The morning after Thomas and Rebecca had returned from the past, Sarah was sitting in the living room lost in thought. Time travel should not be possible; no one had successfully done it before. Not that anyone knew of. If Thomas had really managed it, she couldn’t even fathom the ramifications. Most immediately, could he repeat it to get Julia back? Would he even try, given what had happened between them?
When Rebecca entered the room, she had to put all of those questions on hold.
Rebecca nodded back the way she had come. “Still sleeping. Healing the wound is not a problem, but I can’t replace his hand. Especially when we don’t even have it.” She fell into a chair, obviously still tired.
“Can he time travel again?”
“I don’t know. I think Julia did a lot of the work. Without her, I’m not sure he could manage it. But honestly, I just don’t know.”
“Why didn’t any of you talk to me?”
“Julia and Thomas were working together. I know it seems naive in retrospect, but if the two of them both thought it was a good idea, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was stupid.”
“No, don’t beat yourself up. I think seeing them cooperate would have thrown me off, too. Still, Thomas’s obsession with that attack has already caused so many problems.”
“It was an attack on his master’s house?”
Sarah nodded. “Fifteen years ago. He was the only survivor. I know it haunted him, but I thought he had finally given up on it.”
They could hear the front door open and close. Sarah was about to ask if David had left when Julia entered.
“Hey you two. Nice to see this place hasn’t really changed while I was gone.”
Both women jumped out of their chairs.
“How did you get back?” Rebecca asked.
“You filled Sarah in?” Julia asked, ignoring Rebecca’s question.
“Yes, she did. I should probably yell at you, but I’m just relieved you managed to return.”
“Wow. Okay, you two both need to take it down a bit. I’m not used to all this energy. Anyway, as far as your concerned, I’ve only been gone for . . . what? A day? This is a little too much excitement for such a short absence.”
“But you were trapped in the past,” Rebecca objected. “We weren’t sure how to get you.”
“Simple. You just wait. Well, I wait. Roughly fifteen years.”
Sarah and Rebecca were both stunned into silence.
“Okay, maybe a bit more excitement than this. We’re not at a funeral.”
“You lived through the last fifteen years? Didn’t that . . . I mean, what did you . . .” Sarah was struggling to even form a coherent question.
“Yes, I just went about life for the last decade and a half. No one came to get me, so I tried to find a way on my own. Didn’t make any progress. At that point, I figured I’d just come back shortly after we left. No awkward moments with myself, and no worries about messing up the past.”
“You didn’t save Jason?” Rebecca asked.
“You both still remember him dying? He’s not around the house? Then it happened. He asked me not to, so I didn’t.”
“That must have been hard,” Sarah said with all the sympathy she had.
“Lots of things were hard. I couldn’t save Jason or Rebecca, or stop any of the other horrible things that happened. But Jason was right. Changing the past could have catastrophic consequences. So I had to work very hard at not affecting anything.”
“So Jason convinced you to attack me?” No one had noticed Thomas’s arrival.
“Oh hi, Thomas.” None of the animosity that usually permeated Julia’s tone with Thomas was evident.
“Thomas! You shouldn’t be out of bed.” Rebecca sounded like a mother scolding her sick child.
Thomas ignored her as he continued glaring at Julia. “Out of respect for Jason, I’ve tolerated your disruptions, but attacking me was too far.” Such an overt display of anger was uncharacteristic for him. “I formally revoke your membership in this house. You need to leave immediately.”
Julia looked surprised but then began to laugh. “I think you’re forgetting something, Thomas. It’s been a long time for me, but not that long for you. Sarah?”
“Thomas, this is no longer your house. You turned it over to me, remember? You have no authority to remove a member unilaterally.”
For a moment, Thomas looked like he was going to say something. Instead, he turned to leave.
“Thomas.” Julia stopped him. “I saved your hand. I don’t know if it can be restored, but I’ve kept it in deep freeze to try to preserve it. For what it’s worth, I am sorry that happened.” Julia produced a small package.
Thomas stared at her for a beat and then turn and strode away.
“Rebecca? Do you think you can do anything with it?” Julia handed the package to her.
“I don’t know. I can try, but no promises.”
Sarah studied Julia. “You’ve changed. I’m not sure exactly how, but you have.”
Julia smiled. “I hope so. I’ve had fifteen years of living since we met last. And, honestly, it’s good to be here.”
“I’m glad you’re back, too.” Sarah returned her smile.