Pure, p.38
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       Pure, p.38

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Page 38


  “I’m not—”

  “Are you calling me a liar?” Seth cut me off, his annoyance flipping right into fury.

  Lucian stood, smoothing his robes. “Minister Telly, I trust you are taking this event seriously. If not, I cannot agree to keeping Alexandria here. ”

  “She must give her statement at Council. ”

  “She also must be kept safe and that is the priority,” replied Lucian. “Not her statement. ”

  Telly took another drink, his pale gaze falling back to Seth and me. “Of course I take her safety very seriously. After all, she is such a rarity, and we would not want anything to happen to the Council’s precious Apollyon. ”

  “The Council’s precious Apollyon,” I spat, swinging out harder than I probably should. They hadn’t been Seth’s words, but he was the only target I had. He barely dodged me. “This ‘precious Apollyon’ is going to shove her foot so far up his—”

  Seth caught my fist. “Alex, if you don’t take it down a notch we’re going to stop. I don’t know why I agreed to spar with you when you’re in this kind of mood. ”

  Stepping back, I wiped my forearm across my forehead. “I loathe the way he speaks, the way he looks at us like he wished he could zap us into oblivion. ”

  “And you shouldn’t be practicing this hard,” Seth continued as if he hadn’t heard me. “You were an ice cube not too long ago. You need to take it easy. ”

  “Stop babying me. I feel great. ” That wasn’t a lie, even though the chilly air whipping through the clearing made me feel a little icky.

  Seth sighed. He was getting really good at the sighing thing. This one said I don’t know what to do you with sometimes.

  “And he hates half-bloods. Did you know that?” I continued, lashing out with a fierce back kick. Seth deflected that. “Aiden told me so. Did you also know that he’d like to see all half-bloods enslaved? Even Lucian thinks he’d like to see things go back to the old way. Jerk-off, stupid mother—”

  Seth caught my shoulders, giving me a little shake. “Okay. I get it. You hate Telly. Guess what, everyone does, but he controls the entire Council, Alex. ”

  I was breathing heavily, sucking in cold air. “I know that!”

  He smiled. “With him controlling the Council, nothing will change. The Breed Order will remain the same. If anything, the lives of half-bloods will get worse. ”

  “Oh, well, that makes me feel so much better. Thanks. ”

  “But—but listen to me, Alex. ” A look of eagerness crept over his face. “When you Awaken, we can change the Council. We have supporters, Alex. People who would surprise you. ” He brushed a strand of hair off my check.

  I swatted his hand away. “Don’t touch me. I don’t need any more never-fading-magical-runes to appear. ”

  Seth dropped his hands, grinning. “Still hasn’t faded?”

  I shoved my hand in his face. “Still there?”

  “Yep. ”

  “You don’t have to sound so happy about it. ” I dipped around him, stopping. We had company.

  Cross, Will, and Boobs stood at the edge of the field. Will held a small cooler in his hand. “We thought you guys could use some drinks since you missed the party. ”

  Seth fell into an easy banter with them while I fiddled with the string on my pants. “Drinks” consisted of cheap wine coolers that Caleb would’ve laughed at, but I was so thirsty I wasn’t complaining. Once Seth shut up long enough to allow someone else to talk, Will began drilling me about the daimon battles I’d taken part in. Cross watched on with this sort of hero-worship look on his face, which was so different from the ones sent my way in North Carolina. None of them here knew the whole story surrounding my rise to fame—or the crash and burn I’d taken on my way down. I wanted to keep it that way. I relaxed on the rock eventually, sipping my drink while I answered their questions.

  “So how many times were you tagged?” asked Cross, two wine coolers in hand.

  Will turned to his friend slowly. “Dude, that’s not a question you ask someone. You fail. ”

  I froze. Unintentionally, I had exposed my neck by flipping my hair back. Flushing, I tipped my head so my hair fell forward in a heavy curtain. Seth, who’d been in a deep conversation with Boobs—probably about himself—pulled his head out of gods know where, and twisted around to us.

  Cross grimaced. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… offend you. It’s just that I think it’s awesome that you fought daimons and survived. Not that you were tagged, of course. That’s not awesome. That’s pretty messed up. ”

  Will rolled his eyes, groaning. “Just shut up, Cross. ”

  “No. It’s okay. ” I cleared my throat, deciding if I didn’t make a big deal about it then none of them would. “I don’t know how many times. A couple, I guess. ”

  Cross looked relieved, but then Seth stood, and Cross shifted further back. I watched him stride between us and stop, blocking both Cross and Will as he faced me. I had no idea what he was doing, but what came out of his mouth wasn’t even on the possibility list.

  “Dance with me. ”

  I stared up at him. “What?”

  Seth bowed gracefully, extending one arm to me. “Dance with me, please?”

  “Why do you want to dance in the middle of a field, Seth?”

  “Why not?” He wiggled his fingers. “Dance with me, pretty please. ”

  “With sugar on top,” Will added, chuckling.

  Seth’s grin grew to epic proportions. “Dance with me, Alexandria. ”

  Over his shoulder, I spotted Boobs eyeing the whole thing with a pouty, displeased look. I don’t know if that made me take Seth’s hand or the fact he was embarrassing the hell out of me. Seth yanked me to my feet, keeping my one arm outstretched while placing my other around his back.

  Then he started waltzing around the field—with no music.

  It was so ridiculous that I had laugh. We rounded a boulder, tripping over the uneven ground. Seth knew how to dance—really dance—like the kind people did in ballrooms. With one arm, he spun me out from him.

  I giggled. “Did you pick this up from watching Dancing with the Stars?”

  “You mock me. ” Seth spun me so my back was against his chest. “You wound my sensibilities when I’m trying to help you. ”

  “Help me with what?”

  Seth twirled me around. “You need to know how to dance without a pole if you’re going to the ball. ”

  I smacked him on the chest. “I don’t dance like a stripper and I’m not going to that stupid ball. ”

  He didn’t respond. Grinning, he slipped his hand up my back and dipped me over his arm. I laughed and let my head fall back. I could see Boobs on her rock. Very

  slowly, when she was sure she had Seth’s attention in that nanosecond he had me bent backward, she licked her lips.

  Seth dropped me.

  Much later, after the sun had fallen and we were covered in mud, Seth and I slipped past the dining hall. Trying not to bring attention to ourselves, we moved as quietly as possible.

  I rubbed my aching rear and caught Seth watching me. “Your fault,” I whispered.

  “You’re never going to let me forget that, are you?”

  “You dropped me on my butt. ”

  He tipped his head back, laughing softly. “I blame the wine coolers. ”

  “I blame Boobs. ”

  Grinning madly, Seth grabbed my hand and hurried me down the hall. We passed several quiet rooms, and then we heard Marcus, loud and clear. “I have no idea if Lucian is planning anything!”

  We stopped and looked at each other.

  “Are you not close with him?” I heard Telly ask.

  “Lucian keeps a lot secret, just like every one of you does,” Marcus responded angrily.

  Seth pulled me under the stoop beside the room Marcus and Telly occupied, pressing me against the wall. He didn’t have to get that close. “Come on, Seth. Back—”

“Shh. ” He tipped his head toward mine, strands of his hair swept against my cheeks. “This feels naughty. ”

  I shot him a dirty look.

  “I know he’s up to something!” said Telly. “He thinks he can control him, but he is foolish for believing so. ”

  Seth straightened an inch, a slight frown pulling at his lips.

  “Even Lucian is not that foolish,” Marcus responded.

  Telly made a disgusted sound. “It is my job as a Minister to protect them—my duty! If you know something—”

  “I know nothing of the sort!” Marcus slapped something down. “You are being paranoid, Minister. ”

  “You call it being paranoid, and I call it planning for the future. There are certain precautions we could take—just in case. Ways to ensure that they are never threatened. ”

  I wondered what they were talking about. Seth also had a puzzled look on his face, which almost made me giggle. Maybe the wine coolers were still in my system. He must’ve felt the laugh bubbling up in me, because he looked down at me and smiled.

  “What are you suggesting, Minister?”

  “There are ways of eliminating the threat—ways in which no one is harmed. Some of the Council members agree that it may be best to do so. ”

  When Marcus spoke next, his words were cold and flat. “Has the Council already acted on this?”

  Telly scoffed. “What are you insinuating, Marcus?”

  There was a stretch of silence. “And how would you eliminate the threat, pray tell?”

  The tension that followed Marcus’s question was so thick I could feel it. “We already have one here,” replied Telly. “Why not keep them both here?”

  There was a stretch of silence. “That is out of the question. I am sorry, but I cannot agree to that. ”

  “Perhaps you just some need time and motivation. You want that Council seat very badly. I could make it happen. ”

  Seth dropped his head, his breath warm against my neck. I tried to move back, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. “Do you know what they’re talking about?” he whispered.

  For a second I had to think about what he was asking. I felt kind of out of it. “No clue. ”

  “I do not believe my mind will change,” Marcus finally responded. “It is late, Minister. And this conversation is over. ”

  Seth’s lips brushed against my neck, right under my ear. I jerked from the unexpected touch, and then socked him in the stomach. He chuckled softly.

  Telly laughed mirthlessly. “My offer stands until the end of sessions. ”

  “Good evening, Minister Telly. ”

  We ducked into the adjoining room, shutting the door just in time. Telly exited seconds later, followed by Marcus. Seth and I stared at each other. There was something in his eyes, mischief definitely, but something else. He prowled toward me, grinning.

  I put my hand up, flattening it against his chest. My pulse sped up. “Playtime is over, Seth. ”

  He placed his hand over mine. “Sounds like a bit of bribery going on. ”

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