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Cyrus slid a harmonica out of a velvet sack in his satchel. Putting his lips to the mouthpiece, he released a powerful burst of air, playing three simultaneous notes.

Before he’d pulled the harmonica away, Etta heard it—the shuddering, distant scream. She pulled back instinctively, reaching out to grab something, anything, until her hand found the fireplace mantelpiece. The noise pounded like a second heartbeat in her head.

“The passages resonate with the chord of G major,” Cyrus said.

Etta rubbed her forehead, trying to dislodge the knot of pain behind her temple, the blazing wildfire of sound trapped there. The Largo from Sonata no. 3…the one chosen for her…that contained those three notes—G, B, and D—only a few seconds into the piece.

She’d called to the passage with her violin, and it had called back.

“How curious,” Cyrus began. There was a cane leaning against the left arm of the chair, and he took it in hand as he rose to his feet, thudding toward her in three beats of sound. “How very curious that your mother kept this from you.”

“How curious that she ran away from you,” she said sarcastically. “I can’t imagine why.”

His hand lashed out, gripping her chin, stilling her. The pressure of his grip, combined with her own shock, made her arms go limp at her side. He was taller than Etta was, but otherwise built with the solid stockiness of a bulldog—and his quiet cruelty took a very different form when he was towering over her. For a half second, with the fire scorching her back, she honestly thought he’d push her into it.

“Stop this,” Nicholas said sharply, thrusting an arm between them.

A small protest, but it did something. The blue flame of his eyes shifted from Etta to Nicholas, and she felt his hand relax, slide down the length of her neck before settling there like a collar—a noose.

“Your mother ingratiated herself to my family as we searched for an item of value that once belonged to my ancestors. She played the part of the sad, sorry orphan, gathered what information she needed from us, and stole it from under our noses. Decades of searching, wasted.”

I have never stolen anything in my life.

Her mother had only just said those words to her—when Etta had joked about her stealing the earrings. She’d seemed almost devastated by an accusation that hadn’t been an accusation at all.

No matter how bad things got, or how much I wanted something.

Nicholas straightened, his expression sharpening as something came together for him. “You’re speaking of the astrolabe—you mean to imply that Rose Linden is the traveler who stole it?”

“I imply nothing. It is a statement of fact, one you were not privy to in your position.” Cyrus blew a sharp breath out from his nose. “I’d heard various reports of eras and places where she’d hidden it, but it all added up to nothing but further loss.” He turned back to her. “The search to reclaim this object has cost me two sons and a grandson, all three of my direct heirs.”

“Then maybe,” Etta bit out, “you should have stopped looking for it while you were still ahead, and left me out of this!”

He removed his hand from her and pulled it back, as if to strike her. Nicholas stepped farther between them, his shoulder blocking her view of the old man. “Enough. Don’t pretend as if you’ve actually been mourning them. I seem to recall you referring to Julian as a gnat on more than one occasion. You didn’t shed a single tear when he died.”

Something occurred to Etta. If Augustus and Virgil were his sons, and Julian was his grandson…where did Nicholas fit into the family tree?

“Did Sophia search their possessions while she was in that time period?” Nicholas asked. “How do you know it’s not there?”

“Rose knows better than to keep it with her. She will have guaranteed that finding her does not mean finding the astrolabe—she always was a spiteful creature, even after everything I’d done for her,” Cyrus continued. “She claimed it belonged to the Linden family, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

Someone tried to pull a fast one on me once, and I’ve never forgotten what that felt like. I almost lost something of your great-granddad’s.

Etta forced herself to stay as still as possible, terrified of giving these thoughts away, too.

“One of my agents conducted a thorough search of their abode a few months ago,” Cyrus said. “If such a place may even be called that. By his description, it was a closet.”

“Your agent…” Etta felt the blood leave her face, drain slowly from her heart, until it seemed to stop beating all together. “Your agent broke into our apartment and went through our things?”

“And several safe-deposit boxes he traced all over Manhattan. He returned with a peculiar letter that was of great interest to me, and I sent him and the others back to continue their investigation of you.”

A peculiar letter? Etta’s brows furrowed. What did that mean?

The old man continued, “They were to assist Sophia if necessary in prompting your travel, as well as restrain your mother.” He touched his pocket, where he’d returned the photograph of her mom. “They await my command as to what to do with her. Do you understand?”

Etta forced herself to give a curt nod. “What’s so special about this astrolabe that you couldn’t just find yourself another one?”

Etta only knew what an astrolabe was from her many tours through the Met with Alice and Rose. Larger than a compass, the instruments had been used in ancient and medieval times for astronomical, astrological, topographical calculations—even to tell time. The lowermost layer, the one that cupped the smaller round plates that moved inside, was divided into the hours of the days and degrees of arc. The plates were etched with latitudes, altitudes, even parts of the celestial sphere.