My Soul to Steal Page 45

“She wants you to give up on a boyfriend you’re not sure you want back, and an investigation that consists entirely of a list of supernatural creatures scribbled on a phone message pad? Sorry, Kay, but it doesn’t sound to me like she’s the one lacking logic.”

Wow. When he put it like that, the whole thing sounded so…insubstantial. And really, really pathetic. Still… “If you were a cop investigating a murder, wouldn’t you be most interested in the suspect with a criminal record?”

Alec perked up again. “Wait, Sabine has a record? You didn’t tell me that.”

“Yes I did!” I set my Coke on the end table and studied him more closely. “You seriously need to start paying better attention. I know you’re still getting readjusted to the human world, but your memory has so many holes we could strain noodles through it.” And this was more than simple forgetfulness. I could tell from the way he refused to look at me, and from the tense line of his shoulders.

A chill developed at the base of my spine and began working its way up slowly. “What’s going on, Alec?”

Alec took a long, slow breath, and only after several seconds of silence did he finally meet my gaze, deep brown eyes practically swimming in fear. “Something’s wrong, and I think I’m starting to understand what’s going on. I need to tell you something, but I need you not to freak out on me, okay?”

Why were people always telling me that?

The chills traveled up my spine and into my arms, where chill bumps burst to life. “Telling me not to freak out pretty much guarantees that I will freak out….”

“Sorry.” He took a deep breath. “Here’s the deal… My memory of the past few days doesn’t just have holes in it. It has hollows. Big, gaping blank spots.”

Uh-oh. “How big is big?”

Alec leaned back on the couch and scrubbed his face with both hands. “Scary big. I wake up and have no idea how I got wherever I am. I can’t remember what I was doing. It’s very…unsettling.”

I would have gone with “bizarre and terrifying.” But then, I hadn’t spent the past quarter century surrounded by true terror.

“When did this…?” I began, then my voice faded into silence when the rest of what he’d said sank in. “Wait, you said you ‘wake up’ and have no idea what’s going on. So…this happens when you go to sleep?”

The fear churning in my stomach put a bad taste in my mouth. Something strong and foul. Something distressingly familiar…

“Yeah. It’s him, Kaylee.” Alec’s dark gaze held mine captive. “Avari’s possessing me.”

“No.” I shook my head vehemently, even though denial wasn’t really an option. “No, no, no. He can’t.” I made myself put my can down before I could crush itand drench myself in cold soda.

Alec stared back at me from the couch. He looked so vulnerable suddenly. Younger than his nineteen-year-old body, and much younger than his middle-aged mind and soul. “Nothing else makes sense.”

“Neither does this,” I insisted. “It can’t be Avari. He doesn’t have the strength. Not without you there to supply extra power.”

For years, the hellion had used Alec like a walking snack, drawing energy and nutrition from him to fuel his own evil projects and ambitions. But without Alec at his disposal, Avari shouldn’t have enough energy to possess someone in the human world. At least, not so often or for any serious length of time.

Alec sighed, and the weight that sound seemed to carry was unimaginable. “At this point, I’m assuming he’s found a new proxy. I can’t think of any other way this could be possible.”

My head felt like it was about to explode. “You’re saying Avari took over your body just to gossip with me and snag some snack cakes? No.” He was wrong. He had to be. “Alec, you talked to me. Both of those times, you spoke, and it was your voice, not Avari’s. That would have been impossible if he were possessing you.”

Alec shook his head slowly. “No, that would have been impossible if he were possessing you. Or Emma, or Sophie, or anyone else he doesn’t know very well. But I’ve spent the past twenty-six years with him, and he’s been drawing power from me the entire time. He’s intimately familiar with my physiology, and it makes sense that he’d know how to work my voice box, along with the rest of my body.”

No. Damn it, no!

I was breathing too fast and had to focus to keep from hyperventilating. This cannot be happening. Avari could not have been so close to us—inside Alec—without us knowing! Not now that I knew the signs. The voice was the giveaway. He wasn’t supposed to be able to use his puppet’s voice!

“This doesn’t make any sense, Alec. Why would he burn so much energy just to chat with me and eat some refined sugar? He didn’t even tell me what he was doing, so he couldn’t have been feeding off my fear and anger. Why would he go to all this trouble, then not take credit for it?”

Alec didn’t answer. He propped his elbows on his knees and let his head hang below his shoulders, and all I could see of him then was the rapid rise and fall of his arched back while he breathed too fast and too hard.

“Alec? What are you not telling me?” Because it was obvious by then that there was more. Maybe much, much more.

But he didn’t answer.

I left my chair and settled onto the couch next to him, laying one hand on his warm arm. “Alec?” I couldn’t decide whether to be mad at him for holding back or sympathize with the obvious pain of whatever he was going through.

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