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The Struggle

The Struggle

Page 9

Faint sunlight touched her cheeks. “It was easier just not to think about it. After all, I had a lot going on. Probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but I learned later that my mom wasn’t dead. She’d been turned into a daimon, and she was hunting us—hunting me.”

“Why was . . . why was she doing that?”

She pressed her lips together. “She knew what I was. She retained all that knowledge after she was turned into a daimon. It changed her. Made her evil. She thought if she turned me, she could control the Apollyon.” Alex drew in a stuttered breath. “Once I knew she’d been turned, it became my duty to kill her.”

I shook my head. “And you did?”

She nodded as she looked over at me. “She never would’ve wanted to become what she had, and I couldn’t let her be that way. I found her and . . . and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.”

I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

“I know what you’re feeling,” she said quietly. “I’ve felt it twice. The anger. The pain.”

My lower lip trembled. “Something else we have in common.”

“Seems like we have some of the worst things in common,” she replied, a wry grin on her lips. “I know there is nothing I can tell you that’s really going to make you feel better except that I know your mother is in a better place.”

A flash of anger surged through me. “How do you know that?”

“Because I’ve been there.” Her eyes met mine, and for some dumb reason, I had forgotten that Alex had died a mortal death. “I’m there six months out of the year,” she continued. “I one hundred percent agree with whatever violent thoughts you have when it comes to Apollo, but no matter what, he would’ve made sure your mother is in the Elysian Fields. Anything she wants, she will have access to, and she is not alone. She’s most likely with your grandparents right now.”

If what Alex said was true, and I guessed it had to be true, I didn’t have to think of her as just . . . just ceasing to exist or being alone. Mom hated to be alone. Hope sparked alive. If Mom was in the Underworld, couldn’t I visit her? “Can I see her?”

A sad smile tugged at her lips. “To get into Elysian Fields when you do not belong there is not easy.”

“But I’m a demigod.”

“That doesn’t matter. You’d need Hades to cross you over or you’d have to enter through one of the gateways, and that isn’t simple. You’d have to travel through the Underworld to get to Elysium,” she explained. “And with you being a demigod, there are things down there that would sense you right away.” She paused. “Maybe one day, once everything settles down, Hades would allow you to visit her, but it is not something often allowed. Your mom is safe and most likely happy, but she is dead and the living do not visit the dead.”

Hope fizzled out. I bit down on my lip as I turned my head. “Except for you.”

“Except for Aiden and me,” she agreed.

Technically I’d died a mortal death when my powers had been unlocked, but it hadn’t been the same as Alex. I was simply a mortal one moment and a demigod the next. I wasn’t sent to the Underworld. I wasn’t sure I was even technically considered dead during any of it. “Do you visit your mom there?”

She hesitated. “Yes.”

That was something we didn’t have in common. I cast my gaze out over the ocean, wondering if what Apollo had said about Erin was true. For all I knew now, she could also be dead.

My chest hollowed out.

“It gets easier,” she stated. “It really does.”

I was going to have to take her word for that.

Dawn arrived as we sat side by side, and the sky turned a calm shade of blue, cloudless and endless. “Apollo is a shit father,” Alex said so suddenly that a harsh laugh escaped me. A small grin appeared on her face. “No. Seriously. He is.”

“Yeah,” I forced out, closing my eyes briefly.

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