White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements 1) - Page 15

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He looked away, sighing. “Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. I was worried about where you were because Elijah’s here.”

I stiffened, forgetting about Danika. “What?”

He closed his eyes. “Yeah, he was one of the group that came in last night. I thought they’d be leaving today, but they’re hanging around awhile.”

Elijah Faustin belonged to the clan that monitored demon activity along most of the southern coast. He and his son acted like I was the antichrist. “Is Petr with him?”

“Yeah.”

My head drooped. Petr was the worst kind of boy. “Why are they here?”

“He’s being relocated to the Northeast along with his son and four others.”

“So he’s going to stay here until Dez gets back?”

Zayne met my stare, his expression suddenly hard. “Petr will not go anywhere near you. I promise you that.”

My stomach knotted up. Pulling free, I rolled onto my back. I drew in a shallow breath. “I thought Abbot told them they weren’t welcome back here.”

“He did, Layla. Father isn’t happy about them being here, but he can’t turn them away.” Zayne moved onto his side, facing me. “Do you remember when we used to pretend this was an observation deck for NASA?”

“I remember you dangling me off the edge a couple of times.”

Zayne nudged me. “You loved it. You were always jealous that I could fly and you couldn’t.”

I cracked a smile. “Who wouldn’t be jealous of that?”

He grinned as he looked over his shoulder. “God, it’s been years since we’ve been up here.”

“I know.” I stretched out my legs, wriggling my toes inside the sneakers. “I kind of miss it.”

“Same here.” Zayne tugged on the sleeve of my sweater. “We still on for Saturday?”

For years, we’d been visiting a different coffee shop every Saturday morning. He’d keep himself awake to do so, prolonging the moment when he’d return to his room and assume his real form, the one that allowed him to sleep. The only true rest a gargoyle gained was when they turned to stone. “Of course.”

“Oh. I almost forgot.” He sat up, reaching into the pocket of his jeans. He held a slender rectangular object in his hand. “I did pick this up for you today.”

I grabbed the cell out of his hands, squealing. “It’s a touch screen! Oh, my God, I promise I won’t break it or lose it. Thank you!”

Zayne rolled to his feet. “I went ahead and charged it. All you have to do is program your numbers in there.” He grinned down at me. “I took the liberty of programming my number as your first contact.”

I stood and hugged him. “Thank you. You are the awesome sauce.”

He laughed, easing his arms around me. “Ah, I have to buy your love. I see.”

“No! Not at all. I’d—” I stopped myself before I said something I couldn’t take back, and lifted my gaze. Half of his face was shadowed, but there was a strange look in his eyes. “I mean, you’d still be cool even if you hadn’t bought me the phone.”

Zayne tucked my hair back behind my ear, his hand lingering on my cheek. Bending at the waist, he pressed his forehead against mine. I felt him take a deep breath, and his hand flattened against the small of my back.

“Make sure you keep the balcony doors in your bedroom locked,” he said finally, his voice deeper than normal. “And try not to roam around the house in the middle of the night. Okay?”

“Okay.”

He didn’t move. A slow burn started to slither under my skin, different than my body reacting to his. I forced myself to take a shallow breath, to focus on Zayne, but my eyes drifted shut. I tried to stop it from happening, but my imagination took hold and ran wild. I pictured his soul—his very spirit—warming the cold, empty places inside me. It would feel better than a kiss, better than anything. I swayed, my body leaning toward his, drawn in by two very different wants.

Zayne dropped his hands, backing off. “Are you okay?”

A tide of hot mortification burned through me. Stepping back, I held the phone between us. “Yeah, I’m fine. We—we should head back.”

He studied me a moment, then nodded. I watched him turn and duck back into the tree house. I held my breath, waiting until I heard him drop to the ground below.

I couldn’t continue living like this.

But what choice did I have? Go full-throttle demon? That would never be an option.

“Layla?” he called out.

“I’m coming.” I lifted my head, and as I started forward, something caught my attention. Frowning, I squinted at the tree branch directly above the observation deck. Something wasn’t right about it. The branch seemed thicker, shinier.

Then I saw it.

Curled around the branch was an abnormally long and thick snake. Its diamond-shaped head turned down, and from where I stood, I could see the unmistakable red gleam of the snake’s eyes.

I jumped back, gasping.

“What’s going on up there?” Zayne asked.

I glanced down for maybe two seconds—that was all—but when I looked up, the snake was gone.

CHAPTER FIVE

By the time I followed Stacey into bio, I wanted to smack her. She wouldn’t stop talking about Roth. Like I needed any help wondering if he’d actually show up today. I’d stayed up all night thinking about that damn snake in the tree. Had it been there the whole time, watching me as I slept and listening to my conversation with Zayne?

Creepy.

All of it was made worse by the reminder of how Roth had pressed against me in the bathroom. Because when I thought of him, I thought of how that had felt. No one really got that close to me. Not even Zayne. I wanted to crawl inside my own head, surgically remove the memory and then douse my brain with Clorox.

“He better be,” Stacey was saying as she threw herself into her seat. “I didn’t sneak out of the house dressed like this for no good reason.”

“No doubt.” I eyed her short skirt and then her cle**age. “We wouldn’t want your boobs to go to waste.”

She gave me a sly smile. “I want him to think about me all night.”

I pulled out my textbook, dropping it on the desk. “No, you don’t.”

“I’ll decide that for myself.” She shifted, tugging her skirt down. “Anyway, I can’t believe you don’t find him hot. There’s something wrong with you.”

“There’s nothing wrong with me.” I looked at her, but her eyes were glued to the door. I sighed. “Stacey, he’s really not a good guy.”

“Mmm. Even better.”

“I’m being serious. He’s...he’s dangerous. So don’t get any perverted ideas in your head.”

“Too late.” She paused, frowning. “Did he do something to you?”

“It’s just a feeling I have.”

“I have a lot of feelings when I think about him.” She leaned forward, planting her elbows on the table and cupping her chin in her hands. “Lots of feelings.”

I rolled my eyes. “What about Sam? He’s totally in love with you. He’d be a better choice.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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