Putting her divorce in her rearview and her kids in the minivan, Maddie Pearce heads home to Salem, Mass., in search of a new life. That new life is not supposed to include finding a portal to the past hidden in the closet of her aunt's house—a past that has magic, sorcerers and a possible way to heal her special needs son. And she certainly isn't expecting the brooding, handsome lord whose bedroom lies on the other side of the portal and who seems determined to keep her in her own world.
The last thing Morgan of Pencastle wants to see is another witch oblivious to her powers stepping through the portal wall. Then the beautiful, sexy Maddie steps into his world. And keeps coming back.
Maddie needs Morgan's help, and together they try to build a bridge between the worlds. If only fate isn't so determined to keep them worlds apart...
By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.
An Excerpt From: WORLDS APART
Copyright © PATRICIA OTTO, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Maddie looked at her watch. Ten a.m. Jeremy was with Linda and the girls wouldn't be home for five more hours. Maddie had planned so that there would be plenty of time.
Opening the closet, she walked through the doorway. No one was in the room. It was quiet, except Maddie could have sworn her own heartbeat was bouncing off the walls. Maddie swallowed and forced herself to take long, slow breaths.
Do not faint, keep your head. She walked to the stairs, her legs getting surer with every step.
She stopped cold at the bottom of the staircase. The hallway was huge with dark wainscoting and pictures with ornate gold frames above the chair rail. Another broader staircase swept down in a graceful curve to a large stone foyer below.
Maddie made her way down the hall and was about to descend the steps when she thought better of the idea.
If she was away from the portal and Mr. Chiseled Chest came around, he might keep her from getting back. And she needed to be back by the time the girls came home from school.
Perhaps the best way to handle this was to avoid Mr. Chiseled Chest and talk to Cheever. He seemed much more rational. All she had to do was figure out the best way to make that happen.
As luck would have it, Cheever walked into the foyer.
Maddie's first thought was to rush back into the portal. Instead she forced herself to stay put and cleared her throat.
Cheever looked up then flew up the steps as if his feet were on fire. "You are trespassing."
"Uh." She took a few steps backward toward the staircase and the portal.
Cheever stopped in front of her. "I have been instructed to insist that you return to your own world."
Maddie held up her hands. "Please, let me explain."
Cheever puffed up his chest. "Your time is limited."
"I'm from the other side of the wall."
Cheever blinked. "I am aware."
"I am looking for someone. Can you help me?"
"Whom do you seek?"
"A man named Draegon."
Cheever stood motionless for a few seconds. "I believe you must speak with Sir Morgan."
"Is that the other guy?"
"Perhaps that isn't a good idea. He gets very upset whenever he sees me."
"Cheever!" Mr. Chiseled Chest strode into the house, slamming the door behind him. "I need a drink and I need it n—" He looked up at them. "What the hell?" He sprinted up the steps. "What is she doing here?"
Maddie willed her feet to stay put. "It's only ten a.m."
The man marched down the hallway, his anger reaching them before he did. "I beg your pardon?"
"It–it's only ten o'clock in the morning. It's a little early for cocktails." Maddie locked her knees and swallowed the rising contents of her stomach.
"Cheever, what is she doing here?"
"I was just ascertaining that, sir."
"You were instructed to send her back. Why didn't you send her back? Did you tell her she's not welcome here?"
"I'm standing right here," Maddie said. "You can talk to me."
He turned his flint glare on her. "I thought I told you that you are not welcome."
"And believe me, I heard you loud and clear."
"So what the hell are you doing here?" He pointed up the staircase. "Go back the way you came and stay there."
"What do you mean you can't?"
"Sir?" Cheever said.
The man grabbed Maddie's wrist and pushed past Cheever, drawing Maddie with him up the steps. "Let me show you. You've been jumping back and forth through that portal for weeks. Surely it's just a simple matter of walking through the dammed thing again."
Halfway to the portal wall, Maddie planted her feet. "Stop! I'm not going back. I have to talk to you. Stop it." She pushed against his chest. "I have to ask you something. Please stop." She yanked her arm free. "If you send me through I'll just come back. I swear it! Now let me talk."
The man released a harsh breath then took a half step back from her. "I'll give you five minutes."
Maddie took a few cleansing breaths. Cheever looked from the man to Maddie then announced he was going to bring tea before leaving the room.
Maddie stood toe to toe with Mr. Chiseled Chest. Her stomach knotted and her mind reeled with questions but maternal determination gave her her voice. "My...name is Maddie Pearce." She held out her hand. "It's nice to meet you."
He looked down at her hand as if stunned by the formal nature of the conversation then slowly took her hand. When he didn't introduce himself Maddie cleared her throat. "And you are...?"
"The person whose room you keep invading."
She took back her hand. "Your name? Or should I just call you 'hey you'?"
He was quiet a moment. "Morgan."
She nodded. "Morgan, it's nice to meet you. Is this place called Salem too?"
"Yes." He paused. "Do you know where here is?"
Maddie swallowed hard. "The other side of my broom closet?"
He looked at her for a moment as if unsure of what to say next. "Your broom closet and my bedroom share a portal between worlds. Two very different worlds, though it seems they share a name."
She eased her muscles a tiny bit and crossed her arms. "Look, there is not a lot I understand about this and I wouldn't even be here unless it was important."
Cheever came up the steps carrying a silver tray. "I have tea and cakes, sir." He put the tray down on a table. "I was going to serve it in the dining room. However, I believe the lady would not want to be that far from her means of egress."
"You got that right," Maddie said.
"Would you like me to pour?" Cheever asked.
"No, but you can bring me a bottle of whiskey."
"Do you always drink in the middle of the morning?"
"What are you talking about, it's almost noon."
She looked at her watch. "It's not even eleven."
He glared. "What's your point?"
"What year is it?"
"It's 1826." He frowned. "Why? What is it on the other side of the wall?"
"A little later than that."
He stepped toward her. "How much later?"
Maddie hesitated. "About a hundred and eighty years."
He rubbed his forehead. "That's impossible. It doesn't make any sense."
Yeah," she scoffed, "let's introduce logic into this conversation." Maddie shook her head. "It doesn't matter anyhow. I'm not here to debate the calendar with you."
"Which brings us to the point, what are you here for?"
"I'm looking for someone."
Cheever returned with a full crystal carafe and two glasses. "Your whiskey, sir."
"Just in time," Morgan said, grabbing a glass and holding it out for Cheever to fill. Cheever complied, filling the glass halfway before putting the carafe next to the teapot on the tray and leaving the room.
Maddie watched Morgan drain the glass then fill it again. "Who are you looking for?"
"A man named Draegon."
He stopped mid-sip to give her a withering look. "Where did you get that name?"
Maddie swallowed the sudden attack of nausea clamping her throat. "My Aunt Lulu."
Morgan's look went from withering to contemptuous. "You are related to Lulu?" Anger was clear in his voice.
Maddie was certain that he was about to shove her back through the portal. "You know her?"
"Yes." To her surprise, his angry expression eased a fraction as he gestured his glass toward the fireplace. "Sit down."
Maddie stayed put. "Not until you promise to let me go back through to my own Salem anytime I want."
Morgan chuckled. "Madam, after I've heard what you have to say—" His voice dropped an octave. "And after you've answered my questions, I don't give a damn what you do."
Maddie tried to raise enough spit to swallow. "Fair enough."
He took a step closer. "Now have a seat."
She scowled. "You really enjoy barking orders, are you a general or something?"
"Or something." He gestured toward the chair. "You're changing the subject, Miss Pearce."
"It's Mrs. Pearce, but please call me Maddie." She took a deep breath then sat down in the wingback chair, lacing and unlacing her fingers. She was about to tie together what Aunt Lulu had told her of this world and her own. It crossed her mind that if they had the equivalent of a Restful Acres on this side of the wall, she might end up the Aunt Lulu of this Salem.
"I want your word that I can return to my own side whenever I want."
"Madam, I don't know what your world is like, but here a man does not have to repeat a pledge."
"I need to find this Draegon." She noticed that Morgan's already tense jaw tightened up just a little bit more. "Do you know him?"
Morgan took a drink. "In a manner of speaking." He drained his glass and stood. "I'm his nephew."
Maddie shot to her feet. She felt the immediate dizziness of the blood leaving her head and the air leaving her lungs. "You're Draegon's nephew?" she whispered.
His gaze widened. "Hey, you need to sit down again. You just turned white as a sheet." He pressed her down into the chair. "Sit."
Maddie let her knees buckle. "Uh, c–can I have some tea?"
Morgan poured tea into one of the cups. He set the cup on a saucer then held it out to her. She took the saucer, her shaking hands making the teacup rattle. Maddie took a cautious sip, her mind swimming. This is the person who used to be like Jeremy?
"Madam, are you all right?"
"You still look as if you're going to faint."
"Are you Draegon's only nephew?"
He stared at her a moment. "Yes."