Poe crossed his arms over his chest. “Yeah, but I don’t know how it works. Do you?”

“I don’t.” Worry was all I knew. “Only that it results in death.”


He met my eyes. “Not Hallie’s. It can’t. I don’t think something as powerful as the Infinityglass is a one-time-use type of weapon.”

I rubbed the back of my neck, and then growled in frustration. “I want this to be resolved, and I want a mathematical, scientific formula that makes sense from beginning to end. Not mythology. Not fairy dust. Real answers that I can work with.”

“I hate to bring you down even more, but I’ve not made any progress. I can’t find out what activated Hallie’s Infinityglass ability. I’ve read and reread the Skroll. I’ve made lists of everything we’ve stolen in the past few months and researched every piece. I thought it could have been this clock, but it’s not. You said something clicked for you. What was it?”

“The Infinityglass is supposed to have ultimate power over the space time continuum, but since everything is screwed up, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’ve been translating the foreign language docs on the Skroll bit by bit, and one finished up tonight.”


“I think the space time continuum is using Infinityglass Hallie as a power source, or at least the rips are. And I think it could deplete her. There’s something about the rips and the way they keep trying to pull her in—”

I heard a noise and held up one finger.

Ten seconds later, Hallie walked into the kitchen.

Messy hair, red lips, and loose limbs. She swiped the water bottle out of my hand, opened it, and took a long drink. In that moment, all I could think about was dragging her back to her room and shutting out the world. That thought disappeared real quick when she lowered the bottle.

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“When were you going to tell me there’s a death sentence on my head?”

Neither Poe or I answered. Or moved.

“I just spent some quality time with your computer,” she said, handing the water back to me. “I want to know what’s going on. Put it in layman’s terms, professors.”

“We don’t know anything definite,” Poe started, but she held up one hand.

“How about you go back to what you stopped discussing right before I walked in here, about science and magic? Depletion?” She pointed to her ears. “Super-duper hearing these days, remember?”

Poe moved to the table and sat down, but said nothing.

Hallie looked back and forth between us. “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. So one of you tell me what you know.”

I looked at Poe. I was the one with the theory, and I hadn’t even gotten a chance to explain it to him. I’d be swinging this sword by myself. I turned my attention to Hallie. “You saw my notes.”

“I sure did.”

“There’s a theory that the Infinityglass can be used to transfer abilities from one person with the time gene to another. Everything that’s translated recently … suggests it involves death. I don’t know whose, but I’m assuming it’s not yours.”

Her face paled. “Keep going.”

“What I was just getting ready to explain to Poe is that the transmutation ability means your cells regenerate constantly, faster than normal, which is what allows you to change your appearance.”

“He knows all that. So do I. Why are you teaching Hallie 101?”

“There’s a progression,” I said gently. “Listen, okay?”

Pressing her lips together, she pulled out the chair beside Poe’s and sat.

“Once the Infinityglass part of you became activated, your transmutation ability sped up and got stronger,” I continued. “Everything about you got stronger, right? Super-human hearing, vision, energy.”

She nodded.

“The rips are using you as a power source. As long as they can possess you, they can live. They aren’t going to give you up without a fight.”

She stared down at her hands. “What happens if I lose?”

My throat felt like I’d swallowed a bucket of sawdust. “I don’t know, but we’ll find answers. Between what we’re learning every day, and the number of people trying to help, and the wealth of information we already have … we’ll find answers.”

“How can I avoid them? They find me. If they want to take me over …”

Poe covered one of her hands with his briefly and then stood. “Dune’s right, Hallie. We’re going to get answers. I will figure out what got you in this position, and then I’ll learn how to reverse it.”

He left the kitchen, and Hallie and I stared at each other through silence.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“No. It’s just a matter of time before it happens again. What if I don’t get out next time?”

I pulled her into my arms, rested my chin on top of her head. “You will.”

I wanted to believe it, but things were happening too fast. The truths about the Infinityglass came slowly at first, but now the terrible possibilities were tumbling toward us in a rush.

At what I feared was the end of the story.

Chapter 19


Dune sat at my desk, scrolling and clicking.

We’d sent the Hourglass contingent out to sightsee. I’d spent the day staring at my TV and tried to lose myself in a Supernatural marathon, but I was too stressed out to enjoy the eye candy. Finally, I clicked the remote and stood.

“Off.” I closed the lid of his laptop, barely missing his fingers, and sending empty Jolly Rancher candy wrappers skittering to the floor. “All you’ve done is stare at that damn computer all day.”

He raised a brow. “Just trying to find answers.”

I dropped onto the bed. “Sit with me.”

He didn’t touch me when he did. I took it metaphorically.

“We aren’t going to do this, Dune.” I gestured to the empty space. “You’re removing yourself from the situation, and removing yourself from me.”

“This isn’t about distance. It’s about giving you room to breathe. Giving me time to research.”

“I want us in the same airspace right now, okay? I need it.”

Dune’s arms were around me in a second. “I need it, too.”

Relief eased my tension before his mouth on mine ratcheted it up again—gentle, insistent—not enough.

I wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed my body to his. Closing my eyes, I teased his mouth open to deepen the kiss. He tasted like candy. “Forgiven.”

“I’m still sorry. I didn’t think circling the same thing over and over again in conversation would be good for us, and I didn’t have any new answers.”

“I understand, but I don’t want to lose time with you now. What if I can’t get it back later?”

His thumb smoothed over my forehead and down my temple. “We’re going to figure out how to stop the rips from taking over.”

This was the capable Dune, the one everyone looked to for ideas and support. Totally solid, completely dependable. He thought he was nothing more than the strength behind the scenes. “As much as I’ve tried to avoid being trapped in one place my whole life, now I don’t want to move from this spot. I keep thinking, Can they find me here? Am I safe here?”

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