Bitter Sweet Love (The Dark Elements 0.5) - Page 5

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Fondness seeped into his striking face, and I didn’t want to see it. “You’re still a terrible liar.”

“Shut up,” I muttered, clearing my throat. “And you have nothing to say for yourself?”

His brows pinched. “I’m sorry.”

I gaped. “That’s it?”

“You wouldn’t understand, Jas.”

I crossed my arms. “Oh, I don’t know, I might be able to grasp an explanation if you speak slowly and use small words.”

Dez’s eyes flared bright for an instant and then dulled. “I know you’re not stupid.”

“Doesn’t seem that way.”

“Look, I’m not entirely proud of why I left and it’s not something I really want to get into right now.” He thrust his hands through his hair, causing strands to stick straight up between his fingers. “Can we put that to the side, at least for the moment?”

I started to tell him no, but a look of vulnerability had crept into his eyes and as much as I wanted to hold him down and make him tell me everything, I couldn’t hurt him. He’d deserve it if I did, but the memory of him crying on my shoulder, holding on to me like I was the only anchor in his world, was too fresh.

“I’ve missed you, Jas. You have no idea,” he continued, reaching toward me again but stopping short of touching me. “I thought about you every damn day. All I wanted was to get back to you and the clan. But mostly you. Always you.”

Shaking my head, I held my arms more tightly around myself, as if I could keep my heart from getting outside my chest and doing something stupid. “I don’t think you understand. I can’t forget these three years. I can’t forget that you left because my father announced he wanted a match between us. Just because you decide you want me now after doing God knows what, you think I’d be with you? I’m not desperate.”

“Wait.” He barked out a laugh. “You think I left because of that? Are you insane?”

I shot him a droll look. “You’re really not helping your case.”

“That is not why I left, Jasmine. You can believe me.” He stalked forward, and I found I couldn’t move. “I have never lied to you.”

“No,” I whispered. “You just left.”

“It didn’t have anything to do with what your father said. I promise you.” Just the tips of his fingers touched my cheeks, but it was still a shock to the system. “Let me prove it.”

Our gazes locked, and I could feel my heartbeat in my veins and the warmth of his body, even though he barely touched me. Dez lowered his head, and the breath caught in my throat. Was he going to kiss me again? I couldn’t let him, but I also couldn’t deny the bittersweet swelling of yearning, of wanting something that could easily turn back around and strike where it hurt most.

He didn’t kiss me, though. “I want you, and I know you feel the same way. Neither of us could’ve changed that much. I believe in that. And I want you.”

So many times over the past three years, and even before then, when I was old enough to recognize how I felt around Dez, I had dreamed of this moment. But if what he said was true, then why had he left me? Why didn’t he have anything to say except I’m sorry? Accepting the apology was the easy way. Truth be told, it was what my heart wanted, but it wasn’t the only thing I wanted.

I closed my eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Seven days.” His nose brushed my cheek and his warm breath blew over my ear, causing me to shiver. “Give me these seven days, Jas. Please.”

He hadn’t said why he left and he hadn’t professed undying love for me, but an idea sprang to mind, and once it took root, it flourished. Excitement rose like a budding flower. “Only on one condition, and still, I make no promises.”

Dez chuckled in a way that was infuriating and yet wholly sexy. I blinked my eyes open. Had he sounded like that before? He pressed his palm to my cheek. “What is the condition?”

I took a deep breath, concentrating on my words and not on how his hand felt. “There are things I want to do.”

Interest flared, deepening the hue of his eyes. “What things?”

“Not what you’re thinking,” I said dryly, although the idea of those things was interesting. “I’ve never been anywhere and I want to go places. I want to see things.”

His eyes narrowed, but my muscles tightened when his hand slid to my neck, threatening to wreak havoc on what I was trying to accomplish. “Where do you want to go?”

“New York City. Washington, DC. Maybe even Philly,” I said in a rush. “I want to walk through a mall without a horde of males guarding me. I want to learn how to drive a car and not have someone give up on me when I grind the transmission.” Driving wasn’t necessary. Obviously. We had wings. We could fly, but driving...driving was so divinely human. “I want to go skinny-dipping.” At that, he looked way too engrossed, so I hurried on. “And I want... I want to hunt a demon.”

“Jasmine, that’s unacceptable. Demons aren’t—”

“Those are my conditions.” I squared my shoulders. A little wisp of guilt poked at me. I was using him to get what I wanted, and that wasn’t right, but when would I have this chance again? As a female Warden, there was so little that I could do. “Take them or leave them.”

He held my stare for so long that I was sure he was going to say no. Then I’d probably choke-slam him?I knew how to do that because he had taught me. “And I have seven days to help you do all that?”

That wasn’t a no. My hope grew. “Yes. You have seven days and then...well, then we’ll see.”

Dez sighed deeply, as if I was asking him to raise the Titanic, and then he kissed my forehead. “Okay. You’re on.”

Chapter Four

Face shoved into my pillow, I groaned. It was early and beyond the four walls of my bedroom, I could hear the soft calls of birds chattering with one another. I wasn’t sure what stirred me awake.

Something soft whispered down my bare skin. I moved my arm, trying to shove it under the covers. The fog of sleep cleared a little when the sensation traveled along my shoulder, skipping over the thin strap of my tank top. I huddled down under the covers, bringing my right leg up. I hit a rather immovable obstacle.

The rest of the haze of sleep cleared when a deep chuckle rumbled through the room, sounding way, way too close.

What. The. Hell.

Flipping onto my side, I sat up, pushing at the hair that had fallen into my face. Two pale blue eyes framed with dark, reddish lashes met mine.

“Good morning,” Dez drawled, lounging on his side as if he had every right to be in my bed.

I jerked back, gasping. Would’ve tumbled right off the bed if his hand hadn’t shot out, catching my arm. He pulled me across the bed, so close that his scent, a mixture of the outdoors and a cologne I couldn’t place, was everywhere.

“What are you doing in my bed?”

“I wanted to see you.”

Was I still asleep? “And you couldn’t have waited until I got up?”

“Nope.” He brushed a lock of hair over my shoulder, his fingers grazing my skin. “This isn’t the first time I’ve woken you up this way.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy