My Soul to Steal Page 9

“Tod says they were, like, obsessed with each other, and now she’s back, and it turns out they never really broke up. She’s not just gonna bow out gracefully, is she?”

Alec shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience with human girls—you’re the first one I’ve really talked to in twenty-six years. But I do know a bit about obsession—you might recall Avari’s ongoing quest to possess your soul?”

“That does ring a bell…” My hand clenched around my glass, and I gulped from it, trying to drown the pit of lingering terror that had opened up in my stomach.

“Well, whether she’s obsessed with him or actually in love with him—or both—she’s probably not gonna just walk away,” Alec said, when I finally set my glass down. “But really, that’s a good thing, in a way.”

I gaped at him. “In what universe does Nash’s ex wanting him back qualify as a good thing?”

Alec leaned back against the cushions. “Think of it as a second opinion on his value. If he wasn’t worth the fight, wouldn’t she just let him go? Wouldn’t you?”

Hmm… Would I? Should I?

“How did you get so wise? You’re like a giant Yoda, minus the pointy ears and green skin.” I hesitated, eyeing him in curiosity. “They had Star Wars in the eighties, right?”

Alec laughed, and his deep brown eyes lit up. “Only the original trilogy. You sure know how to make a guy feel old.” Then he frowned. “But I guess that makes sense. It’s weird.” He met my gaze again. “Physically, I’m still nineteen. But I’m old enough to be your dad.”

I shook my head and grinned. “No way. My dad’s a hundred and thirty.” Though he didn’t look a day over forty. “Why? Do you feel forty-five on the inside?”

Alec shook his head, holding my gaze with a serious, heavy sadness. “I feel way older, most of the time. Every day in the Netherworld was like a year, and I was there for something like twenty-six years. Doesn’t even seem possible. Then, suddenly I’m out, and I’m here, and everything’s different and fast and hard and shiny. I’m old and wise, according to some—” his eyes flashed in brief good humor on my behalf “—and in some ways, I feel ten thousand years old, because after everything I’ve seen, and everything I had to do to survive, shiny new Blu-ray disks and stereos that fit in your pocket seem so…irrelevant.”

Alec shrugged again, looking lost. “But then sometimes I feel like a little kid, because these shiny bits of irrelevance are everyday parts of my life now, and half the time, I don’t have a clue what they do.”

“Wow.” I grinned, trying to lighten the mood. “That was deep.”

He returned mygrin and raised a challenging eyebrow. “Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

“You’re sayin’ I should listen to my elders?”

His smile died, and he glanced at the hands clasped in his lap, then back up at me. “I’m saying I wish I wasn’t your elder.” Another sigh. “I wish I hadn’t lost twenty-six years of my life, and I wish to hell that it wasn’t so hard to take advantage of what I have left.”

Unfortunately, everyone he’d known before he left the human world was a quarter century older now, so he couldn’t just show up on old friends’ doorsteps—assuming he knew where to find them—with a smile and a suitcase. My dad and I were all Alec had at the moment, and we had no intention of cutting him loose.

But deep down, we all three knew that we couldn’t replace his real family any more than my aunt and uncle had been able to replace my parents.

“I just wish I could turn back the clock and undo everything that went wrong.”

I knew exactly how he felt.

TUESDAY MORNING, the second day of the spring semester, I was waiting in front of Nash’s locker when he arrived, walking down the hall alone for the first time since I could remember. His two best friends were gone, and we’d broken up. He was alone and probably miserable. And I couldn’t help wondering how he’d gotten to school, considering he didn’t have a car and no longer had anyone to bum a ride from.

Surely he hadn’t taken the bus with the freshmen.

“Hey.” His voice was casual, and completely Influence free, but his eyes swirled slowly in genuine pleasure. He was happy to see me.

My pulse spiked a little at that knowledge, and I resisted a relieved smile, trying to think of a way to ask him about Sabine without admitting that I wanted to nail her into a crate and ship her to the South Pole. Even though I’d just met her. “Hey. Can we talk?”

“Yeah.” Nash opened his locker, then unzipped his backpack. “Actually, I need to tell you something. I wanted to say this yesterday, but then we got interrupted, and…” He set his bag down without taking anything out of it and looked right into my eyes, so I could see the sincerity swirling in his. “Kaylee, I just want you to know that I’m clean. It sucks, and it’s hard, especially when I’m home by myself with nothing else to think about. But I’m totally clean. And I’m going to stay that way.”

My heart ached. Part of me wanted to hug him and forgive him and take him back right then, because I was afraid that if I didn’t, I’d lose my chance. Sabine would move in, and the time-out that was supposed to give Nash a chance to get better and me a chance to deal with what happened would only end up giving her a way into his life.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies