New York City - Present Day
Etta Spencer is ready to debut as a concert soloist with the New York Philharmonic is in a month. Almost eighteen, her debut was delayed until she overcame her stage fright but her instructor Alice has continued putting it off. They have planned a soft opening at a private fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her mother Rose works. She has devoted her life to playing the violin, including breaking up with her boyfriend to have more time to practice. Etta is literally friendless. Before she can take the stage, Etta overhears Rose and Alice arguing. Alice wants to once again delay Etta’s debut while Rose doesn’t. Bursting in, Etta stands up for herself and decides that she is tired of waiting and will play that night. Backstage, Etta doesn’t have time to warm up with the museum’s Stradivarius. Heading out onto the stage, she begins to play. As Etta plays, she hears a background noise that starts off as a murmur but instantly explodes into screams. She begins to falter her notes and wonders why no one is stopping her or seems to hear the horrible feedback. Etta didn’t realized that she has stopped until the woman in charge, Gail, comes out onto stage to ask if she is okay. She mumbles something about feedback but Gail remarks that there was none. She helps her off the stage and offers to get her some water. Another performer that night, Sophia, steps out of the green room and takes Etta from Gail. Etta tells Sophia that she is fine but Sophia disagrees. She says that she hears the noise too. Knowing now that she isn’t suffering from a recurrence of stage fright, Etta allows Sophia to drag her through the museum towards the sound. Even through the feedback, the two stop when they hear the deafening gunshot. Etta sees the blood before she notices the the crumpled body with a shock of white hair. Etta screams as she makes her way to Alice. Barely alive, Etta presses against the wound. Three men in tuxedos make there way towards them as Etta shouts for someone to call 911. She feels a slight touch on her hand and looks down at Alice. Alice’s eyes are shut as she says “...the old...familiar places...run…” She takes one last shallow breath before becoming still. Etta begins screaming as arms come around her, dragging her to her feet. Sophia is yelling in her ear that they have to go. They enter a brightly lit stairwell that Etta has to shield her eyes from. Here, the feedback/humming seems to be moving with the shimmering air at the stairwell landing. Sophia shoves Etta through the opening with a “sorry about this”. Etta realizes what is happening before she disappears from the museum. Etta awakes later but she is unsure exactly how much time has passed. She finds herself in what seems to be a wooden bunk bed with the smell of fish in the air. Coming to, she sees that her dress has been changed and a girl is sitting in the corner. It is Sophia from the museum. She is adamant that the two of them need to stay where they are. She panics, finds the door latch and opens it, only to be meet with by a thick cloud of smoke. Etta tries to feel her way forward when her foot catches on something and she falls. It is a man and she begins to apologize. Etta then sees the blood, gathers up her skirts and makes her way towards the source of light above her.
The Atlantic 1776
Etta takes a look at her surroundings, she slowly figures out that she isn’t in New York or present day. The older of the two men in front of her reassures her not to be afraid. Looking at the younger one, she realizes that he is the one who pulled her out of the water. Etta asks them if they are pirates. Captain Hall tells her that they are scoundrels, legal pirates, and explains that her ship has been captured by them and will be taken back to the United States. They introduce themselves as Captain Nathaniel Hall and Nicholas Carter. Before she can fully reply, they hear Sophia calling for Henrietta. She corrects her by introducing herself as Etta Spencer. Sophia comes running to them. Confused by what’s going on, with one look at Sophia, Etta knows not to say anything. Captain Hall asks for Sophia’s name and she says, “Sophia Iron---erm, Spencer” and Etta is her sister. Nicholas gives her a wry smile and remarks that he sees the resemblance. Etta catches Sophia’s face when she notices Nicholas for the first time. Captain Hall asks the surgeon’s mate for the name of the ship they just captured. The Ardent, he replies. Sophia asks where Captain Millbrook is. The surgeon’s mate states that he was killed and Hall remarks that it seems Nicholas’ job just became easier. Looking at Etta, Nicholas asks if they would like to be escorted back to their cabin and Sophia immediately answers yes. Down below, Nicholas tells them where they can and cannot go. It doesn’t take long before Nicholas and Sophia are trading barbs. Soon, Etta realizes Sophia and Nicholas know one another. She asks if he playing servant today and he retorts by stating that she knew her ship would be intercepted. Etta is floored. Sophia says that grandfather must be getting senile if he was trusting him. Nichols fired back that he must be desperate to be using her. He is charged with taking her to New York. To avoid questions, their acquaintance shouldn't be known by the other men on the ship. Sophia asks what the others would think if they knew the truth. Nicholas lashes out and tells Miss Ironwood that she can trash him all that she wants but she will live to regret it if she threatens his livelihood. Etta takes note of the exchange.
Alone with Sophia, Etta demands some answers. Sophia in turn warns her to be careful what she does and says. Trading off questions, Sophia tells her that she has the ability to travel through time, just like her family and a few others. Etta’s world begins to unravel as she finds out that her mother is quite infamous over her disappearance. She also doesn't know about Sophia's grandfather, Cyrus Ironwood. She furthers explains the schematics of traveling. At the end, Sophia tells Etta that until they arrive in New York, she doesn't need to draw any attention to herself. Etta isn't ready for Sophia to tell her what she will or will not do.
Why did Etta’s mother keep her in the dark about their ability to travel? What does Cyrus Ironwood want to find Etta’s mother? What was Alice's role? Who is the Ironwood family? How do Sophia and Nicholas know one another? Why was Nichols tasked with bringing the two girls to New York? How is Nicholas connected to the Ironwoods? Can Etta find a way back to present day? What happens when Etta ignores Sophia's directive to stay “hidden” until they reach New York?
Book two in the Passenger series, Wayfarer, is due out in 2017.