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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 29

The sound of his voice, my name spoken so hoarsely, was an explosion to my senses. This was real—all of this was real. My gaze darted between him and the woman. She smiled as she clasped her hands together. I sucked in a sharp breath.

I was suddenly on the move, unsure of what I was doing or where I was going. All I knew was I needed to be far away from right there. I needed a place to think, to straighten out the twisty thoughts and swamping emotions.

“Really?” I heard Alex say, disbelief dripping off her tone. “After everything we just talked about? Seriously?”

“Not right now,” Seth snapped back, and I had no idea what they were talking about. “Josie,” he called again. “Wait.”

Turning, I stumbled back inside, each step as painful as the last. My breath was coming in pants. Tiny bursts of light dotted my vision. I squeezed my eyes shut as a wave of dizziness assaulted me.

“Josie.” His voice was closer, and I stopped moving because I was seriously winded and needed a break. Walking was hard, but hearing his voice right then, that slight accent I could never place, was even harder. “Alex,” I heard him say. “Can you give us some space?”

“I don’t know if I want to give you space right now,” she spat.

Gods, she’d seen him with that—that woman. Despite everything going through my head and everything that had happened to me, I felt my cheeks burn with embarrassment. I had no idea what was happening.

“Alex.” His voice dropped low with a warning. “Go find something to do.”

“Are you okay with me leaving, Josie?” she asked, and I wanted to disappear into the bushy potted plants. “Because if not, I’ll make Douche Canoe over here disappear.”

Seth let out an aggravated breath, and I opened my eyes. I could only look at Alex. Her face was flushed with anger, and I had a suspicion she would gladly throw down with him.

“I’m . . . I’m okay,” I managed to say. “It’s okay.”

She hesitated, shooting one last glare in Seth’s direction. “You’re a dumbass—such a fucking dumbass.” Turning to me, she gave a faint smile. “I’ll check in on you later.”

“Okay,” I whispered, almost wishing I hadn’t sent her away, because she was stalking off down the hall, and now Seth and I were alone. It was strange, because before Hyperion came, before I saw him outside, I’d wanted nothing more than to be alone with Seth.

“I can explain,” Seth said after a moment.

An unbelieving hoarse laugh shook me. That was possibly the most incredibly cliché thing I’d ever heard.

“I know how that looked, but whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong,” he continued, and I heard him step closer. My gaze flew to his chest. “And I will explain everything to you, but right now is not the time.”

I leaned against the wall, beside a statue of some dude missing half his arm. My head was spinning. I wasn’t sure how Seth could explain away whatever had happened out there. She, whoever she was, was stunning and beautiful, and I was vomit-inducing disgusting at the moment. Covered in dirt and filth and dried blood, and who knew what else.

“I want to take you back to bed.” He moved closer, reaching for me.

“No.” I held a weak, shaky arm up.

Seth stopped, and slowly, I finally lifted my gaze to his. The glyphs were gone. A muscle tapped along his jaw, but otherwise, his expression was void of any and all emotion. My heart squeezed. I’d seen that look before on him. Too many times before. “Josie, please let me help you.”

He wanted to help me and there was nothing wrong with that. Right? My gaze dropped to my hand. A frown pulled at my lips. My fingers were covered with dirt, stained with blood. My arm was the same. Only patches of skin were clean, and that was really stretching the definition of clean. And those bracelets. Those damn bracelets were still secured firmly around my wrists.

“I . . . I need to shower.” The moment I said those words, I knew how ridiculous they sounded, because even fresh and clean, I didn’t look like that and a shower wasn’t going to fix a damn thing that had gone wrong right now, but I still wanted to wash the dirt and the blood off.

His brows snapped together. “Let me take you back to bed. Have you eaten?”

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