Cameron opened the door to the hidey-hole, crawled out, then pulled Annie from the hiding place. The attic was dark, just like it had been when they entered. Annie pulled out her phone and turned on the flashlight, shining it around the room. The contents had changed. The trunk that had held the letters was missing. Other items such as lamps, old TVs, and fans had been replaced with coat-racks, hanging dresses, and various other items. They had definitely traveled to another time. All that was needed now was to determine exactly when they had traveled to.
“Does this look familiar to you,” Annie questioned in a whisper.
“Yes. This is the same room I entered when I came into hiding. Nothing has changed,” Cameron replied.
“So it’s safe to say that we’re in 1780 then?”
“I would say so, yes.”
“Okay, great. Now all we have to do is figure out how we get out of here and where to go.”
“Annie, I really do appreciate all you have done for me, but I cannot impose upon you any further. You should crawl back into that cupboard and go back to your time. I can manage from here.”
“And what exactly am I supposed to do when I get back to my time? Wait for the intruder to find me? No, I think not. I’m staying right here with you. Besides, I have a strange feeling that I’m supposed to be here.”
“Annie, I cannot allow you to stay. These are dangerous times,” Cameron pleaded with her.
“Don’t you think I know that? I know all about the American Revolution. We study it in school. I know what I’m up against. But I can help you. I know things you don’t. Please, let me stay and help,” Annie pleaded back.
Cameron contemplated her offer. It was an intriguing one. Being from the future, she could tell him exactly what had happened during the war, what its outcome had been. It could be incredibly advantageous to the war effort. He would be a fool not to take her up on her offer. On the other hand, if anything were to happen to her he would never be able to forgive himself. The thought of an innocent young woman dying because of his selfish desire for knowledge was repulsive to him. Cameron looked down at her face, her hazel eyes pleading with him. “Very well, you may stay. But you must do exactly as I tell you. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Annie replied, a bright smile on her face. “Thank you. I promise you won’t regret this.”
“I certainly hope not. Now, the first thing we have to do is get you a change of clothes. There is no way we can get out of here without suspicion if you are dressed the way you are now,” he said, indicating her shorts, t-shirt, and socks. He did not wait for a reply. Instead he took her phone, then walked around the attic, pulling various dresses, undergarments, and shoes and handing them to Annie. Annie stared at the corset Cameron had given her, then tossed it aside. No way was she subjecting herself to that particular brand of torture. She removed her clothes until she was standing only in her bra and underwear. She pulled on a chemise, stockings, and petticoats. Finally she pulled on a blue muslin dress and shoes.
“There wouldn’t happen to be a hair ribbon over there,” Annie inquired.
“No, sorry,” Cameron replied, without looking at Annie.
“That’s all right. I think I have a hair-tie in my bag,” Annie replied. She bent over and dug through her bag, finally finding a hair-tie. She quickly French braided her long hair and secured it with the hair-tie. Finally she stuffed her regular clothes into her bag then headed towards an old mirror she had seen in a corner of the attic.
The clothes had totally transformed her. Other than being a little too tight across the chest, the dress fit perfectly. Despite the cumbersome layers of clothing, Annie felt surprisingly comfortable. “Well, what do you think,” she asked, turning to face Cameron. “Will I do?”
Cameron’s words were caught in his breath. He had never seen anything so beautiful in his life. Illuminated only by the rays of moonlight, the simple blue day dress appeared otherworldly. Annie’s skin gave off an ethereal glow. The moonlight highlighted the golden-blonde and auburn streaks that ran through her hair. The dress fit her perfectly, a little too perfectly in some places.
Fully aware that he had been caught staring, he forced his gaze away and responded. “Yes, you will do. Now pick up your things and take off your shoes. We need to find a way out of here. Remember your promise to me. You must do exactly as I say. If you do not, I will toss you back into that cupboard myself. Understood?”
“Yes,” Annie replied, her voice solemn.
“Good.” Slowly the two of them walked down the attic steps, stopping at the door. Cameron placed his ear to the door, listening for sounds that indicated someone was near. The hall was silent. Cameron slowly opened the door and stepped out into the hall, motioning for Annie to stay back. Annie complied.
Cameron was relieved to see that Annie was obeying his command. Quietly he stepped further out into the hall. It was empty. Satisfied that they would remain undiscovered for now, he grasped Annie’s uninjured hand and pulled her down the hallway.
“Would you like to use my flashlight,” Annie asked in a whisper.
“No. It’s too bright,” Cameron whispered back. They continued down the hallway in silence. Cameron’s heart beat rapidly against his chest. The only sounds in the hall were Annie’s short, shallow breaths. He turned and placed a finger over his lips, indicating for Annie to be quiet. Annie nodded then muted her breathing. They made it to the staircase without incident. Cautiously, Cameron listened for any indication of activity downstairs. He heard none. He pulled Annie down the stairs with him and towards the rear of the house. After what felt like an eternity, they reached the back door. Cameron let go of Annie’s hand and pulled on his shoes, indicating for her to do the same. Once their shoes were on, Cameron threw the lock to the back door and they stepped outside.
Annie looked around the strange yet familiar grounds. They walked past the place where the swimming pool would be. Annie felt a twinge of sadness in her stomach. She knew it would be a very long time before she would be able to swim in a pool. However, the adventure she had just started would be well worth the sacrifice. With that thought, she squelched the sadness and followed Cameron towards the back lawn. They had just left the patio area when they heard the sound of a twig snapping. Without warning, Cameron shoved Annie into a line of bushes that surrounded the house. She was pinned in place by Cameron’s body on the front, and the outer wall of the house from behind.
Annie’s heart slammed against her ribs, her breathing shallow, panicked. Cameron placed his hand over her mouth in an effort to quiet the sounds of her rapid breathing. Annie listened as footsteps approached their hiding spot then stopped. She heard the sound of branches shifting. Annie looked into Cameron’s blue eyes, her gaze silently asking what they were going to do. Cameron gave her a slight smile and a wink. Then without warning he pulled her arms around his neck and kissed her deeply.
Annie froze, terror bubbled within her. His unexpected kiss was forceful, unyielding. She wanted to pull away, to slap him, and tell him to get off of her. But she knew that making a scene at this point in time would be their downfall. Instead, Annie remained still, her body taut, and allowed Cameron to kiss her, hoping that that was all he intended to do. She closed her eyes, fighting away the memory that assailed her, a memory that she had felt for the second time in the last few hours. A memory that she had been successful in burying for the last year. It had taken her two solid years to bury the pain of the past. Now, with the arrival of Cameron, it was all coming to the surface. For a second she wondered if she should have gone back to her time, to the comfort of her home and her studies. Before she could continue her line of thinking, she felt Cameron’s lips leave hers.
“I’m very sorry sir,” she heard a young man mumble.
“You very well should be. Is there something specific you need?” Cameron’s voice was angry, forceful.
“Of course not. I just heard footsteps. I thought perhaps it was an intruder. I did not realize...I’m very sorry sir.”
“Well, if that is all we would like some privacy,” Cameron commanded. Annie heard the boy leave the bushes then walk away, his footsteps fading into the night. “That was close,” Cameron said a few minutes later. “I apologize for my actions. It was the only cover I could think of on such short notice.”
Annie nodded. He kissed her only as a cover. There was nothing else behind it. Not that she should be surprised. They had known each other for a few hours.
“Annie, is everything alright?”
Cameron’s question interrupted her thoughts, her relief. She gave an affirmative nod.
Cameron nodded. “Let’s go then. We have a lot of ground to cover.” He grabbed Annie’s hand then led her towards the woods.