Mia’s long brown hair draped around her face as she sat at her desk, typing away at her keyboard, words filling the screen. She’d been writing on and off for a few hours and was surprised by the progress she was making - 7,000 words already, and she’d only had one coffee.
Ever since she was a child, Mia had wanted to write novels. Escaping into the worlds of her many books was her happy place and she wanted to share her own worlds and characters with other readers. She had always loved writing at school and would always have an amazing short story for her English class assignments, but since leaving school, she hadn’t really dedicated time to getting a novel written. That was until she landed a job at the London Museum. History was Mia’s second passion, and a lot of her short stories had historical elements to them - it was her goal to write an historical fiction novel whenever she got around to it.
As soon as she stepped into the London Museum offices on her first day, she knew she’d be surrounded by heaps of inspiration for her novel. Mia’s job was reasonably laid back. She was in charge of social media marketing - keeping Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube updated with events that were taking place at the Museum, and giving a behind-the-scenes look at new exhibits. Working alongside Jonathon Rigg, the two worked together to keep the world updated. It may have seemed like a big job, but Mia always found time to write.
While wandering the Museum taking photos or recording video, she would always take her notebook, jotting down notes as she admired the exhibits. Within a few months, she had a novel idea planned and started writing. The great thing about working at the museum was that there was always someone who would be able to help her out with a historical aspect of the story, ensuring that was was relatively accurate, without being a boring history text. Everyone was always throwing around ideas for plot twists and characters.
Just as Mia started a new chapter, her iPhone buzzed next to her keyboard with a new message: NEW GIFT SHOP ITEMS HAVE ARRIVED! COME AND CLAIM STUFF!
Mia gave a little giggle as she hit save and got up from her desk.
“Just heading down to the gift shop Jon. They are expecting new stock.” She said to the blond man sitting across from her desk.
“Perfect timing, we need to include the gift shop items in our promotions. Get some good photos if you can.” Jonathon replied, barely taking his eyes off his screen.
Picking up her camera, phone and wallet, Mia headed down to the gift shop. The museum had a policy that staff could buy some of the new stock before it hit the shelves, ensuring that they didn’t miss out when the masses arrived - things sold out very quickly. Mia’s friend Alison worked in the gift shop and would always let Mia know the moment a new shipment arrived.
Located on the floor below and on the opposite side of the building, it was a good ten minute walk to the gift shop. Of course, Mia usually got caught up chatting to people on the way, and it could easily end up taking her half an hour. Some days, Mia wished that the offices were right above the gift shop, so all she’d have to do was take the lift down.
Crossing the large entrance hall, waving to Stacey who was on the front desk, Mia noticed the new banner that was on display, advertising the new exhibit that would be opening in a weeks’ time. The new permanent exhibit focused on life in English villages during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Mia had been really curious about what sort of merchandise the gift shop would have to compliment the exhibit.
The gift shop was literally heaven on earth, or at least heaven in the museum. If you were ever looking for someone, the gift shop would be you’re first stop as so many of the staff would make pit-stops to and from their offices. While the museum was filled with beautiful exhibits, the gift shop was a magical place filled with rows upon rows of merchandised that was always changing. Every time Mia came to the gift shop, she always found new items that she either hadn’t notices the last time she was there, or that had arrived since. If you wanted something, you usually had to get it as soon as you saw it, otherwise it would probably be out of stock the next time you came back.
As she entered the large hall that housed the gift shop, she noticed her friend Alison across the room near the doors to the stock room. Weaving in and out of the many shelves and displays, she stopped several times to admire an item she hadn’t seen before or forgotten about, and finally reached the stockroom door.
“You took your time! I wanted you to be the first one here, but you took so long that some of the tour guides have already seen the items.” Exclaimed Alison as she led Mis into the dim stockroom, which was almost the same size as the gift shop, just not as organised.
“You know it takes forever to get from my office to here. I swear I’m going to get Jonathon to move us down here since I spend so much time in the gift shop. Speaking of Jonathon, I’m meant to be taking photographs, but they can wait. My credit card is in need of a work out!” Mia replied with a giggle as she wrapped her arm around Alison’s waist.
The pair navigated around shelves, boxes and crates until they reached the entrance door where the new shipment of boxes had been dropped off. Most of it was still wrapped in packing plastic and tape, but a few boxes had already been opened and Mia let go of Alison, speeding up to reach the boxes.
“Apparently this jewellery is replicas of some of the items produced in the villages during medieval times. I just can’t believe the detail in some of them and can’t imagine how they were produced back then,” explained Alison as Mia looked through some of the boxes.
“Do you even really know how jewellery is created today?” Mia asked with a smile, looking up at Alison.
“Well, no, but that’s hardly the point Mia.” Alison laughed in reply. “I’ll be back in a minute, I need to talk to Rachael about what we are doing with all this stock.”
As Alison wandered off, Mia admired all the open boxes. They were filled with beautiful jewellery of all shapes, colours and forms. There were rings and earrings of all different designs, and necklaces and bracelets with different stone inlays. Even in the dim light of the stockroom, they all glinted and shone in the limited light.
Mia reached into a box of rings, all of them silver with a single row of gems inlayed, creating a mesmerizing rainbow. Admiring the ring, Mia too couldn’t believe how something this beautiful and detailed could have been made over five hundred years ago in small English villages. She was about the place it back in the box when she noticed an inscription on one of the rings she was holding. Placing the rest back in the box, Mia walked over to the door to look at the ring in better lighting. She opened the door a little and held the ring up. On the inside of the ring was an inscription written in cursive writing that didn’t look machine made.
“Time will not separate us,” she whispered, turning the ring in her fingers as she admired it from every possible angle.
As she turned around to make her way back through the store room to purchase the ring, she bumped into a mane with brown hair, not much older than she was. His dress was slightly out of place, but Mia thought he had something to do with the new medieval exhibit. He gave her a knowing smile.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you there,” said Mis, admiring his electric blue eyes.
“My bad, I shouldn’t have sneaked up on you unannounced,” he looked down at the ring in her hand, “I hope you aren’t going to sneak out with that ring,” he said in a humerous tone.
Mia glanced down at the ring, her cheeks starting to blush.
“Of course not. I was just admiring the inscription.
She held out the ring for him to see. He took it and inspected the inscription.
“Hmm, time will not separate us,” he whispered, glancing at Mia. “This must have been a very important ring fro the maker to inscribe it like this.”
He handed it back to her and she looked at it again. She was about to say something else, but when she looked up again, the man was gone. She looked around the stock room, but couldn’t see him anywhere. Suddenly Alison appeared.
“So, found anything you want?”
“Did you see where the guy I was just talking to went?” Mia asked, still looking around the room.
“What guy? I didn’t see anyone else over here apart from you.”
“I was just talking to him. He was wearing clothes that looked straight out of the 1500s.”
“Nope, I didn’t see anyone.”
Mia looked back down at the ring, wondering if she had imagined the whole thing. She and Alison walked back to the gift shop and Mia paid for the ring. She slowly made her way back to her office, spending the entire time looking at the ring she had just purchased.
Finally returning to her desk, Mia sat down, shook her head and began writing as if nothing had just happened. Across from her, Jonathan was exactly as she’d left him almost an hour ago.
“How did the photos come out?” he asked, still not taking his eyes off his screen.
Dammit, Mia thought.
“The stock room was super busy and I didn’t want to get in the way. I’ll get the photos in the morning.” Mia replied a little to easily. This wasn’t the first time Mia had gone off to the gift shop to ‘take photos’, only to return with no photos. She expected Jonathon to know by now that she was lying, but he rarely seemed to notice what she got up to during the day. She was grateful for whatever kept his eyes glued to his computer screen.
“Fair enough. We don’t need the photos until next week anyway. Just be sure to use the new backdrop.”
Mia returned to writing, having completely forgotten about the guy she had bumped into in the stock room. Next to her on the desk sat her ring. If she had looked over, she would have noticed something very strange indeed, stranger than the guy she may or may not have actually met earlier. Within each of the seven gems was a face. Her face. Seven of her faces looking up at her, even though she wasn’t looking at them.
Mia thought very little of the guy she had met in the stock room for the next week, and forgot about the ring she had bought. It sat at her desk while she worked and wrote, and she barely noticed it was there, still with its seven little faces looking out at her. It wasn’t until the medieval exhibit was about to open to the public that she began to remember her encounter.
As with any new exhibit, Mia was busy running around the museum with a camera in hand taking photos and videos of the installation for social media. Her job required her to record every aspect of the exhibit and share it with the online world in order to get people excited and visit the museum. She had spent the week filling up SD cards, only returning to her office to get a new one and pass the full one onto Jonathon, who was editing all the content.
It was 3pm on the day before the opening of the medieval village exhibit, and she had just returned to her desk after five hours of taking photos and videos of literally every detail. She was slightly exhausted and exhaled as she sat down, glad to be off her feet.
“I thought I’d never make it back to the office.” She said to Jonathan.
“I can’t believe how many photos and videos you’ve taken. I’m only just halfway through the first SD card you dropped in at eleven.” He replied, looking up at her as he stretched.
“Yeah I know. There was so much going on downstairs. Most of these photos probably won’t even be seen by the public.”
“Probably not. But at least you got some good shots of the staff for the Christmas party at the end of the year.” Jonathon turned his monitor around to show Mia a photo of some of the tour guides who were trying out their medieval costumes and having a laugh.
“Wait until you get to that second SD card. That’s when the insanity set in down there.” Mia chuckled. Everyone had been stressing to get the exhibit finished in time, and it usually resulted in things getting a little silly.
“I can imagine. I think I need a break, all these photos are starting to look the same.” Said Jonathon as he stood up, stretched and headed for the stairs. “Start on that second SD card. Let’s hope we will be out of here before we have to open in the morning.”
Mia took a sip from her drink bottle and set about working on editing the photos and videos she had taken that morning. As she inserted the SD card, she noticed the ring next to her keyboard. The afternoon light from the large windows of the office were bouncing off it, creating a little rainbow on her desk. She picked up the ring, turning it over in her hand and reading the inscription once more.
“Time will not separate us.” She murmured.
After a long moment spent staring at the ring, she realised she couldn’t procrastinate much longer. Placing the ring back on her desk and waking up her laptop, she typed in her password, reading to start working. Glancing up, she was startled to see the man she had met a week ago standing across the room, looking at her. He still wore the same clothes as before - a faded brown doublet and black tights. He looked like he had walked right of the the 16th century, or at least the medieval display downstairs. He was staring straight at her.
Mis gave a small smile, and he smiled back, waving his hand in a small wave. She gave a small wave back and looked back down at her laptop, realising it was still displaying the login screen. As eh hit enter, she looked back up, but he was gone.
She looked around the office. With the new exhibit about the open, many people were out in the museum, adding the final touches, so there were only a few people working at their desks, eyes glued to screens or hunched over laptops. She looked around the room, unable to find him.
“Looking for me?” came a voice from behind her.
With a start, she whipped around to find him standing behind her with a knowing smile on his face. Mia blushed and felt awkward and embarrassed, giving a small laugh.
“We haven’t been properly introduced,” he said, holding out his hand, “I’m Dominic. Dominic Tybalt.”
Shaking his hand, Mia replied, “Mia Logue. It’s nice to meet you.”
They stood in silence for a moment, Mia feeling slightly awkward while Dominic stood confidently.
“Are you involved with the medieval villages exhibit?” Mia finally asked, knowing it was a stupid question based on the way he was dressed.
“You could say that,” Dominic replied with an air of mystery.
“It’s weird, I’ve been down there all day, running around with my camera and seeing almost everyone who’s ever worked for the museum, and yet I never saw you.”
“Really? You passed me several times. I’ve been working on the model village.”
Mia’s head spun. She’d taken photos of every little detail, including all of the workers, and she could swear she never saw Dominic the entire time she was down in the museum. She’d even spent a good hour watching the model village being completed.
“Anyway, you seem to take a lot of photos, so I’m sure you have heaps of work to do. I don’t want to distract you.” He stepped back to walk off, but paused for a moment, looking at Mia, his electric blue eyes mesmerizing her.
“Oh. Yeah… Work.” Replied Mia, unable to break eye contact with him, “I’m sure I’ll see you around.”
Finally pulling her eyes off him, she smiled and have a small wave before turning around and sitting back at her desk.
“You certainly will.” Murmured Dominic behind her, smiling as he turned away and walked down the stairs.
The rest of the afternoon was slow.
Mis was continually distracted by thoughts of Dominic, and it took her a lot longer than usual to edit the photos and videos. By the time Jonathon returned half an hour later, she’d only just managed to edit three photos. She just couldn’t get Dominic out of her head.
She barely even knew Dominic, and yes he was good looking, but that wasn’t the reason she couldn’t stop thinking about him. It was those piercing blue eyes. There was something in those eyes that had her mesmerised, and it felt familiar, as if she had known those eyes her whole life.
Annoyed that she wasn’t getting her work done fast enough, Mia decided the only was to stop thinking about Dominic was to do a little bit of internet stalking. Nothing too creepy, just enough to satisfy her need to know more about the mysterious man who had suddenly appeared in her life.
Opening up a new tab, she typed Dominic’s name into Google and hit enter, waiting for the search results to come up. She wasn’t expecting much, just a Facebook or Twitter page.
Nothing of the sort came up. She was surprised, it was 2016 after all - everyone had some form of social media, even if they didn’t use it that often. Even an old Myspace page would have done.
The pages that did come up were nothing of real interest, just pages that had the name Dominic. However, one page stood out, this one picking up on the name Tybalt. Mia had to admit, it was a name she had never heard before, except for in Romeo And Juliet, and so she clicked on the link and waited for the page to load.
What loaded on her screen was not what she had expected. It was an article on the Durham Historical Society website that talked about the village of Arcton. The page only contained a few paragraphs, but the largest was dedicated to ‘Tybalt Rings’, a business that was run by Noah Tybalt in the early 1500s.
The most prominent era in Arcton’s history took place after the arrival of Noah Tybalt and his wife Grace in 1508. Noah was the maker of fine rings, opening his business Tybalt Rings in 1509. People flocked from all corners of Britain for one of his hand-crafted rings. Arcton’s growth can be attributed to Tybalt Rings, which remained in business until the mid-1530s. Noah and Grace had two sons, who remained in the village until some time in the 1540s.
There was very little more to the article, the rest recounting about Arcton’s decline during the 19th and 20th centuries. But Mia had a strange feeling. Tybalt wasn’t a common surname, and Dominic had appeared when the rings arrived for the medieval exhibit. She figured he was a descendant of Noah Tybalt and was part of the team involved in the installation of the display.
Mia continued to look through the Durham Historical Society website, and came across a gallery page, categories by town. She found the link for Arcton and scrolled through the dozen images.
The town was a very small English village, very typical of the medieval villages that were scattered throughout England. The buildings were made of weathered grey stone, with thatched roofs. The village seemed to sit at the bottom of a small hill that lead up to a forest. Despite being born and bred a city girl, Mia had always loved the country, and could see herself living in a secluded place like Arcton. It felt very welcoming and familiar, even through her computer screen.
As she continued to scroll through the photos, she came across one captioned ‘Original Tybalt Rings house and workshop. 2006.’ The building was similar to the rest of the village, only it was larger and a bit more run-down. The house was situated right on the slopes of the hill, looking as though the house was sat above the rest of the village. Mia was captivated by the building and couldn’t believe that the building was in such great condition for being over 500 years old.
Mia suddenly realised why the town looked so familiar. She opened up the folder that had all the photos she’s taken that day, the folder where her attention should have actually been focused. Scrolling down, she opened one of the photos of the model village that was part of the new exhibit. The model was an almost exact replica of Arcton, right down to the forest on the hill and the building located just up the slope.
Feeling very strange about the whole thing, Mia decided she may as well head off home. Jonathon had left almost an a hour and a half ago, and she had already stayed nearly an hour overtime. Deciding she would come in early tomorrow morning, Mia turned off her computer, picked up her coats and bag and turned to leave. After a couple of steps, she turned back, grabbing the ring still sitting on her desk.
The next morning, Mia went into work early as planned in order to finish editing some of the videos of the new medieval exhibit. Despite it being 7:30am, the museum was a hub of activity as everyone added the final touches, ready for opening at 9am.
Stopping at the coffee cart in the foyer, Mia ordered a large cappuccino. She had had a restless night and was in serious need of a caffeine boost. For some reason, she just couldn’t get to sleep, but she didn’t really know why. Her dreams were really weird and all over the place. She couldn’t really remember what they were about, all she could remember was standing on a platform, surrounded by darkness.
With her coffee in hand, she headed up to her office, still trying to piece together her dream. Lost in thought, she reached the top of the stairs, only to bump into something, or someone. She looked up to see Dominic smiling at her, holding her coffee so she wouldn’t spill it all over herself.
“You should really watch where you’re going Mia, especially with a hot coffee,” he said with a smile, letting go of the coffee now that she wasn’t about to burn herself.
Mia blushed, “Luckily you have pretty good reflexes.”
“Well, when a beautiful woman is at risk of ruining her clothes and burning herself, it’s a crime not to save her.”
Mia blushed even more, sure her makeup wasn’t going to cover it. “Well thanks. You certainly saved me.”
She looked him over. Dominic was wearing the same clothes he had on yesterday, and she was now certain that he was part of the Medieval exhibit. Today, his eyes seemed bluer, although Mia didn’t know how that was possible.
“Since it seems you came into work early, and have a pretty large coffee, I assume you have work to get to. I shall let you get on with the day now that I’ve done my duty.” He said, side stepping to start descending the stairs.
Mia gave a small laugh, turning to look at him, “Hm, yes, I better get to work. I have to get everything done by the time exhibit opens in an hour and fifteen minutes time. I’ll see you later?” she asked, looking back up from her watch.
“Of course my lady, you may need saving from another possible coffee spill burn,” Dominic winked as he gave a little bow and continued down the stairs and out of sight.
Mia smiled to herself, finally pulling her eyes from where Dominic had disappeared. She reached he desk, putting down her coffee and pulling out items from her bag - phone, notepad, lipbalm. Just as she was about to put her bag down under her desk, she noticed the ring in the bottom. Pulling it out, she placed it on her desk as well. She didn’t know why she wanted it sitting on her desk, but it felt right.
As someone’s watch beeped that it was 8o’clock, Mia finally sat down , ready to start working. Jonathon hadn’t arrived yet, but she knew he would be angry with her if she didn’t get the videos finished by the time he arrived. As she waited for her computer to start up, she began playing with the ring. In the week the she had owned it, she hadn’t worn it once. As she entered her password with her left hand, she put the ring on her right ring finer.
Suddenly, everything went black.
With her heart pounding in her chest, and a strange feeling in the put of her stomach, Mia opened her eyes. She had not idea what had just happened, and was even more shocked and confused by what she saw.
She was no longer sitting at her desk at the museum, but was sitting at a table in the dingy corner of what seemed like a pub. She looked around the room, trying to figure out if she was dreaming or not.
The room was very dim, candles placed around the room providing the only light. She noticed that while there were a few windows around the walls, they were covered in either a thick layer of grime, were boarded up, or had boxes stacked in front of them. The only other source of light came from the door when it opened.
Everyone in the pub looked very unusual to Mia. They were dressed in very dirty clothes that resembled rags, and their faces were covered in dirt. Only a few looked a little bit more respectable, wearing doublets and tights.
As Mia looked around the room, she glances down at the table where she sat and noticed her own clothing. She was no longer wearing her black skinny jeans and cream blouse, but a raggedy cream dress, and from the feel of it, a corset. Beginning to panic, she closed her eyes and took three deep breaths.
It didn’t help. She opened her eyes to the same dingy pub scene.
“Okay Mia, you’re just dreaming. You didn’t sleep well last night and you’ve nodded off at your desk. You’ve been spending so much time with the Medieval exhibit that you’re just having a very vivid medieval dream.” She whispered to herself, trying to clam down.
As she continued to scan the room, hoping she’d wake up soon, three large men wearing armour came into the pub. They scanned by pub, their eyes landing on Mia. She froze. They made their way around the tables towards Mia, the room going silent as everyone else in the pub turned to see what was happening.
“M’lady, come with us. Now.” Said the first man sternly.
Mia didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t move and she couldn’t speak. Her eyes fixed on the three men standing over her. She just could just make out her blurry reflection in their shiny armour.
“I said, come with us,” He said more forcibly as the other two men grabbed her arms and forces her up, “The mayor doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
Everyone in the pub continued to stare in awe, a few people brave enough to whisper to each other.
The guards pushed her through the tables and out the door. Everything outside was blindingly bright compared to the inside of the pub and Mia struggled to adjust her eyes to the light. The dimness of the pub made her forget that it was daytime. When she could finally see, she looked around. They stood in a small square with a fountain in the middle. Around the square were several building that looked like workshops. Across from the pub was a food market, sacks of grain and potatoes sitting beside the door. To her left was a potters and her right what looked like a clothing shop, only it looked more like it was selling rags.
“Come on love, we don’t have time for you to buy a pretty dress.” Said one of the guards, giving her a shove.
They walked out of the square and along a narrow path which opened up onto and even bigger square. This one was bordered by a large building, as well as another pub, although this one looked a lot more respectable than the one she had just come from. In the middle of the square was a large wooden pole surrounded by stacks of logs and sticks.
The guards led her into the large building, which she now assumed was where the mayor was. A few moments later, after they had walked down several corridors and up a flight of narrow stairs, they arrived at a grand elm door with a large bronze knocker. The first solider, who seemed to be the one in charge, knocked in three times. From inside the room, they heard a man’s voice.
The doors opened, and the guards pushed Mia inside, finally releasing her. “The woman, my lord,” said the first guard, giving a small bow.”
Mia looked up to see a man, not much older than her, standing in front of large window that looked down onto the square. He had his back turned to them, and the light silhouetted him against the window, but Mia could just make out that he was wearing a brown doublet and black tights. The tights seem to emphasise his calves.
“Thank you Henry. You may leave us now.” Said the man, waving his hand.
As the door closed behind Mia, she grew even more nervous than she already was, which was something she didn’t think possible. She gazed around the room, taking in the large desk by the window, one wall covered with a floor to ceiling bookshelf, and deer antlers mounted on the other wall. She began fidgeting with her fingers, turning the ring around her finger.
“I suppose you are wondering why you are here,” said the man finally, still looking out the window.
“I… well… um… yes…” she stammered, wondering why his voice sounded so familiar.
He turned around to face her, and Mia thought she was going to faint in shock. She would recognise those electric blue eyes anywhere.
It was Dominic.