Rendezvous With Yesterday(7)

By: Dianne Duvall

“I believe King John is afraid of Lady Alyssa,” Adam inserted softly.

Robert glanced at him over his shoulder.

“’Tis why he has never summoned your brother and his wife to court,” Adam continued. “He fears she will see his secrets and expose them. Expose him.”

Stephen whistled low. “’Tis something I would like to see. Would you not? Particularly since I can guess what some of those secrets are.”

A distant discordant sound met Robert’s ears, distracting him. Holding up a hand to halt his men, he listened carefully.

Seconds later it came again.

“Do you hear that?” he asked.

Michael frowned. “Aye. ’Tis a woman.”

“Does she call for help?” Robert asked.

“I know not,” Michael responded. “I can barely hear her.”

All quieted.

The call came again, a fraction louder this time.

Stephen grunted. “I hear her now. But I cannot understand her words.”

“Nor can I,” Robert murmured. Mayhap distance muddled them. “But I hear the fear in her voice.”

The others nodded.

Adam studied the trees in front of them. “It she to the north?”

“Josh!” the woman shouted.

“Nay.” Robert pointed east. “There.”

As one, the men turned their horses east and swiftly urged them forward.

Chapter Two

Something tickled her face. Reaching up to brush it away, Beth encountered a strand of her own hair. It danced on a surprisingly cool breeze that wafted over her. Yawning, she tucked it behind her ear, then drew her hands above her head in a stretch, twisting first one way, then the other.

Dull pain traveled from her back to her shoulder, inspiring a wince.

Memory returned in a flash.

Beth bolted upright.

Looking down, she stared in dread at the red stains that covered her shirt sleeve and darkened her jeans almost down to the knees.

She had been shot. Twice.

She frowned. But, other than a slight stiffness in her back and shoulder, she felt fine.

She examined her vest. A substantial hole showed her where the bullet had exited her chest. A smaller one marked the place the other bullet had entered her shoulder. Reaching around behind her, she felt a second set of entry and exit holes.

Yet she felt fine.

Unfastening the Velcro tabs on the vest, she opened it and dragged up the sticky tank top she wore beneath it.

Aside from the blood, the only sign that a wound had ever marred her skin was a pale, barely visible… scar?

Confused, she pulled the top down and sat unseeing for several seconds.

Frown deepening, she yanked the tank top back up to double-check, then let it fall again.

For the first time, Beth noticed her surroundings.

The forest in which she had been shot appeared to have vanished, as had the St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes.

Dense, dark pockets of trees surrounded her instead, all beneath them a lush, beautiful green.

“What the hell?”

It was wrong. It was all wrong.

Texas was in the middle of a drought. The only place one could find lush green anything was at the heart of an urban sprinkler system. And that was only if the water restrictions had been lifted. The healthy grass before her should be brown and brittle, a major fire hazard.

No. Wait. Come to think of it, there had been no grass in the forest where she had died.

Well, almost died.

She bit her lip.

Had she died?

Because none of this looked familiar to her. The trees were different, healthy and thriving rather than parched and dying. And the sky…

The sky where she had fallen had been dominated by the harsh, blinding light of a summer sun, not hidden behind a blanket of soft gray clouds. The temperature should be over a hundred degrees, not pleasantly cool and lacking the usual cloying humidity.

Where the hell was she? How had she gotten there?

She gasped suddenly. And where was Josh?

Fear struck, hard and fast, as she remembered how still he had lain after being shot.

Beth swiftly refastened her vest and rose.

Dizziness assailed her.

Staggering, she threw out her arms for balance until the world stopped tilting and rolling.

Okay, so she was a little weak. That didn’t explain how her bullet wounds had disappeared or healed or changed into scars or whatever. It just confirmed that she hadn’t dreamed it all.

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