My Soul to Steal Page 68

“I don’t like the way things were!” I shut off the engine and pulled the key from the ignition. “And he doesn’t, either.”

“Ask him.” She grabbed my arm when I tried to get out of the car. “Ask him if he really wants to be rid of me, Kaylee. He’ll tell you the truth. And if he says he doesn’t want to lose me—at least as a friend—and you still won’t help me, then you’re intentionally trying to make him unhappy. Why would you do that if you really love him?”

“That doesn’t even make any sense! I…” But I didn’t have anything logical to follow that up with, so I could only groan and let my head fall back against the headrest. “You are the most infuriating person I’ve ever met.”

She lifted one brow, half-amused, even with tears still standing in her eyes. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

“It’s really not.”

“Yet you haven’t kicked me out of your car.”

“Not for lack of trying!” I sighed again, but recognized the sound of futility in that breath. It was so much harder to hate her when she wasn’t kissing my boyfriend or stalking my dreams. “Sabine, I have to be on the clock in five minutes. And this isn’t going to happen. You can’t seriously expect me to forgive you for a topless make-out session with Nash. Much less sanction your friendship.”

“Why are you always telling me what I can’t do? There’s nothing I can’t do, and the same goes for you, whether you know it or not. And if you weren’t so threatened by me, you’d have no problem with this.”

“That’s it. I’m done.” I shoved open my door and got out. “Lock the doors when you go. And stay out of my car.” And out of my life.

MY SHIFT ENDED at two, and I was relieved to find my car empty. And not so relieved to find all four doors unlocked—a metaphorical middle finger from Sabine. Fortunately, I didn’t keep anything in my car, so there was nothing to be stolen except the car itself, which probably would have happened if I’d been working a night shift.

When I walked through my front door half an hour later, I found a note from my father in the empty candy dish on an end table, where I usually dropped my keys. The note repeated what his voice mail had already told me: he’d driven Alec to the factory for a preliminary drug test and training video, and he’d be back by six with dinner.

What the note didn’t say, but I’d heard in my father’s voice, was that he was unwilling to leave Alec alone if at all possible, after last night’s demon-roping marathon.

So for the first time in weeks, I found myself alone in my house. I would have loved a nap, or even just a couple of hours spent staring at the TV, with no one else around to fight me for the remote. Unfortunately,I couldn’t really relax until I knew how to keep Avari out of my dreams, and out of Alec’s body.

By my best guess, the only reason he hadn’t tried to steal my body was that I couldn’t feed him like Alec could. But it was only a matter of time before I made him mad enough that he’d take me over just to hurt or humiliate me. Or worse. Because if he had the power to possess a half hypnos, he had the power to possess me, and it wouldn’t take him long to figure out how to use my own abilities to cross me into the Netherworld. And I couldn’t just sit around with that thought eating at me like acid.

Unfortunately, I had no idea where to start looking for solutions. My dad and uncle—and probably Harmony Hudson—were already burning their respective candles at both ends, so far without a thing to show for their efforts.

My only idea—some of that weird Netherworld dreamless-sleeping herb Harmony had given Nash while he was sick—was shot down before I’d even fully expressed it. Nash said that the herb would keep Sabine from giving me nightmares—she can’t mess with dreams that aren’t there—but wouldn’t even slow Avari down. He didn’t need us to dream; he only needed us to sleep.

And I already knew from experience that the internet had nothing about hellions. At least, not about real hellions. There was plenty of info on comic book and video game hellions. But nothing of use, unless I had an enchanted sword hanging from my belt or a gang of mismatched but powerful superheroes at my back.

And even then, there were no guarantees.

I was staring at my Betty Boop phone message pad—still blank—when the doorbell rang. Surprised, I dropped my pen and pad on the coffee table and crossed the room to glance out the front window, where I found Tod standing on the porch, his hands behind his back.

Huh. Weird.

I pulled open the door and looked up at him. “What’s with the doorbell?”

He grinned, and a blond curl fell over his forehead. “Just tryin’ on some manners.”

“Why? Who died?” I meant it as a joke, but when his smile faded, I frowned. “Please tell me no one died….”

“Well, I’m sure someone, somewhere, died. But no one I know.” He hesitated, and I stared at him, still trying to figure out what the reaper was doing on my porch. “Can I come in?”

I shrugged and stepped back to clear the way. “You don’t usually ask permission. Or use the door. So…what are you delivering today—pizza or death?”

“Both, actually.” He pulled his arms out from behind his back as he stepped over the threshold, and his right hand held a grease-stained medium pizza box. “Pepperoni for you now, and a fatal aneurism to the woman in room 408, in about ten hours.”

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