Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 17

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Concern flooded me, but as I took a step toward Bambi something else caught my eye. On the bed, Roth’s black-and-white kitten familiar was attempting to pounce on the all-white one, which appeared to be passed out, sprawled on its back, its little arms and legs spread wide. The black-and-white one, adeptly named Fury, jumped toward the sleeping Nitro, missed by a block and landed on the pillow. The kitten turned into a furry black-and-white tumbleweed as it rolled off the pillow, smacking into Nitro.

My mouth dropped open.

The third kitten, an all-black one named Thor, sat on a dresser, eyes narrowed into thin slits. As I stared at Thor, it swayed side to side. It spotted me and opened its mouth most likely to hiss at me, because those kittens were little bastards, but a rather human belch emanated from it instead.

Oh my God, the familiars were drunk.

A laugh bubbled up from me, but the door slammed shut behind me, stealing away the wild giggle. One second I was standing there and within the next breath, my back was against the door. A hard, warm and very bare chest was flush with mine, and hot breath skated over my cheek as two hands hit the door, on either side of my head.

“What are you doing here?” Roth demanded, and my heart slammed against my ribs, then doubled its beat as his lips brushed the curve of my jaw. He inhaled deeply. “Hell, you smell good. Like peppermint and...and the sun.”

Um. I had no idea how to respond to that.

“I let you go,” he went on, dipping his head to my neck, and a shiver swept through me. “You were right yesterday. I hurt you. Not like him. Worse. I let you walk out of this house so you could be happy with him. Wasn’t that what you wanted? But you’re here. I let you go and it killed me to do so, and you’re here.”

Oh my God.

Roth was rambling, but my heart imploded as his words stirred something deep and fierce inside me. The look on his face this morning when I told him I needed to talk to Zayne suddenly made sense. If he had just given me the chance to explain what I was doing he wouldn’t have thought that I was leaving him, that I was choosing Zayne.

But Roth had let me go so that I could be happy. The Crown Prince of Hell, who claimed to be the most selfish of all demons, had let me walk out that door when he believed I’d be happier with someone else. Words were lost as a different kind of tears filled my eyes. He’d stepped aside to protect me once before, and he had done so again so that I could be happy with someone else. There wasn’t an ounce of selfishness in any of those actions. Actually, quite the opposite, and the revelation stitched the frayed crack in my heart, repairing the painful splinter. It didn’t heal the scar tissue left behind when I let Zayne go, though. That would never fade.

I squeezed my eyes shut.

He slowly lifted his chin and rested his forehead against mine. He whispered, “Why are you here, Layla?”

“I’m here... I’m here because this is where I’m happy, with you.”

Roth didn’t move, and I wasn’t even sure he breathed. There was a good chance my words didn’t get through the haze of all the alcohol he’d obviously consumed, which was a good indication that this conversation needed to happen later. I placed my hands on his chest, about to point that out, when he moved.

His arms went around me and he held me tight to him. I liked it like this—more than liked. Every part of our bodies touched as he buried his head in my neck, dragging in a deep breath. My pulse was pounding and my hands trembling. A deep shudder rose through him and he shook in my arms, and then he moved.

Clasping my cheeks in his large hands, he said something too low and too quick for me to understand as he tilted my head back and kissed me. There was nothing soft about it. His mouth was on mine, the metal ball in his tongue clanking off my teeth as he pressed me into the door. He tasted of something sweet and the bitter tang of alcohol was still on his tongue. Little shivers of pleasure raced through my body as I moaned into the kiss. My hands slid up to his shoulders and my fingers dug into his smooth skin. The kiss was doing crazy stuff to my senses, obliterating my common sense when the lower half of him pressed against mine.

And it felt like it had been forever since I felt this. The sweet wildness that came from a single kiss and the release and freedom of finally letting go, of complete and utter acceptance, of having what I wanted, what I yearned for. The immediate and absolute rush of desire so potent it clouded my thoughts, and the nervous energy and elation that came from tasting love on the tip of my tongue. Nothing compared to this.

Roth broke the kiss, breathing heavily as he cradled my face. “Say it again,” he ordered roughly. “Say it again, Layla.”

I could barely catch my breath. “I’m happy here with you. I...” I dragged my hands up his neck, smoothing my thumbs along his jaw. There was more I wanted to say, but he grasped my wrists and just held them in his hands, staring down at them, saying nothing. My heart pounded fast, but my blood felt sluggish.

A lock of black hair fell into his face and when he finally lifted his chin, the vulnerability was in his gaze again. His beauty was unreal, almost too perfect, but in that moment, he looked more human than he ever had before. “I’ve... I’ve been drinking.”

Not exactly what I had been expecting him to say. “I can tell.”

Letting go of my hands, he took a step back and turned, giving me a rather nice view of his toned back. I was happy to see when he twisted sideways that Thumper was on him—a drunk not-so-pocket-size dragon would’ve been no laughing matter. I was also happy to see all the dips and planes of his stomach.

Really happy.

Those pants hung so low it was almost indecent. Almost. He picked up a bottle off the dresser. He shook it. “I got myself so drunk that I became literally incapable of going after you and stopping you.” He studied the empty bottle he held, frowning. “But did you know that intoxication works differently for us? It only lasted for maybe an hour and then I just felt like shit, so I had to drink some more. Aaand I might be a little drunk still...”

I pressed my lips together to stop from laughing. “I’ll say.”

One side of his lips quirked up as he cast a sidelong glance at me. “I know I shouldn’t be drinking. It makes me a naughty, naughty boy.”

“Yeah, and apparently it also makes your familiars drunk.” I gestured at Bambi, who was slumbering where she’d fallen, a pathetic snaky heap on the floor. “Maybe you don’t get as intoxicated because your poor friends there soak up all the effects.”

Roth tipped his head to the side. “Huh. Live and learn.” He turned back to me, and there was a recognizable heat in his gaze. “I want to kiss you again.”

Even though there were parts of me that were like, all aboard the Roth train, I knew this was not going to happen tonight, for so many reasons. “As you pointed out, you’re drunk.”

He faced me with his chin dipped low and his full lips slightly parted. “I still want to kiss you. I want to do other things. A lot of it involves touching, with and without clothes.”

My cheeks heated.

Tipping his head back, he sighed heavily. “But yeah, drunk. Sorry.”

“Roth.” I took a cautious step toward him. Even plastered, he was fast. “How long have you been drinking?”

One shoulder rose as he turned to the bed. “Since you left? If I didn’t, I would’ve gone after you and possibly let Thumper eat Stony, and you wouldn’t be okay with that.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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