London, 1898: For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons.
London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention.
Will Mortimer’s unsavory past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?
“I did find one man interested. On the train home. He’s a watchmaker, so, in essence, he’s a tinker too.”
“Excellent!” Cora clapped her hands, delighted. “What’s he like? Can he fix the diffuser for you? Maybe an extra hand would help.”
Phoebe narrowed her eyes thinking of Mortimer. “He’s charming.” She nodded to a vendor selling “ices” for a halfpenny, and waited a few steps more before she spoke again, “But I don’t know much about his skills. Though, truth to tell, he’s proficient with a flathead screwdriver.”
“Handsome would be enough for me.” Cora laced her arm through hers. “What family does he come from?”
Kidd. Despite the infamy of the name, Phoebe knew it had to be real. But no matter how many times she mulled the name over, she still couldn’t place a Kidd family in the area. “I have no idea,” she admitted. “One from out of town, maybe.” She twiddled the small watch pinned to her bodice. “Or just outside London.” Maybe. “I don’t know who Mortimer’s family is.”
“Mortimer,” Cora muttered.
“So, to top everything, you’ve already memorized his first name and what he does for a living?” Cora said.
“Yes. He thinks the goddess will work,” she said. “Even suggested I give it to—”
She glanced to Cora’s chaperone, strolling ahead, and clamped her mouth shut.
“Who?” Cora demanded.
Phoebe gulped. “I forget.”
Cora’s light eyes lit with mirth. “You do not! Tell me everything!”
She waved a hand, batting the conversation away. “No one important.”
“Important or exotic enough to make you uncomfortable.”
“I’m not uncomfortable,” Phoebe said and checked herself in the shop window to confirm. “He suggested … no one important. Certain of his own clientele.”
“Those shopping for what?”
“Watches, I suppose,” Phoebe said.
Pouting, Cora studied the striped dress adorning the mannequin posing in the window before them. “That ensemble is lovely, don’t you think?”
“I think it would suit you perfectly. Even if the red piping might clash with your Votes For Women sash.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Cora peeked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Did you know there’s a reception with the Indian prince’s harem, this weekend? He’s settling, temporarily, here for some thing or other.”
Phoebe gasped. “What on earth?”
“So I’ve heard,” Cora said, tugging on her sleeve. “Why don’t you go? Take your little goddess to them. See what they say about it.”
Could she? she wondered, looking at everything but her friend. “You know it doesn’t work.”
Phoebe spied Mortimer Kidd in the glass of the dressmaker’s window display. He strolled down the sidewalk on the other side of the street.
She spun on her heel, waved and called out, “Mort—Mr. Kidd! Good morning.”
Waiting only long enough for a carriage with three horses to pass, Mortimer crossed over to them. Narrowly missing a puddle, he stepped on to their curb, tipping his hat. “Good morning, Miss Lockswell.”
He took her hand, kissed it. A tremor slipped through her fingers into her heart.
Cora’s brows shot up.
Phoebe gave her a droll look, turned back to her new acquaintance, reluctant to let him go and disappointed when he relinquished her hand. “How nice it is to see you,” Phoebe said. “I didn’t know you frequented Bond Street.”
“But it is a pleasant surprise, is it not?” he asked. “To what do I owe this great fortune?” He tipped his hat to Cora. “Are you the reason; then I thank you, Miss. I wasn’t expecting such a blessing today.”
“Should I report you for following me?” Phoebe teased.
“Always,” he laughed.
“I say!” their chaperone protested.
He winked at the chaperone. “But what gentleman wouldn’t follow such pretty things as you?”
“Oh come,” Phoebe said, taking the chaperone’s arm. “He’s speaking in jest. If you must know, I’m spending the day with my friend, Miss Smythe.” She nodded to Cora. “What brings you here, Mr. Kidd?”
“Business,” he replied, with a disgusted twist of his lips. “But I was kept waiting too long.”
“Well now, that isn’t polite.”
“Which is why I’m no longer waiting! So, tell me, how is our little project coming along?”
“Oh, here we go,” Cora groaned, with a flip of her blond locks. “Must you mention that dreadful toy?”
“Pish! Don’t listen to her,” Phoebe complained. “In fact, since you left, it hasn’t worked.”
“It’s broken?” he asked. “What happened?”
“Not broken, per se, the valves simply aren’t opening—or something is clogging the hoses again, or—” She shook her head. “I don’t understand it!”
“It doesn’t even—” He paused, glanced to Cora and said, “Forgive me for asking such a question in front of you, miss—” Phoebe lit up under his attention, and hoped he didn’t notice how eager she was for it. “—but it no longer works for your parents?”
“No.” She screwed up her face in doubt. “Not that they’ve said. My father has been a little tense. I guess it’s picking up on that.”
“Excuse me?” he said.
“Everything in the world gives off a vibration,” Phoebe explained. “Even sound turns to vibration. Your watch, for instance, if you really pay attention the hands move and the watch vibrates.”
Mortimer tugged his watch from his pocket and held it for a moment.
She wondered if he would think her mad, but after a moment, he nodded and said, “I think I do feel something.”
She smiled. “Scientists theorize every emotion gives off a certain vibration—anger resonates at one frequency, love another. I’ve designed the goddess to pick up on the vibrations given off by love—” She looked at her friend who seemed mortified by the conversation, and trying to rearrange the contents of her reticule rather than listen. Phoebe was sure she’d know to what she referred next if she bothered to look up. “—Or in my test cases, the potential for it—and that, in turn fuels the mechanism that sets off the atomizer.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juli D. Revezzo writes fantasy and romantic stories filled in with elements garnered from a lifetime love affair with magic, myth, witches, wizards, and fated lovers and legend. She is the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, steampunk historical romance WATCHMAKER’S HEART, and short stories published in ETERNAL HAUNTED SUMMER, LUNA STATION QUARTERLY, among others. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour. To learn more about this and future releases, visit her at: http://julidrevezzo.com
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