November 22, 1774, Savannah, Georgia
Leslie Acker looked at the letter in her hands and tried to squelch an excited scream. “Mother, look who wrote to me!” she cried, rushing into her house, nearly knocking Deborah Acker over.
“Leslie, slow down! There’s no need for all this nonsense,” Mrs. Acker scolded.
“Yes, Mother,” Leslie managed to look sorry for a few minutes, but could not keep her eagerness in check. “Look! I got a letter from Amanda!”
“Did you now? Well, open it up and read it!” Deborah Acker was not by nature a patient person.
Leslie eagerly tore into the letter from her sister-in-law and scanned it. “Um, she says hello and everyone’s well . . . and she’s pregnant! She wants me to help with Sophie for a while.”
“Hmm, I don’t know if your father will allow that. England is too far away for a girl of your age to be traveling to, not to mention the trouble that the British officials are causing for us with all these taxes and acts. Why, it’s enough to make one want to be free of the English!” Mrs. Acker said, shaking her head.
Leslie rolled her eyes. “Mother, I’m almost eighteen, nearly an adult, and I’m not involved in the conflict between England and the colonies. I have little concern on those trifling matters. Can’t I have a little more freedom?”
“We shall see. It is your father’s decision, not mine. And this conflict is not as trifling as you may think, my dear. Mark my words, nothing good is going to come out of all this” Mrs. Acker sighed. “Now, busy yourself with your homework while I prepare supper for your father.”
Leslie climbed the stairs to her room and sank onto her bed. Glancing at her journal on the nightstand beside her, she feverishly began her homework.
Leslie would’ve been surprised if she had known that 235 years later and 140 miles away, that seemingly insignificant book would radically change someone’s life.
June 11, 2010, Jacksonville, Florida
Chloe Smith slammed her door and threw herself on the bed. “I hate you!” she screamed at the door. Angrily wiping away tears, she thought about the argument with her adopted mom.
Why won’t she let me do anything? I’m 17 and I can make my own choices! Chloe sighed. She knew her adopted parents loved her, but it wasn’t the same as having a real mom and dad. They did their best, but Chloe didn’t understand why her birth parents had abandoned her in the first place. Was she that unlovable?
Shaking away her thoughts, she slid off her bed and cracked open the door. She scanned the hallway and not seeing her older sister, Jessica, dashed to the stairs leading up to the attic.
Chloe made her way through the maze of boxes cluttering the floor and perched on the window seat that overlooked the beach. She knew everything about the old, stuffy attic, and it was her favorite spot in the whole house. She loved the disorder of the attic, the privacy it gave her. The cobwebs swaying in the breeze from the open window and the dim light dancing on the walls both intrigued and comforted her.
Her eyes roved over the many boxes in the floor, all labeled.
Mom and Dad’s Winter Clothes, Jessica’s Elementary and Middle School Yearbooks, Chloe’s Old Summer Clothes . . . and so on and so on.
She spotted the shelves on the walls, on which sat her old dolls, her favorite books as a child, and the trophies and awards from school. This aged, dilapidated attic held countless memories for her and she cherished each one.
Spotting the scrapbook she had been given by her first foster parents, she stacked some boxes to try and reach it. Her parents had left it with her when they abandoned her in front of a police station in Savannah, Georgia, and it contained baby pictures of her and pictures of her with her parents. The scrapbook was her most prized possession.
Unfortunately, the boxes she used were not very strong, and they shook precariously as she reached out for the scrapbook. She had just grabbed it when the boxes gave out. She fell to the floor on her back, hitting her head against the wall behind her.
Chloe wiggled around, making sure she was okay. Satisfied that all was well, she sat up. Five feet away, sitting by a bookshelf, she spied a plastic red storage container that she had never seen before.
Curious, Chloe went over to it and took a double take. Written on the side in black Sharpie was one word.
Carefully, she sat down, opened the container, and looked at the contents. She pulled out a beautiful flowing silk dress that looked like it was from some royal court. She brought it to her cheek, marveling at its softness and rich turquoise color. Returning to her search, she brought out an old dusty Bible. She wiped away the dust and read aloud the message written in swirling script on the inside of the front cover.
“My dearest Leslie,
For your birthday, I’m giving you your own copy of the Bible. Read it, treasure it, and store it in your heart. God has great plans for my sweet girl, and I pray that you will follow His will for you. Always keep Him first; that’s the only way you will have a truly blessed and fruitful life. I love you so much, my little Leslie. Words cannot describe how proud your mother and I are of you, sweetheart. Always remember the words of Isaiah 40:30-31, ‘Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.’
All my love,
Chloe closed the Bible and set it aside with the dress. She would look it over in more detail later. Digging around in the box, she pulled out the last item: a dog eared, leather bound book that was yellowing with age.
The sudden shout startled her.
“Chloe, where are you? It’s time to eat!”
Jessica’s call came again, spurring Chloe into action. She couldn’t let her sister see what she had found. Carefully placing the things back into the box, Chloe retrieved her scrapbook and tucked the box under her arm. As she tucked it away in her closet, she decided she would tell no one about her find in the attic.
She made her way downstairs to the dining room, wondering who this Leslie Acker was, and promising herself she would figure out the meaning of the unexplainable box and its contents.
April 28, 1775, London, England
Leslie marveled at the beauty around her. London was certainly not as she had expected it! She still could not believe that her parents had actually given her permission to come. She hadn’t even been in England for two hours, and she was already falling in love with it.
Glancing around the harbor, she looked for a quiet place to sit while she awaited her brother. As she searched, she felt someone watching her and spotted a man in his mid-thirties staring at her. Uncomfortable under his piercing gaze, she avoided his eyes.
She had just spied a quaint little bench under a tree a few feet from the bustling deck when someone roughly grabbed her elbow.
She spun around, parasol at the ready to be used as a weapon. A young man stood there, probably her age or a little older. Tightening his grip on her arm, he commenced to drag her through the crowd.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Unhand me this instant!”
The man grinned and stopped.
“Why, what on earth were you thinking? A gentleman doesn’t handle a lady like that! You should be ashamed of yourself,” Leslie glowered at him.
“Les, is that you?”
Leslie turned around. Standing in front of her was a tall man with black hair and twinkling blue eyes.
“Logan!” she cried, rushing into his arms.
He hugged her, then pulled back and assessed the situation before him. “Now, what’s going on here, sis? I see you have met Carter.”
Leslie gaped at Logan. “You mean . . . you know this scoundrel?”
“Yes, he helps me in my business. Why?”
“He grabbed me and drug me through the crowd. He treated me very roughly and I do not appreciate that at all!”
Logan looked startled than laughed. “Why don’t we let Carter explain himself, Les,” he said, nodding at Carter.
“I’m sorry, it’s just I saw you, and you looked so pretty and nervous and so much like Logan that I knew you were his sister who was coming to help Amanda. I wanted to get you away from the bustling disarray so that you could get to Logan and Amanda faster. Unfortunately, I forget myself sometimes. I truly am sorry,” Carter ended his tirade, his face turning a faint pink.
“It’s quite alright; I’m just not used to that. Anyway, who are you?”
“Carter Gainsay, Amanda’s brother.”
Leslie looked at Logan. “Oh, I didn’t know Amanda had a brother.” She gave Logan a look that told him they would talk later.
“Well we wanted you to meet him before we mentioned him. Now, why don’t we go see Amanda? She’s been so excited that you agreed to come.”
Leslie smiled and made small talk with Logan and Carter, the earlier incident forgotten. But as they made their way toward Logan’s waiting carriage, Leslie looked up and saw that same man watching her. Shivering, she climbed into the carriage, hopeful that she wouldn’t ever see him again.
Late that night, Chloe fell into bed, exhausted. She closed her eyes and settled back to sleep. All of a sudden, she remembered Leslie Acker. Wide awake, she scrambled out of bed, grabbed the box and spread its contents on her bed.
She caressed the cover of the dog-eared book, careful not to tear it. Opening to the first page, she began to read . . .
January 4, 1774
It’s already the start of a new year. Mother and Papa gave me this beautiful book to write in when I’m happy, sad, excited, mad, and all those other feelings that make me want to go crazy. I’m a very emotional person. Anyway, Logan and his wife, Amanda, are moving to England!! I can’t believe it! I am so jealous. I wish I could go too; it’s so boring in Savannah. Well, Mother’s calling for me. Until later,
So this was Leslie Acker’s journal . . . Chloe could hardly believe it. She couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of this girl. She started to read the next page, but was startled by a noise outside her door.
Her door opened, revealing her mother. . .