It didn’t happen.

A knock on the door drew my attention. Placing the dagger on the dresser, I went to the door. It was Alex. There were shadows under her puffy eyes.

“Hey,” she said, and then she sprung forward, throwing her arms around me. She hugged me tight. “I’m so sorry, Josie. Gods, I’m so sorry.”

I think I murmured something, but I have no idea what I said. When Alex pulled back, I had to look away from the fresh tears in her eyes. I wasn’t the only person experiencing the grief tearing me apart inside. Alex had known Seth longer than me. The two of them had a weird history, but they were like two sides of the same coin.

“I don’t know what to say.” She stepped back.

Pressing my lips together, I shook my head. A moment passed before I could trust myself to speak. “I don’t think there’s anything anyone can say.” My voice sounded hoarse and unused. “There’s a god here.”

Alex wiped at her cheek as she nodded and cleared her throat. “Yes. He’s waiting in our room.”

Tension crept into my muscles as I faced her. “It’s my father?”

“Yes.”

Drawing in a shuddering breath, I turned away. “I guess we shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

“Josie…”

“It’s okay.” I started walking toward their room.

She caught up to me easily. “But it’s not okay.”

I closed my eyes, stopping. It took a second to respond. “I know. It’s not. It’s far from okay, but I have to be right now.”

When I opened my eyes, she was staring at the floor. “All right,” she said finally. “Let’s go.”

I wasn’t ready to see anyone, especially my father. I was furious just thinking about him, but I was mostly just hurt. So damn hurt. Some of it was irrational. He hadn’t been able to stop this? To suggest something better? Then there was the fact I suspected that he’d known how this would end with Seth. He’d known all along.

Alex opened the door and the first person I saw was Aiden. His silvery gaze was somber as it landed on me. He didn’t say anything as he came forward. His hug was nearly as tight as Alex’s, and when he let go, he cupped the sides of my face, holding my gaze to his.

“He loved you and this child in the purest and most powerful way.” He caught a tear that had snuck free, wiping it away with his thumb. “And you made him into a person capable of that kind of love. Don’t forget that.”

My lip trembled as I swallowed down the knot in my throat. “I won’t.”

Aiden bent his head and kissed my forehead. Luke was there the moment he stepped back, folding his arms around me. He said something to me, but I couldn’t hear it over my pounding heart. I scanned the room as he stepped back, my gaze connecting with eyes identical to mine.

Apollo stood in the corner.

I slipped free from Luke, unable to look away from my father.

He didn’t move as he met my gaze. “I know I am the last person you want to see and what I’m about to say doesn’t change what you’ve gone through, but I am truly sorry for the pain you’re feeling.”

I opened my mouth, but I didn’t have the words. Actually, I did, but if I spoke them, I would scream them—I would scream until my lungs caved in. I couldn’t afford that right now.

Not when I knew why Apollo was here.

Dragging my gaze from his, I watched Luke sit next to a quiet Deacon. “Have you got the—whatever they’re called? The giants?”

“Not yet,” Apollo answered. “But that’s why I’m here. I want to let you know that we will defeat the Titans. By the time the sun sets tonight, they will be entombed.”

All that was good to know… Wait. “I’m going with you guys.”

Apollo opened his mouth. “I don’t think—”

“What you think really doesn’t matter,” I said, my tone harsh—harsher than I even wanted it, but I wasn’t in the mood to be told what to do by anyone. “I am going.”

Deacon shifted forward. “Are you sure you are ready for something like this?”

Valid question, since he’d spent the better part of the day lying on the floor with me. “I have to see this through.”

Alex and Aiden exchanged a look and I knew they were gearing up for a discussion listing all the logical reasons why I should stay behind.

“You don’t understand. I need to see this through.” I curled my hands into fists as I looked around the room. “I need to see what Seth gave his life for.”

“Okay,” Alex said not even a second after I finished speaking. “You’re going.”

Apollo’s gaze shot to her.

“Don’t even argue with me,” Alex snapped. “Josie needs to go, and she’s going to go.”

He looked away, jaw hard.

“We can hold off, though. This can wait until you’re ready,” Aiden offered. “We don’t have to do this right now.”

“But there are probably still pures alive in that community. The longer we wait, the more likely it is they won’t survive this. The Titans probably aren’t expecting us to return so quickly. If anything, they’d been expecting…Seth, and not us.” I forced myself to breathe through the pain centering in my chest. “The longer we wait, there’s a chance they could find out what Seth has done and prepare.”

“Is that a possibility?” Aiden asked of Apollo.

His bright blue eyes fixed on mine. “Anything is possible.”

That wasn’t true.

If anything was possible, Seth would be standing here with me. He wouldn’t be—

I cut those thoughts off with a shake of my head and squared my shoulders. “Let’s get this done.”

Apollo lowered his chin. “Do you have the dagger?”

“It’s in my room.”

His gaze lifted to mine. “We’re going to need it.”

~

If I was being honest with myself, I needed this distraction. Not that it wasn’t about the pures who could still be alive in the community. I wanted to get this over with because of them, but I also…I needed this.

I needed to see this through.

We arrived just inside the gates, the five of us. Deacon stayed behind to keep an eye on the other demigods.

The first thing I noticed was how eerily quiet the community was. Looking behind me, I saw the tall stone gate and I could hear the distant sounds of traffic and life, but in here?

It was like a grave.

“Was it like this before?” I asked.

Aiden nodded and started walking. “Yes. But there were shades here before. We need to be careful.”

Luke and Alex flanked both of my sides as we walked past the empty playground and turned onto what I was guessing was the main street. It wasn’t like Seth had told me.

The streets had been cleared. No abandoned cars or bodies.

And there were definitely people here.

They sat on the outdoor patios and at the dining tables, and lounged on the corners of the streets. Dozens of people.

And I used the term “people” loosely.

I breathed in deeply, stomach churning at the distinctive musky scent that saturated the air.

They all turned at the same exact moment, their eyes like pools of oil.

Alex unsheathed her daggers. “I’m guessing it wasn’t quite like this last time.”

“No.” Aiden did the same.

I clutched the dagger Zeus had given Seth while Luke palmed a Glock.

“So, when are we going to summon these giant people?” Luke asked under his breath as the shades stood and faced us.

“Soon,” Apollo murmured.

I was hoping soon was really soon, because these shades were giving me the creeps. They were all just standing there, staring, and the silence became deafening.

One of the shades, who must’ve been a middle-aged pure-blood, moved. He stepped off the sidewalk. Luke’s thumb glided over the handgrip of the Glock.

The man cocked his head to the side and then he took off, running straight at us at an inhuman speed. I started to lift my free hand, prepared to tap into akasha, but Apollo snapped his fingers.

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