“I need to observe her for a little while. I need time to try to reconcile the differences between what I thought the Infinityglass was and what it truly is and to finish translating and studying all the information on the Skroll.”
“Then we’ll wait until you know something solid. I don’t want to scare her with half-truths.” He stood, and so did Liam and I. “If Liam says you’re my best option, I’ll believe him, because I have every reason to believe in the Hourglass. I know what you stand for and what you do. But if you prove him or me wrong …”
Girard left the threat unspoken.
And somehow that was scarier than if he’d said it aloud.
After the pawnshop job, I told my dad I’d be taking a paid vacation.
I did my normal Rapunzel-in-the-tower thing, with nothing to break it up except dance class three times a week, and I didn’t even leave the house for that. Dad had converted a detached building on our property into my very own studio and hired a private teacher. Things were lonely. Boring.
But not normal.
Something changed the night Poe and I did the job at Skeevy’s. It all started with the jazz funeral in the graveyard.
I’d known the timing was off. No one would be having a funeral at night, and anyway, sunlight surrounded the mourners. The group had entered from the front gate of the cemetery, going right past the waiters and waitresses from Commander’s Palace, but none of the waitstaff had noticed. New Orleans ladies were known for good hats, but the shoes and outfits were wrong. Too many prints. Boxy purses and heels.
Then, the next day from my bedroom window, I saw men putting the finishing touches on the Saint Charles Avenue line, which had already existed for almost two hundred years. Gone were the Mardi Gras beads that usually hung from the electric wires and gone was the grass that lined either side of the rails. I saw freshly turned dirt, and the southern live oaks that lined the street were way smaller than they were supposed to be. The streetcars were new and shiny, standing like soldiers awaiting their chance to serve the city.
The next day, from the kitchen, I’d watched a solid stream of ladies and gentlemen traveling by horse and carriage, going visiting.
I knew what I was seeing, but I didn’t know why.
Years ago, my mom had found a set of twins in the foster care system. She’d hooked them up with a family far out in the bayou. A family that was well compensated and therefore didn’t mind when the twins accidentally shorted out electrical appliances. A family that wasn’t privy to the fact that Amelia and Zooey were time travelers.
Countless things have been lost throughout time. The Titanic sank with untold riches on board. The Amber Room disappeared during World War II. Some of the biggest art heists of all time had yet to yield their spoils. That was how time travelers were useful to Chronos.
When Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, walked away from a suitcase full of his manuscripts at Paris Lyon to buy a bottle of water, Amelia and Zooey popped in. The suitcase was lost to history, but the manuscripts showed up in New Orleans.
A priceless Degas was thought to be lost in a fire, but miraculously appeared in the collection of a certain family that lived on Esplanade.
And so on and so forth.
A time-travel side effect was that Amelia and Zooey saw ripples all the time. Once I made the mistake of telling them I thought it was cool. They started describing them whenever we were together just to get on my nerves. Now people like me, who shouldn’t be able to see rips, could.
The space time continuum was screwed.
The jazz funeral I’d seen progressing toward Lafayette Cemetery was a rip, just like everything else I’d seen from my window. I was crossing the courtyard to go to dance class the first time I saw a rip face-to-face.
She sat perched on a bench in the courtyard, holding a porcelain doll in her tiny hands. It resembled her, with delicate, perfectly even features, and even wore a similar dress, adorned with an abundance of lace. Two guys from Dad’s security detail were standing outside, too. They didn’t see her.
When I walked past, she took no notice, just continued to play with her tiny doppelganger, singing a lullaby in French. Nowhere close to a ghostly specter, she was as solid as the stone patio beneath my feet. I ignored her. I had other things to think about.
Rips like her weren’t my only problem.
As usual, dance was my release. I spent a good two hours pretending everything was normal.
“The fund-raiser showcase for Southern Rep is in March,” Gina, who was my favorite pointe teacher, said at the end of the session. “You’re ready to perform. You barely broke a sweat today.”
“Maybe I’m just dehydrated.”
“You’re strong. You’ve always been able to dance circles around me, but I bet you could cover all the geometric shapes now.”
“You know what they say. Once you hit twenty-one, everything starts going downhill.” I stuck my tongue out at her and escaped into the dressing room before she could push me any further.
She knew I wouldn’t participate in the showcase. All of my teachers had mentioned it, and all of them had been blown off. My dad was too cautious to put me on display.
I untied the ribbons of my pointe shoes and pulled my feet out, preparing to remove layers of lamb’s wool and cotton to see how bad the damage was. I anticipated bloody toes, so I grabbed medical tape and scissors.
I’d ended up dancing because of an injury. Four surgeries and a pin in my shinbone—because I’d healed too fast from a gunshot wound. The doctor ignored the healing rate, probably paid off by my mother, and insisted that I do something physical beyond my three-times-a-week physical therapy. Dance was the answer. A few forced years at a combination tap, jazz, and ballet class as a child had taught me the basics, but rather than send me to a class out in the big bad world post accident, Dad had converted a building on our property and hired private teachers. My jail of a home life might have been all lock-down penitentiary, but at least my prison had a dance studio.
Dancing in the showcase wasn’t my dream, and if I had to put up a fuss, the fuss wouldn’t be for that. Newcomb, Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts, on the other hand, had a dance major. Whatever I decided to do with my life wouldn’t be easy. If I wanted out of the Chronos prison my father had built for me, I’d be in for a fight.
I removed the wrapping from my toes and geared myself up for the damage.
There was nothing there. My toes were whole and perfect, not a scab or a scrape to be seen.
“What the hell?” I stared at the stained wool in my hands and sorted through all the layers before doing the same with the cotton. I’d always healed fast.
But never this fast.
It was in line with everything else that had been wrong lately. I wanted to talk to Poe, and I’d texted, but he wasn’t answering.
I pushed up off the floor and headed for the shower, stripping my arms out of my leotard before I shut the door.
I couldn’t sleep. Or eat. I didn’t need to. My vision had sharpened. The simplest of sounds echoed inside my brain like monosyllabic earworms. When I practiced changing my body, I could hold shapes without tiring. At all. I’d even been able to manipulate my vocal cords.
I stared at my God-given body in the full-length mirror. Hours of dance kept me thin, but I’d finally gotten past the awkward side of it, thanks to muscle tone. Smooth, fair skin, even though there should’ve been scars on my shoulder and my leg. Dark brown hair and hazel eyes, like my mother.