After all, I was a damn god.
I could do that.
I should have already done this—checked in on her after I’d seen her sleeping. Basil was right. It wasn’t exactly safe, even if she could protect herself or if the people she was with could throw down. But if I saw her again, could I really leave her again?
Lowering my gaze, I closed my eyes and pictured her face. A smile tugged at the corners of my lips. Her features pieced together so quickly and perfectly it was almost like she was standing right before me. Holding onto her image, I searched for her.
I found nothing.
“What the hell?” I opened my eyes.
Heart rate kicking up, I tried again, reaching out into the void, searching for her imprint and there was . . . there was nothing.
Confusion rose swiftly. That didn’t make sense. No matter where Josie was, I should be able to find her. Mentally backtracking to the last place I knew she’d been at, Gable’s house, I pictured the home and felt myself shift.
A second later, I was standing in front of the home Gable lived in.
“Hell,” I growled. Immediately, I knew something had gone down here.
The driveway was cracked—not just cracked, but split wide open, creating a steep crevice. My head jerked up, and I rushed past the rift and pushed open the door. It creaked and fell from its hinges, crashing off the floor, but I didn’t really hear it.
The house was utterly destroyed.
What had happened outside had continued inside and there were no signs of life, but I could feel it—a residue of power so potent that it was not from this realm. There was a coating that belonged not to just one god but many. Stepping back from the destruction, my hands closed into fists as knots of unrest formed.
Something had happened here.
And if I couldn’t feel Josie, it meant one of two things. Her presence was being blocked, warded against me, or . . . or she was no longer in this realm.
I willed myself across the hundreds of miles, from the coast of California, beyond the Badlands, to the office of the Dean of the Covenant University.
Appearing in the center of the room, about three seconds passed before those in the room realized they had a visitor. Marcus was in the chair behind the large mahogany desk, reclining back, one leg hooked over the other, arms folded loosely over his chest as he listened to the two before him.
Deacon was sitting.
Luke was standing directly to his right.
Seeing them and not finding Solos with them was all kinds of wrong. That bastard hadn’t deserved what’d happened to him.
Marcus was the first to see me.
Blood draining quickly from his face, he stood in a rush, bright green eyes wide. “Holy gods . . .”
Luke spun and stiffened, his expression locking down as he easily glided to the side, blocking Deacon, who was staring at me like he’d seen a ghost.
I smiled at the not-so-subtle protective move.
“Seth,” Deacon breathed, coming to his feet. “You just appeared . . . out of thin air . . .”
“You know, there was nothing more annoying than Apollo or any of the other gods just randomly popping up whenever they wanted,” I said, my gaze flickering over them as I walked toward the desk. “But I’ve got to admit, being able to do it is pretty fucktastic.”
Marcus continued to stare.
I smirked. “Yeah, spoiler alert. I’m kind of a god now.” Pausing, I leaned forward, placing my hands on the smooth surface of the desk. “Isn’t that scary?”
“Yeah,” he breathed. “It is.”
Raising a brow, I pushed away from the desk and crossed my arms. My gaze flickered to Luke. “Sorry about knocking you out. No offense meant.”
A muscle flexed along Luke’s jaw. “Not sure if I’m supposed to accept that or not.”
I shrugged. “Everyone can relax. I’m not here to start a riot or bring the roof down.”
“How?” Deacon breathed. “How are you . . . ?”
“Long story that I don’t have the time nor the desire to explain.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Marcus slowly sit down. Or his legs gave out. One of the two. “I’m not planning to stay.”
“Of course not,” Marcus replied.
I frowned slightly. “I went to the house in Malibu. Looked like some crazy shit went down.”
Dark shadows were under Deacon’s normally lively silver eyes. “Um, yeah. Apparently we were never supposed to kill a Titan.”
“Oh, really?” I muttered dryly, using my “zero fucks to give” tone.
“Killing Atlas caused some major earthquakes,” Luke explained, brows furrowed together. “You didn’t know that?”
I raised a brow.
“It also punched a hole straight into Tartarus,” Deacon added, leaning against the back of the chair. “Charred daimons escaped right into Gable’s living room. It was like a scene out of a horror flick.”
My stomach twisted. “What?”
“We fought them off until Hades and his men came up after them.” Luke rubbed his fingers through his hair. “Then Apollo showed up. Things got . . .”
“What?” I repeated, the dread increasing.
A rare form of anger flashed across Deacon’s face as he stared at me. “You weren’t there. How could you not be there?”
My spine stiffened at the meaning to his words. When I spoke, my voice was deadly soft. “I like you, Deacon. I always have, so I’m going to say this once and only once. I had to leave.”
“But you’re here now,” he said, pale cheeks flushing.
“Deacon,” Luke warned, touching his arm.
“No.” Deacon shook the half’s hand off. “Josie stood up for you—defended you after you left us—left her. She stood up to Alex and Aiden who were afraid you had turned into evil Seth, hell bent on killing everyone.”
My eyes narrowed.
“She stood up to her father—to Apollo when he showed up and started talking trash about you. She had your back,” Deacon went on, his hands balling at his sides. “And you weren’t there.”
Anger rose to the surface and guilt snapped at its heels as I snapped, “I couldn’t be there—be around her, Deacon. It’s for her safety.”
“Safety?” His laugh was harsh and so very unlike Deacon.
Akasha stirred inside me, and I pushed down the need to strike out. I liked Deacon and really didn’t want to zap him through a window. “Look, I’m here to make sure she’s okay since I can’t . . . I can’t sense her. That’s all.”
Deacon’s mouth dropped open.
Behind the desk, Marcus briefly closed his eyes. “You don’t know.”
“Shit,” muttered Luke.
As I stared at them, unease coursed through my veins like battery acid. “I don’t know what?”
Deacon stared at me, but it was Luke who said, “After the daimons were taken care of, Apollo told Josie that her mother had died along with her grandparents.”
“No.” Disbelief flooded me. “Apollo said—” I cut myself off, suddenly understanding. “Apollo had lied to her this whole time.”
Luke nodded. “Josie kind of lost it. A burst of akasha left her—knocked Alex, Aiden, and me flat on our asses. Apollo vanished at that point.”
A wry smile tugged at my lips. That’s my girl.
But my girl was hurting. Gods, she had to be hurting deep, because she’d always believed that she’d see her mom again, once everything settled down. She’d even planned to introduce us. It was such a mortal thing to plan, but that was Josie—that was my Josie. A powerful demigod, but still so very mortal. The urge to seek her out, to offer the comfort I knew she was so badly in need of, hit me hard, but Josie wasn’t my girl anymore.
Something wasn’t adding up, though. Apollo telling her the truth about her mother didn’t explain why I couldn’t sense her.
“That’s not all.” Marcus placed his hands on the desk. “You shouldn’t be here. Seth, you should be home.”
My arms unfolded as my frown increased. “My home?”