Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 23

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There was still so much I didn’t know about the demon population, and that made me squirm in my seat. I had tagged so many of them in the past, sentencing them back to Hell, and I figured that the Boss didn’t appreciate failure of any kind. Did the Boss punish Fiends like the one in the room with us, whose only crime appeared to be massacring appliances? Guilt churned.

Exhaling softly, I glanced up as I scooped my hair up and started twisting it for no reason other than to have something to do with my hands. “Well, this is a big city. We can’t just start roaming around aimlessly.”

“Damn,” murmured Cayman. He winked. “I was looking forward to that.”

I rolled my eyes. “What we need to do is start tracking any suspicious deaths—otherwise healthy people dropping dead. I doubt the Lilin is just going to sit around and do nothing. If it starts pulling souls, the bodies have to pile up.”

“Good idea,” Edward said.

“That’s my girl.” Roth placed his fingers under my chin, tipping my head back and to the side. His lips were on mine in a nanosecond, and at first, I stiffened. I wasn’t used to being kissed in front of others. I wasn’t all that used to being kissed, period. Our relationship was so new, less than twenty-four hours, but his kisses had this ability to melt reservations and concerns. I softened, and the room fell away. He kissed me like there was no one else around us, but we weren’t alone.

Someone cleared his throat, and then Cayman groaned, “Really, guys?”

My face was burning as I pulled away, but Roth was unfazed. “What?” he asked.

“While I’m glad you guys have decided to become the twosome of the year, I really don’t want to see you sucking face,” Cayman commented. I wasn’t sure I believed him since he was all Team Roth. “It does things to my indigestion. Bad things.”

“I don’t mind,” Edward said.

My eyes widened. Okay. That was weird and...and gross.

Roth straightened, but dropped his arm around my shoulders. “Cayman, you can keep an eye out on the morgues and hospitals, and Eddie-boy, keep your eyes on the clubs throughout the city. Just don’t touch anything.”

The Fiend actually looked sheepish as he nodded.

“What are we going to do?” I asked, and when Roth’s eyes deepened, I knew what direction he was heading in. Reaching up, I placed my hand on his mouth. “Don’t.”

He nipped at my fingers and grinned when I pulled my hand away. “There’s a couple of places we should check out.”

We all started to part ways at that point, and it felt good to be doing something other than sitting around. I headed into the living room to grab a hair tie I’d left on the end table. Picking it up, I turned around to find Cayman standing a foot away.

“You still want to see Grim next week, Layla-Low-Bottom-Butts?” he asked.

I stared at him a moment, letting that nickname sink in, and then I glanced at the doorway. “Yes, but I haven’t said anything to Roth yet.”

“I wouldn’t, because he’s not going to be down with it.” He kept his voice low while he spoke fast. “Remember, sweet pea. I told you that the Boss isn’t entirely pleased with him. He goes down there, they’re going to keep him detained. You don’t want that.”

My stomach hollowed as I stepped closer to Cayman. “Can the Boss just come up and get him if he wants to?”

He tilted his head to the side. “Yes, but it’s doubtful right now. Later? Who knows? I can distract Roth next Friday and give you time to get down there, but once you’re there, you’re going to have to hurry.”

“Hurry? In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve never been to Hell so I have no idea what the landscape is like,” I pointed out, trying not to freak out over the fact that I was going to go to Hell. Literally. “Need a little bit of direction here.”

Cayman grinned. “It’s easier than you think. Trust me, butterball. You’ll know exactly where to go once you get there.” Then he winked. “By the way, I’m proud of you. You made the right decision yesterday, choosing the future—choosing Roth.”

I opened my mouth, but he was gone before I could say a word. Turning slowly, I looked around the now-empty room. “I hate it when he does that.”

“What?”

Jumping at the sound of Roth’s voice, I couldn’t say I was that surprised to find him standing a foot behind me. “That! You guys just popping in and out of rooms. It’s freaky and unnatural.”

“You’re just jealous because you can’t do that.”

I rolled my eyes, but he was kind of right. I was sort of jealous of not having that nifty ability. If I did, I would be popping here, there and everywhere. Bambi chose that moment to switch positions. She slithered around my waist, resting her head along my ribs. I’d also pop her butt on the couch when she got antsy.

“What was Cayman doing in here?” Roth picked up a strand of my hair and started roping the length around his finger.

The idea of lying to Roth, especially after everything, made me feel like I’d just bathed in grime, but I knew if I told him what I planned to do about Sam’s soul, he wouldn’t let me go down there alone, and maybe not at all. I couldn’t allow him to stop me. And this was more than just protecting Roth from an unhappy Boss. Saving Sam’s soul was bigger than what either of us wanted.

“He was just being Cayman,” I said finally.

Roth tugged on the strand of hair he’d wrapped around his finger, guiding me closer to him. “That’s a loaded statement.” His eyes met mine, and my heart sped up. Leaning down, he rested his forehead against mine. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“If you behave yourself today, I have a surprise for you later.”

My lips curved up. “If I behave myself?”

“Uh-huh.” He kissed my brow as he straightened, letting go of my hair. “And by behaving yourself, I mean being as naughty as you can possibly be.”

Laughing, I gathered up my hair, twisting it into a quick bun. “I’m not sure I can be that naughty if we’re in public, looking for the Lilin.”

“There’s always time for naughtiness, Shortie.”

“I’m not surprised that you believe this.”

He shot me a look. “When have any of my beliefs been wrong?”

I arched a brow. “Many, many times.”

“I think you have a distorted memory,” he returned, and I laughed again, missing this—the playful banter—and I was relieved to see that it hadn’t been tarnished by everything it had taken us to get to this point.

“Keep telling yourself that.” I smiled when he pouted. “Before any surprises, I want to swing by and see Stacey.”

“Can do.” He lifted his hand, brushing his knuckles across my cheek, and it was another thing about Roth that had never changed, not even when we were apart. He was definitely a touchy-feely kind of demon. “You want to visit her alone?”

His thoughtfulness didn’t really surprise me anymore. Not that it didn’t still wow me, because it did, and my heart was doing that swelling thing again, but I couldn’t figure out how he didn’t see his own goodness. I stretched up and kissed the corner of his lips before settling back down. “I think she’ll be happy to see you.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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