The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 26

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I didn’t move. “Who did this to her?”

“Mostly Hyperion. He had her for a while.” Perses folded his arms across his chest. “Then she was brought to Cronus.”

“And?” I queried quietly.

Aiden shifted beside me as Perses said, “He fed on her. She screamed your name the entire time.”

“Hell,” Aiden muttered.

A black gulf opened up inside me, and there was nothing, nothing but icy, endless rage. And it was different this time. Akasha threaded itself within my fury. Slowly, I lifted my gaze. “You were there?”

“I held her down.” Perses shrugged one shoulder. “I had no choice. I brought her out as soon as I could so you could find her.”

Turning to Aiden, I said, “Take her.”

Jaw clenched into a hard line, Aiden took her without question, holding her close to his chest. Then I turned back to the Titan I’d once helped free, the Titan who brought Josie out so I could find her.

“Thank you,” I said, and then I summoned the purest power in me. The world tinted in bright whitish-amber light.

Perses opened his mouth, but it was too late. Throwing up my right arm, I let it go. The bolt caught him in the chest. His mouth opened, but there was no sound as shimmery blue liquid poured out. A network of veins appeared under his skin, lit white and gold. There was a loud pop and a flash of light. Then Perses was no more.

Only a scorched patch of earth remained.

Chapter 15

Every so often, Josie’s fingers would twitch or her brow would crease as if she were haunted by bad dreams. Her breaths were still shallow but more even. Other than that, Josie hadn’t moved.

She hadn’t woken up.

Sitting in the chair by the bed I’d placed her in, I hated to even blink, because an irrational part of me believed she’d disappear. She looked so incredibly pale against the dark blue sheets.

Only a few hours had passed since I’d brought her here and placed her in my bed. She was now safe. No one would get through me. No one. I would strike down anyone or anything that sought to do her harm without feeling a second of remorse, but she was in this condition because of my decisions—my choices.

Truthfully, it wasn’t like I thought Josie couldn’t defend herself. Josie was no damsel in distress. I’d seen her in battle. She held her own when we fought Atlas, but in the end, Josie was a demigod and they were Titans.

And I was a god.

When Alex had said that they’d fought Hyperion, I knew beyond a doubt that Josie had done everything in her power to fend him off. Her capture was not a representation of her weakness, just as my ability to keep her safe now wasn’t a slam against her.

I just needed her to open her eyes.

Since she was a demigod, I figured she’d heal quickly. Even halfs healed faster than mortals, but I knew she’d been fed on. Gods only knew how many times. I could barely sense the aether in her, and that terrified me. Daimons were created when the aether had been drained from them. Could that happen with demigods? All the knowledge that resided deep inside me and I still had no useful answers.

My gaze roamed over her still body. She was absolutely filthy, but she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I’d wanted to bathe her, strip her out of the soiled clothing and wash her hair, erase the grimy dirt and the musty scent clinging to her, but I didn’t want to disturb her. Other than trying to remove the bracelets, which I hadn’t been able to do, and checking for more serious injuries, I’d left her alone, wary of even holding her hand, because it too was bruised.

“Come on, Josie. Open your eyes,” I whispered to her. “Just open your eyes.”

There was no response. Just like when I called for her father, and yeah, how screwed up was that? I’d actually tried to summon Apollo once more, and he did not come. How can he not know by now what had happened to her—what kind of condition she was in? Was he not checking in on his daughter at all? Like all the times before when I tried to sense Apollo and where he might be, there was nothing.

I was going to end that bastard.

Weary, I smoothed my hand over my face. Exhaustion had carved itself into my bones. I needed to feed. My control was shaky. I felt like a nuke about to explode.

Footsteps drew close and there was a soft knock on the closed door. Rising, I walked over and opened it.

Alex stood in the hall. Her gaze immediately drifted over my shoulder. “How is she?”

I stepped aside. “She hasn’t woken up yet.”

“May I?” Alex asked, which was surprising, because she was more likely to act first and then ask permission, but I nodded nonetheless. She went to the foot of the bed, her lips pressing into a thin line. “Gods.”

Returning to my seat, I scratched a hand through my hair. “I . . .” I could feel Alex’s gaze on me. A punch of helplessness hit my chest. “I don’t know what to do—how to help her.”

“Being here with her is all you can do right now.”

I dropped my hand to my lap. “Yeah, and what is that accomplishing?”

“She’ll wake up, Seth. She has to.”

Looking at her now, I wasn’t so sure about that. If she was mortal, I seriously doubted that she’d be alive right now. My stomach twisted. “Have you seen bracelets like these before?” I gestured at Josie’s wrists. “I don’t see how they come on or off.”

She frowned. “No. She didn’t have them on before.”

I had a really bad feeling about these bracelets. “I tried summoning Apollo.”

Alex sighed heavily. “So did I.”

I shot her a surprised look.

“I wasn’t sure if you would—or if he’d answer you—so I called for him as soon as Aiden told me what kind of . . . well, how she was.”

And he hadn’t even answered Alex, his fucking chosen one? Yeah, he was done, so done.

Silence filled the room, and then I said what kept cycling over and over in my head, “Perses said she screamed my name when . . . when Cronus fed on her.”

Alex stared at me.

“He said that Hyperion had been feeding on her. That he had her for a while.” My jaw clenched. “He hates Apollo—hates him enough to really hurt Josie to get to him, and I thought . . . I thought I heard her calling for me a couple of days ago. Thought it was my imagination,” I said. “Do you think it was her? That I was hearing her?”

She sat down on the bench pressed up against the foot of the bed. “I don’t know.”

“If it was really her?” My voice turned hoarse as I leaned over, my hand hovering above her cheek. “I didn’t answer. I didn’t stop any of this. She called for me and I didn’t answer.”

“But you wouldn’t have been able to,” Alex reasoned. “Not until Perses moved her outside their wards.”

“I didn’t even know she’d been taken. She spent all this time with—with gods know what being done to her, and I was here.” Disgust . . . disgust for myself boiled deep. “I can’t forget that.”

Alex didn’t respond for a long moment. “You love her.” There was a hint of surprise in her voice. “You really are in love with her.”

I coughed out a harsh, dry laugh as I leaned back against the chair. “You sound so shocked. Like I’m incapable of feeling such an emotion.”

“No. I don’t think that at all, but you . . .”

I raised a brow and waited.

A distant look crept into her features. “I asked you once if you’d loved anybody and you said to me, ‘does loving yourself count?’”

I grinned a little at that.

Alex smiled too. “You’re not the same guy. I know I keep saying that, but you really aren’t. I think I said this before, but I’m going to say it again. I’m happy for you.”

Oh hell. I stiffened, and the slight grin slipped from my face. “Alex—“

“You deserve happiness. You deserve someone like Josie.” Her whiskey-colored eyes met mine. “I really mean that.”

I held her gaze for a moment and then refocused on Josie. “And look what my love has done. I left her unprotected. I thought I was protecting her by leaving. I thought—it doesn’t matter what I thought. In the end, I wasn’t there for her.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy
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