Home > Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6)

Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6)
Author: Rachel Vincent



Soul Screamers series
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Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6)

  1

    I WAS A      virgin sacrifice. And yeah, it’s just as creepy as it sounds. I died on a      Thursday, at twenty-seven minutes after midnight, killed by a monster intent on      stealing my soul. The good news? He didn’t get it. The bad news? Turns out not      even death will get you out of high school… .

    * * *

    I’ve always hated Mondays, but this particular Monday, a      beautiful day in late April, seemed ready to deliver its very own brand of hell.      I stood in front of the bathroom mirror at seven-thirty in the morning, staring      at myself, trying to decide exactly how alive I should look. In the movies,      people are always faking their own deaths, but I couldn’t think of anyone      else—real or fictional—who’d faked survival. I’d have to blaze this trail all on      my own.

    How pale would a person look twenty-nine days after being      stabbed to death? That would depend on the severity of the wound, right? On the      number of organs injured? On the amount of blood lost? Since no one at school      knew any of those details, they wouldn’t know if my performance was off. So I      could play the part however I wanted. Right?

    No one had to know that my pale skin and sweaty palms were      really the result of a colossal case of first-day-back nerves.

    My stomach churned as I stared at my reflection, wondering how      I could possibly feel so different, yet look exactly the same as I had before I      died, except for the new scar. Exactly the same as I would look next year, and      the year after that, and a decade after that, and for as many centuries as my      afterlife lasted.

    “Kaylee! Breakfast!” my father called from the kitchen.

    “I’m dead, Dad,” I called back, dropping my hairbrush into the      drawer. “I don’t eat anymore.”

    A minute later, my father appeared in the doorway in a      grease-splattered T-shirt and jeans, frowning at me. “You don’t have to eat. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I think      you’d feel a lot better if you had something warm in your stomach.”

    I turned and leaned against the counter, crossing my arms over      my chest. “That’s not really how it works.”

    “No arguments. I made pancakes and bacon. I want you at the      table in five minutes.”

    I sighed as his footsteps retreated toward the kitchen. He was      trying. I wasn’t sure what he was trying, but he was      serious about it.

    I crossed the hall into my room for a pair of shoes and blinked      in surprise at the empty space at the center of my room, where the bed used to      be. It had been four weeks since we’d gotten rid of the ruined mattress and      sheets, and I still wasn’t used to the new purple quilt that had replaced the      blue comforter my psychotic math teacher had bled out on.

    After my death, I’d avoided my room for nearly a week until my      father figured out what I’d been too embarrassed to tell him—that I couldn’t go      in there without seeing it all in my head. Reliving my own death.

    That night, he and Tod had rearranged every piece of furniture      I owned until my room was unrecognizable. That was three weeks ago, and I still      couldn’t get used to seeing my bed against the wall, my desk slanted across one      corner of the room. But this time when I glanced into that corner, I couldn’t      help but smile.

    Tod sat in my desk chair, his curls golden in the glow from my      bedside lamp, his eyes as blue as the ocean, the one time I’d seen it. Styx was      curled up on my bed, asleep, paying the reaper no attention whatsoever. Half      Pomeranian, half Netherworld guard dog, she was the fiercest, most dangerous six      pounds of frizzy fur and pointy teeth I’d ever seen, other than her littermates.      She was also a living, breathing, growling security system, bred to warn me when      danger approached on either side of the world barrier.

    It had taken her weeks to understand that growling at Tod      wasn’t going to get rid of him.

    Tod’s brother—my ex—was wrestling with that same      conclusion.

    Tod stood as soon as he saw me, and I couldn’t resist a smile,      in spite of the nerves still twisting my insides into knots.

    My arms slid around his neck and delicious, tiny little sparks      shot up my spine as his hand settled at my waist, and I secretly marveled at the      fact that I was allowed to touch him whenever I wanted.

    This was still new, me and Tod. Our relationship was only a      month old, yet somehow, he was the only thing that still seemed to fit, since my      death. Going through the motions in the rest of my life—an ironic term, if I’d      ever heard one—now felt like trying to fit into clothes I’d outgrown. Everything      was uncomfortable, and too tight, and not as bright as I remembered.

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