If the creator allowed you a free hand, would the result be comical? Or would your loved ones suffer tragic fates?

In music, Rubato means “stolen time.” It is a space in a composition where the creator briefly allows the artist to improvise. No rules apply and it puts the beauty of the whole experience at risk.


During the annual mid-summer Carnival celebrations, Rita Fiedler, a married, mid-30s ambitious real estate agent, accepts a strange client masquerading as Mark Baker, a wealthy bachelor.

While viewing an expensive property, the shadowy client turns the tables. He sells Rita on joining him in an unusual erotic adventure in harmony with the Carnival spirit.

Under pressure to make the sale, anxious about aging, disappointed in herself for letting work and routine rule her life, and inexplicably attracted by the stranger’s charm, Rita finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the Carnival’s dangerous side.

Meanwhile, a serial rapist nicknamed Dapper Dan terrorizes the city…sometimes masquerading as Mark Baker. Will Rita escape in time? Or will she pay the ultimate price for embracing stolen time?

Can you fall in love for the first time twice?

Couples sometimes are tempted by the thought and the passion of falling in love for the first time, especially when they have become distracted with routine and tedium in everyday life. Can one ever recapture that exquisite joy for a second time with the same person?

This tragic drama explores the risks in taking your partner by surprise, even though it was only some similar merely casual contact that brought you together in the first place. Combine that domestic desire with a carnival atmosphere filled with masks, a libertine atmosphere and a deadly rapist, and this novella rapidly builds toward a series of startling climaxes.

Universal Themes

No human being ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he or she is not the same person.

– Heraclitus.

She had never imagined that curiosity was one of the many masks of love.

– Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love.

– William Shakespeare, “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

A note from the author.

“The idea of this story appeals to me because of the opportunity to capture that feeling when you go to a carnival that makes people willing to engage with strangers, and to not be frightened,” Shawn says. “How does one create those conditions and why do we do that? And isn’t that just the perfect opportunity for someone who is always playing outside the rules to take advantage of those trusting that they can enjoy the unusual freedom of the carnival with safety? One day this will be a great movie.”

Find out more about Shawn here.


Available for download in PDF and ePub 3 formats.