Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements 3) - Page 48

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Tapping into the strength I knew I had, I raised my hands and gripped his shoulders as I swung my weight back at the same time. The move caught Roth off guard and his arm loosened enough for me to break the hold.

I slid down the front of his body and the contact sent a flash of heat through my veins. Ignoring it, I backed up, immediately putting a distance between us, which probably was one of the smartest things I’d done so far.

Roth was furious.

Anger poured out of every cell of his tightly coiled body and flashed behind his golden eyes. His skin was thinner, exposing the darker tone that existed beyond the flesh. My eyes widened. Not out of fear, because I would never be scared of him, but because there was more than just anger I saw in his features—there was stark anxiety. Yes, he looked fierce, but he also looked like he’d expected not to see me again.

“Roth,” I said softly, and his eyes squeezed shut in a grimace at the sound of his name. “I know you’re upset. I’m sorry, but I had to go down there and I knew it wasn’t safe for—”

“Yes, let’s talk about safety!” His voice thundered through the stairwell. “Do you even know how much you risked by going down there? How incredibly lucky you are to be standing here, unscathed?”

“Yes, but—”

“There isn’t a but in this, Layla. There are any number of extremely disturbed and twisted things that could have happened to you. And for what?”

“For what? You knew I had to help Sam. That I couldn’t—”

“I could’ve helped you if you had allowed me!” His eyes flashed an intense amber. “I know what can happen down there, and I don’t care what Cayman said to you, there was no way you could’ve been prepared. Any number of demons could’ve taken you, and they would’ve done things that would make you beg for death.”

I shuddered at the thought, but forced my voice to remain soothing. “Nothing happened to me, Roth. I’m okay—”

“I didn’t know that, now, did I? I woke up after that asshole snapped my neck and you were gone, Layla, into Hell, and I couldn’t go after you. I tried, but the damn elevator wouldn’t come up. I knew the entrance had been blocked, and you have no idea what that made me think. I didn’t know if you were okay. I spent a day and a half fearing the worst!” he yelled, and my stomach dropped, because I’d forgotten time moved differently downstairs. What felt like an hour tops to me had been hours and hours of uncertainty for him.

I swallowed. “Roth, I’m sorry. I really am. I didn’t want you to worry.”

“If you didn’t want me to worry, you never would’ve conspired against me. I offered you my aid and you stripped that choice from me.” His jaw was set in a hard line. “And I was left utterly powerless when it came to helping you. Dammit, Layla, I want to throttle you.”

“Well, that’s not really helping me.”

His eyes narrowed, and I realized my lame attempt at humor had pretty much swan-dived down the stairs. “Do you think this is a joke?”

“No,” I muttered, starting to lose my patience.

He stepped forward, a muscle throbbing along his jaw. “You risked too much, Layla. You—”

“I wasn’t going to risk you!” I shouted, my control stretching and then snapping. I stepped forward, planting my hands on his chest and shoving hard. He stumbled back only half a step. “Do you understand that? I had to go down there to help Sam, but I was not going to risk you and I wouldn’t go back and change that if I could. Sorry! You can be mad all you want.”

“I’m pissed off because I love you, Layla, and the idea of losing you fucking terrifies me!”

“And I wasn’t going to chance losing you! Because I love you, you annoying, self-important and overcontrolling—”

Roth shot forward, clasping my wrists in his. Pressing me back against the wall, he pinned my hands above my head. Our bodies were flushed, and my heart pounded erratically as he dipped his head.

Roth’s mouth was on mine, and it was a raw kiss, one that brooked no room for denial. Not that I could ever want to deny him. The kiss was almost too powerful, too primitive. It ripped open the ball of dread that rested low in my belly, because it was the kind of kiss wrought from the fear of losing someone, and that made our situation all the more real.

It made what I had done all the more painful.

I kissed him back, just as hungrily and just as demanding. He gave. I took. And as we clutched at each other, I knew that there was more love in his words than there had been anger.

After what felt like forever, he lifted his mouth from mine. Resting our foreheads together, he kept his hands over my wrists. He was breathing heavily, and I could feel his heart racing against my chest.

“I can’t lose you,” he said in a hoarse mutter, his voice twisting up my insides. “I can’t.”

“You won’t,” I whispered back, but those two words rang empty to me, even after what Grim had told me. “Are you still mad at me?”

His breath was warm on my lips. “I still want to strangle you.” He paused. “But in the most loving way possible.”

I pressed my lips together. “Okay then.”

Roth’s lips brushed over my brow, and then he was stepping back, his hands trailing off my wrists and down my arms. His movements were stiff as he turned to the stairs, and while I could tell most of the anger had faded away, it wasn’t completely gone.

He started up the stairs, and after taking a couple deep breaths, I followed him. We didn’t talk on the way up to his loft or when we stepped inside. He slammed the door shut behind us. “Bambi. Off.”

The familiar left my skin immediately, and instead of floating toward him, the shadow darted under the bed.

“I think you hurt her feelings,” I said, facing him. “And you failed to mention to me that the familiars are actually people. That’s a pretty big thing to forget, you know, that you have a grown woman crawling around on your skin.”

He stopped, both brows raised. “Are you jealous? Because you have a guy on you right now.”

I shuddered. “Thanks for reminding me of that.”

He stared at me. “Seriously? You’re not jealous, are you?”

Sighing, I walked over to the bench in front of the piano and plopped down. “At first, yeah, I was. But then I realized how stupid that was. And besides, she apparently has the hots for Zayne.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me? Bambi’s always had bad taste.”

My lips pursed. “You could’ve told me.”

Roth shot me a dark look as he crossed the room. “To be honest, it hadn’t crossed my mind. Silly me for thinking there’d be no chance of you taking a stroll through Hell.”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Bambi made it sound like you let her take that form while she’s topside.”

“Sometimes.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Not often enough that it’s something I think about.”

“Still, it would’ve been handy to know. Imagine my surprise when they just popped right off me.” I reached down, to where Robin was curled along my hip. “I don’t think they like each other. All they did was argue.” I glanced at the bed. “I really do think she’s hiding.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout The Dark Elements Fantasy
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