Anger flared in his eyes, dispelling the softness that had gathered in them. His hands curled into fists. “Whatever it is that… you two are doing that’s causing those runes to show up, you need to stop.”
I looked at him blandly. “I’ve already decided that, but that isn’t going to stop it from happening eventually. And you know what the really messed up thing is? My mom warned me that the First would drain me. I just thought she was being all daimon crazy.”
Aiden reclaimed the little distance I’d been able to put between us. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, Alex. That goes for Seth, too.”
Whoa. My heart did a crazy thing there. And he really sounded like he believed he could. “Aiden, you can’t stop this. No one can.”
“We can’t stop you from Awakening, but the power transfer will only happen if you touch after you turn eighteen, right? Then you don’t touch.”
I couldn’t possibly imagine Seth being down with the whole “not-touching” part, but he’d understand once he knew what it could possibly do. “He’ll understand,” I said. “I’ll talk to him when he gets back. This is probably something better to discuss face to face.”
Aiden didn’t look convinced. “I don’t like this.”
“You don’t like him,” I pointed out gently.
“You’re right. I don’t like Seth, but there’s something more to this.”
“Isn’t there always?” I moved slightly and felt his breath over my lips. If I moved an inch, our lips would touch. And Aiden was suddenly staring at my mouth.
“I’ll talk to Marcus,” Aiden said, voice gruff.
“You already said that.”
“I did?” His head angled slightly. “We should head back.”
I swallowed. Aiden wasn’t moving and every muscle in my body demanded that I cross that tiny space between us. But I pushed back the chair, making a horrible scratching noise. I stood. There didn’t seem to be enough air in the little room with faded, pea-green walls. I started toward the door, but stopped when I realized I’d left my bag on the table. I turned around.
Aiden stood in front of me. I hadn’t heard him rise or move toward me. He had my bag in hand, book already tucked inside. And he was standing so close that the tips of his shoes brushed mine. My heart was racing and it felt like a dozen butterflies had exploded in my stomach. I was half-afraid to breathe, to feel what I knew I wasn’t allowed.
He placed the strap of my bag over my shoulder and then he tucked my hair back behind my ear. I thought that maybe he was going to hug me—or shake me, because that was always a possibility. But then his hand slid over my cheek and his thumb smoothed over my lower lip, careful with the faint scar over the center, even though the pain had long since ceased.
I sucked in a sharp breath. His eyes were liquid silver. My pulse pounded through me. I knew he wanted to kiss me, maybe do other stuff. My skin was tingling with excitement, anticipation, and so much want. And I think he was feeling what I was. I didn’t need a stupid cord to tell me that.
But Aiden wouldn’t act on it. He had the kind of self-control that rivaled those of the virgin priestesses who’d served in Artemis’ temples. And there were all the other reasons why he shouldn’t—why I shouldn’t.
Aiden closed his eyes and exhaled roughly. When his eyes reopened, he dropped his hand and shot me a quick smile. “Ready?” he asked.
Missing his touch already, all I could do was nod. We walked back to my dorm in silence. I kept stealing glances at him, and he didn’t look angry just lost in his own thoughts and perhaps a little sad.
Aiden walked me straight to my door as if some crazy Order member or a furie was going to jump out of a supply closet. The hall was nearly empty since I shared the first floor with a lot of pures. Their parents had pulled them from class on Monday, getting an earlier start on winter break. He nodded curtly and waited until I closed and locked the door.
Dropping my bag by the couch, I sat and pulled out the cell phone Seth had given me. There was only one contact saved in the address book: Cuddle Bunny.
I couldn’t help but laugh. There always seemed to be two sides to Seth—the funny and charming side, the one who could be patient and gentle. And then there was a whole different side—the Seth I didn’t really know, the one who seemed to only tell half-truths and was the physical embodiment of everything I feared.
Taking a deep breath, I pressed on the name and heard the phone ring once, twice, and then kick over to a standard voicemail greeting.
Seth didn’t answer. Nor did he call back that entire evening.
I HAD NO CLUE WHAT SETH COULD BE DOING THAT HE was unable to return a call. It wasn’t like I was worried about his safety. Seth could take care of himself. But I did wonder if he was still mad at me. Funny thing was, if he wasn’t, he was going to be after I got done talking to him. Pushing Seth out of my mind was surprisingly easy as I entered Technical Truths and Legends.
Deacon glanced up, grinning as I sat beside him. I was surprised to see him on the last day of classes. I figured that, out of everyone, he would have wiggled his way out of class. “How did your library visit go? Get any studying done?”
I peeked at the front of the classroom. Luke was talking to Elena, but he was watching us—Deacon—out of the corner of his eye. “My library visit?” I focused on Deacon. “How was yours?”
“Good. Got a lot of studying done.” Deacon didn’t even miss a beat.
“Wow.” I lowered my voice. “Amazing, considering neither of you had any books to study.”
Deacon opened his mouth, but shut it.
The tips of his ears turned bright red. He tapped his fingers on the top of the desk. “Well, then.”