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Her eyelids fluttered as she collapsed onto her back again. Her hair, darker now that it was wet, clung to the curve of her skull. The sailors seemed to step in as one, leaning forward to peer down at her, and were rewarded with a wide-eyed gaze as pale blue as the sky above them.

“Um,” she said hoarsely. “Hi?”

THERE WASN’T A PART OF Etta that didn’t feel raw and battered; the aching inside her skull did nothing to dampen the rank smell of blood and body odor, and something else that almost smelled like fireworks.

Looking from face to face—the knit caps, a crooked and fraying wig, a few wet eyes discreetly wiped against shoulders—her mind began the work of piecing it all together as if she were sight-reading a new piece of music. The notes became measures, and the measures phrases, until finally the whole melody drifted through her.

She was not in the museum. So, obviously, the rescue workers must have carried her out into the street, away from that strange explosion of noise and light. Her skin, hair, and dress were drenched through and through, because—because of the building’s sprinklers, right?

And the costumes…maybe there had been some kind of play going on in a nearby building and they’d rushed out to help? Etta wasn’t sure—what did firemen actually wear under their uniforms? No, Etta, she thought, they don’t wear loose white shirts, or buckle shoes, or hats straight out of Masterpiece Theatre. So…a play. Theatrical production. They’d either been caught in the explosion…attack, whatever it had been, or had some very authentic makeup.

Mom? She tried to get her mouth around the word, but her throat felt like it had been scraped with a razor. Alice. Alice had been shot—Alice was—she was—


That couldn’t be right. That made no sense.

She brought a trembling hand up to rub the crustiness from her eyes, soothe the burn building behind her lashes. The sky was spread so wide over her, without a single building to block the view. Were they in the park? The smoke was still so overpowering, she couldn’t pick up the familiar blend of the city’s exhaust and the rancid-sweet smell of its festering garbage. No siren, no alarms, just…the creak of wood. The slap of water.

The bob and roll of the ground beneath her.

You’re not in the Met.

Etta shook her head, trying to clear the thought, fight the panic.

You’re not in New York.

She was confused by scenes she had imagined—the cramped room, the body, all the blood, the ear-splitting crack, falling—

“Ma’am,” said a gravelly voice. “Good afternoon.”

Etta craned her neck around, eyes watering against the harsh glare of sunlight. She couldn’t see anything beyond a ring of bedraggled faces until two tall figures pushed to the front of the group. One, the older, middle-aged man, wore an olive-colored coat. His red hair, streaked with threads of white, was tied back at the base of his neck. He smiled, revealing mostly yellow teeth. Something glinted in his eyes as he turned to look at the younger man next to him.

He was tall, even next to the giant beside him, his stance strong against the slight heave of the deck. He gave a little bow, his face disappearing—but Etta had seen it, and just that once was enough to lock it into her memory. The red-haired man’s skin was pink across the bridge of his nose and cheeks, clearly sunburned and chapped, and the younger one’s skin was a deep, sun-kissed brown. The overall effect was like he’d been lit inside by the warm glow of firelight.

From farther away, his face had struck Etta as being hard, impassive, cut from stone. In the instant before he straightened, though, the full weight of his gaze settled on her and she had a moment to study him, too—to see the small scars on the high planes of his cheekbones, the nicks and stubble on his square jaw, the evidence of a well-worn life. A ghost of a smile.

Etta realized, an awkward two seconds too late, that they were all waiting for some kind of response.

“Um,” she managed to get out. “Hi?”

Some of the men shuffled, looking pleased. More looked confused.

“High?” one of them repeated, casting his gaze toward the sky.

Etta worked herself up onto her elbows, returning their startled looks with one of her own. Did all of them have this accent—vaguely British? The flow and curl of their words made her own sound harsh and grating.

Old-fashioned clothes. Old-fashioned accents. Old-fashioned ship?

Etta struggled to sit, and the men’s attention shifted—from her face, down to—she sucked in a sharp, whistling breath, throwing her arms around herself. The gown was sliced down the center, and as the wet, heavy fabric dried, it was losing its cling.

The younger man tossed her a navy-blue coat. The wool rasped against her cold skin, and Etta had to fight the urge to bury her face in it, to disappear. It smelled the way she imagined the man would, like sweat, cedar, alcohol, and the sea itself.

“Madam, are you well?”

The young man sitting a short distance away from her was so slight, so unimposing compared to the others, that he’d simply faded into the background. He lifted his chin to peer at her through the round, almost laughably small wire glasses perched on his nose. The front of his odd pants were soaking wet, as were his knee-high socks and buckle shoes, and Etta had the faint, horrifying notion that she might have thrown up on him when she’d come to.

The young man’s face steeled under her scrutiny; one small hand came up to stroke at the white cloth elaborately tied at his throat, the other to pat down his hair. Those were clean hands—perfectly manicured, which seemed at odds with the fact that they were on…on…