“I’m not sleepy Papa, tell me a story,” the girl urges with big fluttering eyes, begging.
The man looks lovingly at the young girl and smiles as he shakes his head. He starts telling her an unlikely love tale.
Killian Jones was walking through the growing city looking on as everyone went about their daily business. The noise of the Brooklyn Bridge construction was deafening. He missed life out on the open sea, but this was his life now. While looking out at the sea, he noticed a man that appeared to be following him. He stopped at a small haberdashery shop and noticed the same man from earlier was there too. This had to be a coincidence. Before he could think about it any further, the clock tower chimed; it was time to go home. Liam was going to be in a dreadful mood if he was late. Bloody parties. His brother had stopped being his older brother; he now acted like his keeper.
“Killian, you are the Duke of Albany, you need to dress better. You also need to find a wife. Brother, appearances matter.”
Brennan Jones had quickly gone through the inheritance their mother had left behind, a worthless title was all their father had left them. Once the money was gone, so was he. Liam had retired from the Royal Navy to become Killian’s guardian, even if he was old enough to not require one. He had been in the Navy himself, after all. His brother should worry more about finding himself a wife and not have to alter his life because his little brother had become a blemish on the family name. Milah had been more than a dalliance; he had loved her and she had used him. Once the affair was revealed, she played the victim; the young virile man seduced the older bored wife with stories of great adventures. So then it was decided to make the move for a fresh start.
The party had started by the time he got there, and anyone who was anyone was there. Smee, his manservant, helped him get ready for the evening. Sometime later that night, Liam pulled him aside and told him to find a wife. There were wealthy women lined up for him to choose from, but Killian’s response was simple. “Brother, I don’t want to marry for money. Marriage is the promise of eternal love. As a man of honor, I cannot promise eternity when my heart isn’t true.”
As Killian walked off, an unknown guest caught his eye. It was the man from earlier. He was walking around with some sort of strange device. With his curiosity piqued, Killian followed the strange man as he explored room to room. The man got spooked when he noticed Killian following him around. He ran out of the party and fled to the street. As Killian trailed behind, his attention was momentarily thwarted by a vision with fair skin and golden hair. After she passed, his attention snapped back to his original target.
Killian ran after him, yelling for him to “Stop!!”
The man kept running, not bothering to turn back. It seemed that his destination was the Brooklyn Bridge. The other man neared the end of the girder, as Killian jumped in an effort to stop the man from falling to his death. As he grabbed hold of the man’s hand, the other man screamed “Let go!” Killian shook his head. “No, you will die if I let go!” The other man tried to pull his hand out of Killian’s grip and finally succeeded, but Killian desperately grabbed a hold of the man with his other hand, losing his tenuous grip on the rope he had been holding on to, and they both fell into the unknown.
Killian woke up in an unfamiliar place. Was it all a dream ? His eyes focused on the strange surroundings. He jolted up. Where the bloody hell is he ?
A loud ringing startled him. The man he followed into the abyss emerged from a closed door.
“You really shouldn’t have followed me,” the man said as he studied Killian.
The ringing started again but this time, the man picked up an object. “Hello, oh, Emma. No, I haven’t seen your IPad. What? Yes. I’m sure you didn’t leave it here.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it will turn up.”
Killian just sat, staring at him.
“Sorry about that. I can’t believe it. You are here.”
“You obviously know who I am, but I have no idea who you are.”
“Oh, I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’m Jefferson. Your great-great-grandson,” he smiled.
“I’m not even married,” Killian scoffed. “Let’s say I believe you. Why kidnap me? We don’t have any money, there’s no ransom money.”
Jefferson scrunched his face. “What? No, you’re not kidnapped.” He sighed. “You followed me through the portal and it closed behind us. So you have to stay put.”
Killian looked around. “Where the bloody hell am I? You say I’m not kidnapped, but you want me to stay put?”
“Look, I’m not holding you against your will. It’s for your safety. You are still in New York, but things have changed. New York is not as safe as it once was,” Jefferson said.
Killian got up and walked to the window, as he shook his head. “That is not New York.” He turned his back to the window and headed towards the sofa.
A feminine voice startled them. “Yeah, that’s good old New York alright.” She smiled as she entered the room, closing the window behind her.
Killian stared at the woman. “Have I seen you before?” he asked.
Her eyes narrowed at the newcomer as Jefferson grabbed her arm. “Come on, let’s find that iPad. Killian, I’ll be right back, don’t move,” he said.
Killian sat down on the sofa still a little disoriented, his eyes continuing to follow the lass as she left the room. He knows he has seen her somewhere, but is utterly confused about where that was.
Emma and Jefferson arrived at his small office to look for the IPad. “I told you to take care of it when you asked to borrow it,” she sighed.
He rolled his eyes. “I took care of it just fine. It was just for two days while I got my laptop back from the repair guy. I thought I gave it back to you.”
“No, you didn’t. Damn it, Jeff, I need it back!” she glared at him.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find it,” he said with a big smile on his face.
“Okay,” she turned to him, “why are you so excited?”
“I did it! Emma, I really did it!”
“You did what Jeff?”
“I found it. The portal, a crack in the fabric of time. I traveled back in time and walked around in 1876.” He waggled his eyebrows in unison. “That’s not the best part; my great-great-grandfather followed me.“ The crazed glee was unable to stay hidden from his face.
Emma pursed her lips. “So what you are saying is that you found a portal and I’m to believe that the man out there is not Sergeant Pepper but a man out of time?”
“Emma, I told you about him. He is the Duke of Albany. He is a brilliant engineer; he invented the counterweight pulley. You know, the elevator?”
“And that’s him out there?” Emma stated sarcastically. “Right. Jeff, if you’re trying to create a distraction from my missing iPad, there are more believable ways to do it.”
“I’m serious!” he protested.
Emma glared, placing her hands on her hips. “No. You’re never serious. That’s the problem! Your head’s always 5,000 miles away in Wonderland.”
A soft tap on the door interrupted Jefferson.
“Pardon me,” said Killian, hovering in the doorway. “Might I be of help?”
“Yeah,” Emma replied. “Tell your pal Jeff to stop messing with me.”
“‘Messing’...with you? I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” said Killian, perplexed.
“Oh, right.” Emma rolled her eyes. “How could I forget the whole ‘man out of time’ thing. How about this: Tell Jefferson to stop insulting my intelligence.”
As they spoke, Jefferson was digging through his desk. “Found it!” he yelped, holding the iPad aloft. “Found it. You can go, Emma.”
Emma grabbed it and walked out before slamming the door shut, effectively waking up the slumbering apricot mastiff. The startled dog’s barking was loud and constant, creating madness as she ran around the room.
Jefferson cringed, “Cat shut up!”
While Jefferson kept trying to tame the beast, Killian stared at the door.
After a few treat bribes and belly rubs, Jefferson finally broke Killian’s enchantment. “I’m sorry about her.”
“Who is she? I feel like I’ve seen her before.” Killian’s eye was still set on the door.
“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but women have changed since your time. They are dangerous.” Jefferson walked to the front door and locked it.
Killian kept his steely-eyes on Jefferson. “You say I’m not kidnapped, yet you lock the door.”
Jefferson laughed. “I’m protecting you. New York is not the same as it was. I can’t let you go out there.”
Killian glared at him.
Cat scratched at the door urgently.
“Look, man, your clothes make you look like you’re some Renaissance Faire crazed fanatic. I can tell you’re kind of antsy. I will get you home, but the portal closed. My backup is for next Tuesday. We can discuss this more, but I really need to take Cat for her walk,” Jefferson said as the dog barked.
Killian sighed; there was not much he could do.
“While I’m out, I was wondering if you could look over these.” Jefferson handed Killian some notebooks.
Killian grabbed them and sat down.
“I shouldn’t be gone long. Don’t open the door for anyone,” Jefferson said as he secured Cat’s leash. The door closed behind them, and then there was a click.
Jefferson and Cat were waiting for the elevator. He heard the ding and once the door opened, he took a step in, but Cat hesitated and he realized only too late why. He fell into the empty elevator shaft as the door closed behind him. He was still holding onto the leash as he attempted to pull himself up. A frightened Cat whimpering above managed to get out of her collar. Jefferson was unaware the sealed elevator door was the only thing preventing him from falling to his possible death. “Good girl, Cat stay, don’t move.” He tried again to pull himself up but failed as he lost his grip and fell, only to land on top of the elevator a couple of floors below.
Meanwhile, Killian was exploring the apartment. He was in awe of all the different appliances. He was washing his face when a knock on the door suddenly startled him. As he neared the door, it burst open, revealing the fiery blonde from before.
“Jeff!!!! Hey, you renaissance man, where is he? He forgot my charger and you can’t just kick Cat outside. She unloaded Lake Erie out there.”
“I have not, milady. Jeff stepped outside with her.”
“Fine, let’s go. I have enough time to stop for a replacement charger. I said let’s go!” she said, rolling her eyes as she handed him Cat’s leash.
He stammered and did as instructed as they walked out of the apartment building. Killian held on to Cat. “Lass, I take it you’re a career woman. I once courted a librarian in Sussex,” he smiled.
She stared at him askance. “Did you, now.”
“Indeed I did, I…” He trailed off as he began to suspect she wasn’t taking their conversation seriously. “Librarian is a fine avocation for a lady; what is yours? Please forgive me if I’m being too forward,” Killian decided to say instead.
“I’m in market research,” she said, which explained very little to him.
At his undoubtedly confused look, she continued. “I figure out what customers like and don’t like about products.”
“Ahh,” he said, nodding. “Very valuable research, indeed.”
“Yeah, well, thankfully my boss thinks so too. Speaking of, I am already running late. If I want to get my charger, I have to go now. Wait...give these to Jefferson when you see him. I am sick of getting his mail.” Reaching into her bag, she withdrew some envelopes. “See you.” With another swish of her blonde hair, she was gone.
Killian admired the no-nonsense blonde; there was something about her that called to him. She wasn’t like any of the women he had met in his life, and not just because she was a career woman. He was not afraid of that. He had a feeling she was going to be a challenge, and he does love a good challenge.
In a slight daze, Killian watched her turn the corner and continue out of sight. Was everyone in this city constantly on the move?
Cat, who had been crouched and snuffling at the street, suddenly shook herself vigorously, and Killian looked down at her.
It is then he noticed the pungent droppings she had left beside him. Wrinkling his nose with distaste, he decided to move on. After all, it would likely be indistinguishable from the horse manure every city had.
Though, come to think of it, he hasn’t really seen any horses. Or street manure. Just the noisy, swift carriages that seem to move of their own will.
“Excuse me!” a voice called over the general din.
He turned to see a female constable looking at him irritably - but surely he was imagining her annoyance. What could he possibly have done to invoke her attention?
“Sir, aren’t you going to pick that up!?” The frown lines were evident on the face of the woman.
Killian stared at the woman. “I refuse, respectfully.” He gave her a charming smile.
The woman mocked him and smiled back. “It’s against the law to leave the poop there. I repeat, are you picking that up or not?”
“I’m sorry, you’re saying there’s a law that forces gentlemen to pick up canine feces?” he grimaced.
“Yes, there is. Are you picking up the poop or not?” the lady cop urged.
“I refuse, respectfully.” He clicked his feet together.
“Alright, what’s your name fancy pants?”
“My name is Killian Brendan Rowe Conor Gordon Philip Jones.”
The woman rolled her eyes, then spotted the envelopes he was holding and grabbed one. With a wicked smile, she said, “Here, Jefferson Hatter.” She handed him a paper and walked away.
Killian turned to Cat as she wiggled her tail, and suddenly darted in the opposite direction. He jerked behind her. The city flashed before him, and they ended up in front of the completed Brooklyn Bridge. Killian was in awe that the structure still stood. The sound of the fire brigade caught Cat’s attention and she followed, with a stunned Killian trailing behind. They end up back in front of the apartment building as Jefferson was on an apparatus to move him to be taken to the hospital. Cat whimpered next to Killian.
“Killian, what are you doing outside? Get back inside. I’ll be back soon.”
“Jefferson, I saw the bridge and -”
“I know you’re excited but you cannot go out again.” Jefferson said as he was put inside the ambulance.
Killian looked at Cat and they went inside.
After leaving Killian, Emma bought the charger and headed to work. Today, they were screening a movie to see how people were going to welcome the film. Her assistant, Mary Margaret, handed out a form for the people to fill out. The movie finished to a disappointing reception. The conclusion after reading the audience's responses was that the character was unlikeable, so they needed to cut a big scene in order for the movie to do well. The director was upset about the change and told them that they were sucking the life out of cinema.
Back at the office, they were now focused on casting for a low-fat margarine commercial. The focus group was not liking the actors that were reading for the part. Yet another dead end. They needed to fill the part soon. “Mary Margaret, we are going to have to do another casting.”
Mary Margaret smiled, “I’m on it. So, I was thinking about what you said.”
Emma looked confusedly at her assistant.
“You said that I should be more proactive and not be caught up in my dreams if I want to be successful. So, in an effort to be more efficient, I was wondering if you wanted me to get some food for your brother’s return. He is set to return tomorrow.” A slight blush on her cheeks doesn’t go unnoticed by Emma.
Emma raised an eyebrow because she had a feeling Mary Margaret had a crush on her brother. The only reason she gave her assistant a speech was because Mary Margaret was always giving her lectures about love and hope. Fairy tales aren’t real; at least when it came to Emma’s life they aren’t.
Mary Margaret continued with the list of things that need to be taken care of. “Oh, and Mr. Oz wants to see you.”
“Mary Margaret, you should have started with that! I didn’t know he was back. Is he in his office?”
“I think so. I can call and check,” Mary Margaret said.
Emma met with Mr. Oz and he told her that they should discuss the possibility of her promotion during dinner the next day. Her boss always seemed to come on a little strong for her taste and because she was an adult, she would suck it up. As soon as she reached her office, Mary Margaret grabbed her attention.
“Emma, Mr. Oz is calling an emergency meeting to discuss the Farmer’s Bounty account,” Mary Margaret shared.
“Oh, well that’s not going as well as we had hoped. I really wish I had better news for him.” Emma sighed. “I hope we find someone in the casting call tomorrow.”
The meeting went by quickly and afterward, all Emma could recall about it was the moment she spilled cocoa all over the front of her shirt. She just hoped it was not a bad omen for the next day’s auditions.
Back inside Jefferson’s apartment, Killian busied himself with some scientific books he had found on the shelf. Although the terminologies inside were difficult for him to understand, he was still able to grasp most of the overall concepts. How much humanity had advanced!
And yet, how much was still the same. The modern New Yorkers’ lives seemed to be fraught with just as many challenges and concerns as his own.
Such as Emma. Though she is clearly a woman of talent and accomplishment - her career would attest to that - she moved and spoke with a strain and pace quite unfamiliar to his own world.
Yet the more he thought of her, the more he realised he was quite interested in trying to keep up.
Killian dropped his book, startled, when he heard a loud ringing pierce the apartment.
The ringing repeated several times, and then a shrill beep squawked before he suddenly heard Jefferson’s voice speak.
“Killian? Hey, Killian, this is Jefferson. I am speaking over a machine, okay? I need you to pick up the telephone so we can talk. It’s the...lift the curved white part of the machine okay? The part that disconnects from the rest.”
Fumbling, Killian followed the instructions, nearly dropping the device. But he could hear Jefferson’s voice, now coming from the holes on one end of the machine he held.
Excited and proud of his accomplishment, Killian began talking back. “Jefferson? Is this Bell's talking telegraph? I saw a prototype at last year’s fair. Can you hear me? I saw the bridge! It still exists!”
“Killian, I know you’re excited, but you have to stay inside the apartment. I should be home tonight. They’re taking me to X-Rays,” Jefferson says before howling in pain and the call disconnecting.
“Hello?” Killian asked and was met with silence. “Bloody hell.”
The sound of the TV alerted him; he was no longer alone. Killian stepped slowly to the living area and found a young boy.
“Hello, lad,” Killian said. “May I be of assistance?”
The boy tilted his head. “You are not Jefferson. I usually come and watch TV with him until my dad picks me up. Do you want some Pirate Booty?” The boy offered the treat.
Killian scratched behind his ear and smiled.
Meanwhile, one floor below arriving early from actor camp, David Nolan entered his shared apartment with his sister. A loud voice coming from Jefferson’s place piqued his curiosity and he went to check it out.
“But one day, he lowered the Jolly Roger and set sail in search of another kind of treasure. Not money, not jewels, not gold… but a bride. Despite his being a ruffian of the brine, fearless in his plunder and merciless with the sword, the Pirate King was also lonely.”
The boy was mesmerized.
“My boy, I was fortunate enough to see the premiere last month.”
“Since when is Penzance showing?” David asks.
Killian quirked an eyebrow. “Since when is it acceptable to enter a domicile without an invitation?”
David laughed and took in the old fashioned wardrobe. “Oh, you’re an actor too? I’m David Nolan, I live downstairs.”
Emma was finally home; what a day. She was so tired that she almost missed noticing a duffle bag on the floor. That meant her brother arrived early. “David!” She was about to go to his room when the phone rang. “Hello, Jeff. Wait, you’re in the hospital? Uhm, yeah I know he got out. I made him walk Cat. What film? No, I’m not going to babysit a full-grown man. One, may I add, that you claim is from 1876.” With that, she hung up.
Once she hung up, she heard someone singing. She noticed the open window, which was the preferred way to go to and from Jefferson’s. She went to see what was going on.
The boisterous voices were singing the lyrics of some old ditty. She cleared her throat in an effort to get their attention and when that failed, she whistled.
Killian stopped playing the piano. Roland’s eyes went wide. David smiled wide.
“Hey, sis,” David said as he walked to hug her. “I missed you. Hey, what’s going on with the elevator?”
“I should have known you’d find your way here. You always do,” she said. “Aren’t you early?”
“I am. Some Tai Chi lady wanted to jab her fingers in my-” David managed to stop himself when he remembered the young boy in the room.
Roland smiled. “Hello, Miss Emma. I’m just waiting for my dad.”
“Hi, Roland.” She smiled back. “Your dad is still working the late shift.”
The boy shrugged. “It won't last. Uncle Will is moving here to work with him.”
“Good. I know you like hanging out with Jeff, but too much TV is bad for you.”
Roland giggled and turned to sit down on the couch to continue his television viewing.
Killian was silently staring at her.
“Oh, Emma, I invited Killian over for dinner since Jefferson isn’t here.”
“What about Roland?”
“Robin called and said he was already on his way.”
“Meet me at home,” Emma said as she simply waved to a silent Killian. “We’ll talk about it at home.”
David turned to Killian. “Hey, dinner is in two hours. Bye, Roland.”
Roland waved to David then leaned towards Killian. “I don’t think she likes you.”
As soon as they enter their shared apartment, David started. “Come on Emma, he’s alone.”
“He thinks he is from 1876, he is clearly crazy,” Emma pointed out.
“He is an actor!” David defended Killian.
Emma had started cooking spaghetti while David made the garlic bread.
“Emma, why are you so rude to Killian?”
“David, what are you talking about? I’m perfectly civil to him. I’m just annoyed at Jefferson, and his craziness. It doesn’t matter, I don’t have time. I might be getting a promotion. A really good one, and I’m just frustrated. This could be really good for us.”
“Oh, that’s great Emma!” David said.
Before he could say anything else, the phone started ringing. “David, can you get that?” Emma asked.
“Ems, just let the machine answer it,” David said as he put the bread in the oven.
Jefferson’s voice was frantic. “Emma, I know you don’t believe me, but just develop the film on my desk. It’s right next to the phone. If Killian doesn’t go back, the elevators will be just the beginning.” The call disconnected.
David whistled. “Jeff is still at it then.”
“David, set up the table since it was your idea to invite Jeff’s friend over.”
“Okay,” David said amiably.
Soon, supper was on the table, and just as they were about to sit, there was a knock on the door.
Emma opened it to see Killian standing there, holding flowers. “Hello. Thank you again for the invitation. I hope I am not late; the flower proprietor refused my coins and insisted they were too old and must be fake. Fake, indeed! Yet he takes the absurd little blue card with Jefferson’s name as real payment?”
Emma lifted a brow as she received the flowers. “Yeah, fancy that. Well, thanks and all, but you didn't have to go to the trouble. Come in, we just finished cooking.”
“Hey, hi Killian!” David called cheerfully.
Digging in a cabinet, Emma found a vase and filled it with water before placing the flowers in it. They did look nice, she begrudgingly admitted to herself. Whoever the weird guy was, he had taste.
They all sat down and, after passing the food around and loading their plates, Killian spoke up.
“You know, before young Roland arrived, I was examining some of Jefferson’s books and research. It is quite impressive! Did either of you ever read it yourself?”
Twirling some spaghetti on her fork, Emma hid a grimace. “Unfortunately.” She wasn’t going to pretend Jefferson wasn’t a brilliant man. But some of his theories were so ludicrous, she couldn’t understand how someone so smart could re-read some of his own work and not realize how impossible it was.
Killian either didn’t hear or chose to ignore her quip. “Specifically, I am referring to the time portals.”
Oh, boy. Here we go, Emma thought.
“The portals work rather like an eclipse, you see. They only occur at specific intervals; in the case of the one I travelled through, once every twenty years.”
As Killian was talking, Emma could see David nodding and grinning excitedly.
It irritated her so much that she gave David a warning glare before he could ask any follow-up questions.
Setting down his silverware beside his now empty plate, Killian lifted his chin and glanced toward the oven. “Well. That was delicious. I am quite ready for the next course.”
The thin cord by which she’d been reining in her temper finally snapped. “There is no next course,” she hissed.
Clearly puzzled, Killian tilted his head. “But I do not understand. Where I come from, a meal is a result of reflection and study. Menus are prepared in advance and timed to perfection. And without the culinary arts, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable.”
YOU are unbearable! she wanted to scream, though she didn’t know at that moment if she was angry with him, or at Jefferson for bringing him to the apartment, or at David for inviting him to dinner. Or at her own lingering fears at what tomorrow and her job would hold.
“You know what?” Emma asked through her teeth. “I think it’s time for you to go.”
“I’m sorry, Killian. Emma had a little too much wine,” David apologized.
“It’s alright. Thank you for the lovely meal. Goodnight,” Killian said with a small smile.