My blood itched for a fight. Muscles screamed to engage. My thoughts were covered in a heady, amber haze of power. I was the Apollyon. I wielded control over the four elements, and the fifth and the most powerful—akasha. I fueled the God Killer. I was his power-up—the ace up his sleeve. I was the beginning and he was the end. And together, we were everything.
Yet, all I could do was pace back and forth. Caged and made helpless by the markings etched in the cement above me and by bars crafted by a god.
Of course, I wasn’t alone. Oh no. My own personal hell was a party for two. Well, it was really a threesome... foursome of sorts. Sounded more fun than it was. Voices... there were so many voices in my head.
“Do you remember?”
I tipped my head to the right, feeling the muscles stretch and the bones crack. Then I repeated the movements to the left, my fingers moving—pinky, middle, pointer... over and over.“Alex, I know you can hear me.”
I looked over my shoulder, my lip curling at what I saw. Boy, did I have a T-Rex- sized bone to pick with that pure-blood. Aiden St. Delphi stood on the other side of the bars. There, he was an immovable force. But without the protections from Hephaestus or Apollo between us, he would become an inconsequential nothing.
No. No. No.
My hand flew to the crystal rose on its own accord, feeling the smooth and delicate edges. He was everything.
Sharp pain sliced between my temples, and I snarled. Sending him a hateful look, I faced the bare cement wall. “You should have kept me on the Elixir.”
“I should have never put you on the Elixir,” he countered. “That wasn’t the way to get to you.”
I laughed coldly. “Oh, you got to me all right.”
There was a pause. “I know you’re still in there, Alex. Underneath that connection, you are still you. The woman I love.”
I opened my mouth, but there were no words—only memories of standing by the stream and telling Aiden I loved him, and then an endless stream of thoughts and actions centering on him. Months, if not years, of them cycling over and over again until I couldn’t distinguish between the past, present, and what was to become of my future.
As if sensing where my thoughts had gone, he said, “A few days ago you said you loved me.”
“And a few days ago I was high as a kite and hiding in closets, thanks to you.” I whirled around, just in time to see him flinch. Good.
“You put me on the Elixir.”
Aiden sucked in a sharp breath, but didn’t look away in shame or guilt. He met and held my gaze, locked onto eyes I knew he loathed with every fiber of his being. “I did.”
I took a deep, heavy breath. “I will get out of here eventually, Aiden. And I will kill you. Slowly.”
“And you’ll murder everyone I care for. I know. We’ve been here before.” He leaned against the bars. There wasn’t a hint of stubble on his smooth face this time around. He was in his Sentinel uniform—all black. But there were dark shadows under those striking eyes of his.
“I know you won’t hurt me if you get out,” he continued. “I believe in that.” “Sad.” “What is?” “That someone as good-looking as you is so incredibly stupid.” I smiled as his eyes narrowed. The moment they flashed silver, I knew I'd hit a nerve. That made me all warm and fuzzy for about three seconds, and then I realized I was still in a freaking cage. Pissing Aiden off helped pass the time, but it didn’t change anything.
There were better things I could be doing. I just needed to wait and bide my time. The low-level static was in my head.
Constant. All I needed to do was tap into it, but the moment Aiden even thought I was doing that, he started talking.
Going to the mattress on the floor, I sat down and tucked my knees under my chin. I watched Aiden watch me. And I tried to keep the voice that popped up whenever he was around quiet. I didn’t like or understand that voice.
Aiden ran a hand through his hair, and then pushed back from the bars. “Do you know what’s happening out there, right now?”
I shrugged. Was I supposed to care? All I cared about was getting out of here and connecting with my Seth. Then, if my father was still enslaved in the Catskills, we would free him. My Seth had promised me.
“Do you remember what Poseidon did to Deity Island?”
How in the hell was I supposed to forget that? Poseidon had wiped out the Covenant there.
“Well, it’s going to get worse, Alex. Half of the Olympian Twelve want to make war on Seth and Lucian,” he continued. “And I’m sure he knows that. Maybe that’s what he wants, but is that what you want? Do you know how many innocent lives will be lost—have been lost? Both mortal and half? Is that something you can live with?”
I really wasn’t living right now, considering I was in a cage.
“Because I know deep down you couldn’t live with yourself, knowing you helped cause the death of thousands, if not millions—especially those halfs. You were questioning becoming a Sentinel because of how they were being treated. If Seth goes through with this, they will die.” The conviction in his voice was annoying. So was the passion that fueled the words. “Caleb—do you remember how you felt after Caleb—”
“Don’t talk about him!”
His dark brows shot up. Shock splashed across his face and then he darted toward those damn bars, grasping them. “Yes, Caleb, Alex! Do you remember how you felt when he died? How you blamed yourself?”
“Shut up, Aiden.”
“Do you remember being so torn up that you stayed in bed for five days? Your heart was broken when you lost him. Do you think he’d want to see you do this to yourself? His death was a wrong place at the wrong time thing, but this? There will be thousands of Calebs, but they will be your fault.”
I pressed my head against my knees and clamped my hands over my ears. But that did nothing to stop the rising tide of emotion beating at me or the ache in my temples that was quickly turning into a sharp, stabbing pain.
And it didn’t stop him. “What about your mother, Alex?” “Shut up!” I screamed. “This wasn’t what she wanted!” The bars shook as he hit them with what I guessed were his fists. That had to hurt. “This is what she died to protect you from. How dare you just roll over and let him do this to—”
My entire body snapped like a rubber band pulled too tight. “Shut—”
The buzzing in my ears roared, drowning out Aiden and everything else. In an instant, he was there, slipping through my veins like warm, rich honey.
Listen to me. The words were in my thoughts, soothing like balmy summer air. Listen to me, Alex. Remember what we will do together once we connect. Free the halfs— and your father.
“Alex,” Aiden snapped.
Good gods, doesn’t he have anything better to do? Seth’s exasperated sigh shuddered through my body. Close him out. He doesn’t matter. We do.
My fingers tightened in my hair.
“He’s in there now, isn’t he?” Anger deepened Aiden’s voice. The bars shook again. At the rate he was going, his knuckles were going to be mush. Just like my brain. “Don’t listen to him, Alex.”
Seth’s laugh was like chips of ice. Is he coming in there? Lay him out, Angel. Then make a run for it. No one will be able to stop you.
I pulled my hair until tiny needles stabbed at my scalp.
“Alex, look at me.” The desperate edge in Aiden’s voice reached a part of me I wasn’t entirely familiar with. My eyes opened and latched onto his. They were silvery, like moonlight. Beautiful eyes. “Together we can break the bond between you and Seth.”
Tell him you don’t want to break the bond.
Amazing ... and creepy how much my Seth could see and hear when we were connected. It was like having another person living inside me.
“Alex,” Aiden said. “Even if you make it to him, he’ll drain you just like a daimon would. Maybe he won’t mean to, but he will.”
My heart tripped up. I’d been warned before—by my mother, months ago. It was one of the reasons she'd wanted to change me into a daimon. A messed-up reason full of fail logic, but still...
I’d never do that to you, Alex. All I want is to keep you safe, to make you happy. Freeing your father is what you want, isn’t it? Together we can do that, but only together.
“I’m not going to give up,” Aiden said. Blessed silence stretched out for a few heartbeats. “Do you hear that, Seth? It’s not going to ever happen.”
You’re both annoying. Then I said out loud, “There’s nothing to give up on, Aiden.”
His eyes narrowed. “There is everything.”
Those words struck me as odd. "Everything" was a ghost of what was and never could be. Everything had changed the moment I’d connected with my Seth. It was hard to explain. Months ago, when I'd had trouble sleeping, and the connection between us had eased my body and mind? Well, this was like that, times a hundred.
There was no me in this. Sort of like there’d been no Seth in this before I’d Awakened. I understood that now. How much he'd struggled being around me, fighting to not get sucked into what I had going on. Now there was just us—a single being existing in two separate bodies. One soul split apart. Solaris and the First—
Sharp pain exploded behind my eyes. Don’t. His whisper carried in my veins. Don’t think about them. I frowned. And then my Seth kept chatting. So did Aiden. But he wasn’t stupid enough to come into the cell. Even tired and held back by the wards on the walls, I was sure I could take him. Minutes went by, maybe hours, while the two of them slaughtered my brain cells.
When it was all over, I sagged against the mattress. One hell of a headache thumped. Aiden only left because someone—my uncle?—had opened the door from above, which usually meant something was going on. I rolled onto my side, slowly stretching out.
Finally, Seth sighed.
I unfurled my fingers. The joints ached. He won’t stay gone for long.
We don’t need forever, Angel. We just need to figure out where you are. And then we’ll be together.
A faint smile curved my lips up. If I concentrated hard enough, I could feel my Seth at the end of the buzzing cord that was always present. Sometimes he hid himself from me, but not now.
My memory pulled together his image. His golden complexion and slightly arched brows formed in my thoughts. The strong curve of his jaw demanded to be touched, and the smug grin on his full lips spread. Gods, his face was unearthly beautiful—cold and hard as the marble statues that used to line the Covenant building.
But there... there were no more statues on Deity Island. There was nothing. Poseidon had ripped it all apart and pulled it back into the ocean. Buildings, statues, sand, and people—all of it gone.
I lost the image of my Seth.
Unease formed in the pit of my stomach. Aiden had been right earlier—sort of. Something about that whole situation bothered me, made me feel helpless, and I wasn’t helpless.
I was the Apollyon.
Go back to thinking about how good I look. I liked that.
Some things never changed. My Seth’s ego was as big as ever.
But my Seth’s image blossomed before me. His hair was curly around his temples and the color of spun gold. He reminded me of the paintings of Adonis. But Adonis wasn’t blond. Through the knowledge of the previous Apollyons, I knew his hair had been brown.
Where are you? I asked. Heading up north, Angel. Are you in the north? I sighed. I don’t know where I am. There are woods around me.
A creek. Not helpful. There was a pause, and I imagined the feel of his hand on my cheek,
tracing the curve of the bone. I shivered. I miss you, Angel. Those weeks when you were hidden from me drove me crazy.
I didn’t respond. I hadn’t missed my Seth. While I’d been under the influence of the Elixir, I hadn’t even known he existed.
Seth chuckled. You do wonders for my self-esteem. You’re supposed to say you missed me, too.
Rolling onto my back, I tried to work out the kink in my leg. What will it be like when I transfer my power to you?
There was a pause and I started to get nervous. It won’t hurt, his voice whispered. It will be like when we touched before, when the runes
appeared. You liked that.
There are a few words spoken, nothing huge, and then I will take your power. I won’t drain you, Alex. I’d never do that.
And I believed him, so I relaxed. What is the plan, Seth? You know what the plan is.
He wanted to take out the Olympian Twelve before they found a way to take us out. Legend said we were only vulnerable to another Apollyon, but neither of us was secure in that belief. Loopholes and lesser-known myths were something all the Apollyons had sought to discover. But once the gods were out of the picture, we would rule. Or Lucian would rule. I didn’t know or care. All I wanted was to be near my Seth. I was having a mad case of separation anxiety.
No. What's the plan so we can be together?
Seth’s approval washed over me like I’d just stepped out into the summer sun. I basked in it, like a good little puppy with a full tummy.
Eventually, they will show a weakness. They always do. Especially St. Delphi. You are his weakness.
I squirmed. I am.
And when you are presented with a chance to escape, take it. Don’t hold back, Angel. You’re the Apollyon. Once free, they can’t stop you. Trust that. And the moment you get an idea of where you are, I’ll be there.
I trusted my Seth.
There was that pleasant and heady fog again, invading me. Have you seen Apollo or any other god recently?
No. Not since I'd come out of the Elixir high, and that was odd. Apollo had been up my butt from the moment I’d Awakened, but I hadn’t felt or seen him—or any god.
I opened my eyes and stared at the bars. Would Hephaestus need to reinforce the bars soon? Gods, I hoped so. If they weakened, then so would the wards. Then I could get out.
Seth said something that caused my toes to curl so I would pay attention to him again. Where did you go?
I showed him the bars and my thoughts. He was doubtful. Hephaestus’ work rarely weakened, but I was hopeful... for a hot second.
This... this bond wasn’t the real deal. Even though my Seth was inside me, he really wasn’t here. I was alone—alone in a cell.
He’ll never let me out. Aiden will never let me near you. Tears burned my eyes as an endless gulf of hopelessness ripped open. I’ll never see my father.
Yes, you will. It doesn’t matter what he does. I will get to you. The gods say there can only be one of us, but they’re wrong. A strange coiling, and then relaxing, filled me. You’re mine, Alex—always have been and always will be. We were created for this.
Part of me warmed in response. And part of me, the source of the other voice whenever Aiden was around, tucked away and hidden from my Seth, recoiled as I fingered the crystal rose around my neck.