Pure, p.44
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       Pure, p.44

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
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Page 44

 

  “But I do. ” His lips brushed against my cheek, sending shivers that had nothing to do with the cold air over me.

  My hands slipped from his chest and I gripped the edge of the pool. “No, you don’t. ”

  Seth chuckled against my cheek. He slipped his fingers up my spine, curving his hand around the nape of my neck. “Are you arguing with me over what I want?”

  “You’re arguing with me. ”

  “You’re ridiculous. ” I felt him smile as his lips brushed over the line of my jaw, over the bruise. “It’s such an annoying quality, yet strangely endearing. ”

  My heart was beating way too fast. “Well… you’re annoying, too. ”

  He laughed again and pulled me against his chest. My fingers lost their tenuous grip on reality, falling into the water. “Why are we still talking?”

  I rested my cheek against his shoulder and closed my eyes. “This is your one chance to talk without me telling you to shut up, because we aren’t doing. . . anything else. ”

  “Do you know how amusing I find you?” He shifted, pressing my back into the pool edge. His hand left my waist, smoothed down over my hip and thigh. Jerking back, I grabbed for his hand. Too late, he hooked my leg around his.

  “What are… you doing?” I hated how breathless my voice sounded, confused by the need burning through me.

  “Do you know why I think you’re so amusing?” He slid the hand over my thigh.

  “Why?”

  “Because I know how badly you want me to kiss you. ” Seth cupped my chin, tipping my head back with his other hand.

  “That’s not true. ”

  “You lie. Why? I have no idea. ” He pressed his lips against my cheek, then against my throat, my shoulder. The hand on my leg slipped between my thighs. My blood pounded, sending my heart into a frenzy. “I can feel what you’re feeling. And I know you want me to kiss you. ”

  I grasped his arms “It’s not…”

  “Not what?” He lifted his head, brushing his nose against mine.

  “I…”

  “Just let me kiss you. ”

  Gods, I needed him to kiss me. I needed him to keep doing what he was doing with his hands. But was any of this was about the heart… or even the body? Or was it just what existed in both of us? The connection, the bond—whatever it was—controlling what we wanted. It sang between us, tightening until it was all that existed. But what I felt with Aiden wasn’t a product of a connection, and it didn’t fade away because he didn’t return my feelings. I didn’t even question what it was, but this? I had to question everything.

  I opened my eyes. “Is this real?”

  “Very real. ” He leaned back and brushed strands of wet hair off my face.

  I did want to kiss him and I also wanted to wrap myself around him. The ache his hands created was almost too hard to deny, but as I stared at him and saw the runes slipping down his neck, slowly reaching toward where my hands rested against his skin, I had no idea if I could trust what I wanted. There was something between us that neither of us fully understood. We didn’t know what the connection actually controlled, what it could make us want.

  His breath danced over my cheek, then my lips. “Angel, just let me kiss you. ”

  With Aiden, with what I felt for him, there was nothing external—or internal—pulling me toward him except what I felt for him. It didn’t matter that it was forbidden or that he didn’t want me.

  Seth dropped his hands suddenly. I hit the edge, wincing as the cement scraped my skin. The mark of the Apollyon shifted over his chest, swirling and moving. “You’re thinking about Aiden. ”

  I bit my lip. “Not in the way you think I am. ”

  He ran both his hands over his head. Then he pushed forward, suddenly right in my face. “You know, I don’t know which is worse. That I was stupid enough to want to kiss you, or the fact that you’re still hung up on someone who doesn’t even want you. ”

  I blinked. “Wow. That’s a little harsh. ”

  “It’s the truth, Alex. Even if he did profess his undying love for you, you can’t have him. ”

  I whirled around and hauled myself out of the pool. Standing above him, water ran off the ruined dress. “Just because I can’t be with him doesn’t change the way I feel. ”

  In an instant, he was out of the water. “If you have this epic love for Aiden, why did you want to kiss me as badly as you did?”

  I flushed hot with fury, the kind that only came from Seth making a point I couldn’t argue. “I didn’t kiss you, Seth! That should answer your question right there!”

  “You wanted to. Trust me, I know you did. ” He smiled that smug smile. “You really wanted to. ”

  “I don’t know what I want!” I yelled, my hands balling into fists at my sides. “How do you know, Seth? How do you know it’s not the damn connection between us instead of something real?”

  The anger faded from Seth’s eyes, replaced by surprise. “You think it’s just the connection? Do you really think that’s all I feel for you?”

  I laughed harshly. “You say it yourself all the time! Anytime you do something nice for me, you say it’s the connection forcing you to do so. ”

  “Did you ever consider that I was joking?”

  “No! Why would I? You said the connection would grow stronger between us,” I said. “That’s why you want to kiss me! It’s not real. ”

  “I know why I want to kiss you, Alex, and is has nothing to do with either of us being Apollyons. And apparently it has nothing to do with your common sense, either. ”

  I narrowed my eyes. “Oh, shut up. I’m done talking—”

  “I know exactly why. ” Seth stalked forward, backing me up until I hit the cement wall behind me and he stood inches away. “I can’t believe I’d even have to spell it out for you. ”

  Shivering in the cool, damp air, I flattened my hands against the wall. “You don’t have to. ”

  “You’re the most frustrating person I know. ”

  I rolled my eyes. “And that makes you want to kiss me? You’re twisted. ”

  His eyes burned like liquid gold. “Do you feel the connection between us right now?”

  I frowned, searching for the telltale signs the connection was doing its thing. I didn’t feel that swamping heat or edginess, so I was going to go with no. “Not really, but I don’t know what it feels—”

  Seth grasped the sides of my face and brought my mouth to his. I froze, shocked that he’d actually kiss me after all of that, but he was. Soft, tentative, questioning kisses, as if he was doing this for the very first time, and I so knew that wasn’t the case.

  I knew I should stop him, because allowing him to kiss me totally defeated the point of the argument we’d just had, but I found myself closing my eyes instead. His mouth was so warm and sweet, dizzying actually. Then it deepened, stealing my breath and sending my heart racing.

  Kissing wasn’t a big deal, so this kiss shouldn’t be any different. But by the gods, I’d never been kissed like this before.

  I looped my arms around his neck, tangling my fingers in his hair, and then I was kissing him back. Kissing him with the same wild abandonment he’d dived into, and gods, I liked kissing Seth.

  He was really good at it.

  Seth nipped at my lower lip as he pulled back just enough that I could breathe. “You can’t tell me you didn’t like that. ” He pressed his lips to mine again, soaking up my response. “And don’t you dare tell me you didn’t kiss me. ”

  I let my hands slid down to his chest. I knew, if I opened my eyes, I’d see the marks. “I… don’t know what that was. ”

  He chuckled and brushed his lips across mine. “You have a choice, Alex. ”

  I opened my eyes then. The marks stretching across his face were faint, but I still had the insane desire to run my fingers along them. It took everything in me not to. I met his eyes. “What choice?”

  His hands dropped to my shoulders,
then made their way to my waist. They fisted the soaked material, holding me still. “You can choose to continue wasting away for something you can never have. ”

  I swallowed. “Or?”

  He smiled. “You can choose not to. ”

  “Seth, I—”

  “Look, I know you aren’t over him,” he said him like it was some kind of venereal disease, “but I do know you like me. I’m not suggesting anything. Not asking for stupid little labels or promises. No expectations. ”

  I took a shallow breath. “What are you suggesting?”

  “You choose to see what happens. ” Seth let go of my dress and stepped back, running his hands through his wet hair. “Between us—you choose us. ”

  Choose us? I shivered and wrapped my arms around me. Choose between what? Aiden was completely off limits, and Seth and I—even though we were stuck with one another—couldn’t go a day without wanting to knock each other’s heads off. This didn’t seem like a great choice.

  Seth smiled faintly. “Think about it, at least. ” He turned around and went back to where he’d left his clothes.

  I sagged against the wall and sighed. Seth had done some pretty nice things for me. He’d stayed with me after Caleb’s death, defended me against the Master. But then there was Aiden and all that I felt for him, and the way he’d looked at me tonight.

  But choosing Aiden meant choosing nothing.

  Choosing Seth meant submitting to a whacked-out fate.

  Or did it?

  My gaze fell to my hand. The rune on my palm shone an iridescent blue, as if it were pleased by Seth’s suggestions. And his suggestion didn’t sound so bad. No labels. No expectations. No feelings. And that was good, because my heart… my heart was somewhere else. Soon, I’d be heading home to North Carolina, where there would be no Caleb, no halfs who really wanted to be around me, and no more Aiden.

  But there would be Seth.

  I pushed off the wall. Seth had his back to me, head bent in concentration. What was I doing? I stopped a few feet behind him, my heart jumping in my throat. “Seth?”

  He turned sideways, fingers finishing the last of the buttons. “Alex?”

  “I… I choose you—or whatever it is that you’re saying. ” I flushed. Gods, I sounded stupid. “I mean, I choose the whole seeing what—”

  Seth’s mouth cut my words off. His arms swept around me, dropping something warm and dry over my shoulders. I realized it was his suit jacket, but then I was thinking about how warm he felt. Before I knew it, I was gripping his shirt, arching against him, soaking up his warmth.

  Then I felt it waking up like some kind of slumbering giant, sending sparks of electricity over my skin. My palm itched—burned, really. I gasped against his lips. The kiss wasn’t enough. I slid my hands under his shirt, over the hard expanse of his stomach.

  He jerked back, breathing heavy. A fleeting, satisfied look shot across his face—gone so quickly I couldn’t be sure what I’d seen. Then he smiled, and I knew I couldn’t have seen that calculated edge to his stare. The transformation that occurred was nothing short of amazing. “You’re not sleeping in that bed—in that terrible little room—tonight. ”

 
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