“I know that already,” he said dryly. “But that’s not what I’m asking.”
I sighed. “Okay.”
He held my gaze. “Can you do this?”
“I don’t want you to answer the question yet,” he interrupted. “I want you to really think about it and ask yourself if you can really do this. Not fighting. Not using the elements. Ask yourself if you’re ready to kill someone without a second of hesitation. If you’re ready to deliver a fatal blow before your opponent lands a hit on you. If you’re ready to be the aggressor.”
Those questions left me cold. I wanted to say that I could do it when I needed to, but truthfully? The dummy swayed slightly in front of me, made of rubber and synthetic flesh. I wasn’t ready to say yes, I could kill something. Well, besides animals with my car, and I still felt horrible about all of that, but on purpose?
I thought about Hyperion, and I squeezed my eyes shut. I could’ve killed him. Easily. The things he said and did . . . I sucked in a sharp breath and shuddered. I didn’t even need to try to remember the iciness of his breath or the heaviness of his hand.
Yeah. I could’ve killed him.
But this? Actively killing people—er, daimons or whatever? It was different. Killing things wasn’t what I was all about. It was who I needed to be to survive. I couldn’t be weak. I had to be stronger than this. Strong like the female Sentinels I saw every day. Strong like I imagined Alex had been. Or was. Still is.
I opened my eyes. “Alex didn’t have a problem with killing things, did she?”
Seth blinked and took a step back. Like, a legit step back.
My eyes widened. I hadn’t meant to ask that out loud, and I didn’t even know where that came from. Okay. I did know where it came from: my mouth, which apparently was connected to that deep, dark subconscious part of me that wouldn’t shut the fuck up.
“Yeah, um, can I . . . Yeah, I didn’t ask that question.” My face flushed, and I hastily turned away, walking toward where I’d left my hoodie and water.
I could not believe I’d brought Alex into a conversation like this.
Seth never talked about Alex.
For obvious reasons, it was a touchy subject. I understood why. Seth and Alex had a way weird past. Being that both were Apollyons, they were fated to be together, designed in that way. But Alex loved Aiden, and I . . . I wasn’t sure how Seth felt about Alex. Deacon had made it sound like it hadn’t been that serious, but Deacon wasn’t Seth.
Deacon was Aiden’s younger brother, so maybe he only saw what he wanted to see when it came to Alex and Seth.
Seth’s past was so intricately twisted with Alex’s, and I knew he’d done a lot to her when he had been working with Ares, and he had come through for her when it was needed most. Hell, he had sacrificed everything for Alex’s happiness. That had to mean something.
What I did know for sure was what Deacon had been super-excited about the last week or so. Due to some crazy deal with the gods, Alex and Aiden had remained in Tartarus for six months, and that time was almost up.
Alex and Aiden would be returning soon.
Bending down, I picked up the hoodie and tugged it on over my head. I grabbed my bottle of water, searching for something to change the subject to. Anything would be good at this point.
I stilled, pressing my lips together. Of course she didn’t. According to Deacon, Alex was the baddest of all badasses.
“She was born and practically raised in this environment except for a period of time. Alex is different than you.”
My stomach twisted with a bitter burn. Ridiculous, I knew, but the acid coating the insides of my mouth tasted like jealousy. Stupid, unreasonable jealousy.
“But it wasn’t easy for her, and you do have that in common,” he added after a moment. “I know she didn’t like it and it wore on her. It got to her.”
Slowly, I turned around, clutching the bottle to my chest.
He’d moved silently and was only a foot or so away from me. “And before . . . before everything went down, she was talking about not wanting to be a Sentinel anymore. Even though that was what she’d always wanted to be. She was done with it all. The killing and the fighting.”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know if there was anything I could say about it, because I could understand that. Who wouldn’t be tired of killing and fighting?
“It wasn’t easy for her, Josie, but she did it because it was her duty—she did it to protect herself and those she cared about.” Seth reached around and tugged my ponytail out from under my hoodie. He draped it over my shoulder. “It’s not going to be easy for you.”
I licked my lips. “You don’t think I can do this, do you?”
His gaze held mine for a moment and then his lashes lowered, shielding his eyes. “One of the things I like about you so much, Josie, is that you are so very mortal despite what and who you are.”
A tiny flutter spread its wings in my chest. “I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not.”
“It is.” Lowering his head, he kissed the corner of my lips. “Come on. Let’s head back and grab some popcorn. We can watch a movie before Deacon shows up and forces us to watch another season of Supernatural.”
“I love Supernatural.”
He smirked. “You love Dean Winchester.”
“Guilty,” I murmured, well aware that Seth was totally avoiding my question, but I didn’t push it. Probably because I already knew his answer, what he believed.