Lonely American Robyne Arthur, a special needs bus driver, pops into an alternate universe where it is always 1862 London. There she meets the intimidating Edward, Earl of Chester, and falls in love with him and the needy children of the realm. Can she find a place for herself in Victoriana?
The bell above the door rang as another customer entered. The open door let the wind in, and a rush of evergreen-scented air wafted over Robyne. She closed her eyes, breathing in the energizing scent of Christmas.
When she looked again, she saw a Christmas cracker on the shelf below the teacups. Perfect! All you had to do with a cracker was pull the ends apart, and then you got a satisfying boom and the toys or other goodies tucked inside. Please let there be more than one.
The light didn't reach into the lower shelves very well. Robyne thought she felt the shiny paper of additional crackers as she reached down. Her hand only grasped one dusty object. She blew on it, and a spray of dust filled the air. When the dust settled, it revealed a surprisingly ornate multi-color design of red, yellow and blue.
She blew again. This time the central image on the cracker was revealed, a charming little world. Giving it an experimental shake, she was disappointed when nothing rattled inside. Maybe it wasn't any good, or had something boring like a paper hat in it?
Trying to think of other gift ideas, she tugged absently at the two ends of the item in her hands. Boom! A large explosion knocked Robyne backwards, and the world around her dimmed.