My Soul to Keep Page 69

Sophie left me a furious voice mail demanding to know why my presence at a party—or anywhere else, for that matter—seemed to usher in disaster. She’d seen the news and one of her friends had told her Nash and I were at the party. Fortunately, Sophie seemed to have no clue that Nash was missing, which meant I wouldn’t have to call her back to find out if she’d seen him before he disappeared.

Harmony called the home phone looking for Nash, who wasn’t answering his cell. But since she’d just gotten home from work, she didn’t know how long he’d been gone, and she didn’t sound too worried yet. Though that would no doubt change as the day wore on with no contact from him. Especially once she heard about Doug’s death on the news.

At the end of the message, she said she might have found a way to keep me anchored to our world when I slept. As grateful as I was for that little tidbit of hope, I sat on my hands to keep from answering the phone for details, because then I’d have to lie to her, too, and for some reason, lying to Nash’s mom made me feel even worse than lying to my own father.

An hour after her phone call, I was sitting on the couch sipping from the last can of Jolt, watching the loudest action movie I could find on one of the cable networks, shivering in a short-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of jeans. I’d turned off the heat and opened all the windows, hoping cold air would help keep me awake. Yet in spite of the caffeine, the temperature, and the noise, my eyes were just starting to close when the home phone startled me upright with its sharp, electronic bleating.

The caller ID read Unknown, so I dropped the phone back onto the cradle without answering. But my gaze stayed glued to the phone dock as the answering machine kicked in.

My father’s voice filled the room, asking the caller to please leave a message after the tone, then an obnoxious electronic beep skewered my exhausted, overworked brain. For a moment, the machine produced only soft static, and I started to relax, assuming it was a wrong number.

Then a familiar voice called my name, and I whirled around so fast I nearly fell off the couch.

“Kaaayleeeee,” Avari said, and the discordance of a hellion’s voice on my regular, human-manufactured answering machine was enough to make me dizzy. “I know you’re there. Where else would you be without your boyfriend to keep you warm, or your father to keep you safe?”


I scrambled over the couch so fast my knee slammed into the armrest and my bad arm brushed the rough upholstery, but I barely felt the pain in my rush to get to the phone. “What do you know about my dad?” I demanded, before the phone even made it to my ear.

“I know that he’s sitting four feet from me, unconscious but breathing. For the moment.”

“You’re lying!” I shouted, panic thudding in my head with each beat of my heart. “He can’t crossover.”

Avari laughed, and the sound was like shards of ice shattering on concrete. “Neither can Mr. Hudson, yet here they sit, waiting for you to come save them.”

Noooo… He was lying. He had to be. “Prove it.”

The hellion laughed again, and the callous racket was sharp enough to scrape the flesh from my bones. “Your father is a large man, but about as frightening as a stuffed bear. And when he cries in his sleep, as he’s doing at this moment, he calls you ‘Kay-Bear.’ He also asks for a woman named Darcy, whom I can only assume was your ill-fated mother.”

Anguish crashed over me, and I sank onto the couch. For a moment, I heard nothing but the beating of my own heart and felt nothing but a hopeless, almost pleasant numbness crawling over my entire body.

“What do you want?” I asked when I was capable of speech again, and my voice sounded like it was being whispered from the other end of a long tube.

“I have already answered that question,” Avari said. “And my answer hasn’t changed. Cross over now, and I will let them go.”

Or…he’d keep all three of us, and I would officially qualify as the dumbest girl on the face of the planet. But if I refused to come, would he kill them? Could I bluff him, or stall him somehow?

The room around me swam with my tears. My hand clenched around the phone. My chill bumps now had nothing to do with the cold room.

“Kaylee? What’s wrong?” Tod asked, and I looked up to find him standing on the other side of the coffee table, watching me in concern. For once I was too upset to be startled by his sudden appearance. “And why is it colder than polar bear piss in here?”

“Shhhh…” I whispered, covering the mouthpiece with one hand while I wiped hot tears from my face with the other.

He waved my warning off. “No one else can hear me. Who is that?”

“He has my dad…” But before I could say any more, the hellion spoke again.

“Time waits for no bean sidhe, Ms. Cavanaugh. Are you coming or not?”

“Avari? On the phone?” Tod’s jaws bulged with fury, and he spun around like he’d punch something, but there was nothing within reach. “How the hell did he…?” The reaper swung back around to face me, eyes narrowed on me. “Who is he in?”

Oh, crap. I hadn’t even thought of that.

I covered the mouthpiece again, and the words fell from my lips so quickly even I could hardly understand them, but Tod seemed to have no trouble. “Emma. It has to be. Can you help her?”

He scowled, his fists clenching around air at his sides. “I don’t know. I’ll be right back.” Then Tod was gone, and I was alone in my freezing living room with the very voice of evil.

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