Excerpts from A Stone Forgotten

AJ Struggles but Finn waits for her

After lunch, safely ensconced in the silent warmth of her car, her brother’s plight disappeared. The ash-blond male that had been tugging at his sleeves produced an immediate achy feeling in the pit of her stomach. She hadn’t been sleeping well and that tended to muddle her brain for the first few hours of the day. Was it possible she had hallucinated the entire thing?

The question she conveniently ignored was whether to tell Finn. As much as she worried about him settling in, she caught his occasional side glances when she’d had a particularly sleepless night. It hardly seemed worth bothering him about a stranger who bore an uncanny likeness to someone long dead. Everyone had at least one doppelganger. The truth was, it wasn’t the first time she’d thought she’d seen someone from the past.

If she analyzed it, who could blame her for hallucinating Beckworth? He’d kidnapped her and dragged her across the channel to France, and in a turn of fortune, she’d stabbed him. It hadn’t killed him, but surely two hundred years had finished the job.
She pulled into the driveway to find the sun sparkling on the ocean, brushing her new home in soft strokes of burnished golds and dusky coppers. The comfortable setting loosened the muscles in her shoulders. She was surprised to see Jackson’s truck gone. The two men usually worked until five and it wasn’t quite four. Maybe Jackson had left for another lumber run.

The old Chevy truck Jackson had found for Finn was parked in its usual spot. Seeing it, and knowing Finn was home, continued to erase her unease, though her fingers remained ice cold.

She climbed the few steps to the porch, her legs still a bit shaky, and stopped to smile at the rattan chairs and table on the front porch. The inn was truly becoming a home. When she entered the house, the utter stillness made her second-guess Finn’s whereabouts. He should be hammering, sanding, or sawing something. She dropped her purse in the hall before continuing to the kitchen. The dusty tarps had been folded and stored next to freshly sanded pieces of wood trim stacked against the dining area wall. The toolbox was shut, a clear sign that Finn was done for the day. So where was he?

She walked to the staircase and listened. Faint music she hadn’t heard earlier filtered down from the second floor. “Finn? Are you home?”

“Up here.”

Curious as to what he was up to, she bounced up the stairs and stopped cold when she arrived at the door to the bedroom. Something red spotted the carpet leading to their room. She stepped closer and stared. Rose petals?

Her body swayed as a small tingle ran down her spine. The rest of her tormented day disappeared, and she picked up a handful of petals, breathing in their earthy, floral scent. She followed the trail into the bedroom and toward their bathroom. A silent laugh bubbled up, and she shook her head. She thought Finn had dozed off during those old romantic movies she’d made him watch. He appeared to have learned a few tricks.

She kicked off her shoes and picked up more petals on her way to the bathroom, the heady scent leaving her giddy. She recognized the fragrance. These flowers were from the roses planted along the side of the house.

When she entered the bathroom, she could only stare as she licked her bottom lip.

The sunshade had been pulled down. Several candles cast the darkened room in a soft glow, their fragrance blending with the stream of petals. Two glasses of bubbly perched next to the tub alongside a bucket holding the rest of the icy bottle. She noted it all within seconds, which was all the time she had before her gaze was fully consumed by the man in the tub.

Finn leaned back, soap bubbles lapping against his broad, bare, wet chest. A lock of brown hair, its streaks of gold lit by candlelight, hung over his brow, and his deep emerald eyes sparkled as he flashed that grin that made her knees go weak.

“Welcome home. I think you’ll find the bath to your liking, sweet lass.”