Every Last Breath (Dark Elements Series #3)

Every Last Breath (Dark Elements Series #3)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout


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Some loves will last 'til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373211142
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 07/28/2015
Series: Dark Elements Series , #3
Edition description: Original
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 83,072
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: HL770L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

# 1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. Find her on Twitter @JLArmentrout or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

Read an Excerpt

I stood in Stcey's living room as my entire world crashed around me once more. Sam was the Lilin.

Acute horror held me immobile, seizing the air in my lungs as I stared at what used to be one of my closest friends in the whole world. Because of the demonic familiar, Bambi, and being unable to see souls while she'd bonded to me, I'd never seen what had been right in front of my face this entire time. None of us had, but it was Sam—he'd been the one to cause the mayhem at school and all the recent deaths. Instead of stripping souls with a single touch, as I'd known a Lilin could do, he'd taken his time, taking a little here and there, playing with his victims and playing with us.

Playing with me.

Except what was standing in Stacey's house was—was basically wearing Sam's skin, a perfectly crafted costume, because the real Sam… He was no more. The pain of knowing that my friend was dead, had been dead for a while without any of us knowing, cut deep into me, making misery of my bone and tissue.

I hadn't been able to save him. None of us had been able to, and now his soul…his soul had to be down below, where all souls that were taken by a Lilin would go. My stomach cramped.

"You cannot defeat me," the Lilin said, his voice identical to Sam's. "So join me."

"Or what?" My heart pounded like a jackhammer in my chest. "Or die? That's not incredibly cliché or anything."

The Lilin tilted its head to the side. "Actually, I wasn't going to say that to you. I need you to help free our mother. The rest of them can die, though."

Our mother. Before I could dwell on the ick factor of being related to the creature that had killed my friend and inflicted so much carnage, Zayne shifted into his true form, distracting me. His shirt ripped up the back as his wings unfurled and his skin deepened to the dark granite of the Wardens. Two horns sprouted, parting his wavy blond hair as they curled back, and his nostrils flattened. When he parted his lips to let out a low growl of warning, fangs appeared. He stepped toward Sam, his massive hands curling into fists.

"Don't!" I shouted. Zayne halted, his head swinging sharply toward me. "Do not get close to him. Your soul," I reminded him as my heart raced. Or what was left of Zayne's soul, considering I'd accidentally taken a nice little bite out of it not long ago.

Zayne backed off, his stance wary.

I turned my attention back to the evil masquerading as Sam. Whatever the thing was standing in front of us, we did share the same flesh and blood. Only recently had I learned exactly how I'd come to be part demon and part Warden. I was the daughter of Lilith and this…this thing truly was a part of me. It had been born out of Lilith's and my blood, and it was just as evil as Lilith. It wanted her freed? Impossible. If Lilith ever ended up topside, the world as we knew it would irrevocably change.

"I'm not going to help you free Lilith." I was so not referring to her as our mother. Yuck. "That's never going to happen."

The Lilin smiled as it watched me with dark, inky eyes. "Get as close as you want." It ignored my statement, taunting Zayne. Heck, taunting all of us. "She's not the only one in this room with a taste for a Warden's soul."

I sucked in a sharp, stinging breath as Stacey let out a whimper. In the space of a second, her relationship with Sam flashed before me. They'd been friends forever and only recently had she recognized that Sam had always, always been in love with her. But she hadn't started paying real attention to him until Sam had begun to change.

Oh God.

Stacey had to be breaking wide-open, seeing the boy she finally loved become worse than the monsters that prowled the streets at night, but I couldn't afford to take my focus off the Lilin. It could make a move at any moment, and three of us in this room were vulnerable to the worst kind of attack it could deliver.

"There's nothing like taking a pure soul, but you'd already know that, Layla. All that warmth and goodness goes down as smooth as the richest chocolate." The Lilin tipped its chin up and let out the kind of groan that normally would've caused my ears to burn. "But taking your time, savoring the taste is so much more decadent. You should try it, Layla, and stop being so greedy when you feed."

"And you should try shutting the Hell up." Heat rolled off the powerful demon standing beside me. Roth, the reigning Crown Prince of Hell, hadn't shifted yet, but I could tell he was close. Fury dripped from his words. "How about that?"

The Lilin didn't even spare a glance in Roth's direction. "I like you. I really do, prince. Too bad you're going to end up dead."

My fingers curled in, nails biting into my palms as anger flushed through my system, hot and bitter. My emotions were all over the place. On top of everything else that had gone wrong recently, I was standing here between Zayne and Roth, which was about a thousand times awkward on a normal day, but now, after Roth.

I couldn't focus on any of that right now. "You're very brave, making threats when we outnumber you."

One shoulder rose in a gesture so quintessentially Sam it sent a slice of pain through me. "How about I'm just intelligent?" it queried gamely. "And how about I know more than all of you about how this will end?"

"You talk a lot," Roth growled, stepping forward. "And I mean a lot. Why is it that the bad guys always have to give disgustingly long and boring monologues? Let's just get to the killing part, all right?"

The Lilin's mouth formed a lopsided grin. "So eager to die the final death, aren't you?"

"So eager to be done with you running your mouth, more like," Roth retorted, moving so that once again he stood directly beside me.

"It's been you this whole time?" Stacey's voice trembled under the weight of the pain she must be feeling. "You haven't been Sam? Not since."

"Not since Dean displayed his fists of fury. That was fun." The Lilin laughed as those dark eyes slid in her direction. "Sam hasn't been home in quite some time, but I can assure you, I enjoyed…our time together as much as I'm sure he would've. You know, if that's any consolation for you."

She clapped her hands over her mouth, muffling the words as tears streamed down her pale face. "Oh my God."

"Not quite," it murmured silkily.

I stepped closer to Stacey, drawing the Lilin's attention from her. I was sick for her, absolutely repulsed. "Why?" I demanded. "You've been around us for weeks. Why haven't you attacked any of us?"

The Lilin sighed heavily. "I'm not all about violence, death and gore. I discovered rather quickly that there are a lot of fun things to do topside, things I've thoroughly enjoyed." It winked at Stacey, and I saw red.

My skin tingled like a thousand fire ants were marching all over it. "Don't look at her. Don't talk to her or even breathe in her general direction, and don't even think about touching her ever again."

"Oh, I've done more than that," the Lilin replied. "Lots more. Everything your Sam wishes he could've had the balls to do. But you know, he's not really concerned about those things at the moment. You see, I consumed him—his soul in its entirety. No part of him remains on this plane. He's not a wraith like the others who crossed my path. I didn't play with my food when it came to him, taking tiny bits of him. No, he's gone. He's in—"

Several things happened all at once.

Stacey shot toward the Lilin, her hand rising as if she was about to knock the mocking smile off his face. The Lilin drifted toward her, and while it hadn't taken her soul yet for whatever reason, I now knew there were no guarantees. The Lilin was unpredictable. It had exposed what it truly was, and I sensed it was done playing around. It was within arms' reach of her and I—well, I sort of lost it. Rage lit me up from the inside.

The change came over me without even trying. Like shedding a sweater, I let go of the human form I'd worn for so long, and in a way, had desperately clung to. It had never been this easy before. Bones didn't break and reknit. Skin didn't stretch, but I felt mine harden, become resilient to most knives and bullets. The roof of my mouth tingled as my fangs dropped, teeth designed to cut through even a Warden's skin, and most definitely a Lilin's. Just below the base of my neck and on either side of my spine, my wings broke free and unfurled.

There was a sharp inhale from someone in the room, but I wasn't paying attention.

Moving as quick as a cobra striking, I grabbed Stacey's arm and shoved her behind me. I got between her and the Lilin. "I said, do not touch her. Do not look at her. Do not even breathe in her direction. You do so, and I will rip your head from your shoulders and punt-kick it out a window."

The Lilin jerked, dancing a step backward. Its pitch-black eyes widened. Shock splashed across its face and then its lips curled back. "That's not playing fair."

What in the world? Was that fear I saw in its face? "Do I look like I care?"

"Oh, you're going to." The Lilin backtracked, moving toward the door. "You're so going to care."

Then the Lilin was gone, spinning right around and exiting the house with a quickness that left me standing there, staring foolishly at the empty doorway. I didn't understand. The Lilin hadn't batted an eyelash at Zayne or Roth, but I'd shifted forms and it had tucked its tail and run away?


"Well, that was…anticlimactic." I turned around slowly, tucking my wings back. The first one I saw was Zayne.

He'd returned to his human form. Zayne always, even when he appeared exhausted, could've stepped out of a Town and Country magazine. His good looks went beyond all-American and straight into swoonville, population every girl on the planet. He looked like I imagined angels would. Vibrant blue eyes and near-heavenly features, but he stared at me with his mouth hanging slightly open. His absolutely gorgeous face was pale, which made the unforgiving shadows under his eyes stand out starkly. He stared at me like he'd never seen me before, which was bizarre, because he'd grown up with me. I felt like some kind of specimen.

A trickle of unease ran down my spine as my gaze switched to the couch. At some point, Zayne had moved closer to where Stacey had landed. I expected to find her rocking in a ball, but she too gaped at me, her hands pressed against her cheeks, and any other time I would've laughed at that expression. Not now.

My heart rate kicked into overdrive as I swung toward the back of the room, where Roth was standing. My gaze collided with eyes the color of amber. His were wide, his pupils vertical. Even so, he was a sight to behold.

Roth was—well, there was no one that walked this earth that looked quite like him. Probably had to do with the fact that he was in no way human, but he was stunning. Always had been, even when he'd styled the black hair into spikes. I preferred the lesser look he rocked now with his hair falling over his forehead, brushing the tips of his ears and the arches of equally dark eyebrows. Golden eyes were slightly slanted at the outer corners. He had cheekbones and a jaw you could cut glass with, a face any artist would die to sketch—or touch. And those full, expressive lips were parted.

His tawny skin wasn't pale and he didn't gape at me like I belonged under a microscope, but he was watching me in astonishment just as Zayne had.

The unease turned into balls of dread, settling heavily in my stomach. "What?" I whispered, glancing around the room. "Why are you all staring at me like…like there's something wrong with me?"

It couldn't have been because I'd told the Lilin I'd rip his head off. Yeah, I was a little less violent on most days, but in the past week or so, I'd thought I was the Lilin, had been kissed by Zayne and nearly took his soul, was subsequently chained and held in captivity by the very clan that had raised me, was almost killed by that same clan—deep breath—was then healed thanks to Roth and a mystery brew provided by a coven of witches who worshipped Lilith, and now I'd just discovered that my best friend was dead, his soul was in Hell, and the Lilin had taken his place. You'd think a girl could be cut a little slack.

Roth cleared his throat. "Shortie, look…look at your hand."

Look at my hand? Why in the world would he be asking me to do that in the midst of all the cray?

"Do it," he said quietly and too gently.

The dread exploded in my gut like buckshot, and my gaze dropped to my left hand. I expected to see the weird marbling of black and gray, a mixture of the demon and Warden that existed inside of me and a combination I'd become almost familiar with by now. My nails had lengthened and sharpened, and I could tell they were hard enough to cut through steel, as hard as my skin, but my skin…it was still pink. Really pink.

"What the…?" My gaze traveled to my other hand. It was the same. Just pink. My wings twitched, reminding me that I had shifted.

Zayne swallowed. "Your…your wings…"

"What about my wings?" I almost screeched, reaching behind me. "Are they broken? Did they not come out—" The tips of my fingers came into contact with something as soft as silk. My hand jerked back. "What…"

Stacey's watery eyes had doubled in size. "Um, Layla, there's a mirror above the fireplace. I think you need to look in it."

I met Roth's gaze for a second before I spun around and all but ran to the fireplace I was sure Stacey's mom had never used. Clutching the white mantel, I stared at my reflection.

I looked normal, like I did before I shifted…like I was going to class or something. My eyes were the palest shade of gray, a watered-down blue. My hair was so blond it was almost white, and a mess of waves that went in every direction like usual. I looked like a colorless china doll, which was nothing new, except for the two fangs jutting out of my mouth. I wouldn't show them off at school, but that wasn't what caught my attention and held it.

It was my wings.

They were large, not as massive as Zayne's or Roth's, and normally they were almost leathery in texture, but now they were black…black and feathered. Like legit feathered. That soft, silky thing I'd felt? It had been tiny feathers.


"Oh my God," I whispered at my reflection. "I have feathers."

"Those are definitely feathered wings," Roth commented.

I whipped around, knocking over a lamp with my feathered right wing. "I have feathers on my wings!"

Roth cocked his head to the side. "Yeah, you do."

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Every Last Breath (Dark Elements Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Katiekoz More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book! It was so so good! It is filled with action, humor, love, and a bit of drama and I loved every second of it. The storyline is so intriguing and once again kept me sucked in from start to finish. The characters are still wonderful and I love them and where they end up by the end. This book has so many cute moments that made me smile. My only complaint is that I wish there would have been an extended epilogue more than 6 months in the future with a bit more info about the characters and their futures. Other than that I don't know what else to say beyond that this is a fantastic book. This is my favorite JLA series for sure and I'd even take it a step further and say this is my favorite book of hers =) She is an amazing author and I love her writing so much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I can say about this series is WOW...I truly didn't want it to end. Absolutely loved every character. But then I can honestly say that about all this authors books. I am mostly a horror fiction, murder mystery reader. But there is something about Jennifers books that even draw this adult in. I couldn't put it down. Well done!
SabrinaNedeleaSN More than 1 year ago
Finished the book last night, but I was still a bit shocked with what happen, and felt like I lost something. Jennifer is my favorite author from the first book she released. But this series stole a bit of my heart. Every last breath was a hard story to read at some point with everything that was happening and with love triangle and all. The book starts with full packed action, with Layla being saved by Roth, and with her true suffering that she almost hurt Zayne in a way she never wanted. But being close to Roth, and almost died, she stops lying to herself and reveals the truth that she loves Roth and he loves her even more. Because, a demon has only one true love. The problem is, she will have to tell Zayne the truth, that she loves him but isn’t in love with him… These words destroyed Zayne, and everything he and Layla thought they had. He really thought they had a future together, and can confront anything that comes along their way. But, what can he really do if Layla is in love with Roth. This isn’t really the biggest of their issues. The Lilin is out loose and consuming souls, killing people and taking their form. All three of them must work together, because they will not stop the Lilin, the Alphas will and destroy everything in their path as well. Will they be able to do it? Will they save the world? I can’t say I loved the ending, meaning I was convinced that Layla was going to end up with Roth because she truly loved him, but I felt so sorry about Zayne. At the middle of the book I was screaming let this poor girl take a breath, then by the last pages, I was sobbing. I felt the hurt that Zayne had because of everything that he has lost, but at the same time I was a bit happy that Layla was safe and with Roth. Mix feelings here. Anyway, I think series is one of my favorites and Jennifer this an amazing job as usual. I highly recommend this books or any other books written by Jennifer L. Armentrout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best possible ending to an amazing series!
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Every Last Breath is the third installment in Jennifer L. Armentrout's young adult, paranormal series titled The Dark Elements. Up to this point, this series has been very enjoyable. I haven't been blown away, but as an adult who reads less and less young adult titles, I have thoroughly enjoyed these books. However, while I still liked this third book, and am glad to have some of my questions answered (as well as have the love triangle put to rest), I personally found this book to be never-ending. It just felt soooo long in my opinion. Again, I liked it and would recommend it to readers who are following this series - there are crucial events that take place in this one! But I obviously didn't feel consistently engaged as I wanted it to end far sooner than it did. Note: I was initially under the impression that this story was a trilogy, but when I just looked, it's labeled as a series. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I will be continuing this series if more books are added. Too bad :( My favorite quote: "...seize life. Seize everything it had to offer, including the tears, the anger and loss. But most of all the laughter and the love. To just seize life because it was fleeting and it was fickle, and no one, not me or anyone I knew, had another day let alone another second promised to them."
joilgc More than 1 year ago
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read Every Last Breath because I adore Jennifer's writing. I love her snarky sense of humor, the ability to draw me into her worlds, connect with the main characters, fall in love with her swoony guys, and always want more. I read the first ones and the novella and love her take on gargoyles, as well as really connecting and feeling for the spot that Layla the main character in this one. She lives in a world of Wardens (the full gargoyles) and Roth, who is an upper level demon, but yet he is so attentive and protective of her and even sacrificed himself for her. Then there is Zayne, who she has always been close to and had a crush on, and it's past time for her to make the choice between them. Layla discovers a lot about herself in this one and begins questioning her label as a hybrid-- half warden and half demon. Layla of course had to make her choice between the two boys in her life, that she loves, and realizes loves her back. I was nervous of which one it was going to be, and her reasoning. I really liked them both, they cared for her, and risked their own life and standings with their respective species/bosses. Each are right for her in their own ways, but for me there was one that stood ahead, but I was determined to support her either way. It did give the other guy a real glimpse of possibilities of moving on and being happy, accepting Layla's decision in good graces and not ostracizing her. But I think the the choice she made was for good reasons, and I love seeing that develop even more. Into really steamy levels that made me sigh. On top of the boy situation, Layla also had to deal with the Lillin, and the fall out from who the Lillin stole a soul from, and how much that hurt her and Stacey. There was a lot of grief for a friend lost as well as part of his family that got caught in the cross fire. It became even more complicated than I could have imagined, but it added depth. I liked the overall resolution including the little glimpse of the beginning of their HEA in the 6 months later. It was neat to see how far all of the characters have come from the start of the series. Layla learned so much about herself, and realized that the labels defining good and evil wasn't black and white. She saw some of the greatest acts of compassion from demons, and some that were on the side of good be intolerant and cruel. Bottom Line: Great conclusion with all the things I've come to expect and love from Jennifer.
caroldh4 More than 1 year ago
Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the third and final book in the series The Dark Elements. Holy Canola Oil and Wow, just Wow! This book was amazing! There were no down times, no slow spots, just amazing from page one until the end. And what a fantastic ending it was. This is going to be one of those reviews where I am so limited as to what I can say without spoiling anything. Things start right where the previous book left off. The Lilin has taken over Layla’s friend Sam’s body. But not just taken over, he has taken his soul. Layla, of course, feels like this is all somehow her fault, and that she alone is responsible for rescuing Sam’s soul from Hell. Layla is also still filled with guilt over what happened between she and Zayne. She knows that she can’t continue on this way, that she must decide between these two men who are so important to her. Who really does hold her heart? Who is she truly in love with? The beautiful gargoyle shifter that she has loved since she was seven years old or the dark and brooding Crown Prince who looks at her with a longing she might never really understand. Layla starts to notice subtle changes in herself. She isn’t craving souls the way she used to. She’s not cold the way she was. She’s a little faster, and a little stronger. And when she shifts, well, wow! What is happening and what does it all mean? There are many questions as to who and what Layla really is and all questions are answered. “As I parted ways with Stacey, I knew that my promise had done very little to reassure her. Truth was, the promise was one I never should’ve made. Because I had a lot of stupid left in me, and I knew what I had to do.” The Lilin wants Lilith set free and if she is, she will bring on devastation to the world. If she isn’t set free, the Originals will come and do the same. And of course, all the responsibility of figuring all of this out rests on Layla’s shoulders. “What was happening was so much bigger than us, so much more important than what we wanted or desired.” There is so much Layla want to do. She wants to finish high school, go to college. She wants to travel. She’s never been anywhere. She has never been accepted by the clan who raised her, been rejected by those that created her. So why does she feel responsible to fix everything? She could run, go somewhere and hide. But the Layla we have all fallen in love with won’t do that. She’ll fight for what she feels is right, no matter what the sacrifice. This whole series was amazing and the ending was epic. I expected no less. This is Jennifer Armentrout and everything I have read of hers has been equally wonderful and unique. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the end. But as much as there is ugliness in Layla’s world, there is beauty. She is in love. I sighed so much during this book that I might have hyperventilated. I have to say thank you again to JLA for a wonderfully entertaining series. I don’t know where all your creativity comes from, but I thank you for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best series I've read. Loved it, loved the characters, and loved this final book in this series!!
ValerieStuckInBooks More than 1 year ago
I stand alone. I am a huge JLA fan. I love this series. I love Zayne. I love Roth. I like Layla. I stayed up till midnight to read this one. I read it straight through. But it crushed me. And I stand alone. Not the story. The story ended nicely with things being taken care of and a list being fulfilled. Not the choice. I expected that. Not the surprises. Though what the witches wanted was painful and sad. Not the death. I was surprised that one death upset me, though. Not the twists. They were classic JLA. No it was the pain of one character that crushed me. I wasn't expecting to be so crushed. I guess that's a testament to how invested I was to these characters. But I couldn't be happy for the rest after that. I could barely hold the book and keep reading. So why 3 stars? Because that's the experience I had. I wish it had been different but it is what it is. Those of the popular team will love this ending. Those of the other team will not. Those that loved them both, like me, may want to take it slower than I did.
Cupcakegirly More than 1 year ago
Fantastic finish to one of my favorite paranormal romances! I loved the characters, the world-building, and especially the tattoos. Layla's journey has not been easy, she's had some tough choices to make for sure, but she really comes into her own. For that, I'm proud of her. I'm a little sad to say goodbye to her--the guys too. I could not have asked for a better ending though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously devoured this book in less than 12 hours. Loved it!