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Here is a short sample from the book:
“Come on, accidents happen! I had everything under control!”
Bailey Jo chased the couple through the dusty market. They moved in a frantic huff, glaring over their shoulders and shouting for her to keep her distance.
With a groan of frustration, she threw up her hands and let them disappear between booths.
“Fine! Go! Good luck finding another pilot,” she yelled. Rivet chirped a rude agreement from her shoulder. “And, just so you know, that dress color does not flatter your skin tone!”
A grumble of a laugh came from the booth to her right.
“Still catering to the priggish folk, I see?” Thackeray stood from behind an open engine, wiping grease over his brow and tossing his tools onto a nearby bench.
Bailey gave him a helpless shrug. “They’re the ones with the gold.”
“And the health to flee proper from the likes o’ you.” He shoved an accusing wrench in her face. “You here for Rivet’s sprocket?”
The metal skunk sat up, purring mechanically at the mention of her name.
Bailey frowned at the wrench, then pointed to a part on the shelf behind him. “What I really need is a starboard camshaft. Poor old ship fell right out of the damn sky today. She’s coming apart and I ain’t got the coin to stop it from happening.”
He shook his head and rolled his eyes. “You ain’t got the coin. Yeah, kid, ain’t no one knows that better than I do. How much you owe me now, anyway? I’m losin’ count.”
“You know I’m good for it, Thackeray. Don’t I always come through?”
“Not once that I seen.” He glared.
She gave him her most innocent pout. “Please, geezer? I need that part.”
“And I needa get paid, don’t I?”
Dropping the cutesy act, she put her head in her hands. “I know, I know. But you saw what happened to my fare. I can’t pay you if I can’t fly. And I certainly can’t save up to get to Landovery.”
“Come on, you know damn well that place’s a myth.”
Her face fell at that.
Maybe so. Maybe her sister had been lying about her avid belief that it was a utopia worth working for. But even if that were the case…
She looked around at the grimy realness of the shops, the people that flittered between them like flies traversing a dung heap.
“This can’t be all there is, Thackeray. It just can’t.”
Thackeray held her gaze, scratching the back of his burly neck. After a moment, he came around the bench, his clockwork legs grinding their gears and squirting a bit of grease on the ground as he moved.
“Look, I hate to do this to you.” He put a hand on her shoulder. His voice was gentle but stern. “We all got troubles, kid, you know? Rivet can have her sprocket. Won’t even charge you for it. But that camshaft ain’t changin’ hands until the money does, got me?”
Rivet’s broken tail fell at an odd angle as she leaned from Bailey’s shoulder and stretched out her paws, chirping after the metal offering. With a reluctant sigh, Bailey took the sprocket and struggled for a smile.
“I understand, geezer. And thanks. Can I at least get some penny grease? Rivet could use a shine.” She paused as the skunk gave an indignant sneeze. “Might cheer us up.”
“Sure thing, kid.” He nodded and turned, clanking his way into the back of the booth.
When he was stooped over, digging through a drawer, Bailey bit her lip.
Glancing over her shoulder, she slid across the counter, picking up the wrench as she moved. Slowly, quietly across the dirt she crept. She hesitated a moment. Then she latched the tool about his leg, snatched the camshaft from the shelf, and took off through the market.
Thackeray roared. Realizing he’d been had, he moved to pursue but found his metal legs weren’t at all capable of matching her speed – not with a wrench locked about his knee. He wasn’t long outside of his booth before he collapsed in a puff of steam.
“Dammit, Bailey Jo!” He ripped the wrench from his leg and threw it after her.
Bailey’s laugh was a mixture of apology and relief as she dodged and cried over the market rush. “Sorry Thackeray! I’ll pay you back, I swear!”
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