Home > Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(11)

Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(11)
Author: Jody Hedlund

As they crossed into the entrance hall, she couldn’t keep from peering around for a glimpse of the stranger. Somehow she sensed he was there, though she didn’t see him. The hall was big enough to be a room in its own right. It had a shiny white marble floor and was lined with oak paneling milled from trees once grown on the estate. Most impressive, however, were the dozen columns that supported a center dome decorated with stained glass circles depicting local game birds.

One side of the entrance hall opened to the main drawing room, and the other side led to the staircase hall, which contained wide oak steps that rose to a balcony with more of the richly carved dark oak.

While Harrison steered his wheelchair toward the elevator, Drake carried her up the spiraling stairway past paintings of the long-deceased people who’d once roamed the halls of Harrison’s home. At one of the guest chambers, a maid met them and ushered them into a large room with a marble fireplace taking up one wall and two long windows curtained with thick tapestries on another. A hall branched off into a boudoir complete with a private bathroom, walk-in closet, and a mirrored room that contained a settee, dressing table, and a jewelry armoire.

Drake deposited her onto the canopied bed with a lush blue spread and curtains. The color reminded her of the eyes of the man she’d seen outside the entrance.

“There you are, miss.”

“Thank you, Drake.” Marian yawned again, fatigue rushing in and making her tremble.

The maid tried to pry the papers and ampulla out of her hands, but Marian wasn’t ready to let go. She wanted to examine everything again, especially the ampulla, and try to figure out what had just happened to her. But the thick heaviness of slumber settled over her. Her eyes closed, and even as she fought to stay awake, she fell asleep in an instant.

* * *

Marian’s lashes fluttered open. For several seconds, she couldn’t make sense of where she was. But as she focused on the canopy overhead, images flooded her mind—the strange changes to Chesterfield Park, the large horse riding down the driveway, and the ruggedly handsome man with the knife.

“Marian? Are you awake?” Harrison spoke from her bedside.

She shifted to the sight of him, disheveled and haggard in his wheelchair, his dark hair mussed, his bow tie gone, and the top of his dress shirt unbuttoned.

Her fingers made contact with a silky bedspread before sliding to the satin nightgown she was wearing. Who had undressed her? The maid? And what had happened to the items from her dad’s safety deposit box?

Her gaze darted around.

“They’re right here.” Harrison cocked his head to the bedside table to the stack of wrinkled papers and the ampulla.

She released a breath. “Thank you.”

“How are you faring?”

“I’m fine. How long have I been asleep?”

“Twenty-four hours.”

“What?” She rose to her elbows and glanced to the windows. The heavy draperies were half open, revealing the faded light of the evening and darkening sky.

“I was getting so worried about you, I debated phoning my doctor to come have a look, but then you roused and insisted you were fine.”

“I did?” She didn’t have any recollection of waking up. Apparently the past few stressful days and sleepless nights had caught up to her.

“I hope you’re feeling better now?”

“Much.” She stretched her legs, but then froze as she remembered why she was at Chesterfield Park in England to begin with. “Dad? How is he?”

“His condition is unchanged.”

She dropped back against a mound of pillows, unsure whether to be relieved he wasn’t worse or disappointed he wasn’t better. Either way, she needed to get to the hospital and be with him again.

As though sensing her urgency, Harrison pressed her hand. “I’ve spent a few hours with him today and instructed the hospital staff to phone immediately if there’s any change whatsoever.”

“Thank you. I suppose you called Ellen?”

“I considered it, but there’s too much danger here now. And I’m not keen on her walking into the middle of it.”

“Good point.” Marian was just glad she’d been the one attacked outside the bank and not her sister or Harrison.

“What happened when we arrived home yesterday?” Harrison’s question cut through her haze. The dark circles under his eyes attested to his sleeplessness in the midst of her long hours of slumber.

Her thoughts flew back to when she’d stepped out of Harrison’s car, the startlingly real encounter with the man, and then the exhaustion afterward.

Harrison picked up a gold-rimmed porcelain cup from the bedside table, blew on the steam rising from it, and took a sip. When he replaced it to the saucer, his expression was grave. “For a while, I couldn’t keep from wondering if you were going to fall into a coma like Arthur.”

She wanted to pretend the incident had been nothing more than a dream, but how could she deny what she’d seen, especially in light of everything she’d learned since emptying the safety deposit box. “I tasted some of the residue left in the ampulla.”

Harrison sat up straighter. “What about it?”

“It caused me to have a vision.”

“One of the realistic visions of the past Arthur mentioned?” Harrison nodded again toward the papers on the bedside table.

The sights, smells, and sounds of her experience lingered, perhaps had stayed with her during her slumber. Could she really describe what had happened as merely a vision? But what else could it have been? For several minutes, she described to Harrison the horse and man and old manor and surrounding yard. When she finished, Harrison watched her with wide eyes.

“I don’t think I was just seeing it. Everything was so real, almost as if I was standing in the past.” Did Harrison think she was crazy? She certainly felt like it. “What do you think?”

He was silent before expelling a breath. “I can only conclude Arthur’s research is solid. The water in that flask was indeed original holy water. Since you’re already healthy, the slight bit you ingested passed through you without any inhibition from illness or disease. Without the friction from the diseased cells, it began to vibrate at a frequency and wavelength that shifted you to another time. There’s absolutely no other way to work it out.”

For a heartbeat, she waited for Harrison’s solemnity to dissolve into laughter, for him to say he was jesting and then launch into what he really thought based on solid empirical and scientific reasoning.

But his eyes didn’t contain any mirth. And his lips didn’t twitch into even the barest of smiles.

She stared up at the rich blue bed canopy, her brain working frantically to come up with another answer. “Surely as scientists, we can discover something more plausible, more realistic. Perhaps the drug from the ampulla has some kind of hallucinogenic property.”

“Or perhaps it truly contained the holy water related to one of the two ancient seeds Arthur suspected came from the Tree of Life. Perhaps a water source came into contact with the seeds and gained properties that can heal illnesses.”

“I don’t know . . .”

“In trying to make sense of the ampulla and the healing water, I’ve done loads of researching.” Harrison waved at the stacks of books piled on the floor around his wheelchair. “I discovered there are two primary locations in the UK for many of the miraculous healings that occurred over the centuries.”

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