Trapped by Clocks and Hearts
An Alice in Wonderland Retelling
By S. L. Breaker
Available July 3rd, 2024
He has her heart. But can he claim her love?
A notorious assassin for the Queen of Hearts, Rabb Silverhope has never had trouble making women fall for him so he could steal their hearts for the Queen to eat.
Until he captures Allie's.
But that's not her real name.
A blank slate, "Allie" doesn't remember who she is. She doesn't know how she arrived in the mystical Land of Wünder. She doesn't know how to return to her world. Except that she must.
Allie's blank heart is the special on the Queen's menu.
But curiouser still, it appears to hold the key to unlocking the secrets of Rabb's own veiled past.
Can Allie stay immune to Rabb's charms long enough to find her way home? Can Rabb resist her temptation or will he sacrifice her heart for his own?
Trapped by Clocks and Hearts is one of ten books in the Enemies Ever After series, a collection of standalone short novels featuring enemies-to-lovers fairy tale retellings with a touch of steam.
Read a Sample
Tulgey Woods was a deceptive place. From a distance, it appeared to be a serene and peaceful forest, filled with charming little animals, and trees and flowers that were wont to chat you up if you dallied for too long.
But it was actually the home of a monstrous creature.
With eyes of flame, jaws that bite, and claws that catch, it would arrive like a dark shadow to engulf the entire forest if it sensed even a smidge of mystical power on its grounds.
Not exactly an ideal place to go gallivanting.
Spotting the girl emerge from the darkness of the forest, my breathing eased a little. She probably almost got suffocated by the trees and flowers in the thick woods, but had fortunately made it out before any of the more carnivorous plants caught her scent.
Folding my arms across my chest, I hovered atop a Tumtum tree a few yards away.
Walking up toward a giant mushroom in a clearing, the girl tucked back her long, unruly brown hair blowing in the slight breeze, her long, white lab coat fluttering behind her like a cape.
The mystical fungus a shade too tall for her to prop her elbows on, the girl leaned the tiptoes of her loafers to regard an inordinately large caterpillar that was perched upon it with a narrow-eyed look. “Hello?”
Not startled at all at the sight of her, the languid blue creature, three feet tall with a slimy, semi-transparent body, puffed smoke out from his gaudy hookah. “Who are you?”
The girl’s nose wrinkled in deep thought. “You know…I actually really literally don’t know.”
The pipe of the hookah poised near its mouth, the Caterpillar shot her a look of ridicule. “What do you mean by that? Explain yourself!”
She chewed on her inner cheek, her tone matter-of-fact. “Oh, I don’t really understand it all myself so I’m afraid I can’t tell you who I really am. See?”
The Caterpillar folded its arms across its chest. “I don’t see.”
“It’s just…I can’t seem to remember things.”
“Can’t remember what things?” the Caterpillar prompted.
Her forehead creased in contemplation. “Well, I heard I was found in an icy cave in the frozen wastes, left for dead. One of your world’s wizard guys rescued me. But when I woke up, I didn’t remember anything. Who I was.” She twirled a lock of hair around her index finger. “How I got here. Where I’m from.”
Wizard? My eyebrows snapped together in distaste at the term.
She wasn’t even telling it right—since I absolutely did not rescue her.
I wasn’t supposed to be at the frozen wasteland that day. I was in the middle of an assignment from the queen.
But when I reconned inside that small, nearly hidden cave, I’d found her.
Alone. Frozen. Nearly dead.
After a quick assessment determined that the girl was still alive, naturally, my first instinct had been to harvest her heart.
It should have been simple.
I would have left her body, delivered her heart to the Queen of Hearts, and gone back to my clock tower to enjoy my life of solitude until I was called to duty once again.
End of story.
For the last couple of weeks, the strange girl had spent delirious days in bed, indisposed, recovering from frostbite and near death. Installed in the little storage studio beneath my loft, I had successfully hidden her presence from the queen’s envoys and the rest of the world—for now.
Since she’d thawed, I hadn’t spoken more than five words to her. Of course, there was no accounting for her guile. For starters, I couldn’t fathom how she’d escaped my tower to get all the way to this forest. She must have recovered faster than she was letting on. She must have been sneaking around and eavesdropping the other day when that cat had dropped by again to snoop around and prattle my ear off about things.
A nerve ticked in my cheek in my annoyance. I swear to god—
I was going to gut that cat the next time I saw it.
After I gutted her.
“Who are you?” the Caterpillar snapped again.
The girl winced at the creature’s brusque response but she probably figured she might as well respond. “I guess you can call me Allie,” she declared, looking a bit miffed. “Honestly, it’s been quite a rough few weeks. I mean, if you forgot who you were, and found yourself in a strange place, you could probably really use something to relax too, couldn’t you?”
“Not a bit.”
Allie’s forehead creased. “Why am I even having this discussion with a talking caterpillar?” Shaking her head, she blinked a few times before turning away.
“Come back!” the Caterpillar called out. “I’ve something important to say!”
She glanced over her shoulder. “What is it?”
“You’ll get used to it in no time,” the Caterpillar stated, put the hookah back into its mouth, and began smoking again.
She blinked, looking around at a loss. “What, you mean being here?”
The Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth once more and yawned. Then it began to slither slowly down off the mushroom, crawling away on the grass, merely remarking as it went, “One side will bring you up, and the other side will bring you down.”
Her lips pursed. “The sides of what?”
“Of the mushroom,” the Caterpillar finished before it disappeared into the woods.
Just then, a low rumbling from across the valley caught my attention. Glancing up, I clenched my jaw.
Here it comes.
A large flock of birds squawked and flapped upward from a clump of trees on the horizon, a flurry in their efforts to escape the eclipse that blotted out the light like a tidal wave of darkness visibly coming closer and closer to the clearing where the giant mushroom stood.
Letting out a haggard sigh, I rode the air to coast swiftly down, scooping the girl up in my arms before she even noticed I had arrived.
“Whoa—” She grabbed my neck to secure herself against me before she looked up to meet my gaze. “It’s you!”
I was sure she could read the disapproval in my eyes, the wind whipping past us as I flew us away from the forest.
But her cheeks were pink, her smile wide with pleasure.
It was odd. In our previous very brief encounters while she recovered from her state, she had never once expressed pleasure at the sight of me.
The last time I’d had to physically come downstairs to deliver her food rations, the expression in her eyes was most definitely not delight. Apprehension, yes, but not delight.
Definitely not pleasure.
This situation did not warrant the pleasure in her eyes.
Then it hit me.
That damn caterpillar.
“What did you just eat?” I asked in suspicion.
Her pupils clearly dilated, she laughed merrily. “Oh, don’t be such a downer.”
I shook my head again. “Don’t you know what magic mushrooms do?”
“It didn’t look poisonous. It didn’t say poison on it.” Her face fixed into mock sobriety. “Besides, you know what they say. If at first, you don’t succeed, try two more times so that your failure is statistically significant.”
I scoffed in ridicule. “You are so high right now.”
She smacked her lips out loud. “It tasted like waffles. Did you know everything here tastes like waffles to me? Besides, the caterpillar made it sound so fascinating. I was just curious.”
“You are much too curious for your own good,” I mumbled.
“I’m a scientist.” She threw up one hand as if to gesture the obvious.
I narrowed my eyes at her. “How is it that you remember you are a scientist when you don’t remember anything else about yourself?” Even with my arms hooked under her back and legs, I motioned air quotes with my fingers. “Allie.”
Laughing again, she pinched my cheek. “Are you always this surly?”
Flinching in horrified protest, I recoiled away. “Stop that!”
My god, she was so annoying.
I was severely tempted to shove her away and toss her against the rocky mountain peaks beneath us to her certain death.
If only her entire existence wasn’t potentially the answer to my biggest problem.