My Soul to Keep Page 62

I’d never seen a stronger look of disgust—or protective rage—than the one on Tod’s face. His eyes practically blazed with twisting blue flames. “How could Nash let that happen?”

I shrugged, dropping my empty soda bottle in the trash against the wall. “I don’t think he had any choice. I sure didn’t when Alec took over Emma.”

Tod shoved the parking garage door open with both hands, though he could have walked through it. “You didn’t know what was going on, and you had to play nice to get your boyfriend back. Nash had a choice. If he’d wanted to get rid of Avari, he would have found a way. But he just let it happen—let that bastard use you—and he didn’t even tell you.” His mouth snapped shut against the rest of what he wanted to say, but I heard it, anyway.

If I were as important to Nash as his next fix, he would never have let it happen.

“What the hell is wrong with him?”

“He’s not the same, Tod,” I said, race-walking to keep up with him, though he had no idea where I’d parked. “He’s been Influencing me, and he’s lying all the time. He said he gave Scott’s first balloon to you to get rid of, but I’m guessing you never saw it.”

Tod scowled, adjusting his course when I veered toward my rental. “When was that?”

I clicked the button to unlock the car. “Monday, when you were working double shifts with no breaks.” Except that Tod had popped into the cafeteria at lunch that day to ask me if Emma was serious about Doug… “You were never in trouble with Levi, were you? No double shifts?”

Tod shook his head, teeth grinding furiously. “To my never-ending dismay and boredom, we only get a few deaths a day in a hospital this size. I wander off during the lulls all the time, and Levi doesn’t care, so long as I don’t miss an appointment. And Nash damn well knows it.”

“I’m such an idiot!” I kicked the front tire, but that only scuffed my shoe. “Why couldn’t I see what he was doing?”

“I didn’t see it, either.” Tod’s footsteps went silent as he circled the car toward the passenger’s side, and I knew that no one else could see him. Still, I was grateful that he hadn’t simply blinked into Emma’s bedroom, leaving me to drive back alone.

“So, you’re not going to get in trouble for leaving now?” I asked as I settled into the driver’s seat.

He shrugged, unconcerned. “It’s a slow night. No one’s scheduled to tumble into the abyss for another hour and a half, and if I’m not back by then, I’ll get someone else to cover for me.”

“What if you get another…addendum?”

His brows rose, but the corners of his cherubic mouth turned down as he sank onto the leather seat. “Then we have bigger worries than my absence.”

I buckledup and started the engine, then twisted to watch out the rear windshield as I backed out of the parking space. “We need help, but my dad can’t do it. Bringing someone who can’t cross over would just be creating more work for ourselves,” I said, then rushed on before he could interrupt. “I think we should bring your mom in on this.”

“No,” Tod said, and I glanced at him as I shifted into Drive, surprised to find his expression completely unreadable. “Absolutely not.”

“But she’s five times my age, and she can cross over on her own.” I turned left out of the garage and onto the street, trying not to let frustration leak into my voice. “She’s the only option that makes sense.”

“We are not dragging my mother into the Netherworld. And we can’t tell her about Nash, or she’ll go on her own and get killed.” His hand landed on mine on the gearshift, and again I was surprised by its warmth. “I’m serious, Kaylee. If you want to bring your dad or your uncle, that’s your call. But leave my mother out of this. I’ve already lost my dad and Addison, and now possibly Nash. I will not add my mom to the list.”

I could only nod, impressed by his fervor and surprised by the brief glimpse into his heart. Maybe he doesn’t think so differently from the living, after all….

“Fine.” I nodded once more, decisively. “No parents.”

EMMA WAS STILL ASLEEP when I snuck back into her room at ten minutes after three. Fortunately, her mother was snoring from behind her bedroom door, and both of her sisters were still out. Obviously the best part about college was the lack of a curfew.

In the bedroom, I knelt to check on Emma, half convinced she would show some delayed ill effect from the abuse of her body, but she seemed to be sleeping peacefully. And deeply. Probably because, as I’d discovered, possession is exhausting.

“She looks okay,” Tod said, echoing my own thoughts. “Hopefully one more round won’t hurt her. But let’s keep this Alec on a short leash, just in case.”

I nodded, yawning as I pushed myself to my feet with one hand on the mattress. Considering I’d never actually met Alec, his leash would be no longer than my pinkie finger.

“How much time do we have?” Tod leaned over Emma and ran one finger gently over her lower lip.

I glanced at the clock on Emma’s DVD player. “About five minutes. Don’t touch her! You’ll wake her up.”

He huffed softly. “I doubt that. She looks like she could sleep through the end of the world.”

“No thanks to you.” I shooed him away from the bed, then had to force my eyes open wide when they threatened to close. “I need a Coke.” What I really needed was a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, but caffeine would have to do.

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