Hallie crossed her arms over her chest. “Any kid with an ability like that would.”

“So, that day, I concentrated a little harder than usual, curling my fingers in toward my body.


“The waves came at me in a rush, so big, filling my mouth, eyes, nose, throat. I remember the way the salt burned. I couldn’t breathe. Everything went black. When I woke up, my mom was on her knees in the sand, holding me. A trail of dead marine life stretched as far as I could see. Fish, with their scales drying up. Bloated jellyfish. A couple of dolphins, a shark. Giants, just … abandoned on the sand.”

Hallie covered her mouth with her hands.

“There were also people. Lifeless bodies, covered with beach towels. I’d created a tidal wave. Even the strongest swimmers hadn’t been able to fight it. Eleven members of my extended family died that day, one to represent each year of my life.” I took a deep breath. Then another. “One of them was my father.”

She stepped out of her room and took my arm. “Sit.”

We sat down with our backs against the wall, shoulders almost touching.

“I haven’t told anyone that story since I first came to the Hourglass.” Liam first, and eventually, Nate. That had been over five years ago. I hadn’t given either one of them details, and I wasn’t sure why I had given them to Hallie now. “I know it was an accident, but sometimes the guilt can sneak up on me. My dad was a great guy. It was a rough loss for everyone.”

“Tell me about him.” She slid her legs out and crossed them at the ankles.

“He worked at Mauna Kea, at one of the big observatories. He was gone a lot. Fascinated by space and its relation to time. He knew about my ability, but never talked to me about it.”

Instead, he wound the truth into fairy tales, as parents do when they believe reality is too frightening or too hard to comprehend. When we’d buried him, I knew the fairy tales he’d spent his life chasing were true. And over.

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“My mom brought me mainland, and then I met Liam. Samoans have a word, fa’a Samoa. It means the ‘Samoan way.’

Families extend beyond blood. I have that with the Hourglass.”

Hallie took my hand in hers, and held it without saying a word. The line between business and friendship blurred. The neck of my T-shirt felt too tight.

“So that’s why I’d choose the mountains.” I cleared my throat. “Because I don’t think I can ever go back to the ocean.”


Controlling tides. Moon phases. The loss of so many people who were important to him. He’d bared his soul, and the way his big shoulders curled over his chest made my heart hurt. I had to take his hand.

And I had to tell him my secret.

“It’s nothing like losing a parent, but my best friend died a few years ago.” The words came out before I could think about them, but they felt right instead of impulsive. “I don’t usually talk about that, either.”

He waited, holding my hand, and keeping those sweet eyes focused on my face.

“His dad was a bodyguard for us. I was still in public school at that point, but Dad had started to rein in nonschool activities. He had a new sense of paranoia that started spilling over into my life. His name was Benny. We’d been arguing, about something stupid like jelly bean flavors, or manga versus anime.”

“That’s what friends do,” Dune said.

Fifteen and sneaky, thinking we could hide in the crowd lining Jackson Square, pretending my father’s reputation didn’t walk in front of me, or that his square jaw didn’t hang all ridiculous on my baby-fat face. Pretending I wasn’t a shiny red target with a wide-open bull’s-eye.

The spires of Saint Louis Cathedral had stretched up toward the clouds like those on Cinderella’s castle. No magic below, though, just busy crowds. Tourists held chicory coffee from Café du Monde in to-go cups; heat met crisp winter air and formed steam. At least there’d been no heat to exacerbate the leftover smells from a Saturday night in the Quarter. I’d tugged at the ends of my much-regretted pixie cut that were sticking out from underneath my skull cap. It had only made my ruler-straight body look more androgynous. Delayed puberty, my nemesis.

“Benny and I met when he came to work with his dad one day. I told him his belly looked like Santa’s, he told me my lips were too big for my head, and I kicked him. We wrestled each other to the ground before the fight was broken up, but my father had seen me laugh. And Benny got to come back. Immediate besties.”

Except for right before the accident, when he’d started doing things like offering up his jacket, letting me go first, opening doors. I thought maybe he was trying to make the move from five years of comfortable friendship into something unknown and scary.

“The shots were so loud. I thought they were fireworks at first. I didn’t understand why anyone would be setting fireworks off in the middle of the day. But it was gunfire.”

Bullets had peppered the wrought iron and the sidewalk, scattered the crowd like jacks. Screams would serve as background noise for every waking moment of my next two years. Benny’s blood would be the backdrop. His blue eyes were open and empty as I lay beside his wasted body, splattered by his blood. It was in that second, before reality and grief rolled in, I decided I’d spend the rest of my life living enough for both of us.

I met Dune’s eyes. “He died right there on Jackson Square.”

“Were you hurt?”

“Took a hit on my shoulder. I didn’t know a bodyguard was tailing us, but he tackled me to get me to the ground, and broke my left leg in three places.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Fifteen.” I shrugged. “That’s when I decided life was short—at least I’m pretty sure mine will be—and that there’s no point in living if you don’t go balls to the wall with it. Hard to do when you’re protected the way I am, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stop. I turn eighteen soon.”

“Will you leave home?” He understood. I could hear it.

“I want to go to school at Tulane, for dance. I understand why Dad wants me here, protected all the time. It was hard on everyone when we lost Benny. If he could just give me a little more lead on my leash … but he won’t.” I met his eyes. “I haven’t decided what to do yet. If one day I’ll change my appearance and run, or if I’ll stay. But honestly, I can’t see the latter as an option.”

“I don’t think anyone would blame you.”

“No running today.” I faced him, trying to lighten things up. If I kept talking, I’d turn my hallway into a confessional and Dune into my priest. “We still have a game to play.”

“Agreed. But I’ll only answer if you promise to keep undergarment preferences out of it.”

He knew exactly how raw I felt, and how telling him so much so fast had surprised me. Instead of taking advantage of it, he helped me steer my emotions back to safe waters.

“Bikinis,” I said, smiling. “Just so you know.”

Chapter 9

Dune, Early December

Hallie said, “So yes or no?”

It had been just over a week since I’d blown my cover, and Hallie and I had spent it playing an extended game of either/or in the hall outside her room. We’d talked about everything.

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