Reaper Page 5

“She doesn’t say that.”

“The hell she doesn’t. But your problem isn’t the heart on your sleeve, it’s the head on your shoulders. You don’t think about things, you just do them, and it never even occurs to you that you could be screwing someone else over.”

“You mean you?”

“Yeah, me! I can’t turn around without tripping over whatever trouble you’re in. I spend half my life cleaning up your messes, and all you do is take up space and get in my way!”

I couldn't see Nash. The suburban street was unlit, and I was staring at the road. But I could tell I’d gone too far because he went completely still and quiet. For nearly a minute. Then he grabbed the door handle, like he’d pull it open with the car stil moving. “Let me out.”


“I’d hate to take up any more space in your life,” he spat. “Stop the car.” I rolled my eyes, but slowed down, in case he tried to jump. “Are moronic overreactions a side effect of dating a delinquent, or is this the alcohol talking?”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Nash snapped, tightening an already white-knuckled grip on the door handle. “And you don’t know a damn thing about Sabine. Stop the car, or I’m gonna jump and roll.”

“No, you’re gonna go home and sleep it off in your own bed,” I insisted, as we rol ed past the last house on the block, the rest of which was taken up by a large community park.

“Stop the damn car!” I felt his Influence almost before he spoke, and his words washed over me in a rush of anger, chased by a backwash of resentment. The urge to pul onto the side of the road was overwhelming.

I slammed on the brake and we screeched to a halt at the corner in front of the park, not because he wanted me to stop, but because I was too pissed to drive. “Don’t even try to Influence me, you little—” Nash’s eyes widened, staring straight ahead. I glanced up just in time to see a car gliding toward us on the wrong side of the road, sleek and black against the night, no headlights to announce its approach.

Adrenaline surging through me, I shifted into reverse and cut the wheel to the right, but it was way too late. The car slammed into us head-on. There was a loud pop of impact and the squeal-crunch of bending metal.

The world spun around me.

Nash flew forward and his head smacked the windshield. My seat belt punched the air from my lungs as the entire dashboard lurched toward me.

The steering wheel stopped two inches from my chest.

Then everything went still.

The only sound was the soft hiss of something ruptured. Every breath hurt, and my neck was so stiff I could hardly turn my head. I exhaled slowly and closed my eyes, stealing a moment in the near-silence to appreciate my pounding heart, and the fact that it continued to beat.

Then I twisted in the dark to face my brother.

“Nash?” He wasslumped in his seat half facing me. His eyes were closed, his head steadily dripping blood from an injury I couldn’t see in the dark. My relief bled into dread as I pushed my door open and the interior lights came on. “Nash?” I said again, but he didn’t answer. He was barely breathing, and I was afraid to make things worse by shaking him awake. “Shit!” I unbuckled my seat belt and had to slide out the door sideways, because of the crunched dashboard and the steering wheel that had nearly crushed my rib cage. The street was lit only by the red glow of my taillights—the wreck had obliterated the headlights— and I spared a moment to glance at the bastard crumpled over the deployed airbag in the other car.

Where the hell were our airbags?

My car didn’t have them. It was too old.

I raced around the rear of the car and pulled Nash’s door open with one hand, while the other dug in my pocket for my phone. I flipped it open and knelt by my brother.

He wasn’t breathing.


Heart racing in panic, I felt for his pulse with my free hand, but couldn’t find it in his neck. I tried his wrist—my mom had taught me years ago—but couldn’t find it there either. His heart wasn’t beating.

“No!” I shouted, out loud this time. I dropped his arm and pressed the 9

on my phone, my hands shaking, my pulse a roar in my ears. “No, no, no…” I chanted, shock and guilt warring inside me as I pressed the 1. “Not like this.

Not after I…”

Not after what I’d said to him. These couldn’t be his last moments—drunk on the side of the road, alone except for the asshole brother who’d put him there in the first place.

If Mom were here…

If my mother was there, we could fix him. A male and female bean sidhe, together we could reinstate his soul and save his life. Nash would live, and I wouldn’t be a killer.

There’d be a price— someone had to die—but it’d be worth it. Let the reaper take someone else—some old man sleeping down the street. Someone who’d already lived a full life. Someone whose brother hadn’t just told him he was taking up space and getting in the way.

But my mother wasn’t there, and she’d never make it in time, even if I called her. Neither would the ambulance. There was no one close enough to help Nash except me and…

The reaper.

Because no one dies without a reaper there to take his soul.

I blinked as the thought played out in my head, and with it came a chilling spark of possibility.

I flipped my phone closed and shoved it into my pocket. My head throbbed and my chest ached, and my stomach pitched at the very thought of what I was about to do—of who I was about to appeal to—but nothing compared to the nameless, formless agony rising through me with the knowledge that I’d gotten my own brother killed.

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