Home > Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2)(11)

Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2)(11)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

I felt the sudden hot pressure along the nape of my neck, and a heartbeat later, the door glided open. The first person I saw was the demon prince.

Roth was death and sin wrapped in one really gorgeous package. Dark spiky hair. High, angular cheekbones. Lush mouth. His face alone could launch a thousand magazine covers and probably start a few wars.

“You look so thrilled to see me,” Roth said, his tone light and those lips curved into a half smile as he looked at Zayne. The demon was a little taller than the Warden, but not as broad.

“I’m just bursting with excitement. I can barely contain myself.” Zayne remained by the door, his tone dry as a piece of burnt toast. “Didn’t realize you knew where I lived.”

“I always knew,” the demon replied.

“Well, that is...great.”

“I didn’t know.” A familiar voice spoke from behind Roth. “He never told me he knew where you lived.”

My gaze zeroed in on the elevator bay. Roth wasn’t alone, and he definitely hadn’t brought Cayman.

The one who spoke was her. Layla. And God, seeing her, it was easy to understand why Zayne had fallen for her so hard. Why even a demon like Roth would fall in love. She was a paradox. With white-blond hair, big eyes and a bow-shaped mouth, she had a startling blend of doll-like innocence and raw seduction etched into every feature. She was the embodiment of good and evil, the daughter of a Warden and one of the most powerful demons in the world, who luckily was caged in Hell.

I knew there was more to her than the fact she was interesting to look at. There had to be for Zayne to have loved her. He was measurably less shallow than me.

“Kind of surprised he kept that secret,” Zayne said, clearly amused and maybe even a little happy. “I see someone tagged along with you guys.”

“Couldn’t shake her.” Roth turned toward me just as someone else darted out of the elevator and all but launched herself at Zayne.

He easily caught the tall, thin girl in dark jeans and a violet-blue tank top. Her arms circled his shoulders, and his went around her narrow waist.

Who in the holy hot water was that?

My insides felt weird, chilled to the bone, as I watched Zayne dip his head and say something to the girl that earned a muffled laugh from her. What had he said? Better yet, why was he still holding her like they were long-lost best friends who didn’t care that one of them was super sweaty?

“Hi there.”

It took me a second to realize Roth was talking to me. I glanced at the demon and then went back to staring at Zayne and the girl. “Hi.”

Roth sidled up to where I sat. “Layla was worried about Zayne and wanted—”

“—to see for myself that he was really okay,” Layla jumped in. “Roth would tell me that Zayne was okay even if he wasn’t, just so I wouldn’t get upset.”

“True,” Roth agreed, and there wasn’t an ounce of shame there.

“Which is one of the reasons we’re here,” Layla finished. Her voice was low and filled with so much relief, I had to look away from Zayne and the girl, who were still playing octopus. Layla was looking at me, her blue eyes nearly the same shade as Zayne’s, which was odd. “He’s really okay, right? He looks okay.”

Blinking as if I was coming out of a trance, I nodded. “He’s...he’s perfect.”

Layla’s head tilted slightly as a set of light brown brows snapped together.

I realized what I’d said. “I mean, he’s totally okay. In perfect health and all. Just fine.”

Roth chuckled as Layla nodded slowly.

Finally, after about twenty years, the happy reunion by the door broke apart. I knew that Zayne was smiling, even though I couldn’t see his face clearly.

I knew this because I could feel the smile through the warmth in my chest. Happiness. It felt like basking in sunshine, and I sure wasn’t feeling that at the moment.

Zayne was genuinely happy to see this girl, even more than he was to see Layla.

“That’s Stacey.” Layla filled me in. “She’s a friend of ours, and she’s known Zayne for—God, for years.”


I knew that name.

This was Stacey—the girl Roth had told me about the same night he’d dropped the Layla bomb. I didn’t know all about her, but I knew enough to know that she’d been there for Zayne after he’d lost his father and Layla, and he’d been there for her after she, too, had suffered a loss.

They’d been friends...but more. That was the impression I’d gotten from Roth, and even Zayne. Based on that greeting, they could still be more.

An uncomfortable feeling rippled through me, and I desperately tried to make it go away as I planted a smile on my face I hoped didn’t look as bizarre as it felt. My stomach was jumping all over. Maybe the eggs had been bad, because I thought I might vomit.

Zayne’s head swung in my direction, and I stiffened, realizing he was picking up on my emotions through the bond.


I started thinking about...llamas and alpacas, how they looked so alike, like a cross between fluffy sheep and ponies. Alpacas were like cats and llamas were like dogs, that was—

“When I heard you were injured, I had to come see you.” Stacey stepped back, but then punched him on the arm with the weakest fist I’d ever seen. I stopped thinking about llamas and alpacas. “Especially since I haven’t heard from you in forever. Like forever.”

“Sorry about that.” He turned back to her. “Things have been crazy busy lately.”

Stacey cocked her head. “No one in this world is so busy they don’t have five seconds to send a text that says Hi, I’m still alive.”

She might have a weak punch, but she also had a point, and that made me think of Jada. What excuse was I going to give her for not returning her calls?

“You’re right.” Zayne led Stacey to the rest of us. “That’s a lame excuse. I won’t make it again.”

“You better not.” Stacey reached the end of the island, and she was now close enough I could see her features. Chin-length brown hair framed a pretty face, and then she was staring at me in the way I imagined I was staring at her. Not with outright hostility, but definitely with a healthy amount of suspicion. “So, this is her.”

I jerked and my tongue came unglued from the roof of my mouth. “Depends on who you think her is.”

“Yes, this is Trinity.” Layla stepped in. “She’s the girl we told you about. She lived in one of the larger Warden communities in West Virginia and came here to find a friend of hers.”

My gaze swung to Roth as I wondered what else they’d told Stacey. Like what I was. If so, we were about to have a big problem. Maybe I’d have to silence Stacey. I started to smile.

Roth winked one amber-hued eye at me.

My smile faded into a frown. I looked back at Stacey. “Yep, that’s me.”

“Sorry to hear about your friend,” Stacey said after a few seconds, and there was a genuineness in her tone. “That really sucks.”

Uncomfortable because I was just plotting her death and smiling about it, I muttered, “Thank you.”

“They told me that you’re trained to fight like this big guy.” She lifted an elbow at Zayne. “That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know Wardens trained humans.”

“Or raised them,” Roth added. “Like pets.”

My narrowed gaze landed on the demon. “I wasn’t raised like a pet, you ass.”

He grinned.

“And Wardens don’t normally train humans.” My gaze flashed to Zayne’s. His chin dipped, and it looked like he, too, was fighting laughter. Besides the fact that Roth had compared me to a pet, this was good news. Roth and Layla hadn’t shared everything. I drew in a shallow breath. “I’m a...fluke.”

“Fluke,” Roth repeated under his breath as he looked over at me. “That you are.”

I was probably fifteen seconds away from showing him exactly what I’d been trained to do. “Lots of flukes around these days.”

Roth’s grin kicked up a notch.

“So, when are you going back home?” Stacey asked.

What she asked wasn’t so much a question as it was a dismissal. Like, nice to meet you, but it’s time for you to leave.


“She’s not,” Zayne answered, leaning against the island. “She’s staying with me for the foreseeable future.”

The room went so quiet that you could’ve heard a cricket sneeze. If crickets actually sneezed. I had no idea if they had sinuses or sinus problems.

“Oh,” Stacey responded. Her face didn’t fall in disappointment or flush with anger. She didn’t show any emotion, and normally I was good at reading people.

I started to look away from her, but something strange caught my eye. There was a...shadow behind Stacey, in the shape of a...person? The same height as her, maybe slightly taller and a little broader. My eyes squinted as I refocused on her and saw...nothing. No shadow at all.

Stacey was starting to frown...

...because I was staring at her.

Warmth crept into my cheeks as I got busy checking out my empty soda can, dismissing the weird shadow. Sometimes my eyes did that—made me think I saw things when there was nothing there.

“Well, since that’s out of the way, did you guys really come over here just to make sure I’m alive?” Zayne broke the awkward silence. “Not that I’m not happy to see you all—”

“You should be thrilled to see us,” Roth cut in.

“We know you’re not thrilled to see him.” Stacey’s lips eased into a smile.

“But you better be damn happy to see me,” Roth said.

“Of course I’m happy to see you,” he said, and that was with a grin. “But as you guys can see, I’m fine. You didn’t need to worry.”

“I just needed to see it. We needed to see it.” Layla was beside Roth, one arm curled around his as she leaned into him. Roth dressed all in black and Layla with that white-blond hair and cute pale-pink-and-blue maxi dress—they were such a contrast of light and dark. “I hope you’re not mad that we came by.”

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