"You wanted to see me, Debendra?" Donovan extended a hand as she approached the shaman outside of the trading post. He came around the side of the building to receive her greeting then gestured to her towards his home.
"Come. Mama is expecting us, and Satosh will know where to find us when she and Hannah are done."
"No, Debendra. I told Hannah I would wait for her right outside."
"You do not trust Satosh to do her best for Hannah?"
"Hannah was uncomfortable. This is all very new to her." No-nonsense blue eyes pinned the shaman in place.
"Very well. Let us at least wait in the shade though. It is too warm to be standing around in the sun if one is not working."
Donovan nodded, and they moved to one side of the store to sit at the base of a large tree. Donovan could hear the murmur of conversation floating out the open window, and though she could no longer see the front door, she felt comfortable about being able to keep an ear out for Hannah.
Debendra sat quietly for a time, simply observing his young friend, noticing instantly the difference in her demeanor. "You have found her at last, I see. Love becomes you, my friend." Donovan's head snapped around so quickly it was surprising to the older man that it didn't go flying off. Questions burned from the eyes that seared into his and he held up a hand and smiled.
"Calm yourself, Donovan." Her eyes widened further. Only very rarely did anyone outside of her family call her by her given name. "I have known about the dreams for years... since you came to us with the sickness. You called for her. You called for Green Eyes."
"You didn't see her eyes. You couldn't have."
"No, but I can see the difference she has made in you. You have a glow about you now... a peace that was not there before."
Donovan dragged her eyes away from his then, contemplating the truth of his words. She did not realize how self evident the change she felt deep in her soul was to those around her. She wondered if she had made the same difference in Hannah's life.
"Yes, you have," Debendra rumbled. Donovan turned to look at him again, her brows furrowed. "You were wondering if you had made such a change for Green Eyes. The answer is yes."
"How did... do·?"
Debendra chuckled. "It was easy to see what you were thinking just following your body language. I simply furthered your train of thought. As for her... well, you will just have to trust that as a shaman, I know these things. I do have to have some secrets, you know."
Donovan smiled. "I can respect that. And her name is Hannah."
"A lovely name... what is its meaning?"
Donovan smiled. This she knew. She had done some searching in the early morning hours after she had returned from her fight with the pirates, hoping it would give her some insight into the woman she had fallen in love with and yet was just learning to know.
"It means favor, grace."
"Then if she is as aptly named as yourself, you are most fortunate, my friend."
Donovan nodded. "I think I would be, even if she wasn't."
"She has snared you very well."
Donovan shook her head and looked Debendra directly in the eyes. "No, my friend. She didn't trap me. I walked willingly to stand at her side. That is my place. It always has been."
"That is good. Now perhaps Satosh will give up her foolish dreams and turn her attention to her own future."
"Come now, Donovan. Surely you know she has affection for you. She has never hidden how she feels about you."
"She's always been like a sister to me Debendra. You know that."
"Yes, and now she will realize it as well."
Donovan shifted uncomfortably on the ground before moving to stand. "Maybe I should go back inside. I don't want Hannah...." A large hand on her arm kept her in place and she turned her attention back to the shaman's serious eyes.
"Satosh will not bring dishonor to herself or me by overstepping her bounds. It is a truth she has long known. She is just facing the reality of it now."
"Trust, Donovan. If not me or Satosh, trust in Hannah's ability to take care of herself. I think you will be surprised at the outcome."
"You know something?"
"Only the strength of will that I sensed in her. She will call you if she needs you."
Donovan nodded, and they sat silently for a time. Then she turned her attention back to him. "What did you need to see me about?"
"I was simply curious about what happened last night. Were they the same merchants as before?"
The Pirate Captain turned to look at the shaman, and his soul was pierced by the burning fierceness of her stare. He felt amazement at the change so evident in her behavior and wondered again how she could bear the weight of responsibility she carried. He was glad for her decision to accept it though, as it had saved his people and many others from unspeakable atrocities.
"It was Blackthorne again, yes. We are going to have to step up our efforts to stop him."
"Do you think that is wise?" he asked.
"No, but I do think it is necessary."
Debendra nodded. "Do as you think best, my friend, but remember you have the welfare of another to consider now."
Conversation died after that, and they sat wrapped in their own thoughts as the fitful breeze blew around them. It seemed like forever but was in fact only minutes before they heard the door shut, and saw two slight figures come around the corner and stop short. Debendra chuckled, and he and Donovan stood.
"You expected us to be with your mother, young one?" Satosh nodded and he chuckled again. "You know me well. And we would have been, but that Donovan gave her word to Hannah that she would wait right outside. So that is what we did." Debendra turned to Donovan. "Will you introduce me?"
Donovan stepped to Hannah's side, and took her hands. She gazed deep into Hannah's eyes, pleased by what she saw there. Donovan wrapped herself around Hannah and looked at the shaman. "Debendra, permit me to introduce you to Green Eyes... also known as Hannah Reilly. Hannah, this is my friend Debendra Nairoah... Satosh's father and shaman of the island tribe.
"How do you do, Hannah? It is a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Likewise, Mr. Nairoah."
"Who? Oh, Debendra, please. Otherwise I will never remember to answer you. Now come. Mama is waiting, and it is never a good idea to keep Mama waiting when lunch is ready."
Donovan and Satosh both laughed. "That is very true."
Hannah took Donovan's hand in her own as they followed their hosts on the short trip to their cot. She was looking forward to meeting the formidable Mama.
Had it not been rude to stare, Hannah felt quite sure that is exactly what she would have done. Mama was the tiniest, spunkiest whirlwind she had ever seen, and she could see precisely why Mama ruled the roost so effortlessly.
As soon as they crossed the threshold, she scattered the rest of the family, insuring that she and Hannah were alone. Hannah felt the stare that drilled into her as Mama studied her, but she bore it as stoically as she could manage. Satosh had been sent to find her sister and Donovan and Debendra had been banished to another part of the small home to wait until called for the meal. Donovan hesitated, but a look from Mama and a nod from Hannah sent her scurrying behind Debendra into the other room.
"I am glad to meet you at last, Hannah," Mama said in her soft, powerful voice. "Donovan has searched for you for a long time." Hannah did not know what to make of that statement and she stayed quiet. "Tell me a little about yourself."
Mama took up a knife and a loaf of bread, and motioned Hannah to the stack of plates and cutlery on the table. Hannah moved obediently to follow the silent request, and started setting the table even as she considered the best way to answer the older woman's question.
"Um, well. There's not a lot to tell really. I, uh... I'm a writer, and I came here with Donovan."
"Your parents approved of this?"
"My parents are not living to disapprove. I only have an uncle left of my immediate family.
"He approves then?"
"I am an adult, so I haven't asked for his permission or approval. I don't need it, but he would be happy that Donovan and I found each other, as would my father were he still living."
"And if he wasn't?"
"It would be his loss. I won't give her up... not for him. Not for anything."
Mama gave her a smile then and a nod of approval. "You are the one in her dreams. You are Green Eyes."
"Yes ma'am. I am, as she is the one in mine."
Mama nodded again, as though she had expected this revelation. She moved to the fire and removed the pot that was sending such enticing odors throughout the small home. Hannah blushed when her stomach rumbled as the scent wafted up to her. Mama chuckled.
"That is a very high compliment. Let me call the family in and we will see if you find the taste as good as the smell."
It didn't take but a minute for the family to gather around the small table, and Debendra seated everyone, putting Hannah near Mama and Donovan between Hannah and himself. With his daughters seated side by side across from Hannah and Donovan, they were ready to eat, and he began to dish up lunch for everyone.
It was quiet for a few minutes as each person applied themselves wholeheartedly to the task of eating. After several mouthfuls, Hannah wiped her lips and turned to Mama. "This is spectacular."
"Mama knows this is my favorite," Donovan said.
"Would you share your recipe with me?" Hannah asked the woman at the head of the table.
Shocked silence blanketed the table, and Hannah looked round in alarm. "What? What did I say wrong?"
Mama chuckled again, and Hannah realized that all the lines in her face were really that... laugh lines, as though she found joy in everything. She smiled expectantly. "I am sorry, Hannah. I do not laugh at you, but at the similar reactions around the table. You see, no one has ever dared to ask for a recipe from me. You are the first brave enough to do so."
Hannah blushed furiously and reached out a hand to Donovan who immediately engulfed the smaller hand in her own. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean any offense."
"Hannah," Mama said, covering the hand that still rested on the table. "I am not offended. I am very pleased... for many reasons, and I would be happy to share this recipe as well as a few of her other favorites with you, if you would like."
"Yes, I would. Very much."
Silence again as the family continued to at, then the younger sister finally spoke up, her curiosity getting the better of her. "Hannah?" spoken so quietly that Donovan had to squeeze the blonde's hand to get her attention. She cocked an eyebrow in question, and Donovan nodded over towards Tri.
"I'm sorry, Tri. I didn't hear you. Did you ask me something?"
"Well, I was going to." She cleared her throat self-consciously and spoke a little louder. "I was just curious as to where you were from. You do not speak as Donovan or the rest of us do."
Hannah closed her eyes. She'd forgotten about the understated drawl she spoke with, and didn't even hear the lilting brogue Donovan spoke with except for the music it made in her ears. She opened her mouth to say... something... when she heard Donovan answer the question.
"Hannah is from the United States. Her uncle is an American businessman with interests in Bermuda."
Truth, as far as it went. Just not the entire truth. It was enough for Tri and Satosh though. Their brown eyes gleamed with excitement.
"America? That sounds like a wonderful place to live."
"I have to admit that even with all its screw-ups and difficulties, I love it." Hannah felt Donovan tense. "But I would give it up in a heartbeat to stay with Donovan."
The two younger women swooned at the declaration, and Mama chuckled. Hannah felt Donovan uncoil and relax under her touch. Donovan shifted slightly to look at her and the rest of the world faded from their consciousness.
"Would you really?" with aching need in her eyes.
"Where you go, I go, love. You are my home now."
Donovan reached a trembling hand out to Hannah's cheek, caressing it tenderly. Only Debendra's throat clearing brought them back to the present and reminded them of the fact that they were not alone. But they spoke a moment more with their eyes, reassuring one another, and making promises for later.
"So, Hannah... Mama says you are a writer." Hannah's eyebrows went up, wondering when Mama could possibly have shared that bit of information with Debendra. But she acknowledged the truth of the statement.
"I find that most intriguing. What do you write?"
"Um, well... I write a column for the news service and I write books. Uh, books for children and young girls."
"A news column? Is America so progressive then? I was given to understand that the women of your country were expected to be good wives and mothers." This observation from Debendra was simply that, and tainted with nothing except honest curiosity.
"Well, I have always had a forward thinking family, and both my father and my uncle were always very supportive of my choices in life."
"And what of the rest of your society? Would they accept you and Donovan as we do?"
"Can I ask a question here first?" Hannah inquired quietly. At Debendra's nod, she continued, "Why do you accept Donovan and me so easily?"
A large grin broke across the shaman's face and was echoed on those of his household. "We are a very small community here on the island, and there are very few secrets among us. Though we do not always agree or get along, we have learned to be nonjudgmental of those around us unless the situation warrants it. Love between two people does not warrant judgment... it warrants acceptance of a beautiful gift."
The tears streamed silently down Hannah's face, and Debendra grew concerned on the sight of them. "Oh, young one. I did not mean to upset you." He would have spoken further but for the hand she held up to stop his speech.
She shook her head and bit her lip, trying to get her emotions under control. Donovan sat silently with one arm wrapped around Hannah' shoulders and the other holding her hand, stroking it gently. Finally she took a deep breath. "No, Debendra. These are happy tears. Even in America Donovan and I would not find acceptance like we have here. Thank you."
"I wish there was a way we could spread your philosophy," Donovan muttered, "especially where my mother is concerned."
"She will come around, Donovan," Mama assured quietly. "I have faith."
"Rest assured then, my friend," Debendra said, clapping Donovan on the shoulder. "If Mama has faith, it will be so."
"Enough of the sentimentality. I want Hannah to tell about the books she has written."
"Tri!" Mama exclaimed before turning to Hannah with a smile. "The young are always so impatient."
Debendra laughed. "The same can be said for the not-so-young as well."
"Yes, Mama. We all want to hear about it," Satosh said enthusiastically. "We know of so few women writers."
Hannah laughed, as much a tension relief as honest enthusiasm. "Well, I have two young girls that I am writing a series about. It is mostly stories of things that happened to my best friend and me when we were growing up. We uh... we got into a lot of mischief, and that translates well to young readers."
"Oh that sounds so interesting. Do you have any of your books here?"
Hannah shook her head. "No. I uh, I didn't think to bring any with me when I left."
"Perhaps you could tell us one."
"I don't think...."
"Really, I can't tell a story like I write one. My thoughts flow much better when I write them out than when I try to speak them. I'll try to write one out for you to read before we leave."
"Oh, that would be wonderful!"
"Thank you so much. We would be so grateful!" both young women exclaimed together. Hannah smiled broadly at their contagious enthusiasm.
The meal continued for a little while longer, conversation flowing between everyone while Mama served up a luscious dessert. Mama saw the question in Hannah's eyes and nodded imperceptibly. Donovan watched their interaction and smiled. Hannah had made a new friend, and without knowing it, added to her family as well. Once Mama took you in, you were family for life.
"Can we help you clean up, Mrs. ... I mean Mama? Doesn't seem fair for you to do it all."
"Not this time, Hannah, though I appreciate the offer. I think Donovan is ready to leave and I do not want to hold you up."
"We can wait fifteen minutes to help, especially since you cooked *and* ya'll are sewing my clothes."
Mama saw the determination in Hannah's face and relented gracefully. She understood well the need to be accepted as a contributing member of what she now thought of as Donovan's family. Within moments, Hannah and Donovan were standing alone in the kitchen with Hannah washing and rinsing and Donovan drying and putting things away.
Mama and Debendra stood in the doorway silently, watching the tableau unfold before them. Hannah and Donovan operated like a well-oiled machine. The looks and touches were simply an added confirmation of what they so obviously shared together.
"You know, Mama," Debendra whispered into his wife's ear as he nudged her out the door and back towards the trading post. "I never thought we would see Donovan so completely captured."
Mama elbowed him in the stomach. "You just never thought to see Donovan in the kitchen cleaning up, old man."
His merriment rang out across the small village like bells, and the trill of her laughter made a wonderful counterpoint for the sound.
The couple pulled the cottage door behind them as they left, and waved to Debendra and Mama as they passed the trading post. There was no need for words, and they remained quiet as they made their way back towards Hannah's with hands clasped together. The breeze was welcome in the afternoon heat and as they neared the beach house, they felt a distinct chill pass over them. It was momentary, but it was distinct enough that they looked to one another to be sure it wasn't imagination.
"You felt that, didn't you?" Hannah asked.
"Yes, and as odd as it was, it was quite refreshing in this heat. I wonder what caused it."
"I don't know. Maybe I should do some more research on it when we get home. It could be a phenomenon that Jack and Daddy studied."
"That might not be a bad idea. I wouldn't mind a little more information if there is some kind of peculiar weather pattern in the area. That could be useful."
Hannah nodded. "All right. I'll see what I can find out. I have their journals with me. I was reading them, comparing them to my diary." She couldn't help the slight blush that colored her face.
Donovan wrapped Hannah in her arms and whispered in her ear. "You are very beautiful when you blush. May I know the reason for it?" She felt Hannah laugh beneath her hands.
"I was just thinking how so many things tie together now. Things that make a lot more sense since I met you... since I understood that we have been meeting across time in our dreams."
"I know what you mean. The fact that we met in our dreams and then found one another in real life is extraordinary. The fact that we did so across time is fantastically unbelievable."
"Ya know what, though?"
"I like having my dream come to life. And I like being a dream come true."
Donovan tightened her hold. "So do I."
They stood wrapped around one another gazing into the horizon for long moments. "Hey," Donovan continued to whisper and Hannah shook her head at the ticklish sensation that skittered across her neck. Donovan chuckled. "You up for a swim?"
"I don't have anything to wear."
"Neither do I, but we're alone. No one will see... except you and me."
Hannah turned in Donovan's arms and clasped her hands behind Donovan's neck. "Can I trust you to protect my virtue?" she asked coyly.
Donovan watched the embers in Hannah's gaze turn to fire before she leaned down and captured the velvety lips and claimed them for her own. Only when their breathing grew ragged did she pull back slightly.
"Hmm," Hannah said on an odd breath as she stepped back slightly out of Donovan's reach. She slowly began to unfasten her top. Donovan froze, her eyes locked on the movements of Hannah's hands. "Was that a yes?" She slid her top off her shoulders and dropped it to the sand. "Or a no?" The pants slipped off with ease, and Hannah wiggled just the slightest bit before she stepped out of them.
She turned her back to Donovan and heard the whimper escape from her throat. Hannah smiled as she reached to unfasten her bra and slid it down slowly, feeling the growl before she felt two large hands at her waist. She released the garment even as she leaned into the touch that was drawing her into the firm body behind her.
"You are a tease, wench!" Donovan complained, then bit lightly into the juncture between Hannah's shoulder and neck. Hannah moaned at the sensation. "And paybacks are bloody hell," Donovan said as she moved away from the warm body in front of her. "Last one in is a rotten egg!" Donovan shouted, and proceeded to strip and make it into the water before Hannah opened her eyes.
She made the mistake of turning around to smirk at Hannah, and got caught by the vision of the woman who stood nearly naked before her. "God, it is a good thing this water is cool," Donovan muttered as she began swimming away from the shore.
By the time Hannah recovered her wits, Donovan was scurrying away her, and Hannah rushed to finish her undressing to join her. The water was refreshingly cool, and after a bit they came together to talk and play a bit. Finally, quite worn out, they walked jointly from the shore to their clothing. Donovan took Hannah's hand before she could grab her clothes and turned the smaller woman to face her.
"You are a very beautiful woman, Hannah Reilly, and I am blessed that you love me."
Hannah couldn't help the blush, but returned the compliment in kind. "You are no more blessed than I am, Donovan Scott, and I am enjoying to getting to know you... in mind, in soul and in body... again." The last was said with a bit of impish tease and a smile.
"As am I, Angel. Now get dressed," she added with a growl, "before I forget the manners my mother tried so hard to instill in me. And the gallantry my father did."
Getting dressed was slow going, as they both were sneaking looks at each other. Finally, though, they managed to be decent, and Hannah took Donovan's hand and led her down the beach to towards the beach house.
When they reached Jack's house, Donovan dropped into a chair on the patio. "It is very nice here. I could stay right here to watch the sun set. Jack chose well when he built here."
Hannah fell into the chair next to her. "Yeah, he did. I'm thirsty. Would you like something?"
Donovan made to stand up and Hannah waved her back to her seat. "I'll get it. Would you like some lemonade?"
"Are you sure?" Donovan didn't feel right about letting Hannah wait on her. But Hannah for reasons she couldn't out her finger on, had little warning tingles running up and down her spine. There was something wrong with this scenario, but she didn't know what it was.
"Yes, love. I'm sure. I'd like the chance to spoil you a little."
Donovan captured Hannah's hand and lifted it to her lips. "Lemonade would be lovely," she acquiesced.
Hannah nodded and pulled away and walked into the house.
She noticed the light was blinking on the answering machine and she pushed the button as she made her way over to the refrigerator. She grabbed the pitcher from the shelf as she listened to Jack's voice, followed by the sound of Katie. She chuckled listening to her best friend gush and ramble, and made a mental note to call her later.
Jack's voiced reminded her to pick up the journal and her diary, and she flipped through the journal, trying to find the entry that was nagging at her. Something about the barrier crossing. Something tied to her father's death that coincided with Donovan's illness four years ago. She rubbed her suddenly throbbing temples.
With her concentration focused elsewhere, Hannah wasn't paying strict attention to what she was doing, and as she reached for the tumblers, one of them slipped from her grasp and crashed to the floor in a shattering of glass.
Donovan heard her exclamation and the splintering of glasses, and rushed inside to see if she could help. Just as she crossed the threshold, Hannah looked up, and realization dawned.
But it was too late. Donovan was gone.
Hannah rushed to the spot where Donovan had been standing, frantically searching the empty space, knowing in her soul that Donovan was gone, but needing to confirm it anyway. She pushed the glass door aside, nearly breaking the glass with the force of her shove.
Hannah stumbled out the door and fell down the steps, scraping her knees and the palms of her hands. She never noticed the blood that seeped out or the tears that slid soundlessly down her face. She ran around the house then out toward the beach. She noted that there was only a single set of footprints leading up the path, and fell to her knees in agony.
"NOOOOOOOO!!!!" came the agonized scream and Hannah dropped her head to her knees as sobs wracked her frame. The keening of her soul was sharp and swift, and she sat in the sand for an indefinite amount of time just breathing, focusing her energy on regaining rational thought.
"Okay, I need to get to the cottage. She has to be at the cottage," she muttered to herself, sitting up and scrubbing her eyes with her hands. "Ow!"
Hannah turned her hands over to look at her palms. "Well," she mumbled. "At least I did a good job while I was at it." She moved to stand and hissed at the pain that lanced through her knees. "Jumping Jesus Christ, that hurts!" She winced again as she ran her hands through her hair. "Okay Hannah... think. First let's get cleaned up, and then we'll take a walk to the cottage. She'll be at the cottage."
Satisfied with her train of thought, Hannah eased back into the house and went straight to the bathroom. She groaned when she saw the amount of damage that had been done to the silk trousers she wore, as well as the shredded skin beneath them.
She shucked her clothes and stepped into the shower, taking care to insure that her hands and knees were well cleaned before she shut off the water. She made sure they were no longer bleeding, then slipped into a bathing suit and sarong. Hannah grimaced at the pull in her knees, but walked down the steps and to the beach. She hesitated, worrying about the single set of prints in the sand, then turned her feet and her attention to the east and Donovan's cottage.
She couldn't run, but she walked as swiftly as she could manage... until there was a burn in her legs and a lack of air in her lungs. She made it to the path and stood for a moment, trying to catch her breath. Something wasn't right.
"C'mon Reilly... suck it up and go find her."
Talking to herself out loud seemed to bolster her courage enough to move her down the path towards the cottage. What confronted her when she got there made her heart shatter.
The cottage had reverted to its original state... that is to say it had become the uninhabited, in-need-of-repair shell that Hannah had stumbled across her first day on the island. A hand flew to Hannah's mouth to contain the sob that wanted to rip from her throat.
Hannah continued her trek up the slick steps and into the deserted house. The furniture was cloaked once more and dust was thick in the air. She instinctively looked to the wall, but the picture that had been there both times before was... destroyed. The two women had been literally cut out of the scene and the sky had been painted an ominous, stormy black.
"DONOVAN!!!!" Knowing it was pointless, but needing to try anyway. Silence greeted her, and she moved to sit on the cold, mossy steps. She ran her hands through messy blonde hair and thought. I need to find a way to reverse this.
She closed the door firmly behind her and walked slowly down the path. She paid careful attention to her steps on the way home, and as she reached her own porch, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. There was no cold spot. It must be the doorway, and it's not open anymore.
Hannah would have cried, the pain was so biting, but she put it aside for later. She was a woman on a mission, and she had work to do.
Donovan kept her eyes closed, content to let the world stop spinning at such a frantic pace. When she finally did manage to open them slightly, she was surprised to find herself laid out flat on the ground. The last thing she remembered was... "HANNAH!"
She tried to stand and promptly fell back onto her butt. Donovan sat there for a long moment with her eyes closed trying to regain her equilibrium. All right, let me try this again. She opened her eyes and glanced around slowly. The glen she was in was familiar, and at the same time, not.
Donovan stood up very gradually, not wanting a repeat of her first performance. She took a deep breath, satisfied that the world wasn't going to tilt and throw her off again. Then she took a determined look at her surroundings.
It was the rock formation that made her freeze in her inspection. Wait just a goddamn minute. What the bloody hell?? Where the hell is Hannah's house?
Donovan walked down to the beach noting the single set of footprints leading to the pathway that she stood on. Then she turned and made her way back to the glen, hoping that she'd just imagined the missing house.
She sighed in frustration when the house remained gone, and then reached for her head as a slicing pain ripped through it. Oh God, not again was her last thought before the darkness claimed her.
Hannah hesitated at the threshold of Jack's house, squaring her shoulders before she stepped back in. The journal and her diary still sat on the counter, a stark reminder of the reality of her unexplainably bizarre situation. She took two steps into the kitchen then hissed in pain.
"GODDAMNIT!" she screamed to the world at large, furious at herself and the circumstances she now found herself in. She reached down and wiped gently at the gash on her foot, removing the splinter of glass. Hannah grabbed a paper towel and wiped at the trickle of blood, then hobbled to the bathroom. She washed the cut and bandaged it, then stopped in her room to retrieve her sandals before slowly returning to the kitchen to clean up the mess with grim determination.
When she was finished, she snatched the diary and journal from the counter and dropped onto the couch gracelessly. She sat still for several minutes, tears welling in her eyes and her hand covering her mouth while she concentrated on breathing. Finally she opened the journal and began a methodical search for the information she needed.
It was the ringing of the phone that brought her out of her meticulous study, and that was the first time Hannah noticed the lateness of the hour. It was nearly sunset and she rubbed her eyes, which were stinging from the forced strain they suffered under as she focused hard on each and every word, hoping what she needed would jump in front of her. Only when she heard Jack's voice over the answering machine did she make a move to grab the phone.
"Hi, Hannah! It's just me chec...."
"Jack?" Hannah's strained whisper alerted him to her state of mind more than anything else could have.
"Hannah? Hannah, honey... what's wrong?"
He could hear her breathing as she tried to regain control of her voice. He wanted to reach out and comfort her, and cursed the fact that they were an hour's flight apart. Jack spoke slowly and calmly into the receiver, helping Hannah to focus on his voice.
"Hannah, breathe now. Slowly. In and out... that's it... in and out. Good girl. Relax and listen to my voice and just breathe." He noted the gradual change in her respiration and decided to continue to talk, hoping it would relax her enough to share whatever had upset her so greatly.
"Hey, guess what? I may be home sooner than I thought. Something happened about an hour ago and the weather patterns seem to be returning to their normal routine. I need to monitor it for a few more days, but if things stay like they are, I may be able to come home in for...."
"Jack?" Hannah said still whispering. "Jack, I need you to come home now. Please?"
Jack heard the plea in her voice and his heart broke. There had only been twice in her life that she had ever expressed a need that great, and he could not deny it now any more than he had either of the other times she'd asked anything of him.
"I'll make arrangements, Hannah. I'll be there sometime shortly after dark."
"Thank you, Jack. I'll be waiting at the field for you."
He would have protested, even knowing the futility of his words, but she hung up before he could speak again. He muttered incoherently to himself instead, flinging his bag on the bed and beginning to repack his clothes.
As soon as she hung up the phone, Hannah grabbed the journal and diary and set them near the door. She would study them in the village while she waited for Jack to arrive. Then she walked to her room to get dressed.
It didn't take long, and Hannah was ready to go. Just as she came into the living room, the phone rang again. She thought briefly of ignoring it and leaving, then decided she could wait the thirty seconds to see if it was Jack.
"Hi, Hannah! It's Katie again, if you're there?"
The happiness in her voice made Hannah both joyful and agonized all at the same time, and she was suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to speak to the best friend she'd ever had. With a shaking hand, Hannah brought the receiver to her ear.
"Hi, Katie! How's married life treating you?" She smiled when she said it, picturing her friend's face as she got married, but she could feel the tears pooling in her eyes. And she knew by the intake of breath she heard on the other end of the phone that Katie could hear them in her voice.
"Better than single life is you it sounds like. Hannah, what's wrong?"
"Oh Katie... I lost her. She's gone and I may not get her back."
"Whoa, whoa, hon. Slow down and take it easy. Can we start this at the beginning so I know what page we're on? Now who's gone and where did she go?"
"Donovan. I found my Blue Eyes, Katie, and her name is Donovan."
"I found where I belong, Katie, and the one I am meant to be with. Donovan is the woman of my dreams."
"That's wonderful, Hannah. I am so happy for you. When do I get to meet her?"
Now the tears flowed in earnest. "Oh Katie!" It was all she could manage. There was just no way for her to explain this, and it made her frustrated and aggravated. More than anything, it hurt beyond words.
"Hannah? I want you to listen to me, okay?" Katie waited until she heard Hannah's breathing become hiccups and knew that she had Hannah's undivided attention. "If Donovan is the one you have been waiting for... if she is the one who makes you fit, then you will find her again. I promise you."
Without her conscious permission, Hannah felt a smile cross her face. She and Katie never made promises they did not intend to keep. "Oh you do, huh?"
"Yep, I sure do," with absolute certainty.
"And how do you know?"
Katie hesitated, not sure she should share, then shrugged her shoulders. It was the truth, and she and Hannah had always tried to be honest with one another. "Because it's meant to be, hon."
"You sound so sure."
"I am. Trust me on this Hannah. One day, hopefully very soon, you will be introducing me to this dream woman of yours, and I'll get to have a little heart-to-heart talk with her."
Now Hannah chuckled shakily. "Uh oh... why don't I like the sound of that?"
"Maybe because Jack and I have quite a screening process for any perspective suitors."
"Perspective suitors?!? Screening process?!?"
"Uh huh. You remember the inquisition you and Daddy and the boys put Frank through?"
"Yeah, it is fixing to come back and bite you in the ass."
"Uh huh," Katie said again, giggling. "And you get all of us plus Jack and Frank. Donovan is doomed!"
Inexplicably, Katie's firm belief that she would get the chance to grill Donovan lightened Hannah's heart and restored her faith in possibilities. Katie heard the change in her reply.
"I don't think so. She can handle you all with ease... oh, Katie, she has the cutest lilt when she speaks. Not quite a brogue, but not British. I can't wait for you to meet her. I just...." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I just have to find her again."
"You will, Hannah. I promised, didn't I?" Without giving Hannah an opportunity to speak, Katie continued, "Besides, I want to see her see you in this dress."
"How? When? But...."
Now Katie laughed out loud. "Mama left me a message after you called her."
"Waitaminute... she called you on your honeymoon??"
"Oh yeah... this was news that couldn't wait. Frank actually thought it was funny, especially when he found out WHY she was calling."
"Oh my God... what did she tell you exactly??"
"She said that you had finally asked for the dress you had made for the masked ball several years ago."
"Ooookay. And that meant what exactly?"
"It means that we will soon be making Donovan run the gauntlet. Now listen," Katie rushed on. "Frank and I will be coming to the Pirates' Ball. So I will see you in a few days, hon. Gotta run."
"But... but... how... but·?" But Hannah was sputtering to a dial tone and she finally gave up and hung up the phone with an exasperated laugh. "I'll have to have a word or ten with her when they get here. I'm pretty sure I never said...." Hannah's thoughts trailed off, but her spirits were considerably lighter as she picked up the books and headed out the door.
She managed to make it to town without incident, and happily parked near the tiny restaurant. Merry saw her approach and came out to greet her.
"Hello, Hannah! I thought we might see you this evening. Papa just got a call from Jack asking him to light the field for a night landing. We don't do those very often."
There was nothing in her tone to indicate her curiosity, but Hannah could feel the interest in the eyes that met hers.
"Yes, whatever he was working on cleared up, so he said he would come back."
Merry looked closely at Hannah in the waning daylight. Her eyes were shadowed, and Merry wondered what had happened to bring such sorrow to eyes which only a few days ago had been bright with anticipation. She reached out and took Hannah's hand.
"Will you join us for supper? We will make sure you are on hand to greet Jack upon his return." She saw Hannah's hesitation. "Please. I would like you to meet my children."
Hannah noted the older woman's earnest expression and relented. It wasn't like she could do a lot before Jack got here, and she nodded her acceptance. "I'd like that very much."
"Good, come with me. It should be just about ready."
Dinner was quite pleasant, and Hannah was charmed by Merry's family. She had twins who were just a year shy of Hannah's own age, and the daughter was married and expecting her first child. The son was on a vacation from his work on Bermuda. He was bashful in his flirting with Hannah, but she was quick to make him see that she was unavailable. He grumbled a little about his luck, which caused a bit of good-natured teasing and laughing. But when Jacob stood and headed to the door, things settled quickly and they all moved to go to the landing strip.
Hannah was a little overwhelmed. She'd hoped to greet Jack privately, but didn't know how to politely refuse their company. When they saw the choppers lights across the broad ocean, Merry motioned to her children and they bade Hannah goodbye and moved back towards town. Hannah looked after them questioningly. As the sound of rotors grew louder, Merry stepped up beside Hannah.
"I got the distinct impression you needed to greet your uncle privately. We just didn't want you to have to wait alone."
Hannah was touched by the gesture and the thoughtfulness. "Thank you, Merry. I appreciate it... all of it."
"You are welcome. We will see you in a day or two hopefully."
Jacob waited beside her until the helicopter touched down, then with a pat on her arm and a wave to Jack he followed his family back to town.
Jack stepped from the copter and ducked away from the blades until he reached Hannah's side. With a glance at her face, he took her in his arms and hugged her with all his considerable strength. He pulled back far enough to plant a kiss on her cheek and then leaned forward to whisper in her ear.
"Let's go home, honey. We'll talk there."
Hannah nodded, taking a great deal of comfort from his mere presence. She knew if anyone could help her find a solution to her current dilemma, Jack could. That coupled with Katie's promise made her heart just a little lighter.
They took ten minutes once they got back to Jack's house to change into comfortable clothes and start some coffee before they sat down together on the couch. Hannah set the journal and her diary on the table and focused her attention on her hands. Jack's brows rose when he noticed what the two books actually were, and after waiting a moment for Hannah's attention, he reached over and covered her hands with his own.
"Are you ready to tell me all about it, Hannah?"
Hannah sat in silent contemplation, carefully considering how to start this conversation. Finally she took a deep breath and stood to pace. "Uncle Jack, do you know why I decided to be a writer?"
Jack looked stunned... not understanding where this was coming from. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, hoping she would give him a clue or get to the point. He hated the feeling of complete confusion he was currently saddled with.
Hannah smiled sadly and began her story. "When I was a child, just five years old, you gave me a diary. Do you remember?" she asked, gesturing to the thick book on the table. He nodded slowly.
"Yeah. You were always writing, always making picture with your words, even then. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Oh, uncle. It was the best gift you could have given me. It was part of a major turning point for me."
"You had a turning point in your life when you were five??"
"The very first dream I clearly remember I had at the age of five. It was when I found Blue Eyes, and it was where I met my imaginary playmate."
"I'm afraid I don't quite follow you."
Hannah sighed loudly and ran her fingers through her hair. "No I guess you couldn't. I'm not being really clear." She sat down facing him and looked Jack in the eyes. "When I was five, I began to have two dreams on a regular basis. One dream showed me blue eyes, and for the longest time, the entire focus of the dream was those eyes. For years they watched over me, made me feel loved, protected and special."
"The other dream was different. I found a playmate. She was... she was so much fun. We ran and played, climbed trees... just did kid stuff. You know what I mean." Jack nodded again. "It was so much fun I wanted to write everything down. They were the basis for some of my first stories."
"But I thought your stories were about you and Katie?" Jack was getting more confused.
Hannah nodded and smiled sympathetically. "The published ones are. No one has seen the others. They were just too private."
"Okay," Jack sighed. "I can understand that. So why are we talking about it?" It wasn't asked maliciously, but things weren't getting any clearer.
"Because I found her. I found my Blue Eyes, and she and my childhood dream playmate are one in the same."
"She's real? But that's great, isn't it??"
"It would be, if we weren't separated by time," Hannah said despondently.
Hannah scrubbed her face again and looked at him with tears in her eyes. "Jack, you gotta level with me. I need to know what you were looking for out here. I have to know everything." She held up a hand. "Please, Jack. I don't think I have very much time. I know that you and Daddy were following a phenomenon that involved someone named Donovan, and I know some of the things she was involved in. But I need to know everything. It's imperative."
Now Jack ran his hands through his own very short hair and blew out a breath. "That important, huh? All right... you're gonna fill me in on just what exactly has happened. Then I will tell you about the journal stories."
Hannah bit her lip and nodded. "All right. Let's get the coffee. This is gonna take a while."
"Donovan and I grew up together in our dreams. From the time I was five until Daddy died, she was a playmate. I didn't know she was the same Blue Eyes that kept me company in my other dreams. I never saw her that closely, and we never spoke." Hannah chuckled. "We did laugh a lot, though."
"Meanwhile, Blue Eyes was a prominent part of my other dreams. Her eyes were all I saw of her, and they were kind and thoughtful and warm. It was a very long time before I knew she was a woman." Hannah blushed. "I fell in love with her, even though I knew she was just a dream. I couldn't help it. We fit."
"She is the reason you never showed interest in anyone?"
"Yeah. No one could compare to what we had... even in our dreams."
"Okay, so what happened to change things?" Finally Jack felt like he was getting a focused picture of what was going on.
Hannah took a sip of coffee and scrubbed her hands through her hair. "The first time it changed in college." She blushed furiously. "Donovan and I... um, well that is when I realized she was a woman." The statement was almost whispered. Jack flushed at the implication and swallowed hard.
"Ahem, well... then what?"
"Our encounters progressed and they started happening more and more often, and I was always faithful to record them in my diary. When I found the journal, things started to click for me a little. I mean... the bits I've gotten to read, well, every sighting that has been noted corresponds to a date in my diary. And the few pieces of the old journal seem to tie in too."
"Can you give me an example?"
Hannah leaned over and grabbed the books searching carefully for the records she needed. "Here... you see this entry?"
Jack moved over to sit beside her, and paled slightly when he realized the event she has chosen. "This was Mike's final trip... the last account he made of his journey here."
"Yes, it is. Now look at this," she said calmly, but her nervousness was betrayed by her shaking hands. "This is from the journal also, but it is dated September 1851. And it is written in the same hand that other entries were signed 'Donovan Scott'."
"Okay," Jack said with a nod.
"Finally we have my diary, and if you will look at these entries. I saw the eyes in June, when Daddy left to come here, I saw them in August when he let you know the Warrior Maiden was in the area, and I saw them again in September. And the look she gave me then made me believe she KNEW that the Michael she rescued belonged to me somehow."
"Okay," Jack said again slowly. "Sooooo...."
"I know that she is from the past Jack, but she is part of my future, and I need to find a way to get back to her."
"Hannah, I'm not really sure what you're asking me, or what you want me to do."
"First I want you to understand that I believe that Donovan and I and whatever the weird weather patterns are that you are studying are all linked together. Then I am going to tell you what happened to me while you were gone."
He nodded and got up to refill their cups. Hannah took a deep breath and started her story.
"There is a house down the beach to the east about a mile from it. Do you know the one I am talking about?"
"Yeah. Nice solid construction, needs a little work. The locals keep a respectful distance since it belonged to their pirate savior, Don..."
"Donovan Scott. I know. My first day here, I went exploring, and I stumbled across it. I found it intriguing and I took a closer look. The door was unlocked, so I didn't think it was really trespassing, especially since it was obviously abandoned." She swallowed. "It was amazing, particularly considering the apparent age of the cottage."
"Well, like the odd bathing room, and what I think was a crude water closet. Um, a primer pump in the kitchen, and a sink unlike anything I have ever seen. There were dust covers over antique furniture, and the whole place smelled of age and neglect."
"Gotcha. I've never ventured over there, and I forgot to tell you about the local custom. Sorry."
Hannah smiled brightly. "I'm not, because I needed find it. You see, the next day you were called to Bermuda and things started happening. I had a visitor that night, but it was dark, and I couldn't see clearly who it was. So the next day, I decided to take a walk and see if I could find my mysterious visitor."
"Oh, honey... even here, that could have been dangerous." Jack was appalled by his niece's lack of discretion.
"No, Uncle Jack. Despite the incredible nature of the truth that I was facing, I knew I was in no danger. I had found Donovan in my dreams the night before, and I was going forward to find my future."
"I found her, Uncle Jack. I found her in the cottage which had been completely restored, and it was the year 1855, though I didn't know that then. I was just overwhelmed that my dream had finally become a reality. Reality was so much better than my dreams had ever been."
"What happened when you realized that you were in the past and not the present?"
Hannah chuckled. "Initially I passed out. My mind just shut down until I put the pieces together and they started to fit. Then Donovan took me around and I was so comfortable there, Jack. It felt like coming home."
"So what went wrong?"
"Yesterday morning, Donovan came here." Hannah drew a shaky breath. "Everything was all right. I mean we sat out on the porch for a while, and then I came in to get us some lemonade." Jack's eyes lit in comprehension, but since she wasn't looking at him, he let her continue. "I was careless and Donovan came in to check on me...."
"And when she crossed the threshold she disappeared?"
"Yes, but it is worse."
"She didn't seem to have any difficulty crossing to this time, though no one else was able to do so. Her cabin boy Harold tried unwittingly and failed. And I had no problems crossing to hers until now."
"You can't get back?"
"No." She clenched and unclenched her hands reflexively. "I went back to the cottage this morning, and it has changed again. Not only is it neglected and in need of repair again, the picture over the mantle has changed. And it is scary. I don't like the message I am getting from it."
Jack watched as the goosebumps rose over Hannah's arms. "Did you get to the part in the journal about Michael's illness? Where it tells what we think happened?"
She shook her blonde head, wrapping her arms around herself. "I don't think so. I'm not sure. I... I know I read something about the barrier and closing the door, but I can't find it now," she growled in utter frustration.
"Okay, one more thing. When she crossed over the previous two times did you notice anything? Did she cross the threshold then?"
"Um," Hannah thought aloud while raking her hands through her disheveled hair. "Yeah, every time someone tried to cross, I lost power." She crinkled her brow. "Even when Harold only *tried* to cross, the electricity went bonkers." For the first time in a while, she looked directly at Jack. "Is that important?"
"It could be. It could definitely be something we could use. What about Donovan? Did she ever cross the threshold before that moment?"
"No. The first time she stayed on the beach, and the second she sat on the patio looking at the furniture. I think she found it fascinating."
Jack laughed. "I wouldn't be surprised... most people do."
Hannah grinned then sobered quickly. "Do you think we can find her Jack? Or at least open the door for me to get back to her? I can't be without her... not like this. Not knowing what happened or where she is or... God, Jack. Tell me we can fix this."
"I think you have discovered enough on your own. Let me tell you what I know, and then you can tell me if we can fix this."