Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 29

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Nicolai skidded to a stop, his brows raised.

I stiffened, as did Roth.

Absolutely fearless, Danika stalked right up to us and before I could blink an eye, she’d thrown her arms around me and squeezed. A fruity scent, like apples, surrounded me as Bambi slithered onto my back, away from her. Danika was as strong as a linebacker, and I swallowed a squeak as I was pressed against her hard chest. The dull ache flared into a sharp throbbing sensation on either side of my spine, reinforcing my paranoid belief that Elijah might have broken one of my wings—one of my feathered wings.

“Careful,” Roth advised, only loud enough for us to hear. “She’s been hurt.”

“Oh God! I’m sorry.” Danika immediately released me, and I would’ve stumbled back if Roth hadn’t been there to steady me. “What happened? What’s—”

“I’m all right,” I assured her, caught off guard by her welcome. I still wasn’t used to our new friendship.

She glanced at Roth warily and it was obvious she didn’t 100 percent trust him. He smiled back at her, tight-lipped and daring. “I’ve been so worried,” she continued, taking a small step back as she ran her hands along her denim-clad hips.

“When Zayne said you reached out because something happened and they were coming to meet you, I had to come. I needed to say I’m sorry.”

“Danika,” Nicolai called gently.

“Sorry for what?” I asked, looking toward the other Wardens. Zayne was now eyeballing Roth like he wanted to toss him off the roof. Dez didn’t look entirely surprised, but Nicolai—well, he looked like he wanted to scoop her up and fly off, which was... That was odd.

“For what they did to you,” she said, her cheeks flushing pink. “This clan. It wasn’t right, and I wanted to kick Abbot in the balls.”

“Apologies are given out far too often to mean anything, but I like you,” murmured Roth. “I really do.”

Her gaze darted from him to me, and she then took another step back while Nicolai moved in closer. “Anyway, it was wrong. You would never purposely hurt Zayne or anyone else.”

Well, the thing was, I had hurt Zayne, even if not physically, and there was no mistaking that. I had to believe that she knew. When I glanced at him again, he still hadn’t looked in my direction. Feeling icky about that, I refocused. “Thank you, Danika, I...um, I appreciate that.” I turned to Nicolai and Dez. “And I owe you guys everything, too. Thank you for finding Roth and helping me get out of that warehouse. You all helped save my life.”

And that was true.

Because of them, I was standing today. Instead of going along with Abbot, they had found Roth and stood against their own clan at great personal risk to save me.

“It’s good to see that you’re recovered,” Dez said, and I smiled.

“I second that. I’ve known you most of your life, little one, and I never once believed you were responsible for what was happening at the compound or outside of it,” Nicolai added, and I got warm and fuzzy on the inside. “You might be glad to know that the place is hardly trouble-free with you gone. We still haven’t managed to exorcise Petr’s wraith. Whenever we try, he senses it and leaves the house.”

“He’s proving to be as much of a jackass as he was in real life,” Dez commented, proving that Elijah’s son, my half brother, had not been well liked. He paused. “Jasmine says hi, by the way.”

“Tell her hi from me,” I replied lamely, and like an idiot, I raised my hand and wiggled my fingers.

Dez grinned as he looked away, something he often did around me. I sort of wanted to jab myself in the eyes with my jazz fingers.

“What happened?” Zayne finally spoke, and when he did, my gaze swung to him. He was staring at Roth, and that made my stomach twist painfully. “The text said there was an incident with Elijah and not to trust him?”

Nicolai crossed his arms along his chest as he tucked his wings back. Remaining in his Warden form, like the other two, he was an impressive sight. “We have never trusted Elijah.” His eyes were focused on me. “His beliefs and actions have always been a source of discontent among us.”

“Well.” Roth drew the word out. “Elijah isn’t going to be a source of much of anything anymore.”

All the Wardens’ gazes shot to him, and his tight-lipped grin spread. “Details would be nice,” Zayne demanded, the cool breeze tossing fair strands around his dark horns.

I waded in before the conversation went downhill. “Elijah is...he’s no more,” I explained, and then rushed on when I heard Dez’s sharp curse. “We didn’t kill him.”

“Not that we didn’t try,” Roth amended, and when I shot him a look, he shrugged. “Why lie, Shortie? We were out searching for the Lilin—”

“We are handling that,” Zayne cut in, his chin rising.

“Sure you are,” Roth replied, and although that was a taunt, I knew he was capable of far more when it came to being an asshole to Zayne. This was watered down. “And how’s that going for you all?”

Zayne’s jaw worked as if he were going to grind down every one of his teeth. When there was no immediate response, Roth threw out, “Any leads? Nope. Didn’t think so.”

I shifted my weight from foot to foot while Dez narrowed his eyes and Danika started staring at the floor of the rooftop.

“Anyway, as I was saying, we were out searching for the Lilin when Layla saw Elijah. He and three other clan members were tracking us from the rooftops. We confronted them and they attacked.”

“He still wants me dead,” I explained. “Nothing new there.”

Zayne glanced in my direction, but didn’t make eye contact. “So what happened?”

“Well, Bambi ate one of the Wardens. So kind of not sorry about that,” Roth went on, and Bambi flicked her tail along my hip, as if she was happy at the shout-out. I squeezed my eyes shut briefly. “I sort of put another out of commission. Permanently. Self-defense. I swear.”

“I’m sure of that,” Nicolai murmured as he moved to stand slightly in front of Danika.

She didn’t appear all that bothered. “If they were from his clan, they won’t be missed.”

“Danika,” Dez admonished.

“What?” She threw her hands up. “It’s the truth. They’re all jackasses. We all know that.”

Nicolai’s lips twitched. “What happened to the third Warden?”

“He was taking a nap on the rooftop when we left him. Not sure if he’s woken up or some demon has come along and done bad, bad things to him.” Roth shrugged again. “Don’t know. Don’t care.”

“And Elijah?” Zayne asked, his voice tight.

I drew in a deep breath as I reached up, pushing the loose hair back from my face. “I was fighting him—”

“You were fighting Elijah?” Nicolai’s brows flew up.

“Uh. Yeah?”

Danika smiled broadly. “Awesome.”

I shook my head. “The Lilin showed up and got between us. It took Elijah’s soul—it consumed it. There was no wraith. Nothing left, and then the Lilin changed its appearance.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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