Chapter 1 of Half-Blood (Aiden's POV)

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He blinked. “It’s not all wise one?”

By the gods, I was going to physically harm him. “I just picked up a girl who saw her mother drained by a daimon. Who had to fight every day to survive, Deacon. She could’ve done what you’re doing. She could’ve just given up.”

“Maybe she should have.” He flopped onto his back, closing his eyes. “Easier that way.”

There was so much I wanted to say to him, but I’d probably regret every word in an hour. Or not, but I didn’t have time for this. Marcus was waiting. “Get them out of this house in an hour.”

“Yes, sir!” He gave me a one finger salute.

Spinning around, I left the house before I did hit him. Back on the Covenant controlled island, I reined in my anger and went to retrieve Alex. Kain intercepted me just as I rounded the courtyard.

“What do you think they’re going to do with her?” he asked, falling instep beside me.

Good question. “I have no clue.”

“She missed too much time to get caught up.” He ran a hand through his blond hair, agitated. “They’ll send her into servitude. Put her on the Elixir.”

Coldness whipped through me. Servitude equaled slavery, the fear of all half-bloods. Not wanting to delve too deeply to why the idea of the little spitfire being placed on the Elixir bothered me, I shook my head. “I doubt they would’ve gone to all this trouble to do that.”

“I’d work with her if they need someone to get her caught up,” he suggested. “That’s all she really needs. I remember her, Aiden. The girl can fight. And she’s quick. Gods, she got away from you.”

I rolled my eyes. No doubt Kain was never going to let me forget that. “You graduated less than a year ago. You can’t train someone.”

“Then what? You’ll do it?” Curiosity colored his tone. “You’re not known for your patience.”

That was true. Whenever the Covenant sent fresh out of school Sentinels to me, I sent over half of them back for minor infractions. I’d rather be known as a pick then be responsible for a handful of dead half-bloods. “Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”

I seriously had enough to worry with without adding a half trained half-blood to the mix. I left Kain outside the dorm, heading straight for the room I’d left her in. I knocked once and then opened the door. Briefly I thought I should’ve waited a moment. The girl could be naked for all knew.

Alex was standing in the middle of the little living room. She jumped when she saw me, but I was more surprised to actually get a good look at her without dirt covering her.

I remembered her.

But she wasn’t the little tomboy I recalled from the times I’d seen her. Some of the features were the same. She hadn’t grown much in height much, but my gods, she was….

Long, thick chestnut colored hair fell past a chest that had grown in the last three years. Her face was oval shape; lips full like a pure-blood’s. Cheekbones high and eyebrows delicately arched over two wide brown eyes. Even with the faint purplish bruises marring an otherwise flawless complexion, she was…unbelievable.

Beautiful.

My entire body tensed as we locked eyes. Something most halfs wouldn’t even dare do, but oh no, she did. She stared back, the same appreciative stare I was giving her. A liquid feeling, like when I called on fire, simmered in my veins.

A feeling I shouldn’t have.

Alex tipped her head back. “What?”

I snapped out of it. What in the Hades was I thinking? “Nothing. You ready?”

“I guess so.”

She followed me out the dorm, and I was acutely aware of her eyes on me. I glanced over my shoulder, wondering what she was thinking. She had this strangest look on her face, like she was trying to work a puzzle. How many daimons have you killed?”

“Just two.” She picked up her pace to walk beside me.

“Just two?” Awed, I stared at her. “Do you realize how amazing it is for a half-blood not fully trained to kill one daimon, let alone two?”

“I guess so.” Her face scrunched up with anger and then fell. “I would’ve killed the other one in Miami… but I was just—I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking. I know I should’ve gone after him, but I panicked.”

I stopped, facing her. “Alex, the fact you took down one daimon without training is remarkable. It was brave, but also foolish.”

“Well, thanks.”

“You’re not trained. The daimon could’ve easily killed you. And the one you brought down in the factory? Another fearless, but foolish act.”

She frowned. “I thought you said it was amazing and remarkable.”

“It was, but you could’ve been killed.” I walked off ahead. Amazing? Remarkable?

“Why would you even care if I was killed? Why does Marcus care? I don’t even know the man, and if he doesn’t allow me to resume training, I’m as good as dead anyways.”

“That would be a shame.” I didn’t know why I cared, but I did. “You have all the potential in the world.”

And I knew then, even when her eyes narrowed like she was imagining planting her foot in my face, I wouldn’t let them cart her off into servitude. My gods, I had to be the stupidest pure-blood alive, but I knew this wasn’t going to end when I deposited her in her uncle’s office.

Like I’d realized in the field, I was struck again by the sense of knowing. This was far from ending.

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