Somewhere in Time

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-02-01
  • Publisher: Silhouette
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Swept up in a sudden desert storm over Saudi Arabia, Air Force captain Aurora Durant lands her plane in the 2nd century, A.D. and is taken prisoner by the commander of a Roman garrison. Lucius Antonius is as suspicious of this strange creature as he is intrigued, but before he can claim her, he must tame her. Reissue.


Captain Aurora Durant understood that flying was a dangerous occupation. Every time she taxied her sleek air force jet down the runway and launched it into the sky, she accepted the fact that someday she might not be able to bring it back down safely. What she couldn't accept was that this was the day.

"Looks like the weather front stretches clear up to the Saudi border!" her copilot shouted over the rattle of thunder and crackle of static electricity in their headsets.

"We can't get above it!" Aurora yelled back. She struggled with the wheel as winds buffeted her C-21. The small six-passenger jet that the air force used to haul cargo, as well as people, bucked under her hands. "We'll have to try to go around!"

"Check. Just don't take us too far off course. I wouldn't want to stray into Iraq's airspace. Those folks are a might touchy since the Gulf War."

Aurora flashed the lieutenant a quick grin. "No kidding. I heard one of our F-15s got a radar lock last week, and -"

Her grin faded as another violent wind shear flung the craft sideways. Sucking in a quick breath, she fought to level the plane.

There'd been no indication of a storm in their flight path when they took off a half hour ago. After dropping off the congressmen who'd come out to see and be seen with the UN peacekeeping forces in Saudi, Aurora had anticipated a quick run back to Ramstein, their home base in Germany. Their only cargo was a half-dozen crates of communications equipment being sent back for emergency repair. But fifteen minutes out of Saudi, one of those freak desert storms she'd heard so much about and hoped never to experience had suddenly enveloped them.

Aurora flinched as lightning flashed out of the dark clouds to their left and arced earthward. She eased the plane farther and farther east, keeping its nose to the wind. Charlie adjusted his earphones and tried once more to raise ground control, but turbulence in the airwaves defeated him.

Just when the winds had calmed and Aurora thought the worst might be over, lightning split the sky in front of them. A blinding white light filled the cockpit. Keeping one hand on the yoke, she threw up her other arm to shield her eyes. Charlie yelled as static reverberated through his headphones in a high-pitched screech that could be heard even over the sound of the skies splitting.

The force of the lightning knocked the plane sideways. It tumbled like a wounded bird through the skies. Aurora's head, protected only by her flight cap and her thick, curly hair, cracked against the side window. Desperately she blinked back tears of pain as unconsciousness dragged at the edges of her senses. For a timeless moment, darkness closed over her, and her mind floated free.

Slowly, painfully, the storm's violence brought her back to full awareness. As if from a distance, she saw her white hands gripping the wheel. Fighting the pounding ache in her head, Aurora pulled at the controls.

"Charlie," she shouted hoarsely. "Help me stabilize the plane. The instruments are going berserk. I can't tell what's been hit."

She struggled with the controls as the small Learjet plunged through the heaving maelstrom. Tearing her eyes from the writhing darkness, she looked over to see Charlie slumped back against his seat. Blood was running from his ear.

Sheer panic sliced through Aurora. She would have to fight the malevolent forces of nature herself. Using every ounce of strength she possessed, she battled the pull of gravity. With the plane's electronic systems knocked out, she had only training, instinct and sheer guts to rely on. Planting both feet against the floor pedals, Aurora sawed back on the wheel. Still the plane spiraled downward.

Panting, squinting against the pain stabbing through her head, Aurora fought on. Her legs ached with strain. The muscles in her arms quivered with stress. Controlling the panic that drummed in her veins, she ran through every emergency procedure she'd ever learned. Still the plane dived.

Dizzy now, sure that the earth would reach up to crush them into oblivion at any moment, Aurora worked the pedals and controls. Her conscious mind told her it was no use, that she couldn't pull this speeding cylinder of steel out of its suicidal dive. She set her jaw. The flier in her wouldn't give up. With the last of her reserves, she hauled back on the wheel.

Imperceptibly at first, then more noticeably, the uncontrolled spin began to slow. With a sobbing cry, Aurora forced the wheel back farther. The small plane responded. Its nose lifted a couple of degrees. She held on with grim determination. The nose came up a few more degrees. In the enveloping blackness, with no instruments to guide her, Aurora had no idea where she was flying her plane, but she was flying it. She glanced out of the cockpit, desperately searching for some light, some sign of the horizon, to let her get her bearings.

Far to the right, she thought she saw a thinning in the smothering blackness. Holding her breath, she tried a banking movement. The plane quivered, but responded. Air rasped in her throat as she gulped in relief. For what seemed like hours but she knew was only minutes, she raced toward the patch of dimness ahead. Suddenly, like an arrow shot from a crossbow, her small craft burst through the wall of gray into blinding sunlight.

Aurora gasped in sheer terror. The desert sand was less than two hundred feet below her hurtling craft. Another couple of seconds in that dive, and they would've augered in. Swallowing the acrid bile that threatened to choke her, she leveled off and skimmed the shuddering plane along the earth's surface. Heart pounding, she scanned the barren landscape for some sign of civilization, some airport where she could attempt a landing. Only low, shifting sand dunes, and a narrow road stretching into the far distance, filled her vision.

Aurora wasn't certain how much damage her plane had sustained, but she knew she had to land it, fast, before it fell apart in the air. The long, lonely road would have to serve as an emergency landing strip. With aching arms and feet, she worked the throttle back and applied the air brakes. A shudder racked the plane when she pulled the manual release for the landing gears. Slowing her airspeed, she dropped lower and lower, until the wheels just skimmed the road. Surprised at its narrowness, she looked for a spot where the dunes were back far enough from the pavement for the Lear's forty-foot wingspan. Praying that a truck or a tourist-laden bus wouldn't suddenly appear over a hill, she put the plane down on the narrow road.

The tires bounced along its uneven surface. Aurora fought the stick, trying to keep the craft on a straight line. Her disbelieving eyes saw what looked like cobbles flash by under the craft's nose. Cobbles! Of all the places in the world to put down a crippled bird, she had to pick a damned cobblestone road, probably left over from the last millennium. At least that explained the lack of traffic, she thought grimly as she struggled for control.

One wheel bounced into a jagged hole. The sleek bird skittered sideways, and Aurora felt fear close her throat as the right wing dipped dangerously. The plane bounced forward a few more yards, then skidded off the cobbles. Sand flung up by the engines beat against the windshield, obscuring Aurora's view. Blood drummed furiously in her ears. Her hands ached as she fought the wheel. After an endless, heart-stopping moment, the plane slid to a shuddering stop with its wheels buried in soft sand. Stressed metal creaked and groaned as it settled with the wing tanks just touching the desert surface.

Resting her head against hands still wrapped around the wheel in white-knuckled desperation, Aurora wanted to sob with relief.


Excerpted from Somewhere in Time by Merline Lovelace Copyright © 2003 by Merline Lovelace
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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