“I’m an Aquarius.”

He groaned in frustration.


“So you’re here to make a historical note of what?” I shivered, rubbed my arms, and jerked the jacket back out of his hands, shoving my arms into the sleeves.

“I’m not here as a witness. My specialty is in something called the Infinityglass. I used to think it was a what. Now I know it’s a who. And you’re it.”

He looked at me as if he expected a big gasp, or some sort of physical reaction. I didn’t give him one.

“Hold up a second, Hagrid.” Laughter bubbled to the surface again. “If you think you’re here to tell me how special I am, you can stop. I already know.”

“You what? But … how?”

“Did you really think you were springing something on me?” I hugged myself, wrapping his jacket around my body. “That’s cute. Were you going to teach me the ways of the world, Obi-Wan? Did you think you were my only hope?”

I expected him to crumble under the weight of my sarcasm. Instead, he rested his shoulder against the outer wall of Lafitte’s, and looked all sorts of superior. And knowledgeable. “What if I am?”

His confidence carried knowledge instead of swagger. All I had was enough information to be dangerous.

“How much do you know about who you are, Hallie? Because I bet I know more.”

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I shrugged and tried not to look like my next breath depended on hearing what he knew.

“Give me twenty-four hours,” he said. “I promise I can help you.”

“I can’t … I have to think about this.” I turned to head for the gate to the sidewalk.

And faced a ripple.

The man in front of me had lanky brown hair. His clothes were old-fashioned, but dusty, not dirty. Authentic. Real or part of a vision, his eyes were black and devoid of emotion.

“Things are hopping tonight.” I slid my arms out of Dune’s jacket.

Dune grabbed at me. “Wait, Hallie.”

“Just go around it.” I jerked away from Dune, still gripping the jacket, and took one fat step forward. So did the rip.

We became one. The present was lost. The Bourbon Street I knew slipped away. Cars were replaced with horse-drawn buggies, and daylight replaced dark. My body didn’t belong to me. Neither did my mind.

A memory I had no right to tickled the edge of my conscious.

“I’ve done no wrong. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident.”

My voice, but not my voice.

“It was a mistake.”

Suddenly, a man stands across from me, rage touching every one of his features. “You killed her.”

Callused hands scrape the thin skin of my neck.

My skin, but not my skin.

My coat smells of wood smoke, and the breath of the man choking me reeks, moist against my face. I squeeze the man’s wrists so hard I hear bones pop. I am surprised by my strength.

“You’re an abomination,” the attacker accuses.

A kitchen maid. A new one, with a gap between her front teeth. What I’d done wasn’t an accident. The swamp had stunk of rotting fish and algae in the late summer air. I hadn’t even pushed her skirt down before I rolled her into the water.

“I didn’t mean to,” I say inside my head, silently begging, as black dots cloud my vision.

I pushed against the memory, wanting out of the man’s mind. I focused on escape with all I had. We separated with force, and he stumbled into a veil that hung in the air, shining like sunlight on water. It was jagged around the edges, and the inside was nothing but swirling darkness.

The dark disappeared, zipping from top to bottom. It left no suggestion of the incident, with the exception of a faint hint of wood smoke.

I managed to stay upright for five seconds before the ground made a grab for my face.


The rip … absorbed Hallie.

It couldn’t have lasted for more than fifteen seconds, but it felt like an hour. I knew I was looking at Hallie, because her clothes didn’t change. At first, I wondered if it were a transmutation thing, if maybe she were trying to mess with me to make me leave her alone.

But her features rearranged themselves.

A broad forehead and small eyes took over Hallie’s face, unseeing. Thin lips formed words, something about a mistake. At first, anger distorted the expression, but it quickly turned to horror, and then the skin began to turn blue.

I was reaching out for her when Hallie’s facial features became more prominent, and she and the rip separated. She spun around, and almost as if she shoved him, the man fell backward into the veil, shimmering in the air. It zipped shut behind him.

I caught Hallie just before she hit the ground. We were still in the courtyard of Lafitte’s. After a quick check of the windows to search for peering eyes, I scooped her up in my arms and scanned the area for someplace safe. Going back into Lafitte’s wasn’t an option.

“Cab,” she said groggily, pushing herself out of my arms. “Get a cab and take me home.”

I flagged down a cab and helped her in, giving the driver the address to her house. I put my arm around her shoulders and pulled her to my chest. Let the driver think we were making out. He’d seen her. I’m sure he wouldn’t blame me.

“Are you okay?” I whispered into the hair above her ear. “Is there anything I can do?”

She hung on to the front of my shirt and tilted her chin to look up. “No. But thanks for catching me.”

“What did you see?”

“You first. What did you see?”

Her jaw had gone slack, her eyes blank, and her limbs loose. “You were limp, staring out at the dark like you could see something playing out in it.”

Hallie nodded and then shivered. “I could.”

“Your face … it was like you lost yourself for a minute.” I didn’t want to tell her how much her features had changed. “Then you and the guy separated.”

“I did.” A deep wrinkle formed between her brows.

“Then the veil went dark.” Or sewed itself shut. I didn’t want to say it, because it sounded too crazy, and we were running high on crazy already.

She nestled into me and held on tighter. “I became someone else. A man, one who’d done terrible things, and another man was choking me. Then I was me again, and I … pushed.”

“Has anything like that ever happened to you before?”

“No.” I heard fear in her voice. I’d known her for a week, and I was certain Hallie Girard didn’t do fear. “You’re the expert. Can you explain it?” she asked.

“I don’t know the answer.” A primal drive kicked in when I looked into her eyes. “But I will.”

“I believe you.”

We reached her house. I paid the driver and helped her out of her seat. She held on to my arm, just until the cab drove off, and then she pulled away, promptly hitting the sidewalk on her knees.

“Damn!” She went on her palms next, uttering several more curse words.

Hallie prized her independence and I wanted to give it to her, but she was in obvious pain. I dropped to a squat beside her, resting my elbows on my knees, my hands outstretched.

“I’m not leaving you. I can help you get to your house, or at the very least, I can walk behind you. Whatever you want.”

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