I didn’t believe him. Not for one second.
Perses knelt in front of me. His cool fingers pressed under my chin, forcing my head back. “Well, you’re awake. Can you stand?”
A huge part of me wanted to ignore his question, but I drew back a scant couple of inches. Drawing in a shallow, stunted breath, I planted my hands into the packed dirt and pushed myself up.
“Interesting,” Perses said, rising. “I was beginning to wonder if you were dead.”
“Not yet,” I rasped out, getting my legs under me. I stood and I swayed. Wait—did I sway, or did the actual room sway?
I thought I took a step forward, but that’s not what happened. My right knee gave out and then my left leg followed. I hit the ground, but didn’t really feel the impact.
“Hell,” Perses muttered as his gaze roamed over where I’d fallen. His face blurred in and out as I stared up at him. “You’re worse off than expected.”
Part of me wanted to laugh. What had he expected? Honestly? But the laugh never came. Air wheezed in and out of my lungs as black dots filled my vision. I couldn’t get enough oxygen in my lungs. My muscles clenched painfully, and my heartbeat stuttered. Something . . . something was very wrong with my body. Like it was shutting down and there was nothing to stop it.
The last thing I heard before the darkness wrapped around me was Perses sighing and saying, “He’s going to be so pissed off.”
“So it’s true?” Aiden stalked around the front of the Benz, coming to stand so he blocked Alex. “You’re a god.”
Any other time I would’ve laughed at his oh-so obvious act of protection, but there wasn’t an ounce of humor residing in me. Only my rage and terror for Josie existed. “How could you let this happen?”
Aiden stiffened as if his spine had been hollowed out and replaced with steel. “How could we let this happen? Where in the hell were you?”
“I tried to stop him.” Alex stepped out from behind Aiden, and I finally got a good look at her. A fading bruise covered the side of her face. Those bruises continued down to her right arm. “So did Aiden. He came out of nowhere, and we weren’t prepared. We all were exhausted and—” She cut herself off. When she spoke again, her voice was hoarse. “We fought him, Seth. We did everything we could to keep him from taking Josie, but we couldn’t stop him.”
“He would’ve killed Alex.” Aiden’s voice was hard. “He was going to kill all of us.”
Exhaling roughly, I knew my anger with them was unreasonable and misplaced, because I was pissed at myself and I knew who was truly to blame. My gaze flicked back to Alex. “You okay?”
She nodded as she walked forward, stopping a few feet from me. Her gaze roamed over me. “You don’t look any different.” Her brows pinched. “I mean, if you’re a god now, wouldn’t you look more . . . I don’t know, godly?”
“I think I’ve always looked godly.”
Behind her Aiden rolled his eyes. “Can we talk?”
Stepping aside, I waved my hand and the heavy gates swung open silently. “I’ll meet you inside.”
Aiden opened his mouth to respond, but I willed myself to the receiving room, a large chamber to the right of what I now guessed was the throne room.
Basil appeared like a wraith. “We have guests?”
“Yes. Alex and Aiden.” I walked over to the small fridge under the well-used liquor cabinet and grabbed a chilled bottle of water. “I’m guessing you know who they are?”
He nodded, “Of course, Kýrios.”
“Could you stop with the ‘Kýrios’ stuff for a bit?”
“Of course, Kýrios,” he answered, and I knew I was talking to a wall.
Basil pivoted around, and a couple of minutes later he escorted the shell-shocked pair into the room.
“Want something to drink?” I asked, gesturing to the cabinet area. “Help yourself.”
Alex’s mouth moved without words, and then she plopped down in the oversized chair, her heart-shaped face pale. “Are we supposed to, like, bow before you now?”
I coughed out a harsh laugh. “While I’d find that utterly amusing . . .” Pausing, I shot a pointed look in Aiden’s direction. “Let’s not do that.”
Aiden placed his hands on the back of the chair Alex sat in, and then leaned forward. “How is this possible?”
Even though this was the last thing I wanted to talk about, I knew we wouldn’t get anywhere until I gave them the Appointed God For Dummies breakdown. So I did, only leaving out the whole feeding thing. They wouldn’t understand what I barely understood myself.
Alex continued to stare. “Holy shit, Seth.”
“Yeah,” I muttered, taking a drink of the water. “My sentiments exactly, but right now, I’m more concerned about . . . about Josie.”
“We heard you went to the University to check on Josie and that’s how you found out.” Aiden moved, sitting on the arm of the chair. It was then I realized both were dressed as Sentinels—black tactical pants, black shirts. They could be killed, make deals, become demigods—but they were still Sentinels. “Deacon and Marcus called,” Aiden explained. “They told us that you were a god and that you’d had no idea Hyperion had gotten hold of Josie.”
“I’ve been trying to sense her out, but I can’t.” When they both stared at me with blank cow eyes, I sighed. “It’s how I’m able to will myself from one place to the next. It’s what Apollo and the other gods do, how they pop in and out. You have to either know the place or the person, but I can’t feel her, or any of the Titans.”
Aiden rubbed a hand across his chest. “We got Gable back to the University so he’d be safe. Deacon and Luke are going to try to locate the demigod in Thunder Bay. Then we headed here. Had a bit of difficulty finding you.”
“I remembered you mentioning the whole Andros thing and my last name.” Alex tucked a strand of her hair back. “But we got here as soon as possible to tell you about Josie. When you left . . .” Alex trailed off.
“You mean after I was rendered unconscious and you locked me in a panic room?” I finished for her.
She looked unrepentant. “As if you don’t understand why we did that. We didn’t know what we were dealing with. We had no idea that you could become the God Killer or that you wouldn’t go all psycho on us. Hello! That’s how it’s worked in the past.”
“Touché,” I murmured.
“Josie was planning to come—”
“I know,” I cut her off, disgusted with myself, with all of this. “I know what she was planning to do, and I know I shouldn’t have left. I thought, after I destroyed Atlas, they’d lie low for a while. That I would have time to find them and destroy them.”
Alex cocked her head to the side, brows pinching together. “It wasn’t your fault, Seth.”
I shook my head as I placed the water on the cabinet. “It was. I could’ve stopped Hyperion.” My hand clenched into a fist. “And I will kill him for this. All of them.”
“Well,” Aiden drawled. “Supposedly we aren’t supposed to kill them. It has certain ramifications. Apollo was none too pleased about you taking out Atlas.”
“I don’t give a single fuck,” I growled, my skin growing itchy with impatience. “And I give even less than a single fuck when it comes to Apollo.”
Aiden wisely changed the subject. “So, what’s the plan? And before you even attempt to say you don’t need our help, you’re getting our help.”
“Josie is one of ours,” Alex chimed in. “I don’t know her that well, obviously, but I like her and I want her to be safe and okay.” Her gaze searched mine. “We need to help.”
I appreciated their willingness. “Not sure how you can help when I can’t do a damn thing. I keep searching for her, but I’m coming up empty.”
“There’s got to be a way.” Aiden stood, widening his stance.