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
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.
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.
The blindfolded training session
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
Trin helping Roth get Bambi back
Trinity and Zayne's dinner date
Zayne and Trinity finally admitting their feelings for one another, and having sex
Zayne squeezing or rubbing Trinity's knee every time he stopped the motorcycle. So sweet.
Zayne putting up glowing stars on the ceiling of their bedroom
Zayne telling Trinity he loves her, and them sealing their bond together forever the way mated Wardens do.
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.
Where to Buy
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."
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
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?"
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?"
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."
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."
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.
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."
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."
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: "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'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: "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."
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."
My eyes widened
Trinity: "Oh. Oh."
Peanut: "Let him live his best life."
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?"
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?"
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?"
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."
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.
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: "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."
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.
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."
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."
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?"
She winked at me
Danika: "We were talking about periods and cramps and bleeding -"
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?"
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."
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."
He made a noise that sounded like a cross between a laugh and a curse.
Zayne: "I was scared. When I saw you like that, bleeding all over the damn place, and I couldn't wake you up, I was scared, Trin."
My heart flopped over
Trinity: "Because you thought you might die?"
Zayne: "You know damn well that's not the reason."
Trinity: "What do you want to know?"
Jasmine: "Are you human?"
Trinity: "Well, that's kind of an offensive question."
Trinity: "I'm not going to pass out if I sit up."
Zayne: "A part of me wishes you would, because then you'd at least -"
Trinity: "If you say be quiet, I will show you exactly how okay I am."
Jasmine: "Now what I think is that you have incredibly tough skin and a thick skull -"
Zayne: "Well ..."
Jasmine: "The other option is that you were seriously injured, but you have some level of accelerated healing that allows you to heal within an hour. What I do know, is either of those things would mean you're not human, and it's not like Zayne overreacted by bringing you here. He doesn't."
Trinity: "I beg to differ on the last point. But I am human. Partly."
Jasmine: "You're not part demon."
Zayne: "She's not. Dez knows. So does Nicolai, but I can't -"
Trinity: "I'm a freaking Trueborn."
Zayne slid me a long look.
Zayne: "Really, Trinity?"
Jasmine: "You're ... you're half angel? And that ..."
Her eyes shot to Zayne
Jasmine: "Are you her Protector?"
Trinity: "Yes. We are bonded for forever and ever."
Zayne: "The fact that you're questioning yourself and your reactions is proof you're not evil."
Trinity: "You think?"
Zayne: "I know."
Layla: "Hey, sorry we're late."
Roth: "I'm not."
I rolled my eyes while Zayne snorted.
Layla hugs Trinity.
When she stepped back, she smiled and me and turned.
I followed her gaze to find Zayne and Roth standing several feet away, watching us.
Roth: "Nothing. Just that you two getting all handsy was kind of hot.:
Zayne jerked his head toward Roth. The demon prince shrugged.
Roth: "Look, I'm just being honest. I'm a demon. I don't know why any of you would expect anything less from me."
Zayne: "What are you going to do? Jump into the ground?"
Layla: "Sounds like a plan to me."
Roth: "Shortie. I do not think that would be wise."
Layla: "How far do you think the drop was?"
I told her
Layla: "That's not bad. I mean, I'll know it's coming, so I can brace."
Zayne: "You're really just going to jump up and down?"
Zayne looked at Roth like he expected the demon to intervene.
Layla did just that. She jumped
Trinity: "Uh ..."
Layla: "Oh. Wait. The ground is getting more mushy."
She looked at Roth and jumped again.
Layla: "I think I - "
She disappeared before Roth could intervene, sucked into the Earth.
Trinity: "Well. Not like anyone didn't say that was a bad idea."
I snatched up a pair of jeans, material jerking as I folded it
Peanut: "What did those jeans ever do to you?"
Trinity: "They exist."
Peanut: "Someone is in a bad mood."
Trinity: "Sounds like a lovely date."
Zayne's back straightened.
I lifted my shoulders in a shrug
Trinity: "I mean, I haven't been on many. But that's what it sounds like to me."
Zayne: "It wasn't a date, Trin. I told you that. It's not like that between Stacey and I, not anymore."
Trinity: "It's not?"
Irritation was giving way to anger - and jealousy. And oh God, I needed to get control, because it wasn't like that between us, either.
Trinity: "It's not a big deal. I don't care, anyway."
Zayne: "Seems like you care an awful lot."
Trinity: "You're wrong."
Zayne: "Yeah, I don't think so. You're jealous."
Trinity: "I'm not -"
Zayne: "Don't even say you're not. I can feel it. You know, I can't believe you actually think tonight was anything like a date."
My back straightened.
Trinity: "Why wouldn't I think that? You're single. So is she. You two have a history. Don't get why you think it's such a crazy conclusion to come to."
Zayne: "You don't?"
He took another step toward me, and his features became less of a blur. He was definitely frowning.
Zayne: "Do you really think, after everything that's happened between you and I, I'd go out on a date with someone else?"
Slowly, I unfolded my arms.
Trinity: "What happened between us doesn't matter."
His brows shot up
Zayne: "It doesn't?"
I shook my head, even though that was yet another lie, because what happened between us did matter.
It would always matter.
Trinity: "It can't."
Lips curling in a cruel grimace of a smile, he shook his head as he looked away.
Zayne: "I don't know who you think I am, and Hell if I want to know, but let me tell you something, Trin."
His gaze came back to mine
Zayne: "There is no way in Hell I'd be out there screwing around just because I can't have the person I want."
Zayne: "You drive me crazy. Looking at you right now, I can tell there's still a part of you that has no idea."
Zayne: "Just because I'm not supposed to want you, doesn't mean I've stopped wanting you. Just because what I feel for you physically isn't supposed to mean something more, doesn't mean I've stopped wanting you. That hasn't changed."
His words were a startling mix of warmth and coldness as his mouth found mine again. I'd wanted to hear him say that. Needed it, because it felt good and warm and right. But his words also brought a shock of cold reality with them.
He wasn't supposed to be doing this.
Neither was I.
All of this felt like more.
Zayne: "You want this? That hasn't changed?"
Trinity: "No. Never."
His mouth was on mine again, his kisses like long sips of water, and I wanted more. I wanted too much. Breaking the kiss, I tipped my head back against the wall as my heart pounded.
Trinity: "The rules ..."
Zayne: "Fuck the rules."
I wanted Zayne.
It was a physical thing, yes. My body burned for him - for his touch, for his mere presence. Each day we were around each other, it became harder and harder to ignore the almost overwhelming need, but it was more than a physical desire. It was him, everything about Zayne. His humor and intelligence. His need to protect those whom others did not find worthy of protecting. The way he sometimes looked at me as if I were the most important being ever created. It was even in the way I knew he had loved Layla, been hurt by her loss but still wanted her to be happy with Roth. It was the moments. When a chuckle turned into a real laugh. When he let himself go, slipped out of the role of Warden and Protector to just be Zayne. It was that dinner and the nights he was there to beat back the nightmares. It was the moments when he helped me forget about Misha.
And all of that ... terrified me, because I was ... I was falling in love with him, and that was forbidden.
Zayne: "I've said this before, but I feel this need to say it again and again. You're beautiful, Trinity."
Sitting up, I grabbed his shirt and pulled. Material stretched and tore, giving way before I realized what I'd done.
Trinity: "Oh. Crap. Sorry?"
Zayne: "Don't be. That was really hot."
A slow smile pulled at his lips
Zayne: "I think you liked that."
He dipped his head, kissing my stomach
Zayne: "I know I did."
Trinity: "I did. That's not all of it, though."
Those lips brushed over a swell as his hair tickled the side of my ribs
Zayne: "It isn't, but it can be."
Trinity: "And what if ... what if I wanted it all?"
Zayne lifted his head, his features almost stark. He didn't speak.
Trinity: "Do you want that?"
Zayne: "God. Yes. I do."
Trinity: "I'm ready."
Zayne: "So am I."
Zayne: "You keep staring at me like that, then this is going to be very disappointing for you."
Trinity: "I don't see how. At all."
He laughed as he settled beside me, placing his hand on my stomach.
Zayne: "Because it would end fairly quickly."
Trinity: "Have faith. You got this."
Waiting until I told him it was okay, and when I did, he moved again, and within a heartbeat, there was no space between our bodies. There was a sharp, burning bite that snapped my eyes open wide.
Zayne: "I'm sorry."
He whispered, kissing my left cheek, then my right. Another dropped on the tip of my nose and then glanced over my damp brow.
Zayne: "I'm sorry."
Hands shaking, I smoothed them down his back, feeling his muscles bunched and tensed.
Trinity: "It's okay. It ... it happens."
Zayne: "I wish it didn't."
He pressed his forehead against mine.
Zayne: "I don't want you to feel pain."
Trinity: "It's not bad."
I tentatively moved, the sharp breath that left him sounded like a different kind of pain.
Zayne: "Trinity. I'm trying to give you time."
Trinity: "I've had enough time."
Zayne: "Okay. I'm trying to give myself time so this isn't over before it gets started."
A grin tugged at my lips and then a wild laugh bubbled out of me. I moved, lifting my arm and wrapping them around his shoulders. I kissed his cheek.
Zayne: "Have I told you that you drive me crazy?"
I nipped his earlobe.
Zayne's restraint snapped, and I guess he'd given himself enough time. He was moving. I was moving. Hands. Arms. Mouths. Hips. Legs. Wrapped together, there seemed to be no end or beginning, and everything swirled around the way we were joined together and that inexplicable deep coiling sensation.
When he lost all sense of rhythm, his back bowing, it happened. That moment. The rush of raw pleasure roaring through the bond, coming from him, coming from me, washing over us in endless waves and waves. We weren't two. We were one.
As if it was always meant to be.
Trinity: "I'm just ... I'm scared that something is going to happen. That there will be a consequence for this."
Zayne: "There might be, Trin."
I sucked in a sharp breath
Trinity: "You're supposed to say something that reassures me. Not freaks me out more."
Zayne: "What I'm supposed to say is the truth."
He brushed his thumb along my lower lip
Zayne: "Look at me."
Opening my eyes, I was immediately snared in his pale gaze.
Trinity: "I'm looking."
Zayne: "No matter what happens, we'll face it together. I didn't kiss you without considering there could be a risk. I didn't share with you what we just shared believing nothing could come from it."
His eyes searched mine
Zayne: "I knew there was a risk for us - and there is an us. I also know that you're worth the risk. That we're worth the risk."
Trinity: "Together. I like that. A lot."
Zayne: "Happy to hear that. If you didn't, things would get a whole lot more awkward and annoying for you."
Trinity: "How so?"
Zayne: "Because I have no plans of letting you go anytime soon."
Moving wickedly fast, before I knew it, I was on my back and he was above me, his lips brushing mine
Zayne: "So, I'm glad to hear we're on the same page."
Then he kissed me and yeah, we were definitely on the same page.
Zayne: "The fact that you can kiss me when I look like this? It ... it undoes me, Trin. It really does."
Trinity: "I can kiss you like this because you're beautiful like this."
Trueborn: "I'm a lot of things. None of which you know."
Trinity: "You'd be surprised by what I know."
Trueborn: "Doubtful. Because if you knew, you wouldn't be standing there, charming me with small talk."
Trinity: "I'd be killing you? Because I'm more than happy to get to that if you'd like?"
Trueborn: "I'm in a charitable mood, Protector. Do not test it."
Zayne: "I'm in a murderous mood. Please do test it."
Trueborn: "If you force me to kill you, I have a feeling everything will go south quickly."
Zayne: "The fact you think you can kill me just proves how far South things have already gone. You may be a Trueborn, but you touched Trinity, and that alone gives me more than enough strength to shatter every pathetic bone in your body, one by one. I won't kill you, though."
Trueborn: "No. You won't."
Zayne: "I'll just force you onto your shattered kneecaps, so she can deliver the death blow."
I wanted to kiss Zayne, right here and now.
Sulien: "I have a feeling you didn't know him at all. That he did actually love you at some point."
Zayne: "You need to shut up."
Sulien: "But then it all turned to hate. That's why you were able to kill him. I won't be that easy, because I don't hate you, Trinity. I feel nothing regarding you, but you hate me."
The corners of my vision turned white as golden light powered down my arm, the sword taking shape rapidly.
Trinity: "You're right. I do hate you."
Sulien: "All that rage ... It will be your ruin."
Zayne: "Walk? Impala? Motorcycle?"
Trinity: "You should know by now that I'm always going to take the option that doesn't involve walking."
He grinned at me, and I felt a happy wiggle in my stomach.
Zayne: "I knew there was a reason I liked you."
Cayman: "I expect that, as soon as these doors open, we'll be greeted in a note-so-fun matter. I can take care of them -"
Trinity: "In other words, kill them?"
Cayman: "Uh. Yeah."
Trinity: "How about Zayne and I knock them out or otherwise incapacitate them, and you do something with their memories? That's what we need."
The demon broker pouted
Cayman: "That's not nearly as fun."
Zayne: "You're not here to have fun."
Cayman: "Says who?"
Zayne sighed, stretching his neck from one side to the next.
Cayman: "Well, God ain't my boss. But whatever. I'll do as you ask, but I make no promises about the memories I'll leave behind. I think I'll give them a new obsession with BTS, who have officially replaced 1D on my best-things-ever list."
Trinity: "We have question, and you have important answers. So, we're going to have a little chitchat, and if you're smart, you're not going to make this hard for us. See the big blond guy behind me?"
Senator Fisher's lips thinned as he nodded
Trinity: "He's as strong as he is hot, and his hotness is off the charts. And I just learned today that he is extremely skilled when it comes to breaking bones."
Zayne: "Expert level."
Fisher: "Who are you people?"
Zayne: "Just your friendly neighborhood Warden. Oh, and demon and Trueborn."
How rapidly the man's face drained of blood was proof enough that he knew exactly who he was facing. His gaze focused on me.
I smiled again, lifting my sunglasses so that they were perched on my head as I tapped into my grace, just a little, letting it shine through.
Cayman: "The whole glowing thing is super creepy."
Only a demon would think it was creepy.
Fisher: "You might as well go ahead and kill me, because I cannot help you."
I sighed, rising from the coffee table.
Trinity: "I guess it's going to be the hard way."
Zayne didn't take my place. Instead, he grabbed a chair from the dining table set and then kicked the coffee table back, the stubby legs scratching deep grooves into the wood floors.
Cayman: "That was hot."
It really was.
Fisher: "You're a demon. You're going to preach to me about being on the right side?"
Cayman: "Sometimes the right side of history is made up of those you'd least expect."
A coldness filled he pit of my stomach as I glanced at Zayne, thinking that I never wanted to know what it felt like to get to the point the senator had, where I'd do anything to bring back the love of my life.
I, who rarely prayed, prayed then to never know what that felt like.
Zayne: "Ready to check out the new place?"
Trinity: "I actually forgot about that."
Trinity: "I know."
Zayne: "It's a lot like the other place. Same layout and all. Just two bedrooms."
Trinity: "Is two bedrooms really necessary now?"
Zayne: "I hope not. But two bathrooms will be amazing."
Zayne: "Because I'm tired of you using my body wash."
Trinity: "It's accidental."
Zayne: "Uh-huh. I think you just like to smell like me."
I continued to grin
Trinity: "The second room is probably a good idea, because I'm sure I'm going to get annoyed and kick you out of the bed at some point."
Zayne: "Sooner rather then later. Just don't kick me out entirely."
Trinity: "You don't have to worry about that."
Zayne: "Trin? What's going on in that head of yours?"
Trinity: "I'm ... I'm scared."
Zayne: "Scared of what? Or me?"
Trinity: "No. Never. I'm scared of ... I'm scared of us. I'm scared of what this means. I'm scared we're not supposed to be this. I'm scared that I'll lose you. I'm scared of how much I ... how much I feel for you. I'm scared."
Zayne's chest rose with a deep breath against mine and then those thick lashes swept down, shielding his eyes. His fingers splayed across my cheek.
Zayne: "So am I."
Trinity: "You are?"
His hand curled around the back of my head, fingers tangling in my hair.
Zayne: "You want to know the truth? It terrifies me. Every aspect of it, Trin. Feeling what I do for you, wanting what I want from you? There have been moments when I wished I felt this way about anyone other than you."
Trinity: "Okay. I wasn't expecting that."
Zayne: "Hear me out. What I feel terrifies me, because I'm not supposed to feel this way and God knows I've already been down that road. Wasn't exactly looking to repeat history. But it's more than that, Trin. It goes way beyond my past. It's because of who you are. You go out there every night and put your life on the line. You're hunting the kind of demons that skilled Wardens dread. You're looking for something that can kill demons and Wardens in seconds. I'm terrified of something happening to you, and that has nothing to do with what that means for me."
Trinity: "You're ding the same thing, Zayne. I can't even think if something happened - I wish you were a human who went to college and was studying to be a veterinarian."
His brows lifted.
Trinity: "Okay, maybe I don't want you to be a human. Humans are too easy to kill, but you get my point."
Zayne: "I do. So, I'm scared, but what I feel - what I want is still there. It's always there, and when I'm not with you, all I want to do is get back to you. At first I though it was the bond, but it's not. It's something entirely different."
His mouth grazed my cheekbone, drawing closer to my lips
Zayne: "And knowing that - knowing you feel ... feel right - I'll be damned if I'll walk away from that, even though it terrifies me. I need you to understand something."
His gaze caught mine, held it.
Zayne: "I know that what I feel for you is nothing like what I felt for Layla. Nothing. And I realized something the night Stacey and I talked."
Zayne: "I ... don't know if I was ever in love with her. I loved her. I knew that, but I think I was in love with the idea of her and us. And I think ... no, I know that the hardest part, what I've been dealing with since then, is realizing it would've never worked out between us, and how I could't see that. I will always love that girl. There won't be a time that I don't, but I'm not in love with her."
Trinity: "I'm scared of getting my heart broken.
Zayne: "So am I."
Trinity: "I couldn't ... If something happened to you, because we're together, I ..."
The hand on my jaw kept my gaze glued to his.
Zayne: "I know that my life is tied to yours, that if something happens to you, it happens to me, but that doesn't keep me from being terrified that I'll some how lose you. I will do anything to get to you if something happens. There is nothing that will stop me. A part of me understand why the senator did what he did. Hell, not a part of me. Everything in me understands, and the knowledge of what I'l do if I lost you? Yeah, that scares me, too."
A tremor rolled down my spine
Zayne: 'If my life wasn't bonded to yours and something happened to you? If you were taken from me, there's be nothing that would stop me from getting you back. I'd go to the ends of the Earth. I'd barter with everything I have. I know that's wrong. I know how bad that could go, but I would do it. And that's not because if the fact that if you were to die, so would I. In death, nothing would keep me from you. That I swear."
Trinity: "I'd do the same. If you were killed? I'd do anything to bring you back."
Zayne: "So, knowing that? I sure as Hell am not going to let some rule keep us apart. Nor the dear of seeing you get hurt. I'm a lot of things, Trin, but a coward isn't one of them. And you're not a coward, either."
Trinity: "No. No, I'm not."
Zayne: "Why is this coming up now and not two nights ago?"
Trinity: "Because you gave me stars and that means this is ... this is more."
Zayne: "I don't know what more means to you, but it means that I love you, Trinity Lynn. That I'm in love with you."
Trinity: "I want you."
Zayne: "That much is obvious."
Trinity: "I want you to be who you really are. You're my Protector. You're a Warden. I want you."
He sat down heavily on the edge of the bed
Zayne: "Do you know what that means?"
Trinity: "You don't have to. It was just - Never mind. It's dumb and too soon. Can we forget it?"
Zayne: "No. It's not dumb or too soon. It's just ... You amaze me."
A different kind of blush swept over me, but then Zayne rose, and he showed me who he truly was. I might've stopped breathing as he extended his hand.
I placed mine in his and as his fingers curled around mine, he returned to the bed, sitting.
Zayne: "That was ... I wasn't expecting that. I ... I don't think you know what ... that meant to me. I've always ... God, I used to worry about how I really looked. I guess a part of me still does."
Trinity: "You have no reason. Like I said before, you're beautiful in both forms. And just to sound extra cheesy for you, it's because of what's in here."
I pressed a hand to his chest
Trinity: "You say I have a light about me, but you are my light."
Zayne reclaimed the space between us, kissing me.
Zayne: "You're never getting rid of me now."
Trinity: "I wouldn't want to."
Zayne: "I'll remind you that you said that. You know, you're perfect for me."
Trinity: "This is why we should've fought this. This is why, just because something feels right -"
Zayne caught me around the waist as I passed him, pulling me into his lap.
Zayne: "No. this does not mean that, Trin. This only means it is what it is, and we have to deal with it. That's all."
Trinity: "How can you make it sound like it's nothing?"
Zayne: "Because it doesn't change anything. It doesn't lessen what I feel for you, and I know damn well, after what you just gave me, it doesn't lessen what you feel for me."
Zayne: "We'll figure this out, limitations and all."
Zayne: "Promise. Remember, Trin. Forever."
Trinity: "I remember."
And I did. I would never forget.
Cayman: "Look, all I'm saying is I wouldn't throw a life jacket to that guy if our boat was sinking."
Zayne rubbed his brow as he shook his head
Trinity: "Well. You are a demon, so ..."
Cayman: "I'd also kill baby Hitler. Easily."
Cayman: "I'd kill baby Harbinger, too."
Layla: "Really? A baby? But what if there was a chance you could change him?"
Exhaling heavily, Zayne dropped his hand but still looked like he was about to have an aneurysm.
Roth: "Some people can't change. Evil is their destiny."
Layla: "But a baby? That would be hard."
Cayman: "Not really."
Zayne: "Is this a necessary conversation to have right now?"
Trinity: "No, I agree. Knowing what the Harbinger has been doing, I'd go back in time and terminate his ass."
Layla was quiet and then she nodded.
Layla: "Yeah, I'd kill baby Harbinger."
Roth crossed his arms
Roth: "You know I'd do it."
Zayne: "Now, that's a shocker."
Cayman: "I'd do it, but then again, I don't have a problem killing some babies, because I'm a demon."
Cayman paused as we all turned toward him again
Cayman: "Oh, was that an overshare?"
I lifted my pointer finger and thumb
Trinity: "Just a little."
Roth: "What about you, Zayne? Would you kill baby Harbinger?"
Zayne: "Yes. I would. Now that we've all agreed that we'd kill baby Harbinger, can we get a move on?"
Cayman: "Sure. I don't know about you guys, but this sharing and caring moment makes me feel like we're a real team that can get stuff done. Like the Avengers, but more evil."
Layla: "So, pretty much like Tony Stark?"
Cayman: "Tony Stark is not evil!"
Cayman shouted, causing me to jump
Cayman: "Why do you keep saying that? He's the only one who ever tried to set boundaries. He just has moral gray areas, thank you very much."
Trinity: "You know he's not real? Right?"
Cayman spun on me
Cayman: "How dare you?"
Zayne: "Okay. Really. Seriously."
Zayne: "I can still fight."
Trinity: "Yes, you can. We've already discussed this, but the moment they realize that your skin is as soft as a baby's butt, they're going to exploit that."
Roth: "She has a point, man."
Zayne: "Would you sit out while Layla went in there?"
Roth: "Well, my skin would never be as soft as a baby's butt, so no."
I threw up my hands, exasperated, as I glared at Zayne.
Trinity: "You cannot go in there."
Layla: "Hold up."
Layla jumped in, turning to Roth
Layla: "If something happened that made you more vulnerable, would you really put yourself in danger out of some backward caveman need to protect me? Even when I clearly don't need you to protect me?"
Roth opened his mouth
Layla: "Think really hard about how you answer that question. Because you and I are going to have a very uncomfortable evening if you say yes."
Roth closed his mouth
Zayne: "I hate this. I hate the idea of not being in there with you. I'm your Protector. This feels ... wrong."
Trinity: "I know. But I'll be okay. And you'll be okay. We just need time to adapt to this. Patrol. Hunt. We haven't had that time yet."
Zayne: "Don't be logical. That's not your job. It's mine."
Before I could point out that I was entitled to be logical every once in a while, Zayne kissed me, and it was no quick, chaste kiss, He coaxed my lips open with his, and the moment the kiss deepened the world around us faded away. I leaned farther into him, and when the sound he made rumbled through me, my toes curled.
Cayman: "Well, not we know why Zayne's suddenly all soft and virtually useless. Look at the happy couple."
Zayne: "I can still kill you."
Zayne's lips brushed mine once more before he lifted his head, pinning the demon broker with a dark look.
Cayman: "I'm affronted."
Roth: "That was the consequence? You fall in love and it weakens you?"
Zayne: "Apparently. Messed up, right?"
Roth: "More than messed up. That's downright -"
Cayman: "Smart? What? It makes sense. Love can be a weakness or it can be a strength, but no matter what, love is always the priority. You both would put each other first, before your duty, and the ones in charge would see that as a weakness. Something they'd want to prevent."
Zayne: "Well, thanks for your input. That makes us both feel better about everything."
Zayne: "Be careful."
Trinity: "I will. You be careful, too."
Roth: "You think what's going on with Zayne is permanent?"
Trinity: "I don't know. I hope it's temporary, but ..."
Roth: "But you'd have to stop loving him. Or he'd have to stop loving you."
Roth: "Do you think that's possible?"
Trinity: "I ... I don't know how you even fall in love, so I don't know how to fall out of it."
Roth: "You don't. At least, you can't make yourself fall out of love."
Trinity: "You sound like you've tried."
Roth: "I did."
Trinity: "You really can see?"
Trinity: "That's reassuring -"
A finger glided off my cheek
Trinity: "Don't touch me."
Roth: "I didn't."
Trinity: "It wasn't you."
His grip tightened on my hand.
Roth: "Would you think less of me if I admitted I'm kind of creeped out?"
Trinity: "I'm kidding."
The edge of my braid lifted. I snatched it free with my other hand.
Trinity: "If any more of you pervy ghosts lay a hand on me, I will end you existence."
Gabriel: "I am bored with this. You cannot win. You will never win. Submit."
Trinity: "Oh, well, when you ask that nicely, it sucks having to say no."
Gabriel: "You are not worthy of what God gifted you. Just like the rest of the humans. You took the purity of a soul and the honor of free will and threw them away."
Trinity: "I didn't throw away anything."
Gabriel: "You're wrong. No human soul, not even my son's, is clean or worthy of saving."
Trinity: "Wow. Father of the year right here."
Gabriel: "At least I'll be there when he dies. Will Michael be able to say the same?"
Trinity: "Probably not. But I don't care."
Gabriel: "That was embarrassing. You're nothing but a flawed waste of grace, Trinity. Give it up. I can make the next couple of weeks peaceful for you, or I can make them a constant waking nightmare. It is your choice."
When he let go of my hand, I fell back. My gaze blanked out on me for a moment.
Gabriel: "In the end, you're nothing but flesh and bone. Dying from the day you were born."
Gabriel: "It's all rather revolted, how the human race aids in its own decay."
Gabriel: "Your rage. Your selfishness. Your basic human emotions. All of it corrupts what should never have been given to humans."
The bond in my chest burned, and I knew Zayne was coming. He was close. Too close.
Get up before he gets here.
Trinity: "You're right. I am flesh. I am flawed. I am selfish, but I am also grace."
I spat out a mouthful of blood, and from the rage and the ruin, I rose onto my feet.
Trinity: "I have heavenly fire in my blood. I have a human soul, and that is something you will never have."
The archangel drew back.
Trinity: "That's it, isn't it? That's why you hate God. That's why you want to destroy everything. It's not to make it better. It's not to end suffering, you lunatic. All of this is because you don't have a soul."
I laughed, stumbling backward, summoning my grace.
Trinity: "You're a walking cliche, and you date to insult the aspirations of humans?"
Blood spewed from my mouth as I coughed and my breath wheezed.
Trinity: "You ... talk a lot."
Gabriel: "I was the voice of God. The messenger of His Faith and Glory, but I am not the Harbinger, and I will usher in a new era. Retribution will be pain with the cleansing power of blood, and as Heaven crumbles into itself, those who remain will have a new God."
Roth: "She's right. You do talk too much. And you know what? You sound an awful lot like someone I know. Does this sound familiar? 'I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.' "
Gabriel: "Do not compare me to him."
Roth: "Wouldn't think of it. It would be an insult to the Shining One."
Several things happened at once. Gabriel let out a roar that shook the world as he threw out his arm. Something must've left his hand, because I heard Roth grunt and hot the ground, laughing - he was laughing. Gabriel's sneer faded.
Roth: "Idiot. Egotistical idiot. I hope it eases you to know that you were right."
Zayne: "You will be here for the death of your son."
Roth: "I know of one thing that can take down an archangel."
My gaze shifted to him
Trinity: "What is it? Another archangel? Obviously none of them want to get involved. My father didn't even - They're not stepping in. It's up to me."
Roth: "I'm not talking about any of those self-righteous and seriously unhelpful bastards who created their own little homegrown terrorist. I'm talking about the one being who'd love nothing more than to take down on of his brethren."
Layla: "You can't be thinking what I'm thinking you're thinking."
Roth: "I'm not just thinking it. I'm planning it, shortie."
Trinity: "Lucifer. You're talking about Lucifer."
Peanut: "Holy gumdrops."
Trinity: "Do it. Talk to Lucifer. Convince him. But there's something else I want."
Trinity: "I want Zayne."
Layla: "Trinity. He's -"
Trinity: "I know where he is. I know that he's gone. I want him back. I will get him back."
Roth came to the bed and sat
Roth: "Trinity, if I could do that, I would. I would do it for both of you. I swear it, but I cannot. No one -"
Trinity: "Not true. Grim can. And before I do a damn thing for my father or for the human race, I want Zayne. I want him back, alive, and I don't care how selfish that makes me, but he deserves to be here, with me."
My voice cracked and Roth lowered his gaze
Trinity: "I deserve that, and the damn Grim Reaper will give him back to me. Tell me where to find him or how to reach him."
Trinity: "I never got to tell him I love him. I should've told him that, but I didn't and his last words to me were that it was okay -"
My voice cracked as I clamped my mouth shut. It took several seconds before I could speak again.
Trinity: "I will get him back."
Gabriel had been wrong. Rage and ruin had no corrupted me. They powered me. I would do anything, give up anything, to make Zayne's return happen. Anything. Because we'd promised each other forever, and we would have that, one way or another.
Slowly, Roth lifted his gaze to mine and then, after an eternity, he nodded.
Roth: "I will tell you how to find him."
And he did.
Check out the first book in the Harbinger Trilogy below.