Pure, p.35
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       Pure, p.35

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Page 35

 

  I swung back to her. “Vanilla—”

  “And pumpkin pie,” she finished, smiling. “I know where we can score some. Interested?”

  My mouth watered. “I’m always interested in anything food related. ”

  “Good. ” She threaded her arm through mine. “Let’s go gorge ourselves until we swear off food. ”

  At the door, I shivered and looked over my shoulder. The feeling of eyes boring into my back was uncanny, but no one was there—no one that I could see.

  My father would be proud of me, even after all the stupid things I’d done—and probably would still do? It seemed hard to believe, but Laadan had known him and she had no reason to lie to me.

  “Alex, are you even paying attention to me?”

  “Huh?” I blinked, glancing up from my rock. We were in a wooded area off of the labyrinth, a few hours into our afternoon practice. “Yeah, I heard you. Dodge. Run. Stuff. ”

  Seth folded his arms.

  “What?” I stood and brushed off my rear.

  “I think you just fell asleep. That would hurt my feelings—if I had any. ”

  “Sorry. You’re kind of boring me. ”

  “Well, okay then. Let’s get to work. ” Seth held up his hand, like he was going to throw a baseball. A blue ball of flames formed in his open palm. He released the tiny ball, launching it straight at my head.

  I ducked easily. “Boring. ”

  Seth let go of another ball, but this time he sent it at my feet. I jumped onto the rock and yawned loudly. A devilish grin pulled at his lips as he slowly approached me. My foot caught him in the shoulder as soon as he came within reach. He retaliated by sending two balls of flames—one at my head and one at my legs. It took some fancy footwork to avoid them, but I did and I still managed to stay atop the rock.

  I stuck my tongue out. “You can do better than that. ”

  He threw up his hands and a gust of wind hit me square in the chest. There was nothing I could do to block something like that.

  “Remember to tuck and roll,” Seth called out, laughter in his voice.

  If I hadn’t been flying through the air, I would have flipped him off. However, I did remember to tuck and roll. I hit the cool patch of grass shoulders first. I didn’t give my body a chance to recognize the impact. Rolling onto my feet, I suspected Seth would be making his move.

  I was right.

  A ball of fire grazed my head as I darted to the side. We went at this until he hit me with the element of air, knocked me down, and didn’t let go. Pinned to the dirty ground, I glared up at him.

  “Get up,” he ordered, standing above me.

  “I can’t get up. And you know that. ”

  Seth cocked his head to the side and sighed. “This is getting old, Alex. You excel at every aspect of fighting—not as good as me, but who am I kidding? No one is better than me. ”

  I rolled my eyes. “You like to hear yourself talk, don’t you?”

  “Why, yes. Yes I do. ”

  “That’s why you don’t have any friends. ”

  “And the last time I checked, I’m your only friend. ”

  My jaw clicked shut. Score one for Seth.

  “But that’s not the topic of discussion. We are discussing that fact that you cannot break through the air element, and it’s the most common element pures and daimons can wield. That’s a problem. ”

  “Gee, you think so?”

  He increased the pressure until it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I squirmed, but that was about all. “What did I tell you about the elements, Alex?”

  “Something about… magic being… all in the head,” I gasped.

  “No. The elements are very real—obviously. You have to force yourself through it, Alex. Push. ”

  I still didn’t get what he meant by push, but he kept telling me to do it every time this happened.

  “If you can’t push through it than you’re going to be a daimon snack again, Alex. They’re going to smell that aether in you and go crazy. You sure you want to be a Sentinel?”

  Now he was just pissing me off. “Shut up, Seth. ”

  He stepped over me, planting his legs on either side of my prone body. Crouching down, he brought his face close to mine. “Remember, you’re not fast food to them; you’re like the best steak this side of the continent. ”

  “You say that… like it’s a good thing. ”

  Seth smiled like he knew some kind of private joke. “Concentrate. You need to concentrate on moving forward. Picture yourself sitting up, Alex. ”

  I stared at him.

  He sighed, rolling his eyes. “Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting up. ”

  Cursing under my breath, I did as he asked. I closed my eyes and pictured myself sitting up. “Okay. ”

  “Focus on that image. Hold it in your mind. Focus. ”

  I did as he asked, but all I managed was to get one leg to bend. And that exhausted me. “This is ridiculous. A daimon would’ve already killed me by now. ”

  “A daimon would’ve already bitten into your skin by now. ” His eyes fastened onto mine, refusing to let go. “But you know that, don’t you?”

  A ragged breath leaked from my tightly pressed lips. My skin practically burned at the reminder, and Seth knew it.

  “How many times were you tagged, Alex?” Seth reached down and brushed the hair off my neck. “I can count at least three on this side of your neck. ”

  “Stop,” I hissed.

  His fingers moved over the scars on the other side. “I see three more, Alex. ” Then his fingers dipped under the collar of my thermal, brushing over more scars. “How many here? Two or three… or even more than that? Want to add more? No? Then sit up. ”

  I tried, because I badly wanted to knock him upside the head. Every muscle in my body tensed, but I still couldn’t break through the hold. “Stop it now. ”

  Frustration flared in his eyes. “How many are there on your arms?”

  “Stop it!” Something shifted in me, a sense of deep awareness. Suddenly, everything around me seemed acute and vivid. The overcast sky was more muddled, the cawing of the crows sounded closer, and the golden hue of Seth’s skin became a pearly luster.

  “Then sit up! Break this hold, Alex!”

  A couple of things happened next.

  I felt the rage snap deep inside my core—a tightly coiled ball of energy unraveled. It was so strong, so vibrant, that I imagined it looked like the cord I’d seen wrap around Seth and me the first time we’d touched.

  Seth leaned in, going for my arm this time. Too close, he was way too close. The coil raised, my heart stopped, and something—the rock I’d stood on—blew up.

  The shattering boulder startled Seth enough that he let go of the crushing wind. Every muscle in my body had been straining to sit up. So when he let go, I flew up so fast I rammed right into him. The impact of my body knocked Seth flat on his back. His arms immediately swept around me.

  I wasn’t sure what that had to do with practice.

  We remained that way for a second, both of us struggling to breathe. I couldn’t process it or even begin to understand what had happened.

  “Alex…?”

  I pushed off his chest and stared down at him. The marks of the Apollyon shifted over his skin crazy fast. I’d never seen them move quite like that before. “Um…”

  Seth’s eyes were wild, practically glowing. “I didn’t do that. ”

  “Me, neither. ”

  “Bull. ” His expression was full of amazement.

  I swallowed. “Okay. Maybe I did. ”

  “What did it feel like inside, when it happened?”

  “I don’t know, kind of like a coiling feeling in my stomach. ”

  His lips parted, working slowly. “This can’t be possible, but it is. You’re Awakening already. I don’t believe it, but it explains how you’ve been able to sense my emotions. ”

  “What?
I started to sit up, but his hands dropped to my hips, holding me in place. “What do you mean I’m Awakening? Am I like ahead of schedule or something?”

  Seth tried to laugh, but it came out more like a gasp. “No. I don’t know. I mean, who knows? Right? The other two Apollyon were never around each other before Solaris Awakened. He only sensed Solaris after she Awakened. Maybe… maybe this is what happens. Has anything like this happened before?”

  “Yeah, I blow up rocks in my spare time. Jeez. No. ” I started to move again. “Seth, you can let go. ”

  He smiled the kind of smile that warmed his features. “I don’t think I’m ready to. And get that freaked look off your face. This isn’t a bad thing, Alex. No—nope, not at all. This is good. We can start working on your powers and…”

  I tuned him out. The freaked-out look on my face had nothing to do with blowing up rocks. I had long come to terms with the fact that I’d be some weapon of mass destruction one day. The look came from the fact our bodies were touching in all the strategic places bodies liked to touch.

  “Alex, are you listening to me?”

  “Yes. ” I stared at the runes gliding down his neck. When they reached his pulse they throbbed. I shifted my weight. A raw ache hit me hard. I wanted to touch them—needed to touch them. Something, I was sure, would happen if I did.

  “You are so not paying attention to me. ” Seth sighed. The movement brought us closer. “You know,” Seth was saying, “this opens up so many possibilities. We—”

  I reached out my right hand and touched the rune on his neck, where his pulse pounded, with just the tip of one finger. A burst of crackling blue light flared. The light split, one strain shooting through the tip of my fingers, the other pulsating over his neck. Pinpricks of pain burst across my hand, searing and intense.

  Seth‘s back bowed as his fingers dug into me. Under my left hand, his chest rose and fell rapidly. His eyes snapped open, wide and unseeing. The glyphs on his face shifted shapes and changed color, becoming a shade of blue that mirrored the sky seconds before dusk.

  The air popped and fizzed as the blue light spilled onto the ground, and out of that blue light, another shone much brighter, more intense. An amber cord radiated from the glyph on his neck, quickly twining itself around my finger, twisting over my hand, up my wrist… trying to connect us once again.

  CHAPTER 18

  I JERKED MY HAND BACK AND IT FOLLOWED ME, AN AMBER LINE arching through the space between us. I needed to get up—get away, and put as much distance between us as possible, because this was weird as hell. “I—”

  The amber cord vanished, as did the blue light. Seth fell back to the ground, letting out a ragged sigh.

  “Seth? Are you okay?” I clutched my throbbing hand to my chest. Seth wasn’t moving, wasn’t talking. Fear blossomed in my chest. What if I’d killed Seth? I knew I’d said I wanted to kill him—I’d said it a lot—but I hadn’t meant it. Not really. “Seth, please say something. ”

  An eternity passed before his eyes opened. “That… felt wonderful. ”

 
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