Pure Page 2

Funny how one person could ruin that in a matter of seconds.

“Alex, look at me.”

Against my will, I obeyed. When he spoke that way, I couldn’t help it. He stood in front of me, his long and lean body coiled. We currently were pretending I hadn’t tried to hand my virginity over to him the night I’d found out I was going to be the second coming of the Apollyon. Aiden seemed to be doing really well with it. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stop obsessing over it.

“You didn’t fail.”

I shrugged. “Doesn’t seem that way, does it?”

“The Instructors are tougher on you because of the time you’ve missed and because your uncle is the Dean. People look at what you do. They pay attention.”

“And my stepfather is the Minister of Council. I get it, Aiden. Look, let’s get this over with.” My voice was a little sharper than I intended, but Aiden had seen how mortifying this class had turned out. Not like I needed to discuss it with him.

Aiden caught my arm and pushed up the sleeve of my shirt. It had a whole different effect on me. A flutter formed in my chest, spreading a warm flush all over me. Pure-bloods were off-limits to us halfs, which meant what had gone down between us was tantamount to feeling up the Pope or offering Gandhi a roast beef sandwich.

“You should never be ashamed of these scars, Alex. Never.” Aiden dropped my arm and motioned me to the center of the floor. “Let’s get this going so you can rest.”

I trailed behind him. “What about your rest? Don’t you have a patrol tonight?” Aiden was pulling double duty between training me and his Sentinel duties.

Aiden was special. He’d chosen to be a Sentinel, and he’d also chosen to work with me so I wouldn’t be so far behind the other students. He didn’t have to do either, but a sense of justice had propelled him to become a Sentinel. We shared that desire. What made him want to help me? I liked to think he was undeniably attracted to me—like I was when it came to him.

He circled me, stopping to position my arms at mid-level. “You’re holding your arms wrong. That’s why Jackson’s hits kept getting through.”

“What about your rest?” I persisted.

“Don’t worry about me.” He squared off, motioning me forward with one hand. “Worry more about yourself, Alex. This is going to be a tough year for you, and you’re doing triple time in training.”

“I’d have more free time if I didn’t have to practice with Seth.”

Aiden swung forward so fast I barely blocked the blow. “Alex, we’ve been over this.”

“I know.” I stopped his chop. I alternated days between Aiden and Seth, as well as every other weekend. It was like they shared joint custody of me, but I hadn’t seen my other half yet today. Strange—he usually lurked around nearby.

“Alex.” Aiden moved out of the offensive stance, studying me closely.

“What?” I dropped my arms.

He opened his mouth, seeming to rethink his words. “You’ve been looking a little tired lately. Are you getting enough rest?”

I felt my cheeks burst with color. “Gods, do I look that bad or something?”

He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Softness crept across his features. “Alex, you don’t look bad at all. It’s just that… you’ve been through a lot and you seem tired.”

“I’m okay.”

Aiden placed his hand on my shoulder. “Alex?”

My heart thundered in response to his touch. “I’m fine.”

“You keep saying that.” His gaze flickered across my face. “You always say that.”

“I say it because there isn’t anything wrong with me!” I swatted at his hand, but he dropped his other one on my shoulder, effectively trapping me in front of him. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I said again, but much quieter. “I’m okay. Completely a hundred percent fine with everything.”

Aiden opened his mouth, probably to say something ridiculously supportive, but he didn’t say anything. He just stared at me and then his grip on my shoulders tightened. He knew I was lying.

Everything wasn’t fine.

Nightmares of those horrifying hours in Gatlinburg kept me up at night. Nearly everyone at school hated me, believing I’d been the reason for the daimon attack at Lake Lure during the summer. Seth’s constant stalking only added to their suspicions. Out of all the halfs, only Caleb knew I was fated to be the second Apollyon—and fated to complete Seth as his supernatural supercharger or something. His continuing attentions didn’t win me any fans among the female halfs. All the girls wanted Seth, while I just wanted to be rid of him.

But when Aiden looked at me like he did now, I forgot about the world. I couldn’t read much of anything from Aiden’s expression, but his eyes… well, his eyes told me he wasn’t doing so great with the whole pretending-we-hadn’t-almost-hooked-up charade. Aiden still thought about it; hell, he was thinking about it right now. Maybe he imagined what would’ve happened if Leon hadn’t interrupted—maybe even as much as I did. Maybe he’d lie awake and remember how our bodies had felt together.

I know I did.

The tension racked up several degrees and my body warmed deliciously. These were the kind of moments I lived for. I wondered what he’d do if I stepped forward and closed the distance between us. It wouldn’t take much for me to do it. Would he think I just wanted comfort? Because he would comfort me—he was that kind of guy. And then, if I tipped my head back, would he kiss me? Because he looked like he wanted to do both. Hold me, kiss me, and do all sorts of wonderful, forbidden things.

I stepped forward.

His hands jerked against my shoulders, indecision crawled over his features. For a second—just as second—I think he seriously considered it. Then his hands flattened, like a barrier meant to keep me back.

The doors opened behind us, and Aiden dropped his hands. I twisted around, wanting to punch whoever it was in the face. I’d come this close to getting what I’d wanted.

Leon’s bulky mass filled the door, dressed in his typical, all-black Sentinel garb. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but this cannot wait.”

Leon always had something important to tell Aiden. The last time he’d interrupted us had been two seconds after I’d given Aiden the green light to go all the way.

Leon had the worst timing ever.

Of course, the last time he’d interrupted, things had been pretty serious. They’d found Kain alive. Once a half-blood Sentinel, Kain had helped Aiden train me. A weekend trip to nearby Lake Lure had proved fatal for everyone involved. He’d survived the daimon attack but had come back to the Covenant as something we’d thought was impossible—a half-blood daimon.

Now Kain was dead, and I’d seen it happen. I’d liked and missed Kain, even after he’d killed a bunch of pures and knocked me around the room. That hadn’t been the Kain I’d known. Like Mom, he’d turned into a terrible version of who he’d really been.

Leon moved his massive body forward, looking like the poster child for steroids. “There’s been a daimon attack.”

Aiden tensed. “Where?”

“Here at the Covenant.”



“Go straight to your dorm, Alex, and stay there,” Aiden said before leaving the training arena.

I went to the cafeteria instead.

There was no way I was going to hang out in my dorm while there was a daimon running amuck. I’d considered following the two for a moment, but my ninja stealth skills were subpar.

By the time I’d cut across the quad, the sky had darkened and turned ominous. I picked up my pace, because when the sky got this way, one had to pay attention. September was hurricane season around this place. Or it could just mean Seth was pissed off somewhere nearby; his moodiness had a startling effect on the weather.

In the cafeteria, everyone huddled together in little groups, their faces animated. I grabbed an apple and a soda, noting there wasn’t a single pure in the lunchroom. I dropped into the seat beside Caleb.

He looked up, eyes bright. “You heard?”

“Yeah, I was practicing when Leon came to get Aiden.” I glanced at Olivia. “Do you have any details?”

“All I’ve heard is one of the younger students—Melissa Callao—didn’t show up for classes today. Her friends were concerned and checked her dorm. They found her in bed, the window open.”

I sat back, squelching the unease shifting through me. “Is she alive?”

Olivia stabbed a fork into her pizza. Her pure-blood mother worked closely with the Council. Lucky for us, she kept her daughter well informed. “She was practically drained, but she’s alive. I don’t know how her roommate didn’t know, or why she wasn’t attacked, too.”

“How in Hades is a daimon running around here?” Luke held up a hand, a puzzled frown on his face. “How could one get past the Guards?”

“It had to be a half,” Elena said from further down the table. She looked like an extraordinarily tall Tinkerbell with her short hair and wide, green eyes.

Up until this summer, we’d believed that half-bloods couldn’t be turned into daimons. A pure was chock full of aether, and a daimon would chew, gnaw, and kill to get at that essence like a psychotic drug addict. Once drained of their aether, the daimon could let the pure die or turn them, adding to the daimon horde. No one thought half-bloods had enough aether inside of them to make the switch over to the dark side, but for a patient daimon more interested in building an army than getting a meal, we were as good as a pure.

It sucked that the only place we were equal to pures was in a fate worse than death.

“Halfs who’ve turned don’t change like the pures.” Olivia flicked the fork between her long fingers. “They’re immune to titanium, right?” Her gaze landed on me.

I nodded. “Yep, gotta cut off their head. Gross, I know.” Or Seth could use his Apollyon mojo. He’d zapped Kain with akasha—the fifth and final element—and that’d done the job.

Caleb rubbed a spot on his arm where I knew he’d been tagged. He stopped as his eyes caught mine. I forced a smile.

“If it’s a half, it could be anyone.” Luke leaned back, folding his arms. “I mean, think about it. They don’t need elemental magic to conceal what they really look like. It could be anyone.”

When pures turned all evil and what-not, they were noticeable to half-bloods—like, really noticeable. Empty black eye sockets, pale skin, and mouths full of razor sharp teeth doesn’t make for a look that blends into the crowd. Halfs had the wacky ability to see through the elemental magic pure-blood daimons used, but daimon half-bloods just looked the same after they turned. At least Kain had.

“Well, it would have to be a half-blood who’d been attacked by a daimon,” a throaty, husky voice intruded. “Hmm, wonder who that could be? It’s not like they grow on trees around here.”

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