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With the Magic, #2

With the Magic, #2

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When Victorian earl Gareth Hildebrand embarks on a journey to the future, he discovers not utopia, but rather danger, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart. Dr. Catherine Ryan finds herself irresistibly drawn to the enigmatic guest at Twickenham Manor, but as she uncovers the truth about his origins, she faces a heart-wrenching decision that could alter the course of their lives forever

Main Tropes

  • Victorian Time Travel
  • Duck out of Water
  • Widower / Widow

Synopsis

As the eighth Earl of Kellworth, Gareth's accustomed to having his way, but when he encounters a woman who seems to hail from a utopian future, his quest for the truth leads him down a path fraught with fae magic, risking not only his desires but also his heart.

Dr. Catherine Ryan, captivated by the enigmatic guest at Twickenham Manor, finds herself ensnared by his blend of youthful wonder and the weight of past sorrows, setting the stage for a life-altering decision she never anticipated.

Intro Into Chapter One

Gareth Hildebrand, Eight Earl of Kellworth, burst into Twickenham Manor, his mind abuzz with his new realization and fear that he had arrived too late.

“Where is Aunt Nellie?” he demanded of the poor servant who was carrying a tray of drinks for guests at the Full Moon Ball.

“Third floor, my Lord,” the little woman squeaked.

Gareth took the stairs by twos, not resting until he’d reached the third floor. A light came from down that hall. He ran to it and thrust open the door.

The Americans were gathered there as he’d suspected, standing in front of a large portrait of the five of them. Silver-haired “Aunt” Nellie hurried over to him.

“I’m sorry, my Lord, but this is a private party.”

Gareth raised a hand, and she snapped her mouth closed. He looked at Clarisse Hamilton, the rebel, the crusader. Her kindness and feisty spirit had opened his heart to the possibility of love again. She’d shown him a different way to view his world.

“You leave now, from here,” he said, forcing back any emotion in his voice.

“My lord,” Nellie said, her hands fluttering.

“I asked my physician about the blood incompatibilities you mentioned. He’s never heard of such a thing and said anyone suggesting them must be mad. Yet you spoke of them with such confidence,” he said. “I know you are not insane, so where you come from such advanced information must be widely known. The only explanation is that you are from another time and not simply another place.”

Nellie gave a soft moan.

“From decades in the future,” Clarisse said, her expression soft, full of sympathy and understanding.

Gareth felt an initial surge of triumph; he’d been correct. But he wanted her love, not her pity.

“My dears,” Aunt Nellie said, glancing nervously at a large hourglass sitting on a table, “We must do this soon, or you will stay another month.”

“Everyone get in position,” Clarisse said, taking control of the situation, as she always had. “I’ll be right there.”

“Sorry, but I’m not risking only one of us going back home.” Jem Taylor, the interloper, the commoner who’d won Clarisse’s heart, laced their fingers.

Gareth wanted to step between them, to pull their hands apart. But he could not; he’d given his word.

Clarisse towed both men to a corner of the room.

“Are you okay?” she asked Gareth.

So many things flashed through his mind. How could he make her understand that he’d been like one dead, merely going through the motions of a life, how she had wakened him to a world of possibilities, opened his heart to loving again? As before, he could not.

Gareth darted a glance at Jem., “I will be if I know he will make you happy.”

“I will, my Lord.” The man had the nerve to bring their clasped hands to his chest as though to rub his success in Gareth’s face. “I make you the same promise I made her.” Jem Taylor said the words with all sincerity, and the love in his eyes as he looked at Clarisse gave a little peace to Gareth’s heart.

“Am I dead in your time?” he asked.

“Yes,” Clarisse said, her voice soft.

“Then be sure, young man,” Gareth pointed a finger in the American man’s face, “that if you do not make her happy, I will haunt you.”

“What will you do now, Gareth?” Clarisse asked.

What would he have done if his sister had not met Clarisse here at Twickenham and befriended her? If she had not come to Kellworth for a visit and bullied him into being a better man? So often he’d wanted to hear her say his given name. Only now, when she was betrothed to another man, did she grant his request. Staring at her lovely face, he was glad to see her sincere regard for him. At least he had not lost that.

“My sister and I will continue what you have begun,” he said. I’ve found more purpose in the last fortnight than I’ve had my entire life.”

“You and your sister have the power to save the lives of generations to come.” Jem shot an odd glance at Aunt Nellie.

“Into position,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you,” Gareth said.

“Thank you.” Clarisse stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek.

Gareth was so tempted to steal a kiss, and he gave Jem Taylor a wicked grin, hoping for a response. The man complied, his entire body stiffening. Smirking, Gareth bowed and stepped back to the door where he hesitated, not sure he wanted to leave.

“Make haste!” Nellie glanced at the hourglass again. “Stand before yourself in the portrait and be sure to touch it.”

When Clarisse stepped into Jem’s arms, Gareth could stand it no longer. He left the room, fully intending to depart, but he stopped at the top of the stairs. What was he to do now? His future was behind him in that room.

This evening, possibly for the first time in his life, he was taking a selfless action. He was allowing her to walk away. What rational woman would choose a common man over an earl?

Clarisse, of course. Reese.

Strains of music from the Twickenham Full Moon Ball drifted up to him. How could those people dance gaily while Gareth stood here like a lost soul?

He forced himself to stride down the stairs. At the bottom, he peered at the entrance to the ballroom. For once, his sister had chosen not to attend the monthly ball, blue-deviled that her new friend Clarisse was returning to America. He sympathized with her sentiment.

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