"That good, huh?" Sydney smiled at Joe. "I'll have to borrow it sometime."
"No," Joe set The Book down. "I'm being serious. This book actually allows people to time travel. Any place, any time, you can go there. Past or future."
Sydney's smile faded and she warily leaned away from Joe. "Maybe I should go..."
"It's true!" Joe grabbed Sydney's hand before she could slip away. Any question of who Sydney was vanished. She clearly wasn't who the boys theorized she was. Joe knew without a doubt that she was just some random girl who knew nothing about time travel. But now he felt the need to prove he wasn't crazy. "My friends and I have met Blackbeard, Leonardo Da Vinci, and even our own great-granddaughters."
Sydney glanced down at Joe's hand that was still holding hers. He could feel the tension in her body. "I really don't think-"
"I can prove it." With a bit of reluctance, Joe let go of Sydney's hand and opened The Book. He put as much sincerity as he could into his voice. "You just have to trust me. Have I given you any reason not to trust me?"
"You haven't given me any reason to trust you either." Despite her words, Joe could see some of the stress in her posture lessen and the frightened look in her eyes softened. He could tell her interest had been peaked.
"Where and when have you always wanted to go?" Joe had no idea why he was even doing this. He didn't want her to think he was insane, but he knew time travel was supposed to be kept a secret. Something about Sydney drew him in though and he wanted to tell her everything.
"Alright, suppose this thing is actually a time travel machine. How would it even work?" Sydney eyed The Book with a mixture of fear and curiosity.
"I don't know," Joe admitted with a blush. During the time he had owned The Book, he had never read it thoroughly. "But I know it works. You have to believe me." Joe reached back into his memories. Where was it the other Sydney in Boston had said they had went together? Corfu? "What if I take you to Corfu?"
Sydney furrowed her brow and continued to stare at The Book. "What?" Sydney asked, caught off-guard.
"I asked you where you wanted to go. Something tells me Corfu would be a good place. Would you want to go there?"
"The island in Greece? Alright, let's go to Corfu then." Sydney crossed her arms and smirked. "Prove to me that this is real. You get one chance or else I'm sending you to an insane asylum."
"Only one chance?" Joe bit his lip. He had successfully brought them home from Boston last week, but moments like that were rare. He had no reason to believe that The Book would take them to Corfu without any problems. He flipped to the transporter page. He had to make this count. "Corfu it is."
He typed in all the necessary info to the transporter page and crossed his fingers behind his back, hoping Sydney wouldn't see. To his relief, The Book began to glow and green mist slowly poured out of the pages. As they were pulled away, Joe prayed that nothing would go haywire.
The green mist faded and the world came into focus. Joe had no way of knowing if they were in Corfu or not, but they were definitely not in New York anymore. The buildings around them were mostly built from white brick and stone and sat on the side of mountains. Each one was at least a hundred years old, but held an air of old-fashioned beauty. Joe could smell salt water in the air and distantly heard the sounds of people going about their business.
"It worked. It's actually a time traveling book. How is that even possible?"
Joe turned to see Sydney standing behind him with complete fear and shock written all over her face. Her eyes were wide and she had her arms wrapped tightly around her torso. In her arms, Joe could see The Book. The corners of his lips turned down. That was odd. What was it doing there?
"See? I'm not crazy." Joe grinned at her.
However, the way Sydney looked at him showed that she thought otherwise. "You own a magical time traveling book," she said breathlessly. She stared at The Book in her hands like it was tainted.
Joe reached out and took it from her, then gave her a comforting grin. "It's okay to be freaked out. I had no idea what was going on my first time. It's quite the shocker."
Sydney swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and regarded the new landscape. She tentatively touched the white wall next to them as if it would vanish the moment it was disturbed. "So is this really Corfu? Or did you tell the waitress to slip something in my drink?"
"Does it look like Corfu?" Joe didn't want to reveal to her that he wasn't sure if the warp had worked or not. This was his only chance to prove he was telling the truth and he had no desire to mess it up.
Sydney mutely nodded as she analyzed the small town they had landed in. "I haven't been here in years. It's even more beautiful than I remember." She paused and turned to Joe, her eyebrows pinched together. "How did you know I would want to come here?"
"Lucky guess?" Joe bit the inside of his cheek. He didn't exactly know how to tell her that she had told him this is where they went in Boston. She was new to time travel, and Joe figured it was best not to tell her about the confusions and oddities it entailed.
"If you're that good at making guesses, you should play the lottery," she responded sarcastically, not believing Joe's answer in the slightest, but she didn't pursue the question any further. She started to walk away, still in a daze and staring at everything like she was in a dream.
Joe took a few brisk steps to catch up with her. "So why do you like Corfu so much?"
"My family came here on vacation when I was younger. It was just so beautiful and inviting. I remember I couldn't sleep one night, so I sneaked out of our hotel room to do a little self-exploration of the island. I ended up finding this gorgeous beach that-" Sydney suddenly came to a halt, her eyes lighting up with excitement. Before Joe could figure out what was going on, Sydney had grabbed his hand and starting pulling him down the lush hillside. "Come on, you have to see it."
"Where are we going?" Joe stumbled along after her as best as he could. He was happy to see that she was getting over the initial shock of the warp, but he was not happy to be getting dragged along with no idea of where they were heading, even if holding Sydney's hand sent a pleasant shiver through him.
"You'll see," Sydney said, a playful smirk appearing on her lips. Her blonde hair whipped around behind her as they hurried toward the coast.
They sprinted on like that for a while, old houses and bewildered citizens rushed by in a blur. Just when Joe was starting to run out of breath and was going to Sydney ask if they could stop and take a break, Sydney let go of his hand and slowed down to a much easier walking pace. Joe was surprised at the mild disappointment he felt when Sydney released his hand.
"Are we finally here?" Joe took a second to catch his breath and absorb his new surroundings. They were standing a few feet away from a short, crumbling stone wall. Joe couldn't see what lay beyond it, but the area in front of it where they were didn't seem very special. It was just a small grass plain with a few rocks scattered about here and there. The smell of salt water was stronger now and if he listened hard enough, he could hear the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. They had passed the last house a while back and the dirt trail they were running along had long since disappeared. "What's so great about it?"
"See for yourself." Sydney proudly gestured to the white wall, her green and blue eyes still shining from the journey here.
Joe raised an eyebrow at her, but went over to the wall anyway. He nearly lost his breath again. What he saw was astounding. Over the wall, the crystal blue sea spread out as far as the eye could see. Surrounding it on all sides was a tropical garden filled with wild plants that tangled together in a beautiful mess. None of it looked like it had been touched by man. The gorgeous garden was filled with colourful and exotic plants and flowers. He was looking out at a small cove lined by a beach with white sand that sparkled like diamonds. Dolphins jumped in the horizon and brilliant butterflies flew all around him and over the untamed garden that gave way to the beach. Life was everywhere, but it was as quiet and serene as a paradise.
"This is stunning." Joe managed to close his dropped jaw, but couldn't take his eyes off the scene in front of him.
"Isn't it?" Sydney had walked up next to him and was leaning over the wall with a relaxed grin. Her arm brushed against his and even that small touch sent another warm shiver down his spine.
Joe glanced at her, his gaze lingering for a while before he snapped out of it and turned back to the magnificent view. "Yeah... But where are the people? This place should be filled with visitors."
Sydney adamantly shook her head like it was the worst idea she had ever heard. "If everyone knew it was here, it would ruin it. This place is beautiful because it's been untouched. It's all wild and untamed and that's the way it should be."
Joe thought about it. She had a valid point. He hated to think of what would happen to this place if it was crowded with tourists. "I guess that's true."
"So this book..." Sydney carefully broke the silence that had formed between them. "How did you find it?"
"My uncle gave it to me for my tenth birthday." Joe smiled at the memory. "My friends and I have had all kinds of adventures with it. You wouldn't believe half of the stuff that's happened to us."
"After the day I've had? I'm willing to believe anything." Sydney sighed and shook her head, the terms of all this finally getting to her. "Do you have any other magical items I should know about? A wizard wand? Or maybe a flying carpet?"
Joe chuckled. "No, just The Book." He patted its cover appreciatively.
"It's a shame it really doesn't belong to you," a dark voice cackled behind them.
Joe jumped and spun around, nearly dropping The Book in the process. He groaned as he realized who their intruder was. He may have been hiding his face under a black hooded cape, but he'd recognize that evil laugh and magic staff anywhere. This was the last thing they needed. Joe found himself standing protectively in front of Sydney. Joe wasn't going to let him near her. "What do you want?"
"Now, now Joseph, is that really anyway to treat family?" Their visitor bared his teeth in a cruel smile, his glowing hourglass staff illuminating his hidden face under his black hood.
"I take it he's friend of yours?" Sydney tried to peer over Joe's shoulder at the man's face.
"Something like that." Joe gritted his teeth together, knowing that trouble was about to start. Of course with Joe's luck, he would show up now of all times. "This is my uncle, Mad Jack."