With All My Soul Page 1

Chapter One

I used to hate the fact that my world is built on half-truths, held together with white lies. My life itself is an illusion requiring constant effort to maintain. I lie better than almost anyone I’ve ever met. But if I know the truth about anything, it’s this: when people say the devil is in the details, they have no idea how right they are....

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“It was a nice service, right?” My best friend, Emma, smoothed the front of her simple black dress, both brows furrowed in doubt. She shifted her weight to her right foot and her heel sank half an inch into the soft ground. “I mean, as far as funerals go, it could have been worse. People cried.” She shrugged, staring out at the slowly departing crowd. “This would have been awkward if no one had cried.”

It was awkward anyway. Funerals are always awkward, especially in my social circle, where the definition of “death” is under constant reevaluation.

“It was a lovely service, Em.” I watched as people fled the open grave in slow-motion retreat, eager to be gone but reluctant to let it show. There were teachers, shell-shocked but in control, looking out of place without their desks and whiteboards. Parents, looking helpless and scared. Classmates in dark dresses, black slacks, and uncomfortable shoes, most in the same clothes they’d worn to the past few funerals.

We were all much too familiar with the routine by now. Whispered names and details. A day off for mourning. Excused absences for the viewing. Counselors on call for grieving students during every class period. And finally, the funeral, where we said goodbye to yet another classmate most of us had known for most of our lives.

I was one of those who’d cried, even though I was among the few who knew that the star of the show—the recently deceased herself—was actually still with us. Right next to me, in fact. A guest at her own funeral.

Sabine leaned closer, Nash’s hand clasped in her right one, because her left was still encased in a cast. A curtain of thick, dark hair fell over half her face, shielding her from most of the thinning crowd. “So, seeing yourself in a coffin wasn’t awkward? ’Cause it was awkward for me, and I’m not the one being buried today.”

“Oh, no, the viewing was totally horrible,” Em admitted, her brown eyes wide. Those eyes were all that was left of her, other than her soul. Everything else was Lydia’s. Thin, angular face. Petite bones and slim build, similar to my own. Limp brown hair. Freckles. Feet that didn’t quite fit into Em’s favorite pair of shoes, stolen from her own closet while her mother and sisters shopped for her casket. “But the funeral itself—that was nice, don’t you think?”

It was, as it damn well should have been. Em had left funeral details—in her own handwriting—in an envelope on her vanity table the day we’d picked up her shoesand a few other essentials. Once Ms. Marshall was thinking clearly, she’d probably wonder why her seventeen-year-old daughter had given so much thought to how she wanted to be buried, but grief had eclipsed her skepticism at least long enough to arrange the funeral of her daughter’s—albeit morbid—dreams.

“It was beautiful, Em,” Tod whispered, and I glanced up to find him standing next to me, where there’d been only damp grass a second before. It took more self-control than I’d known I had to keep from throwing my arms around him and trying to melt into him, which had recently replaced hoping for world peace as my new favorite impossible task.

I couldn’t throw myself at him because most people couldn’t see him. Reapers are sneaky that way.

Beyond that, I couldn’t indulge in an embrace from my boyfriend—that word felt so inadequate—because today wasn’t about comforting me. It was about burying Emma. Being there for her.

And planning vengeance. Justice for Em and for everyone else Avari and his fellow hellions had possessed, tortured, or taken from us. Today was about plotting retribution for Emma’s boyfriend. And for Lydia, and for Sabine’s foster mother, and for Brant, Nash’s baseball teammate.

And for Alec.

My hand twitched at the thought of him, as if I still held the dagger. I could almost smell the blood. I could still see him in my mind, one of my few real friends, his eyes filled with pain and confusion, staring up at me in fear. Until they’d stared at nothing.

I swallowed my anger at Avari and what he’d taken from us, determined to avoid ruining Emma’s perfect funeral with the bellow of rage itching to burst free from me.

Today was a new start for Em, and a new start for us all. We could no longer afford to be victims in Avari’s quest to walk the human world. Beginning today, we were soldiers. Warriors, battle-weary and not yet focused, but warriors nonetheless.

Warriors, at least for the moment, in black formal funeral attire. All except for Tod, who could wear whatever he wanted because no one other than the five of us could see him.

I started to take his hand, hoping no one would notice such a small motion, but then Emma made a soft, strangling sound and I looked up to see her staring ahead, frozen like a deer in mortal danger.

Her mother was heading straight for us.

“Kaylee, thank you so much for coming.” Ms. Marshall sniffled and reached for my hand, and her tears triggered more of my own. “Thank you all.” She glanced at everyone but Tod, whom she couldn’t see, and when her gaze lingered for a second on her own daughter, hidden behind a stranger’s face, Emma burst into fresh sobs.

“We wouldn’t have missed it, Ms. Marshall,” Nash said, while I wrapped one arm around Emma.

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