Skye ran down the crowded downtown sidewalk, dodging pedestrians. Ahead on the left, she saw a sign advertising the Pendragon Apparel Shoppe. Knowing the hit man was still behind her, she dashed for it.
She shoved open the door and darted inside. A chime jingled, announcing her arrival. Leaning against the door, she gulped in air to try and catch her breath.
The shop was not a modern one. It was a specialty clothing store with handmade medieval costumes divided by century. A short bald man came from a back room and greeted her with a broad smile. “Good afternoon. How can I help you?” He spoke in a thick British accent.
“Hi,” she said, glancing through door’s window and her heart still fluttering.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” he asked.
“Oh…uh, no, I…I’m just browsing.” Yet she still leaned against the door, her chest heaving.
“You have the loveliest shade of eyes I’ve ever seen. And I have just the gown for you.” He put his hand on a midnight blue dress in velvet and pulled it off the rack, holding it up for her to see. “You would look ravishing in it,” he continued, smiling broadly and hoping for a sale.
She could try it on and hide in one of the dressing rooms until she felt it was safe to leave again. She agreed and the small man showed her to a dressing room. As he closed the door behind her, she took the time bender out of her pocket. She stared at herself in the mirror.
Her sweat-dampened hair was a mess, her mascara smudged. Laying the small gadget on the bench, she stripped down to her bra and panties. Slipping the gown over her head, she let the smooth fabric glide over her body. She had to admit, she liked it. It looked great on her, hugging her every curve and setting off her indigo eyes. But the sight of her worn hiking boots under the hem of the gown was comical.
She picked up the time bender, held it in her hand, turning it up and over and around to examine it again. One side was flat with a small black button. She ran the pad of her thumb over it, felt the indention.
And then she heard a voice outside the dressing room door, an unmistakable baritone that made her blood run cold.
“Get her out of there, now,” Conner Dade’s hit man said.
Oh, shit, Skye thought, and in her fright, she closed her hand reflexively about the time bender. There was a sudden crackle of light and a strange hissing sound and she realized she’d accidentally pushed the black button. Thomas Hardy’s words echoed immediately in her mind:
Trapped forever…lost somewhere in time
and she felt her heart come to a shuddering, horrified halt.