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“It might be wise to leave your door open in the night. In case something were to happen.”
With a nod, Helen left the room.
Simon waited until he heard her footsteps travel up the stairway and into the room Mrs. Dawson encouraged her to use. His was one, not far down the hall, but he didn’t intend to use it.
He glanced at the books one last time before turning off the lights. By the time he passed Helen’s room, her light was off but her door was open a few inches.
After pulling back the covers on his bed, Simon stepped to the bathroom adjoining his guest room and removed his clothes.
Helen might not want Simon McAllister in her bed, but he wasn’t about to leave her alone. They were no closer to finding out how she traveled in time, and there was no guarantee it wouldn’t happen again.
No, Simon, in one form or another, would be by her side to protect her.
Standing in front of the mirror, Simon closed his eyes and allowed the shift. He pictured himself shrinking, the hair on his back sprouting. Everything in his body turned to flexible, expanding in some places, contracting in others. He reached for the floor and held in the haunting cry of pain.
* * * *
Helen punched her pillow with a fist and attempted to find a comfortable position. After her day, she was having a hard time falling asleep.
Talk about a confusing night.
Talk about a confusing man.
Simon McAllister or MacCoinnich, whichever name he wanted to use for the day, riddled her mind with questions and unease. Every hour he seemed to deliver one more compelling puzzle for her brain to decipher.
First was the undeniable fact that he’d traveled through time. Was a veteran of the sport in fact. The first time he’d ripped away time and space and traveled to the sixteenth century Scotland was because his mother wanted to prove his aunt was healthy and happily married to a Highland warrior. The second time was to return home so he could finish his first year in junior high school.
Things were sketchy from there. Simon told Helen he and his mother were forced back to the sixteenth century because of an evil woman who threatened all of Scotland. He didn’t elaborate about how or why. He simply said it took some time for the family to figure out how to destroy her.
Destroy had been his word. So Simon had killed, or at the very least been a party to another human’s death. Then again, how could she think he was anything but a medieval killer? The way he’d gone after the men in the forest suggested bloodshed wasn’t new to him.
Now that she reconsidered the events she’d witnessed, how had Simon escaped the men in the forest? There had been six of them. Only two caught up with her.
What was up with the Druid thing? The man literally shot flames from his fingers. A part of her, an adolescent part, was in awe of his ability. He’d made a flippant comment about how all Druids were capable of the task, even her, with practice.
She’d had a hard time mastering the fine art of snapping her fingers. Flinging fire across the room was not on her list of talents.
The thought of warm flames brought heat to her cheeks and reminded her of their near kiss. The fullness of his lips close to hers.
Electricity to the tune of a zillion volts simply didn’t compare. She hadn’t really expected it. Really didn’t expect to have shoved him on his ass. Call it a twitch, instinct even. She’d been well practiced at keeping men away. Thanks to the foster homes and would-be father figures early in her life, Helen’s trust in men didn’t come quickly. She’d learned that men eager to catch her attention usually disappointed her. There had been very few she wanted close.
Simon sorely tempted her.
Helen wanted to believe he was honorable. But he was a man. A masculine, sexy chunk of the opposite sex who didn’t compare to any man she’d had the privilege of knowing.
I’m never going to get to sleep with all this chatter in my head!
Helen battered her pillow again and attempted to clear her mind of all things Simon.
She’d just closed her eyes when a soft mewing noise forced them open. Small furry paws pounced up on the foot of her bed and reflective eyes regarded her with caution.
“I didn’t know Mrs. Dawson had a cat.” Helen said to her feline companion. The large midnight black cat tilted its head to the side, taking cautious steps her way as if waiting for an invitation to curl up.
“Who are you?” Helen asked the cat while reaching over to pet the beautiful coat.
The cat rubbed its face into her palm and purred. “You’re certainly friendly.”
Helen scratched the cat behind the ears. “Are you a Tom or a Tammy?” She looked and smiled. “Hi, Tom. I’m sure that’s not your name, but it will have to do. I don’t usually sleep with strangers….” Her words drifted while the cat took up residence at her side. He circled a couple of times before making himself comfortable.
“Well, okay then.”
The cat licked his paws and settled his head against her hip. He watched her intently, stared actually.
At least the cat had forced Helen’s thoughts to something other than the man sleeping in the next room. Helen stroked the cat’s back until he purred and his eyes drifted close.
For what it was worth, the cat offered some comfort and within minutes, Helen was in a world of dreams. Dreams of Highland kilt-wearing men who seduced women like they’d gone to school to learn the art.
The next morning the cat was gone. By the time Helen showered and left her room, thoughts of her furry bedfellow disappeared, and Simon refilled every corner of her brain.
It was damn unnerving. Men weren’t to be trusted, even a Druid man with a hero complex. A serious sword swinging, damsel in distress saving, follow me I know what I’m doing, hero complex. His disturbing words about being uncertain if she’d vanish out of her comfortable world and find herself thrust into his at any moment, gave her nightmares. Life-size nightmares where Simon didn’t reach her in time, and the two smelly medieval men latched on to her in the overbearing way men did to weak women.
But she wasn’t a weak woman. Not anymore.
Knowledge gave her control and control gave her power.
They were missing a piece of vital information about how she’d managed to get to the sixteenth century, and Helen was hell-bent on finding out what it was.
In the kitchen, Simon sat with a steaming cup of coffee, his eyes half open. “You look like how I feel,” Helen said as she crossed over to the pot and poured herself some much-needed caffeine.