There was a time when I saw Apollo that I wanted to rush to him. That all I wanted was for him to hold me like I’d seen Alex and her father embrace one another. That I wanted him to talk to me like he did when he spoke to Alex and Aiden.
But right now, I wanted nothing more than to punch him in the throat.
Anger filled me, squelching the exhaustion and the pain in my arm. “How would you know what a child sounds like in the middle of a tantrum? Like you’re actually around children enough to know that? I mean, you weren’t there for any of my tantrums. Or my birthdays. Or holidays. Or any of the hundred times my mother had a relapse and I was scared to death that she would accidentally hurt herself.”
My words struck their mark. I knew this because the room suddenly filled with electricity. Alex and Aiden shifted uneasily, and I had a feeling Luke was slinking away.
“You think that’s what I wanted?” Apollo asked. “That I chose to not be there for you?”
“Right now you choose to not even look at me when you speak to me, so yeah, I’m going to go with you chose not to be there for me.”
Apollo whipped around so fast I barely saw him move. I couldn’t read the emotions in his face. I didn’t want to.
I spoke before he could. “You barely speak to me when you do decide to appear. Hell, you seem more happy to see them than you are to see me, your daughter.” I gestured at Alex and Aiden across the rift. I don’t know what exactly had tipped me over the edge. It could’ve been everything and anything at this point, but there was so much raw hurt building inside of me. “You won’t even tell me anything about my mother. You always disappear before I can even ask.”
His chest rose and those large hands opened. “Sometimes it is best to not be given the chance to ask a question that will lead to an answer you will not want to hear or need to know.” Regret flickered across his face the moment he snapped his mouth shut.
Everything in me stilled and slowed. Even my heart. “Why . . . why would you say something like that?”
Apollo’s gaze shifted away, and I . . . I knew. I just knew. My heart dropped to my stomach and a hole opened up in my chest. “I want to see my mom. Now.”
“That is not possible,” he answered quietly.
I drew in a breath and then another, and it did nothing to help the sinking feeling spreading throughout me. “Because she’s in Olympus, right? I’m not allowed to go there?”
Apollo, my father, said nothing.
Behind him, Alex and Aiden blurred out of focus. “That’s what you’ve been telling me this entire time. That she’s safe in Olympus. So I want to see her.”
“Josephine . . .”
“I want to see my mother,” I stated again, clearly and slowly just in case he didn’t understand my request.
“You can’t.” His voice as strained as his expression.
“If you do not take me to see my mother, I will go myself.”
Surprise filled his ocean-blue eyes.
“I know where there is a gateway to Olympus,” I said, and then I bluffed big time, because I didn’t know if Medusa would allow me or if I could get past her. “And I can and will get through that gateway.”
A heartbeat later, Apollo was standing right in front of me. “You must understand that I’ve told you what I have because I felt it was best at that time. You’d just learned that you were my daughter and that a Titan was coming for you. You’d just discovered that your grandparents had been murdered. I told you what I did because I did not feel you could withstand the truth.”
Nothing was still in me anymore. I was full of trembling cracks and shattered pieces barely held together.
Apollo’s voice lowered. “I tried to stop Hyperion when he went to your grandparents’ house, but I didn’t get there in time. Your mother was . . .”
“No,” I whispered.
His eyes closed. “Your mother was already dead.”
Apollo was talking and I was hearing what he was saying. I heard those words and I felt them on my skin like a thousand pricks of a burning needle.
Mom was dead?
I opened my mouth and a cry of denial erupted from me, building into a scream. Rage and heartache blanketed every cell in my body. I screamed and screamed as fury and horror mingled with all the aether in my veins.
Apollo’s ocean-blue eyes widened a second before the irises faded into white orbs. He reached out a hand toward me. “Josie—”