I stopped caring when two more shots fired, one to the back of each of my ankles.

Pain exploded through my Achilles tendons, and then everything went black.



Hallie was gone.

In an unthinking panic, I covered the whole house twice before I thought to wake up Michael and Kaleb. “Hallie’s gone. None of the guards have seen her, and the lights are off in her studio.”

“I’ll go get Lily. Hang tight, brother, and we’ll find her.” Kaleb threw on clothes and headed for the girls’ room.

Michael didn’t inflict small talk on me while I waited. I paced. My skin felt too small for my frame.

“Dune.” Lily entered the room, followed by Kaleb. She had a US atlas in her arms.

“Please tell me you found her.”

“I did, but …”

When she hesitated, I growled, “Tell me.”

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“She’s alive, and she was near the river. By the warehouses behind the French Market.”

“Who she’s with?”

Lily bit her lip. “Her mother.”

“Wait—you said she ‘was’ near the river. What does that mean?” I asked.

“Now I think she’s in it. They must be on a boat.”

I cursed and punched my fist into the nearest wall. Teague had thrown my vulnerability in my face at the park, and now she was using it against me. What if Hallie encountered a rip world? What if she couldn’t get out? My thoughts scrambled for purchase before finding a solid place to land. “Send Poe. He can get to her quick.”

“Problem.” Kaleb scrubbed his hand across his chin. “Poe is missing, too.”

“Let me look for him.” Lily opened the atlas and searched. “Nothing. It’s not good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s dead.”

“He could be in a veil. That would keep Lily from being able to find him.” Michael clapped a comforting hand on my shoulder. “Maybe he’s already trying to find Hallie. Hang tight. We’ll all go get dressed so we can head down to the wharf.”

“Dune.” Emerson appeared in the doorway, a blanket around her shoulders, tears in her eyes. “They found the head of security in the courtyard. He’s been shot and he’s on his way to the hospital. It doesn’t look good.”

My body went numb. Em was holding back. “What else?”

She crossed the room and put one hand on my arm. “It wasn’t just Teague. Jack. And he didn’t bother wiping Carl’s memory. He … as he was going into the ambulance, Carl told us that Teague shot Hallie. Twice.”

Emerson’s tears streaked down her cheeks as she held up a pair of toe shoes. They were splattered with blood.

“Meet me at the river.” I took off at a run, and stopped briefly at the door to look back at Lily. “Keep ahold of that atlas. I’ll call you for an update when I get there.”

Chapter 24


I woke up as the sun rose, opening my eyes to find seagulls wheeling above me.

Two levels of windows, plus an observation deck. The paint was a graying white, and the blue and yellow trim was mostly peeled away. Dull wood, dingy brass, and the smell of dead fish. A riverboat, its shipshape days long past.

There was an echoing pain in my ankles that wouldn’t dull, even though the open wounds were healed. The irony that my mother had chosen my Achilles’ heels wasn’t lost on me.

Carl. She’d shot him. Who else had she hurt to get me here? Where was Dune?

Black, low-heeled boots echoed across the boat deck. Her apple red coat matched the color in her cheeks, and she should’ve painted a sunny picture. But the brightness in her eyes was menacing rather than cheerful.

“Hello, sunshine. Did you sleep well?”

“Bitch.” I flexed my feet and groaned. “They’ll find you.”

“They might. I’m aware of what Lily can do. But Dune’s the one you want, and he’s going to think twice about the river.”

“He’ll handle the water.” And if he couldn’t, his friends could.

“Doesn’t mean he’ll find us. We’re only hitching a ride.” She curled her lip at our dilapidated surroundings. “There’s a speedboat waiting a few miles away. Our next destination involves a lot of open water. It’s difficult to pinpoint a location when you’re always moving.”

I felt my anxiety expand beyond the tightness in my chest and spread to the very corners of the ship, weaving its way through the railings and the wood, catching in the paddles at the stern. There were men on the ship, a crew of them. She’d been planning this.

A man wearing a tailored suit stood behind her. Not part of the crew.

“Oh, where are my manners?” Mom actually clucked. “Let me formally introduce Jack Landers.”

Jack was so pale he was almost transparent. His eyes were dead in his face.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His overconfident tone suggested that he was used to getting what he wanted, and his slick smile told me the rest. A woman in a dirty yellow coat stepped out from the shadows.

Her nail-bitten fingers worried the buttons—open and closed, open and closed, over and over again. She didn’t look at me, didn’t even acknowledge where she was standing. Her eyes were vacant. Lost. She had to be strung out on something.

Jack ignored her and moved forward, leaning heavily on a cane, the smile growing wider. “I’ve waited a long time to meet you. I look forward to doing business with you.”

“I can’t say the same.” Growing up in New Orleans taught me not to do deals with the devil. It was always a bitch when he came to collect.

Jack studied me. “What have they told you about me, Hallie?”

“You manipulate people to get what you want.” I rolled to a sitting position, wincing when I tried to stand and couldn’t. My ankles weren’t ready, and I felt too vulnerable on the ground. “I’m guessing you’re responsible for whatever’s wrong with her.”

He looked at the woman beside him. “I haven’t done anything she didn’t ask me to do.”

“You steal memories, and she doesn’t look like she can remember her own name.” The woman stared vacantly in the direction of the shore. Flecks of spittle gathered at the corners of her mouth. “Did she ask for that?”

“She asked me to make life better for her, which involved erasing some things she wanted to forget. It took a while, since there were a lot of … situations to work through.” The two of them came closer. Her hair was short and unkempt, and she couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds. “However, erasing you from the memories of your new friends shouldn’t be too difficult. Erasing all of them from your memory might be.”

The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. If being erased resulted in the ruin of the woman standing in front of me, screw my aching ankles. It was time to start running. I tried standing again.

“You think they’re your friends, but they’ll forget you easily. They’re all so malleable.” Jack looked at my mother. “Does Hallie know Lily told us where to find the pendant? On Halloween, when I ‘borrowed’ her from the Hourglass.”

My chest tightened at the thought of Lily doing anything to help Jack or my mother. “What pendant?”

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