My Soul to Steal Page 26

I could only roll my eyes. “He’s still adjusting to a human sleep cycle, and I had a…bad dream. Two completely separate, unconnected neuroses,” I insisted, but my dad looked unconvinced.

He stepped too close to Alec, who looked up in surprise. “I haven’t forgotten that you helped get me out of the Netherworld. But if you think that gives you some kind of claim on Kaylee, you’re gravely mistaken. You lay one inappropriate finger on my daughter, and you’ll learn that Avari isn’t the scariest thing you’ve ever faced.”

Alec stumbled backward, away from my father, and winced when his back hit the corner of the counter. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Cavanaugh.”

“Dad!” I stood, pushing my chair out of the way with the backs of my legs. “Back off! Why are men so suspicious? Is it hardwired into your brain? Jeez, he’s forty-five years old!”

Alec actually frowned at that, and I felt bad about throwing his lost youth in his face.

“Not that you’re not hot…” I backtracked. Totally tall, dark, and crush-worthy, if we’d been anywhere near the same age. Especially with the bonus haunted-past mystique.

Alec dared a faint grin, and my father scowled. “I’m not kidding, Kaylee. I know you and Nash just broke up, but that doesn’t mean you need to…”

I dropped my spoon into my half-full bowl and grabbed my mug, already stomping out of the kitchen in humiliation. “I am not having this conversation with you.” My dad didn’t know exactly what had happened between me and Nash, but he knew Nash had been taking frost and he knew—and loved—that I’d taken a step back, at least while Nash recovered.

My father groaned, then called me back before I’d made it to the hall. “Wait, Kaylee. Please.” The magic word. I stopped and turned to face him. “You’re right. I’m overreacting. There are so many things I can’t protect you from that I tend to go overboard in cases where I can actually make a difference. Come finish your breakfast. I’m sorry.”

“You’re trying to protect her from me?” Alec frowned into his cup of coffee.

Instead of answering, my father changed the subject, already on his way to the front door when he glanced back at Alec. “Don’t forget the interview at one. Don’t be late.” My dad was trying to get Alec a job at the factory where he worked. With better pay and more hours than he got at the theater, Alec could afford his own apartment and really start to get his life back together. “And you owe me four chocolate cupcakes.”

“Cupcakes? Is that the fee for getting me an interview?” Alec pulled off a very convincing confused look, and I couldn’t quite hide my smile. But there was no way my dad would fall for that.

As soon as the front door closed behind my father, Alec turned to me, coffee mug halfway to his mouth. “You faced down a hellion to rescue three people from the Netherworld. Why the hell is he trying to protect you from me?”

I could only shrug. “He’s my dad. That’s what he does.” And lately, that seemed to be the only normal aspect of my entire life.


I PULLED INTO the parking lot fifteen minutes before the first bell, hoping I’d beaten Nash to school. Hoping he’d find some way to school that didn’t include Sabine, after what she’d done the night before. But four minutes after I arrived, her car pulled into a space two rows in front of mine, with a very familiar silhouette showing through the passenger’s side window.

Maybe he was telling her to stay away from me. Maybe he was threatening her. Normally, I’m not big on physical threats. But normally, I don’t have my dreams invaded by psychotic nightmare demons. Or whatever. I was willing to compromise a little on the former to get rid of the latter.

I followed them toward the building, hanging back so they wouldn’t see me. When Sabine turned to brush hair from Nash’s forehead, laughing at something he’d said, I dropped into a crouch next to a beat-up old Neon with faded blue paint. It certainly didn’t look like he was telling her to back off, or else.

I wanted to see more tears. Less laughter and fewer you-light-up-my-life smiles. Nash had dumped countless other girls in his two and a half years at Eastlake, so why was he having trouble getting rid of this one? Had he forgotten how?

When Sabine’s laughter was swallowed by the clang of the glass doors swinging shut, I stood, fuming, and kicked the front tire of the car I’d been hiding behind. Inside, I stomped straight to Nash’s locker, intending to tell them both off before I lost my nerve. But to my unparalleled relief, Nash was alone, stuffing books from his bag into his locker. I leaned against the locker next to his and crossed my arms over my chest, frowning up at him.

“You really told her off, huh? I could tell by how hard she was laughing.”

Nash glanced at me, then turned back to his locker. “I made her promise not to feed off you anymore.”

“Just me?” I dropped my bag on the ground at my feet. “What about the rest of the school?” Or the rest of Texas, for that matter. “She can’t just go around slurping up fear from the general population while they sleep.”

Nash closed his locker door, then drew me into the alcove by the first-floor restrooms and water fountain, where we were less likely to be overheard. “Actually, she kind of has to. If she doesn’t feed, she’ll starve to death.”

Stunned, I blinked at him. “You’re serious?”

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