When Jaclyn Sinclair researches the Fenian Invasion of 1866, a little known incident in US and Canadian history, strange things start happening, until she is flung back in time to the day the invasion began. Taken prisoner, she is questioned by Sean O’Dell, one of the invading Fenians. Now she’s stuck in 1866, in the middle of a historical event she knows far too much about, being interrogated by one of the most gorgeous men she’s ever met…Hmm. Trouble ahead.
Quinn was now looking at her as if she’d just offered to eat fire. “Elvis! What kind of heathen name is that? And what is Graceland? And why should I care about it?”
Maybe they didn’t go for rock music in County Cork. “Graceland is Elvis’ estate. Lot’s of people go there. It’s sort of like a shrine to his memory.”
“A shrine to a man’s memory? I know of no such heathen practices in Memphis!” He leaned forward and poked his finger in Jaclyn’s face. “Listen you—”
Behind Quinn, a throat was cleared. The private looked around, then jumped to attention and saluted.
“At ease, soldier.” The voice was deep, rich and resonant. There was a distinct Irish lilt in it that shivered down Jaclyn’s spine. She looked at the owner of the voice and had to resist the urge to jump up herself. Instead she tilted her head back and observed him along the length of his long, slightly bowed legs, past his narrow hips and strong chest to his face. She couldn’t tell exactly what he looked like though, because the early light was behind him and his features were shadowed by the wide brim of a US cavalry hat, circa 1860. Like the sergeant’s, it had an emblem on the front, the crossed sabers of the cavalry. She shivered. These earnest re-enactors certainly put a lot of detail into their pageant.
And they hadn’t advertised it. Was that possible?
“You are relieved, Private. I’ll be takin’ charge of the prisoner now. Rejoin your unit,” said the man with the lovely Irish lilt.
Quinn saluted sharply and marched off. Jaclyn watched him leave uneasily. She wasn’t sure what to expect from this tall stranger.
“Stand up, boy,” the Irish lilt said. “Let me look at you.”
Jaclyn stared up at the man’s shadowed face and considered. The lovely Irish tones held no hint of bullying. Nor did he look particularly threatening. Beneath the wide brimmed hat his black hair was thick and a little long, but that was okay. She wished she could see his eyes, but at this angle all she could make out was the Poncho Villa style black mustache that adorned his upper lip.
He waited patiently, not hassling her while she thought. He did put his hand on the thing hanging from the black leather belt around his waist, though. As she rose to her feet, Jaclyn took a closer look. It was the practical, unadorned hilt of a sword. Damn, but these people were good!
She nodded toward the sword. “Are you an officer?”
She thought she saw the hint of a smile on firm lips. “Major Sean O’Dell, at your service.”
“Nice name,” Jaclyn said absently. As she’d expected he was a tall man, six feet or more, long and lean in build. The slight bow to his legs that she’d noticed earlier told her that he’d spent a lot of his life riding horses. Hence his decision to represent a cavalry officer, she supposed. The trouble was, he had no horse.
Of course, when the Fenians invaded they crossed the Niagara in small boats and didn’t have any way to transport horses. That was why they’d gone on foraging expeditions as soon as they’d made camp, looking for supplies and transportation.
She leaned against the tree trunk and scrutinized him. “What are you going to do with me?”
“Talk to you, nothing more.” Amusement invaded the lovely Irish lilt.
“Okay. What do you want to know?”
“Your name would be a fine beginning.”
Jaclyn grinned. “Name, rank and serial number. That’s all I’m allowed to give you.”
She saw his body tense as if he was trying to figure out what her flip comment meant. She rubbed her chin and told herself to get a grip. Of course he knew what it meant. It was a stock phrase in every war movie from the ’40s to the present. Everyone on the planet had heard it used, or had used it themselves, at one time or another.
“Do you live hereabouts?”
Jacqui was considering whether she should admit she was visiting from Toronto, or tell him she was from Fort Erie when a shaft of early sunlight penetrated the orchard and fell cross the face of Major Sean O’Dell. Her heart skipped a beat and her breath caught in her throat. My, oh my, but he was gorgeous. His face was lean, like the rest of him. Deep-set eyes, the pure blue of a clear summer sky and fringed with long, black lashes, looked out from under arched black eyebrows. Beneath was the slash of high cheekbones and a straight nose neither too long nor too short. His mouth was wide, with firm, well-shaped lips and his chin had a decided jut that was relieved by the hint of a crease. Oh man, what a package this guy was.
He raised one black brow and tried again. “What are your parents’ names? They’ll be missing you if you don’t come in for breakfast.”
“My parents don’t expect me until later,” she said absently, still trying to cope with the reality of the Adonis before her. She stiffened as soon as she realized what she’d said. Re-enactors or not, she was still in the midst of hundreds of men. Telling this hunk of luscious manhood that she wasn’t expected anywhere soon wasn’t too bright.
He took off his hat. A shock of thick black hair fell over his forehead. He combed it out of the way with his fingers, then wiped his forehead with his forearm. Above the place where the rim of the hat normally lay the skin was pale, below was a light tan.
Jaclyn swallowed. Not only was his move incredibly sexy, but the tan line indicated he wore the hat regularly. What was happening here?
“Look, boy. I’m not going to hurt you. None of us are. We’ve come to rescue your people from—”
“I know, the domination of Britain.”
His eyes narrowed. “And how would you know that?”
She shrugged. “The guy playing the sergeant has already given me the spiel.”
“Playing the sergeant?” he said softly.
Jaclyn didn’t want to get anyone into trouble. “Well, yeah. I’m not complaining, you understand. He did a great job! All I meant was that he’d already told me about your, er, mission statement.”
Major Sean O’Dell sighed. “Are you trying to confuse me, boy?”
“Good. Let’s start again.”
There was no amusement in the Irish lilt now. It had hardened. Jaclyn thought that if he had been an officer in the Union army, he’d probably been the very devil to cross.
“What’s your name?”
She hesitated, then said, “Jack.” Like the others, this Sean O’Dell thought her a boy because of her short hair and trousers. It was probably a good idea to keep it that way.
“Jack. Would that be it, then? Just Jack?”
“I won’t tell you my last name or where I live. That would be an invasion of my privacy.”
This time when he sighed, she thought she detected a shade of amusement in the sound. “You are not going to make this easy for me, are you?”
Jacqui had to laugh. “I never make things easy for anyone. So tell me, Sean, is it your job to interrogate me?”
His blue eyes burned into her. “I’m Major O’Dell or just Major. How old are you, boy?”
Jaclyn blushed. She was a complete idiot. Here she was trying to pretend to be a kid and she was acting like an adult. She thrust up her chin and pulled a number out of the air. “I’m fifteen.”
He frowned. “Five and ten years old?”
“Yeah. Sort of.” She hunched her shoulders and looked down at her feet. She was out of her depth here. This re-enactment stuff was too intense.
“Jack,” he said quietly.
She looked up.
“What harm is there if you answer my questions?”
“You’re a Fenian.”
“That I am. What of it?”
“I’m Canadian,” she said slowly. “I’m not British, although my people came over from Scotland. I was born here and this is my country.”
“Then you’ll understand why we want to chase the British tyrant from your shores.”
Jaclyn stared up into those gorgeous blue eyes and thought uneasily that the expression in them was remarkably sincere. “Sean. Sorry, Major!” she said hastily when his black brows snapped together. “We’ll get rid of the British ourselves in about a year. Our politicians are already working on a political union called Confederation. We don’t need outside help.”
He stared at her. “Britain has no place in North America.”
Opening her mouth to debate this statement, Jaclyn shook herself. What was she doing? She was falling into the mood of this re-enactment nonsense. “You know what? I’m tired of this game. Tell me what you’ve done with my car and I’ll be on my way.”
“I can’t let you leave,” he said.
Jacqui almost stamped her foot. “Listen mac! I’ve almost had it. I want to go home. Now.”
He raised one of his defining black brows. “And alert the area that we’ve landed? I think not my boyo.”
The hardening in his voice reminded her that he would probably be dangerous if he wanted. Jaclyn resigned herself to a few more hours spent in the midst of the re-enactors.
“I need information.”
The sun was stronger now. It illuminated the area around them with devastating clarity. They were standing in what was definitely an orchard. Men were everywhere and suddenly one shouted, “She’s about to fall!”
A tree hit the ground with a mighty wallop amid the flutter of flower petals and the snap of smaller branches breaking. Jacqui’s breath caught as her throat closed.
They cut down the tree. In her mind the words repeated over and over again like a mantra. They cut down the tree. Why did it matter? Trees were cut down all the time. So what?
She took a deep, slow breath as she stared at the downed tree. She noticed the Fenians were already at work on a nearby one, chopping at the roots to bring down the trunk without leaving a stump.
The Fenians had pulled down all the trees in Thomas Newbigging’s orchard when they camped on his farm. No re-enactor, no matter how dedicated, would be allowed to cut down mature trees for the sake of a single pageant. Trees like these took far too long to grow and were far too expensive to replace. The outcry from environmental groups would be vocal and very loud, too loud for a re-enactment to risk.
Slowly Jaclyn refocused. Sean looked real. If she reached out and touched him, his skin would be warm and she would feel a pulse at his throat. But he couldn’t be a Fenian. If he was, he’d been dead for decades by the time she’d been born. Or perhaps she hadn’t been born yet at all.
No, that didn’t fit. She was alive and so was Sean. If he truly was a Fenian could it be that she had actually crossed the barrier of time and was back in 1866?
She’d come to the Niagara to find out if the voices in Hugh MacLeod’s picture and the vivid emotions that had washed over her when she touched the newspaper were real.
Now she knew. Somehow she had traveled back into the past.
So here she was, in the early morning of June 1, 1866, with one of the most gorgeous men she’d ever seen interrogating her on a subject she knew far too much about.