He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…
Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?
Erin realises she has fallen through time…
The first thing she noticed was that the sun was shining. For a moment, that made her smile, thinking the terrible events of the night had been nothing but a really bad dream. Until she stretched, bumping her hand into a wooden bedpost. She sat up. Shit! Not a dream, none of it was a dream, because here she was, presently sitting in a bed that looked as if it belonged in a museum.
She was wearing some sort of nightgown that smelled faintly of lavender. So did the sheets and the pillow. One arm was bandaged as was her left hand. The arm did not bother her, but the hand hurt, a constant dull throbbing reminding her of that damned locket. She shivered. Beside her, Duncan was fast asleep on his back and she just had to slide down and snuggle into his warmth for some moments, taking several deep breaths. At least he was here with her, and she definitely remembered him talking to a man he knew, a short, fat guy.
She sat up again. She needed to pee—badly. She was also parched, her lips so dry it hurt to lick them. She stood. The room spun. A strong arm grabbed her before she hit the floor.
“It’s no big deal,” she said some time later, smiling at how concerned he looked. They were back in bed after he’d helped her locate the chamber pot, politely keeping his back turned as she used it before using it too.
“You fainted!” he said.
“Not because of this.” She set a hand to her arm. “More because of the whole mess. You know, Steve and Josephine showing up and Dylan being shot and then…then…”
He nodded, offering her a mug of lukewarm beer and it was godawful but she was so thirsty she drank it all down.
“Where are we exactly?” she asked.
“In London. It is 1715—August, Ben says.”
“He works here,” Duncan explained. “My man, originally, but he was so taken with London I allowed him to stay behind when I returned home some years ago.”
“Oh.” She sent him a dark look. “How come we ended up in your time?”
“I do not know. Chance, I assume.”
“Damned fortunate—for you,” she said.
“Fortunate?” He sat up, looking down at her. “What exactly are you implying?”
“Nothing.” She turned her back on him, not wanting him to see the tears in her eyes. She cleared her throat. “Damned fortunate I had that locket lying around, hey?”
“Aye, as otherwise we would likely have been dead by now.”
“As if this is much better,” she muttered.
“You’d prefer to burn to death to being here with me?”
“Yes! Well, no, of course not, but—”
“But what? It was not me who brought the Wilkes family to your door. It was not me who was foolish enough to embark on a one-man crusade to bring down a powerful criminal organisation. It was not me, who—”
“I got it, okay?” She rose to her knees, glaring at him. “Yes, I brought all this down on us, but you knew what that damned locket was. And I can’t help wondering if you were planning on using it, slip out of my life just as quickly as you came.” Shit. She shouldn’t have said that—besides, she’d wondered no such thing. He gave her a hurt look that left her twisting inside “Sorry,” she added hastily, placing a hand on his arm.
He shook it off.
“Sorry,” she repeated. “Please, Duncan. I didn’t mean that.” She took his hand, and it lay unresponsive in her hold. “I’m scared,” she admitted in a low voice. “And when I’m scared, I lash out.”
In response, he sighed, squeezing her hand. “Aye, I suspected that locket was some sort of time mechanism. I recognised those damned swirling colours, that horrifying sensation of pitching forward over a ledge to stare at a bottomless chasm—” He broke off, looking as if he was going to throw up.
She could totally commiserate: that fall through time had been the most terrifying experience in her life—like riding a rollercoaster on the downward drop only to realise it was never going to stop going down and down and down.
“We were trapped,” he said in a calmer tone. “The locket offered a way out.”
“And lucky you—here you are, in the time you belong in!”
“I didn’t know we’d end up here! But I saw a face I recognised and focused on it. And reasonably it is better we are here, in my time, than in a time none of us belong in.”
Well, she had to agree with him on that—but she had problems saying that out loud. She gave him a grudging nod.
“I’d have preferred it if we were back in my time,” she said.
“So would I,” he said. He pressed a quick kiss to her head. “But now we are here, and even if we could attempt to travel back, I am not sure I’d dare to try.” He shivered. “What if we fell somewhere else entirely?”
“You would?” she asked.
“Do you mean it? Would you have preferred to remain in my time?”
“Aye.” He gave her a small smile. “And not only for the cars.” He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “This is a difficult age,” he continued. “Even more so for a beautiful woman with skin like molten syrup.”
She didn’t understand.
He sighed, cupping her cheek. “A woman of colour is usually the fruit of a white planter’s lustful assault on his female slaves. And a child born to a slave, is—”
“A slave.” She grimaced. “But I’m not.”
“No.” He smiled. “And once they get to know you, they will all recognise that a spirited, determined woman like you was born as free as any of us. But before they do, they will likely whisper behind our backs, snickering at the man who was fool enough to wed his slave mistress.”
“Oh.” Her shoulders slumped. She felt devalued, somehow.
“That is why we must formalise our union immediately,” he added, hopping out of bed. “I will have the contracts drawn up in some hours and then God save whoever as much as eyes you askance. I will skewer them on my sword.”
A warmth spread through her at his words. He did love her, even to the point of risking the derision of his contemporaries. He must have guessed what she was thinking, because he leaned over her and kissed her thoroughly.
“I’ve pledged myself to you,” he said softly. “And now, Mrs Melville, you must rise and dress.”
“You seem very familiar with all these garments,” she said a while later. She’d washed in cold water, been surprised to find clothes in a neat pile on a chair, had at first refused to wear that strange corset contraption, but at his insistence had slipped into it, gasping out loud when he’d twirled her round to tighten the lacings. Now he was fitting something he called a bumroll round her hips and then there were petticoats and uncomfortably heavy skirts in dark blue with a matching bodice. She liked the pewter buttons adorning the bodice. That was the only think she liked, actually, feeling so constrained she could barely walk as he led the way downstairs.
“No way am I going to wear stuff like this all the time.”
He chuckled. “You look very pretty,” he told her.
“I’m used to wearing jeans!”
He drew her to a halt. “Women in this time do not wear breeches.” His long mouth curved into a smile. “But when we are alone, or when we are riding, I’ll let you wear them.”
“You’ll let me?” she spluttered.
“Aye. I am a good husband like that—I spoil my wife.”
“Huh. You’ve never been a husband before.”
He cradled her face and kissed her nose. “I know. But I aim to be the best husband the world has ever seen. For you.”
Which was enough for her to grip his hand hard and follow him down the stairs.
Thank you, Anna Belfrage and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG