Never to Sleep Page 19

But Luca shook his head slowly. “I don’t think that’s it. Unless…were you hurt when she died, like, in the same accident or something? Is it possible you died too, even for just a minute?”

“No.” I frowned. “I don’t think so.” But the truth was that I had no idea. No one who was there that night would tell me what happened. Nash and his mom were off the hook, but my dad and Kaylee—they were family. They owed me the truth.

But Luca misunderstood my confusion. “That happens more than you’d think. People die, and doctors resuscitate, but once death’s touched you, you’ll always bear its mark, even if I’m the only one who can feel it.”

Another thud shook the shed, and I jumped, my next question forgotten.

Luca lifted my chin and kissed me again, and this time instead of pulling away, I pulled him closer. His hand slid around my neck, his fingers curling in my hair.

“What was that one for?” I asked, when he finally let me go.

“Just for fun. Because I’m not sure I’ll get another chance.” He lifted my cut palm, and I stared at it, wondering if all that cutting and bleeding and running had been for nothing. What was the point, if I was just going to die anyway? If we both were?

“That’s unacceptable.” I pulled my phone from my pocket to check the time, but the lit screen was blank, like cell signals weren’t the only things missing in the Netherworld. Like maybe time had no meaning here either. “We’re not going to die here, or anywhere else in this nightmare of an alternate dimension. Addison said I could go home, and I believe her.”

“And Addison would be…?”

“The dead pop star,” I said, and that time Luca looked skeptical, but I hardly noticed, because I was going over everything Addison had said. Again. “She said I could go home, but I had to want it, more than anything else. She said to go back the way I came. But what does that mean?”

“It sounds like she thinks you brought yourself—and maybe me—here,” Luca suggested, reseating another loosened bat.

“But I didn’t do anything. That dead guy just appeared there, and his eyes were empty. I started screaming and closed my eyes, and the next thing I knew, we were here, and nothing made any sense.”

“There has to be something else,” Luca said. “You must have done something we’re not remembering.”

Something heavy slammed against the door, and I shrieked when the top hinge ripped free from the wall. And just for a second, everything changed. The floor of the shed was suddenly filled with thick, rolling gray fog, and through it, I could see the ghosts of things—mostly sports equipment—that didn’t exist in the Netherworld. But they existed in our world, in this very shed.

In an instant, that flash of impossible things was gone, and Luca hadn’t seen it. He jumped to his feet and stepped over two bats to hold the door closed with his body. His eyes focusedon me, shining in the glare from my phone screen, and I could see fear in every line of his face. And as I watched him, clutching my cell in my good hand, swimming in my own fear, some crazy bit of understanding slid into place in my head.

I’d listened, not just to Addison, but to myself. I’d seen what she wanted me to see. And I could do what she’d said I could do. I could take us home. And I didn’t need any help.

“Sophie.” Luca’s voice pulled me out of my own head and back to the reality where each blow to the door jarred his entire body. “Kiss me. This really is our last chance.”

“No way,” I said. “We’re getting out of here. Give me your hand.” I stepped over one of the fallen bats and reached for him, but he hesitated. It took all of his strength to keep the door closed, and giving me his hand would weaken that effort. “Trust me, Luca. Addison was right. I got us into this, and I can get us out of it.”

“How?” He had to raise his voice now, to be heard over the violent chuffing sound echoing through the door as some great beast dragged in air, then spit it out. “What did you do?”

“I screamed. That’s what brought us, and that’s what’ll take us home.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he insisted.

“Neither does this!” I waved a hand at the door to indicate every monster trying to break it down. He couldn’t hold them off forever. “Give me your damn hand!”

And finally he did. His fingers curled around mine and I opened my mouth. Then I screamed harder and louder than I’d ever screamed in my life.

Nothing happened. The scratching, clawing, and pounding never paused, and I didn’t see so much as a curl of fog on the ground.

“I don’t understand!” I had to shout to be heard above the ruckus by then. “Why didn’t it work?”

Before Luca could answer—assuming he had an answer—something hit the door hard enough to shove him forward. He lost his balance and went down on his knees on one of the bats, and I know it hurt, because I could hear the impact, even over the noise from outside. The next blow to the door ripped the middle hinge free, and Luca shoved himself to his feet. He planted his palms on the door and pushed, and the muscles stood out on his arms and his neck as he strained from the effort.

I put my hands next to his and pushed with all of my strength, but I had dancer’s legs, not football arms, so I wasn’t much help.

My arms ached, and fear felt like ice crawling up my spine. Each breath burned in my lungs, and sweat rolled into my eyes. And all of our effort was pointless. The next big blow to the door threw us both backward. I tripped over a bat and went down on my hip. Luca landed half on top of me, then scrambled away from the door, pulling me with him. He grabbed a bat on the way, and we didn’t stop until our backs hit the wall at the end of the shed.

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