Annie Lockwood awoke with a start to the sound of her older brother, Tod chomping cereal in her doorway, holding the phone.
"So were you going to sleep all day or did you plan on at least trying to get up while breakfast is still an option?" Annie jolted up in the bed and glared at Tod.
"This is my only day to sleep in and you decide to wake me up because you enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn to work out?" She said, rubbing one of her eyes with the back of her hand and letting out a yawn.
"Huh." Tod said with a shrug. "You have a phone call."
"Okay," Annie said, irritated. "Tell Amy I'll call her later." She mumbled.
"Yeah…it's not Amy. It's a guy." Tod replied, smirking. Annie stared at her brother in confusion.
"It's not Sean, is it?" She groaned, laying back and covering her face with the pillow.
"No, Annie." Tod grew serious. "It's Strat."
The pillow was thrown immediately to the floor as Annie's eyes opened in a mix of horror and excitement. Lockwood.
"I'll take it." She said, throwing the covers off and flying across the room, snatching the cordless out of her brother's hand. Taking a long breath, Annie swallowed before she could find the strength to talk. "Hello?"
"Annie?" Strat's same voice greeted her, sounding exactly the same as it always did. Her heart lurched, knowing he didn't share the memories that she did, but she still thrilled at the sound of his soft spoken tenor.
"Lockwood, hi." She said, reminding herself to keep Lockwood separate from 1899 Strat, who was somewhere on the Nile.
"Not Lockwood…" He replied, laughing. "Please…the only people who call me Lockwood are my Grandmother and my Mom when she's mad at me. Just Strat."
"S-Strat." Annie breathed, hating how pathetic she sounded. He chuckled good-naturedly again.
"I have to tell you, I had another dream and you were in it!"
"Oh really?" Tod had come back into the room and was staring at her with an almost sad expression on his face. "Yeah…we were on the beach. It was really weird. You were wearing this white lace dress. I don't remember much else though…my little sister said that means I should ask you out." Annie laughed nervously. Strat had a little sister. If her name was Devonny she would go into overdrive.
"What's your sister's name?" She asked.
"Mandy." He explained. "She's ten." Annie sighed a little in relief.
"How fun! I always wanted a sister." She replied.
"She's a handful." He told her. "But she had a point. Since I met you this week, I couldn't stop thinking about the museum…and I kind of owe you coffee, or dinner even."
"I like dinner." Annie blurted, smacking her forehead.
"Me too. Well, generally." He joked. "So, well..this is awkward…where do you live? I can pick you up around six…that way we can catch a movie after if you want." Annie shook her head, trying to process Strat's voice saying the phrase, 'Catch a movie.'
"Sounds good." She said, feeling her face flush a deep pink. Vaguely, she heard herself give him directions to her house before hanging up the phone. "I need to start drinking." She muttered to herself, watching as her sad faced brother drifted toward the window. Annie frowned. Ever since the Devonny debacle, a few years earlier, Tod had been a different person. He coached little girls' soccer and was currently a junior in college, majoring in, of all things, history. Sometimes, Tod went on dates and there had been a few minor girls that he'd dated shortly, but he never seemed fully happy. He immersed himself in work and school and the girls. He was twenty years old and he seemed much older sometimes, when he was alone and there were no distractions for him.
Annie knew conclusively that Devonny Stratton had gone home and had become Devonny, Duchess of Winden. She knew this because there were books that told of how Lady Winden had been an advocate for women's rights and had started a scholarship fund for educating less fortunate young ladies. She was a female hero and there were pictures of a grand looking thirty-two year old Lady Winden in a sleek suit and stylish hat standing with Theodore Roosevelt. She was really beautiful, Lady Winden, with her dark hair elegantly coiffed beneath her hat. Annie had been so thrilled when she'd found the picture of Devonny in her history book on her first day of college. Once she'd realized Devonny's married name, it hadn't been hard to find articles on the woman. She'd finally succumbed to death in 1981 at one hundred and one years old. Annie only wished she knew so much about Strat. There was virtually no mention of him in any of the articles about Lord and Lady Winden.
"Should I expect you to disappear for a few days again?" Tod asked dryly. Annie rolled her eyes at him.
"No, you should not. I have a date tonight." She informed him. Tod frowned up at her in confusion.
"I thought this guy was from like a hundred years ago." He said, a flash of pain passing over his unshaven face.
"You have no idea." Annie said, shaking her head and walking back toward her room. "This guy is supposedly a descendent of Devonny's, but it's freaky. He looks exactly like Strat."
"But he's not." Tod pointed out, raising his eyebrows.
"But that's it, Tod," She explained desperately. "It's him. I don't know how…but I can see Strat in him, looking out at me through his eyes."
"You're talking crazy." Tod said, sighing. "Then again, we're both freaks of nature with this time travel junk."
"You need to get out more." Annie said, feeling a wave of compassion for her older brother.
"Annie, it's been three years since Dev fell back. I didn't even get to say goodbye. I mean, it's not like I wanted to marry her or anything. I was seventeen years old! But some closure would have been nice."
"Tod, I went three times…and not once did I ever get a proper goodbye." Annie admitted to him. "I came back because I didn't belong there. She didn't belong here…as much as I would have loved to keep her with us."
"Yeah…I know." Tod replied, sighing in defeat. "Well, have fun on your date. I have to get going…the playoffs start tonight."
"I'll be at the game on Monday night…should I bring some juice boxes?" Annie asked, getting out of bed and walking over to her dresser to rummage for some socks.
"Yeah…the girls like Capri Sun. Thanks, Anne." Tod said, leaving before she could respond. Annie stared contemplatively at her closet. What do you wear on a date with a guy you've known for a hundred years, but who doesn't remember you? Remember, this guy is from now. Wearing an old ball gown won't be a good idea. Annie's eyes settled on the white dress she'd worn the first time she'd met Strat on the beach at Stratton Point. She'd been fifteen then, just finishing her freshman year of high school. Fingering the white lace, she smiled nostalgically, wishing it still fit her. Since the last time she'd worn it, she had grown into a woman. Annie had filled out, though still slim, she definitely had a bust now and hips that had surprised her at the beginning of her senior year. She still wore her hair long, though she knew it was completely out of fashion to have hair hanging to your waist. Mostly, she wore it in a low ponytail or in a long braid down her back. Tonight, she decided she would wear half of it up.
Annie's parents had called Wednesday and informed their children that they had been comped three more days at their resort, leaving Annie and Tod free through the weekend. It had actually worked out perfectly, since Annie's father, though well intentioned, still thought of her like a twelve year old. She wanted to remind him that while he was out cavorting with Miss Bartton, his co-worker, she had been at home, being responsible and getting straight A's.
The rest of her day was spent rather impatiently, with Annie trying to relax. First, she took a long bath. No help there. After that, she tried to read the romance novel she'd been working on and got through two pages in an hour. At four o'clock, she set about cooking dinner for Tod to occupy herself. Usually, she would have let her brother fend for himself, but she couldn't take the silence in the house. Even the dog was keeping himself scarce.
Annie checked the clock on the kitchen wall and gasped. Lockwood Stratton would be arriving in a half hour! Dashing upstairs, she quickly put on the dress she had picked out and pinned a barrette into her long, shiny hair. She applied just a bit of mascara and some blush and reviewed her reflection just as the doorbell rang. Panicking, she looked at her alarm clock. He was early! Annie gathered her breath and spritzed some of her favorite perfume on before walking out of her bedroom. She heard Tod let him in and the two struck up some idiotic conversation about football. Annie groaned, willing herself not to roll her eyes as she walked into the room. Lockwood was leaning comfortably against the wall beside the front door while Tod talked animatedly about the winning pass of the football game from the night before.
"Hey Strat."Annie, said, interrupting. She felt her cheeks heat up when he grinned at her. This Strat was wearing black dress pants and a blue dress shirt under a dark pea coat. His wild, sandy colored hair was brushed a bit more neatly and he was clean shaven. He looked more like her Strat than ever.
"Annie, hi! You look great!" He said, smiling down at her. Annie looked at her brother with sympathy.
"Your dinner is in the microwave." She informed him. Tod nodded and bounded toward the kitchen to retrieve it before soccer started. Meeting Lockwood's eyes, she shrugged. "Kids." He chuckled quietly and gestured for her to follow him out the door once she had her coat on. His car was not an old beat up clunker like Tod's piece of crap, but it was not really high end either. Lockwood Stratton drove a rather modest Ford Taurus with four doors. To her surprise, he opened the door for her.
"My mother told me if I didn't open the door for you tonight she was going to smack me upside the head for making her look bad." He laughed, getting in the other side. Annie laughed as well.
"I just didn't expect it. Most guys don't even try." She explained, thinking of her ex-boyfriend, Sean, who was now dating some sorority girl. "So where are we going for dinner?" Annie asked, wondering if this version of Strat still believed in something other than McDonald's or Taco Bell.
"There's this little seafood place up by Stratton Point, I thought we could try it." He said, frowning. "Unless you don't like seafood, there's—"
"I love seafood!" Annie agreed. "I've been meaning to try that place but it seems like I'm always busy." She was babbling now. "It's really a shame about the mansion, huh?"
"Yeah." Lockwood agreed. "Dad used to bring us up here all the time for family history hour." He rolled his eyes, laughing. "He didn't even really know what he was talking about, but he made it up as he went along. He said old Mr. Stratton, my great-great grandfather, was so mean and ruthless that he tried to murder his own son, and when he found out that Junior was in Egypt he went after him. He came back empty handed and depressed and ate himself to death in the mansion. His fifth wife, Florinda, found him dead in his bed. They had to break down a wall to get him out of the house to bury him." Annie cringed, thinking of old, fat, awful Hiram Stratton Sr. and poor Florinda finding him bloated and decaying in his bed.
"Gross." Annie muttered, picturing the greasy old man easily as if she'd just seen him yesterday.
"I'll have to show you a picture of him sometime. He was disgusting." Lockwood agreed. "What about you? Any interesting family history?" He asked, pulling onto the street leading to Stratton Point.
"Not really." Annie said, surprising herself. She had been so invested in the Stratton's family history, that she had never bothered to check into her own. How strange, she thought, when I might have found something to help? Walker Walkley had once mentioned Henry Lockwood, her great-grandfather. Had they all known each other? "My great-grandfather was a factory worker as far as I know. Nothing spectacular." It kind of disturbed Annie, actually, about how little she knew about her father's side of the family. Both of her great-grandparents, Henry and Anna had died long before Annie was born and her grandparents were both gone now as well. Holidays were always spent at Annie's mother's family home. `
"But that's interesting isn't it?" Lockwood mused. "Think about it Annie. When your great-grandfather was a factory worker, it was during the time when cars were beginning to become a possibility. The railroads were at the peak of their success…there could be a really interesting story…one worth looking into…don't you think?"
"Definitely!" Annie grinned at him as they parked in front of the classy seafood restaurant overlooking the now empty Stratton Point. Once again, he insisted on opening her door and helping her out of the car. Annie didn't even bother to pretend she didn't appreciate the gesture. She was on a date. With Strat. Granted, it wasn't the Strat from 1899, but this Strat belonged here. He wasn't going to be ripped away from her at any second. And there was something about this boy…well, man really, that made her feel like Strat was still there. The same magnetic pull she had felt when she'd first met Strat in 1895 four years before was pulling her toward this boy. There was no first date awkwardness. It felt like they had known each other forever.
After dinner, they decided to walk around the abandoned Stratton Point. It was eerie, the silence outside in the dusk there. The only sound was the waves of the ocean lapping at the beach in the cool, September air. Lockwood stooped down to pick up half a broken seashell and study it's weathered exterior.
"Do you ever wonder what it looked like?" Lockwood asked. "The mansion when it was still nice, I mean…when it was new. When people lived here…like when my great-grandmother lived here."
"Sure." Annie replied cautiously. "Before they demolished it, I walked around and just looked. It must have really been something." She swallowed the lump in her throat. Just like the Mansion, her Strat was gone now. Buried in some nameless grave.
"Hey…are you okay?" She heard Lockwood asked, looking up at her and forgetting the seashell. When she didn't respond, he lunged forward and caught her before she fell. Funny, she didn't remember swooning, but the clammy feel of her palms informed her that she was a bit light headed. He carefully helped her sit on a nearby bench and sat beside her. "Don't go disappearing on me again, okay?" He joked, but she could see that his face was a little pale as well.
"Sorry…I don't know what happened…" She said, feeling like an idiot. Lockwood watched her carefully before sitting back.
"Beautiful isn't it?" He said, looking at the beach. Annie nodded numbly, staring ahead. "I like you, Annie."
"You do." Annie said, though it wasn't a question, it was more a statement.
"I do." He agreed. "If it's okay with you, I'd like to go out with you again…maybe to a movie. Or whatever you want…"
"I'd like that." Annie said, managing a smile. His face lit up just as she remembered. "It'll be dark soon." She said, unsure of what she meant. Lockwood shrugged.
"I'm not afraid of the dark." He said, grinning down at her before his face became serious again. "Annie, I'm terrible at this stuff." A long sigh left him. "Can I kiss you?" Annie almost laughed. It was so like Strat to ask permission to kiss her.
"Yes." She replied, giggling as she willed her cheeks not to flush red as he gently cradled both of her cheeks in his fingertips. Lockwood's eyes closed before hers until she felt the warmth of his skin against her cheek and finally, the velvety soft touch of his lips against hers. A surge of relief coursed through her at the same time as a rush of love swelled in her chest for him. It was the same kiss she remembered. He even smelled the same, if that was possible. A mixture of soap and aftershave filled her senses, making her dizzy. Annie didn't realize how tightly she was holding onto him until he pulled back to gaze down at her.
"Anna Sophia…" Strat murmured, looking down at her with an expression between ecstasy and confusion.
"Strat…I never told you my name was Anna Sophia." She said, watching his expression carefully. Lockwood's eyes seemed to come back into focus.
"What?" His voice was quiet, but he seemed genuinely out of sorts.
"Nothing." Annie said, not wanting to confuse the poor boy more. She laced her fingers through his and pulled him to his feet. "Come on…tell me about your family. It's early. We can walk for a while."