Before I Wake by Mary Ellen Johnson
Travels Across Time Book 1
A Novelist’s Fanciful Obsession with a Dark-Eyed Knight Becomes Reality in Before I Wake, a Historical Time-Travel Romance by Mary Ellen Johnson
13th Century England, Tintagel Castle
After being haunted by a past life regression in which she is married to an enigmatic knight, historical novelist Magdalena Moore is transported to thirteenth-century Tintagel, where she discovers the truth about the knight Ranulf Navarre is very different from her imaginings.
At Tintagel Castle, Magdalena is miraculously transported to thirteenth-century England, where she is Lady Jane, and Lord Navarre is her husband. But Ranulf is not the man of her imagination.
Why is Ranulf so cold and Janey so erratic? What secrets are they hiding? When England plunges into civil war, Ranulf backs the wrong side. Knowing he is destined to die in battle, Magdalena tries desperately to cheat fate, save Ranulf, and finally find happiness. But secrets can ruin everything, and Magdelena’s secret is too fantastical to be believed.Amazon
Excerpt From Travels Across Time
The area surrounding Tintagel Castle was ruggedly beautiful—treeless and bare, with ground covering clinging like moss to great slabs of slate, scarred by the ruins of a long-ago lord’s Arthurian obsession.
While today’s buildings, those that had not tumbled into the relentlessly encroaching Celtic Sea, might be little more than rubble, nature’s landscape remained inviolate.
I am seeing what you saw, I thought, striding along the pathway. What you and Lady Jane both saw.
Breathing the air you breathed.
Feeling the sun, as if it were the same.
Hearing the screeching of seagulls, just as you did.
The cawing of ravens.
The barking of seals.
As did you both.
I was assaulted by a sudden wave of dizziness and swayed, nearly losing my balance. After several moments, after convincing myself I was imagining things, I continued my walk
When did I first notice something around me had changed? The atmosphere had grown unnaturally still, the way it does before a tsunami. Even the light was peculiar–the colors different, as if veiled by a mist or diffused through smoky glass.
I assured myself I was fine, but I wasn’t. With each step, I felt more… vague… Like when you emerge from a fever, or a particularly intense dream. The landscape shimmered, like heat haze rising from asphalt. I forced myself to resume walking, but soon experienced a tingling, beginning at the tips of my toes, rising up my legs and torso. Higher, higher until a thousand prickles warmed my face. Drifting upward and out the top of my skull.
I paused until the tingling passed. Glancing down, I was startled to see, not the veined hands of a well-worn woman, but supple skin. I flexed my fingers. Small, delicate, with smooth knuckles. These were not Magdalena Moore’s hands, not now, not ever. And my hiking clothes had somehow been replaced by a long-sleeved undergown topped by a brilliant blue surcoat. My feet were shod in short leather boots tied around the ankle.
Odd. I wasn’t all that bewildered or upset. I experienced more a sense of anticipation, as though I were about to welcome a long-anticipated guest.
I continued on, my body feeling smaller and slighter, my stride more graceful without the stiffness and clumsiness inevitable with age. Physically, I seemed to have been transformed into someone else–at least until I could come up with a better explanation. In the meantime, I was still thinking like Magdalena Moore. Pretty much. At least I seemed to be. Wasn’t I?
It was then I noticed I was standing in front of Tintagel Castle’s gatehouse. Not a ruin but an actual gatehouse, with a raised portcullis and the porter’s lodge above. I recognized all this, even though I’d only seen it in reconstructions.
“This can’t be right,” I whispered. The gatehouse hadn’t existed for hundred of years. None of this could be real.
And yet it all seemed familiar.
After passing beneath the portcullis, I heard voices from the upper ward, where knights daily practiced their sword play and other martial exercises. This I knew, not from research, but because I’d walked this walk before. Another impossibility.
Once I passed the upper ward, I strode along the courtyard until I reached Tintagel’s stable.
Which was also familiar.
Automatically, I veered to a vice located past the deserted stable, leading to the battlements. No need to question how I knew its location. Or why I approached it with such certainty.
I had climbed those stairs many times. As had he.
The wind picked up. The curtain wall had been constructed so dangerously close to the sea I could hear its roar. I climbed to the top of the vice. Paused.
This is it.
Now, this very moment.
The moment I had waited for–for how long? Knowing what I would see, I turned my head.
There you are. As I knew you would be.
In the middle of the battlement, looking out at the sea. That wine-red jupon, belted at the waist since he wasn’t wearing his sword. Exactly as I remembered. The curve of his long warrior’s body as he leaned forward on a crenel, his gaze fixed upon the horizon. The wind whipping his long black hair about his head, hiding his face.
I paused. My heartbeat hadn’t accelerated, as it surely should. This all seemed so right, so normal. And yet a part of me was terrified, wanted to race down those stone stairs and reverse my steps, back to my hotel and to a contemporary March morning.
I wet my lips, as if to call his name, though nothing escaped my throat. Hesitantly, I approached him, my tread stealthy upon the walkway. He could not possibly hear me above the moaning wind, the thundering waves. Yet I saw his shoulders stiffen. Ever so slightly, not so much that most people would notice. But I noticed. The way I’d learned to notice everything about him.
He straightened and turned toward me. The wind slashed strands of hair across his face, as if still seeking to hide his identity. Impossible.
I would know you anywhere.
Here you are. Finally.
Capturing me with those cursed, hypnotic eyes that had so long haunted me.
Now I felt it, all my senses exploding. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, could only stare at him, this man I’d chased down the centuries.
Ranulf Navarre’s mouth turned up in the ghost of a smile.
“Welcome home, Janey,” he said.
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