British detective Ian Carreg never expected his life to unfold like this. A recent widower, the fifty-five-year-old inspector has just learned he’s going to be a grandfather. But duty still calls. He’s been assigned to find and arrest Dr. Jemma Henderson, the daughter of a famous British physicist, for extradition to the United States, where she’s been convicted of murdering her lover.
But when he pursues her to the ancient stone monument of Cymry Henge, he is knocked unconscious and awakens in what appears to be Roman Britain in the year sixty AD. Ian is convinced he’s in the middle of some elaborate hoax—until he comes face to face with Celts and Romans and begins to doubt his sanity. When he and Jemma are taken prisoner by the Romans and forced to travel to Londinium, Ian realizes they must work together to foil a plot that could radically alter history . . .
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Sunday. Pale edges of dawn defined the horizon above the eastern shore of Cymry reservoir, sketching naked trees to the north and south as the first splinters of sunlight spilled across water steaming in the frigid air. Ian Carreg pulled his small sports car to the verge of the cliff that formed the reservoir's western edge. He emerged, gray and balding. He disrobed and walked, naked, to the edge of sky. Poising momentarily, in shivering parody of the classic diver's pose, he described a perfect parabola diving into the icy water.
He cut the surface with little splash, bracing himself for the heart-stopping shock, plunging far below. The numbing, cramping cold gripped his whole being, and for a moment he was frozen. Shattering! he thought as he descended. So easy to give up ...
But as a cold-induced tetany seized his extremities, he fought it. Tempering! he told himself, Bracing!
In-vig-or-a-ting. He forced his cold-numbed will to oppose his momentum. He forced his anguished muscles to resist. When he resurfaced, spraying steaming breath and water into the March air, he let out a whoop of delight at having survived what had become — since his university days, when he'd first dived on a dare — an annual ritual. It was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.
"Marjory was right," he told himself as he began the long swim to the water's edge. "I'm getting too old for this."
It'd been weeks since he'd last thought of her. No. Longer. Thinking of her still brought pain. But Marjory was right. Life goes on. Tomorrow he'd wear his swimming costume. Tomorrow he'd go down to the road-entrance of the reservoir and climb to a sane distance from the water before diving in. Tomorrow his swim would be purely exercise. Oh Marjory, love!
He reached the western wall and treaded water as he groped for a handhold along the frosted stone. Stiffened by cold, his hands obeyed reluctantly. Steam poured from his mouth and boiled from his skin as he heaved himself onto the ledge that formed the first step of his climb back to the car. His lungs burned. His limbs grew rubbery with fatigue. His feet became scalding weights that answered clumsily and with deadened sensation, but as he considered the alternative, he kept on climbing.
When he'd hauled himself onto the cliff top, he didn't pause to contemplate the sunrise, but hot-footed it across the frosted grass. He dried off quickly, scraping the water off with a thick terry towel, then he shivered into his clothes. He combed his thinning hair with numb fingers and smoothed his mustache to make himself presentable before climbing into the car and starting the motor.
With the heater turned on full, Ian backed away from the verge and turned the small red vehicle toward home. He drove fast, but with the conditioned expertise of practice, changing up and down without thought or grinding. He took no real chances, although he exceeded the limits by an extensive amount until the more regular recurrence of houses signaled the town boundary. He parked in front of his block and got out, picked up the Times from near the front door, then climbed to the second floor.
The drawing room into which he let himself was conventionally furnished save that one entire wall was covered by bookshelves. An orderly office area with desk, computer terminal, and file cabinet occupied a corner. On the wall behind the desk hung a framed citation for exceptional police work. Marjory's portrait — her lovely, younger self — smiled at him from the desk, flanked by the smaller, family photos. Except for the citation and the wall of books, the decor reflected Marjory's tastes more than his own, but as he could not have said how he'd have gone about re-doing the flat, he was content with her arrangements, and comforted — as if her presence lingered in the room.
The large cat perched on the back of an armchair by the door greeted him with a personable "Yee-oow."
Ian said, "Good morning, Charles."
He crossed to the desk and lifted the portrait. As he gazed at the cherished face, he probed for remnants of the pain he'd once felt, gingerly, the way one probes for toothache. He found only mild regret. They had wanted to grow old together. He sighed.
"Not this year, Luv."
Marjory smiled back as if to say, "I'm glad."
"You were right, Luv. Life goes on."
Shivering, he put the portrait back and hurried along the hallway to the loo. He undressed while he ran up the hot water. It took almost all there was to warm him, but by the time he emerged from the steam, he was whistling, and he grinned at the fogged mirror.
"Count Dracula, I presume."
He turned on the fan and wiped the mirror. With Charles looking on from a perch on the basin, Ian stared at his face, examining the wrinkles, thrusting his chin out to make the lines disappear. "Not bad for fifty-five," he told the unimpressed Charles. Ian was not himself impressed. In his mind, he was still thirty. The face that looked back at him was older than he felt. The thinning thatch, the grizzled brows, mustache and sideburns, the lines, and the gray stubble were incongruous. Only the eyes were still right. Hunter's eyes. Charles rubbed his face against Ian's shoulder, and Ian ran a knuckle along the cat's jaw line. He reached for his electric shaver. His steam- softened whiskers resisted the rotary blades, so he took his time.
When he'd finished in the loo — it being Sunday — he adhered to tradition, laying out a dress shirt and a suitable-for- church suit and, though he had no intention of leaving the flat for hours, he selected his best tie and knotted it round his neck.
In the cheerful yellow kitchen, equipped with the gadgets that make life tolerable — microwave, Cuisinart, digital coffee machine — he put his suit coat on a chair back, tucked a tea towel around his waist for an apron, then rolled up his sleeves. He fried sausages and eggs while he squeezed juice from fresh oranges. And he brewed Darjeeling in a Wedgwood pot his grandmother had owned, warming a croissant in the microwave while the tea steeped. Charles supervised.
Ian lay the table with a place mat, silverware and cloth serviette and put a second place mat on the floor for Charles. He emptied a tin of cat food onto a plate that matched the teapot and set it down for the cat before serving his own meal.
"Bon appetit, Charles."
Ian ate slowly, savoring every taste and texture, even the aroma of the tea. He felt clean and pleasantly tired, completely relaxed, and — as his hunger abated — totally satisfied. Only the real, physical presence of Marjory could have improved on his feeling of well-being. Only the flesh and blood woman, for she was still with him in the sense that her hand was everywhere. She had decorated the flat and, over the years, had helped him to establish the routines that had eased him through his grief. Like Sunday breakfast. And midnight Mass at Easter and Christmas. Ian sighed and watched Charles finish his breakfast and begin his wash.
Later, Charles watched Ian wash up, using the tea towel, again tucked into his waistband, to protect his suit. When he'd rinsed the last plate and put it in the rack to drain, he used the sprayer to water the potted herbs that sat on the windowsill behind the sink. Parsley, sage, rosemary — that's for remembrance — thyme and basil, as well as tarragon and oregano. He brushed the rosemary gently and breathed in the piney scent he'd liberated. "You don't get that from a tin, Charles," he told the cat as he wiped his hands on the cloth and draped it over a chair back to dry.
Charles followed him into the drawing room and perched on the back of his recliner when he sat down. Ian put on his reading glasses and had just settled himself comfortably with the Times when the phone rang. He regarded it with irritation. He let it ring several times before getting up to answer — phone calls on Sunday were bound to mean trouble. He said "Hello" cautiously.
His daughter-in-law's voice answered. "Hello, Dad. How've you been?" Susannah seemed more than averagely cheerful.
"Well enough, thank you. Has something come up?"
"No, dinner's still on. Margaret's still coming. In fact, she's bringing a friend."
As Ian waited for her to get to the point, he said, cautiously, "Anyone I know?"
"Someone she met in New York. The problem is the drains are blocked."
Aha! he thought. "Have you tried calling a plumber?"
Susannah ignored the sarcasm, or didn't notice. "Of course I have, but you know how difficult it is to get someone on Sunday."
Ian sighed. He could beg off dinner, but it'd been six months since he'd seen Margaret. He said, "Very well, I'll come early and see what I can do."
She rang off, and Ian shook his head as he looked around at Charles. "What I get for sending my son to university."
Ian descended the stair wearing only a vest above his trousers. He threw the rag he was wiping his hands on over his shoulder and took a gold ring and a Rolex out of his pocket, putting the ring on his right ring finger and the watch on his left wrist. It seemed to him that Susannah looked radiant as she waited at the foot with his shirt.
"It's fixed," he told her. "Someone flushed a rag down."
She held the shirt up for him. "Oops. I can't imagine where my mind's been lately." She was blond, and pretty in a modern sort of way. Rather too thin, he thought. Fit, she said. Built much like the actress Cher, with long, tanned legs. She was wearing one of those modern things, which left too little to the imagination, and she had an alluring rosy glow.
He shoved an arm into the shirt without comment beyond a raised eyebrow.
Susannah didn't notice. "Have a cuppa with Peter while I clean up. He has something to tell you ..." She gave him a smile that would've made him catch his breath if she hadn't been his son's wife.
Ian nodded and shrugged himself into his shirt.
"... And thanks, Dad."
Peter was in the kitchen, on the phone. He was twenty-five and active, though he made his living with his mind. He waved to acknowledge Ian's entrance, but kept his attention on the call. Ian hung his jacket on a chair back, poured himself tea, then took his reading glasses from his pocket. He had just started on the Times when Peter put down the phone.
"Brace yourself, Dad."
Reluctantly, Ian put the paper down. He took off his glasses with resignation.
"You're going to be a grandfather."
It was unexpected, though certainly not unwelcome news, and Ian stood to offer Peter his hand. "Peter, that's wonderful! When?"
"Well," Ian said, "Well!" The handshake developed into a heartfelt hug. "This certainly calls for a toast!"
Just then, Susannah came in, and Ian swept her up to kiss her warmly.
"You'd think it was his first child!" she told Peter as he got out glasses and a bottle of old scotch.
Peter poured drinks for Ian and himself, but didn't offer Susannah one, nor did she seem to expect it.
Ian held up his glass and told Susannah, "Grandchildren are much better. More fun, less work."
They toasted grandchildren. And children. And a number of other things. Susannah poured herself the last of the tea. The afternoon passed swimmingly. Just past three, it started to snow. Peter was indignant.
"Do you believe this weather? The first day of spring!"
"I find it rather invigorating," Ian said.
"I suppose you ran your five kilometers this morning?"
"Swam. In the spring and summer I swim."
Peter shook his head. "In the reservoir, I suppose? Mum was right. Someday you're going to kill yourself pulling that old trick and they'll find your remains in August, floating, or on the bottom with the dead soldiers and the victims of those nasty pagan rites."
"Dead soldiers?" Susannah asked, bewildered. "Pagan rites?"
Ian told her, "Before Cymry was a reservoir, it was a flooded quarry — some say back beyond Roman times. And legend has it the druids used to throw virgins in the spring there, as gifts to the local gods."
"Virgin soldiers?" she said, dryly.
"'Dead soldiers' is American slang for empty beer bottles," Peter told her. "I'll wager there're a few of those ..."
Just then, Susannah heard something and went to the window. "Here's Margaret."
Ian stood up to look. Through the window he could see an unfamiliar car. And through its passenger window, he could see his daughter. The dark-haired man driving was a stranger. "Who's that with her?" He took his jacket from the chair back as he spoke and put it on as he started for the door.
"Must be her friend from New York," Susannah said. She followed Ian's example and pulled on her jumper as they hurried outside.
Margaret didn't seem to notice the weather as she got out of the car. She wasn't wearing a coat. Her father's daughter, Ian thought as she ran up to hug him. He held her at arm's length. At twenty-three, she looked like a younger version of Marjory, gray-eyed and gold- haired.
He said, "Let me look at you!" Margaret beamed.
He paid scant attention to the young man who got quietly out of the driving seat.
"Well, New York agrees with you," Ian told his daughter.
"Michael agrees with me."
Ian took this in with some dismay, turning to inspect Michael, who'd stepped to one side with Peter and Susannah and was waiting deferentially for an introduction. He was as tall as Ian — six-one, dark-haired and gray-eyed, about thirteen stone with no distinguishing marks visible.
Margaret realized that she'd temporarily forgotten him and hurriedly made introductions. "Da, Peter, Susannah, this is Michael. Michael Gwaed. Michael, my father — Ian Carreg, and Peter and Susannah."
Michael offered Ian his hand. "How do you do, sir?"
Ian was subtly alarmed, but he was careful to remain cordial. He said, "Gwaed. Welsh, isn't it?"
"My parents emigrated after the War."
Ian watched him thoughtfully as he shook hands with Peter and Susannah. The young man was reserved and alert, and seemed unperturbed by the scrutiny. And he had eyes like a police inspector. Ian wondered what he did for a living, but before he had a chance to ask, Peter reminded them of the weather.
"Let's get in out of this. We've time for a drink before we go. Our booking is for half past seven."
"Where did you meet?" Ian asked when they were installed again around the kitchen table. Peter had fetched glasses, and Susannah was making more tea.
Margaret's eyes shone with mischief, and Ian intercepted the look she shot Michael's way. "Oh, Michael came to my rescue when my apartment — that's American for flat — was burglarized." She smiled.
"You didn't tell me about that," Ian said, feeling further alarm.
"In New York, it's like getting roaches. Only in this case, they took everything — every pot and pan, every stick of furniture, even the fruit crates I was using for end tables. All they left were my books and photographs. Thank God they left the photos!
"Anyway, Michael came to my rescue, loaned me some dishes and a bed ..."
Ian felt his eyes widening — Margaret made the loan of a bed sound as inconsequential as the loan of a few pence. Even as he hoped she meant it only literally, he knew it was stupid, antediluvian really, to suppose she was still a virgin, or that her loss of naivetÃ© was anything more than a symbol that she was her own woman and no longer his little girl.
"... and he put some real locks on my doors, which seems to have taken care of the problem." She shot Michael a patently adoring look.
Ian cringed. She hadn't mentioned Michael in her letters, and that was a telling omission. He stared at the man as if to coerce some sign of guilt or a confession from him; Michael returned a look that was politely attentive. Peter and Susannah didn't seem to have noticed anything.
"Tell us all about America," Peter said.
And so, over the balance of the scotch, Margaret filled them in on New York.
The pub had a bar that was contiguous with the restaurant, and most of its patrons were old acquaintances. The landlord greeted Ian, Peter and Susannah by name, and nodded sociably to Michael and Margaret. He seated them on the restaurant side, with Ian between his children.
It was an old place, carefully renovated — with oak beams and the like — to preserve the tourist trade. Ian watched Michael study it and waited for his verdict.
With a wink at Margaret, he announced dryly, "An authentic English pub."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Cymry Ring"
Copyright © 2006 Michael Allen Dymmoch.
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ian Carrey, a 50ish Scotland yard detective, widower with 2 grown children. jemma Henderson, M.D., american surgeon, daughter of phd and convicted murderess. Jemma flees to England where her father has a time machine. Ian is on her trail to arreswt for extraqdition and accidedntaqly goes through w Jemma to 61 a.d.. Ian is a bit of a dolt who continues to disbelieve he has time trqavelled (imagine). Jemma has inexplicably fallen for him. very short on character. I didn't really care what happened to them. readable only for "novelty factor" but a very weak imitation of the Gabaldon experience.