Night Kiss Serial: Chapter Nine

The Lure of the Stone

Somewhere on the east coast….

Rick Gentry stared across the calm sea, deep in thought, relishing the feel of the wooden rail under his fingertips, his gaze fixed on the triangle of moonlight dancing off the rippling waves. He rubbed his un-callused hand across the splintery wood as a surge of excitement boiled up inside him. He’d landed in just the spot he’d wanted. Years, he suspected, had passed since an opportunity such as this had presented itself, and miraculously, it had presented itself to him. It was worth the wait. He’d known Claire possessed this, and he’d known she would lead the way. He had just miscalculated how.
This was all he’d been waiting for.
He was where he belonged, at last, and all was right with the universe. It wouldn’t be long before all was right with his soul, as well, and the thing that he sought was rightfully his.
That Claire, at long last, would finally belong to him.
And more….
CHAPTER NINE

Chapter Nine


Rolling onto her side and burrowing into the warm body next to her, Claire breathed in of his salty scent, and drawing him closer until his heated skin seared where it touched hers—which was nearly everywhere. A delectable feeling of fullness rose from the pit of her stomach and traveled throughout her body, heating her core and filling her heart with a giddy sense of happiness.
With a satisfied smile, she pressed her mouth against his hairy chest. A raw sensation zinged over the tender skin of her lips. His arms enclosed her completing the circle of completeness, and she heard his own content, guttural moan. One of his hands settled low over her buttocks, squeezing and kneading. The fire banked within her earlier, in the wee hours of the morning, suddenly leapt to life again, each movement of his hands and touch of his skin sending the flames licking higher and higher into her core.
Swiftly, he rotated and pinned her back flat against the soft bed.
Again, his mouth descended and claimed. His body thrust against her and Claire reveled in the now familiar urgency of his demands and the trembling of her own femininity as she anticipated his plunge into her body.
The man was insatiable.
Her brain swirled with remembrance of their previous hours of lovemaking. Her caught deep within her chest. He entered her with a thrust so powerful and so excruciatingly sensual, she thought she’d rise off the bed as her body sheathed his. And she wanted him, oh, how she wanted this—this wild act of mating, this complete giving and taking of each other’s bodies. No demands, only mutual trust and fulfillment.
She craved it and thought that perhaps she was the insatiable one….
He took her once more. And she let him. She wanted him. Jack. Wanted him more than she’d ever wanted any man. And her body responded with familiarity to his wants and his desires. She knew instinctively how he would feel and how he could make her feel. What to do to make him respond to her. She hungered for him. Felt incomplete without him. She needed him to make her whole.
And she’d never once felt whole in her entire life.
His thrusts were even and rhythmic, and she responded just the same, as if participating in an antediluvian dance, building to the pinnacle with an amplified throb of their fused bodies until they were two no more, but one being, one heart, one soul—coupled within a circle of time.
Claire dragged her fingertips down his back and up again to caress his strong shoulders, and suddenly in doing so, unleashed an mindfulness of Jack’s body that startled her. Like she had tripped the pads of her fingers along his spine a hundred times or more in the past. An almost frightening sense of déjà vu enveloped her as he poured himself into her, and she relinquished any control she had over her emotions to that rising sense of awareness inside. The sensation overpowered her, as if they’d danced this same dance a thousand times before.
And she wasn’t quite sure that they had not.
Throwing her head back deep into the pillow, she tensed as the cresting waves of pleasure overtook her body. Short bursts of hot breath exited her lips against his shoulder. With one last forceful thrust against her, Jack trembled, growled, and mumbled her name.
“Hannah.”
How he’d known her first name, she didn’t know, but she’d let him call her that all night. Hannah.
The name she’d hated as a child suddenly seemed sweet and lovely when spoken from his lips in heated passion. She was safe, secure and, oh, so glad to be away from Rick. So glad she had escaped the previous night’s terror. And he’d come for her.
Rescued her.
Jack had come back, and he would be with her always.
That, she knew.
****
Sometime later, Claire opened her eyes to stare upon the room they lay in. Finally, she really opened them, and took in her surroundings. Throughout the night, the darkened room allowed only a subtle radiance to glow between them. But now, with the morning dawn, she could see about her—and what she observed was somewhat disturbing. Lying on her left side, with Jack’s body pressed against hers like a spoon, she came fully awake and glanced around what seemed to be some type of a small cabin.
Perhaps a hunter’s cabin? A fisherman’s retreat? She didn’t think so. It seemed simple, but the furnishings were not quite what one would expect in a fisherman’s cabin. They looked like…antiques?
Primitive antiques.
But somehow it all seemed strangely familiar. It was a small wooden structure with one room. The bed took up a good third of its area. Looking down beside her at the strange fabric over the mattress, she ran her hand along its edge. Occasionally her fingertips grazed over tiny sharp points sticking out of the thick ticking. She remembered the same sensation at her back throughout the night. Picking at one of the points, she tugged at it and pulled it out.
Straw! They were lying on a mattress filled with straw?
As she rose on one elbow, Jack’s arm slid to her hips. She perused the room. Small windows, all boarded shut except one, opened to the morning’s light. Glimpses of wispy clouds drifted by on a baby blue sky. There was no glass in the window opening. Another quick perusal of the room told her there was no bathroom, no running water, and no signs of electricity. Some type of oil lamp sat on a small table near the bed, another on a larger table across the room. A pitcher and basin sat on a crude oak table.
There were hooks on the walls for clothing—Jack’s clothes, strange as they were—and a large ornately carved wooden box, some type of chest she assumed, sat across from her. Another chest with two drawers sat to its left. Candle sconces adorned the walls, two plain ladder-back chairs graced opposite sides of the table, a stone hearth and fireplace stood at the far end, and other than a few miscellaneous items, there was nothing else in the cabin worth noting.
Unusual, she thought, for a fisherman’s retreat. Where were the fishing poles?
And she couldn’t hear the ocean.
Lying back down on the bed, she listened to Jack’s even snores as her thoughts returned to the previous night. She couldn’t ignore, or pretend that what had happened, hadn’t—not for long anyway. At some point she would have to deal with Rick. Oh, but if she could just stay here, with Jack, forever. Wouldn’t that be bliss?
But where was here?
And was she avoiding the inevitable? How would she handle this situation with Rick? What had happened to him? This was all crazy.
After her leap from the staircase, she must have lost consciousness. She barely remembered the sensation of falling. A bright light had enveloped her as soon as she’d landed in Jack’s arms, blinding her. Vague remembrances of a fleeting steed nagged at her.
Had he carried her off on a horse?
The only thing she knew was she was safe. He would protect her. Jack would protect her. The feeling of rightness, the protection she’d felt, would never be matched, unless of course, when they made love. And that was indescribable.
But, as much as this cozy little scene appealed to her, she had to get back to her cottage. Not really wanting to, but realizing she couldn’t very well lie around naked all day with him—or could she?—no, she couldn’t, she was going to have to leave to at least get some clothing. Her satin gown was all she wore, and thanks to Rick, it was ripped.
And somehow, she had to deal with the Rick situation.
Besides, she was going to have to converse with Jack about all of this too—while fully clothed, if possible—if she stayed.
Suddenly, that notion was incredibly frightening.
What would she find out about Jack? What if he was married? What if this was just a casual fling for him? What if…?
She glanced about the cabin again— What if none of this was what it appeared?
Slowly, she turned to face Jack. Looking fully into his peaceful face, for the first time really, she studied him. Thick lashes, as dark as the long, straight hair that covered his head, rimmed his closed eyes. His brow was a solid sturdy ridge over his forehead. High cheekbones and smooth, tanned skin—covered by the slightest stubble of beard—complimented his chiseled facial features, and the firm line of his lips accentuated the lower portion of his face.
She swallowed. Those lips had done wondrous things to her body last night. But they’d communicated only silently before this, how would they ever be able to talk? Would they be able to communicate?
She’d not heard but one word actually spoken from those lips—Hannah.
On his breath her name was beautiful, soft, sensuous. Hannah.
She rather liked it from him. She’d let him continue to call her that. It suited him. Perhaps it suited her as well.
Reaching out, she lightly caressed his lips. His eyelids fluttered, and he gazed back at her. There, in the full light of the day, they lay with their eyes searching, connecting, and reaching out. For several moments, heartbeat after heartbeat, they stayed that way, neither daring to break the spell woven around them, the comforting web of closeness.
But then, his lips moved. She watched as he ran the tip of his tongue seductively between them. And he spoke with choked words.
“Hannah … I cannot believe it is you.”
She nodded. “It is me.”
His eyes searched her face and he pulled her closer. His lips held hers with fire, all consuming. She wanted him to take her into his body, keep her there always. She liked the notion of it.
Breaking the kiss, she tilted her head back. “Jack …” She spoke softly. His eyes closed. One of his hands made its way to her breast and he palmed it softly.
“Umm?”
She breathed deeply. How did one do this? She’d never had to face the “morning after” before. How was she supposed to handle this “one-night stand” kind of thing? She didn’t want to leave him, but she’d left the cottage unlocked, she had to get some clothes and… What if Rick was still hanging around there? Maybe she should ask him to go with her.
“Jack…we should talk.”
The circling motion he trailed lazily over her breast stopped. His eyes opened. “Talk?”
“Yes. I need to know…I mean, well, um…”
His puzzled face stared back at her. “What is it, darlin’?”
“Well, I need to know, is this, was this just a…a one-night stand?” There, she’d said it. She needed to know if he wanted more out of this relationship than a night’s pleasure. She had to know.
“A one-night stand?”
“Yes, you know, is there more? Will I see you again? Are you married for God’s sake?” She needed answers.
He leaned up on one elbow, his expression turned serious.
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, Hannah. You know it is not becoming in a woman.”
He is. He’s married. I know it. That’s why he’s avoiding the question.
Claire stared at him. Hard.
“You are married, aren’t you?”
“Married?” Jack’s expression transformed from serious to playful. “Why, of course I’m married, Hannah. I’m married to you.”
The look of fear on her face must have astounded Jack because suddenly the smile left, his lips turned into thin, rigid lines, and his eyes widened.
“No, Jack,” she whispered, and watched his face turn pale. “We’re not married.”
His frozen gaze searched hers for several more seconds. Then slowly, assuredly, he reached between them and grasped her left hand. As he pulled it up to the space between them, Claire felt a chill travel up her spine and settle in her chest. She knew exactly what he was about to do and say.
His thumb and forefinger grasped the circle of gold around the third finger of that hand.
“We’re married, Hannah. I put this ring on your finger over a year ago when we said our vows. You’re married to me, Hannah Porter. And there you’ll stay till there’s no breath left in me.”
Slowly she withdrew her hand from his grasp.
Dreaming. She was still dreaming. She would open her eyes soon, and this entire episode, the whole past month or so, would have been an incredibly long dream. When she woke, she’d be back in her bed at her apartment in Cincinnati, getting ready to rise and dress for work.
But somehow she knew she’d be very disappointed if that were indeed true.
“Hannah?” His breath fanned against her cheek, only slightly above a whisper. She realized she’d been staring at him in a frozen state of confusion.
Blinking and then slowly focusing on his face, she recognized the inevitable. This was no dream. This man lying beside her was real. She was fully awake. Last night was not an erotic fantasy. It happened. Every second of it—but there were some things wrong with the picture before her.
Very wrong.
“I don’t understand.” She breathed the words.
He touched her cheek and nodded. “I know. I don’t understand it either, but I’m not bound to question. I’ll take what God chooses to give me and give thanks in prayer every day for the rest of my life for it.” He then paused for a heartbeat while he looked steadily into her face. Claire watched as a small streak of panic crossed over his. “You are a gift of God, aren’t you? And not that of the Devil? You are not a witch, are you?”
Witch?
What have I done?
Abruptly alarmed, her heart jumped in her chest. Chaotic thoughts spun through her brain.
Oh my God! I’m not the crazy one. It’s him!
The best night of lovemaking I’ve ever had in my life, and the man is crazy. He’s probably an escaped mental patient or something. Oh damn!
That explains the funny clothes, the strange inflection of his voice, his insistence that we’re married.
And now he wants to know if I’m a gift of God or of the Devil? A witch?
Flight or fight instincts were starting to rear their ugly head inside her.
Claire. Get your ass back to where you belong and pronto before this man rubs off on you too much and you decide you like a fantasy world better than the real thing.
Pushing off his chest, she scrambled backward.
“Where is my gown?” Pacing around the bed, she picked up the corner of the sheet and looked underneath. “Where is it? Where did you put my gown?”
“Didn’t put it anywhere, Hannah. Why don’t you forget it and come back to bed with me where you belong?”
She stopped pacing, stood directly in front of him with clenched fists, and glared.
Where I belong? Where I belong? Where in the hell do I belong?
“I want my gown.”
“Why?”
“Because I’m leaving.”
“Oh, you are? Now where you be going?”
“I be going home. Now give it to me.
She watched as his expression turned playful. Then with one flick of his wrist, he pulled the covers off the bed, exposing the entire length of his naked, muscular body. Gasping at the sight of him, and then gulping in breaths of air to keep her breathing, her gaze traveled the length of that magnificent body from his Cheshire cat smile to his shoulders, his broad chest, his narrow waist, his…
She took another deep breath. He was incredibly beautiful. Her nipples grew hard. Her abdomen contracted. Bypassing the proof of his masculinity, she quickly let her gaze travel down the well-formed, muscular legs, and there, pooled at the foot of the bed, underneath his feet, was her gown.
A slight movement caught her eye, and she looked again to his pelvic region. Under her scrutiny, Jack’s desire had become apparent. She watched the length of him leap hard and massive under her gaze. She raked her tongue across her lips; her body involuntarily swayed forward.
No! The man’s insane, remember, Claire? Insane. Got it? Get your gown and leave!
Lunging for the gown, she managed to get one finger on it before Jack seized both her wrists in his and wrestled her down onto the bed. Claire’s chest swelled as her back hit the ticking and he straddled her body. He didn’t say a word. He just lay over her, his black eyes boring through her. Somewhat frightened, and yet, somehow not, she glared back at him.
In a matter of seconds, his lips were upon hers. Soft, and as sensual as before, seductively drawing her in, his tongue dipping and urging her lips apart. She resisted, a little. She couldn’t do much more than that. He’d ruined her. That was all it was to it. There was no way to fight what was between them. Maybe they were both insane. There was no way for her to resist this man.
I am ruined.
“You’re an angel, aren’t you?”
His blissful voice and passionate ministrations almost convinced her that she indeed was in heaven. Maybe she was an angel? Maybe she hadn’t survived that fall in the lighthouse. Maybe—maybe she was dead?
She stared up at him as he continued to straddle her body. His tongue had ceased its conquest and now he sat back on his haunches, a full view of his masculinity displayed before her. She closed her eyes and sighed. It took only the sight of that body to arouse her fully. And she was indeed aroused. No, she couldn’t be dead and feel like this.
Could she?
“Why do you say that I’m an angel?”
She watched him twist away and reach behind him to grasp her gown. Leaning forward, supporting himself on his elbows, he stroked the satin silkiness of the gown against her face.
“‘Tis the fabric of angels. Soft and gossamer. Like an angel’s wings.” He leaned even closer to her, and Claire caught a breath in her throat. “Never have I seen another like it.”
“It’s just a simple satin gown,” she whispered.
He shook his head. “No, my angel, there is nothing simple about it. You wore it the first time I saw you with the magic. You were an angel then. You be an angel now. There is no other explanation. You are my angel come back to me. I ask not why; I only take without question.”
What the hell is he talking about?
And then it didn’t matter.
His hands, buried in the satin fabric, caressed her body. He rubbed the gown over her breasts with his fingertips and her groin tightened. He toyed with her pebbled nipples and then massaged her stomach with deft hands. He leaned forward even more and pressed against her; the hard ridge of his masculinity nestled between her legs. His lips brushed her earlobe, and a hushed breath exited her lips.
“My angel,” he breathed into her hair. “My golden-haired angel.”
He shifted his body lower, trailing the gown along hers. She moaned softly as the silkiness caressed her inner thigh. His fingers worked their way up through the slick fabric to touch her intimately.
She whimpered.
“Jack….” She didn’t care who he was or why he said strange things. She needed this. Him. Wanted him more than anything else in the world.
He opened her, splayed her wide, and her legs fell back, freely allowing him access. He teased and rimmed her entrance with a finger while his thumb taunted her swollen nodule. His other hand smoothed along the crevices of her thigh and leg, stroking until her head felt light and a growing dizziness spun inside.
Reaching for him, curling her body upward, she threaded her fingers in his hair. “Jack,” she croaked. “Oh, my…oh, Jack.”
His tongue replaced his wandering fingers then and probed through the satin. She collapsed on the bed feeling like a rag doll tossed aside in disarray. Jack smoothed the satin over her soft mound, teased and bit with his teeth. Utter pleasure wracked her body, and just as she was on the verge of breaking over the edge, he ripped the gown away and plunged his mouth against her, his tongue penetrating and tickling, his lips suckling, her body writhing and pulsating in response to his ministrations.
His hands grasped her buttocks and pulled her closer to his mouth.
She screamed and crested the waves; he kept his mouth on her, filling himself of her release. Finally, he pulled back long enough to position himself between her thighs. He pushed into her with a long, thorough stroke. Deep. Inside her. For what seemed the thousandth time, he took her. Thrusting into the center of her being, her very core of femininity. And like a wild woman, she answered his need and satisfied her own, grasping and clawing as if he would disappear should she let him go.
Jack’s body tensed and rammed against her one last time, and with a shout and a violent shudder, he collapsed against her. “Hannah, my love,” he whispered finally in the valley of her breasts. “My angel, my Hannah.”
For a long while, she lay there, soaking in all that they were. She didn’t think. Just took in the pleasure that they had shared. The wonder of it all.
Until the confusion bit at her again.
She clutched him close; didn’t care if she was confused.
This isn’t me. It hasn’t been me since the first time I laid eyes on him. Maybe I’m not Claire anymore. Maybe I am Hannah.
Tears pooled at the inner corners of her closed eyes. She fanned her fingers through his hair as he lay against her, his sated body relaxing there. The incredible feelings that they’d shared were phenomenal, at least. There were no words to describe how she felt.
There was no definition for the emotion. At least not any she’d ever known before. She’d never experienced this type of passion before: not the compulsion, the obsession with a man’s body, with his heart and his soul.
She drifted then sleepily, safe in his arms. To hell with anything. Maybe all she had—really had—was now. Maybe that was what mattered.
****
But sleep did not come for long. She woke frightened. Unsure. Her brain not quite comprehending what had happened to her. Confused.
Uncertain.
Time. She needed time. To sort all this out.
She had to go. Had to go back to the cottage and mull all this over for a day or two. See how she felt then. Make sure this all wasn’t a mistake. Yes. She had to. She had to do it now.
Had to put distance between them.
Moving her head to one side, she brushed a few wisps of hair out of Jack’s face and realized that he was in a deep state of sleep.
“Jack…” she whispered.
He moaned and mumbled and then rolled to the right side of the bed, pulled her to him, and smiled sleepily. “C’mere, m’ love.”
Claire vowed that this time she would not be seduced. Even though she desperately wanted to be seduced.
Their bodies touched and immediately she felt the fire, so she pushed away. Before Jack could move, she leapt off the bed, grabbed her gown off the floor and donned it.
He sat up and looked at her, the drowsiness now gone from his face. Alarm replaced it. “Hannah, what are you doing?”
“I… I’m going back to my cottage, Jack,” she said softly and watched his stricken face. “Just for a little while. I still want to see you, of course, but I—I need to think about all this. Maybe you could come by in a few days.”
“Come by?” Jack scratched his head.
“Yeah, maybe in a day or two. We could, oh, I don’t know, maybe we could take a drive, or a swim, maybe go out.” She saw the exasperation on his face. “Look, I just need a little space.”
Jack’s puzzled face glared at her. “Drive? Space?”
Slightly annoyed, she dropped her hands from her hips. “You know, I’m saying I’d still like to see you. Please don’t take this personally. It’s just that, well, it’s been nice, really nice, but...” She turned to go.
“Nice? Of course, it’s nice, Hannah.”
She slowly faced him.
He gazed at her breasts and then lower. “I don’t know how, but you are very real. When I saw you on the beach, I knew you were alive.”
“What?”
“Don’t go, Hannah,” he pleaded.
“I have to.”
“But, I don’t think you understand.”
She stared again. “Understand what?”
“You cannot go.” Throwing back the covers, he rose from the bed in his entire magnificent splendor and walked toward her.
I can go. I have to go. I have to. “What do you mean I cannot go?”
“Seems the magic only works at night. Sometimes not at all.”
Panicking now, she stepped backward. “Magic?”
“The magic. The stone, you know. ‘Tis what brought you to me. It only works at night.”
Oh, shit.
Backing away until she felt the door against her rump, Claire moved, turned, and lifted the heavy iron latch. Bolting outside, she ran several yards before realizing that something was terribly, terribly wrong.
Trees. There were trees everywhere. Scraggly, wind-battered and dwarfed, but they were trees just the same. No, Claire thought. There were no trees like this around her cottage. They couldn’t have traveled that far away.
Could they?
Lighthouse! Where was the lighthouse? Surely she could see it from all directions. And the beach? She just had to keep going until she found the beach.
Turning, she craned her neck toward the sky to look for the tall light, straining her ears to hear the crash of the surf. Where was it? She ran a bit further and then stopped. Jack called her name.
“Hannah. Hannah, wait. Come back.”
He was running after her—naked.
Appalled, she shouted. “Where are your clothes?”
He glanced down at his naked body as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “Inside.”
“Well for God’s sake, Jack, put them on. Someone may see you!”
“No one to see me but you, Hannah, and you’ve seen all of me before.”
Her cheeks flamed. She waved off the heat. “That’s ridiculous, Jack. There could be tourists. Now go put some damn clothes on!”
“Tourists?”
“Yes, damn it! Tourists.”
“Why you curse so? I don’t understand, Hannah. You never used to curse. ‘Tis not ladylike. I forbid you to curse.”
She clenched her fists. “You forbid me? And what do you mean I never used to curse? You’ve only known me a few days and I, occasionally, cure. So get used to it.”
“No, you didn’t, Hannah. You would never say such things.”
“Well, I’m saying them now and I’ll say them again. This is the stupid and confusing. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about most of the time, and right now I don’t give a tinker’s damn if you want me to curse or not! I want to know where the friggin’ lighthouse is, where my cottage is, why in the hell I can’t see the beach or hear the ocean, and why in God’s name am I standing out in the middle of some sort of a dwarfed forest on an island in my nightgown talking to a naked man?”
Disgusted, Jack shook his head. “I can’t believe my ears, Hannah. I thought you were an angel, and now I’m not so sure. Perhaps the Devil did send you to tempt me. I’ve always been a God-fearing man. You know that. Is that what you are? A siren of the Devil sent to tempt me?”
“Ah!” Claire screamed and walked away. She headed deeper into the trees, hoping that if she kept walking, eventually she would find a road, or a cottage, or the beach. Then she could ask someone for help. Surely it wouldn’t take that long.
She’d moved several yards forward before risking a glance over her shoulder. There he was, behind her, still naked as a jaybird.
She stopped and turned.
“Jack, please stop following me. I’m going to find my cottage and think about all this for a while. Please, just give me that. And for my sake, would you put some clothes on?” When she got to the cottage, she’d have to call the local hospitals to see if any patients suffering from delirium had escaped.
“Your cottage?”
Her shoulders drooped. “Yes, my house. Where I stay. Where you found me. You know, by the lighthouse?”
Why am I explaining this?
“Light… House?”
“Yes, lighthouse, Jack. You know. The tall skinny thing with a light on top that sits on the beach? Guides the ships? The last thing we saw when I jumped into your arms?”
“Ah…that. What is its purpose, Hannah?”
“Purpose? Purpose? Slowly, every mechanism she was drawing from to keep her sane was slipping away. She turned. Everyone knew what a lighthouse was. Right?
“Hannah?”
She trudged on. “I’m going back to my cottage.”
“‘Tis not there.”
She stopped. Slowly she turned to him. Her face held confusion and exasperation. “What do you mean ‘tis not there?”
“‘Tis not. Your Heavenly home is not here.”
“My heavenly…? My heavenly home? I’m not dead, Jack. To be in Heaven you have to be dead.”
“No, not at this minute. But you were.”
For a split second, time stopped.
Uh-oh. Hell.
Backing away slowly, she spoke. “I’ve never been dead, Jack.” Then on an afterthought, “Have you?” Images of horror movies about ghosts and zombies and vampires and werewolves flashed through her mind.
She watched as Jack dismissed what he must have thought as an utterly stupid question with a wave of his hand and a grimace on his face.
“Hannah…” He reached out to touch her.
Fearful, she stepped back two more steps, shaking her head wildly. “Don’t come near me.”
“Hannah …”
“No, I said, don’t.”
With a loud sigh, he dropped his hands to his hips and stood before her. She stared at him and wondered how such a gorgeous man could be so incredibly crazy. Insane thoughts jumped out at her from nowhere.
Angel. Heaven. God. The Devil.
Dead?
Haven’t seen the likes of ol’ Jack, have you now…looking for his Hannah?
She stared at Jack. Puzzle pieces were trying to form a complete picture in her brain.
All right. Let’s analyze this situation. The man calls me Hannah, and even though it is my real name, nobody really knows that. So maybe I look like someone he knew named Hannah, someone he loved.
Someone who must be dead.
The man from the store’s words floated through her mind. He walks the beaches at night sometimes, during a blue moon phase, looking for his dead wife Hannah…
She eyed Jack suspiciously.
Shit.
He’s a ghost and he thinks I’m his dead wife.
What the hell did he know?
“Okay, you need to tell me what’s going on here. Spit it out.”
Jack stared at her. “O. K.” He spat at her feet.
She jumped back, astonished, looked at her feet, and then up to his face. “Why did you do that?”
“What?”
“Why did you spit at me?”
“You told me to.”
“I…oh.” Her mind reeled.
She stared at Jack for another minute and then another light bulb went on and a piece of the puzzle fit into place. “Go jump in a lake, Jack.”
He stepped back and looked at her curiously. “Lake?”
He didn’t appear to understand modern lingo. “You’re pulling my leg with all this stuff, aren’t you?”
“Pullin’ your leg? Hannah, ‘tis nonsense. I’m standing right here in front of you and I’m not touching your leg. But if you want me to…” He inched forward.
She laughed out loud. Another piece. She watched Jack’s perplexed face. “Why are you taking me so literally? What century are you from, anyway?”
“Century? Why, the eighteenth, of course.”
Right now her brain was spinning and she wasn’t quite sure where she was from. “Jack, what year is this?”
He laughed and gave her a puzzled look. “Why, it is the year of our Lord, 1718, my love. Why would it not be?”
Claire stood stunned before him. She couldn’t think of a comeback.
###

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