This is an excerpt from my very first novel, Allie's Choice. It was hard to pull out 3000ish words that would give context, so I hope it makes sense. It's a bit cheesy, but this novel made me a published author. I hope you enjoy it.
Allie stood in the doorway of her new room and took a critical look at her work. The bed had cleaned up beautifully and the lace curtains that she had hung from it were carefully drawn and tied. The furniture glowed in the late afternoon sun and the braided rug that Allie had taken from Gram’s room was perfectly placed with a big overstuffed armchair and ottoman. Allie had found a stand lamp in the attic with what she believed to be a Tiffany shade and put it and a little side table by the chair. Her bookcase was the only piece of furniture that she had taken from her old room. It had been Gram’s and she had given it to Allie when she was twelve and had a voracious appetite for books. As a matter of fact, the shelf still contained her set of Nancy Drew Mysteries that she couldn’t bear to get rid of.
Cleaning out her room had been hard, but it was done and she was almost excited about spending her first night in the new room. She had not been sleeping well. Almost every night she dreamed of the woman named Sarah and most nights she awoke sobbing. Sarah was very beautiful, she had long dark hair and her eyes were a deep green and contained more sadness than Allie had ever observed in one human being before. She didn’t speak to Allie other than to ask for help, and her eyes always seemed full of desperation.
That night she sat down in her chair and with the wooden box. She looked at the carving on the outside of the box. It was covered in wisteria vines all around the sides; the top had a very detailed carving of a seagull eating a fish. The gull had the most mischievous look in his eye and the eye seemed to follow you. In the background was of the sea and a small ship on the horizon. Allie turned the box over and looked at the bottom. There carved in a heart was the name Sarah and in a corner was the name, Thomas.
She took out the locket and examined it closely. It was very heavy, and the chain was much thicker than a modern necklace. She carefully opened the clasp and found a lock of dark hair and a miniature portrait of a man with dark hair. Allie almost dropped the locket, the face was familiar, he was one of the men from her first dream of Sarah. Her arms were covered in goosebumps and her heart was racing. “How could I have dreamed about him before I saw the picture?” TJ whined softly. Allie quickly decided that this was not the right time to examine TJ’s find, especially if she wanted to get any sleep. She grabbed the novel she had been reading and tried to get her mind off of the face in the locket.
When Allie woke up, she knew something was different. She was in her old room but the furniture was different and there was a weird quilt on the bed that she didn’t recognize and TJ wasn’t there. She sat up and looked around. There was a candle in a stand by the bed, the bed that she had taken from the attic for her new room. There was a pitcher and bowl on a washstand in the corner and a banked fire in the fireplace and there was the smell of wood smoke in the air. The floor was gleaming and looked almost new and there was a small rag rug that she had never seen before.
“How much wine did I drink last night?” Allie muttered. Then she realized that there was someone else in the bed. Allie slowly turned around and saw a girl that she recognized from her dreams looking back at her.
“Good morning, Sarah.” Lizzy Abbott said sleepily.
Allie rushed over to the washstand and looked in the mirror. There, looking back at her was the face of Sarah Abbott, her five times great grandmother. Allie promptly fainted.
Allie awoke the second time to Lizzy pouring water on her face and rudely slapping her. “Get up Sarah quickly, before Sally comes in to dress us!”
Allie slowly stood up and wiped her face on a towel. She looked around the room and nothing had changed. She looked in the mirror and she still had Sarah’s face. She sat down on the bed, hard.
“Sarah, you must be more careful. If anyone begins to suspect.... Father will kill us all!”
“What are you talking about?”
“You must be mad! Sarah, you must be careful…” The door opened and Sally appeared to dress the girls and dress their hair. Whatever Lizzy had been about to say was forgotten.
When Sally left, Lizzy looked at Sarah with such intensity that Allie felt like running away. Finally, Lizzy shook her head and said “We need to go down for breakfast, but for God’s sake please do not argue with Father. I do not know what is different about you this morning but I WILL discover what it is that you are hiding. Are you going to meet Thomas today?”
Allie had no idea what to say but Lizzy was looking at her so intently she finally said “Yes, of course, I am going to meet Thomas. When and where am I supposed to go again?”
“I am most pleased that you are finally agreeing to meet Thomas, but you are most decidedly not yourself this morning. You are to meet Thomas at tea time at his Aunt Mary’s house. I will go with you as we have both been invited. Thomas will come by and we will allow you to talk. Sarah, I truly hope that you do the right thing. Father will be angry, but if you do not do this we will both be miserable for the rest of our lives. Once you are married Father cannot control you any longer and Thomas loves you.”
Holy cow! Allie thought I am here right when Sarah made the decision that ruined both their lives. Is this why I’m here? What happens if I change the past and something terrible happens? How will I ever fit in here? “I will do my best Lizzy. Let’s go eat, I’m starving.”
Lizzy looked at Allie as if she had grown another head suddenly. “Why are you speaking in that manner? I am beginning to worry about your health. If you speak in this manner in front of Father he will have you strapped!”
Allie knew she was in way over her head. “Could you go to breakfast without me and tell everyone that I have a headache or something?”
“If I do that you will not be permitted to go to Ms. Mary’s home for tea and our plans will be ruined once again. You will come to breakfast and you will not make Father angry and you will act like my sister instead of, of whatever it is you are acting as.”
Allie followed Lizzy out of the room and down the stairs. It was really neat to see the house brand new with all the period furnishings. She recognized several pieces that she had found in the attic. I just have to get through this meal without being accused of witchcraft or being strapped, then maybe I can find Sarah’s journal and figure out when this is and what I should do now.
Even though Allie was starving, she did not eat much at breakfast. She tried to follow Lizzy’s lead and speak only when absolutely necessary. Her six times great grandfather, David, was an impressive man but not at all affectionate with his daughters. His wife, Caroline, however, was very affectionate. She seemed to try to keep the peace during the meal. David seemed to be trying to pick a fight with Sarah going on and on about how happy he would be when Sarah was a duchess and he seemed disappointed when Sarah wouldn’t respond except to say, “Yes, Sir.”
After the meal, all of the women went into a sitting room upstairs and began doing needlework. Sarah was amazed that her hands seemed to know what to do when she picked up a piece that Sarah had been working on. She listened to the girls and their mother talking about the war and how they were worried that the city would be attacked. ‘Oh my God!’ Allie thought, ‘They must be Tories!’
Allie finally found a chance to go to her room and look for the diary. She found it in the bottom of the wardrobe under some clothes. It felt unreal to hold the diary looking new after seeing it when it was over one hundred years old. She quickly opened it to determine the date. From the last entry, she determined that it was sometime after November 10, 1780.
She knew from history that Francis Marion would be trying to take the city on the 15th and fail. She couldn’t remember how long the battle would last or how many people would be wounded or die. She sat on the bed for a long time trying to decide what to do. There weren’t many choices. She had no idea how to get back to her own body and time; she must be here for a reason though. What if she was here to talk Sarah into marrying Thomas? How can I talk Sarah into anything if she isn’t here? What if I just marry Thomas for her? What if I make things even worse?
Lizzy came in just then and found her sitting there with tears leaking from her eyes. She sat down quietly beside her and put her arm around her shoulders. “I know this is hard for you. You are the good one who always does what Father asks, but this affects my life as well and Thomas and Stephen.”
“Why is Stephen going to marry me when he loves you?” Allie asked.
Lizzy stared at her for a long time. “You are not Sarah, are you? You look like her, but there is some difference that I cannot quite define. Your eyes! Those are not Sarah’s eyes!”
“I am not Sarah. I am her five times great-granddaughter. I don’t expect you to believe me but that is the truth. I have no idea how I got here or even why I am here and I’m terrified that I will never get back home!”
Lizzy sat quietly for several minutes, and then simply said, “I do not know why, but I believe you. What is your name?”
“My name is Allie. Thank you for believing me. Can you tell me what the date is? “
“It is very nice to meet you, Allie. The date is November 12, 1780.”
“Wow, three days until Francis Marion tries to retake Georgetown. I can’t remember how much damage is done or how many people are killed…..I do remember that Gabriel Marion is murdered after the battle.”
Suddenly Allie realized that Lizzy had gone very pale. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t think about how upsetting that information would be to you.”
“Do the dirty Patriots take the city?” Lizzy asked.
“No. General Marion doesn’t realize how many regulars there are in the city. He thinks there are only 50.”
“Good! The bloody patriots cannot take our city! I cannot believe this treason has gone on as long as it has!”
Allie held her tongue. There was no reason to argue politics with her five times great aunt. “You didn’t answer my question about Stephen.”
“Stephen’s father may be a duke, but he is in dire need of money. Stephen has to marry into our family for the money. Father refused to allow him to marry me and if he doesn’t go home married into money his father will disown him.” Lizzy let out a heartfelt sigh.
“If I decide to marry Thomas, will you help me? Maybe if I fix what went wrong I can go home and Sarah can come back.”
“Of course I will and so will Stephen. I cannot wait for you to tell Thomas! He will be so happy!”
Now it was Allie’s turn to sigh. “I hope I am making the right choice. It is a lot of responsibility to make this kind of choice for someone else.”
Lizzy was quiet for quite a while, then she said with a smile “Let us change for tea. I cannot wait for you to meet Thomas. He will convince you that you are making the right choice.”
“I hope so. What should I wear?” Allie asked with a smile.
The girls spent the next hour looking at dresses, hats, and slippers and laughing and talking. Allie had always wondered what it would be like to have a sister and that afternoon she found out. No matter what the outcome, she would always remember this time with Lizzy.
An hour later the girls were dressed and ready to go. The carriage was brought around and they were on their way. “Is Thomas’ Aunt Mary nice?” Allie asked nervously.
“I will never adjust to that speech coming from my sister’s mouth,” Lizzy said with a laugh. “She is very kind and loves you and Thomas very much. She is very distressed that Father has made such a horrid decision; it has become quite the scandal that Father has gone back on his word to Thomas’ father. The two of you were promised while still in the cradle. He has treated Thomas as a son for the last 16 years and now he has banished him from our home. He has made a fool of himself.”
“I found Sarah’s journal before I …came here. It was hidden in Sally’s room. I can tell that Sarah really loves Thomas and was very torn about what to do. If I marry Thomas, what exactly will happen to Sarah? Will it be bad for her reputation? Will Sarah and Thomas have a way to make a living since your father will disown her?”
“It will be a scandal, of course. But Father broke his word, so it will be forgiven quickly. Thomas was apprenticed to Father before and was to run the shipping business. I do not know if he will relent and allow him to do so or not. Thomas’ father owns Oak Tavern and is not poor. I am sure that he would welcome Thomas back at the tavern. Being a tavern owner’s wife is not quite as impressive as if father had kept his word, but it would not be a bad life. Sarah is not one to need status or wealth, she would be very happy to be the wife of the tavern owner. She is just so afraid of Father’s wrath that she is not thinking of the future. She is my sister and I love her, but she is not thinking clearly right now.” Lizzy paused. “It is only fair to tell you all. Sarah is with child. She did not know that I know, I overheard her and Sally talking.”
Allie suddenly remembered the dates from the family tree and it all made sense. “The baby is Thomas’, right?”
“Yes, of course, it is, do you believe my sister to be a wanton?” Lizzy said in outrage.
“I didn’t mean that at all, I’m so sorry that I offended you, I just needed to be sure so I can make the right choice.”
“I am sorry too. Of course, you needed to be sure. It happened the night that Father sent Thomas away and broke their betrothal. Thomas stormed from the house and Sarah went out the back and found him in the stable at the tavern. Please do not think less of Sarah. It was terrible for her and Thomas. Their wedding was only a few weeks away. Sarah’s dress was almost completed as was their home. Father had just told her that he was sending her to England as Stephen’s wife. She was distraught. Father was so enraged that he did not even notice that she was gone. Please do not judge her too harshly.”
“Thank you for telling me. This makes the decision much easier for me. How long ago did this happen?”
“Six weeks ago. As you can see, we are running out of time.”
“Yes, we are. Stephen’s father is due here any time. Sarah needs to marry Thomas ASAP!”
“What is ASAP?” Lizzy said scowling.,
Allie laughed. “It means, as soon as possible.”
By all means, let us get Sarah wed ASAP!” Lizzy said smiling.