And all I could think about was where Malibu Barbie would live.
After grabbing a quick lunch, we ended up stopping at an older, retro-style motel along the Pacific Coast Highway, creatively named the Malibu Motel. Unloading our bags and the massive number of weapons didn’t take that long. The inside of the motel kind of reminded me of the one Seth and I had stayed at before, except we weren’t in the honeymoon suite this time.
Based on what Hercules had discovered with Apollo, we figured we’d find Poseidon’s offspring somewhere in Malibu, but the place wasn’t particularly small and there were people, lots of . . . really attractive and thin people.
We hit the area of Paradise Cove in the afternoon, and while I was thrilled to get sand between my toes, I wished I’d had some shorts to pack. Sweat was already accumulating in places sweat should never gather, but the sun felt good on my skin. It seemed like it had been way too long since I’d actually felt warm.
Plus, I felt like an ogre around these people. A big, hairy ogre.
The first day searching was a fail on many levels. We didn’t find who we were looking for. We nearly lost Hercules to a group of bikini-clad girls multiple times, and we had to drive further out from the coast to find a store that sold shorts my thighs would actually fit in.
And then the shorts were a mistake. Seth said I looked hot, and later, in our bed that creaked, he showed me how hot he thought I looked in those shorts, but while I was out on the beach, my legs were so white they were blinding.
Dusk was quickly giving way to night when we stopped to grab dinner at The Beach Café. Seated inside at a large table, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the patrons, the very mortal patrons, noticed anything off about our group. Besides the fact that our group had an extraordinary amount of attractive people—not like that was anything rare in L.A., but did they feel anything strange?
Could they sense at all that demigods, the children of demigods, and the Apollyon surrounded them? Like a weird vibe in the air or just that sensation you sometimes get that warns you something isn’t right?
I knew I never felt anything when I was a normal mortal. I’d believed that Erin was totally who and what she said she was. I had no idea she was a mortal creature known as a furie.
Other than the waitress openly gawking at the guys, she didn’t seem to realize that she was surrounded by mythical creatures as she took our drink order.
I went with a Coke. Most went with water . . . until it came to Herc’s order. He eyed the menu. “I’ll take a gin and tonic.”
The pretty waitress, who I’d already assumed was in the L.A. area to be an actress, because I assumed everyone there was there to act or model, blushed. “Can I see an I.D.?”
My eyes widened. I.D.? Hell. There was no—
“Honey, you already saw my I.D.,” Herc said as he glanced up. His gaze caught and held the waitress’s. Tiny hairs rose on my arm as a push rolled across the table, a flicker of recognizable power. “You know I am of age.”
The waitress blinked slowly and then said, “How about an appetizer?”
I’d never get used to seeing a compulsion used, and even though it was over something so minor, I didn’t like it. “You shouldn’t do that.”
Herc looked at me like he couldn’t even fathom why I suggested that. “I want a drink, so I’m getting a drink.”
“But you don’t need a drink,” I reasoned, curling my fingers along the edges of the laminated menu. “Compulsions shouldn’t be used for something so . . . so trivial.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Why not?”
I glanced around the table. Alex looked seconds from face-planting the menu. Aiden was staring at Herc with a mixture of morbid fascination and distaste. Solos was actually checking out an older blonde woman who looked like she belonged on Housewives of Whatever. Luke shared Alex’s expression, and Seth, who was beside me, looked like he wanted to punch the demigod, but that was no different from the moment they crossed paths. Deacon was the only one who actually watched Herc with favorable interest.
“It’s not right,” I explained. Slowly. “You’re messing with her head. That is wrong.”
He shrugged. “She’s just a mortal.”
“Just a mortal,” I repeated dumbly.
Seth draped his arm along the back of my chair. “Don’t waste your time, Josie.”
“Nothing with me is a waste of time,” Herc stated, and I joined Alex, wanting to face-plant the table.
“Anyway,” Aiden cut in smoothly. “Today was a bust,” he said, keeping his voice low. “While it may not seem like we’re in a time crunch here, the longer all of us are in one location, the more likely we’re going to run into problems.”
“Not just with the Titans,” Solos agreed, still focused on the older blonde woman. “But we’ll have daimon problems before we know it.”
“I’m not worried,” Herc replied.
Seth smoothed his hand along my back as the waitress returned with our drinks and we placed our orders. Aiden got a burger without buns, and I felt like that was a crime against nature.
“Worried or not, we need you to find the demigod, not the girl in the skimpiest bikini,” Alex pointed out as soon as the waitress disappeared. “Even though you do seem to have an impressive talent for that.”
Herc smiled proudly. “You all need to have faith.”
“I have faith,” Deacon commented. “All the faith.”