up her bag, and glanced worriedly at her watch. Running late.
Damn. She glanced at her watch again. It was going to be close.
She made a dash for the door, calling over her shoulder to her
husband, and blowing him a kiss. "I love you! Call me if you
need me, I can be back at a moment's notice!"
She was looking forward to spending a week with her cousin Emily
on Florida's west coast. She really could use a break, she realized,
as she boarded the plane and took her seat. She was exhausted,
mentally as well as physically. She leaned back and shut her
eyes, only to be roughly jolted awake, what felt like only moments
later, as the landing gear descended and the wheels hit the
tarmac with a thud.
The baggage claim area was curiously empty. Apparently she had
been the only passenger traveling to this particular destination.
Well, it was a regional airline with multiple stops, and this
area, however pretty, couldn't compete with the appeal of Disney
World. She mentally shrugged, strapped her bag to her folding
luggage wheelie and walked out the terminal doors.
the year 1987.
suddenly felt, I don't know, slightly off somehow.
imagining things," I told myself. "Knock it off. Get
your act together. You just wrote an address and phone number
down wrong. That's all there is to it. You're going to use the
phone, call Emily, she'll come and get you and that will be
another deep breath as the three of us entered the building's
elevator. The little dog, happy as a clam, continued sniffing
everything in sight. Not particularly bright, but definitely
rescuer pushed the button for the third floor and the elevator
began to ascend.
still looking a little pale," he said, as it reached our
floor. We exited the elevator and turned to the right, heading
down a spacious open-air walkway overlooking the dock.
we are," he said a short distance later, pausing in front
of a door marked 305. He fished a set of keys out of his pocket
and inserted one in the lock.
forgot to tell you. I don't actually live here," he said.
"I'm cat-sitting for a friend who's out of town for a couple
of weeks. The cat actually likes me much better than he likes
my friend who keeps trying to convince me to take the little
beggar off his hands. By the way, watch out for the cat. I'm
pretty sure he's armed."
wait... You're not allergic to cats or anything, are you?"
he queried me.
my head. "I like cats," I replied. "Cats are
good. Dogs are fine. But I'm sort of partial to cats. I used
to have cats. I actually like cats rather a lot," I volunteered,
rather inanely I thought.
your step," he said, as he opened the door.
apartment was furnished in what I'd call early hotel chain.
Clean and attractive, but pretty much devoid of personality.
and white tuxedo cat was perched on the back of a plush armchair.
He growled and hissed at Muffy but gazed at me with undisguised
interest as we entered.
my host said, leading me to the door of the powder room. "Take
a minute, splash some cold water on your face then come sit
down. I'm going to take Muffy next door, then I'll be right
back to get you something cold to drink."
name is Walker Dansen, by the way," he said, pausing to
hold out his hand.
his hand in both of mine, as much to keep from falling as anything.
"Wa...?" I suddenly seemed to be having trouble breathing
and the room was beginning to spin.
you OK?" he asked with concern.
not entirely sure," I replied shakily.
Water. Splash it. Then go sit down. I'll be right back."
obediently and closed the powder room door behind me.
over to the sink, looked at myself in the mirror and audibly
gasped. My knees buckled and I literally had to grab hold of
the sink to keep from falling.
in the mirror was me, but it wasn't me.
My heart was pounding so hard that my hands were shaking.
totally round the bend, I thought shakily. I'm losing my mind.