I didn’t want to ask the question crawling up my throat, but I had to. “Did I…did I do this? By killing Hyperion?”

Zeus was quiet for a moment and then he looked at me. “Would knowing that his death would trigger this change the course of your actions?”

Gods, I wanted to say yes—that if I’d known this would happen, I would’ve done something different, but I couldn’t say that. Not honestly, because I didn’t know. Because how could I regret killing the creature who’d tortured Josie, nearly killing her? How could I live with myself allowing him to breathe?

How could I live with myself after this?

“The ramifications of Hyperion’s death are vast, and the mortal realm has yet to see all of them, but his death did not cause this. Not directly.” A tinge of sorrow filled his tone, and I looked at him sharply. “This was Tethys. Her response to the death of her lover. Well, one of her lovers. I do believe she is still technically married to Oceanus.”

My brows lifted.

“In a fit of anger, she caused a massive tsunami. The loss of life is…substantial.” Zeus shuddered. “She would not have retaliated in such a manner if Hyperion had not been killed.”

My throat thickened. “You really think she wouldn’t have done this if he’d been entombed?”

“That I cannot answer. Perhaps she would’ve, but does the what-if matter in the end? You killed Hyperion, causing other damage and death, and she responded as such, destroying entire cities all up and down the coast.”

Pressure clamped down on my chest. I didn’t want to see this. I wanted to say something smartass. I wanted to show Zeus that I wasn’t affected, but that would be a lie.

My insides were torn up, in shreds.

Because even if my actions hadn’t directly led to this, they had indirectly caused this.

“We’ve all made mistakes—mistakes that have laid waste to entire civilizations. Mistakes that have destroyed countless lives. You are a new god, the start of a new era,” he said, and I turned to him, almost against my will. “And you’re already beginning to learn the hard way. You do not need to follow in our footsteps. I would think you of all people would want to avoid that.” Zeus’s voice was quiet. “You have a lot of reasons to be angry. I get it. Your mother was a cold, heartless woman. Your father a man you never got the chance to know. You were used as a tool in a war you did not know was brewing, and you struggle with countless decisions, but you cannot let your emotions rule you. Not anymore.”

I was…I was utterly dumbfounded.

I knew that one day I would come face to face with Zeus again. Probably after we defeated the Titans. I’d figured he’d try to take me out because I was a threat to him and the rest of the Olympians, just like the Titans were.

I didn’t ever expect him to be standing here, giving me…advice. This was perhaps stranger than seeing a hydra.

“Why?” I asked, genuinely curious. “Why are we having this conversation?”

“Instead of trying to fight you?” He finished my unspoken thought. “Because we need to work together. Neither of us needs to be looking over our shoulders when we should be focusing on the Titans. We cannot have anything like this happen again. But there should be a more personal reason for you to want to be better than me and my offspring.”

Tension crept into my shoulders.

Zeus looked away, onto the devastation. “Is this the kind of world you want your child to be brought into?”

~

Josie

Cora and Gable had disappeared with Deacon after he dropped the whole “the last demigod may be Ares’s son” bomb. He’d left only after I promised to meet up with him later to discuss all baby-shower-related issues. I hadn’t the heart to tell him it was way too soon to be discussing any of that. I guessed they were doing the tour of the campus.

Shortly after they left, Colin showed up, and he eventually perched himself on the arm of the chair across from the couch. The first time I met Colin, I hadn’t actually spoken to him. He’d been there when that poor half-blood had been killed by a pure. Later, Colin had sought to protect me, before he knew I was a demigod, and he’d been there as a really good friend when Seth had broken things off with me. And he was still here even though he knew that Seth was not a fan of his.

Probably didn’t help that Colin was nice to look at. His blue eyes were a striking contrast to his dark hair, and he had classic good looks. “So, you guys really think that demigod is Ares’s son?” Colin asked as he slowly shook his head. He’d been filled in on everything. “Man, that’s going to be rough.”

As terrible as it sounded, I was glad that we all had something to talk about and focus on instead of my pregnancy. I just wished it wasn’t something as messed up as this.

“Rough?” Alex laughed softly. Back to sitting on the couch, she rubbed the nape of her neck. “I know it shouldn’t matter. This guy’s not responsible for anything his father did. Hell, he doesn’t even know he’s a demigod or who his dad was, but…”

“I get it.” I glanced over at Luke as he handed me a bottle of water. “It’s not like you’d blame him for what Ares did, but it’s still going to be hard. I mean, I think anyone can understand that.”

Colin nodded in agreement.

“Yeah.” Dropping her hands, she lifted her head. “I just wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know why. I just wasn’t, because gods, that is messed up.” She exhaled heavily. “I mean, really? Can we not catch a break here?”

“But you need to deal and I know you can,” Luke said as I took a drink of my water. “You’ve dealt with crazier stuff, and if this guy is going to be anything like Cora, we don’t need to freak him out.”

“You mean, freak him out any more than you’re going to by showing up and explaining that he’s the demigod son of the worst god ever?” Colin asked.

I smiled at that. “Probably be best to leave out the whole ‘your father was a psychotic god who nearly ended the whole world’ part. Not sure if it’s worth telling him what his father did, at least right off the bat.”

“Agreed.” Alex smacked her hands down on her knees. “Then again, maybe we’ll get lucky and he’s not Ares’s son. The fighting could be co—”

The door to the room swung open, and a very tall pure-blood strolled in. Aiden. I shifted on the couch, expecting to see Seth behind him, but the door swung shut behind Aiden.

That was…weird.

No Seth.

Before I had a chance to question where Seth was, Alex shot to her feet. “You! Oh, you have a lot of explaining to do.”

Aiden stood in the center of the room. “I just saw Zeus.”

Boy, did that stop Alex right in her tracks, stopped all of us.

“What?” she asked.

Colin’s brows knitted as he looked over at me. “Did he just say Zeus?”

“I did.” Aiden blinked slowly, like he was coming out of a daze. “I saw Zeus, and I saw a hydra.”

Now I was questioning my hearing. I had to have heard him wrong. Zeus? Like the Zeus? And a hydra? The several-headed snake thing?

Colin’s mouth opened, but he didn’t say anything.

“What?” Alex shrieked, snapping forward. She smacked Aiden’s arm. Hard, too. The sound reverberated through the room, causing my eyes to widen. “You saw a hydra, and you left me here? I am so mad at you. So mad.”

“Sorry,” Aiden chuckled, catching Alex’s hand and holding it to his chest. “Heading out to deal with the daimons in L.A. was a spur of the moment thing.”

Alex tugged her hand, but Aiden didn’t let go. “You had time to get me. So much time. I’ve never seen a hydra!”

“A hydra?” Luke was frozen on the edge of the couch, his eyes wide. “How in the world did you see a hydra?”

“It crawled right out of the ground, just like the daimons had, but it wasn’t burnt up or anything like that, and it was definitely not a friendly hydra.” Pulling Alex to his chest, he wrapped his arms around her. Probably to stop her from hitting him again. “We learned pretty quickly that not even Seth could kill it with a god bolt. We had to chop that sucker up.”

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