My Soul to Keep Page 44

I glared at Nash in a cold wash of comprehension. He wasn’t just trying to get Emma out of the way, he was getting rid of me, too! But I wasn’t going to be pushed out of danger because of some prehistoric sense of chivalry. Nash couldn’t even cross over on his own! He needed me.

My jaw clenched, and I had to force my mouth open to answer the question, as Emma stared at me beseechingly, still holding the front of her drenched top. “Of course.” I dug my keys from my pocket, intending to hand them to her when Nash shot me a warning look and stepped close enough to whisper in my ear, though it probably looked like he was going for a much more intimate contact. “Go with her and keep her out there for a few minutes. I don’t want her to come back looking for us and walk in on something she shouldn’t see or hear. Do you?” he continued, before I could protest.

And I could hardly say no. Keeping Emma out of danger was my idea. I just hadn’t planned on overseeing that part of the plan personally….

I nodded grimly and clenched my keys in my fist, glaring straight at Nash so he could see the anger surely churning in my eyes.

But he only shrugged apologetically, then watched me lead her out the door and into the frigid night, headed toward my car and away from the action—and the answers I was desperate for.

“This f-f-figures,” Emma said, chattering violently as we clacked down the brick driveway. “I actually remembered to bring a change of clothes to work and I got off early. I should have known something would go wrong.” She crossed her arms over her chest in spite of the cold beer probably freezing to her bra at that very moment. “Maybe we should stay at your house tonight, so I can wash the beer out of this shirt before my mom smells it. Or Traci. Traci’s going to kill me.”

“It’s your sister’s shirt?” I rubbed my arms, trying to get rid of the chill bumps prickling my skin.

“You think my mom would let me buy something like this?” She held her arms out to show off the plunging neckline of the clingy, sparkly top.

When I had the car unlocked, Emma crawled into the backseat and pulled her shirt off while I dug in my bag for the one I’d planned to wear in the morning. It was just a T-shirt, but because I was smaller than Emma up top, it would look much better on her. Unfortunately, for that same reason, she’d either have to go braless or stay cold, wet, and smelly. My spare bra wouldn’t fit her unless she could time-travel back to age twelve.

“Does this look obscene?” Em asked, and I turned to see her pulling my snug, crimson T-shirt into place over her braless chest.


“Good.” She grinned and glanced at the rearview mirror.

“Do you have a brush in there?” Em nodded at the bag I still held in my lap.

“I forgot it.” I’d packed in a hurry. “But Ithink Nash keeps a comb in his duffel.” I pointed to the right rear floorboard, where Nash had tossed his gym bag after school.

Emma lifted the bag onto the seat with one hand and laughed. “Not planning to do much reading over the holiday, is he?”

“Not if I can help it.” I grinned, thinking about two straight weeks with nothing to keep us apart but a few shifts at the Cinemark and what little sleep we couldn’t do without. Assuming we ever solved my current sleeping issues.

Emma unzipped the bag. “What’s this? It’s cold.” Something red and shapeless took up half of the duffel. Emma pulled it out with one hand, and her brows rose in confusion.

My next words died in my throat. I could barely breathe around them.

She held a bright red balloon, closed by a weighted black plastic clip.

No. My hand clenched around the back of the front passenger’s seat as I twisted for a better look.

“I thought Nash wasn’t into this.” The surprise in Emma’s voice was a weak echo of the denial I wanted to shout.

“He’s not,” I insisted, in spite of the traitorous voice of doubt in my head and the painful pounding of my heart.

“Everett’s balloons are black.” But that didn’t mean anything. Regardless of color, why else would Nash have a clipped, weighted party balloon in his gym bag? A very cold clipped, weighted party balloon…

It’s not his. Maybe he’d confiscated it from another teammate Doug had sold to. After all, I’d never seen Nash talking to his own shadow or twitching from withdrawal. Nor had I ever smelled Demon’s Breath on him. In fact, I’d only smelled…

Peppermint. When did Nash start chewing gum?

No. He’d helped me get rid of Scott’s first balloon, and…

I sank into the driver’s seat, devastated, as the pieces started to fall into place. I hadn’t actually seen Nash give the balloon to Tod. I’d just assumed he had because he’d said he would.

The mood swings. Aggression. Cold hands. He’d stopped me from telling my dad about Everett. Then he’d sent me outside with Emma instead of letting me confront the dealer.

Nash was using. Tears burned in my eyes. I’d wondered briefly before, then dismissed my suspicion as paranoia. I hadn’t wanted to believe it. But I couldn’t deny it now. How could I be so stupid?

“Kaylee?” Emma said, one hand on the back of my seat.

“We have to go. Now.” I started to shove my key into the ignition, then stopped when I remembered the balloon. I would not have that thing in the car with us.

My vision swimming in tears, I twisted and grabbed the balloon from her. “Stay here,” I said, then got out and slammed my door, leaving Emma to stare after me in surprise.

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