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V. J. Timlin

The Gadget

The Rondon Chronicles Book One

Copyright © 2021 by V. J. Timlin

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise withoutwritten permission from the publisher. It is illegal to copy this book, post it to a website, or distributeit by any other means without permission.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it arethe work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localitiesis entirely coincidental.

V. J. Timlin asserts the moral right to be identified asthe author of this work.

Cover design by V. J. Timlin

First edition

This book was professionally typeset on Reedsy

Find out more at reedsy.com

To my muse Mr F.



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26



About the Author


So many people to thank! First of all, I want to thank my amazing life partner for his love and support in this journey. I also want to say a big thank you to Tonin for proofreading and being an incredibly patient critique partner and friend, and Critique Circle, an online writing workshop, for helping me to mold the story into shape. Furthermore, I want to express my gratitude to my editors Rachel Bonde at Heggerwood Realms and Anna Albo for polishing the text. Then, of course, my friends and family who have supported and believed in me during all these years. And finally, I want to thank my mentor Holly Lisle for her excellent writing classes that helped me in the art of fiction writing, Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula for great resources on how to start the journey of being an indy author, and Reedsy.com for the excellent editing tool this book was formatted for publishing by.

Chapter 1

Thorny stems bent under the weight of broken yellow flowers. Anouk Herring stared down at them with melancholy, gnawing her thumbnail. Last night’s thunderstorm had flattened the cut roses—weary petals lay scattered before her mother’s headstone like forgotten wedding confetti.

Why did she get them, knowing the forecast? Did she have time to stop at the florist? She fished out her mobile phone and checked the time. The battery symbol flashed red on the dim screen, but the clock made Anouk’s heart skip a beat. Shit! It was twenty to nine and she would be late for work if she didn’t run to catch the bus. Now. And… her boss was already upset waiting for that overdue report.

She bent down and kissed her mother’s gravestone. “Sorry, Mum, I’ll bring new ones on my way back, but I have to go now.” She broke into a run. “And I bloody well forgot to charge my phone. This isn’t my day.”

The hum of a lawnmower reached her ears—she grimaced. Hopefully, her unholy sprint through the cemetery didn’t upset the grounds worker. The hum continued uninterrupted, and she reached the Uxbridge Road gate just in time to see the rear lights of her bus.

“Brilliant,” she growled, and wiped her forehead. The next one would come in five minutes, but, regardless, she would be late.

Once in the office, she warded off any attempts at conversation by saying she needed every minute to get that ‘damn thing’ finished, but the day crawled at the speed of a slug in tar, making it hard for Anouk to sit still and number crunch.

For the umpteenth time, she rose from behind her desk and walked to her office window. The stream of cars, buses and people on Uxbridge Road reminded her of ants, hurrying down their paths. A daredevil crossed the street, running and dodging between the ever-flowing traffic—his ‘bravery’ was rewarded with angry horn blasts.

Anouk shook her head and walked back to her desk. The computer screen had switched into the black hibernating mode. She touched the mouse—a spreadsheet with its colour-coded columns popped up onto the screen like a jack-in-the-box. She cringed. The report she had promised her boss by the end of the day stared back at her, unfinished.

“Great,” she groaned.

She glanced towards the window. The florist would be closing soon, and she had promised her mum she would bring fresh flowers. In addition, the scene of floral carnage caused by the thunderstorm needed to be cleaned. Chewing her lower lip, she looked back at the spreadsheet. Yes, she would come in early the next morning and finish the report. Her boss had already left and would not return before nine the next morning anyway.

Smiling, she saved the files before turning the computer off. It was time for her to join the pulsing vein of the Uxbridge Road and let it sweep her towards home like a cell carries oxygen to the heart. First the florist, then the twenty-five-minute walk to Hanwell cemetery and finally home.

A knock on the door interrupted Anouk, and she lifted her gaze. Alison… again.

“We’re going for a pint in the pub across the road. Want to join us?” Alison’s big brown eyes were full of hope.

Anouk winced. She should start socialising again.

“I think I’m going straight home. Have things to do, but thanks for asking.”

“Alright, but if you change your mind, you know where to find us.” Alison smiled, but her eyebrows hovered over her eyes in straight lines, giving Anouk the same badly masked disappointed look she was now receiving almost daily—and she hated it.

“I’ll go with you

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