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Aiden nodded, but the tense line of his jaw said he wasn’t happy. “You want me to go with you?”

I laughed under my breath. “No. That’s not going to help.”

He grumbled something and then said louder, “You did well today, you know that?”

A wide smile crossed my face. “Yes, I do.”

Aiden chuckled. “Modesty?”

“Bah!” I started to turn, but stopped. “Hey, can we, like, chill tonight? Watch a movie with Olivia and the guys? Deacon and Luke?”

He nodded. “If that’s what you want.”

It was what I wanted. Tomorrow, when we left for New York, things would get, well, they would get real. And I wanted the night before to not be stressful.

With the exception of trying to convince Seth to transfer power, and hopefully, I wouldn’t turn into the Terminator Apollyon afterward.

That would ruin our movie plans.


I spun back to Aiden. “Yeah?”

“Be careful,” he said, swiping up his water bottle.


He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. I knew he was worried about what I was about to do, and I knew he wanted to be with me, but having Aiden and Seth in the same room wasn’t going to help.

Walking toward the door, I raised an eyebrow at the remaining pures. They shifted to the sides, allowing me to pass.

I stopped in the hallway, facing them. “Hi.”

The three pures exchanged surprised glances, but none of them spoke.

“Ah, you have nothing to say.” I popped my hands on my hips and rocked back on my heels. “I know it’s shocking to see a pure and a half together. And yes, we’re together in the biblical sense.”

Their eyes widened.

I smirked. “And seriously? That’s not a big deal. So, why don’t you three douche canoes go find something else to gawk at? Or, I don’t know…get a hobby. Or better yet, there’s this huge war that’s about to start. You guys could go figure how you could help instead of standing around like a bunch of bigoted ass-hats. Okay? Buh-bye.”

Spinning around, I left them staring at me for a much better reason than age-old prejudices.

Back in the day, if I were looking for Seth, I’d probably have found him in the girls’ dorms or somewhere where a lot of single females were mingling, but now? I wasn’t so sure. With the exception of his wild and crazy night in Vegas, I hadn’t seen him pay attention to anyone, really.

Troubled, I sighed.

All of us had changed so much in the last year. Sometimes I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in the mirror, and not in the physical sense. It had to be the same for Seth—probably even more so for him.

Using the freaky connection between us, I headed down the marble pathway leading beyond the high-rising dorms. The cord began to tighten as I rounded the last dorm and the cemetery came into view.

A shudder snaked down my spine.

Seth was in the cemetery.


Picking up my pace, I reached the titanium-encased gates quickly. Among the mausoleums and a statue of Thanatos, the red and purple hyacinths swayed softly in the breeze. They caught my attention for a few moments as I walked to the center of the cemetery. Under the peaceful gaze of the stone Thanatos, I scanned the tombs.

There he was.

Sitting on a stone bench, Seth’s back was to the path. He sat straight, his gaze focused on the olive trees. It was so weird seeing them here in South Dakota, but like the gardens, the cemeteries had a godly green thumb. But what was even weirder was seeing Seth out here. Hanging out in places where tombs were built to remember the dead wasn’t his thing.

“Are you following me?” His voice carried on the wind.

I made my way over to him and sat beside him. “Maybe.”

One side of his lips tipped up. “Did you come to gloat about taking out Perses?”

“No.” A tiny grin fought to make a way onto my lips. I lost. “Maybe a little.”

He chuckled. “Figured.”

“I did damn good.”

Casting me a sidelong glance, he arched a brow. “You did. I almost had him.”

“So did Aiden,” I reminded him. “‘Almost’ being the key word.”

“Whatever.” He turned back to staring at the trees. I wondered what was so interesting about the clusters of leaves.

“What are you doing out here?”

“It’s weird, right? To be hanging out here?” He bent forward, resting his arms on his thighs. “I don’t know. It’s quiet. I like to come out here and think.”

It was quiet, too quiet. Granted, we were sitting in a middle of cemetery. Not a very happening place. “What are you thinking about?”

He chuckled again, but the sound was weak and strangely hollow. “Like you really care.”

I blinked and opened my mouth. His tone was light, but there was a coating of frost to his words. “If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t ask. You of all people know that.”

Moments passed, and then a breath shuddered from him. “Do you know what I think about when it’s quiet, Alex? I think about all the bad things I’ve done.”

My breath caught in my chest like someone had punched me. I didn’t know what to say at first. What I had seen Seth do and what I knew he’d been a part of was enough to earn him a trip to Tartarus. Then there were the things I didn’t know about and really didn’t want to find out.

Shifting on the bench, I rubbed my hands over my sweats as a chill danced along my skin. It was cooler in this part of the campus, unnaturally so for the time of year. It seemed like forever passed before I spoke. “We’ve all done bad things.”

“Ah,” he said, scrubbing his hands down his face. A smile peeked through every few seconds, but when he finally dropped his hands, it was gone. “Have you ever killed an innocent person?”

Dropping my gaze, I shook my head. “No.”

“That’s the level of bad things I’ve done. Maybe you’ve kissed a boy you shouldn’t have. Maybe you acted out when you should’ve thought more clearly about something,” he replied. “Maybe you hurt someone’s feelings or did the wrong thing, but nothing you’ve done will ever touch what I’m responsible for.”

“I don’t know what to say,” I admitted quietly. “I can’t tell you that any of that is okay. You’d know I was lying. But Seth? You weren’t completely responsible for everything.”

“When an addict kills someone to get money for drugs, are they not responsible? Or is it the drug dealer’s fault?” When I didn’t answer, he laughed dryly. “Anyway, obviously I’m not thinking about those things right this second. You’re here. And I know there’s a reason for you being here other than stalking me.”

Now I felt kind of bad for why I had come looking for him. In spite of everything that Seth had done to others and to me, a part of me still cared for him and considered him a friend—and something more that could never quite be labeled. He needed someone to talk to. He needed someone to help him make things better. He needed someone who cared for him—cared for him more than I did.

Swallowing, I turned my gaze to the trees. I felt like an über-bitch for my next words. “I want to do the transfer of power now. That’s why I came here.” He was silent, but I could feel his eyes drilling holes through the side of my head. “I don’t want to wait until we get to the Catskills. We should do it now. Get it over with so we—”

“No.” Steel poured into that one word. “We wait until we’re about to face Ares. Not a moment sooner.”

I turned my head toward his. “Why not? And don’t you say ‘because I said so’.”

His lips twisted wryly. “Damn, there goes my only explanation.”

My eyes narrowed.

“We wait,” he said, his eyes narrowing too. “It’s not up for discussion.”

“How can you say it’s not up for discussion? You’re not the only person who has a say in this.”

“I’m the only person whose say matters,” he replied.

Pushing off the bench, I stood in front of him. “Oh, now you’re just pissing me off.”

Seth smiled. “So?”

“This isn’t funny, Seth. Why in the hell are you so adamant on waiting? I’m ready. You should be ready, too. This isn’t just about you, buddy.”

The infuriating smile remained fixed. “Like I said before, you have no idea what it’s like to be the First, how hard it is. So you can’t even imagine what it will be like when you become the God Killer.”

Anger flooded my system. “Oh, come off it, Seth! All you do is whine about how ‘terrible the need’ is and—”

In a nanosecond, Seth was in my face. He moved that fast, causing my heart to jump. I jerked back. Apollyon or not, he was the First, and when he moved like that, it didn’t create a happy feeling. “All I do is whine?” Anger flushed his cheeks, and his amber eyes glowed. “You have no idea, Alex. You’re just the Apollyon. That’s all you have to deal with.”

I stepped back, trying to rein in my own anger. “I have to deal with our connection and the stupid cord inside me spazzing out all the time.”

“Oh, you poor, little thing.” He took a step forward, and the marks seeped into his skin. He was not happy. Perhaps I didn’t know when to keep my mouth shut. “You have a cord to deal with while I have to deal with the fact that, every time I’m around you, all I can even think about is transferring the power.”

The anger coursing through my veins immediately switched to the acidic burn of unease. I sidestepped him and the bench, thinking space might be good about right now.

Seth advanced, following me back up the path. “Every fucking time, Alex. I’m the First. It’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s what I was built to do. So resisting that is bad enough, but after having had a taste of that power? Oh, you have no idea.”

My eyes widened. When Seth had pulled on my power to take out the Council and kill the furie, he’d tapped into just the tiniest bit of power that existed in the God Killer, and that tiny taste had been enough.

I swallowed hard as I stopped under the wing of a marble Thanatos. Seth?

“Don’t,” he spat, drawing in a deep breath. “I fight the need every single second of the day. I’m trying here, so I’m sorry that it comes across as whining.”

Widening my stance, I prepared myself just in case Seth went completely crazy. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that—”

“It doesn’t matter!”

His eyes flashed an intense shade of amber a second before sparks erupted from his bare arms. A bolt of intense light—akasha—flew out from him, smacking into the center of the statue.

Marble cracked like a whip of thunder. Stone splintered as I turned, sending chunks into the air. Throwing my arms up, I shielded my face as shards blasted through the air and dust thickened around me. Tiny chunks pelted my back and arms.