Home > Time's Echo (The Chronos Files #1.5)(4)

Time's Echo (The Chronos Files #1.5)(4)
Rysa Walker

"I can trim the back if you want."

This is a major concession coming from her, since I know she prefers my hair long. But I shake my head.

"No time. Surely the manager will cut some slack for a magician so highly recommended by the Great Houdini? I'll just say this is the style in Europe."

She smiles and walks over to me, taking the comb from my hand. "It's not. I was there three days ago," she says, reaching up to neaten the back. "They're wearing it long on top, short on the bottom, just like all of the guys over here. So boring—no allowance at all for individual taste."

Her bottom lip juts forward in a little pout as I turn toward her. I plant a soft kiss there. "Stay here, Kate. Okay? If you come back upset like last night, I don't want you to be alone."

Tears fill her eyes again. "I'm sorry I was such a mess, Kier. If you'd seen his body, you'd understand. And I could have stopped it. I should have stopped it. I should go back right now and stop it no matter what Katherine says. I'm not bound by stupid CHRONOS regulations and this is just so wrong…"

I wipe a tear away from her cheek and pull her close. "Wait here for me. If you think it will help, I'll go back with you and we'll both talk to Katherine. Or if you really have to go, wait and come back after the audition's over. I shouldn't be later than seven…maybe seven-thirty."

She nods, then picks up my bag from the chair and hands it to me. "No promises except that I'll be here for the next hour so I can free you. If you jump back later than that, you may have to hold the keys in your teeth."

"No, I'll just come back even earlier and unlock them myself."

"Good luck dealing with the headache from juggling two different realities in your mind. Have you tried that?"

"It would still be better than being stuck in four sets of cuffs." Not that I mean it. I'd probably stay in the cuffs until she came back. Jumps are tough enough for me. The fact that Kate avoids encountering previous versions of herself, when everything else about time travel is so damned easy for her, is ample reason for me to steer clear at all costs. And I've seen firsthand what it's done to Prudence.

"I'll be here," Kate says, giving me a final kiss. "Now go or you'll be late. I love you. Break a leg. And don't mention the Scottish play."

I laugh. "Do magicians have the same set of superstitions as theater actors? Maybe I should change my name to the Amazing Macbeth for an added touch of danger?"

"Don't you dare. The Cyrists and CHRONOS have brought us enough bad luck and danger without you inviting extra. And the name has to be Boudini to make sure we piss him off enough to track you down."

As I open the door to the hallway, Kate crawls back into bed, curling herself around my pillow. An unexplained sense of dread washes over me and I'm tempted to stay, but it's probably only stage fright. If you'd told me a week ago I'd be heading to an audition of any sort, I'd have laughed.

The uneasy feeling is still there, but I just blow her a kiss and close the door behind me.


Norumbega Park is busy, even though it's a weekday, and it takes a while for me to work my way through the chaos. It's mostly mums and kids looking for a bit of summer fun. They move at a snail's pace, one kid yanking toward the zoo and another toward the paddle boats on the river or some other attraction.

I grabbed a map of the park at the gates, but I soon realized you don't need a map to locate the Great Steel Theater. It's at the top of a hill, visible from pretty much every vantage point. What was once a modest open-air amphitheater is now a hulking giant with metal curtains that can be yanked down to shield the audience if a storm blows in.

I pull on my coat and hat as I approach the entrance. I was told to be ready to audition at four-thirty, so I'm surprised to see that there's a matinee in progress that won't end until around four. So much for having time to prepare.

The gray-haired woman in the ticket booth doesn't look up from her book until I speak.

"I have an interview with Mr. Ervin Easley. Do you know where I can find him?"

"He's prob'ly in the audience watchin' the show." She runs her tongue over her teeth, then continues. "Unless he's in the back. Or he might have stepped out."

I'm tempted to tell her it would have been a lot quicker to say she didn't know, but I just smile and ask, "What does he look like?"

"Kind of fat, middle-aged." Her nose stays in the book, a dime-novel called Parted by Fate.

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