Faint sunlight touched her cheeks. “It was easier just not to think about it. After all, I had a lot going on. Probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but I learned later that my mom wasn’t dead. She’d been turned into a daimon, and she was hunting us—hunting me.”
“Why was . . . why was she doing that?”
She pressed her lips together. “She knew what I was. She retained all that knowledge after she was turned into a daimon. It changed her. Made her evil. She thought if she turned me, she could control the Apollyon.” Alex drew in a stuttered breath. “Once I knew she’d been turned, it became my duty to kill her.”
I shook my head. “And you did?”
She nodded as she looked over at me. “She never would’ve wanted to become what she had, and I couldn’t let her be that way. I found her and . . . and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.”
I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.
“I know what you’re feeling,” she said quietly. “I’ve felt it twice. The anger. The pain.”
My lower lip trembled. “Something else we have in common.”
“Seems like we have some of the worst things in common,” she replied, a wry grin on her lips. “I know there is nothing I can tell you that’s really going to make you feel better except that I know your mother is in a better place.”
A flash of anger surged through me. “How do you know that?”
“Because I’ve been there.” Her eyes met mine, and for some dumb reason, I had forgotten that Alex had died a mortal death. “I’m there six months out of the year,” she continued. “I one hundred percent agree with whatever violent thoughts you have when it comes to Apollo, but no matter what, he would’ve made sure your mother is in the Elysian Fields. Anything she wants, she will have access to, and she is not alone. She’s most likely with your grandparents right now.”
If what Alex said was true, and I guessed it had to be true, I didn’t have to think of her as just . . . just ceasing to exist or being alone. Mom hated to be alone. Hope sparked alive. If Mom was in the Underworld, couldn’t I visit her? “Can I see her?”
A sad smile tugged at her lips. “To get into Elysian Fields when you do not belong there is not easy.”
“But I’m a demigod.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’d need Hades to cross you over or you’d have to enter through one of the gateways, and that isn’t simple. You’d have to travel through the Underworld to get to Elysium,” she explained. “And with you being a demigod, there are things down there that would sense you right away.” She paused. “Maybe one day, once everything settles down, Hades would allow you to visit her, but it is not something often allowed. Your mom is safe and most likely happy, but she is dead and the living do not visit the dead.”
Hope fizzled out. I bit down on my lip as I turned my head. “Except for you.”
“Except for Aiden and me,” she agreed.
Technically I’d died a mortal death when my powers had been unlocked, but it hadn’t been the same as Alex. I was simply a mortal one moment and a demigod the next. I wasn’t sent to the Underworld. I wasn’t sure I was even technically considered dead during any of it. “Do you visit your mom there?”
She hesitated. “Yes.”
That was something we didn’t have in common. I cast my gaze out over the ocean, wondering if what Apollo had said about Erin was true. For all I knew now, she could also be dead.
My chest hollowed out.
“It gets easier,” she stated. “It really does.”
I was going to have to take her word for that.
Dawn arrived as we sat side by side, and the sky turned a calm shade of blue, cloudless and endless. “Apollo is a shit father,” Alex said so suddenly that a harsh laugh escaped me. A small grin appeared on her face. “No. Seriously. He is.”
“Yeah,” I forced out, closing my eyes briefly.
“I think he tries. Like, he really probably thought he was doing the right thing by not telling you about your mom. The gods . . . they have a very messed-up view of things.” Alex straightened out her legs. “Nothing we do will ever change that.”
I gave a curt shake of my head. “He doesn’t try hard enough. He barely speaks to me when he’s here. He talks more to you and Aiden, and I know how that sounds. Like I’m jealous—” I exhaled raggedly. “I am jealous. You have a better relationship with him.”
“I’ve known him longer and we’ve fought side by side.”
Throwing up my hands, I cursed in exasperation. “Exactly. I get that he wasn’t supposed to know me before and that being around me now weakens him, but I . . . I don’t care,” I spat the last three words out. “I just . . . The time he’s here, he could try to get to know me. Try to be a father. And he lied to me, and I don’t care what his reasons are.” On a roll, I kept going. “And let’s not forget the fact that he never warned us that Seth could become the God Killer and might actually kill a Titan? We needed to know that.”
“Agreed.” Alex twisted toward me, her brown eyes sharp. “Aiden and I were told to keep an eye on him, and I know you don’t like to hear that,” she added when I opened my mouth. “You were right when you told Apollo that no one knows Seth like you do.”
I snapped my mouth shut.
“You know this Seth, and I’m not sure who or what he really is now, but we know the old Seth too, and because of that, we have to be cautious. The gods had to be cautious.” Her lips curled on one side. “And they were cautious because apparently they kind of knew more than what they told us.”
“He’s not evil,” I said for what felt like the thousandth time.
Alex’s brows furrowed together as she turned back to the ocean. “I think . . . I think you’re right.”
“I am,” I said vehemently.
She nodded again and a moment passed. “I am sorry about your mother.”
The next breath I took hurt. “Thank you.”
Alex dragged the tips of her fingers through the crab grass and dirt. “If you ever need to talk about it, I’m here.”
Pressing my lips closed, I nodded. I ran out of words along with the desire to find them. I didn’t say anything else. Neither did Alex. We just sat there in silence, shoulder to shoulder, joined in a way by the terrible things we’d experienced, the heartache we’d felt, and the shared dread of the unknown we faced.
The house was as quiet as a ghost as I stood in the room I’d sworn I would never return to. I’d only made it a few feet inside the door when my feet stopped moving.
I couldn’t even believe that I’d walked into this damn house and I sure as hell had no idea why I’d come up here, to this room. It was the last place I ever wanted to be, but I was here, and had been standing here for what had to be hours.
The people in the house—the staff or servants or whatever—had given me a wide berth as I’d entered. All except one. He was a male half-blood. He’d stayed back as I climbed the stairs, but I knew he was out in the hallway. Whoever the half was, he possessed major common sense and an admirable amount of instinct, because he’d known not to follow me into this room.
If he had . . . ?
The coldness in my chest spread like a vortex of ice and wind. If anyone had followed me in here, it would’ve been the last thing they’d done.
My hands open and closed at my sides as crackling power seeped out of my pores. The room was just like I’d left it all those years ago. A neatly made bed stood in the center of the spacious quarters. The nightstand by the bed only had a lamp positioned in the furthest corner. How many times had I moved that lamp closer to the bed and then found it the following evening pushed back to the farthest corner of the nightstand? Every single godsdamn day. There was a narrow dresser across from the bed with the same damn TV sitting on it, and that was it. Nothing else was in the room but a fine layer of dust covering the dresser and nightstand.
This had been my bedroom.