“Aw, did you just fall?"
"No." I rolled onto my back, wincing. "I attacked the floor.”
“Ever since I’ve met you, I’ve wanted to break every rule.” Aiden turned away, the muscles in his neck tensing. He sighed. “You’ll become the centre of someone’s world one day. And he’ll be the luckiest son of a bitch on this earth.”
“So...uh, you're a Team Edward kind of guy?'
He snorted. 'No. I'm Team James or Team Tyler's Van, but apparently neither of them won by the look of it. She's still alive.”
“You know what?” His breath was warm against my cheek. “There are a lot of stupid things to do, but I really want to do the stupidest thing possible.”
“I want to kiss you.”
“I guess there were two types of people in the world, those who sat around a fire, staring into the flames, and those who started the fire.
Seth and I started the fire, and then we danced around it.”
“No one is like you, Alex."
I grinned. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"It is." He nudged me again, and my grin gew into another ludicrous smile- the kind Caleb gave Olivia when they weren't tearing each other's heads off. "You're incredibly intelligent, Alex. Funny and..."
"No, not pretty."
I frowned. "Well, then."
Aiden's laugh sent shivers through me. "I was going to say 'stunning.' You're stunningly beautiful.”
“You know what? Lets go." I shot Aiden a defiant look. "Come on Seth. Let's go continue our lovers' quarrel."
"Yes my love, that sounds fantastic. Don't forget to grab a dagger so you can poke my eyeballs out.”
“I love your bed." I rolled onto my stomach, smiling.
"I love it so much I'd marry it if I could."
Seth laughed out loud. "You'd marry my bed?"
“Seth threw me a mischievous grin. “I can’t have Marcus just walking in on us. What if I want to snuggle on these cold New York nights?”
My frown increased. “We don’t snuggle.”
He dropped his arm over my shoulder, and the scent of mint and something wild tickled my nose. “How about we cuddle?”
“We don’t do that either.”
“But you’re my cuddle bunny. My little Apollyon cuddle—” I punched him in the side.”
“You know what, you need to stay out of my bedroom. You have your own.”
He smiled. “I know I do. I see it quite often. I just prefer your bed. It smells better.”
I made a face. “It smells better? What does your bed smell like? Regret and bad taste?”
“You'll become the center of someone's world one day. And he'll be the luckiest son of a bitch on this earth.”
“On a good day, the animosity levels between us were usually at CODE RED. Bad days they were at CODE I’M GOING TO KILL YOU.”
“Cold up there, huh?” Yeah, it kind of was. “Stupid down there, huh?” Seth’s brows flew up. “For one in such a precarious position, you sure don’t know how to talk yourself out of it.” “That’s because it’s hard to reason with idiots.” I gave him a cheeky grin. “Why bother?”
“He hadn’t left, and apparently, Seth was a cuddler.”
“One of my Instructors at the Covenant has a tattoo of it on his arm.”
His lips pursed. “Minister Telly has one on his arm, too.”
“How in the world do you know that?” We cut across the frost- covered lawn to one of the covered walkways connecting smaller buildings to the main one. “Have you been sneaking into his room and cuddling with him, too?”
“Don’t be jealous. You’re my only cuddle bunny.”
“It’s not great. What kind of connection is this? A one-way hotline to Pervyville?” I took a step forward, on a roll now. “It’s disgusting. Freaky—stop laughing, Seth!”
“How in the world did they just jump from politics, to a ball, and now to daimon attacks? And here I’d thought I had the attention span of an ant on Red Bull.”
“The little ball went up, then down, then up in his palm. My inner golden retriever couldn’t look away.”
“You told me you wanted to marry Seth's bed, and then you told me you'd marry me if I asked. After that, you started to-"
"Enough," I groaned, wanting to crawl under the blankets.”
“Do you know why a heart lays claim? Survival. That heart lays its claim to ensure survival of its kind.”
“I wouldn't give up being a Sentinel for the world. Or being the Apollyon. I rock."
"Wow. You're so humble.”
“Since when do you care about rules?"
"I'm a changed person."
"When did you change? Just now? 'Cuz I heard about your smack down in the cafeteria yesterday.”
“He clapped his hands together, letting out a rather high-pitched squeal before grabbing my hand. “Oh, we are going to have so much fun! Aren’t we? Fun, Alex—we will have fun.”
“Hmm… I’m having this strange sense of déjà vu, except you were telling me to stay out of your training business, and I told you how weird—” “That’s funny.” Aiden’s full lips twisted into a smirk. “I’m having the same feeling, except I said you should—” “Oh, for the love of baby daimons everywhere, I’m ready to start practice.” I pushed up from the chair.”
“Okay. You’re the best Apollyon there is.”
He tipped his head to the side and arched a brow. “I’m the only Apollyon there is right now.”
I grinned. “You’re still the best.”
“But love, child, love is the root of all that is good, and the root of all things that are evil.”
He held my hand up between us. 'Look.'
I squinted at my hands. 'I don't see anything.' Sighing, he flipped my hand over, and my jaw hit the ground. A faint blue line marked the center of my palm with a smaller line through it. It would've looked like a cross, except the horizontal line was slanted.
'Oh. My. Gods.' I jerked my hand away, scrambling back. 'I have a rune on my hand. It's an Apollyon rune, isn't it.'
Seth rested his hands on his knees. 'I think so. I have one like that.'
'But why is it still there? Why is it there at all?' I flipped my palm over several times, shook it, but the faint blue tattoo was still there. 'You can see it, right? Like right now, you can see it?'
'Yes. It hasn't faded.' Seth leaned forward, catching my hand. 'Stop shaking it like it's a damn Etch-A-Sketch. That doesn't make them disappear.”
“So childish, Alex. You’ve ruined her dress.” The vibrant red silk floated around me as I treaded water. “I know. Bad me.”
“What do you think it means if someone has a tattoo of Thanatos’s symbol?” “Nothing probably, since a lot of us have tattoos of various symbols.” “You don’t.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them. His eyes turned from gray to silver in a heartbeat. I imagined he was remembering how I would know if he had a tattoo hidden somewhere.”
“I was the real winner of Dom Wars. I’d won the treasure of a lifetime in Tara. Nothing else mattered except getting us both out of here alive.”
“It was all the same to him where he would end up; what mattered most was the fact he had finally escaped … and shown … that his will was stronger than mere commands and edicts.”
“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group.”
“I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke a language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.”
“By the latter part of 1861 the War Department had taken over from the states the responsibility for feeding, clothing, and arming Union soldiers. But this process was marred by inefficiency, profiteering, and corruption. To fill contracts for hundreds of thousands of uniforms, textile manufacturers compressed the fibers of recycled woolen goods into a material called “shoddy.” This noun soon became an adjective to describe uniforms that ripped after a few weeks of wear, shoes that fell apart, blankets that disintegrated, and poor workmanship in general on items necessary to equip an army of half a million men and to create its support services within a few short months.”
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