A Firstful of Fate
Would you die for love...twice?
William Montgomery, a blacksmith wrongly sentenced to death in 1806 for the murder of the woman he loved, cannot rest. His ghost is bound to Clayton Creek. For over two hundred years he’s been waiting for the soul of his true love to find him and set his soul free.
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Historic Clayton Creek Village, New York
August, Present Day
William Montgomery stood in the shadowed doorway and watched the woman he’d waited two hundred years for kiss another man. But Reginald Merriweather wasn’t just any man. He was the man William blamed for Rebecca Beauregard’s death all those years ago, a crime Will had been accused of and paid for. With his own life.
It didn’t matter that Will had been executed. He couldn’t have lived another minute without Rebecca by his side. In truth, his heart had stopped beating the second the bullets had pierced her body. Had he known she would jump between their dueling pistols, he never would have fired.
Now Will’s heart pumped a frantic rhythm he barely remembered in his chest. Two centuries spent in his ghostly form had dulled that particular memory. His blood began to tingle in his veins. Looking down, he saw his legs, his boots, and then his limbs had vanished once again. The change so abrupt he wondered if he’d imagined it.
Rebecca was alive, not a figment of his imagination. She stood on the street between his home and his blacksmith shop, dressed in twenty-first century clothing that showed so much more of her skin than he ever remembered seeing. Her dark hair bounced off her bared shoulders beneath a wide-brimmed hat. So full of life, her smile intoxicated him even from this distance. He wondered if her eyes were the same shade of hazel with green specks and full of mischief, if her skin would still smell like freshly picked lavender.
He stepped out into the summer sunshine to venture closer, expecting her to notice him, to recognize him and call out in the voice that had haunted him these long, lonely years. But she didn’t. She didn’t notice him at all. Neither did Reginald. Will was nothing more than a breeze, still a ghost.
Rebecca Beauregard had loved him. He found no other explanation for her spontaneous act. She gave her life to save him. And Will had waited two hundred years to save her in return.
Uncertain what to do next, he returned to the familiar doorway. The rustle of the witch’s skirts came from behind him, but he didn’t turn around when he said, “Maeve.”
Her cane tapped rhythmically against his wooden floor as she shuffled across the room.
“You’ve set your mind?”
“Yes,” he answered, full of conviction.
He walked to the fireplace, tossed in a log and stood motionless, waiting for the glowing embers to roar to life. The hot summer day couldn’t stop him from shivering; what made him think a blazing fire would warm his tortured soul? He poked the coals out of habit and watched the flames ignite.
Resting a forearm against the mantle, William opened a fisted palm and examined the contents in his hand. Fifteen pearls. A fistful of fate. His heart filled with hope for the future.
“At midnight one pearl will shatter,” Maeve whispered.
“You will not be able to change your mind, William.”
“I’ve been bound for two centuries to this village, waiting for Rebecca’s soul to return. She’s here now, it’s my best chance.”
“I will have faith I made the right choice in you. Remember our bargain, do not disappoint me.” The old woman tapped the cane three times, stepped closer, her black skirts sweeping across the dusty floor. “You remember the rules?”
“Yes.” He released a ragged sigh. “She must fall in love with me. Here. In her own time. I cannot tell her about our past together. And above all else, she must forgive me.”
“Once you have set your path in motion, the magic of the pearls will be all you have. Keep them safe. As long as the pearls are in your possession and Rebecca is close, you will retain your human form. When the pearls are gone, so is your time. Our bargain, either for good or naught, will come to its conclusion. We’ve waited a long time, haven’t we? This is your chance to fulfill the destiny I saw, to have my son returned to me. Emmett is counting on me. I am counting on you.”
“I know.” He fisted his fingers around the beads and shoved his hand deep into his pocket. “But why is he here? Can I not escape him?”
“Reginald is as much your fate as Rebecca, your three souls are connected through time. I am afraid you cannot have one without the other. It is your destiny. I believe you know the consequences of failure.”
“I will not fail.” He kept his eyes focused on the flames spiking between the logs.
“With or without Rebecca, when the pearls are gone you will return to the day of your sin to live out your fate, however long or short that may be. There will not be another chance. I am sorry I cannot tell you more. I have already overstepped my bounds. You understand?”
“Yes,” he groaned.
“Good.” She came to stand next to him, tapped the cane one more time and flicked a shimmering powder into the hearth. Pink and green flames burst into life; the scent of hyacinth filled the space. “You must have patience with her, William. Remember to use restraint. She does not know she is your Rebecca. You must awaken her soul. Be ever mindful of your temper with Reginald, it will not serve your cause. I wish you luck.”
When her words finished his body began to tingle. Blood pumped to his toes, to his fingers. Limbs appeared and then faded seconds later. He closed his eyes to concentrate on his body, imagined every part materializing.
He was a man again.
Maeve nodded, smiled and with a wave of her arm, she vanished into a kaleidoscope of mist.