PROLOGUE

                                                                                             Spring 1879
                                                                                   Piedmont, New Hampshire


“As the mayor of Piedmont, New Hampshire I now officially recognize our new town motto.” Frank Moore—new mayor and
town butcher—revealed a sign that had “Piedmont” in large letters, and beneath it, “Where Justice Prevails.” With difficulty
he pounded the stake of the sign into the frozen ground. Two men rushed forward to take a whack at it.

Finally planted, the crowd of onlookers applauded.

Justine Braden slipped her hand around her fiancé’s arm. “Finally.”

Harland put his hand on hers. “A new mayor, a new motto, and a new beginning, all because of you. And the Almighty, of
course.”

Justine wouldn’t argue with him. If she had stayed in New York City where she had grown up, Piedmont would still be under
the tyrannical rule of the bully, Quinn Piedmont. And if God hadn’t given her the gift of time travel, the sins of the past would
gave remained hidden and unrectified. God gave the orders and she did the legwork. They were a team: an all-knowing,
powerful Master and His willing-but-flawed servant.

Pastor Huggins stepped forward. “Everyone is invited to the meeting house for pies, cakes, and other confections.”

His announcement elicited more cheers than the sign had, and people headed to the building behind the church.

Justine and Harland turned to join the others.

So much had happened in the past year. Because of Justine’s travels through time, the town bully, Quinn Piedmont, had
been convicted of a long list of offenses, including the attempted murder of his own brother, Thomas. Free of Quinn’s
oppressive influence, a weight had been lifted from the town, a veil pulled aside, a slate wiped clean.

Speaking of Thomas . . . he joined them as they walked down the road. “A fine ceremony, don’t you think?”

Justine smiled. “In truth I think the good citizens of Piedmont enjoy any event that will let them eat pie and cake.”

“Me included,” Harland said.

“You two are jaded,” Thomas said. “The new motto commemorates the justice you helped bring about, Justine.”

“You were a large part of that,” she said. “Quinn thought he’d killed you. To have you return to Piedmont and prove him
wrong—and guilty—after twenty years . . .” She linked her hand around his arm. “To discover that you are my father . . .
that is cause for celebration.”

He put a hand on hers. “Nothing has made me happier than to come out of the shadows and take my place by your side.”
Justine felt a fresh wave of gratitude for their remarkable reunion. Being an only child, and with her mother gone, and her
other father—Noel Braden, the man who had raised her—passed, she had a newfound appreciation of family. That her
ability to travel through time had helped make that happen was a blessing she didn’t take lightly.

“People seem to be leaving you alone today,” Harland said.

She wished he hadn’t brought up her one personal frustration since the truth about her gift had come out. “Actually, they’re
not leaving me alone.”

“What’s happened?” Thomas asked.

She told them about the newest invasions of her privacy: the two notes that had been slid under her door during the night,
and finding Mrs. Newcomb waiting outside this morning, ready to pounce. “I’m not sure what to do to stop them.”

“You’ve explained you’re not traveling back to visit their relatives. You’ve made that clear.”

“Very. Repeatedly. But they won’t—”

Someone tapped Justine on the shoulder from behind. She turned around to see Mrs. Beemish, the wife of the
stationmaster. The frenzy in the woman’s eyes let Justine know what would come next.

She cut her off before it began. “I’m not time-traveling for people, Sarah.”

Her frenzy was replaced with disappointment. “But Rachel said—”

“I’m saying no to everyone.”

It was almost comical to watch a seventy-year-old woman pout.

“You’re not being fair, Justine. God gave you a gift. Aren’t you supposed to use it?”

“I am. But at His command, not my own. At the moment God wants me to stay in 1879.”

“He does?”

“He does.” Try arguing with that.

Mrs. Beemish didn’t argue, she huffed. “You’re being greedy, Justine Braden.” She stormed away.

Justine sighed. “They always feel the need to make me feel guilty. I’m not being greedy, am I?”

“You are not.” Thomas got them walking again.

But Justine suddenly found the idea of spending time at the celebration abhorrent—pie or no pie. In fact, being anywhere in
Piedmont riled her.

“Harland, let’s go up the mountain.”

“Now?”

“Please. I need to get away. Be away.” She looked up at her father. “If you’ll excuse us?”

He nodded, as usual, accepting her eccentricities. “I’ll save you some pie.”

She and Harland turned around, walking against the crowd. Justine let silence fall between them because she wanted to
hold her thoughts until after they were at Harland’s special spot on the mountain.

Harland let her forge the way up the wooded trail at her own speed, reaching the top behind her. “You are driven today.”

She stood up straight, taking deep breaths. “I am.”

When her breathing calmed, she led him to the sitting rock they often shared. She gazed across the treetops, seeing the
Connecticut River beyond, and Vermont beyond that. “This view always calms me. It’s utterly beautiful.”

“As are you.”

She skimmed over the compliment. “Remember our time on the mountain last autumn when I talked about how much I’ve
changed since moving here from New York?” She looked at him. “You changed me. This whole experience changed me. I
have a purpose now. God made good come from bad—for the town, but also for me.”

He wove his fingers through hers. “You also changed me because—”

“I have to leave.”

He angled to look at her. “What?”

“My work is done here.”

“People will leave you alone. Eventually.”

“Can you be sure about that? They think of me as this ‘being’ with magical powers.’”

“Your gift is rather remarkable.”

“But it’s not magic. And to be clear, it’s not mine to use as I wish.”

“So God is saying no? You weren’t just saying that to fend off Mrs. Beemish?”

Justine had to be honest about it. “Put it this way: God isn’t saying yes.” She tilted her head back, taking comfort in the
warmth of the spring sun after a hard winter. “Things feel different now. Though I innocently happened onto that first foray
into the past, after that, I was drawn to it—directed to go, if you will.”

“He spoke to you?”

“Nothing like that.” She put a hand to her midsection. “I felt a nudge, an inner ‘go now’ that I had to follow.”

“You didn’t have to,” he said. “Other women in your family said no.”

“But I needed to say yes.”

“You chose to say yes.”

She shrugged. “I want to say yes again.”

He cocked his head. “But you said—”

“I know.” She stood to face him. “I feel no compunction to stay here and use my gift. But I do feel compelled to use it again.”

“Where?”

She knew he would be shocked by her answer. “Out west.”

“Where out west?”

“Kansas.”

He blinked. “My mother and sisters live—”

“I know.” She let him fill in the blanks.

He rose and began to pace. She gave him time to do so.

Finally he stopped. “My family would be thrilled.”

“Would you be thrilled?”

“I don’t know. Mother and my sisters haven’t lived as a family for nearly nine years. I’ve never even been to Kansas.”

“Actually, we wouldn’t have to live with them. . .” She waited, hoping he would get the gist of her words.

He grinned. “Are you asking me to marry you? Again?”

She knew it wasn’t the proper way to do such a thing. And yet . . . “I am asking. We’ve talked about it. Many times. But this
time I ask because I like the idea of getting married in Kansas. With your family present.”

He pulled her close, kissed her, and said yes.

In that order.



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20
                                                                                  Mustard Seed Press