Al expression fel from my face. “So you’re like…you’re like the demon whisperer. My wacky friend Kim. That’s just great.”
Kim nodded, unaffected by my jab.
“You never said why you’re here,” I said.
“I wanted to check on Ryan. I also have news.”
News was usual y the job of Samuel, and I wondered why Kim had been sent instead. The more I knew, the less any of it made sense—which was annoyingly typical.
Claire crossed her legs, settling in her chair. “Wel ? Tel us already.”
“Jared and his covert operation tipped them off. He’s asked too many questions, and they know what he's after. The book has been moved six times in as many days. We’ve got some work to do when we get home.”
Jared glared at Kim, annoyed. “I have to look it over before we take it back. There are things within those pages that could help Nina.”
“That was the deal, wasn’t it?” Kim replied.
Jared nodded, and then looked to his sister. “Now that Ryan’s stable, we should head back. Did the Colonel say how long you’d be here?”
Claire shrugged. “At least until he’s stable enough to ship state-side, and then we’l probably be at a VA rehab until he’s functional. I’ll keep you updated.”
I stared at the smal table that had slid across the floor. Two hundred or so demons had been swirling about, and they were already onto the next subject. The air had returned to its normal temperature, but watching an inanimate object glide across the room left me uneasy—not that I had felt anything close to composed since Gabe had infiltrated my dream on the plane. Life was spinning out of control again, but this time there was no normal life to escape to.
One-third of my anchor to normal was lying in a hospital bed, and another sitting beside me, talking about things so opposite of the realm of ordinary, it was difficult to remember she was part of my other life at al .
Anger consumed me. I felt I'd been lied to. “What deal are you two talking about?” I asked.
“Your man is going to help me return the book to the Sepulchre if I help him get it from Shax,” Kim said.
“Were you going to tel me about any of this?” I said to Jared.
Jared took my hands in his. “We talked about this.”
“Yes, that you would omit things that didn't directly me, but first Ryan, and now Kim? They were my friends, Jared!”
“We stil are,” Kim said.
I ignored Kim. “Are you sure I can’t see Ryan?” I asked Claire. She shook her head with an apologetic expression. “It was good to see you again,” I said to Claire, hugging her. “Kim….” I trailed off, unable to find anything nice to say.
Kim had betrayed me; sneaking her mystical bul shit in the back door, and sucker punching me with her possession-crusades-basilica sob story.
Now she was supposed to help us find the book because of her Oh So Spooky to the Demons powers. I didn’t care! She was supposed to be my normal, and she had ripped it right out from under me.
Gabe had wanted us to turn back, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I wasn’t supposed to know about Kim. Could Gabe’s appearance be mundane as a paternal need to protect me again, or was it something different? Maybe Kim wasn’t supposed to help us? Maybe she was working for the other side.
I had almost reached the elevator when Jared call ed my name. Soon, his hand was in mine. He stopped mid-step, causing me to jerk backward.
“We have to go,” I said, tugging him down the hal .
Jared stopped me again. “Would you please tel me what’s going on?”
“No,” I snapped, smacking the button to the elevator. “That would require me tel ing you the whole truth...and that's not real y how our relationship works.”
The door opened, and I pul ed Jared inside. We were alone, and for the first time I felt I could breathe. I leaned against the wal and sighed. “This isn’t happening.”
“What isn’t happening? Nina, talk to me,” Jared said, putting his hands on the wal at each side of my head.
“She’s my friend, Jared! She was on the other side, the side that kept me grounded…sometimes kept me sane, and now it’s gone! It’s al gone!”
Jared cupped my face. “She’s stil your friend. You’re life at Brown is no different.”
“It’s not different? It’s disappeared!”
He frowned. “Let’s think of this as a positive thing. You have someone to talk to about this, now. Someone on the other side that understands.”
I crossed my arms. “I needed them, Jared...so I wouldn’t get lost in al of the heaven/hel fiasco.”
“She’s human, Nina. She may handle it differently, but she knows how you feel. She knows what it’s like to know things, and be different because of it. Embrace it.”
“Embrace it,” I grumbled. “You don’t understand.”
Jared took my hand and kissed my fingers. “This is a good thing. With her help, we can find the book.”
“Great!” I said as the doors opened to the main floor. “Let’s find the damn thing and get rid of it! Take it back to the church, I’ll stop having the dreams, Kim can be Kim again, and I can get my life back!”
Colonel Brand waited next to the car that would take us to the base. Jared and I remained silent during the trip, but once the plane took off from the runway, he began again.
“Nina, we can’t just take the book back. We have to read it; find out why Jack stole it from Kim’s uncle in the first place.”
“Because Jack was crazy, that’s why,” I snapped.
Jared sighed with frustration. “They’ve been tel ing us why. In your dreams.”
I thought for a moment, recal ing Jack’s words on the roof. He had to save her. I could think of only two women in the world my father would risk his life for. The inscription on my ring leading to a deposit box only Jared and I could access…he had stolen the book to save me.
But from what?
I narrowed my eyes. “Are you insinuating that I'm keeping something from you? Because that would be just...total y and completely hypocritical.”
Jared frowned. “No. But we need to find someone that can interpret what your dreams mean.”
“Who would know, Jared? Besides Eli or Samuel. They wouldn’t tel us, anyway, right? Who would know?”