Page 2 d been irritated and unsure of how to handle me.
I was the Apollyon.
Go back to thinking about how good I look. I liked that.
Some things never changed. My Seth’s ego was as big as ever.
But my Seth’s image blossomed before me. His hair was curly around his temples and the color of spun gold. He reminded me of the paintings of Adonis. But Adonis wasn’t blond. Through the knowledge of the previous Apollyons, I knew his hair had been brown.
Where are you? I asked.
Heading up north, Angel. Are you in the north?
I sighed. I don’t know where I am. There are woods around me. A creek.
Not helpful. There was a pause, and I imagined the feel of his hand on my cheek, tracing the curve of the bone. I shivered. I miss you, Angel. Those weeks when you were hidden from me drove me crazy.
I didn’t respond. I hadn’t missed my Seth. While I’d been under the influence of the Elixir, I hadn’t even known he existed.
Seth chuckled. You do wonders for my self-esteem. You’re supposed to say you missed me, too.
Rolling onto my back, I tried to work out the kink in my leg. What will it be like when I transfer my power to you?
There was a pause and I started to get nervous. It won’t hurt, his voice whispered. It will be like when we touched before, when the runes appeared. You liked that.
There are a few words spoken, nothing huge, and then I will take your power. I won’t drain you, Alex. I’d never do that.
And I believed him, so I relaxed. What is the plan, Seth?
You know what the plan is.
He wanted to take out the Olympian Twelve before they found a way to take us out. Legend said we were only vulnerable to another Apollyon, but neither of us was secure in that belief. Loopholes and lesser-known myths were something all the Apollyons had sought to discover. But once the gods were out of the picture, we would rule. Or Lucian would rule. I didn’t know or care. All I wanted was to be near my Seth. I was having a mad case of separation anxiety.
No. What’s the plan so we can be together?
Seth’s approval washed over me like I’d just stepped out into the summer sun. I basked in it, like a good little puppy with a full tummy. Eventually, they will show a weakness. They always do. Especially St. Delphi. You are his weakness.
I squirmed. I am.
And when you are presented with a chance to escape, take it. Don’t hold back, Angel. You’re the Apollyon. Once free, they can’t stop you. Trust that. And the moment you get an idea of where you are, I’ll be there.
I trusted my Seth.
There was that pleasant and heady fog again, invading me. Have you seen Apollo or any other god recently?
No. Not since I’d come out of the Elixir high, and that was odd. Apollo had been up my butt from the moment I’d Awakened, but I hadn’t felt or seen him—or any god.
I opened my eyes and stared at the bars. Would Hephaestus need to reinforce the bars soon? Gods, I hoped so. If they weakened, then so would the wards. Then I could get out.
Seth said something that caused my toes to curl so I would pay attention to him again. Where did you go?
I showed him the bars and my thoughts. He was doubtful. Hephaestus’ work rarely weakened, but I was hopeful… for a hot second. This… this bond wasn’t the real deal. Even though my Seth was inside me, he really wasn’t here. I was alone—alone in a cell.
He’ll never let me out. Aiden will never let me near you. Tears burned my eyes as an endless gulf of hopelessness ripped open. I’ll never see my father.
Yes, you will. It doesn’t matter what he does. I will get to you. The gods say there can only be one of us, but they’re wrong. A strange coiling, and then relaxing, filled me. You’re mine, Alex—always have been and always will be. We were created for this.
Part of me warmed in response. And part of me, the source of the other voice whenever Aiden was around, tucked away and hidden from my Seth, recoiled as I fingered the crystal rose around my neck.
SOMETIME LATER—I HAD NO IDEA IF IT WAS NIGHT, DAY, or how long I’d slept—I was alone. There was no Aiden sitting in the chair watching me. No Seth at the end of the amber cord. This was a treat.
My head was somewhat clear.
I stood and stalked toward the bars. They looked normal—silvery titanium—but it was the fine mesh circling them that was the problem.
Hephaestus’ chain was a real bitch.
Taking a deep breath, I grabbed the bars and squeezed. A flash of blue light volleyed up the bars, billowing along the ceiling and over the mark like smoke full of glitter.
“Dammit,” I muttered, backing away.
I tried calling on akasha. Nothing stirred inside of me, not even a flicker. Lifting my hand, I opted for something smaller. Well, small to me.
I called upon fire.
Aaaaaand… there was nothing.
When I’d Awakened, the power that had broken open and flooded my veins had been a rush—a high so great I could have licked the ceiling, a high of no equal. I got why daimons yearned for aether. I’d had just a taste of it. And I hadn’t felt it since Apollo had knocked me into next week with a freaking god bolt.
He was also on my to-kill list.
I went to the bathroom and cleaned up. Freshly showered and attired, I returned to testing out the bars. The shimmering blue light was sort of pretty. At least it was something to stare at.
I sighed, about ready to put my head through the wall. I searched for my Seth at the end of the cord—still gone. I could call out to him and he would respond, but I was sure he was busy trying to free me. With nothing left to do, I returned to testing sections of the bars.
What seemed like hours later, a door opened upstairs. There were voices. One of them was Aiden’s, but the other…
“Luke?” I called out.
“Leave,” was Aiden’s harsh reply.
The door shut, and one heavy set of footsteps came down the stairs. I swear to the gods the sound that came out of my throat was an animalistic growl.
Aiden came into view, holding a plastic plate of eggs and bacon. One eyebrow was arched. “Do you really think I’m going to allow a half-blood near you?”
“A girl can hope. ” Halfs were more susceptible to compulsions, and I now packed one on steroids.
He held the plate through the space in the bars. The last time I’d done the whole not-eating thing, it hadn’t worked. I’d pretty much starved and ended up on the Elixir because of it. Food was my friend this time around.
I reached for the plate.
Aiden’s empty hand snaked out and wrapped around my arm. His hand was so large it swallowed my wrist. He said nothing, but his thundercloud eyes willed me to do something. What? Remember us together? Remember how much he’d consumed my thoughts? How I’d ached to be with him? Did he want me to remember what it was like when he’d told me about the night the daimons had attacked and massacred his family? And what it felt like being in his arms, being loved by him?
I remembered all those things in detail.
But the emotions that belonged to those events and memories weren’t there. They were cut off completely. Gone with the whims of the past… Aiden was my past.
No. No. No. That small voice was back again. Aiden was the future. For some reason I thought of that damn oracle—Grandma Piperi. Know the difference between need and love, she had said. There was no difference. Couldn’t she have tried to educate me on how to break out of these bars?
Aiden let go, his eyes as hard as these cement walls. He backed away while I took my food to the mattress. Surprisingly, he let me eat in silence.
Afterward, not so much.
Today Aiden wanted to talk about our first training session and how much I’d apparently annoyed the crap out of him because I hadn’t stopped talking. When he got to the part when I’d mimicked his voice, I started to smile. He ha
Aiden’s eyes flared the same moment my lips twitched. “You said I sounded like a father. ”
“You also said you were going to have to drop your crack habit when I went over the rules. ” Aiden smiled.
My lips almost answered in kind. And I didn’t like that. Time to change the topic. “I don’t want to talk about this. ”
Aiden leaned back in the metal folding chair. The thing had to be uncomfortable. “What do you want to talk about, Alex?”
“Where has Apollo been? Since he’s my great-whatever, I’m feeling unloved. ”
He folded his arms. “Apollo won’t be around. ”
Oh, interesting development. My little, old ears perked right up. “And why not?”
His stare was level. “And do you really think I’m going to tell you when you’ll run right back to tell Seth?”
I put my bare feet on the cold floor and stood. “I won’t say a word. ”
Aiden shot me a bland look. “Call me crazy, but I don’t believe you. ”
Making my way to the bars, I kept an eye on his expression. As I neared, it lost the insipid look. His jaw hardened as if he worked his molars. His eyes turned sharper, lips thinning. When I touched the bars, the flare of light was weak. Somehow it knew the difference between when I was just touching it and when I was trying to escape. Clever chains.
“What are you doing?” Aiden asked.
“If you let me go now, I swear that you and all those you care for will be untouched. ”
He didn’t say anything for a heartbeat. “But I care about you, Alex. ”
I tilted my head to the side. “But I will be unharmed. ”
“No. You won’t be safe. ” Sadness crept into his eyes right before his thick lashes swept down.
My stomach shifted in warning. Recalling the bits of information I’d picked up while under the Elixir, I knew there was more to what he said. “What do you know, Aiden?”
“If you leave here still connected to Seth… you will die. ” The last bit came out ragged.
I laughed. “You’re lying. Nothing can harm—” Myths and legends, Alex. Duh. What had I thought earlier? There were always checks and balances of sorts. That was why the Apollyon had been created in the first place. “What do you know?”
His lashes swept up, revealing startling silver eyes. “It doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that it’s the truth. ”
My mouth opened, but I snapped it shut. Aiden was trying to get under my skin. That was it. If Thanatos and his Order hadn’t found the Achilles’ heel of the Apollyons in all their centuries of trying, one pure-blood wouldn’t have succeeded. The Order hadn’t…
Or had they?
But they didn’t count. My Seth and his Sentinels had systematically wiped them off Earth.
I lifted my gaze and found Aiden staring at me. The inexplicable urge to stick my tongue out was hard to deny.
“Can I ask you something?”
I shrugged. “If I said no, you would still ask. ”
“True. ” There was a tight smile. “When you were with Lucian, before the Council meeting? He took you to his house against your will, didn’t he?”
“Yeah,” I said slowly, growing uncomfortable already.
“How did that make you feel?”