My Soul to Keep Page 47

“Because I didn’t want you to know!” He stood and stomped across the concrete tiles, staring into the hedges before turning to face me, gesturing helplessly with one cold-reddened hand. “I can’t fight it, Kaylee. I don’t even want to fight it.” He blinked, and his irises churned with fervor—with desperation for something I couldn’t offer—and an ache settled deep into my chest like a bad cold.

“It feels like the whole world is buzzing, and when you come down from it, everything feels flat and colorless, and all you want to do is get that feeling back. Even before the withdrawal sets in, you’ll do anything to get that feeling back, because as long as it lasts, nothing’s wrong. It doesn’t matter if you forget something, or lose something. Or if you fail someone. Nothing’s wrong and everything feels good, and you never want it to end. Okay? I didn’t want you to know that I don’t ever want it to end….”

He sank onto the bench across from mine as his last tortured sentence trailed into silence, but for the thumping bass from the house behind me.

I could only stare at him, trying desperately to calm the storm of fear, disappointment, and anger lashing around inside me. “Nothing’s wrong when you’re on Demon’s Breath because nothing’s important.” And I wanted to be important. I wanted so badly to matter to him. To mean more than his next fix.

“Nash, it should matter to you that you let it go this far. That your habit got Scott locked up and nearly got me killed.”

“No.” Nash shook his head vehemently, his damp lashes glittering in the glare from the floodlight. “That had nothing to do with me. The guys have never even seen me with a balloon.”

I believed him. He was meeting my eyes too boldly to be lying, his irises swirling calmly with sincerity. But the coincidence was too…coincidental. He had to be connected, even if he didn’t know it.

I slid my frozen hands into my borrowed jacket pockets, and the right one curled around something cold and hard. I pulled out a weighted, black plastic balloon clip. “So, I’m assuming Everett is your supplier, too?”

Nash sighed. “Yeah. But I swear I had no idea he was selling to humans until Fuller actually said his name.”

Again, I believed him. But again, it didn’t matter. “He got to them through you. He must have. None of this makes sense otherwise.”

“No.” Nash shook his head, and I wasn’t sure which one of us he was trying to convince. “Everett doesn’t know my name, and I never gave him anyone else’s.”

I shrugged, a thin thread of panic tightening around the base of my spine, sending cold fingers across my flesh from the inside. “So, he followed you. He saw you at school and realized there’s an entire untapped market out there. A whole world full of spoiled,careless kids with more money than sense.”

“I don’t know. Maybe…” Nash finally conceded.

“What’s Everett’s last name?” I sank onto the bench again and hunched into Nash’s jacket, suddenly overwhelmed by the exhaustion I’d been holding back by sheer will and caffeine.

“I don’t know,” Nash said, and I raised both brows at him.

“I swear!” He shrugged defensively.

“Is he human?”

“Half. His mother’s a harpy.”

I bet that was a weird childhood. And his mixed blood certainly explained how he’d survived addiction long enough to turn a profit…. “What about those girls?”

Nash shrugged again, and dropped wearily onto the bench beside me. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen them before. Junkies, maybe?”

They didn’t look like junkies to me. But then, neither did Nash or Doug.

“How did you get hooked up with Everett?” My teeth had begun to chatter, and I had to concentrate to make myself understood. “How does one even find a Netherworld drug dealer?”

Nash exhaled, then stared at the white puff of breath, obviously avoiding my gaze. “I was referred to him.”

That sick feeling returned, churning the contents of my stomach mercilessly. “Referred?”

“You have to understand, Kaylee,” he began, turning suddenly toward me with a fevered look in his slowly swirling eyes. “You were still sick from the Creeper venom. We hadn’t even buried Addy yet, and I started feeling weak, like I had low blood sugar or something. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, but I didn’t know what was wrong until I started shaking and twitching, like that fiend, when he was desperate for a hit. I didn’t know what else to do. So I got Tod to cross over with me.”

“Tod took you to the Netherworld?” Normally nothing Tod did surprised me. He didn’t see things from the normal human perspective—or even the normal bean sidhe perspective—and his moral compass always seemed to point just to the left of north. But Tod would never intentionally hurt Nash. Or let him hurt himself.

“He didn’t know why,” Nash insisted. “He owed me another favor—don’t ask,” he added when I opened my mouth to do just that. “And I called it in, no questions asked. He crossed me over, then came back for me half an hour later.”

“So you, what? Tripped over Everett in the Netherworld?” I wiped my dripping nose on a tissue from Nash’s left jacket pocket. “Can half harpies cross over?”

“Not on their own. I don’t think Everett’s ever been there.” Nash glanced down at his lap, where his hands had nearly gone purple from the cold.

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