Somewhere in the house, doors slammed open and someone shouted one word.
Relief punched me so hard in the gut that I laughed—laughed loudly and a bit crazily. Just an earthquake.
I was in southern California.
Not everything had to be supernatural.
Lowering the dagger, I turned to the spiral staircase. Several half-asleep people stood there, and of course, I was using the term “people” loosely.
There wasn’t a single mortal in the house.
The shaking subsided as Deacon ran his fingers through his messy blond curls. “I hate California,” he grumbled.
Behind him, Luke was scrubbing a hand over his eyes. His bronze-colored hair was sticking up in every direction. Standing beside them was Gable. Poor Gable. We’d literally plucked him off a beach, told him that his father was Poseidon and that he was also a demigod whose powers were bound, and then he witnessed up close and personal what a Titan was capable of.
The fact that he was standing there and not rocking in a corner somewhere was admirable.
“We haven’t had one that bad in a long time,” Gable said with sleep clinging to his voice. “We’ll definitely get an aftershock from that.”
Deacon’s pale gray eyes widened. “Aftershock?”
Gable nodded. “Or that could’ve been a foreshock. You never really know.”
“What is that?” Deacon lowered his hand, frowning. “Like an uncircumcised earthquake?”
Aiden, his older brother, lifted his chin and stared at the ceiling, slowly shaking his dark head. There were no two brothers less alike. Well, maybe Lucifer and Michael. They were brothers.
My lips twitched into a tired smile as Gable explained exactly what a foreshock was. Aiden reached out, draping an arm over the shoulders of Alex Andros. Her hair was a mess, but a sexy mess. When I woke up, my hair looked like I’d stuck my fingers in an electrical outlet, but not Alex. Hers was a tumble of wavy locks.
She was beautiful in a wild, unfettered way, and while we’d tentatively bonded over our shared time with evil psycho gods and our truly weird relation to Apollo, I wasn’t nearly as close to her as Deacon and Luke were.
She and Aiden were legends, actual legends.
And they were so in love with one another that there was no doubt in my mind that they’d spend eternity together wanting no one else.
Aiden placed a hand on the railing as he stared down into the atrium, his silvery gaze seeming to go to the spot mine had when I’d first entered, to where the Titan Atlas had stood, holding Solos’s heart in his meaty grip—to where Seth had gone all God Killer on everyone, tapping into all our powers, our aether, and killing Atlas.
Something Seth should not have been able to do.
God, that felt like forever ago, but it wasn’t. Only about a day had passed since Atlas had come through those very doors and snuffed out Solos’s life in a heartbeat. Only the night before when Seth had become something so feared that the Olympian gods had ended Alex’s mortal life to prevent her from becoming it. Only hours since I’d done what Medusa had warned with the blade dipped in the blood of the Pegasus, knocking Seth out long enough for him to at least calm down. And it had only been this morning when Seth had escaped the panic room, found me in the library, made love to me, held me in his arms, and finally, finally told me he loved me.
Just seconds in a lifetime, and Seth had become a thing so powerful, so deadly that he’d left us, left me.
An ache lit up my chest as I blinked back tears I refused to allow to fall. I would not cry, because there was no time for that. As soon as Hercules got back from communing with the gods or whatever he’d left at dawn to do, I was out of here, gone from this house that pretty much dripped the kind of money I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around.
Locating the other two demigods was what my father—Apollo—had ordered me to do, but that had fallen way down my priority list, and I didn’t even care. Didn’t give a flying Pegasus about what that said about me, because no one, no one had ever fought for Seth before.
And I would.
I would fight till my dying breath for him.
Besides, it wasn’t like no one would be gathering up the other two bound demigods and brutally introducing them to a whole new way of life. The Army of Awesome, dubbed by Deacon himself, had promised to retrieve the demigods. One was somewhere in Thunder Bay and the other was living in some town in Britain.
I’d promised Alex and Aiden that I would wait until Herc returned before I left to find Seth. I had a strong suspicion of where Seth had gone, and getting there, all the way to an island in the Aegean Sea, was not going to be easy.
“Josie?” Aiden called.
I blinked, refocusing on him. He was standing only a few feet from me, his hand wrapped firmly around Alex’s. Everyone was downstairs. I hadn’t heard them move. “Sorry?”
“I asked if you’ve slept at all?”
Nodding, I smoothed a hand over my head, catching the thin wisps of hair. I pushed them back from my face. “An hour or so.”
Those startling silver eyes told me he knew I was lying, but it was Alex who spoke next. “You really should rest, Josie. Herc will be back soon, and we’ll have a better grasp on everything.”
Herc had been planning to go to the gods to see how Seth could be contained, but since that was no longer an issue, I wasn’t quite sure what the point was now.
Sighing, I glanced back to where one of the artworks had fallen to the floor. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep after an earthquake.”
Gable shuffled past us, heading toward the kitchen, mumbling about checking the Internet to see if there was anything about the earthquake. I’d vaguely remembered seeing a MacBook on the counter in there earlier.
Luke lifted his arms over his head, stretching as he eyed the direction Gable had gone.
“I’m kind of hungry,” Deacon announced.
The corners of Luke’s lips tipped up. “You’re always hungry.”
“Yeah, but the earthquake has made me even more hungry.” Deacon grinned as he folded an arm around the taller man’s waist. “Not sure how that works, but I could really go for a bowl of nachos.” He glanced over at the three of us. “Too bad none of you have cool powers.”
“Cool powers?” murmured Aiden.
“Yeah. Like two of you are made demigods.” Deacon nodded at his brother and Alex. “And you,” he said, talking about me, “are a legit real demigod, and none of you can whip up a plate of nachos out of thin air. What good is being a demigod if you can’t do that?”
Alex laughed as she leaned into Aiden. Without looking at her, he let go of her hand and draped his arm over her shoulders, urging her closer. “Well, I guess we’re pretty useless.” She grinned.
“That’s what I’ve been saying for a long time.” Deacon smiled when his brother rolled his eyes. “What time is it, anyway?”
“A little after two.” I glanced down at the dagger I still held. What was I planning to do with it? Stab an earthquake with it? The slight weight in my hand, though, was a reminder of how different things were now from a year ago. Back then, if the ground had trembled, I would’ve known immediately what it was even in a land not accustomed to rocking and rolling, but now? Now I expected and prepared for a battle.
My fingers tightened around the dagger.
Though, for a moment, everything almost felt normal. Well, as normal as anything could be now. And I could almost pretend that Seth was going to walk through those fancy glass doors or out from one of the many hallways. He’d come to me, and we’d stand side by side, much like Alex and Aiden.
Except that wasn’t going to happen.
With a loud yawn, Alex looked around the grand room. “I wonder if there is any dam—”
Under our feet, the floor rolled once more, throwing all of us in different directions. My knees cracked off the tile, and I dropped the dagger. It skittered across the floor as I planted my hands, steadying myself as Aiden cursed under his breath. I was frozen for a second and then I moved. Pushing to my feet, I threw my arms out as the floor, the walls—everything shuddered.