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A deep, rich laugh rumbled up from his chest. “Good gods, you’re right.”

I started to smile, but then reality smacked me upside the head and that little wisp of happiness was extinguished. “I can’t be pregnant, Aiden.”


“You don’t understand.” I pulled back and slid off his lap, scooting toward the head of the bed. I sighed as I tucked my knees close to my chest. “It’s not like I’m denying the way that male and female bodies work, but we haven’t done that since Ares came, and there’s no way, if I was pregnant, a baby could’ve survived the fight.”

The silver flare dulled a little. “I hadn’t even thought of that. Oh gods,” he said, rubbing his jaw. “How could I not have thought of that? It would be…” He shook his head, jaw locking down.

I didn’t know what to say to that, because the chance that I was pregnant would be so insanely slim. An ache pierced my chest. When his eyes dulled, so did the brimming excitement that had been in them. I hated to take that from him.

Aiden moved so that he was stretched onto his side, then patted the spot beside him. Biting my lip, I wiggled down so I was lying beside him. Neither of us said anything, because I don’t think either of us knew what to say. At some point, Aiden turned off the light beside the bed and then settled back beside me.

Long after I’d believed Aiden had fallen asleep, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and did something that felt incredibly insane.

I placed my hands on my lower belly.

My heart jumped in my chest even though my stomach didn’t feel any different. Could I be pregnant and it—no, not it. It was a baby. It was Aiden’s baby. Could our baby have survived the fight with Ares? Crazier things had happened. And in my life, I could almost expect that the impossible could and would happen. So even though I shot it down, there was a chance. I recognized that. I just didn’t know what to think or do.

In the darkness, Aiden placed his hand over where mine rested on my stomach, and it stayed that way through the night.


Aiden left in the morning to scrounge up some breakfast. I offered to go with him, but he insisted I stay in bed and get some more rest. Nightmares had plagued me most of the night. Daimons breaking through the walls. Ares finding a way in past the wards. Loved ones dying all around me. My constant tossing and turning had kept Aiden up most of the night, but it was more than that. In the back of my head, I knew why Aiden had wanted me to stay. There was still a part of him that believed I could be pregnant. Hell, there was a small part of me that wondered the same thing.

Every time I thought there might be a chance, my stomach dropped and my heart jumped. I couldn’t focus on that today, but it was the only thing I really thought of as I took a quick shower and got changed.

I caught sight of my reflection in the foggy mirror and winced. Even wet, my hair hung in way too many lengths. I needed to do something about it. Heading into the small kitchen and living room area joining the two dorm rooms together, I found a pair of scissors. Immediately, I remembered holding them before, after Caleb had died.

You should cut your hair.

Romvi/Ares had said that to me, and in my despair over losing my best friend, I had tried to cut my hair. Weird reaction then, but now?

I stared at the scissors, feeling a lump grow in my throat. Seth had stopped me. He’d been there for me the whole time after Caleb’s death, and even when I’d taken all my hurt and anger out on him, he’d remained by my side. We’d been two sides of the same coin, and if it hadn’t been for him, the depression and self-loathing would’ve dragged me down.

What happened to you, Seth? I asked, but there was no answer through our connection. Nothing but the soft hum of the cord, and it really didn’t matter what had happened. Everything that he’d done overshadowed the good things. And he was on Team Ares, and after what Ares had done to me I couldn’t forgive Seth for that choice.

Sighing heavily, I left my room and headed across the hall to knock on Olivia’s door. “Hey,” she said as she opened the door, but her smile faded a bit when she glanced down and saw the sharp instrument in my hand. She didn’t take a step back, but the look on her face said she wanted to. “What’s up?”

“I was hoping you could do something with my hair before the meeting today.” I started to wave the scissors but decided I’d look pretty psychotic doing so. “I kind of don’t want to look like a weed whacker got hold of my head before meeting a bunch of people.”

Her smile returned, lighting up her brown eyes. “Sure! I can do something.” She took the scissors with deft fingers. “I’m actually glad you came to me because I wanted to offer, but I figured that would be kind of rude.”

“It wouldn’t have been. I know my hair is jacked up.” I followed her into her dorm. “Thank you, though.”

“No biggie. Come into the bathroom.” Olivia had me sit on the rim of the bathtub, feet inside. She draped a towel around my shoulders and then picked up a comb. We were silent as she combed the tangles out, and then she finally said, “Yesterday was crazy, wasn’t it? I’ve never seen anything like those birds. And all of those daimons?”

“I know. You and Luke were awesome, though.” I stared at a bottle of shampoo as Olivia made a couple more soothing strokes with the comb. “Artemis said they’d been led there by Ares.”

“I cannot believe a god would stoop to using daimons. There is something so inherently wrong with that.” She picked up the scissors. “Keep still, okay?”

Sitting still was not my forte, but I tried. “Seth and Lucian were doing the same thing.”

Olivia’s hand stilled over my head. “I remember you saying that. I…I just don’t understand any of this. I get that Ares wants war. Duh, he’s the god of war. He thrives on this stuff. And Lucian? Power-hungry pure-blood? Check. But Seth? I don’t get it. I don’t know what they could be offering him that would make him do this stuff.”

“Everything. He thinks he’s going to get everything.”

Scissors snipped. “You?”

“I don’t think it has anything to do with me, not like that.” I wanted to move, but I also didn’t want my hair to end up being more uneven. “I’m just a…means to an end.”

Olivia was quiet for a few moments as she maneuvered the scissors above my shoulder blades. “You know him better than I do. Seth always freaked me out, but I just never thought we would end up here. I never could have imagined any of this.”

I don’t think any of us ever thought this would be where we’d be sitting with the entire world on the verge of collapse.

“Are you nervous about today?” she asked, running the comb through my hair again.

“Yeah, a little. I mean, I have no idea what to say. I’m not the rah-rah kind of leader, and I’m not…very motivational.”

“Just tell the truth.” The scissors were back, and I sighed. “If Ares gets control of the God Killer and goes after Olympus, the gods will destroy everything in their path to stop him, including every pure and half out there.”

“And if he manages to enslave mankind, pures will be next on his list.” I frowned. “The whole thing sucks.”

Olivia laughed softly. “That would be the understatement of the year.”


She finished up the impromptu haircut, and I took a deep breath before I stood and checked myself out. “Wow.” I leaned back, surprised. “It actually looks good.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “Did you think I would do badly?”

I shrugged.

“And you still came to me?” She shook her head as she backed out of the bathroom. “You’ve must’ve been desperate. Luckily, the shortest lengths were in the front, so it kind of blends in with the cut. You’ll be able to pull it back and whatnot.”

While my hair used to reach the middle of my back, it now rested on my shoulders, and without all the weight it was wavier than before. I actually felt sort of normal again. I smiled tentatively as I left the bathroom. “You did a really great job. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad I could do something.” She patted the spot beside her on the bed. “Chill with me.”

I shuffled over to her, sitting down. I thought about how Caleb had asked me not to tell Olivia anything about him and his life in the Underworld. It wasn’t fair, because I knew Olivia still cared for him deeply, but Caleb wanted her to move on. It made it difficult, though, not being honest with her.

Olivia reached over, running her fingers over the back of my knuckles. “Does it still hurt?” she asked, looking up.

I fought the urge to pull my hand away. “It doesn’t really ache today.”

She sucked her lower lip between her teeth and slowly pulled her hand away. “I’m sorry.”

My brows shot up. “For what?”

“For what happened to you,” she said, clasping her slim hands together. “I didn’t see you. Not until Apollo brought you back, but the way Aiden and your uncle were afterward. They were so…” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, I’m sorry.”

I didn’t know what to say at first, but then the words sort of blurted out. “I look that bad, don’t I?”

“What?” Her eyes widened as she twisted toward me. “I didn’t mean it like that! Oh my gods, I’m such a douche. I didn’t even think before I said that. You don’t look bad, Alex. The scars are so faint and I’m sure—”

“It’s okay, Olivia. Honestly, it’s the last thing I should even be thinking about.” Especially considering what Aiden and I discussed last night and what might lie ahead. The urge to tell her about what could be a possibility hit me hard, but I really didn’t know how to branch out into that conversation. “And I hate thinking about it because it makes me feel so shallow. Like, not even the acceptable level of shallowness.”

“It’s not shallow.” She nudged me with her knee. “You’re a girl. We’re going to worry about stupid stuff like this. And if anyone says you’re shallow for worrying about it, let’s cut up their face and see what they think afterward.”

I coughed out a dry laugh. “Wow.”

“I’m serious.” She winked. “So—” A knock on the door cut her off. She jumped up. “If it’s Deacon, I’m going to body-slam him. He woke me up in the middle of the night because he couldn’t sleep and Luke was out on the wall.” She stopped at the door, twisting to me. “He made me put his hair into braids. And I mean those little tiny braids, and then he made me take them out.”

A laugh bubbled up my throat. “Deacon is so bizarre.”

“No joke.” She reached for the door. “I swear to the gods, I could—oh! Not the annoying brother.”

I looked up, spying a confused-looking Aiden, and I grinned.