Home > The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny #2)(11)

The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny #2)(11)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

If I’d thought he looked luscious with his jacket open, that was nothing compared to how he looked with it off. His shoulders were so broad, my arms wouldn’t fit around them. Muscles flexed under skin tanned a deep gold, and his taut abdomen was set off by jeans that now hung so low, one tug would probably bare everything beneath.

I had a sudden urge to test that theory, and I clasped my hands together to stop myself before I did something crazy.

“So, some ride,” I said, more than a little breathless.

He came closer, and the raw hunger that flashed across his features almost leveled me. “The ride isn’t why your heart’s pounding, Ivy.”

He almost growled that last part, and his roughly sensual voice felt like it rubbed me while he spoke. I couldn’t admit that he was right, so I took a step backward—and almost tripped over a headstone. Adrian’s hand shot out, steadying me, and I shook it off while mentally berating myself.

Smooth, Ivy. Real smooth!

I pushed him away, feeling my heart hammer at the brief sensation of him beneath my hand. Touching him was more than enticing; it was addictive, which was why I had to get away from him before I let him do everything his darkly erotic stare promised me that I’d love.

I took his jacket off and held it out to him. His fingers closed over mine, but instead of taking the jacket, he used it to tug me into his arms. His hair brushed my face as he leaned down, and willpower alone caused me to turn my head at the last second, so that his mouth landed on my cheek instead of my lips.

He didn’t fight the movement, but slid his mouth lower until he reached my neck. A moan left me at the feel of his tongue, and I shuddered when he pressed his lips more firmly against my throat. Flicks, circles and light suction had me reeling from sensations, until I needed the arms he wrapped around me. Without them, I might have fallen.

“Ivy.” His voice was rough, and the hands that slid over me were achingly possessive. “I want you.”

I could feel that in the hard flesh that pulsed against my belly. Deep inside me, an answering throb responded. I’d been overwhelmed, angry, lost, betrayed, burdened and brokenhearted over the past several months, but right now, all I felt was passion that threatened to boil over until it scalded me, and I knew that I would love being burned.

But I couldn’t. Doing so wouldn’t just be epically stupid—it would be greedy, and greed was something to be avoided at all costs when it came to Adrian and me.

Judas had been guilty of three betrayals: trust, when he stole from the communal funds; greed, when he accepted those thirty pieces of silver; and death, when he identified Jesus to the Roman guards with that final, infamous kiss. Adrian had already betrayed my trust by lying to me about my real destiny. I wasn’t about to help him succumb to greed by saying yes now.

“No,” I said, pushing him away. Adrian let me back him up. He didn’t go far, and his hands flexed into fists as if he were fighting a fierce inner battle.

“Okay, so I still want you,” I went on, because that was obvious. “Whether that’s destiny, lust or something else, I don’t know, but if you care about me like you claim to, you’ll stay away from me unless you can prove that you’re not going to betray me again.”

And the only way he could prove that was if we succeeded in finding Moses’s staff and using it to repair the realm walls, then found the final, hallowed weapon, and did all of this without getting killed in the process. I may as well have told him that I’d give him a chance only if we were the last two people left on earth.

Even still, I couldn’t stop the emotions that rolled over me, breaking through barriers that hadn’t been strong enough to hold them. Adrian was right—I did still care for him. And that weakened me in ways my enemies would be too quick to take advantage of.

“I need to stay focused if I have any chance at winning this fight,” I continued, my tone hardening. “So, once again, if you really want to show me that you’ve changed, walk away from me. Now.”

He said nothing for so long that I wondered if he was going to walk away without a word. If he did, it would be for the best, which was why I refused to say anything else.

“What if I can prove that I won’t betray you again?” he finally asked, surprising me.

I let out a short laugh. “If any of us are still alive after this whole thing is over, sure, I might be up for a date.”

“There’s a way I can prove I won’t betray you without waiting until then, but I’ll need Zach.” Then his voice dropped, becoming rougher and softer at the same time. “If I can prove to you that you can trust me, that there’s no way I’d even be able to betray you again, will you give me a chance? A real one?”

I should say no. It might sound like a simple question, but it still possibly had destiny-affecting consequences. Then again, it was as realistic as my saying what I’d do if I won the Powerball, although I had better odds of doing that than Adrian had of proving he’d beat his destiny without actually having to beat it first.

Still, even as the word no formed on my lips, something rose up in me. What was wrong with saying what I’d do if an impossible dream came true? the part of me that couldn’t stop caring for Adrian whispered. After all, millions of people talked about what they’d do if they won the Powerball, and 99.9 percent of them would never find out.

In the end, I gave Adrian the same answer I’d forced myself not to say earlier. “Yes. Prove that...and I’ll give you a chance.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

DESPITE BEING AWAKE for half the night, I woke up before Jasmine. After I brushed my teeth and threw a cardigan over my tank top, I went out into the main room. From the swaying motion of the tour bus, we were already back on the road, but I was surprised to see Adrian driving. Brutus sat behind Adrian’s chair, and someone had thrown a large blanket over the gargoyle so that he was completely covered. Costa was awake, yawning as he opened a carton of eggs in the kitchen.

“Oh, let me make breakfast,” I said, smiling as I gently moved him aside. It’s not that I thought cooking was my duty as a girl. Costa loved to cook, but he also wasn’t very good at it, as the past several weeks had proved.

He gave me a hopeful look as he went to the wet bar, where a coffeemaker was now set up. “French toast?”

“Sure. Adrian?” I asked, a little unsure about how I should act. Things between us hadn’t changed, and yet I’d agreed that they might, if he could prove that he’d conquered his destiny.

“Nothing for me, I already ate,” he replied.

That neutral response told me nothing about his frame of mind. Come to think of it, Adrian had been blunt to the point of aggressiveness about wanting me, yet he hadn’t said that he wanted more than sex. Months ago, he’d told me that he loved me, but in fairness, he said it right before he thought he was going to be killed by minions.

Did he still love me? Or—in truth—had he ever loved me? Maybe his saying that back then had been impulse instead of sincerity? He had thought he was about to die, after all.

I began breaking eggs and mixing them in a bowl. Noises in the bedroom had to be Jasmine waking up, so I called out, “Jaz? Want French toast?” while still mentally stewing.

“Did you mention breakfast?” Jasmine said with a yawn, appearing in the doorway.

I turned toward her, smiling to cover the confusion that had started to swirl inside me. “Yep. Hungry?”

“Starving,” she began, then stopped, staring hard. “I don’t believe it,” she hissed before going back into the bedroom and slamming the door.

I exchanged a bewildered glance with Costa. “Beats me,” he said to my unspoken question.

“I’ll be right back,” I muttered, wiping egg residue from my hands. Then I slid the door open. “Jaz? What’s wrong?”

She was as far away from me as the room allowed, and when she swung around and glared at me, I came in and shut the door. Whatever it was, she obviously thought it was my fault.

“You snuck out to see Adrian last night,” she accused.

How had she known? She’d been asleep when I came back in! Then, I pushed my guilt back and straightened. I was a grown woman and I didn’t need my little sister’s permission to meet with anyone. Plus, I hadn’t done anything with Adrian.

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