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5.

Lilah and Annelise found their own way out, and found Rob just outside the open main gate. “Robert,” said Lilah, “anything happen while we were inside hobnobbing?”

“Well,” said Rob, “these cliff swallows have the most amazing mud nests just under the overhang here, it’s really something to watch them fly in and out.”

“Ready for something more exciting?” she asked, leading the other two down from the castle toward the orchard, traipsing across the snowy fields in a sudden break of afternoon sun.

“Should we wait till after dark?” asked Rob.

“What are they going to do, lock us up for time traveling in the snow?”

“Maybe it’s illegal in the daylight,” said Annelise. “But wait. Could you possibly explain what’s going on here first? Don’t you think it might be better if we actually knew?”

Lilah didn’t answer right away. In a minute they were striding among the apple trees. A pace ahead of the others, Lilah stopped and turned to face them. They stopped, and she still didn’t say anything yet, nor did they. Lilah was thinking of Garik again.

She had never been in love with Garik. She had never slept with Garik, nor with Neal, nor with Inez or Gregoria or her old aristo boss. She had, however, learned to depend on Garik, more than many women can depend on their lovers, their husbands, way more than Lilah Bay could ever depend on Elio Estrazy. And she had, she was sure, kept Garik, in particular, apprised of everything she knew or guessed about whatever clandestine skulduggery they were combatting (or engaging in).

And evidently, at the last, her willingness to keep Garik informed had not saved him. Possibly it had doomed him. And she looked at Annelise and Rob and she could not help wonder if she was leading them down the same path. Or perhaps her shyness about informing them was just her way of dealing with her sense of guilt, with her remorse at surviving when such good people had died.

But then Elio had had something to do with that last mission, that second job, Lilah couldn’t exactly remember what. And here he was again.

“So?” asked Annelise, wearing a look that Garik could never have managed.

“So,” said Lilah. “You know there’s more than one Andre. And there’s more than one Lucy. But there is more than one Henry. And this one, you might call him Henry 3, he’s actually the only one I know of who you can get a hold of easily.”

“And he’s not guilty of anything, right?”

“He’s not guilty of anything I’m aware of,” said Lilah. “He might be cheating on Lucy with his grad student there, but I doubt it.”

“But we’re looking for some other Henry?” asked Rob. “And it’s harder? How is it harder? The box ought to be able to take us to any Henry in any time stream. Isn’t that true?”

“It’s true,” said Lilah. “It doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

Annelise and Rob exchanged looks. “Okay,” said Annelise, “why wouldn’t it be easy?”

“Because,” Lilah replied with disgust, “of something about worms.”

They exchanged another round of looks, there in the sunny, snowy orchard. Annelise and Rob both raised their eyebrows. “Okay, then, fine,” said Annelise. “I’m ready.”

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