“Move out of the way!” yelled Roth.
My head jerked up as he swung the makeshift weapon. I scrambled back, getting hung up on my book bag. The skeleton arm hit the zombie’s head and then went through it. Mottled blood and flesh flew through the air, plopping off the floor...and onto my jeans.
Skin, muscle and bone sank in on itself. The thing sort of imploded, collapsing until nothing was left but a puddle of muck on the floor and the filthy clothing it had worn.
Roth threw the arm down, anger tightening his expression. “That was slightly irritating.” He turned around, looking at me. His amber eyes took on a sheen of amusement. “Oh, you’ve made a mess of yourself.”
I stared at my goo-covered pants and hands before fixing Roth with a glare. “I hate you.”
“Hate is such a strong word.” He swaggered to my side, bending down. “Let me help you.”
I kicked out, catching him in the shin. “Don’t touch me.”
He hobbled back, cursing and shaking out his pants leg. “You got brains on my new jeans. Thanks.”
Muttering under my breath, I pushed to my feet and grabbed my bag. Luckily, there wasn’t any yuck on that, but me? I didn’t even want to look at myself, I was that gross. “Well, this was really fun.”
“Hey! Don’t be upset. The zombie problem has been taken care of.”
I pointed at myself with both hands. At the moment, I didn’t give a crap about why he was following me. “Look at me. I have zombie spew all over me, thanks to you. And I have classes the rest of the day.”
A slow smile spread across his face. “I can take you back to my place. I have a shower you can use. Then maybe we can get a drink and check out my Porsche.”
My palms itched to make friends with the sides of his face. “You’re disgusting.”
He chuckled, turning back to the corpse. “What in the Hell were you doing here?” he said, mostly to himself. “And what did...?” He looked over his shoulder, gaze falling to my chest. His eyes narrowed. “Oh, great.”
“Hey! God, you are such a dog!”
Roth arched a brow. “I’ve been called worse. Go get cleaned up. I’ll take care of this.”
Drawing in a deep breath, I spun around. I made it to the door before he stopped me. He said something like “lamb” under his breath. Shaking my head, I left him in the boiler room, smelling of rotten zombie.
* * *
I spent the rest of the day in my gym clothes with soaking wet hair.
I hated Roth.
Morris looked surprised when I slid into the passenger seat. Typically I tagged every day after school, but today I wasn’t feeling it. Unlike yesterday, silence greeted me as I walked into the house and dropped my bag inside the door.
I headed through the foyer, pulling my damp hair into a messy bun. I needed to tell Abbot about the zombie at school. Roth issue aside, the zombie was something serious. There was a good chance that Abbot was still asleep, though.
The last time I’d woken him up, I’d been eight and had only Mr. Snotty for company. I wanted someone to play with me, so I knocked on Abbot’s stone shell while he slept.
That hadn’t gone over well.
This time was different. He’d have to understand, but I could at least ease his temper with a cup of coffee. It took me a couple of minutes to find the damn coffee grounds and filter, then another five minutes of trying to figure out if I should use the coffee or the cappuccino setting. The thing required a degree in engineering to figure out. I tugged on the stainless-steel lever, frowning. What the Hell did this do?
“It’s really not that complicated.”
Every muscle in my body locked and yet I managed to drop the little metal measuring spoon. It clattered on the tile floor. I bent down and grabbed the spoon, trying to calm the sudden bundle of nerves in my stomach. My legs felt weak as I straightened.
Petr stood in the doorway. His thick arms crossed a barrel-sized chest. “I see you haven’t gained any grace since the last time I saw you.”
Coming from anyone else, that dig might have stung. I put the spoon on the counter. Coffee be damned. I stopped a few feet in front of him. “Excuse me.”
He didn’t move. “And you’re just as rude and bitchy.”
My chin shot up. Petr was only a year or two older than me, but the dark stubble across his chin and jaw made him look older. “Can you please move out of the way?”
Petr stepped aside, leaving about a foot to go through. “Happy?”
I was anything but happy with the idea of my body being in the same zip code as his. I squeezed past him, wincing as my hip rubbed against his leg.
“Thought you were making coffee?” He fell in step behind me. “I could help you.”
Ignoring him, I picked up my pace. I wouldn’t fall for his cajoling tone again. Not in this lifetime or the next.
Petr stepped around me, blocking my way upstairs—to safety. He sighed. “So who were you making coffee for?”
A flicker of fear curled around my heart. “Can you move? I need to go upstairs.”
“You can’t talk to me for five minutes?”
Out of habit, I felt for the circular object under my shirt, clasping my hand over it. I tried to move past him. He shadowed my movements. “Petr, please let me by.”
Faint sunlight from the nearby window reflected off the small stud pierced into his hawkish nose. “I can remember a time when you liked talking to me. When you looked forward to when my clan would visit.”
A faint flush crept over my face as my grip tightened on my shirt. The ring bit through the clothing, pressing against my palm. I used to have a crush on the jerkwad. “That was before I realized what a creep you are.”
The line of his jaw hardened. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong? I told you to stop and you wouldn’t—”
“You were being a tease.” His voice dropped low. “And since when do demons really get a say in anything?”
I sucked in air. “I’m a Warden.”
He rolled his eyes, laughing. “Oh, I’m sorry. You’re only half-demon. Like that makes a difference. Do you know what we usually do to the spawn of demons and humans?”
“Love them and hug them?” I tried to slide past, but he slapped his palm against the wall in front of me.
“We kill them, Layla. Like Abbot was supposed to do with you, but you’re just so damn special.”
I bit down on my lip. He was too close. If I breathed too deeply, I could taste his soul. “I need to go see Zayne.”
“Zayne is still resting.” He paused. “He stayed up pretty late this morning talking to Danika.”
Irrational jealousy flooded my system, which was so stupid considering the current situation. “Then I’m going to see—”
“Jasmine and the twins?” he asked. “Yeah, they’re taking a nap. No one is up, Layla. It’s just you and me.”
I swallowed. “Morris is here. Geoff is up, too.”
Petr laughed. “You’re so clueless.”
A slow burn began under my skin. I held my breath. If there was anyone in this world I wanted to suck a soul out of, it was Petr. Out of everyone, he’d deserve it the most.