What would you do if you suddenly had no idea where you were? What would you do if you had no memory of the people around you, even though they claimed to be your family? What would you do if the only person who seemed familiar was a man who you were warned never to talk to?
Raven Connelly falls through a time portal and finds herself in a place and time that doesn’t seem right. Everyone tells her she belongs with them, but despite their assurances, she doesn’t know them or even herself. The only person who toys with her memory is the man with the dark smoldering eyes who looks are her with such contempt each time she peeks from her window. Raven knows talking to him could be dangerous, but something inside tells her could he be the only one who can unlock the mystery of her identity.
Introducing a new Paranormal Romance Thriller by Jolynn Raymond featuring the Connelly Witches
A Past Undone
Excerpt from A Past Undone
A Past Undone
New Haven, Connecticut 2013
Raven Connelly hurried down the sidewalk in an older rundown section of New Haven. She had a vague memory of an unusual antique shop located close by, and had been traipsing around the area for the past two hours searching for it. Her frustration was increasing with every step as the day grew late, but Raven was determined to find the shop no matter how long it took. She turned another corner and searched the store fronts for anything that would jog her memory, looking for even the slightest landmark that seemed familiar, but nothing jogged her memory. All the buildings looked pretty much the same. Drab storefronts with peeling paint, window displays so old you could see the dust from the sidewalk, and neglected signs that were either burnt out or cracked. Everything showed its age, and everything looked the same.
“It just has to be here somewhere.” She sighed in frustration, running her hand back through her hair then planting her fists on her hips as she turned in circles trying to decide where to go next. “I know it’s here. One more block and I’ll give up. I’ll have to. It’s getting too late. Damn store probably closes up early in this neighborhood.”
Raven was more than capable of protecting herself from anyone who thought she might be an easy target because of her diminutive size. Any attacker intent on assaulting her would find himself flying through the air before landing in a heap upon the cracked sidewalk. Magic was only to be used if truly necessary, and in Raven’s mind, someone trying to rob her fit the bill. While it was true the attacker probably wouldn’t be a demon, but it was best to stay safe and ask questions later.
Raven looked up towards the darkening sky and gathered the collar of her coat in one hand to ward off the cold December wind. It was her search for the perfect Christmas gift for Isabelle that had led her here in the first place, and she was torn between going home to their new family member empty handed, and continuing on even though it was getting late.
She wanted to find a special present that would make Isabelle’s eyes light up if only for a second. This would be their first Christmas as a family, and she knew that there were times when the fast paced of society and all the new technology was overwhelming for her cousin. Isabelle had been trapped by a demon in another dimension for over a hundred years, and the world had change so much that it left Isabelle feeling completely out of place. That’s where a gift from the antique store came in. Raven wanted to find something that would happily remind Isabelle of the life she’d lived before the demon had taken it away.
Raven wasn’t sure how to help Isabelle aside from what they were all doing. The family had closed around her giving support and doing their best to make her feel like one of the family, instead of an outsider, but even though Isabelle had lost her family years ago; being thrust into a world that was so vastly different made the transition hard. They were all thrilled to have Isabelle with them, and it hurt to see her looking so lost and sad.
Raven muttered a curse under her breath and resolutely pushed the image of Isabelle looking so despondent out of her head. They all heard her crying at night, and they all would do almost anything to help the girl feel safe and wanted. Little Sophia often crept in and snuggled up in bed with Isabelle to chase away her tears. It seemed at times that Rachel’s little girl was the only one who could put a smile on Isabelle’s face. Sophia had told her mom that Isabelle felt guilty about being sad. The fact that she’d been rescued and taken in by the Connelly family was a wonderful thing, and moping about crying wasn’t the way to thank Raven and her family for all they’d done.
She felt a lump rising in her throat at the frustration of not finding the shop; and sadness over Isabelle’s plight threatened to turn into tears. She refused to give in to the emotions that threatened to take over. Raven defiantly pushed her weariness away and turned down one more street, swearing that it would be the last one in a final desperate hunt for the elusive antique store. As she turned the corner and looked down the block, Raven spied the place she’d been hunting for.
“It’s about damn time.” Seeing the familiar sign of the shop hanging halfway down the block chased away her depressing thoughts, replacing them with a feeling of triumph. Raven hurried forward, immensely pleased with her success. She just knew she would find something here.
Timeless Treasures was the name on the shop window. Raven walked through the door and stopped to take in her surroundings. The place was filled, literally from floor to ceiling, with rows and rows of things. There were only a few dim light fixtures casting a glow from high above but that did nothing to detract Raven’s pleasure at finding the place.
There was no order at all, no rhyme or reason to the enormous jumble of items that crowded each high shelf. It looked as though twenty shops had been hastily heaped into one. It was a treasure hunters dream. Unfortunately Raven didn’t have time to sort through it all. Raven had spied Isabelle holding the few old and obscure items in the mansion on more than one occasion. They probably served as an anchor of sorts to help her feel grounded. The things in the antique store certainly fit that description. Surely there was something amid the heaps of treasure that would make her cousin smile. There had to be something to make her forget, if only for an instant.
“Hello. Anyone here?” Little bells on the door jingled when Raven closed it, announcing her arrival. There was no response to her greeting or the bells, but she knew she might as well get started. If there was someone amid the ruble they could find her. The sign on the door said they closed at 5:00, so she only had forty five minutes to pour over all of the items in the store.
She began going up and down the cluttered rows, marveling at the unusual assortment of things. The place was even more out there than the magic and herbal shop her family owned. Stacked to the ceiling all around Raven were fine china, old books and linens, brass trinkets and statues, glass vases, crystal goblets, porcelain lamps, all sorts of things the mind could imagine and some it couldn’t. Some of the stuff was so hideously ugly Raven wondered how on earth it had been salvaged long enough to make it an antique! She hunted and hunted through the stacked shelves but nothing seemed to be the right gift. She only had about fifteen more minutes before the shop would be closing, and Raven was beginning to think that it had all been a wasted effort.
“What am I going to do?” Raven mumbled out loud, her heart sinking. “This was my last hope. I guess that’s what I get for procrastinating until two days before Christmas.”
“Something I can help you find little lady?” The sudden inquiry startled her, and Raven nearly jumped out of her skin.
She turned around to find an ancient little man in an old cardigan and tweed vest standing right behind her. His glasses were sitting on the tip of his nose, his eyes were a watery blue, and his ears were so big and stuck out so far that Raven was immediately reminded of an elf. He certainly didn’t have an elf aura though, something about him was very odd and made her take a step back even before she glanced down and saw that his gnarled hands gripped an ivory skull that sat atop a cane. He wasn’t any taller than she was, and looked harmless enough, but again, she got a small chill that couldn’t be explained. She wondered too how he’d snuck up on her. Surely she should have heard his footsteps and the tapping of his cane.
“You startled me.”
Raven said a little prayer of thanks that she really hadn’t wheeled around and taken the old guy down on impulse. Weird or not, he was an old man. Harmless until he proved himself to be otherwise. It wasn’t like her to be so vulnerable and slow to react. That was probably the reason she felt uneasy now. That and he had just plain shocked her.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you missy. I’ve been watching you search through my things with a look of desperation on your face. Thought maybe I could be of help. Are you looking for anything special?”
“Yes, I am. The problem is, I don’t know what. I’m trying to find a gift for my cousin. I want to find something that will make her smile again. She lost her family…”
Raven trailed off. Why on earth was she telling this man all this? She stopped mid-sentence, her mouth hanging open, then snapped it shut, feeling foolish. He simply gave her a gentle smile and looked deeply into her eyes as if he could read what was in her mind and heart, then his eyes suddenly twinkled after looking her over, and he gave a satisfied nod.
“I know just the thing. You need to look in my specialty room upstairs. It used to be the attic, but now… now it’s where the things that are the most exceptional are kept. They aren’t for everyone.”
His eyes glittered again as he whispered the last sentence. For just a moment, the watery blue had turned sparkly and vibrant.
“I keep only my most precious treasures up there.”
Raven stood there, unsure what to do. He looked harmless enough, but looks could be deceiving. There was something just plain odd about him. Still, her demon radar wasn’t going off so Raven decided she was just being silly. She scolded herself and shook her head as if to rid her mind of the strange feelings. He was just a little old man and she had come here because this place had things she couldn’t find anywhere else.
“The stairs are that away. Go on with you now missy. Precious things for precious people. That’s my specialty.” He pointed towards the back of the shop and Raven finally nodded, and then went in the direction he’d indicated, climbing the steep steps hoping she’d at last find a gift for Isabelle.
The specialty room was dimly lit and very dusty. It seemed even more cluttered than the downstairs if that were possible. The floorboards creaked as she moved and the dim lighting created deep pockets of shadows.
“Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all.” Her voice sounded oddly far away, as if the words were swallowed up by the clutter even before they left her mouth. The shop felt just plain weird. Not many things gave her the creeps, but for some reason this cluttered antique shop did. She didn’t sense a demon, and she certainly couldn’t put her finger on it, but there was something about the place that made shivers run up her spine.
Raven turned to go back down the stairs, deciding that she’d better pay attention to her instincts, when something in the far corner caught her eye. There on an old chest of drawers was a gold and glass anniversary clock. It was just like one that had been on the mantle until it had been destroyed in one of the many brawls that had taken place in the Connelly’s living room.
Their Aunt Loiza had often told her that their great, great grandfather had given that clock to her great, great grandmother to celebrate their first year of success in America when they opened the magic shop. Raven knew her ancestors had been immigrants from Hungary who had come over on a ship from Europe, and that her descendants carried the blood of magical Gypsies in their veins. It was because of that gift that they now fought demons. Her family had made a pledge centuries ago to help protect mankind from the evil that surrounded them.
The gift of magic was yet another reason Isabelle was having trouble settling in with her new family. Raven’s husband Alex was half demon. Isabelle had read her Uncle’s book on demons over and over during her long captivity, and she couldn’t shake the unease caused by knowing a demon lived among them. Isabelle was part vampire and part human witch, and neither one was supposed to embrace a demon. Her experience of torment and hell caused by Syrull, the demon who had imprisoned her, kept Isabelle from being comfortable around Alex as well.
Raven turned her thoughts back to the unique clock in the corner. Their clock had been so special and was unlike other clocks of its type because it had a music box at its base. This one looked just like it. It would be just the thing to make Isabelle smile.
Raven happily headed for the dark and dusty corner, but her relief at finding the perfect gift was replaced by frustration once again. There were several other items in the way and she couldn’t reach the clock without moving things around.
“Oh hell, it would have to be out of reach. I refuse to call that creepy old guy for help though.”
Raven shoved aside a lamp and a small table, and stood on her tiptoes, stretching herself to the limit, but still couldn’t quite reach the clock. Raven again thought about calling the shop owner to help her. She certainly didn’t want to break anything. With her luck it would be something that cost a fortune. She then remembered how old and frail he looked despite being creepy, and decided she just had to do it herself.
“My luck he’ll break the clock and his neck! He certainly doesn’t need to be shoving things around.” She would voice it out loud, but the thought of being up here in the darkness so far from the door just left her feeling uneasy. Despite having magic that would make quick work of him if the old man did try to hurt her, Raven simply couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something odd going on.
“Just stop wasting time and get it yourself. The faster you get that clock, the faster you can get out of here.”
She pulled an old chair into position and reached out her arms. Just as she touched the clock the spindles on the back of the chair broke and she fell forward. Raven tumbled head over heels and landed hard right in front of the chest of drawers with a thud.
“I’m okay.” she called out to the shop’s owner. “Everything’s fine. I didn’t break anything.” She looked at the old chair. “Well nothing much.”
“Did you say something Miss Raven?” called a voice from the stairwell. “Your mama says you are to come down from there right now. Mr. Lowell is coming to call and you’re to get cleaned up and dressed. Child I don’t know why you love to sit and explore that dirty attic when you have a house full of beautiful things.”
Raven rubbed a sore spot on her head and felt a lump rising, a large lump. She closed her eyes then blinked rapidly, thinking she must have knocked herself silly because she didn’t recognize the voice calling to her.
“Did you hear me Miss Raven? You come on down now. Mr. Lowell will be arriving to call on you soon.”
Again Raven wondered what was going on, and this time she gave voice to her confusion. “
“Who the heck is that calling me? I don’t know any Mr. Lowell and what does she mean he’s coming to call on me?” Raven looked around and made a startling discovery. “Not only don’t I know a Mr. Lowell, I don’t know where I am.”
Confusion filled Raven’s head along with the pain that was increasing with each second.
She pulled herself to her feet and looked around. She was in an attic; that much was clear. There were chests of drawers, a steamer trunk, dress mannequins, toys, and a large oval looking glass.
Raven stepped before it and looked at her reflection. She was wearing a long, sable brown dress with a very full skirt. The fabric looked like satin and shimmered even through the dust on the mirror. She ran her hands over her waist and felt the tight pinching bones of a corset and frowned, her fingers scraping over the hard ridges.
Her long hair was pulled back with a satin ribbon and there was an ornate locket around her neck. Raven raised her hand to touch the locket intent on opening it when she heard footsteps on the stairs.
“Miss Raven! Your mama is going to go into hysterics if you are late for your gentleman. Come down here this instant.”
Raven forced her eyes away from the mirror and turned towards the stairs. “I’m coming.”
The problem was; she had no idea where it was she was going or who for that matter she was speaking with. She took a deep breath and started down the stairs with her mind in a whirl. Her head hurt, her corset was too tight, and she had no clue what the hell was going on.