Grief, anger, terror, and then it was done. I slumped back onto the bench as Mother gave Jack a hard shove. He pitched over the railing into the river.
Dead before he hit the water.
Jack Landers left no legacy other than a wake of destruction. Teague brushed his touch off her coat and forgot he ever existed in the same breath. The Hourglass’s biggest perceived threat had been nothing but a pawn.
Hallie pointed to something around her neck. I slid closer to her and Teague, keeping my back to the main cabin, grateful the crew was busy making preparations to launch.
“You were wearing this the other day. What does it do?” Hallie asked her mother.
“It’s duronium. If your skin is exposed to the pendant for an extended period of time, it reacts with your body chemistry and serves as a conductor. Creates the connection between those who have time abilities. Whoever you touch first receives the ability.”
“Or whoever touches me first.” Hallie dropped the pendant. “You had on a turtleneck at the park, which means you were afraid to let it out of your sight, but smart enough not to let it touch your skin. It’s not like I don’t have access to duronium. Poe’s knife. Weren’t you afraid I’d conduct too soon?”
“Maybe an Infinityglass requires this particular piece.” Teague shrugged. “Or maybe I assumed any prolonged exposure to Poe’s knife would result in your death. But only on my orders.”
“I don’t take your orders. I’m not a killer.” In one swift movement, Hallie grabbed the pendant and jerked down, but the chain didn’t break free. A red line marked her neck, and blood welled below it.
“I didn’t ask you to be. I’ll leave the killing to Poe,” Teague said. “You’re nothing but a weapon now.”
As long as Hallie wore that pendant, she was untouchable, just another way for her mother to isolate her.
My mind raced to find an answer. Poe’s exotic matter had been necessary to get Teague in a veil, but thanks to Cat, Teague had her own. Poe’s duronium knife had factored in, too, but Hallie had duronium hanging around her neck. And what had Teague meant about leaving the killing to Poe?
I scanned the river. A veil shimmered a few hundred yards downstream.
I measured the pull of the tethers against the dock. Studied the flow of the current. Considered the trajectory of the vessel when it launched.
I had one tiny, miniscule chance to turn things around.
But I’d need the river’s help.
“For the amount of intellect that man had, you’d think he would’ve anticipated that outcome.”
Two people just died at my hand. My own mother made me an accessory to murder.
“Greed makes people blind and dumb.” I offered. “Or maybe he didn’t know you well enough to understand that your go- to is betrayal.”
“I’ve never betrayed you, Hallie.”
“You betrayed me before I was ever born.”
“I created you for a unique purpose. Picked every single trait.”
“I’m another version of you, Mother dear. Created to resemble the creator. You even gave me a calling. Sound familiar?”
She was so busy buying her own propaganda that she didn’t even hear me. “I always wanted to dance as a child, but we didn’t live close enough to a studio for me to walk to classes. I picked that for you.”
“Did you cause my accident, too?” It was sarcasm, not an accusation.
But she blinked.
My knees grew weak and threatened to give. “Did you have something to do with Benny’s death?”
Mother stared over my head. “The guard wasn’t supposed to follow you. You wouldn’t have been hurt if he hadn’t tackled you.”
“Benny was my best friend.”
“He was an attachment you didn’t need.”
“He was my friend and I loved him.” Long-buried grief surged in my heart. “That’s the way humans are supposed to work. I tried to love you.”
And I deserved to be loved.
“Love is a nice concept, but ultimately life is about the survival of the fittest, and who’s strong enough to come out on top.”
“You never should’ve been a parent. Thank God I had Dad.”
“How do you think your father will feel when he finds out you were a means to an end?”
“He already knows.” I lifted my chin. “And his love is more than enough to make up for what a piss-poor mother you’ve been.”
She smirked. “What about Dune? Because I’ve seen the way you two look at each other, and that’s not love.”
“Yes, it is.” She couldn’t shake my faith in him, in us. He’d said it and he’d showed me. He came to New Orleans and stayed. Stuck by me when the crazy started. Called in his friends to serve as backup. Offered me a piggyback ride, because he didn’t want my toes to get cold. “He gave up his life to help me.”
“The Infinityglass is an obsession for him. He came for it, not you.”
“It seems like you’re trying to convince me that you’re a more appealing option than he is. You created me in a lab, not out of love. You want me to murder for you. You’ve got the Infinityglass gene. Why can’t you do it yourself?”
“I don’t want to be a tool.”
“So you built one. The Infinityglass is vulnerable because you believe the true power lies with the person who controls it.” The truth got uglier. “I am your daughter. Do you have any concept of what family is supposed to mean?”
She ignored the question. “Get in the cabin.”
“Are you going to make me forget about my life here? Daddy? Dune? How long would it take you to turn me into Cat? Because that’s what you’ll end up with if you expect me to go with you without a fight.”
“What I expect is for you to get in the cabin. I still have the gun. My next shot might involve an artery. I don’t know how quickly your cells can regenerate, but I imagine the healing process would be painful, especially if you had to do it repeatedly.”
There had to be another option. I wouldn’t kill for her again. I scanned the shore. Too far to jump, and too many bodies in the way.
“Don’t even think about it. You can’t get past the crew unless you can fly, and they won’t hesitate to fish you out of the water.”
“Whatever did you do to make an entire ship of sailors so loyal to you?” I smiled sweetly as the implication landed exactly where I’d aimed.
She didn’t get a chance to answer.
“Hey, boss!” One of the men waved and held up a satellite phone. “Port authority question before we shove off.”
She turned her back on me and signaled to one of the deckhands. He crossed over to Cat, picked up her body, and tossed her into the water.
I watched the proud line of my mother’s posture as she walked away, and thought that I’d rather give myself over to the rips than let her control me for the rest of my life. It was an option. One to consider, eventually. I wasn’t ready to give my life up yet.
Movement by the cabin caught my eye, and my heart became a rapid bass line thumping in my chest. Rips, as if they’d read my mind. How would I fight them on my own?