Page 2 of the closed doors followed my quick footsteps down the empty hall. Toward the end of the building, across from the med room where Aiden had brought me after Kain had handed my ass to me in training, was a smaller room equipped with the bare necessities and a sensory deprivation chamber.
“You think so?” I whispered.
“Yes. ” Seth’s breath was warm against my temple. “Go to sleep, Alex. ”
Letting the soothing sensation of his thumb against the rune lull me away, I drifted back to sleep, momentarily forgetting all the mistakes and decisions I’d made in the past seven months. My last conscious thought was of my biggest mistake—not the boy beside me, but the one I could never have.
On a good, normal day I hated trig class. The whole subject seemed pointless to me. Who cared about Pythagorean Identities when I was attending the Covenant to learn how to kill things? But today my hatred of the class had hit an all-time high.
Almost everyone had their eyes on me, even Mrs. Kateris. I sank low in my seat, shoving my nose into the book I wouldn’t read if Apollo came down and demanded that I do so. Only one set of eyes really affected me. The rest could suck it.
Olivia’s stare was heavy, condemning.
Why, oh why, couldn’t we change seats? After everything that’d happened, sitting next to her was the worst kind of torture.
My cheeks burned. She hated me, blamed me for Caleb’s death. But I hadn’t killed Caleb—a half-blood daimon had. I’d just been the one who’d gotten him to sneak out on a campus that’d been under curfew for what’d turned out to be a really good reason.
So in a way, it was my fault. I knew that, and gods, I’d do anything to change that night.
Olivia’s outburst at Caleb’s funeral was probably why everyone else kept sneaking peeks at me. If I remembered correctly, I think she’d yelled something like, “You’re the Apollyon” as I stared at her.
Back at the New York Covenant in the Catskills, the half-blood kids had thought I was pretty damn cool, but here… not so much. When I met their gazes, they didn’t look away fast enough to hide their unease.
At the end of class, I shoved my book in my backpack and hurried out the door, wondering if Deacon would talk to me next period. Deacon and Aiden were poles apart on almost everything, but both Aiden and his younger brother seemed to view halfs as their equals—a rare thing among the pure-blood race.
Whispers followed me down the hall. Ignoring them was harder than I’d imagined. Every cell in my body demanded that I confront them. And do what? Jump on them like a crazy spider monkey and take them all out? Yeah, not going to win me any fans.
“Alex! Wait up!”
My heart sank at the sound of Olivia’s voice. I picked up my pace, practically barreling through a few younger half-bloods who stared at me with wide, frightened eyes. Why were they afraid of me? I wasn’t the one who was going to go all God Killer soon. But oh no, they stared at Seth like he was a god. Just a few more doors and I could hide in Technical Truths and Legends.
I recognized Olivia’s tone. It was the same one she used to get whenever she and Caleb were about to have one of their quarrels—determined and stubborn as hell.
She was right behind me now and I was only a step away from my classroom. I wasn’t going to make it. “Alex,” she said. “We need to talk. ”
“I’m not doing this right now. ” Because really, being told that it was my fault Caleb was dead was not on the top of my list of things to hear today.
Olivia grabbed my arm. “Alex, I need to talk to you. I know you’re upset, but you’re not the only one who’s allowed to miss Caleb. I was his girlfriend—”
I stopped thinking. Whirling around, I dropped my bag in the middle of hall and caught her by the throat. In a second, I had her against the wall and on the tips of her toes. Eyes wide, she grabbed my arm and tried to push me off.
I squeezed just a little bit.
Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Lea, her arm no longer in a brace. The daimon half that’d broken her arm had also killed Caleb. Lea stepped forward like she wanted to intervene.
“Look, I get it,” I whispered hoarsely. “You loved Caleb. Guess what? So did I. And I miss him, too. If I could go back in time and change that night, I would. But I can’t. So please just leave me—”
An arm the size of my waist shot out from nowhere and tossed me back a good five feet. Olivia slumped against the wall, rubbing her throat.
I whirled around and groaned.
Leon, the King of Impeccable Timing, glared at me. “You are in need of a professional babysitter. ”
I opened my mouth, but then I closed it. Considering some of the things Leon had interrupted in the past, he had no idea how true his statement was. But then I realized something more important. If Leon was back, then my uncle and Aiden were also back.
“You,” Leon gestured at Olivia, “get to class. ” He turned his attention back to me. “You are coming with me. ”
Biting my tongue, I grabbed my bag off the floor and commenced my walk of shame down the now-crowded hallway. I caught a glimpse of Luke, but looked away before I could gauge his expression.
Leon took the stairs—gods know how I loved them—and we didn’t speak until we stood in the lobby. The furie statues were gone, but the empty space left a cold hole in my stomach. They’d be back. I was sure of it. It was just a matter of when.
He towered over me when he stopped, nearly seven feet of pure muscle. “Why is it every time I see you, you are about to do something you shouldn’t?”
I shrugged. “It’s a talent. ”
Reluctant amusement flickered across his face as he pulled something out of his back pocket. It looked like a piece of parchment. “Aiden asked me to give this to you. ”
My stomach dropped as I reached out and took the letter, hands shaking. “Is… is he okay?”
His brows furrowed. “Yes. Aiden is fine. ”
I didn’t even try to hide my sigh of relief as I turned the letter over. It was sealed with an official-looking red stamp. When I looked up, Leon was gone. Shaking my head, I went over to one of the marble benches and sat. I had no idea how Leon could move such a massive body around so stealthily. The ground should tremble in his wake.
Curious, I slid my finger under the crease and broke the seal. Unfolding the letter, I saw Laadan’s elegant signature at the bottom. I quickly scanned the parchment once, and then I went back and read it again.
And I read it a third time.
I felt unbearably hot and cold all at once. My mouth dried, throat seized. Fine tremors racked my fingers, causing the paper to flutter. I stood and then sat back down. The four words replayed before my eyes. It was all I could see. All I cared to know.
Your father is alive.
HEART RACING, I TOOK THE STEPS TWO AT A TIME. SPY-ing Leon near my uncle’s office, I broke into a sprint. He looked mildly alarmed when he saw me.
“What is it, Alexandria?”
I skidded to a halt. “Aiden gave this to you?”
Leon frowned. “Yes. ”
“Did you read it?”
“No. It wasn’t addressed to me. ”
I clutched the letter to my chest. “Do you know where Aiden is?”
“Yes. ” Leon’s frown turned severe. “He’s been back since last night. ”
“Where is he right now, Leon? I need to know. ”
“I don’t see how there could be any reason you’d need Aiden badly enough to interrupt his training. ” He folded thick arms across his chest. “And shouldn’t you be heading to class?”
I stared a moment before I spun around and took off again. Leon wasn’t stupid, so he hadn’t accidentally told me where Aiden was, but I didn’t care enough to look into the reason behind that.
If Aiden was training then I knew where to find him. A cold, damp breeze sprayed my cheeks as I burst through the lobby doors and headed toward the training arena. The milky gray sky was typical for late November, making summer seem so long ago.
Classes for lower level students were being held in the larger training rooms. Instructor Romvi’s impatient barking from behind one
I had yet to train in that thing.
Peeking through the crack in the door, I saw Aiden. He was in the middle of the mat, squaring off with a punching bag. A fine sheen of sweat coated his ropey muscles as he swung, knocking the bag back several feet.
Any other time I would have admired him rather obsessively, but my fingers spasmed, crunching the letter. I slid through the gap and crossed the room.
He whipped around, eyes flaring from a cool gray to a thunderous shade. He took a step back, wiping his arm across his forehead. “Alex, what… what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in class?”
I held the letter up. “Did you read what was in this letter?”
He had the same look as Leon. “No. Laadan asked me to make sure you got it. ”
Why had she trusted Aiden with such news? I couldn’t even begin to figure that out unless… “Did you know what was in this letter?”
“No. She just asked me to give it to you. ” He bent, swiping a towel off the mat. “What’s in the letter that has you chasing me down?”
A stupid, totally unimportant question rose to the surface. “Why did you give it to Leon?’
He averted his eyes, growing still. “I thought it would be best. ”
My gaze dropped from his face to his neck. There was that thin, silver chain again. I itched to know what he wore, since he wasn’t a jewelry type of guy. I dragged my eyes back to his face. “My father is alive. ”
Aiden tilted his head toward me. “What?”
A bitter feeling settled in my stomach “He’s alive, Aiden. And he’s been at the New York Covenant for years. He was there when I was there. ” The swirling emotions I felt when I first read the letter picked up again. “I saw him, Aiden! I know I did. The servant with the brown eyes. And he knew—he knew I was his daughter. That must be why he always looked at me strangely. It’s probably why I was so drawn to him whenever I saw him. I just didn’t know. ”
Aiden looked pale under his natural tan. “Can I?”
I handed him the letter and then dragged shaking hands through my hair. “You know, there was something different about him. He never looked doped-up like other servants. And when Seth and I were leaving, I saw him fighting the daimons. ” I paused, drawing in a deep breath. “I just didn’t know, Aiden. ”
His brows furrowed as he scanned the letter. “Gods,” he murmured.
Turning away from him, I hugged my elbows. The sickening feeling I’d been staving off flowed through my stomach. Anger boiled the blood in my veins. “He’s a servant—a freaking servant. ”
“Do you know what this means, Alex?”
I faced him, shocked to find him so close. At once I caught the scent of aftershave and saltwater. “Yes. I have to do something! I have to get him out of there. I know I don’t know him, but he’s my father. I have to do something!”