My Soul to Steal Page 94

Then Emma was there, wrapping me in a hug.

“Are you okay?” I asked her, pulling my foot from the mayo.

“I think so.” She let go of me and pushed strands of blond hair from her face. Her eyes were still wide and her skin was pale, but being back in familiar surroundings went a long way toward calming her down. “That was the Netherworld?”

“In all its many-splendored horror.” I grabbed an apron hanging from a hook on the wall and wiped as much of the gunk off my shoe as I could.

“What the hell happened? I was in history one minute, and the next thing I know, I’m staring at some man in a suit and some…thing with rancid water for hair, who looked like she wanted to eat me whole.”

“It’s a long story, Em. I promise I’ll tell you the whole thing. But I need just a second to…breathe.”

Emma nodded, and I sat down on a stool, blessedly free of splattered condiments. And for a moment, the five of us just stared at one another.

Shocked. Relieved. And very much alive.


“SO, THE ONE WITH the hair?” Emma said, pulling the pan from the oven.

“The poison hair, dripping and fizzing everywhere?” I asked, laying a hand towel across the counter.

Em nodded and set the pan on the towel, then inhaled deeply through her nose. To try to make up for her trauma the day before, I’d promised to answer every Netherworld question she could throw at me over homemade brownies, chosen for the inherent comfort-power of chocolate.

“That was Invidia. She’s a hellion of envy.”

She dropped the pot holders on the counter. “The one who put the whammy on you and Sabine?”

“And half the school.” I shoved the pot holders into the drawer to the left of the stove. “It was part of the blitz, remember?” Emma nodded, but didn’t look very sure, so I elaborated. “Okay, think of it like a waterwheel. Once it gets going, it produces lots of power, right? But you have to put in an initial effort to get it set up. The setup in this case was one big burst of energy shoved into our school by Avari, a hellion of greed, and Invidia, a hellion of envy. That one burst irritated already existing frictions between people, and since it was powered by greed and envy, it paid off in greed and envy.”

“So…Sophie cut off Laura’s hair because she was jealous of that stupid Snow Queen crown.”

“Exactly.” I reached into the fridge and pulled out a gallon of milk, while Em got down two short glasses.

“And it made Sabine crazy jealous of you, and it made you determined to blame everything that went wrong on her.”

I huffed and handed her the first glass. “Sort of. But Avari and Invidia went through some special effort to play the two of us against each other, because we were the payoff.”

“That’s creepy, Kay.”

“At the very least.” I sipped from my glass, watching her closely.

For the most part, Emmahad dealt pretty well with what she’d seen, and subsequently been told. Her reaction to finding out she’d been possessed—“Did my head spin around?”—was her typical humor defense, but I saw the fear beneath. I knew what she was feeling—out of control and terrified and used—because I’d been there.

And I would be there to help her deal. And to fight back.

We all would.

When the doorbell rang, I answered it while Em cut the brownies. Nash stood in the circle of light on my front porch, and the moment our gazes met, the colors in his irises started swirling and my heart beat a little harder.


“Hey,” I said, then I let him fold me into a warm hug, punctuated by a kiss. I ached for more, but it wasn’t the time. I couldn’t help wondering if that time would ever come, because…

“So, are you gonna make us stand out here all night?” Sabine asked, stepping onto the porch behind him. “I’m freezing my ass off, and I need to talk to Emma.”

I stepped aside to let them in, then closed the door and took Nash’s hand when he offered it. He’d asked me out for Friday night—a real date, guaranteed free from all Netherworld interruptions and mara scheming—and I’d accepted. Though I had no idea how I’d talk my dad into letting me go. Nash was willing to earn back my trust, and I was willing to let him try, so long as he stayed clean. But my dad was staunchly con, regarding the possibility of a Kaylee/Nash reunion.

It might actually be easier to make Sabine give up on Nash than to make my dad accept him.

Sabine stomped past us into the kitchen, where Emma had yet to look up from her brownies. The mara had already apologized for sending me to the Netherworld, then almost selling me to Avari. I accepted her apology because I knew she meant it—she wouldn’t have said it otherwise. And I’d apologized for blaming the murder of our teachers and near-destruction of our school on her. So in her warped world view, we were even, and the status quo was secure. She would keep trying to claw her way into Nash’s heart—unsatisfied with the role of good friend—and I would continue to push her back every time she went too far.

But because Em refused to accept her apology and didn’t owe Sabine one, the mara had become obsessed with making Emma forgive her.

It was not going well.

“Em?” Sabine launched into another round of apologies, while Nash and I sat on the couch.

“Feeling okay?” I asked, staring into his eyes to see the truth. It had been more than a day, but he was just now regaining color after being drained by Avari. Again. Of course, it helped that he no longer had to worry about me and Sabine being actively pitted against each other by a pair of evil Netherworld hellions. We weren’t best friends—I’d probably never actually like the mara—but we could be in the same room without needing a referee now.

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