Authors: Beverly Long
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Time Travel, #Western, #Westerns, #romance time travel old west western
|Tags:||Literature & Fiction, Romance, Time Travel, Western, Westerns, romance time travel old west western|
Bella Fantini is a modern-day witch who must leave her magic behind when she time travels back to 1877 Kansas to prevent a curse from being placed on her family. Sheriff Jedidiah McNeil isn’t happy about the beautiful stranger who is wrecking havoc in his peaceful town. Will Bella succeed and save her family? Can Jedidiah convince her to give up her magic in exchange for love?
By Beverly Long
Copyright 2012, Beverly Long
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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This is a work of fiction. All names,
characters, and settings are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual
names, events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead,
is entirely coincidental.
“Have you been twitching your nose
Bella looked up from the cookbook that she’d
reluctantly dug out of the cupboard ten minutes earlier. Her sister
stood in the doorway between the small kitchen and the living room,
her body slightly bent, fingers of one hand splayed flat against
“Shouldn’t you be lying down?” Bella
Averil ignored the suggestion. Instead, she
pointed at the small television stuffed between the toaster and the
coffeepot. “After you left this morning, traffic reporters were at
a loss to explain an unusual situation. All the cars on the Kennedy
Expressway were crowded into the two right lanes with barely a
vehicle in the far-left lane.”
Bella flipped a page of the
cookbook. “Stuffed artichokes. Now that sounds delicious,” she
“Bella,” Averil warned.
“Oh, fine.” Bella stood up, grabbed the back
of the kitchen chair that she’d been sitting in, and shoved it in
her sister’s direction. Averil’s normally bright complexion was
pale, and her short, blonde hair, which she could style with a few
flicks of her fingers and look like a million bucks, lay flat on
Bella hoisted herself up onto the kitchen
counter. If she’d been born with hair like her sister, she’d never
have to worry about being late again. But no. While her sister had
gotten her blonde hair and blue eyes from their mother, Bella had
gotten their father’s thick, naturally wavy, dark-brown hair and
his almost-black eyes. Without a hair dryer, good straightening
products, and twenty minutes, she was doomed.
“I had an appointment,” Bella explained.
“Besides, it was just a smidgen, a very teensy bit of magic. I got
up, dressed, and drove my car—just like a regular person. I just
needed to make sure that I wouldn’t be late.”
“Who was the appointment with?”
Bella wiggled her fingers and her bare toes.
“With Rafael. Honestly, the man holds a grudge for months if you
mess up his schedule. But nobody does a pedicure like him. Don’t
you love the color? Red is always so perfect for the holidays.” She
smiled at her sister.
Averil didn’t smile back. Her blue eyes were
“I know,” Bella added, “that I promised I
could go a month. If only I hadn’t overslept.”
Averil waved the arm that wasn’t otherwise
occupied, still ignoring the chair that Bella had sent her
direction. “Face it. You can’t give up the magic. And perhaps, if I
were better at it, I’d do the same. Right now, however, we’ve got
bigger troubles to worry about.”
Bella tried to hide her smile as she glanced
at the still-open cookbook on the table. She didn’t especially want
trouble, didn’t generally go around looking for it, but she was
smart enough to know what it meant.
She wasn’t going to have to cook tonight.
“What’s up?” she asked, reaching for the
telephone. Sammy’s Pasta delivered for free. She could already
taste the Alfredo sauce.
“Father’s acting odd,” Averil said.
Victor Stanley Fantini was a witch. Strange
was part of the job description. Bella started to dial.
Averil crossed the kitchen and, with the
flick of her index finger, efficiently cut the connection. “This is
serious. He’s asking for a Convening.”
Oh, my. They hadn’t had one of those for
almost ten years. It had been right after their mother’s funeral.
Bella reached for her glass of wine. “When?”
As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Bella looked
at her sister. “We could always pretend we’re out,” she
Averil sighed. “Has a locked door ever
stopped him before?”
Bella slid off the counter, walked past her
sister, and crossed the living room. When she got to the door, she
used the peephole to make sure it was her father.
He winked at her. Like he always did.
There was no need for worry.
But even as she told herself that, she knew
she was wrong. His aura was gray and black. Where were the blue and
the green with the sparkling rays of white that he normally carried
Scared, she turned to tell Averil—her sister
had never had the gift of colors, had never been able to see beyond
the physical body of a person. But one look at her sister’s face
stopped her. Averil was plenty scared already.
Bella grabbed the door handle. Whatever was
wrong, she’d fix it and they’d put this nonsense to rest.
She kissed her father on both cheeks. “Daddy,
so good of you to drop by.”
She waited for his customary response.
Only a fool turns his back on beauty.
I needed some sunshine and I
thought of you
. He had a thousand lines,
all with a similar theme. Victor Stanley Fantini adored his
daughters. He’d felt the same about his mortal wife.
But tonight, all Bella got was a quick peck
on the right cheek as her father brushed past her. “I’m glad you’re
both here,” he said.
Averil had moved from the doorway into the
living room. Bella went and stood next to her. “What’s wrong,
Daddy?” she asked.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he motioned for
them to sit. Averil walked like an old woman over to the tan
leather couch and carefully lowered herself down. Bella waited
until her sister got situated and then took the other end. Her
father sat in the green and tan chair across from them, ignoring
the matching ottoman. Instead, he leaned forward and reached an arm
out to each of them. “There’s no time to waste,” he said.
Averil reached for her father’s hand and then
extended her other arm in Bella’s direction. Bella closed her eyes.
“Can’t we just have some wine and talk about this?” she
“Isabella,” her father said, in a tone that
she’d heard very few times in her life but often enough to know
that it meant it was time to stop screwing around. “Now.”
She opened her eyes and reached out both
arms—one to her sister and the other to her father. Her sister’s
skin was cool and soft, her father’s warm and rougher, and the
contrast pulled at her, making her feel like she wasn’t whole but
rather two halves, plastered together, affixed yet still at risk
“It was 1877 and I was a young man,” her
father said. “Like it sometimes happens with young people, there
was a frustration in my soul. Perhaps it was spurred by the
mindless and never-ceasing carousing of my peers. Perhaps it was
because even though I was surrounded day and night by friends, I
was alone. Perhaps it was because I had not yet found your mother
and as such, I was incomplete.”
Like always, when her father spoke of his
wife of twenty years, his tone was tender. Bella squeezed her
father’s hand. “Go on, Daddy.”
“I decided that if I was a man, I needed to
do a man’s work. I had a fair hand with a horse so I joined up with
a group that was herding Texas Longhorns to the beef-hungry
Bella asked. She’d rarely seen her father not wearing a suit.
Averil frowned at her. “Driving cattle up
from the southwest was big business. Weren’t you a history major in
Yes, but she minored in parties and the two
areas of study had many times been at cross-purposes. She’d managed
to graduate. Just barely. She’d gotten a job, too. A bunch of them,
actually. Her current job of creating display windows for InTouch
Department Stores was the ninth or tenth—it was hard to keep
count—position since she’d graduated three years before.
“It was hard work,” her father explained,
“but I didn’t mind it. Anyway, our destination was Dodge City,
Kansas. We spent nearly six months on the trail and arrived just as
the early winter storms were setting in.” He paused.
“I’d proven myself, I should have stopped
when I was ahead. But a man there asked us if we’d be willing to
drive fifty head to his cousin’s place in Mantosa, Kansas. It was
300 miles, all the way to the far northeastern part of the state,
near the Missouri river.
“Another fellow and I agreed and we set off.
It was a risk. There was a law against taking cows into that part
of the state because ranchers were afraid of Texas Fever. That was
a disease caused by ticks and carried by Longhorns and could wipe
out a herd of healthy cattle in no time. But our cows were healthy
so I didn’t see the harm.”
Her father looked a little embarrassed. “You
did say you were restless,” Bella said. If anyone understood that,
“Anyway, it took almost a month and the
weather was getting worse all the time. We made camp just outside
Mantosa and I went into town to look for the cousin so that we
could hand off the stock and be on our way. I met up with him and
we transacted our business.
“I should have returned to camp, but I had a
pocket full of money and an ego full of pride. I made the
unfortunate mistake of going to Hawkin’s Saloon for a whiskey. The
first one warmed me up and the second made me itch for a game of
cards. There was a seat left at one of the tables. I didn’t realize
then what everybody else obviously knew. And once I’d sorted it
out, my third whiskey made it seem impossible to walk away.”
Bella had never seen
her father drink anything stronger than lemonade.
“A young woman was serving the drinks. Her
name was Delilah. Such a pretty name. She was just a little thing
with long red hair and a sweet laugh. A man at the table took an
interest in her and I had a fairly certain idea of how he intended
for the evening to end. Sure enough, when she finished her shift
and walked upstairs, he put his cards on the table.”
Her father looked up, his cheeks pink with
embarrassment. Both she and Averil nodded, letting him know there
was no need for details. It made no difference that she was
twenty-five and Averil, twenty-seven. Their father would always
think of them as little girls.
“It was the strangest thing. From what I’d
gathered, this man, like me, was new to town. He’d either arrived
with a reputation or he’d built one quickly because everybody just
pushed back their chairs, as if they couldn’t get home fast enough.
Even the bartender threw his apron on the counter and turned down
the lanterns. I followed the rest of them out the door.”
Bella looked at Averil and knew that she too
had heard the self-condemnation in their father’s voice. What the
heck had happened? Her heart sped up in her chest.
“But there’d been something in that man’s
eyes,” her father said, his tone flat. “So I went up the back
stairs. I was twenty feet from the door when I heard her
Bella closed her eyes, took three very deep
breaths, and suddenly, she could see it. The young woman on her
back, her long dress pushed up around her waist, her arms above her
head, with her hands tied to the iron bedposts.
There was blood all over the pillow, all over
her face. The man had broken her nose, practically smashed it flat.
And now he was holding her with one hand and yanking at his
trousers with the other.
“Oh, Daddy,” she heard Averil say and knew
her sister had seen it as well.
Her father stood up, breaking their linked
hands. The vision faded and Bella knew it was because their father
wanted to protect them. “I broke the door down and when I saw that
poor woman, I went crazy. I wanted to kill him.”