The Beautiful Ashes

Page 48

His grin vanished. “When I met Zach and learned about my mother’s death, I researched the slingshot David would’ve used, then made sure I knew how to use it. Zach didn’t bother telling me until recently that only a Davidian or a demon from Goliath’s line can utilize the slingshot’s true power.”

Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. It could be that Zach hadn’t cared enough to relay the information before, but I thought the Archon might’ve had another motivation.

If Adrian had known he couldn’t use David’s slingshot to kill demons, he wouldn’t have learned how to use the ancient weapon. Because he had, now he was teaching me. Was that Zach’s plan? To keep Adrian near me at every opportunity so he’d be unable to avoid his fate?

If so, I intended that plan to backfire, and I knew how to do it because Adrian had told me himself that touching me was his weakness. So I deliberately brushed against him when he showed me which finger the loop went on and how to hold the rope. His lips tightened, but he acted as if he didn’t notice. Then he took my wrist, moving it to mimic the far faster manner I’d need to perfect to get the stone to fly out.

“First you spin the rope to build up momentum,” Adrian said. “Then you aim and snap it when you let go. Try it.”

I did, and the stone dropped near my feet instead of slinging toward the target. Legendary bloodline or not, clearly I wasn’t a natural.

“That happens to everyone the first time,” Adrian said evenly. “Try again.”

I did three more times, and got the same results. My spirits sank. No wonder Demetrius had said he wasn’t afraid of me. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, let alone him or any other demons guarding Jasmine.

“Here.” Adrian pulled me to him, his body so close that I could feel his heart beating. Then his hand covered mine, though he spread his fingers so he didn’t impede the rope. “We’ll do it together. Move when I do, Ivy.”

We began to spin the rope, first in slower circles, then fast enough to hear that whirring noise. My sense of despair diminished because it was easy to move with Adrian. So easy. His arm shadowed mine while his chest was a muscled wall that teased my back. Every time I adjusted my stance, his thighs brushed the backs of mine, making my breath catch. He was so big, so powerful, yet his breathing roughened when I leaned into him, and brought my body tighter against his. I’d started the taunting touches to chip away at his self-control, but I might end up being the one who came undone.

“On the count of three,” Adrian ordered, voice much hoarser than before. “One...”

I leaned forward and aimed. His body curved, following the movement, and feeling his hips line up with mine almost made me drop the rope.


His breath seared the back of my neck, making gooseflesh spring up. When his jaw brushed my cheek as he adjusted to look at the target, I almost rubbed against him like a cat. The feel of him was more than exciting. It was the stuff obsessions were made of.


I let go when I felt his fingers lift, and the slingshot snapped forward with a crack. The rock didn’t hit the beer bottle, but it hit the branch it was on, bouncing off after leaving a gash in the wood.

“Yes!” I shouted, so happy I spun around and hugged Adrian.

His arms tightened until it was hard to breathe, but all at once, I didn’t care about breathing. I hadn’t hugged him with ulterior motives, yet my whole body seemed to come alive in his embrace. I reared back, suddenly desperate to see him. The ridges and hollows that made up his high cheekbones, full mouth, dark gold brows and straight nose were arresting enough, but it was his eyes that had me transfixed. Molten silver gripped sapphire in the same unbreakable hold Adrian had me in, and the blatant need displayed there made things low in my body clench.

“You can’t keep teasing me this way.” His voice was so guttural, it was almost animalistic. “I’m not the good guy, Ivy. I’m the bad one who’ll take everything and then leave.”

My mouth felt dry, but that wasn’t why I licked my lips.

“You’re wrong,” I breathed. “Maybe you were once, but you’re not anymore. Otherwise, you’d have already done it.”

“Do you two mind?” a disgusted voice muttered behind us. “I know that’s Ivy, but I’m still going to have nightmares about you dry-humping a Hound, Adrian.”

The mental image caught me off guard, and I burst out laughing. We’d hardly been doing that, though the mere sight of Adrian hugging a Hound would be highly disturbing.

Adrian released me, but his smoldering gaze promised that this wasn’t over. I couldn’t agree more, though for different reasons. Now wasn’t the time, however. We had an audience, and we’d already traumatized Costa enough.

Adrian must’ve thought so, too. He strode over to Costa, twisting the top off one of the beer bottles he’d brought for target practice.

“This’ll help wash away the memory.”

Costa took it, muttering something in Greek that had Adrian snorting as if in agreement. I turned my attention back to the target, taking out another stone from the duffel bag.

Now that I knew I could operate the slingshot, I just had to learn how to do it better.

Chapter twenty-nine

Several hours later, I flopped back against the couch, letting the remote control slide from my fingers. The cabin we’d been staying in boasted a wood-burning fireplace, but the cable channel lineup sucked.

For the fifth time in the past thirty minutes, I glanced at Costa’s suitcase. Tonight was our last night in this cozy, remote hideout, and Costa, ever prepared, had already packed. He even had his suitcase by the door, leaving out just the items he’d need to get ready in the morning.

I hadn’t meant to spy on him while he packed. I’d been flipping through channels, and his room happened to be to the left of the TV set. His door also happened to be cracked, and it just so happened that I saw what he slipped into his suitcase before he hauled it to the door and left with Adrian to get dinner. See? Total accident.

Besides, I reminded myself as I gave into temptation and slinked over to Costa’s suitcase, he hadn’t told me I wasn’t allowed to use his laptop. He just hadn’t mentioned it, much like I intended not to mention taking advantage of the cabin’s Wi-Fi connection. Okay, if I got caught, the guys wouldn’t be happy, but yesterday, Costa had eaten my bag of Fritos without asking permission and I didn’t flip out. Why? Because friends shared. Everyone knew that.

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