Read an Excerpt
Return in Time
By Tricia Linden
Balboa PressCopyright © 2011 Tricia Linden
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePresent Day
Teressa clung to the fleeting image of her sensually surreal dream as it dissolved into the recess of her awakening mind. Overlooking land and sea, she reached for him – broad shoulders, wind-swept hair, smiling face – she reached for him. He faded away. Wait – wait – don't go, she called out to the fleeting vision, but it was no use. Darn, she hated how her dreams always ended before she got to the good part. Her mounting arousal faded along with the dream, giving way to flat-out frustration. It was one of her typical "flirting with a hunky-man and just about to score" scenarios. Unfortunately the unfinished and unfulfilling endings were becoming a repeating pattern for her. She lingered a moment longer, trying to conjure up a happy ending to the fragmentary dream. Nothing came to her, so she set aside the fantasy to focus on the reality of her surroundings.
She kicked back the bed covers and forced herself to leave the cozy comfort of the warm bed. Stretching, she felt like a cat uncoiling from a long lazy nap, and rightfully so she figured, glancing at the digital clock sitting on the bedside table. She had just spent nearly ten hours comatose to the world recovering from a major case of travel overload. She was nearing the end of her vacation and had traveled a great distance to arrive at the Village Inn of Scorrybreac, a small, historic town on the Isle of Skye. She gave herself a few more minutes to contemplate her journey and savor the pleasure of having finally arrived.
She stepped to the window and drew back the heavy curtains, filling the space with sunlight. Turning, she breathed in the Zen-like atmosphere of the sage green room. It was perfect, even better than she'd expected. The contemporary Scandinavian furnishings complemented the functional design of the ancient inn, creating an interesting contrast between the old and the new. It appealed to her far more than the frilly or historical décors used by many quaint village inns hoping to attract the average tourist. The Village Inn of Scorrybreac was designed to be a relaxing, calming experience for the intrepid traveler who chose to go off the beaten path. It fit her perfectly.
Rummaging through her backpack, she pulled out her travel journal, anxious to capture a few thoughts on paper. The first page read: "Scotland, My Whimsical Summer Vacation." She flipped to the next blank page and began writing.
I arrived at the Village Inn on Skye late last night. Lord knows the place isn't easy to get to, but it's worth the effort. I've traveled by planes, trains and automobiles, not to mention the ferry that brought me to Scorrybreac. It's a picture-perfect seaside village near Portree on the Isle of Skye and is known for its magical legends. It's also a perfect setting for my get-away-from-it-all retreat. Now that I've arrived, I can get down to some serious rest and relaxation, and perhaps, if fate is so inclined, a bit of adventure – a handsome Scottish prince would do nicely, thank you very much. (Is this my dream talking or just wishful thinking?)
Clicking the pen against her chin, her thoughts turned to her mother and brother, Daniel, back home on the ranch. She turned the page and wrote a few more lines. I hope I can entice Daniel to come here someday. It's too bad Mom couldn't come. I worry about her a lot more now since Dad's passed away. I think Daniel would love this place. It reminds me of him.
She closed the journal and set it in the top drawer of the bedside table along with her favorite writing pen. They would be waiting for her when she was ready to make her next installment.
Tossing off her pajamas, Teressa padded over to the small, but functional, bathroom, and stepped into the oversized claw-foot tub, grateful for the modern convenience of the rejuvenating hot spray of water massaging her body. Thoughts of her former boyfriend crept unbidden into her mind as she shampooed her long blond hair. He certainly wasn't the "hunky-man" of her dreams. Too bad for Jeffery. If he hadn't behaved so badly at her father's funeral by abandoning her when she needed his support he might have accompanied her on this vacation. She let out a sigh, grateful she had seen his true colors before making a massive mistake. Releasing any lingering feelings of disappointment over her decision to end the relationship, she spoke aloud her affirmation, "Love me - love my family." While the bracing spray of the shower rinsed all traces of suds from her hair, she reaffirmed to herself that dumping Jeffery had been the right thing to do.
Taking a final look in the bathroom mirror, she complimented herself on her au-natural youthful appearance, which often had people believing her to be younger than her true age. She was dressed in comfortable well-fitting blue jeans and a light green T-shirt. She felt ready to take on whatever the Isle of Skye had to offer. After lacing up her hiking boots, she grabbed her long all-weather coat. She liked the way the long coat swung about her legs as she walked, giving her a feeling of rugged yet classic style. The twenty-first of June might be considered the first day of summer, but here in the far north of Scotland there was a chill in the morning air. Even as the sun began its ascent across a cloud filled sky she could see the prospects of a sunny day breaking through the early morning marine layer.
In the lobby of the Village Inn she stopped to grab some of the tourist maps and brochures of the local area. While considering which sites she wanted to explore, she spied a wool scarf hanging in the gift shop window. The deep purple and dark green colors of the Scottish plaid caught her eye and held on.
A sudden chill ran up her spine and she shivered. She loved scarves (she had a basket full of them back home) and besides being one of her favorite accessories, she figured a Scottish plaid scarf would make a great souvenir without taking up a lot of room in her suitcase. Giving into her shopping impulse, she strolled into the gift shop. She was even more delighted when she encountered a familiar face.
"Good morning Lilly. It's so good to see you." Teressa smiled brightly at the young sales clerk. Lilly had been one of her clients at San Francisco State University where she worked as a Relationship Coach. She had helped the foreign exchange student maneuver her way through the world of San Francisco metro-males. Lilly claimed they were so very different from the traditional men she had known on Skye and she had needed help learning how to deal with the big-city breed of men.
Being only twenty-eight years old, and the youngest member of the college counseling center, was both a blessing and a burden. The way she saw it, she was close enough to her clients' to relate to them at their level, while still being well-schooled in presenting viable solutions to their problems. In the last year she'd established a creditable track record for helping the under-graduates maneuver their way through the emotional landscapes of college relationships. Her work brought her deep satisfaction, and she was confident she'd found her calling in life.
"Morning Ms. Ellers. I'm glad to see you took me up on my offer," Lilly said.
"You know me; I couldn't pass on a friends and family discount." Teressa laughed lightly.
"Will ye be staying with us for long?" Lilly asked.
"I'm near the end of my journey. I'll only be here for a couple of days before I head back home, but I still have a few days of travel ahead of me. You know, Skye isn't easy to get to. I've traveled by planes, trains and a ferry to get here." Teressa browsed through the collection of items for sale in the little shop, but her eyes kept returning to the scarf in the front display.
"It's too bad your time is so short. You'll be wanting to see the castle ruins before you go. I know everyone goes to Dunvegan," Lilly said, referring to a well-known castle on Skye, "but I've always felt the real magic is here at Scorrybreac.
"It's the first thing on my agenda. Right after I get a cup of coffee. By the way, do you have any more scarves like the one hanging in the window?"
Lilly looked over at the window display and frowned, as if seeing it for the first time. "Nay, not that I know of, it must have just come in." She stepped over to the full-length shop window. "Must be one of a kind," Lilly said as she read the label, "Hand-made by Anne M, she's an artisan here on the island." She handed the scarf to Teressa.
Teressa ran her fingers along the soft woven wool then held it to her cheek. "I'll take it," she said.
Lilly rang up the sale and started to reach for a paper bag decorated with the shop's logo.
"No need for a bag, I'm going to wear it," Teressa informed her.
Lilly handed her the scarf. "Zoey works in the coffee shop. Tell her I sent you and she'll make you a fresh pot."
"Sounds great. A fresh, hot cup of coffee. Yumm." Teressa waved her farewell. "See ya," she said, looping the scarf around her neck. Her next stop was the coffee shop.
Teressa stood in front of the counter admiring her new scarf as she waited for Zoey to brew a fresh pot of coffee. She was running her fingers through the colorful threads of the fringe when she heard a group of men entering the shop. From the looks of them in their rubberized boots and heavy all-weather work jackets she guessed them to be local fishermen. When they got closer, their collective odor confirmed it. She waved her hand in front of her nose.
One of the fishermen, the tallest of the bunch, was busy trying to get the counter girl's attention, calling out to her by name. "Hey Zoey, make 'em hot and black, like always," he shouted over the din of his buddies.
Not wanting to lose her place at the front of the line, Teressa took a couple of steps toward the serving counter. Apparently the fisherman wanted to defy the laws of physics by attempting to occupy the same space as her, causing them to collide as they each stepped forward.
Teressa stared up at the man, he was easily over six feet tall. "Excuse me!' she said, setting her hands on her hips, her tone harsh. She didn't like being challenged for her place in line.
The large brute stared back at her, as if she was an apparition who had just appeared from nowhere.
"Excuse me," she tried again, moving to step around him. Unlike the others, he smelled of salt water and ocean breezes.
"What?" he asked, blinking.
"Where I come from people are polite enough to say 'excuse me' when they're rude enough to cut in line." She stood her ground even though she had to tilt her head to look him in the eye.
"Excuse me, miss. I didn't see you standing there." Spreading his arms wide, he bowed and stepped aside. He was still staring at her, but now he had a grin spreading from ear to ear.
"I'm glad you think this is funny." She was trying to not crack a smile, but his grin was devilishly infectious. She dropped her arms to her side, relaxing her stance. He continued to hold her gaze with his dark green eyes. They were kind and he had a ready smile. Maybe she had judged him too harshly.
"I see you've picked up a wee bit of our local color," he said to her. His deep Scottish brogue was soothing to her ears.
It was her turn to stare blankly.
His fingers reached out to touch the fringe of her newly purchased scarf. "A right fine choice."
"Here Robert. Take your coffee and get out of her way." Zoey set a tall steaming cup of black coffee on the counter."
"We've got a table over here," one of his buddies called out to him.
He picked up his coffee and raised the cup to her in a parting salute. "Have a nice day, lass." Still grinning, he turned away to join his friends.
"Sorry miss, they think they own the place. Now, what can I get for you?" Zoey asked, drawing Teressa's attention.
"Large coffee with cream, no sugar," Teressa said, pulling her eyes away from the table of men. "Did I say make it a large?"
Zoey nodded, already busy pouring the coffee. "Would you like some breakfast to go with your coffee? Farm fresh eggs and the cook make's a mean veggie scramble."
"You know, that sounds good. I think I will." Teressa took the last empty seat at the counter next to two young girls and an older woman she guessed to be their grandmother. She leaned over the counter and spoke to Zoey in a hushed tone.
"What's his story? How did he know about my scarf?"
"His aunt is the weaver, it's one of hers. Robert's the captain of our local fishing fleet. He usually brings his crew in here to warm up and get fresh coffee after a long night at sea. The younger one, in the yellow jacket, he's my brother." Zoey set Teressa's coffee on the counter.
"I guess you know everyone," Teressa remarked, somewhat impressed.
"We're all family here in Scorrybreac Village," Zoey replied.
Teressa pulled out her brochure for Scorrybreac Castle and began to look it over. From the first moment she had heard about the castle she had felt a strong desire to see it up close and personal and she was looking forward to her sight-seeing adventure. While she was reading over the brief history of the castle she became distracted by the little girl sitting next to her. The girl was swiveling on her stool, trying to kick the legs of the older girl sitting next to her and tapping her spoon on her nearly empty plate. The older girl was doing her best to ignore her, giving all of her attention to her grandmother. Teressa took one look at the little girl and immediately sensed her problem. Setting down her brochure she turned to the little girl, leaned down and whispered. "It doesn't feel good to be ignored, does it?"
The little girl's innocent blue eyes darted a shy look at Teressa. "No," she shook her head with pouty defiance then looked down at the uneaten food on her plate. A glance over at her sister and grandmother told Teressa that they had finished eating some time ago and now the younger child was bored.
"Is that your sister?" Teressa asked, still speaking softly.
"Yea, and my Grandmamma. My name's Moe. We're here visiting the castle." Moe also spoke softly.
Teressa gave Moe a friendly smile. "I'm going to the castle too. It should be fun."
Moe nodded but remained quiet, looking down at her hands.
"You must be very special," Teressa remarked, trying to cheer her up. She took a sip of her coffee.
"Why do you say that?" Moe asked softly.
"Because I see you're wearing purple. Purple boots, purple coat, even your bows are purple."
Moe reached up to touch the bows in her hair.
"Did you know that fairies and elves have a special fondness for the color purple?"
"They do?" Moe's eyes opened wide with glee, a merry twinkle accompanied her happy smile. "You mean like the color of your scarf?"
Teressa glanced down at the purple and green plaid. "Yes, like the color of my scarf."
The grandmother and elder sister rose from their stools preparing to leave. Abruptly the elder woman acknowledged Teressa's interaction with her granddaughter. "Moe, stop bothering the nice lady and come with me."
Teressa looked up as Moe hopped down from her stool. "She wasn't bothering me. She's delightfully charming."
"Delightfully charming?" Moe repeated in awe, all bright eyed and smiling.
Teressa nodded. "Delightfully charming," she reaffirmed.
Moe skipped merrily away following her grandmother and sister. When she reached the door she turned to give Teressa a wave goodbye.
Teressa turned back to the counter just as Zoey was setting down her breakfast. "That was nice of you, talking to the little girl I mean. Here's your breakfast. Enjoy," Zoey said.
"Thanks. She looked like she could use a friend."
"I know the family. The grandmother can be a little gruff, but Moe's a regular pixie. Can I get you anything else?"
"Nope, I'm fine. It all looks good," Teressa said, lifting her fork.
She was nearly through with her breakfast when Robert, the sea captain, saddled up to the empty stool beside her. "Can I get a refill?" he asked across the counter to Zoey. The waitress was ready on the spot with the hot brew.
Robert turned to Teressa. "I hope I've been forgiven."
Teressa turned to give him the once over. He was easy on the eyes. "Yea, you're forgiven."
He held out his hand. "I'm Robert."
She wiped her hand on her napkin before taking his. "Teressa."
"Lovely name. Have we met before?" He looked deep into her eyes.
"You mean like earlier when you almost ran over me?" She raised her brows and smirked.
Excerpted from Return in Time by Tricia Linden Copyright © 2011 by Tricia Linden. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.