Myra McEntire


The second book in the Hourglass series, 2012

To Ethan, Andrew, and Charlie,

the lights of my life. I love you all the time, no matter what,

and I’m so glad you are mine.

To CJ Redwine and Jodi Meadows.

I can’t list all the reasons why,

because some of them aren’t appropriate,

but we know. We know.

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chapter 1

Maybe getting drunk and dressing up like a pirate for the masquerade was a bad idea.

Okay, definitely a bad idea. At least the pirate part.

I stared openly at the girl standing in line next to me, who did everything she could to avoid looking in my direction. Her mouth was a masterpiece, the lower lip slightly fuller than the top. Or it could’ve been a pout. Either way, it was the kind of lip that begged to be between my teeth. I had no idea how she got that ridiculously curvy body into a skintight golden cat suit, but I was all for helping her get out of it.

I leaned toward her. “Meow.”

Best come-on line ever.

She assessed me through a slim, black mask. “If you ask to rub my belly or make any of the obvious body-part jokes, I’ll steal your sword and you’ll leave here needing a peg leg. Or worse. Got it, sailor?”

“Aye, aye, Captain.” I gave her an enthusiastic salute.

She turned her back to me and stood on her tiptoes, craning her neck to check the progress of the line. The rear view was so spectacular, I considered not saying anything else to her until we were inside so I could enjoy it in peace.

But she caught me looking.

“You are dressed like a cat, right? Or a tiger?” I said quickly, the words slurring a little. Everything in my line of vision shifted to the left. “Are you here for the masquerade?”

“No. I regularly walk the streets of Ivy Springs dressed like a jungle animal.”

“Rawr.” I pretended to swipe her with imaginary claws and hissed.

No response.

I rested my back against the rough brick wall, pulling the pirate wig off my head to scratch my scalp before putting it back on. It felt cockeyed. Or maybe that was just my brain.

“They aren’t going to let you in looking like that without asking questions.” Tiger Girl eyed my dreadlocks warily. “How much did you have to drink? Are you going to puke on my shoes?”

I wanted to close my eyes because my head was spinning, but I couldn’t stop staring at her. I let my mind loose for a second, trying to get a read, but the alcohol had done its job.

“I won’t puke on your shoes,” I told her, while promising myself to get my hands on those curves. Giving in to the dizzy, I closed my eyes for a second. “I’ve just had one hell of a day.”

“And I guess now you’re going to tell me about it?”

There wasn’t really any good way to tell a girl I’d never seen before that my dad had recently come back from the dead, my mom was in a coma, and an entire battalion of Civil War soldiers had appeared on my front porch that very afternoon. “I’m more of a doer than a talker.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”

I winked suggestively. “By any chance, would you be a doer?”

“Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?”

Hurt blistered into anger, sizzling beneath the surface of my skin. She didn’t know. It wasn’t intentional. Her eyes told me that she’d seen evidence of my temper, and I pushed it down, hard.

“The line’s moving.” I inclined my head in the direction of the doors, fighting my own emotions harder than I’d ever fought anyone else’s.

To my relief, the girl followed the crowd into the Phone Company.

The inside was transformed. The Phone Company was no longer a classy, upscale restaurant but a garish, fall- themed explosion. Huge webs with hundreds of tiny fake spiders hanging from the spun cotton strands adorned the walls, and a scarecrow graced every corner. Ghosts strung up on invisible wires swooped through the crowd at random, leaving shrieking laughter in their wake.

There were pumpkins everywhere, and an ungodly amount of candy corn, but what would’ve truly scared the partygoers were the things they couldn’t see.

A veil shimmered on the stage. Veils were gateways that served as holding places, lobbies to the future or past, where travelers stood before they entered the bridges that took them to other times. They looked like walls of sunlight shining on water.

Wherever there was a veil, there was usually a “rip.”

A rip-or ripple-was like seeing the same scene from a film on a loop, over and over, except it’s a person stuck in time and superimposed on the present. Not corporeal, and not visible to anyone who didn’t carry the specific time travel gene.

Until lately. Because now, I could see rips, too.

Which probably explained the jazz trio people kept walking through. When Em appeared and walked around the trio toward me, my rip theory was confirmed.

From the expression on her face, I was about to get hell handed to me on a platter.

“Kaleb Ballard. I should kick your ass.”

No one as tiny as Emerson Cole should have so much power over me. She dropped her parasol on an empty table, pushed her hoop skirt to the side, and did her best to wrestle me into a sleek leather booth. I put my fingertips on the edge of the table to gain equilibrium, but I was too unsteady on my feet. I sat.

“I thought we’d cured you of your drinking problem.” She punched my bicep. Twice.

“Ow.” She could hurt me physically, too. “I thought we’d cured you of your violence problem.”

With her blue silk dress, white gloves, and blond hair curled into perfect ringlets, she looked like a deranged escapee from Gone with the Wind’s Tara. Or from a Southern-themed wedding party whose bride really hates her bridesmaids.

“Seriously, Kaleb.” Her concern sliced the cut a little bit deeper. “Why?”

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