My Soul to Keep Page 58

Unfortunately, even at two in the morning, the emergency room was half-full and most of the patients looked awake enough to notice me calling out to someone who wasn’t there.

“Tod!” I whispered, stepping into the vending machine alcove. Stubbornly resisting a bag of Doritos taunting me from behind the glass, I checked both restrooms opposite the water fountain with no luck.

Back in the waiting area, I jogged past the triage nurse’s station and had one palm on the door leading into the bowels of the E.R. when a familiar voice spoke up from behind me. “Is Emma with you?”

Startled, my heart thumping, I whirled around to find Tod standing with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of a faded, baggy pair of jeans. His sleeves were short and his jacket missing, as usual. Evidently the mostly dead don’t feel the cold like the rest of us do. Or maybe that was part of his big bad reaper routine.

“No. Why?” I asked, and the triage nurse glanced at me in surprise, clearly unable to see or hear the reaper. I was going to have to start wearing a Bluetooth headset, or talking to Tod was going to get me locked up again.

“Her boyfriend came in by ambulance a few hours ago, and it’s getting pretty tense back there,” he said, unbothered by the nurse’s presence as I smiled at her and subtly led him away from the double doors, hoping none of the staff recognized me from my visit the night before.

In the waiting area again, I raised my brows to tell him to go on, and Tod shrugged. “His dad’s some big-shot lawyer. The governor’s personal attorney, or some crap like that. He showed up about fifteen minutes ago, straight from the airport, and has been raising hell ever since. He’s threatening to sue the hospital for negligence, and the attending physician for malpractice, and the damned janitor who mopped the floor he slipped on, even though there was one of those orange ‘slippery’ signs right next to him when he went down.”

“So Doug’s still…alive?” I whispered as he followed me into the rear corridor.

“Nah. He was brain-dead but breathing when he got here, and I put him out of his misery about an hour later. The weird thing is that he isn’t on the list. Levi sent a runner with this about twenty minutes after Richie Rich came in.” Tod pulled an uneven square of yellow paper from his right pocket and handed it to me.

My hands shook as I unfolded it. It was the bottom half torn from a sheet of legal paper. Neat, loopy handwriting slanted across the lines: Douglas Aaron Fuller 23:47:33.

“What is this?” I couldn’t refold the paper fast enough. I shoved it at Tod, and he slid it back into his pocket.

“It’s an addendum. An unscheduled reaping. The job should have gone to whoever works the sector where Em’s boyfriend dropped, but our office didn’t get word in time. So they sent it to me here.”

Exhaustionand shock had taken their toll, and my eyes didn’t want to focus. The hallway blurred until I blinked to clear my vision. “So this didn’t have to happen…”

Tod shrugged. “It probably shouldn’t have happened. This is only the second addendum I’ve seen in two years, and it just happens to be Emma’s new boy toy. And she didn’t come in with him. What’s going on, Kaylee?”

And suddenly Doug’s death hit me—not as a bean sidhe, but as a person—grief suffocating me beneath the weight of my own guilt. I tripped over one wedge heel and caught myself against the wall, barely flinching at the pain in my bandaged arm because it was nothing compared to the ache in my heart.

“You okay?” Tod asked, and he sounded like he actually cared.

“No.” I pushed myself away from the wall and tugged him down the hall with me, grateful when my fingers didn’t sink right through his arm. “Do they know what Doug died of?”

Tod shrugged. “He had some cuts and bruises, but the doc thinks he got them during a seizure. Blood tests show alcohol, but not enough to kill him. Nothing else has come back yet, but Richie, Sr., insists his kid is clean, and if the tests show otherwise, he’ll sue the lab. Man, I hope I’m working when his name comes up on the list.”

I took the next left to put us farther from the E.R., and from Mr. Fuller. “Someday, someplace, karma is waiting to kick your teeth in, Tod.”

“I’m dead.” He made a sweeping gesture to encompass his entire body—which death had not damaged in the least. “My teeth have already been kicked in.”

Well, he had a point there….

“So, where’re Nash and Emma? And aren’t you a little overdressed for two-thirty in the morning?”

“Is it that late?” I glanced at my watch and groaned. Talking Emma back to sleep had taken half an hour, and hunting for Tod had taken longer than I’d expected. I now had less than forty-five minutes to be back in Emma’s room, waiting for another call on the human telephone.

“It’s a long story.” Flustered, I ran one hand through my tangled hair, then crossed my arms over my blouse. “And Nash is the reason I’m here. Did he come in with Doug?”

The reaper frowned. “No. Why would he?”

“Because he’s the reason Doug died.”

Tod’s confusion twisted into dark distress, and I could have sworn I saw blood drain from his face. Though I wasn’t sure that was even possible for a dead guy. “What the hell are you talking about?”

But before I could answer, the door at the end of the hall opened, admitting a gust of wind and a couple in their mid-forties, whose stress and fatigue showed in every line on their faces.

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