My Soul to Keep Page 29

“Okaaay…” Nash frowned. “So what’s your dad going to say when he finds out you’ve known about this for nearly a week and didn’t tell him? When he finds out your car was totaled by a guy wasted on Demon’s Breath? He’ll never let you out of the house again. You want to be grounded for the rest of your life?”

“Of course not. But so what if he does ground me? At least Scott and Doug will still be alive.” And hopefully sane. And frankly, being grounded again seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for someone else’s life. “Not to mention Emma, and even Sophie. What happens if we don’t say anything, and Sophie gets drawn into this? How can I ever look my uncle in the eye, knowing I let his daughter die? Again?”

Nash closed his eyes and breathed deeply, and he didn’t look at me until his knuckles were no longer white around the paintbrush he clutched like a lifeline. “Fine. It’s not like I can argue with that logic.” But he certainly looked like he wanted to. “But let’s try it ourselves first, okay? Let’s go to the party and meet Everett. Let me see what kind of system he has going before we go tattle. I’m only asking you for two more days. All right?”

I hesitated. I understood Nash’s reluctance to rat out his friends, but I did not understand his reluctance to keep them alive. “Fine. But if we can’t do anything about him, I’m telling my dad. That night. I’m not kidding, Nash. This has already gone too far.”

Nash nodded and dropped his paintbrush on the white-splattered canvas. “I agree with you there,” he whispered, eyes swirling slowly with frustration and a little fear. “This whole thing has gone way too far.”


WEDNESDAY NIGHT WAS hell on earth.

After painting carnival booths until dinnertime, Nash and I grabbed fast-food burgers and ate while I rushed through only the homework that had to be done, for the teachers who actually checked. Then I fell asleep on my couch with my head on his lap while he watched old action movies until my dad got home.

When the front door slammed, I woke up and rolled over to find my father staring down at me, looking pissed beyond words. Apparently napping with my nose pressed into my boyfriend’s denim-clad crotch was not on the list of approved sleeping arrangements.

Who knew?

But when I broke into tears explaining that I was afraid to sleep alone, in case I woke up in the Netherworld again, my dad’s scowl softened into a sympathetic frown, and he suggested we camp out in the living room that night, to put both of our fears to rest. That way, if I started screaming, he could wake me up before I crossed over.

A living-room slumber party with my dad sounded a little juvenile, but I was willing to try anything that might keep me anchored to my own reality.

Unfortunately, his plan worked out better in theory than in practice.

Around midnight, my dad fell asleep in his recliner, head rolled to one side, bottom lip jiggling each time a snore rumbled from his mouth. But I was still awake two hours later, when the Judge Judy marathon gave way to an infomercial advertising men’s hair-loss products. I couldn’t relax. I was terrified of waking up in a field of razor wheat, barefoot and hoarse, and unable to move without getting shredded like secret government documents.

So after twenty minutes of watching old men have their hair spray-painted on, I exchanged my pj bottoms and Betty Boop slippers for jeans, a thick pair of socks, and my heaviest pair of boots from the bottom of my closet. After slipping on the black quilted jacket Aunt Val had given me for Christmas the year before, I snuck back into the living room and collapsed on the couch, finally feeling armed for sleep.

That way, if I crossed over, at least I’d be warm, and dressed in defense of razor-sharp, literal blades of grass.

I even considered running outside for the lid to the old trash can we raked leaves into, but in the end decided that would only bring up more questions from my father when the crash of metal woke him up.

Finally prepared for the worst, I managed four hours of light dozing, during which several extra loud commercials broke through my delicate slumber. But by six in the morning, I was awake for good, reading the directions on the back of the coffee grounds, hoping I wouldn’t mess up my first pot too badly.

By the time I’d showered and dressed, my father was padding wearily around the kitchen in his bare feet, and the coffee was done. “Not bad.” He held up a nearly full mug. “Your first batch?”

Sighing, I sank onto a chair to pull mismatched socks from my feet. “Yeah.” I forced an exhausted smile, wondering how I would ever make it through my history review session if I couldn’t even find a proper pair of socks from the pile of clean laundry in the basket in my room.

I had to hand it to Aunt Val: she may have been a vain, soul-stealing, interdimensional criminal, but she’d always kept the laundry neatly folded…

“Harmony and Brendon are coming over tonight to discuss your problem. To see if we can’t figure out how and why it’s happening.” My father paused, pouring coffee into another mug for me—this one oversized. “I didn’t hear you sing.” Which was how male bean sidhes heard the female bean sidhe’s wail. “Does that mean you didn’t have any death dreams?”

I shook my head, rubbing my temples. “I had another one. Same as last time, from what I remember. But this time the Geico gecko woke me up before the screaming started.”

My dad frowned and crossed the room to set a heavily doctored mug of coffee on the table in front of me. “I could call you in sick, if you want to stay home and rest.”

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