I wanted to burn this room.
Why did I want to come here? This wasn’t a place of happy, happy memories.
Emptiness poured into my chest as I surveyed the cold and lifeless bedroom. Coming back to this house meant I’d be near only a few thousand people. Andros wasn’t heavily populated. Coming here was a smart move, but walking into this room was a mistake.
I rubbed my palm over my chest, but nothing filled the gaping hole there, because that void had nothing to do with this house or this bedroom.
Exhaling roughly, I walked toward the heavily shrouded window and pulled the curtain back. Dusk had begun to settle over the courtyard down below. I closed my eyes, and instead of being sucked back into those long nights and mornings of staring out this window, watching my mother, I saw Josie’s face and I wanted to be there. I wanted to see her—
And then it happened.
My heart took a beat and every cell in my body scattered. One second I was in my old bedroom and the next I was standing in a small room that appeared to be a hotel. I took a step back as my gaze swung around the room. Heavy curtains were drawn, blotting out the sun. I caught a glimpse of blonde hair splayed out across a pillow.
I hadn’t meant to do this.
But I had.
I’d brought myself to Josie.
It had only taken a second, a freaking second, and I was suddenly within feet of her, and she was right there, lying on a bed, curled onto her side. Her back was to me, but I knew that was Josie. I knew the line of her body, even under a thin white blanket. That was her curve of the hip and waist. That was my Josie—that was psychi mou. My soul.
Only hours had passed since I’d left her, but it felt like a fucking eternity. I took a breath and it got stuck somewhere in my chest.
She was right there.
I didn’t move or dare to breathe too loudly. She couldn’t wake up. If she did and she said my name—if she looked at me, I couldn’t walk away again.
I shouldn’t be here.
Seconds slid by in a slow succession as a hundred questions rose in my head. Where was Josie? This didn’t appear to be the house we’d been in. Were they still in Malibu or had they left? If I concentrated hard enough I swore I could hear the ocean outside. Where was everyone else? Alex and Aiden? The boys and Poseidon’s son? How in the hell had I come all this way without realizing I was doing it?
The gnawing in the pit of my stomach rumbled like hunger pangs.
I needed to be gone from here. Josie wasn’t safe with me.
One foot followed the other and then I was at her back. My heart thundered in my chest as muscles along my back and shoulders tensed. All thought processes were clicking off and common sense dive-bombed off a cliff. My fingers grazed over her soft, silky hair. I lifted a thick strand and curled my fingers around it. My gaze crawled up over the slope of her bare shoulder and the thin strap of one of those tank tops she was always wearing. I laid the strands of her hair down on the pillow as my gaze tracked the deep rise and fall of her chest. Lowering my hand, I snagged the edge of the thin blanket and drew it down, revealing the deep dip of her waist. The tank top she wore had ridden up, showing off a section of skin and the lacy edges of her panties.
Josie squirmed in her sleep, shifting halfway onto her back. I held my breath as those thick lashes fluttered. Any second she could open her eyes, and I’d be lost. I’d be found. And there would be no going back.
Those eyes didn’t open.
Her hand fell to the side, slightly brushing my arm. It was like a jolt of electricity, lighting up every cell.
That order whispered in my thoughts. It was wrong, so very wrong, but if she opened her eyes and saw me, I . . . I couldn’t walk away.
I wanted to wake her up. I wanted to touch her—hold her. I wanted to curl my body around hers. I needed to feel her skin flush against mine. I needed to hear my name on her lips. My gaze flickered to the swell of her breasts, and the hunger raging inside me mixed with stark arousal. I needed everything about her.
Fear punched through my gut—fear for her. I dropped the blanket. Struggling against instinct that was primal and raw, I forced myself to take a step back and then another. The back of my throat burned. My knuckles ached from how tightly I was now clenching my fists.
I could not be here.
Closing my eyes, I pictured the house on Andros and I felt the tugging. Within a second, I was back to the house, to the old bedroom.
“Gods,” I growled.
Shaken, I pivoted around and left the bedroom, slamming the door shut behind me. I passed the half in the hall and took the steps two at a time. On the main level, I headed for the study and straight for the liquor.
What I’d just done was leveling up on the whole stalker thing. And it had been so damn dangerous. The hunger for her, for what was inside her, was a monster clawing its way out of me. I couldn’t do it again. There was no way. I hadn’t even made it a full fucking day without searching Josie out.
The cabinet door opened before I reached it. With a trembling hand, I grabbed the first square-based crystal decanter. Popping the lid, I lifted it to my mouth and drank until my entire body burned. I drank until the decanter was empty, then I reached for another. Amber liquid swished, and I drank until there were no thoughts of Josie.
Until there were no thoughts of anything.
Opening my eyes, I found myself staring at the unfamiliar bedroom walls. My heart was pounding and as I inhaled deeply, I caught a woodsy scent. Jerking up, I threw the cover off and swung my bare legs off the bed.
“Seth?” I said his name before I could stop myself.
I turned around, scanning the darkened room. Of course there was no answer. He wasn’t here. My stomach hollowed as I backed up, plopping down on the edge of the bed. Running my hands through my hair, I tugged the strands back as I exhaled roughly. My head thumped and my eyes burned. I didn’t know how long I’d slept, but I knew it couldn’t have been more than a few hours. I hadn’t wanted to fall asleep. There was too much to do, but my body had given out to sorrow-tinged exhaustion the moment we arrived at Gable’s uncle’s house. Or was it his aunt? Grandmother? I had no idea. For all I knew it could’ve been a second home.
Rich people had those kinds of things.
After Alex and I had gone back inside, we’d discovered that the guys had everything packed up. It was obviously no longer safe at Gable’s home. Too weary to argue, I climbed into the back of the SUV and rode several miles down the coast to yet another sprawling mansion.
I’d expected there to be more damage from the Atlas-induced earthquake, but a block away from Gable’s home, the large palm leaves were swaying in the breeze and cars zoomed up and down the roads.
The mortals obviously believed it had been an earthquake and nothing more.
When we got to the house on yet another cliff overlooking the sea, I followed Gable to a guest room, stripped off my jeans, and climbed into the bed. I hadn’t wanted to sleep, but at the same time I did, because then I wouldn’t have to think about my mom or Seth or my father.
But now I was awake.
Swallowing down the bitter knot of emotions, I stood and walked over to where my jeans were lying on the arm of a dark brown chair. I dragged them on and then toed on my flip-flops.
I left the bedroom and made my way down a wide spiral staircase. The house was quiet, but as I entered what I guessed was a massive living room, I could see Luke and Deacon on a startling white couch. Luke was on his back, head resting on the arm. Deacon was curled on his side, his blond head on Luke’s chest. An arm and leg were thrown over Luke’s waist and legs as if he were ensuring that Luke was actually getting some rest. Both were asleep, and staring at them caused a twinge of hurt to spike my heart.
A soft-looking gray blanket was draped over the back of a chair. Picking it up, I carefully laid it over the guys. Neither stirred. I figured only another earthquake, hopefully one that didn’t include scorched daimons, would wake them.
Finding my way through the house, I opened French doors that led out onto a heavily shaded patio. It wasn’t empty. Alex was sitting in one of the outdoor chaise lounges. Of course, it was white. The people who lived here apparently had a thing for white furniture.