I turned around.

Not rips.




If I made one misstep, I could unleash the power of the Mississippi and kill us all.

Water. Nothing but molecules—hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The compound that made up more than half of every human on the planet, including me. Liquid matter that could bend to my will. My will.

I focused on exactly where the veil hung in the atmosphere.

“Dune. Dune!”


I held a finger up to my lips. Teague was too far away to hear Hallie’s whispers, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

“You’re on a boat,” she whispered. “In the river. And you’re fine. How?”

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“Because you’re on a boat in the river, and I have to be fine to help you get back to dry land.”

Her eyes softened, and in that moment, I wanted to touch her more than I wanted to breathe.

“Hal, I have an idea, but we don’t have a lot of time, so you have to trust me.”

“Tell me what to do.”

“Don’t look at me, for starters.”

She focused on the dock as I briefly explained the plan. “I’m going to try to guide Teague into a veil using the river.”

Hallie’s eyes went wide. “You’re going to use your ability.”

“I don’t see any other options, and I’m going to need your help. Teague has Cat’s exotic matter. I need you to try to get the necklace off. It’s the missing ingredient to get her into the veil.”

“I’ll try.” She straightened, and I flattened myself out against the side of the cabin seconds before Teague said her name.

“Hallie. Why aren’t you in the cabin?”

“I want to say a melancholy good-bye to my childhood home. Not that you understand why, because that would require emotion.”

Hallie stepped away from the railing. That was my cue.

I breathed in and out and called the current. It complied with a slight shift toward the opposite bank.

Adjusting things too fast could cause an accident. As it stood, it was only a matter of time before one of the deckhands noticed me.

I tried not to think about the day, all those years ago, when I had asked the ocean for help and it gave me the wrong answer. Hallie stood on the boat deck, five feet away from her mother.

I couldn’t mess this up.

I tried again, shifting the flow a little more this time. Not enough. The crewmen had already begun to loosen the moorings. Stern, midship, and bowline.

Teague wasn’t in position, and Hallie was still trying to take off the pendant.

I closed my eyes to concentrate and gave the current one more nudge.

“Stop! No!”

Hallie, in trouble. My eyes flew open, expecting an out-of-control rip. Instead, I saw Teague staring at me. Fury flashed across her face, quickly replaced by cunning. She grabbed Hallie’s arm.

“Stay away from him.” Hallie dug her heels into the deck. “Stop. I won’t let you do this! I won’t do this.”

Teague became only more determined, yanking her daughter behind her.

Her intent was written all over her face. She was going to kill me, and she was going to use Hallie to do it.


My mother lunged for Dune with determination and a grip that would leave bruises on my arm. I went limp to slow her down.

That’s when a rip of a woman in a cancan costume stepped directly into our path. Mom lurched to the side to avoid it, and I broke free of her grasp and ran for Dune.

I exhaled the second he wrapped me in his arms. The relief and comfort that flooded through me felt like more than love. It felt like family.

“I can’t get the pendant off. There must be a trick to the chain clasp.”

He uttered a low oath. “It’s soldered closed.”

The development changed the plan, but gave us leverage. As long as I had the pendant around my neck and one hand on Dune, my mother wouldn’t touch me. Too big of a risk for her to lose her powers and her life. But I didn’t think anything would stop the rips. Their number only grew larger.

I faced her. “I see you’ve stopped in your tracks.”

“I see you’ve forgotten about this.” She held up the gun. “You can stand in front of him from here to Key West, but you can’t stop a bullet.”

I knew the words weren’t empty.

“I’ll go with you,” I bargained. “We’ll get on the speedboat and head to open waters and leave him here. You don’t have to shoot him.”

“You think he’ll stop looking?”

“None of them will.” From the look on Mom’s face, she agreed.

He couldn’t die. Not here. Not like this. Thanks to Jack Landers, there was another out.

“Don’t kill him,” I was reduced to whispering. “Erase him. Make him forget. He won’t be a threat to you anymore.”

She crooked a finger at the cabin. Someone had been inside the whole time. Listening. Watching.

Poe. Smiling at my mother.


I wanted to rip out Poe’s heart and throw it and him to the bottom of the Mississippi. I hoped my face showed just how much. He was grinning, his posture relaxed.

A sharp whistle sounded on the other side of the deck. The moorings were stowed, and the riverboat pulled away from the dock. Poe’s eyes stopped for one second on the veil that hung downriver as he walked toward Teague.

Hallie tensed in my arms as he passed, and I held her tighter.

“Well?” Poe stopped in front of Teague and crossed his arms over his chest. “You called your dog; he came.”

“There are four members of the Hourglass in New Orleans. Hallie believes they’ll look until they find her. You need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“Now?” Poe asked. “Or can I eat first?”

“How can you do this? Joke about it?” Hallie’s voice broke. “Less than twenty-four hours ago, you were trying to—”

“Trying to what? Get in your pants? Oh no, wait. You’re always the one trying to get in mine.”

“Shut up.” The growl came from deep in my chest, and my fists ached for Poe’s face. “You apologize. Right now, you son of a—”

“It’s okay.” Hallie put her hand on my arm.

“No, it isn’t,” I argued, but I dialed down the testosterone.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Hallie asked Poe. She had to raise her voice to be heard over the now churning paddle wheels. “You’re supposed to be my best friend.”

“Sweetheart, I’m your only friend. And what a sorry pair we are. Or were,” he said, giving me the once-over. “As the case may be. Seems you’ve gone tropical.”

I just smiled. He could insult me all he wanted, but if he breathed too close to Hallie, I was going to take him out.

“There’s nothing wrong with me, Hallie. I survive. Good or bad, right or wrong, your mother is my best chance. It’s not as bad as all that, is it? At least we’ll be together.” Turning to Teague, he said, “You want me to take out four, yeah?” He leaned over and slid his knife out of his boot.

Hallie shuddered.

Teague smiled. “All four.”

“Who’s here?”

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