“Gods.” Pain flickered across Seth’s beautiful face as he took my hands again, folding his around mine.
“And when they finally came for her, they . . . She was dragged out of the room. Just dragged across the floor like she was nothing more than a piece of trash.” Tears blurred my vision and then my body jolted at the realization. “Mitchell—Mitchell is still there, Seth. We have to get him.” I pulled my hands free once more and started to rise from the bed, but Seth blocked me with one strong arm. I turned wide eyes on him. “Mitchell is still there.”
“You need to keep sitting.” Seth’s voice was too level, too calm.
I stared at him. Keep sitting? “You don’t understand. We have to go back and get him. Seth, he was in bad shape, and I hadn’t seen him in—I don’t know how much time passed, but he won’t survive much longer.”
If he was still alive, but I couldn’t bring myself to think that.
Seth gently turned me so that my back was once again flush with the small mountain of pillows. “I get what you’re saying, but you’re not going back there.”
I opened my mouth.
“You are in no shape to go anywhere right now. I’m not saying that to be an ass, but the last thing you need to be doing is roaming around, let alone putting yourself in danger.” Those amber eyes seemed to glow. “You need to be right where you are, resting and getting better.”
“I’m fine,” I denied, my hands balling into fists.
His brows flew up. “Have you seen yourself, Josie? There is barely an inch of skin that isn’t bruised. You’re exhausted and can barely stand, and I can’t feel—” He cut himself off.
His gaze searched mine. “I can barely feel any aether in you, Josie.”
My stomach churned. “They . . .”
“I know why, Josie. I see the bite marks.” Those eyes turned luminous and a jolt of electricity filled the air. “Right now, all you need to be concerned with is getting better. That is all. Please.”
A couple of moments passed before I could speak. “I can’t just sit here and pretend that Mitchell doesn’t exist.”
“I’m not asking you to do that.”
“Than what are you asking me to do?” Reaching up, I knocked a strand of hair back from my face. “They have him, and trust me, he will not survive much longer.”
Seth didn’t respond.
“If you won’t let me go, then you can go back to where you found me. You can try to find him and get him—”
Stunned, I blinked and then drew back. “Please. Please. I can’t just forget about them—about Mitchell. You can’t ask that of me. We have to help him.”
A muscle flexed along his jaw. “I don’t expect you to forget about him.”
“Then you can go and look for him,” I argued, ignoring the roiling sensation in my stomach. “You can do that and I can stay here.”
“Right now, they have no idea where we are, but we’re not warded against Titans or any other god. I’m not leaving you. Not again. You’re my number one priority. You are what I’m focused on.” His gaze met mine. “You’re all that matters.”
Frustration rose like a swelling river within me. It mingled with the very real pain that had settled into every joint and muscle, giving way to the terror that still hummed under my skin. “But you already left me!”
Seth flinched as his back stiffened.
I wanted to take back those words, but I couldn’t and I couldn’t stop what came out of my mouth next. “You left me already. You left me, Seth. So I wasn’t all that mattered to you a few weeks ago, so how can I be all that matters to you now?” Needing space, I scooted over. Seth went to block me again, but I shoved his arm away. “Don’t.”
Something akin to pain flickered across his face as he pulled his arm back. I stumbled off the bed, my skin feeling like it had been stretched too tight. I walked a few feet away and then stopped, standing on trembling legs. I closed my eyes as I tugged the hair back from my face. I wanted to feel bad for saying that to him, but it was true. He left me, and I couldn’t just forget about Mitchell. My life wasn’t more important than his.
“I deserved that,” Seth said, voice low. I opened my eyes, but didn’t face him. “I did leave you. And I wasn’t there for you when you found out about your mom or when Hyperion came for you. I let you down in the worst possible way. I cannot say I’m sorry enough. I’ll never be able to make up for how I failed you.”
My throat burned. “You . . . you didn’t know what happened.”
“That doesn’t matter in the end. You needed me and I wasn’t there.” His voice deepened, turned ragged. “I will never—”
“Don’t,” I repeated, unsure of what I was asking him to stop. Exhaustion tugged at me, like I hadn’t slept in years. Emotionally spent, I was mentally drained as I slowly faced him. Unsteady on my feet, I swayed slightly. My gaze flickered to his. “What is important right now is Mitchell. They still have him, and if we don’t do anything, he will die, Seth. We can’t let that happen.”
His jaw hardened. “I will think of something, Josie. I’m not saying I’m not going to do anything, but until you’ve healed, I cannot leave you.”
“No.” The one word brokered no argument. “You were held captive for days, Josie. You were nearly drained of all your aether. Gods know all of what happened to you there.”
“I’ll be okay,” I said.
You can get mad at me,” he said, rising from the bed. He stood like he was prepared to do battle. “You can hate me for this, and I wouldn’t blame you, but I will not leave you unprotected again.”
Josie had argued with my decision not to leave her until she gave in to the exhaustion that was clearly etched into every movement and drawn into the shadows under her eyes. She’d made it back to the bed, and as soon as her head hit those pillows, she was out.
I’d laid down beside her, not intending to fall asleep since I was turning over in my mind everything that she’d said. I got why she wanted to rescue this Mitchell—totally understood it—but that didn’t mean I was going to leave her. Nothing against Alex or Aiden, but they hadn’t been able to stop Hyperion before. They wouldn’t be able to do it again.
The Titan could show at any moment.
You already left me.
Her words cut right through me, because it was the cold, harsh truth. I had left her, and she had suffered. When she woke earlier, she hadn’t even known where she was, and she had thought she’d been in bed with one of those fuckers? Gods. The rage burned through me like lava, and the helplessness that I felt was like a bitter poison in my blood.
I would not fail her again.
Hours passed as I sat beside her, and I must’ve dozed off, because when I opened my eyes, faint sunlight was seeping underneath the heavy curtains and slowly trekking across the stone floors.
Lifting my head, I looked down at Josie. She was still asleep, but some of the color had returned to the unmarred patches of skin. That was good. I had to keep telling myself that, because every time I looked at her, I wanted to blow shit up.
Like, entire countries.
Her hair had fallen back over her cheek, so I took care of that, tucking it behind her ear. I sat up and glanced at the door. Carefully, I eased away from Josie and fixed the blanket as it started to slip off her.
Walking across the bedroom, I cracked open the door, and as I expected, I found Basil waiting outside. He stood between two statues, hands clasped loosely together. Only the gods knew how long he stood out there.
I needed to get him a cellphone or something to pass the time with.
“How is she, Kýrios?”
“Sleeping again.” I leaned against the doorframe. “Can you bring up some food? Nothing too heavy. She hasn’t . . . she hasn’t eaten recently. When she wakes up, I want her to eat.” I’d be damned if she refused food again. “I’d get it myself, but I don’t want to leave her. I am not hungry, so just food for her.”