My Soul to Steal Page 24

For a moment, I heard only silence over the line. I’d gone too far. I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. I’d never been so mad in my life, and now that the dam had ruptured, I couldn’t repair the damage. The overflow of anger wasn’t just about Sabine and this nightmare. It was about everything beyond my control that had happened in the past couple of months. Everything I’d never vented about before, but suddenly had to address, or I’d explode.

“Are you trying to hurt me? It’s okay if you are. I know I deserve it. I just want to be clear on the point of this whole conversation, so I’ll know when we’ve accomplished whatever it is you need.”

I had to think about that for a second. “No. I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to heal me.”

“Is it working?” He sounded so logical. So frustratingly reasonable, when I wanted to scream and shout and throw things until I felt better, logic be damned.

“I don’t know,” I had to admit at last, sinking into my desk chair.

More silence. Then, “What was the nightmare about?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, too quickly. I didn’t want him to know how scared I was that he’d fall off the wagon. That he’d go back to selling his memories of me and trying to Influence me into things I wasn’t ready for. That he might let Avari take over my body again, if that’s what it took to get his next high.

Listing my fear—the facts—like that, the logical part of me couldn’t even believe I was thinking about forgiving him. The smart thing would be to let Sabine have him. Let the ex-con and the former addict have each other, and wash my hands of the whole mess.

But I couldn’t, because of the one truth it didn’t hurt for me to think about: the guy who’d done those things to me wasn’t the real Nash. My Nash was the guy who’d defied my family to save my sanity, and fought hellions alongside me, and put himself in danger just to help protect me.

This other boy—this boy whose addiction was literally the thing of my nightmares—he wasn’t even real. It wasn’t him doing those things, it was the frost. The Demon’s Breath, which had suppressed—maybe even corroded—his soul. Changed who he was with each poisonous breath.

If he’d been human, the damage would have been irreversible. Part of it might be, anyway. But if it wasn’t, then Nash was still the first and only guy outside of my family who’d ever loved me. And I couldn’t turn my back on him if there was even a possibility of getting that Nash back.

I still wanted that Nash. I still needed to feel his hand in mine. I wanted to see him smile like he had before and know that I was the only thing he craved. I wanted to feel him behind me and know he had my back, whether we faced bitchy cousins or evil, soul-stealing hellions.

“Kay,can I come over?” Nash asked. “Can I please come see you?”

My heart thumped painfully, in spite of my best effort to calm it, and I sat up straight in my chair. “Now?”

“Yeah. I need to see you. We can just sit on the couch and talk. I just… I want to see you without the rest of the student body staring at us.”

The ache in my chest spread into my throat, which tried to close around the only answer that made sense. “It’s the middle of the night, Nash. My dad would kill you. Then he’d kill me.” Just because he’d called to check up on Nash while he was sick didn’t mean my dad wanted us back together. If he knew I was even thinking about taking Nash back, he’d make me get my head examined.

“Besides,” I continued, standing to pace again before he could protest. “Alec’s on the couch, so we wouldn’t exactly have privacy.”

“What?” Nash’s voice went dark and angry with just that one syllable, and I realized I hadn’t told him Alec was staying with us. I’d hardly spoken to him at all since the Winter Carnival. “He’s there with you, while your dad’s asleep? When your dad’s not even there? And you didn’t tell me?”

I rolled my eyes, though he couldn’t see them. “Don’t start. Sabine was in your room a couple of hours ago, actively trying to get into your pants while your mom was at work. And don’t even get me started on the list of things you didn’t tell me.”

Another moment of silence. Then, “Fair enough. But I can handle Sabine. I know her. You don’t know anything about Alec, except that he spent a quarter of a century working for a hellion. Not exactly a stellar recommendation. Has he tried anything?”

“Gross, Nash, he’s forty-five years old.”

“That won’t matter when you’re legal and he still looks nineteen.”

I sank onto my bed and let my head thump against the headboard. “You’re totally overreacting. He thinks I’m a kid.”

“That’s not going to stop him from looking.”

“You don’t even know him.”

Nash laughed harshly, like I’d just told him rainbow-colored unicorns had flown through my bedroom window. “I know because he’s there, and you’re there, and he hasn’t seen a girl without tentacles or claws in twenty-six years.”

“Wow. You make me sound like such a catch.”

“I can’t win this argument, can I?”

“Nope. I’m going back to sleep now.”

“Lock your bedroom door.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Good night, Nash. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hung up before he could argue and turned off my lamp.

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