“Don’t think about it now.”

“I’ll think about it every day for the rest of my life.” I nodded at the blowtorch. “Ready?”


He fired it up. It looked like the kind chefs used to burn the sugar on crème brulees.

“Hold the pendant and use it to lift the chain. It’s going to get hot.”

I shuddered when Poe slipped a finger between the necklace and my skin.

“And Hallie, I didn’t mean anything I said. You know that, yeah?”

“I do.”

“I’m glad you two found each other, jealous even, except for the circumstances. Your grandchildren will never tire of the stories.”

The hiss of the blowtorch kept me from any commentary. The chain was unbearably hot, and the second I felt it give, I jerked it off my neck. “Thank you.”

“Least I could do.” Poe gave me a quick kiss on top of the head and disappeared into the cabin.

“What are you going to do with it?” Dune slid his phone back in his pocket and leaned against the railing.

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“Get rid of it.” It was about an inch and a half long, with flower detailing, and an empty setting meant for a stone. Morning sunlight shone off the metal and I caught a hint of shadow. “It’s two pieces. Should I open it?”

“If you want to.” He nodded and took a step closer. “Just be careful.”

I twisted the top of the cylinder. It gave a little, so I applied more force. The lid came off. “There’s something inside.”

Shaking, I emptied the contents into my palm. An hourglass, no bigger than a safety pin. It hummed against my skin.

Dune stared at it for a long moment before meeting my eyes.

“Mom implied I needed this to transfer abilities. I believe you’re looking at the result of your quest,” I whispered.

“No.” He shook his head. “My quest led me to you.”

I slid the hourglass back into its secret home and replaced the lid.

“You sure you don’t want it?” I dangled the pendant from the chain, studying his face.

“I already have everything I want.”

I kissed him, long and hard. Together we walked to the boat railing.

I balled the chain and pendant up, made a wish, and threw them both into the Mississippi.

Dune, March

I met her in front of Saint Louis Cathedral. “Hurry!” Hallie dragged me across Jackson Square. “They’ve been waiting for twenty minutes already.”

“I told you I forgot my wallet and had to go back to the apartment. This is way different from the first time you saw them.”

“Heck, yeah! We’re planning a trip to Hawaii.” She tugged on my hand a little harder. “I’m excited, and you’re as slow as molasses.”

“You’re on the phone or video chat with Em or Lily every day, and you have been for the past three months. We didn’t decide on Hawaii until last week. What were you all talking about all the other times?”


She silenced me with a kiss, but I started up again as soon as it was over.

“You didn’t give in and tell them about your Newcomb acceptance, did you?” I asked.

“No. Did you tell them about Tulane?”

“Nope.” Just Liam, but he didn’t count, since the information had been part of my resignation letter. He’d given the school transfer and my new job his full blessing. Things were about to change at Chronos.

“Rip alert.” Hallie squeezed my hand. “A pirate, I believe. At four o’clock. Do you see him?”

I searched the crowd. “I don’t.”


Liam, Grace, Michael, and Emerson claimed the rips were back to normal, at least as normal as they’d ever been. Hallie could still see them, but only one at a time, and they only noticed her if she approached them directly.

I wasn’t done with the Skroll. There were still more passages to translate. After the continuum calmed down, we’d learned that an Infinityglass had the power to return individual rips to their places in time.

“Still want to try to send one back?” I asked.

“Eventually.” She gave me a shoulder bump. “But not today. You ready to steer a cruise ship with your mind?”

“I’m willing to walk on the beach with you, but only if you hold my hand.”

“Deal.” She turned to face me, raised up on her toes.

It didn’t mater that we were on the sidewalk, in full view and in the way of locals and tourists alike. When our lips touched, I was lost to everything but her.

“Dune! Dune!” I heard my name and pulled away from Hallie. We both scanned the crowd this time.

“Nate!” He was racing across Jackson Square, faster than he should be, as usual. I didn’t even attempt to be cool. A man hug and a few back slaps later, I heard Hallie clear her throat.

“I see you there.” Nate’s grin had cheeky written all over it as he turned toward her. “I thought my bestie was exaggerating when he told me how sexalicious you are in person. I thought you were a hottie through a computer screen.”

“Nate,” I warned. “I did not use that word.”

“I think I need details of this conversation,” Hallie said.

“Wouldn’t take very much to persuade me to give them to you.”

“Stop. Now.” I tried for stern, but my face gave me away. “I’ll tell my secrets when I’m ready.”

“I’m Nate.” He held out his hand. “And I know all his secrets, in case you’re ready before he is.”

“I’m Hallie. When do I get to see your dance moves?”

“B-boy. More tricks than moves.” He did a couple, and the crowd around us applauded. Show-off.

“Maybe we can trade knowledge on that, too,” Hallie said, after Nate finished taking his bows.

“Let’s cut Dune out of the picture completely. Run away with me, and we’ll live off the tips people put in our upturned fedoras.”

Hallie laughed, wide open, and I watched Nate fall in love. I couldn’t blame him.

“Okay, kids, let’s go. Everyone’s waiting. Betcha can’t keep up.” He took off.

“We can try.” Hallie grabbed my hand.

When we reached Café du Monde, we found Em, Michael, Kaleb, Lily, Nate, Ava, and Poe at an outside table. All seven of them were covered in varied amounts of powdered sugar.

“You’re here!” Em dropped her beignet but held on to her coffee as Hallie hugged her. Lily, less sugary than everyone else, was next.

Once they’d settled down, I pointed to the only girl still seated. “This is Ava.”

“Hi, Ava.” Hallie knew about Ava’s past with Jack. She’d been the one to insist that Nate and Ava be a part of the Hawaii trip, claiming everyone who’d been affected by him deserved a vacation. “I heard you dance, too. Pointe?”

“Mostly contemporary.” Ava’s hands twisted in her lap, and she looked like she didn’t know what to do once the words were out.

“You know, I love contemporary.” Hallie took the empty seat next to Ava. “You’ll have to come to my studio for a dance play date. If that doesn’t sound lame.”

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