The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 22

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“The islands,” Luke explained. “Josie thought you might go back to the islands you grew up in. That’s what she was planning to do. She—”

“She went to Andros?” Surprise stowed my breath. How in the hell did she figure out that was where I was going? I’d mentioned the islands only a few times.

Because she loves you, whispered that same voice in the back of my thoughts, and it was one hundred percent right. Because she loved me, she knew enough about me to figure out what my next steps would be, and she was going to come for me.

I needed to get back there. Gods, if she showed up and Basil found her—if she saw the temples and met Karina and—I could feel my form beginning to flicker out.

“Seth, wait.” Deacon’s eyes were wide as he called out to me. “Josie didn’t make it.”

I stopped. My heart. My lungs. Everything stopped, except for the earth, because it felt like it had shifted under my feet. “What do you mean by that?”

“Hyperion came after her.” Luke’s jaw tightened. “We’d left Gable’s house and moved to one of his relative’s houses so we could have time to plan what everyone was going to do. Josie was outside with Alex. They fought Hyperion—Aiden went out there, but he got her.”

The edges of the room started to blur and turn white. “Hyperion has her?”

Deacon lifted his chin. “He got her and he’s . . . he’s had her for about nine days now.”

Nine days.

Hyperion had had Josie for nine days.

Terror exploded in my chest as red-hot rage pumped through my veins. He had Josie.

Marcus was standing again. “Alex and Aiden left to find you, Seth. They’ve headed to the islands.”

I was already halfway gone when I heard Deacon say, “You should’ve been there.”

~

Nothing.

I couldn’t feel a damn thing.

There was no trace of Josie, just like there had been no trace of the Titans. Panic clawed deep into my chest. There was nowhere to look—nowhere to truly begin.

He’d had her for nine days.

My stomach twisted, and I thought there was a good chance that I might be sick as I stood in the sand, several feet from the gently rolling ocean.

There was nothing stopping the steady stream of images flowing through my thoughts, invading every second. They had her, and I knew what they were doing to her.

Nine days.

You weren’t there for her.

I hadn’t been.

Not when she learned that her mother was dead, and not when Hyperion had come for her. If I had been, I could’ve comforted Josie. I would’ve made her forget all the heartache and pain. If I had been there, I could’ve stopped Hyperion.

If I had stayed a few days, Josie would be safely stowed away here, because now, when it no longer mattered, it was clear that Basil and Karina had been right. The only place Josie would’ve been safe from the Titans would’ve been here, with me.

“Fuck,” I spat out. Centering myself once more, I searched for her, for anything, and there was still nothing.

Spinning around, fury pounded through me. I roared as a bolt of akasha slammed into a tall tree halfway up the cliff. Who knew how long the tree had been rooted precariously to the rocky slope? Probably centuries, if not longer, withstanding high winds and downpours and mudslides.

Akasha obliterated the tree in a second.

This couldn’t be happening.

I was a god—I was the God Killer, and according to Ewan the nymph, Basil, and Karina, I was the Appointed God of Death and Life.

I was fucking absolute.

And I was standing here, blowing up trees, and I could do nothing to help Josie.

Lightning cracked overhead and the air sizzled as dark, tumultuous clouds rolled in, blotting out the sun. Turbulent emotions thundered inside me and into the environment around me.

Pacing, I dragged a hand through my hair, clasping the back of my neck. I had to find her. Now. Coming to a halt, I searched the skies. I’d been out here for hours, trying to hone in on Josie’s whereabouts, and when that hadn’t worked, I tried calling out to Apollo and he did not answer me. How could her father not have known?

How could I love her and have not known she’d been captured?

How was I any better than Apollo?

I wasn’t.

That was a damn, sad truth. I’d lied to her. I’d put her in danger. I’d left her. I hadn’t protected her. In a way, I was worse than her father, because at least he never got close to her, he never evoked a second of faith from Josie. She hadn’t been planning to storm into Olympus to reconnect with her father. Josie had been planning to cross oceans to stand beside me, and I had fucking left her. It didn’t matter now that it had been the right thing to do.

Stopping, I turned to the ocean and exhaled raggedly. Fear and anger battled with guilt. A streak of lightning lit up the sky once more.

I sensed Basil’s presence. “You shouldn’t be near me right now.”

Basil, of course, didn’t hightail his ass away from me. “Everyone is concerned. They fear something is wrong.”

“Something is wrong.” I turned around, finding Basil standing on the platform just above the sand, at the bottom of the stairs that led up the face of the cliff. “Hyperion has Josie.”

His eyes widened. “I . . . I don’t know what to say.”

“I can’t find her. I can’t feel her at all.”

Sympathy and concern flashed across his face. “There must be something we can do, Kýrios.”

What I could’ve done was what I should’ve already done. That was the problem.

A priestess appeared at the edge of the cliff, her long blonde hair blowing around her in the increasing winds. It was the one I’d kicked out of my bedroom. She kept her chin and gaze down as she spoke, “A vehicle approaches the northern gate, Kýrios.”

Having a pretty good idea of who was in the vehicle, I willed myself off the shore and outside the impenetrable, titanium gates that blocked the entrance to the house.

A sleek black Mercedes with tinted windows jerked to a sudden halt several feet in front of me. The purr of the engine quieted, and a moment later, the passenger and driver’s doors opened.

Damn.

Alex and Aiden were here.

Josie

Cold water dripped and tiptoed down my brow. Water. Water. Blinking my eyes open, I blindly turned my head. Water glanced off my dry lips. I opened my mouth and then immediately gagged. The water tasted like spoiled eggs, but my throat was burning. I was so thirsty. I took in the tiny drops of disgusting liquid until my stomach churned.

Drawing in a shallow breath, I rolled onto my side. I was back in the cellar, and I had no idea how much time passed since Cronus had fed. I tensed as an aftershock of pain flared through my body, scorching bone and tissue.

I think . . . I think he took too much.

My hands and arms trembled uncontrollably as I stared into the shadowy cellar. Faint light trickled in front the small window. In the corner, near the door, I thought I saw something scurry across the floor.

I felt no fear or distress as I lay there. Before, the mere idea of being in the same room as a mouse had me seconds away from screaming. Now? I just . . . I just couldn’t rally up the energy to be afraid.

I didn’t feel much of anything.

Nothing.

Everything . . . everything had been stripped away. This was it. I understood that now. This was how it was going to end for me, because I really, really didn’t think I’d survive another feeding with Cronus.

Or another one on one with Hyperion.

Hope . . . hope that I would find a way out of this had petered out toward the end of Cronus’s feeding. The will to keep fighting, to keep existing, had plummeted out the window. It was weak—I was weak, but I . . . I couldn’t do this anymore, and I . . . I just wanted to see my mom and my grandparents. That was all I wanted.

Footsteps sounded outside, drawing my weary gaze. A second passed and the door creaked open. It wasn’t Hyperion or Cronus.

It was Perses.

A dull, distant part of me wondered what he was doing here. He’d never come before as far as I knew.

His booted feet stopped a few feet from me. “I’m not going to hurt you.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy
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