It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think of as our present existence, as a dream. –Edgar Allen Poe
Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. And the 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together. In search of her cell phone after the tremor, Ann picks up a shard of vintage cut glass from a collection she and her husband gathered during the four years of their marriage. For the millionth time she thinks about the day six years ago when he disappeared on a search and rescue mission in the Sierra foothills.
Sitting atop the shattered crystal, a small silver cigar lighter glistens in the beam of her flashlight. Gently she returns the Victorian piece to the shelf. What does it mean that something she and Ted, her ex-fiancé, bought together survived when Alex’s beautiful glass is smashed to dust? Ann tells herself that it doesn’t mean anything more than glass breaks and silver doesn’t.
Sara Jane McConaughy has never experienced a strong earthquake, and as her father comforts his 16-year-old daughter, his mind is flooded with memories of the Northridge quake in 1994. He was living with his fiancée, his ex-fiancée, and even after all these years he doesn’t know what caused the split, but he always loved her. And he’d been sure she loved him.
Volunteering with the American Red Cross in the aftermath of the earthquake brings Ann and Ted face-to-face for the first time since their break-up, twenty years ago. Angry, flustered, excited, and bewildered by Ted’s sudden appearance and unusual behavior while she’s teaching a small group of people relaxing exercises, Ann demands he leave. Just as excited and bewildered, Ted rushes away. His exit leaves both of them wondering about … everything. The earthquake (or is it seeing Ann?) ignites a series of recurring dreams peopled by total strangers in places Ted has never been.
Accompanied by short lapses of time and sleepwalking, the dreams take a heavy toll on his waking hours. Sara Jane’s concern sends Ted on a quest to discover the cause and find a cure. When all medical possibilities are exhausted, he turns to a colleague, whose diagnosis leaves Ted more baffled than ever. Tom Alderman believes that the dreams are memories of past lives. The lives live in his subconscious, and the cure is hypnotherapy.
After several months of suffering with these increasingly emotional recurring dreams, Ted turns to Ann for help. One of Ann’s specialties is hypnotherapy and since he must be able to trust the hypnotist, Ann is his only salvation. Ann’s agreement to try and help (at the urging of a mutual friend) sends her carefully regimented and calm life into complete turmoil. The garden gate they pass through together sends them on a journey that defies time and reason, forcing them to rethink their past, present, and future. Now, each must reconsider their capacity for love and forgiveness. Things are not always what they seem.
“This author does an amazing job of interweaving the beauty of another day and age with the harsh modern world. Mystery lovers will be pleased, but the romantic and mystical, even supernatural fans out there, will be over the moon for this one.” ~Amy Lignor
“From the intriguing dialogue to the expansive plot that wraps around a truly unforgettable couple, this book has it all!” ~ Feathered Quill Book Reviews
Thursday, March 13
THE courtyard of Toni’s building was unnervingly quiet. The terrarium-like space with a waterfall-fed pond and stream stood silent and dry. The earthquake must have damaged the water system in the building. It made him wonder if Toni would even be in her office. There was no one around, but the faint sound of clanging metal hammering metal indicated that workers were there.
The door to Toni’s office stood partially open. If she wasn’t there would her door be open? Perhaps her last patient left and the next had not yet arrived. His footsteps seemed to echo in the stillness of the landscaped atrium. He stood at the open door gathering his courage, finally pushing it open the rest of the way.
The office reminded him of a study or library in an English manor house. The centerpiece of the room was a large desk, mahogany perhaps. A dusty rose leather chair sat behind it. At one end of the large room was a conversation area. There was a small oval table separating a loveseat and two comfortable looking chairs. Knowing Toni, he suspected several of the pieces were antique.
There was no trite theme like ‘English Country Cottage’ and no obvious color scheme either. It wasn’t the usual therapist’s office with blue or yellow walls with decorations that theoretically created a calming atmosphere. Like Toni, this room was warm and inviting. It was a gift she had, making people comfortable.
He stepped into the office. At the other end of the room was a spiral staircase of highly polished wood which led to a loft surrounded by railings matching the staircase. He assumed the earthquake had caused the empty shelves that lined the balcony.
He strained to see if she was upstairs and took a few steps backwards until he bumped into one of the chairs in the conversation area. There she was, sitting on the floor stacking books after wiping them off with a cloth. The sun streamed through the skylight highlighting glints of copper in her hair. She was wearing it up, accentuating the curve of her neck. He remembered how the chestnut tresses looked when they tumbled in soft waves over her shoulders and down her back. He sighed.
He hadn’t really seen her yesterday, so he didn’t realize how lovely she still was … yesterday! That was why he was here, to apologize for whatever it was he’d done. He sat on the arm of the closest chair and cleared his throat.
Ann glanced over her shoulder assuming it was one of the workmen who had been coming in and out since she arrived. She couldn’t have been more surprised. She got up and went to the railing.
“How did you find me?”
He blew out the breath he’d been holding. “My powers of deduction are quite remarkable these days … you’re listed in information.”
“Oh.” Her stomach was suddenly tied in knots.
“When did you change your name?”
“I got married, if it’s any of your business.”
“I meant your first name.”
“Ann is more professional than Toni.”
“Toni suits you.”
“It suited the child I was. What do you want?”
Sally Smith O’Rourke, a native Californian, lives in a small Victorian village in southern California. She is the author of the much acclaimed Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, her first solo novel. She is also co-author with her late husband Michael O’Rourke (aka F. M. O’Rourke) of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen (Kensington Books, 2006), The Maidenstone Lighthouse (Kensington Books, 2007), and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage (Kensington Books, 2009).
Previously, Sally worked on network television, feature films, and documentaries in science, medicine, and aviation. She owned and operated a medical advertising company with her late husband where they produced and wrote teaching films for major medical and surgical manufacturing companies. Additionally, they collaborated on two feature films (direct to video).
In addition to writing every day, she works as a surgical scrub nurse and enjoys sewing, cooking, baking, candy making, cake decorating, and spending time with nieces, nephews, step-children, and grandchildren.
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