Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Excerpt: The Hands of Time (The Hands of Time: Book 1) by Irina Shapiro

Chapter 1  June 2010
The trip had been Louisa’s idea.  She thought it would be best to be away when it happened, and I didn’t bother to argue.  What did it matter where I was?  Either way, things would never be the same, and I would have to deal with the knowledge that whether I was in England with her, or on the couch in my lonely apartment looking at the clock, the love of my life was marrying his pregnant girlfriend at that precise moment.  I still thought of him as my husband, despite the fact that the divorce came through two months ago. 
Michael and I had been high school sweethearts and got married at twenty, when most of our friends were just beginning to experiment with relationships.  We always knew we wanted to be together forever and there seemed no point in waiting.  Our marriage was easy, fun and full of love, as marriage should be when you’re married to your lover and best friend.  We had a plan.  We would finish college, find good jobs that would allow us to buy a house in the suburbs within a few years and then start a family.  It seemed simple enough.  Millions of people do it every day, but it wasn’t meant for us.  We did finish college and get the jobs.  We even bought our dream house in Connecticut and allocated the nicest bedroom with a view of the meadow for a nursery.  Now all we had to do was fill it with a baby, who would make our happiness complete. 
I threw away the birth control pills, and we began to try officially.  We even told our parents and siblings, preparing them for their new roles.  When nothing happened the first few months, we weren’t overly concerned.  It was normal, everyone said.  These things take time.  We were young and healthy and had plenty of time.  Nothing to worry about.  By the time we’d been trying for a year, various tests were mentioned, appointments had been scheduled, and doctors had been consulted. 
Another year had gone by and still I wasn’t pregnant.  None of the tests showed anything wrong with either of us, but nature wasn’t on our side.  By the time we’d been trying for three years, options were put forward and discussed.  We could do in-vitro and if that didn’t work, we could always adopt. 
We started the process.  I was taking hormone shots; Michael was filling plastic cups with his specimen, we became tense and anxious, and increasingly strapped for cash, but still nothing happened.  The embryos never took hold, and after five attempts, it was either sell the house or stop trying until we could afford another round.  We began to gather information on adoption, but I knew Michael’s heart wasn’t in it.  He wanted his own baby, a child who would be a combination of us; one who might have my eyes or his smile, or inherit his aptitude for numbers or my love of art. 
He didn’t want a stranger’s child who would never remind him of himself at that age, or hold the promise of everything we had to offer encoded in its DNA. 
We argued bitterly for months.  I wanted a baby -- any baby.  I had a lot of love to give, and if I couldn’t have a child of my own, I was happy to give it to a child who needed me, but Michael didn’t feel the same.  Our house became filled with resentful silences and angry pauses, and the future nursery began to function as Mike’s office.  What was the point of wasting a perfectly good room, after all?  We still slept in the same bed, but nothing much happened.  We didn’t make love because we didn’t feel love, and there was no chance of getting pregnant, so why bother? 
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that Mike was having an affair when he began to come home later and later claiming work overload.  It was all so cliché.  I wanted to confront him, but I was afraid of where the confrontation would lead.  I wasn’t ready to let go of the life I’d been planning since high school, and I was still holding on to the dream that we could work things out, and maybe find our way to adopting a baby, which would ultimately bring us closer together. 
Mike found his way to a baby long before I did.  His girlfriend became pregnant a few months into the relationship, and my husband informed me that he was filing for divorce.  She could give him something I couldn’t, and he wouldn’t pass up on a chance to be a father to his own child.  He was sorry, of course, remorseful and sad, but firm in his resolve.  He offered to buy out my share of the house, and I gladly sold it to him.  I didn’t want any part of that house if he wasn’t in it with me.  The divorce was finalized a lot quicker than I expected since Mike didn’t contest anything, and two months ago I became a divorcee at twenty-six.  Some of my friends hadn’t even gotten around to getting married yet, and I was already divorced.  I rented an apartment in my sister’s building, since one became miraculously available, and spent most of my time at Lou’s crying on her shoulder and watching sappy movies. 
I might have gone on like that much longer, except that Lou was offered an opportunity to travel to England to value an art collection at an old manor house near Plymouth as part of her job as restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She would be away right around the time of the dreaded wedding, and begged me to come along.  I suspect that she would much rather have gone alone than drag me with her and deal with my grief, but Lou wouldn’t dream of it.  She was going to get me through this, and if she couldn’t do it on the Upper West Side, she would do it in England.  I was conveniently off for the summer from my job as an art teacher at an elementary school, she argued, and had no good reason not to join her, so I did.  Lou booked us rooms at a charming old inn in a village outside of Plymouth, which would be close to Compton Hall where she would be doing her work, and so here I was, running away from my misery.
The Hands of Time
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Genre - Time Travel Romance/Fantasy
Rating – R
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