The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 35

Rising from the bed, Seth walked toward a cabinet. Despite everything that we needed to talk about and all that had happened to me, I couldn’t stop my gaze from roaming over all the exposed skin. He’d been shirtless earlier, but I hadn’t noticed him. I did now. The defined pecs. The tightly coiled abs. The sweats hanging low enough that they showed off those indentations on either side of his hips. Even his back was amazing. Long, lean and muscled.

Why couldn’t he be wearing a shirt?

But it was Seth, so of course not.

“My whole life, I’ve had this . . . this unexplainable draw to aether. It always called to me, even before I awakened as the Apollyon.” Bending down, he grabbed a bottle of water out of a mini-fridge hidden in the cabinet. Turning, he faced me. “It got worse when I became the Apollyon, but I never understood it. Other than the pures and halfs who got addicted to aether and turned into daimons, I didn’t know anyone else who could feel what I could feel. When Alex awakened, she didn’t feel that way. I always thought there was just something wired wrong in me, you know? But I . . . I understand now.”

Walking back to the bed, he sat beside me. Unscrewing the lid, he offered the open bottle of water. I took it. “There was this . . . this voice inside me when I became the God Killer, guiding what I was doing. I know that sounds crazy, but that was how it felt. Like everything inside me had been building to that moment or leading me to that moment.” He paused, frowning. “You need to drink, Josie.”

In a daze, I took a decent gulp of water.

Appearing to be satisfied, he said, “You know, now that I think about it, I wonder if Ares knew the truth. He wanted me to become the God Killer. Through me, he sought to control the other gods, but I . . . I cannot be controlled.”

My eyes widened, because he said that without an ounce of arrogance. It was just a statement of fact. A truth bomb delicately detonated. Seth couldn’t be controlled now.

“I guess he didn’t realize what I would become once I was the God Killer.” The muscles in his shoulders tensed as he shrugged. “Who knows, though? Anyway, I didn’t understand fully what was happening. That’s why I left, and I know that’s not a good enough excuse for leaving you. It will never be, but I was . . . I was afraid that I would hurt you. That I wouldn’t be able to control myself.”

Hearing him admit that he was afraid was always a shock, because Seth didn’t seem scared of anything.

I took another drink of water.

“Do you remember the nymphs that had helped us outside of your grandparents’ house? One of them has been around on and off. His name is Ewan. He rarely makes any sense.” A wry grin appeared on his lips. “But he was the first to tell me I was not just a God Killer, but a god.”

I almost choked on the water. “What?”

“A god,” he repeated, his amber gaze latching onto mine. “I’m a god, Josie, and I’m not saying that to be funny.”

Shock rendered me speechless as I stared at him. Part of me wanted to laugh, because it sounded legit crazy, but I was a demigod and that had also sounded crazy at first.

“I didn’t believe it at first. Even when I could do things I hadn’t been able to do before, it still sounded ridiculous to me.” Seth shifted closer, catching a strand of my hair. His fingertips brushed along the curve of my cheek as he tucked it back behind my ear, causing me to shiver. “But it is true. Somehow, and for some reason, this was what I was always meant to be. The Appointed God. The God of Life and Death.” He laughed at that as he lowered his hand. “There’s even a temple here.”

I blinked. “A temple? For you?”

He grinned. “For me.”

“Holy crap,” I whispered, and that was the best I could come up with. Seth was a god—a god that was worshipped.

“The woman you saw me with outside? She is the high priestess. There are several priests and priestesses here.”

At the mention of the woman, I tensed. “And they do what? Service you?”

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