“Do you blame us?”
“Nah.” I watched him. “You have a reason for hanging around out here?”
“So why don’t you put your running shoes on and get to the point?”
Aiden laughed under his breath, but the faint smile disappeared when he looked over at me. “I know what you’re going through right now.”
“Do you really?”
“Yeah, I do.” His gaze was unwavering. “When she was connected to you, it was like she was lost to me. A totally different person. That was tough to get through, but it wasn’t the worst. When she was stabbed and actually died in my arms and there was nothing I could do? I held her and watched her bleed all over me and the floor.”
A muscle started tapping along my jaw again.
“Then when Alex faced off with Ares at the University, and I could hear every single thing he was doing to her but I couldn’t get in there to help her? I never felt more—more fucking helpless in my life. Every part of me was full of rage, but the terror consumed me when I finally entered that room and she was gone, taken to Olympus to heal. I was held immobile by that terror. And I don’t think I need to explain how I felt when Alex died in your arms and I thought I’d never see her again.”
I jerked a little.
“So, yeah, I get what you’re feeling. I know that every second feels like an hour and every hour feels like a year. I get that you feel like you should be doing something, anything to get her back, but at the same time knowing there isn’t anything you can do.” He exhaled heavily as he straightened. “I still don’t like you.”
I laughed at that.
“But I don’t wish what you’re going through on anyone,” he added, turning toward me. “We’re going to get her back.”
“I know.” And I would gladly burn down every city to get her back.
Aiden clapped me on my shoulder. “As soon as I hear anything from the Guards, you’ll be the first to know.”
“Thank you.” The two words were easier to speak than before.
“Get some rest.” He stepped back. “Or at least try to.”
I nodded, but as soon as he crossed the balcony, I closed my eyes and searched for Josie. There’d be no sleep tonight. Tomorrow . . . tomorrow I would need to feed, but that was something I didn’t want to really think about at the moment. The void opened up and I didn’t expect—holy shit! There! I felt Josie, felt her entire being, and I could catch the scent of pine and rich soil as if I was standing in the forest instead of by the ocean. I saw her imprint, and I knew I could latch onto it.
“Aiden.” I spun, eyes wide. “I feel her.”
“What?” He whipped around. “Josie?”
“Yes. I feel her. Holy fuck, I feel her. She’s there.” It was like a burning light inside me, calling out to me. “I need to go.”
“Wait.” Aiden hurried back. “Take me with you. You can do that, right? This could be a trap. You know that.”
I supposed it could be. If it was a trap, I’d explode every single one of them, but I had to be smart about this. I could use Aiden. “If I get tied up fighting, you go to her. You get her out of there. Go anywhere. I’ll find you and bring you back here.”
He gave a curt nod.
Wrapping my hand around his forearm, I found the imprint of her again, and then willed myself to where she was, bringing Aiden along with me. It only took seconds to move from the balcony and discover that we were obviously on the other side of the world, under a canopy of thick elms that blocked daylight.
“Holy hell,” Aiden grunted, stumbling back a step. “That doesn’t feel right.”
I stepped forward, scanning the trees and ground as my heart thundered in my chest. Senses were firing off left and right. We weren’t alone. There was something very powerful here that wasn’t Josie. Approaching a moss-covered tree that had been snapped at the trunk and had fallen over, I scanned the area and kept all senses on high alert.
My knees weakened, and fuck, I was about to eat dirt as I lurched forward.
I saw her.
I saw Josie.