Josie’s soft laugh stopped me dead in my tracks. “It’s not really that exciting,” she said. “I hardly know what I’m doing most of the time.”
What the hell? I stepped over a low stone wall, going where no man had probably gone before. Careful not to trample the cluster of peonies, I unlocked a whole new level of creepiness by peering through the thick vines at her. My gut immediately tightened.
What the fuck?
Sitting on the bench beside her was not Luke or Deacon. It was that guy again, the one that had been with her when she’d used the air element. Colin was his name.
“It’s still awesome,” he said, and, oh yeah, real fucking awesome. His entire body was twisted toward her. “Your father is Apollo. That’s pretty amazing.”
My jaw locked down. What was she telling this douche? She didn’t know him. I didn’t know him.
One of her shoulders rose as she fiddled with the sweater in her lap. She was always moving some part of her body. Fingers. Legs. Feet. “I guess so. I’ve only seen him a couple times. He’s busy doing . . . god stuff.”
Colin shook his head. “What about your mother?”
My eyes narrowed as Josie really started twisting the sweater between her hands. “She’s not here,” she replied after a beat of silence. “I mean, she’s with Apollo. With everything going on with the Titans, it’s not safe for her here.”
“Understandable.” He finally looked away from her, and that was a good thing, because I was beginning to think those blue eyes would look excellent on the ground, lying among the damn peonies. “I was kind of lucky, you know? My mom was mortal, and she knew the truth. My father—a pure-blood—loved her. He didn’t care that she was mortal.”
I didn’t give two shits if his mother was Hera.
Behind me, a throat cleared.
Looking over my shoulder, I spied the ancient, knocking-on-death’s-door caretaker. I could barely see the face under the wide brim straw hat, but I could feel the disapproving glare in every cell of my being.
I stared the caretaker down until the little body threw up its arms and shuffled off, muttering under its breath in what sounded like ancient Greek.
Whatever. I turned back to Josie and Dickface.
“My father was . . . he tried to keep the relationship hidden. He would leave the community and visit me and Mom every weekend—always a long weekend. Friday through Monday. When I was younger, I didn’t realize we were different. Mom was always honest about what Dad was. I didn’t realize that he had another family in his community—a pure one. Wife. Another son. I think my mom knew. I’m pretty sure she did, and I don’t think she cared. She loved him that much that she didn’t care that when he left us, he went to another family, one that his kind approved of.”
“Oh my gosh,” Josie murmured.
Colin was quiet for only a damn moment. “When she got pregnant with my older brother, things changed. My father ended up moving in with us. For a couple of years, I guess we were like normal mortal families. At least it felt that way to me.”
Now Josie was staring at him and I could see the sympathy all but pouring out of her. Fuck me. “What happened?”
Colin glanced up at the sky. “I was young. Daimons tracked my father home one night. They got hold of my mom and killed her just for sport. My father was able to stop them from getting to us, but my mom . . . she died defending my brother and me. She wasn’t trained or anything. She knew what they were, and she went down fighting. Because of her actions, it gave my father a chance to fight.”
“Sounds very brave.”
“She was brave.” He smiled faintly.
Josie looked like she was seconds away from pulling him into a bear hug. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you.” He turned to her. “Anyway, that’s some depressing shit right there and you look like that’s the last thing you need right now.”
Oh, like he knew what she needed right now? The hand at my side closed into a fist. I was going to rip out Colin’s tongue and shove it up his ass. Possibly an excessive reaction, but what the fuck ever, it was going to make me feel real good.
Her hands stilled. “Is it that obvious?”
Colin tipped his head back. “Ah, you just look . . . like you could use a friend.”
Josie pressed her lips together and didn’t respond. I tensed, preparing myself for her to agree. She did need friends. Luke and Deacon were great, but the more the merrier or some shit. Though, couldn’t she find another chick? I was moving before I realized what I was doing. Stepping back from the vines and onto the walkway, there was a moment when I could’ve done the right thing, but nope. Apparently I could only half-ass one right thing. I was stalking right toward them.
“I haven’t seen you with the . . . with Seth.” The words were quietly spoken, but oh, I heard them. “It’s weird. Usually, I don’t see you without him and—”
“And I’m right here.”
Josie squeaked as her head swung toward me. Her eyes, those endless eyes, widened in surprise. “Seth?”
I stopped in front of them, eyeballing the little punk bitch on the bench. “You say my name, Josie, like you aren’t sure who I am, but considering how you normally scream my name, I’m a bit surprised.”
“What?” she gasped, and I could tell she was locking up. “What did you just say?”
“I think you heard me,” I replied, my attention focused solely on the tool. “This is the second time I’ve found you like this. Third time’s not going to be a charm.”