Lady Iverson has taken up the 'haunted' archeological dig her late husband left half-finished. When she meets the estate's lord, Miles Rutledge, he feels an otherworldly connection with her-and he prays she feels the same.
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December 22, 2003
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Excerpt from One Touch of Magic by Amanda McCabe
The Legend of Thora's Treasure
And now, if you will gather around me, I will tell the story of Thora's Treasure. There is Viking silver and jewels of great worth. There is true love, love that transcends all time; there is deepest, most bitter loss.
You can see the treasure. But if any person whose heart is not pure removes this treasure, or any part of it, he will be struck from the earth and his name forgotten for all eternity.
The treasure can only belong to Thora's true heir -- to the one it waits for.
"And now we commit the body of the Lord's servant Sir John Iverson to the earth, and we commend his soul to Thee. Amen."
Sarah, Lady Iverson, barely heard the vicar's voice. It seemed to come to her from a very long way away, as if in a dream -- or a nightmare.
She stared through the black tulle of her veil at her husband's coffin placed across the drawing room. She felt oddly numb. Surely she should feel something John had been her husband, her dearest friend, her mentor. He had taught her all about history, about how to dig in the earth to find ancient secrets. She should feel such deep grief. Not just this distance, this chill unreality. This . . . numbness. It was so very much like those odd dreams she had been having ever since they started working on the Viking village. She saw the village come to life around her, but she was apart from it all. Just an observer.
But perhaps the grief would come later, when she was alone. Perhaps this numbness was God's way of keeping her from breaking down in sobs in front of everyone.
The vicar ceased speaking, and Sarah automatically murmured "Amen" along with everyone else. She watched as the men stepped forward to prepare to carry John's coffin from the house to the waiting grave in the churchyard. Still, she could not feel that he was gone. Surely he would wake her up from this dream at any moment, and tell her to quit lazing abed, as they had excavating to do.
She closed her eyes tightly. Wake up, she thought. Wake up.
A hand touched her arm, and she opened her eyes. It was not John, of course; it was her best friend, Mrs. Phoebe Seward.
It was so odd to see Phoebe in black, Sarah thought distractedly. Ordinarily, she was dressed in the brightest colors of the rainbow.
Phoebe's pretty, usually merry face was somber as she leaned forward and whispered, "Do you want to say good-bye, Sally "
"Oh, yes. Of course." Sarah stepped up to the coffin, and laid her hand on the smooth wood.
The chill of it, even through her black glove, at last broke into her numbness, and she knew this was no dream. It was reality. John was gone, and she was alone.
A sob broke from her, and she pressed her hand to her mouth. Phoebe's grip tightened on Sarah's arm, and she led her away from the coffin back to the settee, as the men carried John out. Sarah's mother, Lady Bellweather, her two younger sisters, Mary Ann and Kitty, and John's friend, Mr. Neville Hamilton, waited for Sarah to be settled, then sat down around her.
Sarah was glad of their familiar company, glad to not be alone.
Until her mother started talking.