“I want…I want to go with you next time.”
I looked at her. “For real?”
“Yeah. Then maybe it won’t feel like a secret anymore.”
A huge part of me didn’t want her there for that, but I’d do it for her. “If that’s what you want.”
“Then it’s a plan,” I said. “By the way, why were you out in that field today?”
“I was practicing with the elements. Figured that was the safest place for it.”
I grinned, but it was quick to fade. “Why were you out there alone, though? Luke could’ve been with you.”
Josie snorted. “Luke doesn’t want to be anywhere near me when I’m working with the elements.”
“Then you could’ve gotten Deacon, or even Alex or Aiden. I don’t want you out there by yourself.”
She arched a brow. “It’s not like I went traipsing around outside the University. I was safe.”
“Need I remind you that the Covenant walls have been breached more than once?”
“And need I remind you that I can take care of myself?”
“I know you can,” I sighed. “It’s just not…” Rubbing my thumb over the thick strands of hair, I looked down at her where her hands rested on her lower belly. My damn heart jumped in my chest like it was on a trampoline.
Josie was pregnant with our child.
A wealth of raw, contradicting emotions rose up and consumed me. Terror. Happiness. Fear. Anticipation. It was crazy how you could feel so much all at once.
The pressure in my chest intensified. What I was feeling was scary as hell, but it was also the good kind of pressure. The kind that told me I’d do anything to keep her and our child safe. Coat my hands in blood if necessary, and I had. More than once, and I carried very little regret for doing so.
Love outweighed regret.
Something I never thought I’d ever truly feel for another person, and when I first met Josie, it sure as hell wasn’t love at first sight. Probably a little lust at first sight. I’d also been disturbed by the fact of who she resembled and who her father was.
Never would’ve crossed my mind that day in the stairwell that I would end up falling in love with Apollo’s daughter. Hell. Kind of wanted to laugh now, but that was what happened.
Getting here, to this very moment, hadn’t been easy.
Gods know I’d fought my feelings for her. Timing was shit for a relationship when I first met her. Back then, I had no future. I was being used by the gods to carry out Remediations—hunting down and destroying those who’d sided with Ares. And, once the gods figured out how to kill me, I would then get to spend an eternity serving Hades. But that had been when I was the Apollyon. Now I was a god, and I had a future that didn’t involve catering to the whims of other gods.
But it was more than all of that. A lot of it had to do with me. Thinking I didn’t deserve her. Believing that she’d be safer without me around, better for it. That after everything I’d done and been a part of, I wasn’t worthy of love.
Truth was, I still wasn’t worthy of her, but I was working at it.
“Seth?” Her soft voice snagged my attention. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” Lifting my gaze to hers, I grinned. “I’m trying to figure out exactly what your hair color is.”
“You’re so weird.” She untangled her hair from my fingers. “So weird.”
Lowering my hand to where hers rested, I swallowed the sudden knot in my throat as the image of her swollen with my child formed. Gods. That killed me in the best possible ways.
“You’re beautiful,” I said, letting myself look my fill. She was bare to my eyes, all soft curves and flushed skin. “Have I told you that yet today?”
“This morning, and then right after lunch.”
“But I haven’t in the last hour?”
“No.” She rolled onto her side, facing me as she placed her hand on my chest. “We should really get out of this bed.”
“Why?” I kissed the tip of her nose. “I just got you naked.”
She laughed. “We’ve spent all morning holed up in this room.”
“So?” I dragged my hand over the flare of her hip. “What else do we have to do?”
“What else? We have a lot to do, Seth.” Josie snuggled in close, wiggling a long leg between mine, which did absolutely nothing to sway me to get out of this bed.
I swallowed a groan when her breasts pressed against my chest. “Like what?”
“We need to talk with Deacon and Luke and see if they’ve finalized their plans to leave for Britain.”
Sliding my hand over her hip to her ass, I was rewarded with a quick inhale. “You mean, we need to see if Aiden has allowed Deacon to leave yet.”
She laughed softly as she ran her fingers along my chest. “I’m afraid he’s going to lock Deacon in a room.”
“He might.” I squeezed, pulling her hips closer to mine. “Aiden is what you would call overprotective when it comes to his brother.”
“Takes one to know one,” she quipped.
I pulled back. “What is that?”
The corners of her lips turned up. “All I’m going to say is that I think you and Aiden have way more in common than you want to acknowledge.”
Rolling her onto her back, I rose above her. “I think I’m offended.”
“It reminds me of these two girls I knew at college.” She placed her hands on my shoulders, pressing her nails into my skin. “They absolutely hated one another, and the funniest thing was, their personalities were freaking identical.”
I put my weight on one elbow. “Aiden and I do not have identical personalities.”
“Doth protest too much?”
Nipping at her lip, I curled a hand around her hip. “Doth talk too much?”
Josie kicked her head back and laughed. “Asshole.”
“That’s not what you were calling me earlier, just want to point that out.” I brushed my lips over hers.
Her chest rose against mine. “Stop trying to distract me.”
“Distract you from what?” I asked, my lips coasting over hers as I spoke.
“What we need to do.” She gasped when I settled between her thighs. “Seth—”
I kissed her, silencing whatever good reasons she had for why we needed to get out of this bed, and there were a lot. A shit ton. But I didn’t want to think about any of that. Not right now. We had later to deal with reality. It wasn’t going anywhere.
As my lips moved over hers, Josie made this breathy sound that told me she wasn’t too eager to get out of this bed either. Tilting my head, I flicked my tongue along the seam of her lips, coaxing her lips apart. Not that she needed much persuasion.
Everything about Josie softened under me.
There was a time when I had tried to hold back, but not anymore. I dove right in, the kiss deep and raw as my tongue stroked hers, and Josie was there for it. Sliding one leg up mine, she curled it over my hip, pulling me in closer. The feeling of her against the hardest part of me fried every single one of my nerve endings.
I used to think I was addicted to aether, to that rush of cool power, but I’d been wrong.
I was addicted to Josie.
To the way she tasted. To the sounds she made when I knew she was getting close to release. To the way she called out my name. To the way she argued with me before and after. To the way she just was.
She sucked in a quick breath, and I took it for my own as she looped one arm around my neck. Her hand caught in my hair, tugging my head back. Nipping at her soft lips, I lifted up and stared down at her. Those thick, silky lashes fluttered open. Our gazes locked.
“I forgot what I was going to say,” she admitted, her voice breathy.
Chuckling, I kissed the skin under her chin and got back to work on the real imperative stuff. “Must not have been very important than.”
“It was.” Her hand slipped to my shoulder as I worked my way down her throat. “I’m pretty sure it was really important.”
“I know what’s important.” I blazed a trail to the rosy tip of one breast, tasting every square inch of skin and not missing a single spot. “This is very important.”