First Look: Book 3 of the Mason Timeline Trilogy
This is the prologue and first chapter of the final installment of the Mason Timeline Trilogy. Premium subscribers will read new chapters as they become available and receive the complete ebook when it’s finished, before it becomes available on Amazon
September 16, 2073
Shannan Fitzroy stared down at her wrists, the metal handcuffs shining brightly against the brown and purple bruises on the skin beneath. Even as she studiously avoided his gaze, she could feel the man across the table staring at her, his breathing becoming louder as the seconds ticked on.
The man in his early fifties sitting in the steel chair opposite her was not a policeman and had no interest in the Constitution of the United States or any rights the now-unfashionable document granted her.
I am an American citizen on U.S. soil. The CIA has no authority to question me, she had said.
That hadn’t gone over well at all. And now here she was.
Since the moment she’d stepped onto the platform to travel back in time, her life had been one long series of men strapping her down on one surface or another.
First, it had been an old friend taping her to a chair and injecting her with truth serum. Tell me what you know.
She hadn’t told him anything, but only because some other man had come in to save her.
Next had come her forced fiance who had pinned her to a table and made a doctor cut a device out of her arm. Never tell anyone what you know.
And she hadn’t, but only because there was no one to tell. No one who wasn’t neck-deep in the same conspiracy.
And now, at the end of all things, it had come to this. A stranger wearing intentionally nondescript clothing handcuffing her to a table and demanding that she tell him ‘everything.’ As if she was stupid enough to answer a question that vague.
“I don’t think you appreciate the situation you’re in, Miss Fitzroy. It doesn’t matter that you’re Kathleen Mulligan’s granddaughter. You are charged with Temporal Sabotage. That means you don’t get an attorney. You don’t get a jury. You will not be going home on bail. The only way out of this room is through me.”
The man remained perfectly still as he spoke, staring at her like she was the foulest person who had ever walked the face of the earth.
Everything about him—his posture, the look on his face, the way he kept his voice low and even—all spoke of a man who was comfortable with violence.
Just like Julio.
Swallowing the sudden knot forming in her throat, she raised her eyes, looking past her interrogator at the wall of mirrors behind him, flinching slightly at the sight of her own reflection.
Her face, her neck, and her arms still bore the bruises and scars from everything that had come before. Her pretty dress was ripped… and both sleeves were stained with long-dried blood.
Even to the casual observer, it should be obvious the blood wasn’t hers. Though it was unlikely the man sitting across from her was impressed by her newfound propensity for violence.
But she’d seen him look down at her hands, watched as his demeanor changed slightly when he’d taken stock of the smeared, caked remnants of the last man who thought he was in control of her.
She had watched him realize that the girl he read about in whatever file he’d been handed was very different than the woman who sat across from him now. As little as a week ago, she would have been exactly the fragile, trembling little girl he would have wanted—the one Julio had molded her to be. But that girl was gone now.
The man’s eyebrow raised, just a little—an acknowledgment that she wasn’t inclined to tell him what he wanted to know.
Which meant the questioning would be far less civil from here on out.
December 1, 2073
There were few things as distasteful as protesters at a funeral, at least as far as Vicente Guerrero was concerned. There was a time not too long ago when every single one of the profanity-shrieking, placard-holding middle-aged losers surrounding his bus would have been billy-clubbed in the head and dragged off to jail. Or the hospital. A damn shame those days were over.
Sitting on a shuttle bus with a bunch of other civil servants wasn’t where he wanted to be this morning. But, like all the other attendees, he had no choice in the matter. When the world’s first time traveler dies just shy of her ninetieth birthday, the funeral must be a national spectacle. Even if it meant conscripting federal employees to fill out the guest list.