Yellowstone Deception(3)

By: Peggy L Henderson



Jana’s eyebrows shot up, and she laughed. A sudden thought caused her limbs to flood with adrenaline. Her heart rate increased. “You didn’t lose the journal, did you?”

There was a slight pause at the other end before he answered. “No. Nothing like that. It’s safe.”

Jana expelled her breath in relief. Aimee’s journal. The accounts of her life in Yellowstone . . . 200 years ago. Her unbelievable experience with time travel, falling in love with a mountain man, and her decision to live her life in the past. It was all there, documented in her journal. For a brief moment, Jana wondered what had compelled her to give it to Dan. She’d read it several times, and committed some passages to memory. After meeting Dan Osborne, she thought he deserved to have it. It had belonged to his ancestors, after all. Jana laughed nervously. “I can’t come to Wyoming, Dan. I have a job--”

“Aimee is going to die,” he interrupted, speaking forcefully into the receiver. Jana imagined his dark eyes glaring, his jaw clenched as he spoke. Another Dan - Daniel’s face - came to mind. What was he talking about? Of course Aimee would die. In fact, she was already dead.

“She’s already dead,” Jana said quietly, echoing her thoughts. Her eyes pooled with tears.

“No, Jana. You don’t understand.” If Dan had the power to reach through the phone, Jana was sure he would be gripping her shoulders right about now. “Aimee is going to die, in the past, very soon.”

If she were having this conversation with any other person, Jana would have called for a psychiatric check-up at this point. Strangely enough, his words made perfect sense to her. She shook her head, and pinched the bridge of her nose with her thumb and index finger. She felt a massive headache coming on.

“And how do you know this?” she asked, her hands suddenly sweaty. How could Aimee have died prematurely in the past? If that were so, there would be no journal. In fact, Dan wouldn’t exist. Her eyes widened. His urgency suddenly became clear to her. But again, how could he know something like this? Had time altered again? What things in history had changed because of Aimee’s time travel? Had something else occurred to alter her future . . . in the past? Jana groaned in frustration. This was too much to wrap her head around.

“I did some investigating after you gave me that journal. I’ve been hiking the Madison Valley and the surrounding mountains, trying to find clues to my ancestors’ past. The area where their cabin stood is a parking lot now, as you know. But I finally found something.” He hesitated.

“What?” Jana felt compelled to ask, even though she knew he would tell her at any moment.

“Jana, I think I found Aimee’s grave. And it’s dated 1811.”

*****



Dan spotted Jana instantly. He could easily pick her out of a crowd, just like that first time he saw her. She walked quickly through the glass doors into the lobby of the Old Faithful Visitor Center, her long slim legs accentuated by the form-fitting jeans she wore. In one fluid motion, she removed the sunglasses from her face, and shook her head slightly. Her chestnut hair tumbled around her face. It was longer than he remembered when he saw her that one and only time two months ago. She’d looked so sad at the time, sitting in one of the couches positioned around the large fireplace that took up the center of the Inn.

He’d just returned from a day hike, taking several of Yellowstone’s first visitors of the season on a trek to Shoshone Lake, south of Old Faithful. Dan enjoyed those hikes. They made his job as a seasonal park ranger and interpreter more pleasurable than duty at the Old Faithful Visitor Center Information Desk that he was assigned to at the moment. He would rather be out on the trail, backpacking the wilderness, or leading a group of eager hikers to learn more about Yellowstone’s ecosystem.

Thankful that his colleague, Art Tanner, was dealing with the only visitor asking questions at the moment, Dan stepped out from behind the desk, and moved across the hall to meet the pretty girl from California. His heart rate actually increased. He’d only seen her once, two months ago, but the memory of her face had been engrained in his mind since that day, and he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her.

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