Into the Mist

Sample 3

Eventually she dreamed—of the house as it once must have been, pristine and gleaming with plush furnishings and richly colored drapes and rugs and golden lamplight amidst the smell of freshly baked cake and spiced apples.

There were people there, too, glimpsed hazily in the periphery of her vision, moving about, some walking arm in arm, some dancing to faint music she could barely pick up. Although they were smiling and conversing, she couldn’t make out what they were saying. But as she approached the entrance to a long, open space, the occasional burst of laughter rang out loud enough to reach her.

It was the ballroom. And they were having a party. Folding her arms, she rubbed at the goosebumps that had formed on them. The air felt strange, like it was filled with electricity. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, and it crackled with static.

People swirled by her, oblivious as they danced past.

Lingering unnoticed by the sea of people gliding and twirling about, she marveled at their dazzling attire and the grandeur of the room as she turned to glance into a mirror on this side of the doorway.

Her image looked back at her, hair tousled from sleep and still wearing the nightgown she’d put on for bed. But it didn’t matter, for not one person was paying the least bit of attention to her.

She shifted her gaze over and flinched as through the mirror, she saw a man standing behind her against the far wall, his eyes boring into hers with full awareness. She whirled around.

His eyes traveled the length of her, then flew back up to meet her startled gaze.

They stared at each other as if mesmerized. Black-haired and tallish, he was dressed in a dark jacket and matching close-fitting trousers and was easily the best-looking man she had ever laid eyes on. And he seemed just as taken with her, although how that could be with the disheveled state of her hair and the way she was dressed, she couldn’t imagine.

He started in her direction, his brow knitting like he was trying to place her.

Rooted in place, she could only stare back as he made his way across the floor and stopped before her.

“I believe I know you,” he said in a smooth, masculine voice. “Although I can’t quite recall how.” He stood maybe six two, several inches above her five-foot-six frame. “Nevertheless, I’m happy you came. But I must say, you are a bit underdressed.”

Cheyenne peered past him at all the people. “Yes, well … I didn’t realize I was …” Her voice trailed away as her confusion mounted.

He gave a quick glance over his shoulder, then moved closer and grasped her upper arm to urge her into the shadows. “Explain to me,” he said. “How my mother, whom I’m assuming you must somehow be acquainted with, has failed to mention knowing such a delightful creature as you?” He raked his eyes down the length of her again. “You must tell me who you are.”

She wet her lips and swallowed. “I’m … My name is Cheyenne. And I’m not … I don’t …” She looked around. Why was …? This wasn’t …

As though from a distance, she felt his fingers tighten around her arm. Where …? Panic welled within her and she twisted away, pulling her arm free.

She hurried away from him, back through the house, heedless of his voice calling out behind her, moving in and out of shadow past softly glowing lamps and fluttering candles, along the narrower passageway and through the doorway into the smaller inner room.

And there she found herself in darkness that smelled of dust and smoke. My God, what had just happened? She turned in a half circle. She was in the old house—in the present, not a century in the past.

I must have been dreaming. And apparently she’d taken to wandering about in her sleep.

She had never sleepwalked in her entire life. And she didn’t think she had ever had such a detailed dream before, either. Such an exact dream. It had felt so real.

Wincing at the stiffness in her muscles—the fire had died out and the room had grown cold—she shuffled over, lay back down, and tried to get into a comfortable position. She briefly contemplated getting up and throwing another log on, but then with her mind full of splendor and finery, and of him, the one who’d seemed so vivid, she fell back asleep.

End of preview