Chapter no 76

Quantum Radio

When Ty woke, the morning sun was shining through the stateroom window like a bomb blast, achingly bright against his eyes, even through the sheer curtain. Nora’s arm was draped across his chest, her soft skin warm against his, her gentle exhales blowing against his ear.

Ty didn’t remember going to sleep the night before. But he remembered the words he had said. And what Nora had said. And what it meant.

He felt his heart beating faster as he replayed the conversation in his mind.

Nora stirred, as if the increase in his breathing was a wake-up alarm for her.

The night before, they hadn’t discussed her sleeping in his room. They hadn’t discussed sleep at all. Somewhere in the conversation, one of them had slipped off to sleep, possibly him, possibly her—he couldn’t exactly remember.

It was as if a haze surrounded the night. On the other side was this perfect, light-drenched moment when she opened her eyes and stared at him, and a smile formed on her lips. It was the most beautiful thing he had seen in a very long time.

She didn’t say a thing. Neither did he.

They lay there, listening to the wind roll over the airship and the engines hum.

She moved first, dragging her arm over him, her hand pausing on his chest to give him a light pat before she rose and turned.

“Hungry?” she asked.

“Yeah. I can get up and bring food back if you want to stay.”

“No. I’m up. I want to change clothes and check on Kato and Maria.”

When they had both changed out of the clothes they had slept in, they stood outside Kato’s door, Ty knocking. After the third attempt, he turned

the handle and they ventured in. Kato was gone.

They checked the dining compartment then, but neither Kato nor Maria was there.

At Maria’s door, Ty heard laughter. When he knocked, she yelled, “Yeah!”

He pushed the door open and stared in awe at the long-haired man standing next to Maria. It actually took Ty a few seconds to fully realize that it was Kato. The transformation was that drastic.

“She’s good,” Kato said, smiling.

Maria was beaming, clearly proud of her work—and perhaps to have had something to do, to take her mind off the demons she was running from.

Ty thought then that there was something magical about this voyage in the sky, that it was like a sort of crucible in which the hard elements of their team were melting together, becoming more than they were alone. And he thought, some of what was burning away in that crucible was the poison of the past each of them hadn’t been able to rid themselves of alone.

“I want to be next,” Nora said.

Ty stepped toward the door. “I’ll bring breakfast.”


By dinnertime, Maria had perfected their disguises.

Ty and Nora once again dined at the small table by the window while Kato and Maria remained in their staterooms.

After the meal, he ordered the deck of cards and offered to deal, but Nora simply smiled.

“Let’s play in the room.”

Almost against his will, he read more into it. He wanted to think she was feeling the same thing he was. But still he wondered—until she took his hand as they walked out of the dining compartment. He was sure of it then.

Inside his stateroom, he set the deck of cards on the small table by the window, but Nora didn’t sit down. She stood there, staring at him, a knowing smile on her face, as though she had just learned a secret, one so juicy she knew it wouldn’t keep.

Ty stepped toward her.

She didn’t move. Only stared.

He took another step. Her smile grew.

He leaned in.

She closed her eyes and his lips touched hers, and he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in tight. Ty felt as though time itself stopped and the whole world exploded.

The moment he’d activated the quantum radio had nothing on what he felt right then.

He didn’t know how long the kiss lasted. A second. An hour. A year. It was as though time and space had been obliterated, as though they had slipped into a pocket universe where only the two of them existed. In that kiss was seventeen years of longing and unfulfilled love, things left unfinished and things he’d never thought would be possible again.

When it ended, his chest was heaving. Hers was too.

He swallowed, fear now mounting inside of him. Instinct and pure desire had brought him here, but now his rational mind fought him.

“We shouldn’t,” he whispered.

Nora sighed. “No, we shouldn’t. I’m your doctor. And us being together will complicate the mission. It’s irresponsible.”


“You’re right,” Nora said. “We really shouldn’t.”

She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, and Ty felt his body going nearly numb. Nora brought a hand to the back of his head and ran her fingers through his hair, gentle at first, then digging her nails into his scalp and pulling as their tongues met.

They only broke the kiss to take a breath.

“Nora,” Ty said, gasping, “I want to, but—”

“No buts.” Her eyes twinkled in the soft yellow light. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, Ty. That is probably the only thing I know for sure. For us, it could end in Argentina. Or in Peenemünde. Or a million other ways. But we have here and now, on this ship, in this room.” She swallowed hard. “I’ve missed you. I’ve regretted what happened. I shut you out then because I couldn’t deal with what happened to me, and I was scared I would drag you down too, and I didn’t even know who I was anymore.”

His heart was beating fast as he processed the words, listening, hanging on every one.

“I know who I am now, Ty. And I know my life is changing again. I’m scared, just like back then, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I’m not going to make the same mistake I did before. I’m not going to shut you out this time. Because I think we’re stronger together.”

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