It was certainly mine.

“Is that a blue topaz?” I asked.


He squinted at the ring in question. “Aquamarine.”

I checked my phone again as Danny leaned over to open the case. Nothing from Poe. An uneasy feeling stirred in the pit of my stomach.

Danny cleared his throat, and I realized he was holding out the ring for me. I dropped my phone into my bag. “How much?”

“Three hundred and fifty.”

Broke College Me had let it go for a hundred.

I took the ring and held it up to the light. “Do you have an appraisal?”

He snorted. “Hello. You’re in a pawnshop.”

“Who sold it to you?” I asked.

“We have a privacy policy.”

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I didn’t budge.

He looked from me to the ring and back again. “Two hundred.”

“Is that how much you paid for it?”

“Two. That’s the price.”

“Fine.” I dug around in my bag under the pretense of looking for my wallet so I could check my phone again. My heart did a flip when I saw Poe’s name on my screen.

I opened the message.


You knew you were in deep when someone who could teleport needed an escape plan.


Danny raised his eyebrows.

“My … my date cancelled.” I fought to keep my voice from shaking.

I flipped through my mental catalog, and recalled the details of the building schematic I’d stolen, trying to think of all the places Poe could be.

Danny took the ring out of my hand. “You were meeting your date at a pawnshop?”

“I have a busy schedule.”

I watched a red light flash in the reflection from Danny’s glasses. I knew it was from a surveillance camera that hung suspended from the ceiling, observing the happenings in the front of the shop. The blinking light was a sign that there was trouble in the back. What had Poe gotten himself into?

“I need to close up. Now.”

“But the ring.” I gestured toward it when he began to put it back in the case. “Your sign says, ‘Open twenty-four hours,’ and the ring—”

“We’ll be open again at ten A.M.” His voice was firm. “Come back then.”

I huffed. “Your customer service is terrible.”

“Complain to the management. There’s a suggestion box. Outside.”

My cell screen lit up the inside of my purse:

911 GET ME OUT 911

Poe was not an all-caps kind of guy.

Desperate now, I held up one finger and tossed my blue hair over my shoulders. “Does the NOLA PD know what you keep behind that big door?”

Danny looked at the flashing light on the camera once more before he shoved the ring back into the case. “You don’t need to worry about what’s behind that door. You just need to leave. Now.” He came out from behind the counter and cupped my elbow in his hand, trying to steer me out of the store.

Nothing pissed me off more than being manhandled. Unless I’d asked to be.

“Let go of me.” I jerked away and clutched my arm. “That hurt.”

“Does a hundred-dollar ring really mean so much that you can’t come back to get it tomorrow?”

“You said two hundred!”

“You’re familiar, somehow. You haven’t been in here before, have you?” He squinted and lifted up his glasses like an old man. “I know your voice.… ”

The one thing I hadn’t figured out how to do was manipulate my vocal cords.

Shock and surprise broke through my concentration, and I could feel my disguise slip a little. Danny blinked in recognition. “Wait a second. You sold me the ring! What the hell is going on?”

A cell phone on the counter began to vibrate, and the accompanying ringtone was a repeating air horn. Danny turned around, and I did the only logical thing I could. I picked up the stool from behind the register and hit him over the head with it.

I didn’t put all my strength into the move, because unlike my father, I didn’t make murder a hobby. Danny still went down hard. Once I knew he was out, I took his key ring off his belt. I navigated my fingers through his hair to get to his skull. Big knot, no blood, nothing concave.

He was probably fine.

I took the ring from the case, left a hundred-dollar bill in its place, and then dropped it into my bag. Once I found the right key, I opened the vault door and pulled it closed behind me. A corridor stretched thirty feet before taking a sharp right turn. Strobe lights near the ceiling signaled a silent alarm.

If any cameras existed, they were well hidden. I let my face and body go back to their natural state. When I reached the turn, I took a quick listen before peeking around the corner. I’d expected some sort of chaos, or at least a guard. All I saw was more tunnel.

I went farther and farther as the strobe lights continued to pulse. The lack of windows made the walls close in and tripped off a rare bout of claustrophobia. By the time I reached the next open space, my chest was tight. Even though I was freezing, sweat trickled down my back. Once again, I listened before turning the corner. Good thing.

Voices echoed against the slick surfaces of the walls and floors. One was Poe’s; I could tell by the lilt of his English accent. The other was male and cocky.

“I won’t tell anyone what you have here,” Poe said. “You can just let me go.”

“Someone already knows what I have or you wouldn’t be here.” A lighter flicked, and a shadow appeared on the wall across from me. “Paul Girard sent you.”

Cigarette smoke wafted toward me, and my body shook with the effort to stay still.

“We’ve discussed joining forces, but couldn’t reach agreeable terms. He leans too far toward greed for my comfort.”

Join forces, my ass. My dad didn’t play well with others.

The man’s shadow grew smaller, his voice louder. He had to be inches away. I reached into the side pocket of my bag. The timing needed to be perfect.

Heels clicked on the concrete floor. “If you came to work for me instead of him, I could make it worth your while.”

“I’m not interested in working for anyone,” Poe said. “I’m telling you—”

“Tell me this,” the man said. “Are you interested in being alive?”

I raised my stun gun and stepped around the corner. “Are you?”

The man’s eyes went wide when I tagged him in the chest. He hit the ground like a full sack of groceries, his limbs akimbo, still twitching. A wet spot spread across the front of his pants.

I looked up at Poe, who exhaled in relief. He had a fat lip and a trickle of blood coming from the corner of his mouth, and his left wrist was handcuffed to a doorknob.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I ported into the worst possible place. The guy was on me in seconds. He’s the only one I saw, but I’m pretty sure he was waiting for backup.”

“I hit the backup in the head with a stool. He shouldn’t be a problem.”

“That’s my girl.” Poe used his bloody right hand to gesture to his left. “I’m going to need a little help. Our friend with the bladder control problem made damn sure I wasn’t going to get close enough to a veil to port out of here.”

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