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Winter's Eve

Winter's Eve

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Love knows no boundaries—not even those of time! 

When Winter bought a sundial from the man in Jerusalem who touted it as Hezekiah’s sundial, little did he know that he was about to embark on an adventure three hundred years into the future at his own home. On his third visit, he meets and falls in love with Eve Blair, the sassy, and skeptical property manager of the Crimson Hill Great House who doesn’t believe that time travel is possible.

Luckily, he had a few aces up his sleeves. He could show her things only eighteenth-century Winter Wesson would know.

And when attraction turns into something deeper, could these two people, from different centuries, find common ground in a love that defies the bounds of time itself?

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Chapter One

It was the phone that woke her up. The incessant rings would not let up, and Eve felt like she had just gotten into bed. The great house had just hosted a party. They had done thousands of them, but it had been personal this time. Stuart Smithson, the head of the board of trustees, was celebrating his 50th birthday, and he had chosen this Wesson property to have the party.
Of course, as the property manager, Eve wanted everything to be perfect. Over the last few days, she had run the staff and herself ragged; a successful party would reflect greatly on her management skills, especially since she had slacked off for a couple of months while going through her divorce.
She needed this job now more than ever. Thankfully, Stuart and his guests had been impressed.
She had stuck around until the last guest had left the property and the clean-up crew had finished restoring the place to its former glory. Then she had climbed into bed, practically dead on her feet.
When she slept over by the great house, she usually stayed in what was previously known as the counting house. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage had been converted into a living area in the late 1800s. Back then, people would not count money in their homes; it was considered bad luck. And so, they had a counting house separate from the main house. It was renovated and modernized with internal plumbing, but it kept the old charm.
She put the pillow over her ears and waited for the phone to stop ringing, but it started again. She searched for it blindly on the side table, knocking over her a water bottle and pushing her car keys onto the ground.
She answered without opening her eyes. She didn't know if they could be opened; they felt gritty and unrested.
"Good morning," she croaked.
"It's afternoon," Stuart's said. "Can we meet for lunch? I've been hearing the most extraordinary things from Maud. I just saw a video of a dead ringer for Winter Wesson. I can't quite believe what I am seeing. Maud said you spoke to this fellow. I would love to hear everything you discussed and what transpired between you. Who on earth is he?"
Eve groaned. Everything? Stuart didn’t need to know that.
"Er, I'll be there in fifteen minutes," she said huskily.
She should have known Stuart would be up and gossiping with Maud. He and Maud loved conspiracies and intrigue where there was none.
He would have stayed at the back of the great house. The owner's suite was added in the early 1900s by one of the Wessons who occupied the place then. The new addition blended seamlessly with the rest of the house. They even used the same wild orange board flooring and continued with the aesthetics from the colonial era.
She flung the pillow from over her head and looked around her suite. The décor was timeless and could fit in any era: dark hardwood floors, neutral white walls, and white linen drapes framed the tall windows. The four-poster bed made from mahogany dominated the room, and the antique side tables and writing desk were meticulously preserved.
The atmosphere of the place screamed opulence and history. She usually took a moment after waking up to pull the curtains and step out onto her patio to inhale the pure air of the countryside and admire the gardens immediately below. The blue and white African lilies were making a showy appearance at this time of year. Or she would look farther into the landscape where rolling hills converged to the sea.
Crimson Hill Great House had quite a view. She couldn't admire much this morning; she didn't even pull the curtains; she stumbled to the ensuite bathroom. Thankfully, it had modern amenities such as a shower, a separate clawfoot tub, and hot and cold water. She would choose the cold water and stand in the shower, allowing the water to reinvigorate her. That was one advantage of having short hair, even though her mother had whined and complained about it. She had chopped her hair off after the divorce and wore it in a short, curly cap.
In her opinion, it made her look more sophisticated, and it was easy to care for. Unfortunately, the shorter style took years off her face; though she was twenty-nine, she looked like a teenager.
When they first met, the Winter Wesson look-alike had called her 'but a girl'. Eve had tried so hard to forget the events from last summer, but apparently, she wouldn't have the luxury of doing so since Stuart wanted a blow-by-blow account about her encounter with Winter Wesson.
"Who are you?" she remembered demanding of the stranger Maud had dragged into her office with a triumphant smile. The man looked like the identical twin of Winter Wesson whose portrait hung in the ballroom and library they had the same vivid green eyes, olive-toned skin, and black overlong hair.
His left eyebrow had the same gap as the portrait as if it were parted by a thin scar. He was wearing the same clothing as in the picture, minus the jacket. He wore a loose, comfortable-fit shirt with ruffled cuffs and a high collar, a green silk waistcoat, knee-length breeches, stockings, and leather shoes with low heels.
She would have laughed if she weren't so shocked; he looked authentic. The only thing missing was the tricorn hat, like the one in the portrait and those she had seen in the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean.
"He is Winter Wesson," Maud answered for the man.
He folded his hands and looked at her with his head cocked to the side, an air of irreverence to him like he found her question funny.
"She is but a girl, Maud. Are you sure she is the one in charge?"
Maud had cackled. "She is in charge, and she accused me and Willie of running up her expenses when you came last year. Please let her know that you were the one who did it."
"I am the one who ran up the expenses," he said, sitting before her desk and looking at her nonchalantly. You are a pretty girl with fabulous bone structure."
Eve had been shocked into silence, and then she opened her mouth. "I am not a girl. I am the property manager for this place.”
“Pardon me,” he chuckled.
"We have protocols for doing things; you are obviously a Wesson," Eve sputtered. "You should contact the board of trustees, let them know who you are, and proceed accordingly. It's inappropriate to bypass established procedures, regardless of your family name. You cannot just show up at the great house, sleep in our showrooms, and make outlandish orders on my budget!"
He chuckled and leaned back in his chair. "I wonder which of my descendants was responsible for a board of trustees."
"You were," Maud said, "you wanted to preserve the history of the place for generations to come, and you wanted to ensure that your children’s children would benefit from your legacy."
Eve groaned. "Maud, leave us. I want to speak with this man privately."
"The name is Winter Wesson," he said, with a thick British accent. "May I ask your name?"
"Eve Bloom, sorry, Blair." Eve cleared her throat. "I am recently divorced and still getting used to the name change."
"Interesting," he frowned. "I must read more about divorce customs in these times. There is no divorce in my time."
Eve rolled her eyes. "Okay, enough. If you want to stay here, please stay in the owner's suite. It's at the back of the building. And do not make any purchases with the great house money. Call the head of the board of trustees, Stuart Smithson, and he will happily work out an income for you. The trustees exist to serve the Wesson heirs."
"I won't be staying long enough for that, not this time," Winter said. "I was so excited the last time I was here that I went a little overboard. All of this is strange and yet exhilarating. The changes in this country, in the world, are mind-boggling."
Eve smiled. "Oh, they are?"
"If you went forward three hundred years, you would say the same thing, Eve Blair," Winter leaned forward, his eyes twinkling. "I find that the longer I look at you, the more exhilarated I feel."
"Get out of my office," Eve growled, "and please put the costumes back in the closet."
He got up.
"And ask Maud to prepare the owner's suite for you. There should be no sleeping in the main house."
He laughed. "Another noteworthy change is that women are bossy in this century. I quite like it."