“Look what the excitement dragged into town.”
Jace ground his teeth together and turned. He should never have stopped watching his back. Wrong move on his part.
Flanked by two of his smug-faced friends, a red-haired young man smirked at him, his eyes harboring all sorts of ill will. Jace barely bit back a sharp retort, but the other man’s smirk only grew at his silence. He peered around Jace.
“Rebekah, what are you doing with this . . .” He glanced back to Jace and turned up his wide nose. “. . . half-blood?”
Jace balled his fists. Warmth seeped down his arms and into his muscles, pulsing with the preparation for a fight, but he fought to still it.
Rebekah came to his side, her face set in a frown that looked entirely out of place. “Stop it, Morden.”
He gave her a condescending little grin. “Why don’t you run along? We’ve got business here.” The grin stretched wider. “I’ll gladly come find you later.”
Rebekah put her hands on her hips, glaring at him, and opened her mouth to speak, but Jace beat her to it.
“A gentleman would treat a lady with more consideration.”
Morden snorted. “And what would you know about that?”
A blaze erupted inside that Jace struggled to contain. He breathed in hard, cursing the impulses he had to battle so often. He couldn’t let it take control of him. Not again.
“Come on, Jace, we still have to find something for Kalli.” Rebekah’s soft voice quieted his growing agitation, and she tugged lightly on his stiff arm.
His blood still burned hot in his veins, calling him to action, and was almost too strong to resist. He thought of Rayad who told him time and again to go to Elôm when he struggled like this. He forced himself to turn away from Morden and whispered silently, “Elôm, I need help.”
But Morden, who must have caught the movement of his lips just before he turned completely, let out an incredulous laugh. “Are you praying?”
Jace froze. His heart thundered.
“Who could you be praying to? Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”
An evil pang of doubt knifed through Jace’s heart, colder and more painful than the steel of any dagger, and robbed the breath from his lungs. His eyes settled on Rebekah’s face, but it was her pitying expression that caused the weak grip on his emotions to fail. Heat flared in his muscles. He spun around and smashed his fist into the side of Morden’s jaw, sending the man reeling. Regret followed, but it was too late. Morden’s friends caught him by the arms and steadied him as he shook his head to clear his vision.
Jace dragged deep breaths into his tightened lungs and waited for Morden’s next move. Just walk away. The silent plea went out in desperation. If only it would just end here. But satisfaction lit Morden’s eyes, and his lip curled in a malicious sneer.