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Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L Armentrout Book Review

Updated: Sep 20


Rage and Ruin

by Jennifer L Armentrout

Published by Inkyard Press

Book #2 in the Harbinger Trilogy


FORBIDDEN ALLIANCES, FORBIDDEN LOVE.


A half human, half angel and her bonded gargoyle protector must work with demons to stop the apocalypse while avoiding falling in love. The Harbinger is coming…but who or what is it? All of humankind may fall if Trinity and Zayne can’t win the race against time as dark forces gather.

As tensions rise, they must stay close together and patrol the DC streets at night, seeking signs of the Harbinger, an entity that is killing Wardens and demons with no seeming rhyme or reason.

Forbidden to be with each other, Zayne and Trinity fight their feelings and turn to unusual sources for help—the demon Roth and his cohorts. But as deaths pile up and they uncover a sinister plot involving the local high school and endangering someone dear to Zayne, Trin realizes she is being led…herded…played for some unknown end. As anger builds and feelings spiral out of control, it becomes clear that rage may be the ruin of them all.


RATED: 14+ CATEGORY: MOOD:

Foul language Young Adult Exciting

Steamy moments Supernatural Emotional

Violence Romance

 

Excuse me while I take a moment.



Okay. Deep breaths.


Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L Armentrout is the second book in the Harbinger trilogy, and starts hours after the first book ended, with Trinity and Zayne bonded, and Trinity dealing with the pain of having to kill her best friend who betrayed her. Rage and Ruin continues the search for the Harbinger. While trying to find a faceless enemy, and more questions piling up than answers, Trinity and Zayne also are trying to live with one another, while not succumbing to their feelings, and breaking the one rule between Protector and Trueborn; Don't fall in love.


I don't even know where to start. I literally finished this book an hour ago, and my face is still puffy from crying. Rage and Ruin is totally unique in it's genre, consistent in it's action and story from the first book, and the series it spins off from, The Dark Elements, and the story ... well, what can I say? Rage and Ruin is the perfect blend of Jennifer Armentrout's amazing story telling, intriguing mystery, humor and romance. One of the best things, was it's unpredictability. Usually by the time I am half way through the book, I already know how it will end. I had predictions that were blown up. Obliterated.


Sorry. I'm still in shock from that ending (and in Jennifer Armentrout style, it's a cliffhanger.) I don't want to spoil you. All I can say, it by the time my Kindle said I had only 10% left of the book to read, I had to keep putting the book down. I needed to take moments to breathe. I needed to process. That last 10% has wrecked me for the rest of the night. Case in point:


The Ben & Jerry's came out right after I finished and rated the book on Goodreads.


I'm almost done this review, and I'm down a glass of wine.


Emotionally. Wrecked.


I honestly can't choose which female heroine I'm more in love with from Jennifer's books. They all have qualities that makes them unique, but they all have one thing in common; Strength. Trinity is no exception. She is strong, brave, and caring, but flawed. I love that she has flaws, and while it bothers her, and she knows she could be better, she owns it. Her arc in this book is kind of perfect, and she doesn't end up anywhere she thought she would be. And Zayne. Oh, sweet Zayne. His character has come a LONG way from the Dark Elements series, and even since Storm and Fury. He takes his new role as Trin's Protector seriously, but he also refuses to take anything sitting down. He's learned from the past, and it benefits him in this book. He finally takes times to really think about everything that has happened in the past, and not only gains perspective, but peace.


We get to see some old favorites. Roth, Layla, and Cayman make several appearances, and they add so much to the story, which, as someone who truly enjoyed the Dark Elements series, I appreciate. We don't get the trio just for the sake of seeing them again. They have a place in the story.


I want to point out one of my favorite things in this book, is Trin confiding in Zayne about her eyesight, and her fears. While Trinity is a fictional character, Jennifer Armentrout gave Trinity a piece of herself. Specifically, retinitis pigmentosa. All those fears Trinity deals with, how difficult it is to get through tasks people with eyesight take for granted, is all the more impacting, because Jennifer lives it. I am lucky. I don't have a disability. I do, however, live with three people who do. We have always been very open with everyone about the fact that, all three of my daughters are on the spectrum. We raise them to feel no shame ... but they are human. I'm sure there are moments, especially my teenagers, where they struggle with their diagnosis. I can be empathetic, but I can never truly say I know how they feel. Trinity has a moment where she explains that she has a hard time admitting she has a disability, has trouble asking for help because she wants to be self-sufficient, and not burden others ... well it made me think. Not just about my children, but those of society that live with a disability ... and believe me, there is so many out there. I appreciate the moments we step out of the supernatural part of the story, and into territory that makes us think.


Rage and Ruin was ... an epic second part of this trilogy. I don't say that lightly. It truly was. It checked off so many things that makes a book amazing. I have no complaints. At all. Jennifer L Armentrout proves time and time again that she is one hell of an amazing writer. If you want to start from the beginning, start with the Dark Elements Trilogy before the Harbinger Trilogy. You don't have to though. I read Storm and Fury before finding out it was a spin off series, and you can easily start with this Trilogy first. Now, to begin the long wait for the final book.



Spoilers are below ... and this is not a book you want spoiled. Read only if you have already read Rage and Ruin and want to relive your favorite moments.




  1. The blindfolded training session

  2. Trin confiding in Zayne about her fear of peoples prejudices of people with disabilities, and her fear of being a burden, and Zayne telling her he was in awe of her

  3. Trin helping Roth get Bambi back

  4. Trinity and Zayne's dinner date

  5. Sam.

  6. Zayne and Trinity finally admitting their feelings for one another, and having sex

  7. Zayne squeezing or rubbing Trinity's knee every time he stopped the motorcycle. So sweet.

  8. Zayne putting up glowing stars on the ceiling of their bedroom

  9. Zayne telling Trinity he loves her, and them sealing their bond together forever the way mated Wardens do.

  10. Roth carrying Trinity, and placing her next to Zayne, and placing her hand on his cheek so she could be with him as he died.

  11. That. Ending.


Where to Buy

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Trinity: "Oh my God. I've told you a million times to stop doing that."

Peanut: "I'm kind of surprised you still think I listen to you half the the time."


Peanut: "Who's going to take care of me if you die?"

Trinity: "You're dead, Peanut. No one needs to take care of you."

Peanut: "I still need to be loved and cherished and thought of. I'm like Santa Claus. If no one is alive is here to want and believe in me, then I'll cease to exist."


Zayne: "Watch it, or I'll eat this hamburger I got for you right in front of you and enjoy it."

Trinity: "I would drop-kick you into a wall if you did that."


Zayne: "Want something to drink? I think there might be a Coke in here, since you refuse to drink water."

Trinity: "Water is for people concerned about their health, and I'm not about that kind of life."


Trinity: "Thank you for the food. You're a keeper."

Zayne: 'Good. I want to be kept."


Trinity: "Before we look at what you got, I have a favor to ask."

Zayne: "Done."

My brows lifted.

Trinity: "I haven't told you what the favor is."

He lifted one large shoulder in a shrug

Zayne: "Whatever it is, you got it."

I stared at him

Trinity: "What if I was asking for you to trade in your vintage Impala for a minivan from the '80's?"

Zayne: "That would be a seriously weird request."

Trinity: "Exactly, and you just agreed to it!"

His head tilted

Zayne: "You're weird, Trin, but I don't think you're that weird."

Trinity: "I feel like I should be offended by that statement."


Zayne: "You don't need to be afraid."

My gaze shot to him

Trinity: "What?"

Zayne: "I can feel it. It's like an icicle in my chest. And I know you're not afraid of me or for yourself. You're too much of a badass. You're afraid for me, and you don't need to be. You know why?"

Trinity: "Why?"

Zayne: "You're strong, and you're a damn good warrior. I might be your Protector in some instance, but when we fight, I'm your partner. I know you're not going to put my ass in a sling because you're not holding your own. There's no way I can fall with you beside me, and no one will best you with me beside you. So, get those fears out of your head."


Trinity: "Funny you would insult my intelligence when you had no idea I was following you."

Demon: "Following me? If that's true, then you've made the stupidest mistake of your life."

Trinity: "Well. I don't think this would even make the top ten stupidest mistakes I've made."

Demon: "You're going to bed for my forgiveness. And pray for your death."

I tensed but planted a smile on my face

Trinity: "So unoriginal. I'm experiencing secondhand embarrassment on your behalf. Why not get a little more creative?"

Suit Demon stared at me

Trinity: "Like how about 'you're going to bed me to stop chewing on your entrails' and 'pray that I toss you off the roof'? Now that paints a not-so-pretty picture, don't you think?"

Suit Demon blinked

Trinity: "Why don't you give that a try? And let's see if I move this encounter to the top twenty on my stupid list?"

Demon: "I'm going to rip out your tongue, and then shove it back through your throat."

I clapped excitedly.

Trinity: "There you go!"


Trinity: "You're going to want to play along and do so quickly, because I have the patience of a hungry toddler and a severe problem with impulsivity. I don't think before I act."


Demon: "It wasn't Bael who told me about you, you stupid cu -"

Punching him again, this time in the jaw, I made sure the dagger handle got in on the action.

Trinity: "That better have been the word cutie that was about to come out of your mouth."


Zayne: "You're not where I left you."

I glanced around the empty rooftop

Trinity: "I'm not."

Zayne: "What part of 'stay where you are' wasn't clear?"

Trinity: "The part where you thought I'd actually listen to you?"


Zayne: "Please tell me you did not follow a demon up here."

Trinity: "I hate that you asked so nicely when I'm going to have to tell you what you don't want to hear."


Zayne: "Want some eggs?"

Trinity: "Sure. Can I help?"

Zayne: "Aren't you the person who almost burned down Thierry's house trying to make fried chicken?"

I snorted

Trinity: "Aren't you the person who said you'd teach me to make grilled cheese?"

Zayne: "You know, you're right. But I need to feed myself first."

Trinity: "Priorities."

Zayne: "And I really don't want you to do the eggs. Even though they're hard to mess up, I have a suspicion you might do just that, and then I'll be embarrassed for you."


Roth: "You look so thrilled to see me."

Zayne: "I'm just bursting with excitement. I can barely contain myself."


Stacey: "They told me that you're trained to fight like this big guy."

She lifted an elbow at Zayne

Stacey: "That's pretty cool. I didn't know Wardens trained humans."

Roth: "Or raised them. Like pets."

My narrowed gaze landed on the demon

Trinity: "I wasn't raised like a pet, you ass."

He grinned.


The demon had scared the poor puppy, causing it to yelp and topple onto its side with it little legs rigid. And that flipped me straight into Bitch Got to Die mode.


Trinity: "That puppy did nothing to you! A puppy! How dare you!"


God, he was gorgeous.

And that annoyed me - him and his ... pretty hair and eyes ... and mouth and whatever.

Ugh.


Zayne: "What if it wasn't me who came up behind you? What if it was an Upper Level demon?"

Trinity: "I would have sensed it and punched it, too. And then you would've been pulling me off that one."

He stepped forward

Zayne: "You might be as badass as they come, but if an Upper Level demon comes up behind you and you're unprepared, you're in for a world of hurt."

Trinity: "You're my Protector, Zayne, but you sound like you're my keeper. You're not my father."

Zayne: "Thank God for that."


Trinity: "Okay. I had a wee bit of a hard time paying attention, because I'm easily distracted and suffer from chronic boredom. Like right now. I'm bored. With this conversation. So, I'm suffering."

Zayne: "Not as much as I'm suffering right now."

My frown grew until I felt like my face was going to be stuck like that.

Trinity: "Do I even want to know what that means?"

Zayne: "Probably not."


Trinity: "I'm not angry. I'm actually hungry."

Zayne: "Really?"

I arched an eyebrow

Trinity: "Why do you sound like you don't believe me?"

Zayne: "Maybe because you ate two hot dogs from a street vendor less than an hour ago."

Trinity: "Hot dogs aren't very filling. Everyone knows that."

Zayne: "You also ate fries and half my falafel."

Trinity: "I did not eat half of it! I had, like, a bite of it. I'd never had falafel before and I was curious. Not like you can find them in the hills of West Virginia."

Zayne: "Trin."

Trinity: "And beating the crap out of the Raver in an inhumane and indecent manner burns a lot of calories. Whatever I ate has been used up and I'm now in a caloric deficiency. I'm starving."

He crossed his arms

Zayne: "I don't think that's how calories work."

I ignored that

Trinity: "We can go back to that place and get you another falafel. I might get one myself. Then we can falafel together."


Zayne: "I need a new shirt, but we need to head back because you smell and you need a shower."

Trinity: "Wow. Way to make me feel self-conscious."


Zayne: "By the way, what did you roll around in back there?"

Trinity: "A puddle of bad life choices."

Zayne: "Huh. I always wondered what that smelled like."

Trinity: "Now you know."


Zayne: "You don't blend in, either."

Trinity: "Because I reek like I imagine a moldy butt smells?"

Zayne laughed

Zayne: "No. Because you're beautiful, Trin. You have this thing. It's this spark from within. A light. There isn't a single person out here that can't see that."


Roth: "Hey there, Angel Face, you look like you're praying. I hope I'm interrupting."


Roth: "Lucky me. I get to see a Trueborn and a Warden fight - well, play fight, if you two are actually going to do anything other than stare at me like you've been blessed by my appearance."


Trinity: "So, what's up with the tie?"

Roth: "Now that is a question I was dying to ask. BDSM, Stony? I am shooketh."


Zayne: "You were doing really well."

Trinity: "No, I wasn't. I was barely able to get near you."

Zayne: "But you did get near me."

He shifted slightly, and his thumb grazed my lower lip.

Zayne: "This is the first time you've tried this. You're not going to be perfect right off the bat. You have to give yourself time."

Trinity: "I don't know if I can do this."

Zayne: "I know you can. I don't have a single doubt in my mind."


Roth: "Question?"

Roth's voice broke the silence, and holy crap, I'd forgotten he was there. Xayne had, too, based on the way his muscles tensed against me. When Roth spoke again, amusement practically dripped from each word.

Roth: "And I'm asking for a friend. Exactly what kind of training are you guys doing right now?"


Zayne: "I have no idea how you can leap from one roof to another and scale a fire escape, but nearly crack your skill open on a three-foot retaining wall."

Trinity: "Skills."


Trinity: "Remind me never to say I'm bored again."

Zayne: "Oh, trust me, I will never allow you to say that again."


God, saying that was harder than I realized. Disability. What a loaded word, one I wasn't sure I'd spoken aloud before. Maybe I'd never said it because of what it implied, that there was something different about me, something that had to be accommodated.

But disability wasn't a bad word, and it didn't mean that. It just meant what it meant. I was a Trueborn. And a kick-ass fighter. But I was still disabled at the end of the night. And I knew that didn't define me. It wasn't the sum of who I was. It was just a part of me.

Still, it was a hard word to say.

And I felt bad for feeling that it was a hard word to say. Like I was betraying others with disabilities by finding it hard to admit I, too, had a disability.


Zayne: "You needing my help once or twice or five times in one night isn't an indication of losing your independence."

Trinity: "Then what is it?"

Zayne: "You're doing the best you can, Trinity. You're so damn amazing, and you don't even know it."

My wide eyes met his.

Zayne: "And you're also so freaking frustrating."

The corners of my lips turned down

Zayne: "You know, there've been plenty of times that I've forgotten you can't see well and when I remember, I'm actually kind of shocked that you don't need more help, and you have no idea how ... how in awe of you I am, that you do what you do under these circumstances. That you're carrying out your duty and not holding back or letting your vision limit you. So, dammit, Trinity, don't let what others think or say or even what you fear hold you back when you need help. Don't waste a damn second worrying about it. Let me help you - let anyone help you when you need it, and that'll make you even stronger."


A kiss so chaste, so sweet that it shouldn't have undone me, but it did. The kiss rattled me to my core, just as his words had.


Peanut: "You guys are as awkward as getting caught picking your nose. You should work on that."

I sighed

Trinity: "Thanks for the advice I didn't ask for."

Peanut: "You're welcome. And by the way - a dude in the shower for that long, after waking up in the morning? What do you think he's doing? Washing his hair twice and deep conditioning with Herbal Essences? Uh, no."

Trinity: "I..."

My eyes widened

Trinity: "Oh. Oh."

Peanut: "Let him live his best life."

Peanut vanished.

My gaze flew to the bedroom, and my imagination ran wiiild for about 10.3 seconds. Then, because there was nothing else to do, I walked to the couch and face-planted it.


Peanut: " 'When you was young, you never needed anyone.' "

Peanut sang from somewhere in the apartment. I needed to do laundry. I guessed I could do that this afternoon since I was -

Peanut: " 'All by yourself.' "

Peanut came through the bedroom wall and continues singing about me - or someone - being alone and insecure and unable to see love.

I blinked slowly.

Trinity: "You're a jerk."

Peanut: " 'But you're all by yourself!' "


Trinity: "So, what's Layla doing?"

Roth: "Currently marathoning Doctor Who with Cayman. And I want no part of that life."


Roth: "Did you tell Zayne you were heading out with me?"

I laughed

Trinity: "No. Doubt he'd be cool with whatever this is."

Roth: "Why? You think he doesn't trust me?"

I folded my arms and said nothing. Roth chuckled

Roth: "He knows I'm a bad influence."

Trinity: "So, your favor is something that's going to fall under you being a bad influence?"

Roth: "Oh, most definitely."


Roth: "A lot of people forget what I am - who I am, in the core of my very being."

Trinity: "Is that so?"

He nodded

Roth: "They mistake my love for Layla as a kernel of goodness that will take root inside me like a seed, eventually blossoming into a flower of purity and light."

Trinity: "I didn't think that for a second."

Roth: "But a lot do, probably even Stony. As do a lot of other demons. Faye and her coven think that. Do you know how I know that?"

Trinity: "A super secret, extra special demon ability?"

He laughed

Roth: "Because they had to believe I'm a demon changed into something soft and good to even briefly consider betraying me like they did."

Trinity: "Oh."

Roth: "But I'm going to let you in on a little secret, my half-angel friend, because you also don't truly understand who I am."

His finger landed on the tip of my nose. I flinched, not having seen him move his hand.

Roth: 'Every cell and molecule of who I am desires, needs and covets Layla. Humans call that love. I call it obsession. Same thing, I suppose, but I am a demon, Trinity. I'm brutally selfish and there are very few things I truly care about. While I may randomly commit acts of perceived kindness, I do them only so that Layla is happy. Because when she's not happy, it makes me want to do really, really bad things to whatever or whoever has upset her."

I pulled away from his hand

Trinity: "Okay. Thanks for the sharefest, but -"

Roth: "But at the end of the day, I'm the Crown Prince of Hell. You do not want to mess with me."

My jaw locked as I felt the grace flare within me

Trinity: "And at the end of the day, I'm still a Trueborn who can reduce you to a pile of ash, so you don't want to mess with me."


Trinity: "You know, I was starting to like you, but you're an asshole."


Trinity: I'm not talking about Zayne."

Roth: "Why not?"

Trinity: "The list of the reasons would be longer than the time it would take for us to walk the length of this hall."

Roth: "Give me the CliffNotes version."

Trinity: "The number one reason is that I'm not talking about Zayne with you."

Roth: "Because I'm the Crown Prince of Hell?"

He slid me a knowing look

Trinity: "No. Because you're the boyfriend of the girl he loves, and talking about anything personal that deals with him seems wrong."

Roth: "Hmm. Loves? Or is it loved?"


Roth: "This should be interesting to watch. Nearly as interesting as watching you and Zayne train."


Trinity: "I might not know a lot about witches, but I was under the impression that you're not supposed to be team good or bad. But boy, did you saddle up with Team Dead, Dumb and Evil."

Faye: "And what team are you on? As you sit beside the Crown Prince of Hell?"

Roth: "Mmm. I love the way you say Crown Prince."

I met Faye's stare.

Trinity: "Like you said. Looks can be deceiving."


Roth: "There's always a choice. Always."


Trinity: "Intentions mean nothing at the end of the day. I mean, you could set a bush on fire and never intend for it to spread to the apartment complex next door, but when it does, it's still your fault."


Roth: "Ah, yes. The whole Trueborn thing. You were promised a Trueborn in exchange for your coven's aid."

Trinity: "Parts. Parts of a Trueborn."

Faye: "Yes. That is what we were promised. Are still promised."

My brows lifted as the anger simmered to near boiling point.

Trinity: "You still think they're going to deliver?"

Faye: "Why would they not? We held up out end of the bargain, and I didn't hear either of you say you killed anyone other than Aym."

I tipped towards the witch

Trinity: "I can one hundred percent assure you that they will not be able to hold up their end of the bargain."

Faye: "And how would you know that?"

I let my grace flow to the surface of my skin. The corners of my vision turned a golden white.

Trinity: "Because I'm the Trueborn that was promised to you."

Faye choked on her water, her eyes bulging as she jerked back against the booth.

Trinity: "Yeah."

I let my admission sink in before I pulled the grace back.

Trinity: "Not ever going to happen."

Faye: "Oh my God."

Trinity: "Pretty much."

I rested my elbows on the table and plopped my chin into my hands.

Trinity: "You didn't just betray Roth, the Crown Prince of Hell. You also betrayed me, and because of that, someone very important to me was gravely injured. Because of that, I had to - . You screwed up. Big time."


Trinity: "Did you just do that? Cause a breeze to roll over the table?"

I widened my eyes

Trinity: "Scary. That was so very scary. I'm actually quaking in my shoes over here."

Roth snorted.


Roth: "Just so you know? If Bambi dies because of your actions, I will drag out your death until you beg me to end it. And when you beg? I will hunt down every living family member of yours and they will pay for your transgressions. Then, and only then, after you've watched everyone you know and love die because of you, I will end your life."


The Crone: "I knew I would see you again, young prince."

Roth bowed his head

Roth: "Honored once more."

She chuckled as if amused.

The Crone: "You always bring such ... interesting creatures with you Never thought I'd see a Crown Prince or Lilith's daughter, but I did because of you and now the child of an angel is before me. What odd company you keep."

Roth: "It makes life interesting."


The Crone: "You are not like them. You do not see in black-and-white. You see gray and all that exists in between, and I know not if that is a strength or a weakness."


Faye: "I end this deal bartered by the demon Cayman and release this familiar."

Cayman grinned down at the witch

Cayman: "The bargain brokered is voided. Blessed be, bitch."


The Crone: "You know what you need to do, Trueborn. It is what you were born for."


Roth: "She likes you."

Trinity: "What?"

Roth: "Bambi. She's trying to keep an eye on you while she's resting."

Trinity: "I'm ... happy to hear that."

Roth: "You should be. Normally she likes to eat people."


Trinity: "I don't see well. Actually, I don't see very well at all."

Roth was quiet for what felt like an eternity.

Roth: "God is ironic, isn't He?"


Roth: "Angel Face?"

Sighing, I turned around and belt down so that I could see into the car

Trinity: "What, Demon Spawn from Hell?"

His lips quirked into a grin

Roth: "Just so you know, what I felt for Layla and what she felt for me was forbidden. That didn't stop us."


Trinity: "Why are you all up in my nonexistent love life, Roth?"

Roth: "Because I saw the way he looked at you, and I know the way he used to look at Layla. It was different."

My brows snapped together

Trinity: "Well, I'm not sure how that's a good thing."

Roth: "Different is not bad, Trinity. Different can be good."


Zayne: "There's nothing more important than seeing the city."

Trinity: "The city is always going to be here, Zayne. It's not that important."

His gaze met mine.

Zayne: "But your vision won't be."

The next breath I took got stuck.

Zayne: "I know you're not going to lose your eyesight tomorrow and maybe not even next year, but why wait and take that chance?"

I was struck silent. He glanced at the sky.

Zayne: "Since we'll run out of daylight in a couple of hours, let's grab something to eat and do an early patrol, so we don't get back too late. Tomorrow I'll show you all that I know. Make a whole day of it."

Trinity: "But ... but we need to be out there as long as we can tonight. The Harbinger -"

Zayne: " - isn't as important as you."

I gaped at him.

Trinity: "It's extremely more important than me, and you, and my eyeballs and everything. It's killing Wardens and demons. We need to find it and stop it before it moves on to killing humans. That's the only thing that's important."

Zayne: "Nah. It's not. You, and you getting to see the city, is a Hell of a lot more important."


Trinity: "You make this so hard."

Zayne: "Make what so hard?"

Trinity: "Not liking you."

Zayne's lips tipped up and a wide beautiful smile appeared, stealing my breath again.

Trinity: "I don't know why you're smiling."

Zayne: "Maybe because ..."

He rose, extending his hand toward me.

Zayne: "Maybe because I'm not trying to make it easy, Trin."


Trinity: "You know, you might not have become a doctor, but you are that person."

His brows knitted in confusion.

Trinity: "That random person in the crowd who can step in and save someone's life. You've done that before. Probably more times than you can count. You're not a doctor, but you are that person."

Zayne stared at me for so long that I started to worry I said the wrong thing.

Trinity: "Are you okay?"

Zayne: "Always. I just never looked at it that way."

Trinity: "Look at me. Being all useful and stuff, showing you a whole new way of thinking."

Zayne: "You're always helpful. And you've already been showing me a new way of thinking."


Trinity: "I hate you."

Zayne: "You wish."


Zayne: "Whatever you're thinking, stop."

Trinity: "Back off, then."

He didn't back off.

And I didn't stop thinking about how kissing him felt like lightning or how it felt to be in his embrace, skin against skin. My muscles turned to liquid in a way that was as pleasant as it was painful.

Zayne's forehead dropped to mine and I felt his chest expand with his next ragged breath.

Zayne: "Behave."

The corners of my lips tugged up

Trinity: "I'm trying to."

Zayne: "You're not trying hard enough." My eyes drifted shut as my hips arched off the wall and then my breath hitched when his other hand curved around one hip.

Trinity: "You're not trying, either."

Zayne: "You're right. I'm not trying, and I should be. We should be smarter than this."

Trinity: "Being smart is overrated."


Zayne: "I can feel you. The heat. The want. I can feel you. I find it hard to resist."

My mouth dried

Trinity: "And I can feel you. Did you think about that? Because I find it hard to resist."

Zayne: "Okay."

His warm breath made another pass over my lips

Zayne: "How about we're mutually at fault."

Trinity: "More like sixty percent your fault and forty percent mine but whatever."


Zayne: "Surprising or not, it's imperative that we keep what she is on the down low. I need you to agree to this, Nic."

Nicolai: "I'll do what I can, but both of you need to prepare for when the clan discovers the truth."

Zayne: "I never said I wasn't prepared. I am. "

Zayne moved so that his body blocked mine.

Zayne: "I was a Warden, but now I'm a Protector. Her Protector. If any of them so much as asks a question about Trinity in a way that is of the slightest concern to me, it will be the last thing they do."


Trinity: "And if I get any closer, I'm going to be riding your back like a book bag."

Zayne: "That's a sentence I never though I'd hear."


Zayne: "We messed up tonight."

I closed my eyes.

Trinity: "I know."

Zayne: "But I don't regret it. The dinner. Any of what came after, in the alley."

Trinity: "Nothing happened in the alley."

Zayne: "But it was going to.


Zayne: "You're under my skin and in my blood. I can't get you out."

Every single muscle in my body tensed.

Zayne: "Maybe it wouldn't be like this if we hadn't started it that night - if I hadn't kissed you. Or maybe it would've eventually gotten to this point. Because it isn't just your taste that has me spinning in circles. It's you. All of you. Not just how the memory of how your mouth felt against mine, or what it was like to hold you like I did. It's the way you talk and laugh, when you really laugh. It's the way you fight and how you don't back down. Even when you fight me. When I'm sure you're arguing with me just to argue. It's all you."


Zayne: "I want you, Trinity. Whatever happens, this will be worth it. This is right, no matter what."


Zayne: "I can see you. Each breath you take. The way your lips are parted. How wide your eyes are and how flushed your skin is. That light inside you. The spark. I can see it and it's beautiful. You're beautiful."


Trinity: "I want to -"

Zayne: "I know. I want you to do whatever you want to me, but no."

Trinity: "No?"

Zayne: "No. Because that would make this mean more than it can to me."


Zayne: "Look, I've already been someone's pastime when they were bored or wanted attention. Been there, done that, and should have had the damn common sense not to go there again."

My entire body jerked. Not just because of his words - I realized the thick gunk slithering through my veins was coming from him. Anger. Disappointment. Worse of all, shame. I felt his shame as he took another step toward me.

Zayne: "Maybe what we were doing in there doesn't mean anything to most people, but it does to me. It means a whole Hell of a lot to me, so I'm not going down that road again. No matter how tempting that road is."


Zayne: "Danika? What are you whispering about?"

She straightened, raising her brows

Danika: "What were you two whispering about?"

Gideon: "Nothing."

Danika: "Oh."

She winked at me

Danika: "We were talking about periods and cramps and bleeding -"

Zayne: "Okay."

Zayne raised his hands as I choked on a laugh

Zayne: "Sorry I asked."


Sam: "Anyway, I need your help. Please don't say no. You're my only hope."

Trinity: "I'm not your Obi-Wan."

A goofy grin broke out across his face.

Sam: "Did you just break out a Star Wars reference? I like you."


Trinity: "You going to let me go now?"

Zayne: "I don't know. Are you going to go play in traffic again?"

Trinity: "Oh, yeah. It's a favorite pastime of mine, so no promises."


Trinity: "You know what. You can go -"

I cut myself off, taking a step back.

His lips twisted into a smirk

Zayne: "Finish that sentence if it'll make you feel better."

Instead of doing that, I lifted my hand and flipped him off.

One eyebrow roe

Zayne: "Did that make you feel better?"

Trinity: "Yes."


Zayne: "And after what happened between us, I cannot believe you're questioning me. You don't want anything serious between us, so it should matter what the Hell I was doing with her or with anyone. You made your choice."

Trinity: "Choice? You have no idea, so please, keep standing there, making me feel bad when you're the one who chose not to tell me about Stacey. And what nerve or you?"

I stepped toward him.

Trinity: "I had no choice. I had to draw a line, because if whatever was going on between us became more than something physical, I have no idea what would happen to you. It's forbidden, so I drew a line at kissing, because it does make things mean more to me. You tore me down for that, making me feel like I was using you like Layla did. You projected your baggage all over me, but you brought Stacey to that ice cream parlor. I know what that place is. It's the one your father took you to. It's important to you, and never once have you even considered taking me there."

Zayne: "It's a damn ice cream shop, Trinity."

Trinity: "Oh, don't you dare try to play it off as if that place means nothing to you. If it was was anyone else? Sure. I know better. You get to think I'm terrible for excluding you from something you find important, but you can do it to me?"


Trinity: "Glad you found that funny. Because you're going to think it's really funny when I break your face."

Zayne: "You're incredibly aggressive."

Trinity: "And you're incredibly annoying."

Zayne: "And you're still going the wrong way."

I stopped.

God had to be testing me.


Zayne: "By the way, I talked to Roth this afternoon. He wants to check out the school with us on Saturday."

Trinity: "Cool. He's like the opposite of a good-luck charm, so why not?"


Trinity: "Maybe this school is a Hellmouth."

Zayne was silent

I looked over at him

Trinity: "Now that was supposed to be funny."

Zayne: "Was it?"

Trinity: "How mad will you get if I just drop-kick you into one of those trucks?"

Zayne: "Pretty mad, to be honest."

Trinity: "Okay. Just going to weigh my odds over here to see if it's worth making you madder than you already are."

Zayne: "I'm not mad."

Trinity: "Oh, really? I've seen you happy. This is not happy."

Zayne: "Didn't say I was happy either."


Trinity: "Have fun."

Zayne faced me

Zayne: "You're not coming?"

Trinity: "No. There's probably debris and crap all over. I'm just going to stumble and trip all over everything."

Zayne: "Then what are you going to do?"

Trinity: "Play in traffic."