Prequel To The McCade Legacy
© Nancy Fraser and Patti Shenberger
The room tilted precariously, her head spun anew; making Miri all the more grateful for the fact that she was still on the floor. At least she wouldn’t have far to fall when she fainted. “This can’t be right,” she murmured. “And you can’t be…”
Matt reached down to offer her a hand, to help this obviously delirious, albeit delightfully engaging woman, to her feet. Quickly, she backed away from him, scooting across the carpet on her fanny, dragging the heavy quilt with her.
It was all he could do, Matt realized, to keep from laughing. With an exasperated sigh, he told her, “I assure you Miss, as fetching as you look in my best silk dress shirt, it is not my nature to seduce young women who appear out of nowhere.” Again, he offered her his hand and finally she took it, allowing him to draw her to her feet. “Katie should be arriving at any moment with something for you to eat.”
“She’s the cook’s wife. She helps out with the meals and laundry.”
“And, she will probably be as curious as I…”
“Who are you? Where are you from? How did you end up nearly drowning just off the edge of my dock?”
She hesitated for more than a few seconds before finally saying, “My name is Miracle Johnson. But everyone calls me Miri.”
“Miri.” Although he’d only repeated it, his husky voice wrapped snugly around her name.
“I live in Chicago. Chicago, Illinois.”
“How did you get here from Chicago?”
“Actually, I’d come to Greenville to attend to my late father’s affairs.”
“Perhaps you could also explain how you know me, when I haven’t the slightest idea who you might be.”
“Well, McCade, I know you because I’ve read about you.”
“You read about me. Where, might I ask?”
“In my father’s notes mostly. You’re famous, or should I say you were famous.”
“I was, but I am not any longer?”
“No, actually you’re dead!”
“I most certainly am not dead!”
“Yes, you are, you…” Miri let her words trail off, at a loss for a reasonable explanation. “What year is this?” she asked instead.
“1866, of course,” he replied tersely.
Miri shook her head in disbelief. “It can’t be 1866.”
“I assure you it is 1866. August 15th, to be exact.”
“But that’s impossible,” Miri argued. “You’re dead. You died in…”
“Do I look dead to you, Miss Johnson?”
Miri could hear the growing impatience in his voice.
He stepped closer. Harshly, he repeated, “Do I look dead to you, Miracle Johnson?”
Miri stared up into his face, at the strong jaw, the full sensual lips and into the depths of his eyes. “No,” she said finally. “You don’t look dead at all.”
Gently, he reached out and took her hand in his, pressing her open palm to his still damp chest. Miri could feel his thundering heartbeat as clearly as she felt her own. Taking one step forward, he threaded his fingertips through her hair and cupped the back of her head.
“No,” she whispered.
He moved closer, his mouth hovering above hers, promising yet not delivering. Miri stood there, suspended somewhere between dream and reality, only to find herself surprisingly disappointed when he raised his head and backed away.
Previously published as A Miracle Through Time