The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 15

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It was the male.

Relief nearly made me cry out. He was alive and could talk. That was . . . good. Gingerly tipping my head back against the wall, I swallowed hard. “I’m . . . I’m Josie. You?”

A few moments passed. “Mitchell. My name is Mitchell Cousins.”

I repeated his name in my head.

“Do you . . .” His breath hitched. “Do you know what they are, why they have you?”

Resting my arms in my lap, I focused on the shadowy outline of Mitchell. “They’re Titans and they . . . they’re feeding on us.”

He coughed out a broken, dry laugh. “So I’m not crazy, and what’s been happening is . . . is really happening.”

“Yeah. It’s really happening. You’re a . . . a bound demigod,” I told him, flinching as sharp pain stabbed the back of my head. “We were looking for . . . you guys. We knew you two had been taken—”

“You knew about this before they got you?” Surprise colored his tone.

“I . . . I found out what I was about a year ago.” I wasn’t sure how much I should tell or how much even sounded believable to a guy who had been in here for nearly a year. “My father sent someone to protect me, but Hyperion found me. We fought him off, and we couldn’t find you two.”

Mitchell didn’t respond for a long moment. “Will . . . will someone be looking for you?”

My chest ached. “Yes.”

“Will they find us?”

“They . . . they will try,” I said, hurting for him and the girl who hadn’t moved once since I’d been here. I’d told the truth. Alex and Aiden would try to find me. So would Deacon and Luke, and if Seth knew, he’d try. I believed that. I really did. But I had no idea how they could find us. I strained to see him through the muggy darkness. “Do you know who the other person is?”

“That’s Lauren.” His voice sounded like sandpaper. “I don’t know her well.”

Glancing at where she lay, I didn’t see a single part of her move. “Do . . . you know how long you’ve been here?”

He shuddered. “I don’t know. It’s been . . . a while. She was here before me, and they . . .”

“They what?” I whispered.

Mitchell didn’t respond right away. “The big dude . . . Not the one who brought you in.”

“Hyperion?” Just saying his name made me want to vomit.

“Yeah, not him. There’s another. He’s got a mohawk. Blue hair, I think.” Mitchell paused and seemed to rally up the strength to continue. “He comes for her. Not so much anymore, but in the beginning, it was like . . . every time I was awake he was in here and he’d . . .”

Part of me didn’t want to hear it, but I didn’t stop him.

“He’d drag her out of here and I don’t think they’d go very far. She would scream, and I could tell she’d fight him . . . or she used to. I could hear the things he was doing to her.” His voice cracked, and my breath caught. “He . . . he would hurt her. He would do things to her. I could hear it.”

Oh gods.

Horror robbed me of the ability to speak as my heart thundered against my chest. All those horrible things Hyperion had said to me had been repeatedly carried out on her.

“I tried . . . I tried to stop him when he would come for her. You have got to believe me. I tried. I really—”

“I believe you.” Tears burned my eyes as I tried to see the girl in the shadows, lying against the wall. “I believe you.”

When he spoke, his voice was hoarser than before. “He . . . he just feeds off her now. Does it right here, and I . . . I can’t stop him.”

I dragged my right leg up, bending it at the knee. I couldn’t even begin to fathom what she had been going through—what he had been going through. “Who comes for you?”

“The woman—I can’t pro-pronounce her name.”

Maybe he was talking about the one who was with Hyperion—the one who was arguing with him. I remembered how he’d curled away from them.

“Can you . . . can you do something for me?” he asked, and I had no idea what I could do for him. “Can you see if she’s still alive? She hasn’t moved since they brought you in . . . and they haven’t come for her. I can’t . . . I don’t have the strength to move.”

My stomach dropped as my gaze skittered from him to the other shadowy form. I tried to speak, but my voice got lost for a moment. It took a few seconds for me to croak out a yes, and then I pushed away from the wall.

It was easier to crawl over to where I saw her lying. Standing up and walking required too much effort and stress on my ribs, so I slowly made my way over to her. Dusty dirt coated my palms as I reached her still legs. A knot formed in my throat as I inched up to her waist. She was facing the wall. Hand shaking, I brushed long, clumpy strands back from her face. It was too dark to make out her features beyond the dirt covering her face.

Please don’t be dead. Please, please, please.

A tremble coursed through my arm as I pressed my fingers against her neck. I gasped at the touch of cool skin. I moved my fingers, feeling for a pulse. I didn’t feel—feel anything. Jerking back, I tried to swallow.

“Is she . . . ?”

Carefully, I shifted her onto her back—or tried to. Her body was stiff and one arm appeared stuck to the floor. Her hair fell to the side and I saw her eyes were open, fixed and empty. She was—

I fell back and then scuttled backward, putting distance between us—between me and this poor girl. My brain couldn’t even process the ramifications of what this meant—what this meant for us and for the world.

“Josie?” Mitchell whispered.

Moving until my back was against the wall, I ignored the pain in my ribs and head. “She’s . . . I’m sorry. She’s dead.”

“Oh God.”

My eyes were peeled wide, staring at where she rested.

“This has to be a nightmare,” he cried. “Oh God. Oh fucking God. What . . .”

Another tremble rocked me, and this time, it didn’t stop. I pulled up my knees and wrapped my arms around them. She was dead. That girl—that bound demigod was dead, and she was lying there with us.

“She’s dead,” Mitchell gasped. “She’s dead and we’ll be next.”

Chapter 10


Back out on the balcony, I watched the sunrise and the ocean became an array of blues, lavenders, and pinks.

I’d slept like a baby last night.

Sleep hadn’t come to me easily since I’d left Josie. The all-consuming thoughts of her had kept me up, as did the constant struggle to stop myself from going to her. The blood alcohol content I’d been rocking for days probably also didn’t help when it came to getting a restful night, but after I’d . . . I’d fed and Karina had excused herself, I was out like a stoned kid in a game of dodgeball.

Feeding was different this time around.

Before, I’d be all over the place. Buzzed. Full of high-octane energy like I’d just smoked crack or something. Not this time. Yeah, I could feel the power in me, stronger than it had been before I’d fed, but I was . . . I was leveled out. Energized but calm when I woke minutes before dawn.

It had never been like that before.

But if I was to believe what everyone was saying, I was truly different now.

Bending at the waist, I rested my forearms on the stone railing and stared out over the ocean. Kernels of guilt had sprouted in my chest. There hadn’t been a damn thing sexual about the feeding, but there was no denying the level of intimacy it required. Obviously, I had to be physically close to do it. I had to touch the other person.

I closed my eyes, remembering how I’d taken from Josie what was not mine to have. A hand pressed just below Josie’s breasts. I’d done it out by the graveyard at the Covenant.

I’d done it the same way with Karina, minus the orgasm, the kissing, and all that other stuff.

Leaving Josie meant I wasn’t with her anymore, but I’d rather set my nuts on fire than be with another woman. Maybe one day that would change, but I doubted it. Just like I doubted I’d ever be okay with the idea of her being with someone else, even if that someone else deserved her.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy