Dream Series #2
Lord of Her Dreams
by Olivia Ritch
Following the trail of her missing sister, American Christine Ragland wakes from vivid dreams to a foreign land and long-ago era. The English Lord, Matthew Drake, who rescues her is handsome and kind, but as danger swirls about him, can she trust him to help find her missing sister and return them to their home.
Matthew Drake knows who his beautiful visitor is. Keeping her safe and close by is vital. Winning her heart and her willingness to stay will take all of his wits and the help of his powerful friends.
Release Date: January 22, 2018
Genre: Time Travel | Historical Romance
~ A PINK SATIN ROMANCE ~
More than four months had passed with no trace of Kathryn Ragland. Christine Ragland looked for her missing sister across Alabama and the United States, to no avail. She cooperated with detectives and hired investigators, and they had all basically said they could do nothing more to find Kathryn. They would keep her case file open. Blah blah. The only good news she heard was thankfully, there were no murderers or criminals who had knowledge of her sister, and there were no unidentified bodies matching her description. Kathryn had simply vanished.
Today she was going to try an entirely different tack from the frustrating search she had made each previous day. She was going to retrace Kathryn’s steps, as exactly as she could make out, on May 11th, the night she disappeared. The police told Christine that with so little to go on, her chances of finding Kathryn were slim. Kathryn had not left a clue as to her whereabouts. But Christine was not ever going to give up looking for her missing big sister.
Kathryn would never leave Christine on purpose. Never. Christine knew it in her bones. They were each other’s only family but for cousins. They were inseparable. Christine was frantic. She was quite literally going out of her mind.
Kat hadn’t taken her car or keys, no money had been spent from her bank account, and she hadn’t told anyone she was leaving. Kidnapping was the only logical explanation the experts had developed, and Christine could fathom, to explain her sister’s disappearance. But she had also, with no other explanations forthcoming, given in to the fiction that there was something else, some reason not logical, something no one had thought of that happened to Kathryn. Christy was desperate enough to consider anything.
If Kathryn Ragland was gone, it was because something terrible had happened, and Christine knew terrible things always left trails. Today she was going to follow Kathryn’s trail.
* * *
She knew every step Kathryn had taken, to the minute. The police had been thorough. They just had run out of options. Someone was still assigned to her case even today, but no one was really actively looking for Kathryn Ragland, the social worker who had disappeared in the night from her suburban Birmingham, Alabama apartment.
Today, Christine was going to start at Kat’s office and follow her entire schedule right through stopping at the little antique shop whose owner was the last person to have seen Kat. She had talked to Ms. Tilly several times and the elderly lady had been understanding, grandmotherly even, but had not shed any light on Kathryn’s disappearance. Today, Christine was going in to shop only, just as she believed Kat had done.
Everyone at Kathryn’s office watched her piteously. She hated being the cynosure of all eyes, but it couldn’t be helped. Since she was a veterinarian, and this was a women’s shelter, she did not actually have any meaningful work to do. Kathryn’s case files had been given to others. There was nothing left of her sister’s true work on the desk. But, she was determined to spend the entire work day in Kathryn’s office, walking in her shoes as best she could. With rote movements, Christine stuffed flyers into envelopes, licked them shut and affixed stamps. She riffled through the few papers remaining on the desk, but for the most part, she simply passed the mind-numbing hours sitting wrapped in her morose thoughts at Kathryn’s desk. At 5:15 p.m., the exact time Kathryn had departed, Christine slipped out to her car and drove toward the antique shop on Kathryn’s route home she had visited so many times before in her fruitless search.
Christine sat for a few minutes in her car in the parking lot, willing her heart to regulate itself. She had become more and more anxious throughout the interminably long day, and now she felt like she was on the precipice of making a distinct step forward, instead of just marking the time.
Tilly was waiting for her by the door. “Come in, dear. I’m so glad to see you today. How are you doing?”
“Ms. Tilly, today’s been so painful. I sat through her workday, dug through every sheet of paper in her desk, answered her few calls, sent out a mailing and nothing came to me. Nothing. Now I’m here to do everything she did after leaving work. There has to be some clue we’ve missed.”
“You are such a faithful sister. It pains me so to see you suffer. I will walk with you and we will take her route through the store,” Tilly took her elbow and steered Christine along a deliberate but winding route.
* * *
They made their way through the maze of crowded rooms filled with fanciful knick-knacks until they came to a small, familiar space in the back of the store. The moment she entered, the violent pang slammed into her. She staggered, sucking in her breath and Tilly tightened her grip on Christine’s arm.
When Christine’s breathing returned to normal a few moments later, Tilly spoke. “I’ve finally hung the paintings on the wall.” Tilly pointed to the three small antique oils. “You know, your sister bought the only one with a woman in the portrait. Not like these others with only the English Lords.”
Christine edged around the large table, leaning over the dresser against the wall to get a closer look at the artwork. She had seen them all before, but she looked as someone interested in buying. The red coated officer mounted on a striking black horse drew her eyes and she looked her question at Tilly. “Aye, dear, you can take it down.”
Christine stared at the elegant face of the dark-haired man atop the magnificent horse and closed her eyes. Tilly had told her Kathryn had taken one of the portraits in the set. Had Kathryn been drawn to the portrait. Had it spoken to her or had she felt some connection? Why had she purchased the portrait?
Holding this portrait, Christine felt something. Her senses heightened. She tightened her grip on the lovely frame as she turned the picture over. There was no backing, any paper that had been there in the past was long ago torn away. There was nothing to tell her who had painted it or owned it, there were no words at all, but something tugged at her heart, her breathing suspended, the feelings so strong.
“I want you to have that. Take it home and remember.” The gentle words comforted even as they deepened her sadness.
“Thank you, Ms. Tilly,” Christine replied shakily. She had to keep holding the picture. It had somehow become vital to her to take it home to Kathryn’s apartment and to anchor her for tonight.
* * *
Christine left wordlessly and drove to Kathryn’s place drowning in the fog of flooding memories. When she climbed into Kathryn’s double bed, the dam of tears broke.
She did not know the painting she clutched was magic, that it had power over dreams, over place and time. She only knew somehow it made her feel connected to her sister. Weighed down with the fatigue of the truly sad, Christine fell deeply asleep. And in sleep, Christine dreamed of a dashing dark-eyed military officer with a midnight horse who was somehow the key to her search.