Roundoffs of Fate, a sequel to Cartwheels of Justice
From the Publisher’s Weekly starred review: “I love the fact that this is the author’s longest story.”
Listen to the story, read by the author:
In Calloused Parts Bay, water is scarce and passions run dry. Hart Wolf, the town’s only burnt-our surgeon, may have thick wrists, but his only loyalty is to his hamster. No woman has ever filled the pothole of his private agony, and it seems like none will.
It’s Tuesday, the day warm, the air filled with the sweet leavings of horses, and Hart's practicing turning horizontal speed into vertical, like he always does after 72-hour shift.
He's in the midst of his gymnastics when he sees it: a hot air balloon hurtling towards the shores of empty Areola Lake. Though he's trained for all kinds of rescues, he freezes like the way he’s always preferred to eat a Snickers.
Crumpled on the rocky beach, the former inhabitant of the balloon looks like a collapsed lung. A sexy collapsed lung. Even from so many yards away, Hart wonders if she might be an up-and-coming lingerie model.
As he approaches, he realizes she could’ve been in a catalog, if only she wasn’t heavily pregnant. He runs to her side and notices before he’s even at her side that her nipples look like the positive ends of AA batteries. He feels their current shoot through his heart, like a defibrillator’s erotic electrodes. His own nipples strain against his tight cotton scrubs like a pair of over-excited Rice Krispies: all this, and she hasn’t said a word. Because she’s still unconscious.
When Hart finally awakens her, Mackenzie Daysail can’t remember her name, and she has no idea that she’s due to give birth in two weeks. But she does know: the doctor who found her makes her feel her heart throbbing in her vagina. She tries to ignore it. This isn’t a screenplay, it’s her life after all. But how long can she hold out?
With the help of his twin brother, Brock Chance, and his ripe wife, Purity Nightwind, Hart tries to jiggle Mackenzie’s memory. The only personal possession on her person? A menacing, handwritten note: the eyes of Ganon are everywhere.
Hart knows Mackenzie has ruptured her memory. If he helps her suture it together, will she open her legs as wide as a horse’s mouth? It’s only been a few hours, but he knows he’s careening out of control: there’s no cure for everything in him that is swollen: his heart, his weeping sheath.
But there are more hidden horrors to unearth: a werepanther healer who hates children wants Mackenzie and her unborn son dead. Hart realizes it’s clearly too late to pop her cherry. But it isn’t too late to save her life.
Before they head out on the road to find Lavender Twunt, a unicorn breeder Mackenzie remembered in a dream, Hart packs his medical kit, just in case he needs to deliver; he doesn’t need to pack his bone extender though. Whenever he was near her, well, he didn’t need it. But he didn’t want to deliver a baby. He wanted to deliver something a bit more personal: himself, into her love tunnel, which he hoped would clench him like pair of forceps.
In the small town of Honey Hole, Hart and Mackenzie find Lavender Twunt. And she’s dead. Mackenzie is stunned, but she’s also starting to remember more: her affinity for Jacuzzis, her mother who was an aloof daycare employee.
But Mackenzie remembers even more than she lets on. What will Hart think when he finds out Mackenzie unwittingly trained a dolphin to kill the Secretary of State?
She can’t tell him; she doesn’t want to push him away; she knows the truth will be the worst kind of prescription: it will cure his blistering sexuality. She doesn’t want that. She wants his bold blade of passion sterilized and ready for her.
At a hotel at the edge of town, the not-yet-lovers stop for the night. Hart tells Mackenzie he needs to take a blood culture, that it might provide clues to her identity. He knows it’s a mistake, to be this close to her. Her nipples look like the ends of discarded hot dog tips, the part nobody ever wants to eat, because they look like wrinkled anuses. But Hart isn’t nobody. And he wants to eat. Once he’s processed the vials, he tells Mackenzie he needs to do a full examination. And then because he can’t keep it in, he says it aloud: he wants to probe her womb with his probe.
Hart’s unwanted control ignites her. Mackenzie knows: Tonight, she wants them both to forget she’s pregnant.
“Put it in my femininity,” she answers, in a voice hoarse with passion and third-trimester-bronchitis. There’s no way Hart can refuse.
And it’s better than he had ever imagined. She was so hot--she could reheat chili!
Hart could drown a toddler in her panties. Luckily he had ace bandages to wipe up her wet. If he wanted to. But he didn’t. They banged for days.
If Hart kept at this pace, she’d need a hip replacement. Luckily he could do the surgery.
But though they can pretend she isn’t pregnant, they can’t pretend danger isn’t still lurking. Hart decides: he will protect her with his life. He’s a doctor, goddammit. But if he’s not careful, he’ll overdose on her.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie knows she can trust him with her baby. But can she trust him with her heart?
Before she knows her answer, they’re off again, chasing the highest peaks of danger and pleasure, as Hart works to discover Mackenzie’s secrets, and reverse her pregnesia. And though Mackenzie’s not pregnant with his baby, she will be his bride. Together they will raise another man’s child and hamsters; they’ll find the light arrows they need to bring down the demon, and they’ll explore the intensive care unit of their hearts.
Jess Stoner is the author of the novel I Have Blinded Myself Writing This from Hobart's Short Flight/Long Drive Books. When she's not doing her job, writing things for the government she can't talk about, she lovingly reads, like, six romance novels each week.