By: Jennifer L. Armentrout



sense kicked my fight or flight response into overdrive. The Georgia humidity and the dust covering the floor made it hard to breathe. Since I’d fled Miami, no place had been safe. This abandoned factory had proved no different.

The daimons were here.

I could hear them on the lower level, searching each room systematical y, throwing open doors, slamming them shut. The sound threw me back to a few days ago, when I’d pushed open the door to Mom’s bedroom. She’d been in the arms of one of those monsters, beside a broken pot of hibiscus flowers. Purple petals had spil ed across the floor, mixing with the blood. The memory twisted my gut into a raw ache, but I couldn’t think about her right now.

I jumped to my feet, halting in the narrow hal way, straining to hear how many daimons were here. Three?

More? My fingers jerked around the slim handle of the garden spade. I held it up, running my fingers over the sharp edges plated in titanium. The act reminded me of what needed to be done. Daimons loathed titanium.

Besides decapitation—which was way too gross—titanium was the only thing that would kil them. Named after the Titans, the precious metal was poisonous to those addicted to aether.

Somewhere in the building, a floorboard groaned and gave way. A deep howl broke the silence, starting as a low whine before hitting an intense shril pitch. The scream sounded inhuman, sick and horrifying. Nothing in this world sounded like a daimon—a hungry daimon.

And it was close.

I darted down the hal way, my tattered sneakers pounding against the worn-out boards. Speed was in my blood, and strands of long, dirty hair streamed behind me. I rounded the corner, knowing I had only seconds—

A whoosh of stale air whirled around me as the daimon grabbed a handful of my shirt, slamming me into the wal .

Dust and plaster floated through the air. Black starbursts dotted my vision as I scrambled to my feet. Those soul ess, pitch black holes where eyes should have been seemed to stare at me like I was his next meal ticket.

The daimon grasped my shoulder, and I let instinct take over. I twisted around, catching the surprise flickering across his pale face a split second before I kicked. My foot connected with the side of his head. The impact sent him staggering into the opposite wal . I spun around, slamming my hand into him. Surprise turned to horror as the daimon looked down at the garden spade buried deep in his stomach. It didn’t matter where we aimed. Titanium always kil ed a daimon.

A guttural sound escaped his gaping mouth before he exploded into a shimmery blue dust.

With the spade stil in hand, I whirled around and took the steps two at a time. I ignored the ache in my hips as I sprinted across the floor. I was going to make it—I had to make it. I’d be super-pissed in the afterlife if I died a virgin in this craphole.

“Little half-blood, where are you running to?”

I stumbled to the side, fal ing into a large steel press.

Twisting around, my heart slammed against my ribs. The daimon appeared a few feet behind me. Like the one upstairs, he looked like a freak. His mouth hung open, exposing sharp, serrated teeth and those al -black holes sent chil s over my skin. They reflected no light or life, only signifying death. His cheeks were sunken, skin unearthly pale. Veins popped out, etching over his face like inky snakes. He truly looked like something out of my worst nightmare—something demonic. Only a half-blood could see through the glamour for a few moments. Then the elemental magic took over, revealing what he used to look like. Adonis came to mind—a blond, stunning man.

“What are you doing al alone?” he asked, voice deep and al uring.

I took a step back, my eyes searching the room for an exit. Wannabe Adonis blocked my way out, and I knew I couldn’t stand stil for long. Daimons could stil wield control over the elements. If he hit me with air or fire, I was a goner.

He laughed, the sound lacking humor and life. “Maybe if you beg—and I mean, real y beg—I’l let your death be a fast one. Frankly, half-bloods don’t real y do it for me. Pure-bloods on the other hand,” he let out a sound of pleasure,

“they’re like fine dining. Half-bloods? You’re more like fast food.”