Do You Believe in Magic? is the book I picked for my contest at Coffee Time Romance and More! The contest runs the month of October. There will also be some other goodies to go with this book :) I hope you will enter: http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/ContestPage.html
Enjoy the excerpt, this is general audience.
The flash of shiny metal caught his attention just in time to move as the bullet whizzed past his head. "Hey! Inside! I'm Captain Clay Banyon
of the US Army, put the damn gun away!" He took a deep breath to control
his temper. "The Indians are gone, you can come out now."
Ali's only problem was she didn't want to come out or even be here! Just seeing anything beyond the stagecoach might be more than her mind could
When Ali gave in and played her god-daughter's game pretending they live in the old west, using a garage sale relic, little did she
know—magic would change their lives forever.
She possessed a name, a profession and felt ridiculously grateful to the power that brought them to this…magic time.
Word Count: 36,000
Time Travel Romance, Western,
"Don't you believe me?"
She would get Tracey for this. "Of course I do, Evie."
"Then play the game with me, Ali, please."
Sneaking a glance at the stack of work on the table, Ali sighed.
"Come on Ali. Pleeeeze!"
What kind of aunt gives an eight year old a glass globe to play with? "Are you sure you should be playing with that, it looks old, Evie?"
"You're afraid." Evie's little girl face lit up with the taunt. "Ali's a scaredy cat. Ali's...."
"I am not." God, she sounded eight herself. It must be babysitting that did this to her, a grown woman just didn't do this anymore, even if
Tracey was her cousin. If Ali were honest, she would admit it was the
situation she didn't like.
Evie wasn't just hungry for attention, she must be starved for it to want her godmother as a playmate. Ali didn't think most kids played
'wishing' with a crystal ball that looked like a Merlin reject.
"Where did you get this, Evie?"
"I told you, I found it."
"No, you said your aunt gave it to you."
"Well, I found it, she just paid for it."
"From a shop?"
The girl's laughter became almost contagious enough to sway Ali off the subject.
"No silly, at a garage sale."
Now that, Ali could believe. Tracey carried the garage sale queen label, along with her other activities. So many she had no time for
little Evie. Like tonight, another class of some sort. Ali frowned,
realizing that Tracey was always farming Evie out to one friend or
another. She knew it hadn't been easy for Tracey to take over the
parenting of Evie when her sister died. But, Ali watched and saw how
Tracey continued to ignore the child. "Alright Evie, we will play, but
only for a while."
"Oh, it won't take long, you'll see"
"I need to change first."
Evie followed her into the bedroom.
"You better start thinking of a place."
"A what?" Ali slipped out of her work suit and kicked off her heels, half listening to the girl.
"Your favorite time."
As she walked past Evie to the dresser, she twisted the girl's pigtail. "Mine is five o'clock. The magic hour when all hard working ladies go
A giggling Evie fell back on the bed.
"It's not an hour Ali, it's a place."
"Sure, I like King Arthur's time. I'm a princess and there is a white knight like Prince Valiant."
When she pulled on her sweater, Ali looked at the girl. "You would."
Ali removed the bobby pins from the chignon and fingered out the amber lengths.
Ali slipped into her jeans, "So what?"
"Tell me your favorite time."
What could it hurt to play along with her, "That's a hard question. Let's see. I too like knights, especially the good looking kind."
"Oh Ali, you have Chet."
"Hmm, he's definitely good looking, but I'm not too sure about the knight part." No, Chet definitely didn't come up to their standards, if
any. Ali recalled their conversation from last night and wasn't sure he
met her standards, either.
"Ali your ideas are archaic."
"I don't think waiting until we're married, to go to bed with you, is an ancient philosophy."
"This is the twentieth-first century Ali, wake up!"
Ali closed her eyes over how hard he slammed her door, "It's how I feel..."
"What is Ali?"
She brought her attention back to the girl. "Nothing honey. Where were we?"
"We both like knights."
"Right, but I also like cowboys and sea captains."
"No, they are not nice, I like the good guys."
"I don't like water, I got sick when uncle John took me fishing on a boat."
Another fill in that Tracey put in the girl's life. She couldn't remember how long that boyfriend lasted. Evie's real father was never in
her life, he ran off the moment Karen announced she was pregnant. Sadly,
Tracey didn't appear to be the parenting type.
"And Indians. I could be a princess again."
She gave Evie a rueful look. "And what could I be?"
Ali rolled her eyes up to the ceiling.
"You've no imagination Evie, but sister does sound better."
"You could be a teacher. In one movie I saw, the girl is a school marm."
Ali conjured up the image of a spectacled spinster. "It doesn't sound very flattering."
"You are prettier than she is and she got the cowboy."
"He better be tall, dark and extremely handsome if I have to teach a room full of kids."
Ali reached out and started tickling Evie. "Come on, we better start this game of yours. Now, if your magic ball could make all that work
disappear I could really get into this."
"I'll try." Evie raced ahead of Ali into the living room. "You have to sit here, Ali."
Ali lowered herself down to the carpet and sat Indian style, per Evie's instructions. Evie took the large crystal ball off the coffee table and
set it between them on the floor.
"Now we have to think of the same thing, together."
"Set the stage?" At the girl's questioning look, Ali took the lead, "I see blue sky all around."
Evie chimed in, "And mountains, big ones."
"Green grass and rolling hills."
"Looks pretty Ali."
"Now what do we do Evie?"
"We close our eyes and wish."
Ali glanced at the serious look on the girl's face and closed her eyes.
"It is starting, so we need to begin our wishes."
"Pretend we are there and the ball works its magic." Thankfully, Evie was still too young to hear Ali's sarcasm.
"See, it's easy Ali."
Maybe Evie's game wasn't so bad. The girl needed the escape it lent from her rocky home life. Ali couldn't see the harm.
"You have to close your eyes Ali."
"Right. I forgot, sorry."
It proved hard to play along, Ali kept thinking about all the work waiting for her at the table.
"Ali, you aren't playing."
"Yes I am, I was just wondering how we will know when it works."
"Oh, you will know."
Ali took a deep breath and forced her eyes to shut. She tried to clear her mind, whispering to herself "blues sky, mountains and green rolling
She let her mind go with the imaginary scene. Ali began to relax under the spell's silent peace. A strange feeling of calm washed over her as
if she were floating on a cloud. Snow capped mountains encircled the
expanse of countryside. Wild flowers covered the open slopes of the
hills moving past. A rocking sensation washed over her, she smiled and
wondered if her subconscious slipped a ship in on Evie.
Ali sighed, and brushed the silly thought aside, letting the tranquility block out reality...if only for a little while.
But a sudden lurch jarred Ali from her peaceful dream.
She blinked furiously against the glaring sunlight. "What...sunlight?"
Ali bit her lip to silence what she didn't want to hear, but her senses betrayed her efforts.
The changes came at her like arrows. The assault's speed left her breathless as one reality slipped away, replaced by another—foreign one.
"Evie?" Ali didn't like the fear she heard in her voice.
Shaking her head against what she felt and still refused to let her mind comprehend, Ali flatly refused to let this go any further!
She took a steadying breath and silently laughed at what she nearly allowed herself to believe. Crystal balls didn't really work. She forced
her eyes open to seek out the familiar old furniture….
What came made her denial strengthen against the frightening reality taking hold of her. She squeezed her eyes shut, and forced them to
reopen, sure she'd been overcome by Evie's game.
"No! It can't be real." The stagecoach…Oh God, it really is one. Another rut sent the coach swaying and she bounced all over the seat.
Automatically her hand reached out to grip the open door frame. Ali
couldn't breathe over what shouldn't be there to hold.
Ali turned against the swaying, thankful that she found the girl beside her. She reached for her, "Evie?"
The girl looked up at her with the same confusion Ali felt. "Come here honey."
Evie needed no coaxing to accept Ali's embrace.
"Lady, get down!"
Her mouth opened more from the realization that a man sat across from them than his shouted order.
The curse he directed at her was nothing compared to the blast of the gun in his hand that cut loose.
Ali instinctively fell over Evie to shield her. "What is going on?" She shouted over the blasting noise.
"Are you blind?" He cursed and kept shooting, "damn Easterners, stay down or those arrows the redskins are shooting will give you the
Ali's gasps drew Evie's frightened whimper. "Ali, I don't want to be a princess anymore."
"I know Evie." The swish and thud above their heads confirmed all the man's threatening words. The arrow wasn't imaginary, neither was the
fear it instilled.
"Hush Evie, it will be okay."
"Ali, it's not right, what happened?"
"I don't know honey, I don't know."
The arguments waged inside her head that none of this could be happening. A kid's stupid crystal ball couldn't make something this
crazy happen. Could it?
Another bone-jarring jolt of the stagecoach made her teeth bite down against the answer.
Arrows kept flying, she could hear the war-whoops of the attacking men, yet all she could do was look at the clothes on Evie and then herself.
"Calico?" The tiny flower print dress looked very different from her jeans. Her hand rose and touched the bonnet secured by the satin blow
under her chin. A light, short traveling cape fell about her shoulders.
Ali truly wished it could shield them from the danger.
She looked up at the man's cry. Ali swallowed her scream over the arrow protruding from the man's chest.
"Don't look Evie."
The sideway lean of the coach stole her transfixed gaze from the dead man. A bare arm and hand moved about the open door panel, followed by
the painted chest.
"Oh, God, no!"
Looking to the man for help, she groaned. She tried to look away, catching sight of the gun still clutched in his lifeless hold. "I'm not
really doing this…" Ali kept repeating the lie as she pried his fingers
away from the weapon.
It took both hands for her to hold the heavy gun up and point it at the Indian now fully in view, clinging to the door. His eyes went to the
weapon, then her. The vicious sneer that crossed his face sent ice
through her veins. When he raised his arm, she saw the knife, the gun in
her hands fired as if it held its own agenda.
The horrible scream filled her ears. Dropping the gun, she tried to block it out with her hands, but Evie demanded her attention. Cradling
the child in her arms Ali heard the reassuring words she spoke to Evie
without thought, while she silently demanded the ball to bring them
Ali gave up the effort over the new sound of a bugle and the slowing of the stagecoach.
"Where is it?" She scrambled about the floor with her hands, searching under the folds of dress material for the gun, nearly crying when she
finally felt the warm metal.
"Evie, stay behind me." She held the gun before her. Ali waited for the next savage to appear. Her only thought was to protect Evie, nothing
else mattered any more…
"Buck! Are you alright?"
"Grazed my shoulder, Cap. I'll make it. Better check the passengers."
Clay looked back to be sure none of the Indians evaded the patrol before sliding off his mount. He kept a watch out to be safe as he walked up to
the coach, he reached out and pulled one of the arrows from the wood.
His attention became captured by the troubling discovery, Clay reached out to open the door. The flash of shiny metal caught his attention just
in time to move as the bullet whizzed past his head and he fell back
against the coach. He cursed over his own lack of caution, along with
the fool inside that almost killed him.
"Hey! Inside! I'm Captain Clay Banyon of the US Army, put the damn gun away!"
The silence was infuriating, under his breath he muttered, "Probably some half crazed greenhorn." He took a deep breath to control his
temper. "The Indians are gone, you can come out now."
Ali's only problem was she didn't want to come out or even be here! Just seeing anymore than she already had might be more than her mind could
handle. "I almost killed him."
She sank back against the seat, her hand rose and squeezed the small arm that encircled her neck from behind.
"Is it over Ali?"
"I don't think so."
"Listen to me! You in the coach, no one is going to hurt you, see for yourself, they are gone!" Remembering the scene he and troops came upon,
he could well imagine the fear the passengers suffered.
But nothing prevented the shock Clay suffered over the vision that emerged from the coach. Hair the color of polished topaz floated about
the tiny figure of beauty. The blue bonnet hung down her back and did
little to tame the wild wisps of her hair. Her eyes were a deeper shade,
but not quite brown. Right now, they were wide with fright, snapping him
out of the capturing trance of her beauty.
I hope you will enter the contest :)