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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 12

“Josie!” Deacon yelled.

“Go,” I demanded, breathing heavy. “Dammit, Deacon. Get the hell out of here!”

“Now don’t listen to her and ruin all my fun,” Hyperion taunted.

I stepped back, forcing Deacon backward as the wall of flames around Alex and Aiden dropped. Alex was on her feet, cradling her arm. Aiden’s gunmetal-gray eyes widened when he saw his brother.

I couldn’t let Hyperion get to him—get to any of them.

Pushing off my back leg, I spun out, preparing to deliver a viscous kick. Hyperion swung out his arm, catching me around the waist. I shouted as he lifted me. My arms flailed as he slammed me into the ground. The impact rattled every bone in my body.

Hyperion grabbed a fistful of my hair. Shouting as he lifted me up, my hands grabbed at his as fiery pain erupted over my scalp. My feet left the ground, and I was suddenly eye to eye with Hyperion.

“I have spent days and weeks and months fantasizing about what I’m going to do to you.” His was voice was soft, but the words hit me like a sledgehammer. “I cannot wait to get started.”

I drew in a short breath.

Then I was flying backwards, and I didn’t have the chance to brace for impact. Hitting the ground, I gasped as the air was knocked out of my lungs. Stunned, I couldn’t move for several seconds. Holy crap. I had to dig deep, summoning akasha as I started to lift myself up, but I couldn’t find the strength. All I had was instinct, a drive to survive. I put one hand in front of the other and moved my knees. I crawled—crawled along the dusty ground, fingers digging through thin blades of grass.

Get up. Get up. Get up.

Lightning struck across the sky, filling the air with electricity. Dumbly, I watched the sky rip right open. Wings—all I saw were wings. Wings that spanned eight feet, attached to long, lean bodies. They circled at dizzying speeds. Screams—screams of fury ripped through the air, raising the hairs all along my body.

“Furies!” someone shouted. Maybe Aiden?

Erin. Erin!

Backup was here. Finally. All I needed to do was to get up. Just get—

Pain exploded along the side of my ribs as I was flipped over. My back hit the hard dirt as the air wheezed out of my lungs.

Hyperion loomed over me. “Time for us to go.”

I opened my mouth, but another burst of pain robbed me of breath and sight, and then there was nothing but darkness.

~

A shiver woke me.

The first thing I became aware of was the fact I was lying on my side and there was a hard, damp floor under me. It was cold, too cold. Blinking my eyes open, I bit back a moan. I could barely see anything as I gingerly lifted myself up, planting one hand on what turned out to be a cement floor.

Where in the world was I? Where was everyone? The furies?

Moving a hand to my wrist, I jerked my fingers back when a faint shock traveled up my arms. There was something wrapped around my wrists. Bracelets—thin bracelets.

They most definitely hadn’t been there before, and I had a bad feeling about them—about all of this.

My ribs hurt as I sat up. The steady throbbing in my temples caused my head to swim as my eyes slowly adjusted. There was a small window high up. Dust danced in the faint light that trickled in. Taking small breaths, I lowered my gaze along the wet cement walls. A dank, musty scent filled my nostrils, reminding me of how the shades from the Underworld had smelled.

I shivered again.

Turning slightly, I bit down on my lip as my body protested the movement, and then gasped. I wasn’t alone.

There were two people in the room with me. Both were lying on their sides. One was female. Dirty, bedraggled hair that appeared to be somewhere between brown and black shielded her face. She was only wearing what appeared to be a tank top and underwear. Even in the pale light, I could see that her thin legs were covered in either bruises or dirt. Near me was a shirtless male, his chest and stomach sunken in. Horror gave me strength to sit up fully as I stared at them.

I had a horrible suspicion of who they were and where I was.

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