West (Chapter Six, page 1 of 12)

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Late that night, I awoke in an outright panic. Sitting up, I stared at the crackling flames of the hearth, unable to register why I was shaking and felt the need to run. Fear flew through me, its source unknown. There had been a dark dream … two voices, a fireplace, blood …

Pain stabbed me through the temple. I gripped my head in my hands and dabbed at the warmth trickling from my nose. The sight of my blood grounded me, and I forced my stiff body to relax. It was around one in the morning, according to the collection of clocks around my room.

What is it with clocks? They're everywhere. John had a strange obsession with time.

The curiosity as to why John liked them faded. Climbing out of bed, I crossed to the washbasin and dipped a washcloth, holding it to my nostril.

Wind whistled and howled by my window and slapped the shutters against the siding somewhere in the house. The sky was mostly clear, the moon bright, and the prairie's grasses nearly flat from the force of the gusts. Assuming the wind woke me, I sat down next to the window, admiring the view, until my nose stopped bleeding. I wasn't a stranger to sinus infections, and I hoped I wasn't getting one here. It wasn't like I could run out to Walgreens for Sudafed if I did.

An image I didn't recognize was in my head, not mine yet not belonging to anyone else, since I was alone. It was of a cave and …

An aerial view of John's property with a route highlighted to an unknown destination. Intrigued, I sat up. The map flashed like any other image and then faded. Not wanting to lose it, I sprang to my feet and snatched my phone from under my pillow, writing down what I could recall in a blank text.

The map was meant to be followed. I understood this as well as I knew it was not of my imagining but something placed there by whatever it was Carter did to me. I lit a lantern by following the sequence of steps Nell had gone through and walked into the adjoining dressing room to find something more comfortable than a gown to wear.

Josie had no pants. It took ten minutes of searching to find something I'd consider wearing on an adventure like I planned. There were too many elaborate gowns … and simpler gowns soft enough to tell me they were quite old. I pulled on one of those that fit more of a Regency England time period than the Old West. They had likely belonged to Josie's grandmother or mother.

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