Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout


I blinked open achy, swollen eyes and stared straight at the pale, translucent face of a ghost.

Gasping, I jerked upright. Strands of dark hair fell across my face. “Peanut!” I pressed the heel of one palm against my chest, where my poor heart pounded like a steel drum. “What in the Hell, dude?”

The ghost, who’d been sort of a roommate of mine for the past decade, grinned at me from where he floated midair, several inches above the bed. He was stretched out on his side, cheek resting on his palm. “Just making sure you’re still alive.”

“Oh my God.” Exhaling raggedly, I lowered my hand to the soft dove-gray comforter. “I’ve told you a million times to stop doing that.”

“I’m kind of surprised you still think I listen to you half the time.”

Peanut had a point.

He had an aversion to following my rules, which were only, like, two rules.

Knock before entering the room.

Don’t watch me while I sleep.

I thought they were quite reasonable rules.

Peanut looked like he had the night he died, way back in the ’80s. His Whitesnake concert T-shirt was legit, as were his dark jeans and red Chuck Taylors. On his seventeenth birthday, for some idiotic reason, he’d climbed one of those massive speaker towers and subsequently fallen to his death, proving natural selection was a thing.

Peanut hadn’t crossed over into that shiny bright white light, and a few years ago, I stopped trying to convince him when he said to me, quite clearly, it was not his time. It was far past his time, but whatever. I liked having him around...except when he did creepy crap like this.

Pushing the hair out of my face, I looked around my bedroom—no, not my bedroom. This wasn’t even my bed. All of this belonged to Zayne. My gaze flicked from the heavy sunlight-blocking curtains to the bedroom door—the closed bedroom door that I’d left unlocked the night before, just in case...

I shook my head.

“What time is it?” I leaned back against the headboard, keeping the blanket close to my chin. Since Wardens’ body temps ran higher than humans’ and it was July, so it was most likely hot and sticky as a circle of Hell outside, Zayne’s apartment was like an icebox.

“It’s almost three in the afternoon,” Peanut answered. “And that’s why I thought you were dead.”

Damn, I thought, scrubbing my hand across my face. “We got back pretty late last night.”

“I know. I was here. You didn’t see me, but I saw you. Both of you. I was watching.”

I frowned. That didn’t sound creepy at all.

“You looked like you’d been through a wind tunnel.” Peanut’s gaze flickered over my head. “You still do.”

I’d felt like I’d been in a wind tunnel. A mental, emotional and physical wind tunnel. Last night, after I’d had a complete and utter breakdown by the old treehouse at the Warden compound, Zayne had taken me flying.

It had been magical, up there with the cool night wind, where the stars that always looked so faint to me became bright. I hadn’t wanted it to end, even when my face went numb and my lungs began to strain with the effort to breathe. I’d wanted to stay up there, because nothing could touch me in the wind and the night sky, but Zayne had brought me back down to Earth and to reality.

That was only a handful of hours ago, but it felt like a lifetime. I barely remembered coming back to Zayne’s apartment. We hadn’t talked about what had happened with...Misha, or about what had happened to Zayne. We hadn’t talked at all, really, other than Zayne asking if I needed anything and me mumbling no. I’d gotten undressed and climbed into bed, and Zayne had stayed in the living room, sleeping on the couch.

“You know,” Peanut said, drawing me from my thoughts, “I might be dead and all, but you look way worse than me.”

“I do?” I murmured, even though I wasn’t surprised to hear that. Based on the way my face felt, I probably looked like I’d face-planted a brick wall.

He nodded. “You’ve been crying.”

I had been.

“A lot,” he added.

That was true.

“And when you didn’t come back yesterday, I was worried.” Peanut floated upright and sat on the edge of the bed. His legs and hips disappeared a few inches into the mattress. “I thought something happened to you. I was panicking. I couldn’t even finish watching Stranger Things I was so worried. Who’s going to take care of me if you die?”