I didn’t understand. I had no idea what had happened, but the way he looked at me, the way he talked to me, that wasn’t even the Seth I knew in the beginning. This was a whole different Seth I’d never seen before.
Like the day he’d punched that pure and looked at me afterward, this Seth was a stranger to me.
The worst part—oh, God—the worst part was I knew what I was feeling. The very real pain, the bitter swelling of emotions, and the deepness of hurt were signals of something powerful and pure. Something that no longer mattered.
I was in love with Seth.
And he’d just broken my heart.
I was an asshole.
A huge asshole.
Nothing exactly new there, but any of the other times that I was a raging asshole, I didn’t feel like total shit. And I felt like total shit right now.
Hours later, as I stood on the outer wall surrounding the campus, I could still hear the brittle emotion in her words. They whipped at me like the wind did right now, chilling my skin. I didn’t have to close my eyes to clearly see the tears building in hers or to see the way she’d flinched.
I’d hurt her. There was no denying that, but as I stared out over the dark grounds and tall pines, I knew I’d done the right thing. Lifting my right hand, I rubbed the spot above my heart. The right thing wasn’t easy. Fucking sucked, but I had to do it.
There was no way I could be trusted when it came to training her. I’d proven that to myself, and if I couldn’t be trusted training her, then I sure as hell couldn’t be trusted being with her. Not when I now knew how easy it was to mix need and . . . well, need.
“What are you doing up here?”
I turned at the sound of Solos’s voice. His dark hair appeared at the top of the wall as he climbed up the steep ladder. “Patrolling.”
Solos stood, brows arched. “Didn’t realize that was part of your duties here.”
“Didn’t realize that was any of your business.”
His lip curled up at the corners, stretching the jagged scar that ran from the corner of his eye to his jaw. “Look, all I’m saying is that if I didn’t have to be up here, I wouldn’t be.”
I folded my arms, turning my attention to the pines that were already starting to smell sweet.
“Especially when it’s as cold as Medusa’s tits up here.”
Nice imagery there. “I didn’t think this was your duty either since you were given a Council seat.”
“Not much to do on the Council other than sit around and listen to a bunch of people argue.” Solos moved to stand beside me, and I didn’t even bother to hide my sigh. “You know, if I had a girl like Josie within arm’s reach, I would—”
“If you don’t want to be knocked off this wall, I suggest you don’t finish that sentence,” I stated calmly.
Solos let out a low whistle. “Well then . . .”
I spared him a cursory glance. “Any interesting updates from the world beyond these walls?”
“No shade reports or Titan sightings, but we know that isn’t going to last. There have been some daimon attacks near L.A. and just outside of Vegas. I also heard that there was a surprising number near Miami. Word is it’s a bunch of recently turned pures, so they’re going batshit.”
“What about closer?”
Solos lifted his arms and stretched, cracking the bones down his back. “There’s a sizeable cell of daimons outside of Rapid City. We got a scouting team following them right now since it’s too many for them to engage.”
This was the first I was hearing about this. “You aren’t concerned about that? It takes no leap of logic to figure out that a large group of daimons there will be heading in this direction. There isn’t much else.”
“We know that, Seth, but we can’t take away from guarding the Covenant, not with the threat of shades and Titans looming over us.” He lowered his arms. “They won’t get inside these walls. Not again.”
“But they can control animals. Remember last time, with the birds?” I’d been on the other side of the wall, out of their direct path, but I’d seen that Hitchcock horror come to life. “I can take out the daimons. I’ll leave—”
“You really going to leave here, where Josie is? Think about it, man. Worst-case scenario is that the Titans somehow are working with the daimons, just like Ares was. This could be a trap, lure Guards and Sentinels—you—away from here for them to strike.” He turned, gesturing inside the wall. “You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed how woefully staffed we are when it comes to Guards and Sentinels. Many have left. Can’t blame them for that. Shit, sometimes I wonder why the hell I’m still here. Half of the damn Guards are pures. They can’t spot a daimon to save their lives. Literally. Plus there are more half daimons now than pure ones. Those fuckers are a bitch to kill, and even we can’t tell them apart. You leave, you’re opening us up to a huge risk.”
Hell. He had a point.
Man, what I’d give to have some newly turned daimons to take my frustrations out on. They were brutal and messy when new—at their most dangerous, as they were completely ruled by . . . by their need for aether.
“Want to hear something strange?” he said, and continued without my response. “When I went out beyond the walls today I heard birds and insects. The woods were alive.”
“Okay,” I replied. “Thanks for sharing.”
Solos stared ahead. “The only time it has been silent was when you were with us.”