puts Ted and Megan back to the year This time travel romantic comedy puts two strangers in 1898 where they are forced to marry and face other hysterical circumstances.
Ruth Ann Nordin's Books
It all starts when a thief steals a time machine the size of a cell phone. He bumps into Megan Crane and Ted Jacob on a train, sending them all back to April 1898. The thief quickly leaves, so Megan and Ted have no idea of how they got back in time...nor do they know how to get back.
When they get off the train, they are sent to jail for suspicion (Megan had a contemporary dollar bill the marshal assumed was counterfeit money) and two well-meaning but misguided women decide to make Ted do right and has him marry Megan (because she's wearing shorts and they assume she's a prostitute and Ted's her customer). And this is where the fun begins.
Jacob Innovative Creations
I am a thief. The self-accusation hit Cole Hunter hard as he slipped the time travel device into his suit pocket.
Ignoring his racing heart, he glanced at his two partners who sat at the table in the center of the room. They read through the contract that Christian Jacob gave them to sign. They might’ve been the ones who created a time machine the size of a cell phone, but Christian Jacob would take the credit. Though to be fair, it was his theories that made time travel possible. Once the world found out, Christian would be the richest man on earth.
Cole quickly shut the empty case and shoved it into the safe. He slammed the safe shut and spun the combination lock. There. No one would be the wiser. It was Friday afternoon. As soon as Monday morning came, he’d return the time travel device and Christian could see the fruits of their labor. Cole just needed to borrow it. One weekend. One weekend with the device and all of his problems would be solved. That’s all he needed. Surely, that didn’t make him a real thief. Not since he planned to return it.
“Hey Cole, come over here and sign line two,” Blake Landon called out from where he was sitting at the table. “You won’t get paid without your signature.”
Clearing his throat, Cole nodded and walked over to Blake and Janet Cummins. Hoping they wouldn’t notice his trembling hands, he leaned over the table and signed the document. A momentary flicker of guilt swept through him. Maybe he should put it back.
“Are you okay, buddy?” Blake asked him, a concerned look on his face.
Cole straightened up and adjusted his suit jacket, hoping no one saw the bulge in his pocket and suspect the truth. Shrugging, he replied, “Oh, you know how it is. Ex-wife, alimony, riding on the edge of bankruptcy. What more could a man ask for?”
“Once we get this to the boss, all your troubles will be over. We’ll be loaded.”
Not when Evelyn finds out and takes my part of the profit away. Deciding to keep the thought to himself, he simply nodded. “I better head out. I have a meeting with the lawyer.”
Janet smiled sympathetically. “Hang in there. Things will get better.”
He adjusted his suit jacket again. Did they see the sweat lining his brow? He hoped not. “You’re probably right.” He said it to appease her. She seemed to think that everything worked out for the best, no matter how dour the situation actually was. What was the point in reminding her that real life was nothing like the romance novels she read where people found their true love and lived happily ever after?
After saying good-bye, he slipped out of the room and hastened down the long, sparse corridor. A guard sat at the end of it, his chair right by the door and the security camera. Cole swallowed the nervous lump in his throat. Did the guard see him steal the time travel device?
The guard held an automobile magazine, his gaze focused on the article he was reading.
Cole breathed a sigh of relief. Good. Once again, the guard was showing the world just how lazy he could be. This time, it worked to Cole’s advantage. As long as Blake and Janet didn’t check the safe, he was going to pull this off.
Once he reached the door, he pulled out his identification card and swiped it. The door unlocked. He gladly left the 23rd floor. He was free to use the JIC Time Machine. A couple of hours and he would be done. He’d be rich enough to retire at his own private island where no one would ever bother him again.
Then, maybe then, he could finally be happy.
Jacob Innovative Creations
Ted Jacob rubbed his eyes. He sat in front of his computer, and he had a headset on. Currently, he was assisting a customer with another software issue. It was his job, after all, but why did he feel out of place, as if he didn’t belong there?
The woman, on the other end of the call, continued her spiel. “My husband can’t get the video to show up when he does his calls. Are you sure there isn’t something wrong with the video phone?”
“That’s why I’m going through this checklist with you, ma’am,” he reminded her.
The woman had a tendency to go off-tangent. Just a moment ago, she’d been rambling on about her cat. Now she was back on topic.
“Did you make sure the computer screen is turned on?”
“Of course, it’s on. What do you take me for? An idiot?”
“No, ma’am. It’s just at the top of the list of things I need to confirm.”
“What’s your name?” she demanded.
He blinked. What did he say to upset her? Shifting uneasily in his seat, he said, “My name is Ted Jacob, Mrs. Carroll.”
“Jacob’s your last name?”
“As in Jacob Innovative Creations?”
He closed his eyes, already knowing what she’d say next, for he’d heard it a million times. “No. I am not related to Christian Jacob. I just work here.”
“That’s an odd coincidence, don’t you think?”
“Not really. Minneapolis is a big place.” He leaned back in his chair and tossed his rubber stress ball into the air.
“Are you sure? You should check your genealogy. You might be a distant relative or something. Heck, you could get a better position over there if you find out you’re a long lost relative.”
He caught the ball and squeezed it in his hands. “Mrs. Carroll, will you check your USB port to see if your video phone is plugged into the computer?”
She paused, as if startled by the change in subject but agreed to do it. “Hold on. I got to get under the computer desk and check. Now, you won’t hang up on me, will you?”
“No, ma’am, I won’t.” He tossed the ball into the air, glad she forgot that she’d been irritated with him just moments before.
“I hope not because I was put on hold for twenty minutes before I got through to you.”
He caught the ball. “We apologize for the wait, and I assure you, I will still be here when you get back on the phone.”
While she set the phone down, he chuckled. Despite his initial annoyance with Mrs. Carroll, he couldn’t deny that she was probably a nice woman.
His thoughts drifted to the upcoming trip with his girlfriend. Well, she wasn’t exactly his girlfriend. They’d known each other for a year, and he thought of her as a good friend. Since he heard the best wives were women who were friends first, he thought it would be a good idea to ask her out. Only, he hadn’t expected her to invite him to Libby, Montana to visit her family. The thought weirded him out a little bit. He feared that this meant she assumed he’d marry her.
But would that be a bad thing? He was already thirty-three and tired of being single. He wanted to settle down and get married. Maybe Amanda was the one for him. He’d never know if he didn’t see if something romantic could happen between them. Just because there was no spark now, it didn’t mean it would always be that way.
Still, he wondered if her interest in him stemmed solely from the fact that she was a single mother who wanted a father for her five-year-old son. But what if he was only interested in her because he wanted a wife?
Ted glanced at the time on his phone. So far, he’d been on the call with Mrs. Carroll for twenty minutes.
Bored, he picked up his plaque, but his eyes weren’t on the award congratulating him on his customer service skills. Instead, he studied his reflection. His sun-streaked brown hair fell an inch past his collar. His hazel eyes stared back at him. Though vanity wasn’t on his list of faults, he liked what he saw. Sure, he lacked the drop dead gorgeous appeal of some Hollywood actors, but he managed well enough. Why couldn’t he attract more women?
Setting down the award, he let out a long sigh. What was taking Mrs. Carroll so long?
He put the ball on his head and spun around to see if he could keep it steady. Since he forgot to take off his headset, the cord jerked his head back. Shocked, he lost his balance and fell back, taking his chair with him as he landed on the floor.
He scrambled to his feet, frantically glancing around. He sighed when no one came to see what caused the loud thud and placed the headset back on his head. He put the chair back into place and sat down. His face hot from embarrassment, he turned to the computer monitor. He was still connected to the caller.
“Mrs. Carroll, are you there?”
She didn’t respond, but her humming told him that he hadn’t lost his connection.
He looked up.
Tony peered over the edge of the wall. “I just got done with my last call. Are you done?”
“Do you want a box of girl scout cookies?”
“No way, Tony. You already got me to buy four boxes for your daughter’s troop.”
“I’m giving this one away for free.”
Ted raised an eyebrow. “No kidding?”
“Nope. If I eat another cookie, I’ll barf. Here you go.” He threw the box in Ted’s direction.
Ted caught it before it flew past his head. “A warning would be nice.”
“Oh, I was just waiting to see if you’d fall flat on your butt again.”
He groaned. “Saw that, did you?”
Snickering, he replied, “I might have done some minor investigation.”
Ted set the green box of mint cookies by the computer in front of him, pretending he didn’t feel self-conscious. Tapping his fingers on the smooth table, he said, “I’ll be over to your cube when I’m done with this call. Then we can meet up with Mark and John and carpool home.”
“Alright.” Tony disappeared for a moment but shot back up. “I almost forgot. Did you get one of these?”
Ted’s eyes narrowed at the yellow brochure with a picture of Christian Jacob on it. “No, I didn’t. What is it?”
“Christian Jacob’s biography. Did you know that his ancestor, Paul Jacob, was a visionary? He talked about the possibilities of time travel. Of course, no one took him seriously back then, but his three sons, Paul Jr., Ralph, and Tim, created a company to test out their inventions that led to things like the television and cell phones. Anyway, since then, the whole company’s expanded into the great corporation we work at today, with Christian as the president.”
Ted yawned. He picked up the open soda can and gulped the rest of it down, hoping the caffeine would keep him awake. “I can’t believe you’re interested in that stuff.”
“Why not?” Tony handed him the brochure. “Christian says he’s going to walk in Paul’s footsteps and make time travel possible.”
Ted shook his head. “I heard some rumors floating around about the secret project upstairs, but come on, Tony. This stuff is science fiction.”
“I’m sure that’s what people said about rockets before one launched into space.”
Before Ted could reply, Mrs. Carroll’s voice interrupted him. “You know what? I hadn’t plugged it in, just like you said. I can’t believe it. Isn’t that a riot?”
Ted put the brochure into the pocket of his jacket that was by the computer monitor. “That kind of thing happens all the time, ma’am.”
Sadly, yes. He was amazed at how people could miss the obvious. “You’re in good company.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I hate technology. Sometimes I’d just love to go back to simpler times. You know, when people rode horses and didn’t have to worry about things like cars breaking down on them or getting computers and video phones to work right.”
And when they didn’t have plumbing, electricity, or phones. He had no desire to live in the past. The present suited him just fine. He glanced at the clock and realized he could go home. He remained on the line long enough to make sure that Mrs. Carroll’s video phone worked. Then he logged out of the JIC system.
“Are you ready?” Tony asked, standing by the entrance of Ted’s cube.
Ted nodded and put on his JIC jacket. “Just how many girl scout cookie boxes do you have left?”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Let’s just say that my wife wanted to make sure our daughter got the badge she wanted.”
“I can always give a couple to Amanda.” Ted threw the JIC cap on his head. “She loves those things.”
Tony crossed his arms. “Then why didn’t you buy some for her?”
“I did. But the cookies ended up getting eaten before they made it to her apartment.”
“How chivalrous of you.”
“This one is going to her for sure.” Ted tucked it under his arm and stepped out of the cubicle.
Tony walked next to him down the row of identical blue cubicles and shook his head. “I should have made you buy it.”
“Look, if I had the money, I would have bought more. You know pay day isn’t until next Friday, and I only have enough money for this trip to Montana with Amanda.”
“I know. Still, you could have ordered in advance.”
“I didn’t have money then either.”
“You never have money.”
That, unfortunately, was true. Ted did a lousy job of saving cash.
He and Tony took the elevator to the first floor. Once the doors opened, they made their way to the front entrance.
Tony glanced at his watch. “John and Mark are always late.”
“At least it’s Friday.”
“Stop him!” someone yelled.
Ted barely had time to glance over his shoulder when someone bumped into him. He stumbled back but managed not to fall. He watched as a man in a suit ran out of the building.
“Run! Get him!”
The security guard chased the man out of the building and down the street. A well-dressed man, who Ted recognized as Blake Landon, followed close behind. Before Ted could blink, two more security guards joined the pursuit.
Ted was too stunned to move. “Who ran into me?”
“Dr. Hunter,” Tony replied.
“Cole Hunter from upstairs?”
Ted heard Cole’s name mentioned often at the employee meetings. He also heard about the other two people Cole worked with, but the only one he had actually seen had been Blake. His supervisor often used the three as examples of model employees. “The cream of the crop,” his supervisor repeated until Ted couldn’t take it anymore and tuned him out. Well, it didn’t look like Dr. Hunter was in that special category anymore.
Tony patted him on the back. “And you said nothing exciting ever happens here.”
Ted grinned, his body relaxing. “That’ll teach me to say that in the future.”
Noticing John and Mark leaving the elevator, Ted motioned to them, glad that this marked the beginning of his week’s vacation. Tomorrow, he’d be on the train heading to Montana. Maybe he’d discover that spark with Amanda during the trip. He hoped so. He certainly didn’t want to settle for second best.
Early the next morning
Megan Crane sat at the train station and felt the ever increasing sense of dread tighten her stomach. Did she really want to do this? She could turn back and go home. She bit her lower lip and stared at the ring on her finger. Then she looked at Mike Romano who read his stock market report. She nearly gagged. Could there be anything more boring than obsessing over the stock market? If she heard the words NASDAQ or Dow Jones one more time, she might scream. Then she’d blow it and Mike would end the engagement.
Megan winced. Mike was a good man. He was intelligent and he had a good paying job. There was nothing wrong with him. But he’s boring. She closed her eyes, willing the unbidden thought away. No, he wasn’t boring. He was stable, secure, predictable…
End it, Megan. You don’t love him. Do you really want to hurt him by marrying him?
She glanced at her mother who was on the other side of her. Maybe she should tell her mother. She took a deep breath. “Mom, I need to talk to you.”
“What is it, Megan?” her mother asked.
“Can we talk in private?”
Her expression uncertain, the woman stood up.
Despite her sudden wave of nausea, Megan got out of her seat, said ‘excuse me’ to Mike who didn’t bother to look up from his paper, and led her mother to a vacant corner of the room. She braced herself. If it were anyone but her mother, this would be easy. “I don’t love him, and I don’t think he loves me.”
The woman sighed. “We’ve talked about this before. Remember? Love doesn’t solve everything. You need to be practical. Will love put food on the table? Will love pay the bills? No, it won’t. Besides, you might grow to love him.”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then you can at least be content.”
Megan cringed. Content? That sounded…boring.
Her mother opened her purse and pulled out a piece of paper. Opening it, she asked, “Do you remember this letter you wrote me after Shane broke your heart? Hmm?”
Oh no. The letter. The one Megan wrote when she was thirty. The one that now sealed her fate.
Her mother read it to her. “Dear Mom. I don’t know why I always end up picking such losers. It seems that no matter what I do, I end up with someone who can’t take responsibility for his life. As it turns out, I found out that Shane is still living with his parents and his big goal in life is to play video games all day while I support him. I ended the engagement tonight. What am I going to do? I need your help. Please help me pick the right one. I’ll do whatever you say this time. Love, Megan.”
“I know what the letter says.”
“Apparently, you needed reminding.” She tucked the letter back into her purse and gave her a sympathetic look. “Marrying a man who is the life of a party isn’t the way to go. You’ve spent your life so far dating men who were exciting and fun. Where did that get you? Heartache and disappointment. Just like with Shane. Now, let’s not repeat your mistakes again. Looks and personality aren’t everything. You need a man who is secure, who has a strong work ethic, and who acts like an adult. Megan, look. I want what’s best for you.”
“Sweetie, it’s already April. You’ll be thirty-five in July. That’s only three months away. Remember how much you told me you wanted children?”
Megan blinked back her tears and nodded.
“Well, you’re not going to get them unless you settle down and get married. When you were in your twenties, you had time to be patient and wait for the right one. But this is real life. Your fairytale prince isn’t coming. You need to start using your head instead of your heart. And if you don’t love or feel loved by Michael, then put all of that love into your children.”
“You and dad loved each other.”
“Yes, we did. We were lucky.” She smiled at her. “I want what’s best for you. Michael is a good man. He’ll treat you well.”
“You’re right, Mom. I can’t do better than him.”
“Give it time. You’ll be happy with him.”
The Amtrak pulled into the station.
“Now, when you get to Seattle to see his parents, be sure to agree with them. You want to start your relationship with them on the right foot. In-law problems are one of the main causes of divorce.” She hugged her, and Megan hugged her back, taking comfort in the warm embrace.
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too.”
She smiled. “What are mothers for?”
Megan returned her smile. More hopeful, she turned back to Mike and picked up her purse and said good-bye to her mother. From here on out, she’d find reasons to appreciate Mike instead of comparing him to what she typically found appealing in men. Her mother was right. She was thirty-four and needed to be serious about life and marriage.
Mike folded the paper and stood up. “Are you ready?”
She nodded and followed him onto the train.
Ted set his suitcase down and knocked on Amanda’s apartment door. When she opened the door, tears were running down her cheeks.
“Oh Ted, thank goodness you’re here.” She pulled him in and shut the door behind him.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her, immediately concerned. He glanced in the direction of an older woman who stood in the living room, a frown on her face and her arms crossed. He looked for five-year-old Benjamin but didn’t find him. He tensed. “Is it Benny? Is he sick?”
“No. Benny’s fine.” Amanda took a kleenex from the coffee table and blew her nose. “He’s spending the week with his father.” She motioned to the woman. “Mrs. Stone wants the rent and I don’t have the money. Can you help me out?”
He knew Amanda had just spent the last evening out with her friends at a bar. She had money then. Instead of saying this, he dug into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. It looked like he would have to put his train ticket on the credit card.
“Will this cover it?” he asked the apartment manager.
The woman still looked upset but took it. “This will pay for it.” She nodded. “But son, maybe you’d do better to find another girlfriend.”
He watched as the woman left.
“Thank you, Ted. You’re like a guardian angel.”
“I wanted to make sure that Benny had a home to come home to,” he notified her. “I thought you said you had enough money for rent and going out with your friends last night.”
“I thought I did. Honest. Ted, are you mad at me? You know, I can pay you back once Nick sends the child support check.”
“No. Don’t worry about it. I just want you to have enough money to pay your bills in the future.”
She smiled. She seemed a little too eager to agree with him, and he wondered why. She’d been agreeable when they were friends, and he’d bailed her out a couple of times, but he’d never paid her rent. Maybe she was embarrassed.
His heart softened. “You need to take care of you and Benny. Okay?”
“Of course,” she sweetly said. “You’re a good man, Ted. I’m looking forward to introducing you to my family. I know they’ll love you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be seeing more of them in the future.”
He wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so he didn’t.
She picked up her tote bag and flung it over her shoulder. “This should be fun, huh?” She gave him a sly look. “You know, we do have an extra half hour before we have to leave.” She walked over to him, letting her hips sway a little more than usual. When she reached him, she pulled on his jacket. “I could make paying my rent worth your while.”
He shoved her hand away. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m not Nick.” He couldn’t believe she even made the offer. That never happened before, and it only angered him that it happened now.
Her eyes grew wide and she backed off. “I’m sorry. Please don’t be upset. I won’t do it again.”
Maybe she didn’t know better. Maybe all the men had treated her that way. “Look, that’s not what I’m about, okay? I’m Ted. The same guy who’s been your friend for the past year. I haven’t changed.”
She blushed, looking contrite. “I’ll remember that in the future.”
Feeling better, he nodded. “Are you ready?”
She said yes and they left for the train station.