West (Chapter Four, page 2 of 18)

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I listened, brow furrowing. I went to the bed and sat on it, curious to explore the world Carter sent me back to.

"I say you cannot remember a blessed thing. It's true, isn't it?"

"I'd say so," I replied.

A look of disappointment crossed her features. "I'm Nell. I've been your governess since you were but a babe."

"Why do I need a governess? I'm like, twenty two."

The woman's face fell even more, and I felt bad, even knowing I shouldn't.

"Miss Josie," Nell said, tilting her head to the side. "Would you tell me if you knew me?"

"I would," I assured her.

"Swear on the Bible?"

"I'll swear on a stack of them. I don't even know where I am. Where am I, Nell?" Fear fluttered through me. Short vacation. I told myself. Then I returned to my own time. This is an adventure - nothing more.

"Indian Territory, where you been raised your whole life." Nell sighed. She appeared haggard suddenly, tired and worn. "I prayed to God every night when you were gone."

From what I recalled, Indian Territory later became Oklahoma and northern Texas. Astonishment bloomed within me. Carter really was a genius. Realizing Nell was staring at me, I blinked and returned to the conversation at hand.

"Gone where?" I asked. "I can't remember living here at all."

"Of course you did, child," Nell said, concerned. "Your father knew you on sight when them savages and that sheriff brought you in. I did, too. You been gone for a year, but we knew you."

Hmm. So I have a father. I wasn't sure how else to ask about who Nell thought I was. Carter had said to play along. I just needed a few notes on who I was supposed to be, and then I could probably manage it. He had clearly placed me in a safe environment, or so it seemed.

"Look." Nell pulled a photo off the mantle and crossed to me, sitting beside me on the bed. "You haven't changed a bit."

The girl in the photograph did look a lot like me. Long, flowing blonde hair, a small frame. There was no color in the photograph, but her eyes were light, her skin ivory. The differences were subtle: the girl in the picture appeared a little taller than me, if the chair photographed was the same one by the window. Her lips were thinner, her hair straight where mine was wavy.

We could've been sisters, I acknowledged silently. But this isn't me.

"I expect there are some changes. Frontier life is not easy on us," Nell said, before I was able to speak. "But your father … he came back to life when you were brought to his door." Her eyes sparkled with happiness. "As did I."

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