Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 20

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My mind wouldn’t shut down. So much was cycling over and over. The conversation with Stacey replayed, lingering on her fears. I ached for her, wishing there was something more that I could do, but the only avenue left to me was to free Sam’s soul, so I would do it. I already knew where to start—with Grim. I just needed to wait until next week, and that sickened me, because who knew what would happen to Sam’s soul between now and then.

We needed to deal with the Lilin, because I knew it wasn’t going to go underground for very long, but my thoughts shifted to the demon who’d run from me today and then to my feathered wings. Inevitably, that made me think about the Alphas and why they thought I was such an abomination now, when I’d been entirely tolerable for seventeen years.

I was guessing it had something to do with the wings and the way I shifted.

A star broke away from the masses, shooting across the sky and drawing my attention. When I was younger, I used to think they were angels coming down. Zayne knew better, but he’d humored me and made up stories about how they were guardian angels arriving to protect their charges.

Squeezing my eyes shut, it hurt when I drew in my next breath. I don’t know how long I stood out there, but my nose was cold and my lips felt numb by the time I headed inside. Dropping the blanket on the bed, I changed into my pajamas but stopped before I could climb into the bed.

Heart speeding up, I wheeled around and left the room. I didn’t give myself time to really think about what I was doing as I walked to the room Roth slept in. Opening the door, I slipped inside and quietly approached the bed.

Roth was lying on his side, facing the door. His lips were slightly parted and his hair was a messy tumble across his forehead. The blanket was shoved down to his lean waist, and I could see that Bambi had found her way back to him. She rested in tattoo form along his left arm. It looked like a part of her was on his back, but I couldn’t see to be completely sure. I didn’t see the kittens but I knew from experience that they could be anywhere, ready to pounce on my feet and ankles.

I didn’t want to go back to my bed, alone with all my thoughts. I wanted to be here, with him. With my heart lodged somewhere in my throat, I darted over to the bed, lifted the blanket and climbed in.

The movements didn’t wake Roth, and for that, I was relieved, because I felt weird, sneaking into his bed like an all-star creeper. Rolled on my side, facing him, I took the creeper status to a whole new level as I let my gaze roam over his face. My fingers itched to trace the line of his cheek, but I kept my hands folded up under my chin, and after a few minutes, all the whirling thoughts in my head calmed. Being near him, well, it settled me in a way I so desperately needed.

While I listened to his steady and even breaths, my eyes drifted shut. Only a few minutes later, as I started to fall asleep, I heard what sounded like a mini engine humming, coming from the other side of Roth. It took me a second to realize that it was one of those devil kittens, and despite how evil they were, a smile tugged at my lips.

I slept deeply, lulled by the nearby warmth of Roth’s body, and I wasn’t sure how many hours had passed when I felt an arm snag me around the waist and tug me to the side. The front of me hit a hard chest, and I blinked my eyes open.

Amber eyes stared into mine. “Morning.”

His voice was rough with sleep and his breath was minty, as if he’d brushed his teeth before crawling back into bed. Sleep clung to my thoughts as I dragged my gaze up. His hair was damp.

He must’ve read my confusion in my face. “I freshened up,” he explained. Lifting one hand, he caught a strand of my hair with his fingers and tucked it behind my ear. “You were dead to the world when I woke up. Thought I’d use the time to erase the funk that lingered from last night.” His gaze moved over my face as the tips of his fingers trailed a path along the line of my brow. “I have to admit, waking up and finding you in my bed was a pleasant surprise.”

My tongue came unstuck. “It was?”

“Yeah.” His finger now traced my nose. “When I woke up, I realized I’d never done that before. Not with you. Not with anyone. I always...”

The few times I’d fallen asleep in bed with him, he’d always been gone when I woke up, with the exception of the time I was healing, but he didn’t seem to count that and neither did I.

A strange smile played across his lips. Not strange in a bad way, but just one I’d never seen from him before. It oozed boyish charm. “I liked it so much that I’m now spoiled. One morning and I’m spoiled for life. I want you here every morning, with me. Well, maybe in the master bedroom. That bed is more comfortable.”

The haze of sleep was easing away, and I found myself grinning at him like an utter doofus. “I thought this bed was nice.”

“Because I was in it?”

“Wow.” My goofy grin spread. “Good to see your ego is still functioning normally.”

Dragging his finger over my brow, he chuckled deeply. The sound faded, as did his grin. “About last night? I’m... I’m sorry about that,” he said, struggling with the apology, and for some reason that made me want to giggle. Demons did not apologize easily. The word sorry wasn’t in their vocab. “I honestly thought you were leaving and I got myself shit-faced so I wouldn’t go after you. That’s not an excuse. I know, but I really am sah...sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. You were cute.”

“Cute?” His fingers had made their way to my jaw. “I prefer sexy beast.”

A giggle finally escaped me. “Sorry, I’m pretty sure that description is reserved for Thumper.”

His gaze searched mine as his fingers stopped on my chin, right under the center of my lips. “How are you doing?” When I didn’t answer, he smoothed his thumb along my lower lip. “I can put two and two together. You talked to Zayne yesterday afternoon and you’re waking up with me today. I know it couldn’t have been easy for you.”

“It wasn’t,” I whispered, thinking of the anguish I’d seen in Zayne’s expression. Those were a part of the thoughts that haunted me last night.

Light beamed through the crack in the thick curtains beyond the bed, caressing his cheek. “So how are you?”

At first I started to tell him that I was okay, but that would be a lie. Sort of. And I didn’t want there to be any more lies between us. “It was hard,” I admitted, placing my hand on his chest. He jerked a little, and I liked that—that my touch had that kind of effect. “Probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, because I care about him. I love him and I never wanted to hurt him. Ever.”

“I know.” His lips brushed my forehead. “Losing you would not be easy, but I think...”

“What?” I let my fingers do a bit of exploring. It was strange, I thought, as I drew a circle around his chest, that touching him like this was kind of empowering. Not in the same way holding my ground against Raver demons or standing up to my clan was, but it was still a heady sensation.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this,” he confided with a sigh. “Stony is a good guy, but he’s probably going to need his space.”

I closed my eyes briefly. “Yeah, I know.”

The arm around my waist tightened. “Can we do something?”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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