My Soul to Keep Page 11

“Nah. I had an extra balloon, but I sold it yesterday.” One corner of his mouth twitched twice, and my stomach flipped. The fiend we’d met in the Netherworld had twitched just like that, from withdrawal. “And I huffed the last of mine last night.”

“It comes in a balloon?” Nash frowned and his irises suddenly went still, like he’d flipped the off switch on his emotional gauge.

“Yeah. Black party balloons, like the kind we used to pop in the back of the class to watch Ms. Eddin’s substitute jump. Remember, back in eighth grade?”

Nash nodded absently.

“What friend?” I demanded, my hands both clenched around my Coke. “Who did you sell the other balloon to?” But I knew the answer before Doug even opened his mouth. Because that’s just the kind of luck I had.

Doug picked up his game controller, his hand twitching around the plastic. “Scott Carter.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. I was right. He’d sold his other balloon to my cousin’s boyfriend. And Sophie was cold enough on her own, without exposure to secondhand frost.


“THAT’S JUST GREAT!” I buckled my seat belt as Nash shifted into Reverse. “Doug exposes Emma, then sells half his supply to Scott, who’s just going to turn around and drag Sophie into the whole mess. It’s an epidemic. How are we supposed to stop an epidemic?”

“It’s not an epidemic.” Nash twisted in his seat to check behind us while he backed down the driveway. “It’s two guys who have no idea what they’re into.” The car rocked as the tires dropped from the brick driveway onto the smoother surface of the road, then Nash settled into his seat facing forward.

“And I really don’t think they could expose Emma or Sophie to secondhand Demon’s Breath. Or would that actually be thirdhand?” He tried on a halfhearted grin to go with his joke, but couldn’t pull it off.

“But you don’t actually know that, right? You can’t know for sure that they haven’t been exposed.”

“No, but I don’t think—”

“Why are you trying to brush this off? This isn’t like having a drink at a party or lighting up behind the shop building. We’re talking about humans inhaling the toxic life force sucked out of a demon from another world.” Quite possibly the weirdest sentence I’d ever said aloud… “And according to your mom, if they survive addiction—and that’s a big if—their scrambled brains’ll make Ozzy Osbourne look rational and coherent.”

And as far as I was concerned, insanity—including the risk of being locked up in some mental ward—was worse than death, which would simply put an end to the terminal drama and angst of human existence. Unless you were stupid enough to sell your immortal soul like Addy had…

Nash’s silence drew my gaze, and I found him staring at me, rather than at the road. “You asked my mother about Demon’s Breath?” His voice held a hard quality I’d rarely heard from him before, like his words formed the bricks in a wall I was destined to crash into.

“In reference to Regan.” I rubbed my palms over the denim covering my legs. “I didn’t mention Doug or Emma.” At least, not in the same sentence as Demon’s Breath. “I’m not stupid, Nash.”

“Neither is she!” His palm slammed into the steering wheel and I jumped, then a sharp jolt of anger skittered up my spine.

“She knows. You ran your mouth off, and now she knows everything. Great, Kaylee. Thanks.”

“She doesn’t know. What is wrong with you?” I demanded, fighting to keep from shouting.

“Even if she doesn’t know yet, if this gets as bad as you seem to think it will, she’s going to figure out why you were asking, and then we’re both going to be in serious trouble, Kaylee!”

I rolled my eyes. “If this gets as bad as I know it will, having your mother mad at us will be the least of our problems.” I paused, waiting until my point had a chance to sink in, and when his grip on the wheel eased, I continued, trying to ignore his clenched jaw and tense posture. “We need to know if Scott’s tried it yet.” Thus, whether Sophie was in any potential danger. “And we have to get that balloon away from him, then figure out where this Everett guy is getting his supply.”

Nash exhaled heavily and answered without looking at me. “Yeah. You’re right.” But he didn’t seem very happy about it.

The rest of the ride was quiet and uncomfortable. I was mad at him for getting mad at me, and I didn’t know how to deal with any of that. We’d never had a real fight before.

So we rode in silence and I got lost in my own head, trying to figure out how Demon’s Breath had gotten into the human world in the first place, and how best to wrestle it from the privileged, demanding hands of the Eastlake football team without turning both of us into social rejects.

I didn’t even realize I’d fallen asleep until I woke up in the Cinemark parking lot with my face against the cold passenger’s side window. Confused, I blinked and sat up to find Nash watching me, frowning, his hands clenched around the wheel again.

“You okay?” He looked upset, but made no move to reach for me across the center console.

“Yeah.” I stomped on the floorboard, trying to ease the tingling in my left foot, which hadn’t woken up along with the rest of my body. “Just worried about this whole frost mess.” I glanced at the dashboard clock, surprised to see that my shift started in ten minutes. “And tired, I guess.”

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