His light eyes slid from me to Alex. She smiled tightly at him. A moment passed. “Yeah,” he said, drawing the word out. “This is where I end the conversation and bow out politely.”
He started to turn again, but I shot forward, grabbing his arm. His head whipped around, and I decided showing worked better than telling. I lifted my right hand and summoned the element of fire. Energy coursed through me and, in a heartbeat, flames danced over my knuckles.
“Look down,” I ordered quietly.
He hesitated a moment and then his chin dipped. He jerked back, but I kept hold of his arm. “Holy shit, your hand is on fire!”
Several people nearing us slowed, and Seth moved closer, blocking their view. “I’d put that out before I have to put everyone under a compulsion.”
Nodding, I shook my hand, dispersing the flames. “As a demigod, you can control fire.”
“Holy shit,” he repeated, staring at my unblemished skin.
“But that’s not it,” Alex added. “You’ll be able to control wind and earth, and I bet you already are super-familiar with water, all things considered.”
Blood drained from his face as he lifted his gaze to mine. “Your hand was on fire. Like, legit fire.”
“Not really, but kind of.” I glanced over at Seth. “We can explain it all to you. I promise.”
“That’s not normal,” he reasoned. “That is some serious, not-normal shit right there.”
His pupils were dilating, swallowing the bluish-green hue, and that couldn’t be a good sign. Nope. Not at all.
“A minute is up,” Hercules said, crossing his arms. “Do I still need to stay quiet?”
“Yes,” Seth and Alex replied at the same time.
Hercules sighed. “You guys suck.”
“We would like to talk more with you.” I kept my voice low and level. “Is that okay? Because we really need to explain . . .” I trailed off. A weird scent tickled my nose, one that did not belong oceanside.
The scent was dank and musky, rich as fresh soil after a heavy rain. Tiny hairs rose over my skin.
Seth cursed, hands flexing at his sides. “We’ve got shades.”
We didn’t have the greatest plan when it came to how we were going to break the news to Poseidon’s son, but seriously? Just blurting out what was going on? Hercules was a fucking giant pain in the ass, but right now he wasn’t our biggest problem.
The scent of the Underworld surrounded us.
Adrenaline spiked through me as I scanned the beach, not seeing anything out of the norm. Surfers were crowded nearby. Girls in bikinis walked, but a shade could be in any one of them. I wasn’t surprised. Things had gone way too smoothly on this trip. This was the risk I knew we faced, because if there were shades, there were Titans.
“We need to go,” I said, grabbing the guy’s arm as my gaze met Josie’s. “Right now.”
He dug his feet in. “I’m not going anywhere with you—with any of you.”
“We’re not going to hurt you,” Alex reasoned, which was hilarious considering this guy had just seen her singlehandedly take down a guy a foot taller than her. “We’re here to protect you.”
“From what?” He yanked on his arm, but he wasn’t going anywhere.
“From the Titans who want to drain you dry,” Hercules replied, and for a very brief second I entertained the fantasy of dropkicking him upside the head. “They will turn you into a shell of who you used to be.”
“What?” the guy’s voice pitched up, and panic flooded his already pale face.
“Jesus,” muttered Josie, and the scent of the Underworld increased. “We will explain everything. I promise you, but we need to get you out of here.”
“I’m not going anywhere with any of you. I’m going—”
“Yes. You are.” Done with this, I pulled out the gun as I shifted, blocking my hand as I pressed the business end of the Glock against his lower back. “Don’t freak out. I need you to stay calm, but what you feel against your back is exactly what you think it is.”
Josie’s eyes widened.
“Oh God,” the guy gasped with a shudder, and for a moment I thought he might pass out.
“We don’t have time for this. You’ll thank us later, trust me, but right now I need you to start walking.”
The guy didn’t move.
I sighed. “What is your name? Mine is Seth. Queen Kung Fu is Alex. You already know who the steroids guy is. That is Hercules, and the beautiful blonde standing in front of you is Josie. What’s your name?”
A moment passed. “G-Gable.”
“Okay, Gable, we’re going to walk up this beach and then up to the road. We’re going to put you in our car, and then we’re going to leave the place, hopefully without incident,” I explained slowly, clearly. “You don’t want any incidents, do you?”
“No,” he said.
“Perfect. Now you’re going to start walking.” A second later, he started walking. I glanced over at Alex. “Call Aiden and let him know we found him. Tell him we’ll meet them over at the motel.”
“On it.” She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the throwaway phone as she walked ahead, watching the beach as she dialed Aiden’s phone.
Josie worked on assuring Gable of the fact that we didn’t plan on shooting him in the back while Hercules actually became sort of useful as he picked up the surfboard and flanked us.