My Soul to Lose Page 1

“Thanks for the ride, Traci!” Emma slammed the back door, then opened it again to free the end of her filmy red skirt as her sister leaned out the open driver’s side window.

“Be ready to go at eight, or I’m leaving you here.”

Em gave a mock salute, then turned toward the mall entrance without waiting for the car to pull away from the curb. We would be nowhere near the parking lot at eight o’clock. Finding a ride home would be no problem—Emma could cock one hip and smile, and guys all over Texas would throw their car keys at her feet, if that’s what she wanted.

But sometimes a ride was more fun, because she could flirt with the driver. See how much he could take before his concentration wavered and he had to force his attention back onto the road. She’d never actually caused a wreck, but Em went a little further every time, ever eager to push the limits of…Well, of anything.

I went along for the ride because it was a delicious rush of power and freedom—living vicariously through Emma was usually more exciting than living my own life for real.

“Okay, Kaylee, here’s the plan.” Em stepped up to the glass doors, and they whooshed open. The artificial cool inside was a mercy on my damp skin and overheated cheeks; Traci’s car wasn’t air-conditioned, and September in the Dallas metroplex was still hot enough to make the devil sweat.

“So long as it leads to Toby’s public humiliation, I’m in.”

“It will.” She stopped in front of a mirror built into the wall of the main walkway and her reflection grinned at me, brown eyes sparkling. “And that’s the least he deserves. You really should have let me key his car.”

And I’d been totally tempted to. But I was less than a year from getting my license and couldn’t shake the certainty that if we keyed someone’s fresh paint job—even if that someone was my rat of an ex-boyfriend—new-driver karma would come back to bite me on the bumper.

“So, what are you going to do? Push him into the snack table? Trip him on the way into the gym? Unbutton his pants while you’re dancing, then scream for help?” I wasn’t too worried about homecoming-dance karma. But Toby should have been…

Emma turned from the mirror, her pale brows high in surprise. “I was just gonna stand him up, then make out with his best friend on the dance floor, but that last one has real potential. Maybe we’ll do both.” She grinned again, then tugged me around the first corner to the huge main corridor of the mall, where the center of the floor opened to reveal the first level below. “But first we’re gonna make sure you look so good that he spends every minute of this stupid dance wishing he was there with you.”

Normally I’m not much of a shopper. Thin and small chested looks just as good in jeans and skinny tees as it does inanything more complicated, and I must have been dressing to my advantage subconsciously, because finding a new date had only taken two days.

But that didn’t make Toby any less of a human cockroach—less than an hour after he’d dumped me, he’d asked Emma to homecoming. She’d accepted with a plan for revenge already half-plotted.

So I’d come to the mall the weekend before the dance armed with my aunt’s credit card and Emma’s good taste, prepared to dump a metaphorical shaker of salt over my slime-filled leech of an ex-boyfriend.

“We should start with…” Emma stopped and gripped the brass rail, looking down at the food court on the lower level. “Yum. Wanna split a soft pretzel first?”

I knew from her tone that food wasn’t what had caught her eye.

A level below us, two guys in green Eastlake High baseball caps were shoving two tables next to a third, where four girls from our school sat in front of an untouched pile of junk food. The guy on the left was a junior named Nash Hudson, whose pick of the week—Amber something-or-other—was already seated. Showing up at homecoming with Nash would have been all the revenge I could ask for against Toby. But that wasn’t gonna happen. I wasn’t even a blip on Nash Hudson’s social radar.

Next to Amber sat my cousin, Sophie; I would have recognized the back of her head anywhere. After all, that was the part of her I saw most.

“How did Sophie get here?” Emma asked.

“One of the other dancing monkeys picked her up this morning.” She’d been ignoring me consistently—mercifully—since dance-team tryouts a month earlier, when she’d become the only freshman member of the varsity dance team. “Aunt Val’s picking her up in about an hour.”

“I think that’s Doug Fuller across from her. Come on!” Emma’s eyes glittered beneath the huge skylight overhead. “I wanna drive his new car.”

“Em…” But I could only run after her, dodging shoppers hauling bags and small children. I caught up with Emma on the escalator and rode down one step above her. “Hey look.” I nodded toward the group at the food court, where one of the dancers had just switched sides of the table to whisper something into Doug’s ear. “Meredith’s gonna be pissed when she sees you.”

Emma shrugged and stepped off the escalator. “She’ll get over it. Or not.”

But the moment my foot hit the ground, a cold, dark sense of dread gripped me, and I knew I couldn’t go any closer to the food court.

Not unless I wanted to cause a scene.

I was seconds from losing control over the scream building deep inside me, and once it broke free, I wouldn’t be able to make it stop unless I could get away.

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