The obsession began on June 12, 2008 around 11:23 a.m.
Though secretly Emme Wilde considered it more of a ‘spiritual connection’ than an actual full-blown neurosis.
Of course, her brother, Marc, her mother and a series of therapists all begged to disagree.
her best friend, Jasmine, regularly validated the connection and
considered herself to be Emme’s guide through this divinely mystical
union of predestined souls (her words, not Emme’s). Marc asserted that
Jasmine was not so much a guide as an incense-addled enabler (again, his
words, not Emme’s). Emme was just grateful that anyone considered the
whole affair normal—even if it was only Jasmine’s loose sense of
always insisted Emme come with her to estate sales, and this one
outside Portland, Oregon proved no exception. Though Jasmine contended this
particular estate sale would be significant for Emme, rambling on about
circles colliding in the vast cosmic ocean creating necessary links
between lives—blah, blah. All typical Jasmine-speak.
brushed it off, assuming that Jasmine really just wanted someone to
organize the trip: plan the best route to avoid traffic, find a quirky
restaurant for lunch, entertain her on the long drive from Seattle.
the estate sale, Emme roamed through the stifling tents, touching the
cool wood of old furniture, the air heavy with that mix of dust, moth
balls and disuse that marks aged things. Jasmine predictably disappeared
into a corner piled with antique quilts, hunting yet again for that
elusive log cabin design with black centers instead of the traditional
Emme drifted deeper, something pulling her farther and farther into the
debris of lives past and spent. To the trace of human passing, like
fingerprints left in the paint of a pioneer cupboard door. Stark and
Emme would have stopped to listen to the stories around her, the
history grad student in her analyzing each detail. Yet that day she
didn’t. She just wandered, looking for something. Something specific.
If only she could remember what.
around a low settee in a back corner, Emme first saw the antique trunk.
A typical mid-nineteenth century traveling chest, solid with mellow
aged wood. It did not call attention to itself. But it stood apart
somehow, almost as if the air were a little lighter around it.
first opened the lid out of curiosity, expecting the trunk to be empty.
Instead, she found it full. Carefully shifting old books and papers, Emme found nothing of real interest.
Until she reached the bottom right corner.
she found a small object tucked inside a brittle cotton handkerchief.
Gently unwrapping the aged fabric, she pulled out an oval locket.
Untouched and expectant.
Filigree covered the front, its gilt frame still bright and untarnished, as if nearly new.
turned the locket over, feeling its heft in her hand, the metal cool
against her palm. It hummed with an almost electric pulse. How long had
the locket lain wrapped in the trunk?
crystal partially covered the back. Under the crystal, two locks of
hair were woven into an intricate pattern—one bright and fair, the other
a dark chocolate brown. Gilded on top of the crystal, two initials
nestled together into a stylized gold symbol.
touched the initials, trying to make them out. One was clearly an F.
But she puzzled over the other for a moment, tracing the design with her
eyes. And then she saw it. Emme sucked in a sharp breath. An E. The
other initial was an E.
She opened the locket, hearing the small pop of the catch.
Her hands tingled.
A sizzling shock started at the back of her neck and then spread.
are moments in life that sear into the soul. Brief glimpses of some
larger force. When so many threads collapse into one. Coalesce into a
Seeing him for the first time was one of those moments.
gazed intently out from within the right side of the locket: blond,
blue-eyed, chiseled with a mouth hinting at shared laughter. Emme’s
historian mind quickly dated his blue-green, high collared jacket and
crisp, white shirt and neckcloth to the mid-Regency era, probably around
1812, give or take a year.
continued to look at the man—well, stare actually. His golden hair
finger-combed and deliciously disheveled. Broad shoulders angled
slightly toward the viewer. Perhaps his face a shade too long and his
nose a little too sharp for true beauty. But striking. Handsome even.
Looking expectant, as if he had been waiting for her.
Emme would forever remember the jolt of it.
Surprise and recognition.
She knew him. Had known him.
Somehow, somewhere, in some place.
He felt agonizingly familiar. That phantom part of her she had never realized was lost.
The sensation wasn’t quite deja vu.
More like memory.
suddenly finding that vital thing you didn’t realize had been
misplaced. Like coming up, gasping for air, after nearly drowning and
seeing the world bright and sparkling and new.
She stood mesmerized by him until Jasmine joined her.
“Ooooh, you found him.” The hushed respect in her voice was remarkable. This was Jasmine after all.
Emme nodded mutely.
“Your circles are so closely intertwined. Amazing.”
Jasmine turned the locket in Emme’s hand.
“What does this inscription say?” she asked.
hadn’t noticed the engraved words on the inside left of the locket
case. But now she read them. Her sudden sharp inhalation seared,
The words reverberated through her soul, shattering and profound.
didn’t recall much more of that day—Jasmine purchasing the locket or
even the little restaurant where they ate lunch. Instead, she only
remembered the endless blur of passing trees on the drive home, the
inscription echoing over and over:
throughout all time
heart of my soul