Bitter Sweet Love (The Dark Elements - Book 1)

By: Jennifer L. Armentrout

In a sizzling prequel novella to her new series The Dark Elements, #1 New York     Times bestselling author Jennifer L.     Armentrout draws readers into the extraordinary, irresistible world of Wardens and demons.

Dez wasn’t just Jasmine’s crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas,     he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining     the balance between good and evil. He was her everything...right until the     moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn’t help that Jas’s father had just     announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that     personally.

And now he’s back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready     to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn’t taking that risk again.     Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven     days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her     heart—or shatter it all over again...

Don’t miss White Hot Kiss, book one in Jennifer L.     Armentrout’s The Dark Elements series from Mira ink




Chapter One

Nothing in the world compared to flying, to the feeling of the cool air rushing through my loose hair or sliding over my warm skin and along the curve of my spine, between my wings. I was so high, so far above the domes of the Adirondack Mountains that when I opened my eyes, I felt as though I could reach out and touch the stars or rise straight to the Heavens.

Which would be problematic if it happened. Somehow I doubted the Alphas would appreciate a Warden suddenly breaching their pearly gates. I laughed at the thought; the sound lifted and blew away on the wind. One couldn’t just fly into heaven. As with Hell, there were doorways all over the world, giving entry to those who knew how to find them and had reason to cross their thresholds.

During the past three years, much to my father’s displeasure, I’d spent every evening in the sky. Females weren’t supposed to fly alone or do anything other than pop out babies and raise and teach the young, but none of the males were as fast as me. At least none that were around or mattered or...

I cut off the train wreck of a thought process before it could derail me and ruin the lovely early-summer night.

Down below, the caps of the Adirondacks didn’t seem so large and unmovable. No. They appeared soft, like marshmallows. Between the peaks, lakes glistened like shiny vats of onyx and the forest was thick and virtually uninhabitable. Once, I had flown to all forty-six peaks of the Adirondacks, traveling into Canada and then back to Washington County.

A burst of wind caught the underside of my wings, causing their horns to tingle as the current lifted me up as if I was caught in a bubble. For a moment, the change of atmosphere, the pure quality of the air, caused my lungs to constrict and I couldn’t pull in enough oxygen.

There was a brief spike of panic at not being able to breathe, but it faded in the rush, in that moment when instinct took over and my brain held no control over my body.

I freefell, wings tucked in close, eyes wide open and mind blissfully empty of thought, as was my chest, void of the haunting ache that usually festered like an untreated wound. These moments were rare, when there was no obligation to my race or threat of death or memories of those I’d loved and lost. I cherished those brief, beautiful times.

And as always, this one was over too quickly.

Halfway back to Earth, I unfurled my wings, slowing my descent so I didn’t pancake into the side of a mountain. Soaring over the peaks for several miles, I dipped into the valley above Greenwich and glided low over the modest town.

Six years later and it was still weird not to worry about being seen by humans. Nothing like scaring the bejeezus out of a human or two by swooping down on them unexpectedly like a giant bird of prey.

The Wardens had stepped out of the shadows, making themselves known to the human world when I was twelve, and as expected, there had been a teeny-tiny bit of chaos among humankind in response to seeing legends and myths become a very real truth.

For thousands of years, my kind had been thought of as nothing more than the stone sculptures perched upon the rooftops of homes and churches. Aka gargoyles. And technically, that’s what we were―but the depiction of a gargoyle was vastly exaggerated. Even the ugliest of all Wardens didn’t have a bulbous nose or fangs jutting from his mouth. It was rather insulting when you thought about it.