She was drained when she finally closed the little book. Tears ran down her cheeks, and her hands still trembled.
Had it happened? Had she lived another life? No, it had to be some kind of bizarre coincidence, she told herself, but as she turned each page, the memories flooded her senses. She could see the house and the tree and the pond. The overwhelming grief pulled at her.
The woman who wrote those words had closed herself off from love and hope out of fear of being hurt, and Jordan knew when she had sent Woody away with her cruel words, that she had done the same thing.
She sat on the bed, too numb to move, until she finally felt that she had landed back in 2006. It all seemed suddenly clear to her. Somehow, the voices had spoken, and she had heard them.
Outside, the snow had begun to fall, but she ran into the cold, barefoot, wearing nothing but her thin cotton pajamas, and she pounded on Woody's door with an urgency. Like Jo, she only hoped it wasn't too late.
It took him some time for him to respond, and he opened the door and stood there in his boxers, rubbing drowsily at his eyes.
"Jordan? It's the middle of the night. What do you want?" he said in a hoarse voice, as if he had just been awakened. But she could hear the TV in the background, and she knew that he had been as unable to sleep as she.
"I don't know. I just had to see you," she croaked.
He frowned and stood mutely in the door. Finally, he noticed the little pellets that melted in her hair and on her bare arms.
"Jesus, Jordan! You're freezing! You'll catch your death." He took her hand gently and pulled her into the room. She stood shivering there while he ran into the bathroom and wrapped a towel around her.
"Thanks..." she said through chattering teeth, and she could feel the warmth return to her bones as he rubbed gently at her limbs.
"What are you doing here?" he said sharply, although he still stood with his arms wrapped around her.
"I had to talk to you. Please. I need to talk to you."
There was a pained silence. "I think we've said everything we have to say to each other."
She pushed away from him, her voice choked with tears. "Please, just hear me out, Woody..."
He shook his head and held his hands out in front of him. "You were right, Jordan. We can't keep hurting each other like this."
"No! No! Please! Just listen to me!" she started frantically.
"Listen to me, Woody! You're right. We've hurt each other in the past, but it was by pushing each other away."
He eyed her suspiciously. "Come on, Jordan. This is just you jerking my chain again, right?" There was a sharp, angry edge in his voice. "You're going to say you want to be with me, and then once we get back to Boston it's 'I need time.' Right? I mean, isn't that how we always play this? One step up, two steps back?"
"No! No, it's the truth, Woody."
"Then, why the about face?"
She raised her arms helplessly. "I don't know. I can't quite explain it, and you wouldn't believe it even if I could. You said I've been acting strange since I got here, and you're right. Something...happened. Let's just say...I've had a change of heart. No more games. No more dancing around it. I'm through pushing. I don't want to make excuses anymore. I don't want to take it slow. I don't want to waste another minute not being with you."
He raised his eyebrows in surprise and staggered to the bed, where he sank down onto the edge. "Wow, Jordan. This is..." he ran a hand over his face. "I don't know.
She followed and sat down uneasily next to him. "The other day, you asked me for another chance. Now it's me asking," she said in a small, broken voice.
His shoulders sank and he shook his head slowly, saying nothing.
Tears rimmed her eyes. "Well, that's it then," she said with a sad laugh. "I'm sorry. I had to at least try. I'll just..."
But then he stopped her mouth with a kiss. And another. His arms were around her, and they tumbled backward onto the bed.
It was the way it had been at the Lucy Carver Inn. They were tender at first, without the awkwardness of first-time lovers, and then their passion rose to a heated crescendo until the both fell back against the pillow in exhaustion.
Their bodies lay curled around each other, and he stroked her long chestnut hair.
"I don't want to waste this..." she whispered aloud, mostly to herself, and he kissed the top of her head.
As she began to drift, she heard Lily's voice in her head. Love is never a disappointment. Only the lack of it.
She rose and showered early the next morning. When she came out of the bathroom, he was stirring in bed.
"Jordan? Are you going somewhere?" he murmured.
"I was just going to run into town for a minute. I shouldn't be long."
"Okay..." he started warily, "but we've got a flight back to Boston at 11AM."
"Yeah. The feds are taking over. They've even got a couple of suspects lined up. Walcott wants us back to start building a case for when they finally find this bastard. Didn't you get the message?"
"Well, I've been kind of...distracted. Anyway, I'll be back with time to spare."
She crawled across the bed to him and planted a long kiss on his mouth. "I'll be back with time to spare."
He raised an eyebrow at her and grinned. "Time to spare for what?"
She grinned back at him. "I'll leave it to your imagination." She kissed him again quickly and slipped out into the cold.
She dressed in her room and then hurried the few blocks over to the used book store on the main street. What had Nigel said to her? Perhaps voices from a past life are trying to tell you something, to warn you that you're about to head down the wrong path...
But what path had Jo taken in 1885? Had she really gone on alone and full of regret? Or, like Jordan, had she somehow righted the wrong? She couldn't go back to Boston without knowing the rest of Jo's story.
As she rounded the corner, she could see the proprietor opening up the store for the day.
"Oh, hello, dear. Back for more?" the woman said, and let Jordan slip past her inside the door.
Jordan turned to her eagerly. "The journal that you sold me...I need to know more about it."
"Oh, yes! You read it, then! We found it in an old trunk up in my mother-in-law's attic when she died. It had come down through my husband's family. We thought we might find something of value in it, but it was only the journal, a bunch of old photos and some quilt scraps. Being interested in history, though, we decided to have a small run of the journal printed."
"The trunk was in your husband's family? So, he was related to the woman who wrote the journal?" Jordan asked with excitement.
The woman frowned. "Yes, distantly. Some kind of cousin or great-great aunt, I think. I really don't know much about his side of the family to tell you the truth. Now, me, on the other hand...I'm descended from three American presidents!"
Jordan ignored her and went on. "The photographs! Do you know what happened to them?"
The woman furrowed her brow and nodded. "Why, yes. I believe we had them framed and hung back there in the local history section." She raised her hand to point the way, but Jordan had already headed between the rows to the back corner of the store.
She wasn't sure what she was looking for, only that she would know when she found it. She searched among the rows of old charts and maps and old-time photographs of long-dead homesteaders.
She had almost given up hope when she saw it there in old sepia tone. A house, a weeping willow, a pond. The house was different. An addition had been built on the side, and there was a new porch on the front.
A woman stood there, looking back at Jordan with familiar eyes. She carried a baby on one hip and her other arm was hooked through the crook of the elbow of the handsome young man standing next to her. In front of them stood a small boy of about five years old. He looked like his father, with blue eyes and thick, dark hair. Underneath, someone had printed in neat handwriting:
SWEET GRASS, MONTANA
The bookstore owner had come down the aisle. "Did you find what you were looking for?"
Jordan felt her eyes well with tears as she ran her fingers over the glass on the old picture. "Yes," she said. "Yes, I did."