My Soul to Steal Page 54

My plan only went far enough to expose the hellion’s presence. How the hell was I supposed to get rid of Avari? I didn’t have anything to hit him with, and I couldn’t afford to make a scene in the theater, anyway.

Or could I?

“Is this really what my proxy has been reduced to?” he asked. “Serving greasy concessions to the masses in ugly shirts and pleated pants. I think he was better off in the Nether. With me.”

“Well, I don’t think so, and neither does he.”

The hellion chuckled, and the smooth, dark sound wound its way up my spine, promising me pain and pleasure so hopelessly intertwined that I knew if I gave into it, at least I’d die smiling. “Is that what he told you? That he’s the victim here, rather than a full partner? He didn’t happen to mention the fee he gets for renting out his body?”

“Fee?” He was lying. He had to be. Alec didn’t have to tell me anything about Avari’s new hobby, but he’d volunteered the information. He wouldn’t have done that if he were a willing participant, right?

“He didn’t tell you he gets a portion of the energy from each one?”

In fact, he’d claimed the exact opposite. “You’re lying.”

Another laugh, and this time his breath stirred my hair, warm and damp on my earlobe. “Ms. Cavanaugh, you are charming, even in your ignorance. I have many, many talents. Some that defy description in any human vocabulary, and more’s the pity. But lying is not among them. Hellions cannot lie.”

But if that were a lie itself, wouldn’t that mean that everything else he’d said was, too?

I shook my head, confused. So I clung to what I knew without a doubt. I wasn’t sure I could trust Alec, but I was sure I couldn’t trust Avari.

“Get out right now, or I’ll scream for security,” I hissed, leaning into him this time, in spite of the discomfort crawling up my spine. “I’ll tell them you assaulted me, and you can spend the rest of your time here in jail, getting to know an entirely different portion of the ‘masses.’”

I had Sabine and her criminal history to thank for that little stroke of genius.

Alec’s thick, dark brows arched dramatically in the flickering light from the screen. “I don’t believe you’d do that to your friend.”

“Believe it. Alec would rather wake up in jail when you’ve exhausted your resources than be an unwilling participant in another of your murders.”

Plus, I could always recant my accusation later, without hurting anything but my own credibility.

“So what’ll it be? Home sweet Netherworld, or the inside of the Tarrant County jail?”

“People have to sleep in jail, right?” Avari smiled, and I decided to call his bluff.

“Maybe. But I hear most people are bailed out pretty quickly, so you’d probably be the only overnight guest.” No need to mention that my knowledge of the inner workings of the adult justice system came entirely from television. “And considering that you haven’t had a good meal recently, I’m guessing you won’t be able to hold out that long. Am I right?”

Avari’s borrowed smile faded slowly. “You know I will be back.”

I shrugged, trying to look like I wasn’t scared out of my mind and sweating beneath my “ill-fitting” uniform. “Not if I can help it.”

“But you cannot help—not Alec, and not yourself. You’re in over your head, little bean sidhe, and if you are not careful, I’d venture that someone will be happy to relieve you of that pretty little head entirely. In just…one…bite.”

I clutched the seat between us to keep my hand from shaking as his eyes flashed with malice and the promise of pain, in the sudden bright glow from the movie screen.

“Until next time, Ms. Cavanaugh…”

Then Alec’s eyes closed. His hands relaxed and his head fell onto the cushioned back of his chair. He snored lightly.

I sucked in a deep breath, then let it out slowly, trying to purge my fear with the used air. Then I shook him awake.

Alec sat upright in a single, startled movement. His eyes widened, and he glanced around the darkened theater in wild panic, gripping the armrests almost hard enough to crack the cup holders.

“It’s okay,” I whispered, and he whirled in his chair to face me, shocked eyes still round, pupils drastically dilated.

“Kaylee?” He swallowed, and his Adam’s apple bobbed. “It happened again?”

I nodded. “First, what color was my first bike?”

Alec blinked. “White, with red ribbons.”

My whole body relaxed with my next exhale, though I knew I’d already used up my entire break, plus some. “Thank goodness. Yeah, it happened again. Let’s get out of here.” I stood and pulled him down the steps by one hand, moving so fast I almost tripped us both. In the wide hallway between theaters, I tugged him into a corner of the unused secondary concession stand.

“I’m late, so here’s the short version—you must have fallen asleep on your break, and Avari got in. He found some guy sleeping during the chick flick in theater two and was chow-ing down on some human life force when I found you. Er…him. I threatened to have him arrested if he didn’t vacate your personal premises immediately.”

“And that worked?”

I shrugged. “I may have exaggerated how long he’d be in jail, and how alone he’d be, with no one to feed on.”

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