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Authors: Flora Speer

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Time to Love Again

BOOK: Time to Love Again
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A Time To Love Again

By

Flora Speer

 

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 1993, by Flora Speer

 

Cover Design Copyright 2012

By http//:DigitalDonnna.com

 

Smashwords Edition, License Note:

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Thank you for respecting the hard work of
this author.

 

 

 

My thanks to my daughter, Beth, and my
son-in-law, Kevin, who are my advisors on the subject of computers,
a subject upon which, like my heroine India, I do not know enough
to keep myself out of serious trouble.

 

 

 

To everything there is a season, and a time
to every purpose…A time to be born, and a time to die…A time to
love….

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,8

Chapter 1

 

 

Connecticut, December, 1991
.

 

“India, you really ought to rejoin the
twentieth century.” Willi put down her hamburger, wiped a spot of
catsup off her chin with a paper napkin, and reached for her soda.
“When Professor Moore retires at the end of the year and the new
department head arrives, you will be expected to know how to use a
computer. Professor Moore may tolerate you using that old
typewriter, but I don’t think the new man will. He’s younger, he’ll
be more up-to-date, so you’ll have to be up-to-date, too, kid.”

Willi always called India
kid
, even
though she was three months younger than India. And the question of
who would replace India’s elderly, revered boss as chairman of the
Department of History and Political Science had for months been the
subject of speculation and rumor for every faculty member or
employee at Cheswick University.

“I know perfectly well how to use a computer.
I did all that work for Robert using one.” India fell silent,
wishing she had gone directly home after work instead of letting
Willi talk her into this Christmas shopping expedition. She had
bought Willi’s present weeks before, and there was no one else to
buy a gift for this year except Robert’s cat, Charlemagne.
Considering Charlemagne’s uncanny ability to locate his favorite
mood-altering substance within seconds, purchase of his catnip
mouse was best left until Christmas Eve.

“That’s just what I mean,” Willi said.
“Robert has been dead for over a year, but you are still living
like a recluse in that big old house with only a cat for company
and your job as your only social activity.”

“We’ve had this discussion before.” India
sighed. Her appetite gone, she pushed aside her salad and the
crackers that went with it. She and Willi had brought their trays
from the fast-food take-out counter to the quietest corner of the
food court and sat down at a table near the oversized fountain that
was the centerpiece of the Greater Cheswick Mall. The sound of
falling water muffled at least some of the noise made by the crowd
of Christmas shoppers, but India could still hear the music being
played on the public address system. She reflected with gloomy
cynicism that the song she most hated at that particular moment was
The Little Drummer Boy
. She sighed again, acknowledging that
she was totally lacking in holiday spirit.

“Hank says he’s willing to help you refresh
your computer skills,” Willi announced.

“Hank who?” India was baffled at first, until
she remembered the man. “You mean the resident computer genius of
Cheswick U? I’ve barely met him. Why would he do a favor like that
for me?”

“Well,” Willi looked a bit like Charlemagne
after he had destroyed his catnip mouse, “I kind of like him, and
he says he likes me.”

“Somehow I don’t see you and Mr. Marsh as
close friends,” India said. “I don’t think you are at all
alike.”

“Maybe that’s the attraction.”

Willi looked so happy that India decided to
keep to herself her reservations about Hank Marsh. She could see
nothing at all romantic about him, or about his work, but then,
Willi’s taste in men had always been different from hers. Not to
mention her taste in clothing.

Willi wore a silver-studded black leather
jacket over a dark blue turtleneck sweater and a black leather
miniskirt. Black opaque tights and high-heeled black leather boots
encased her plump legs. Willi’s dark hair was styled in a spiky
cut, her eyelashes were heavy with mascara, and her lips and
fingertips were bright red. Next to her dearest friend, India felt
like a dowdy old lady in her practical grey wool suit and bowed
white blouse.

The piped-in music shifted to a string
rendition of
Greensleeves
. At the first strains of the
ancient melody, India’s mood lifted as if by magic. She had a
sudden urge to pull her hair out of its carefully arranged French
twist and let it hang down below her shoulders in the style she had
favored as a young girl.

“It’s time for you to start living again,”
Willi said, her words echoing India’s thoughts. “You have refused
to touch a computer since Robert got too sick to work anymore, and
heaven knows, his research was weird – all that seventh and eighth
century stuff – and you were as immersed in it as he was. You need
an update, professionally and personally.”

“You’re right,” India said, sipping her
tea.

“I am? Without any more argument than that?”
Willi stared for a minute before breaking into a grin, her old,
irrepressible smile that India remembered so well from their
childhood. “Well, it’s about time you came to your senses
again.”

“What I want,” India said, knowing her next
words would be the best Christmas gift she could possibly give her
friend, “is some of your good advice. I
am
dreadfully out of
touch. When do you think Hank could make time for my first
lesson?”

“Nine o’clock Saturday morning, his office,”
Willi replied without missing a beat. “Now, about your clothes.
Grey is not your color, kid. I see you in a nice, deep red….”

 

 

“Wow.” Hank Marsh stared at India, who was
clothed in a cranberry wool jersey skirt, matching sweater, and
stylish shoes. “When Willi talked about a transformation, she
wasn’t joking. You look great, Mrs. Baldwin.”

The after-work shopping session had resulted
in the purchase of two new outfits, a pair of elegant suede pumps,
a pair of fashionable boots, and a complete makeover at a cosmetics
counter. The following day, Willi had escorted India to a
lunch-hour appointment with her hairdresser. India’s forehead was
now covered by side-swept bangs and her hair hung in a straight
fall of glossy golden brown that stopped just short of her
shoulders, with the ends turned under in a casual pageboy
style.

“The change is mostly Willi’s doing. And call
me India, please.” Aware of Willi’s interest in this man, India
looked at him more carefully than she had on the few previous
occasions when they had met. Hank was shorter than she was, and
skinny in a loose-limbed, adolescent way. His youthful looks were
deceiving. India had heard enough about him to know that behind the
tousled blond hair and light blue eyes, behind the boyish face with
its perennially suspicious expression, a brilliant mind never
stopped working.

“I can’t understand how you and Willi became
friends.” Hank flushed a bit, as if he thought he might have
accidentally said something insulting, but India understood what he
meant.

“We met in the fourth grade,” she said. “Our
class was seated alphabetically, so Wilhelmina Jones was placed
just behind India Johnson. We have been friends since that first
day, and it has always seemed to me that the ways in which we are
different only bind us closer together.”

“Complementary opposites.” Hank nodded. “It
makes sense to me. She told me how great you were after her father
ran off with that waitress and left Mrs. Jones with four children
younger than Willi to raise.”

“Did she also mention the way she stood by me
when my parents were killed in an automobile accident? Or all the
helpful things she did while my husband was sick? Willi was
wonderful to both of us for those two dreadful years, even though
she thought my marriage to Robert was a big mistake, because he was
so much older than I. Willi is the best friend I have ever had,”
India told him.

“I know about your husband’s work,” Hank
said. “The early Middle Ages aren’t everyone’s meat, but he was
famous here at the university for his interesting lectures. Willi
tells me you were his research assistant, and that it was you who
convinced him to use a computer, so you can’t be completely
ignorant about my baby, even if you are a couple of years out of
practice.” Hank caressed the keyboard of his own computer with a
loving gesture.

Only now did India look around his office. It
was a monument to neatness, with books and papers precisely
arranged and not a speck of dust to be seen. Willi had warned her
about Hank’s insistence that no food or drink be brought into the
room, lest spills disrupt the working of his beloved computer. This
electronic wonder, which Hank had personally modified to suit his
needs, dominated the room. India recognized the display terminal,
keyboard, and printer, but most of the other components looked like
nothing she had ever seen attached to a computer before.

“Willi mentioned that you are working on a
special project,” she remarked, taking in the curious additions to
what appeared to be an ordinary office instrument. Thinking of the
way in which her work with Robert had drawn them closer together,
she added, “Does Willi help you?”

“She’s far happier in Art History,” Hank
replied. Willi was secretary to the chairman of that department,
her office just down the hall from India’s. “Willi is not
interested in exploring the many mysteries of the space-time
continuum.”

“Space-time continuum?” India repeated, not
sure exactly what he meant. Then, because Hank looked as if he
expected some further comment from her, she added, “I remember
something about that from my one and only college physics course.
Wasn’t it Albert Einstein’s idea?”

“I guess you could say so, but I’ve taken a
different direction,” Hank said, blithely dismissing the great
scientist. “I’m working on the direct manipulation of time. Have
you ever wanted to change something in the past?”

“That sounds dangerous.” A chill shivered up
India’s spine. “If you could change the past, wouldn’t you change
the present and the future, too? Hank, you can’t be serious about
this.”

“Don’t look so scared,” he said, laughing at
her objections. “So far, it’s all just speculation, the sort of
thing people like me sit around and talk about late at night. It
stimulates the imagination, but unfortunately I haven’t been able
to prove my theory yet. Incidentally, there is another theory that
the further back in time those changes are made, the less likely
you would be to alter the present. Does that calm your ethical
fears?”

“It might if I could understand what you have
been talking about,” she replied, strangely disturbed by what Hank
had just said.

“It’s too complicated for me to try to
explain any more than I have,” he told her with a touch of
arrogance in his manner. “Willi can’t understand what I am trying
to do, and neither could you.”

She had the oddest feeling that Hank thought
he had revealed too much about his work. But if that work really
was purely speculative, then it could be of no concern to her. What
mattered to her at the moment was learning to use the computer
again.

“O.K.,” Hank said, gesturing to her to sit in
the chair placed in front of the keyboard, “let’s see what we can
do about making you better at your job before the new boss gets
here.”

“Theodore Brant, PhD,” India murmured,
relieved to find the conversation veering away from Hank’s
incomprehensible work and back to solid ground again.

“Brant—Brand? As in firebrand?” said Hank.
“That sounds interesting. I wonder if his personality matches his
name.”

 

 

Hank proved to be a surprisingly good
teacher. After a long Saturday morning with him India felt she had
come a long way toward updating her computer skills, but still she
wanted to practice on her own for a while, with no one looking over
her shoulder to correct any mistakes she might make.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to come back
tomorrow,” she told Hank when they stopped shortly after one
o’clock. “Actually, I’d like to bring in some of Robert’s material
to work on. I ought to do something with all that data he
collected. I’m sure the janitor will let me in, so you won’t have
to be here.”

BOOK: Time to Love Again
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