Authors: Emma Kaye
Tags: #Romance, #Historical, #English, #Time Travel, #Regency
Time for Love
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Time for Love
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Emma Kaye
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First English Tea Rose Edition, 2013
Print ISBN 978-1-62830-072-7
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-073-4
Published in the United States of America
To my husband,
who believed I could write a book before I did.
I love you.
To my family and friends,
whose encouragement and love
mean more than I can say.
To my critique partners
Ruth A. Casie, Lita Harris, and Nicole S. Patrick
whose support keeps me going.
And to Allison Byers
and everyone at The Wild Rose Press,
whose hard work is greatly appreciated.
TIME FOR LOVE
Winner, First Place, paranormal category
Indiana Golden Opportunity contest, 2011
Winner, Fourth Place, paranormal category
NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book contest, 2010
Current Year, March 28
“Your butt’s vibrating.”
Alexandra Turner slapped a hand to her back pocket and felt the vibrations of her cell phone against her palm. She gaped at Cindy, the other bartender working that night, as she pulled it from her pocket. The ringtone was barely audible. “How the hell did you hear that?”
Cindy just laughed and turned away to serve a pitcher of beer to a college kid waving a twenty at her.
Alex looked down at the unfamiliar number on her display screen. Should she bother? She shrugged. It would only take a few seconds to find out. She could use a break anyway.
She signaled to Cindy she’d be right back and ducked under the bar, headed toward the stock room. She flipped the phone open on the way.
The bar’s music was too loud to hear a response.
“Hold on a sec, I have to get somewhere I can hear.”
She pushed open the stock room door and flipped the light switch, illuminating the tightly packed room. She grimaced at the sight of the jumbled mess on the shelves. Straightening it at the end of the night would take forever.
She shoved the door shut with her elbow and leaned against a stack of crates. The relative quiet made up for the unsightly mess.
“Okay, this is better. You still there?”
“May I speak with Alexandra Turner?”
Alex could just make out the English-accented female voice over the static on the line. “Yeah, this is Alex. It’s a bit hard to hear you. We’ve got a bad connection.”
“Oh, God. I can’t believe it’s you! I’ve been trying to reach you at home, but you never seem to be there, and I just didn’t feel a message was appropriate.”
Alex straightened, scraping her arm on a crate in the process.
. “Who’s this?”
“My name’s Charlotte Evans.”
A thrill jumped up Alex’s spine.
Could it be?
“A friend of mine happened upon your web page. She recognized me, or rather you, in the pictures. I believe I’m your twin.”
Alex slumped to the floor and landed hard on her butt. Her legs wouldn’t hold her up. She held the phone to her ear in a death grip. She couldn’t believe this was finally happening.
“Alexandra? Are you there?”
The manic edge to Charlotte’s voice broke through the haze in Alex’s mind. “I’m here. I just can’t believe it’s you. I’ve been looking for you for years. I knew you were still alive. I knew it! They told me you were dead, but I didn’t believe them.”
Charlotte’s voice faded in and out. “I…dead too.”
“Charlotte! You’re fading out. I can’t hear you.” Alex clutched the phone desperately. She couldn’t lose this call.
“…meeting with…Sawyer…Griffin… Something about…eighteen eight…call…about nine in…morning your time.”
“My time? Where are you?”
“London. I’m afraid…cut out any second. …talk tomorrow and figure out details so I can come—”
A burst of static and then silence. Alex looked at the display and cursed. She’d lost her.
Alex paced around her small living room. She flipped her cell open to make sure it was working. Still fully charged. Ringer on max. Only two minutes since she last checked.
She picked up her uneaten lunch and brought it to her galley kitchen to wrap in plastic for later. The smell of tuna fish made her stomach growl, but she’d never get the sandwich past the lump in her throat.
“Meow!” Maximus wound around her legs, mewling his anxiety that she might actually put the tuna away without giving him his share.
She grabbed a spoon and plopped a large dollop into her cat’s dish. He gulped down the treat before the dirty spoon hit the sink.
“There ya go. Happy now?” Her smile at the cat’s antics quickly faded as her thoughts returned to her worry over her sister.
Why didn’t Charlotte call? Or at least answer? Alex had tried the number recorded in her cell’s memory at least twenty times in the past hour. She looked at the tiny battery symbol on her display. Maybe Charlotte hadn’t charged her phone. That could explain it.
She picked up her landline to keep her cell free and dialed 4-1-1.
“City and listing, please.”
“London, England. Charlotte Evans,” Alex said.
“One moment, please.”
She jotted down the number then let the auto dial place her call.
A man’s strained voice answered, “Hello?”
“Hi. Is Charlotte Evans at home?” Alex’s voice trembled slightly as she spoke.
A tired sigh escaped through the telephone. “No, I’m sorry, she’s not here. May I ask who’s calling?”
“Oh. Well, do you know when she’ll be back?”
“No.” The strain seemed even more pronounced. “Who did you say this is?”
“My name’s Alex Turner.” She took a deep breath to steel her nerves and said, “Charlotte’s sister.”
“What! That’s impossible. I’m Charlotte’s brother, Steven. We don’t have a sister.”
“I know it sounds crazy, but I am her sister. Charlotte called me last night.”
“Wait. Did you say Alex? As in, Alexandra?”
“Oh, my God. Charlotte told us you died shortly before she was adopted. She never said anything about searching for you.”
“She wasn’t. I was. I’ve been searching for her for years using the web, mostly. I have a few websites, and I’m all over the social networks. I tried a private eye, but I couldn’t really afford him, and he never got anywhere. Charlotte said someone found one of my web pages.” Alex twisted the phone cord around her hand. “So, will she be home soon?”
He hesitated a moment. “I wish I knew. I haven’t spoken to her in over a week. We were supposed to meet for dinner last night, but she never showed. It’s not like her, and I’m worried. I came to her flat to see if I could find something that might give me an idea where she is.”
“She was supposed to call me this morning. We were going to arrange for her to visit.”
“She wouldn’t miss something like that. Something’s definitely wrong. I’m going to contact the authorities. Give me your number, and I’ll call if I have any new information. Here’s mine.”
Alex copied down the numbers he rattled off and gave him her contact info. They promised to call each other and hung up.
As she paced around her living room, her mind raced. What should she do now?
Had Charlotte been in trouble even as they’d spoken last night? Had she tried to give Alex some clue something was wrong?
She hadn’t seemed upset, just excited. Then again, Alex didn’t know how Charlotte normally sounded, and their connection had been so poor. She could have been completely freaked, and Alex never would have known.
No. She’d seemed fine when they spoke. Alex couldn’t afford to second-guess herself.
So what happened between then and now?
Alex snapped her fingers and grabbed her phone once more. It was a long shot, but she quickly dialed 4-1-1 before she could talk herself out of it. “London, England. A listing for Griffin?” she asked when prompted.
Each ring grated along her nerves like nails on a chalkboard. She breathed a sigh of relief when a perky, English voice answered, “Griffin International. How may I direct your call?”
Shit. How to explain? “Um—My sister was supposed to have a meeting with someone there. I wanted to see if maybe she was still there?”
“Who was she meeting?”
“I don’t know. I can’t remember the name she gave me.”
A short silence, then… “All right. Your sister’s name?”
“Oh,” the receptionist’s voice squeaked. “Yes. Charlotte Evans. Please hold.”
Alex grimaced when an annoying musak version of some barely recognizable pop hit assaulted her ears. At least she didn’t have to wait long.
“This is Mr. Sawyer. To whom am I speaking?”
Sawyer! That was it
. “Alex Turner. You met with Charlotte Evans yesterday?”
“You told the receptionist you’re Miss Evans’s sister?” His voiced sounded skeptical, setting Alex’s back up.
“Yeah, that’s right.” She’d spent too many years searching for a sister everyone insisted was dead to let anyone doubt she’d spoken to Charlotte.
“Where did you say you’re calling from?”
“New Jersey, why?”
Shit, why’d she tell him where she was?
Voices mumbled in the background, and there was a crackling noise as if he’d covered the phone’s mouthpiece.
“We have an office in Philadelphia. I’m going to catch the red-eye. Would you be able to meet with me tomorrow afternoon?”
“What!” Alarm bells rang in her head. “What’s going on? Something’s happened to Charlotte, hasn’t it? You wouldn’t fly out here if she were fine.” Alex’s heart raced, and she fought to control her breathing.
Remain calm. Find out what’s going on and panic later.
“Tell me now. Is she dead? Have you told her brother?” She perched on the edge of her couch and tried to prepare for the worst.
“Calm down, Miss Turner. Miss Evans is not dead.”
The air left her lungs in a whoosh, and she sank back. A broken spring poked her back, but she ignored it. She closed her eyes and lay limp against the cushions. “Thank God.”
“However, she is in trouble, and we think you can be of assistance. You must not discuss this with anyone, or you could put her at risk. Meet me at this address tomorrow…” He gave an address and waited while she wrote it down. “…four o’clock.”
The line went dead.
Four o’clock the next afternoon, Alex sat in the waiting room of Griffin International’s Philadelphia office fiddling with the visitor badge clipped to her favorite sweater. A grainy upside-down image of her face grimaced up at her.
Could she have taken a worse picture? It looked like she was being tortured rather than entering one of the most expensive offices she’d ever seen.
She wiggled back into the depths of the black leather chair only to scoot forward again almost immediately. She couldn’t get comfortable.
What’s taking so long?
She looked at the time on her cell phone—four-fifteen. Maybe he didn’t realize she was waiting?
The receptionist hadn’t stopped fielding calls the entire twenty minutes Alex had sat there staring blindly at the plasma TV on the opposite wall. Cable networks reported the news. Intense, young reporters spoke earnestly into their microphones as they gave their blurbs before the camera showed whatever sensational shot they’d managed to capture that made it appear as if the end of the world was imminent.