“It’s not fancy, but it’s comfortable. I think it’s probably some kind of hunting cabin or maybe a place to use when you want to get away from the city.” She put her hands on her hips and surveyed their surroundings. “At least we have a fridge. And there’s food in it.”
“What’s a fridge?”
His deep voice rumbled through her, and she tried to ignore what it did to her by saying, “Come see.” With a racing pulse she led him to the appliance. “It keeps things cool.” She opened the door. “Look.”
With a puzzled but curious expression, he leaned down, inspecting the space and the contents. “Ketchup,” he murmured. He reached out and touched the bottle then pulled his hand back. “It’s cold.” He looked at her.
She smiled and nodded.
When he straightened, he asked, “What kind of magic is this?”
She held back a chuckle, not wanting to embarrass him. “It’s called electricity. It’s an invention, not magic.”
He shrugged. “Where I come from, there are people who can make things happen with spells and potions.”
Alarmed, she took a step back. “You mean, you actually believe in magic?”
As he continued to study the inside of the fridge, he explained, “I don’t have to believe in it. It just is.” He shut the door, then opened it again. “You can see this light that comes on without fire, yes?”
“And you can feel how this electricity makes everything inside cold?”
Again, she nodded.
“Then it’s the same.” He withdrew a jar of pickles and ran his thumb over the label. “Where I come from magic just exists. I don’t have to believe in it for it to work.”
The nonchalance with which he spoke struck her and put her on her guard, because…she believed him. Oh, my God. Magic was real?
He put the pickles back then shut the door, the silence settling around them. He looked down at her. “Have I upset you? You look afraid.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but couldn’t think of anything to say. She didn’t know how she felt. “I…um…I just…”
His brow furrowed. “You know the portal I came through?” He put his hands in his pockets. “That’s made by magic. Someone used a bean or conjured a spell, or…something.” He shook his head and went around her, going to stand before one of the windows framing the fireplace. “I don’t know why it was in the middle of the ocean, but I think it was meant for me.”
What kind of conversation was she having? Was this even real? How could he talk of such things like they existed? Her heart pounded inside her chest at the weirdness, the possibilities, the…reality. How could what he said be true? “M-Meant for you?”
He glanced at her over his shoulder. “The wind…felt like a hand. It picked me up and threw me.”
He turned to face her, his expression grave. “I don’t know. To get me away from my brother? To save me from servitude?” He shrugged.
Her head spun with what he was saying. How could any of this be true? And this was much bigger than…well, than using some kind of time machine and flicking a switch. Had she really thought she would know how to do even that?
Was she stuck in a dream? Wake up, Emma. Wake. Up.
“I’ve scared you.”
His disappointed and disgusted tone caused her to jerk her gaze to his. “No, no,” she assured him. “I’m just…I mean…” She rubbed her forehead. “I should’ve known there was more to it. A great big swirling vortex split the sky and a person fell through. I saw that with my own eyes. I should’ve realized right off that wasn’t normal.” She lowered her arm, upset with her stupidity. “I mean, I did know, but I had it in my mind that I could help you. How in the world can I do that?”
She moved to sit down, dejected and feeling like a huge dummy. And this poor guy. He was probably never going home. Time travel wasn’t real. At least, it wasn’t real here.
She heard his boots scrape along the wood floor, and he sat down on the opposite end of the couch. Silence reigned as she allowed her thoughts to swirl. How could she help him? What could she do for him? She could barely take care of herself.
“I feel fortunate that you’ve offered to assist me,” he murmured.
His soft tone caressed her, and she looked at him. The fond light in his eyes made her heart swell and pound harder. God.
He was cute. And confident. He didn’t seem scared at all. And he had a job. He wasn’t a thief and could probably take good care of himself. She bet he knew how to fight, too. A glance to his hands as they rested on his thighs made her throat dry up.
They were wide. Capable. Wow.
She took a deep breath and tried to concentrate on the problem. “Well, that’s good, but I doubt I’m going to be able to offer any solutions.” His words and explanations came barreling back. “Magic is real?”
“Like, people can wave a wand and things happen?” She tried to picture what he’d described and Harry Potter came to mind. Whoa. Harry Potter.
“They don’t really need wands. People who have magic can just use their hands, and they toss their fingers. Like this.”
She watched him gesture back and forth as her own memories played in her mind. Ingrid. Her foster mother who had wanted to adopt her…
Ingrid had said…Oh, God.
“Wands aren’t needed all the time, though some people have them. Like the fairies.”
He nodded. “Fairy godmothers fly around and take care of children when others can’t. They have wands, and use light magic.”
Fairy Godmothers? Like in Cinderella? She cupped her face, unable to believe what he’d just said. “You can’t be serious.”
“You don’t have them here either?” He clenched his hands into fists. “You must think I’m a raving lunatic.”
She lowered her arms and shook her head. “No, I b-believe you. I think. Wow.” She shot to her feet and started pacing. “Fairy Godmothers,” she rasped.
He watched her trek for a few moments. “We don’t have to talk about this anymore. I don’t want to alarm you, and even if you can’t help me, I promise my brother is probably already working on it. Including my captain.” He scowled. “He wouldn’t want to lose one of his servants.”
“Servants?” Why had he spoken with such disdain?
A second of time passed, then he forced a smile. “It’s nothing.” He gestured toward the television. “What’s that thing?”
The abrupt change in conversation jarred her for a moment, but then she sat and picked up the remote. “Uh, it’s a TV.” She clicked it on.
The shock on his face made her relax a bit. A baseball game shone on the screen, the batter hitting a single and running to first. Wonder came over his expression and he leaned forward, already engrossed. His child-like interest made her heart skip a beat, and she wanted to show him so much more. He might have magic in his land, but he sure didn’t have cars or planes or other futuristic things.
But showing him the wonders of her time would only distract them from what they should be doing. Getting him home.
He believed she didn’t know magic and hadn’t had any contact with it. He was wrong.
“What is this?” he said softly.
As she explained the game, answering his questions, she recalled her last moments with Ingrid. Ingrid had insisted Emma had magic inside her. She’d even pushed Emma into oncoming traffic and commanded her to stop its progress with her magic.
But Emma had yanked away, called the woman insane. And then she’d run.
And now…she had proof magic might be real. And if it was real, then maybe Ingrid had been right. Maybe Emma had magic.
And if she did, then…was she from the same era as Killian?