Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to Tomorrow, PG-13 excerpt

Back to Tomorrow by Gwynn Morgan  ISBN 1-59279-182-4 (p)

Here is the current cover. The lightning bolt in the background came from a photograph I took and talked about earlier on my fourds blog! It's "the spirit of Huachuca" or where the thunder walks. BTW Huachuca is an ancient Native American word and is pronounced Wa-CHOO-ka

Librarian Emily Dennison has always loved history, but catapulted into 1889 Tombstone, she finds life far from the idyll she imagined. Meeting Zach Tremaine, a newspaperman from Philadelphia, she gets involved in his quest to rescue his younger sister from her abusive paramour, gambler Jake McEuen. This leads to more adventure than Emily ever thought possible. Eventually she has to confess to Zach that she is from far away, not in distance but in time. Fearful of being torn back to 2000, but missing her modern conveniences, she hardly dares to love him though she aches to.

Zach isn’t quite sure what to make of Emily, so different from any woman he has ever known but so sweet and spunky that she wins his admiration and soon his heart. Just when he thinks he has convinced her they belong together, a bolt of lightning tears her away. Or was it Joker Jake McEuen, seeking revenge?  Can Zach live long enough to search until he finds her? Can she get back to tomorrow in time to save him from McEuen’s murderous rage?


April 24, 2000
Hardwick, Vermont
"The postman just came, Em. Run out and see what we have today, would you? I can't leave off stirring this fudge yet."
Aunt Faith's cheerful voice cut through Emily's gloomy thoughts. Leaving the window, which looked out into the rainy afternoon, she moved to obey. Her heart wasn't in the small task, nor in anything she could imagine doing. Pausing on the back porch to tug on overshoes and a mackinaw, Emily grabbed an old umbrella and forged out toward the mailbox that stood beside the highway some fifty yards from the house. Driven by a biting wind, icy raindrops stung her cheeks, as if nature wept with her. Six months, and so little has changed. It almost feels as if time is standing still.
Although most of the mail seemed to be addressed to Faith Dennison's business, Maple Leaf Confections, the last item, a thick brown envelope, bore Emily's name. Moisture smudged the return address, but the handwriting looked like that of her friend, Carol Hodges.
Emily hurried back to the house, curiosity over what she had received temporarily overcoming her depression. Almost anything would be welcome if it took her thoughts away from the ache of loss and the pressing issue of what she should do with the rest of her life.
She'd come here to Aunt Faith's last fall after leaving New Hampshire, stayed to help with the rush of business prior to the holidays, and somehow hadn't managed to move on. She kept delaying just one more day, unable to find a new direction for her life.
Carol was now nearly seven months pregnant--as Emily herself might have been, had the planned wedding taken place last October. They were still best friends, four years past their two-year stint as roommates and their college graduation. Carol had sympathized with Emily's loss through several long phone calls, but that offered no clue as to what she might have sent.
While Faith went through her mail, Emily carefully pulled the heavy tape off the flap to unseal the envelope. She upended it, gave the envelope a slight shake. A single sheet of paper filled with Carol's scrawling handwriting and a small, leather bound book slipped out into her waiting hand. Emily quickly scanned the scribbled lines, the erratic sizes and shapes of the letters reflecting Carol's volatile personality.
Tom and I found this fabulous old trunk in Tombstone that we thought would make a wonderful toy box for Junior. In the process of cleaning it up, we discovered this little book in one corner. Remembering how you love old tomes, I decided to send it to you right now. Maybe reading will while away some otherwise dreary hours.
Please think about coming out to Fort Huachuca for a visit. Spring in Arizona is lovely and I'd so enjoy your company while I wait the last few weeks before this rowdy child makes his appearance. All I can do now is sit and talk, but then, I was always good at that, wasn't I?
Emily smiled, recalling their many late-night conversations, sometimes one or both falling asleep in mid-word, too drowsy to go on. She could use a dose of her bubbly friend's enthusiasm now. Maybe she'd accept the invitation.
She turned her attention to the little book. Holding it gently, she absorbed the aura of age, let her senses appreciate its special value. The soft binding of red leather was cracked and worn, marred in spots by traces of mildew, but basically still intact. The book exuded a musty scent, which she found vaguely comforting. Old books had always fascinated her. The odor brought to mind only pleasant memories.
As she held it, the book fell open to reveal hand-scribed lines, the ink faded to a sepia tone but still clear. The writer had a neat, elegant hand, the delicate copperplate penmanship of a bygone era.
April 24, 1889. Arrived in Tombstone. To actually see a place of such notoriety triggers a thousand fantasies. I can scarcely wait to begin my explorations, although my primary purpose in coming here must take precedence. The place is not wholly as I expected, being both more rustic and more cosmopolitan. The country around is stark and empty, miles of ragged, pale hills and scraggly bushes too small to be counted as trees. One wonders how anything can live in such an inhospitable environment, but local people assure me the desert teems with life. Other than some birds and a few lizards, however, I have seen little so far."
For a moment the book, the cozy room, and all else faded. In its place, the described landscape appeared, vivid in every detail. The harsh glare of midday sun burned Emily's skin and made her squint. She wrinkled her nose at the sulfurous dust on the creosote-scented breeze, which carried the muffled sound of distant gunshots.
Afterwards Emily decided she must have seen a postcard or a photograph, perhaps something Carol had sent when she and her husband first arrived at Fort Huachuca. The fort was only twenty some miles from Tombstone. No other way could she explain the curious vision, hallucination, or whatever it was. When she came out of the odd trance, her aunt was peering at her with an expression of concern.
"Em? Are you all right, dear? You looked so peculiar for a moment. You haven't received more bad news, have you?"
"Oh no, nothing like that. It's a note from Carol, my old roomie, you remember? She and her husband bought an antique trunk in Tombstone to make a toy box for the baby. They found this diary or journal in it, which she's sent to me."
Still feeling slightly dizzy and displaced, Emily shook her head. This was the strangest sensation she'd ever experienced. She snapped the book closed, deciding not to look at it any more until later. A curious paradox of wishes warred inside her. She wanted to put the small tome away and never see it again, but also to sit down at once and read straight through.
Since her aunt still looked worried, Emily continued. "Carol invited me out to visit. Her baby's due in June, and she sounds as if she's running out of patience. Her doctor has prescribed rest, staying off her feet as much as possible until she gives birth. I expect that's a real trial for her. She's always so full of energy and activity."
Faith set her mail aside and resumed her work. "Why don't you? It would be a nice change of scenery and a break before you decide what to do next. I know life is dreary here right now, and that can't help pull you out of your grief."
Although Faith seemed to address her remarks to the bowl of fudge she spread onto a baking sheet to harden for cutting, Emily heard the sincere concern in her aunt's words. Inhaling deeply to absorb the rich, sweet scent of the warm candy, Emily hoped the aroma would dispel the lingering sting of acrid desert air.
Belated, Emily remembered to reply. "Perhaps I will. There isn't much more I can do here to help out, really. In all honesty, you have everything down to a gnat's eyebrow. Except for doing the books, when I try to help, I only wind up being in the way."
"It's an old lady's habit, Em. I'm too used to working alone to adjust now. Not that I don't enjoy your company, but life's too slow and quiet here for you. You're used to the bustle of a college town, your library, friends around, and young folks. Twenty-six is far too young to settle into an old maid's quiet routine."
This time Faith's keen gaze sought Emily's, as if demanding her attention. "You really ought to go. Call your friend tonight and start making plans."

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