Shadow of Time (MF)
[BookStrand Cowboy Romance, time travel, HEA]
Samantha Nelson flees for her life from her violent ex-boyfriend and hides in the remote Mojave Desert. Jesse Warner, unaware that he has walked out of the desert in 1896 and into the twenty-first century, stops at the first house he finds. Samantha cannot turn him away and allows him to rest in the old barn on the property.
After a trip to an Arizona ghost town, Samantha realizes Jesse is from another time and works to help him find a way home. Their mutual attraction soon turns to love and passion that neither can deny, but Samantha knows, for his sake, she must let him go. Her heart breaks as she realizes she will lose him back through the shadow of time. Or will she?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
Ahead of them, the road wound up in between two distant hills. As they got closer to the hills, Jesse could see a few abandoned buildings. There were no signs of life, just sun-washed shells of buildings standing in the oppressive heat.
“This looks like it’s an old ghost town. Is White Hills beyond those hills up there?” Sam pointed to the hills ahead where the road wound between them.
“Stop,” Jesse yelled, grabbing for the wheel.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Sam shrieked. “Are you trying to get us both killed?”
Jesse didn’t reply as she brought the car to a stop. Yanking on the unyielding seat belt, he cursed as it refused to release. Sam reached over and released the buckle for him.
He opened the car door and jumped out, the door swinging wide.
“Jesse, what’s wrong?”
Jesse choked out, “Look at it.”
“At what? There’s nothing here but tumbleweeds and some old buildings.”
Jesse kept walking, stopping in front of one weathered, old building. The glass in the windows had long since been broken, and the paint was nonexistent except for a few faded letters on the weathered boards that had once spelled out Wilson’s General Store.
Jesse looked at the weather-beaten building. A building he’d seen a scant six months before, only then it had a brand-spankin’-new coat of paint. This was a thriving town roaring with life, but now it was just shells of buildings standing as lonely sentinels to a way of life that had vanished. How? What tragedy befell White Hills causing everyone to leave? And why did the few buildings left appear so ancient?
Jesse started walking toward what once was the one-room schoolhouse, a redbrick structure, the pride of White Hills, now standing mute, the laughter of the children gone. No door graced the barren doorway. Stepping inside, he waited for his eyes to adjust to the shadowed light. A startled lizard scurried away. One ancient school desk lay on its side in the dust and dirt of the interior. The windows here, too, were broken, small shards of glass lying on the rotting, wooden floor.
Jesse was barely aware of Sam walking toward him as he stepped out the doorway into the sunlight, heading around the back of the building toward the open desert.
“Jesse, what’s wrong?” Sam asked as she ran to catch up to him.
“What year is it, Sam?”
“Year? Year? Jesse, it’s 2010.”
Jesse murmured, “No, it’s 1896.”
Suddenly he felt old and tired, liked he’d aged years in the span of a few minutes.
He began running toward what appeared to be a small graveyard. Ancient headstones, broken and askew, lay scattered about. Reaching the stones, he began to walk among them, staring at the names, a graveyard filled with old friends and acquaintances. People who were alive six months ago.
“They’re gone,” Jesse choked out, “but look at the dates on the stones. A lot of them are the same date, August 5, 1899. That’s three years from now. Some of them are dates in the 1900s. Dates that aren’t here yet. Sally Adams, it says she died in 1908. Twelve years from now. She was a widow. Her children had moved west to California so she was alone, but she was a nice lady, always polite and friendly.”
He felt Sam’s soft touch on his arm as she caught up to him. “Jesse. Tell me what’s wrong. Let me help.”
Shaking his head, he replied, “I don’t think anyone can.”
As the day turned to early afternoon, the wind blew across the desert through the lonely Joshua trees, sand scattering over the resting place of people long forgotten. The wind picked up, blowing tumbleweeds down the once-busy street. The only sound was the wind as it echoed through the few desolate buildings left and across the desert floor.
Turning to Sam, Jesse put his large, tanned hand over Sam’s petite one. The walls of the long-dead town now closing in around him, Jesse whispered, “What the hell’s happening to me?”