My Soul to Keep Page 79


MY HEAD THROBBED in time with the stitched gash on my right arm, and my heart ached like never before. Of all the trouble I’d walked into since finding out I was a bean sidhe, nothing compared to this. To the abduction of a couple hundred teenagers right through the front door of our own school. Disappearances the human authorities would never be able to understand, much less solve.

And we were the only ones who could stop it.

“If he’s planning some kind of forced migration, why bother bringing Nash and your dad over?” Addison asked as Tod guided us subtly toward the right edge of the crowd. Suddenly, standing directly in front of the lampades didn’t seem like such a good idea.

“For more power.” Alec rubbed his arms, fighting chills from the bitterly cold breeze. “I thought he was just being greedy, which makes sense, and is probably half-true. But he needs every bit of power he can get—as well as what he’d hoped to get from Kaylee. He’ll have to pour energy into Lana and Luci to keep them alive while they hold the doorway open.”

“Would Nash and my dad survive that?” I asked, rubbing my own chill bump–covered arms.

“No. And neither will they.” Alec nodded toward the lampades. “Though I doubt they know that.”

“So, how do we stop it?” I asked. “Take away their flashlights?”

Alec shook his head. “The flashlights are just focal points—decoys to fool the humans. The lampades shed their own light, and you can’t extinguish it without killing them.”

Which I wasn’t ready to do yet, no matter how much of a threat to humanity they represented. Because despite everything they’d done, Lana and Luci were being used by Avari just like Nash and my father were, and death seemed like an unfair penalty for that. Especially considering they’d probably die, anyway, if Avari got what he wanted.

“What if we take the girls?” I asked, still looking for an alternative to murder.

“Take them where?” Tod ground his teeth in frustration, his fingers linked through those on Addy’s good hand. “It’s not like you can just cross over with them. They’re in both places at once.”

“Can’t we just…chase them away from the doorway? And maybe separate them?” I propped both hands on the waist of Sophie’s gown, wishing I weren’t dressed like a china doll during what might turn out to be the last moments of my life. “If they’re not together—and at the threshold—they won’t be able to open this door, right?”

“Well, not the big door Avari’s counting on,” Alec agreed.

“So that might work, at least long enough to get Nash and your dad out of here. Which will rob Avari of the power he needs to make this work.”

“If we’re gonna do it, we better do it now,” Tod whispered as the buzz of the crowd around us faded into an eerie quiet. Almost as one, the audience turned toward the school doors, clearly readying themselvesfor the main attraction—a building full of food, ready to be harvested. “Because we’re about to lose our chance.”

We turned, too, to avoid standing out, as badly as it nauseated me to be standing among the wolves, waiting for the sheep to be slaughtered. Or eaten. Or slurped up. Or whatever.

“We should do this from our world,” I said, so softly I could barely hear myself. “To keep Avari from interfering.”

“I’m on it.” Tod squeezed Addy’s good hand again, then met my gaze, speaking softly through one corner of his mouth. “I’m gonna grab one of the walking Lite-Brites, then I’ll be back to help with Nash and your dad. Will you be okay here?”

I nodded, careful not to let my uncertainty show. “Yeah. I’m good. But work fast.”

An instant later, Tod was gone.

A moment after that, one of the lampades let out a piercing scream, and Lana was suddenly pulled off her feet by…nothing we could see. The effect was bizarre, and reminded me of a scene in an old slasher movie, where a teenager stuck in a nightmare is hauled up her bedroom wall by an invisible evil force.

Lana fell backward, smashing the front door open, then disappeared from sight.

The crowd around us roared in surprise and outrage, shouts varying from high-pitched squeals to rumbles low enough to reverberate deep within my bones. There were even several protests I seemed to hear in my head, rather than through my ears.

A minute later, as several dozen representatives from the mob raced toward the stunned and abandoned Luci, Tod reappeared at my side, wearing the biggest Cheshire cat grin I’d ever seen outside of Alice in Wonderland.

And what a bizarre wonderland we’d fallen into…

“Where is she?” I stood on my toes to yell into his ear as the shouts around us reached a brain-numbing crescendo.

“In the utility closet by the art room. I had to knock her out, but that should hold her for a while. Let’s find Nash and your dad, then get the hell out of here before Avari puts Humpty Dumpty back together again.” Then his gaze met Addison’s and regret took over his face. He took her hand as if to apologize for leaving her, but she only smiled and shook her head.

“Go find your brother. We knew this would end sooner or later, and I’m grateful for the time we had. The time you gave me.”

Tod nodded, then squeezed her hand and turned to follow me and Alec as we raced toward the other side of the school, hidden in plain sight among the outraged crowd. Alec was fast, and as the proxy’s head disappeared into the crowd ahead of me, my foot came down on something thick and lumpy. I lost my balance when whatever I’d stepped on was jerked out from under me, and a horrific, bleating roar trumpeted over my head. My right foot snagged in the hem of Sophie’s dress and one hand went automatically to my ear to protect my hearing, while the other flew out in front of me to keep my face from hitting the asphalt.

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