Page 97

“Bring a coin.…” she muttered. Of course—you brought coins to fountains to make a wish. “I think you’re right.”

She pulled the harmonica out of the bag again with her free hand and brought it to her lips. Her shoulders locked as she braced herself for the deafening ripple of noise to wash over them.

“Wait,” he said before she could blow into it, his hand closing over her wrist. “Etta, I need to tell you something—”

The sudden crack of the passage sent them both to their feet. The harmonica skidded to the edge of the water, forcing Etta to dive in order to save it. Nicholas’s arm lashed out as she started to rise, keeping her down as he craned his neck around.

“I didn’t—” she started to say. I didn’t play the chord. But if the passage was letting out its usual blistering cry, then—

Two figures stepped out from behind the fountain, dropping bags and shrugging out of black tuxedo jackets. One, a tall chestnut-haired man, clawed at the bow tie around his neck, laughing deeply at something the shorter, blond young man beside him was saying. Both were handsome, and there was something familiar about them—Etta couldn’t place it, not until the one with dark hair looked up, and his icy blue gaze fixed on her.

In that moment, she wasn’t sure who was more shocked: Nicholas, who sucked in a sharp, alarmed breath; her, as she realized that this man had the same eyes as Cyrus; or the man himself, as he went chalk white and called out, “Rose?”

Nicholas hauled her up from the ground and said a single word: “Run.”

Nicholas’s longer legs ate up the ground with ease, forcing her to double her speed just to keep up with him. The men and women taking in the sunset scattered.

“Rose!” the man shouted. “Rose!”

“Damn it all,” Nicholas swore.

The gunshot sent the Parisians scattering in every direction like a colorful array of feathers. Another shot rang out, blistering the skin of the tree beside Nicholas and sending down a shower of leaves and bark.

Before she could think about why it was a bad idea, Etta reached across Nicholas into the leather bag. She closed her fingers around the handle of the gun and whipped it out. The back of the gun’s body had a kind of hook—Her thumb caught it, pulled it back, and with the slightest pressure on the trigger, a bullet exploded from the gun.

The reverberation shot up through her bones; her eardrums winced at the deafening sound. But it had the desired effect. The travelers broke off from behind them.

“Bloody hell!” Nicholas swore, spinning to look at her. “You liked that, didn’t you?”

She shrugged. Maybe a little. Enough to want to try again, and actually aim this time. Wisdom, however, prevailed, and she surrendered the gun to the more experienced marksman as they ran.

Nicholas led them across the garden’s green lawn and through the trees, until they were outside of the park and darting across the street. He followed the curve of the road, shouldering through startled onlookers, and ducked into a tight alley. When he crouched down behind some stacked crates, she followed, her chest burning so fiercely she was afraid she’d be sick.

“Bloody hell,” he said again, shaking harder than before as he touched a cut on his shoulder. Had the bullet actually grazed him?

“Who?” she panted, leaning forward, trying to see around the crates.

Nicholas leaned his head back against the dank stone wall behind them. “My father. Augustus Ironwood.”

Etta had suspected—she’d seen those eyes and recognized the look of Cyrus, his nose, his brows, on the younger man. But more than that, she’d seen the flash of anguish cut across his face as he’d called her by her mother’s name.

“Are you all right?” she asked, touching his arm.

“Not the first time that man’s nearly killed me,” he said offhandedly, “but hopefully it will be the last. Christ, I didn’t think I’d ever see him again. Bloody time travel, bloody—”

Oh my God—Etta thought she’d understood this before—that, even after a traveler died, there was still the chance of bumping into them again at some point in history. Each passage was fixed to a specific year and location, but not a date. What were the chances that they’d managed to land on the exact time that a past version of his father had decided to show up?

“The irony of seeing him…” Nicholas shook his head, accepting her touch as she ran the backs of her fingers down his face. He caught them, twining them between his own. His gaze was on the opposite wall, but she saw the emotions storming within him.

Why would her mother hide the astrolabe in a place where the Ironwoods clearly had access to the passage?

Because she hadn’t.

When Etta closed her eyes, thought of the wall of paintings, traced the line of her mother’s stories to the last one she could remember, it brought her here; it was about her being accepted at the Sorbonne for art history. That was the last piece on the wall.


Etta sat up so suddenly that Nicholas turned to her, worry etched on his face. The painting of Luxembourg Garden wasn’t the last one on the wall—or at least her mother had told her she was planning to switch it out, for—for that new painting, the one she had done of the desert in Syria. She had told Etta she was going to replace it. She had woven in that story about the earrings, the market in Damascus, the woman who had sold them to her. And, as Etta was discovering, her mother apparently wasn’t the type to do something for no reason.