Chapter 22: Interrogation

Nick paced the room; he had been wearing a dent into the oak floor for ten minutes.  My legs were ached with tiredness from watching him.  He had not said a word to me since I had joined him.  He just walked back and forth a few times, stopped, stared at me, and resumed his routine from the beginning.  Each time I had tried to speak, Nick had silenced me with a glare.  He slowed then turned to face me.

“What were you thinking?” he said, finally breaking the silence.

“Well, I…”

“Who was that goon?”

“Well, I…”

“Do you have any idea how terrified I was?  I thought I had lost you.”

“Nick, I…”

“Callista, do you…”

“Nick!” I shouted.  The rapid-fire half questions did not give me enough time to offer him some semblance of an answer.  He gave up pacing and rushed to sit beside me on the bed.

“Callista, I could have lost you tonight.”

“Yes, but you didn’t,” I said half-heartedly.

He ignored me.  “You were so still.  I couldn’t feel your heart and you weren’t breathing.”

“Oh.”  If I wasn’t breathing and my heart had stopped then maybe I hadn’t been dreaming.

“Oh, what?” he rushed, his expression troubled.

“I just remembered something.”


“I think I saw my mother,” I admitted, worried he would think I had gone crazy.  

Instead of making a smart remark questioning my sanity, Nick’s eyes popped.  He opened his mouth then abruptly shut it with a click.  Without a word, he stood up and resumed pacing.

“Nick, will you please sit down?”

“I can’t be still.”

“Can you at least say something?”

“What would you have me say?  Need I remind you that your mother is dead?” he clipped.

“Yeah, I know.”

“And if you saw her then that means you were…”

“I know.”  He couldn’t say the word, and I couldn’t think of it, not now. 

“What if…” Nick wrestled with the rest of his sentence.  “What if you hadn’t come back?”

“I am here, Nick.”  We had to remain rational.  It would do neither of us any good to survive on what if.  The incident had brought us closer to the end than either of us had imagined but we had survived and we were still together.

“I have never been more petrified than I was today.”  He touched my face reverently; callouses on his hand grated against the bruised skin. 

I couldn’t meet his eyes for fear the marks on his face would allow the reality of our dire situation to settle in.   “Me either.”

“All of this could have been over before having a chance to really begin.”

“It’s not over.”  Not yet.

Nick pulled back and abruptly changed the subject.  “Do you know the officer who came to investigate tonight?”

“Which one?  There were two.”

“The one who did the speaking.  It seemed as though you two had already been acquainted.  How well do you know him?”

I answered his bizarre question without thinking.  “Not well at all.  I’ve only met him one other time.  James was the one who told me about my parents a few weeks back.”


I waited for him to say something revealing, but he remained silent.  “Why do you ask?”

“It’s nothing, really.”


“I think he has feelings for you.”

James?  How could Nick know that?  He had been upstairs waiting for me—hadn’t he?  “Were you spying?”  My attempt to infuse the words with anger was futile. 

He straightened.  “I was simply curious.”

“Curious about what?”

“About the questions you would be subjected to and how you would respond.”

“And if they had asked something that you hadn’t liked?  What were you going to do about it?”  The final question held an obstinate edge.

“They didn’t, so it is irrelevant.”

“I’m glad you approved of their interrogation.  Now answer my question.”

“I would have come up with something, Callista,” he deflected.

“And if they had seen you?  What then?”

“I would have come up with something,” he repeated.

“I’m glad it didn’t come to that.  You’re wrong in your assumption by the way.”  I had only met James once before and I hoped to never see him again.  The only feeling the officer could have for me was pity.  The conditions under which we had met had gone from bad to worse.

“Will you tell me what happened?”

“Why?  Weren’t the acoustics good enough for eavesdroppers?”  I resisted the petulant urge to stick out my tongue.

“You edited.”

“Only as much as I needed to.”

“Still, I wish it had not been necessary.  Those men needed to know every detail so they could find out why this happened.”

“So you wanted me to tell them that a man from 1902 saved me?”

“I suppose not.  Still, will you tell me exactly what happened?” he repeated his request.  “Perhaps some vital detail will come out of it.”

“Fine,” I relented.  “I went to the carriage house this evening to figure out where to put the mirror.”

“Why did you go at night?” he interrupted.

“Because I did.”

“And by yourself?”

“Who was going to come with me?”

“But what if…”

“Nick, if you expect me to finish tonight, I would appreciate your silence.”

He pinched his lips with his fingers and buttoned them closed. 

“The first floor was full of old junk so I went upstairs.  The west wall was mostly clear and I shifted some furniture to free a spot for the mirror.  I heard the door crash open so I rushed downstairs.”  I took a deep breath in an attempt to distance myself from the story.  Nick pulled me into his arms, and I rested my head against his shoulder, drawing from his inherent strength.

“After I shut the door there was a noise behind me.  In a piece of glass from a broken mirror I saw…”

“You don’t have to do this tonight,” he said, effectively cutting off my flow of words.   “I apologize for pressuring you.  It was unfair of me to make such a request when everything is still so raw.  You have been through enough today.”

Instead of accepting the reprieve, I continued.  If this wasn’t done tonight then I’d have to face it at a later date.  “I saw him.  My body wanted to run, but he was faster.  He picked me up by my throat and all I could think was that I needed to memorize his face for the police.”

“Always practical.”

“That was my second thought.  Then I pictured how angry you would be when you found out I had died.”

“Furious,” he agreed sardonically.

“Then everything went blank.  That’s all.”

“That’s not all.”

“No, it’s not.”  This part was the hardest to speak of.  “I saw my mom.”

“You just saw her?”

“No, we spoke as well.  She said she had missed me and that she was sorry.  Then she told me to close my eyes and rest.  Next thing I knew, you were there.”

Nick traced the bruises on my neck then replaced his finger with his lips.  He gently kissed away the pain, and my heart swelled until it burst.

“Do you know…”  Nick stopped and inhaled a shaky breath.  “Do you realize how frustrating my life has been without you?  I had been missing an integral piece of myself—that part was you.  Callista, we might fail.  But if we do, we will do it together.  I don’t want to try with anyone else.”

Following his elaborate speech was impossible so I blurted the first inadequate word that came to my mind.  “Wow.”

Nick offered me a crooked smile.  “Wow?”

“People don’t speak like that anymore.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re some gallant, medieval knight and I’m your princess; like I’m the only one who matters.” 

“Callista, you are the only person in my past, present and future—in my existence—who matters.”  He grinned then quickly sobered.  “We belong together, of that I’m sure.  Beyond that simple fact, there is only vagueness.  Some miracle has aligned our times and our lives and, as impossible as it is, all that matters to me is that it is real.”

“You’re doing it again.”

“But you like it.”

“What makes you say that?”  Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I could feel myself flush.  Was I that transparent?

“Because you hold your breath then release the faintest sigh after I have finished speaking.”

“I do not.”

“Yes, Callista.  You do.”

I smiled at Nicholas Dalton II—the man I loved.  It would have been impossible to pinpoint the exact moment I had fallen for him.  It could have happened when we had argued over our mutual non-existence or on one of the countless nights we had kept one another awake with mundane conversations.  The date really didn’t matter though.  All that mattered was that I had recognized the hope inside my chest for what it was: love.  Terrifying, liberating, excruciating love.  I caressed his battered face gently, wondering over each inch.  He pulled my hand from his face and kissed my palm. 

“You’re not jealous, are you?”  The ludicrous thought popped into my mind.  Surely Nick knew how I felt about him.

“Jealous?  Of whom?”

“Of the officer, James.  Is that why you asked about him?”

“No, of course not,” he said, uncomfortable.  “I had just been wondering…”

“Wondering what?”  The way he spoke made my stomach clench with the same level of fear I had experienced earlier in the carriage house.

“What your life will be like with a man like him, one from your own time?”

I panicked.  “How could you think that when you just said we belonged together?”  Did he want to leave me already?

Nick smiled slightly but the shift didn’t touch his eyes.  “It was simply an errant thought.”

“Don’t let something like that cross your mind ever again, do you hear me?  I don’t belong with anyone but you.”

He nodded but did not respond with his customary magnanimous declaration.  “It has been a trying day for both of us.  Goodnight, Callista.”

Nick escaped to his room, and I stared wordlessly at his retreating form.   The lack of barrier between our worlds made it seem as if the space was marked by an open window, not a solid mirror. 

He avoided the questions burning behind my gaze as he reached to turn off his light.  Darkness appeared then my reflection returned.  Purple and blue bruises adorned my skin like an expensive sapphire necklace.  My formerly lustrous hair was dull and matted to my head with rusted blood.  But my eyes were the worst indication of the traumatic day; they were wide and frantic, accented by deep purple smudges.

“Stay with me,” I said to my reflection.  The desperation in my voice surprised me.

A voice from another world responded to my plea.  “I’m afraid I really shouldn’t.”

“Just for one night?”


“I keep telling myself that you are real—that you exist—but when you’re not here the impossibilities are too overwhelming,” I confessed, tears catching in my voice.  “Please, Nick.  I can’t handle any more today.”

Silence overwhelmed me and I knew I was alone.  Just as I reached to turn off my light, a flicker of movement from the other side caught my eye.  My reflection was no longer visible; Nick’s head emerged from the darkness followed by his torso then the rest of his lean body. 

I stared in disbelief as Nicholas Dalton II sat on my bed beside me.  The mattress dipped with his weight.  He looked up but would not meet my eyes.

“You’ll stay?”  I asked, breathlessly.

“That would not be appropriate, Callista.”

Appropriate or not, he hadn’t said no.

“Well then, why did you…”

He silenced me with a hard kiss.  The crushing pressure sent chills down my spine.  I returned the kiss with every ounce of passion and fear within me.  When I reached to pull him closer he jerked away.

“You have to understand something.  There are rules against this sort of thing.”

“Since when do rules apply to us, Nick?”

He couldn’t refute my argument so he tried another approach.  “It is not acceptable in my time for us to stay together.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing we’re not in your time.”  Our kiss had left my world spinning uncontrollably.  The lingering headiness delays my realization: Nick wasn’t leaving.

Nick tilted his head to the side and his eyebrows puckered endearingly, giving an outlet to the war raging within him.  Was he considering my offer?  He looked vulnerable, so I asked the question a third time, hoping to break any resolve he still held. 

I pulled his hands into mine and squeezed.  “Will you stay with me, Nick?”

The man I loved frowned at our joined hands and waited to answer.  His depthless brown eyes locked with mine when he spoke.  “I don’t believe I have a choice.”


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