“Sure.” I followed behind him, my gaze fixed on Josie.
A look of curiosity filled her features as Basil carried a large silver tray toward the bed. He placed it beside her. “I’ve brought you soup, Kyría, and steamed wild rice with a hint of light sauce.”
Josie gaped at him, and despite everything, a small smile curled the corners of my mouth.
Basil lifted the lids, revealing two large bowls. “I’ve brought water, but if you would like some other type of refreshment, I would be more than happy to retrieve it for you.”
“Water is fine,” she said, glancing at me uncertainly before looking back at Basil. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure, Kyría.” He bowed and then backed away from the bed. “May I be of any other service?”
I shook my head. “That will be all.”
Basil bowed once more and left.
Josie now gaped at me. “Did he . . . did he just call me ‘lady’ and you ‘lord’?”
The smile went up a notch as I returned to her side, picking up the bowl and spoon. “They’re kind of ‘old school’ around here.”
“Okay,” she said, but she was eyeing me with disbelief.
“There’s a lot we need to go over, but I want you to eat as much of this as you can first.” I dipped the spoon in the soup, loading it up with broth and what appeared to be some sort of noodle. “Open up.”
“Are you actually going to hand feed me?”
I glanced down at what I was doing and felt my cheeks heat. “I guess I am.”
“I can feed myself.”
“I know, but I want . . . I want to do this.” And I did. “Besides, you’re busy holding the robe closed over your very, very glorious breasts.”
Josie’s face flushed red and her eyes narrowed. “Don’t talk about my breasts.”
Another grin pulled at my lips. “But I can look at them?”
“No,” she shot back.
Another grin snuck free. “I’m not sure I can promise not to look.” I moved the spoon to her mouth. “But I’ll try.”
Josie watched me for a moment, her look indecipherable, but she opened her mouth. I got about half a dozen spoonfuls of soup in, and half that amount of rice, before she said, “I saw you. You realize that, right?” She leaned back from me. “I saw you out on the balcony, and unless that was a really realistic nightmare, I don’t get what’s happening here.”
“Please eat some more first.”
Anger flashed across her face, and I was thrilled to see it. Anger was better than despair and desolation. “Seth—”
“I will explain everything to you. Everything,” I promised. “But I need you to be better—healthy and whole, and I . . .” My throat suddenly felt thick. “I came back to you—after I left. You weren’t at Gable’s house. You were somewhere else. I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t stop myself. You were sleeping.”
Her eyes widened. “I thought I felt you. I chalked it up to a dream, but it was you?”
“How in the world?”
“I’ll get to that,” I said. “When I left you, I told myself that I’d never see you again. Obviously I hadn’t held myself to that. I came to you after I left, and then I tried to find you again. That’s how I learned what had happened. I didn’t—I didn’t even know what happened until then, and when I heard that Hyperion had taken you, I have never felt so helpless. I’ve never felt such terror before, because I couldn’t find you. I didn’t know how to find you. I could’ve lost you—lost you in the worst possible way, but I didn’t. You’re here, and right now, I just want to help make you better. To get better, you need to eat, because you told me earlier that you didn’t remember the last time you ate. Please let me do this.”
Josie started, and for a second, I thought she was going to deny me, but she nodded. When I lifted the spoon again, there was no hiding the way my hand trembled. We nearly finished off the bowl of soup and rice in silence, stopping only when she swore she could neither eat nor drink anymore. I removed the tray, placing it on the table by the door.
She was still holding the robe to her chest when I came back to her, and it was hard not to think of the fact that she was nude under that.
“I was coming after you,” she said, and I already knew that, but I kind of loved hearing her say that. “Even though the whole feeding off me was so . . . so wrong, I was going to come after you. That was my plan. I was going to stand next to you. I was going to fight for you. Prove that you . . . you are worthy of how I feel for you.” Her voice was raspy. “And after everything, I finally see you, and that—that was all I wanted—was to see you, and I found you with another woman.”
My heart cracked all over again at her words and the tears building in her eyes. “It wasn’t how it looked.”
She coughed out a harsh laugh. “Really?”
“I know how that sounds,” I continued. “I truly do, but it is the truth. Her name is Karina and she is the high priestess here.”
“High priestess?” she repeated.
“That’s a part of the convoluted story I need to tell you—she’s a big part of it, and gods know, it’s a messed-up story, but I was not embracing her. There is absolutely nothing between us. Nothing. There never has been. There won’t be.”
“Don’t lie,” she whispered. “I saw you. You had your hands on her. You were touching her—”
I shot forward, moving faster than she could track. Carefully clasping her cheeks, I guided her gaze to mine. “It wasn’t like that, Josie. I swear to you. It could never be, because I love you, Josie. I love you.”
My heart slowed and then sped up. I’d thought Seth had told me that only once before, when he believed I was asleep, and sometimes I wasn’t even a hundred percent sure I’d heard him say that then.
But he really said that now.
Seth said those three short words that meant everything.
Well, “I have cake” was also three short, powerful words, but hearing Seth say he loved me was like a thousand hopes and dreams come true at once.
Part of me wanted to spring out from under the covers and tackle-hug him. The other half was frozen in so much confusion and trepidation. I didn’t truly understand what was going on. Maybe it was because I was so damn exhausted, since even upon waking and eating, I was tired down to my bones. But it felt like only hours ago I was huddled on the cold dirt waiting . . . and wanting to die rather than face another second with Hyperion or the rest of the Titans. I still didn’t even understand how I’d gotten here or how we were going to help Mitchell if Seth refused to let me look for him or leave my side.
And I wanted to celebrate what Seth was saying. He was finally telling me how he felt, but I couldn’t erase the image of him and that beautiful brunette.
“Josie?” His gaze searched mine, and I realized I hadn’t spoken.
I took a shaky breath. “I’ve . . . I’ve waited forever for you to say that.”
A slow smile started to creep over his lips. “And I should’ve said it forever ago.”
I wanted to smile back at him, but all I could do was stare at him. There was so much we needed to talk about—that I needed to focus on. My thoughts were all over the place, and I was feeling so much—too much. And I was naked. Like, legit naked under the robe that was too big and kept slipping off my shoulder and gapping in the front. And I vaguely remembered Seth hauling my sobbing, naked butt out of the shower, and helping me get in the robe when I’d jumped out of the bed and fell on the floor naked.
Concern filled those amber eyes. “Josie, please say something. Anything.”
I needed to say something. “If you love me, then why . . . why did I see you outside with her?”
Seth was still for a moment and then lowered his hands to the space between us. “I think I need to start at the beginning.”
“Yeah.” I tucked the blanket under my arms. “I think that would make the most sense.”