Dad nodded.

“There you go. Plus, I think that if his balls are big enough for him to show up at work tomorrow after he blew his cover tonight, he might be more of an asset than either one of us expects. Am I right?”


“I’d prefer not to hear you talk about his … balls.” Dad winced as he said it. “But you’re right. If he comes back, I’ll send him with you on the hotel job.”

“Thanks, Dad. And no more balls. Swear.”

“Go,” he said, pointing at the door.

But he was smiling.


Exercise had become a thing.

Since I’d discovered the Infinityglass was human, I’d read and reread every piece of information I could understand. I’d sorted it all into neat lists, spreadsheets, and folders on my desktop. I’d stared at it for so long I didn’t know what it said anymore.

Until I walked away.

The pounding of my feet on the pavement, the clanking of free weights landing in the rack, the swooshing sound of the elliptical—all of them made my mental calculations and deductions clearer. Connections flowed as freely as sweat, and the million-piece puzzle I had to solve became manageable.

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My phone rang as I was leaving the apartment to go down to the gym.

“Dune! What’s up?” It was Michael, returning my call. I didn’t waste time on pleasantries.

“There’s some weird stuff happening here, and I wanted to see if you were experiencing it in Ivy Springs, too.” I opted for the stairs instead of the elevator. “Have you guys noticed changes with the rips since I left?”

“They’re more complex. Bigger.” He was quiet for a few seconds. “I feel like the tear in time used to bleed like a paper cut, and now we’re at full hemorrhage. What about there?”

“Same. But …” I paused, tried to figure out how to phrase my next question. “Have any of the rips tried to take over?”

“Take over how?” He sounded as grave as I felt.

“People. Possession.”

He proceeded to say more curse words in fifteen seconds than I’d heard him say in the past five years. “What the hell happened?”

“It was Hallie. I’ve never seen anything like it or read anything about it. Her face, her voice took on different characteristics. The rip … moved in.” I stopped walking and lowered my voice. “She relived a murder.”

“You need to tell Liam.”

“Not yet. Give me a couple of days. It could’ve been a fluke thing or an Infinityglass-specific thing, and I want to know for sure.” I started back down the stairs. “Let’s see if it happens to anyone else first.”

“I defer to your wisdom,” Michael said. “But you know I’m a phone call away.”

“Ditto, brother.”

I hung up and pushed open the door to the gym to find Poe climbing off the treadmill. There was a towel hanging over the security camera.

“How’s the rehab going?” I asked.

“Slow.” He pulled another towel off the stand beside the water dispenser and wiped his face. “Want to spot me?”

I laughed. “You want to pop your stitches?”

“I’ll spot you instead.” Poe pointed to the weight stack as I got into position on the bench. “Four hundred?”

“Three.” Silently, I hoped that much wouldn’t kill me.

He loaded three forty-five pound weights on each side. Three-fifteen, including the bar. I was going to end up with a hernia.

“When I choke to death on this bar and you have to spot me, how is that going to help your liver heal?” I asked.

“It won’t. So don’t drop the weight.”

The first five were easy. The next four were brutal. Poe almost had to spot me on ten, and by the time I lowered the bar, my arms felt like stretched-out gummy bears.

“I need to talk to you about Hallie,” I said, sitting up.

“Upstairs. I need a fix.” He grabbed the towel covering the camera as he teleported out, and I took the normal route to the apartment, using the elevator this time. I found him in the kitchen digging a giant box of Popsicles out of the freezer. “You want?”

“I’m good,” I said, leaning back against the counter as he took out four and put the rest away. “Hungry?”

“I’m trying to come off the pain meds. I feed my sugar addiction instead. What’s up?”

Now that I’d broached the subject, I hesitated. I knew there had been something between Hallie and him once, but I also sensed that the friendship that replaced it was stronger.

“It was a simple question.” Poe pulled a Popsicle from a wrapper. Grape. He bit off the end. “Don’t blow a brain gasket.”

“I’m just standing here trying to figure out if I can trust you.”

“I know where you sleep. If I wanted to cause you harm, it would already be a reality, yeah?”

“Glad you’ve thought about it.”

Poe smiled.

“Okay,” I conceded. “Something happened last night. I blew my cover. She figured out I work for the Hourglass, or that I used to, anyway.”

“She’s too smart for her own good.” He slid the wrapper off another Popsicle. “Then what?”

I told him how the ripple had absorbed Hallie and taken her over, the way the veil seemed to zip closed behind her.

“Damn it.” Poe slammed his fist down onto the counter. “I should never have agreed not to call her, but I wanted to keep her out of it. Was she okay?”

“Yeah, she was. Shaken, but okay.”

“I need to help.” The pleading in his eyes was honest.

“I don’t know.…”

“Please. I have to do something. I’ve watched every episode of Doctor Who. Ever. Exhausted every series of everything I can find online. My next stop is reality TV, and, Dune, I just can’t go there. We’re talking about Hallie. She’s my best friend.”

“I’ve spent so much time with the Skroll that I don’t know what’s up or down anymore.” I put one arm behind my head and stretched out my biceps, then moved to my triceps, watching him. And then I relented. “Ever since that night, I’ve thought about giving you a crack at it.”

“Are you serious?”

“As serious as a heart attack.”

“I’ve only read the Skroll once. I’d be happy to get another shot at it, especially the newly translated stuff.”

“I thought you couldn’t get it open,” I said.

“Sure I could. I just didn’t tell Teague. At least I was coherent enough to know not to trust her with that.”

“Most of the information I have is inherited from my dad. Stuff he gathered for years.”

“It’s different from what’s on the Skroll?”

“Parts of it, yes.”

“Well,” Poe drawled, “are you going to tell me what you want me to look for, or are you going to make me guess?”

“How about we start with an explanation for the possession?”

“I can do that.” He ate the last bit of Popsicle and returned the others to the freezer. “I guess that means you’re trusting me, then?”

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