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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 28

Exhaling roughly, I hated to do it, but Karina was right. Waiting wouldn’t end well, and I needed to be fully charged for whatever might come this way.

“Stay with her,” I said to Alex, rising tiredly. “Please.”

Alex snapped her mouth shut and nodded as she eyed Karina distrustfully. I was going to have to explain all of that. Eventually. Karina backed out of the room and waited. I followed, closing the door behind me.

~

Josie

Waking up was like fighting through quicksand laced with sleep aids. I knew I needed to open my eyes. I thought I heard Seth begging me to do so, but that was crazy, because Seth wasn’t here. I was in hell, waiting for Hyperion to bring me back to Cronus. Or was it Perses? Hadn’t I seen Perses? I couldn’t remember.

The cement floor felt . . . soft and warm.

I drew in a deep breath. The smell? I didn’t immediately choke on the dank, musty scent. A tremble coursed through my body, and I thought I heard people speaking, voices I recognized.

Kýrios?

Master?

I seriously needed to open my eyes. Calling on every ounce of strength I had, I forced my eyes open. Well, one eye open. The right one kind of only cracked open. It was nearly swollen shut. I wasn’t sure how that happened. The last time Hyperion had brought me out of that warehouse had been a blur. He’d fed on me before I was brought to Cronus, and they . . . it felt like they had taken too much.

Like they might’ve broken something.

My vision focused and I slowly realized I was lying on a bed—a huge, comfy bed, and I was staring up at a beige ceiling fashioned. There was a large ceiling fan gliding through the air silently, its blades shaped like petals.

Throat impossibly dry, I dragged my gaze from the ceiling to the foot of the bed. A girl stood with her back to me, arms crossed, staring at the closed bedroom door.

My heart started pumping. Could that be . . . ? I tried to get my tongue to work. Was I dreaming? Oh gods, if I was dreaming I wouldn’t survive this once I woke up. I wouldn’t be able to. I tried to speak again.

“Alex?” I croaked out.

She whipped around, her eyes widening with relief. “Josie!” She raced to the side of the bed, squeezing in between an empty chair and the bed.

“Is . . . is this a dream?” I rasped.

Her beautiful face contorted. “No. This is not a dream. You’re safe.”

Safe?

“Oh my gods, you’re really awake.” She practically shook like she was holding herself back from crawling on top of me. “How are you feeling?”

“I . . .” Mouth dry, I looked around the room in confusion. My hand floated to my throat and I winced.

Alex drew back from the bed. “Are you thirsty? Let me grab you something.” She whirled and darted out of my line of sight. A second later she returned with a bottle of water, lid unscrewed. “Here, let me help you.”

My body ached as she helped me sit. I planted my hand on the bed to hold myself up while she shoved a tiny mountain of pillows behind me. I eased back as she brought the bottle to my mouth. The first taste of the cool liquid on my tongue forced a moan out of my mouth, but it wasn’t enough. It felt like a few drops.

I lifted my arm, cringing as pain shot down my side, but I wrapped my hand around the bottle, forcing it higher. More glorious water passed between my parched lips.

“Slowly,” Alex eased the bottle out of my death grip. “You should probably drink this slowly.”

She was right, but I hadn’t had real water in days. My hand shook as I held onto the bottle just above her hand. Her lips pressed together and then she let me have another gulp. We went back and forth for a couple of minutes until there was no water left.

Alex lowered the bottle. “Oh my gods, we’ve been so worried.”

I wanted more water, but my stomach felt weird. “You . . . Everyone okay?”

Her brows flew up. “My gods, we’re fine. All of us. You shouldn’t be worried about us.”

There were so many questions, but my brain felt like it was full of cobwebs, and when I looked down at myself, I saw I was still wearing the same disgusting clothing. “Where . . . where am I?”

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