Pure, p.24
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       Pure, p.24

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 24


  And the dagger found a new home.

  A boy and a girl, one with a bright and short future…

  “No!” The scream tore from my throat, from my soul.

  The blade sank deep into Caleb’s chest, all the way to the hilt. He stared down at his chest, staggering back. The front of his shirt looked like someone had thrown black paint on it, soaking it.

  I wrapped my arms around his waist just as he started to fall. “Caleb! No. No! Caleb, look at me!”

  He opened his mouth, but no words came out. His weight carried us both to the cold, dirty ground. Those bright blue eyes dulled, fixed on some unseen point.

  “No,” I whispered, brushing damp strands of hair off his forehead. “No no no. This isn’t supposed to happen. We were just getting soda. That’s all. Please! Caleb, wake up. ”

  But he didn’t wake up. Some part of my brain that was still functioning told me that people who died didn’t wake up. They never woke up again. And that Caleb was dead. He was gone before he even hit the ground. Pain—so sharp and so real—cut through me, taking away a chunk of my soul.

  The universe ceased to exist. There were no daimons, no Lea. There was just Caleb—my best friend, my partner in dysfunction, the only person who got me. My shaky fingers slipped over his boyishly shaped cheeks to his neck, to where his pulse no longer beat. A piece of my world ended just then, gone forever with Caleb. I pulled him into my lap, pressing my cheek against his. I thought that maybe, if I held him long enough and wished hard enough, all of this would be just another nightmare. That I’d wake up, safe in my bed, and Caleb would still be alive.

  Hands delved deep into my hair, wrenching me backwards. I lost my grip on Caleb and fell onto my back. Stunned and vastly empty, I stared up at the daimon. She’d been a half-blood—once a Sentinel—sworn to kill daimons. Not their own kind.

  She gripped my head, slamming it back against the concrete. I didn’t even feel it. Dark rage filled me. It rushed through my system, so potent that I tumbled over the edge. She would die, and it would hurt.

  Seizing the sides of her face, I shoved my thumbs into her eyes. She let go, shrieking and pulling at my hands. Someone was screaming and screaming… and I pushed harder. Tears and blood mingled, streaking down my face. I couldn’t stop. All I could see was her shoving the blade into Caleb’s chest.

  Pain was everything. I had no idea if it was physical or mental. It swamped me in waves and waves of hurt. And then the daimon flew backward and someone dropped down beside me. Firm, strong hands caught my wrists in a gentle grasp and hauled me to my feet. I caught the familiar scent of sea and burning leaves.

  “Alex, calm down. I’ve got you,” Aiden said. “Calm down. ”

  It was me who was screaming, and making a terrible sound that was so final, so shattering. And I couldn’t stop. Aiden flipped me around, pressing me against the muck-covered wall. He whirled on his heel, slamming his blade deep into the chest of a daimon.

  I slid down, turning to the side. The daimon half edged along the very same wall.

  Blood ran in rivets down her face from her damaged eyes, but she could still sense me. Blue light erupted, briefly swallowing everything around me. The daimon half flew backwards, striking the ground beside Caleb. Screams filled the air—as did the smell of burning flesh.

  Then arms were around me, lifting me to my feet. The moment his hands brushed mine, I knew it was Seth. He half-dragged, half-carried me out from the narrow alley behind the dining hall and into the darkness of the quad. I fought him the entire way, throwing punches and clawing. Sentinels and Guards rushed past us, but they were too late.

  They were too late.

  When Seth let go, I tried moving past him, but he grabbed my shoulders. “I can’t leave Caleb like that! Let go!”

  Seth shook his head, his amber eyes luminous in the darkness. “We’re not going to leave him there, Alex. We wouldn’t—”

  I punched him in the stomach. He grunted, but did little else. “Then you get him! Get him out of there!”

  “I can’t—”

  I hit him again. Seth’d had enough. He caught my wrists in one hand and held them between us. “No! You have to let me get him! You don’t understand! Please—” My words broke off in a sob.

  “Stop it, Alex. We will not leave Caleb’s body behind the dining hall. You need to calm down. I need to make sure you’re okay. ” When I didn’t answer, he swore under his breath. I felt his fingers against the back of my head. They were quick and gentle. “Your head is bleeding. ”

  I couldn’t respond. Even though my eyes were open and Seth was in front of me, all I saw was the shock on Caleb’s face. He hadn’t seen it coming.

  Neither had I.

  “Alex?” Seth’s arms eased around me.

  The world started to unravel some more. “Seth?” I whispered. “Caleb is gone. ”

  He murmured something as he brushed his fingers over my face, wiping away tears that continued to fall. I didn’t speak again, not for some time.

  Seth carted me off to the med center. The docs looked me over, determining that I only needed to be cleaned up and get some “much needed” rest. Someone washed the gore off my hands, and concerned looks were exchanged.

  When they were done, I stayed where they’d left me. The white walls blurred. Seth returned just as I’d sat back down. I stared at him, feeling nothing inside me.

  He came to my side, strands of hair hanging loose around his face. “Aiden and the rest have disposed of the daimons. There were only three of them, plus the half, right?” He paused, running a hand through his hair. “They managed to kill two of the bridge Guards, and they wounded another three Sentinels inside the Covenant. You’re… lucky, Alex. So very lucky. ”

  I stared down at my fingers. There was still blood under my fingernails. Was it mine, the daimon’s, or Caleb’s? Seth grabbed my hand, leading me out to the hallway.

  He stopped briefly. “They have Caleb’s… body. He’s being taken care of. ”

  I bit down on my lip until I tasted blood. I just wanted to sit down and be left alone.

  Seth sighed, his grip on my hand tightening as we walked out of the med center. I didn’t ask where we were going. I already knew, but Seth felt the need to make sure I understood.

  “You’re in a lot of trouble. ” He ushered me through the dark campus. It was near midnight, and Guards were everywhere. Some were patrolling, some huddled in groups. “Just to warn you, Marcus actually threw something. Lucian was woken up, and the gods know he didn’t appreciate that. They’re going to want to know why you were outside your dorm. ”

  Numbness settled into my body. Perhaps that was why I wasn’t worried about Marcus. I stumbled along behind Seth, stopping when he opened the Academy doors and the statue of the three furies came into view. Why hadn’t they broken free? The Covenant had been breached again.

  Catching what I was staring at, he squeezed my hand. “No pures were harmed, Alex. They… they don’t care. ”

  But Caleb had died.

  Seth tugged me away from the statues. I was only barely aware of the crowd gathered at Marcus’s door. The moment I stepped into the room, Marcus let loose. Lucian remained standing, which was new for him. Both of them yelled at me simultaneously, and then they took turns when the other appeared out of breath or out of words. What they said was pretty much the same old: I was irresponsible, reckless, and out of control. I didn’t tune them out like I’d normally would. I soaked up everything they said, because what they said was true.

  As I sat there staring up at my uncle and seeing real emotion in his face for the first time in a long time—albeit anger—I remembered another cryptic warning Grandma Piperi had left me.

  You will kill the ones you love.

  I should’ve stayed in my room like I was supposed to. There was a reason why a curfew had been imposed. The sanctuary of the Covenant had been violated once. I’d forgotten that, or I
just hadn’t thought about it, or cared.

  I never stopped to think.

  “I don’t think any of this is helping. ” Seth stood behind me while I sat in the chair. “Can’t you see she’s upset? Maybe you should let her rest and ask questions tomorrow. ”

  Lucian whirled around. “Of course none of this is helping! She could’ve been killed! We—you—could have lost the Apollyon. As the First, you should have been aware of what she was doing. She is your responsibility!”

  I felt Seth stiffen behind me. “I understand that. ”

  “And you?” Lucian snarled at me. “What were you thinking? You knew there had already been a daimon attack here. It was not safe for you or any student to be out there at night!”

  There was nothing to say. Didn’t they understand that? I’d been wrong, so very wrong, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it now. Closing my eyes, I looked away.

  “Do not look away from me when I am speaking to you! You are just like your—”

  “Enough!” Seth shot around the chair, nearly overturning it in the process. “Can’t you see there’s no point in talking to her right now? She needs some time to deal with the loss of her friend!”

  Several Council Guards moved forward, ready to intervene. None of them looked like they wanted to. I’m sure they remembered what’d happened to the Guards in Lucian’s house over the summer.

  Lucian’s nostrils flared with anger, but he backed down. A moment of clarity pushed through the grief. Why had Lucian backed down? Apollyon or not, Seth was just a half-blood and Lucian was the Minister. It was more than just strange, but before I could really catch hold of the realization, it slipped away as another thought pushed to the surface.

  Seth remained where he was, between me and everyone else in the room. He was like a wall of fury, and no one dared to move a step closer. It struck me then why everyone was afraid of there being two of us. Seth alone was a force to contend with. They were already fearful of him. Even Marcus seemed visibly affected, but Seth after I Awakened…?

  “All right. ” Marcus cleared this throat. He strode forward, keeping a wary eye on Seth. “These questions can wait until a better time. ”

  “Sounds like a plan to me,” Seth replied casually enough, but he watched Marcus like a bird of prey.

  Sidestepping Seth, Marcus stopped and crouched down in front of me. I stared at him. “Now do you understand that everything you do, every decision you make—even the slightest one—will have great consequences?”

  I did, and I also understood he was talking about more than just Caleb, but also about Seth. However, Marcus had been wrong about one thing the last time he’d lectured me. My actions didn’t just reflect upon Seth—they were a catalyst for how Seth would react.


  GRIEF WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT WENT AWAY WHEN I OPENED my eyes and found that the sun still rose in the morning. Nor did it pass when the sun started to decline and stars lined the sky.

  I’d been mute and emotionless until I’d returned to my dorm and had seen the remnants of our movie party. Someone had gotten Olivia out of the room, but standing there, staring down at the Twizzler I’d thrown at Caleb’s head hours before, I broke apart. All I remember was Seth picking me up and carrying me back to the bed.

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