She spoke through her teeth. “Who the hell are you?”

“I …”


“I just transmutated.”

When I didn’t react, she huffed in frustration.

“Regenerated, shape-shifted, whatever. Point being, I changed my appearance, and you didn’t freak.” Now she leaned forward. “One more chance. Who. Are. You?”

The music stopped. There was one long beat of complete silence, and the dance music became a lively piano riff.

Behind Hallie, the aged wood of the walls lightened. Lafitte’s used gas lamps instead of electric, but now the scent of grease candles filled the air. The smoke from the wicks grew thicker, heavy in the air.

The building’s structure remained, but the furnishings became more rustic and newer at the same time. Subtle changes—lack of wear and tear on the floors and walls, the clothes people wore. The features of those living in the past blended with those in the present, and neither appeared to notice the other.

I felt as if I’d been on a merry-go-round for too long. I stood perfectly still while the world rushed by, and it left me unsettled.

“It doesn’t know what to pick,” Hallie murmured under her breath. “Past, present, never future. Eeny, meeny, miney, moe.”

Men in loose white shirts with open collars sat along the bar, drinking and laughing. Seconds later, they were college girls with fruity drinks. Then they were both at the same time.

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Hallie’s attention jumped from the rips to me, mistrust immediately marring her features.

“You see them.”

“See who?”

The accusation remained unsaid, but it hung there between us like frozen winter breath.

“Truth. Now.” She leaned forward again, gripping the edge of the table. “Why are you here, and what do you know?”

Chapter 6


He’d gone all college professor–like, with his fingers steepled together. “Bear with me for a second, and give me a chance to help you understand.”

“Understand what?” The piano riff faded, replaced by a low, thrumming bass as things inside the bar returned to normal. “I can barely hear you over Jay-Z. Outside.” I slid off my stool and grabbed my bag.

He took my elbow, and when the crowd got thicker as we approached the side door, he moved his hand to the small of my back. We stepped out into the cold. I shivered before he maneuvered me to stand beside one of the industrial-sized warming lamps.

Thoughtful. Considerate. Tricky.

The bass still thumped through the closed shutters of Lafitte’s, but we were the only people in the courtyard. November wasn’t the best time for outdoors, even as far south as New Orleans.

“All right,” I said. “I’m ready. Shock and awe away.”

“You aren’t taking me seriously.”

“That’s kind of the way I roll, chief.”

“Stop it. This is important.”

His urgency startled me. I flinched when he put his hands on my shoulders. They were big and warm, and covered a lot of bare surface area.

“I’m sorry.” He started to move his hands, but I grabbed his wrists.

“Uh-uh,” I said. “It’s too cold.”

I liked the warmth and the feel of his skin against mine. He slipped his jacket off his shoulders and wrapped it around me.

That’s when I noticed he wasn’t packing heat.

That’s when I got nervous.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“I’m part of your security detail.”

“Security details carry weapons.”

He hedged. “I wasn’t sure of the carrying laws in Louisiana. Not in a bar.”

“Laws don’t matter when you work for Paul Girard. You do what he says.”

“I’m new at the security thing, and if you don’t let me take you home, I’ll never get a chance to be old at it.” His eyes told me he was worried about way more than losing his job.

“I’ll let you take me home.” His look of relief disappeared when I held up my hand. “When you tell me who you are.”

I watched him mentally backpedal, then scramble around for a good answer. It didn’t take too long.

“You were right.” He exhaled deeply, his shoulders slumping. “Your dad told me about your transmutation ability.”

“Smooth. Totally nonobvious subject change.” Maybe I’d been wrong about the smart thing. “Don’t even try to play like that’s all you know.”

“You aren’t the only person in the world with time-related abilities.”

He shouldn’t have seen what we saw inside Lafitte’s. And he shouldn’t know about people with time abilities.

“Do you have your own brand of magical powers?” I fisted my hands on my hips. “Is that why he told you about me?”

“Yes. No.” He ran his hands over his short hair, and then repeated it, like he forgot what it felt like.

“Do you work for Chronos?”

“No, not Chronos.”

He could see ripples. He knew about time-related abilities. Nothing shocked him, even my quick change from one face to another. Then I remembered something Dad said.

“You work for the Hourglass.” I whipped his jacket off my shoulders and shoved it into his chest.

His face and his fumble gave him away. “Wh—what?”

“Please do not irritate me further by acting like you don’t know what I’m talking about. That would be a serious mistake.”

“I used to work for the Hourglass, but now I work for your dad.”

“And they sent you?” I asked. “Were there no competent adults available?”

He stared at me for a long time. “I know more about certain subjects than others. Even competent adults.”

A sneaking suspicion crept its way up my spine. “What kind of subjects?”

“Subjects like you.”

“Right.” I started backing up toward the gate that led out to Bourbon.

“Hallie, wait, please.”

I stopped when I saw his eyes. They couldn’t keep a secret. Honesty shone out from behind them.

“You’re more than you think you are, and your ability is only a symptom of something … greater.” He took a steadying breath. “Something huge. Something that could possibly change the world, even save it. I can help you.”

I laughed. So hard I doubled over.

“I don’t think you’re grasping the magnitude of what I’m trying to tell you,” he said seriously.

“What I will be grasping are your man berries in a vise when I turn you over to my dad.”

“He knows who I am and where I’m from. He hired me to help you.”

“Dad knows who you are?” That straightened me right up. “And he made you my bodyguard? Because you’re really, really crappy at it.”

“I tracked you here, didn’t I?”


“It was his cover for me. And you weren’t supposed to be leaving the house, so I wasn’t supposed to need to be good at it. But I put a GPS in your bag.”

I smacked him with my purse and then held it open. “Get it out. Now.”

After he removed the GPS and slipped it into his pocket, he looked at Lafitte’s, back at me, and then blew out a deep breath. “I’m really kind of like … a historian.”

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