Pure, p.25
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       Pure, p.25

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 25


  Sometime in the afternoon, Seth left. Returning before dinner, he tried to coax me into eating. But I’d hit the dark abyss that followed such things. Maybe I’d never really dealt with Mom’s death and the loss of Caleb had brought everything to the surface. I really didn’t know, but when I thought about her, I thought about Caleb and our spirit boats.

  All I did was sleep, and it was the deep sleep where the nightmares of reality finally couldn’t reach me. During the random moments I was awake and fully aware of what was going on around me, I yearned for Caleb—and for my mom. I needed one of her hugs. I needed her to tell me everything was going to be okay, but that could never happen, and my heart couldn’t bear the idea of mourning Caleb, too.

  Seth stayed by my side, turning into this protectively fierce creature who wouldn’t allow Marcus or any of the Guards into my room. He kept me in the loop, letting me know what was going on outside my room. Halfs were being searched again, but they believed Sandra was the culprit for the original attack. She’d been a Sentinel, so she’d been on and off the island so many times—enough times that they’d missed her when they’d searched the Sentinels and Guards. This whole time, their suspicion had been on one of the students, and it’d been a Sentinel.

  He also tried telling me that what happened to Caleb wasn’t my fault. When that didn’t work, he went with the whole “Caleb wouldn’t want this” tactic. Then he relied on the one thing that usually stirred me up—insults and witty banter. I think he told me I smelled by the third day.

  Eventually Seth seemed at a loss for what to do. He stretched out, wrapped his arm around me, and waited. It took a while for me to realize the heartache I felt had transferred to him. Seth didn’t know how to deal with it either, and at the beginning of the fourth day, it was like he, too, had lost his best friend. So we both lay there, silent and soul-sick.

  Like two sides of the same coin.

  Sometime during the middle of the night, Seth leaned over me. “I know you’re not sleeping. ” A few seconds later, he brushed the limp strands of hair off my face. “Alex,” he said softly. “They’re having Caleb’s funeral at noon tomorrow. ”

  “Why… why aren’t they doing it at dawn?” I asked hoarsely.

  Seth shifted closer, his breath warm. “The Guards who were killed will be buried at dawn, but Caleb was only a half-blood student. ”

  “Caleb… deserves a funeral at dawn—he deserves that tradition. ”

  “I know. I know he does. ” Seth sighed deeply, sadly. “You have to get out of this bed, Alex. You have to go. ”

  I steeled myself against the sharp pang, but it still cut through me. “No. ”

  His head dropped to lie beside mine. “No? Alex, you can’t be serious. You have to go. ”

  “I just can’t. I’m not going. ”

  Seth continued to push the topic until frustration and anger took over. He jumped off the bed. I rolled onto my back and ran my hands over my face. My skin felt grubby.

  Standing by the foot of the bed, Seth did the same thing with his hands. “Alex, I know this—all of this—is killing you, but you’ve got to do this. You owe this to Caleb. You owe it to yourself. ”

  “You don’t understand. I can’t go. ”

  “You’re being ridiculous!” he shouted, not caring if he woke up everyone on my floor. “Do you know how much you’ll regret this? Is that something else you want to eat away at you?”

  There was a fine line between rage and sorrow, one that I tottered on. I tipped onto the side of rage this time. I pushed up, climbing to my knees. “I don’t want to see them hoisting his body up in the air and burning it! His body—Caleb’s body!” My voice cracked, along with my heart. “That’s Caleb they’ll burn!”

  Just like that, the anger faded from Seth’s face. He took a step forward. “Alex—”

  “No!” I raised my arm, ignoring the way it shook. “You don’t understand, Seth. He wasn’t your friend! You barely knew him! And you know what? You want to know the most messed up thing about that? Caleb looked up to you. He idolized you, and did you even give him the time of the day? Sure, you spoke to him every once in a while, but you didn’t know him! You didn’t care to. ”

  Seth rubbed his jaw. “I didn’t know. If I thought—”

  “You were too busy fooling around with the girls or being an arrogant jerk. ” After the words left my mouth, I immediately regretted them. I sat back down, heart racing painfully. “You can’t do anything… about this. ”

  “I’m trying to do something about this. ” Those eyes sparked to life, glowing amber. “I don’t know what else to do! I’ve stayed with you—”

  “I didn’t ask you to stay with me!” I screamed so loud my throat hurt. I needed to calm down. Guards would rush this room if I kept it up. “Just leave. Please. Just leave me alone.

  Seth stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and then he left, slamming the door shut behind him. I collapsed back on the bed, balling my hands over my eyes.

  I shouldn’t have said those things.

  All this time I’d worried about having no control. Ironically, from day one I’d acted out-of-control. I didn’t control my anger or my impulses to do whatever I wanted. How had I fooled myself this entire time? Having control meant acting in the right way, at least most of the time. But I’d acted wild—reckless. I’d let my heart decide when I’d questioned contacting the Covenant after Mom and I had left. There was no logic behind that. My heart had destroyed whatever friendship I’d had with Aiden. And my heart and my selfishness had led me to sneak around with Caleb. If we’d just stayed in my room—or if I hadn’t moped around for a week—Caleb wouldn’t have felt the need to cheer me up. We wouldn’t have gone to get drinks.

  He wouldn’t have died.

  I don’t know how long I lay there tangled up in the blankets. My mind raced through my childhood with Caleb, the three long years without him, and every single moment I’d spent with him since I’d returned to the Covenant. Rolling over, I curled into myself. I missed him—missed Mom. Both of their deaths were linked to me, to decisions I’d made or hadn’t made. Action. Inaction. Marcus’s words came back to haunt me in those hours, over and over again. Everything you do…

  On the fifth day, the day of Caleb’s funeral, the sun rose early and it shone brighter than I remembered for a November morning. In less than four hours, Caleb’s earthly remains would forever be lost. Five days since he’d died, one-hundred-and-twenty hours since the last time I’d touched him and heard him laugh, over seven thousand minutes of slowly adjusting to a world that didn’t include him.

  And only a few short hours since I realized I’d never had any control.

  I sat up, threw the covers to the side and swung my legs off the bed. Standing made me woozy at first, but I went into the bathroom and stared at my reflection.

  I looked terrible.

  One of the daimons had left behind faint, purplish bruises along my jaw and cheekbone. My hair hung in thick, straggly clumps. Red tinged the rims of my eyes. Slowly, wearily, I peeled off the disgusting clothes and dropped them on the floor. In the shower, I leaned my forehead against the cool tile, letting my mind go blissfully blank.

  Cold water bounced off my skin by the time I pulled myself from the shower and wrapped a large, white towel around me. It was when I mindlessly tugged a comb through the tangles in my hair that something occurred to me.

  In the dim light, the scars covering my neck looked shiny and uneven. I always kept my hair down and wore long sleeve shirts to hide the red patches on my arms. Those scars had never seemed to heal like they should’ve. I did everything and anything to hide the scars. Scars left behind from my own reckless, thoughtless actions. So ugly—

  Instructor Romvi’s words came back to me. You should be less worried about your vanity.

  The big-toothed comb slipped from my fingers. Hurrying from the bathroom, I went to the small kitchen area and straight to the w
icker basket beside the microwave. I rummaged through napkins, clips, and other stuff I never used. Among them I found a pair of orange-handled scissors. Picking them up, I doubted they would cut through most things, but they’d do.

  I went back to the bathroom and grabbed my hair, pulling it around my shoulder. My own wide, brown eyes stared back at me. The hair, wet and thick, hung past my chest. Without thinking twice, I positioned the scissors just above my bare shoulders.

  A hand shot out, snatching the scissors from my grasp. So fast—so unexpected—I shrieked and jumped back. Seth stood there, dressed in all black. I clutched the front of my towel and stared.

  “What are you doing?” Seth handled the scissors as if they were a snake about to sink its fangs deep into his skin.

  “I… I’m vain. ”

  “So you were going to cut your hair?” He sounded incredulous.

  “Yeah, that was the plan. ”

  He looked like he wanted to question that further, but he turned around and dropped the scissors on the dresser. “Get dressed. Now. You’re going to Caleb’s funeral. ”

  My grip on the towel tightened. “I’m not going. ”

  Ignoring me, Seth went into my bedroom. “I’m not arguing with you about this anymore. You’re going to his funeral, even if I have to drag you there. ”

  I didn’t really believe that. So I was shocked when I tried to shut and lock the bathroom door, and Seth whipped around. He pried my hand off the door and yanked me out of the bathroom.

  Exhaustion and hunger made me slow, and I had a death grip on my towel. Those were the reasons I ended up pinned to his chest, both of us on the floor in front of the bed. I could feel his heart hammering against my shoulder and his breath against my cheek.

  Seth’s hands were clamped on my arms, keeping me from delivering a nasty elbow to his face. “Why… why do you always act like this? Why? Why did you do this to yourself? All of this could’ve been avoided. ”

  The sudden tightening in my throat warned that the yawning emptiness was still there, lingering. “I know. Please… please don’t be angry with me. ”

  “I’m not angry with you, Alex. Okay, maybe a little. ” He moved slightly, pressing his head against mine. Several moments passed before he spoke again. “How could you do this to yourself? You—you of all people should have known better. ”

  I felt the tears start to well up again. “I’m sorry. We didn’t—”

  “You could have died out there, Alex—or worse. ” Seth let out a ragged breath, his fingers tightening around my upper arms. “Do you know what I thought when I felt your panic?”

  “I’m sorry—”

  “Sorry wouldn’t have done a damn thing if I’d lost you, and for what?” He grasped the sides of my face, turning my head so I had no other choice but to face him. His eyes searched mine. “Why? Is it because of what happened with Aiden?”

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