Return to Me - By Morgan O'Neill Page 0,2

rushed to his wife, knelt, and cradled her. “Gigi, what is it?”

She murmured, but he couldn’t hear a thing because the place was in an uproar.

“Oh, shit! Medics!” Parker shouted, flapping his arms. “Call the damn medics!”

Gigi opened her eyes and Magnus saw grief and confusion. “What is it, my sweet?”

“The ring. It’s the ring.”

• • •

Chilled despite the hotel room’s warmth, Gigi snuggled next to Magnus and stared at the ring. Victoria. The image of the goddess sparkled, her arm raised in challenge.

Gigi shivered.

“It is a warning,” Magnus said. “Something has happened. My goddess Victoria summons us.”

The words filled her with dread. How could the ring have come back to them? The old witch Randegund had stolen it from her in the fifth century A.D., and that fit with how her grandfather came to find it in 1946, everything coming full circle. Gigi had inherited it and then traveled through time, where she’d found Magnus, its original owner. But the ring was here, again. How? It boggled her mind and didn’t seem to fit, a mystery she couldn’t resolve, so she asked Magnus about it.

He frowned. “I have been thinking about this, too. I believe Victoria broke the bonds of time and sent the ring back to us. We should do a Google search.”

“About what?”

“Placidia. Something has happened to her. I can feel it.”

“Oh, my God.” Gigi rushed off to get her iPad. She’d always meant to look up more about Placidia, but life seemed to get in the way, or … maybe she’d been afraid of this very thing.

She took the iPad from the desk and typed “Galla Placidia,” then scrolled down and read aloud: “Placidia and Athaulf’s son died … Athaulf, King of the Visigoths, murdered … Sergeric seized the kingship … Sergeric’s first act — ”

“No!” Gigi gasped.

Magnus took the iPad. “Merda,” he cursed in Latin.

Tears filled her eyes. “They all died! None of Athaulf’s kids survived, none of those beautiful kids.”

Magnus frowned. “This says Sergeric murdered four of the children, but Athaulf had six by his first wife.”

Gigi felt a strange mix of emotions: hope and fury. “Do you think some survived the murders, or did two die before it happened?”

“I don’t know.” Magnus’s mouth tightened.

Gigi knew what he was going to say next, because it was obvious, and the only possible thing to do. Regardless, she didn’t want to face a future turned on its head, in the past.

He took her in his arms, and she welcomed his strength and resolve.

“We must go back, Gigi.”

“I know.” She snuggled against him. “We have to save all of Athaulf’s children, every one we can, even the son he had with Placidia. We should try to save him, too.”

“If we save any of them, we’d be changing history,” Magnus replied. “Are you willing to risk that? Had the baby survived, he would have inherited both the Visigoth and Roman crowns. Who can say what the other children would have accomplished? And what about all of their descendants, who never existed? Everyone who is alive now would be different. They’d be here and you might not.”

“But … what if we take them, all of them, away with us. Can we bring them here?”

Magnus’s eyes narrowed, considering. “You might have something there. They died in the past, so taking them out of there would not alter history, because either way they’re gone. We would have to explain everything to Athaulf and Placidia, absolutely everything. Do you think they’d ever believe such a story?”

“I don’t know,” Gigi admitted. “But if we’re going back, we have to try.”

• • •

Worried, Gigi stood in the living room of their rented villa in Ravenna, and stared at her dad. Marcel Perrin paced, his back rounded in despair, his hair suddenly so much grayer. Her mom, Susan, looked worn and frazzled, so unlike her normally crisp business persona. Gigi’s heart went out to them, and she hated that she was the cause of their anguish. And yet, despite their pain, they’d insisted on taking care of all the legal work. Now, there was nothing left to do but let her manager, Jack, finish up with the media stuff. He sat at the desk and worked on his laptop, Magnus looking over his shoulder.

Her husband was dressed in his Roman legatus costume, a new Bowie knife sheathed at his waist, and his Visigoth sword by his side. Gigi was ready, too. On the pretext of doing a publicity shoot, she had borrowed a practical traveling