My Soul to Keep Page 45

I’d only made it ten steps from the car, my nose already freezing and dripping, when Nash stepped out of Doug’s house and pulled the front door closed. He jogged down the steps and onto the sidewalk, shoving cold-reddened hands into his pockets, then stopped when he saw me.

I wanted to believe his eyes were swirling with something painful—regret, guilt, shame. But the truth was that it was too dark for me to tell.

“Tell me this isn’t yours.” Holding the balloon like a bomb, I stopped about eight feet from him—close enough to read his expression, but not to see his irises—and my stomach flip-flopped painfully. I took a deep breath, so cold it burned my lungs. “Tell me the truth, Nash.”

He flinched and dropped his gaze. So I tried again. “Tell me this isn’t yours.”

Nash sucked in a deep breath and met my gaze. His shoulders slumped and his throat worked furiously, like it was trying to stop whatever he intended to say.

“I can’t, Kaylee. It’s mine.”


NASH’S ADMISSION SHATTERED my fragile composure, splintering my thoughts like jagged shards of ice. For a moment, I could only stare at him, in shock so complete my whole body went numb—and not from the cold. Then the truth of his statement sank in. I spun around and stomped toward my car, anger and confusion raging inside me like two storm fronts about to collide.

“Kaylee, wait!” His words weren’t what stopped me. It was the anguish in his voice, the crack on the last syllable, that made my feet pause and my hands clench dangerously around the unnaturally cold balloon.

Forcing my grip to relax, I turned slowly, struggling to unclench my jaw so I could speak. “This is what nearly got me killed yesterday, Nash.” My voice was low and hoarse from both the winter air and the raw, holding-back-tears ache in my throat. “What can you possibly say to make me feel better about that? To make it okay that you’ve been taking the same shit Doug and Scott are taking, and lying to me about it?”

The bitter wind stung my face, almost as painfully cold as the balloon stiffening my fingers, and when he didn’t answer, I turned and headed for my car again. But this time his feet pounded on the sidewalk after me. “Kaylee, stop!”

Instead, I broke into a jog. Emma started to open her door, but I shook my head, telling her I was fine. And to stay in the car.

“It was an accident, Kay! Give me a chance to explain.”

I whirled on him so fast he skidded to a halt, surprised by my sudden, furious stand. “You accidentally took a lethal inhalant native to another reality? How is that even possible, Nash? You just happen to breathe in at the wrong time?”

“Yeah.” He shrugged, as if it were that simple, and I could only blink, unsure whether or not to take him seriously. Or if it even mattered.Even if he had inhaled unintentionally, what was he doing close enough to a hellion to breathe in its used air? Beyond that, what was he doing in the Netherworld in the first place?

“Can we go somewhere and talk?” Nash’s voice was steady now, though his hands trembled visibly, even when he crossed his arms over his chest.

“I’m not leaving Emma alone, with Doug inside replenishing his stock. Are you going to help me get rid of the dealer, or don’t you care if the rest of your friends wind up sharing a padded room with Scott?”

Nash flinched, and I almost felt guilty when I recognized the devastating regret etched in every line on his face. “Everett’s gone, Kaylee,” he said, remorse riding each word. “I told him to get out, or I’d call in a personal favor from a reaper.” Nash forced a halfhearted grin, trying to evoke one from me, but I clung to my stony expression. “Let’s go in and talk. Please.”

I shook my head. “I’m not taking Emma back in there.” I’d already seen what withdrawal from frost could do.

“Fine. Let’s talk here.” Nash shrugged out of his jacket and handed it to me, but I stepped back. I didn’t want his coat or his borrowed warmth. Not knowing he’d been lying, and that he could be one missed fix away from hearing Scott’s shadow man.

“You’re shivering. Take the jacket.” He shoved it at me again, and this time I gave in. I didn’t want to hear his excuses, but I needed to hear everything he knew about Demon’s Breath, and I was nearly frozen solid.

Nash reached for the balloon so I could put his jacket on, but I twisted harshly, angling it away from him. “Like I’m going to give this to you.”

His eyes widened, irises swirling in pain and disappointment. But he had no right to look hurt; I was the one with a grievance.

I jogged back to my car, where Emma still watched us from the back window, and pulled open the front passenger’s door.

“Are you gonna dump him?” she asked as I set the balloon on the leather seat.

“I don’t know, but I have to talk to him. I need you to stay here until I get back. And don’t mess with the balloon, okay? Don’t even touch it.”

Emma shrugged. “It creeps me out, anyway.” She crossed both arms over the thin tee she’d borrowed. “But I need to go back in and check on Doug. He could be in there singing like the Chipmunks by now.”

I shook my head and gave her a half smile. “Nash got rid of Everett before he could sell anything.”

“Good. I’m going back in.” Emma reached for the door handle, but I shook my head again.

“Em, I need you to trust me. The party’s not safe anymore.”

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