White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements 1) - Page 42

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“Ah, the Seraphim—warriors of justice and blah, blah, bullshit.” Roth shook his head, smiling ruefully. “What a nasty lot of bastards, if you ask me.”

“I’m sure they’d say the same thing about you.”

“Of course they would.” He dropped my hand and took a sip of his coffee. A moment passed as he watched a leafy plant sway in the breeze. It looked like a Venus flytrap. “The Seeker, the zombie and the possessed...that sounds like the start of a really bad joke, doesn’t it?”

It did.

“But they all had something in common. You.”

“I figured as much, but I don’t understand why. What does it have to do with the ring or my mother?”

“Hell is looking for you,” he said, rather casually.

“You said that before and I...”

“Didn’t believe me?” When I nodded, he closed his eyes. “I wasn’t lying. Hell only looks for someone when that person has something that interests them. We do like to covet things. I’ve told you that.”

“But I don’t have anything they could want.”

“You do.”

I shifted on the lounge, pushing down the sudden urge to get up and run. “And you? It’s the same reason why you started looking for me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?” I placed the half-drunk cup of coffee on the roof and held the ring close to my chest.

He gave me another quick grin. “I’ve told you. I’ve been watching you for months, years really.”

Years? My brain couldn’t wrap itself around that idea.

He returned to staring at the plant. “I found you long ago, way before your most recent birthday, before any of the demons became aware of you. I guess the real question is, what makes you so special that Hell is looking for you? You’re half-demon. So what?”

For some reason, I started to feel lamer than I normally did. “Okay.”

“But—” he held up his hand “—half demons don’t really have any demonic power. They’re just bat-shit crazy. You know, the kids that pull wings off of butterflies and burn down their houses for fun? Usually while they’re still inside the burning house. Not the smartest bunch, but hey, it happens. Not everyone is created equal.”

I pursed my lips. “I don’t think I’m special.”

Roth looked at me again. “But you are. You’re a half demon that is also half Warden. Do you even know what they really are?”

“Well, people call them gargoyles, but—”

“Not what they’re labeled, but how they were created?”

I ran my fingers over the curve of the band. “They were created to fight the Lilin.”

He busted into laughter—deep, amused chuckles.

Embarrassment flooded me. “Then why were they created, smart-ass?”

“Don’t ever let them make you feel like they’re better than you.” Roth shook his head, still smiling. “They aren’t. They aren’t better than any of us.” He laughed again, sounding less amused. “They’re His big-ass mistake, and He gave them a pure soul to make up for it.”

“None of that makes any sense.”

“And it’s not my place to explain it to you. There are so many rules. You know that. Ask your dear adopted dickhead of a father. I doubt he’d tell you the truth, or has ever told you the truth, for that matter.”

“Not like you’re doing a good job of telling me the truth, either.”

“It’s not in my nature to do so.” Setting his cup down, he leaned back on his elbows and peered up at me through dark lashes. “Believe it or not, there are rules that even the Boss follows. Not all of Hell’s children follow them, but there are things I cannot and will not do.”

“Wait. The Boss—do you mean...?”

“The Boss?” he repeated. “Yes. The big one downstairs.”

“Do...do you work for him?”

He flashed another demure smile. “Why, yes, I do.”

Good God, what was I doing wanting him to kiss me earlier?

Roth sighed as if he knew exactly what I was thinking. “Say you had something I wanted? I can’t just take it from you.”

I shook my head, confused. “Why not? A succubus takes energy without the person knowing.”

“That’s different. The succubus isn’t killing the human. Just tasting their essence, and for the most part, the human doesn’t mind.” He winked. “But I’m old-school. Just like the Boss. Humans have to have their free will and all that nonsense.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in free will?”

“I don’t, but that doesn’t mean the Boss doesn’t.” He shook his head. “Look, we’ve gotten way off topic here. You know that I work for the Boss and that I’m here on a job, so to speak.”

Even though I knew there had to be a reason why Roth popped out of nowhere and started following me, sour disappointment still curdled in my stomach. What was I thinking? That he saw me chowing down on a Big Mac and just had to know me? “I’m your job?”

His dark gaze flickered to mine and held. “Yes.”

Slowly nodding, I let out a low breath. “Why?”

“I’m here to keep you safe from those who are looking for you. And by those, I mean demons a lot bigger and badder than what you normally deal with.”

I stared at him so long that I think my eyes crossed, and then I burst into laughter. So hard, tears tracked down my face, blurring his scowl.

“Why are you laughing?” he demanded. “It better not be because you doubt my ability to keep your ass—a very lovely ass, by the way—safe. Because I think I’ve proved that I can.”

“It’s not that. It’s just that you’re a demon.”

His expression turned bland. “Yes. I know I’m a demon. Thanks for the clarification.”

“Demons don’t protect anyone or anything.” I waved my hand dismissively, still chuckling.

“Well, obviously they do, because I’ve saved you multiple times.”

Wiping a few tears off my face, I quieted down. “I know. And I appreciate it. Thank you. But it’s just so...so ass-backward.”

Impatience flashed in his eyes, darkening them until the brown flecks almost disappeared. “Demons will protect just about anything if it’s in their best interest. Or namely, Hell’s best interest.”

“And why would protecting me be in Hell’s best interest?”

Roth’s eyes narrowed. “I was going to try to break this to you gently, but screw it. I told you what your mother could do. I even told you her name.”

My humor dried up right then and there as I stared at him.

A bit of smugness seeped into his face. “And I bet you went through every stage of denial and then some, but Lilith is your mother.”

“You mean a demon named Lilith.” I still refused to believe anything else. It was just some random demon with an unfortunate name.

“No. I mean the demon named Lilith,” he corrected. “She’s your mommy.”

“That’s not possible.” I shook my head. “She’s chained in Hell!”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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