Pure, p.34
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       Pure, p.34

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Page 34

 

  “Then it is settled. ” Lucian turned back to Marcus, already forgetting about me. “Have you received any word from the Dean at South Dakota?”

  Marcus shook his head. “It was a student who’d been turned—a half-blood. The pure wasn’t killed. ”

  How in the world did they just jump from politics, to a ball, and now to daimon attacks? And here I’d thought I had the attention span of an ant on Red Bull.

  Aiden leaned forward. “So each Covenant has had an attack, but the Council believes that none of these events are related?”

  I picked up my spoon, pretending not to listen.

  Lucian reclined back in his chair, studying Aiden. “We are not so foolish to believe that the daimons do not have something up their sleeves, but what? They cannot truly believe they can take on the Covenants?”

  Aiden’s fingers tensed around the stem of his glass. “Haven’t they already tried, Minister? The only things I’ve heard the Council discuss are what drinks will be served at the Ball, whether or not a new Covenant should be opened in the Midwest, and other insignificant items. ”

  Lucian eyed him over the rim of his glass. “For someone who shows no interest in his Council seat, you are very opinionated about how the sessions are proceeding. ”

  Two bright spots appeared on Aiden’s cheeks. I felt the immediate urge to defend him. “He has a point, you know. ” Four sets of eyes turned on me. Crap. “Look at what happened at home. They got past our Guards and… and killed people. They are planning something—something big. Shouldn’t the Council be concerned with that instead of a stupid dance?”

  Marcus glared at me. “If you are finished with your dinner, you are excused. ”

  I slammed my spoon down. “If you don’t want my opinion then maybe you shouldn’t talk about these things in front of me. ”

  “Point taken. ” Marcus met my furious stare. “Good evening, Alexandria. ”

  Embarrassed at being dismissed like that, I jerked to my feet. None of the pures seated in the elaborate dining hall looked up as I passed them, and neither did the servants removing trays and replenishing drinks. I scanned the hall, but the one servant I had an interest in finding wasn’t bussing tables.

  There wasn’t anything for me to do besides go back to my room, and I’d rather shove my head in an oven then go back there. I roamed the halls aimlessly, as unnoticed as all half-bloods were in this magnificent hellhole.

  I missed North Carolina even more—and Caleb. Gods, I wished I could hop online and chat with him like we’d planned. I blinked away the hot tears and stepped into a large, musty-smelling room—a library.

  Strange that I would find myself in a library, since reading really wasn’t my thing. A few lonely chairs sat beside the antique lamps, but they looked like they were covered with dust. I made my way through the stacks, trailing my fingers over the spines of books. Maybe I’d find one of those smutty historical romance novels—the kind Mom used to read.

  Not likely.

  Nothing in the room looked like it’d been in touched in years. I couldn’t even begin to decipher most of the titles. But I continued on, anything to avoid the heartache that thoughts of Caleb always brought on. I tried pronouncing the titles, but gave up after five. Sighing, I tucked back my hair and crouched down.

  “Unpronounceable. Unpronounceable. Unpronounceable. ” I tipped my head to the side. “Really unpronounceable. This one can’t even be a real word. Oh, come—” My fingers stilled over a thick black book with gold lettering. I had no idea what the words were, but I recognized the symbol on the spine. “Downward torch…” I wiggled the book free.

  A fine shiver coursed down my body. My head jerked up and I scanned the library. There was no mistaking the feeling of being watched.

  “Alexandria, are you in here?”

  I let go of the book and straightened. “Laadan?”

  She appeared at the edge of the stacks. In the dim light and pale dress, she looked ethereal. A tentative smile pulled at her full lips. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”

  “No. I was just looking for something to read, but everything is in ancient Greek. ”

  Her gray eyes dropped to the books. “I don’t know why Telly stocks the library with books most of us can’t read. ”

  I stepped closer, but kept a decent distance between us. “I thought all of you pures read the old language. ”

  Laadan laughed softly. “All of us are taught it in school, but I promptly forgot it. Most of us can’t. ”

  Except Aiden, I thought. Thinking of him reminded me of the first time I’d seen Laadan, standing beside Leon and bargaining with Marcus to allow me to stay. “I never got a chance to thank you. ”

  “For what?”

  “You convinced Marcus to give me a chance. If you hadn’t been there, I don’t think he would’ve allowed me back into the Covenant. ” I bit my bottom lip and took another step toward the end of the stacks. “Why did you speak up for me? Did you know… what I was?”

  She smoothed her hands down the front of her dress as she glanced toward the door. “Did I know you would become an Apollyon? No, but in a way, I did know you. ”

  More than just a little curious, I walked out of the stacks.

  “When I was your age, I attended the Covenant in North Carolina. Your mother and I were very close. To this day, I wish we hadn’t grown apart, that I’d stayed in North Carolina. Maybe things would have turned out differently. ”

  Surprise left me speechless. Laadan smiled again. At once, the nostalgic looks she’d get when she looked at me made sense.

  She nodded. “You look so much like Rachelle did when she was your age. You’re a bit wilder, but I think that’s your father in you. ”

  My chest tightened. “You—you knew my father?”

  “Yes. ” She drifted closer, lowering her voice. “Much better choice and fit for Rachelle than Lucian, but your mother didn’t really have a choice. A lot of people will tell you that she met your father after marrying Lucian, but that wasn’t true. She knew your father first—she loved your father long before Lucian entered the picture. ”

  “But… I don’t understand. She married Lucian when she was young, and it was at least five years before I was born. ”

  There was a far-off look in her eyes as she recalled a past I was not familiar with. “Then you can imagine the scandal when you were born, but don’t let that tarnish what your parents had. Their love was the kind written about in those silly books your mom used to read. She and Alexander started off as just friends—the three of us actually—but over the years their friendship grew into something much deeper. ”

  Hearing my father’s name spoken felt strange and oddly wonderful—as if he was a real person who’d existed once upon a time.

  “Rachelle tried to do the right thing. She stayed away from your father as long as she could after she married Lucian—marrying Lucian was what was expected from her. She was determined to follow the rules of our society, but love like theirs can’t be denied for too long, no matter how wrong it is. ” She paused, eyes widening. “Alexandria, are you okay?”

  “Yeah. ” I shook my head. “I’m sorry. It’s just Mom never talked about him. Like ever. I had no idea it was this epic love affair. ”

  She pressed her lips together and turned away. Walking off toward one of the lamps with green and gold stained glass, she shook her head. “I think it was too hard for your mother to talk about him after everything. ”

  I followed her. “What was he like?”

  “Alexander?” Laadan glanced over her shoulder with a sad smile. “A good man, loyal to a fault, very handsome, and Rachelle was his entire world. ” She turned around, folding slender arms across her waist. “You look so much like her, but you have his personality. When Marcus read off your files in his office that day, all I could think of was Alexander. He’s incredibly strong-willed, a bit reckless, and wild. ”

  The way she talke
d about Alexander, as if he were still here, made me wonder if she’d had feelings for him. “I wonder what he’d think of me. ” I laughed self-consciously. “That sounded so stupid. ”

  “No, not at all. He’d be proud of you, Alexandria. I hope you know that. ”

  “Well, I am an Apollyon. ”

  She reached out, patting my arm. “Not because of what you’ll become, but because of who you already are. ”

  The sting of tears hit my eyes, which seemed so weak. I pulled away, fiddling with the chain on the lamp. “I don’t know about that. I should’ve done something when Mom left the Covenant. And I really shouldn’t have gone after her when she’d turned, or at least, when Caleb showed up, I should’ve gone back to the Covenant, but I didn’t. I mean, what was I thinking?”

  “You did what you believed was right. ” She drifted to my side, resting her hands on the old, scuffed-up table the lamp sat on. “Rachelle probably would’ve smacked you for doing something so incredibly dangerous, but you made sure she had peace. ”

  “You think so?”

  “Yes. ”

  A little bit of weight lifted off my chest, but my breath still sawed in and out. “I’ve messed up, really bad, a lot of times. ” I squeezed the chain between my fingers. “I don’t think he’d be so proud. ”

  Laadan placed her hand over mine. “He would be proud. You followed your heart when it came to Rachelle, and yes, sometimes the decisions you’ve made have not been the right ones, but you know that. You’ve learned from them. And owning up to Telly about your role in what happened to your friend? That was brave and mature. ”

  I looked up at her—a pure-blood. This all seemed strange to me. It took me a couple of minutes to make sense of my own mixed-up thoughts and emotions over what she’d told me of my mother and father. “How did she met him—my dad? There aren’t many mortals around the Covenants. Did he work on Bald Head?”

  Laadan’s smile seemed off, nervous almost. She pushed away from the table, running her hands over her arms. “She met him in North Carolina. ”

  There was more to it than that, which filled me with all the more curiosity. So Mom had loved a mortal for many moons. They weren’t the first or last, I imagined. “What was he doing there? How did he die?”

  A loud crash caused us both to jump. I whirled around, expecting to see a crap ton of books on the floor.

  Laadan laughed nervously. “I forget that there are things here that move unseen. ”

  I looked at her sharply. “What do you mean? Spirits?”

  She blinked and laughed again. “Yes, spirits. I’m a bit superstitious. This library doesn’t help, creepy as it is. I think one of the shelves collapsed in the stack. ” Laadan came to my side, scanning the rows quickly—and I thought a bit anxiously. “It happens from time to time. Anyway, if you are anything like Rachelle, you love ice cream and pie. ”

 
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