The implication that she was the idiot remained unspoken, but I rolled around and got dirty in it, too.

She paused. “It doesn’t have to be this way between us.”


I stared at the dragonfly, still bumping against the glass. You’d think it would’ve given up by now.

“Yes, it does. Maybe you should call Dad. Maybe he’ll accidentally pick up, and you can try to weasel the answer out of him.”

I knew she’d already tried. The Poe information had been offered up to try to grease the wheel, and when she hadn’t gotten anything from Dad, she’d bounced to me. Good thing Dad and I could always see her coming.

“Don’t hang up on me, Hallie.” It was said in a definite “mother” tone.

“You almost sound like you’re pulling the parent discipline card. And I know that didn’t just happen.” My grip on the phone was deathly. I breathed in through my nose, down to my stomach, like Gina taught me. When I exhaled through my mouth, I loosened my fingers. “Can we be done now?”

“Did you tell your father that you were seeing ripples?”

How did she know?

“I’m not a traveler,” I said cautiously. “Why would I see rips?”

“You aren’t the only one. So am I. It’s impacting everyone with the time gene. Poe, too.”

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The mention of Poe sparked my anger, but I didn’t show it. Giving her the satisfaction of knowing how much it bugged me would burn me from the inside out. I wanted to ask her where he was, but held back on that, too. It wasn’t like I could trust her answer, anyway.

“I talked to Amelia and Zooey,” she continued, and I could swear I heard a tinge of smug. “They both tell me the usual rules don’t apply anymore. They used to be able to talk to a rip when they saw one, singular. Now they see multiples, and the rips don’t acknowledge them.”

Someone was going to need to get on the horn and tell A. and Z. to keep their traps shut when it came to my mom.

“Thanks for the info.” If she thought I was giving her anything in exchange, she’d cracked. “I’ll take it under consideration.”

“Seeing rips isn’t all that’s happening to you, is it, Hallie?”

So sly. Trepidation coiled in my gut. “What do you mean?”

She paused for a minute, and I could see her pacing as she considered what to say, looking out a window onto an unknown city.

“Your cells are regenerating faster and faster. All your faculties now operate at optimal performance. You’re getting stronger every day.”

I sniffed. “I hope it’s after five wherever you are, because you sound like you’re three sheets to the wind.”

“You aren’t sleeping. Your mouth can’t keep up with your brain. I can help you, Hallie.” Her voice was soft, but there was nothing gentle about it. “I’m your mother, and you can trust me.”

I bit back a laugh.

“Say the word. All you have to do is say the word and I’ll be there.”

“Here’s a word. Good-bye.”

“Remember the bedtime stories?” she asked before I could hang up.

I stilled, my grip on the phone tightening again. She was persistent. I’d give her that.

“The ones I used to tell you about an object with abilities that couldn’t be imagined. The Infinityglass had power that could change worlds. You used to believe in that power.”

Our bedtime ritual had been my one constant when Mom lived with us. From the time I was a preschooler until I was ten, every night, I had my bath, a cup of chamomile tea, and story time with my mama. Then she left.

To this day, the smell of chamomile gave me a stomachache.

“Turns out it wasn’t an object, Hallie. It was a person. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you? You can feel it.”

“I can’t feel anything.” I meant it, just not in the way she was referring to.

“When you decide you want to know the truth, I’m a phone call away.”

“If I wanted the truth, Mother, I most certainly wouldn’t get it from you.”

I disconnected, and dropped the phone on the red velvet cushion.

Chapter 4


When the cab dropped me off in front of the Georgian Apartments, I asked the driver to double-check we were at the right address. A brown portico extended over the entryway, and deep green ivy covered the entire facade. I stepped onto the sidewalk, finally understanding how huge the southern live oaks were.

What I didn’t understand was how a job as a faux security guard had scored me a place in a swank apartment building like this one.

The lobby was just as impressive, black-and-white-tiled floors, tasteful art, chandeliers that sparkled, and a doorman in a uniform. I walked past him to the manager’s office and found a college-aged girl sitting behind a receptionist desk. “I’m Dune Ta’ala. I’m looking for Jodi.”

“That’s me,” she said brightly, giving me the once-over. “Welcome. Here’s your new resident information. The key card inside will get you to your floor. At some point, I’ll need to make a copy of your driver’s license, but go ahead and get settled first.”

“Thanks.” I took the envelope from her hand, barely brushing her fingers with mine. Her face flushed pink.

“I’ll be happy to take you up if you’d like.”

“I think I can handle it.” I smiled at her. Thought about asking for her number. Probably not a good idea to get involved with someone who had access to your apartment and could see you entering and leaving your building. Or to get involved with anyone at all, considering I came to New Orleans with a job to do.

“Nice to meet you, Jodi.”

“Nice to meet you back.” She giggled a little, and then bit her lip as she forced composure. “The elevator is to your right. The key card inside will—wait. I already said that.”

“No worries,” I said, flashing another smile. “Important information bears repeating.”

“In that case, my name is Jodi. And I’m here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons.”

“Duly noted.”

I left the office, feeling her eyes on me as I went. I entered the elevator, pushed the button for the fourth floor, and put the flirting out of my mind. I stepped out of the elevator and opened the door to 4B.

The apartment wasn’t empty.

“What the hell …”

“Come on in.” Poe Sharpe sat on the couch. “Pardon me if I don’t get up.”

His bloodshot eyes were sunk deep in his pale face. His battered body held a liver that nearly took a nosedive and blood that had once belonged to someone else.

“What are you doing here? I thought you were still in ICU.” I dropped my suitcases beside the door.

“Me being here is part of Paul and Liam’s plan to keep me off Teague’s radar. That’s why they didn’t tell you.” The recently removed breathing tube left his voice scratchy, and fatigue made his accent heavy. “But, please, check with Liam to confirm. I would, if I were in your position.”

I didn’t want to be an asshole and jump for the phone, but I didn’t want to get stabbed in my sleep, either.

“Really, I insist. I’ll be right here. I’ve been a couch potato since I ported in. The recent skewering kind of took it out of me.”

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