“There’s only one option, then,” I said, drawing back so we were eye to eye. “We’ll make that true.”
Seth told me what he saw in Long Beach: the destruction and the death, the heartbreak he witnessed as people pulled their loved ones out of rubble. He knew the exact number of those he found who’d passed away.
Four of them were children.
My heart broke for them and it shattered for Seth, because this…this was a hard lesson to learn—a lesson that wouldn’t be forgotten for a long time.
Comforting someone who was basically responsible for an unnatural disaster wasn’t something I was particularly skilled at, but I quickly realized that all I needed to do was let him talk and just be there.
And I meant what I’d said to him earlier. I would do anything and everything to make sure that Seth saw that he was going to be the most wonderful father and that our child would never grow up to be ashamed of him or fear him.
When Seth finally fell asleep on the couch, I think it was more a case of passing out from exhaustion than anything else. So I curled up against him, my hand on his chest. I feel asleep that way, feeling his deep and even breaths.
I wasn’t sure how many hours had passed when I felt an arm snag me around the waist and tug me to the side. I ended up against a warm, hard chest, and I blinked my eyes open.
Thick, dusky lashes lifted and two amber-colored eyes met mine. “Hey,” he murmured.
Sleep clung to my thoughts as I realized we were in bed, lying on our sides, facing one another, and Seth’s hair was damp, his face free of dirt. “How did we get in bed?”
“I carried you in here a couple of hours ago. You’ve been dead asleep. Didn’t even wake when I got your shoes and jeans off. Or when I took a shower.” He tucked a strand of my hair back from my face. “Or when I got back in bed.”
“Really?” I yawned. “What time is it?”
“Pretty early.” His hand left my hair and he trailed the tips of his fingers over my brow. “Sorry to pass out on you on the couch.”
A different kind of smile played out on his lips. Not a bad one. More of a boyish one. “You’re lying.”
“Na-uh,” I murmured.
“That couch is about as comfortable as a two by four.” His finger skipped down the center of my nose. “Then again, I was there, so it was probably the best sleep you’ve ever had.”
I let out a sleepy laugh. “Your ego never fails to amaze me.”
His gaze searched mine as his finger found its way to my bottom lip. “You never fail to amaze me.”
“Why? Was I snoring again?”
He chuckled. “No. But the fact something so beautiful can sound like Chewbacca getting run over by a van is pretty amazing.”
“I do not sound like that.” The sleep was finally clearing from my thoughts. “You’re a liar-liar, pants on fire.”
Seth winked, and I rolled my eyes. “But I wasn’t talking about that. You just…you amaze me, Josie.”
A goofy grin tugged at my lips. “I do?”
“Yeah.” His finger dipped to my chin. “I just thought I’d let you know that.”
“Thank you.” Faint light tracked underneath the blinds, washing over the curve of Seth’s cheek. “How are you feeling this morning?”
There was a time that Seth probably would’ve shut down and not answered the question. Made some joke and laughed it off. He didn’t do that now.
“I’m okay,” he said. His lashes lowered as he dragged his finger down the center of my throat. “Thinking about things, about what I saw, but I’m…okay. You?”
“The same.” I placed my hand on his bare chest, and he jerked a little at my touch. I liked that, knowing that something as simple as me touching him had such an effect on him.
His gaze flickered over my face. “I owe you a thank you.”
My brow puckered. “For what?”
“For last night. For just being there and listening to me.” His finger skated around the edge of my collar. “You have no idea what that means to me.”
I think I knew how important it was. “I’m always going to be there for you. No matter what. I love you, Seth”
Those three little words had been so hard to speak before. There’d been a time when I didn’t have the courage to say them. Now I wanted to shout them from a rooftop like a goofball.
His eyes heated to a warm, tawny color. “Say it again,” he whispered, pleaded really.
My gaze met his and I said it again and then again, and I kept saying it until his mouth silenced me. His lips were gentle on mine, a sweet sweep that was at such odds with his enormous strength and power, and even though it was such a gentle touch of his mouth to mine, I felt it in every part of me. Seth kissed me softly as he lifted up just enough so that I could see him. He leaned back. Guiding my hand off his chest, he clasped his fingers around mine and drew our joined hands to his mouth. He kissed the center of my palm.
“I will never get tired of hearing that.” Lowering my hand back to his chest, to where his heart beat so strongly, he then folded his hand around the back of my neck. “And I’ll never stop feeling it. What I feel for you increases every waking moment and sometimes that scares the hell out of me, but I love you. Yesterday. Today. A thousand tomorrows from now, I will be in love with you.”
Warmth poured into me. Hearing those words was like basking in the sun, and Seth drove those words home with a kiss that went beyond the soft, gentle one we’d just shared. The way he kissed me was as if he was claiming me with the act, and I was claiming him in return.
What we felt for one another was said over and over again in every kiss and every touch. Somehow the blanket got pulled down and then Seth’s hands gripped my hips. He pulled me to him, pressing his body to mine. The loose sweats he wore proved to be a thin barrier between our bodies, and the minty taste of his kisses and the way his hard body felt against mine made me greedy.
I wanted more—wanted him so badly that not only every part of me ached, but the wanting went beyond the physical, deeper, etching into my skin, seeping through my bones and settling in my muscles.
It was crazy how intense all of this could still feel—as if it were our first time kissing one another, touching one another. Maybe that was what being in love did. I had nothing to compare it to, but I like to think that was why. It had to be, because each time was like this, like it was our first and it would be our last.
“Beautiful,” he said, voice thick as he trailed his fingers across the tip of one breast. I jerked as my heart jackhammered as his hand dipped, drifting over my stomach in a way that was reverent. His lashes lifted as his stare pierced me. “And I know in the upcoming months, you’re going to become even more beautiful.”
My heart swelled so fast and so big I thought I’d float right up to the ceiling. He meant that. There was no denying the truth in his words.
Then he was kissing me again, and these moments, those words he’d just spoken, were precious and powerful.
His lips skated over the curve of my jaw, toward my ear. A shiver danced over my skin as a heady flush followed, causing my muscles to tighten. “I know we have a busy day ahead of us.”
“We do,” I whispered back.
He kissed the corner of my lip as he drew back. “I know we need to get with the rest of them and talk about what happened here yesterday.”
I cleared my throat as I let my eyes drift shut. “Yeah.”
He started a line of tiny kisses that trailed from my chin down my throat and then further still. “And then we need to talk about this demigod.”
My fingers dug into the comforter when his mouth found his way to one of my breasts, stopped and then lingered, drawing a shuddering gasp from me.
Then his lips skimmed over my ribs, hitting a ticklish spot. “We need to get that demigod before the Titans do. If he’s anything like his father, we don’t want the Titans deciding he’s more valuable than being a battery pack for them.”
That was true. Especially if he was able to influence others to become violent. That was a useful talent for those with nefarious goals.