My Soul to Steal Page 63

In the dark, as my breathing gradually slowed and my pulse calmed, I became aware of another sound, soft and even. Someone else was breathing. In my room.

I turned my head slowly, my heart thumping painfully, and could barely make out a familiar silhouette outlined by the creepy red glow from my alarm clock.

Alec sat in the corner chair. Silent. Watching me, like he’d been watching me for quite a while.

Why was he watching me? Why wasn’t he tied to the recliner in the living room, which is how he’d started the second night in a row? Where was my dad?


“Alec?” But I knew before he answered. I knew from the creepy smile Alec would never wear, and the way his eyes seemed to focus on something inside me.

“Bad dream?” he asked, leaning forward to study me closer in the dim light, and I froze at the sound of his voice. Because it wasn’t his voice. It was Avari’s.

No pretense this time; the hellion was all business. Just like in my dream.

“How did you…?” I started, clenching the top of my comforter.

“How did I get Alec free from those sad little ropes?” Avari finished, and I nodded. I didn’t bother ordering him to leave, because I didn’t have anything to threaten him with this time without involving—and endangering—my dad. Who’d probably already been both involved and endangered, considering that Avari had somehow gotten past both him and the restraints.

“Waking up bound was a bit of a surprise, I must concede,” the hellion said, leaning forward to peer at me through my friend’s eyes. “Regrettably, this body does not come with extraordinary strength. Fortunately, your father—or rather, his unconscious form—proved quite useful.”

“You possessed my dad?” My hands were damp, and I resisted the urge to wipe cold sweat on my covers. My father was eligible for hellion possession by virtue of having spent time in the Netherworld when Avari had him kidnapped the month before.

“Only long enough to free our dear Alec in his sleep. Your father is now unconscious, and both bound and gagged with his own restraints for my convenience. But he is otherwise unharmed, and I suggest you give me no reason to change that.”

My chest ached, and each breath felt like a knife to my heart. There was no one left to help me, and very few ways for me to help myself, without making things worse for both my dad and Alec. Even if I’d been willing to leave my dad, I couldn’t run, because if the hellion knew Alec’s physiology well enough to make his voice work, he could certainly catch me in the older, stronger body.

Why had he stayed to watch me sleep instead of going out for his usual murder-by-proxy? He couldn’t really drag me back to the Netherworld. Not using Alec’s body, anyway.

“You did that? My dream?” I asked,stalling for time to come up with a plan as my heart thudded in my ears. My only real hope was to knock Alec unconscious, which would expel the hellion from his body. But I’d never hit anyone that hard in my entire life. At least, not without a weapon to wield…

The hellion nodded magnanimously, an artist reluctantly taking credit for his masterpiece. “What did you think? Dreams are a new medium for me, and I may have used just a bit too much terror, when a little suspense would have sufficed.”

Fear and fury coiled within me, a startled snake about to strike, but I’d have to time my move perfectly to disable him with one unpracticed blow. “How?”

Avari shrugged nonchalantly, and it was almost as disturbing to see him in Alec as it had been to see him in Emma less than a month before. “There is a bit of a learning curve, but I’m sure I will get the recipe right next time.”

“How did you get into my head?” I snapped. “And there won’t be a next time.” There wasn’t supposed to be a this time. Depriving Avari of his proxy was supposed to keep him too weak to possess anyone. But not only did he clearly have the strength, he’d somehow picked up a new skill set!

“I’ve discovered several new talents since your last visit to the Nether, Ms. Cavanaugh. And there certainly will be a next time. Talents unpracticed are talents wasted, you know.”

“What do you want?” I asked, fully aware that this confrontation was now mirroring my bad dream. But that was the best I could do with the memory of the nightmare-hellion’s hands on me, his claws digging through my flesh, his power singeing my every nerve ending.

Avari cocked Alec’s head to one side, lending him a look of vacant curiosity. “You know, I’ve never had trouble answering that question in the past. And now it seems I want so many things that I can’t decide what to take first.”

I nodded, going for bravado. “Makes sense, considering you’re a demon of greed.”

“Lately, that’s not as much fun as it sounds like. What I really want to do is shove my hand down your throat and rip your heart out the long way. But I’m not sure if this body can accomplish such a physically demanding feat. And even if it can, if I give in to such immediate gratification, I’ll lose your precious, innocent little soul. And I think I might want that even more than I want your deliciously painful death.”

Don’t show him fear. Don’t shake and don’t sweat. Hold on to your anger, Kaylee. But that was all much easier said than done. “Lucky me.”

“Not in the slightest. Once I have your soul, I’ll be able to kill you over, and over, and over. It’s immensely entertaining—for me. Just ask Ms. Page.”

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