The Pocket Watch(8)

By: Ceci Giltenan



“Paige, you’re being ridiculous.”

“Well my darling sister, I may be. On the other hand, if you don’t wake up in the morning, while I’ll be sad and miss you forever, I will know someone worthy earned your heart.”

“Paige stop it. This isn’t real, there is no such thing as soul exchange and even if there were, the chances of me falling in love are nil.”

“Because you’re still brokenhearted over Elliott? Maggie, you’re hopeless. He didn’t deserve you. Oh gosh, I didn’t know how late it was. I have to go now, hon, I have to get ready for my date.”

“Have fun.”

“I will. Hey, how about taking Dad to the diner for dinner. If you get stuck in the past it’s your last chance to have their cheese bread.”

“I said, stop it.”

Paige laughed. “Love you lots, Maggie. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Okay. Love you too.”

As silly as she felt doing it, Maggie took her dad out to the diner for dinner as Paige suggested. She did love the cheese bread.

Before retiring, she gave him a hug and kiss goodnight.

He was in his chair watching the news. “I’ll see you in the morning, honey. Do you mind if we go to an early Mass? I need to work in the lab for a while.”

“That’s fine, Dad. I’ll see you in the morning. I love you.”

“I love you too, Maggie.”

When she was ready to get in bed, she got the watch out and held it in her hand. “Okay, here goes nothing. Remember, my ticket home is the word cellphone.” She slipped the chain over her neck, feeling a little silly, and went to sleep.

~ * ~

It felt as if Maggie had awakened instantly, and she was absolutely terrified.

It had worked.

She wasn’t in her bed in New Jersey. She was on the back of a horse, in a flat out run no less. Other than a sedate pony ride as a girl, she had never ridden a horse. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” she screamed pulling back hard on the reins. That was supposed to stop a horse wasn’t it?

It stopped him all right. The animal seemed as scared as Maggie at suddenly having a screaming crazy woman on his back yanking at his reins. He snorted and reared on his hind legs throwing Maggie backwards. She landed flat on her back, knocking the wind out of her. Perhaps from instincts she had honed in a self-defense class, she had tucked her head forward as she fell. This kept her head from hitting the ground harder than it might have otherwise. The horse ran forward about twenty yards or so, dancing, snorting and tossing his head just as another rider arrived.

Maggie lay on the ground struggling to draw breath, but the other rider, a man who appeared to be wearing a dress, dismounted and went to calm the frightened horse without sparing her a glance.

“Easy, lad, easy now. Ye’re all right.” His voice was gentle and soothing.

The horse tossed his head and pawed at the ground.

“Wheesht now, lad.” After a few moments the horse calmed a bit and the man was able to catch the reins. He stroked the beast’s neck, continuing to croon to him.

Once Maggie was able to draw shallow breaths she did a quick mental assessment of her injuries. Her whole body hurt but she could move her extremities without pain. She rolled to one side and pushed herself onto her hands and knees. Her head swam a little and she groaned in pain. She stayed in that position for a moment, waiting for the discomfort to subside. She suspected she had a cracked rib or two and perhaps a mild concussion, but she didn’t think she was seriously injured.

The man strode toward her, leading the horse.

She felt like she should say something, but as she looked up from her kneeling position and saw his face, all conscious thought fled. He was gorgeous. Dark-haired and well over six feet tall, every inch appeared to be solid muscle. However, the feature capturing her attention was his stormy gray eyes. Eyes which, at the moment, held nothing but contempt, his gaze piercing her like daggers. He was clearly livid—with her.

“What in the name of all that’s holy do ye think ye were doin? Ye haven’t been here long, we’ve never ridden this direction and ye know nothing of the terrain. I only asked ye to slow down for yer own safety and that of yer mount. But instead of heeding me, ye kicked the poor beast into a gallop.”

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