Thursday, March 15, 2012
A Preview of 'In Loves Own Time' by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
There may be no place like home and nothing like love…..when history teacher Lillian Dorsey inherits a three story Edwardian brick mansion from the grandfather who banished her pregnant mother decades before, it’s a no brainer. She’ll visit the place, see it and sell it. Instead Lillian’s captivated by the beautiful home and intrigued by the ghost of the original owner, Howard Speakman. Soon she’s flirting with the charming, witty gentleman who’s been dead for more than a century and before long, they admit it’s a mutual attraction. Still, when she’s alive and he’s dead, any shot at being together seems impossible.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way….one afternoon while pretending to visit the past the impossible becomes a brief reality. If they visited 1904 before, Lillian knows they can do it again and if so, she can prevent Howard’s untimely death. With a combination of love, powerful hope,
and stubborn will, Lillian bends time to her will and returns to the summer of 1904. But Howard’s death looms ahead and if she’s to find a happy ending, she must save him from his original death.
“Lillian, dear, dear Lillian! Your sister has favored us with a visit.” Howard kept his voice level but the strain of this unexpected arrival was apparent.
“Hey, Lil!” Vinnie said, jumping up to envelop her in a hug strong enough to rock them both off their feet. “I told you I’d come and here I’m! I introduced myself to Howard. We’ve been talking.”
Lillian shuddered. Her sister’s tone was the one she hated most, a smug and arrogant attitude portended trouble. Since their last conversation didn’t go well, she engaged warning mode and proceeded with caution even as she plastered a smile across her lips.
“So, you came to visit! I didn’t think you would – I haven’t heard from you in awhile.”
“I know. I’ve been so busy but when things settled down, I jumped in the car and thought I’d surprise you,” Lavinia’s answering grin was as phony as her own was. “And I got lucky-Howard was home and you weren’t so we got acquainted. He’s great, really.”
Lillian met Howard’s gaze of inquiry and shrugged her shoulders. As much as she loved her little sister, Vinnie was the last person she wanted to see and she really didn’t want to debate her sanity again with her sister. Without words, Howard communicated he’d withdraw, leaving her to face their guest alone so she swallowed, then nodded her approval. He slipped from the room and she feared he might vanish but the sound of his footsteps marching upstairs reassured her.
“Come on back to the kitchen and have some lunch,” Lillian said, putting an arm around her sister’s shoulders. “I just made myself a sandwich.”
“Thanks but I grabbed a burger from Mickey D’s,” Lavinia said. “But if you have some Diet Coke or iced tea, I’d love some.”
Lillian nibbled at the sandwich but her earlier hunger faded and she found it hard to swallow each bite, washing them down with sips of iced tea. Vinnie tipped her glass and swirled the amber hued tea around before she took a drink and put down the glass.
“Howard is a little eccentric but he’s a charmer,” Lavinia stated, tipping her head back to gauge her sister’s reaction.
“Does he live here too? I found the back door open so I slipped in and snooped a little. It looks like a cozy little love nest if you ask me.”
The words hung in the air as a certain challenge and Lillian confirmed her fears Vinnie was spoiling for a fight. She swallowed a bite and then plunged in, now or never.
“Howard doesn’t “live” anywhere at the moment since he has been dead since 1905.” It sounded fantastic even to her ears but she pressed onward with the truth. “He is here with me most of the time and we do love each other. What may seem eccentric to you is nothing but the difference between a gentlemen from the past and today’s guys.”
Her sister spewed the mouthful of tea she’d been about to swallow. “You’re still on this ghost kick? Jeez, Lil, I cannot believe you can tell me the guy’s been dead for a hundred years with a straight face! I know very little about ghosts but I can tell you Howard, is no ghost.
He’s as real as I’m.”
Lillian had prepared for this moment and shaking her head, she rose and pulled a manila
envelope from a drawer.
“No, Vinnie but he was. You don’t have to believe me but here is a copy of his obituary, a photocopy of a picture taken at a strawberry festival in 1904, and a few other things you might find interesting.”
Lavinia frowned. “What’s all this? If this is a joke, its gone way too far or you’re really crazy.”
Lillian smiled. “I’m not crazy.”
If looks could kill, the expression on Lavinia’ s face would’ve struck Lillian dead but after a long moment when neither sister dropped their stare, she bent her head and read the clippings, one by one. The silence stretching out over those long moments was heavy, a tangible thing
Lillian could feel to her bones. After what seemed like hours, Vinnie pushed the clippings, back into the envelope and looked at her sister.
“So, now do you believe me?” Lillian prompted.
“I don’t know.” Her voice lost any smug certainty. “I really don’t know what to think. I can’t say I believe in ghosts but there’s things here I don’t understand.”
Softened by the change in tone, Lillian reached across the table to take her sister’s hand. “I know. It’s all very weird and confusing. I still don’t understand every detail and neither does Howard.”
“He’s a ghost, for real?” Her plaintive voice brought Lillian back to the days of bedtime stories and fairy tales.
“And you love him?”
Vinnie jerked, almost spilling the tea and stared at her sister with wide eyes.
“If you mean what you said – and right now I think you do – where in hell do you go from here? How can you have a relationship with a ghost? I mean, please!”
Lillian hunted words with care. “It is complicated but we have a plan. Things have happened you don’t know about, incredible things you won’t believe and we know a way we can be together in every sense of the word if it works.”
“It will.” Neither realized Howard stood in the doorway until he spoke but both jumped at the sound of his voice. “Your sister and I plan to wed, Miss Lavinia and to live in this house as man and wife, raising a family.”
Vinnie stood up with such speed the chair toppled to the floor with a resounding crash.
He repeated the same sentences with slow precision and winked at Lillian who smiled and nodded.
“One day I put on some old-fashioned clothes and we pretended to be having tea in Howard’s time.” Whether she believed it or not, her sister followed every word with avid attention. “But something happened and we were really there, in the summer of 1904. Shugie, Howard’s family housekeeper, served us and talked to us. For the first time, except in dreams, Howard and I could touch and we did.”
She felt the warmth of the blush creeping up her cheeks but she focused on her sister who shook her head in denial. “You traveled back in time to 1904 and shared tea with Howard? Yeah, right.”
“It is true, I assure you,” Howard said, a grin twitching at his lips. “Moreover, we intend to return on a permanent basis. I’ll be alive, thank the Lord, and Lillian will be my bride. I can grow old in the house I built as I intended if all goes well. If you’re not inclined to believe me, watch this.”
Without another word, he vanished, evaporating into the air with a cheerful wave of one
Vinnie’s lips paled beneath her signature cherry red lipstick and bent her knees as she
pitched forward, eyes rolling up toward her forehead as she fainted at Lillian’s feet. Although Lillian tried to break her sister’s fall, she managed only to lower her to the floor. Almost as soon as her body landed, Lavinia’s eyes fluttered and she blinked, sitting up so fast she almost lost
“Easy,” Lillian said, playing the role of the stern older sister with ease and experience. “Give yourself a minute to catch your breath before you get up.”
Vinnie’s face was the color of natural vanilla bean ice cream. “What the hell happened?”
“Howard disappeared,” Lillian said, smirking. “I’m almost used to his vanishing act but
I suppose it was a shock.”
Vinnie pulled herself up to collapse into a chair. “Shock doesn’t do it justice, Lil. I suppose the nonsense you’ve been telling me is true, then.”
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I also have a book trailer here:
I'd like to thank Lee Ann for sharing her newest release with us. I absolutely love the premise, and the excerpt was awesome!
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~Author Jennifer Labelle~