“You can wing it until I get back. I have faith in you,” I said, hanging up the phone.
“What?” Jared asked.
“Beth said Kim hasn’t been around. She doesn’t know where she is. Kim’s been doing that a lot lately,” I said with a frown.
Jared squirmed in his seat, and then looked away.
“Jared?” I asked in an accusatory tone. He didn’t look at me. “Do you know anything about that?”
Jared didn’t meet my eyes for several moments, and then final y turned to face me. After a long puff of air, he took a deep breath, and then intertwined his fingers. His expression was exactly as it as the night he told me the truth.
I looked at him from under my brows. “Is it bad?”
Jared shook his head. “It’s dangerous. I won’t lie to you, so please let it go.”
“We’re talking about Kim, right? Lanky, goofy Kim?”
“Let it go, Nina.”
My knee bounced up and down as I made the decision, but it had already been made. I was only stal ing. Jared looked away again with a sigh, knowing what would happen next.
He closed his eyes, and with one last effort he begged. “Don’t….”
My knuckles turned white as I gripped the edge of my seat, preparing myself for what he would say. Jared had told me more unbelievable truths in the last two years than even I could believe, and I had seen most of it with my own eyes. Regardless, Kim had been keeping something from me— something Jared knew, and I didn't—I had to ask.
“Jared?” He stiffened the second I uttered his name. Although knowing the truth had never been comforting before, I couldn’t stop myself. “What do you know about Kim?”
“That’s not actual y his secret to tel ,” Kim said, strol ing into the waiting room.
It took me a moment to process that she was real y there, and that I hadn’t conjured her from my wild imagination.
Kim paused for a moment to acknowledge Jared. When he nodded in her direction, she took a seat next to me. She was in a white t-shirt and jeans, sporting black and white checkered Vans, and smell ed of cigarettes. Her big, brown eyes didn’t falter. She didn’t seem nervous or out of place at al .
“What on earth are you doing here, Kim?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I could ask you the same question.”
“So go ahead. You seem to know al the right questions to ask, anyway,” I said, defiant.
“Kim’s just here to help,” Jared said.
“Help how? How did she know?” I looked at Kim, then. “How did you know to come?”
“How did you know?” she asked. She was purposeful y goading me, and I wanted to reach out, lace my fingers around her long neck and shake her with the tightest grip I could muster.
“You’re not funny,” I snapped.
Kim grinned, clearly enjoying the fact that she had me in such a tizzy. “No, but you are.”
I stood up, crossing my arms. If she wouldn’t cooperate, I would corner Jared. I pointed at Kim. “How did she know Ryan was hurt, Jared? How did she get here?”
“Plane,” Kim answered flatly.
“Shut up!” I growled.
The corners of Jared’s mouth turned up slightly, but when he felt my temper rising, he straightened his expression. “Kim is helping us. Final y,” he said, shooting an annoyed glance in her direction.
“Bite me,” Kim said without emotion, chewing her thumb nail.
His jaws flitted under his skin. “She has been keeping an eye on our situation…what?” he said, frowning.
I stared at him. “I’m just waiting for you to make sense.”
Jared returned my expression, and Kim laughed once. “Welcome to my world. He’s one big riddle book, isn’t he? He just does it to make himself feel important. He wants you to drag it out of him.”
Claire walked in, and stopped in her tracks. “What is the witch doing here?” she said with venom in her voice.
Kim smiled slightly, but her eyes were devoid of emotion. “Blessed Be. Heard about what happened. Good job, G.I. Barbie.”
“Move aside, Nina,” Claire said in a frightening, low tone. I was too afraid to move, seeing that she was poised to pounce.
Tension in the room had soared to a new level. The waiting room we occupied was in a wing separate from the main hal , so it would be very easy for Claire to let some of her pent up aggression go in Kim’s general direction. Kim didn’t seem phased in the slightest.
Jared stood. “Enough.”
Claire glanced at her brother. “Does she have to be here?”
The longer they spoke as if I knew what was going on, the angrier I became. “What in the hel is going on?” I yel ed.
“Sssh!” Claire hissed.
“Are you human?” I asked Kim.
Kim paused in thought. “Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but yes.”
Jared sat, pul ing me to the sofa with him. Claire sat in the seat next to us, fidgeting with her hijab. Kim looked at her watch, and then settled into her chair. Suddenly the air felt very easy, the opposite of just a few moments before, but it was forced, unnatural.
“You know those that are aware of demons attract them.” Kim said this matter-of-factly, making my reality feel twisted. Jared told me a few specifics about the Others during the talk we had on our first date—the moment we affectionately dubbed, ‘The Conversation That Changed Everything’. Kim was the other side; someone I couldn’t tel . I hadn’t shared our secrets from that night with anyone, and Kim repeating part of it verbatim disconcerted me.
“Stay calm, Nina,” Jared said, quiet and smooth. He placed his hand on mine. “They feed on aggression and fear.”
Kim’s body language was casual, but deliberately so. “What we’re talking about is going to bring them here, Nigh. The more upset you are, the more access they wil have to this situation, so just take it al in. Don’t try to analyze it, just listen and accept.”
“Listen and accept,” I said, taking a deep breath. I looked to Jared, who offered a smal , comforting grin. I returned my attention to Kim. “Okay.
Let’s hear it.”
Kim’s mouth turned up infinitesimal y. “When I was sixteen I was possessed by a demon.”
It was hard to concentrate. Months of perfecting the art of keeping my emotions under control was the only advantage I had, and I was determined to keep my cool. “You’re kidding.”