Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

Author:Danielle Rollins
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2019-01-06T16:00:00+00:00

22

Ash

Ash was standing in a small boat, easing his weight from leg to leg to keep his balance. Black water lapped at the sides, sending the boat rocking, but Ash moved, easily, with the motion. He’d grown used to the water over the last two years.

Trees seemed to glow in the darkness around him. Ghost trees. Dead trees. Water pressed against their white trunks, moving with the wind.

Ash counted ripples to pass the time while he waited. Seven. Twelve. Twenty-three. He lost track and was about to start again when her light appeared in the distant black. It was small, like the single headlight of a motorcycle, followed by the rumbling sound of an engine. He stood straighter. Part of him hadn’t expected her to come. But of course she would. She always did.

Leave now, he told himself. There was still time. He felt sure that she wouldn’t come after him if he left before she got there. He knew how this night would end if he stayed. He’d seen this exact moment a dozen times. A hundred, if he counted dreams. But he stayed still, his hand clenching and unclenching at his side.

He wanted to see her, even knowing what it meant. He had to see her one last time.

The boat drew closer. She was hidden by the darkness of the night. Ash wouldn’t have known someone was standing there if it hadn’t been for her hair, the long, white strands blowing loose from her coat, dancing in the darkness.

She pulled up next to him and cut the engine.

“I didn’t think you’d come.” Her voice was lower than he’d expected, practically a purr. She reached up, pushed those white strands of hair back under her hood with a flick of her hand.

Ash swallowed. He didn’t see the knife, but he knew she had it. “It doesn’t have to end like this.”

“Of course it does.” Her hand disappeared inside her coat. She leaned forward. “Ash—”

“Ash!”

The voice broke the prememory into a dozen flitting images. Ash straightened, gasping for air like a man drowning. He blinked slowly. The prememory was stronger than it had ever been before. He couldn’t remember where he was, didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing.

White hair dancing in the darkness . . .

. . . It doesn’t have to end like this.

“Wake up!” Zora was clutching his arm, shaking him. He tried to move, but his limbs felt weighted down, like he was sinking through cold water. He could still smell the salty ocean air, the scent of fish rolling in with the fog, the spice-and-flowers scent of the girl’s white hair.

So real. It had been so, so real.

Wind howled against the Star’s walls, making them appear to bulge inward. Ash thought he heard someone scream, but the sound might have come from the visions still flashing through his head.

White hair and black water and dead trees . . .

He held the yoke steady as the entire ship began to shake. The lights went dark.



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