Monday, June 29, 2009

Excerpt - Delaney's Crossing by Stacey Coverstone

As he rifled through a cabinet for the cream, she slid off the table and walked straight over to the diplomas hanging in frames on the wall. As she scanned them, her eyes landed on one, which showed he'd attained his medical degree from the University of Chicago Medical School in May of…1884?

Her jaw dropped.

He turned. "What is it, Miss Marshall? You look as if you've seen a ghost." Gabriel sidled up to her and searched her face.

She reached down and pinched herself on the leg, causing a red welt to immediately rise.

His brow knitted together. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I need to know if I'm dreaming. That hurt, so I guess the answer is no. I'm not dreaming."

He continued to stare. "I don't understand."

Delaney's heart began to pound. She tried, but failed to keep from stammering when she explained. "I-I thought… I was dreaming this whole
thing, or we were on a movie set and…I kept thinking I was going to wake up sooner or later. But now, I don't think I'm dreaming at all."

"What whole thing?"

"You. The town. Washington Street. Those horses. The bridge. Everything!" Her gaze darted around the room. "That diploma on the wall
shows you received your medical degree in 1884, Dr. Whitman."

He nodded. "That's correct."

"No! That can't be correct. Please tell me that diploma is printed wrong and it should read 1994, or 2004."

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Perhaps I should check your head. Please sit down again. Did you hit it on the ground when I knocked you down?"

"No! No!" she cried, batting him away. She strode around the room and touched everything she could lay her hands on—just like a blind person
reading Braille. "This table is real. This glass window is real. The wooden floor, your equipment, and these medicine bottles are real."

"Of course they're real, Miss Marshall." Concern lined Gabriel's rugged features.

She stepped in front of him and plunged her fingers into his thick mane of auburn hair and said, "You are definitely real. Doctor, you have to
help me understand what's happening!"

"I'll try, just as soon as I understand it myself. Sit down and let me take your temperature."

"No! I don't have a fever." She spun away and spied his walnut desk in the corner. She scooped up the newspaper that was lying open on top, but
didn't bother to read the headline. Looking straight at the date in the corner of the Phoenix Herald, she read aloud, "June 7, 1888." How can it
be? It's impossible. A shiver ran down her spine and her stomach knotted.

What is it, Miss Marshall? Please tell me what's scaring you. Let me help." He placed a hand on her shoulder.

Expelling shallow breaths, she bent over and placed her hands on her knees. "I'm hyperventilating," she whispered.

Gabriel raced to his desk, rummaged through a drawer and pulled out a brown paper sack. He eased her back to the table, and she leaned against
it. He placed the bag over her mouth. "Breathe." She took several deep breaths.

When the danger of fainting had passed, he took her face in his hands and gently demanded, "Now, tell me. What is this all about?"

She fastened her gaze on him and said, "I don't know how it happened, but I think I've traveled back in time."

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