Book One in The "Passage" Saga. Time Travel Romance
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Meet Jean Hackensmith
Kristie Somers is happy in her life. She has a promising career ahead of her, grandparents who love her--and no time for a man. Or so she thought until she was dropped in the year 1864 at the close of the Civil War. The handsome Union Colonel, Eric Langston, was a man to be hated. Her grandparents told her so. Her family has despised him for generations. He commanded the Yankee regiment that invaded her ancestral home; he was responsible for Whispering WIllows being burned to the ground. Why then, does her heart pound every time he enters a room? Why do his fiery kisses stir her like no man's ever have before? And how can she just overlook the fact that she knows he is destined to die an alcoholic?
Six days later put the weary travelers just west of Chicago. They set up camp near the shores of Lake Michigan and, after a quick supper of hardtack and beans, Charity put Joey to bed in the wagon and the adults collapsed before the small fire.
Kristie groaned as she leaned back against Eric’s hard stomach, where he stretched out on his side before the fire, his head propped up on a hand. “That was the most God-awful meal I’ve had in a hundred and thirty-five years. The oxen get better food than we do!”
“You and Charity said you were too tired to cook,” came Eric’s lazy reply as he chewed on a piece of dried grass, “and my specialty is hard tack and beans.”
“Yeah, well if you hadn’t made us travel five hundred miles in one cotton picking day, we wouldn’t be so tired.”
“We only traveled fifty miles, Kristie.”
“In 1999, I could travel fifty miles in less than an hour! What you people need is some high octane grass to light up the burners in those oxen!”
“High octane grass?” Eric lifted an eyebrow in skepticism.
“And not the kind you smoke, either,” she returned with a wry smile.
Charity wrinkled her nose in distaste. “You smoked grass?”
“Well, not grass grass.” Kristie flung out an arm to indicate the pasturelands around them. “But some people did smoke weed, better known as marijuana.”
“They smoked weeds!” Charity shrieked her horror, matching Tommy’s amazed expression. Eric’s features were carefully unchanged and noncommittal.
Kristie burst into giggles. “Not a weed like you would pull out of your garden. It’s a drug. You roll it into a cigarette paper and smoke it. It’s called a joint.”
“A joint?” It was Tommy’s turn to play her echo.
“Yes! People actually smoked the things and, believe me, they got terribly wasted, so I wouldn’t try it if I were you.”
“Wasted?” Charity bit back a giggle.
Kristie rolled her eyes heavenward. “How did I get myself into this?”
“I think it was the high octane grass for the oxen,” Eric replied dryly as his chest shook with silent laughter. He flung a shard of wood into the fire and peered up at Kristie. “So, you smoke grass in your time, get wasted, and then manage to travel fifty miles in an hour. Tell me, do you also fly to the moon?”
“I haven’t personally, but there are people who have,” she replied smugly, knowing he would consider it an impossible feat.
“People have flown to the moon!” Charity’s voice was soft with awe.
Kristie nodded. “Several times. It takes a specially pressurized ship though—”
“Two or three masted?” Eric scoffed.
She slapped his arm. “Not a boat, you idiot! It’s a spaceship. It’s like an airplane, only with a lot more oomph.”
“An airplane?” Tommy squinted his bewilderment.
Kristie looked heavenward. She had done it again. “It’s...like a train...with wings—”
Eric roared his amusement. “A train with wings?” He looked at her and coined her favorite phrase. “Give me a break.”
She shook a finger at him. “See. I’m rubbing off on you.”
He smiled wanly and went back to the previous topic. “You can’t expect us to believe this...train with wings.”
“It’s true. Really! A plane carries people and can fly all over the world.”
Her companions still looked skeptical. She sighed. “Just trust me. That one you will all see in your lifetimes. But there are many other things you won’t.”
“Such as?” Charity asked.
“Oh, man! Where do I begin!” She chewed on her lower lip for a moment and began to rattle off twentieth century conveniences. “Well, there are cars, buses, subways, microwave ovens, electric lights, telephones—” she glanced at the others “—those, too, you will see in your lifetime. Then there are radios, T.V’s, stereos, movies, computers, running water, indoor toilets—”
She added this last pointedly with the lift of an eyebrow as she looked at Eric.
He smiled as he, too, remembered her reference to the modern convenience back at the plantation. He gave in to his own curiosity then, which was growing by leaps and bounds. “What about the military? Is there still a need for them?”
“Oh, yes. There’s still the Army and Navy, but there are also the Marines, the Coast Guard, and the Air Force.” Her grin was impish. “They fly planes.”
Eric ignored her reference to his “doubting Thomas” attitude. “Did the United States become involved in any more wars?”
Kristie’s nod was grave. “I don’t think we’ll ever see an end to war. There will be two World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. Another conflict was raging in the Balcans when I left.”
“It doesn’t sound like things are due to get any better,” he muttered.
“Not hardly. People in the twentieth century have become very adept at killing each other off. The armed forces have tanks, machine guns, M-16’s, flame throwers, grenades—” She shook her head. “The list is endless, but the biggy is the nuclear bomb.”
“Nuclear bomb?” Eric asked for clarification.
“It has the force of a thousand tons of dynamite. It can and has destroyed whole cities. Everyone lives in fear that some other super power is going to drop the big one and we’ll all be wiped out.” Her voice took on a sarcastic note. “But, of course, before all the Americans die, we’ll send off our own bombs to level them, so we can all blow up together.” The smile that curved her lips held no humor. “Then you might see an end to war, because there won’t be anyone left to fight them.”
Eric shook his head slowly as he shifted his position to sit beside her. “And you want to go back to a world like that? Hell, the life you knew may not even exist when you get there.”
Kristie was shocked into silence by his ominous words, and she wondered fleetingly why the amulet chose that particular moment to grow warm against her breast.