Frustration spiked. “Even her father is not answering our calls.”
Picking up the skirt of her dress, Karina stepped down from the dais. “You should try summoning him again.”
I held back a curse. “That would be useless.” And catastrophic, because when Apollo inevitably ignored my summons once again, I was going to want to blow something big up.
“Did you know that temples are like conduits to Olympus?” she asked. “The gods can hear your prayers much more clearly here.” She stopped beside me. “Especially if you shed a little blood over fire.”
My eyes narrowed. “What?”
“You should try it.” She breezed on by. “I will await outside.”
Turning, I watched her glide across the temple floor and out the door. My gaze moved upward, to the open panel that let the sunlight in. What she had just said sounded absolutely insane, but what could I lose in trying?
If the Olympians created the bands, then Apollo had to know how to get them off. Going to him for help made me want to punch myself in the nuts, but I was willing to do anything for Josie.
Striding across the floor, I stepped up on the dais and approached the altar. I seriously doubted this was going to work, but I picked up the dagger anyway. Spill blood over flame? Shaking my head, I drew the dagger down the center of my palm. A thin line of blood welled up. Fisting my hand over the flame, I squeezed until a few drops of blood seeped out of my hand.
My brows lifted. “What the hell?”
The blood was red, but there was a blue sheen to it. And it shimmered.
My fucking blood shimmered now.
Inhaling raggedly, I watched a few drops of blood hit the flame. Fire sizzled and crackled. Drawing my hand back, the smoke turned black and then gray. Cursing under my breath, I lifted my gaze to the ceiling. “Apollo? If you can hear me, you need to get your ass down here now. Your daughter needs you.”
Closing my eyes, I shook my head. What was I thinking? He wouldn’t even come for his own—
A burst of pure power filled the temple, coasting over my skin like I had touched a live wire. My eyes flew open as the back of my neck tingled.
The sound of Apollo’s voice filled me with warring emotions. I was relieved that he finally, finally had answered because maybe he could help Josie. I was also infuriated by his mere presence.
I turned slowly, facing him, and there he was.
Apollo stood in the center of the temple, his all-white eyes glowing like two fucking light bulbs. There was a time, a very brief moment in time, when I’d actually reluctantly respected Apollo. That time occurred once when he was masquerading as Leon, a pure-blooded Sentinel. There might had been a time after I knew what he was, like when he made sure Alex had been taken care of when Ares had broken every bone in her body.
Right now, I wanted nothing more than to knock his head off his shoulders.
“It’s about time,” I said, jaw clenched. “Got to admit. Kind of surprised you had the balls to show up.”
Apollo lifted his chin. “You cannot harm me inside a temple.”
“So, what? You basically get to yell ‘safe’ in a temple?”
“If we were playing a game of tag,” he replied. “Then yes.”
My hands curled into fists.
“The blood you shed on the flame nullifies our abilities while in the temple. I cannot harm you and you can only stand there and pout. And by the way, do not doubt whether or not I have the balls to do anything.”
There were so many things I could say in response to that, but there were more important things to discuss. “Where in the fuck have you been? Your daughter was captured by Hyperion. Your daughter, Apollo. Do you even know what he—” I cut myself off as I took another step forward. “I summoned you. Alex summoned you. Where were you?”
Apollo held still. “Where were you, Seth? The last I checked you weren’t there, either.”
“Oh, trust me. I know exactly where I’ve been and why I’ve been there. And I also know exactly the huge-ass fucking mistake I made when I left Josie. I did it because I thought she would be safer away from me. That’s no excuse. I’ll never regret anything more in my life. But you . . . How could you not know what was happening to her? How could you not feel it?”
A muscle flexed along his jaw. “Nothing I say will change it, will it?”
“Fuck no!” I shouted. Outside, thunder rattled the temple. My abilities might have been temporarily blocked in here, but a storm was coming outside. “We summoned you and you ignored our calls. Your daughter was missing and you had to know what that meant—who had her. And you ignored us—ignored her.”
Apollo turned his head, looking away.
There was so much more I could rage at him about. The fact that he’d lied about her mother. How he’d never treated Josie like a damn daughter whenever he was around her. How he’d unbound her powers without explaining what that entailed. I could keep going for a fucking eternity, but I had to focus. “Josie is not doing well.”
His head sharply swung in my direction. Now I had his attention.
“But you might even know that already. That wouldn’t surprise me.”
“Proceed with caution,” he warned.
I smirked. “Aw, thought we can’t hurt each other?”
“Doesn’t mean we can’t try.”
“Like to see you do it,” I replied coldly. “Because I’m learning that what I can throw down will make what you can do seem like a kid playing with a water gun.”
Apollo’s nostrils flared. “What’s wrong with my daughter?”
Hearing him say the word “daughter” had me seeing the world in amber. But pissing Apollo off and having him run away without getting what I needed wasn’t going to help Josie. So I really needed to slow my roll.
I drew in a deep breath. “She isn’t recovering as quickly as she should. She’s been physically sick, and I can barely feel any aether in her.”
Apollo glanced at the door and for a moment I thought he was going to leave the temple, but he briefly closed his eyes. When they reopened, there were irises—eyes as blue as the sea. They were identical to Josie’s with the exception of the pupils. His weren’t black. There were white, and that was some weird-looking shit right there.
“When she was being held by the Titans, they placed these bands on her wrists to block her powers,” I explained.
“Shit,” Apollo said.
That didn’t sound good. “So you know of these bracelets?”
He nodded curtly. “Those bracelets are fashioned in Tartarus to entomb the Titans. They mute the effects of aether. They may slow down healing if her injuries were . . . were significant enough.” He frowned slightly. “They shouldn’t make her sicker.”
“Well, they are. We need to get them off of her now.”
“Only Hades would have the ability to unlock them.”
“Then can we get Hades’s ass up here and do it?”
“None of the other gods will come near you or Josie. They will not risk it.”
Anger hummed under my skin. Fucking cowards. “Bring him to this temple and I can bring Josie here.”
“They will not risk it even inside this temple or any temple,” Apollo replied. “They do not trust you. They do not trust what you are and aren’t capable of.”
“And you do?” I retorted.
Apollo’s gaze leveled on me. “I simply know you’re capable of anything. I could take Josie to Hades—”
My jaw locked down. “Not going to happen.”
“You’d refuse aid for her?”
“I will refuse the idea of her going anywhere with you by herself,” I shot back. “Do not think I’ve forgotten how Hades wanted to take out Alex.”
“This has nothing to do with Alex.”
“But it shows a long history of you guys making shit choices.” I unclenched my hands. “I will not leave Josie unprotected, even with you. Figure something else out. Those bands have to come off.”