|Posted on August 13, 2017 at 5:45 PM|
About the Book
Title: Scent of the Past
Author: Erin Marie Bernardo
Genre: Historical Fiction
Scent of the Past by Erin Marie Bernardo
A secret diary. A forgotten past. Another time.
When people think of time travel, they think of the clichéd manufactured kind. Of giant electronic machines with flashing lights and buttons calibrated to shoot you into the past with one press. But it doesn’t work that way. You need a reason, a connection, and—most important—a link. But you can’t choose when and why you go. That would be too easy, and we’d all be snapping our fingers in hopes of seeing lost treasures of yesteryear. It must choose you.
Close cousins Addison and Elissa live in present day New York City and lead somewhat ordinary lives. When uncertain circumstances surrounding a set of antique perfume bottles sends them back to eighteenth-century France, they must uncover the truth behind their travel.
Disaster strikes when Addison finds herself in a nearly identical situation to a mishap she experienced in the present—the witnessing of a murder and release of a secret. Only this time the truth could destroy the entire French monarchy. With Addison’s head on the line, the young women search for answers before Addison suffers her unlucky fate twice. It is only when they discover the haunting connections to life in the present, that they understand why they both were sent, and why a repeating past...may not always be such a bad thing.
Erin Marie Bernardo is an American writer of historical fiction. She has a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is the author of the time-travel novel, Scent of the Past. A lover of historic places, Erin's novels connect the past with the present.
Erin is currently at work on her second novel, Blackbird's Bounty, set in the bayou of Louisiana – and is actively seeking a home for her children’s collection, Beautiful and Extraordinary Barnyard Stories, based on true events from on her farm.
Erin lives in Tennessee, but has roots in both Minnesota and Washington State. She is married with two young children.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 4
Finding it hard to concentrate, she worked slowly, cleaning up the damage. Her body felt sluggish. Maybe the stress of Addison’s vanishing was finally taking its toll. Eyelids weighted with heaviness, she noticed fuzzy images pushing at her temples. They were blurry and indistinguishable from one to the next, but they moved like silent pictures on an old movie screen. Something wasn’t right. She felt different. Distant. Detached. Confused. She stopped cleaning to massage her forehead and ease the pressure.
The images moved faster, rotating in circles, dancing along the boundaries of her mind and just out of reach. She was getting dizzy from their movement, yet they held her in place. Every once in a while a vision seemed recognizable. A familiar glimpse of two girls laughing, a majestic fountain spraying drops of crystal water, people dancing, yards of fabric twirling as they turned. Her senses were clouded, but the fabrics, brilliant green and velvet blue, pink lace, ribbon, and white taffeta seemed so real, spinning quickly like a child’s kaleidoscope.
Through the clouded fog she reached out. Just to try and touch. Everything around her was beautiful. So vivid in color and texture. Grasping at a piece of fluttering silk, she lifted her hand and instantly felt the pulling. It immediately consumed her body, leaving her numb to its force. She tried to resist the heavy pull, yet with every move she made, it yanked her harder. Tugging, bit by bit, until Elissa had absolutely no control over her limbs. Her arms were as heavy as rocks. Her legs as solid as lead. She was helpless to the potency of this unknown power. What was happening? What was this energy that pushed her forward yet held her in place? She tried to speak, to cry out for help, but nothing came out of her mouth. Just silent breath. Her own, frightened and scared.
The internal tug pulled harder at her chest, accelerating at a rapid and dangerous speed—yet all she could do was stand there, motionless. Pinned like the forceful pressure of a fast rollercoaster, pushing her back into her seat. She was trapped. Panic darted through her blood, overtaking her cells as the intensity of the images pushing against her mind, grew. Spinning, spinning, spinning, they turned in unison, filling the four corners of the little store room. A pair of ladies riding gloves, a powdered wig, marble floors. The draw to the images was magnetic, leaving her helpless to stop as the pictures zipped and collided in front of her as she stood frozen. A garden, a trimmed hedge, a vase of fresh roses. The dizziness was making her nauseous.
“No more!” she cried, although it was a soundless plea. She closed her eyes and prayed.
And then just as quickly as it had come, the turmoil stopped. Just after Elissa blacked out.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 5
Elissa opened one eye. Slowly. Someone was talking to her. Her head hurt, and the room was blurry, so she shut it. The talking didn’t stop. It was annoying, like a pesky mosquito buzzing around your ear right before you fall asleep. She pulled the covers over her head and groaned. She felt horrible.
The woman’s voice was persistent. She spoke quickly: “Bon matin, mademoiselle. Temps de se réveiller.”
Elissa rolled over, hoping to block out the noise and instantly realized she was naked. Oh, my gosh, I’m naked! she thought in fright. Instantly in tune with her surroundings she peeked out from underneath her blanket and surveyed the situation.
First observation. She was in a bed.
Second observation. Already noted, she was naked.
Third observation. This was not her room, and the woman standing at the foot of her bed was clearly not speaking English. Nor was she familiar in any way.
Elissa’s panic meter raised a few notches, and she grasped frantically at her neck. She relaxed. The ruby key was still there. Naked or not, the necklace never came off.
But where am I? she wondered. Whose bed is this? And why can’t I remember anything?
She noted the headache that was descending lower over her forehead. Her eyes made a quick sweep past the bed and around the room. Wherever she was, it certainly was magnificent. Shrouded in a curtain-lined canopy bed, she felt small among the grandness of the space. Although the walls were white, they were heavily decorated in crown molding panels, with intricate cut-out designs cresting the length of each wall. A large stone fireplace faced the bed, and an unlit crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, which was at least ten feet high or more. A mirror, larger than any table, reflected her baffled face as it sat in triumph above the mantel. Noticing an open door leading to another bedroom, she realized the place only got larger.
Elissa groaned. This must have cost me a fortune. Why didn’t I pick a Holiday Inn?—thinking she might have checked into a hotel. The thought quickly passed before she had a chance to wonder further.
The woman, who had awakened her earlier, stood scowling at Elissa. She wore some sort of period-style dress and looked like an old-fashioned chambermaid, with a cap and oversized smock. Elissa listened again. It was French. The woman was speaking French! Quite pleased with herself, Elissa smiled at the short lady who was frowning and waving her finger with a tsk, tsk. She hurried around the room picking up this, rearranging that.
“Vous avez dormi. Levez-vous avant qu'ils ne commencent à répandre des rumeurs à votre sujet.”
Elissa listened. Ahh, French. What a beautiful language, she thought, smiling to herself. She lay there in a sleepy lull, listening on and off while dozing—still feeling a bit drugged. But it didn’t take her too long to think a little deeper. She paused. Wait, why is this woman speaking French?
“My lady, you’ve overslept. Get up before they start spreading rumors about you.”
She gasped. And why do I understand it?
Excerpt from CHAPTER 2
Addison had met Brad Carlisle by chance at the opening of a new modern art exhibit in Lower Manhattan. It was an honest mistake, but it wasn’t until someone tapped her on the shoulder and whispered, “Ma’am, I believe you are wearing my wife’s coat,” did she realize that she had grabbed the wrong fur. Thankfully Mrs. Carlisle was using the restroom and missed the witty exchange of comments that followed. Addison left on the arm of her date, but no one could mistake the way Brad Carlisle’s eyes followed her out the door.
They ran into each other a few months later at the annual firemen’s charity ball. Addison had on a low-cut scarlet cocktail dress that clung to every one of her perfect curves. She had purposely pinned up her midnight hair to showcase her swanlike neck, making a statement when she turned, looking coy over her shoulder.
She danced in circles with every available bachelor, dizzy from cologne and high off too many glasses of merlot. After a break in the music, she slithered up to the bar and ordered another—burgundy red to match her dress. Addison always color coordinated.
“I’ll have what the lady is having,” a voice murmured low beside her. She turned and stared at the distinguished sandy-haired gentleman. He was grinning. The bartender passed him a drink across the bar.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” he said. She looked down at his hands encircling the wineglass. They were clean and neatly manicured. This man took great care of his appearance. She also noticed the gold band on his left hand. He was married. Addison reflected for an instant, then shook her head, intrigued by his presumed sophistication.
He smiled and stuck out his hand. “Brad Carlisle. We had a run-in with furry coats one evening back in February. I’m a little disappointed you’ve forgotten because I think I became enchanted with you then.”
He pulled her in at that point, teasing her with sexual innuendos and flirting with possibilities. They finished their wine and had another. He should have been at the head table, promising donations and discussing public policy with executives and the New York elite. Not to mention filling the empty chair next to his wife. Addison had never met anyone quite like him. He was handsome and powerful, bold and polished. All of her past flings seemed mere boys compared to this one man, whose smoky voice hypnotized her into fantasizing what loving a man of power would be like. This was her big catch, a challenge in the making. So much potential! She remembered he was married, but with someone of his stature, why did it matter? That was merely a hiccup in the game. Addison saw Brad Carlisle as an opportunity and didn’t care much that others would criticize her for playing with fire.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 28
Just before seven, as the invitation requested, Léopold knocked on Addison’s door. She answered, showing little enthusiasm. For all she knew this could possibly be her death march. Elissa had told her not to show fear. She must act like her same exuberant self, otherwise she would give herself away even before dinner. She promised herself she would escalate her energy level once she met with the king. Léopold didn’t know her well enough to notice the difference in her attitude.
They walked across the grounds and through the palace. Léopold said nothing. He was simply her escort. Addison looked up at his face. He didn’t look cruel. In fact, he had a very kind-looking face. But she understood that it was his job to obey the king of France, and all guards took their oath seriously. Léopold was only following orders.
“We are here,” he said, opening a door for her. “Enjoy your evening with His Majesty.” He bowed and slowly closed her in. She was in the dining room. It was an expansive chamber normally set up with a long table to host dozens of people. Tonight, however, the space looked relatively empty. The arrangement for her meal was more private. A small circular table and two chairs. It would be a very intimate dinner.
Addison thought back on the choices she had made in life. Since coming to Versailles, she had wanted nothing more than time alone with the king. Now she had it and didn’t want it. She felt sick to her stomach. Why had she been so stupid? Why did it matter whether or not she could say she had been with the elite? Kings, company executives, men of high society. None of those relationships had ever brought her happiness. Madame Zarina was right about so many things, and what she wouldn’t give for a little more of that protection the old gypsy had wished on her.
If she was to die tonight, at least she had learned her lesson. The thought of dying made her sad. She wasn’t ready to die. She wanted to go back to New York, to follow her heart this time around and pursue fashion design, find a nice young man, and start over fresh. She wasn’t going to carry anymore past baggage into her new life. All she needed was a second chance.