Dark Stars (Dark Stars #3) - Danielle Rollins Page 0,1

Chronology Protection Agency, trying to steal the secrets of time travel out from under their noses. It made sense that Zora didn’t trust her.

But it still hurt like hell.

Dorothy swallowed, shifting her attention back to the boat. Her throat was dry, and she could hardly hear anything over the steady beat of her heart at her temples. The boat rocked gently in the waves, and Dorothy softened her knees and leaned forward slightly, to keep from losing her balance. It was an automatic reflex, picked up after spending the last year in this watery city.

There was a spray of blood over the worn wood, a black scuff that could have come from a boot. It looked exactly as someone would expect it to look after two people had a brief confrontation and one of them had been stabbed and thrown overboard. Dorothy wasn’t a detective, but even she had to admit that this was all rather damning.

She released a heavy sigh, tears clogging up her throat. The note in her hands felt suddenly hot, like it could burn straight through her skin, and there was a part of her that wanted to throw it into the water and watch it sink, ink bleeding until it looked like nothing at all. None of this made sense. It was like a riddle without any answer, and yet Dorothy kept staring at the scene, hoping that something would jump out at her, tell her what had really happened.

She couldn’t have done this. She was being set up, somehow, made to take the fall for someone else’s crime. But who could possibly benefit from that? And why?

Her boot knocked against something hard, which skittered across the bottom of the ship. Dorothy frowned and crouched lower.

It was a gun. And not just any gun. Ash’s gun, the navy-issued snub-nosed S & W revolver he’d brought into the future with him from his original timeline—1946. Dorothy had known him only to be without it when Roman had stolen it from him.

She picked the gun up, her throat constricting. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that Zora was staring at it, her lips slightly parted. Emotion flashed across her face—pain, confusion, fear—gone a moment later.

“That . . . ,” Zora said, in a croak of a voice, and Dorothy knew they were both thinking the same thing: Ash wouldn’t have left his gun behind voluntarily.

A light appeared in the darkness, a small circle bobbing over the waves. A headlight, Dorothy thought, frowning. Or else a spotlight attached to a boat.

Another appeared, and then two more.

Five. A dozen.

Blast, Dorothy thought. Every nerve in her body sparked. The lights glimmered in and out of focus as they passed behind distant trees and wove around buildings. They seemed far away, but the flatness of the water caused sound to carry in strange waves. Dorothy heard voices now, laughing and talking as clearly as if they were right beside her. A series of sharp cracks broke through the night.

Gunshots. She stiffened, fear crawling up her spine.

“The Black Cirkus,” she murmured, glancing at Zora. “They’ll be here in minutes.”

“They must’ve followed me,” said Zora, her voice so low that Dorothy almost didn’t hear her. Her dark eyes shone in the light coming off the anil.

“They’re looking for Ash,” Dorothy added. “Before you came for me, Mac put a bounty on his head. Every Cirkus Freak in the city will be wanting to bring him in.” She didn’t say dead or alive, but she didn’t have to.

Zora lifted an eyebrow, questioning. There was more to that story, of course, but there wasn’t time for Dorothy to get to it just now. What happened in the future, with Roman, was still too raw for her to think about without risking tears, and she’d be damned if she was going to cry in front of Zora.

She lowered Ash’s gun so it wouldn’t be perceived as a threat and forced herself to meet Zora’s dark eyes.

“Take me with you, and I’ll tell you everything I know,” she said.

Another gunshot exploded in the night. Zora flinched. She looked at Dorothy again, and Dorothy could see the struggle playing out on her face. Zora didn’t want to trust her but, just now, she didn’t have much of a choice.

“Fine,” Zora said, after a long moment. “We can’t be found out here, anyway.” She twisted the handle of her Jet Ski, and the engine growled to life. “Get on.”

Dorothy tucked Ash’s gun inside of her cloak and climbed onto