My Soul to Keep Page 86

“Just that one voice,”

Tod said. “According to the chatter at the nurses’ station he’s been much worse tonight. I figure Avari’s been throwing fits ever since we crossed over.”

And if Avari was taking his rage out on Scott, I didn’t want to know what he was doing to Addy.

“How does he look?” Nash asked, staring at the floor rather than look at his brother.

“Crazy.” Tod shrugged. “He stares at the walls like they’re going to swallow him, and they’re keeping the room lit from all four sides to eliminate shadows. Even at night. Otherwise, he screams until they have to sedate him.” The very thought of which triggered memories of my own time strapped to a bed. “They seem to think his fear of shadows is part of his neurosis.”

But we knew the truth: the shadows really were out to get Scott Carter.

Because Avari was in the shadows.

“Mom says they’re connected now. Because Scott inhaled so much of his breath, Avari has a permanent, hardwired connection to his brain. The bastard’s playing with the shadows, and probably planting thoughts directly in his head.”

I swallowed true horror.

“That won’t happen to me,” Nash insisted, obviously having read the fear on my face. Or in my eyes. “If Avari could have spoken to me directly, he would have.” But he couldn’t. Avari’s serial possession of me was proof of that.

I nodded. Nash seemed to be immune to the connected-consciousness thing by virtue of being a bean sidhe.

“So…you talked to Mom?” Nash frowned at his brother.

“Yeah. I didn’t tell her everything, but I had to tell her you crossed over. She’s on her way here.” Tod raised one brow at his brother. “Consider this your heads-up.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Nash stood to show Tod that his presence was no longer required. He was still pissed over being punched, but obviously realized that fighting the reaper would do no more good than trying to argue with him.

Tod glanced at me in question.

I sighed and nodded. I couldn’t avoid Nash’s question forever. “Thanks, Tod,” I said. Then, acting on impulse, I stood and gave him a hug before he could blink out. I wasn’t sure whether I was thanking him for helping save Nash and my dad, or for watching over Scott, or for giving a damn what happened to me. Maybe it was all three.

But more than any of that, I was thankful for the possibility he’d shown me: that a man really could love a womanenough that he’d do anything to protect her. That’s how much Tod loved Addy.

That’s how much I wanted Nash to love me.

When I let him go, Tod held my gaze for a long moment, searching my eyes. Then he blinked out of sight without a word.

I turned to face Nash slowly, my pulse racing. I stared at the floor as I weighed my options, the possibilities, and my own heart.

“Kaylee?” Nash whispered, and I looked up to find him watching me. Still waiting for my answer, as if Tod had never interrupted. “I know it doesn’t do any good for me to make promises, because you don’t trust me right now. But I swear, I’ll spend every day earning your trust back. Let me prove it. Give us one more shot, Kaylee.” He stood, and his eyes were shiny with tears. “Please. I need you.”

I didn’t know what to say. Needing me wasn’t enough. Not after what he’d done. Love should have meant more than getting high. I should have meant more…

Nash did love me. I could see the truth of that in his eyes and I desperately wanted it to be enough. But Avari would never die, and even though he was clean now, Nash would always be addicted to him. And what if he started using again?

I’d already lost classmates, and free will, and trust, and I’d almost lost both my father and Nash. How much more could I afford to lose if he gell off the wagon?

“I can’t, Nash. Not yet. I’m sorry.” My eyes watered, but I blinked away the tears and opened the door.

“Kaylee, wait.” He pulled my hand from the doorknob and held it, and I saw that his eyes were damp, too. “What do you want? Tell me, and I’ll do it. Please.”

My next breath was painful, but I held it for several seconds, swallowing tears I refused to let fall. Then I looked into his eyes, trying not to see the honest pain and regret in them.

“I want to take it all back. I want to save Doug, and heal Scott, and protect Emma. I want to fix your memories, so you can remember what this felt like the first time.” I stood on my toes and kissed him, long and slow, and hot tears rolled down my cheeks, because I knew that—at least for now—I was kissing him goodbye. Then I leaned against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. Already missing it.

“Nash, I want you to get better, so I can have you back.”

I tugged my hand from his grip and stepped into the hall, pulling the door closed behind me. Then I ran for my car.

And cried all the way home.

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