Roth guided me to the ground. “How are you feeling?”
All around me, I could hear kids coughing, some calling their parents and others crying. I guessed I was faring better than them. “My eyes are burning. How come you can still see?”
“I closed my eyes.”
“Gee,” I muttered, rubbing the palms of my hands against my eyes. “I guess you’re smarter than me.”
“Nah. I just expected it to happen. You didn’t. Just keep blinking,” Roth ordered softly, pulling my hands down and holding my wrists in one hand. “It should clear up in a few minutes if you can keep your fingers out of them for three seconds.”
My eyes still watered something fierce. “Roth...”
“I don’t want to talk about that stuff right now,” he said.
I swallowed hard. “I didn’t betray you. I swear. I had no idea they were going to be there.”
There was a pause. “You’re part Warden. I’d expect no less from you.”
Pressure clamped down on my chest. “I’m also part demon.”
“What? Is that side of you now as important as the Warden side?”
I didn’t answer, because I wasn’t sure.
“Did you tell them my name?” he asked, his voice surprisingly gentle. “I’d at least like a heads-up before I get sucked into a summoning spell.”
“No, I didn’t tell them your name.” Keeping my head lowered to avoid the bright glare of the sun, I drew in a deep breath and willed the hurt to go away. “You’d already know if I did.”
“True.” He shifted so that I could feel him behind me. He still held my wrists, as if he expected that I would immediately start clawing at my eyes. “Too bad you’re missing this. Everyone is freaking out. The police and firemen are inside.”
I wished I could see something. “Does anyone look hurt? Stacey and Sam were in there.”
Roth sighed. “Everyone is fine. I promise you. It was just smoke. It won’t kill anyone. And I also grabbed your book bag from the bathroom. It’s right beside you.”
My vision was starting to clear. Twisting around, I looked at Roth, and instead of seeing a blur, I saw honey-colored eyes and dark lashes. It struck me then. All the times I thought I caught his scent hadn’t been my imagination. “You’ve been here this entire time.”
Roth didn’t answer.
“You’ve just been invisible.” I kept my voice low. “But you’ve been here.”
A funny little smile tipped his lips up, and I started to push the topic, because I wanted him to admit it—I needed him to admit it—but his fingers slid over my cheek. His touch elicited a hundred delicious tingles that started in my belly and spread. Our eyes locked, and I suddenly found it difficult to breathe or even remember what we were talking about.
His gaze flickered away from mine and he sighed. “Here comes the cavalry, a hundred years too late.”
Caught up in Roth, I hadn’t sensed another Warden’s presence until he was right on top of us.
“Let her go,” came Zayne’s voice.
There wasn’t a chance for me to be surprised about Zayne being there, because Roth’s grip tightened. “Or what?” he said. “Are you going to go all stony on me and force me to go demon on your ass? Where does that leave us? I’m sure the Alphas won’t appreciate a showdown in front of a bunch of impressionable youth.”
Zayne growled low in his throat. “I’m willing to risk it.”
“I’m sure you are.”
But Roth let go of my wrists and strong hands gripped my arms, hauling me to my feet. I yelped in surprise and a bit of pain as the fingers dug deep. I caught the scent of winter mint right before Zayne spun me in his arms.
He looked furious and the emotion went up a notch when he got an eyeful of the egg growing on my head.
Roth eyed us from under the shade of the trees, his lips twisted into a smirk as Zayne smoothed my hair back and checked out the knot beneath it. “Her head will be fine,” Roth said. “The arm you nearly twisted off is another story.”
Zayne’s grip relaxed. “Shut up.”
Roth came to his feet fluidly. “I don’t think I like your tone.”
“And I don’t like your face,” Zayne returned.
“My head—my arm is fine. I’m fine.” I wiggled free, ignoring the wave of dizziness. “My eyes still burn a bit, but now I can see.”
Zayne grasped my shoulders. “Why couldn’t you see? What happened?”
“The sulfur,” answered Roth, stepping closer and speaking low. He had no fear of Zayne. None whatsoever, and I didn’t know if I should be proud of him for that or angry. “There was a demon inside the school. And no, not me. He wanted to kill her, so you should be keeping a better eye on her. Then I wouldn’t have to step in.”
Zayne snarled, taking a step toward him.
The half smile on Roth’s face spread as they went toe-to-toe. They were about the same height, but Roth was a few inches taller while Zayne was broader. I glanced around, realizing a few kids were starting to stare.
The amount of testosterone the two were throwing off was ridiculous. I squeezed in between them. “Contrary to popular belief, you two are not the enemies here.”
Roth chuckled. “And he obviously can’t keep you out of trouble.”
There was a good chance Zayne was going to choke slam Roth. “I’m going to enjoy ripping your throat out.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Roth took a step back, his gaze drifting to me. “You need to protect her or wraiths won’t even have a chance to rip your throat out. You get what I’m saying?”
I opened my mouth to tell them both I didn’t need them to protect me, but Roth had pivoted around and disappeared into the throng of students. I stared at the spot where he’d stood until Zayne pulled me against him. I let out a muffled squeak.
“Shit. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes.” I pushed against his chest to get some air, but there was no moving him. Reasoning he could only squish me for so long, I dropped my arms and waited for him to let go.
When he finally did, Zayne grabbed my bag off the ground and took my hand. A muscle ticked along his jaw as he stared straight ahead. “I’m taking you home.”
“He didn’t hurt me, Zayne. It wasn’t him.” When there was no response, I squeezed his hand. “Zayne...”
“It doesn’t matter right now,” he said. “What does is that the bastard was right. We haven’t been keeping you safe. And if he’s truly the one who has, then there is something messed up about that.”
* * *
Jasmine held a cloth that smelled of antiseptic an inch from my face. “This may sting a bit.”
I figured it couldn’t sting any more than my eyes had. Even now they were still sensitive as I tracked Abbot’s clipped movements in the kitchen from where I sat in the sunroom. She placed the cloth against my temple and I winced.
“Sorry,” she whispered with a sympathetic smile.
Nodding, I held myself still as she swiped the material over the knot. Things could be worse, considering Caym wanted to kill me.
Zayne stood by, arms crossed. “Father, it goes against everything I know to say this, but we must give consideration to what Layla has been telling us. This demon—”