Page 17

Considering I’d just pulled a gun on Aiden, I wouldn’t say there was a “happily” in that equation right now, but his comment took me aback. I inched to the side and knelt down out of his reach. “Let’s be real with one another. You never loved me like that. You know that, right?”

Seth didn’t respond for a long moment, and then he tipped the side of head back against the bars and let out a weary sigh. “You’re right, but I never had the chance.”

Again, I was knocked off-guard by his candidness. Seth was like the king of vague and unhelpful responses, worse than a god most of the time. I stared at his profile for a long, tense minute; the words sort of just burst from my mouth like a dam breaking under pressure.

“I loved you. It’s not the same way I feel about Aiden, but I loved you, and you betrayed me. You sided with Lucian and practically held me hostage so that I would be forced to connect with you! And I still had hope for you. I still defended you. And then you turned me into Evil Alex and started a war alongside Ares! People have died, Seth.” My voice rose and cracked as my legs weakened. I sat down, my hands limp between my knees as I stared at him through the bars. “And not just recently. How far does all of this go back? To my mom? To the daimons that were at Deity Island and killed Caleb? To all of those who died at the Catskills? Were you and Lucian using daimons then? You were, weren’t you?”

There was another pause, and then his eyes opened. The bright amber glow startled me. “I’m sorry.”

My chest tightened with pressure. “People are dead. People I loved. People I’ve never met, and for what?”

“If I could go back and change it all, I would. I’d never take that post guarding Lucian,” he said quietly. “I would’ve gone AWOL if I’d known this was how it was going to play out, Alex.”

My mouth opened as I shook my head. This Seth—this regretful, apologetic creature—was not the Seth I knew. “Your personality disorder is starting to show.”

His lips tipped up in a wry grin. “Look who’s talking.”

“You have no idea,” I muttered, and then louder, “Where did all of this go wrong, Seth?”

“When I was born.”

My shoulders tensed. “That’s not true, Seth.”

“Actually, it is. You were supposed to be the First, Alex. All the Apollyons came from Apollo. I was created for this—for what Ares wanted. It was the same with Solaris and the First. So, yes, it’s true. Everything went wrong at that moment.” He laughed, but it was like all my laughs after Ares. There was no warmth behind it. “Hell, things went wrong hundreds of years ago when Ares decided he wanted to rule the world.”

“No,” I said, swallowing. “You’ve always done what you wanted, Seth. And you didn’t know about any of this when we met. You made these decisions. You went—”

“Have you ever tasted aether, Alex?” He flipped around so quickly that my heart thumped. Facing me, Seth gripped the bars until his knuckles bleached. “Not like how a daimon feeds, but to have so much aether in you that you could do anything you wanted and feel everything you never could before? Did you know that it feels like lightning in your blood? Have you experienced the taste of supreme and ultimate power? Have you?”

I shook my head slowly.

“Sure, Lucian promised me a lot of things, and so did Ares when I met him in the Catskills, but those promises were nothing in comparison to what it felt like once you had Awakened. It was like tapping into pure power.” A feverish glint brightened his eyes as they latched onto mine. “After that, I didn’t need their promises, because I knew—I knew I could get whatever I wanted, I had the power to do so. And that power…” He let go of the bars and rocked back. “There’s nothing like it, Alex. I became addicted to it, and it blinded me to everything else. It was my weakness. It is my weakness.”

I didn’t say anything to that, because a part of me had always known the power wasn’t his strength.

“You have no idea how hard it is to even be near you right now. The connection calls to me—your aether, everything.” He shot forward, wrapping his fingers around the bars once more. “It’s all I think about, and if I did manage to transfer your power to me, I don’t think even Ares could control me. It would all be over.”

I lowered my gaze. “You’re better than that.”

“I’m not, and you know that, so cut that shit out.” He laughed that cold laugh again. “But you are.”

“I’m not better than you.”

“You are,” he insisted quietly. He shifted, and I looked up. His forehead was resting against the bars. A haunted look crept into his face. “You are.”

The back of my eyes burned. “In case you don’t remember, I shot a man in the head earlier just because I wanted to.”

“He deserved it.”

I flinched. “I didn’t feel a damn thing, Seth. Not an ounce of remorse or regret. Nothing. That’s…that’s not right.”

“He deserved it, Alex. You have no idea what he was doing, what he abused with his power.” Our gazes locked, and he took a deep breath. “But I never wanted to see you do something like that. Maybe I did before, but after what Ares did to you? After seeing what I’ve done to you? I don’t want any of this. I want it to be over, and the only way we can finish this is if you take on the power of the First. You need to become the God Killer.”

I gaped at him. There was no way he knew our plans.

“It’s the only way to stop Ares, Alex.” His throat worked as he swallowed heavily. “And I can’t do it. If I take on that power, I can’t promise what I’d do. It has to be you, and I know it can be done. You have to—”

“I know,” I cut him off as I scooted forward. “I know how to do it, Seth, but…”

His lips parted. “But you can’t do it until it’s damn close to time—until we are face-to-face with that son of a bitch, because the longer the power is in you, the crazier you get. Trust me.”

“I’m already crazy,” I whispered.


I repeated myself, and I don’t know what made me admit what I said next. Maybe because, in a way, Seth and I were the same person whether I trusted him or not. “I’m not the right person to be doing any of this. There’s something wrong with me. Ever since I fought Ares, I haven’t been right. I don’t feel things the way I used to. I don’t feel anything half of the time. I froze in a fight, and I mean really froze. I thought I saw Ares earlier and pulled a gun on Aiden.”

His brows rose. “What’s wrong with the last part?”

My shoulders slumped.

“Hey, I’m kidding. And I’m also curious why you’d do that. The sun rises and sets out of Aiden’s ass, according to you.”

Nice imagery. “I thought…I thought he was Ares.”

“Like you saw Ares in place of him?”

I nodded numbly. “I don’t know if I can do any of this, and then there’s also this chance I could be…” I trailed off before I said too much and totally let my guard down.

“You could be what?” he asked. When I didn’t answer, he turned sideways and settled down next to the bars. What, Alex?

Having him switch to talking that way was always unnerving. I don’t know. I think…Aiden thinks I’m… I shook my head. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything.

Seth stared at me so long I started to worry that he could read my thoughts. Then his eyes widened slightly. Are you…? A strangled sound came from his throat. “I can’t even think it. Are you pregnant?”

Unable to confirm or deny, I said nothing, and that must’ve been answer enough because Seth swore under his breath. Squeezing my eyes shut, I dropped my head into my hands. My fingers curled into my hair, and the thin, raised scars on my face felt rough against my palms.

Alex? His voice was a thready whisper, and then out loud, he said, “I’m sorry, Alex, for everything I had a part in.”

I shook my head without lifting it or removing my hands. I was unsure of why he’d apologize after that. It wasn’t like he had anything to do with my potential babymaking shenanigans with Aiden. That was all us.

We sat like that for a few minutes, neither of us speaking. I searched inside of me for…for something more than a twinge of sadness, an emotion beyond anger and confusion, anything more substantial than vast emptiness.

There was nothing.

Seth’s sigh shuttled through my thoughts. “I saw your father, Alex.”


I didn’t think I heard Seth right at first.

Slowly, I lifted my head and locked my gaze with his. “What?”

“I saw your father when I was at the Catskills,” he repeated quietly. “Not before you Awakened. I didn’t see him when I was there at that time, but when we arrived about a month ago, he was there—is still there.”

My mouth worked, but there was no sound. I scooted forward, coming closer to Seth than I probably should have. I drew in a breath, but it got stuck. “Did you…how is he?”

“I didn’t talk with him, Alex, but he’s there with the other servants. The Elixir isn’t working, and he seems to be keeping them safe. He can’t leave. None of them can with Ares there.” He paused, and my heart dropped. “He appears to be okay, but Ares knows who he is, Alex.”

I stared at him as those words sunk in. “But he’s okay for now?”

For now. Seth reaffirmed silently.

Closing my eyes, I squirmed under the sudden pressure in my throat. And Ares knows he’s my father?


“Does he have any plans to use him against me?” I asked, already knowing and fearing the answer.

“I would like to give you the answer that would make it better.” There was a pause, and then I felt his fingers graze my arm. Electricity passed from his skin to mine, and my head jerked up. I backed out of his reach, watching the marks of the Apollyon glide up his arm and onto his neck. Seth pulled his arm back through the bars. “He will use any means necessary, Alex. He can’t get to you right now, but the moment he can, he will dangle your father in front of you.”

I looked away, pressing my mouth closed until my jaw ached with the effort. I knew I wasn’t feeling everything I should be considering how much danger my father was in. I let out a ragged breath. “It’s not just me he’s going to come at. It’s you, too.”

“I know.” Seth laughed dryly, and my gaze fell back to him. “But what does he have to hold over my head other than you?”

And I got it then. Once Ares realized Seth was batting for the opposite side, he’d force Seth’s hand by forcing mine, and he’d use my father and everyone I cared about to make that happen.

“Shit’s bleak, isn’t it?” Seth said.

I huffed. “You have no idea.”