Pure, p.48
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       Pure, p.48

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
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Page 48


  Giggles erupted across the room, drawing my attention. Young pure girls surrounded a good-looking male, clamoring over each other to be the closest to him. Several Guards stood behind the happy little group, looking equally bored and aloof. Among them stood the pure-blood Guard whom Telly had called on during the first session. I shuddered, holding the glass tighter. Then my eyes flitted further into the hall and settled on Aiden.

  Dawn stood by his side, looking stunningly beautiful and staring at him with large eyes the color of amethyst. Seeing them together didn’t bring the warm and fuzzies. He’d never showed her an ounce of interest outside of being friendly, but she was the kind of girl Aiden would be allowed to date—should date.

  Maybe he’d marry her one day—or another pure like Dawn. He’d settle down and commit. Stop, I ordered myself. That didn’t matter—not even if he had a dozen pure-blooded babies. I’d accepted I couldn’t be with him. Besides, I’d kind of chosen Seth. But hurt climbed deep inside my chest, taking root around my heart. I deserved a swift kick in the butt for standing here, staring at him like some kind of obsessive stalker chick.

  “Your drink, dear, are you not going to try it?”

  “Oh. ” I glanced down. It still felt wonderfully warm in my hand. The drink burned my lips and the tip of my tongue, but went down surprisingly smooth. It actually tasted minty—a warm wintergreen. “It tastes…”

  Laadan was gone.

  Surprised by her vanishing act, I looked around the hall, finding Aiden instead of Laadan. He’d moved, standing at the end of the hall now. Minus Dawn, he spoke to another pure, but he appeared focused on me.

  His disapproval stretched beyond where he stood and slammed into me. Was it because I was outside my room? If so, that irked me. What also irked me was the fluttering in my chest.

  Aiden broke away from the pure, stepping forward and looking very, very angry. My heart leapt in my chest. He was coming to me—not Dawn, not some other pure, but me. The fluttering in my chest increased.

  Any attention was good attention.

  Suddenly, I hated that idea. Hated the fact I would be satisfied with that. I tipped the glass back and took a long swallow. It was either that or throw myself on the floor, sobbing and flailing.

  I took another sip, expecting the burning this time. It did taste good, really good. I looked up again and found that a tall, blond pure partially blocked Aiden, but his furious gaze still found me. I quirked a brow at him and brought the glass to my lips again, taking another draft.

  Aiden cut around the pure and made a beeline straight for me.

  Out of nowhere, and I mean freaking nowhere, Seth appeared and whipped the drink out of my hand, splashing red drops all over my sweater.

  “Jeez!” I ran my hand over my mouth. “Was that necessary?”

  Seth brought the glass to his face and sniffed it. Swearing under his breath, he shoved it at Aiden. “Who gave you this?” Seth demanded.

  “Why do you care? It’s just a drink. ”

  “Alex, who gave you this drink?” Aiden’s quiet voice left no room for me to push his buttons.

  “Laadan gave it to me. What’s the big deal?”

  Seth’s mouth dropped open, but Aiden’s reaction was far stronger. “Shit. Unbelievable. ”

  “What?” I looked between the two. “What’s going on?”

  “Freaking pures,” Seth spat. “I can only begin to imagine what they hoped to achieve with this. ”

  The glass looked like it would shatter in Aiden’s hand. Fury radiated off him in waves and his eyes burned, but he wouldn’t look at me now. Not at all. “Dammit. Was this your first glass?”

  “Yes. ” I stepped forward. “Aiden, what’s going on?”

  Seth exhaled harshly. “Half a glass is more than enough. ”

  “There is no way Laadan would have given her this. ” Aiden scowled. “She knows what this drink will do. ”

  “Laadan did give it to me. I wouldn’t lie about that. Tell me what the hell is going on. ”

  Seth ran a hand over his head. “I think I’m going to hit someone. ”

  I shot a look at Seth. He wouldn’t look at me either. Was there something wrong with my face? I put my hand to my cheeks and the only thing I noticed was my skin felt warm.

  “I can’t leave now. ” Aiden spoke in crisp, short words. “Telly and the other Ministers want us here. She can’t be left alone, Seth. ”

  Seth nodded. “I’ll keep an eye on her. ”

  Aiden barked a short laugh. “Yeah, I don’t think so. ”

  “Then what do you suggest we do?” Seth demanded. “Let her roam free?”

  My temper snapped. I reached out and grabbed Aiden’s arm—a bad thing to do to a pure in public, but they were acting like I wasn’t even standing here. “What is going on?”

  Aiden whirled around and grasped my hand, pulling me between the two of them. “There is no way Laadan would have given you this drink freely. Did she seem strange to you? Acting different in any way?”

  “Yes,” I whispered. “She seemed buzzed. ”

  His eyes snapped fire. “She was compelled to give you this drink. ”

  “No way, that’s impossible. It’s completely illegal to compel another pure. You have to—”

  “Someone set you up, Alex, and they wanted to badly enough to break the rules themselves. All pures know what that drink is just by looking at it. You were given Aphrodesian Brew, Alex. ”

  “Brew? Oh. Oh. Oh, my gods. ” I felt cold and hot all at once. I’d just drunk the equivalent of an Olympian roofie. Disbelief set in. “You have to be wrong. A pure wouldn’t compel another pure and Laadan would never give me something like that. I don’t care what you say. ”

  “Alex,” Aiden said gently. “There are pures who know you’re close with Laadan. ”

  “Aiden, we need to get her out of here. Soon,” Seth interjected.

  I glanced at him. “I feel fine. I must not have had enough. ”

  Seth laughed dryly. “Yeah. ”

  Aiden let go of my hand, staring at Seth. “I don’t like you—let alone trust you. ”

  A muscle feathered along Seth’s jaw. “You don’t have any other options at this point. I won’t let anything happen to her, Aiden. And I wouldn’t… take advantage of her. ”

  I shot Seth a dirty look. “No one is taking advantage of me unless I want to be taken advantage of. ”

  Whoa, that didn’t come out right.

  “Out of the question,” Aiden said in a low, dangerous way.

  “Guess what? I don’t like you, either. But you don’t have any other choice. Either you risk this or you trust me enough to know that I’ll keep an eye on her. ” Seth paused, his gaze meeting Aiden’s. “I have just as much invested as you. ”

  I scratched my leg. “Invested in what?”

  They ignored me.

  Aiden sort of growled. “If anything—anything happens to her—”

  “I know,” replied Seth. “You’ll kill me. ”

  “I’ll do worse,” Aiden growled. “Don’t take her to her room. We don’t need Marcus knowing about this. Take her to… your room. As soon as I can, I will come. ” He turned to me and forced a smile. I hated that kind of smile. “Everything is going to be okay. Just please, please listen to Seth, and whatever you do, don’t leave his room. ”

  I stared at Aiden. “Wait. I want—”

  Aiden had already turned and disappeared into the crowd. Then Seth took hold of my hand, leading me from the hall. I really didn’t know what to expect. I’d heard rumors at the Covenant about the Brew, knew that Lea had supposedly had some, but I’d never seen anyone under its influence.

  Seth didn’t say anything as we navigated the hallways and headed upstairs. Several flights of stairs later, I still felt okay. “I really feel fine. Nothing is wrong with me. I’m sure I can go to my room. I won’t leave. ”

  Seth pulled me down the hallway.

Look, why won’t you talk to me? Especially after last night—”

  He shot me a dangerous look over his shoulder. “This right now has nothing to do with last night. ”

  I glared back at him even though I thought his hand felt incredibly smooth around mine. “Are you mad at me?”

  “Alex, I’m not mad at you. But I am pissed right now. It’s best I just don’t speak. I might end up burning down this building. ” Letting go of my hand then, he pushed open the door to his room and motioned me forward. “In. ”

  I shot him a haughty look. Really, they were making this into a bigger deal than— “What the hell?”

  Seth kicked the door shut behind him. “What?”

  “How come you get this awesome room?” I turned around, amazed by the cathedral ceilings, plush carpets, and a big screen television that took up half the wall. And the bed—it was the size of a boat. My current predicament was temporarily forgotten. “I’ve been sleeping in a closet. This isn’t fair. ”

  He dropped his key on a dresser. “I’m the Apollyon. ”

  “So? I am, too, and I got a matchbox for a room. A coffin would’ve been bigger. ”

  “You’re not an Apollyon yet. ”

  That was the extent of our conversation for several minutes. I watched him prowl around the room, and then over to the window. There he stayed.

  “What’re you doing?”

  Seth leaned against the windowsill, attention fastened on whatever he saw outside. Several strands of hair had slipped from the tie and obscured most of his expression. “Help yourself to whatever you want in the room. Watch some TV or go to sleep. ”

  My temper stretched and snapped. “You’re an ass. ”

  He didn’t respond.

  I shifted uncomfortably, wishing I’d thrown on a shirt under the hoodie. The room felt steamy, nearly unbearable. I went to the bed to sit down, but stopped. A strange sensation crawled up my spine. It felt different—incredible. Like an incredible rush of—of happiness. Yes. Like waves of sunshine and all things good.

  Everything suddenly seemed okay—great even.

  Seth turned from the window, his eyes narrowing on me. “Alex?”

  I twisted around slowly. The room seemed lighter, soft, beautiful. Everything seemed beautiful. I think I may have sighed.

  “Oh, gods,” Seth groaned. “It’s starting. ”

  “What’s starting?” I barely recognized my own voice.

  Seth looked at me pointedly. I thought he looked funny, so I laughed, and it was like a switch being thrown. I wanted to run and dance, and sing—and I couldn’t sing, but I wanted to—and I wanted to… do stuff.

  His slouch vanished and his expression took on a hard edge. “Go sit down, Alex. ”

  I tipped my head back. Well, it kind of fell back, and I liked the weight of my hair falling into empty space, just hanging there. It felt good on my neck.

  “Seriously, go sit down. ”

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