“Seth,” she said quietly. “You can’t blame yourself for this. Don’t go down that road. Actually, you’ve been going down that road for a long time now. You need to get off the ‘I’m at fault for everything’ road.”
I really had no response to that.
Alex was quiet for a few moments. “What are you going to do now?”
“About what?” The possibilities of what she could be referencing were limitless.
She drew one leg up and planted her foot on the bench. “You love her. You’ve been in love with her, but you left her, and you kind of ended stuff with her before, right? When Aiden and I came up from the Underworld, you two weren’t together. So you’ve kind of left her twice already.”
“It’s actually been three times, if I’m counting,” I admitted, wanting to punch myself. “I’ve left her three times, and it still hasn’t changed how I feel about her. If anything, what I feel has only gotten stronger.”
“Well, that’s how love works, dumbass.”
I slid her an arched look. “You really going to talk to me like that, knowing what I am?”
“Do I really look like I’m scared of you just because you’re a god now? You’re still a dumbass. Obviously. You love her and you leave her. Over and over. It’s like the definition of insanity, you know? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
My eyes narrowed.
“She’s here,” Alex pointed out the obvious. “And she really was planning to come to you, to prove how she felt about you—how much she loved you. She was going to fight for you. She was ready.” She paused, appearing to let that sink in. “What are you going to do about that now?”
What was I going to do? Before I’d learned Hyperion had taken her, I’d planned on staying away, even once I learned what I was, why I’d always been drawn to aether in the first place, and the fact it appeared that I could control the need for it. But after I’d found out that Hyperion had her, I’d planned on bringing her here, but I hadn’t thought beyond that or acknowledged that her presence was simply too much of a temptation for me to resist.
“I’m not good for her,” I bit the words out.
She lifted her brows. “Then try being good for her. Have you ever thought about that? You know, fighting yourself to be with her?”
I opened my mouth.
Alex continued, “Love means you’re going to be there for each other even when it sucks. Love means you’re going to have each other’s back and trust that the other person will be there for you. What you’re doing isn’t love. As soon as the shit hits the fan for you, you up and leave. You shut down and push her away. That’s not the Seth I know.”
Every muscle in my back stiffened. “Okay. First off, you’re starting to piss me off. And secondly, do you really want me to be the Seth you used to know?”
“First off, I don’t care.” Her head cocked to the side. “And secondly, the Seth I used to know didn’t run from anything that was difficult, even when he was super duper wrong. You need to man up, Seth.”
My right hand curled into a fist as I stared at her in disbelief. “Did you seriously just tell me to man up?”
“Yeah.” Alex shrugged. “And I’ll say it again. Man. Up.”
“Gods,” I muttered, shaking my head. “Don’t you have something to do? Like go annoy Aiden?”
“Nope.” She paused. “Do you really think you can seriously let her go?”
My gaze fell back to Josie. She hadn’t moved once during the conversation and that scared the shit out of me. Slowly, I leaned forward and placed my hand over hers. A jolt traveled up my arm and I inhaled sharply. Truth was, if Hyperion had never gotten her and she made her way here, I would’ve tried to resist her.
And I would’ve failed.
Because I did love her.
And if Hyperion hadn’t taken her, and if I’d found her at the Covenant or on her way to find a demigod or on her way here, I wouldn’t have been able to leave again. Because I loved her.
“No,” I admitted in a low voice, drawing her limp hand to my mouth. I pressed a kiss to her palm. “Even if we weren’t together, I wouldn’t be able to let her go.”
“Then maybe you should be with her then,” she said. “Hell. Maybe you’re too late. You have pushed her away three times, according to you.”
Unease exploded in my gut. The mere idea of Josie not wanting to be with me had never occurred to me. Yeah, that sounded arrogant as shit. I lifted my gaze from Josie and stared at Alex.
She grinned. “I had to point that out, but Josie loves you. She’ll probably forgive you for leaving, but you can’t keep doing that. You understand that, right? You can’t, because eventually it’s not going to be okay. You can’t keep doing that to someone and not ruin them.”