Pure, p.9
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       Pure, p.9

         Part #2 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
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Page 9


  The white walls of the med office spun as I turned around, facing the cowering pure.

  “I still don’t have a choice?”

  He edged along the wall, his face as white as his coat, hands held out in front of him as if that could stop me. I took a step toward him out of maliciousness. Not like I’d actually hit a pure… again. He bolted for the door yelling, “Guards! Guards!”

  Several of the halfs looked shocked, like they too couldn’t believe what I’d just done. Two of them looked like they wanted to join the melee.

  “You don’t have to do this,” I said earnestly. “They can’t make you if you don’t—”

  My words were cut off by the first Guard. Recovering, he jumped to his feet. “Miss Andros, you have made a very unwise decision. No one would have hurt you. ”

  I wheeled around. They weren’t going to come at me one at a time now. Some of the rage ebbed as I stumbled backward. Time stopped moving so fast. The three of them rushed me at once. I managed to knock one of the Guards aside, but another grabbed hold of my arm. I would have had him too, I swear, but the swarm of Guards entering the room distracted me.

  So did the two halfs blocking their entrance, putting up a decent fight. I almost smiled, but a heartbeat later, I was pinned to the cold tile. Two of the male Guards held my arms down, and the female half literally sat on top of me. I bucked, trying to free myself.

  “Stop. ” She grabbed the sides of my head and forced it back. Blood trickled from her nose. “Stop fighting us. No one wants to hurt you. ”

  I could hear the scuffle by the door. “You’re hurting me now,” I gasped out. “You’re busting my spleen. ”

  The commotion caused by the fighting quickly ceased, and for a moment, all I could hear was the sound of my heartbeat slamming against my ribs painfully. “Okay. I’m done. ”

  She glared down at me. “We’ll decide when you’re done. ”

  “No. I will decide when you are done. And you are done with her,” came a new

  voice—one that was both as cold and as hard as it was oddly musical.

  The weight on my chest suddenly vanished, along with the Guard. She flew across the med room, slamming into one of the many carts lining the walls. I rolled onto my knees, drawing in air.

  Seth took one step into the room, eyes simmering with anger. “You. Help her up now. ”

  “But… we have our orders. She refused to comply. ” said the Guard.

  “You must not have paid close attention. The Minister gave orders for all halfs to be searched, but not his stepdaughter. I doubt he will be pleased to know you three disobeyed him. ” Seth’s gaze fell over me. “Why have you not helped her up yet?”

  The Guard who had spoken darted forward and gently placed me on my feet.

  “Apologize to her. All of you. ”

  Surprised, I looked at Seth. He was being serious. He actually wanted them to apologize for doing their jobs. And the way he looked, well, he looked like he wanted to physically make them sorry. There was something unstable in his eyes. “Seth, that’s not—”

  “Be quiet, Alex. I want to hear them apologize. ”

  My brows shot up. “Excuse—”

  “I’m sorry, Miss Andros,” the male Guard interrupted, as pale as a daimon. “I beg your pardon. ”

  Seth looked pointedly at the other Guards. The female Guard limped forward, apologizing profusely. When I nodded, they filed out of the room, leaving Seth and me alone for a few moments.

  “You didn’t have to make them apologize, Seth. They were just doing their jobs. You didn’t—”

  He stood directly in front of me, moving so fast I hadn’t even registered it. He caught the edge of my chin with the tips of his fingers, looking me over. My cheek felt a little tender, but I doubted it would bruise. “A ‘thank you’ would be nice. I did stop them, you know. ”

  I shifted uncomfortably. “Thanks. ”

  Seth arched a brow as he tipped my head back. “You could also sound like you mean it. ”

  “I do mean it, but you embarrassed them. ”

  He dropped my chin, seeming pleased that I didn’t screw up my face. “You beat the Guards up when they were just doing their jobs. I guess we’re even. ”

  Dammit. Seth had a point. I sighed. “Did… Lucian really order them not to search me?”

  “Yes, but apparently he wasn’t clear enough. ”

  “But what about the other halfs? They shouldn’t have to go through that. ” Instead of answering, he reached out and straightened the collar of my shirt. It must have come down during my fight, exposing the tags covering my neck. “Seth, what about them?”

  Dropping his hand, he shrugged. “I don’t know. I only have enough room in my head to be concerned about myself and you. ”

  I snickered. “I’m surprised you have any room to think about anyone but yourself. ”

  The smug grin was back. “Me too. I don’t think I like it, actually. ” He dropped his arm over my shoulders and steered me toward the exit, pass the halfs waiting outside and the cold looks of anger from the pures.

  Aiden ended practice early that evening. We didn’t speak much, but I could tell he had heard about what’d happened earlier. The only bright spot of the evening was when I ended up getting to eat dinner with Caleb. The news had already traveled to him and probably the rest of the Covenant.

  “How much trouble did you get in?” Caleb asked.

  I shrugged and dipped a fry into a glob of mayo. “None, actually. Lucian had ordered them not to search me. ”

  Caleb cringed as I stuck the mayo-covered fry in my mouth. “You’ve been touched by the gods. I swear. ”

  “Touched in more ways than one,” I cracked. “Where’s Olivia?”

  “Can you dip your fries in something normal, like ketchup?”

  I swirled my fry in the mayo gleefully. “And where’s Olivia?”

  Caleb leaned the chair back on two legs, sighing. “She’s mad at me about yesterday. We got into an argument this morning. ”

  “Oh. You guys fighting?”

  “I guess so. It’s stupid. Anyway, any news about the daimon?”

  I told him what Seth had said about more half-bloods being attacked and turned. Caleb had the same reaction as I did: disbelief and anger. Sometimes I really, truly believed that the Councils would run better if half-bloods had control. We seemed to have better critical thinking skills and more common sense.

  After a few moments, Caleb spoke. “You know, I think what you did was pretty awesome. ”

  I shrugged, thinking about how embarrassed the Guards had seemed. “Thanks. But it doesn’t feel pretty awesome now. ”

  Caleb raised his brows. “Well, it’s got everyone talking and thinking. None of us want to go through with this. We think it was brave. ”

  “It wasn’t brave. Stupid maybe, but not brave. ”

  “No,” he insisted. “It was brave. ”

  “Caleb, you know the pures will go crazy if we start really, really pushing them. One half refusing a strip search is one thing, but dozens? That’s treason to them. You know what they do when you’re suspected of treason. ”

  The determined look gave his blue eyes an unfamiliar edge. “Like I said, I think things have to change around here. ”

  I leaned forward. “Caleb, don’t get in trouble. ”

  “Why are you arguing with me about this, Alex? You stood up to them today, but you sound like you don’t think any of us should. Why? Only you’re allowed to, and the rest of us should just go along with whatever they want?”

  “No. That’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s just that this is serious, Caleb. It’s not about sneaking into rooms or leaving the Island. People could get expelled or worse. ”

  “You didn’t. ”

  “Yeah, well… I’m different. And—and I’m not saying that to be like I’m super cool, either. The only reason I’m not in trouble is because Lucian stepped in—why, I don’t
know. But you guys will get in trouble. ”

  Incredulous, he threw up his hands, shaking his head. “You’re being way too… ”

  “Way too what?”

  Caleb frowned. “I don’t know, too rational about this or something. ”

  For a moment I did nothing but stare at him, and then I busted out laughing. “Do you know you’re the only person to accuse me of being too rational?”

  A smile broke out across his face, reminding me of the younger, more carefree Caleb—the Caleb who didn’t get excited about taking a stance against the pure-blooded Council. “Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything. ”

  We grinned at each other, but then my smile faded. “Caleb, you’ve changed. ”

  His smile disappeared. “What do you mean?”

  “I don’t know. You’re just different now. ” I didn’t think he was really going to respond, especially when he stood up.

  He walked around the table to sit next to me, and his lips pursed for a thoughtful moment. “I am different. ”

  “I know,” I whispered.

  A brief smile appeared. “You know, I keep thinking about when we were… in that cabin and I couldn’t do anything to help you. I don’t know what I’d thought it would be like to face a daimon. I guess I really had no idea. ” A muscle along his jaw ticked as he rubbed his fingers over a scuff mark on the table. “All I keep thinking is there had to be something I could’ve done to make them stop hurting you. I should’ve fought through the pain or something. ”

  “Caleb—no. ” I grabbed his cool hands. “There was nothing you could do. And that whole, messed-up situation was my fault. ”

  He faced me, lips twisting into a cynical smile. “I just never felt more… powerless in my life. I don’t want to feel that way again. ”

  “You’re not powerless. You never were. ” I scooted over and wrapped my arms around his stiff shoulders.

  Caleb responded a little awkwardly at first, but then he rested his chin atop my head. We stayed like that for a little while. “You have mayo in your hair,” he murmured.

  Giggling, I pulled back. “Where?”

  He pointed. “You’re such a messy eater. ”

  After I got the mayo out of my hair, he studied me. “What? Do I have more mayo in my hair?”

  “No. ” He glanced around the empty cafeteria. “How are things between … you and Aiden?”

  I dropped the napkin. Usually Caleb sensed Aiden wasn’t something I wanted to talk about. “I don’t know. Everything is the same, I guess. ”

  He rested his chin on my shoulder. The edges of his soft hair tickled my cheek. “Was he mad about the Guard thing?”

  “He didn’t say anything about it, but I’d go with a yes. ”

  “Have you guys, you know, done—?”

  “No!” I jerked back, hitting his arm lightly.

  Caleb shot me a knowing look.

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