Home > Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1)(12)

Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1)(12)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Even if it had been only twelve hours.

“Hi, Thierry,” Jada called, and my gaze swiveled around the bright, airy kitchen until I saw him sitting at the island, coffee cup in front of him and his dark hands on the white marble countertop.

“Hey, girl.” He smiled at his niece as she bent down and kissed his cheek, then went to the fridge. “I didn’t know you were over here.”

“Just came by. Mom wanted me to grab some Mississippi pot roast recipe from Matthew,” she said. “Look who I found.”

I waved awkwardly from the doorway.

Thierry’s expression turned bland as he reached over and patted the bar stool. “Come sit with me.”

Feeling like I was six years old and just got caught eating the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box, I dragged my feet over to him and sat down. “Hi,” I said lamely, peeking over at him.

The skin around his eyes crinkled. “Hi.”

“Want something to drink?” Jada asked as she poured herself a glass of apple juice.

I shook my head and decided to get this over with. “How much trouble am I in?”

Thierry cocked his head. “How much do you think you’re in?”

Lifting my hands, I spaced them about a foot apart. “That much?”

“Not quite sure what that represents, but last night I briefly considered locking your doors and windows.” Thierry picked up his mug. “You were in the Great Hall when you knew you shouldn’t have been there. If the rest of the clan had seen you, what do you think they would’ve thought?”

I clasped my hands in my lap. “That I’m...nosy?”

“Yes, but more important, they would question why I did not know that a girl was eavesdropping on a very important conversation. Do you understand what that says about my control here, my authority? Our visitors could’ve been offended, knowing that I didn’t have our meeting secured.”

Glancing at Jada, I saw that she was studiously staring at her vibrant pink nails.

“I am the Duke, and there should never be a situation where I have someone eavesdropping on my meetings,” he continued, and I felt about as tall as a banana, and I hated bananas. “You’re lucky that it was Zayne who saw you and that he appears to be more amused than anything else.”

Amused? He was amused by me? That—

“You know that my authority can be challenged at any time.”

I gasped, looking at him sharply. I did know that, but would any Warden really see me eavesdropping as a massive failure on Thierry’s part? One that was so bad that he should be removed as the Duke?

That seemed like an excessive response.

His bright blue eyes met and held mine. “Right now, there are too many things going on for any mistakes or mishaps.”

Nibbling on my thumbnail, something I did whenever I was nervous, I shifted my gaze to the island.

“You know how important it is, for your own safety, to be smarter than you were last night.” He touched my arm lightly, drawing my attention back to him. “Your father would not be thrilled to know about this. That you can count on.”

Normally I would’ve laughed off the comment about my safety, but when Thierry referenced my father? Totally different story. Ice drenched my skin. I didn’t need to look at Jada to know she felt the same chill. I couldn’t help but ask. “You... Are you going to tell him?”

Thierry eyed me over the rim of his mug. It was then that I saw it read I Can’t Adult Today. Matthew. That was such a Matthew saying. Thierry lowered the mug. “No.”

Relief swept through the room like a summer’s breeze.

“Only because I really don’t want to talk to that sanctimonious son of a bitch today.”

I blinked.

Thierry’s lips twitched. “I’d rather have had our visitors come and leave never having seen you, but that’s no longer in the cards. They know you’re living here, or at least Zayne does, and if you were to suddenly never be seen again, they might think we’re hiding something. That doesn’t mean I want you seeking them out. I know how curious you get, often too curious for your own good. Nip that in the bud.”

I figured this wasn’t a good time to point out that we were hiding something. Me. But this was one of those rare moments that I knew not to say the first thing that came to my mind.

I said the second thing. “Should I not seek them out because Zayne is a bad dude?”

Thierry’s dark brows rose. “What? Why would you think that?”

I glanced at Jada. “I...don’t know?”

The corners of his lips turned down. “Zayne is...very honorable for such a young male. He is the opposite of a...bad dude.”

Okay. Well, that was totally the opposite of what Misha had said, which was weird. How would Misha know something about Zayne that Thierry didn’t?

I pushed the anomaly aside for the time being. “I won’t seek them out or anything like that, but...” I took a deep breath. “If any of them ask questions about me and what I’m doing here, what do I tell them?”

“Tell them the truth.”

Jada choked on her juice.

“Come again?” I squeaked.

“They’ll sense the human part of you and nothing else.”

“And if they ask how she ended up here?” Jada asked. “Do we tell them a pack of wolves dropped her off?”

I looked at her blandly.

“If they ask how you ended up here, you tell them the truth that the rest of those who live here know,” he explained, resting his arms on the island. “Your mother and I met while I was in New York, when you were a young child. She was exposed to demons, wounded in a way that would have aroused human suspicion, so we brought her here. She stayed with us. Understand?”

That was...kind of the truth but not really. I nodded nonetheless.

Thierry’s gaze met mine once more. “We do not know what they’re capable of, Trinity. We already learned the hard way with people we thought we knew. Greed for power knows no discrimination, no boundaries.”

The ice returned, seeping through my skin to my very marrow, and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I did know that. God, did I ever.

One of the prices paid for us to learn that...was my mom. “I know,” I whispered.

“Good,” Thierry replied. “Because they must never know what you are.”

5

“I can’t believe you didn’t get into trouble.” Misha handed the iron dagger to me.

I took it, wrapping my fingers around the leather-bound handle. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

His brows, more brown than red, lowered. “I hope he at least yelled at you.”

“No one asked to know what you hoped for, but yes, he did lecture me, thanks to you.”

He snorted. “Sucks for you.”

“It’s your fault.”

“How about I get you fries with extra cheese and bacon for your dinner to make up for it? The kind you like from that restaurant outside the walls?”

“Outback,” I whispered. My eyes widened like an entire chorus of angels had begun singing in front of me. “Outback cheese fries?”

“Oh, wait. I have plans later. Can’t do that for you.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You’re such a jerk.”

He chuckled, but it was probably a good thing he wasn’t going to get me the cheese fries. Wardens had a crazy fast metabolism, and the human DNA in me had the kind of metabolism that constantly thought I needed to store fat as if I were a bear about to enter hibernation.

Luckily—or unluckily—it stored a lot of it in the chest area. And in the hips.

And the thighs.

Whatever.

I’d still happily destroy that plate of cheese fries all by myself if given the chance. My stomach grumbled. I would do some really bad things for those fries actually.

Sighing, I looked around the massive room. Not like the fries were going to magically appear in the sprawling training facility where Wardens were educated in all manner of combat. Hand to hand. Grappling. Defensive and offensive takedowns. Mixed martial arts. There were even rooms for target practice with guns. Not that guns were particularly useful when it came to dispatching demons, but a head shot could slow them down and even knock them out for a while.

Some of the rooms did double duty, though. The one Misha and I were in was full of thick, blue mats to soften the blow of being pile-driven into the floor when learning how to do a takedown or recover from one. It was also used for knife play, which meant throwing very sharp daggers at very lifelike dummies.

Feeling the weight of the blade in my hand, I opened my fingers and then closed them. Iron was deadly to demons. So were Warden claws and teeth, but if you wanted to take out a demon without getting too close, an iron blade blessed in holy water was the way to go.

I eyed the hairless, expressionless creation across the room. It was too far away to see the many nicks that covered nearly every square inch of its very real-looking flesh. From where I stood, it was just a blob of a shape.

“I was thinking, you know, about you laying low while they’re here.” Misha moved with me, so he didn’t stand too far in my peripheral. “Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but maybe just stay away from the Great Hall.”

“I doubt I’ll see them again,” I said, lifting the blade as I thought about what Thierry had said about Zayne, which was vastly different from Misha’s warning.

“You’re not going to the Accolade tonight? They’ll be there.”

“That doesn’t mean I’ll see them. I doubt they’d notice me.”

“I think you underestimate how much you stick out.”

I looked over at him, frowning.

He lifted a brow. “It’s the human thing. We can easily sense that.”

“And honestly that’s not a big deal, right? I’m not stupid. It’s not like I’m going to walk up to one of them and be like, Hey, nice to meet you, I’m a walking, breathing myth. Want the 411?”

   
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