Zayne grimaced. “I don’t know about that. We aren’t allowed to give interviews. The Alphas would see that as being prideful.”
“I know. I told him not to hold his breath.”
“Good. Father would flip out if he thought I was talking to the press.”
I giggled. “Sam’s not the press, but I gotcha.”
He kept me up for a little while longer, asking question after question. Against my will, my eyes fell shut. He’d be long gone before I woke up; out hunting demons. Maybe even a few Upper Level ones. Maybe even the demon boy with the snake named Bambi.
* * *
Bleary-eyed, I dug out my bio book. I had three seconds to myself before a soft green soul edged into my line of vision. I lifted my head, inhaling deeply. I liked to be around innocent souls. They were pretty average and not as tempting as—
A fist slammed into my arm. “You didn’t come to our study group, Layla!”
I stumbled to the side, catching myself on the locker door. “Jeez, Stacey, that’s going to bruise.”
“You left us hanging. Again.”
Slamming my locker door shut, I faced my best friend. Stacey had some oomph behind her punches. “Sorry. I had to run home. Something came up.”
“Something always comes up.” She glared at me. “It’s ridiculous. Do you know I had to sit and listen to Sam talk about how many people he killed on Assassin’s Creed for an entire hour?”
I shoved my books into my bag, laughing. “That sucks.”
“Yeah, it did.” She ripped a hair tie off her wrist and pulled her hair into a short ponytail. “But I forgive you.”
Stacey always forgave me for being late or not showing up. I really didn’t understand why. I could be a terrible friend at times, and it wasn’t like Stacey wasn’t popular. She had a lot of other friends, but ever since freshman year, she’d seemed to like me.
We stepped into the throng of students. The mingled scents of perfume and body odor turned my stomach. My senses were slightly heightened. Nothing super extraordinary like a full-blooded demon or Warden, but unfortunately, I could smell what most humans couldn’t. “I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t even get to study for our bio exam.”
She stared at me, her almond-shaped eyes narrowing. “You still look half-asleep.”
“I was so bored in homeroom that I dozed off and almost slid out of my chair.” I glanced at a group of jocks slouched near the empty trophy case. Our football team sucked. Their souls were a rainbow of soft blues. “Mr. Brown yelled at me.”
She snickered. “Mr. Brown yells at everyone. So you didn’t study at all?”
Pink souls surrounding a group of giggling sophomores caught my attention. “What?”
Letting out a long-suffering sigh, she said, “Biology—as in the science of life? We’re on our way to class. We have an exam.”
I tore my gaze from the pretty trails, frowning. “Oh. Duh. No, like I said, I didn’t study at all.”
Stacey switched her books to her other arm. “I hate you. You didn’t crack a book and you’ll probably still get an A.” She brushed her bangs out of her eyes, shaking her head. “So not fair.”
“I don’t know. Mrs. Cleo gave me a B on the last exam and I really have no clue what’s on this one.” I frowned, realizing how true that was. “Man, I really should have studied last night.”
“You still have Sam’s notes?” She grabbed my arm, steering me out of the path of another student. I caught the tail end of a deep pink soul blurred with streaks of red. “Wow, he is so checking you out.”
“Huh?” I looked at Stacey. “Who?”
She glanced over her shoulder as she pulled me closer. “The guy you almost plowed into—Gareth Richmond. He’s still checking you out. No!” she hissed into my ear. “Don’t look. That’s too obvious.”
I fought the natural urge to turn around.
Stacey giggled. “Actually, he’s checking out your butt.” She let go of my arm, straightening. “It is a nice butt.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, my gaze following the powder-blue soul surrounding a guy ahead of us.
“Gareth checking out your butt is a good thing,” Stacey continued. “His dad owns half of downtown and his parties are freaking awesome.”
I turned into the narrow corridor leading to bio. “I think you’re just imagining things.”
She shook her head. “Don’t act clueless. You’re cute—way hotter than that hobag over there.”
My gaze went straight to where Stacey pointed. A faint purple aura surrounded Eva Hasher. Meaning she was a few more mean-girl moves away from slipping into questionable soul status. My throat suddenly constricted. The darker or purer the soul was, the stronger the allure.
The really, really bad and the really, really good were the most appealing, which made Eva very interesting to me, but eating the soul belonging to the most popular girl in school would be way uncool.
Eva leaned against a locker, surrounded by what Stacey referred to as the bitch pack.
Eva flipped Stacey off with one perfectly painted blue nail and then glanced at me. “Oh, look! It’s the gargoyle whore.”
Her pack of mindless followers laughed.
I rolled my eyes. “Ouch. New one.”
Stacey returned the gesture with both hands. “What a stupid bitch.”
“It’s whatever.” I shrugged. Being called a whore by Eva while knowing the status of her soul was too ironic to get mad over.
“You know she and Gareth broke up, right?”
“They did?” I couldn’t keep up with those two.
Stacey nodded. “Yep. He cropped her out of all his pictures on Facebook. Really crappy cropping job, too, because you can see her arm or leg in half of them. Anyway, you should go out with him just to piss her off.”
“How did checking out my butt end up with me going out with a guy who doesn’t even know my name?”
“Oh, I’m sure he knows your name—and probably your bra size, too.” She stepped around me, pushing through the door to bio. “Yes, there are sixth graders taller than you. But guys like that. They want to pick you up and put you in their pockets. Take care of you.”
I brushed past her, smirking. “That’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”
She followed me to our seats at the back of the classroom. “You’re like this little doll with those big gray eyes and pouty lips.”
I shot her a scathing glare as I dropped into my seat. Most days I looked like a creepy anime character. “Are you coming on to me or something?”
Stacey grinned evilly. “I’d go g*y for you.”
Digging out Sam’s notes, I snorted. “I wouldn’t go g*y for you. Eva Hasher? Maybe.”
She gasped, clutching the front of her shirt. “That stung. Anyway, I texted you at least a dozen times last night and you didn’t respond once.”
“Sorry. I lost my phone.” I flipped a page, wondering what language Sam had scribbled this crap in. “Zayne is supposed to get me a new one today. I’m hoping it’s a touch screen like yours.”
This time Stacey sighed. “God, can Abbot adopt me, too? Seriously. I want a superhot adopted brother. Instead I have a whiny, craps-himself brother. I so want a Zayne.”