(Hackle County Book 3)
“The thoughtful and often humorous spots April finds herself in keep me coming back for more!”– Amazon reviewer Reading Laura
It’s four days before Christmas, and Hackle County’s time-travelling health inspector April Islip is up to her ears with super-spreader investigations. On top of that, her boyfriend Clay Nolan is adding to her stress by insisting she avoid confrontations that could send her through time. When an altercation at a suspicious gathering catapults her to 1972, April must face her family’s messy past and the real reason she avoids holidays. A time travel romantic suspense novella.
Available in ebook and print. Audiobook coming soon.
Time Unwrapped. Copyright © 2022 Pamela Ferguson
Published by Winged Publications
Hackle County health inspector April Islip stood in the middle of what had been her spare bedroom before her boyfriend Clay Nolan had turned it into a time travel command center. “I can’t believe you asked me that. Of course, I’m getting vaccinated.”
Clay sat at the desk, studying the wall of index cards. She couldn’t blame him for the cards. She’d written those. Each contained a fact about her life before or after one of her two time-travel trips. Events she’d inadvertently altered. Lives she’d accidentally changed. Unintended consequences she’d spent three months trying to forget.
He flipped a page in his notebook. “You wrote that your physical appearance was modified in both 1969 and 1970. You said that when you travelled to the past you looked like your grandmother Monica as a young woman. Doesn’t that indicate something going on at the cellular level?”
The room had been her private space where she’d scribbled her observations during those confusing days following each trip. Clay had taken her disorganized time-travel analysis to a whole new level. He’d created time charts and added before and after photographs.
His eyes widened with excitement. “Hey, did you have a DNA test before your first trip? You could do another test and compare the results.”
She studied the map of Hackle County he’d hung on the wall. Red dots marked locations she’d visited in 1969, green dots marked 1970. In elementary school, she’d drawn pictures of their bow-shaped county, intrigued by the narrow spot where the dip in the river mirrored the arch of the mountains. The red and green dots meandered horizontally through that spot like unspooled ribbons. “I think I should delete my Lynks4u account.”
“What?” Clay jumped to his feet. “But that’s time-travel evidence.”
“Look at all this.” She flung her arms wide. “You’re obsessed. Tracking places I visited. Suggesting I shouldn’t get vaccinated. I feel like a lab rat.”
“I’m trying to keep you safe. The COVID-19 vaccine uses new technology. It’s designed for normal human DNA.”
She lowered her arms slowly. “Are you saying my DNA is not normal?”
He strode to her side. “Your DNA is exceptional. Supercharged. Extra—”
“Don’t even think about making me late.” She stepped around him and zipped up her jacket.
He chuckled. “Lucky for you the Health Department closed the Rec Center. I can focus 24/7 on solving the mystery.”
“I think you’re confusing who’s the lucky one.” Researching time travel had been his escape from boredom. But what had begun as puzzle solving had turned into an obsession.
He tilted his head. “Regretting our bubble arrangement already? If I’m hanging around too much, say the word.”
“And not see Slugger every day?” She knelt beside the desk and scratched the Rottweiler-Newfoundland’s ears. “How’s my cuddle-wuddle?”
Slugger leaned his massive head against her arm and drooled on her jeans. She scurried across the hall to the bathroom.
“I’m being serious,” Clay called after her.
She dried her clothes and returned. “I don’t regret being in a bubble with you. I just don’t want to talk about time travel every day.” She cupped his face between her hands and kissed him.
“It’s just—never mind.” He slid his arms around her waist. “Christmas is next week. Where do you set up your tree?”
“I don’t. I’m usually too busy working.” She shoved her hands into her coat pockets. “Where did I put my keys?”
“Lots of fir trees near my cabin. We could pick one together.”
She ducked her head. “Pine reminds me of hospital cleaner.” She fished her keys from her jeans. “Here they are.”
He lowered his arms. “I’ll buy an artificial tree. We can decorate after dinner.”
“Depends. I’ve got to check some Santa sites.”
“You’re working today?”
She hated hearing the disappointment in his voice. “Pratham put me in charge of drive-by inspections. Got to document all the super-spreader events.”
“What if you have a reaction to the shot?”
She patted his arm. “Side effects take hours to appear. I’ll be home by then.”
He gripped her shoulders. “You’re working on Saturday when everyone else is isolating. Can’t you take a day and relax?”
“You know that’s not the way my job works. I have to cover weekends.” Let someone else get the holiday overtime, she’d told her boss Pratham Khatri after Clay had asked her to stay home and avoid confrontations on holidays.
He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, and then closed it. “Someone could get mad about seeing a health inspector at their event. Maybe I should come along as your bodyguard.”
She laughed. “I can see the viral video. Elf pokes health inspector with candy cane.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “I’ll pick up dinner. Bye.” She waved and dashed downstairs.
The late afternoon wind smacked her cheeks as she walked to her car. Darn this pandemic! Why couldn’t things be the way they were?
She sat in the driver’s seat and stared at the dense gray clouds. Clay was concerned, she understood that, but fear was infectious, and she couldn’t afford to be afraid. Nine months of COVID-19 sickness and death, and no end in sight. She’d told him more than once what Monica used to say. Focus on the science because worrying never solved anything. Complex disease vectors. Social distancing violations. Counterfeit PPE. Those were the kinds of concrete problems she wanted to analyze, not why the universe had hiccupped twice and tossed her through time.