“I don’t want anything.” She bit her lower lip as she stared at my hands. “From anyone. I can handle situations by myself. Usually. This … this is … different.”

I reached out farther. “It’s five minutes of assistance, just enough to get you to your room.”


“My room, huh? Are you trying to get another flash?”

“Not tonight. I won’t make any promises about tomorrow.” I smiled, and watched as the teasing softened her. When she smiled back, my heart gave an extra kick in my chest.

Hallie took my hands and I helped her stand. She held on tight, and when we reached her house, she stopped at the side entrance.

“I’ll take it from here,” she said. “Carl’s on duty, and he won’t rat me out or ask any questions. Thanks for getting me home.”

“So, tomorrow. Do you want me to come back, or are you planning to … what was it? Put my man berries in a vise and hand me over to your dad?”

Her laugh was soft, her eyes curious. We looked at each other, and in that long moment, we came to an understanding.

“Yes,” she said. “Come back tomorrow.”

Chapter 7


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Dad’s bedroom door was open.

“You did it,” I said from the hall, “again.”

Even though it was almost midnight, he still had on his tie. His holster and gun sat on the top of his dresser. I knew the safety was on. For the millionth time, I started to wonder what drove him to constantly arm himself inside his own home, but stopped.

The answer was my mother.

He gestured me inside. “I did what again?”

I’d showered and changed. My knees were completely healed, but my legs still felt wobbly. From my fall. Not from nerves.

I sat down in the armchair by the window. Bulletproof glass, of course. “You brought somebody in to handle business you should’ve taken care of yourself.”

He didn’t look at me, just loosened his tie.

“Dune knows I’m the Infinityglass. So do you.”

Now Dad spun around to face me head-on. “He told you that?”

“No, Daddy,” I said softly. “Mom did.”

Sadness came into him slowly, pulling down his shoulders and the corners of his mouth. I hated to watch him carry regret for her choices. She’d thrown us off so carelessly, and he’d tried to make up for her absence. He’d really tried.

I wanted to spare him any more pain, but I wanted the truth, too. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Dad turned his back, took off his belt, and untucked his shirt. “I don’t know enough. Definitely not the kind of answers you’re going to want. When did your mother tell you?”

“She called and offered to help, all motherly-like. It was the same day you told me about Poe being in the hospital. About his betrayal with her.”

He grimaced. “We must have been on her mind.”

“There’s a first time for everything.” I focused on some loose threads at the bottom of my Lady Gaga T-shirt.

“Poe … I might have been too harsh. I don’t know if he knew what he was doing when he helped your mother.”

“He’s been in the hospital, but he hasn’t even called. That’s a pretty good sign he’s hiding something.”

Dad just frowned.

“How did you find out about the Infinityglass and … me?”

He picked up his ever-present glass of Maker’s Mark. “Gerald Turner. He’d been doing some research, and he found some things.”

Gerald Turner had been my godfather, and a professor at Bennett University in Memphis. He’d also been murdered in October. “What kinds of things?”

“Clues that the Infinityglass was human, and that the specific gene for it is dormant.” Dad frowned and fiddled with the top button of his dress shirt. He wasn’t a fiddler. “For the Infinityglass gene to become—activated, for lack of a better word—he or she had to come into contact with something that triggered a genetic response, a stressor that kicked that specific gene into overdrive.”

“Dr. Turner just called you, out of the blue, to talk about the Infinityglass? And Mom called me to talk about it, too. He lived in Memphis; Mom’s been operating out of Memphis. That’s not a coincidence at all.”

“Neither was the timing of his death.”

The implications weighed heavily on me, and from the lines on Dad’s face, he felt them, too.

“Gerald and I talked about Liam Ballard and the Hourglass. He believed they were trustworthy. Then Liam confirmed Gerald’s claims that you were the Infinityglass. I guess your mother telling you reinforces it again.”

“And then you hired the Hourglass, and they sent you Dune.”

“He’s gone.” When Dad set his jaw, I knew I was in for a fight. “He wasn’t supposed to tell you anything. He broke our agreement.”

“Dad, you can’t. Things happened to us that blew his cover. It’s not like he just started spewing information.”

“Intentional or not, he still broke our agreement.”

“Our only other option for answers is Mom,” I argued. “Dune has information that you want and I need. He said he was working for you instead of Hourglass now.”

“He was supposed to be, but I’m not sure he’s competent.”

I thought about the way Dune had reacted so calmly to the rip, my sudden face change, and the possession. A lesser man would have pissed himself and then run like hell. Not only had he stuck, he’d helped me get home without making me feel needy.

And he really did have the sweetest eyes I’d ever seen. He smiled with his eyes as much as he blinked. He was solid. It was a gut feeling, and I always went with my gut feelings.

“He is.” I surprised myself with my own vehemence. “If you don’t believe it, give him a job to do, let him prove himself. He pulls it off; your faith is restored. Even better, give him a job that stretches him a little. One that requires him to put his Goody Two-shoes morality aside.”

“You’re talking about the Bourbon Orleans job.”

“Since Poe’s out of the picture, you don’t have anyone else to do it, and if I recall, the finder’s fee was hefty. It would be a shame to cancel it now.” I leaned over and gave him big, innocent eyes. “He won’t have to do much, and I’ll be perfectly safe. You did hire him to be a bodyguard.”

“He wasn’t supposed to ever leave the house with you.”

“He found me in the Quarter and brought me home, didn’t he?” I felt a twinge of guilt that I hadn’t given Dad the whole story about what happened outside Lafitte’s, but deciding what information to share and what to withhold from him was a constant struggle. It sucked to need leverage with your own father, but it was what it was.

“You drive a hard bargain, kid.” He shook his head. “You did learn from the best.”

“So you aren’t going to fire him?”

My father considered me for a long moment. “Why does this matter so much to you?”

“We’ve been walking around for days keeping a secret from each other that basically everyone knows. I’m the Infinityglass. Besides my waste-of-space mother, he’s my best chance for finding out exactly what that means. That’s why you hired him in the first place, right? Because he’s supposed to know the most?”

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