My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Series #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
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Synopsis: She doesn't see dead people, but…
I leaned closer to see over his shoulder, acutely aware of how good he smelled, and Nash read aloud. "Local authorities are perplexed by the death of the second metroplex teenager in as many days. Late this afternoon, fifteen-year-old Alyson Baker died in the lobby of the Cine 9, in the Six Flags mall. Police have yet to determine her cause of death, but have ruled out drugs and alcohol as factors. According to one witness, Baker 'just fell over dead' at the concession counter. A memorial will be held tomorrow at Stephen F. Austin High School for Baker, who was a sophomore there, and a cheerleader."
Sipping from my straw, I scanned the article for a moment after he finished reading. "That's it?"
"There's a picture." He scrolled up to reveal a black-and-white yearbook photo of a pretty brunette with long, straight hair and dramatic features. "What do you think?"
I sighed and sank back into onto the edge of the bed. Seeing the latest dead girl hand't answered any of my questions, but it had given me a name and a face, and made her death infinitely, miserably more real. "I don't know. She doesn't look much like Heidi Anderson. And she's four years younger."
"And she wasn't drunk."
"And I had no idea this one was going to happen." No longer hungry, I wrapped the rest of my burger and dropped it into the bag. "The only thing they have in common is that they both died in public."
"With no obvious cause of death." Nash glanced at the bag in my lap. "Are you gonna finish that?"
I handed him the burger, but his words still echoed in my mind. He'd hit the nail on the head with that one--and driven it straight into my heart. Heidi and Alyson had both literally dropped dead with no warnings, no illness and no wounds of any kind. And I'd known Heidi's death was coming.
If I'd been there when Alyson Baker was ordering her popcorn, would I have known she was about to die?
And if I had, would telling her have done any good?
I scooted back on the bed and drew my knees up to my chest as my guilt over Heidi's death swelled within me like a sponge soaking up water. Had I let her die?
Nash dropped the empty burger wrapper into the bag and swiveled in the desk chair to face me. He frowned as he looked at my expression and leaned forward to gently push my legs down, so he could see my face. "There's nothing you could have done."
Were my thoughts that obvious? I couldn't summon a smile, even with his dimples and late-night stubble only inches away. "You don't know that/"
His mouth formed a hard line for a moment, like he might argue, but then he smiled slyly, and his gaze locked onto mine. "What I do know is that you need to relax. Think about something other than death." His voice was a gentle rumble as he moved from the chair to sit next to me on the bed, and the mattress sank beneath his weight.
My breath hitched in anticipation, and my pulse raced. "What should I be thinking about?" My own voice came out lower, my words so soft I could barely hear them.
"Me," he whispered back, learning forward so that his lips brushed my ear as he spoke. His scent enveloped me, and his cheek felt scratchy against mine. "You should be thinking about me." His fingers intertwined with mine in my lap, and he pulled away from my ear slowly, his lips skimming my cheek, deliciously soft in contrast to the sharp stubble. He dropped a trail of small kisses along my jaw, and my heart beat harder with every single one.
When he reached my chin, the kisses trailed up until his mouth met mine, gently sucking my lower lip between his. Teasing without making full contact. My chest rose and fell quickly, my breaths shallow, my pulse racing.
More . . .
He heard me. He must have. Nash pulled back just long enough to meet my gaze, heat blazing behind his eyes, and I realized that he was breathing hard too. His fingers tightened around mine and his free hand slid into the hair at the base of my skull.
Then he kissed me for real.
My mouth opened beneath his, and the kiss went deeper as I drew him in, suddenly ravenous for something I'd never even tasted. My fingers tightened around his. and my free hand found his arm, exploring the hard planes, reveling in the potential of such restrained strength.
Nash pulled back then and looked at me, deep need smoldering behind his eyes. The intensity of that need--the staggering depth of his longing--slammed into me like a wave on the side of a ship, threatening to knock me overboard. To toss me into that turbulent sea, where the current would surely carry me away.
His finger traced my lower lip, his gaze locked onto mine, and my mouth opened, ready for his again.
His hesitance was a terrible mercy. I could barely breathe with him touching me, so overwhelmed was I by . . . everything. But he smelled so good, and felt so good, I didn't want him to stop, even if I never breathed again.
This time I kissed him, taking what I wanted, delighted and astonished by his willingness to let me. My head was so full of Nash I wasn't sure I'd ever think about anything else again . . .
Until the bedroom door opened.
Nash jerked back so fast he left me gasping in surprise. I blinked, slowly struggling up from the wave of sensations I wanted to ride again. My cheeks flamed as I smoothed my ponytail.
"Dinner, huh?" Ms. Hudson stood in the doorway, arms crossed over her chest, a fresh smear of chocolate on the hem of her shirt. She frowned at us, but didn't look particularly angry or surprised.
Nash rubbed his face with both hands. I sat there, speechless, and more embarrassed than I'd ever been in my life. But at least we'd been caught by his mother, rather than my uncle.
~Chapter 4, pgs. 58-61