“Forgotten what?” he asked, those amber-colored eyes of his luminous in the fading sunlight.
Frustration pricked my skin as I took a step toward him. “Where have you been?”
“I told you where I was going.” He tilted his head. “I went back to Andros to check in—”
“With Basil,” I interrupted. “But that’s not all you did, is it?”
Seth opened his mouth, but he didn’t say anything. His eyes widened with realization. A moment passed. “Josie—?”
“I didn’t forget,” I reminded him, unfolding my arms as I drew in a short breath. “And I know checking in with Basil was not the only reason why you returned to Andros. I don’t know if you forgot that I saw you with her—”
“It’s not like that.” Seth was suddenly right in front of me. Barely an inch separated us. “When you saw me with Karina, I was—”
“You were recharging. I know.” I lifted my chin to meet his gaze since Seth was a good head taller than me. “I know you weren’t being romantic with her or anything else like that. That’s not what I’m talking about.”
His eyes searched mine. “You know I have to do that. If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t. I promise you that.”
“I know,” I repeated, and I did. When Seth became a god, he finally learned why he’d always struggled with the allure of aether. Aether was what fed the gods’ abilities and what made them immortal. It was why the Olympians stayed in Olympus. The place was surrounded in aether. But for Seth? He existed in the mortal realm. The only way he could get aether was by…by feeding just like the Titans did.
“And I wouldn’t have had to do it so soon, but after fighting Hyperion and dealing with the damn daimons crawling out of the ground, I needed to.”
It had only been two days since Seth had taken out Hyperion, but in those two days, he’d been busy. Hyperion’s death hadn’t just caused one tear in the mortal realm, allowing daimons to escape Tartarus. Just yesterday, an earthquake had rocked Oklahoma. The mortal world had no idea it wasn’t a normal earthquake. We had no idea why there’d been another tear, but we figured it had to do with how powerful Hyperion was. His death was having a continuous ripple effect.
But none of that was the point.
“You didn’t tell me the truth,” I said. “You could’ve told me the real reason why you went back there.”
Seth said nothing as he looked away. A muscle flexed along his jaw.
“I get that you have to do it, and I’ll be honest, I do not like that it has to be one of the priestesses, but I get it. You have to do it.” I stepped back, and Seth’s head swung in my direction. “But I don’t get why you’d lie to me.”
“I…I didn’t mean to lie to you.”
My brows lifted.
“Okay. I just hoped you wouldn’t think about what I was doing,” he corrected, and that wasn’t much better.
“Yes. Really.” He sighed, shoving a hand through his hair. “It’s not exactly something I’m proud of, Josie.”
“Why would you be ashamed? You have to do it. You’re a god—”
“But I know you don’t like it. I know it bothers you, because how could it not? That bastard fed off you until it almost killed you—killed our child. And you really want to know the exact moment I’m doing the same thing?”
“It’s not the same thing.” I moved to him, grasping his cheeks and forcing his gaze to mine. “What you’re doing is not the same thing Hyperion did, for a multitude of reasons. How can you think it’s the same thing?”
Seth’s jaw hardened. “So, you’re a hundred percent okay with me doing that? Doesn’t bother you at all?”
“Honestly? I wish it wasn’t Karina, who just has to be utterly gorgeous, that you have to get all up close and personal with, but other than that? No. It doesn’t bother me.” I dragged my thumb along the line of his jaw as the wind picked up, blowing a lock of his hair across his cheek. “I wish I could be the one who could give you what you need.”
“No.” Seth slipped free, putting space between us. “I will never use you for that. I will not risk you or our child by using you.”
“I’m not suggesting that,” I said, ignoring the way his gaze sharpened. “The only part of this that upsets me is that you’d try to hide it from me. That makes it feel like you’re doing something wrong. And it makes me feel like you don’t fully trust me.”
“Trust you? I trust you with my life, Josie. You’re the only person I trust.”
“But you don’t trust me enough to know that I wouldn’t judge you? That I wouldn’t understand what you have to do?” I reasoned. “You’re cutting me out of a huge part of your life that isn’t going to magically go away one day. I don’t want this to become some kind of dirty secret between us where we’re both pretending the other doesn’t know about it.”
I drew in a shallow breath. “We’re going to have a child, Seth. I don’t want anything to be between us. Not now. Not ever. I want us to be on the same page. Always.”
Seth lowered his hands to his sides. He was silent for a long moment, so long that I had no idea what he was thinking, but then he moved—moved too fast for me to track. In a heartbeat, he was with me, an arm around my waist and a hand at the base of my neck. I sucked in a sharp breath, and Seth caught it with a kiss.
My entire body jolted with surprise. This was no slow kiss. Oh no, this was deep and fierce and it scorched me straight to my core, to my very soul. My hands flattened against his shoulders, but I didn’t push him away. I slid my arms around his neck, and the arm at my waist tightened, drawing me flush with his body. The kiss short-circuited every one of my senses by the time he dragged his mouth away from mine.
Seth pressed his forehead against mine. “You’re right,” he said, his exhale shaky. “I should’ve told you what I was doing.”
“You should’ve,” I agreed, letting my fingers tangle in the soft hair tied back at the nape of his neck.
He ran his thumb along my cheek as he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper. “I don’t want anything between us. Starting now.”
“You weren’t joking when you said you wanted nothing between us starting now,” Josie said. “I didn’t realize you meant that so literally.”
“Was not joking at all.” The strand of hair curled around my hand wasn’t blonde or brunette. It was a stunning array of colors, from the palest blonde to spun gold. I had no idea how hair could naturally have that many shades in it.
“What are you doing?”
Dragging my gaze from the strangest and most beautiful hair I’d ever seen, I found myself staring down into bright, denim-blue eyes.
Pressure squeezed my chest as my gaze roamed over Josie’s face. Her cheeks were flushed pink, which probably had to do with the fact I’d stripped every piece of clothing off her moments before. Seeing all that pretty color to her cheeks almost made me forget about how pale she’d been in the weeks after being held by the Titan Hyperion. She’d been through hell, and there were things I knew she’d kept from me. Things she hadn’t shared because she was either not comfortable or because she was worried I’d set fire to half the Western Hemisphere in anger.
The latter was always a possibility.
I had been known to react first and then maybe, depending on my mood, ask questions later.
“You still mad at me?” I asked.
Her head shifted on the pillow. “If I was, I wouldn’t be lying here naked. You’re talented, but not that talented.”
I laughed. “I don’t know. I like to think I’m that skilled.”
“I’m sure you do.” Her eyes met mine. “When will you have to do it again? Recharge?”
My gaze flickered to her hair. I liked how she called it that instead of what it truly was. Feeding. Recharging sounded a lot…cleaner. “A couple of weeks. It all depends on if I have to go badass god on anything.”