Pure, p.33
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       Pure, p.33

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 33


  I wet my lips, thinking about Hector. “I miss… home. ”

  Aiden continued to stare up at the overcast sky. “I miss it, too. ”

  I drifted closer to him as we neared the Council building. I told myself that was normal. Aiden was my friend—only a friend. “This whole place makes me uncomfortable. I just wish I could get on with my hearing and be done with it. It’s stupid that I have to be here all this time, when my hearing isn’t even scheduled until the end of the session. Anyway, how have the hearings been?”

  “Long. The Councils spend more of the time arguing than anything else. ”

  That didn’t surprise me. “Have they talked about halfs turning yet?”

  His expression suddenly emptied. “That discussion provokes the most arguments, but anyway, what are you planning to do with your evening?”

  “What am I planning to do?” I tipped my head back and sighed. “Shower. ”

  Aiden laughed, sending a flurry of warm and fluttering feelings through my stomach. It’d felt like years since I’d heard him laugh. “You are such a mess right now. ”

  I sighed pitifully. “I know. I think I have mud in my mouth. ”

  “Well, I might have something that’ll make you feel better. ” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a slender black tube about four inches long.

  “What is that?”

  Aiden smiled as he held it out from his body. “They’ve been working on new weapons since the discovery of halfs being turned. This is what they came up with. ”

  “A black tube? Wow. ”

  His smile turned into a grin. “Just watch. ” His fingers moved to the end of the tube, pressing down on a small button. Titanium blades shot out from each side. Aiden shook his wrist and the blade on the right side extended and curved in.

  My eyes went wide. “Whoa. I like. ”

  He laughed. “I know how much you like things that stab. Here. ” He handed me the blade. “But be careful. The ends are wicked sharp. ”

  I took the weapon, holding it reverently. It was heavier than I expected, but still manageable. My fingers curved on the cool matter of the center. One end had been finished down to a sharp point, while the other reminded me of a sickle. Why had

  they shaped the blade this way?

  Then I felt stupid for not realizing right off the bat. Cringing, I pointed to the sickle end. “This is for taking off heads, isn’t it?”

  “Yeah, we all can’t harness akasha like Seth. And even he can’t zap every daimon half. Using akasha soaks up energy, so he can only use it when he really needs to. ”

  “Oh. ” I made a wide-sweeping motion, grinning in spite of the messy business it represented. “I wonder what it will be like after I Awaken. If he’ll be able to use akasha easier. ”

  “I don’t know. ” Aiden eyed the blade warily. “Probably something you should ask Seth. ”

  I remembered what Lucian had said about Seth pulling from me once I Awakened. “He’s going to suck me dry, probably. ” The moment those words left my mouth I froze. Mom had said that. Was that what would happen?

  Aiden noted my sudden stillness. “You okay?”

  I blinked. “Yeah, I’m fine. ” I pressed the little button on the end of the metal tube. The sickle side straightened before both ends collapsed back into the tube. I handed it back to Aiden, forcing a casual smile. “Thanks for letting me see that. ”

  “No problem. ” We walked a while in silence before he spoke again. “You sure you’re all right?”

  “Yep,” I said, promising myself that Seth and I would have a conversation very soon.

  Aiden stepped in front of me, opening the door to the main house. Inside, we stuck to the less-travelled areas as we made our way to the stairwell. We passed another one of those damn paintings with the torch, but this one had something written in ancient Greek.

  “Hey, you read ancient Greek, right?”

  Aiden halted in front of me and turned around. “Yes. ”

  I pointed one dirty finger at the painting. “What does this say?”

  He stepped closer. “It reads ‘Order of Thanatos. ’”

  “I know that from somewhere. ” I crossed my arms. “What’s up with all the Thanatos stuff here?”

  He brushed messy waves off his forehead. “I really don’t know what the fascination is, but the Order was a mystic group that existed centuries ago. It’s in the Myths and Legends book I gave you. ”

  “Well, that’s currently being used as a doorstop in my dorm. ”

  Aiden grinned at that, and I realized we hadn’t argued or said anything mean to each other. This was progress. “The group died out centuries ago. I don’t remember much about them, but they were pretty extreme about tradition and the old ways. ”

  I thought about the tattoos Instructor Romvi and Telly shared. “What do you think it means if someone has a tattoo of Thanatos’s symbol?”

  “Nothing probably, since a lot of us have tattoos of various symbols. ”

  “You don’t. ” As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them.

  His eyes turned from gray to silver in a heartbeat. I imagined he was remembering how I would know if he had a tattoo hidden somewhere.

  “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

  “It’s okay. ” Aiden stepped back, his eyes dropping to my lips again, then back up.

  What passed between us in those tense moments could’ve caught the whole damn building on fire. A yearning—deep and powerful—sprung alive. My fingers dug into my own skin, but it did nothing to dampen the desire to be close to him, to be in his arms. I thought I saw the same look on his face.

  I squeezed my eyes shut, letting the mad desire wreak havoc on my heart. Aiden was gone when I reopened them. Pressing my lips together, I headed up the stairwell used by the servants since I was sure Aiden had taken the main one, and being stuck with him in a stairwell… well, my overheated imagination supplied possible scenarios that would never happen. I rounded the fifth landing, almost plowing through a servant coming through the door to my floor.

  “Sorry! I should have—”

  The half-blood from the first day here—the servant with eyes that seemed so familiar, stared down at me, incredibly alert. A second passed before he jerked his chin down and hurried past me. I spun around, gripping the handrail. “Hey!”

  He stopped.

  I went down a step. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

  No answer.

  “I know you can talk—you especially. ” I inched down one more step. “You don’t look like the rest. ” He whipped around so fast I leaned backward. His eyes searched my face, but he still didn’t say anything. I took a deep breath. “Your eyes aren’t glassed over like… like most of the servants here. ”

  His head cocked to the side and he came up a step.

  I held my hands up, my heart pounding. “I’m not going to say anything. I’m totally Team Half-Blood. Are there others like you, others that aren’t all doped up?”

  Probably not the best word choice, but he nodded.

  I mulled that over, studying his features. He may’ve been handsome before the servant’s life took a toll on him, but I kept going back to his eyes. They were such a warm brown. “Why won’t you talk to me?” I made a face. “Why won’t any of you talk to me?”

  His hand clenched the rail, knuckles bleaching.

  “Okay. Anyway. ” I swallowed nervously. Were the servants up here unstable? “You look familiar to me. ”

  That seemed to be the wrong thing to say, because he backed off.

  “Wait—just wait a second. ” Once again, he stopped and watched me, lips thinned into a tight line. “What’s your name?”

  The door opened and Marcus’s voice rang out. “Alex, is that you in the stairwell?”

  The servant’s eyes narrowed then he disappeared down the stairs. Groaning in frustration, I pulled myself up the last couple of steps. “Yeah, it’s me. ”

  “Who are you talking to?”

  I shook my head, sliding past him. “No one. ”



  “Marcus, things have changed, but in some aspect, things have not. ” Lucian twirled a glass of wine between his elegant fingers. “Minister Telly’s stance on separation versus integration is gaining ground. ”

  “Only because he believes that the gods are among us. ” Marcus leaned forward, voice low. “Telly’s a fanatic—always has been. ”

  Lucian sipped his wine. “I agree with you, but sadly, most do not. ”

  “I’d like to believe that most see the error in his thinking. ” Laadan sat across from me, her hair pulled up into an elaborate twist. The silky, pale blue dress she wore was to die for. “We are on the brink of change. The Breed Order must also change. ”

  I stabbed my steak, watching the juices run out of it. It sucked to sit here and be expected not to say anything. I could only imagine the words coming out of Seth’s mouth if he were here, but he was MIA.

  I kind of missed him.

  A plate of tiramisu slid in front of me. Politics forgotten, I glanced at the gray-eyed pure sitting beside me. Whoever had designed the seating chart needed to be killed. “Thanks,” I murmured.

  Aiden nodded and went back to following the conversation. I dug my spoon in the bowl and tried not to read too much into his gesture.

  “Nadia and I will do everything to ensure that the Breed Order is changed,” said Lucian, “but I’m afraid there are many who plot against it, and will stop at nothing to see that things remain the same. ”

  I choked on my dessert, and everyone stopped to look at me. “Sorry,” I gasped, waving my hand in front of my face.

  Lucian frowned. “Are you all right, dear?”

  “You… you want to see the Breed Order changed?”

  “Of course,” he responded. “It is time that half-bloods have representation on the Council. Just a few short hours ago I was telling Seth that with you two, we are closer to that change than ever before. It will not be us, the pure-bloods, who bring up such wondrous things. It will be you and Seth. ”

  My brows inched up my forehead.

  Lucian patted my hand. “Pure-bloods like Telly believe that the gods would favor the road back to the old way. ”

  I stared down at Lucian’s pale hand, unable to let go of the innate suspicion I felt when it came to him. He patted my hand once more and smiled. “Dear, have you put any thought into what you will be wearing to the ball next week?”

  “What?” I had no idea what he was talking about.

  “The annual Fall Ball? You are invited, which is a great honor for you and Seth. You two will be the first half-bloods to be in attendance. You must find something decent to wear. ” He glanced across the table. “Laadan, would you help her?”

  She nodded. “Of course. ”

  Ball, what ball? I glanced around the table, bewildered. Aiden looked slightly amused at the idea of me attending their ball. I scowled.

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