Pure, p.21
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       Pure, p.21

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 21


  He’d already talked this over with Seth? I inhaled, but the air fled my lungs. My chest seized in a weird way and my brain tried to tell me that I’d known this day was coming. I just hadn’t thought it was coming this soon.

  “Well, I don’t want to keep you. Enjoy your dinner tonight. ” Marcus paused, seeming to remember I still stood there. He turned back, smiling politely. “Good night, Alexandria. ”

  He didn’t wait for my response, which was good, because I had none. The moment I felt sure he was out of hearing range, I whirled on Aiden. “We aren’t going to train anymore?”

  Aiden still wouldn’t look at me. “I was going to talk to you about it. I think—”

  “You were going to talk to me about it? Why didn’t you talk to me before you went to Marcus?”

  “I went to Marcus last week, Alex. ”

  “After… we got back from the zoo? That’s why you were in Marcus’s office when I got there?”

  Aiden still hadn’t looked at me, not once since Marcus had dropped the bomb. “Yes. ”

  “I. . . I don’t understand. ” I gripped the bag’s shoulder strap like it was some kind of lifeline. “Why don’t you want to train me anymore?”

  “Alex, you don’t need me to train you anymore. ” His body started to tense, to lock up. “You’re caught up with the other students. ”

  “If that’s true then why did you have to discuss areas of improvement with Seth? Why can’t you just work on them?”

  Aiden turned away fully, running a hand through his hair. “You need time off. You’re exhausted all the time, and something has to give. You need to work with Seth a lot more than you need to work with me. He can work with you on the elements, prepare you for when you Awaken. ”

  There was a strange buzzing in my ears, adding a surreal element to all of this. “That’s not true. I don’t need Seth. ”

  Aiden’s head snapped in my direction. “You don’t need me, Alex. ”

  It took me several tries to get the next words out over the huge lump in my throat. “I do. I won’t see you anymore if we don’t train. ”

  “You’ll see me at Council, Alex, and you’ll see me around here. Don’t be ridiculous. ”

  I ignored the coldness in his voice. “But after that? I won’t see you. ” My voice cracked. The sound was equally humiliating and sad.

  “Well, I think that is… for the best. ”

  It felt like he’d reached inside me and crushed my lungs into lifeless lumps. I drew in a deep breath and tried to calm down, but there was this raw hurt in my chest. It ached, throbbed in a way that felt so real. I could only stare at him. “Is… this because of what I told you at the zoo? Why you don’t want to train me anymore?”

  Aiden’s lean body tensed again, and a muscle in his jaw jumped. “Yes, that has something to do with it. ”

  A crack in my heart started. “Because… because I said I loved you?”

  He made a deep sound in his throat. “And because I don’t…” He paused, looking away. “I don’t feel the same way about you. I can’t. Okay? I can’t let myself love you. If I did, I would take everything from you—everything. I can’t do that to you. I won’t do that to you. ”

  “What? That doesn’t—”

  “It does matter, Alex. ”

  I reached for his arm, but Aiden moved away from me. Stung, I wrapped my arms around my waist. “You’re saying this—”

  “Just stop. ” He ran a hand through his hair again.

  The rawness of his words sliced through. “Then why did you tell me that stuff at the zoo? Why did you say you cared for me? That you wanted to break the rules for me? Why would you tell me any of that?”

  Aiden turned gunmetal gray eyes on me, and I took a step back. He looked nothing like the Aiden I knew. Aiden never looked at me so coolly, so detached. “I do care for you, Alex. I… don’t want to see anything bad happen to you or to see you hurt. ”

  “No. ” I shook my head. “It’s more than that. You… you held my hand. ” The last bit came out a pitiful whisper.

  He flinched. “That was… a silly mistake. ”

  Now I flinched, and I couldn’t stop the words from coming out. “No. You want me—”

  “Of course I want you,” he said harshly. “I’m a man, and you’re a beautiful girl. I can’t help that. Wanting you in the physical sense has nothing to do with how I feel about you. ”

  My mouth opened, but nothing came out. I blinked back hot tears.

  Aiden’s hands curled into fists. “You’re a half-blood, Alex. You can’t love me, and pure-bloods don’t love halfs. ”

  I staggered back, feeling as if he’d smacked me in the face. I was so embarrassed—humiliated. How had I mistaken how he felt about me so badly? I had everything wrong. Letting out a ragged breath, I turned away just as Aiden closed his eyes and lowered his head. Sick to my stomach, I walked back to the dorm in a daze. The worst part was the shame. I couldn’t see past it, couldn’t think around it. There was a burning in my eyes I desperately fought. Crying wasn’t going to solve anything, but damn, that’s all I wanted to do. My chest felt like it’d been ripped open, my heart torn apart.

  When I opened the door to my room, I wasn’t entirely surprised to find Seth sitting on the couch. Not surprised, but angry. I needed to consider barring the window in the bedroom.

  He didn’t look up. “Hey. ”

  “Please leave. ” I dropped my bag on the floor.

  Seth’s lips pursed as he stared straight ahead. “I can’t do that. ”

  Fierce emotion swept through me, agonizing and raw. I couldn’t—wouldn’t lose it in front of Seth. “I’m not screwing with you. Get out. ”

  He looked up, eyes the color of a warm sunset. “I’m sorry… but I can’t leave. ”

  I stepped forward, clenching my hands. “I don’t care what I’m throwing off right now and how it’s affecting you. Please leave. ”

  Seth slowly came to his feet. “I’m not leaving. You could use the company. ”

  I might hate the connection that fed my emotions to Seth more than I hated anything in my life. “Don’t push me, Seth. Leave, or I’ll make you leave. ”

  He was in my face in a heartbeat. Grasping my arms, he lowered his head so that we were eye level. “Look, I can leave this room. Fine. You’re still going to feel like hell, which means I’m still going to feel like hell. ”

  I inhaled roughly, unable to escape him. Tears burned my eyes and clogged the back of my throat, threatening to choke me.

  He took a deep breath. “I knew you’d lied to me when you said you didn’t… love him. Why are you doing this to yourself? Aiden is like every other pure, Alex. Sure, he may have moments where it doesn’t seem that way, but he is a pure-blood. ”

  I turned my head away from Seth, biting down on my lip until I tasted blood. An hour ago I would never have agreed with that, but Aiden had just said the very same thing.

  “And what if he did love you, Alex? What then? Would you be satisfied with being something he had to hide? Satisfied with lying to everyone and watching him pretend like he didn’t care for you? Then, when you did get caught, would you be satisfied giving your life up for him?”

  All very good questions, ones that I’d asked myself time and time again.

  “You’re too important, too special to throw everything away for a pure. ” Seth sighed, dropping his hands to mine. “Now, I brought us a movie to watch, the one that has sparkly vampires in it. I thought you’d be down for that. ”

  I studied him silently. He looked like he always did—a living, breathing statue. Perfection without any humanity, and yet he was here. “I can’t figure you out. ”

  He didn’t answer as he deposited me on the couch. He put the movie in and then returned to the couch, remote in hand. “I’m moody,” he said finally, fiddling with the controls.

  I stared at him and a strangled sort of laugh escaped me. Moody? More like borderline person
ality disorder or something. But who was I to judge? I had to be crazy, didn’t I? I’d fallen for a pure-blood. That topped the list of symptoms for possible mental illness.

  Thinking about Aiden brought a sharp pang to my chest. And here I’d thought my heart was somewhere in the gym, bleeding on the floor. I tried focusing on the movie, but my brain wasn’t into it. Immediately, I rewound my conversation with Aiden—all my conversations with him, actually. How could he go from the guy I could spill my guts to—could trust and rely on, who could make my heart swell with the tiniest of smiles or compliment—to someone just as cold as I believed Seth to be?

  Yet Seth sat next to me.

  Maybe he wasn’t as cold as he appeared, and Aiden wasn’t as perfect as I’d believed him to be. Maybe my judgment was just as screwed up as my taste in guys.

  Seth sighed again, this time much louder than before. Quietly and rather casually, he reached over and tugged me across the couch. I ended up with the side of my face smooshed against his thigh and his heavy arm draped over my side. “What are you—?”

  “Shh,” he murmured. “I’m watching the movie. ”

  I tried to sit up, but didn’t make it very far. His arm weighed a ton. Several unsuccessful attempts later, I gave up. “So… uh, you’re a Team Edward kind of guy?”

  He snorted. “No. I’m Team James or Team Tyler’s Van, but apparently neither of them won by the look of it. She’s still alive. ”

  “Yeah, seems that way. ”

  Seth didn’t say anything after that, and eventually, my body relaxed and some of the hurt eased off. It was still there, but muted by Seth’s nearly overwhelming presence—the Apollyon connection doing its thing. Perhaps that was why Seth had made himself available. Or maybe he’d just wanted to witness my stupidity.



  It sucked in a way I wasn’t entirely accustomed to. I’d had crushes before, even a few cases of mad lusting. But I’d never loved someone other than my Mom and Caleb, and that was a different kind of love.

  This kind of love hurt like hell.

  Not seeing Aiden after class felt wrong, like something was missing or I’d forgotten something terribly important. On the days I should’ve practiced with him, I tried spending time with Caleb and Olivia, but I usually retreated to my room and sulked until Seth showed up.

  I missed Aiden, missed him so badly. Hurt consumed every waking second, turning me into one of those girls whose world ended when a guy rejected them. I lived in this miserable state of existence—miserable and obnoxious.

  “Are you going to get out of this bed at some point today?” Caleb sat with his back against the headboard of my bed. A classics textbook lay unopened in his lap. He’d gotten the humiliating story out of me a few days ago. Just like Seth, he hadn’t been surprised by the outcome. However, he’d been pretty pissed that I’d been entertaining the idea of a relationship with Aiden this entire time. And I just felt more stupid.

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