Pure, p.10
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       Pure, p.10

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
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Page 10

 

  “Nothing can happen between us, you know that. So stop looking at me like that. ”

  “Like not being allowed has ever stopped you before, Alex. Just… just be careful. I’m not going to lecture you—”

  “Good. ”

  He flashed a grin. “But if anyone finds out about what almost happened between you two…”

  “I know. ” I glowered at the rest of my fries. “It’s nothing to worry about, all right?”

  The topic thankfully switched to less serious subjects. Way too soon, we had to head back to our dorms, and I was feeling a little bit better about things by the time I showered. But I still worried about Caleb, feared that the events in Gatlinburg had damaged him.

  After I’d changed I was hit again by that weird tingly sensation. Heat crept over my skin right before the intense ache started in my belly. Really, I tried to ignore it. I even picked up my trig book, but I couldn’t focus. I turned on the television, but the force of whatever affected me made it nearly impossible to think about anything other than not having a boyfriend. Maybe this was the way my body was telling me I needed to find someone—someone who was actually available and wasn’t a pure-blood.

  When it finally did ease off, I fell into a restless sleep that lasted only hours before I shot straight up in bed, heart racing. I scanned the dark bedroom, trying desperately to rid the image of Daniel’s face from my mind, his touch from my memories.

  I rolled over and looked at the window. A second passed before my brain processed the dark shadow behind the blinds. My heart leapt into my throat. Jerking up, I threw the covers off and crept over to the window. The shadow was still there, sending shivers over me. Was it Seth trying to peep into my window?

  If so, I was going to beat him over the head.

  Or it could be the daimon—since they hadn’t caught it yet. Hell, if it was, it wasn’t going to sneak into my room.

  I drew the blinds up and jumped back. A pale face—clearly not Seth’s—stared back at me. In the pale light of the moon, I almost thought it was a freaking daimon.

  But it was a Sentinel. I think the icy blonde was named Sandra. Still, what was she doing staring into my bedroom window? Something about that creeped me out majorly. Without further ado, I unlocked the window and pushed it open. “Is everything okay?”

  Sandra’s eyes dropped to the tags on my bare arms before she dragged them back to my face. “I thought I heard screaming coming from this room. ”

  I flushed as I realized I must’ve been dream-screaming. “I’m sorry. Everything’s fine. ”

  “Make sure this window is locked. ” She smiled. “Good night. ”

  Nodding, I closed the window and threw the lock. My cheeks still felt bright red as I climbed back into bed and pulled the covers over my head. Although my childish screams had brought a Sentinel and not a daimon to my bedroom, the creeped-out feeling lingered all night.

  I stumbled through the day, feeling out of it and sick. Not throwing up sick, but nervous sick. I dozed off beside Deacon in class. He woke me up before the teacher spotted me sleeping. My hands trembled when I picked up my soda at lunch, which earned me a slew of concerned questions from Caleb and Olivia.

  Maybe I was coming down with something. Or maybe it was the nightmares I’d had for the last two nights. I really didn’t know, but all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep.

  In Gutter Fighting, it was hard for me to follow the movements of my sparring partner. Luke took it easy on me, only knocking me to the floor a couple of times. And my day wasn’t anywhere near over.

  Practice with Aiden immediately followed, and I sucked at that, too.

  I feinted to the left, but my movements felt jerky and too slow. Aiden’s leg came around viciously, striking me in the calf. The impact knocked me forward, face-first into the mats. Dropping very real blades, I caught myself awkwardly. All my weight landed on my wrists and I let out a sharp gasp.

  “Alex! Are you okay?” Aiden came to my side and reached down.

  Ignoring the pain, I pushed myself up. “I’m fine. ”

  Aiden’s arm was still extended, as if he’d forgotten he had been reaching for me. He just stood there, staring at me. “What’s up with you today? You’re going to break your neck at this rate. ”

  Fire scorched my cheeks as I grabbed the blades off the mats. “I’m okay. ”

  I wanted to apologize for accusing him of being like other pures while we had a few moments of downtime, but the words “I’m sorry” just wouldn’t move past my lips, and then Aiden was falling back into an attack stance.

  He flipped the blades over in his hands. “Again. ”

  I attacked. Aiden brought his blades down on mine, the sound of metal clashing rung through the training room. He pushed me back, jabbing one blade at my midsection. I caught his arm with my forearm, knocking his aim off.

  “Good,” he said. “Keep moving. Never stay still. ”

  I darted under his arm, staying out of his range while I studied his moves. There was always something that gave away the move, the technique. Sometimes it was just a fine tremor of the muscle or eye movement, but it was always there.

  Aiden jabbed, but it was a ploy. I saw it an instant before he dropped down, going for my legs with a low kick. I jumped out of way and then went for the kill shot. This game would have been over for an untrained half, being caught on the mats like that.

  But Aiden wasn’t untrained and he was incredibly fast. He jumped to his feet in one swift movement, simultaneously tucking both blades into one hand.

  I leapt, bringing the blades down. Aiden met me midflight, catching my arm. Within a second, he had my back pinned against him and two daggers pointed at my throat.

  He bent his head down, his breath dancing over my cheek. “What did you do wrong?”

  I felt his heart slamming against his chest. We were that close. “Um…?”

  “You saw me moving the blades to one hand as a vulnerable move. You should have gone for the hand that held the blades. One clean swipe and you would have disarmed me. ”

  Mulling that over, I saw he was right. “Well, hell’s bells. ”

  He leaned his head down further, the longer strands of his hair brushing my cheek. Neither of us moved. I let my eyes fall shut as his warmth surrounded me. I think I could’ve fallen asleep standing against him. “Now you know. ” He released me. “Go again. ”

  And I did. Again and again, we squared off. I blocked a series of his jabs and he blocked all of mine. After a few rounds, I was slick with cold sweat and exhausted. All I wanted to do was sit down.

  Aiden rushed me, and I pushed him back. With distance between us, I launched to the right, fingers spasming around the hilt of the blade. Kick. Use a kick, I ordered myself. Aiden dodged my jab, but not my kick. He lost his grip on one of the blades, and it clattered to the mat. Surprise and pride flickered across his face before he charged me with one blade. I blocked his attack, arms trembling. He dropped down, moving into position to sweep my legs out from underneath me. I saw it coming a mile away.

  I just didn’t—couldn’t will my legs to move fast enough.

  Everything slowed down, ensuring that the lameness of what was about to occur would be perfectly captured. I jerked back toward the edge of the mat. His long leg swept around, catching both of my legs. I lost my grip on the blades and fell backward. A second later my head cracked off the floor.

  I lay still, stunned and queasy.

  Aiden’s face popped into my vision, but his features were a bit muddled. “Alex, are you okay?”

  I blinked slowly. My head hurt so bad my teeth ached. “I… think so. ”

  “Can you sit up?”

  Every part of me protested the movement, but I sat up. Aiden immediately checked the back of my head for damage with swift and gentle fingers. “That… was kind of lame of me. ”

  “It’s not a big deal. You were doing really well. You even disarmed
me. ” He sat back; his hands cupped my cheeks and tilted my head back. He smiled. “I don’t think there’s any permanent damage. ”

  I tried to smile, but failed. “I’m sorry. ”

  A frown creased his brow. “Alex, don’t apologize. It happens. You can’t always be the fastest—”

  “I saw your move, Aiden. I had more than enough time to get out of the way. ” I lowered my eyes. “I’m just so freaking tired. ”

  Aiden scooted forward, his knees pressing against my thigh. “Alex, look at me. ” Sighing, I lifted my eyes. He smoothed my hair back with a little smile. “Are these practices too much?”

  “No—”

  “Alex, be honest with me. You’re training all the time. Is it too much?”

  If he kept touching my hair I’d admit to anything. “It’s not too much, Aiden. Really, it’s not. I’m… just not getting a lot of sleep. ”

  He shifted so that he was right beside me, his other hand falling to my shoulder. I inhaled his unique scent of sea and burning leaves. With him this close, with one hand curving over my shoulder and the other continuingly smoothing back my hair, I was putty in his hands. I think he knew that.

  “Why are you not sleeping, Alex?” he asked, voice low and soft.

  The words just kind of spilled out of me. “I have nightmares—every night and all night. ”

  “Nightmares?” he repeated. He didn’t sound like he thought it was funny, but that he just didn’t understand.

  I closed my eyes, taking a shallow breath. “You don’t know what it was like all those hours… in Gatlinburg, not able to really do anything. And all those tags—it felt like they were breaking off pieces of me. You don’t know what I would’ve done to make them stop—just stop. ”

  Aiden stiffened, his fingers curling around the nape of my neck. “You’re right, Alex. I don’t know, but I wish I did. ”

  “You don’t mean that,” I whispered.

  “I do. ” He went back to moving his fingers through my hair. “Then maybe I’d be able to help you somehow. Is that what you’re having nightmares about?”

  “Sometimes they’re about Mom and other times it’s the other two—Eric and Daniel. They’re so vivid, you know? Like it’s happening again. ” I pressed my lips together, stopping the ball of emotion from making it past my throat. Talking about that night, about what they’d done, curdled my stomach like sour milk. “So yeah, I don’t get much sleep. ”

  “How… how long has this been going on?”

  I shrugged. “Since a week or so after everything happened. ”

  “Why haven’t you said anything? That’s too long for you to deal with this alone, Alex. ”

  “What was I supposed to say? It’s pretty damn childish to be having night terrors—”

  “They’re not night terrors. It’s stress, Alex. What you’ve had to deal with…” He looked away, a muscle working in his jaw. “No wonder you’re having nightmares. She was a daimon, Alex, but she was also your mother. ”

 
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