Shadow Across Time
by Mariah Lynne
Imagine being kidnapped and transported back in time to a 16th century French castle.
Danielle deForet, a beautiful rare antiques dealer, is tricked into completing an appraisal on a rare French piece, when to her surprise its owner casts a spell sending them both back to 1559. Danielle learns she is the crucial link for a royal spell and finds herself guarded by a handsome knight, Aidan. They soon fall in love, and he plans a risky escape.
Georgina, once a seer, now a mannequin in Danielle’s shop, was turned to wood by that same wizard. Her body stilled, her mind sharp, she is the lovers’ only hope to escape. If she intervenes, and the wizard finds out, he will stop at nothing to make his spell succeed, even if it means destroying Georgina, Danielle, and Aidan.
Release Date: October 31, 2015
Genre: Time Travel Romance
~ A PINK SATIN ROMANCE ~
The brass bell over the front door to my antique shop, deForet’s Finds on Fifth, rang telling me someone had entered the store. A man dressed in a black tunic, tights and hooded cape entered the shop. Odd dress for a Florida tourist. He looked sort of arty. Antique collectors could sometimes be a little eccentric, even downright weird. He wore a gold and bejeweled amulet in the shape of a lion’s head on a heavy gold chain. Quite distinctive and probably valuable.
The stranger stared at me and cracked a smile displaying yellow and missing teeth. He continued to approach the counter stopping just short of where I stood. He asked in a combination of French and English if this was deForet’s on Fifth owned by a Danielle deForet, a specialist in rare antiques.
I have learned in this business not to judge a book by its cover as the old saying goes.
The man spoke with such a thick French accent I could barely understand him. I consider my French fairly good. After all, I’m of French descent myself, so I could communicate with him in his native tongue.
After a polite greeting, I asked how I could help him. Then, to build rapport, I told him my great-great-great-grandparents emigrated from France and asked him from what part of France he came. Oddly enough, he said, “Chateau de Chenonceau.”
My grandmother had told me that in France this castle was the second most popular site for visitors, the Eiffel Tower being first. Its large white structure with imposing blue turrets at its entrance commands a position of honor over The Loire River. I keep the postcard from my aunt on my cash register.
His mention of Chenonceau surprised me. “What a coincidence. My family was also from that region.”
I didn’t add my grandmother claimed we were direct descendants of a French queen who lived in that very castle. The queen banished my ancestors because someone in my grandmother’s family married a commoner. I had listened to grandmother’s stories but they seemed so farfetched, I thought she was going senile.
The more we talked the more doubts I had. A strange unease crept over me. His facial skin had a yellow hue and boasted many scars. I found myself staring at him as he spoke to me. He said his name was Alasdair. I thought he meant that as his family name like Smith. After his brief introduction, he repeated the fact that he wanted to be certain I was the Danielle deForet whose ancestors resided in the Loire Valley.
I assured him I was and asked why that mattered. He leaned over and whispered he had an antique 14th century dagger from that region of France. He wanted to deal only with someone knowledgeable about antiques of that era and area.
When I saw him reach inside his cloak, I took a few cautious steps back reaching for the pepper spray in my pocket. I watched him pull out a large object wrapped in brown paper like the kind a butcher might use and breathed a sigh of relief.
He carefully unfolded the package before pulling out the most incredible dagger I’ve ever seen. It was hard to believe such an intricate antique weapon was on my counter. The dagger was exquisite. I knew I could sell it for tens of thousands of dollars. Large, it had a sterling silver handle shaped like a serpent, its body adorned with diamonds, its eyes with rubies. As I glanced down at the man’s wrinkled and deformed hands, I saw he wore a serpent ring that matched the design of the dagger. For a heart-stopping moment, I thought the serpent’s red eyes glowed.
This piece was worth a fortune to a collector of that period, a knife collector, or a silver collector. I kept a computerized list of wealthy clients, some of whom would bid for its ownership. Dollar signs dangled in my mind.
He diverted my attention from the dagger by asking me what I knew about the castle. Like a fool, I revealed the story about my heritage and my grandmother’s claim to a royal lineage. I told him I put little stock in her claim but since we shared a common connection to the castle, I would take extra good care of his business needs. I added my credentials.
“I’m a graduate of the University of Miami with dual majors of art history and business. My mother started the business and turned it over to me when I graduated. I can show you reviews from many satisfied customers if you like.”
He answered in a most insidious tone. “I’m sure you can my beauty. Your blonde hair and mesmerizing green eyes are all I need for credentials. Please give me your estimate of value as well as your charges, but before you do, I would like you to hold it to feel its intricate carvings.”
Loud warning bells sounded. I stepped away from the counter to put more distance between us.
“I can’t do that. I don’t want to incur any liability by handling the dagger without gloves. I’ll take a photo of it and do research after the shop closes. By tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be able to give you an accurate value. If you’re happy with the number, I’ll need you to sign some paper work giving me permission to sell it on your behalf. Of course, I’ll provide you with a receipt for the dagger. The price could easily exceed $100,000 and I would be happy to sell it on commission.”
He appeared interested. “What time may I return for this information?”
Before proceeding to take photos, I told him I should have all the information by one tomorrow afternoon. This strange man seemed happy with my response. When I finished taking photos, he wrapped the dagger and placed it back under his coat.
“Until tomorrow afternoon, my pretty, I can hardly wait.”
His familiarity bothered me, but the likely commission on his dagger overcame my scruples. With that, he left.
I continued to go about my normal business trying not to think about the dagger’s value. Summer business is slow. That one commission could make this year my most profitable ever.
After the store closed, I researched the dagger’s value over dinner. I learned that at auction, it could bring an easy $175,000. The research and photos further revealed its provenance claiming the dagger once belonged to a powerful wizard. Since I don’t believe in that sort of thing, I ignored it. However, it might attract some collectors of supposed magical items. I printed out copies of similar items with prices they received at auction. All routine work I do for any appraisal.
The next afternoon, Alasdair returned, looking as weird and menacing as before. “Would you mind locking the door to the shop for security?” he asked.
Since there were some shoppers on the street and knowing the dagger’s value, I agreed and put the key in the door. After I did so, he took out the dagger.
I escorted him to the counter to discuss the paperwork. He agreed to a selling price of $175,000 so I reviewed my contract with him. He eagerly signed every page before taking the brown paper package from his inside coat pocket and placing it on my counter. Something about his expressions made me feel uneasy
He kept repeating how beautiful I was. I ignored his comments, having dealt with other lonely old men. My only goal was to get that contract signed. Anyway, the name he penned on the buyer’s line was Alasdair of Loire.
Peculiar that he was known by only one name. After he signed, he took a wax seal from his other pocket and asked for a flame. I lit a match and watched him place a seal next to his signature. As he did, he told me he too was of royal lineage and his lineage could be easily traced. After our small talk, I asked if I could examine the dagger again. He agreed.
I reached under the counter for my white cloth gloves but, as I began to put them on, Alasdair asked me to stop.
“My sweet, to truly appreciate the knife’s beauty, please hold the handle with one hand on the serpent’s head and the other on its body to feel the full effect of the intricate carving.”
He stepped behind me as I did so, placing one hand on my shoulder. I tried to ease out from under it but couldn’t. My shoulder froze to his touch. Holding onto my shoulder with one hand, he rubbed his amulet with the other and whispered strange words that sounded like an incantation.
Fear gripped me. I couldn’t break free.
He waved one hand over my head. I looked up at the ceiling and grew dizzy. The ceiling lights spun and I heard a low guttural sound that turned into sudden crashing thunder.
I watched in complete horror as a black circle of air, a small tornado, seeped under my front door. It scared the bejesus out of me.
The cyclone’s force grew stronger and bigger, blowing the front door open and shut before working its way to where we stood. It scooped us up in its black haze. A flock of bats appeared like magic in its coal black mist. They surrounded us as the cyclone blew us high into the atmosphere. We flew as fast as jets.
I looked down as we passed barren landscapes filled with despair and desolation. I was terrified and passed out from fear.
When I returned to consciousness, I was lying on a cold stone floor in a small room filled with glass apothecary bottles. The bottles were filled with colored liquids and powders not to mention small dead frogs, insects, and snakes. When I stood, I felt someone staring at me. I turned only to hear an eerie yet familiar voice. It was that man, the horrid man from my store.
“Welcome to 1559 and Chenonceau Castle. This is the royal home of your ancestors, my dear Danielle.”
Alasdair then turned and clapped his hands. “Sir Aidan, please come in and greet our visiting Princess Danielle.”