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Even as a teenager Yvetta Graham had vivid dreams. Ones that made it difficult to distinguish phantasm from reality. Now, she's almost thirty and beyond such imaginings...Except, the new store manager is a dead-ringer for the man from those dreams. Who is John Smyth? What is his reason for...
Description

Even as a teenager Yvetta Graham had vivid dreams. Ones that made it difficult to distinguish phantasm from reality. Now, she's almost thirty and beyond such imaginings...Except, the new store manager is a dead-ringer for the man from those dreams.
Who is John Smyth? What is his reason for coming to Headley Cross? Is he actually a time-traveller?
As dreams and reality converge, Yvetta is in a fight for both her sanity and soul.

 


Excerpt


1



Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

~Ruth 1:16



Yvetta ran down the stone hallway of the huge castle, stopping breathless as a tall boy with spiky yellow hair moved from behind the pillar to stand in front of her. His funny clothing looked weird, but somehow suited him—even if he was wearing tights with a long shirt over the top of them; and an even longer blue coat over that.

The boy hunkered down to her height, balancing easily on the balls of his feet. His strange eyes glinted in the torch light. One was green and the other one was brown. “Hello. I’m Blaize. What’s your name?”

“Yvetta May Graham. I’m eight.”

The young man smiled. “In that case, Yvetta May Graham, my name is John Blaize Smyth Kilpatrick.”

She squeaked out a nervous giggle. “That must take ages to write in school when they want your full name.”

“Which is why everyone calls me Blaize. At school they call me Smyth Kilpatrick, but that is just as much of a mouthful, and I really don’t care for it much.” He tilted his head. “It seems to me the last time we met you said your name was Etta.”

She nodded, twirling a long strand of hair around her fingers.

“So, how about I call you Etta and you call me Blaize and we forget the long names and formalities?”

She thought for a moment. He wasn’t a stranger because she knew his name. Plus, she’d met him before, so it must be all right to talk to him. “OK.”

“How did you get here?”

“I don’t know. I was in my house, in my bedroom playing tea parties, and then I was here. Is this your house?”

Blaize nodded. “It is. Do you like it?”

“It’s very big. Where are the carpets?”

“I don’t have any.”

She frowned. “Don’t your feet get cold when you get out of bed first thing in the morning?”

Blaize chuckled. “Sometimes.”

“I have red carpet in my bedroom.”

He smiled. “I have a rug.”

“Nanna has a white, fluffy rug. She lets me lie on it sometimes.” She spun around, dancing and humming the same melody she’d been singing all day.

“Do you like dancing? We have a whole room with chandeliers and mirrors especially for dancing.”

“Can I see it? Can you hear the music as well?”

Blaize stood and held out a hand. “Yes, I can. I think we must be two of a kind. It’s this way.”



~*~



Yvetta ran down the halls of the castle, her long skirts grasped in her hands. Her slippered feet tapped almost silently on the cold, stone flagged floor. Behind her she could hear Blaize counting to a hundred. Hide and seek was one of her favourite games, even though she was no good at it.

She skidded around the corner, dodging past one of the serving girls and darted behind the suit of armour on the right. She wrapped her arms around her middle, chest heaving, heart pounding, gasping for breath.

His voice carried, and she could still hear him as he finished counting. “Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred. Coming ready or not.”

Yvetta couldn’t contain her grin as she heard him searching and calling for her. His footsteps reached the corridor where she hid, and she jumped from behind the armour. “I’m back here.”

Blaize grabbed her and swung her around. “You are meant to let me find you,” he complained half-heartedly, a chuckle escaping. His long blond hair, pulled back into a ponytail, flicked around his face as he twisted her around several times.

Blaize’s monkey, Mr. Kipper, chattered in annoyance and leapt off Blaize’s shoulder onto the suit of armour. The furry animal tugged down his red waistcoat and waggled a finger at them, screeching furiously.

Blaize laughed, the happy sound ringing around the hallway. “See, even Mr. Kipper agrees with me.” He tilted his head. “Or is he complaining that I made him dizzy?”

“Knowing him, I’d say probably both.” She straightened the bunch of lace at Blaize’s chin, pulling it back across his navy frock coat with the gold buttons. Today they had tiny little anchors on them. “Can we play again? You hide and I’ll seek.”

He checked his pocket watch, long fingers running over the gold case as he inspected the time piece. He slid it back into his coat pocket, only leaving a small piece of chain visible, glinting in the light of the torches on the wall sconces. “Very well, we have time for one more game. No cheating this time. Come, Mr. Kipper; our turn to hide.”

The monkey leapt back onto his shoulder, holding onto his collar.

“I never cheat.” She put her hands over her face. “One, two, three, four, five, six…” She paused as his footsteps rounded the corner. Then she giggled. “Miss a few; ninety-nine, one hundred. Coming ready or not.”

Gathering her skirts in one hand, Yvetta set off running after him. She flew around the corner, expecting to find him standing there, but this time he wasn’t.

“I thought I told you not to cheat.” His voice echoed down the corridor.

“Where are you?” she called. Not getting an answer, she ran, looking into each room as she passed. Searching the entire castle could take all day. The tower door was ajar, and she shoved it open, letting it hit the wall. The footfalls echoing along the stone walls of the castle gave away her friend’s location.

A resounding clang vibrated as she began to climb the spiral staircase which led straight to the top of the tower. Blaize didn’t like her going into this one. He always said the stairs were steep and dangerous and the room at the top too cluttered.

That had never stopped Yvetta sneaking up here in the past, however. She loved the boxes full of bits and pieces that once belonged to his mother. The dresses were so pretty and the bejewelled hair combs beautiful. Her own long blonde curls were unruly at best and untameable at worst, yet those combs with the mother of pearl blades and sapphire butterflies on the end always made her look and feel like a princess.

Besides, she reasoned, if Blaize left the door open, then he must be up here and wanted her to follow him. She lost her footing a couple of times as she hurtled up the stairs. She pushed the door at the top open and burst into the room. “Found y—”

She broke off. The room was empty. Not even the usual clutter stood between her and the huge armoire and the tall mirror that she knew was hiding beneath the sheet. “Blaize?”

Yvetta flung open the doors to the armoire, in case he was hiding inside. Even though everyone knew never to shut oneself in a wardrobe, people were still silly enough to do it. She loved hiding in the wardrobe in her bedroom at home amongst the fur coats and old dresses her mother never wore, but couldn’t bear to part with.

“Blaize?” She rifled through the clothes hanging on the rail, although it was obvious he wasn’t hiding there. She looked behind the mirror; behind the curtains by the windows. Where was he? He was too good at this game.

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