This is something I’ve been working on for quite some time. It is set after Tributary but before Deluge. I began working on it before Deluge came out, so I know it doesn’t fit all of the plot points in Deluge. I did use a few details from Deluge though, but it’s mostly inconsistent with that plotline.
I have the wonderful Lisa T. Bergren to thank for this piece of work, and her River of Time series (along with the rest of her writing) is something I am highly recommending you read. All of the characters belong to her, I’m just borrowing them.
This story does contain some spoilers if you haven’t read the first four books – Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent (my personal favorite), and Bourne & Tributary, so you should read those first. Then read Deluge
I hope this little story makes you happy. (Who am I kidding, it’s not very little, it’s actually a pretty hefty chunk of reading. It’ll be a multiple-part story too.)
“What’s wrong Evangelia?” Luca’s voice and his hand on my shoulder pulled me out of my reverie.
“’Tis nothing, Luca.” I responded as I had every time he’d asked for the past several months. It wasn’t like I was being dishonest. There wasn’t anything wrong per se, I was just… homesick.
“Good!” He said, uncharacteristically accepting my answer. “In that case, there’s something that I’d like to show you.” He proffered his hand and helped me gently out of my chair. My arm instinctively slipped into the crook of his, and he planted a little kiss on my head. When I first met Luca, he was charming to all of the ladies that happened to find their way into the castle. Now, he was all mine. I realized that I was grinning like an idiot, but as soon as I thought of that, the grin vanished. Luca was absolutely perfect, but he could never completely understand me. Not unless he knew what it felt like to leave his world behind forever.
We strolled through the courtyard and the warm sun combined with the everyday noises of the castello made me feel at once completely at home and desperately homesick. I looked up at Luca’s darling profile and realized that I had to tell him. It wasn’t fair for him to think that I was unhappy here, because I wasn’t. I just want one more chance to go home. Say goodbye to it for real.
“M’lady?” Luca asked suddenly, taking in the silent tears on my cheeks. Then again “M’lady!” He swooped me up into his big, strong, loving arms and carried me to Fortino’s old library. He gingerly placed me on the settee by the fire, then pulled up a chair for himself.
“Luca-” I began.
“No, Evangelia. It isn’t fine.” His voice was full of tender, loving pain. He was not going to let me off the hook this time. “You need to tell me what it is that is bothering you. If you no longer love me, then say so, and I will be gone tonight. But if it’s something else, something I can fix, than please tell me what is burdening you.”
“I…” I realized that I didn’t really want to keep fighting him anymore. I wanted him to know. “I’m homesick.” It sounded so childish, but I didn’t know what else to say. Luca was looking at me in astonishment.
“You’re homesick?” I nodded. He sighed and began to pace. I knew he didn’t want to hurt me, but I’d essentially just told him I didn’t want to be here. Which was true, in a way.
“You don’t understand.” I pleaded, “I love this place. I love the people. I love having my dad back. I love you, Luca. But you don’t understand how it feels to be taken from everything that has been familiar to you and thrown into a world so different from your own. I miss the internet and my iPhone and instant communications. I miss living in a world where you don’t have to kill to survive. I miss flushing toilets, processed food, minty fresh breath. All the things that I can never have again. It’s not you, Luca. It’s not your fault at all. I just miss the comforts of home. You can’t possibly understand.”
Luca had stopped pacing and was looking at the floor. When he looked up, his eyes were filled with a blazing intensity that I’d only ever seen once or twice. Usually, I ended up regretting whatever happened after his little epiphanies because they generally ended up putting him in danger of death.
“Then show me.”
“Show me.” He repeated. “Take me to the tomb. Show me your home. Then, maybe, I’ll know how to help you. You’ll get to visit your home again, and I’ll know why you left it.”
“Luca, you know we can’t do that. We could seriously ruin history!” But even as I said it, I began to form an idea. What if we went to the tombs and went back for just a week. I could say a real goodbye to the 21st century, and Luca would finally understand. It’d be perfect.
Just then, my nephew Fortino toddled into the room. Gabi followed, not far behind. She gave us an apologetic smile and began to herd her son out of the room.
“Just a minute, Gabs.” I said in English. Luca’s eyes never left mine for a second, and I knew he could tell I was thinking it over. Slowly, he began to walk toward the door and toward Fortino.
“Lu-ah! Lu-ah!” The boy squealed in delight. Luca scooped him up in a bear hug and ran off, Fortino’s laughter trailing behind.
“What is it?” Gabi asked, sitting in Luca’s abandoned chair.
“Luca had an idea…” I began, feeling a little guilty for even bringing it up.
“Lia.” Gabi scolded. She really had that mother thing down. “What is it?”
“I want to go home Gabs.” I blurted.
“I want to go home!” I took a deep breath and then continued. “Luca’s been asking me practically non-stop what’s wrong, and I finally broke down and told him. He wants to go to the tombs. He wants to take me home.”
“Lia! You agreed to stay here! When I married Marcello, you knew there was no going back. Do you have any idea what that would do to the future? Not to mention the fact that I’d have to go with you. I can’t leave my husband and son here for possibly months, years even! Not so that you can go make yourself even more homesick.”
“Gabi, just because you’ve forgotten the 21st century, doesn’t mean I have. You have everything you could ever want here, and I want to be content here, but I need to say goodbye. Please.” Gabi softened a bit, and put her arm around me.
“I know this hasn’t been easy for you, but I thought that you were finally settling in.” She wiped a tear off of my cheek and sighed. “Why don’t we talk to mom and dad and see if we think it’s possible.”
“Marcello and Luca should be there too.” I said quickly.
“Of course.” Gabi replied.
“No.” Marcello said firmly. I loved my brother-in-law and all, but he really took the whole “lord of the castle” thing a little too seriously.
“How would we even manage it?” asked my mom, typically thinking of the practical application.
“Gabi and I talked about it.” I butted in, “We think that the tunnel should still work if we’re both touching the prints even at different time periods. That’s how we got here at different times when we first used the tunnel. That way, Gabi could leave her hand on the print and I could pull mine off with Luca. Gabi could wait until she saw Marcello again before taking her hand off.”
“How would you get back?” my dad asked.
“Gabi and I could have a time set to be back at the tomb. That way, our hands should work together from different time periods.”
“And how would you know when that is?” Marcello asked. “As I recall, last time you and Gabriella left for mere hours for you, it was nearly a year here.”
“Yes, but if we pulled our hands off of the prints just a fraction of a second earlier, we could make a more accurate jump.”
“Lia, this is ridiculous!” Gabi cried. “There’s no way we could do it!”
“What about when we saved dad?” I asked, holding her fierce gaze. “That took crazy precision, but we did it.” She glared at me for a second before dad’s quiet voice interrupted in English.
“We are all here Lia. None of us could bear to lose you now.”
“Who says – ” I began before dad cut me off.
“I trust you. I believe that if all it took were willpower, you could do it. But if something were to happen…” He trailed off, but the concern in his eyes said everything. Even though he hadn’t been around for the last one, he knew that this family couldn’t take another loss. Not when we’d finally begun to be a real family again.
The room fell silent for a moment before Luca sighed and stood up quickly. “I want to do this. I don’t know what could happen, but we don’t ever know what God has in store for us, do we? If this means so much to Evangelia, than it means even more to me. Benedetto, if you would do me the honor your daughter’s hand in marriage, I hope to gladly take it. But I cannot do so in good conscience until I know that she will be happy.”
My dad looked stunned. He knew this was coming, and I knew he loved Luca, but for one scary second I thought he was going to blow up at Luca. Instead, he turned to mom, smiled, and gave Luca a hug. Mom joined in and pulled me in with her. Next thing we knew, the whole matter was settled and Luca and I were to leave in the morning.