It was grandiose, an obnoxious kind of new South. Everything was shiny, or new and dulled down to look old. I was used to Liam’s home office, which was nice enough, but dusty and full of books and his personal collection of hourglasses. Liam’s office looked like he worked in it. Paul Girard’s library looked like he posed in it.

“Come in.” Girard stood. He was your basic slick-haired, shifty-eyed, moneyed gangster, with excellent taste in suits.


After introductions, Girard asked about our flight and general well-being, but the chitchat didn’t last long. Liam sat down, and so did I, balancing on the edge of a masculine couch.

“You’re the guy who’s supposed to help my daughter?” Girard sounded doubtful.

“Yes, sir.” I nodded.

He looked me over, summed me up. “Try to relax.”

I slid back on the seat. It was the best I could manage.

Girard continued the stare-down. “Try to relax more.”

I put one arm on the back of the couch and smiled. Felt my lips wobble. Wanted to go home really, really, desperately.

Liam took pity on my inner introvert. “Dune has been with the Hourglass for several years. I’ve told you about his work history, so you know he’s reliable. He also happens to have more knowledge about the Infinityglass than anyone, even myself.”

“Knowledge. Great.” Girard tilted his head to the side, regarding me. “Does he talk?”

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“He … yes.” I’d never seen Liam falter before.

“I do.” I moved back to the edge of the couch. “Talk, I mean.”

When Girard shifted, I saw the gun holster under his jacket. Everyone in this house was armed. “The Infinityglass. What do you know?”

This was my chance. “Horologists name it as one of the biggest finds in the field, at least the ones who cop to its being real.”

“I’m certain my daughter is real.”

I made a sound somewhere between a gulp and a laugh. “Well, horologists believe it’s an object, not a human. I should explain what horo—”

“I know what horology is. Liam started out doing all your talking for you. Do horologists do all your thinking for you? What makes you believe it’s a human?”

I looked at Liam, and he handed over the briefcase I’d felt too self-conscious to carry. I flipped the latches and pushed it toward Girard. “That’s my personal external drive. It holds every shred of evidence ever collected on the Infinityglass, a couple of hundred years’ worth, and includes new information that was recently discovered on a Skroll.”

“A scroll?”

“Not the old-school kind. A digital storage device, kind of like a tablet on steroids, with holograms.” This specific Skroll held information about the Infinityglass, and had changed hands too many times to count. “The Hourglass stole the Skroll from your wife. She never managed to get it open. I did.”

It had taken me two weeks to crack it.

“Do you still have it?” Girard asked.

“No. We gave it back to your wife. I have everything that was on it. And I left it altered. Now it’s missing some vital documents.” Taking information off the Skroll had been a gamble, and one that could have cost lives. From where I sat now, the risk had been worth it. “The information on this Skroll is the key to the Infinityglass. I’ve read through everything I can, and I’m in the process of translating the rest. There’s centuries of information to cover.”

“You’re here because a man I trusted deeply believed in you.” He looked at Liam. “All I’m interested in is what being the Infinityglass means to my daughter.”

Liam gestured to me. “That’s why I brought you Dune.”

I nodded. “Finding out is my goal, sir, and I’m one hundred percent committed to it.”

“If you work for the Hourglass, you have an ability. What is it?”

I swallowed, hard. “I can control water. The tides. Moon phases—that’s how it’s connects with the time gene. It’s not something I mess with very often. Too hard to control.”

“Yet you come to New Orleans. ‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.’ ” The man had been in my presence for all of five minutes, and had already zeroed in on one of my biggest fears and quoted “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in the process. “How are you going to handle the mighty Mississippi so close by?”

“I don’t plan on spending much time by the river. Or lake. Or the ocean. Nothing volatile. If working for you requires me to do so … I’ll find a way around it.”

I didn’t look at Liam. He knew what a job involving that much water would do to me. The last job I’d been on for the Hourglass that involved my ability had been the previous summer. A tiny country stream had required a reroute from a floodplain. I’d shaped the water as I controlled it long enough to move it to the new trench that had been dug. Then Nate and I had helped fill the now-dry section of creek bed with clay mud.

I’d acted like it was simple, no problem at all, but I’d seen a dead fish on the grass, a result of my shoddy navigation, and I’d had to fight off panic.

“I don’t foresee a circumstance in which your being on the water would be necessary. Unless you can’t handle the pool in the back.”

“That’s not a problem.”

Girard sat back in his seat. “Tell me what you know about my business.”

I gave him the short version because I didn’t know how to approach the long one. “You deal in rare antiquities. People with time-related abilities assist.”

“Succinct. Diplomatic. Nice.” Girard crossed his ankle over one knee. “The Hourglass has a very high bar when it comes to morality. I acquire antiquities under certain furtive circumstances. If you’re going to come to work for me, you are, indeed, going to work for me. Jobs that could cause the wrong sorts of people to ask questions. Are you prepared to answer them?”

I didn’t know if the wrong sorts of people were the good guys or the bad. Paul Girard had no time-related ability, but businessmen like him were genius judges of human nature. Uncertainty wouldn’t do in this situation.

“I’m prepared.”

“Good. Ideally, I can keep you out of that end, since your main purpose is helping my daughter. But if it becomes part of your cover, so be it. I don’t want Hallie to know what you’re really doing here.” He stared at me and I nodded, confirming I was totally on board. “I told her I was planning to hire new security. We’ll let her believe you’re part of her new detail.”

“I don’t—I have no idea how to be a bodyguard. I don’t even know how to fake it.”

“It doesn’t matter. I rarely have anyone on her in the house. She’ll be really, really pissed off, and my daughter, pissed off …” He looked at me like he felt sorry for me.

“Does she have any idea she’s the Infinityglass?” Liam asked.

“Her ability is transmutation. I don’t believe she knows she’s the Infinityglass.”

Liam’s frown went wrinkle deep. “Do you plan on telling her?”

“That depends.” Girard asked, focusing on me, “Do you have answers for her?”

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