The Struggle (Titan 3) - Page 28

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Exhaling roughly, I hated to do it, but Karina was right. Waiting wouldn’t end well, and I needed to be fully charged for whatever might come this way.

“Stay with her,” I said to Alex, rising tiredly. “Please.”

Alex snapped her mouth shut and nodded as she eyed Karina distrustfully. I was going to have to explain all of that. Eventually. Karina backed out of the room and waited. I followed, closing the door behind me.

~

Josie

Waking up was like fighting through quicksand laced with sleep aids. I knew I needed to open my eyes. I thought I heard Seth begging me to do so, but that was crazy, because Seth wasn’t here. I was in hell, waiting for Hyperion to bring me back to Cronus. Or was it Perses? Hadn’t I seen Perses? I couldn’t remember.

The cement floor felt . . . soft and warm.

I drew in a deep breath. The smell? I didn’t immediately choke on the dank, musty scent. A tremble coursed through my body, and I thought I heard people speaking, voices I recognized.

Kýrios?

Master?

I seriously needed to open my eyes. Calling on every ounce of strength I had, I forced my eyes open. Well, one eye open. The right one kind of only cracked open. It was nearly swollen shut. I wasn’t sure how that happened. The last time Hyperion had brought me out of that warehouse had been a blur. He’d fed on me before I was brought to Cronus, and they . . . it felt like they had taken too much.

Like they might’ve broken something.

My vision focused and I slowly realized I was lying on a bed—a huge, comfy bed, and I was staring up at a beige ceiling fashioned. There was a large ceiling fan gliding through the air silently, its blades shaped like petals.

Throat impossibly dry, I dragged my gaze from the ceiling to the foot of the bed. A girl stood with her back to me, arms crossed, staring at the closed bedroom door.

My heart started pumping. Could that be . . . ? I tried to get my tongue to work. Was I dreaming? Oh gods, if I was dreaming I wouldn’t survive this once I woke up. I wouldn’t be able to. I tried to speak again.

“Alex?” I croaked out.

She whipped around, her eyes widening with relief. “Josie!” She raced to the side of the bed, squeezing in between an empty chair and the bed.

“Is . . . is this a dream?” I rasped.

Her beautiful face contorted. “No. This is not a dream. You’re safe.”

Safe?

“Oh my gods, you’re really awake.” She practically shook like she was holding herself back from crawling on top of me. “How are you feeling?”

“I . . .” Mouth dry, I looked around the room in confusion. My hand floated to my throat and I winced.

Alex drew back from the bed. “Are you thirsty? Let me grab you something.” She whirled and darted out of my line of sight. A second later she returned with a bottle of water, lid unscrewed. “Here, let me help you.”

My body ached as she helped me sit. I planted my hand on the bed to hold myself up while she shoved a tiny mountain of pillows behind me. I eased back as she brought the bottle to my mouth. The first taste of the cool liquid on my tongue forced a moan out of my mouth, but it wasn’t enough. It felt like a few drops.

I lifted my arm, cringing as pain shot down my side, but I wrapped my hand around the bottle, forcing it higher. More glorious water passed between my parched lips.

“Slowly,” Alex eased the bottle out of my death grip. “You should probably drink this slowly.”

She was right, but I hadn’t had real water in days. My hand shook as I held onto the bottle just above her hand. Her lips pressed together and then she let me have another gulp. We went back and forth for a couple of minutes until there was no water left.

Alex lowered the bottle. “Oh my gods, we’ve been so worried.”

I wanted more water, but my stomach felt weird. “You . . . Everyone okay?”

Her brows flew up. “My gods, we’re fine. All of us. You shouldn’t be worried about us.”

There were so many questions, but my brain felt like it was full of cobwebs, and when I looked down at myself, I saw I was still wearing the same disgusting clothing. “Where . . . where am I?”

“Seth’s house.”

I jerked—my entire body painfully jolted. “Seth—Seth’s here?”

“Yeah,” She glanced at the closed door. “He actually just stepped out of the room. He’s been sitting here with you. He went and got you—”

I started moving before she finished talking. Seth—I had to get to him. He was here. Pushing past the pain, I slid off the other side of the bed. The moment my sore feet hit the ground, I groaned. My legs gave and I fell, knees cracking off the floor.

“Josie!” Alex was by my side, bending down and wrapping an arm around my waist.

“I’m fine.” I gritted my teeth as she helped me stand. “I need to see him.”

“He’ll be back shortly.” She tried to guide me toward the bed. “I think you should wait for him.”

Using everything I had, I pulled away from her and lurched across the floor, feet slipping. I reached the door, out of breath, and only managed to pull it open a few feet. Squeezing out, my wild gaze swung up and down a wide hallway. I caught glimpses of leafy plants and marble statues.

I heard Alex call my name.

Guided by some kind of primal instinct, I stumbled down the hall toward the gently rolling white curtains. I knew Alex was following me, but I didn’t stop as I reached the archway that led outside. The scent of the sea grew strong, salt mixing with something sweet. Flowers? I wasn’t sure, but it smelled nothing like the warehouse. The air was fresh here, clean and breathable.

Legs weak and trembling, I sort of wanted to lie down in the hallway, but Seth was here, and I needed him—needed to see him. I forced my legs to move even as tears of pain stung my eyes.

Placing my hand on the wall, I shuffled through the archway and out onto the balcony. Time seemed to slow down as I looked left and then right. That was when time stopped.

Just stopped.

I found Seth.

At first, I was struck immobile by the simple fact that I could see him. It felt like an eternity had passed since I laid eyes on him. Beautiful seemed like a silly word to describe him, but it was all I could think of, except he was more beautiful than I remembered.

His hair was the color of the sun, unruly and growing out, falling across a flawless forehead. Broad, high cheekbones. Strong jaw cut like marble. Skin golden. A face and body that had been perfectly sculpted. He was wearing dark jeans and a fitted gray shirt.

I could see his glyphs.

Stunning amber runes endlessly churned over every inch of exposed flesh. It was rare to see them.

He wasn’t alone.

Oh gods, he was so not alone, not at all, and I thought for a moment that I hadn’t truly woken up. I was having a nightmare, because Seth was embracing another woman.

Chapter 16

My heart pounded painfully against my ribs as I stared at the man I loved—the man I was in love with—standing close, too close to another woman. And his hands were on her. One gripped the woman’s small shoulder. The other was just below her breasts. Their eyes were closed, and the woman’s tensed expression looked like she was in the throes of a—

Oh gods.

I tried to process what I was seeing. There was a part of me that recognized what was happening, but my thoughts were barely making any sense. One bounced off the other, and I couldn’t grasp onto any of them.

This, after everything else, was too much.

Stumbling back, I threw my arm out, stopping myself from sliding down the wall like I was in the midst of a complete breakdown. Maybe I was, because I couldn’t stop the gasp of surprise that sounded like thunder on the otherwise quiet balcony.

Seth’s entire body jerked. He wheeled around and those beautiful amber eyes went wide when he spotted me.

Alex appeared beside me, and anger rolled off her in waves, but he wasn’t looking at her. He was staring at me like he’d seen a ghost rise from a grave, like there was a part of him that never expected to see me again, and perhaps that was true, because he had left me.

And I guessed that did mean he hadn’t expected to see me again.

Seth took a step toward me, the beautiful woman in the spun gold gown apparently forgotten. “Josie?”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Titan Fantasy
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