My Soul to Keep Page 7

My front door opened just as the first zombie ripped its way into the farmhouse on-screen, and I jumped, dumping popcorn everywhere.

My father trudged through the door in faded jeans and a flannel shirt, an entirely different kind of zombie thanks to shift after shift on an assembly line, trying to keep us both clothed and fed. Then he stopped and backed onto the porch again, and I knew exactly what he was looking for.

“Where’s your car?” Dread warred with the exhaustion in his voice as he tossed his jacket over the back of a living room chair.

I stood while Nash began dropping stray kernels into the bowl. “Um, there was a little accident, and—”

“Are you okay?” My dad frowned, eyeing me from head to toe for injuries.

“Yeah, I wasn’t even in the car.” I stuffed my hands into my back pockets because I didn’t know what else to do with them.

“What? Where were you?”

“At a party. When Doug Fuller left, he accidentally…hit my car.”

My dad’s dark brows furrowed until they almost met. “Were you drinking?”

“No.” Thank goodness. I wouldn’t put it past him to whip out a plastic cup and demand a urine sample. I swear, he would have been a great parole officer.

My father studied me, and I could see the exact moment he decided he believed me. And with that settled, his gaze fixed behind me, where Nash now stood with the bowl of spilled popcorn. “Nash, go home.” The most common words in his verbal arsenal.

Nash handed me the bowl. “You want me to take Emma home?”

“Emma…?” My dad sighed and ran one hand through his thick brown hair. “Where is she?”

“In my bed.”


I thought about lying. I had no idea how he would react, even if I wasn’t the one drinking. But Em smelled like beer; my lie would never float.

“Yeah. What was I supposed to do, toss her the keys and wish her luck?”

My dad sighed. Then to my complete shock, he shook his head. “No, you did the right thing.”

“So she can stay?” I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even sound mad.

“This time. But next time, I’m calling her mother. Nash, I’m sure we’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir.” Nash squeezed my hand, then headed for the door. He would walk to his house, two streets away, like he’d done every time he’d come over since I’d been grounded. Including several times when my father’d had no idea he was there.

“What happened?” My dad locked the door behind Nash, then sank into his favorite armchair as I settled onto the couch, trying to decide whether or not to tell him the whole truth. About the Demon’s Breath. He was being pretty cool so far, but the Netherworld element was guaranteed to push him over the edge.

“I told you. Doug Fuller hit my car.”

“How bad is it?”

I sighed, mentally steeling myselffor an explosion. “He wrapped it around a neighbor’s brick mailbox.”

Air whistled as he inhaled sharply, and I flinched.

“He was drinking, wasn’t he?” my father demanded, and I almost smiled in relief. Part of me had been sure he’d know about the Demon’s Breath from my posture, or my expression, or some kind of weird bean sidhe parenting telepathy I didn’t know about. But he thought it was just regular teenage drama, and if I wasn’t mistaken, he looked a little relieved, too.

I was not going to burst his bubble. “I don’t know. Maybe. But he is about as smart as a tractor.”

“Where’d they take the car?”

“To the body shop on Third.”

My dad stood and actually smiled at me, and I could almost taste his relief. He was thrilled to finally be faced with a normal parent’s problem. “I’ll go look at it in the morning. I assume this Fuller kid is insured?”

“Yeah. The cops gave me this.” I held out the form with Doug’s contact information and his insurance company’s number. “And he said his dad would pay for it.”

“Yes, he will.” My father took the form into the kitchen, where the light was better. “Go get some sleep. You and Em are working in the morning, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.” From noon to four, we’d be selling tickets and serving popcorn at the Cinemark in the never-ending quest for gas money. Which we spent going to and from work. It was a vicious cycle.

Dismissed, and feeling like I’d just been pardoned from death row, I changed into my pj’s, brushed my teeth, and lay down next to Emma in the bed. And as I listened to her breathe, I couldn’t help thinking about how badly everything might have turned out if she’d actually gotten into that car.

I’d already lost Emma once and had no intention of losing her again anytime soon. Which meant I’d have to find out how her boyfriend got his human hands on Demon’s Breath—then make sure that never happened again.


“KAYLEE, COME ON IN!” Harmony Hudson brushed blond curls back from her face and held the door for me as I stepped into her small, neat living room, stuffing my freezing hands into my jacket pockets. “Do we have a lesson this morning?”

“No, I just came to see Nash.”

“Oh!” She smiled and closed the door, cutting off the frigid draft. “Then you must have served out your sentence.”

“As of yesterday.”

Nash had been grounded, too, but he only got two weeks, to my four. I think he would have gotten more if he’d still been underage, but it’s hard to ground an eighteen-year-old. And punishing Tod wasn’t even an option, considering he was fully grown and technically dead, and had unlimited access to the Netherworld. She couldn’t even keep him in one room—not to mention corporeal—long enough to yell at him.

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