Pure, p.23
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       Pure, p.23

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 23


  Caleb’s breath sawed in and out as his fingers bit into my arm. I looked around desperately for a better hidey hole. Our only option was to climb into the dumpster, and that wasn’t happening. I’d rather face down a pissed off uncle than that.

  The shadow came into view as it crested the edge of the dumpster. My mouth dropped open. “Lea?”

  Lea jumped back, letting out a little shriek. She recovered quickly, whirling on us. Loose gravel crunched under her sneakers. “Seriously,” she hissed. “Why am I not surprised to find you two hanging out with the trash?”

  Caleb stepped out from behind me. “That’s real original, Lea. Come up with that one all on your own?”

  “What are you doing out here?” I pushed away from the dumpster and the godsawful smell.

  Her lips curled at the corners. “What are you doing?”

  “She’s probably sneaking back from hooking up with one of the Guards. ” Caleb craned his neck as he kept a wary eye on the darkness.

  “I am not!” she screeched, startling both of us. “I hate when you guys say crap like that! I’m not a whore!”

  I raised my brows. “Well, that’s totally up for—”

  Lea’s hands slammed into my chest, knocking me back a few steps. Catching myself before I tumbled into bags of garbage, I dropped the tote bag on the dirty ground, and then threw myself at her. My fingers brushed her silky strands just as Caleb wrapped his arm around my waist and hauled me back.

  “Oh, gods, come on. ” Caleb gritted his teeth. “We don’t have time for this. ”

  “You freaking pushed me?” I reached for her again, hands coming up empty. “I’m going to rip out every strand of your hair!”

  Lea squinted as she flipped her hair over her shoulder. “What are you going to do about it, you little freak? Break my nose again? Whatever. You get into another fight, you’re out of here. ”

  I laughed. “You want to test out that theory?”

  She smirked, giving me the middle finger. “That’s probably what you want. Then you could go hang out with your daimon friends. ”

  “You’re such a bitch!” I considered knocking Caleb down just to get my hands around her skinny, tanned neck. He must have suspected as much, because his grip tightened. “I’m sorry about what happened to your parents, okay? I’m sorry that my mom had something to do with it, but you don’t have to be such a—”

  Footsteps at the mouth of the alley silenced us. Turning in Caleb’s arms, my heart sank. A female Sentinel stood there, watching us. Her long blonde hair was pulled back tightly, giving her face a sharp, angular look. In the weak light, her eyes looked like two black, empty sockets. A shiver coursed down my spine, heightening my senses.

  Caleb groaned, releasing me. I straightened my shirt while I shot Lea a nasty look. I held her a hundred percent responsible for us getting busted. If she hadn’t been out here, slinking around, then we wouldn’t have been held up. We’d already be inside, shoving my bag full of soda.

  “I know this looks bad, but—”

  “They were totally sneaking around,” Lea cut Caleb off, planting her hands on her hips.

  I looked at her, wanting to smack her upside the head. “And what the hell are you doing, exactly?”

  The Sentinel cocked her head to the side, her lips spreading in a tight smile that showed no teeth. I recognized her then. It was Sandra, the Sentinel who’d come to my window the night I’d screamed in my sleep.

  Lea glanced at us, eyes wide. “Okay. Weird,” she murmured loud enough for only us to hear. She folded her arms and cocked her head. “It really stinks back here, okay?” she said in probably her snootiest voice ever. “So can we get this over with quickly?”

  Caleb choked on his laugh.

  Sandra’s head turned toward him as she reached down, unhooking the Covenant dagger. Her fingers circled the hilt of the blade, her eyes still fastened on Caleb.

  “Uh…” Caleb stepped back. His expression told me he wanted to laugh, but knew better. “No need to bring a dagger into this. We were just sneaking around. ”

  “Yeah, we’re happy half-bloods, totally daimon-free. ” Lea sent me a sly glance. “Well, two of us are. ”

  “I’m going to seriously hurt you,” I snapped, glaring in her direction.

  Lea rolled her eyes and turned back to the Sentinel. “I have nothing to do—oh, my gods!”

  “What?” I followed Lea’s open-mouthed, horrified stare.

  Sandra wasn’t alone. Behind her stood three daimon pures, their ghoulish faces marked by dark veins and empty eye sockets.

  I almost didn’t believe what I was seeing. My brain tried to propel me into motion. The startled gasp we’d heard earlier and the Sentinel’s strange behavior suddenly made sense. There were no visible marks on her, but I knew beyond a doubt she was a daimon—maybe even the daimon behind the attack on the young pure weeks ago. But how had she not been checked? The mystery of that would have to wait.

  “Oh, man,” I whispered.

  “We so picked the wrong night to sneak around. ” Caleb’s lanky body tensed and coiled.

  One of the daimon pures stepped forward, not even bothering to use elemental magic to conceal itself. Which was strange to me, but then again, I wasn’t a daimon expert. “Two half-bloods and…” He sniffed the air. “Something else. Oh, Sandra, excellent work. ”

  Gods, were Seth’s Apollyon cooties rubbing off on me? Now they could smell me?

  “They talk?” Lea gasped, sounding as if the knowledge horrified her. She’d never seen a daimon, let alone talked to one.

  “A lot,” responded Caleb.

  The daimon pure cocked his head to the side. “Should we kill them?”

  Sandra, who was still staring at Caleb, raised her dagger. “I really don’t care. I’ve waited long enough, so one of them is all mine. ”

  His laugh sounded twisted. “You’d need more than just one if you bag a half, Sandra. They’re nothing like pures, but the girl is… different. ”

  “We’ve already killed the Guards at that bridge. ” The other daimon’s gaze slithered over Lea and me, his mouth spreading in what appeared to be a smile. All I saw was jagged teeth. “You could’ve got some aether then. Kill the boy. We’ll take these two with us. ”

  My stomach turned over in revulsion. I pulled from deep inside of me, forcing the nearly overwhelming terror down. Fight daimons without titanium? Crazy and suicidal, but there still had to be Guards and Sentinels patrolling—there had to be. They’d hear us and they would come.

  That is, if these four hadn’t already killed them all. But I couldn’t let myself believe that, because I knew Aiden and Seth were out there somewhere, and they wouldn’t have gone down on a night like this—not a night when Caleb and I’d just wanted to grab some soda and watch movies with Olivia.

  Lea bumped into me, her chest rising and falling quickly. “We are so screwed. ”

  “Maybe. ” I dipped down and grabbed a lid off a garbage can. Straightening, I reached over and squeezed her arm. I heard her sharp intake of air, and then felt her body stiffen. I knew she was doing the same thing I did, calling on instinct and years of training. I let go of her arm.

  Caleb shifted in front of me. “When there’s an opening, make a run for it. ”

  I didn’t take my eyes off the daimons. “I’m not leaving you. ”

  As those words left my mouth, the daimon pures flew at us.



  I dipped down as the daimon swung at my head. I shot up under his arm, slamming my fist into his throat, hearing the sickening crunch as the cartilage gave way. He fell back from me, clutching his throat and wheezing.

  “Dammit!” I heard Caleb yell, and then a body hit the ground. Panicked, I searched the alley and let out a sigh of relief when I saw Caleb standing over a daimon.

  Lea spun on her heel, hitting the daimon in the chest. He stagg
ered back, and she kicked him again. Hell, she was quick, sure-footed, and damn good. The daimon she fought didn’t have a chance to recover from her blows. She kept landing them.

  Flipping the trash can lid over, I watched the daimon with the crushed larynx climb to his feet. I whacked him over the head, and then inspected the nice dent his skull had left behind. Not too bad. I caught the one daimon who hadn’t spoken upside the head. It was kind of like playing Whac-A-Mole.

  Except the quiet one swung back, clamping down on my shoulder. He wretched me forward. Stumbling, I dropped the lid as I tried to yank myself free. The daimon latched onto my other arm and pulled harder, sending darts of pain through my shoulders. I dug my feet in, but I inched across the gravel.

  Behind him, Lea sprinted forward and launched herself at the daimon. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she grabbed his head and twisted. Bones crunched and gave. The daimon released his hold and hit the ground, twitching in a messy heap.

  “Damn, Buffy,” I said, eyes wide. Part of me couldn’t believe she’d intervened—and saved my life. “Thanks. I owe you. ”

  Lea sent me a wild grin. “We need to make a run for it—”

  A strong current of air hit her from behind, slamming her against the wall. She slid down, rolling onto her side and moaning.

  “Lea!” I started toward her, but the daimon Sentinel cut me off. Breathing harshly, I skidded to a stop. Caleb was struggling with the daimon who had sent Lea flying, but the daimon half consumed my world. Fighting them—especially one trained as a Sentinel—was nothing like battling daimon pures.

  And this daimon half knew it.

  Smiling coldly, she stepped forward. “It’s time to stop playing, little girl. You can’t beat me. ”

  Ice drenched my veins. Her hand struck out, catching me in the chest. I saw nothing but flashing white light when I hit the ground. Sharp gravel cut into my palms as I rocked onto my feet, lightheaded and stumbling.

  Lea climbed to her feet and rushed the daimon half. I wanted to press stop and hit the rewind button. I couldn’t move fast enough. I couldn’t scream loud enough. And maybe, if I’d had a do-over, I could’ve stopped Lea. But everything was moving and changing with incredible speed.

  Lea swung at the daimon half, her fist ramming the half’s chin. It knocked the daimon half’s head back, but that was about all. She slowly turned back to Lea, catching Lea’s second throw. She twisted Lea’s arm, and the sound of bones shattering overwhelmed the sound of the blood pounding in my temples. I shot forward, but I couldn’t get to her.

  Time… there wasn’t enough time in the world.

  Lea paled, but she didn’t scream. Not a sound, and I knew she had to be in pain. She didn’t even fall, didn’t even flinch. Not even when the half daimon raised her arm, Covenant dagger in hand.

  But Caleb was like lightning running past me, full of rage and purpose. He grabbed Lea by the waist, breaking the daimon’s hold and tossing her out of the path of the dagger.

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