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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 2

I shook my head. “I don’t . . . How is this possible?”

The nymph turned to the ocean and then his lifted his hands, spreading his arms out. “Everything is possible.”

This couldn’t be real, but as I turned around, I knew . . . Dear gods, it was real, and I was half the world away from Josie in less than a second. I could barely process it.

We stood on the thin strip of white sand and rock of Andros, the northernmost island in the Cyclades. Mountainous and full of water-fed valleys that bore the fruit I used to sneak as a child, it was barely tame.

The weirdest damn sensation itched under my skin as I took in the path leading to the stairs climbing the steep hill. Taking a deep breath, I lifted my gaze to the sprawling sandstone home that was perched atop the highest peak. It was a monstrous building, three stories with several wings that, if it were the same, contained nothing more than marble statues and oil paintings depicting the gods. Balconies surrounded the upper two levels, with many nooks and crannies to hide in.

The veranda wasn’t empty.

“What the . . . ?” I trailed off.

There were people out on it, scores of them staring down at where we stood, and I could sense the aether in the pures and the fainter traces in the halfs.

The house should’ve been vacant. There was no reason for any of the staff to have remained after Mother had died.

“Who are these people?” I demanded.

The nymph inclined his chin. “Some were your mother’s staff, her servants . . . her confidants. They are now yours. Others came when you awakened. They are also yours.”

What the hell? “I don’t want them here.”

“Their master has finally come home.”

Master?

“Did you think it would be different?”

“Yes.” I frowned as those on the veranda, one by one, lowered themselves onto their knees and bowed their heads. Oh hell. “I thought it would be empty, for starters.”

The nymph chuckled.

Crossing my arms, I exhaled roughly. “I have no use of them.”

“Oh, you will find use of them, I am sure.”

I slid him a sidelong glance. “I’m really going to get tired of repeating myself. I have no need of servants. Gods. Those halfs should be freed.”

“Those halfs are here of their own volition. They are here because it is where you are, as I am here because of you,” the nymph said. “I am here to help you.”

“Why? Why would you help me?”

The nymph smiled. “My kind has walked this realm long before man—before the gods from Olympus overthrew the Titans. We were here even before the Titans ruled.”

Well, that sounded like a really long time ago, in a time period called I Don’t Give a Fuck. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Those odd eyes twinkled. Actually twinkled, like a pair of tiny stars. “We believe that the time for change has arrived once more.”

The question of what kind of change was due to arrive died on the tip of my tongue. I wanted no part of whatever the nymphs believed in or wanted. I had my own goals. I would ferret out whatever foxhole the Titans were hiding in and I would gladly destroy each one. They would be no threat to Josie.

“What is your name?” I did ask.

One eyebrow rose. “Ewan.”

I snickered. “Ewan the Ewok.”

The nymph frowned.

“Never mind,” I sighed and started forward. “Goodbye, Ewan.”

“Do you want to know about love?” he asked.

Rolling my eyes, I kept walking.

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