White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements 1) - Page 70

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“I know that,” I ground out. “But he’s—”

“You cannot be this naive, Layla. How do you know he wasn’t working against us? That he wasn’t the demon trying to retrieve the Key? Maybe he needed to know the incantation and he used you to get it.”

I wanted to stop his words, because the moment they hit the air between us, the damage was done. What didn’t help was the fact that I’d never seen this other demon. The only time I’d even seen another Upper Level demon had been that brief glimpse as I waited for Morris to pick me up.

“He used you. It was only a matter of time before he manipulated you into taking a soul and losing your innocence.”

“You don’t know that.” I closed my eyes. “He had...” I shook my head. Roth had had plenty of opportunity to press the issue of sex. Hell, look what had happened right before we’d left to get the Key. Considering how beautiful and amazing I’d felt, I probably would’ve given him the green light to go all the way.

“He had what?” Abbot asked.

“Nothing.” I squared my shoulders. There was power in knowing a demon’s name. With some black candles and bad intentions, one could summon a demon by their name. There was no way I’d risk that. “I’m not telling you his name.”

That went over as expected.

Voices rose. Abbot looked as if he was going to strangle the ever-loving crap out of me. But I held my ground. I would not betray Roth even though it appeared that I was betraying the Wardens.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, exhausted. It was nearly 4:00 a.m. and there seemed to be no end in sight to any of this. “What does matter is the demon who wants to raise the Lilin. What are we going to do about him?”

“We?” Abbot scoffed. “There is no ‘we’ in any of this. And there is no need for concern. We have the Lesser Key, and while you’re too incredibly naive to believe that you were already with the demon responsible, we know better.”

I stared at him, dumbfounded. “It isn’t him. God! Why won’t any of you listen to me? It’s not him, and the real culprit could already know what’s needed.”

Abbot shook his head as his eyes narrowed. “You will tell me his name. Maybe not tonight, but you will.” Grabbing my wrists, he hauled me out of the chair.

Zayne shot forward, coming to our side. “Father, you are hurting her.”

He was. As his gaze flicked down to his hands, his brows pinched together, and then he released me. He backed away, drawing in a deep breath. “Needless to say, you’re grounded.”

For some reason, I sort of wanted to laugh at that. Good thing I didn’t, because I doubted Abbot would find the humor in the fact that he’d grounded me.

“For life,” he added.

Oh.

Zayne wrapped his hand around my upper arm in a much gentler grip. There’d be bruises on my wrists later. “Take her to her room,” Abbot said, sending me one last dark look. “And pray I don’t change my mind and make use of the cells in the city.”

I shuddered. As angry as Abbot was, I hoped that was just an idle threat.

Handed over to Zayne, I let him lead me out of the room. Out in the hall, I dared a peek at him. Things were not looking good. “Would he really put me in one of the cells?”

He didn’t answer until we were halfway up the burgundy carpeted stairs. “I don’t know.”

Not very reassuring. I slowed my steps. I was tired, but I wasn’t looking forward to being locked in my room until I was ninety. “Zayne—”

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said. A muscle popped in his jaw. “That I knew about the damn Lilith thing. I didn’t. If I did, I would’ve told you as soon as you could’ve comprehended what it meant.”

I tripped over my feet, partly out of relief that he hadn’t known. And the other part? A surge of guilt slammed into me like a bullet heading straight for the heart. In that moment, I believed that Zayne would’ve told me if he’d known. He would’ve trusted me and he would’ve put me before his father.

I hadn’t put him before Roth.

Zayne stopped by my door. He closed his eyes for a moment and then turned to me. “Part of me can understand why you didn’t go to my father, but you could’ve come to me. I would’ve...”

“You would’ve what?” I kept my voice low. “Would you have believed me? Or would you have told Abbot?”

His pale gaze met mine. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll never know.”

I pressed my lips together as regret swelled, threatening to suffocate me. Zayne had never really let me down in the past. Yes, he’d stepped in when I didn’t want him to at times, and there was the stuff with Danika, but he’d never done anything that made me think I couldn’t trust him.

Squeezing my eyes against the burn of tears, I took an unsteady breath. “I screwed up, Zayne. I screwed up so bad with you. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” he said in a low, hoarse voice. “Yeah, you did.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

All meals were served in my room on Sunday. My schoolbag was retrieved from Stacey’s house by Zayne. My phone was confiscated, but not before I could delete Roth’s contact from it. So were my laptop and TV. I expected Nicolai to remove my books, but he must’ve taken pity on me because he left them behind.

I tried talking to him, but he wasn’t having it.

Besides the brief moments he’d been there, the only visitor I had was Danika when she brought my food. She didn’t speak to me, and I wondered if she’d been ordered not to. Abbot showed up for another round of “what is his name.” When I didn’t tell him, he slammed the door so hard the windows in my room rattled.

I didn’t see Zayne again until Monday morning. He knocked once before opening the door. That was how I knew it was him. “Get ready for school,” he said, staring at the floor.

“Abbot’s letting me go to school?” Stunned, I stared at him.

“I do believe he’s looking into homeschooling, but for now he figures school is enough of a punishment.”

Thank God I hadn’t told them about Roth being there.

Scrambling off the bed, I set a record for showering and getting dressed. Hope sparked, and I tried to keep my excitement at a minimum. Zayne didn’t speak to me on the way to school, except for one last parting shot.

“Don’t even think about sneaking out of school, either. Abbot will be checking in throughout the day.”

He peeled away before I could say a word.

Sighing, I turned and hurried into the building.

Stacey was at my locker when I got there. “Okay. You have to tell me everything. Starting with why Zayne showed up to get your bag and why you never called me yesterday.”

“I got busted.” I dug out my bio book. “And I’m grounded for life.”

“How?” she gasped.

“One of the Wardens saw us.” I shut my locker, hating that I was telling yet another lie after everything that had gone down this weekend. “The rest is history.”

“That’s so unfair. You don’t even do anything bad and the one time you do, you get caught.” She shook her head. “God hates you.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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