All the time in the world is still never enough.
London, January 1349. One lone apothecary engages in a futile battle against the rising tide of death brought on by the Great Pestilence. But there is something different about this man. In fact, Dr. Drake Stilson is there for a very specific purpose: find Henry and ensure he survives the worst of the epidemic sweeping the Western world.
Now if only Drake knew which Henry. This is far from the first time Drake—an employee of The Oracle Group, a military and scientific organization dedicated to correcting the damage done by people messing around with time travel—has been sent to a distant time and place, expected to do the impossible. Yet this is the first time he’s felt as if the battle is lost before it has even begun. Surrounded by fear and loss, Drake is on the verge of surrendering to the inevitable when disaster strikes.
Despite being partners in work and life, Jens rarely sees Drake. He would love to ask Drake to quit his job, but can’t bring himself to be that selfish. This latest assignment, though, is stretching them both to the limits. And when Drake runs into trouble, Jens’s world begins to crumble. Now he has to figure out how to get himself to the right place and time to save Drake and bring him safely home.
A knock on the door interrupted the most fascinating article on 8th Century Asian Earth burial practices. Drake looked up irritably. Everyone in the department knew if his door was closed to leave him alone. He was a cranky son of a bitch if his research was interrupted, even if he was only doing it for fun.
Another knock sounded.
“Go away!” Drake shouted.
“I’m here to—”
“Unless you’re here to talk about Chinese embalming techniques, leave me alone!”
Instead of doing as ordered, the door swung ponderously open, squeaking all the while. It made Drake roll his eyes. One of his grad students had insisted, saying it was only proper for a history professor to have a squeaky door.
Drake didn’t get the connection, but he had learned it was best not to argue too much with the grad students. Too much work made them unreasonable. Maintenance would oil it over the weekend, anyway.
A large, hulking figure filled the entryway. “Dr. Drake Stilson?”
Damn, that was a voice that belonged…well, maybe not on stage, but Drake would listen to it read poetry any day. Hell, that voice? Could read the phone book to him. Deep, dark, and sexy as all get out.
“I’m Dr. Stilson. What can I do for you?” Grope? Kiss? Blowjob?
The man stepped into the light. Drake narrowed his eyes, all attraction vanishing like a puff of smoke at the sight of the perfectly pressed uniform.
“Go away,” he ordered again.
“Dr. Stilson, I’m—”
“I don’t give a fuck who you are, get the hell out of my office. And tell those bastards at GM, for the last time, I’m not going to consult. Ever.”
“I’m not from the GM.”
“You’re wearing a uniform. Close enough. Go away.”
The idiots at the Galactic Military had been pestering him for months now. A recent uprising on one of the more backwoods planetary settlements had, once again, gotten them interested in old battle strategies, which just so happened to be one of Drake’s specialties. Once, long ago, he had given in and consulted. Once. After that debacle, he had sworn never again. He and military types were not a good combination.
Again Drake’s orders were ignored. He got a wry grin instead. It was an interesting look on the stark features.
The owner of that admittedly still spine-tingling voice wasn’t much to look at. He was big and filled out his uniform nicely, but his features were stark and uncompromising. His hair was cropped close to his skull, and with the pale color it made him look nearly bald. The lack of hair made his ears more prominent. His eyes, though…damn. A deep, brilliant blue, crinkling slightly at the sides, where light lines highlighted wrinkles in his tanned skin.
“Dr. Stilson, I’m Jens Pakkala, and I’m most emphatically not Galactic Military.” He tapped a patch on his breast. “Oracle Group. And we don’t want a consultation, we want to recruit you.”
“No.” To emphasize how very little that offer interested him, Drake pulled up his copy of History Today and buried his nose in the article. Unfortunately, the smell of cinnamon and honey kept distracting him. Damn, but that was some fabulous cologne.
“I think you’re gonna want to hear me out.”
Pakkala snorted. “I’ve been ignored by better men than you. I’ll talk, you listen, huh?”
Without an invitation, Pakkala moved a pile of papers and plopped his butt on the edge of Drake’s desk. It was, Drake noted despite himself, a fabulous butt, nice and firm, plump enough to get a good grip on. The seated position took away his view of that ass, but it gave him a perfect view of rock-hard thighs and a prominent package in the dark blue, pressed pants. For a uniform, they were, in Drake’s opinion, obscenely tight. He approved.
“We’ve just lost our top expert in Renaissance history, and in looking for a replacement, your name came up.”
The statement pulled Drake away from his ogling. He tried to don a glare to cover up the lust. Hopefully the raised magazine hid the fact that he was panting a little.
“That’s not exactly a promising opening,” Drake informed the uniform on the other side of his magazine. He was studiously ignoring those piercing eyes; they made him want to agree to things. Dirty, kinky, highly inappropriate things.
“She had a baby,” Pakkala said dryly. “What, you thought she got shot?”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“Your prejudice is showing. TOG members rarely get shot. Just because we wear uniforms and carry weapons doesn’t make us soldiers.”
“Funny, I kind of thought that was how it worked.”
Pakkala actually laughed. “Damn, I think we’re going to get along just fine.”
“Why would I care?”
“Because she was my partner, which means we would be working together. Closely. Temporal agents always work in pairs, one member in the past, the other grounding them in the future.”
“I’m still not…wait, did you say in the past?”
That grin was downright lethal. “I thought that might catch your attention.”
Drake slowly lowered the magazine to the desk. “All right, I’m listening.”