“It was a do-or-die situation.” Poe didn’t look at him either. He didn’t look at anyone but Hallie. “And my fault.”

“Stop,” Hallie said.


Kaleb wasn’t going to let it go. “You never told us what your exotic matter source is. You have to have it to open veils. How are you teleporting yourself or anyone else?”

“I create my own exotic matter.”

“Can other people use it, too?” Emerson asked. “Like, say, time travelers?”

Dead quiet descended on the room. Cat Rooks, Hourglass’s source of exotic matter, had betrayed us. No one with the time travel skill had been able to use it since she walked out.

“I think they can.” Poe’s attention shifted from Hallie to Emerson, and then to Michael.

Michael nodded, and Emerson took his hand.

From the way Kaleb looked at Poe, he’d discovered some affection for him. “The night you killed Emerson, I couldn’t get a pinky toe into the veil. It was as hard as a rock.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Hallie stared at Kaleb as if he’d claimed his life goal was to be a princess.

“Oh.” Em waved her hands at Hallie like it was no big deal. “There was this time that Poe killed me, but it totally didn’t stick, and we’ve worked it out. So. Don’t worry about it.”

-- Advertisement --

Hallie’s eyes were wide. “I’m worried.”

“I wasn’t operating under my own volition.” Poe’s face went dark, shuttering any emotion.

“He’s apologized, numerous times.” Em smiled at him. “Then after that, he saved me and Michael.”

“It’s not like I’m a hero,” Poe said, but his expression lightened. “But I hope I’ve found another way to make it up to you both.”

“You’re a hero to us, Poe.” Hallie looked at Poe until he met her eyes. “Always will be.”

“I hate to ruin the moment, but can we bring the focus back around to Hallie?” I waited until I had everyone’s attention. “Poe managed to pull you in, and you survived.”

“Because of her regeneration ability,” Poe said. “Has to be.”

“I was so sick that night,” Hallie said, her gaze intensifying. “I came out on the other side, couldn’t hear or see, and I kept throwing up. That was the night I saw a rip for the first time, but Poe saw it, too, so I didn’t suspect anything or connect the dots. The next day was when my regeneration went into overdrive.”

“I’m so sorry, Hallie.” Poe stared at her, and the darkness was back.

“Do not apologize to me, or blame yourself for this.”


“But shut up.” She grabbed Poe’s shoulders and leaned in close. “You aren’t responsible. Did you do it on purpose?”

Poe shook his head.

Hallie squeezed him before letting go and facing the group, hands on hips, chin angled out. “It wasn’t Poe’s fault.”

“We agree with you, Hallie,” Michael said quietly.

“That’s it. That’s the answer.” My brain spun so fast my vision was blurry. I sat down to get my bearings and to take control of the hope in my chest. “If the veil was the stressor that set Hallie off, then Poe could pull Teague into a veil and set off her activation.”

“How do you feel about that?” Emerson asked Hallie, in a soft voice.

“If we did it on purpose?” Emotions raced across Hallie’s face. “It doesn’t make me any different from her. She created me as a tool, and now my ticket out is using her as one?”

Teague had never treated Hallie like a mother should treat a daughter. Even the bedtime stories she’d told Hallie had an ulterior motive.

“She could help you with the rips. Maybe it would confuse them, like it did in the park. Maybe it would slow them down.” I pushed up off the couch. “You can’t expect me to choose between her comfort and yours. There’s no universe where this even comes close to a contest.”

“It’s not just about her comfort, or the rips. If she’s activated, she could heal the continuum. She could go in and not come out.”

“We don’t know if that’s even a valid answer to the problem,” I argued. “Are you just supposed to fight the rips by yourself when you could have help?”

“Help from her comes with a price. It always has, and that won’t change now.” Tears formed in her eyes.

When I reached out for her, she pulled away. “Hallie, think about this logically, please.”

“I can’t … I just … I have to think.” Hallie turned away from me and picked up her phone. “I have to make a call.”

And then she was gone.

Chapter 22


The sliding glass door opened as soon as I hung up.

“Can I join you?” It was Kaleb.

“Sure.” I put down my phone and wiped my eyes before facing him. I figured the first place people would look was my studio, so I’d escaped to the pool.

“I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things,” he said.

“That’s worrisome. Have a seat.”

He sat down beside me on the concrete as I sized him up. The dimples, the baby blues, the body. If I’d seen him in the Quarter, cruising Bourbon three months ago, I’d have had him pressed up against the back corner of a bar in fifteen minutes or less. Now? Nothing.

He tried to stop a grin, but couldn’t manage it.

“Damn.” I turned eight shades of eggplant. “I forgot you could read minds.”

“Not minds. Emotions.” He reached out to swirl his hands in the water. “Water is actually one of the ways I tune them out. But I have to be submerged.”

“Well, go ahead and dive in, because I don’t want to know what you just got from me.”

“No need. I got the same thing you’d get from me. We could’ve done some serious damage together at some point and time. But we’re where we’re supposed to be.” He acknowledged it as a fact and moved on, with no hint of flirtation or inappropriateness, passing the douche test with flying colors. “You’re in love with Dune, or close at least. Have the two of you talked about it?”

There it was again, welling up like a spring. The fear of losing him. I shook my head.

“Don’t let this overwhelm you,” he admonished. “Nothing has happened. We can still beat it.”

I stared down at my bright pink toenails in the water. “I bet you’re a pain in the ass to be friends with.”

“One of the best things about my ability is my excellent BS meter.”

“I have one of those, too.” I grinned. “Probably not as good as yours.”

“There are people behind you who have your back.”

“That’s kind of new for me. My dad is overprotective, and my mom is just a sorry human altogether.”

“We can’t be responsible for the family life doles out to us. Jack Landers is my uncle.”


“I heard you on the phone with your dad. Well”—he held up one finger—“that’s not true. I felt you on the phone with your dad. That’s why I came down.”

-- Advertisement --