An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):
Mackenzie dropped another quarter into the arcade game. He glanced across the rows of pinball machines and video games at Tucker Bryant and Brooke Cooper playing skee ball. He turned to Marlene. “I never thought I’d be spending the day with Tucker Bryant.”
Marlene shrugged. “We promised to be there for Brooke. With her life falling apart, she needs friends more than ever. And to his credit, Tucker is turning into one of her best friends. He’s become very protective of her.”
“He is much nicer now that he’s no longer living with that awful stepfather of his. But part of me will always see him as the bully who picked on me for so many years.” Mackenzie watched Tucker guiding Brooke’s aim at the skee ball game. “He does seem to have taken her under his wing, literally. You don’t think he’s falling for her, do you?”
“Look at how she’s gazing up at him. Her mind’s not on the game, Mac. I’d say the feeling is mutual. It’s good for Brooke to have someone who makes her feel safe and protected, and I think Tucker has needed someone to care about for a long time.”
“I guess.” Mackenzie looked back at his video game. A flashing “Game Over” greeted him. “Oh, no. My time ran out while we were talking.” He dug into his pocket. “I’m out of quarters, too. I’ll be right back after I get some change.” He reached into his back pocket. “What the—? My wallet’s gone!”
Marlene pointed to a “Beware of Pickpockets” sign above them. “Tough break. I can spot you some quarters, Mac. How many do you want?”
Mackenzie reached into his front pocket. The color seeped from his face. “It’s gone! The pocket watch is gone!”
“Are you sure you brought it with you?”
“I always bring it with me.” He glanced back up at the sign. “Someone’s stolen the watch.” He perused the crowded arcade. “It could be anyone.” He cast a panicked gaze at Marlene. “What am I going to do?”
She grasped his hand to comfort him. “We’ll find it, Mac. We’ll get it back, somehow.” Marlene looked at the throng of kids around them and wondered if the thief was still in the arcade.
Her reassuring words provided little solace for the desolate boy. “We’re downtown, Marlene. Kids come here from all different schools and neighborhoods. The thief could be anyone. He, or she, might not go to our school or live anywhere near us. How can we find someone if we don’t know who we’re looking for?”
“You’ve got your grandfather’s journals. Maybe you could build another watch.”
“No way. I can hardly understand what he wrote about using the one he built. If there’s a journal diagramming how to construct one, then that must be one of the missing notebooks. Even if I had it, we’re talking relativity and quantum physics on a scale way beyond junior high science classes.” He recalled with irony how he had once tried to get rid of the watch. “If we don’t get the pocket watch back, my time travel days are finished.” He gazed up at the flashing “Game Over” message.
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Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!