Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.
Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.
What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.
Name: Chaff (This is his street name. He doesn’t share his real name.)
Birthplace: Somewhere in London
The Good Things: Chaff grew up on the streets. He doesn’t mind that many people look down on his kind and gets a certain delight out of using experience and cunning to relieve them of their riches. The thing that makes life on the streets most tolerable and sometimes even fun is his favorite apprentice, Maeko. He loves saying her name wrong to get under her skin. His greatest pleasure has been watching Maeko grow in skill as a thief, in confidence as a self-sufficient person, and in shape and beauty as a young woman.
The Not So Good Things: Chaff despises elitist Literati, especially their law enforcement, though he has to admit, they keep life exciting. He has little patience for folks who think being born with privilege gives them the right to mistreat those who aren’t so lucky and even less for those who think being born without it gives them the right to be cruel. He hates that he can’t let anyone know how he feels about Maeko because his rivals on the street might try to use her against him almost as much as he hates Ash for not having that restriction.
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12, which she still has tucked in a briefcase in her home office, waiting for the right moment. Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she continued to treat her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy presented her with an abundance of free time that she used to focus on making it her career.
Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her husband and three cats suffering varying stages of neurosis. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.