All of that sounded familiar. The Civil War was covered extensively in class last year, but I couldn’t shake the odd tingling sensation at the nape of my neck.
“It’s also kind of known for the fact that it sits right at the juncture of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers,” he was saying. “Beautiful town, luckily virtually unscathed from the invasion.”
I nodded, hearing what he was saying, but at the same time, consumed by the sense of being here before. But I knew I hadn’t. At least not that I remembered, so unless—
Was I remembering coming here as Nadia? Or was it just common knowledge picked up in school buried in my subconscious?
The tingling sensation increased throughout the remaining drive. The scenery was beautiful, especially when we crossed the bridge and I was able to see the town, off in the distance, situated on the face of the mountain that was a stunning kaleidoscope of yellows and burgundies. My fingers itched to grab my camera from the back seat, but I was frozen, soaking in the white-tipped waves of the river under the bridge and the view of a distant church.
A nervousness lit up my veins. Stomach twisting in raw knots, I fell silent as Luc turned right at a small hotel and I got my first close look at the town as it dipped and rose, houses scattered over hills and valleys. He’d taken another right, and as we crested the next hill, the homes and businesses tightly stacked together struck a chord in me.
I blinked, my fingers gripping the box in my lap. We were driving into what was called the lower town, a street packed with quaint restaurants and locally owned shops. How did I know that? Was that covered in class? Or …
Reaching a stop sign, Luc waited until a group of people wearing sun visors and carrying cameras crossed. Tourists. He then turned left onto cobblestones and into the parking lot for what appeared to be a train station.
“You okay over there?” Luc asked as he turned off the car.
I nodded. “Yeah. It’s just … I don’t know. This place seems familiar, and I don’t know if it’s from school or if…”
“Ask me, Evie.”
I swallowed and slowly looked over at him. Luc had removed his sunglasses, tucking them into the visor. “Did we come here before?”
Violet eyes met mine. “Yes.”
I sucked in a short breath. “I feel like I know this place, but I don’t know if it’s because of school or something else.”
Luc was quiet for a moment. “We came here a lot. Actually, it was one of your favorite places. There’s an old cemetery you liked to take pictures of.”
A strangled-sounding laugh escaped me. “That’s dark.”
His grin was quick. “The cemetery wasn’t what you loved the most.”
Looking away, he opened the driver’s door. “You’ll see.”
For a good minute, I sat there, trying to decide if I was ready to do this. This was the first time I was truly going somewhere I used to frequent as Nadia, a place that meant something. What if I went wherever Luc was taking me and I didn’t feel anything? Just nothing?
What if I felt something?
The possibilities were equally terrifying, and while there was a tiny part of me that wanted to stay in the car with my pet rock, I wasn’t that Evie anymore.
I couldn’t be that Evie anymore.
With a shallow breath that did nothing to ease the pressure clamping down on my chest, I opened the door and climbed out, carefully placing the box on the seat.
The window was cracked, but I left it like that. Luc was staring at me, and I grinned. “Letting air in, you know, so Diesel doesn’t get too hot.”
A wide, beautiful smile traveled across his features, momentarily stunning me. It was a rare smile. A real one that reached his eyes, warming them.
“Look at you, already thinking of Diesel.”
Laughing, I closed the door and joined him. “So, where are we going?”
“You’ll see.” He started walking, and I knew he was slowing down his pace so I didn’t have to speed walk to keep up with him.
We crossed over to the sidewalk, passing several places that were grilling or baking something that smelled amazing. Luc maneuvered us so that he was on the left, closest to the street, a weird move I didn’t fully understand. As we walked down the sidewalk, our progress hindered by the people taking pictures and their sweet old time, my left hand brushed his right, sending a jolt of awareness through me.
Was he going to take my hand? And hold it?
My heart gave a silly little skip at the thought.
We hadn’t held hands before, at least not that I remembered.
Then up ahead, to the right, I saw the Gothic-style church I’d spied from the bridge. As we grew closer, I could see how ancient it was, built out of reddish-tan stone, with white trim outlining the steeple.