Authors: Red L. Jameson
Tags: #Romance, #Time Travel, #Historical
Copyright © 2014 Lanita B. Joramo
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hat do ye mean my brother is...missing?” Duncan MacKay hissed. A massive six and a-half foot tall Highlander, he was as menacing as they got, even if he no longer donned his seventeenth-century great plaid and long sword but wore a modern blue flannel and jeans. His words would have been beyond threatening if only they weren’t punctuated by a toilet flush and a groan in the background.
His hazel eyes darted in the direction of the bathroom from where he paced in the pastel living room of his small Ithaca, New York house, concern clearly written through his disheveled red hair and tense visage. But his gaze lasered in at Clio and Erato, the two completely-out-of-place, golden toga-wearing muses standing close to an over-stuffed baby blue couch. The muses were the culprits who had transported him from 1653 to current times and had also played matchmakers. It was called a
, where a participant would be flung through time and meet the love of his or her life. Well, to be fair for Duncan’s
two gods had helped with the time travel and played as cupids too. Oh, not literal Cupid. That god retired over a thousand years ago.
“Tell me—” Duncan’s voice was low enough to growl, “—where he is and what the fu—hell is going on.”
“I’ll tell you everything, but...” Clio, the muse of history, glanced down the hallway to the bathroom after hearing another moan. “But is she all right?”
Duncan took a threatening step forward, a purplish vein standing out on his forehead. “Does she sound like she’s all right?” As if strengthening his statement, another soft grumble came from the bathroom. But he glared at the muses all the more. “She won’ let me take her to a physician, stubborn woman!”
“I heard that!” a muffled voice called from behind the bathroom door.
“I want ye to hear that, Fleur. God damn—holy hell—” Duncan shouted, but the last of his oaths came out strained. His voice cracked and his hazel eyes suddenly rimmed red. He turned toward the bathroom, his gigantic shoulders slumping. “Will ye let me take ye to the doctor’s now?”
“I—well, no.” The muffled voice, Fleur’s, sounded calm at least.
However, Duncan was anything but. He wheeled toward the muses again, his hazel eyes popping with orange bursts, his red hair seeming to brighten with his angry mood. “My beautiful wife has been vomiting for days, won’ let me take her to a physician, and now ye come here and tell me my brother is missing?”
Clio and Erato held hands before answering.
“Yes,” Clio said. “I’m so sorry. But I can check on your wife for you.”
“The damned door’s locked.”
Clio cocked an auburn brow. “That’s never stopped me before.”
“Don’t you dare!” Fleur hollered, still from the confines of the bathroom. “Just tell Duncan what happened to his brother. And shout. I want to know too.”
Clio glanced at Duncan who took another step forward, this time leaning closer to the muses and whispering, “If she doesn’ come out in five minutes, go in there. Ye ken?”
Clio checked on her twin-like sister who nodded for both of them. Then Erato, the muse of romantic writing, took a deep breath.
“After you landed in this century,” Erato said, “we went back to the last known whereabouts of your brothers’.”
Duncan nodded. “The Native American Yamasee village in what is now South Carolina, eh? In 1653, right? That’s where Jacob wrote to me last.”
“Yes.” Clio nodded. After she took a measured breath then another quick glance at her sister, she finally divulged the bad news. “Okay, have you done any research about that particular village in that particular time?”
Duncan’s brows furrowed all over again. “Nay.”
“They die,” Erato said so quickly it sounded more like
“What? What did she say?” Fleur yelled through the bathroom door.
Clio rolled her eyes. “They die. The reason why I can take your brothers to a different time is because in 1653 they all die. Smallpox ravages the village. So, to keep the balance of time, the plan was we were to go back in time, try to find your brothers before the outbreak, then resurface them and other survivors in another time.”
Duncan swayed, his ruddy, fuming complexion blanching in a heartbeat. He took two steps away from the muses, his eyes wide, then his back thudded against a nearby wall. After another flush of the toilet and a quick running of water, from out of the bathroom scrambled Fleur. Stunningly beautiful even in just jeans and a loose t-shirt, she was tall, thin, with long dark hair and brilliant onyx eyes. Only four months ago she’d been flung back in time to meet Duncan. Now happily married and living in current times, she well knew her husband’s wish for his brothers to be with him. She hurried to Duncan, wrapping her arms around him as soon as she could.
“What do you mean ‘try to find them before the outbreak?’ You’re going to save them, right? Tell me you’re going to save them!” She might have looked like the epitome of femininity, but she was just as much a fighter. Her words were harsh and reprimanding.
Clio and Erato both swallowed.
“When—when we arrived at the village,” Erato said, “the outbreak had already begun.”
“Jesus,” Duncan whispered. “Well, go back farther in time then. Go back to when none of them had smallpox.”
“It doesn’t work that way.” Clio shook her head. “You think I wouldn’t have some sort of utopia if it worked differently? You think I’d let the suffering continue?”
“God.” Duncan’s voice shook. Fleur held him more firmly.
“We have Michael and Thomas, of course. Your other half brothers.” Clio tried to reassure, even reaching a hand out to the couple. But she never actually touched them, instead, turning a tad more toward her sister.
“We also have the other twenty-two survivors from the village.” Erato and Clio smiled at each other, proud of saving the humans from their terrible fate.
“Can—can I see them? See my brothers?” Duncan asked quietly.
Clio shook her head. “Sorry. They have to be under quarantine for a few more weeks. We have to make sure they don’t spread smallpox, as well as ensure they didn’t catch it. But we can shuffle them through time during the process, so you can see them sooner.”
Duncan nodded, his face showing relief. Yet his brows returned to their agonized position. “But Jacob—ye couldn’ save him? He’s...?”
“He caught it,” Clio answered. “Yes, he was sick. Very sick. And...then...well...”
“Out with it!” Duncan demanded.
“Just tell us.” Fleur seconded, while holding her husband.
“So he’s laying there in front of the healer, apparently, at least this is what Thomas said.” Erato nodded her head.
“The healer is trying to nurse Jacob,” Clio said, “because he’s so sick, and then...”
“And then a blond man materializes in front of them.” Erato’s dark red brows twisted in concern. “He looked like a Viking, Thomas said.”
Duncan’s eyes widened yet again, but his jaw kicked ominously. “Odin appeared?”
“Yes,” Clio and Erato answered reluctantly, flinching.
“Odin,” Duncan repeated. Odin had been one of the gods who had helped so much for Fleur and Duncan’s
. So why would the god kidnap Duncan’s brother?
“Um, yeah.” Clio slung her arms across her slender chest. “Odin grabbed your sick half-brother, Jacob, then left a piece of paper in Thomas’s hand, and vanished. With Jacob.”
Erato unfolded a note and showed it to Duncan and Fleur.
I can play the game too,
was written in a bold script, almost rune-like handwriting.
“What the fu—”
Duncan elbowed his wife.
She threw her hands to the ceiling. “I heard you,
. I heard you swearing earlier. But now I can’t? I think it’s merited.”
Duncan nodded with a small smile for her.
“We honestly don’t know what Odin means.” Clio’s voice was soft. “But we’re trying to find out. Coyote, since he assisted in your
, has offered to help, and he’s...”
As if the god heard his name spoken, Coyote suddenly materialized in the living room with a tall beautiful woman beside him. He wasn’t in his usual leather leggings, but clad in jeans, a black cashmere sweater, and black leather jacket. More than likely to fend off the ridiculously cold winter weather; although, he could jump through time and distances too. The woman with him also looked ready for winter, but in a slate wool pencil skirt and silver cardigan. She gave all appearances of a sexpot librarian, save for her bright blue hair. Her legs buckled once they were fully corporal. Catching herself on her knees and the heels of her hands, she glared up at the god.
“I told you to land outside of their home,” the blonde muttered under her breath. “This is a little invasive. And embarrassing. I’m still not used to the landing.”
Coyote scooped her up then patted her shoulder quickly, but turned to Fleur. “You all right? I heard you were sick.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about Duncan’s brothers?” Fleur’s face puckered with annoyance as she walked past Coyote to the blonde, hugging her fiercely.
“I heard about it just now myself,” Coyote said a tad defensively. “I thought you might want more emotional support, so I brought Erva.”
Fleur and Erva, Minerva Ferguson-Hill, smiled at each other the way friends do when things break apart—concern and love in each other’s brown eyes. They’d quickly become friends and commiserated since Erva and her husband, former Lord General William Hill, had been participants of a
too. Next, Erva hugged Duncan.
“Will wishes he could be here,” Evra said, “but he’s got his board tests to study for.”
Duncan nodded. “I understand. I do.” Then he turned back to the muses. “So what are ye doin’ to find my brother and Odin?”
“We’re trying to track him down,” Clio said, looking a bit defeated. “And just so you know, Odin would never harm your brother. In fact, he might be thinking he’s helping,”
“Right. Yeah, Odin wouldn’t hurt Jacob. But we believe this might have something to do with the” —Erato glanced at Erva— “West drop.”
Duncan, Fleur, and Erva all tilted their heads forward in annoyance and curiosity, obviously not understanding Erato’s meaning.
Erato pursed her lips. “All right! We think Odin is trying to teach us a lesson from dropping Dr. Meredith Peabody in Montana during the wild West era.”
“You did what?” Erva’s mouth hung ajar. “Oh my God. So that’s where she’s been.”
“It was just a joke.” Clio tried to wave away the obvious increased tension in the air.
“How long has she been there?” Erva demanded.
“Well, um” —Erato scooted closer to her sister— “a few months now. Four months.”
“Four months?” Erva hollered.
“We took her there to teach her a lesson.” Clio frowned. “We were very mad at her.”
mad? She screwed
over.” Erva pointed at her chest. “Not you. She plagiarized my writing, not yours.”
“We love you. That’s why we sent her there. To punish her for what she’d done to you. Then we kind of forgot about her.” Clio huffed. “I thought you’d appreciate the gesture.”
Erva clenched her jaw. “She’s a tiny, very urban woman who can’t live a day without a soy latte. Oh my God, is she even alive? And, no, I don’t appreciate the gesture. I’m pissed at her, but I’d never want to hurt her.”
“All right,” Duncan roared. “I’ve had enough. We’re strategizing right now.” He turned to the muses. “You two are going to keep tracking down Odin, where he might go, where he might take my sick, mayhap dying brother. And you’re taking Fleur and me with you.”
“Um” —Fleur bit her bottom lip— “I’m sorry, but I might need a doctor after all.”
Duncan wrapped his arms around her protectively. “I kenned it. I ken ye were too sick.”
She tried to push him away, but he wouldn’t budge. “Duncan, well, I don’t need a doctor right away.”
“I’ll take ye right away.”
Fleur laughed while shaking her head. “Baby, no, I—God, I hate doing this. You’re so worried about your brother and—”
“Aye, but...” Duncan kissed the top of her head. “Ye’re not well. The muses can take us to a hospital immediately.”
“I don’t need a doctor right now, but soon.”
At the persistent expression on her husband’s face, Fleur finally gave in with a sigh.
“I hate telling you here, like this, with everyone around and your brother missing. Although, I think we’ll find him soon. This is a good omen. I think good things will happen.”
Duncan tried to give his wife a grin. “All right, but let me take care of ye.”
She pulled out a purple stick from her jeans’ back pocket and showed him the plus sign in the little white window. “Take care of
,” she said quietly. “See? Here? That means I—I’m pregnant.”
“Oh my God!” Erva squealed and hugged the both of them. “Congratulations!”