My Soul to Keep Page 26

She smiled and squirmed for his benefit, but when her gaze landed on me, it was cold enough to build a layer of ice in hell.

I rolled my eyes and stepped around my cousin, tugging my backpack higher on my shoulder as I walked briskly toward my first class. Behind me, Scott asked Sophie if she felt like skipping fourth period with him.

I didn’t hear her answer—though I was pretty sure it was a yes—because Nash’s footsteps pounded rapidly on the tile after me. “Wow. That was…unexpected,” he said, slowing to walk beside me.

“Me, or Scott?”

“You.” I heard the grin in Nash’s voice, but glanced up at him to be sure. “I liked it.”

“She had it coming. But Scott…”

“He’s just messing around,” Nash insisted as we passed his class without slowing. Mine was on the other end of the main hallway.

“I don’t care about that.” Scott’s flirting didn’t bother me because it drove Sophie half out of her mind. “But, Nash. He was staring at the lockers behind us like he expected monsters to jump out and drag him off.” Which really only happens in the Netherworld. “He’s wasted.”

“I know.”

“We have to do something.” I lowered my voice for the next part, leaning closer to him to be heard. “Obviously stealing his stash was a short-term solution.”

“I know,” Nash whispered as we slowed to a stop several feet from my advanced-math classroom. “He’s hallucinating, but I don’t think he’s hearing things yet, and he’s still making sense.” Nash shrugged. “As much sense as he ever did, anyway. So I don’t think it’s too late for him yet.”

“What does that mean?” Suddenly I had chill bumps beneath my jacket sleeves. “Why would it be too late?”

Nash’s face fell in a mixture of sympathy and surprise, and he tugged me toward the lockers, out of the stream of traffic. “Kaylee, the effects of Demon’s Breath on a human are irreversible. If he takes enough to actually sever his tie to reality, cutting off his source may save his life, but it won’t fix him. He’ll wind up locked in a padded room.” He hesitated, searching my face for the truth. “My mom didn’t tell you that?”

“No…” I closed my eyes in horror until I had my expression under control. “She didn’t know anyone was actually taking it.” I pulled my backpack higher on my shoulder, almost fascinated by the irony—the Netherworld had proved to me that I wasn’t crazy, but its effect on Doug and Scott would be the opposite.

“How do you know all this?” I glanced at the wall clock over his shoulder to see that we had less than two minutes until the bell. So much for doing my chemistry homework….

Nash ran one cool finger down my jaw to the point ofmy chin. “Most bean sidhes don’t grow up thinking they’re human, Kay.” He glanced around at the rapidly emptying hall, then back at me. “Anyway, we have to cut off Carter’s access and figure out how to treat him for withdrawal, or…”

“…eventually frost will literally drive him crazy. Or kill him,” I finished, leaning against a row of green lockers.

“Yeah, if by ‘eventually,’ you mean very, very soon,” Nash said, a flash of true fear stirring in his eyes. “He’s obviously really sensitive to it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Scott probably doesn’t have any non-human blood in his gene pool. Sophie, for instance, is human, but she’d probably be much less sensitive to the side effects of Demon’s Breath—though she could become just as physically addicted to it—because of her dad’s non-human blood.”

“And by ‘non-human’—” my voice dropped even lower and I leaned closer to him “—you mean bean sidhes?”

“Yes, us, and anyone else originally native to the Netherworld. There are a few other species that live here in the human world with us. Like harpies, and sirens, and—”

“Whoa…” I felt my eyes widen, and could only hope I didn’t look like a complete drooling idiot to the rest of the student body. “You’re serious?”

His irises swam in sympathy. “I keep forgetting you grew up in virtual darkness.”

“Well, that makes one of us,” I mumbled, frustrated all over again by how much I still had to learn about the Netherworld and its non-or part-human elements. Like me.

“Anyway, the less human you are, the less susceptible to the effects of Demon’s Breath. Though fiends are the obvious exception.”

Because those little buggers only existed in one of two states: stoned, and trying to be stoned.

“So, since Doug’s addiction isn’t progressing as quickly, he probably has some non-human blood in his family somewhere, right?”

“It’s possible.” Nash glanced over his shoulder to where my math teacher was eyeing us both and tapping her watch. He headed toward the classroom with me. “But it could be way, way back in his family tree, and he probably knows nothing about it.”

“Are you joining us today, Ms. Cavanaugh?” my math teacher asked.

I nodded, and Nash squeezed my hand, then he trotted backward down the hall. “See you at lunch….”

I ducked into my classroom, sliding into my seat just as the tardy bell rang, but while my classmates pulled out homework assignments and frantically filled in the blanks they’d forgotten, I couldn’t stop thinking about Doug Fuller, and the only thing we had in common, other than Emma.

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