She nodded and let out a shaky breath. “Sounds about right.”

“You pushed them back. The images from the room flowed into the hole in time, and the rips went in, too. And you were back.”


She was shaking so hard her teeth chattered.

“Hallie, look at me. You’re either cold or in shock. Let’s get you into something more comfortable.”

When she didn’t take advantage of the tease I’d set up, my stomach dropped. I grabbed her bag, unzipped it, and handed it over. She fished out a change of clothes, along with her brush and a makeup bag.

“Do you need help with anything?”

“No. Just … don’t move.” She disappeared into the bathroom. I heard running water and an electric toothbrush. A few moments later, she opened the door, wearing yoga pants and a tank top. Her face was clean, and she’d tied her hair in a knot on top of her head.

She picked up her sweater and slid her arms in. She sounded like she’d been screaming for hours. “You’re a good baby-sitter.”

“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“I was the Infinityglass, Dune.” She curled up on the couch, pulled the sleeves of her sweater down over her hands. “I made the rips go away. I sent them back. That has to be good, right?”

“I don’t know.” She’d floated and I’d watched the power pulsing through her. Nothing about it felt good. “It was a manifestation of the Infinityglass power. It overtook you, Hallie.”

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“Then I’ll just figure out how to control it. Next time, I’ll know what to expect.” She dropped her head into her hands. “You’re looking at me like I scared you.”

“I’m scared for you. I know that letting me take care of you right now would be harder than taking care of yourself.” I touched her knee. “But …”

She looked up.

“Let me?” I asked.

I got my answer when she crawled into my arms.

Once she was asleep, I carried her to the bed and stepped out onto the gallery.

It was dark, and a mist hung just above the street. It was the quietest I’d ever heard New Orleans, but even the loudest couldn’t compete with the noise in my head. I used my phone to send an e-mail detailing what had happened in the ballroom. Then I sat down to wait, searching for the setting sun on the horizon.

Michael didn’t e-mail back. He called.

“When did you fall for her?” It was the first thing he said after I answered.

I couldn’t deny the relief. Out of everyone, I knew he’d understand.

“I don’t know. Immediately?” I exhaled. “All those years obsessing over the Infinityglass, all the things I’d read, so much of it has transferred to her. But, Mike, tonight … for a few minutes, I didn’t know which Hallie I was seeing. I didn’t know if she was there at all.”

He was silent for a minute, gathering his thoughts. “No one here has been possessed, and no one can send the rips back. So far, she’s the only one.”

“So it’s an Infinityglass thing.”

“I think so.”

“Time closed behind her. It healed itself. What if she could send all the rips back? Would it fix things?”

“At this point, the continuum is so compromised there are probably rips all over the world,” Michael said. “Definitely too many to keep them balanced by herself.”

“She changed. Her body language and her voice.” Her essence.

“I still believe she’s our answer, Dune, somehow. No idea how it’s going to play out, but she’s going to change everything.”

“If that’s true”—I steadied myself to ask the next question—“do you think she can survive it?”

“I don’t know.” Michael paused for a few seconds before he spoke again. “But I’ll help you figure it out. How would you feel about a visit from some friends?”

Chapter 13


When I woke up, it was dark.

“Dune?” I was in the hotel bed, alone. And I needed him.

“Yes.” His answer was immediate. “Are you okay?”

A small lamp on the far side of the room switched on. He must have been sitting on the stairs. Even though his hair was short, it was messy, like he’d had his hands in it. Worry had threaded itself into the fiber of his being.

“Sit with me?” I asked.

He sat on the side of the bed, I reached out to take his hand.

“Actually …” I pulled all the walls down. “Would you hold me?”

He climbed in beside me and gathered me up like he’d been waiting to do it for a lifetime. I let go of everything—nerves, uncertainty, and a disturbing slice of shame—and let him see my fear.

“How long have I been asleep?”

“A couple of hours,” he said, smoothing my hair back. It hung loose, having worked itself out of the knot while I slept. “I kept checking on you. You were restless. I was worried. Tell me what to do to make it better.”

“We’ve had this conversation, Obi-Wan. I don’t need you to save me.” He tensed up, the muscles in his chest and arms going hard. “But I want you to help me.”

“Anything you want.”

“I need you to know something. I play around, I tease. It’s fun.” I met his gaze in the faint light. His eyes, usually so full of sweetness, were shielding his emotions. “This? Isn’t like that.”

“I’m glad.”

“When you look at me,” I asked, “do you see me, or do you see the Infinityglass? Object or human? I have to know if you see me.”

I needed him to see me.

“I spend half of every second making sure I’m separating you from it.” His hand brushed across my cheek, surprising us both. He didn’t pull it away. “After what happened in that ballroom, I realized I can’t take on Hallie the human and leave half of her behind. Because I’m not interested in the things the Infinityglass loves or hates, and I’m done with trying to figure out every single thing about it, when I really want to know about you. To think about you. About kissing you. All the places I want to touch you.”

I’d never been paralyzed like this, torn between throwing myself at him and running hard as hell.

“But I was right, earlier,” I said. “You’re afraid of me.”

“I’ve been afraid of you since I laid eyes on you. Maybe since I heard about you,” he said. “That goes way back, Hal. I’m taking on more than a girl.”

His hand was still on my face. I reached up and pressed mine on top of it.

“Tell me something, and I need the truth. Do you see me? Or are you interested because I’m there?”

I heard the vulnerability in his voice, and I knew the answer because I’d asked myself the same question.

“I see you, Dune. And I … I know. I just … I love how … honest and … thoughtful you are.” I couldn’t make the words come out the way I wanted. I tangled our fingers together. “You always seem to consider all the angles. You never rush into anything.”

So much control.

He managed to frown and look happy at the same time. “If we take this where it seems naturally inclined to go, it’s going to make every step that much harder.”

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