“You have symptoms beyond the ripple sightings?” I asked. “Besides the possession?”

She nodded but didn’t elaborate. “Any answers I get from her now will have to be bargained for, and it’s not worth it.”


“She knows what you are, and she won’t help you? How could a mother do that?”

“Because she wants something from me.” Hallie picked up her toast. “She always does. I don’t know what it is this time, and I don’t really want to find out. It won’t be good. It won’t be loving, or in my best interest. Nothing she does ever is.”

“Then don’t get answers from her. Get them from me.” It was the boldest I’d been about the Infinityglass since the night at Lafitte’s.

She exhaled. “I’m ready when you are.”

“Then let’s take it upstairs.”

I put my plate in the sink and exited the kitchen, leaving her with a curious expression and a mouth full of toast.

I set up my laptop, an external drive, and notebook on Hallie’s vanity.

It was the first time I’d actually been in her room. A confection of pastels, it was huge and relentlessly neat, with toe shoes hanging from pegs on the wall. I didn’t understand why she needed so many different pairs. There were also wigs and tutus.

She had every game system known to man, including a couple of throwbacks, like an Atari console and a Sega Genesis. A tall wooden shelf held hundreds of movies in various forms, Blu-rays, DVDs, even some VHS tapes. I tapped one and raised an eyebrow.

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“Not everything has been released in the most modern formats. If you think that’s a lot, my digital collection would blow your mind.”

“I collect music the way you collect movies.” I opened the minimized window on my laptop screen and showed her.

“Seven thousand songs?”

“My physical collection would blow your mind. It’s a sickness. But I like to read, too.”

“So do I. Real books. When I was younger, my dad used to take me to the bookstore on Saturdays. Garden District Book Shop at first, but then Octavia Books.” Melancholy sneaked into her voice. “I could spend hours in that place; it was so open and full of light. They even had a pet dog that lived in the store. Those were the good old days.”

Now when she wanted to leave her house, she had to climb down the side of it.

“Maybe you could take me there sometime.”

“Maybe.” She shook off the sadness and leaned over my shoulder, her hair swinging forward, so close it brushed against my cheek. “All right, wise one. Enlighten me.”

I had two thoughts. One, if I turned my head a fraction of an inch, my lips would line up directly with hers, and two, she knew it.

I scooted the stool closer to the vanity to get myself out of the reach of her lips before clearing my throat.

“Here we go.”


Dune was easy to tease. The good kind of easy, though. He felt safe and right. I saw how a pattern could form, the push and the pull between us. Not where my brain should be.

“Let’s start with the basics,” he said, scrolling through a list of documents. “Tell me what you know.”

“Right now I’d prefer that you tell me stuff, not that I tell you stuff.”

“We both have information.” He turned around, too big and too ridiculous, perched on the tiny stool that matched my vanity. “I thought we were going to engage in an exchange.”

“So you’re going to just blindly open up and give me anything I ask for?”

“I don’t have time to have trust issues, Hallie, and neither do you.”

“There’s always time for trust issues.”

“If we’re going to help each other, we have to put everything on the table.” He rubbed his hands on the knees of his jeans and stood. “I’ve met Poe. Last fall, he came to the Hourglass, to give us an ultimatum from your mom.”

“You know Poe?” The admission made me dizzy. “What kind of ultimatum?”

“She wanted us to find someone.” His frown told me there was more to the story and that he was weighing whether or not to tell it. “She turned Poe into her sock puppet to get it done, and she claimed it was all for Chronos. She used him.”

Not surprising. My mother consistently proved she felt she was entitled to say or do whatever she wanted to get her way. “Who did she want you to find?”

“A man named Jack Landers. She stole a digital storage device called a Skroll, and she needed him to open it.”

“What was on it?”

“Information about the Infinityglass,” he said. “But the Hourglass stole it from her, and I broke the encryption and downloaded the information on it. When we turned Landers over to your mom, she took the Skroll, but it’s missing some info.”

I tapped the hard drive that sat on my vanity beside Dune’s laptop. “It’s all here?”

“That and more. Everything I’ve gathered over the years, and even some things my dad found before he died.”

“My whole life encapsulated in one external drive.”

“Not your whole life. Nothing could contain you.” The fierceness in his voice surprised both of us.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I said cautiously. “If I want to know what’s on that drive, I guess it’s my turn in the sharing circle?”

“It’s a very small circle.”

Small, but suddenly not as cozy as I’d like.

His fingers tapped on his track pad. “Will you talk to me about your … symptoms?”

I searched his eyes. Trusted what I saw. “I started seeing rips, but apparently everyone else with the time gene does, too.” He nodded confirmation. “My energy levels are insane. I don’t need to sleep or eat. I do, out of habit, but it isn’t necessary. All my senses feel sharper. And I heal really fast. Insanely fast. I can also hold any form I change into a lot longer. Things like my vocal cords and hair color have always been either impossible or complicated. Not anymore. No effort at all.”

“Show me.”

I thought for a second, and then morphed into Zoe Saldana à la Star Trek.

“James T. Kirk who? Spock who? Bring me a sexy Samoan.” I slipped back into my normal skin. “Are you okay? You kind of look like you swallowed your tongue.”

“Fine. I’m fine.” He rubbed one hand over his face, picked up a pencil, and started scribbling in his spiral notebook.

“The possession, or whatever, isn’t connected to my transmutation ability. It’s new, part of the Infinityglass thing.” I tried to sound casual as I asked the next question. “Do you have a theory on how the Infinityglass part of me kicked into gear?”

He tapped the eraser end of his pencil on the vanity. “It could be … hormonal.”

“Excuse me?”

“That wasn’t meant as any kind of insult; it’s just a known trigger for some people. Usually, it’s puberty.” Dune gave me the once-over, and then started scribbling in his notebook again.

“Yeah. I passed that a long time ago.”

“Obviously.” He wouldn’t look at me. “Or the genetic stressor could be an object or a million other things.”

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