Home > Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(13)

Come Back to Me (Waters of Time #1)(13)
Author: Jody Hedlund

“Time doesn’t happen in a straight line from beginning to end. Rather it exists in a block universe, where past, present, and future are equally real and present. Thus, those who claim to have had so-called ghost sightings may in fact have stumbled upon an overlap, putting two structures of reality together.”

“If that’s true, then people could overlap with the future too.”

“You’re quite right. Think about the prophets in the Bible who had glimpses of the future. The Apostle Paul claims to have been taken up to the third heaven, possibly outside of his body. And the writer of the book of Revelation is said to have witnessed the future happenings firsthand as they were unfolding.”

She cracked a smile. “Are you sure you’re not a physicist? You sound like you have it all figured out.”

He smiled in return. “No, I’m nothing more than a deluded chemist.”

A soft rap on the door was followed by a maid poking her head inside. “You rang, Lord Burlington?”

As Harrison gave instructions to the servant, Marian snuggled back into the pillows, relishing the softness of the bed and warmth of the comforter. Her eyes ached with the need for more sleep, and she almost closed them, except once again a movement by the window caught her attention.

This time when she looked, she didn’t see a shadow. She saw the outline of a man standing and peering outside. The curtains were gone. Instead, long wooden shutters had been thrown open, revealing a starlit sky. An early moon gave enough light for her to realize she was looking at the man she’d encountered yesterday. The square jaw, muscled cheekbones, and strong nose were all the same. His head was devoid of a covering, revealing shoulder-length dark hair pulled back with a leather strip.

Unlike previously, she wasn’t afraid. She knew now what was happening. But she was too utterly and completely fascinated by what she was seeing to do anything but stare.

He lifted a hand to rub his eyes, and the muscles in his arm rippled in the moonlight. Only then did she realize he was bare from the waist up, wearing pants that looked more like tights that ended at the knees. His chest was every bit as sculpted as his arms, broad and taut, with strength emanating from every bulging muscle.

Wow. He was gorgeous. In fact, he had the kind of body that belonged to a firefighter or boxer or hockey player. The kind of body that could turn heads and weaken knees. The kind of body that deserved to be on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

As though sensing he was no longer alone, he shifted away from the soft glow coming in the window, shrouding his face in darkness. She couldn’t be sure if he saw her, but he remained motionless, and from the intensity of his stance, he seemed to be staring at her.

A breeze from the open window ruffled her unbound hair and brought with it an unfamiliar woodsy-smoky scent, as if someone was having a late spring bonfire. The chill in the air was distinct, unlike the warm coziness from moments ago.

The stranger stepped away from the corner. Though the darkness still veiled his face, the tenseness of his posture, the rigidness of his spine, the angle of his head were signs he was very much aware of her presence, that she was as real to him as he was to her.

“I’ve ordered a meal for you.” Harrison’s voice was faint, as though he was speaking from a distance. Could Harrison see the man too?

She shifted only slightly, but in that instant, the man disappeared.

Where had he gone? She stared hard, hoping her vision would clear, waiting breathlessly for him to materialize.

“You saw him again, didn’t you?” Harrison’s quiet question came from right beside the bed.

Only then did she realize she was sitting on her knees, her hands clutched at her sides, and her body stiff with anticipation. “He was in the room.”

“Is he still here?”

She strained to see anything, even just a shadow, in the spot where the man had stood. But the curtains were back, the window was closed, the air was warm with only the lingering scent of Harrison’s Earl Grey tea. “No. He’s gone.”

Harrison’s expression was serious, and she had no doubt he believed her, although she wasn’t sure why any sane person would.

 

 

~ 6 ~


ALL THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT and into the next day, Marian waited anxiously for another bizarre time overlap. She couldn’t deny she wanted to experience it again, especially so she could catch a glimpse of the blue-eyed man.

Squeezing her eyes closed, she held her breath and waited a few seconds before opening them, hoping to spot him. But everything in Chesterfield Park’s magnificent library was just the same as before, and Dad’s papers remained scattered across the glossy mahogany table in front of her—the papers from the safety deposit box that she’d been studying for the past three hours since returning from visiting her dad at the hospital.

While out, she and Harrison retrieved her purse from the Canterbury Police Station. Though someone had rummaged through it, nothing had been taken. Then they stopped by Mercer Labs, and Marian investigated Dad’s office, which had still been in complete disarray. She’d hoped to find solid evidence of something but hadn’t.

Now after reading Dad’s papers dozens of times, she was growing frustrated with herself. With a sigh, she moved away from the table and crossed to the windows. Not only did she love the library with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, but she loved the towering windows that overlooked the spacious back gardens of Chesterfield Park. The sculpted shrubs, the flower beds in full bloom, and even the maze were visible from the library.

Sunlight poured over the wisteria that covered the stone walls and cascaded down sides of trees and bushes. The vibrant purple contrasted with the bright green of the fresh grass, new leaves, and full hedges. Even a special archway was covered in wisteria and ivy, creating a shaded canopy.

Her sights locked in on a man at the far edge of the garden, and her heart picked up its pace. Was he the man from her vision?

She leaned closer and watched the figure. He was kneeling, and when he straightened, she released a breath of disappointment at the sight of the weathered old face. It was only Harrison’s gardener.

Her gaze strayed to the ampulla resting in the center of the chaos on the table. Should she taste more of the residue so she could experience another peek into the past?

Her feet seemed to have a will of their own, carrying her back to the table. Her fingers had a will of their own too. In an instant, the ancient vessel was in her hands.

She stared at the open mouth of the container. It had only taken a few grains. Did she dare try a few more? The rational part of her warned against it. Too many unknowns existed. What if this time she was stuck in the overlap longer? And what about afterward? Would she sleep again for twenty-four hours or had that happened because of how tired she’d been from everything else?

Did any of it matter?

Before she could rationalize further, she licked her pinky, stuck it into the bottle, and then rubbed it around, hoping some of the grains would stick. She scraped back and forth and all around, then finally pulled her finger out.

For a long second she stared at her skin. She couldn’t see any residue. It was likely all gone. This wouldn’t do anything.

Even so, her pulse sped faster as she stuck her pinky into her mouth. According to Dad’s list of speculations about crossing time, all she had to do was picture the handsome stranger and she’d likely overlap with his era again—whenever that was.

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