Sunday 5 October 2014


The fifth book in my Sierra Fox series will be released next week. Here's where it all starts...
I slammed my foot on the brake pedal, almost missing the red light. The vehicle behind me screeched to a halt and honked their horn.

“You want to what?” The last thing I needed at the moment was to cause an accident, or to get a red-light camera fine, but my sister had caught me off guard.

“Sierra, what the hell?”

“Sorry.” I hadn’t meant to overreact, but my focus was elsewhere. Since Willow officially finished classes the week before, she was helping manage the office. We were making a quick stop before heading to the Blue Mountains—to deal with what was weighing heavy on my mind. My good friend and fellow spook catcher, Ebony Aikan was exclusively working with Roe Spooker’s new operation, so I appreciated my sister’s help. Though she’d soon have to focus on exclusively studying for her HSC—Higher School Certificate—exams.

“Well, what do you think?”

I swiveled in the driver’s seat. “I’m not really in the mood for parties.”

She lowered her gaze and nodded. “Okay, I get it.”

It wasn’t Willow’s fault that my head was in the clouds, but I wasn’t in a festive mood. All I could think about was the decision I couldn’t put off any longer—dealing with Papan’s comatose condition. This was the fourth day and he was still unconscious. Still, it wasn’t fair to put her life on hold as well.

I sighed. “Tell me more about this party idea.”

“I want to have a Halloween-themed birthday party,” Willow answered with a sheepish grin and a shrug. The way she shifted moods so quickly always surprised me. “No big deal. Everyone dresses up and we all have an awesome time. After all, it be will my eighteenth, and shortly after my HSC is done.”

“I don’t know…” I bit my lip. “I really don’t have time to plan any parties right now.” I could understand why she wanted this—she was a teenager. But I certainly wasn’t in a partying mood. Not when my boyfriend was close to dying and the Obscurus were probably preparing their latest strike.

"You don’t have to worry about planning anything.” Willow’s blue eyes were shiny with mischief, and I could tell she’d been planning this for a while. “I just need your permission to invite everyone to your place.” She swiped a long lock of mahogany hair from her forehead but it sprang back.


“Come on, Sierra, please. I’ll do everything! I’ll even pay for it. Ebony and Michael already said they’ll help.”

“It’s not about the money,” I said. Then, after a beat, I added, “You’ve spoken to Ebony about this?”

“I didn’t want to bother you… So much has happened lately and you’ve been driving yourself ragged with all the extra work. You need to relax, and I think a party’s just what you need.” She sounded so positive, but I could see a twinge of sadness in her eyes. She’d been there when Papan was taken and attacked. “Besides, it’s still weeks away so everything will be fine by then.”

I grunted. A house full of teenagers certainly didn’t sound relaxing, but this wasn’t about me. This was about my half-sister wanting to celebrate the victories instead of concentrating on the negatives. She’d already lost so much during her young life. Not to mention that her father and his business had been tainted by being regarded as an accessory to murder.

She was right about my work, though. In an attempt to keep my mind off the many problems plaguing me—and to begrudgingly take a break from sitting at Papan’s bedside—I’d been catching nonstop. Saul suggested I go home and get some rest, but when sleep lasted only a handful of hours and I couldn’t stop thinking about Papan lying helpless in a clinic bed, I dealt with my outstanding cases. If I kept up this pace, I’d soon have nothing left to do. Or would finally have to give Roe an answer about whether I was going to accept his offer of a business partnership.

Nope, not ready to deal with that yet.

Not until Papan is awake.

“The light’s green,” Willow said.

I sighed and accelerated, crossing the busy intersection before anyone else beeped. I was getting a lot of disgruntled horn blasting, hand gestures and screaming from other motorists lately, and was starting to wonder if driving while my mind was elsewhere was a good idea. I needed a driver.

Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.

“Well, what do you think?” Willow’s stare felt like a heavy, unmoving weight. “Michael’s really excited about it because it’s his birthday too.”

“You’ve also spoken to Michael about this?” I gave her a sidelong glance, while merging into the left lane. I was surprised she hadn’t just decided to go ahead and tell everyone but me until the actual day. Teenagers could be so strange.

“We’ve talked and texted a few times. How else is he going to help? I already told you he would.” She sighed. “Are you even listening to me?”

Michael the pooka could shift into an adorable black Australian Kelpie and we’d helped him out a jam last weekend. He’d told me he would reach out to my sister but I hadn’t thought it would be this quickly. I assumed a missing kid would need time to assimilate back into his family life after being gone for weeks. One of his parents being a pooka probably made them both more understanding.

“When did you get his number?”

Willow looked away and color rose along her cheeks. “We exchanged numbers when I found out he was a guy and not a dog.”

“Right, of course.” I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. Her phone was an extension of her, so it made sense. “What about Jamie and Ronnie?” She kept dodging my questions about her poltergeist boyfriend and best friend.

“They obviously can’t come,” she said with a scowl. “Not that they’d be invited.”

“Is there something going on between you and them?” I quickly glanced at her but she was staring straight ahead.

“I don’t want to talk about…” When her voice trailed off and was followed by a thump, I turned to find her slumped against the seat. Her body limp, arms at her sides and only held in place by the seatbelt. Her eyes were closed, lips already turning blue.

“Oh shit.” I indicated, cut in front of the car on my left and sped across to the farthest lane. I eased my foot off the accelerator, hit the brake and shifted to park. I snapped off my seatbelt and leaned over the seat, carefully pressing the back of my hand against Willow’s cheek. Her skin was cold and she wasn’t breathing. This hadn’t happened in several months, and the cause made my skin prickle with dread. Whenever someone my sister cared about died, she did too. “Will, wake up. Come on.”

As much as I knew her death would be temporary, it still turned my blood cold.

Her eyes snapped open and she sucked in a sharp breath seconds before the sparkle of lights began whirling around her. The seatbelt kept her body from flying upwards but not her long hair. For just a split second, I caught a glimpse of a face, but it flashed out as quickly as the radiance.
A STITCH ON TIME will be available on October 14, 2014:

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