I couldn’t accuse Dune of lying to me, because I’d never asked where he lived. He’d told me he’d met Poe, even that he’d talked to him about me. I wondered what exactly Poe had told Dune about us, but then dismissed the worry. Poe didn’t kiss and tell.

Dune was eyeing me, waiting for an explosion of anger.


“I’m not mad. Mad is a waste of energy. I wanted to go to your place to see it, to draw out my time with you, but Poe and I have some things to discuss. Namely, what the hell he was thinking when he threw in with my mother. How’s that going to sit with you?”

“Fine.” He rocked back on his heels. “I have some ideas about drawing out my time with you, too.”

The statement should’ve sounded sexy, but instead, it was serious.

“Okay. Let’s get it done, then.”

The Garden District went by in a slow and beautiful blur. I was usually thinking too hard about the job I was about to do to appreciate the view.

I followed Dune into a classy lobby. Black-and-white-checked floor. Fancy lighting. A shiny-faced girl sitting at a desk in the office smiled at him, all wide-eyed and hopeful.

“Hi, Dune!” Cheery, too. Probably one of those genuinely sweet girls who had lots of friends.

“Hey.” He waved and smiled back.

Jealousy roared to life, and I stepped into her line of vision.

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The smile faded when she saw me. She was cute enough that I wanted to do something outrageous, like smack him on the ass or put my hand in his back pants pocket, just to make sure she was clear about where things stood.

“Her name is Jodi.” He leaned over to whisper in my ear as we stepped into the elevator. “She’s here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And she’s not you, so there’s nothing for you to worry about.”

If Jodi had access to the camera view of the elevator, she got a good eyeful for the next thirty seconds.

Dune looked a little dazed when we exited. “Jealous Hallie is … I don’t even have words.”

“You’re welcome.”

He grinned and slid the key card into the slot, then took my hand and stepped into the apartment. Poe was on the couch.

“Long time no see,” I said.

Poe was more than a little surprised, meaning Dune hadn’t given him a heads-up, which meant Dune’s loyalty was to me. I liked it.

“Hallie.” He stared at our joined hands.

“That’s what they call me.” I didn’t let go of Dune. I knew where my affections fell, and I wanted to make sure Dune knew, too. Even though jealous kissing was maybe my new favorite thing ever, and I wouldn’t mind being on the receiving end of it.

Poe got right to it. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m going to need a lot more than an apology.”

“We have a lot to talk about,” Poe agreed.

I turned to Dune. “Do you mind?”

He gave my hand a squeeze and disappeared down the hall.

Same as he was the first time I saw him, Poe was stuck somewhere between sexy and scary.

“You look like crap.” I joined him on the couch.

“You look hot.” British boys. Full-blown charm the second they opened their mouths. Poe and I usually had a way of understanding each other without saying a lot, but this situation was going to require multiple explanations.

“I was worried about you.”

“I was worried about me, too.” He lifted up his shirt.

The scar ran diagonally, obviously a slash rather than a precise cut. It was pink and raised.

“I’m assuming you didn’t try to give yourself a liver transplant.”

He grinned and dropped his shirt. “I assume you’d probably like to know how all this happened.”

“You think?” I didn’t hide the sarcasm.

“Your mom sent me to steal the Skroll. I thought it was a legit Chronos job. I didn’t even think twice about it until she told me not to mention it to you or your dad.”

Even though Mom hadn’t worked closely with us for a while, she still assigned Chronos jobs. “That smells all kinds of shady.”

“Exactly. I threw her off track and pretended I couldn’t get the Skroll open.”

“But you did get it open.”

“Not me. Dr. Turner. I had to return it to Teague before he finished reading all the information. He tried to get it back, but your mom suspected something was up.” Poe stared at his fist as he flexed it. “And then, the next day, he was gone.”

“I didn’t even know you knew him. How did you meet?”

“Long story. But he believed in me when no one else did.”

Something told me not to push. “He told Dad how the Infinityglass gene worked before he died. We know something triggered it, but we don’t know what.”

“I’ve been trying to help Dune figure it out.” He pointed at his laptop on the kitchen table. A neat stack of index cards and a crystal skull pencil holder, with multicolor pens, sat beside it.

“So you’re helping the Hourglass now?”

“No.” He frowned. “I’m helping you.”

“They’re different from Chronos in so many ways.” I leaned back on the arm of the couch. “The Hourglass keeps Dune … informed, at least.”

“That’s not the only difference. I was in Ivy Springs. I saw the way they all worked together. The kind of jobs they do. They help people.”

“And?” I asked.

“It was impressive. I guess that’s what it’s like to work for the good guys.”

“That makes Chronos the bad guys.”

“Are the jobs we do there legit? Do we help the people who need it, or the ones who can afford it?”

“I don’t know. But the reason you fell for Mom’s bull is because we never questioned anything.”

“It opened my eyes.” He looked at me. “I don’t want to be that guy anymore. Do you want to be that girl?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“I know you think you’re invincible, Hallie, but you aren’t. Every time your mom takes a chance to get what she wants, the consequences are worse. I don’t want to see you on the receiving end of whatever Teague does to manipulate you next.”

“I don’t want to see it, either. But Dad’s cut her out of Chronos now. We don’t have to deal with her.”

“I don’t,” Poe said. “You do. She’s your mother.”

“That’s just blood. And in my book? Choice wins out over blood every time.”


Hallie walked into my room without knocking. “Are you always this organized?”

“I actually am.”


“How did it go with Poe?” I asked.

“Fine.” I could see her, trying to convince herself to believe her own lie. My hackles rose.

“Do I need to go have a talk with Poe?”

“No, no. It wasn’t anything he did. Just some fair points he brought up about Chronos. And my mom.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No. Not yet. But Dune? Thanks.”

Instead of meeting my eyes, she leaned over my desk and looked at the small corkboard Emerson had filled with pictures as a going-away present. “Ever wish you’d stayed there, in Ivy Springs?”

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