Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 11

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I nearly choked on the bacon. My eyes watered as I grabbed the OJ and took a huge swallow. “Excuse me?” I croaked.

A half smile formed as he forked up some eggs. “You and Zayne, the gorgeous gargoyle. What’s going on there?”

“How do you know something’s going on?”

Cayman rolled his eyes. “Honey-child, a blind person could see there’s major tension. What’s the scoop?”

Heat blasted across my cheeks. Well then. “I...” I had no idea how to answer that question, because I wasn’t even sure myself. “I don’t know.”

He sent me a long look. “Ah, I think you totally know, but you’re just not ready to put it into words.”

Shoving another slice of bacon into my mouth, I eyed him. “Oh, do you now?”

“Yeah. Your shit is complicated. I got you, but I know what’s really going on there, so I’m about to go all come to Jesus with you.” Setting his fork down, he leaned over and whispered the “truth” in my ear.

I jerked back, his words echoing—no, actually taunting me—and anger rose in me swiftly. I glared at him, my hand tight on the fork. Something about what he said was so true I wanted to kick it back in his face. “I don’t want to talk to you about this.”

He chuckled. “Whatever floats your boat.”

Ignoring him, I devoured the rest of my breakfast, then I got up and dumped the plate and silverware in the dishwasher. When I faced him, he was still grinning. I crossed my arms. “Where’s Roth?”

“He’s out.”

I waited and there was no answer. “Doing what?”

“Things,” he replied. “Demon duties.”

Sighing, I leaned against the counter. “You’re real helpful.”

Winking, he held up his empty plate between two fingers. Air crackled, and then flames sparked off the tip of his fingers, climbing the plate. My eyes widened as I watched the fire completely obliterate the plate. The fork went up in flames next.

“Well, that’s one way to clean up,” I murmured.

“Just a little trick of the trade.” He wiped the ashes off his hands. “But going back to the not being helpful part, I’ll have you know I’m very helpful. Ask me how you can get Sam’s soul back.”

I blinked. “What?”

He sighed. “Ask me how to get Sam’s soul back from Hell. You know, so you can make sure he goes where he’s supposed to, which I’m assuming is beyond those big pearly gates in the sky.”

Slowly, I unfolded my arms. “You know how to get Sam’s soul?”

“Yep. Though I think Roth would prefer that I didn’t tell you. Now get that look off your face that makes people think a bird just crapped on your head.”

My brows flew up. That’s how I looked?

He continued, “Roth might know a way, but I don’t think that’s where his head is right now. Honestly, I’m not sure if I even want to know where his head is at the moment.”

Unease blossomed in my belly as I inched toward the kitchen island. Cayman watched me closely. “So here’s the deal. There is one being who watches over the souls down below and only that being can release a soul. At least, most of the time. If the person is not completely dead and is hovering in the in-between, then both the Boss and the big guy in the sky get the choice of either releasing the soul or pulling it back.”

“Pulling it back?” I leaned in, placing my hands on the cool granite surface. “As in bring them back from the dead?”

He shook his head. “We don’t like to use that particular phrasing. More like pull them back from the brink of death.”

“Okay,” I murmured, but hope sparked and burned bright. I knew it was crappy of me to only be concerned about Sam’s soul when there were others who had also ended up unfairly in Hell, but I was also smart enough to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to go in there and save everyone. Or maybe I could. My spine stiffened. I could at least try. “Semantics,” I said.

“You say semantics and I say the balance of the universe.”

I stared at him a moment, and then moved on. “Can we bring back Sam since—”

“No, sweet and incredibly naive child, you cannot bring him back.” Propping his elbows on the counter, Cayman rested his chin in his hand. “Sam is dead. As in dead, dead.”

Disappointment crushed me, but there was still something to grasp onto. If we couldn’t bring Sam back, we could make sure his soul was in the right place. “How does it work? Getting a soul back and making sure it’s in the right afterlife?”

“Well, when a person dies, the Alphas decide where their soul goes. Typically the soul goes where it belongs. There is no negotiation, begging or whining. If it’s meant to go down below, that’s where it goes.” He paused. “Unless their soul is stripped away by a Lilin...or someone like you. In those instances it only goes in one direction. Sucks. Totally unfair, but that’s just the way it is.”

Someone like you.

Normally the reminder of what I was would’ve been a smack in the face, but that...that ability was a part of me. It didn’t make me evil.

Sitting back down on the stool, I picked up the OJ. “How do we get his soul back, Cayman?”

“You go to Grim.”

I felt my lips pinch. “Grim?”

Cayman grinned and said nothing.

It took a moment, but then I got it. Rocking back on the stool, I was surprised I didn’t fall right off. “Grim, as in the Grim Reaper?”

“He doesn’t like to be called that since that’s the bastardized version of his name.” Cayman spun on his bar stool, a complete circle. “You couldn’t even pronounce his real name, so let’s just go with Grim. He’s cool with that. He’s the guardian of the souls down below and he’s the only one who can release them.”

I mulled that over for a moment. “Is he nice?”

Cayman stopped midspin and threw his head back, laughing long and hard. “No, incredibly sweet and naive child, he is not. He’s as old as time and has the temperament of someone who shit the bed and has been rolling around in it all day.”

My nose wrinkled. “Ew.”

“On the plus side, it’s actually pretty simple to get down to the fiery pits in the first place. You just take one of the elevators in the Palisades,” he continued, referencing the apartment building Roth normally lived in, which also housed a demonic club. “But you can’t take Roth with you. The Boss is still pissed, and so are some of the other Upper Level demons. They get their hands on him, they are going to delay him.”

“So...so I’d have to go alone?” A shiver danced down my spine. “To Hell?”

“Most likely. I’d go with you, but... Yeah, I really don’t want to talk to Grim.”

“Your support means the world to me,” I muttered, and then took a drink of the OJ. “All of this seems too easy. I just take an elevator down to Grim and ask for Sam’s soul?”

Cayman laughed again. “I’m beginning to think your darling naïvete is actually adorable idiocy. You’re like the cute version of the village idiot.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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