“Liam’s getting ready to get on the plane for Nashville, so I’ll go ahead and call.” Flimsy excuse. I stepped out to the hall and dialed.

“You found Poe, I assume?” Liam asked, in lieu of saying hello.


“Maybe you could’ve warned me?” I paced back and forth. “Why is he in my apartment?”

“You’re in his. When I visited Poe in the hospital at Vanderbilt, I asked a lot of questions, and he gave a lot of answers. The right answers.”

I stopped, watching the arrows on the wall light up as the elevators traveled from floor to floor. “I know he saved Em’s and Michael’s lives, but he’s done some pretty damn questionable things, too, Liam.”

“Here are the basics. Poe can give you details. When he helped Teague, he truly believed he was working for Chronos. She lied to him, and Jack manipulated his memories. When he discovered the truth and confronted them, Jack stabbed him. He ignored his injuries to save Em and Michael, and showed up on the front lawn of the Hourglass.”

“Okay.” An acknowledgment that I heard him, not that I understood.

“Your being in the apartment will help hide the fact he’s there, as an excuse for lights and sounds and motion. He’ll help you in any way he can, and you just have to believe me when I tell you that he’s trustworthy.”

“Okay,” I repeated.

“I need a more coherent answer than that, Dune.”

I heard the last call for the Nashville flight come over the airport loudspeaker and through the phone. “Okay is kind of all I’ve got at the moment.”

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“They’re boarding my plane. Talk to Poe. Call me in a couple of hours if you want confirmation. All right?”

“All right.”

Liam laughed. “At least it’s not okay.”

I stepped back into the apartment and looked at Poe. “So … hi.”


“I’m sorry to crash, and thanks for the room. I wouldn’t like recovering with someone new in my apartment.”

“I wouldn’t like moving into my new apartment and finding a roommate. You’re providing a cover for me.” Poe shrugged. “How about we’re just mutually appreciative?”

I nodded and grabbed my bags.

Poe pointed to the left. “Your room is that way.”

A light blue quilt covered the queen-sized bed. A walnut dresser stood against one wall, a matching desk on the other. I put my suitcases on the bed and wondered how much Chronos paid per job. How could one guy afford a two-bedroom in one of the nicest apartment buildings in the Garden District? Poe was nineteen, and he was living large. Really, really large.

I checked out the rest of the place. Hardwood floors linked a large living area with a kitchen. The walls were a soft yellow, and the furniture was low and modern, all in neutral colors. It smelled like laundry detergent and fabric softener. The spice rack was organized alphabetically. The canisters on the counter were arranged largest to smallest. A dishcloth and towel were both folded in exact thirds.

I went back into the living area. “You either have a maid, or you’re OCD.”

“Hope that’s not a problem.”

“So not a problem.” I thrived on order. The pool house I’d been living in with Michael and Nate had been nice, but obviously overrun by teenage boys for a few years. This place made me feel like an adult.

“Thanks for keeping me off the streets.” He readjusted his position on the couch pillows. “You interviewed with Paul today. And you start tomorrow?”


“I’m lucky he believed me and grateful to Liam for helping Paul understand that Teague and Jack tricked me. Paul Girard isn’t the kind of guy you want on your bad side. Same goes for his daughter. And, by the way, Hallie doesn’t know I’m back. We should probably keep it that way for a little while.”

“You two were friends?”

“We still are, I hope. The hardest thing about all of this has been not being able to talk to her.”

“Why can’t you?”

“The less she knows, the safer she is. Teague has lied about everything. Everything. Your job is getting to the bottom of those lies, and I’ll be happy to help you, if you want it.”

I gazed down on the perfect, streetlamp-lit view of Saint Charles. The trolley whizzed by. My stomach jumped when I thought about meeting Hallie. “What’s she like?”

“Demanding. Occasionally bitchy, but she has good reasons. Just so you’re prepared, she has a way about her.”

“What kind of way?” I asked.

“Sexy.” Satisfaction ghosted across Poe’s face. “Like you’ve never seen.”

“You’re together?”

“Friends. Hallie knows what she wants and how to ask for it. How to get it. I was fun, and that was it. She manages to play, even though she’s basically trapped in that house. There was an accident a few years back. So now she goes on Chronos jobs, and she dances seriously. Otherwise, ivory tower.”

“What about school?”

“Online. College classes. She finished high school at sixteen. She’s a genius.” Poe grinned. “All I can say is good luck.”

A sneaky, sexy genius with a target on her back.

I’d need all the luck I could get.

Chapter 5

Hallie, One Week Later

“I told you, Dad. I don’t need a bodyguard.”

“As I’ve explained several thousand times, you are a minor. You live under my roof. You need what I say you need.”

“He’s creepy.”


“He looks at me.”

“He’s your bodyguard, Hallie. What’s he supposed to look at? He’s staying. I’m your father. What I say goes, and I’m done having this conversation.”

I stepped out of Dad’s office, slammed the door behind me, and turned my anger on the unreasonably hot yet still annoying bodyguard. “You”—I pointed a finger in his face—“are a complete pain in my ass.”

He blinked and looked terrified, which was comforting, considering I was the one he was supposed to be protecting.

“Stay at least ten feet away. And stop looking at me.”

I went through bodyguards the way insolent children went through nannies. It wasn’t that I hated them personally; it was just that I didn’t have anything else to do. It usually took me under a week to sneak out, lose their tail, and get them fired. This one chapped my ass more aggressively than most, because he was inside my house. Outside my room. Constantly around. Always watching. I expected today to be his last.

He followed me through the courtyard into the kitchen after my morning dance class, on my heels like a puppy at dinnertime, sealing his fate. I showered and went down to the kitchen in my robe. My shortest robe. Once I finished my yogurt, I scraped the bottom of the container for the last bite. He watched me walk to the trash can, step on the pedal, and dispose of the plastic.

“Oh.” I tapped the silver spoon against my bottom lip. “Should I recycle?”

The only response was the controlled stare I’d learned to expect.

“Okay, then.” I dropped my utensil in the sink and left the kitchen.

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