Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 12

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“Wow.” I scowled. “You really know how to stroke a girl’s ego.”

He spun on the stool again and the butterfly clip slipped in his hair. “What can I say? Guys are more my field of expertise. But back to the topic at hand—no, getting Sam’s soul won’t be as easy as you make it sound, but lucky for you, you’ll have some time to plan your strategy. Grim isn’t down below right now. He’s...off, kind of like vacationing.”

“The Grim Reaper vacations?” Disbelief dripped from my voice.

“If you’d been doing a job for two thousand-plus years, you’d need a vacation, too.” His knees knocked into mine. “Okay. He’s not really vacationing, but he is someplace much more pleasant than the pits at the moment. He pulls double occupancy.”

“What does that mean? And don’t call me an idiot again. I’m not familiar with all your demon lingo.”

Cayman glanced up at the ceiling and then down to the floor. “You get it?”

“He’s up there?” I pointed at the ceiling. “And down below, too? He goes both places?”

“Of course. He’s the Grim Reaper, which means he’s actually a— Oh, it’s like a game of Taboo. I’ll give you examples and you guess what he really is.” Cayman clapped his hands together like a seal. “He has wings and—”

“An angel.” I cut him off. “He’s an angel.”

Cayman’s expression fell. “You’re no fun.”

I didn’t know a lot about all the different kinds of angels, but I was guessing Grim was actually an angel of death, maybe the original one, so I supposed it made sense that he divided his time between Heaven and Hell. Honestly, I didn’t even care. What was important was that there was something we could do for Sam, and maybe if I was lucky, for all those the Lilin had sentenced to Hell.

“He’s back soon, next Friday our time.” Cayman leaned over, tweaked my nose, and then laughed when I smacked his hand away. “Because that’s your only option, going down there. You ain’t going up there.”

Well, duh. But Friday was six long days away. I swallowed hard. “I don’t know if I can wait that long. Sam’s soul...”

“You don’t have a choice, Layla.” The playfulness slipped away. “No one else can release his soul but Grim, and there is no way for you to enter the heavens to talk to him. None whatsoever, especially now.”

My ears perked. “Especially now? How is today any different than yesterday? I never thought I could enter Heaven before—wait. Do you know something about my wings, why they’re feathered?”

His lips twitched. “You say feathered like it’s a bad hairstyle. Then again, feathered hair is really bad.”

“Cayman,” I griped, losing my patience.

“Why worry about your awesomely superior wings when you have a Lilin who’s going to quickly realize that there is no way in holy Hell that Lilith will be getting free and that’s no joke. The Boss has her on lockdown. She’s going nowhere, my little frosted cupcake.”

My lips pursed. His terms of endearment were less than endearing.

“And what do you think that Lilin is going to do when it realizes mommy dearest is not getting free and there’s nothing that it can do?” He raised his arms and wiggled his fingers. Total jazz hands. “Chaos will ensue, and what do you think will happen when chaos ensues? The Alphas will step in, and there will be so many of them that Thumper would get an upset stomach trying to eat them all. We don’t want that. For realsies.”

I opened my mouth.

“And why worry about your sleek-ass feathered wings when you have an entire clan of Wardens who just found out in the last twenty-four hours that you’re really not dead? Because trust me, they know. Zayne wouldn’t have to tell them. The Alphas would have. Some aren’t gonna be happy about your survival. Oh no, sugar bear. Then there’s the whole witch thing, and don’t even ask me what they wanted in return for saving your butt, because I am not gonna be the bearer of that bad news bears.”

I snapped my mouth shut. Goodie gumdrops, I was really starting to feel super stressed out.

He wasn’t done. “And why stress over wings in general when you’re going to break someone’s heart?”

“What?” I snapped.

Cayman popped off the bar stool, all grins. “Let’s stop playing around, my own personal Beanie Baby. Zayne’s in love with you. Roth’s in love with you.”

I inhaled sharply, but the air caught in my throat.

“Both would do anything for you—live, breathe and die for you, but you can’t have both of them, Layla.”

My hands fell to my thighs and I whispered, “I know that.”

“And you know which one is the real deal,” he continued, eyeing me intently. “You know, the forever kind of love, so why are you dragging this shit out?”

“I’m not dragging anything out,” I protested. “I was kind of out of it, you know, what with the whole being held prisoner and then nearly killed by my own clan thing. Then I was holed up here recovering, and then yesterday happened.” Frustrated, I jumped off the stool and stalked around the island. “And maybe I don’t think it’s the right time for me to be with either of them. Did you ever think about that?”

Cayman cocked his head to the side. “When is there ever a right time to fully give your heart to another? There are always going to be obstacles. You just have to decide which ones are worth it.”

“Whatever.” I crossed my arms.

He mimicked my stance. “Don’t be a coward.”

“Excuse me?”

“A. Coward,” he repeated, and I briefly considered picking up the vase in the center of the island and throwing it at him. “Not making a choice is the coward’s way out. You love both of them. I get that. But you don’t feel the same kind of love for both of them, and the sooner you accept that, the better.”

“Why are we talking about this again? And why do you even care?”

Cayman smiled. “Because I’m a caring sort of demon.”

“Ugh,” I groaned, throwing up my hands as frustration and panic fought their way through me. Cayman made it sound so easy, like I wasn’t going to lose one of them, but I was. Call me selfish, but the idea of not having both of them in my life terrified me. “You can be so annoying.”

“Don’t hate,” he said, grinning. “Procreate.”

Now I just glared at him.

“Procreate with the right guy,” he added. “Just wanted to clarify that.”

“Oh my God,” I moaned, leaning over and placing my forehead on the counter.

I stayed like that even after I felt Cayman exit the room—and probably the entire house, because after a few moments, I didn’t sense a demon.

The granite countertop really was cool and smooth, and felt good against my flushed face. Maybe I’d stay like this all day. Sounded like a plan. Better than...

No, not better than listening to what Cayman had said about Zayne and Roth. He was right. Oh God, he was so creepily right. I did love both guys. I really did, and the idea of hurting one of them or losing one of them made me want to hurl, but Cayman was also right about a few more things.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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