see the head!”

“Yeah?” Holding Elizabeth up with one arm, Dean reached and looked. “I can see it, too. Won’t be much longer now.”

Elizabeth nodded and sank backward. As tears slipped from her eyes, Dean gently let her down. Seconds later, he helped her up again.

“It’s coming.” Robin encouraged. “Just a few more pushes, Elizabeth. Just a few more.”

Elizabeth sank back again. “Water.”

Dean handed her the washcloth. She sucked greedily, then yelped. Dean heaved her back up.

The head came fast. Robin watched, transfixed in wonder as it emerged. Dean peered anxiously over Elizabeth’s shoulder. Poor Elizabeth was almost too tired to know what was going on.

As the chin cleared, Robin checked to make sure the cord was not around the neck. It wasn’t.

“Okay, we’ve got a chin and there’s no cord,” she announced.

Elizabeth sobbed and nodded. Robin gently held the head, then jostled out the top shoulder, then the bottom. Elizabeth gave one more push, and the rest slipped out.

The tiny purple body was covered with blood and a light white mucus-like substance. Robin pinched the bottom, and the baby sprang to life with a loud, coughing wail.

“It’s a girl,” Robin muttered, then louder, “It’s a girl. We did it!” Her tears flowed. “You guys have a girl and she’s all right.”

Elizabeth sank back onto the pillows, half laughing and half sobbing.

“And I’m alive,” she whispered.

“Of course, you are.” Dean sniffed and wiped his eyes.

Robin wrapped the still crying infant in a towel and handed her to Dean.

“Dean, no.” Elizabeth gasped.

“It’s okay,” Dean said, grinning. “I know how to hold a baby. See?”

Elizabeth smiled and nodded. “She’s hungry.”

“Are you sure you’re up to feeding her?” Robin asked as she held Elizabeth’s legs and waited for the placenta.

“I don’t think she’ll go that far,” said Dean. “She’s still hooked up.”

“Get the knife and cut the cord,” Elizabeth said.

“Nope,” said Robin. “There’s a better way to handle it. Here comes the placenta.” She caught it in a towel. “Yuck. What a mess. We’ll wrap it up with the baby, then take you to the hospital and get the cord cut there.”

“But why?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because of germs, Elizabeth. We don’t want to take a chance on infecting the baby, or you, for that matter.” Robin laid the placenta on top of the baby and wrapped them both together in another towel.

“She’s so small.” Dean gazed at her in wonder.

“Let me nurse.” Elizabeth pulled herself up on the pillows and reached for the baby.

Dean handed her over. Robin watched for a minute, then began clean up operations. Dean laid his hand on the baby’s back and lovingly kissed Elizabeth.

“She’s beautiful,” he whispered.

Robin turned away. Something in her ached with loneliness. She tried telling herself that she wouldn’t have to deal with diapers and two o’clock feedings and other such nonsense. Even that proved to be small consolation. She quickly collected all the soiled linens and hurried out to the garage where the washer and dryer were.

While Robin was gone, Elizabeth prevailed upon Dean to get a knife.

“She does have a point about those germs, you know,” Dean said, bringing the knife in.

“But it’s not good to keep the cord on.”

“True.” Dean went into the bathroom and came back with a bottle of rubbing alcohol. “This’ll take care of Robin’s problem.”

He poured the alcohol over the knife, then handed it to Elizabeth. She made short professional work of the cord, then handed the bundle with the placenta to Dean.

“It should be burnt.”

“Hm.” Dean looked around. “Good thing there’s a fireplace in here, especially one with gas logs.”

Elizabeth looked at him, puzzled, then jumped as he turned on the gas and touched a match to it. The little bundle crackled merrily but sent a rather nasty scent into the room.

“What smells?” asked Robin, coming in. She saw the towel in the flames. “Terrific. I did know what I was doing, you know.”

“So does Elizabeth,” said Dean. “And she was worried. I thought it would be better if she could relax.”

Robin couldn’t argue. Exhausted, she pulled out a dresser drawer and lined it with the last two towels.

“This’ll do for a crib until we can get something better,” she said. “We’re going to have a hell of a time taking showers tomorrow, though. We’ve used every last towel in the place.”

She took the drawer over to the bed.

“Thank you,” said Elizabeth. “For everything.”

“No sweat,” said Robin. “You take it easy and rest up. I figure there’s no rush to get to the hospital now. We’ll go in the morning.”

“Okay,” said Dean. “Goodnight.”


Robin left the room elated and down, both at the same time.

Chapter Twenty Five

time travel, science fiction, science fiction serial, time travel serialThe window of time in which the power pull was to occur was ridiculously short, unless, of course, you were spending the night on a park bench waiting for it to happen.

Roger shifted once more, hoping that the tree across from the Culpepper home would continue to provide sufficient cover, especially now that dawn lightened the sky over the square. Fortunately, the constables had only come by once, and had been noisy enough on their approach to warn even the deafest of malefactors.

Shifting again, Roger kept his gaze steady on the one lit window among the townhouses on the row. He put his spyglass to his eye once more and saw Robin bending over something, then sit back.

In his week in Bath, he’d had little trouble finding out all that Robin, Dean and Elizabeth had been up to. All he’d had to do is pose as the greengrocer’s assistant, and the Culpepper’s cook told him everything in exquisite detail. It hadn’t taken him long, either, to pin Donald down. Fortunately, Donald had developed the habit of not noticing his inferiors, making it even easier for Roger to remain unseen. Donald’s landlord had told Roger, again in the guise of the greengrocer’s assistant, all about the burglary in Donald’s room and the missing sack. And it had been perfectly easy to slip into the house, and Robin’s room, where Roger had found the parts and Robin’s work.

The problem had been deciding whether or not he should intervene. After all, it was possible that it would be him and not Robin who would generate that power pull. Roger had decided to wait, but as the night continued to fade, he debated intervening again. He furtively checked a small dial he had under his sleeve. Nothing had registered yet.

Except that the dial began to glow just as Roger caught a flash of light from Robin’s window. That was it. He put the spyglass to his eye again and saw a look of horror on Robin’s face. Roger hurried over to the house. Given all that cook had had to say yesterday afternoon, Roger could understand Robin’s horror. Whatever had happened, she had every reason to believe all was lost. The poor thing had no way of knowing she’d just saved herself and the other two.

Silently, Roger slipped through the sleeping house. He stopped at the upstairs doorway, listening. Robin’s soft sobs were on the other side. He eased the door open, slid through and quietly shut the door.

The charred mess on the work table told the story. Roger chuckled softly. Still engulfed in tears, Robin didn’t seem to hear. Roger cleared his throat.

“Dean?” she sniffed as she turned around. She jumped. “Oh!” Wiping her eyes, she composed herself. “Oh. Roger.”

He smiled. “Hello.”

“How did you find us?”

Roger pointed. “Your experiment on the table there.”

“This?” Robin almost burst into tears again. “It just blew up on me.”

Roger looked at it more closely. “Well, all the chips are in the right place. Which one originally blew?”

“That one.” Robin pointed.

“That makes sense, then what..? Ah, here’s the answer. Tin solder, isn’t this?”

“Yeah. It’s not very pure, either. I had to use the lead powder the ladies use on their faces to mix with it.”

Roger shook his head. “It wasn’t the lead. Tin can’t conduct ion frequencies. It overloads, as you just saw.”

“Oh.” Robin sniffed. “I did my best.”

“A pretty impressive best, I assure you.” Roger gently put his hand on her back.

Robin snorted. “Not really. I ripped off the parts from Mr. Neddrick, I mean Farquhar.”

“Donald Long.” Roger’s voice didn’t quite sneer, but Robin could tell that Donald was not one of Roger’s favorite people. “That’s his real name.”

“I don’t know why he’s after us,” she said.

“When you say ‘why,’ are you asking what’s his external objective, or the psychological issues driving his behavior?” Roger settled himself on the end of Robin’s bed.

Sniffing, Robin chuckled. “He seems to want Elizabeth.”

“That would be the external objective. Although I’m sure now he’d like to take care of you and Dean, as well.”

“Ah. The ever-popular revenge theme.” Robin sighed. “But why was he so hot on Elizabeth?”

Roger shook his head. “It’s not so much Elizabeth as it is taking over the experiment she was involved in. I must confess it was originally his idea. And I not only gave him the credit for it, he got to make the presentation to our board. The Board simply decided that Donald might be less than humane in the execution, so they gave it to me instead.”


Roger smiled guiltily. “I know it sounds awful, but I promise you, the whole project was thoroughly vetted so that it would be completely respectful of Elizabeth’s identity and privacy and freedom of choice.” He paused. “As far as she could make a choice. When we chose her to remove and bring forward, I could only promise a certain adventure and myself as her husband. She wasn’t capable of understanding the rest.”

“Oh.” Robin thought. “Uh oh. You’re not still planning on marrying her, are you?”

“That.” Roger sighed. “I’ve been told that she’s Dean’s wife, so I strongly suspect that Dean has made a stronger claim.”

“You have no idea how strong.” Robin looked at her time machine and sighed.

“Robin, you didn’t fail just now,” Roger said. “Given your lack of knowledge, and the lack of materials, you’ve given yourself a fighting chance. One of my colleagues was convinced that you three were forever lost. And when we saw that power pull, she was certain that Donald or I had generated it. She refused to believe that you could have been the one.”

“I guess.” Sadly Robin picked at a chip. “So you’re going to take us home now?”

“Yes.” He smiled as her face fell even further. “And I’ll get a trip forward to my time authorized for you. I’ve first got to figure out how we’re going to bring you forward, though. Of course, we do still have that set up where I put Elizabeth.”

Robin grimaced. “You mean put me into suspended animation? Why?”

“It’s one of the side effects of time travel,” Roger said, clearly not willing to say what that effect was. “You just don’t bring people beyond their natal time. That’s why Elizabeth was on the suspend an. Going beyond your own time could have all sorts of dire effects.”

“Hm.” Robin thought. “It must have been because I was only there a couple minutes.”

Roger looked at her, puzzled. “What?”

Robin smiled weakly. “Well, when we found Elizabeth… Actually, Dean found her first, then went and got me. Anyway, I started checking out the consoles you had in the room, and I sent myself to your time. That’s how I figured out it was a time machine.”

“And you suffered no ill effects?” Roger examined her. “You didn’t feel tired or as if you were older or something like that?”

“None that I know of.” Robin shrugged. “I was only there a couple minutes.”

“The length of your stay wouldn’t do it.” Roger looked at her still more closely, trying to decide what to do next.

“I came right back, to within three minutes of when I left.”

For the first time, Roger looked angry. “You didn’t. Damn you. Oh, hell. You wouldn’t know better. Robin, don’t ever try that again. The timetron is only accurate to within plus-minus three days. That’s why you never go to any time within a week of your previous visit or departure. You don’t want to run into yourself.”

Robin snorted. “I almost did. The only thing I can’t figure is why I was able to land back in the castle at the exact time and day I set and haven’t been able to since.”

Roger thought. “The power source. That’s one of the reasons I chose that castle to hide Elizabeth. There’s a power source there for the time machines. As it turned out, I was able to get the machine to set me down at the exact time I set it for, as well.” He sighed. “As you can see, Robin, there’s still a lot we don’t know about time travel, which makes it all the more dangerous for you to be traveling on your own. You know even less.”

Robin sighed. “I suppose.”

“Well.” Roger thought something over, then decided it was better not to say anything just then. “Let’s get your stuff packed.” He paused. “I’m curious. Which do you like more? The time machine or the history?”

Robin stopped clearing her work table long enough to think. “You would have to ask that. I mean the technology is so amazingly cool, even though I don’t understand it entirely. But I also love the history, really seeing the world as it was. That’s why we’ve been here so long. Well, in the seventeenth century. We were trying to go back home when the machine blew. I should have figured out that Elizabeth wasn’t going fit in after the second village we went to tried to hang us.”

“What happened in the first?” Roger asked.

“Oh, we ran afoul of a very narrow-minded clergyman and got ourselves accused of witchcraft.”

“I see. And the second village?”

“That was the crooked steward. We ran a better inn than he did.” Robin smiled. “In a way, I wish we could have stayed. We’d made a lot of friends in the village. I really got a kick out of talking to the pastor. He went to Oxford. As a matter of fact, I think he knew an ancestor of mine. He said I was just like this Lady of Hawkesland.”

“Hawkesland?” Roger looked at her with amused amazement.

Robin, busy stuffing her sack, didn’t notice. “Something like that. He seemed really thrown because I was a man, or he thought I was. The lady’s husband was Lord James Haverfield, Earl of Hawkesland. Lady Eleanor was her name. That’s funny. I just thought. Eleanor is my middle name. What a bizarre coincidence.”

Roger swallowed. “More bizarre than you think. Maybe I’d better go wake Dean and Elizabeth.”

“Wait.” Robin put her hand on his arm. “Why are you letting go of Elizabeth so easily?”

“Because I never thought the experiment would work in the first place,” Roger said, although there was clearly more to be said.

“Is there some other reason why this experiment is important, Roger? I mean why would this Board thoroughly vet things, and want to make sure you’d be humane about it for something this, uh, Donald wanted to do on a whim. Especially since you didn’t think it would work.”

Roger sighed. “I can’t really tell you. Except…” He looked at her thoughtfully. “Well, I expect you’re going to know sooner or later. Our world is facing the extinction of humankind. For a lot of complicated reasons that we really haven’t got time to go into now, fertility rates are so low, it’s entirely possible that humans will die out in another three or four generations. If something isn’t done very, very soon, the gene pool will get too small to regenerate.”

“But what about fertility treatment? Even in my time, there’s a lot that can be done.”

Roger winced. “Most of those advances are now outlawed, and for very good reason.” He stopped as he heard movement below. “Another very long story. And it sounds like we’d better get a move on.”

Robin decided to wake Dean and Elizabeth, herself. The two were packed within minutes, largely because they didn’t want to bring much with them, and what they did want had been packed the night before in anticipation of being kicked out.

Robin decided that the least she could do is leave a note for Sir James, but when she went to deliver it, she found Sir James emerging from his wife’s rooms, wearing his dressing gown and nothing else. Sir James went beet red, but with embarrassment.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Robin stammered. “I didn’t think you would be up so early.”

“Well, I…” He coughed politely, then smiled. “I’ve been thinking about what you said yesterday afternoon.”

“Oh, I apologize for that, sir.”

He waved her off. “Perhaps it was said in haste, but there was the bitterness of truth in those words. I like to think of myself as a rational man, which means I should be able to bear the truth, even when unpleasant. I owe you an apology, Mr. Parker. You and your brother and sister-in-law have always shown tremendous loyalty to me and to my family. I should never have doubted you. I am a changed man, Mr. Parker. What on earth is that?”

Banging sounds and the cries of the kitchen staff echoed up through the hall.

“Sir!” yelped the cook’s son from below stairs. “It’s Mr. Farquhar. He’s brought a gang of men. They’re wrecking the kitchen!”

“He’s angry about that contract,” Sir James said to Robin. Then he called downstairs. “Send Mr. Farquhar to me in the back salon.”

“But he’s after the Parkers!” the cook’s son bellowed back.

“He’ll find them there.” Sir James turned to Robin. “Get your brother and his wife out of here. I don’t know how long I can hold him.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Robin ran upstairs. Roger, who had heard the commotion, was just emerging from her room.

“It’s Farquhar,” she gasped. “I mean whatever you said his name was. He’s apparently after us and brought the cavalry with him to make sure he gets us.”

“Nothing like an enlightenment to ruin a favorite tactic,” said Roger.


“Charges of witchcraft.”

Robin shook her head. “Never mind that. Sir James said he’d try to hold him in the back salon.

“Excellent.” Roger went to the door. “I’ll see what I can do to calm him down.”

He left as Robin gathered her two sacks together and took a last look at the room. Then she hurried to Dean and Elizabeth’s room, knowing that they’d heard the commotion.

Only the cause of the commotion was already in Dean and Elizabeth’s room, assisted by two thugs, each of whom was bigger than Dean. Donald had one hand wrapped tightly around Elizabeth’s upper arm and the muzzle of a pistol pressed against her temple.

“Perfect,” Donald said. “I have everything I need.” He nodded at the thugs. “Marshall, Timkins, you will take care of the Messers Parker, just as I told you. As much as I’d like to be around for that part, I’m afraid I’ve more important business with this young lady.”

“Except that your experiment has already failed,” Robin said coldly. “You might be able to put Elizabeth on the suspend an, but what about her baby?”

“What?” Donald looked at Elizabeth more closely. “Your daughter. How? And how do you know about the suspend an?”

“Roger’s here,” Robin said. “In this house.”

“Damn, it’s a trap.” Donald waved at the thugs. “Go find this Roger. He’s the one I told you to keep a look out for. Find him now!”

The thugs were barely out of the door when Dean pounced on Donald. The two rolled on the floor with Dean’s hands locked on the wrist of the hand that still held the pistol. Robin pulled Elizabeth and the sacks from the room.

“Is this everything?” Robin whispered to Elizabeth.

“Yes. Dean said we won’t need much where we’re going.”

Robin glanced down the hallway. The thugs had hurried down the servants’ stairs, leaving the door to the stairwell wide open. Dean burst into the hallway, slamming the door shut just as the crack of pistol fire went off.

Robin and Elizabeth scurried after him down the front stairs. At the next to last landing, Robin paused.

“I’ve got to get Roger,” she said. “You two get to the cathedral as fast as you can. We’ll meet you at the communion table.”

“But” said Dean.

“It’ll be harder for them to catch us if we split up,” said Robin.

She waited just long enough to make sure Dean and Elizabeth were down the stairs, then Robin headed toward the back salon.

As she came up on the room, she could hear the scuffling going on within. Flattening herself against the hallway wall next to the door, Robin eased around the open doorway and peered into the salon.

Roger was locked in a wrestling match with either Marshall (or Timkins), with Sir James, now dressed, but looking somewhat disheveled, backed into the sideboard across from Robin, a pistol limply grasped in one hand. Timkins (or Marshall) lay in a corner unconscious. Donald was on the other side of the doorway from Robin, but far enough into the room that he couldn’t see her.

Donald still had his pistol, but instead of aiming at Roger, he raised it toward Sir James. Robin rolled the rest of the way into the room, grabbed an inkwell off a nearby table and hurled it at Donald. The inkwell caught him in the upper arm, and though Donald recoiled, he didn’t drop the pistol. He whirled around and finally saw Robin.

“That’s it, Farquhar,” Robin hissed. “Leave Sir James out of this. I’m the one you want and we all know it.”

“Yes, you are,” Donald said, smiling and raising the pistol.

Robin’s eyes were glued to the muzzle and it seemed like an eternity before the gun went off. The odd thing was that the shot went wild, shattering a China sconce behind her to the left. Slowly, she realized that Donald was on the ground, a gasping Sir James above him and looking quite pleased with himself.

“I’ve sent Samuel for the constable,” Sir James said over the crashing sound of a desk splintering under the weight of two grappling men.

Roger was on top, but Marshall (or Timkins) scrambled out from underneath and took off running. Donald slowly pulled himself to his knees but Sir James applied his foot to Donald’s backside and gently knocked him back down. Roger got up, panting.

“Well, Sir James,” Robin said. “You saved my life. I guess we’re even.”

“Yes, well a good clerk is worth a great deal,” Sir James said.

“I’m just afraid we can’t stay,” said Robin. “My friend, Roger, here, has brought me good news of my family’s fortunes and Dean and I must go and oversee everything. Thank you for everything, sir.”

“Wait!” Sir James mopped off his face. “You said that Mr. Farquhar here really wanted you?”

“Yeah,” said Robin. “That’s part of the news. He was, uh, my father’s business partner who had heard about the reversal of our bad fortune and wanted Dean and me out of the way. I had never liked him. In any case, that was why he wanted to marry Miss Deborah. To get at us. I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t prove it and he didn’t because, well, it’s obvious he couldn’t.”

“Hm,” said Sir James. “That explains why you didn’t support the match. All’s well that ends well, I say. Are you sure you must leave?”

“Yes, and quickly, sir. Um, my mother is all alone and needs protection.”

“I see. Well, God speed.”

“You, too, sir.”

Roger nodded. “It was good to meet you, sir. Perhaps we shall meet again under more pleasant circumstances.”


Donald lifted his head. “Robin Parker. Do you know who the father of Elizabeth’s baby is?”

Robin glared at him. “Of course I do.”

“Don’t be too sure,” Donald growled with a snigger.

“Oh, hush, you vile creature.” Sir James kicked Donald in the side for emphasis.

Robin nodded at Sir James then she and Roger hurried out.

“We’d better not count on Sir James being able to hang onto Donald that long,” Roger said as they got onto the street. He paused long enough to grin at her. “That was some pretty fast thinking.”

Robin shrugged. “I told Dean we’d meet them at the cathedral.”

“All right. Follow me.” Roger started down the next alley.

Robin stopped him. “Do you know where you’re going?”

“Yes. I’ve been here several times.”

“When, and how long ago?” Robin glared.

“About twenty years past, and twelve years back on my natal time continuum.” Roger grinned. “And I’ve been here for a week already.”

“Great. I’ve been living here for the past six months. We’ll go through the marketplace.” Robin headed down the street.

“You are stubborn, young lady,” said Roger, scrambling after her.

Robin didn’t bother to glare at him. “Don’t you ‘young lady’ me. You’re just a kid, yourself.”

“I’m a lot older than I look.”

“They all say that.” Robin looked behind her. “Damn. He’s coming, and he’s got reinforcements. Let’s go.”

Donald shouted as he and three more thugs came after them. Robin and Roger dashed into the market, already busy with the common man’s business. They dashed around stalls, hoping to lose Donald and company. The four men spread out and covered a lot of ground fast.

Robin and Roger wound up backed into a corner next to stacks of cages containing chickens.

“Don’t say it,” Robin grumbled as they ducked behind the cages.

“Say what?” asked Roger.

“I told you so.”

Roger shrugged. “We can still get out of this. But we should split up. You take my timetron.”

Robin pushed it back at him. “How will you get back?”

“We have ways.” Roger shoved the time machine into her hands. “It’s too complicated to go into now. That’s another reason you shouldn’t be time traveling. Promise me you won’t until I get to you.”

“All right. Only to get home. I promise. But how will you find us?”

Roger looked back into the marketplace. “You’ll want to hide. Find someplace you can stay for a couple weeks. And use money, if at all possible. Your debit and credit cards can be traced, although I don’t think Donald has been able to break into those records. Then, when you’re settled, turn the machine on for a couple minutes and turn it right off. Donald can’t trace this machine, but I can. Now, go!”

Roger reached up and pushed over the cages. Squawking hens went everywhere. Roger took off right away. Donald and the others chased after him. Robin waited a moment, then ran off in the other direction.

A minute later, she arrived at the cathedral, panting heavily. Dean and Elizabeth appeared from a side apse as she came clattering up the aisle.

“Come on,” Robin gasped. “Roger’s led them off after him, but they’ll be after us as soon as they discover I’m not with him.”

Robin led them outside and around the building’s side to a courtyard lined with shops. The Summer Gardens were across the square and down some stairs. On the other side of the gardens was the Avon River. Robin hurried Dean and Elizabeth there.

The gardens were deserted at that early hour. Pleasure boats for rowing on the river lay piled on the bank in anticipation of the winter. Dean and Robin turned one over and set it in the water. Carefully, they got Elizabeth on board and shoved off.

Just over an hour later, Robin decided that they had gone far enough downstream. She and Dean maneuvered the boat aground.

“Okay,” said Robin when they were all safely on the shore. “Let’s all get touching.”

“Uh, Robin,” Dean said. “Shouldn’t we be trying to get more modern?”

Robin smiled softly as she entered coordinates. “Actually, I think we’ll be safer if we stay period. We’re going back to L.A. People will probably think we’re on some sort of movie shoot, but if anyone asks, we can tell them we’re part of a living history group. Everyone touching?”

Certain that everyone was, Robin took a deep breath and focused on home.


Needs em dash [AB1]