And all it took was Seth…sacrificing himself.
The knot of raw emotion expanded in my chest as I lowered my hand to my stomach.
The final battle lasted maybe minutes. Corralled into one area, it took nothing for the giants to capture each of the Titans. They held them in their hands, and from where I stood, the Titans looked like screaming children as they were taken back into the tear in the road. Cronus was the last to go, his screams of rage overshadowed by the screams of the shades as the furies took them out, sucking them down their throats as they tried to escape the bodies they’d possessed.
“Do you think they get indigestion from that?” Alex asked.
I thought that was a valid question.
The ground trembled once more as Zeus walked forward. As he neared the rift, he waved his hand over it. Shimmery blue light settled over the tear like a million fireflies. The road…repaired itself. Stone and cement churned, spreading over the tear, and within seconds it was like giants had not just crawled out from there. Even the yellow paint marking the lanes was flawless.
“That could come in handy,” Luke murmured under this breath, and then he quieted as Zeus approached us. Even Alex sat up straight and then rose to her feet.
“They will take the Titans back to their tombs, where Hades is awaiting their return,” Zeus explained, and then looked over his shoulder. “The furies will hunt down the rest of the shades. A few have escaped, but they have no place to run.”
Alex opened her mouth, but for once, nothing came out of it.
Zeus looked at me. “It is over, Josie.”
I don’t know what I was expecting to feel. A sense of completion? Relief? Righteousness? As if knowing Seth’s sacrifice wasn’t for nothing was suddenly going to lessen the burden of facing a…a possible eternity without him?
But I felt…I felt nothing.
I looked over Zeus’s shoulder, and I didn’t see any of the furies. I saw my father. He was staring back at me.
“This was because of him,” Zeus said quietly, drawing my attention. “He made this possible, and you will understand one day why this had to be this way.”
“I will never understand.” Tearing my gaze away from Zeus, I shuddered as I faced my father. “I want to go…home.”
Josie ~ Two months later
“Kyría, is there anything I can do for you?”
Sitting in the sand, I lifted my gaze from the frothy waves and squinted. Basil stood beside me. “What did I tell you, Basil?”
His brows pinched. “To stop…waiting on you?”
“Yes.” I nodded for extra emphasis. “You’re not my servant. None of you here are my servants.”
Since Apollo brought me here after the showdown with the Titans, Basil and every person—er, priest and priestess—who lived here treated me like a queen who had finally come home.
Which was a good thing in the beginning, especially when I first walked into the bedroom that I’d shared with Seth and had an utter breakdown. If it hadn’t been for Basil and the priestess named Karina, I don’t think I would’ve made it to the bed. And as much as it shamed me to admit it, if it hadn’t been for them making sure I ate during those first dark days here, I would’ve just stayed in that bed, wasting away.
And if it weren’t for the child I carried inside me that was what I would’ve done. Withered up and died when the pain of losing Seth was fresh, like it happened yesterday.
Except, with the help of those who lived here and my friends, I did get out of that bed, and even though there were days when I wanted nothing more than to give up, I didn’t.
I was still here.
I was going to be here.
“But we wish to serve you,” Basil said, and he’d only said that about a million times.
“I know, but it’s…weird.”
Basil stared at me like he couldn’t process how that was weird. He then changed the subject. Like he always did when we had this conversation. “We stocked the pantry and fridge this morning. We did not forget those cheese snacks this time.”
A grin pulled at my lips. He was talking about Cheetos. “Erin is sure to appreciate that.”
He smiled brightly. “I am pleased to hear that. Does Erin plan to stay long this time?”
“I’m not sure. I guess it depends on her being…summoned.”
Basil nodded with understanding. Erin had been here since the moment Apollo had brought me here. Besides the happiness of being able to reconnect with her, her presence came in handy. She also had the nifty ability of easy transportation, able to take me wherever I needed to go.
That was how I got to my first appointment with the OBGYN in New York. The appointment had been equally amazing and depressing, and Erin had been there through it all.
Just like Basil and Karina.
Sometimes I wondered why they were still here.
I bit down on my lip as I looked out at the ocean. “Can I ask you something?”
“Why are you all still here?” I asked, wincing at how bad the question sounded. “I mean, I’m happy that everyone is here. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you all, but Seth is… He’s gone, and you all were here because of him.”
Basil knelt beside me, and when I looked at him, his gaze held mine. “Just because he is not here with us does not mean he is gone. He is the God of Life and he is the God of Death. This is just a moment in that cycle.”
What he said was confusing as hell, but none of the staff here, or the priests and priestesses behaved as if Seth was…dead. They acted as if he was just on vacation or something. Like he was coming back.
But Seth wasn’t coming back.
I knew this, because if Seth was coming back, he would’ve done it by now. He wouldn’t be out there and not be with me. He wouldn’t have missed the first real doctor’s visit. He wouldn’t have left me like this.
Knowing all of that, there was a still a part of me that was just like everyone here.
Waiting for Seth to return. Like he was simply gone and not dead.
Basil lightly touched my arm, and I blinked, refocusing on him. I realized that he’d been talking. “I’m sorry. I kind of zoned out there.”
“It’s okay, Kyría.” The man was the definition of patience. “We’re also here because of you. We want you to know that. We are your family, not by blood but what exists in here.” He thumped his fist off his chest. “And family of the heart and soul does not leave. No matter what.”
“Tacos or wings? This is an important decision, so don’t say I don’t care.” Erin stood in the massive kitchen, holding a package of soft taco shells in one hand and uncooked chicken wings in the other. “Wait. Can pregnant ladies eat chicken wings and tacos?”
I laughed as I poured myself a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. “As long as it’s cooked properly, yes, I can eat it.”
She lowered the taco shells as she eyed the bag of chicken. “I think chicken is probably a healthier choice.”
Closing the door, I walked over to the island and hopped on the bar stool. “Not sure chicken wings ever constitute a healthy choice.”
“If it’s baked, it’s healthy.”
“I don’t think that’s how that works.”
She frowned as she put the chicken into the fridge. “Why not?”
“Because there’s a lot of stuff that’s baked that is terrible for you.”
“Cookies. Pies. Cake. Lasagna—”
“You’re a life-ruiner,” she interrupted, grinning. “We’ll do chicken wings and a salad.”
I took a sip of my juice as she came over to the island and sat beside me. “How was everything at the University?”
Erin had popped over there earlier to scope things out. “Still no fighting, even with all the students back in class.”
“None.” She crossed one leg over the other. “Maybe Deacon and Luke are onto something. They think it has to do with my sisters making an appearance. Many of the pures have never seen a furie before. Could’ve been a wake-up call to get their life right.”