My Soul to Keep Page 85

“What happened?”

“Your dad was at work, and I came over with a movie. You fell asleep on the couch, and I was gonna let you sleep. But then you woke up, and we started…kissing.”

“That’s it?” I could tell that wasn’t it. The thought of Avari kissing him with my mouth was revolting, but it wasn’t bad enough to account for the crimson flush of shame in his cheeks.

“No. You… He let me…touch you. He took your shirt off. I should have known it wasn’t you, but I—”

“Yeah, you should have!” My head was a maelstrom of rage and humiliation, spinning fast and hard enough to make me dizzy. I pulled my jacket closed over my shirt, as if that could somehow block what he’d already seen. What he’d touched. But I couldn’t undo it. It was done when I couldn’t stop it, and he didn’t stop it.

I stood, breathing too fast. Terrified by the thought that I could have been so out of control of my own body. I can’t do this. It was too much.

I whirled on him, anger burning deep inside me. “You can’t remember what our real firsts felt like, and I wasn’t even there for this one. How am I supposed to deal with that?” I scrubbed both hands over my face. “I’m lost, Nash. What happened while I wasn’t here—what you thought you were doing with me—may have been no big deal to you, but it would have been special to me. Something I was supposed to give to you, but someone else gave it to you instead, and now it’s ruined. And I want it back, but you can’t give it back to me…” I blinked away more tears, struggling to cling to anger instead.

Nash stood, too, but gave me space. “Kaylee, I swear I had no idea what was going on.”

“You didn’t want to know! You saw what you wanted and took it, and it didn’t occur to you that something wasn’t right until…” I stopped, my focus narrowing on him as my stomach pitched with a sudden horrifying certainty. “When did you know? Did you stop on your own? Did you figure it out, or did he tell you?”

Nash dropped his gaze. His hands curled into fists, and he shoved them into his jeans pockets. “We were… He said something, and it wasn’t your voice.”

The churning in my stomach grew into full-fledged nausea. “So he stopped you, probably only because cluing you in would be more fun. How far would you have gone if he hadn’t? Would you have stopped at all?”

Had Nash Hudson ever waited three months for anyone to give it up before? Could he even be expected to have that kind of willpower, when I wasn’t saying no?

Nash read the fear on my face. “Kaylee, no. I would have figured it out.” He stepped forward, and I backed up until my spine hit the wall, and I had nowhere else to go. He stopped, begging me silently to listen. To try tounderstand. “I know your limits. I know you. I would have figured it out. I would have stopped.”

“Why should I believe you?” I felt used. I felt cheated and dirty, and though I knew that wasn’t entirely Nash’s fault, I couldn’t help hating him a little bit, for letting it happen. “You called me a tease. You said anyone else would have walked away already. But would you have, if I seemed willing? You’ve already tried to Influence me out of my clothes.”

“Kaylee, that’s not fair. I wasn’t thinking. I was…”

“High?” I raised both brows, and he nodded miserably.

“Yeah. You were. And you’re right—it wasn’t fair. So why should I believe you now?”

“Because he never fooled me again.” Nash made eye contact and held it, letting me see the truth. “I know you. I love you, Kaylee. I know you probably can’t forgive me—hell, I don’t think I can forgive myself—but I swear on my life that it’ll never happen again. Any of it. No more frost. No more lies. No more Influence. Please, just give me a chance to prove it. Will you give me one more chance?”


But before I could come up with an answer, Tod appeared in the desk chair, where I’d sat minutes earlier. “Hey. Am I interrupting something?”

“Yes,” Nash said. “Get out.”

But Tod was watching me, and I could tell from the angry line of his jaw that he’d been listening long before he showed himself. He’d heard what Avari had done to me. What Nash had let him do.

“You want me to go?” Tod asked me, his back to his brother.

Nash implored me silently to say yes. Tod waited patiently.

“No,” I said, looking right at Nash. He scowled, and his shoulders sagged.

“Good.” Tod stood and kicked the rolling chair out of his way. “I just checked on your friend in the straitjacket. But first…” The reaper swung before either of us realized what he intended to do.

Tod’s very solid fist slammed into Nash’s jaw. Nash’s head snapped back. He stumbled into the wall. Tod shook his hand like it hurt. “That’s for what you let him do to Kaylee.”

Nash shoved himself away from the wall, swinging at his brother. But his fist went right through the reaper’s incorporeal head, and Tod only frowned, turning back to me while his brother seethed.

I gaped at them both, surprised beyond speech.

Tod pushed the rolling chair toward me, and I sat. Nash sank onto his bed, glaring at his brother and rubbing his jaw. “How’s Scott?” I asked, still trying to absorb the abbreviated fistfight and avoid answering Nash’s last question. “Still hearing voices?”

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