Pure, p.36
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       Pure, p.36

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Page 36

 

  A sudden wave of dizziness crashed over me and my stomach dropped.

  Seth’s head lolled to the side, his smile lazy and faint. “I’m pretty sure I could stop a truck with my hand right now. ”

  “Okay…” I took a shallow breath. “That tells me nothing. And I really want to know what happened when I touched your marks—”

  Seth twisted up, rolling me onto my back in one fluid motion. Hovering above me, he used one arm to support himself. Only our legs touched, but it still felt like… well, like every part of us was still touching. “Angel, that’s like Apollyon foreplay right there. ”

  “For real?”

  “For real. ” He reached out and brushed a strand of hair off my cheek.

  I swallowed. “I didn’t know that. My bad, but that’s kind of weird. Usually takes more with most guys. ” I had no idea why I just said that.

  Seth’s fingers trailed over my cheek, down to my chin. “Does it, Angel? Well, what does it take?”

  This was probably a conversation not to have with Seth, especially when he was practically lying on top of me. “I think you of all people would know. ”

  His hand slipped to my neck. “I have a secret to tell you. It’s not Apollyon foreplay; I’m just messing with you. I have no clue what that was. ”

  “Gods, I hate you. ” Flushed with embarrassment, I knocked his hand away.

  Seth caught my hand and sat up, pulling me along with him. “How do you feel?”

  “Fine. I’m just a little dizzy. ”

  He nodded. “I’ll tell you what, my skin still tingles. Man—that was one hell of a rush. I’ve never felt anything like it. ” He turned my hand over, palm up. “We should try it—what the hell?” His fingers slid over my palm as he studied it, then his eyes widened. “Oh. Wow. ”

  “What?”

  He held my hand up between us. “Look. ”

  I squinted at my hand. “I don’t see anything. ” Sighing, he flipped my hand over, and my jaw hit the ground. A faint blue line marked the center of my palm with a smaller line through it. It would’ve looked like a cross, except the horizontal line was slanted.

  “Oh. My. Gods. ” I jerked my hand away, scrambling back. “I have a rune on my hand. It’s an Apollyon rune, isn’t it?”

  Seth rested his hands on his knees. “I think so. I have one like that. ”

  “But why is it still there? Why is it there at all?” I flipped my palm over several times, shook it, but the faint blue tattoo was still there. “You can see it, right? Like right now, you can see it?”

  “Yes. It hasn’t faded. ” Seth leaned forward, catching my hand. “Stop shaking it like it’s a damn Etch-A-Sketch. That doesn’t make them disappear. ”

  I met his eyes with my own wide ones. “What makes them go away? Yours go away. They’re not there all the time. I haven’t Awakened, have I? Wait—what if I have? Need or want something, and I’ll see if I want it, too. Go ahead. Try it. ”

  His brows flew up. “Whoa. Alex, calm down. Take a deep breath. I mean it. Take a nice, long and deep breath. ”

  I inhaled and let it out slowly. “That didn’t help. ”

  He looked like he wanted to laugh. “Alex, stop freaking out. You haven’t Awakened. I would know, and while I do feel a somewhat different—”

  “How do you feel different?”

  “I feel… more charged, but you haven’t Awakened. ”

  I exhaled roughly. “Then what happened?”

  Seth’s face softened and all traces of smugness and coldness vanished, revealing a youthful, earnest quality I’d never seen before. “I think… it’s just another product of the connection between us. Minutes before, you used the earth element—earth, Alex. That’s one of the most powerful elements. And I don’t know how you did that, but I think you were probably feeding off me. That makes sense. ”

  “It does?”

  He nodded. “I think so. I also think that’s what happened when you touched me—by the way, why did you touch me?”

  I glanced down at my mark, blushing. “I… don’t know. ”

  “You really don’t know why?”

  I scowled. “No. ”

  “Whatever. ” Seth didn’t sound like he believed me. “All right, this is nothing to freak out about, right?”

  “Right. ”

  “Nothing has changed, really, and everything is okay. You following me? Everything is okay. We’re in this together. ”

  In that instant, he reminded me of Aiden—when I’d found out about being an Apollyon and Aiden had coached me through it. I climbed to my feet. My legs felt like rubber. “Are we done with practice?”

  He stayed on his knees, lifting his head. “Yes. ”

  I nodded and turned away, but Seth called out to me. “Alex, I don’t think we should tell anyone about this, all right?”

  “Okay. ” I could agree with that. I started back to the main house, mind reeling. I looked down at my hand. I had a mark of the Apollyon already.

  One that didn’t seem to fade.

  During dinner, I excused myself after the first course. They did the four-course meal thing and I usually stuck around for dessert, but tonight was different. My mind was on my tingling palm.

  Aiden eyed me curiously, but didn’t remark on my lack of appetite. However, I felt Seth stand and follow me out of the dining hall.

  “Are you feeling okay?” asked Seth.

  My gaze flicked up to his eyes. They looked abnormally bright tonight, like two mini suns burning. “Yeah, I’m just not hungry. ”

  He gave me a knowing look as he reached down and picked up my right hand. He turned it over. “It’s still there. ”

  I nodded. “I tried to wash it off earlier. ”

  Seth gave a startled laugh. “Oh, Alex, you can’t wash it off. ”

  My cheeks flushed. “Yeah, I know that now. ”

  He ran his thumb over the rune’s straight line, eliciting a sharp gasp from me. I felt the butterfly touch all the way to the small bones in my fingers. I yanked my hand free and backed up.

  His eyes narrowed on me. “What did you feel?”

  I curled my hand, covering the rune. “It just felt weird. ”

  Seth reached for my hand again, but I dodged him. He shot me an annoyed look. “What are you planning to do now?”

  I debated on telling him it was none of his business. “I’m feeling a little keyed up. I think I’m going to work it off or something. ”

  He smiled. “Want me to go with you?”

  “No. ” I shook my head. “I need some time alone. ”

  Surprisingly, Seth dropped it and went back into the dining hall. I rushed upstairs and grabbed my hoodie, then took off for the training arena.

  It didn’t take much for me to get worked up, swinging and kicking a dummy. Seth didn’t prefer to work with them. He was into the whole contact thing.

  Go figure.

  I don’t know how much time had passed as I beat the crap out of the dummy, but when I stopped, I was panting and covered in sweat. I rested my hands on my knees. The dummy swayed in front of me. Fighting had done nothing to get rid of the overall frustration of… everything.

  I straightened and turned over my right hand.

  The blue rune was faint but there. I stalked over to where I’d dropped my hoodie and pulled it on.

  A fine shiver crept over me. Turning around, I scanned the empty training room. It was the same feeling I’d gotten the night I’d left Marcus’s office. Like a warning, telling me I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t going to ignore it.

  The overhead lights flickered once and then went out, plunging the room into darkness. I wished I had super-vision or something, because I couldn’t see crap. Not even where the door was, and I really wanted to get out of this room. All my senses were screaming at me to go. Something was wrong, something wasn’t—

  Air stirred behind me, lifting the damp hair at the base of my neck, caressing the skin with
a lover’s touch. I whipped around, striking out into nothing but air.

  My breath came out harsh, my voice pitched high. “Who’s there?”

  Nothing… and then I heard, “Alexandria, listen to me. ”

  The words—oh, gods, the words smoothed over my skin like the richest silk. My arms fell to my sides as my eyes drifted shut. A small part of my brain that was still working recognized the compulsion, but that thought flickered out.

  I felt the air stir again. A hand slipped around the nape of my neck, a soft voice

  whispered in my ear. My thoughts flashed in and out until they were devoid of any meaning. Then they were filled with instructions the conscious part of me couldn’t recognize, but I would follow nonetheless.

  “Okay,” I heard myself say in this dreamlike voice.

  Vaguely, I was aware of the air stilling around me and the lights coming back on. I floated out of the training room. Outside, in the near frigid temperatures, maybe I’d just float right up into the night sky.

  I think I’d like that.

  I found myself standing at the mouth of the dark labyrinth. I was supposed to be here. My body knew that. I bent down slowly and untied my shoelaces. My fingers slipped over the knots a few times, but I finally got them and my socks off. I placed them side-by-side on the frozen ground. I pulled off my sweatshirt and folded it neatly. I placed that atop my shoes.

  Then I entered the labyrinth, smiling as the cool air washed over my bare arms, still slick with sweat. I roamed aimlessly, having no clear purpose other than to keep walking until I was too tired to walk. That was what I was supposed to do—place one foot in front of the other.

  It started snowing.

  Beautiful, large flakes fell from the sky, landing on my arms. Each piece felt like it belonged there—like I belonged here. The grass crunched under my toes as I continued further into the maze. Snow encased my hair, sticking to my cold skin. My breath puffed out in pockets of steam, eventually slowing.

  Hours must have passed, because each step became more difficult than the one before. I stumbled, hitting the hard ground on my knees and the palms of my hand. My skin looked strange beside the snow-covered ground. Blue? Not entirely blue, but like the veins under my skin were leaking, tinting my flesh with a faint violet hue.

  It was so pretty.

  I pushed to my feet and swayed off balance. I was tired, but I could make it a little further. I kept walking. Well, tripping really. I couldn’t feel my toes, and my skin felt pleasantly numb. Stumbling again, this time into an ice-cold statue, I slid down the marble, feeling the rougher edges pull at my skin. It should have hurt, but as I sat there, I realized I didn’t feel anything.

  Somehow, I was on my back, staring up at the winged statue. He looked down upon me, arm outstretched, palm open. I willed my arm to move but it wouldn’t lift. My gaze drifted beyond the statue as I drew in a shallow breath that didn’t seem to fill my lungs. The sky was dotted with small flakes that eventually made their way down to me. My lids grew too heavy to stay open, and it was only seconds before the snow caked my lashes. I thought I heard a desolate cry in a beautiful language, but then there was nothing.

 
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