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Authors: Jennifer Conner

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Walk with Me Through Time (The Dimension Keepers)

BOOK: Walk with Me Through Time (The Dimension Keepers)
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Walk with Me Through Time  

Dimension Keeper Series

Jennifer Conner

Walk with me Though Time

A Books to Go Now Publication

Copyright
©
Jennifer Conner
2012

Books to Go Now

For information on the cover illustration and design, contact [email protected]

Cover Illustration by Bodie Schlobohm

Contact the artist through his website

Http://www.wix.com/bschlobohm/portfolio

First eBook Edition –September 2012

Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.

If you are interested in purchasing more works of this nature, please stop by

www.bookstogonow.com

T
he Mobile Mistletoe Series , Love Comes for the 4th of July, Love Comes for Saint Patrick’s Day &                                            Love Comes for Valentine’s Day, coming soon Love Comes for Halloween

Regimental Heroes Series: Redemption for a Rogue Book 4, The Wounded Nobleman
Book 3

Book 2:The Reluctant Heir, Book 1:The Duke and the Lost Night

Please look for Jennifer’
s other short stories

Brewing up Some Love

Valentine Surprise

Cupcakes and Cupids

Do You Hear What I Hear?

New Year Resolution

Christmas with Carol

Auld Lang Sigh

Rush of Love

Fields of Gold

Christmas Chaos

The Christmas Horse

The Music of Christmas

All I Want for Christmas is You

Weddings First Chance

and novel

Kilt by Love

Chapter 1

Hadley Easton took the watch from his pocket and flipped it open to check the time. He wasn’t sure why— the hands never moved. Time seemed to flow everywhere except inside the portal where the bookstore stood. Here, time felt suspended.

To protect the writing desk, he sat with his boots perched on the leather blotter and sighed as he bounced a rubber band ball off a stack of books. There was usually more traffic. He grabbed the ball and swung his feet down just as Irvin Fink, the middle-aged man he’d been waiting for, stumbled into the back of the bookstore.

Irvin looked dreadful, like he would drop at any moment. Perspiration ran in rivulets down the sides of his cheeks.

“Good God, sir, here take a seat.” Hadley scooted a wooden stool over and guided the man to sit.

“Am I really here? Who are you?”

“I’m Hadley, I’m your…” he paused for a second, “guide.” Better to leave it simple. He could never tell anyone what his job truly was, since he wasn’t sure himself.

Dimension Keeper? Time-Watcher? Space Guidance Counsellor?

Irvin reached in his coat and wiped the sweat from his brow with a linen handkerchief. “I kept seeing this place in my dreams.” He looked up with desperation on his face.

Hadley took a seat in front of him and tried to assure Irvin. “You are heading to where you should be.”

“I don’t understand. I came in…” Irvin looked over his shoulder. “I’m not sure how I got back here. I came in the front door of a bookstore.”

“You did, people come in by what appears to be the front door, but this is a special place. Arrivals are in the back. Departures are at the front door. The front is for people such as yourself who may not find themselves in the time they should be, living in a different century.”

“Is this a trick? Magic of some kind?”

Hadley shook his head. “This place and many others are portals, sprinkled throughout the centuries. You were somehow born into the wrong time. I wager you spent much of your life confused and depressed. My guess is you dreamed of your
time
for many years.”

Irvin’s eyes widened. “How did you know?”

“No one is sure why, but as if guided by a beacon you knew you must come here.”

“Young man, if you know so much, tell me… what
is
my time?”

“I think you know better than I.” Hadley picked up the packet lying on the desk. “According to your paperwork, you should live in 1429, during the Italian Renaissance. You are noted as having a deep influence in the development of their new government, along with growth in psychology, sociology and art.”

Irvin stared at him with a look of disbelief. “I… no one knows about this… not even my late wife. I never mentioned the dreams, they would think me mad. Since I was a child, I’ve dreamed that I lived in Italy… or
should
live there.”

“You know you must move on, and I am here to guide you home.”

“Home,” Irvin repeated and stood on shaky legs.

“I assume you speak Italian?”

The man nodded. “I’m not sure how, but I do. I took lessons, but I seemed to already have had a grasp on the language.”

“Good.” He smiled. “Then we should go.” Hadley ushered him toward the front exit.

How many people had he guided in the months since he started? When would he have the chance to experience the rest of the world like the people he assisted? Soon, when he fulfilled his necessary commitments, he would leave here. He would go home for a visit and then be off to visit Roman ruins and the pyramids of Egypt. In his own time and not someone else’s.

Hadley opened the heavy door and watched Irvin’s eyes widen. Tall spires of churches dotted the landscape of fifteen-century Italy. He took Irvin’s elbow and led him out the door.

Instantly, a flood of people filled the streets walking through his apparition. In this time frame, he didn’t exist. He was Irvin’s guide, but to the people around them, Hadley was invisible. A ghost.

The atmosphere of the crowd was tight as the throngs rushed toward the town’s square. The smell of raw sewage and damp unwashed bodies wafted past him as the people pushed by.

Someone behind them shouted, “
Muoia
,” and a tomato sailed over their heads to explode on a wall like a crushed skull.

Hadley turned just in time to see an executioner dressed in black light a torch from a smaller fire. A man tied to a wood post in the center square screamed and fought to free himself. His skin crawled at the tortured sound. “What are the people chanting?” he asked.

“I believe they are shouting he’s a heretic and needs to die.”

Horror and realization hit. The smell of burning ham filled his nostrils. But it wasn’t ham, it was flesh. If he was an invisible apparition, why could he not be blessed to be void of his sense of smell?

Was Irvin doing the right thing? Why would he want to stay in this retched place? “Are you sure about this?” Hadley asked. “You will not be able to return to your other time once I leave you.”

Irvin nodded. “This is where I am meant to be.”

According to the time line for Irvin in Hadley’s inside jacket pocket, Brunelleschi, soon to be Italy’s premier architect, just finished his first commission. He hadn’t started the dome on the Florence cathedral… yet. Irvin needed to be there, for he was to be a part of it. Irvin would be a part of all of it.

Nevertheless, it was such a barbaric time. Hadley averted his eyes from the burning bones and rags of the man. Even if he could, he couldn’t intervene, he was only the guide. He must not challenge anything from the past. Thank God, he lived in the civilized world of 1889. England burned its last person at the stake a hundred years ago. Hopefully, no one would suffer this horrid death again no matter what their crime.

“If you are content with your decision and wish to stay, then my presence is no longer required.” He had to get out of there. He felt sick. He nodded once and moved away, leaving Irvin behind to blend in to the crowd. Hadley reached the door, quickly stepped through and slammed it closed.

He took several deep steadying breaths and tried to hold back the bile in his throat. Then he let his eyes sufficiently adjust to the darkness of the bookstore. “Arthur, I’ll be upstairs,” he called out.

Hadley tried to forget what he’d seen and realized for the first time he hated his job. To fulfil his family obligation, how many more months was he to be a guide? Just once, he wished time moved forward inside the bookstore.

****

Sam turned her face to the sky as the first raindrop bounced off her nose. She fished in her oversized purse until she found her umbrella and popped it open. The grey sky grew dark and she predicted an incoming storm. Since she’d lived in London, it felt like it rained most days. Coming from California, she missed the dry, warm climate.

Her business meeting brought her to Charring Cross and with a long lunch break; she took advantage of the extra time to do some window-shopping. She needed to get out of the office and get some fresh air. The reoccurring dream she had almost every night made it hard to sleep. Faces were blurred and events weren’t clear, but after she woke, she carried a sense of foreboding. Something bad happened, but she woke before finding out what. It was frustrating and exhausting.

The bookstore across the street seemed familiar. It looked like the one from her dream, but she was sure she’d never been on this street before. She waited for a taxi to pass then ran across the street.

Sam cupped her hand to the glass and looked through the window but couldn’t see the back of the shop. It appeared to go on forever. She read the small wooden sign above the door.

Second Chance Stories.

Used books— always a good thing. No one can ever die with too many, she mused. She had an e-reader, but still loved cracking open an old binding. Now that she’d settled in an apartment on the East Side, she could get a bookshelf and begin to fill it.

She turned the large brass knob and stepped inside. The walls were lined, floor to ceiling, with books.

An elderly man with flowing white hair looked surprised at first, but then greeted her with a kind smile. “Welcome, Miss,” he said in a thick Scottish accent. “Happy you decided to take a chance and come in out of the rain. I didn’t expect anyone today. We don’t see many such as yourself.”

“Book buyers?” She laughed. “I know we are a dying breed.”

He studied her before saying, “Fascinating…”

“I love the smell of musty leather bound editions. It brings back memories of my grandfather’s study.” Sam inhaled. “I have a new flat and want to start a library of old books. I’m looking for—“

He cut her off. “What you’re looking for is in the back of the store and up the stairs. Aisle twenty-three. Row H.” He smiled and clapped his hands together.

“I never said what I was looking for.”
Strange little man
. She backed towards the door.

“Oh, aye. I didn’t mean to scare you, lass. After being in this shop for more years than anyone can imagine, I take pride in reading what people may like. You look like someone who reads Dickens. Aisle twenty-three. Row H.”

This
was
odd. She was thinking of picking up a work by Dickens right before she came through the door.

“Are you a bookseller or a mind reader?” Sam relaxed, and propped her umbrella in the corner by the front door.

“A little of both.” The old man laughed. “Dickens is a favorite of mine and I can usually spot another kindred soul a mile away.”

Sam thanked him and headed off through the shop. She was happy she still wore her coat. A sudden cool breeze brushed her face. The farther she moved into the store, the cooler the breeze. It didn’t grow in strength, only dropped in temperature. There must be an open door in the back. She pulled her coat tight at the neck.

She followed the antique painted signs and climbed a short set of wooden stairs until she found aisle twenty-three. Sam ran her hands over the beautiful leather bound editions. She would never be able to afford anything here. Without even looking at the prices, she knew these were collectable and very old editions.

A Tale of Two Cities. David Copperfield
.
A Christmas Carol.

A wooden box sat on one of the higher shelves. Sam stood on tiptoes, pulled it off the shelf, and lifted the first paper
.
All the Year Round. A Weekly Journal. Conducted by Charles Dickens. 1861.
It was a lovely reprint of the original paper where Dickens published his work. She hoped the cost to purchase it would be reasonable and slid it free from the box.

“How did you get back here?” a deep voice asked.

Sam jumped a foot and dropped everything. Paper scattered across the floor and the box landed with a thud.

The young man squatted, scooped up the papers and then looked at her. Something shifted in his expression to surprise or possibly recognition. She wasn’t sure. His eyes were blue but such a deep shade they were as dark as midnight. His hair was black, thick, and touched the collar of his coat. The wood floor creaked when he stood. He was also very tall—taller than her brothers, over six-three. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“I’m sorry. Is this area somehow off limits? Her gaze flicked down his wool waistcoat, linen shirt and cravat. She broke out in a giggle. “Or is a lunchtime actor’s studio taking place back here?”

Chapter 2

“Actor’s studio? As in a play? You still haven’t told me how you got here.” A thousand questions raced through Hadley’s mind but all he could do was repeat his first.

This was the woman who appeared in his dreams..

“I walked in the front door and the man at the counter directed me here.” She shot him an odd look.

“The
front
door?” No one came
through
the front door. That was the portal. One only left
through it.

“How did you get here? Fly?” She grinned. “I’m on a lunch break, and I came in out of the rain. The man at the front desk pointed me to aisle twenty-three. Can I have my paper? I was going to buy that. You can put the rest of the box back, I’m sure this is all I can afford.”

He looked down. “
A Tale of Two Cities
. A fine new offering by Dickens.”

“Yeah… new release.” Her smile faded. Is this part of the play-acting? Or are you one of those people like the Trekkies who dress up in costume every day and pretend to be someone else. Is today’s lesson, London’s finest gents?”

Hadley started to reply, but stopped and looked at the woman’s coat and dress. The coat was a strange cut and her dress fell above her knees. Shapely legs drew down to petit feet and shoes with higher heels than he’d ever seen. He took the gaslight off the hook on the wall and held it close to her face. It
was
the woman who appeared in his dreams night after night. But how could that be?

“I don’t really want to be part of your… play, or whatever it is you are concocting here. So back off, buddy. I have pepper spray in my purse and I’m not afraid to use it.”

He swallowed and tried to clear his buzzing head. Something was indeed off. He stepped away and re-hung the lantern. “What year is it?”

“Is this a trick question?” She looked around. “Are you okay? I’ll go find the man at the man at the front desk.”

“No wait,” he called to stop her and leaned against the shelf. “Can you just answer the question? Please, tell me what year is it?”.

“The last time I checked my calendar, 2012.” Her expression softened with pity, as if she thought him a madman.

He nodded. Being in his profession, he shouldn’t be rattled. He’d taken people forward and back in time almost daily. But they always
started
in 1889.
His year
. They arrived in the back and left through the front door’s portal. This woman came in through the front door and walked back here… crossed over a hundred years, without batting an eye, so it couldn’t be 2012. There had to be a mistake.

She looked into her purse and shook her head. “Hey, I forgot my cell phone. Now that we’ve established what year it is, what’s the time?”

By instinct, Hadley reached in his pocket and pulled his watch free. He flipped it open and his mouth went dry. He stared at the hands and watched as they ticked forward. He tried to grasp the gravity of the situation. “It’s eleven fourty-five,” he said in a whisper.

“I need to get back to work. Can I have my paper?”

He fought to keep the tremble from his hand as he slowly handed the paper to her waiting grasp. “Tell me your name.”

“Minnie Mouse.”

“Minnie…”

She cut him off. “You are a weird one, but awfully cute.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. My name’s Sam.”

“What the deuce? You have a man’s name? First a mouse, now you tell me you carry the name of a man?”

“Geesh, it’s short for Samantha. That is all I’m telling you, in case you’re some kind of Jack-the-Ripper.”

Finally, a name he recognized.

Hadley stood with his back against the wall and stared at the floor. His boots felt nailed down. He wanted to run after the woman. Stop her. Ask her those million questions starting with, how could it be 2012? He couldn’t force his legs to move.

He slid his fingers along the chain and tugged the watch from his pocket again. He popped open the silver case. Once more the hands of the watch were frozen, as they were since he arrived at the bookstore. But now, it was a quarter to one. Time moved ahead ten minutes. The ten minutes he assumed he’d spoken with Samantha. How did that happen? How
could
it happen? Had he imagined the hands moved? Hadley tapped the glass face with the tip of his fingers.

He gathered his strength and made his way down the stairs to the front of the bookstore. She was gone.

Hadley walked over and touched the brass knob, afraid to open the door. “Arthur… who the bloody hell was that, and how did she come
through
the front door? She’s the woman I dream of night after night, but I have never met her in person until this moment. In the dream we are outside, on the street, and something… happens… to her.”

BOOK: Walk with Me Through Time (The Dimension Keepers)
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