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If he heard her, Nicholas didn’t acknowledge it. He turned his face up to the rain for a moment, then continued forward in silence.

“I should have saved him,” he said after a long while. “When I came back to find that you’d gone…it brought me back to that moment on the mountain. It…gripped me and wouldn’t let me go, even after I saw that you were all right.”

A panic attack? she wondered. Or an echo of a terrible memory. That would explain the overreaction.

“All that’s left in the end is the certainty that I can’t protect you from every small thing, and it’s difficult to accept,” he said. “But I am truly very sorry for the things I said.”

“It drives me crazy to be treated like a child,” she told him. “I know that wasn’t your intention, and I know things are different in your time, but almost nothing gets my temper going faster.”

He nodded. “I know. It was irrational.”

Etta shrugged. “I’m no stranger to irrational thoughts, believe me. I spent the better half of my life secretly convinced I was a mistake my mom regretted bringing into the world, and that’s why she was so distant. Hardhearted and impossible to please. But I know it’s not true—when I was younger, she was…very different. And she’s given me everything I’ve ever needed.” Except, of course, for the truth about traveling. Etta looked over at him, meeting Nicholas’s gaze. “I’ve never told anyone that before. I’m not sure I’ve even let myself put that feeling into words before, even in my own head.”

“And now that you know the truth—” he began.

Etta, who had been navigating through pockets of sinking mud and rivulets of water, caught a flash of bright color out of the corner of her eye. Without warning, she crouched and tugged him down with her.

Nicholas landed on his knees with a surprised grunt. Etta’s attention sharpened, focusing on a point in front of them, as she rose slightly to peer over the brush. They’d been walking along the edge of the moat, following the walls of the city the best they could, even as the jungle did such an excellent job of disguising it. But now Etta caught a flash of something new. She leaned forward, parting the tangle of leaves and limbs in front of her: ochre cloth. Movement.


It took her a moment to place what she was looking at. In her time, Buddhist monks wore brightly colored robes that ranged in color from saffron to a kind of burnt tangerine. These were a duller yellow, stained with splatters of mud; they clung to the men as they took shelter beneath the looming gate on the opposite end of a crumbling bridge.

“I suppose that’s the gate with the bridge you spoke of,” he said, close to her ear.

She nodded. It seemed to be the only one with a pathway across the moat that was still standing, but even it looked like it was slowly being pulled apart by the jungle.

The monks seemed to be discussing what to do. One of them waved his hands toward the jungle, where they were hiding, and Etta and Nicholas flattened against the ground.

“We can’t just…go, can we?” she whispered.

He raised his brows. “Do either of us look like we might reasonably belong here? That there’s a logical explanation for our presence?”

Okay, fair point. If time traveling was the art of blending in, she supposed it might be a little difficult to explain their appearance and clothing in the jungles of Cambodia.

“We aren’t traveling with a guardian who can explain away our presence,” Nicholas continued, his voice low, “and if they record seeing us, and that record survives…”

It would change history. A small ripple, maybe, but…Etta wasn’t willing to risk either of their futures.

She couldn’t say how long they waited—long enough that, as she leaned against Nicholas, pressing a cheek against his bare shoulder, she started to nod off. It was the sound of voices that pulled her out of her exhausted haze. The warm, solid weight next to her shoulder slipped away as Nicholas sat up. He tracked their progress as the monks left the shelter of the gate and made their way out onto the bridge.

Etta rubbed her face, listening to their quiet murmuring and their footsteps through the damp, sucking jungle. She watched them until they found some sort of path and the foliage swallowed them up. There had been ten in all. Nicholas waited a few moments to see if more were leaving the confines of the city, trailing after the first group. When he seemed sure there were not, he helped her up. Etta put some weight on her aching leg.

“It’s all right,” she promised when he cut a sharp, worried glance toward her. She could handle it.

“Your mother must truly be a fearsome creature,” he informed her, taking her arm to help her over a felled tree, and then keeping it in his. “A revolution, a world war, a remote jungle—I’m almost afraid of what’s next.”

“Paris,” Etta breathed out. She could see the painting of the Luxembourg Garden so clearly, could practically smell the sweetness of the grass, the trees, the endless flowerbeds. After the rain, the jungle had taken on a stronger smell of rot. With the cover of clouds, night was creeping in early, spreading its fingers over the skies, deepening the gloom. What was her mother’s—or her family’s—connection to this place?

“Good God. Let me guess: the French Revolution? The Reign of Terror?” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m not quite sure I’m willing to lose my head in this search.”